Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Come Heal With Me; Week 4


He leads me beside still waters.

Notes taken from the book (God's Psychiatry): Sheep are afraid of moving water. This is based on instinct; because of their thick woolly coats, they cannot swim. When sheep are thirsty, they will drink only from still water.

If there is no still water around, this presents a problem for the shepherd. So, while the sheep are resting (He makes me to lie down in green pastures), the shepherd gathers rocks to form a watering pool of still water.

The shepherd understands the fear of his sheep and provides a way of peace and safety.

Mother's Notes Written in the Book: Jehovah shalom (written not once, but twice in the margins). God of peace. God of still waters.

My Notes: After reading these words, I walked into my home and realized--for the first time--that as soon as one enters, the peaceful view of the lake is there. When the water is still, it looks like a pool of ink laying on the canvas of the world. It calls to me from nearly every room...but how often do I go out, sit, and drink of its beauty? Of its respite? Of its peace?

Not often enough.

But I have come to realize that long before I lost Mother, long before I began my struggle with "why?", God was at work gathering stones to form a place of peace where I can heal. The wound of losing Mother to heaven will never be fully healed until I join her there and stand before the Throne of Grace & Mercy with her, shouting "All glory and hallelujah" to the Prince of Peace and to his Father, Jehovah Shalom. But until then, God has prepared a place for me, where I can "drink" of His peace.

My notes to you: Where is your place of peace? Where can you go to find respite, to drink from God's goodness, from His Word, from the quiet he whispers into your soul? You may not have a dock jutting out over a lake. Your place of peace may be the shower, the commute train or the car. It may be your closet or the walk from the front door to the mailbox. Like Suzanne Wesley, mother of John & Charles, you may have to sit in a corner, throw your apron over your head, and demand a moment of peace (most mothers will relate to this). Even if only for a moment each day, find a place where you can be quiet. Take a short walk. A long walk. Whatever you need to do...but make a time of quiet. Of stillness.

My dear friend Robert Benson once told me, "Eva Marie, the only person who knows what God has whispered into your heart is you; but you won't hear him if you don't hush."

A famous line (misquoted) by Emerson goes like this: Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.

Find the place God has prepared for you. It's easy to do. Just look for the rocks...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Come Heal With Me; Week 3


He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

Notes from the book, God's Psychiatry: The books tells me that a shepherd will wake his sheep at 4 in the morning and walk them until about 10, when he forces them to lie down.

He forces them...

As they walk, sheep eat. By 10, they are full of undigested grass; they are hot and tired. If they drink water--even though they may want to keep going toward the water--they will become sick.

The shepherd knows this.

My notes: Remember the Sabbath, the Lord said, and keep it holy. But there's even more to this.

1) The sabbath was made holy by God (Ex. 20:11)
2) Keeping the Sabbath shows we are set apart, sanctified (Ex 31:13).
3) "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's Holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the Land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.

"The mouth of the Lord has spoken" (Isaiah 58: 13-14).

4) The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

I think it is vitally important now more than ever that I keep the Sabbath day set apart. I work, I stay busy, I don't think. That's the plan, isn't it, when one is grieving? Just. Stay. Busy. In time, you'll forget the immenseness of the pain. Isn't that the way of it?

But, if I'm reading God correctly on this, I need this time to rest. To ponder the things of God. To read. To nap. (Mother always napped on the Sabbath!) To worship, most of all.

And to grieve the lost of my beloved mother...and of my doting daddy four years ago.

Mother wrote this remarkable sentence at the end of the chapter: To a person not content, their pasture can never be green. Only with God in their heart can they ever be content.

My additional thoughts: How can I be content if I don't rest? If I don't remember? How can God heal me, if I don't allow myself to grieve? It's like not allowing a wound to bleed...without the bleeding, the impurities cannot flow out. Keep the impurities in, and just watch what happens.

My notes to you: If you are in a season of grief right now (and even if you are not), take at least one day a week to rest in the Lord. Be still and know that I am God," the Sons of Korah wrote in Psalm 46:10). Do you know what "be still" means in Hebrew?

It means...be still.

Stop.
Cease from your labor.
Rest.

A verse from Isaiah that shook me to my core last year (when I read it for the 100th time) is this:

“This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”—
but they would not listen.

But they would not listen... Will you make the Shepherd force you to lie down? Or will you lie down because you trust his leading? Think of the Sabbath as 10 in the morning.
Stop.
Rest.
Listen.
You just may hear the whispers of God as He breathes healing words over your soul.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Come, Heal With Me (Week Two)


We begin with the 23rd Psalm.

We begin, specifically, with the first verse:

The Love is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

Notes taken from the book (God's Psychiatry):

As the sheep in David's flock laid down in the fold, night after night, able to find sleep without care, so can I. They (the sheep) do not worry about tomorrow. What they know is simple: today, I was cared for. Tomorrow, I will also be cared for.

Mother's notes in the margins:

Wealth? Tithes?

My Notes: Mother believed in tithing! She was taken care of financially by her mother and father until she married my father. From then on, she was taken care of by him.

Like so many women of her era, Mother made homemaking and mothering her full time job. Every morning, we were served a full breakfast, hot, right off the stove. The house was kept immaculate. One of my favorite old photographs of Mother shows her with a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other. The expression on her face reads, "Beware dust and grime! I'm on the warpath!" Homemade cookies awaited my brother and me every afternoon after school. When my father walked in the door at the end of his workday, he was greeted with a kiss, followed by a hot supper on the table no latter than 6:30 p.m. Mother loved what she did, and she did it well.

But, in 1979, after 24 years of marriage, my mother and father separated (they would not divorce for another five years); Mother had to step into a new role, that of employee.

Finding work in a small town is not easy, especially for a middle-aged woman without "skills," but she managed. Between a part-time job and the sewing she took in (along with spousal support), Mother was able to eek out a living. She shared with me often that, "If I make $3 hemming a pair of slacks, I put 30 cents in the offering plate on Sunday." She also shared, "I don't know where the money is coming from, but God is providing for me." Eventually she went to work for the Board of Education, full-time, but never making more than just a little over minimum wage.

When Mother died, her "checkbook" proved two things:

1. She tithed faithfully
2. God faithfully provided.

On the way from Asheville, NC (where Mother died) to my hometown (where she would be buried), my brother said to me, "Not to be nosy, but what are you going to do with your half of the money?" Part of me thought, "What money?" But another knew that Mother had been tithing ...and ...investing. It had all come together to work out very well for her.

Now, Mother did not live as someone who had the amount of money she had. She didn't over-spend nor did she want for anything. God always provided.

And, she trusted that He always would. Now, I hope to carry that tradition forward with my own children. I hope they, too, can one day look at my checkbook and see how I tithed and, subsequently, how God held up his end of the bargain.

This is also not about how much money was left to my brother and me in Mother's will. This is about God's provision to Mother and how her trust in Him (proven by her tithe) always led to that provision.

Mother also wrote: Put your name; and, Personal.

My Notes: Mother knew something more valuable than any monetary inheritance can give me; belonging to our Heavenly Shepherd is personal. When Mother spoke of the Lord, tears came to her eyes. When she heard songs of praise and adoration lifted up to Him, she wept openly. She loved Him so much, she quivered whenever she felt His presence...when she prayed...when she sang hymns. If Mother did not love her Lord, no one ever has!

The Lord was most definitely Betty's Shepherd.

The Lord is Eva Marie's Shepherd; Eva Marie shall not want.

Now, you try it: The Lord is [INSERT NAME HERE] Shepherd; [INSERT NAME HERE] shall not want.

God has not left me alone to face a lifetime of tomorrows without Mother, lonely and grief-stricken. God will provide all the encouragement, friendship, and laughter that went to Heaven with her. All I need.

He--because of mother's faith, shown in her tithing--has blessed me financially. If I have learned anything from her at all, I can look forward to a future continuing in ministry and not wearing a blue vest while repeating, "Welcome to Wal-Mart" (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) to a parade of shoppers.

So, today I will concentrate on these words: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

What about you? How has God shown you, through your grief, that He is indeed your
Shepherd? How has He provided for your needs in the midst of your heartache?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

COME HEAL WITH ME; THE BASICS


Notes I took after reading Section One of the book (God's Psychiatry, by Charles L. Allen)

"Psychiatry" comes from two Greek words:

1. psyche: the person
2. iatreia: treatment, healing, restoring

David, the beloved Psalmist, wrote that the Lord "restores his soul."
This is God's Psychiatry.

When we look at "the person," we must think of the whole person: mind, body, and soul. A doctor can heal the first two, but only God can heal the soul.

The author of God's Psychiatry, Charles L. Allen, begins the books with "How to Think of God," using the 23rd Psalm. Allen tells the story of prescribing to a successful but unhappy businessman the prescription of reading Psalm 23 five times a day for seven days. In reading it, the man was to concentrate on the words.

Mother's Notes in the Margins:

In the margins, Mother wrote:

23 Psalm
Powerful
Writing n existence (I take this as "the most powerful writing in existence.")
7 days.

From My Journal:

Mother's prescription for God's healing of my wounded soul, I think, is to read the most powerful 118 words ever penned. Allen says the words are powerful because they send a positive, hopeful, faith-approach to life.

I need that.

"A man is what he thinks about all day long." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
"Change your thoughts and you change your world." (Norman Vincent Peale)
"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)

Beginning today, I change my thoughts. I shift in thinking about what I lost in Mother's passing and start thinking about what I've gained in the Lord. What I've gained because she was my mother. What blessings her life bestowed on mine.

She was with me the first 53 years of my life. In that time, I received so much more than I could ever repay God for. I thank you, Father! Thank you that you gave to me such a WONDERFUL Mother! A godly example. A gift to all who knew her. Help me to start with that. Instead of seeing what I lost, I must look at what I had when I had it. Such a treasure. I will not wallow in the pity of losing her but rejoice in the gift of having had her for a time.

Come Heal With Me:

What have you lost that has left you feeling so empty you sometimes think you cannot breathe for the losing of it?

What about the "having it" was so special? What treasure was within?

Thinking more about the treasure and less about the losing, what treasure are you then left with?

For the next seven days, read The 23rd Psalm (see below) at least three times a day, five if you can. Don't just run through it. Say it slowly enough that the words penetrate your very core. Think of this recitation in terms of a prescription from your doctor. If he told you, "Take three times a day," you'd place the pill bottle somewhere so you would not forget. Do the same here.

Until Next Week,

Eva Marie Everson

Psalm 23 (New King James Version)

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

COME HEAL WITH ME; DAY ONE


Today marks my mother's 75th birthday. I had planned a huge surprise party for her. In January I talked with a caterer friend of mine who lives near Mother. I started informing family and friends from back home. It was supposed to be a surprise, so I asked everyone to stay on the hush-hush.

The surprise was on me, I guess. Mother unexpectedly went to be with Jesus in May, six months before her 75th.

To say I didn't see it coming is an understatement. But Mother was more than ready. She'd been commenting to family and friends that she was so ready to "go home." I think she was discouraged with the world in general; she didn't like what was happening to our country, she hated the lack of commitment she saw from those who called themselves Christian, and she was saddened by the state of the church in general. She was ready for Jesus to come to her or her to go to Him.

She got her wish, but I was left with, "What in the world just happened?"

We were together the day she became ill. She literally collapsed into my arms. When I looked into her eyes so close to mine, I saw nothing. I remember thinking "This can't be happening" and "I've got to get help" all at the same time. I screamed her name over and over, hoping that if she was slipping away, she could hear me well enough to fight and stay with me.

And she did. For a little while. Then came the day when she leaped over the mountains skirting around Asheville, NC (where we were) and into the wide opened spaces of Heaven. She was free of the world's troubles...and I was left, with my brother, to wonder why.

In October, while continuing to clean out and sort through her things, I found a book she'd been teaching her Bible study circle of women from. It was an old book, dating back from the 50s. It was filled with the author's wisdom but it also held little treasures: her notes written in the margins.

The book is titled GOD'S PSYCHIATRY. I remember seeing it in my childhood home since ...well...childhood. I never opened it, I don't think. I supposed I didn't think I needed psychiatry (which I'm sure could be debated...). But I have to say now that the title is misleading. This is about recognizing the wounds of life. This is about making sense of it all. This is about healing.

The book was written by Charles L. Allen (1913 – August 30, 2005), a Methodist pastor from Atlanta. It was published by Fleming Revel, ironically who I am published with today. It's not a big book and it can still be found on Amazon. It takes the 23rd Psalm, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Beatitudes and breaks them down, line by line, to promote emotional healing.

What I want to share with you is what I'm learning from the book, from my mother's notes, and from my own journaling as I progress toward understanding and healing. So, beginning tomorrow and then once a week, I ask that you join me on this journey. Whether you've lost someone to death, are in the process of loss of any kind, in the midst of emotional wounds so deep...

Come. Heal with me...

Eva Marie Everson

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Life of a Tekton

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about being at The Nazareth Village was watching the ins and outs of the tekton trade. Jesus was a tekton, as was his father Joseph. A tekton is someone who is a craftsman, whether with wood or stone.

The ancient world was not without its resources. For example, tektons of Jesus' day developed their own "power drill":


They developed a way to press the oil from olives:


Not an easy day's work, to be sure.

The men were not the only ones contributing...not by a long shot! Among the many daily tasks, their women worked laboriously over the loom:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Second Lesson: The Nazareth Village

It's a simple lesson.

...about a simple life.

As the tiny group of us gathered in the area recreated as a first century home, our eyes were drawn to the little room. Everything about it, simplistic. Nothing there that couldn't be or wouldn't be used in everyday life.

But no television. No remote controls lying all over the place. No Wii. No overhead lighting or surround sound speakers. Not a single sofa setting with matching pillows. No fine art hanging on the walls...or family portraits...or proud displays of newborns in arms.

Just living.

So why were we drawn to it? I think I know. Because in spite of our comforts and guilty pleasures and in spite of our need to make our immediate world pretty...deep down we desire a different life. A simple life.

Have you ever heard someone say, "I can't hear God anymore. Wonder how they heard Him so much back in the Bible days."

Is it that God no longer speaks? No. But you see, it's easier to hear the whispers of God in the quiet than in the madness we call "everyday." Maybe that's why we work so hard to buy the "lake house" and the "mountain home" and the "beach condo." We need a place to get away. To find the quiet. We even tell our loved ones that what we like most about these 2nd homes is that they don't have cable for television, no satellite service, scarce cell phone coverage ... "I can barely get radio..."

Author and contemplative Robert Benson, who I admire with a vengeance, said to me many years ago, "Eva Marie, the only one who knows what God has whispered into your heart is you. But you won't hear him if you don't hush."

Those two sentences rocked me to the very fiber of my being. I have, since, learned to appreciate silence.

So, I dare you. Turn off the TV. Walk away from the cell phone. Find the simplest place in your part of the planet and sit quietly for a minute. Or a half hour. Try an hour (you probably won't make it...).

Okay. Now hush.

Do you hear Him?






Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Eye of the Needle/Nazareth Village


Today's Nazareth is a far cry from the little village Jesus grew up in. The city of Nazareth today is just that, a city.

Tucked away along one hillside, however, is an amazing stretch of land that, for years on end, was left untouched. Then a brain-child occurred. Take the land--complete with winepress and other natural elements of First Century Nazareth, and re-create the original.


I'd never been to TNV, though I'd certainly heard about it. Videos featuring my beloved Miriam had been made here, teaching others about the life Jesus knew. The every day. Even the mundane...which, to my way of thinking, isn't so mundane.

My journalistic comrades and I entered into TNV and into another world. One of the first things we noted was a door. A door within a door (see photo). But it turns out this is no ordinary door. According to our guide, this is the eye of the needle.

Doors opened inward. If a friend came to visit, no problem. But what if a visitor was not a friend at all? This left the homeowner defenseless. However, having a small door within a larger door, gave the homeowner a method of preparation. In order for the visitor to enter, they had to stoop. It's difficult to be pushy when you're all bent over.

We were fascinated by this door. A sudden understanding as to the words of Jesus:

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)

A camel...stooping? There are those humps to deal with!

Have you ever watched a camel stand from a "kneeling" position? Once, while I was in Jerusalem, an acquaintance of Miriam's stood near the Mount of Olives Overlook with his camel. A ride was $2. When Miriam introduced me to her friend as a "true friend of Israel," the man wanted to give me a complimentary ride on "Kojak."

I wanted to ride the camel (but I also paid for it!) so I handed my camera to Kojak's owner (for the photo you see here) and then climbed on top of the kneeling animal. As Kojak stood, my mouth fell open (a moment Miriam caught on film. No doubt, she knew this was coming!). While the camel is somewhat graceful in the standing and sitting, he is without question ... awkward. Awkward grace. That's what he is!

Now, standing before the eye of the needle in TNV, I fully understand what Jesus is saying. I'm not so sure a camel can get through the eye of the needle.

So then why is it so difficult for a "rich man" to get into heaven?

I have rich friends and loved ones. Are they without hope? Can they not enter heaven?

No and yes. They are not without hope and they can enter heaven. Providing...

The problem with the rich young ruler was that he wasn't willing to let go of his possessions to follow Jesus, which Jesus knew and tested him with.

When this rich man came to Jesus, it was to ask, "What one thing must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Notice the words one thing and inherit.) Our very wise Jesus asked, "Why do you ask about one thing? Keep the commandments."

Now remember...there were a lot of laws to be kept but only ten had been set apart to be written in stone by the Finger of God (see Exodus 31:18). Ten. But Jesus only mentioned six:

1. do not murder
2. do not commit adultery
3. do not steal
4. do not give false testimony
5. honor your father and mother
6. love your neighbor as yourself

So why not all ten? What was so special about these six? Perhaps because, out of the ten, these six which deal with man-to-man (and/or woman-to-woman. I'm using man as in mankind). The other four deal with man-to-God.

1. have no other gods before Me
2. make no idols and worship them
3. keep God's name holy
4. keep the Sabbath holy

The rich man told Jesus straight up, "I keep all those![the six]" Oh, how excited he must have been. Not only was he rich on earth but he would also be inheriting eternal life. He really could have his cake and eat it too!

"But anything else," he wisely asked.

Well, here came the caveat. "Sell everything," Jesus said. "Give the money to the poor. Don't worry, you'll have treasures in heaven and--unhindered--you can follow me."

This now, was between the rich young man and God.

The Bible tells us that the young man went away sad. The price of following God was not as great as all his wealth. What a shame, what a stinkin' shame.

And so now Jesus makes his famous declaration about camels and needles (low doors).

In Nazareth Village, we have seen a life-lesson come to life.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Church of the Annunciation


In spite of the fact that it towers over the city of Nazareth, I went to Israel twice before seeing the Church of the Annunciation. After being in the quiet holiness (even with the cranky overseer) of St. Gabriel's, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to go. But go I went ... and I found it to be an absolute "must see" when traveling to the Holy Land.

While the Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in Israel, the Church of the Annunciation is the largest. The outside is arranged with walkways -- both covered and not -- filled with paintings, statues, and other pieces of artwork, all created to honor Mary, the mother of the Christ. Inside, on the lower level, the Grotto of the Annunciation is the focal point below. This is the place where, tradition holds, Mary lived with her parents and where she received the words of her future from Gabriel. The upper level's focus is not only the dark wooden pews shining high with years of polish and patina, but also the continued memorials to Mary. The floors are marble, within them depictions of angels.

I looked forward to my friends coming to see what I'd seen years earlier. Together we walked among the pilgrims outside. Below the church, in the grotto, we sat quietly at thought of what it must have been like to have been the young girl -- her whole world ahead of her, a natural world, a world of marriage and children -- to be called to such a task. Above, as we walked under the lily dome and as we listened to visitors below singing "Hallelujah," we marveled at the gifts in honor of this woman/child.

When there was nothing left to do, we returned to the real world, where beneath the church is found remnants of 1st century Nazareth. A reminder, I suppose, that life truly existed here once upon a time, and that Mary's life -- and Joseph's and the little boy Jesus -- was not a fairytale in a book we call the Bible.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A new article posted at CBN.com

For the latest article written for CBN.com about Israel (The Fifth Gospel Chronicles), go to: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/inspirationalteaching/Everson_Israel_Capernaum.aspx

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Back to Israel

It's official ... and in more ways than one. I'm returning "home" to Israel in 2011.

And, in 2010 ... as I am going to return to my journaling about the Land of the Bible, God's Holy Land. When last we spoke of Israel -- before my mother's untimely death -- I wrote to you of my adventure in St. Gabriel's in Nazareth. Now, I want to tell you about something completely (sort of) unrelated to the Bible but sooooo much fun for me.

In 2007, after Miriam and I had gone to St. Gabriel's, we stepped out into the open courtyard and I purchased some gift items from a kiosk vendor nearby. I then declared to Miriam that I was a little fatigued and wished we had time for a cup of coffee. It was now mid-afternoon, the winter air was pleasant, and we'd walked a good ways just to get to the church. Miriam pointed to a restaurant called Bayat (The House) and said, "How about over there?"

We were seated at a table outside, just beyond the front door. Miriam suggested cappuccino and I nodded in agreement. Minutes later, two cups of divine with adorable hearts swished into the foam along with little bisciottis were placed before us. I declared the coffee to be the best anywhere that I'd ever had in my whole life.

In 2009, with my fellow journalists along for the journey, I said to the group that after St. Gabriel's we had to go to the cafe for afternoon coffee. Everyone agreed. YES!

Bayat's was exactly as wonderful as I remembered it. This time we sat indoors, the eight of us around a long wooden table in a sunken dining room with old stone floors and walls, giving the aura of old world Israel. We ordered different things off the dessert menu -- our intent to share -- and individual desires for drinks such as cappuccino, hot tea, and Coke.

We laughed and told jokes, Ellie Kay entertaining us with more impersonations of her mother, who is from Spain. And then the food came ... and we nearly died right there on the floor! We ate. Oh, did we eat! We shared! Oh, did we share!

Too soon it was time to leave. To be full and happy, this is the way of travel in Israel. One taste and pilgrims know why so many of the Bible's stories happened around a table.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It All Happened So Fast...


...not just Mother's sudden illness and the passing on to Glory.

The last 53 years went by so fast.

Oh, if I'd only known! There would have never been a moment of disobedience from the five-year-old. I'd been a more gentle, appreciative teenager. I would have cherished every moment even more than I already did as an adult.

I would have written more letters. She loved letters.

Email had taken them away, really. She just wasn't that keen on the Internet.

We would have laughed more. She loved to laugh. And I would have recorded her telling stories as I'd done Daddy's mother. My mother also had some great stories to tell ... of growing up ... and of her mother and father and brothers and extended family. She grew up in a lot of love.

I never ended a conversation without "I love you" but I would have thrown it in to a few conversations as well. What would it have hurt?

If I had known ... on her last healthy day ... that it would be her last healthy day ... I would have never left her side. Or I would have taken her to the hospital right then and there. And told them what I somehow knew. And they would have made it all right again.

But it all happened so fast.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Brief Explanation


It's June 10, 2010. It's been two weeks and one day since the most difficult, easiest day of my life.

The day my mother passed on to Glory.

We were together near Black Mountain, NC when she had the first hemorrhage from a brain aneurysm. She had the second hemorrhage in the hospital.

Over the next couple of days, I'll tell you a little bit about all this. Then, we'll go back to talking about Israel.

But I'll tell you this: heaven is all the more lovely because of a little lady I know living there. I miss her more than words can say, but I know she is exactly where she has always wanted to be.

Thank you for your patience with my blog.

Eva Marie Everson

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nazareth's First Century Spring

I've sort of waited for this day. And, before I begin, I want you all to know what I am about to tell you, I say in all serious jest.

There's a mean old man sweeping the floors of the Church of St. Gabriel in Nazareth. I've encountered him not once, but twice. But before I warn you ... um, tell you ... about him, let me tell you about this marvelous place and what it is built over.

According to the Orthodox tradition, Mary -- the mother of Jesus, before she was his mother -- was drawing water from the first century well when she received the call on her life from none other than Gabriel. The spring leading to the well remains, as does the well, but several years ago, during renovation, the water supply was cut off to the well.

As a young girl and as a woman living in Nazareth, this is the only location Mary would have and could have gone to daily to fetch water for her family.

The Church of St. Gabriel was originally built circa 600-700 AD and was and is dedicated to the archangel, Gabriel. The chapel of the church we are able to see today is from the Middle Ages with the church itself built in 1750.

Inside the church one finds distinguished iconostasis, highly-polished pews, paintings honoring God and His story told beneath this location, deep golds and rich reds. It's quite dark, really. Warm by its nature but stand-offish in a way. Come but don't touch, it seems to say.

Or maybe that's the crotchety old man ...

At any rate, directly ahead of the front door from which light spills in from a courtyard where street vendors sell their good and several cafes offer culinary delights, are seven worn steps leading to the Chapel of the Spring.

And there, trickling below a low-burning lamp and surrounded by numerous depictions of Mary, is the source of the water.

Of course I have to share with you the funny part of this story. We wanted to take pictures (we managed to get a few) but the man yelled at us. Sharon and I sat in one of the pews, hoping to hear from God in the opulence and silence of the church. Eyes closed, we both managed to drink in a drop or two of Living Water.

But, the old man fussed at us and told us to get up. So we did. Feeling pretty rejected, our team of six journalists, one guide, and one IMOT rep, went out into the courtyard. It was then I found my courage. I wanted footage of the spring, by Golly. I tucked my video camera into my purse, left my other camera equipment and carrying case with my comrades, and headed back into the ancient building.

"What do you want now?" the man asked from just inside the door.

I hadn't expected a question. I answered, "I'm going back in" in the most firm tone I have.

The man stepped aside; I marched toward the barrel-vaulted chapel, descended the steps, slipped the camera out of my purse, prayed the man didn't hear the little bell that sounds when I turn the camera on (he didn't, I suppose) and ... voila! Film!

Enjoy!





And In Other News...









Monday, April 19, 2010

At the Church of the Beautitudes

This is truly one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Israel and one I couldn't wait to see again. Not to mention that my friends would have the opportunity to see it for the first time. They were impressed, of course, but possibly none so much as Larry.

Maybe impressed isn't the right word.

Moved. (That's a good word...)

You see, unbeknownst to me, Larry had a dream before we came to Israel. I won't get into the details of it because it's not my place to do so. But it was here, at the Church of the Beatitudes, that Larry realized the dream as reality. It was, quite simply put, the "I am walking where Jesus walked" moment.

There's really nothing like that feeling, that sudden knowledge that you are where He was, where His Spirit continues to hover and wait. Where it inspires and excites.

It is said that here is the place where Jesus -- gathered by countless listeners -- gave the famous "blessed" sermon. Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek ... Personally, I like walking around the gardens -- this time I went alone -- and imagining being one of those listening to Rabbi Y'eshua. A gentle sloping toward the shoreline of the Galilee makes a perfect spot for sitting ... listening ... pondering ... learning more about God and what he expects from me and what He desires to give to me.

There is peace in this location. landscapes, rolling hillsides, bold cliffs standing guard in the distance. reality, Jesus was being pretty gentle in many ways with his teaching here. These were the poor who listened, the ones who daily had to make peace with Rome, the ones who lived meekly ... teachable, as it were. The time had not yet come for some of Jesus' more difficult teachings ... He was just getting started.

And perhaps that is what spoke the loudest to Larry. The gentle Jesus. The rabbi ... teaching in ways beyond words to ears ... but lessons to hearts.

"I was here... this is my land ... these are my people ... my Israel ... "

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mensa Christi


In 2002, on my first trip to Israel and during one of our first days in Galilee, we went on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

We were not allowed to lean over and touch the water.

Oh, how I wanted to! I wanted to so badly. But there were safety issues.

Later on, as we neared our last day in Galilee, I said to Miriam, "If only I could dip my hands and feet into the water of the Sea of Galilee." Miriam said something in Hebrew to our driver and the next thing I knew, we were pulling off on the side of the road next to an arched gate which read: Mensa Christi.

Mensa Christi: the table of Christ. The church standing boldly against the water of the Sea of Galilee, is built over what some say is the rock where the resurrected Jesus served the disciples a meal of fish. The shoreline, that day in 2002, was lined with small seashells, many of which I brought home as a memento.

In 2007, it was a different site awaiting me at the shoreline upon arrival. This time, fish -- like those Peter caught after Jesus told him to throw the net to the right side of the boat -- were in a feeding frenzy. It was an amazing thing to watch.

In 2009, I was bringing my friends here. To the peace of Mensa Christi. Inside the church was humming with tourists. Outside, several people stood along the shoreline in silence as the water lapped at their feet.

While my comrades listened to the Holy Spirit speaking to their heart, I took a walk away from the rock-strewn shore, to the little prayer garden where a statue depicting the restoration of Peter to Jesus. Jesus, arm stretched out. Peter, broken. Down on one knee.
Closer than I've ever been to the statue -- I don't know why -- I snapped a photo. Then I zoomed in a little closer. Closer and closer until I was focused only on Peter's face. "I know how he feels," I thought. "I know exactly how he feels."

Sometimes, we just doubt. We deny the work of God in our lives. We think we can get along without him and we make silly statements like, "I'm going fishing." In other words, "Forget this. I'm going back to what I knew three-and-a-half-years ago."

For the first time, standing in the shade of the stone garden, I thought more on the words of John 21. Jesus called out the disciples in the boat. "Brothers, have you any fish?"

Of course they didn't.

"Then throw the net to the right side of the boat..."

That worked. Now they know who he is.

Then Jesus suggests that they bring their fish and add them to the flame of the coals where he was preparing other fish. And bread. For Peter, this moment must have been both exciting and terrifying. The Jesus he had denied is offering him something to eat. A warm fire to shake the night's work off. And now, I'm totally recognizing the moment for what it is to Peter. Without Jesus, Peter cannot catch any fish. It was his life, for crying out loud, and he can no longer do it successfully without Jesus! He drags the net to the shore -- this very shore I am looking upon -- and Jesus says, "Add some of yours to some of mine, why don't you?"

Peter sees now. Jesus can do it without him, but not the other way around. And, Peter realizes, he doesn't have to do it alone. It's not about his strength or even his know-how. It's just about trusting Jesus.

"Come and have breakfast," Jesus says. Almost like an afterthought. "Wanna have some breakfast?" And so they eat. I wonder how much Peter ate. Did he just nibble? Did he gobble it down nervously? And then, breakfast consumed and the fish bones tossed in the fire, Jesus casually (it seems) turns to Peter and says, "Peter, do you love me?"

Not "Simon." Not his given Hebrew name. Not to start this dialogue. No.

"Cephas." The name Jesus had given to him. "Rock. Petra. Peter."

What must the worn out fisherman have thought? Did it bring him relief? Or make him wonder all the more ... what matter of love is this? And who am I that he loves me so?

The camera zooms in one more time and I snap the shot. "Yes, Peter," I think. "I know exactly how you feel."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Town of Jesus

I went to Israel in 2002, there was hardly anyone there. Oh, sure ... the people who live there were there. But no visitors. We kept bumping into another group of six journalists -- these being male -- but other than that ... no one.

When I returned in 2007, there were significantly more visitors. Tourism had returned to Israel, praise God!

But 2009 showed a completely different level of tourism altogether! People people everywhere! Not just one tour group, but many at most sites.

Capernaum -- the town of Jesus -- was no different.

Wait, I hear you say. Wasn't Nazareth the town of Jesus? Yes, it was ... until he began his ministry. Then, to fulfill Scripture's prophesy, he moved (See Matthew 4).

Capernaum of today is beautiful to behold. Tour groups have the option of sitting in shady gardens while hearing of Jesus' ministry and the miracles performed here. Or, they can stand along the border walls and stare out to the Sea of Galilee dancing in the day's sunlight. They can enter the church (I call it the giant spaceship that came to earth and managed to land on top of Peter's house) and worship quietly or partake of a service. Or, for a taste of what it would have been like to worship in a synagogue in Jesus' day, they can walk through the ancient White Synagogue, a fourth century structure built over the 1st century place of worship where Jesus drove out the demons plaguing a demoniac.

Okay, let me just tell it like it is. You could spend ALL DAY here. Few do, but you could. It is a worshiper's holiday. An archeologist's dream. A photographer's delight. A historian's mecca. Capernaum draws the person as a whole -- spiritually, emotionally, aesthetically. Flowers that grow in Capernaum are vivid in color, full of bloom.

If you read that line one more time, you'll get a sermon.

In 2002, after visiting Capernaum for the first time, I read in the Bible that here, when the demoniac approached him, the evil spirit cried out, "What do you want from us, Jesus of Nazareth?" (see Mark 1). I wrote in my journal, "Yes, Jesus. What do you want from me?"

The answer to the demonic was "Be quiet." (Although, according to Scripture, Jesus didn't say it very kindly ... to me, he whispered, "I want you to hush now ...")

I can be quiet in Capernaum.

But there's another story about Capernaum that ministered to me in 2007. Jesus and the disciples were in his town and he was asked, "What must we do to do this work of God?"

Jesus replied, "...believe ..."

I wrote in my journal. "I am asking you to believe."

In 2007, my husband and I were in a legal battle for the rights to raise a little girl. She is not a blood relative, but she'd been "ours" for a long time. We fought and fought hard -- against all odds, against what the legal eagles said was possible -- to make her "ours" legally and not just ours in our hearts. My battle in the States was near the forefront of my mind every moment of my time in Israel and so, in Capernaum, I asked, "What must we do to do the work we believe you have given us, Lord?"

Jesus whispered, "Believe."

In Capernaum, believing is easy.

In 2009 I was overwhelmed by the groups who'd made their way there. To worship. To hush. To believe.

So, Capernaum was his town. I keep trying to picture him visiting the local real estate office, shopping for just the right house ... and I wonder why we've identified the place under the Great Spaceship as Peter's house but no one has ever pointed to a cluster of stones and said, "Jesus' house." Then I remember. Jesus said if I should invite him into my heart, he would dwell there.

In Capernaum, finding Jesus' house is easy.

It stands right inside of me.




Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coming Back to Where It All Began

I was excited to return to Tel Hazor, the place of the archeological dig in ancient Hazor. The city Joshua burned to the ground. The city Deborah and Barak later conquered. And later still, one of Solomon's cities, complete with a gate attributed to him.

Not to mention, the place where I first "fell into the Bible."

I wrote about it in my book Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel. This monumental event in my life was the starting point for my article "Falling Into The Bible" written for Crosswalk.com in 2002. This is the place where a Hebrew speaking man named Hsein el Heib whispered to me in perfect English, "You are touching the Bible." This is the place where my life changed.

Now, I get to share it with my friends.


We arrived shortly after a picnic lunch eaten in the courtyard of a small shopping strip. Most of us had falafels. I say "most of us." Robi managed to find a McDonalds, of all things. Then we piled back into the van and headed to Tel Hazor. Mr. el Heib -- who knew of our coming -- stood just outside the visitor's entrance/his office. I couldn't wait to see him again (this being our third meeting). I opened the side panel door and stepped out. "Shalom!" I said.

"Shalom, Eva!" he said back.

Photos of the reunion were snapped, and then I asked him to show my friends what he'd shown me in 2002; the wall which holds the remains of (what is believed to be) Joshua's fire.

But he was unable to walk with us. He had been in a fight with a bull, he explained, and the bull won. His foot and leg were still beat up but he would wait for us to return and speak to us more then.

We walked on. Past the old entry into the city and toward the gate near what is the old "palace."

To the wall.

Robi said, "Wait! I have to get a photo of myself with Miriam and Eva here; I've heard so much about this one spot in Israel!" And so someone took our picture. Then, each of my friends approached the wall, touched its sooty surface, and poised while I snapped their image.

I hated saying goodbye. We were so rushed; we had to move on quickly. But we said our goodbyes to Mr. el Heib (Robi made friends with his dog.), then piled back into the van so we could head to the Sea of Galilee.

We were about to run where Jesus walked!

(For the full story of what happened to me at the wall in Tel Hazor, go to: AMAZON BLOG )

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Dan Reserve


The Dan Reserve is one of the most beautiful places in the world ... at least as far as I am concerned. Walking along paths that meander through lush foliage and crossing bridges arching over wildly rushing water is about as close to heaven as I can possibly imagine. There's a spot just off from the welcome center -- a bridge -- that I declare is one of my favorites in all the land. There, water which was at one time snow fallen on Mount Hermon, barrels its way toward the Jordan River. It sounds to me like the sound of 10,000 armies. It is cold. Invigorating.

But then there is this other spot. Just a ways up a path where sunlight and shadow dance as if they are old lovers and birds whistle the sweetest of tunes for them, we come up on a place called The Garden of Eden.

Ironically, we saw a man and a woman sitting on a bench there. Miriam turned to me and said, "Hey, Eva. It's Adam and Eve."

We gathered there in the coolness of the location. Sharon got a wild idea to take off her shoes, sit on a bench perched on the water, and stick her tootsies in. Ellie and I decided to follow suit.

The water was cooooooold; we shared a laugh together. Not to mention a few photos.

Miriam explained to us why this area is called The Hill of the Judge. We listened intently ... and the story was so wonderfully put. I couldn't help but notice the sound of water trickling over pebbles. It was like music. God's symphony.

We kept going, though I could have sat there for hours. But there was more to see. The High Place of Dan, where man worshiped against the expressed wishes of God. The altar is no longer there, of course, but the steps to its highest point are. We sat upon them and listened to Miriam teach us. Then a couple with two small children arrived. We asked the husband to take our picture and he did. Finally we climbed the steps and stood on what once was the "storage unit" for the priests. I pointed northward and said, "That's Lebanon."

"Where?" Larry asked.

"Throw a rock," I answered with a smile. "We're that close."

Everyone was amazed. We took some more pictures and then we climbed down. We continued on the path until we came to the ruins of what was once the city of Dan. It's high fortress walls. It's gates. It amazes me each time I come here. People lived here. They fought here. They raised their children here and they died here. And now, here we are, just passing through.

I guess, in a way, they were too.

Just outside the gates I turned and looked up the road. My eyes climbed high and higher until they rested on an old Crusader fort called Nimrod's Fortress. I'd gone there in 2007. Impressive, indeed. But now ... now we had somewhere else to go. First lunch. Then ... my return to the place where I once fell ... and my life changed forever.
video

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Masada/the Fifth Gospel (CBN.com)


The second installment of The Fifth Gospel for CBN.com is now up. Just click on "The Fifth Gospel" now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Friend Of God

My latest article for Crosswalk.com includes a photograph I took in Israel.

Can anyone name that spot? (And I hope you'll read the article, too!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Galilee, Day 1

It would be a full day. A day that proved to myself as well as to the team that pilgrims too often "run where Jesus walked."
If I had the time -- if we'd had the time -- we could have easily spent three to four days in this area. Easily. And still not done everything I'd like to do. For one, we missed going up Arbel ... but that was due to a race in the area (and on our 2nd day, so let's not go there yet).

I was excited that morning. Truly. We were going to the Bet Yigal Alon Museum at Ginosar to see the remains of a 1st Century wooden boat which had been found in a most remarkable place back in 1986. According to tradition, the Primacy of Peter (also known as Mensa Christi, or Table of Christ) is where the resurrected Jesus cooked breakfast for the disciples who had returned to fishing (at Peter's encouragement). After being reinstated by Jesus, Peter (who is now known by a variety of titles, such as the First Pope and Prince of the Apostles) went on to preach the first sermon. In other words, he left the boat behind. The Primacy of Peter Church rests on the spot where tradition says that happened. But what happened to the boat?

Perhaps it is the boat discovered in 1986 by Moshe and Yuval Lufan, two brothers who were -- of all things -- fishermen! (Can you say "Peter and James," boys and girls?) The true miracle of the find was not just the discovery but the double rainbow that appeared in the sky over the Sea of Galilee.

Excavation of the boat was no easy feat. Conservationists, archeologists, volunteers, and the Powers That Be worked side by side. They wrapped it in a polyurethane coat to avoid disintegration. It took twelve days and nights -- and then it was soaked in a chemical bath for seven years before it was placed on exhibition at the Bet Yigal Alon center at Ginnosar. Amazingly, the boat has tested to date back between 100 BC and 100 AD. Could this be the boat Peter left behind?

I was thrilled that we were going to the centerfor two reasons. 1) I wanted my teammates to see the boat. 2) I wanted my teammates to meet my dear DEAR friends who manage the gift shop.


We were met by a young woman named Marina (who I'd met previously). She talked to our team about the center, then escorted them to a a wall of glass which opens upon sensing someone standing before it. The team was ahead of me. The door opened. I hear the ooh's and aah's. Just as I was about to follow, I turned toward the store and saw Tova, my friend. "Tova!" I said.

"EVA!" she said. Her arms spread wide in greeting. We hugged. She called out, "Naamah, it's Eva!" Naamah and her husband Ohad walked over. Lots of hugs were shared. I told them I'd be back shortly, then joined my team.

I couldn't wait to introduce everyone to my friends (minus Tova's husband, Alex, who had gone out on an errand). I left Tova and went behind the sliding glass doors to the place where the boat is housed. I took some photos. Talked to my friends in hushed tones. Then told everyone that my friends from the gift shop were looking forward to meeting them.

The next hour (at least!) was spent shopping. Robi outdid everyone! I was surprised to see the book Miriam and I had written on a shelf. "You have the book!" I declared to Tova.

"Of course!" she said (a common Israeli saying ... in Hebrew "Betach!") Tova took the books off the shelves and had Miriam and me sign the copies. It was the first time she and I had ever done that together! What a thrill!! A lot of pictures were taken amongst much laughter. But then it was time to go ... With sadness and kisses, we said "shalom" and "goodbye."
But not forever. They know I'll be back as soon as I can. And, until then, I hold the good people at Bet Yigal Alon in my heart. Now and always.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Fifth Gospel



Encouraging all of my blog readers to shift gears and go to CBN.com to read about The Fifth Gospel

And yes, I wrote it ... :)

Shalom Aleichem!

Eva Marie Everson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mr. Bear Goes to Israel


My traveling buddy is a stuffed pillow in the shape of a bear that I call "Mr. Bear." I bought Mr. Bear in Canada during a trip there to speak at a women's conference. There -- for the umpteenth time -- I lost my neck pillow. You know, those expensive pillows designed to wrap around you neck and to keep you from getting cramps when you sleep while traveling.

Anyway, another $12.99 down the drain.

I was traveling a lot during that period but just didn't want to buy another pillow. Still, it is a long way from Canada to Florida. My hostess and new friend Catherine Ryan said we'd go to the mall to see if we could find them for less. (I was also looking for a little souvenir or two for my baby girl.) Just after we walked into the mall, I saw a bin of bear-shaped pillows at a store akin to a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They were $3.99 (US Dollars).

Mr. Bear was not chosen willy-nilly. I looked at quite a few of those bears before I picked the one worthy of the name (not to mention good enough to be my traveling buddy). When I took Mr. Bear in my arms, I looked at him, then tossed him. I can't explain it really. There was something in his eyes that followed mine. Something that said, "Now what did I ever do to you? Don't I deserve to be loved? Aren't I just the cutest thing you've ever seen?"

So, I bought Mr. Bear. (I couldn't lose him if I tried!) I have found that he fits perfectly between me and the window of a plane. He's worked wonders for my back when it starts to ache. And he's fun to cuddle with at night when I'm missing my real snuggly bear, Dennis (the huggy hubby).

So here's the thing. Mr. Bear has become a little famous. When I am traveling through the airport, he rides along in my carry-on, typically peeking out and waving at all the little children who exclaim, "Look, Mommy! It's a lady with a bear!"

But also he's become that little man who can be found resting on my hotel room pillows during the day. When others happen in (you know, those gals I work with -- no men in my hotel room!!!) they say, "Oh, who is this little guy?" Last year at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference -- the one where I was assigned one room but had to sleep in another (long story) -- Mr. Bear was often seen trekking down the hallways and in the elevators until I reached my "sleeping room," which was actually the room of Ramona Richards (who took the photo of Mr. Bear in the BRCWC backpack!). (Another long story!)

At my website, Mr. Bear has his own section. Why wouldn't he? It's called Travels with Mr. Bear (I show my latest trips through photography.)

Of course, Mr. Bear accompanied me to Israel. He got up early one morning to see the Sea of Galilee, which he thought was quite pretty.
He thought the rooms at Ein Gedi Kibbutz were quite comfy. In fact, he and I enjoyed watching Israel's version of Dancing with the Stars together the night we were there.

There was one night that Mr. Bear managed to make me laugh, though. and it was a much needed laugh. It had been a physically grueling day. We'd climbed to the top of Herodian and then back down again to see the recently discovered tomb. After that we climbed right back up and then back down again to see "home sweet home" of Herodian. After an ice cream, which we all needed desperately by that point, we drove back to Jerusalem stopping long enough to see the the ruins of a church built around what is traditionally the rock where Mary rested before reaching Bethlehem. Then into Jerusalem to visit the Jerusalem Archeological Park (Southern Wall Excavations), the Davidson Center, the Kotel, or Western Wall, the Arab Market, the Jewish Quarter and Cardo and finally the heart-breaking Yad Vashem (the National Memorial and Museum of the Holocaust). When we left the building of Yad Vashem it was to discover that our driver was not there and would not be back for 20 minutes. But honestly, none of us were upset at the news. We needed the time to reflect and to collect our emotions.

Finally back at the hotel (where we had to get ready for a dinner out), we rode the elevator up to the sixth floor, fell out without saying a word, then walked to our rooms. My room was first in the hallway. I opened the door ... and the site before me caused me to burst into peels of laughter! Soon my comrades in distress were coming into my room (okay, this time there WERE men in my room ... but the door was open and we were ALL in there) to see what had me so hysterical.


It was Mr. Bear, tucked in by housekeeping for the night.

The folks at Ramat Rachel Kibbutz had no idea that day as they carried about their duties and as I carried about mine that this one little act -- adorable as it was -- would be the balm I needed on my weary soul and body. It carried me to the next moments.

And that night, when I cried for all I had seen and heard that day, it was Mr. Bear who accepted those tears.

Goodnight, Mr. Bear.