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Happy 4th July 2013!

A Thought for Independence Day – July 4th 2013

As we celebrate Independence Day on Thursday, perhaps it may be helpful to take the time to reflect on the meaning of “independence” and it association with “freedom”.

Perhaps the greatest freedom that man has ever sought is not from oppression by government, or class, or poverty or ill health, or difficult personal relationships. As important as these forms of oppression are, scripture clearly shows and aligns with our personal experience, that the greatest oppression that man can experience is that of sin; sin that we afflict against ourselves, our families and friends and ultimately against God Himself.

Thus we find that throughout the ages mankind has attempted to find freedom from the oppression of sin through a wide variety of spiritual and carnal pursuits. These struggles from the oppression of sin have one thing in common – abject failure. The glorious truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ is that the oppression of sin has been broken for all who believe. As the apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:1-2 (KJV),

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Paul then goes on to expand upon the consequences of this freedom in Christ. He writes in Romans 8:31-39 (KJV):

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now that is real freedom!

As you celebrate Independence Day on Thursday can you also say that you experience the eternal freedom in Christ every day?

May the Lord bless you and your families this Independence Day and let us keep our military men and women in our most earnest prayers.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Lakewood Church, Houston, TX

These past few weeks we have been staying at a Thousand Trails in Willis, Texas.

Just down the road there is Lake Conroe, and members of T.T. can rent a boat to go fishing, or just explore this huge lake!

Philippe and I have really been enjoying this campground, there are a ton of fun activities to do; Including a Hawaiian show to kick off the summer.

We have all experienced so many new things in Texas, like Mega Churches. Personally, I am more of a small town, small church girl at heart, although we have all really fallen in love with Mega Churches. It is really something else!!

Our first time at Lakewood church is a memory I will never forget for as long as I live.

“You have arrived at your destination,” the GPS told us, and we all looked around quite confused. All we saw were tall buildings that looked more like hotels than a church.

We pulled into the car park and asked a gentleman where Lakewood church is, he told us “You cannot park underground, but you can go park at the outside parking lot where a shuttle will take you to the church.”

All four of us sat there in surprise. “A shuttle?! To go to church?! This is new!” was what I was thinking, I think this got us all quite excited and curious to see what lied ahead.

So finally we found our parking spot, and we all rushed out of the truck and followed the crowd to where the shuttle was to pick us up.

Mama kept saying that we were late and possibly missed the service and that we would have to listen to the Spanish service. None of us (except for Mom) can understand a word of Spanish. Our fears of a Spanish service increased as we heard everyone around us speaking Spanish.

“Well, Sabrina, everyday one learns something new,” I was repeatedly telling myself “And todays lesson is Spanish,”

The shuttle soon arrived and the doors opened to reveal a smiling African-American woman, who was playing jazzy Gospel music on the radio.

We found our place at the back of the shuttle, and all exchanged excited smiles. Spanish service or not, this was going to be great!

The lady drove us down an underground-type street, we all looked out the window in curiosity, street signs were indicating Lakewood church, ladies and gents dressed in their Sunday best were talking on the sidewalk.

As we stepped off of the shuttle we all looked at each other and asked “Where do we go next?”

Dad started following the crowd, and Mom, Philippe, and I followed Dad.
Soon we came upon two large glass doors that led to the children’s sign in (Philippe stayed with us).
Still lost, we walked up to a lady who was declaring “Section closed! Go to the right!”

“Excuse me-“ began Dad,

“Section closed! Go to the right!”

“Yes, we’re new here, where is-“

“I know, section closed!”

“Where would the service be, please?”

“If you go upstairs someone will help you. Section closed!”

Since the section was closed, we went up the escalator and found where the service was.

Dad led us to one of the auditorium doors, a lady and a gentleman were standing there with two buckets full of what looked like half-and-half coffee containers you can find in offices that serve coffee.

“Would you like communion?” We were asked.

“Excuse me?” Mom replied, not quite knowing how a bucket full of portable half-and-half (or possibly mints) has to do with communion.

“Would you like communion?” The woman asked again, this time picking the little plastic container out of the box to reveal not only grape juice in the container, but a wafer in the lid!

“Oh, yes!” Mama took some for all of us and we continued to walk up the little slanted hallway, we arrived at the doors, my heart started pounding as the loud beat of drums and guitars rung through the walls, I looked down at Philippe and saw his big brown eyes sparkle and he smiled from ear to ear.

Dad opened the door, I find it funny how when you are anticipating something, all normal things seem to take forever to happen. Like opening a door for instance, little by little I began to see the big picture. First I caught a glimpse of the lady singing on stage, and a huge screen above the stage showing a close-up of her. Then I saw the congregation, more, and more, and more people were visible the more dad opened the door.

We all stepped in. My mouth dropped.

An auditorium full of people singing praises to the LORD.

At the car park of Lakewood Church

At the car park of Lakewood Church

During the service just before the sermon

During the service just before the sermon

Sermon delivered by Pastor Joel Osteen

Sermon delivered by Pastor Joel Osteen

At the end of the service

At the end of the service

In front of Lakewood church bookstore

In front of Lakewood church bookstore

This picture was taken by a family visiting from Africa

This picture was taken by a family visiting from Africa

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico

Carlsbad was our third stop in New Mexico, after Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We arrived at the KOA in Carlsbad on Monday June 3rd and left for Texas on Friday June 7th, 2013.

The main attraction in Carlsbad are the caverns at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Philippe was very excited as in addition to a marvelous field trip, he collected his 4th Junior Ranger badge. The first one was from Grand Canyon, AZ, the second from Zion in Utah, the third one from La Mesa Verde in Colorado and now this one.

Carlsbad Caverns are considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. After our visit I had to agree with this statement. I was so overwhelmed with wonder that I told my family that if our journey had to stop there, I would be very content!!

The rock containing Carlsbad Cavern was formed by a reef around 250 million years ago. I do realize that some of you may disagree with this statement but I am only reflecting our tour narrative. There were three major environments in the reef that controlled the kind of organisms living there and the type of rock that was left behind. These reefs were formed from corals, calcareous sponges and algae along with bryozoans, bivalves, marine snails and various micro organisms. The story of the formation of the cavern goes on and on but let’s get to the essential before you get too bored. Between x and y million years ago, hydrogen-sulfide-rich waters (H₂S) began to migrate through deep fractures in the rocks from oil and gas fields surrounding the ancient reef. This water mixed with rainwater moving downward through the rock. During mixing the H₂S combined with the oxygen carried by the rainwater and formed sulfuric acid (H₂S04). This acid dissolved the limestone along fractures and folds in the rock to form Carlsbad Cavern. This process left behind massive gypsum deposits, clay and silt as evidence of how the cave was formed.

I hope that you will enjoy the pictures below. These are a small samples of what I took as I have 924 pictures of the Cavern. Sabrina told me that she does not want to see a camera flash for a long time!

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At the ceiling you can notice the formation of what’s called cave popcorn. Cave popcorn are circular formations that look like caramel popcorn!!

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At that point we entered what’s called The Big Room. This is the largest known natural limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere. The floor space in the Big Room is estimated at more than 600,000 square feet. The pictures below were taken from The Big Room.

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Below is a picture of draperies. A drapery is a sheet like stalactite that forms along a crack in the ceiling.

Draperies

Draperies

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A column is when a stalagmite and a stalactite have grown together.

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Below on the right hand side, is the column of the Giant Dome. Its height is 62 feet (19 meters) above the trails. On the left hand side of the Giant Dome are the Twin Domes. These are stalagmites of  58 feet above trail (18 meters).

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What you see on the picture below are three massive Speleothems – the largest in the cave. These giants began as small deposits on the cavern floor. Gradual accumulation of calcite from dripping water caused them to grow in height and girth.

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The wire ladder that you see below was installed in 1924 during a 6 month exploration and survey sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Built by Jim White (a young cowboy who found the entrance of the cave back in 1898) the ladder descents 90 feet into the Lower cave.

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Trying to resuscitate after spending 4 hours at 1000 feet below the surface!

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Back to our KOA located in the middle of nowhere in the desert! It was actually a great KOA voted the best in New Mexico. As space was not lacking, our site was very large. Due to its rather isolated location, this KOA was serving dinner either at the restaurant or delivered at your site. A shop was available and the staff were extremely helpful. I would recommend staying there if you are planning to visit the cavern.

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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

La Mesa Verde, CO – Visit to the Spruce Tree House

The first archeological site that we chose to visit was the Spruce Tree House. Just to give you an idea of the scope of the Mesa Verde archeological sites, this house represents about 1% of what is left to visit. We would be staying about 2 weeks.

The Spruce Tree house site was constructed between A.D. 1200 and 1276. It was inhabited by the Anasazi people. The Ranger told us that it is thought that it has been home for about 100 people.

The Spruce Tree House in the background

Sabrina and Philippe at the departure of the trail leading to the Spruce Tree House

The tan cliffs are composed of sandstone. This porous rock allows rain, snow and running water to slowly seep down through it. Beneath this sandstone is a layer of shale through which the moisture cannot penetrate. As a result the water reaches the shale, flows between the two layers and emerges in the form of a spring.

The Spruce Tree house

The Spruce Tree house

Sabrina and Philippe with the Spruce Tree House in the background

Sabrina and Philippe with the Spruce Tree House in the background

My wonderful family!

My wonderful family!

A little furry friend from La Mesa Verde!

A little furry friend from La Mesa Verde!

The pictures below will provide you with an overview of the rooms and kivas. A kiva was a ceremonial chamber. This pueblo was built into a natural cave measuring 216 feet (66 meters) at greatest width and 89 feet (27 meters) at its greatest depth.

The picture below is the first courtyard of this village. The low wall in front sets the area apart from the refuse dump which underlies the surface on which you are standing.

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In the picture below you can notice the original wooden supports of a balcony.

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Entrance to the rooms was gained through the rectangular T-shaped doorways.

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A kiva is still used by Pueblo people who are the descendants of the Anasazi. In modern Pueblos as well as in the past a kiva is used as a ceremonial chamber to ensure favorable growing weather, curing illness, successful hunts and harvests and so on. When no ceremonies are taking place, the kiva is used as a work area and as a social gathering place.

A Kiva

A Kiva

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My husband looking up through the ventilation of a Kiva

Philippe going down a Kiva

Philippe going down a Kiva

Here Philippe and Sabrina are trying the mano (a hand stone) to grind corn, nuts, berries and roots on a metate which is a large flat stone. As they ground the food, the soft sandstone grit was also mixed with the food. I am sure that my dentist Dr. Gile will not be impressed of this abrasive mixture that ground down the teeth!

Sabrina and Philippe trying to grind corn using a Mano and a Metate

Sabrina and Philippe trying to grind corn using a Mano and a Metate

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Philippe inside a Kiva

Philippe inside a Kiva

The Anasazi then migrated to the South during the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Today the descendants of these people – the Hopi and others Pueblo dwellers – live in northern New Mexico and Arizona. Utes, Navajos and Apaches now occupy much of their domain.

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In the picture below if you look closely you will be able to see a white print of an hand.

Look at the print of an hand just below the bottom left hand side corner of the window!

Look at the print of an hand just below the bottom left hand side corner of the window!

Sabrina against a Mountain Mahogany bush

Sabrina against a Mountain Mahogany bush

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized