Sunday, March 31, 2013

Risen Indeed

Happy Easter everyone!

The sign on the door at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Today we celebrate the Christ's victory over death and the life that we've been given through the saving power of his resurrection. This morning, I can't help but be reminded of our trip to Israel a few months ago where we were able to visit both the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb. Both of these sites are believed to potentially be the spot of the tomb where Jesus was buried. Although  the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is more widely regarded as the location, I personally found the Garden Tomb resonated with me more as I had a much easier time picturing the events that took place on Easter Sunday all those years ago: 

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28: 1-10 (NIV)

All four gospels have descriptions of the empty tomb, but I find this passage from Matthew to be particularly moving. And although I cannot even imagine what it was like to be one of those women, standing inside the empty tomb a few months ago has given me a small glimpse into what that morning might have been like.

Cameron and I heard a sermon recently that touched on the significance of Jesus revealing himself to women first after his resurrection. While there are many different opinions on why God orchestrated events in this way, I think it's a really cool example of the nature of who God is. At that time in both Jewish and Roman society, women would have been seen as second-class citizens and they could not legally testify in court. Why on Earth would God choose to reveal himself to people who the world viewed as inferior and whose word held no value? I am reminded of another verse from Matthew (19:30) where Jesus said "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." Society saw women as "not good enough" but Jesus chose them to reveal this awesome miracle to. Throughout the Old and New Testament, God is continually demonstrating this idea of an "upside-down kingdom" meaning He doesn't operate the way the world does using traditional power dynamics and excluding people, but rather continually demonstrates how everyone can be used for his purpose. These events make me think of another scripture from the Old Testament (and it was actually one I had to memorize for VBS years ago and I've never forgotten it!) in 1 Samuel "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (16:7b) The faith in the heart of those women caused them to go to the tomb that morning and for that they were greatly rewarded! 

The empty tomb signifies the fulfillment of Scripture and the immeasurable joy that comes through the grace of Christ's sacrifice for us...and that's really something to celebrate this morning! (And if that celebration involves Cadbury eggs, all the better) I hope that wherever you are today that you have a blessed Easter and know just how great the Father's love for you! Xoxo

{Photos from our vacation to Israel}

Friday, March 29, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Weekend in Dublin (Part I)

Happy Friday everyone! I am so excited for this weekend because we're heading to Oregon to celebrate Easter with Cam's family (and it's supposed to be 74 degrees and sunny in Portland tomorrow, woo!) and I'm looking forward to a little getaway. But before we head out, I thought I'd share the first of my photos from Ireland! I realized I took a lot more pictures there than I thought, so I figured I'd break them up into two parts :)

(And in case you missed the first part of our trip, you can catch up here)

 Cameron finished his work meeting in England, we headed out to Ireland first thing on Friday morning. We took a train from Warrington through Wales (which looked like a really beautiful country!) to the coast where we caught a ferry to Dublin. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was really impressed to see this giant, multi-level ship! It had a coffee shop, a gift shop, a restaurant, TVs and Wi-fi so I was expecting a smooth two hour ride to Ireland. 


Wrong. So wrong. The journey was super rough! The ferry was rocking back and forth like crazy, and I ended up getting really sea sick. Like puking at our table in a sea sick bag sick (sorry if that's TMI, but I seriously throw up at the drop of a hat). It was pretty terrible.

That's me feeling like garbage. Bleh.

After arriving in Dublin, we were pleasantly greeted by sunny weather! We took a cab to our hotel, and our hotel in retrospect was probably a poor choice. We stayed at the Radisson out by the airport...which we didn't realize was like a 30 minute bus ride from the city center. Because we booked our trip so last minute and St. Patrick's Day weekend is such a busy time in Dublin, all the hotels we were finding in the city center were $500+ a night. We booked a spot at the Radisson as a backup, and then were hoping to find something else a little more reasonable downtown. However, time got away from us and we never ended up booking a different hotel so we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It wasn't that bad because there was a bus stop 5 minutes from our hotel that ran really regularly to the city center, and we saved a ton of money by staying a little farther out. However, if you're visiting Dublin and it's not crazy St. Patrick's Day prices, I'd recommend staying somewhere downtown. 

After dropping our stuff at our hotel and taking the bus to Dublin, we were more than ready for a drink at this point! We ended up stopping in the gorgeous Bank on College Green, right near Trinity College, which is an actually a restored bank that's now a bar. It was decked out for St. Patrick's Day and it was the perfect spot to have our first Guinness in Ireland!

Dublin seemed really busy and there was a tangible energy with the holiday weekend. There were lots of people selling St. Patrick's Day accessories all over town!

We immediately headed to check out Trinity College and the campus was beautiful.

Trinity College is famous for it's huge library that's home to the Book of Kells. We got there too late on Friday to see it then, but made plans to come back Saturday to check it out.

We ended up getting coffee at a really cute cafe on campus that was in the same building as an interesting (to Cam) engineering exhibition. (I on the other hand loved the ghost chairs!) It was the perfect place to refuel and seeing all the students made me miss being in college!

That evening, we spent time exploring more of the city. Dublin is very charming and it was really cool to see everything decorated for St. Patrick's Day!

For dinner on Friday, we headed to the famed Temple Bar area, which is home to not only the Temple Bar but a large number of pubs/bars. We ended up eating at the Auld Dubliner; the downstairs bar area of the pub was packed, but upstairs we were able to snag a table and try some Irish food. I got something called a "coddle" which is actually a very traditional Dublin dish consisting of sausage, potatoes, bacon and onions. Served with Irish soda bread and a Guinness, it was actually pretty tasty!

After dinner, we went to listen to some Irish music next door at another pub called The Oliver St. John Gogarty which was also completely packed. We didn't end up going in Temple Bar, but we had fun walking around as the whole area was bustling with people in town for the holiday weekend!

Saturday morning, it was sunny once again and really felt like spring!

We headed back to the city center with plans to go to the Dublin Castle, however, it ended up being closed so we weren't able to go in and check it out.

However, the Dublin Castle was conveniently located right across the street from the most charming little place called Queen of Tarts. I had heard this place was a "must-try" in Dublin, and we were not disappointed! They had the most incredible selection of delicious baked goods--I was in heaven! I had the Victoria Sponge Cake, which was so light with a delicious raspberry cream filling and a crunchy top, complete with fresh whipped cream!

After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with amazing desserts, we headed over to check out the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral. It has a very long history and its crypt, constructed in 1172, is the oldest surviving structure in Dublin. I loved the floor of the church because it had such interesting, colorful patterns!

Saturday was such great weather, perfect for walking around!

Cam and I got a kick out of these signs they had all over the city, too funny :)

Next on our list of sights to see was Dublin's other medieval cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral. This church is Ireland's National Cathedral so there were many statues and memorials of political significance inside in addition to religious symbols.

After getting our fill of cathedrals, we figured it was high-time to head to see another one of Dublin's famous attractions, the Guinness Storehouse. However, it seemed that everyone else in Dublin had the same idea because the lines were outrageous when we got there Saturday afternoon!

There was no way we were waiting in that line (it was wrapped around the entire block!) so we figured we'd come back the next day to Guinness, and decided to go back to Trinity College instead. Even though we had briefly walked through campus the day before, I still couldn't get over how gorgeous it was!

We got in line (albeit a much shorter line than at the Guinness Storehouse!) to see the famous library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is an ornately illustrated copy of the four Gospels written in Latin by Celtic monks around the year 800. There is a great exhibit that provides a great deal of history and information about the book before you're actually allowed to go in and see the Book of Kells itself. No photos were allowed in the exhibit or of the Book of Kells itself, but it was definitely neat to see!

However, photos were allowed inside the part of the library known as the Long Room and it was absolutely breathtaking! There were books from floor to ceiling and it totally reminded of the library in Beauty and the Beast.

Such an insane amount of books! The library also contains Ireland's oldest Gaelic harp which dates from 15th century.

Trinity College is definitely a "must-see" if you are ever in Dublin! 

We continued the St. Patrick's Day celebrations for the rest of the weekend, but the rest of the photos will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a blessed Easter weekend! Xoxo


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