Tag Archives: rome


I'm afraid you'll find me talking about the trip we took at the end of July for some time to come. My eyes beheld beautiful, splendid things in Turkey and Greece. Rome and Israel provided arresting images too. These places captured my heart and disturbed my spirit to the point of earnestly seeking to be renewed. I got the chance to do just that with Jason and Hayden (who were also baptized)and with old friends and new at the Jordan River where Jesus too was baptized. 

....I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The following is a mixture of the inconsequential (yet delightful) as well as those things I experienced which have brought new meaning to life


The Pudding Shop found in Istanbul right across the street from the Blue Mosque was once known as a famous hitch hiker bar. It was a place where hippies who had lost their traveling buddy could meet back up. Those who visited could meet other travelers and study maps. It was also a place where notes could be left for those following behind. 

If you look closely you can see a hand behind the bars being placed in the "Mouth of Truth" /"Boccaccio Della Verita" , a movie made famous by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie "Roman Holiday". Sorry for the lousy picture. It was taken from a moving bus.  Tradition says that if you put your hand in its mouth while telling a lie, your hand will be bitten off. In the 90's movie "Only You", Robert Downey Jr places his hand in its mouth but gets to keep his hand even though he's a liar, a dreamy liar.....but a liar. 

Here are Umbrella pine (also called stone pine) which have been used ornamentally in Italy for the past three hundred years but are described as an invasive species in South Africa. What some consider trash, others consider treasure. Pine nuts come from the umbrella pine and small species are used for Bonsai.  


If you're looking to adopt an exotic feline or canine there are plenty of both roaming ....everywhere. They seem pretty happy though, and pretty well-fed. 

We noticed that headless statues are common. It's believed that soldiers knocked off the heads  or sometimes arms when ransacking a place. 

I've gotten nothing to say about this picture. Except that I'm glad I've got to share authentic Italian pizza with him,......and LIFE. 


Here's the Sistine Chapel. I told you in my last post that picture taking on the inside isn't allowed. This shattered my life's hopes and dreams (we'll at least one of them) so I just took a picture of the outside. By the way, you should check out my last post with more riveting facts and awesome pictures if you haven't yet. 

Michelangelo painted its ceiling on his back wearing a crown of candles at times to help him see. After painting much of the ceiling, he was escorted back twenty-five years later to paint the altar wall depicting the second coming. It took four years to paint.

  Most characters including Mary were painted nude which motivated the Cardinal and Monsignor Sernini to start "The Fig Leaf Campaign" which would have the work removed or censored. A quick study revealed that the Pope's Master of ceremonies, Cesena, also condemned Michelangelo's work for its nudity saying it was better befitted for a bathroom.

 Michelangelo executed his revenge with a well-placed fresco using Cesena's face on the body of Minos. He included donkey ears and and painted a serpent around the body. That lady and gents is still on the altar wall in the chapel. 

So bad. 

Michelangelo's most treasured work wouldn't be the phenomenal paintings found in the chapel, but a sculpture chiseled from marble depicting Mary holding Jesus after his death. It's the only piece he ever signed, which he said he regretted later. It stands in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican with bullet proof glass in front due to a crazed man hacking up Mary's arm and nose years back. Her nose has been restored with a piece from her back. It's a powerful piece called Pieta.  


We learned that Necropolis is an ancient cemetery whose name derives from the term "city of the dead". Those buried were buried outside the city as opposed to tombs within the city. The word "cemetery" in Greek means "sleeping place". When I go, I'm glad I'll be placed in the latter. 

Here's another statue of Peter in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. A constant line of people flowed wishing to rub his feet. Hayden noticed that his toes are barely noticeable at this point having been rubbed smooth. Peter is my favorite. 

In our arrogance we think we've advanced so far because of our intelligence. But let me just say that the work of the ancients was pretty brilliant too. I stayed humbled on this trip. This is part of a Roman bath house. The stones were covered by a floor. Hot water underneath brought about steam through these stones providing a sauna for the men. 

It was on this stone road that Paul was beheaded. 


The mosaic pictured here (which looks more like a painting) is on the Basilica of St Paul and was made using more than one million pieces.

Here's another mosaic done on the inside with a "mere" 60,000 pieces. 


The devotion evident in sculptures, paintings and architecture we saw makes me question my five second prayers, quick scripture reads and my attention to God which is so quickly diverted. These artists seemed to know better how much is due such a beautiful magnificent God. 

Besides a quick blog post, a breath of thankfulness, a Sunday at church, singing along with songs of worship on the radio....

What is due? 

As the old hymn says so well...

Were the whole realm of nature mine, 

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine, 

Demands my soul, my life, my all



I caused congestion in the produce aisle in HEB yesterday. I was getting groceries and happened to see a church friend who either, not knowing or forgetting how I love to talk, asked me how our Israel trip was.  "It was amazing," I said.

But what does amazing even mean?

I counted at least seven glasses upstairs in the kids' rooms yesterday even though I've told them not to bring drinks upstairs. That's amazing to me. Amazing is vague.

So I had to tell her a little about the trip and how it still has my mind boggled consuming my thoughts even in the wee hours of the morning. And then I talked with her doll-eyed boy about the snack tray he munched on which included tiny nacho chips and race car gummies. Then I moved on so traffic could flow more freely by the avocados.

I saw three more friends while shopping yesterday who commented on the trip. I tried to keep my words to a minimum because who wants to be in HEB very long. But each time I was dissatisfied with my having to describe a trip that changed my life in only a few words.

That's why, once again, I'm thankful for having a space to write out my heart's clamoring.

With this post I'll start out light because thoughts of the trip still float dizzily above me like a kaleidoscope of butterflies uncontained yet begging to be noticed.

There's more to come though.

Here are a few of the things I learned on our trip to Israel which also included days of wonder in Turkey, Rome and Greece:

Turkey is beautiful and colorful and altogether visually stunning.

In Rome, you should never say "Ciao" to an acquaintance and definitely not to someone you've never met.

Gelato is nothing like jello. How could I have ignored this stuff at Rao's so long? Why didn't anyone tell me?...



The Circus Maximus wasn't a circus after all, but an ancient stadium used for chariot racing which held 150,000 spectators. Because of its genius, it became a model for Roman circuses throughout the Roman Empire.

All hotdogs are not created equal. Never, never get one while you're in Rome. Do as the Romans do. Eat pizza.....or gelato.

Neither are all toilet seats created equal.


 You can't take pictures in the Sistine Chapel.

I now understand the meaning of Rome wasn't built in a day.




"Prego" means "you're welcome" which is funny when you think of the spaghetti sauce. I can picture a healthy Italian in a white apron handing me a jar of Prego saying in his thick accent "Here's some Prego,......you're welcome!"

In Greece I learned that the marble steps leading to the Parthenon are slippery and just how quick Jason and Hayden can be to pick me up when I fall.

I learned that the Greek get it right when it comes to Greek salad. They leave out the lettuce and go straight for the goody.

I discovered that graffiti can be beautiful particularly by a gigantic set of "praying hands" on the side of a hotel in the center of Athens. The "Praying Hands" as they're fondly referred to are pointing down instead of up toward heaven. These are the hands of God reaching down.

I learned what Falaffel is and that Israeli people eat a lot of chickpeas between Falaffel and hummus.

I learned that, like in Egypt, Israel has mountains of dirt, and is as hot as southeast Texas. I learned why scripture containing reference to  "water springing up" and "living water" held such important meaning. I learned that I am often inattentive to my thirst and fill myself with things that don't satisfy.

I learned TWICE that you DON'T cross your legs in the Greek Orthodox Chruch. Sheesh! Some people are slow learners.

I saw an actual ancient manger that wasn't made of wood supported by legs.

As we traveled past the back door of Syria and into Jordan and the West Bank I was reminded that it's sometimes in the darkest places where God's presence is the strongest.

I remembered why I love Peter so much, a man who was willing to die for Christ yet denied him three times. He lived a life of commitment to Jesus that was often clouded by humanity.

But more than anything I learned that my mind can't contain how big God is and how good are his ways. Throughout the trip I couldn't get a tune out of my head that I think more encompasses my feelings than any words I could come up with. It's a song by Addison Road.

Guess I thought that I had figured You out

I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about

How You were mighty to save

Those were only empty words on a page

Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be

The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

So What do I know of You

Who spoke me into motion?

Where have I even stood

But the shore along Your ocean?

Are You fire? Are You fury?

Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?

So What do I know?

What do I know of Holy?

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