Archive for category Dear Seasons

Dear Me

No, not in like a “dear me you look awful today”. More like Dear Dana…

There are some things in life that you just don’t like. Whether it be a job or school or your car or someone’s attitude. I’ve noticed lately that you have been in a bad mood. You’ve been complainy and emotional and out of whack. You tried to fix it by reading your Bible, but then you got to the middle of Exodus and got bored. You tried to fix your problems earlier by switching jobs, but now you complain about the one you have. You constantly complained about you van, and now that you have  a new car you complain about how you can’t sell your van.

These things in your life that you complain about all boil down to one main thing. Selfishness.

You were talking to your fiance Dave last night and it hit you. You are a selfish brat. You’ve been doing nothing but complain about you, and haven’t given one thought to others lately. So I’m writing to you today so that you will stop this incessant complaining and start giving a crap about other people and their issues.

We are called as children of God to be his light in this dark world. How can you be a light if you’re thoughts and actions are all internal? If you doubt yourself all the time and have no confidence in who God has made you to be. So what if you feel like you’re getting beat up on the front lines of school. Tuff it out and stand for what you believe in. Don’t wain because you want things to be easier on you! That’s no good at all. Example from the Bible: what if Jesus doubted that he was the son of God? Do you think he would have been crucified? Do you think he would have died for the sins of man?

You see! Even writing this now you have hesitation in your heart about making such a bold proclamation to your faith. You hold back because you are scared of what people will think of you. You don’t want others to think you a loony or odd for believing the same things that the crusaders did in the centuries ago. But you don’t believe the same thing! You don’t think Muslims or Jews deserve to die! Quite the opposite!

You had something in the past that you constantly are trying to achieve. that was confidence. To look yourself in the mirror and say I am beautiful because God made me. And to say that I will live for Christ today because he is my strength and refuge and if God is for me who can be against me? But now you feel like the whole world is against you…you lost your confidence in Christ.

Remember: “What you are in the sight of God that you truly are”? Do you really believe that? Do you? It’s time to take a stand against the selfish gene in every person, and it’s time to look at today as a new day that the Lord has made. You will rejoice and be glad in it. Because that’s what God wants you to do. And the opposite of being selfish is being selfless, and that’s exactly what Christ was…So work on being Christ to people today. Being selfless, and if you get noticed for your selflessness, then point not to yourself, but to God. Who gave you the ability to be who you are.

I hesitate to post this, it’s more personal than public. But I don’t think I’m the only one dealing with this. It’s something I’ve dealt with not only in my faith, but also with my love. either of family or my fiance or friends. Being selfless and humble makes you a person that God wants you to be, and it also makes you a more pleasant person to be around. So I guess my point is, if you’re feeling the same way, down, depressed, constantly complaining, then stop. There is a song I love when I’m close with God. It goes “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look forth in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”  Truth man.

So today I will look forth on Jesus’ face and work on (with Christ’s help) being a humble person.

With the spirit of tough love,

Dana

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Dear Grandma and Grandpa J.

I miss you guys.

I have so many things to tell you! But as I think about calling you I remember that I can’t. Well, you normally ask about how school is going, so I’ll start there. Israel was so amazing you guys! I loved every moment of it, and though about you while I was there. I don’t know why…But you hit my heart a lot while I was gone. I missed you a lot. The other thing that’s happening with school is that I’m getting a Minor! I know it’s not much to write about, but it made me really excited, so I thought I’d share. I’m now an Anthropology Major with a Minor in Middle Eastern Studies. I don’t know what I’ll do with my degree yet, but I’m sure God has a plan for me.

Moving on to my boyfriend, because you would always ask about Dave. Well guess what?! He proposed on Friday! Yep! And not only that, but the ring that he gave me was your ring Grandma! Your wedding band you wore for 57 years. The ring you promised ’till death do us part, and kept that promise. Dave got that ring from my Dad, and he got it all shined up and beautiful. Like it must have looked when Grandpa gave it to you.

I was making calls this weekend, telling people about my recent engagement, I called my Grandma and Grandpa W and told them the news…while I was talking to Grandpa I almost started crying. I wanted to call you guys so badly. I wanted to celebrate with you both so much. I wanted to tell Grandma that her ring is amazing, tell her that her Dana Rose get’s to wear her wedding band.

 But I couldn’t.

I know you’re in heaven. I know you’re happy up there. I know you’re looking down on me and celebrating. But I wanted to let you know that I miss you both so much. That I love you both. That I wish that I could share these things with you.

With all my love,

Dana

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Dear Favorite Moments pt 1

RE: Israel

Sorry I’ve not been in correspondence lately, I’ve been a bit distracted with being out of the country and then readjusting to being home. My intention in writing today is to not only get me back into the swing of writing again, but also to tell you about a few of my adventures overseas.

I know that you will probably be expecting me to tell you all the fascinating things that happened to me in Israel, but I doubt very much that I will write such a long post. So forgive me, but I think I’ll focus on only the major highlights of my trip. And even this I’ve decided after writing for a bit will be done in parts.

OK. First, before I even start, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my parents for helping me go on this adventure. What a huge blessing. Also, I’d like to thank Professor Mike Pytlik and Dr. Stamps for the opportunity to join them on OakDig 2011. All the work, sweat and tears they put into this trip was worth it in my opinion, and I loved every second of it. Thank you all so much!

My highlights of this trip will be organized as follows:

  • My favorite place we went (pt 1)
  • My favorite people I met (pt 2)
  • My favorite times with my group (pt 3)
  • My favorite part of the dig (pt 4)
  • What I learned from all this (pt 5)

Part 1:

My favorite Place I Went:

all three of our weekends were full of interesting things to do, and beautiful things to see. However, as people ask me my favorite place when I speak to them, I have one place in particular that stands out above the rest. The Garden of Gethsemane (here after named as The Garden). If I look back at the day I went it’s easy to see why it was my favorite place. In the morning our entire group headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulichre (considered to be the place where Jesus was hung on a cross, buried and rose again) (and here after name as CHS). I was expecting to enjoy the experience immensely, I mean come on, it’s the place where Jesus died and was buried man!

Outside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

 However, when I entered the most holy church the feeling was…less than holy. When you first walk in there is this pink, flat slab of marble on the ground. Someone leaned over to me and told me it’s supposed to be the place where Jesus was laid in preparations for his burial once he was dead. People were walking up to it, kneeling (because it was almost at floor level) and putting their things that they bought or relics from home on it. Apparently this is supposed to give the things some type of blessing. Although I didn’t really see the point, I went up and knelt down, touched the stone and prayed. I belive my prayer went something like “Hi again. Um, so this is the stone where you laid. I suppose I should re-pray for my family, give them a blessing, let them know that I love them while I’m away. Amen.” Epic prayer right? No not really. But what do you pray about at the stone where Jesus laid. Especially when you don’t think the thing has any powers of blessing at all, it’s just a stone.

Now please understand, I’m not trying to talk down the Sepulchre here, I’m giving you my impressions of the place. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have had epic experiences there…I wasn’t one of them is all.

From the stone we headed upstairs to the place considered Golgotha, which didn’t look like anything but a big rock under the floor with this epic altar built on top of it. Well, not wanting to miss out on any experience I stood in line waiting for my turn to step up to the altar and say a prayer. I’m thinking I stood there with Danielle (my roommate and friend) for a good 10 to 15 minutes waiting, you see, it’s a one-at-a-time kind of thing. We made it finally, and I let her go first. My turn now. So when you get to the altar you have to kneel down to get under it (lots of kneeling these people), and there is a little hole in this piece of glass, and in this hole I assume must have been where the cross stood on the stone. Because it looked to me like a hole in a stone. Once again, not wanting to miss out, I prayed.

“God…you’re not here are you? This may have been the place where Jesus was killed, but Jesus rose from the dead and is alive. You’re not here are you? Hm…”

I know, I kick hinny at prayers. But in all honesty, I really didn’t know what to say, I knelt there and looked at this hole and just felt that all of this is was rigamarow…it was all religion, God wasn’t there. Mainly because God dwells in the ‘hearts’ of his believers and not in a church. But it seemed like everyone there was looking for God in that place…but they weren’t going to find him there. At least I didn’t.

We went through the rest of the Church, it’s huge man, like 3 stories. Fun fact: the church is owned by four different denominations and each one is extremely Orthodox. So apparently, all changes or repairs to the CHS have to be agreed upon by all four parties. And in most things, they don’t agree. So there are parts of the church that are in serious disrepair because the stupid parties can’t agree on the way it should be fixed. Not really a fun fact…more of a sad fact.  

Some other things that left a bad taste in my mouth was the decorations. think, Greek Orthodox shiny fanciness mixed with intense Roman Catholic paintings, mixed with Medieval architecture. The place just bombarded you with stuff EVERYWHERE!  you couldn’t get away from it really. I suppose one of the good things about it was that you didn’t have to pay to get in. there are some places, not a lot, but some that you have to pay money to see historic things. That’s stupid. But none the less, people try to make money and they know how to get it.

ANYWAY! I needed to tell you my experience with the CHS because it shows why I enjoyed the Garden of Gethsemane so much more.

The Garden of Gethsemane Church

The Garden of Gethsemane Church

So, this is one of my favorite places I went. Mainly, as I said because it was in comparison to the CHS. This place is across the Kidron Valley, which is outside of the ‘City of David’ and the ‘Old City’. So for orientation purposes, if you’re standing with your back to the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount, you’d be looking at this building, along with the Mount of Olives.OK. So after the CHS, and after unknowingly walking the Via Dolorosa (backwards) a few of us broke off from the group and headed for a food tour of Jerusalem led by Hagi. Hagi had been the one who told me that I would probably like The Garden. You see, as we were leaving the CHS Hagi asked me how I liked it. I gave my honest opinion of the place and then he suggested on our little tour we make a detour at The Garden. So this was one of the first places we went after we broke off from the group.We arrived a little early, The Garden doesn’t open until 2pm, why? I don’t know. But none the less, we got to chill on the street for about 10 to 15 minutes before entering (this is a completely pointless fact, but I added it to make you feel like you were there with me). Anyway, once the doors opened we walked inside with the small crowd that had gathered, and we looked around the garden for a bit. Below is a picture from a distance, you can see the Garden is on the left and the church on the right:

The Whole Garden of Gethsemane Church

So, as you should be able to tell there are some trees and things, but overall the Garden is pretty small. You’re not allowed to go into it, only look from behind the fence. One interesting thing that Hagi told us was that the trees that are currently in the garden are olive trees. Now, the interesting thing about them is that once they get to  be over 100 years or so old they begin decomposing from the inside out. so some of the trees in the garden were in fact hollow. I of course didn’t get a picture of this, but thanks to Google Images I can still show you.

Olive Tree (not in the Garden)

Olive Tree

As you should be able to see the tree looks like it’s a bunch of small trees fused together with a hollow center. It’s not though, it’s one huge ancient tree that is hollow in the center because it’s decomposed from the inside out. So, The Garden had several of these trees. Hagi said that it’s hard for them to date the trees after a certain period of time, because unlike other trees where you can count the growth rings, these trees are hollow. So we know that they are over 100 years old, but there is no way of knowing if they date back to the time of Christ.

After we spent a few minutes out in the garden area we then walked into the church. Everyone had come for me, so no one else really entered with me, they just hung back at the entrance or in the doorway maybe around the edges of the church. When you enter the church one of the first things you notice is the darkness of the place. There was hardly any light other than the front of the church which illuminated  the stone that Jesus was supposed to have thrown him self down on to pray and also the light that streams in from the purple stain glass windows, and even that is a faded light.

Awesome stain glass windows

Awesome Stain Glass Windows

As I walked into the church I could feel the silence around me. There were no more than 15 people in the church, most of which were praying. I walked up the right side of the church, looking at the awesome purple cross stain glass  windows, and then arrived at the front of the church. I knelt down at the kneelers which surround the stone at the front of the church. One of my favorite things about this place was when I went and kneeled down there were these funny things in picture frames. They were Bible passages of the record of Jesus being at the Garden, Matthew 26:36-46. Along all the kneelers these verses were spread out. I would say the were in about 9 different languages, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, English, Spanish, etc.

As I knelt and read I could see why Jesus would have come here. The people who keep up the church have done an excellent job making it a place where you feel comfortable praying and calling out to God. The silence all around you makes you reflect about where you are, and why you’re there. For the most part I prayed for my family, but I also prayed for everyone I was on the trip with. During my prayer I felt like I could understand a sliver of what Christ was going through when he prayed. There was passion behind my prayer, that doesn’t normally happen. I was praying with an earnest heart, I wanted to see the things I was praying for come to fruition so badly. After my prayer, I walked back to my group. Hagi asked how I liked the Church and I confirmed that this place was much more what I was looking for than the CHS.

Overall, looking back, this experience was one of hundreds that I had in Israel. But whenever anyone asks me what my favorite place was my answer is always the Garden of Gethsemane. Maybe it’s just because it was a place where I met God for a time, I don’t know. But this is one of many places that I went that I loved, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
 
I hope to be in touch again soon,
 
Dana
 
 

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Dear Spring

Welcome back, I’ve missed you.

Well, in all honesty, I can’t really say this is Spring, shifting from 50 to 90 degrees in a few days isn’t really steady. However, this is Michigan, and I can’t really expect the weather to do anything but be temperamental. Weather issues aside though, you’ve been a good Spring to me so far, the past few days especially. Although the rains came down (and the floods came up! heh heh) this past week which caused our basement to leak, (which in turn caused a foul musty smell in the house for a whole week and a half) you came through for me with joy and sunshine in the past few days.

I’ve always enjoyed you spring, all the color you bring to the world after the long Michigan winters. However, even with all the color you bring, especially green, my favorite color, you’re still not my favorite season. If I had to analyze why, I’d say it’s probably the UPer blood in me. Fall generally strikes my fancy, knowing that school is starting and I can cover up and be toasty without being sweaty. It’s a good feeling. But I don’t want to talk about another when I’m writing to you, Spring.

This particular Spring has brought interesting changes. I’ve mentioned them in previous posts, namely, the passing of my Grandparents. This is most likely what I will remember when I look back at the Spring of 2011. My two trips to the UP within a few short months of each other, both taking place in Spring. I suppose the other things I will look back on is my preparations for my trip. But then again, I don’t really recall my preparations for Kenya, so maybe I won’t. Maybe this time will be lost only to my Grandparents. Will that bother me? I don’t think so. So long as I don’t forget where I was when the Spring of 2011 turned into the Summer of 2011.

To be honest Spring, there are other things on my mind. Other things to write about. I don’t know, maybe I should have written this post to someone else. But I feel that you may understand where I’m at. You may have noticed that I not only tagged this letter as a physical season, but also as a season of life. This is because, as far as I can tell, this Spring brings big changes with it. Determining if there will be shifts in the way I live, the way I see things, the way I act toward others, especially loved ones.

Apparently I have weighty things on my mind. I needed to write a letter so I thought I would write about Spring and the lovely days I’ve had out in the sun. But there are deeper things on my mind…

Please don’t worry about me, I am happy. It’s just that with new adventures bring new challenges and changes. And these changes are something I’m working through. But overall I’m positive. And looking out the window to a clear blue sky, I know that I am ok. And God has everything in control.

My the Lord bless you and keep you,

Dana

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