This Ain’t No Flannel Graph

Guys.  It’s January 2.  On January 6 I will wake up in Israel. ISRAEL!

I am still struggling to believe that it’s real, even though my suitcase is open on my bedroom floor, even though I’ve borrowed a money belt and fanny pack, even though dozens of protein bars will be delivered by Amazon Prime later today.  I can’t believe I’m going to Israel.

When I was a little girl, every Sunday I would walk down the stairs to the church basement where Mrs. Bebow would be waiting in my Sunday School room.  She had a flannel graph on an easel that would display the key players in the story of the day.  In that room, she taught me about Jesus feeding the thousands with the loaves and the fishes by the Sea of Galilee.  She told me the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany.  She showed me the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

Guys.  I’m going to Bethlehem!  And the Sea of Galilee!  And Jerusalem!  And the Dead Sea!

Pinch me!

Last Spring, a colleague of my husband’s invited him to go on this trip.  The university was offering a course — REL 476 The Holy Land — to Concordia students on both campuses — Mequon and Ann Arbor — for the Winterim, our January term.  My husband didn’t even have a passport at the time.  We made the decision to get our passports; we’d been wanting to do this anyway.  Early last fall, it became apparent that, due to the high number of students enrolled in the class, it would be a good idea to take one more chaperone. And guys!  I get to go to Israel!!!

On Thursday morning, seventeen of us will board Amtrak in Ann Arbor and head to Chicago. In Chicago, we’ll take the blue line to O’Hare.  From O’Hare we’ll fly to Istanbul, Turkey.  From Turkey, (are you ready?) WE’RE FLYING TO ISRAEL!!!

From January 6-17 we will travel throughout Israel on a bus with an experienced guide who will tell us the history and let us see for ourselves the places I’ve been hearing about my whole life.

What difference will this make for me? What difference will it make for the thirty students we are taking with us? How will walking where Jesus walked impact our lives?  I have no idea!

As part of my commitment to Return to the Lord, I commit to writing about it as much as is possible.  Although we will be on our bus all day long, we are hoping to have Internet in our hotel rooms each night.  I have no idea how much time or energy I will have, but I am hoping to be able to share this journey with you.

I can’t help but pause and remind myself that three short years ago I was living in St. Louis, working full time, struggling to understand the reality of chronic illness, and wondering what life would be in this new chapter.  Guys, I had no idea what God had in store.  A trip to Israel.  Unbelievable.  That’s the kind of God we have.

Ephesians 3: 20-21, The Message

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

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