Monday, April 29, 2013

ISRAEL - Part 1

Lia and I just returned from a life-transforming trip to Israel. In the coming days, I am going to do my best to share it with you.

I am daunted. The task will not be easy. For one, there is much to be said. For two, there is much I'm still absorbing. For three, there is a magnitude to this region that is better experienced than read. (Plus, the fear the Mossad could be eavesdropping and never let me return!)

Here, Lia and I stand on the precipice over the city of Nazareth (the same precipice the Nazarenes threatened to throw Jesus off!) with so much to see and so many things to discover. It is day one of our trip and already we are filled to overflow.

So come. Consider this an invitation. Join me as I share over the next couple weeks some observations on this beautiful, strange, complex, volatile, explosive, and remarkable confluence of cultures, religions, ethnicities and peoples.

Hunter Lambeth (along with is wife Lauri and daughter Haley) is the Young Life Area Director for the Middle East. We're on his committee (not sure how or why, but I'm not asking questions), which is the reason we were invited on the committee trip overseas to see what's going on. Here, Hunter (can you pick him out in the crowd? Lia's in the way back) prepares to speak to the ninth and tenth graders at Nazareth Baptist School (where he does Young Life). 

He starts with a picture. What do you see? There are whispers. Points. Then, ahh's. Then, more ahh's as people begin to see that there are not one but two pictures, two faces - one old, one young. (Do you see them?) He transitions into the point that so often we can look at the same picture but see entirely different things. It's a great point - 

- a point that hit home over and over again throughout the course of our visit. 

A picture that for me would change day to day as I met people from every side of the issues and from every walk of life - the privileged to the oppressed - and I was forced to face my prejudices and racism - and discovered a new appreciation and love for the people who live here. Every single one. 

Young Life Club
Islam our van driver - takes me back to China with the peace sign

Nancy Keshian and girls at Young Life

House of Hope - Bethlehem

Osam and I - both dads. 
Priest at the Church of the Nativity, checking how his stocks are doing
House of Hope - Lia and Ibrahim our tour guide

Gary and Cindy Bayer - the two most hospitable people on the planet

Lia gets yelled at by a nun for showing too much skin

Ari spends his Sabbath with me at the Western Wall

Yousef and Nisreen share our anniversary!

The best falafel in Jerusalem

My entry for next year's National Geographic amateur photo competition.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


The "Wild" Ponies at Grayson Highlands are foaling. Get on your high horse and visit them!!!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Doe Eyes

who could say no to this face?

"Spring" Break 2013: It was so cold last week in Philly we had to organize our errands around trips to the hot chocolate store (what my kids call coffee shops).

We went to a shop I'd never been to before. Since leaving Media, my hometown (and yours, apparently - the town motto is "Everybody's Hometown" so there you have it), it has become quite the cool place. From what I understand, Seven Stones is but one of several places to drink hot chocolate. When I was growing up, the only place I knew to go was Dunkin Donuts, and they didn't do or did the whipping cream there.

We entered Seven Stones, my mother placed the order, and we found a round table. Anna Rose came up with a game called "Score" which involved a stone she had picked up from somewhere and a curled up arch of a receipt. Think finger-soccer and you'll get the picture.

We played until our hot chocolates arrived. The children drank theirs with vigor. (The barista had their drinks temperatured just right.) Anna Rose was making vacuum cleaner noises with her straw and Dave Dave was wiping whipping cream from his top lip when I heard from his mouth a phrase I had never heard before.

"I want to talk to her."

I followed his line of sight to a doey-eyed brunette the age of three. Perhaps it was the velocity of sugar intake that created such boldness. I'd never seen him so determined.

"Go for it," I said.

Dave Dave hopped down from his chair. He walked halfway up to her.

As it happened, her mother was bussing their mid-morning snack in the trash bin across the room. Doe Eyes was standing alone, innocent as can be.

He loaded at her. She looked at him.

"How you doing?" my son said. (I'm not making this up)

Doe Eyes replied, "Get out of my way!" And brushing poor Dave Dave aside, she brusquely walked passed her mother (horrified) and out the door.

no bumpers in life

Man! Philly girls are tough.

Or maybe I'm wrong. As my friend Drew said - "That's how most marriages start in Philly."

All I gots to say is Doe Eyes didn't know what she was missing.