Barcelona Day Two-November 2,2013

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On day two in Barcelona we visited the beautiful and breath taking Basilica I Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia.  This basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, is a large Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). This church is still under construction today.  In November 2010 Pope Benedict XV1 consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica.  This work of art and interpretation of gothic architecture is like no other. Following this tour we made our way to the Serenade of The Seas Cruise line to begin our cruise!

Sabbatical Journey 2013 began in Barecelona Spain.

Our journey through the city of Barcelona, Spain was full of history.  We read in Romans 15:28 we read that Paul passed through Spain to get to Rome so it was fitting that we should begin this journey of following the footsteps of Paul in Spain. 

Barcelona is a Spanish city, capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and the second largest city in the country, with a population of 1,620,943 within its administrative limits. 
Aside from being up for 29+ hours we enjoyed spending today touring this beautiful city by motor coach and on foot.   Barcelona has four and a half kilometers of sandy beaches. There were no beaches in Barcelona until 1992. The seaside of the city was owned by the local industries, but when the city decided to host the Olympic Games the seaside was converted into a leisure zone. Ten percent of the city is covered by parks.
Barcelona is famous for having no less than 130 hectares (260 football fields) dedicated to pedestrian zones.  The most walked street in Spain is in Barcelona. Approximately 3500 pedestrians walk down the Portal de l’Ángel every hour.
According to Wikipedia “Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is particularly renowned are the architectural works ofAntoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner.  Breath taking architecture is located throughout the city.  The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics.  We were able to see the Olympic village which has now become apartments.  We also saw the Olympic harbor where the sailing events were based out of.  Our bus tour took us past one of the Olympic arenas which is now home to the Soccer team of Barcelona. 

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The trip we have planned for so many months is upon us!  Visiting some places that have been on my bucket list.  This is an exciting opportunity to follow the foot steps of Paul as we cruise the Mediterranean and visit the country’s of Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey.Image

My prayer is of course for safe travels but also that God will truly open my eyes, heart and soul as I encounter the unknown and visit places I have only seen in pictures.

Labyrinth Encounter

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It was back in the 90’s and we were visiting a beautiful cathedral that I had the opportunity to walk my first labyrinth located in the foyer outside a beautiful sanctuary.  Labyrinths always catch my eye, even though I can never remember how to spell the word!

When I encounter a labyrinth no matter the form, I always find my self stopping, taking a deep breath as I prepare to clear my mind and prepare to walk and reap the full meditative benefits from the ritual. I walk slowly and deliberately, following the path inward to the center, and then following the same path back out.

My mind quiets a bit and I feel calmer afterward.  It also serves as an opportunity to listen to my mind in this quiet calming spiritual practice.

Following my class on spirituality and photography at a Retreat Center in Waterloo, Nebraska as I was walking in the courtyard I encountered this beautiful labyrinth set alongside the Platte River. This practice allowed me the opportunity to clear my mind and spirit as I prepare to receive the full benefits of my sabbatical journey!

Changing Seasons!

imageEcclesiastes 3: 1-8 tells us there is a season for everything under heaven… Within this song and poetry, the passage teaches that there’s a time and place for everything.  It’s also a sobering reminder that nothing lasts forever; at the same time we can be encouraged to know that the difficult times will eventually and inevitably be followed by times of peace.  God is in control of it all!

It seems that summer is quickly fading to reveal the beauty and splendor of fall.  As we were making our way to Branson for a couple of days the beautiful colors of fall were absolutely breathtaking!

As I reflect on the many changes I have encountered in my lifetime I realize some of them were good, some of them not so good; some filled with excitement, laughter and joy, some riddled with anxiety, sadness and fear;  and yet focusing on the encouraging words from the a scripture remembering there is always hope!

The question I would pose is what do the changes and seasons in your life reveal about you?

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We have spent the last two weeks enjoying family time with our son, daughter in law and two grandchildren!!  It was time filled with lots of hugs and kisses, enjoying the Magic of Disney and seeing the world through the eyes of a child!!

The Psalmist had it right when he said “Children are a gift from God…”  (Psalms 127:3). And along with that gift comes responsibility!  We begin with a blank slate to help shape and formulate the lives of our children!   That responsibility can be exciting, challenging, exasperating, exhausting, heightened with excitement and at the same time filled anxiety!

The past two weeks were such a treat and blessing for us making lifetime memories with William and Kayelynne!  Not many things warm your heart and soul like the sweet innocence of a child, their smile and their contagious laughter!  It is really fascination and heart warming to see the world through the eyes of a child!  We experienced incredible excitement, joy and hope in our time together!  Thanks for the memories of a lifetimeImage!  The grandkids are already making plans for our next trip!

The question of the day is when was the last time you stopped to smell the roses, listen to the birds sing and really just enjoy the beauty of God’s world?

Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend IA

imageIt was a rainy Sunday that we made our way to see the Grotto of Redemption. When we arrived to see this breath taking collection of rocks from around the world, the rain stopped and we were able enjoy this picturesque display and tour. As stated on their website “The mission of the Grotto of the Redemption is to present in stone the whole story of the fall of woman and man, our Divine redemption through Christ, and Mary’s presence in the redemptive process. As Father Dobberstien commented, “If your messages are carved in stone they are imperishable. The imperishableness is the outstanding feature of the Grotto.” Our purpose is to preserve that imperishability and see that the Grotto of the Redemption will continue to tell its edifying story long after the builder has laid down his trowel. We strive to fulfill Father Dobberstein’s concept of open access to the Grotto for all who come seeking inspiration, spiritual renewal and a strengthening of their faith.”
Visiting each of the sections of the Grotto offered an opportunity for prayer, mediation and worship while encountering a beautiful depiction of Christ’s life.

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Making Memories

Making Memories

On this journey of rest, reflection and renewal I am reminded what it means to see the world through the eyes of a child! Jesus said “let the little children come unto me for such belongs the kingdom of God”. He understood the important role children play in our lives!