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Welcome to my little corner of the world. I am so honored by your visit today. My name is Kristi and I am married to my college sweetheart(I refer to him here as "Mr. Incredible"), momma to my 2 beautiful girls who are growing much too quickly, a high school computer teacher, photographer, and a gardener (at times~right now I'm growing weeds). I love to laugh, drink strong Starbucks coffee, take pictures, and be anywhere my family is. Jesus is my Savior and I try so hard to be the wife and momma that He has called me to be. I often fail but He lovingly picks me up, dusts me off, and encourages me that with Him all things are possible. Feel free to join me on this journey of faith, stop in and say hello, look around, and leave a comment~I love comments. Why "Kiki's Corner?" My nephews call me Aunt Kiki and I love that too.

Jerusalem Day 7 & 8

After making it through Hezekiah's tunnel, we went back to the City of David which is inside the gates of Old Jerusalem.  Here we saw the remains of the Robinson's Arch which is where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus would have walked to exit the Temple and we stood in front of the three arches of the Temple where they would have entered the Temple.

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Here is the entrance to the Temple:
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I zoomed out so you could see how tall the 3 arches really are.  This is just my observation, but there are three arches to the temple....hmm The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-three in one, one way to Heaven. 
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We visited the Western Wall where we stood and prayed at the Wailing Wall.  It was interesting to see so many religions represented here.  The wall made me even more thankful that we have direct access to God through Jesus.

If you look, you can see my dad placing a prayer request from one of our church members back home in the wailing wall.  He is the one wearing the yellow sweatshirt:
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Yes, there is a side for the men and the women.
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Men can go inside and pray, and the women can too, we just have to go upstairs and look through glass windows.  I'm not sure if I was suppose to take a picture, but I did anyone...don't tell! 
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Okay, I took two pictures.  But, I had to get a shot of this.  This is where the sacred scrolls are kept:
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After returning to the hotel, we quickly brushed our teeth and as the rest of the group was getting ready for dinner, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the Old City.  We had fun shopping in the marketplace.  Mr. Incredible bought the girls and I beautiful cashmere scarves made in Israel and then we found an Armenian cafe (picture above) where we dined on a delicious cappuccino and omelet (me), club sandwiches (Rachel and my man), and hamburgers with french fries (Hannah's fave!).   Delight!

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The next morning, our group headed toward the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock which is now under Muslim control.  Don't be fooled by the beauty of this building.  The words written across the top are curses to anyone who does not believe as they believe.  It is one of the most recognizable places when you look at a map of Jerusalem but from now on, I will look for the golden dome but my eyes will immediately look to the right of the right is where the Holy of holies is located and our feet stood there!

This dome covers the exact same tiles that were in the Holy of holies:

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And we got to stand there:
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This is the Eastern Gate that is now sealed, oh but one blessed day....
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After we walked down to the inside of the Eastern Gate, which is directly across from the Holy of holies, then we made our way to the Pool of Bethesda-what an enormous pool!  It is at least one football field long.  Our guide explained that directly across from the pool, another place was built for idol worship.  The idol was represented with a stick and a serpent, much like the medical symbols we see today.  People brought statues of ailing body parts that needed healing to this idol.

The pool of Bethesda:

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How amazing that Jesus purposefully healed the blind man at the Pool of Bethesda right next to where the false idol worship would have taken place.  Jesus healed this man who had suffered for 38 years in this place to once again show that He is the Great Physician, He is the Healer, and beside Him there is no other!  Our eyes filled with tears as Poppie, my father-in-law, read the story from the Bible. 

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Next, we entered St. Ann's church.  This beautiful church has the most amazing ceilings and acoustics!  We loved hearing various groups sing and the sound was what I imagine Heaven will sound like one day but probably even better.  My dad had asked Mr. Incredible and I to sing here and we were so blessed to do that.  The Lord led us to sing, "Wonderful, Merciful Saviour."  Words cannot express the great blessing and privilege of being able to sing praises to the King of kings and Lord of lords in this place!  Our group joined us in singing, "We Sing Praises to Your Name." 

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Our group then travelled the Via Dolorasa all the way to the House of Pilot.  Our guide explained to us that this was where the soldiers would have played the cruel, "King's Game," with the soldiers...and with our Savior.  It was difficult to sit in the very room where our Savior suffered for you and for me.  Tears easily flowed as we sat in silence and took in this place (picture below).

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We made our journey through the busy streets of the Via Dolorasa, even through the Muslim quarter, where we held on to our girls even more tightly than we had done before.  I didn't like this area.  We saw the Damascus Gate travelled through the Jappa Gate and then visited David's Citadel.

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After the Citadel we visited the Temple Institute.  To be quite honest, I really didn't care for this place.  The Temple Institute is preparing things for the 3rd Temple that you read about in Revelation.  They believe that the Messiah will come when the Temple is built.  I wanted so much to tell them that He has already come but it would have been futile.  They don't believe Jesus is the Messiah....and how can they miss Him living here?  One day the veil will be lifted from their eyes and they will know.

We ate lunch at a Pizza place owned by a Christan family.  I loved the feta cheese with black olives and fresh oregano.  We shopped for about 15 minutes and then it was time to make our way to the Upper Room.

The beautiful ceilings in the Upper Room:

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The Upper Room, or where they believe it to be was not what I had envisioned at all.  The ceilings were beautiful but it just didn't have the same feel to it as the other Holy sites we had already visited.

Rabbi's Tunnels:

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From there we travelled back to the wailing wall where we could go through the Rabbi's Tunnels that were under ground.  Thankfully, it wasn't in water like Hezekiah's Tunnel.  Inside the tunnels, we saw a rock meant for the Temple, that was left undone/unfinished.

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The rock was located at the corner of Antonio's Fortress where Jesus would have walked.  Our guide explained that perhaps this was a representation of the stone the builders rejected (Psalm 118:22) that became the Chief cornerstone-Jesus.  Pretty amazing thought isn't it?

Day 7: Jerusalem!

Finally we were ready to spend the day in the Holy City and I could not wait!!! The first stop was to take a picture overlooking Jerusalem.  And there was a camel there!  Here are two pictures of my dad on the camel:

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Hannah had to ride the camel too.  When in Israel do what the tourists do!

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From the top we stood where we could over look the City of Jerusalem:
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On the Mt. of Olives, the place where Jesus was before He ascended to Heaven and the place where His precious feet will stand once again when He returns for His children.  Our eyes could clearly see the Eastern wall and the Eastern Gate pictured below:
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One day Jesus will open wide the Eastern Gate.  But for now Muslism have the gate sealed, or they think it is them that has sealed it, and they have placed tombstones and graves in front of the gate to keep Jesus away.  They believe that the graves/tombs are unclean and that He would never enter there.  Oh, how they are mistaken!

There is a Church located on the Mt of Olives called Dominus Flevit:

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From the Mt. of Olives we continued travelling the Palm Sunday trail where Jesus would have walked.

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And then we reached the beautiful Garden of Gethsemane where we prayed among the 2,000 year old olive trees, like our Savior did:
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These are branches from the oldest tree in the garden:
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Mr. Incredible's Aunt Margie sang, "Holy Ground" and we all worshipped in the Garden together. 

And then we came to the Church of the Nations.  It is absolutely beautiful inside and outside:
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We then travelled to David's City where the high place was.  We stood on the high places and looked down much like David might have when he saw Bathsheba.

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In David's City, we made our way to Hezekiah's tunnel. What?  You don't know about Hezekiah's Tunnel.  This is the tunnel that has haunted my dreams for the last, um six months at least!  I am not kidding!  I am a bit claustrophobic and tight, dark spaces freak me out just a bit....okay a lot!  But, knowing my entire family was planning on going through the water tunnel, underground, in the dark with only flashlights and a lot of prayers, I decided to put my big girl panties on and go too.  I didn't want to miss out on anything. 

But, oh my merciful heaven I was resolved but scared!  We entered the water tunnel where the water rushed up to my mid thigh and this water was COLD!  Hannah was in front, Rachel was next, then me, and then my man.  We were in the middle of our group.  My family had flashlights but not me....the claustrophobic freak was flashlight-less!  Oiy!  My man took great care of me, he made sure the flashlight was always lighting the way and me being the brave creature that I am, clung to the hem of Rachel's jacket the entire time....I had a death grip on her kidding! 

I am 5'10" and had to duck down a bit most of the time which made it really easy to cling to her jacket for dear life.  Some jerk man in our group decided it would be really cool to turn out all of the flashlights so we could see how dark the tunnel really is.  Hello!  Crazy claustrophobic woman here.  I will hunt you down if you don't turn that light back on!!!

As all of the flashlights were turned off for what seemed like an eternity, it became harder for me to breathe.  We were totally surrounded by complete darkness, standing bent over with our shoulders nearly touching either side of the tunnel in water that was now up to our knees.  "Help me Jesus!" was my cry. Finally after probably a minute we all turned our lights back on. Praise the Lord!  And then someone behind my man started saying, "I wonder what would happen to us if an earthquake happened while we were in here?"  Really?!  Oiy!

From that moment on, I began singing out loud, quoting every Bible verse that I knew and prayed and prayed and prayed!  I thought I was singing loudly, but my man, who was right behind me, never heard me.  I guess it was a moment just between the Lord and I. 

There were many moments where I wanted to run, but there were too many people in front of me and I didn't want to trample my children while their crazy momma headed for light!  Plus, there was no where to run, it was tight in the tunnel!

There were times my heart wanted to fail me, and allow my mind to panic, and those were the times I clung to the hem of Rachel's jacket the tightest.  And then the Lord spoke to my heart.  Not only was this a physical journey but it was to me a very real example of Spiritual journeys we go on with the Lord at times.  You know what I'm talking about.  Times when we feel surrounded by darkness and we wonder if we can make it through this difficult time.  Times, where all we can do is cling with all of our might to the hem of His garment and pray and pray and pray some more.  There are times when all we can do is praise Him in the midst of it all....times when our heart wants to fail us and we have to walk in faith even when we don't feel like we can see the hand in front of our face!

I have to tell you that I have never been so glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel in all of my life!  Tears filled my eyes as I saw glorious light again.  I can so relate to this spiritually too!  The darkest times  are always the darkest right before dawn.  If you are going through something like this spiritually, let me encourage you to just keep holding on to Jesus and keep keeping on.

I could have stopped and stayed in that tunnel, but I knew the only way out was to go through it.  What a spiritual analogy that is too.  Just keep on keeping on...even when you feel like giving in, even when you can't see what is in front of you, even when it is hard, hold on to Jesus and keep walking in faith....trusting all the way.  And even when you can't see Him, He is leading you through! 

And He led us though the tunnel into glorious light once again! 

Want to know something strange?  In one of the areas of the tunnel, we ran into two men and one very pregnant lady, underground in the tunnel.  I don't know where they came from or why they were going the wrong direction, but in most places there wasn't room to pass someone.  Somehow, one of the men got right in the middle of my daughters and I said, "No! Don't separate us!"  He muttered something and then got out of the way.  I still don't know where they came from nor why he walked in between my girls but I can draw so many spiritual lessons from that incident.  Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but this I do know:  when the Lord is asking us to go through a trial, a dark time, the evil one would love to throw us off track and keep us from going in the direction the Lord would have us go. 

Are you still with me?  I'll understand if you are not.  I did a little preaching from my heart and perhaps was a bit wordy.  The tunnel was life-changing for me.  Can you tell?  I was too scared to take my camera in the tunnel with me, I didn't want to drop it, so I don't even have one picture from our journey but I found this video that walks you through the tunnel.  I don't know this pastor but I like how he explained the tunnel.  If you want to see what it was like to walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel, just like me....well except without the crazy clausterphobia, then enjoy this video:

We experienced much more that day, but I think I'll close for now.  My fingers are tired from all that typing.  Thanks for letting me share my journey of faith through Hezekiah's Tunnel with you.

Our Princess Goes to Her Senior Prom

I have so much to share about Jerusalem, but I just couldn't wait to share Rachel's senior prom pictures!

Yes, this weekend was her Senior Prom....sigh! We had so much fun getting our princess ready for prom. We bought the dress and while it was beautiful just the way it was, it needed Granny's special touch. Because, you know this already, I am the queen of the hot glue and sewing is not my thing.  But sewing is totally my mom's thing. She came up with a design and design she did. Designed by special! My mom totally reworked the bodice, and added the special over the shoulder decor and bustle and train.  It looked like a completely different dress and Rachel was over the top excited.  It was totally her!  Prom princess couture by Granny.  Amazing!

And Rachel's shoes....oh my!  I want her shoes. Yes, I do.  They are fabulous. 

Rachel had her nails done Friday night with her friend Sarah and then she had a hair appointment Saturday morning. She asked her sister to go with her...cue the tears!  I love that Rachel wanted Hannah to go with her!

It was fun to help her get dressed and take a million pictures before her friends arrived.

Rachel simply took our breath away. 

Love the back of this dress.  Thank you, Granny!!!

Love the hair too:
Since I am a senior sponsor this year, and a senior parent too-duh!, Mr. Incredible and I wanted to make an appearance and see all of the students.  We decided to take Hannah too.  How many eighth graders get to see a junior/senior prom?  Hannah was over-the-top-excited!  And Rachel was too.  I helped Hannah straighten her hair.  This was one of the days I dreamed about when I was hoping and dreaming to be a wife and mommy of daughters some day.  My some day was Saturday.  It was so fun to play dress up with my girls.  I loved and treasured every second.

Here are my gorgeous girlies:

I know!  They are growing much too quickly:

After the grandparents stopped by to see our Prom Princess, the doorbell rang and it was Rachel's friend Sarah.  They both were all giggles:
Then it was time for the stinkin' boys to arrive.  Ha!  They are actually really nice young men.  Caleb, on the right was Rachel's date last year.  This year Rachel's friend, Jacob asked her to prom.  They all went together as that too!
They were all sweet to let the Mama-razzi take lots of pictures. 
I think the guys were excited about their dates too.  They gave me this pose:

And then our little Princess went off to the Prom...and she took our hearts with her!  This momma's heart knows all too well that her next senior milestone is graduation....and I'm just not ready for that yet!

Day 6: Jerusalem!

After visiting Masada, En Geddi, and Qumron, it was time to travel to our much anticipated destination...Jerusalem!  My mind was flooded with images I have held in my heart since childhood about Jerusalem.  Would it be what I thought it would look like?  My heart could hardly contain it's absolute joy and delight as we could finally see The Holy City, Mt. Zion, The City of God, The City of the Great King, the Eternal City, The Spiritual Capital of the World...Jerusalem!

Our guide played "the Holy City (Jerusalem)" song for us as we reached Jerusalem.  I sobbed when I saw the Holy City with my very own eyes! And my visions from childhood of the city were sweetened with the amazing aroma of home.  It smelled and felt like home.  That is the only way to describe how I felt. 

We rode to the top of Mt. Scopus so that we could overlook the city...and it was breathtaking.  My heart kept crying out, "Glory to God!"  Naturally, we took a few pictures here too:

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(Me, Rachel, Nonnie, Hannah, Poppie, and my Mr. Incredible)

You can tell by our Texas hair, that is larger than normal because it was windy and much cooler than when we were in the desert and Masada.  I was more than ready to be inside the old city walls of Jerusalem but that had to wait until tomorrow. 

Before checking into the Jerusalem Ramada, we visited the Nissan Brothers shop in Jerusalem.  They sell fine quality olive wood, jewelry, coins, antiques, and replicas.  We bought a few gifts there and some olive wood ornaments for our Christmas tree (we try to buy an ornament for our tree from every vacation that we are blessed to go on which makes for nice memories every year). 

My man was still outside the store and Hannah and I were shopping together.  Rachel was with one of the grandmothers.  George, one of the owners looked at Hannah and then looked at me and offered 2,000 camels and 200 goats for Hannah.  What?!  I laughed and quickly said, "No, no, no!" 

Later on, our family was shopping together, in the same store, when George approached Mr. Incredible, stepped between my man and I and exclaimed that he had beautiful sons for the 3 of us girls.  Strange!

After we had carefully selected our gifts, we were in line at the checkout when another man approached me and asked if I was the wife and if my man was the husband?  I of course said yes.  He looked at our daughters and asked if they were our daughters?  We both quickly answered yes.  The man looked at us again and announces, "Good factory!  You should have a dozen more!" 

I didn't know if that was a compliment or if I should be insulted so I just said thank you.  Oiy!  I've never been called a "good factory" before.  Ha!

My sleep didn't come as easily this night because I was so anxious to see more of Jerusalem!

Journey to Israel Day 6: Masada

I am sad to leave the Dead Sea this morning.  My skin and feet feel so very hydrated and soft and we are all feeling well rested.  My dad just told me to hang on, so I know today will be another incredible day!

We are travelling to Masada a place that symbolizes Jewish courage and perseverance.  Masada means "stronghold."  Herod the Great built this mighty refuge for troubled times. He would retreat here to his palace.  The architecture is incredible but that is not what makes Masada so special.

The fortress is located on the edge of the barren Negev desert and was the Zealot's last stronghold against Rome.  Nine hundred and sixty Jews organized their last resistance to the Roman conquerors here and took their own lives rather than surrender into slavery. I know!  That is a lot to take in, isn't it? 

We all rode a cable car to the top of Masada.  From the cable car you could see Roman siege camps on each side.

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One of the large Roman siege camps.   The Romans camped outside of the fortress while plotting to overthrow the Zealots:
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We stood where we could overlook the siege ramp the Romans built to overthrow the Zealots. They built this ramp using their Jewish slaves.  How cold the Zealots throw stones and fight against their own people who were in slavery just outside of their fortress?  Instead, the made a plan:

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and we sat in the Synagogue that the Jews had converted from a stable:

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The Zealots came up with a plan to not allow any of them to be placed into slavery.  They would only be enslaved to God and not to any man.

It wasn't long before our guide showed us where the Zealots would have cast lots to determine what 10 men would slay the other men.  Each husband was responsible for taking the lives of his wife and children...I cannot begin to imagine what that must have been like. 

I do know that the Zealots loved their wives and children too much too allow them to be raped, abused, and placed into slavery by the Romans but I can't imagine the agony of having to make this decision...and then carry out the plan.

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After the wives and children were killed, the ten men would then take the lives of each other until one man remained and he committed suicide.  On the next day when the Romans arrived they found no resistance, nothing to loot (as the Jews burned all of their possessions) and enough food and water supplies to last for many more months.  The Zealots didn't want anyone to think that they died due to not having provisions of food and water.  The Zealots desired freedom and they were willing to die for it...and they did. 

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Dad reminded us of Psalm 18:1-3 which explains the Lord is our fortress, our stronghold...our Masada.  We ought to live our lives this way instead of in our own power and strength.  You can read more about Masada here

From Masada, we journeyed to En Gedi.  This is where David hid from Saul in a cave that was near a waterfall (I Samuel 24).  The "living water" in the desert was beautiful!  Jesus is the true Living Water.

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On our walk to see the waterfall, our guide showed us trees of thorns....thorns much like our Savior wore as a crown when He died for our sins.
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We stopped for a while in Qumron where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in this very cave:

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and then we boarded the bus for our journey to....Jerusalem!!!!  Jerusalem!  Be still my heart...I have so longed to see you!!!