Israel.

March 2018: I had the incredible opportunity to join a local church in a study tour of Holy Land: three days at the Dead Sea, three at the Sea of Galilee and the remainder of the trip was spent in Jerusalem.

Our pastor and his wife, Dave and Heather, captured so many precious moments that can’t be explained through words. This post is as much a recap as it is a thank you to Heather and Dave for being who you are and for leading such a sweet trip that changed more than one person’s life. And for providing most of the pictures in this post. :-)

And a huge thank you to our tour guide, Ronen, for walking us through the Holy Land.

Explaining a traditional Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner.

Ok, let’s do this.

THE FOOD

Breakfast usually consisted of a big pile of DATES WHICH CAN I JUST SAY WERE HANDS DOWN THE BEST DATES THAT I HAVE EVER HAD EVER.

If I wasn’t having dates for breakfast (only because they didn’t have them or I had already eaten the entire hotel’s supply of them and was still hungry), I usually went for some bread/hummus or some other kind of fruit/veg. Salads were often served at breakfast, along with billions of types of breads and cheeses.

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Lunch was always served on site. Hummus on hummus with some bread and cukes thrown in. This was about 6 out of the 9 days we were there. The other three consisted of shawarma, falafel, and lamb kebabs. PS there was never a meal without some type of bread. It was emphasized like protein is emphasized in the US. Always gotta have it!

Lunch highlight: Jerusalem bagels (which are about 1 1/2 feet tall and 5 inches wide and yes i ate it all. please.) and dips- hummus, goat cheese/olive oil, olive oil/hyssop, yogurt/date honey, and a kind of nutella-ish dip. And cucumbers! Aka a traditional Jewish dipping lunch.

Dinners. Like breakfast, dinner was always served at the hotel, which for me usually consisted of cooked veggies, sometimes stuffed grape leaves, salad… when I sit down at the table for a meal, I’m generally thinking “I want to have something that’s going to make me feel good and energized and not sluggish and tired”. A definite food highlight was eating fresh, local produce along with lots of bread and hummus. Many good conversations were had around the dinner table which was so sweet and a precious time of fellowship and resting with the people that I was experiencing the Holy Land with.

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SITES and ADVENTURES. These are some of the highlights of the trip. See the end of this post to check out our complete schedule.

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Taken from our room at the Dead Sea.

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Floating in the sea. This was quite the experience as the salinity of the water (33%; the ocean is about 3.5% salinity) means you can’t actually swim, but when you take your feet off the ground, your legs float right up! So gnarly.

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…along with Dead Sea mud masks.

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Ein Gedi- David spent much time in hiding from Solomon at this fresh water spring.

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Looking out from Qumran- where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

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The Valley of Elah: the site where David killed Goliath.

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At the Lower Jordan River.

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The Sea of Galilee.

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Mount Arbel.

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At Capernaum- St. Peter’s house on the ground level.

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Church built at the Mount of Beatitudes.

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Sea of Galilee boat ride.

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Walking along the Western Wall (left side of picture).

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Part of the Western Wall.

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Above: entrance in the Church of the Nativity to below: the stone where Jesus is thought to have been born.

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Gethsemane.

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Walking along the ramparts of the city of Jerusalem- one of the coolest experiences.

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OTHER FUN STUFF

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The young people.

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My super cool and fun and silly roommate. (hiiii Ranee!!)

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A local olive oil shop.

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Demonstrating ancient defecation techniques.

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Thanks Lauren for letting me steal your organized and beautiful handwriting for this picture!

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This was an incredible trip. I’ve come down from the high of physically being in the Holy Land, but the enormity of it all continues to surprise me. I hope to go back someday, and GTI Tours did a fabulous job with the structure and organization of the journey. Many thanks to Dave, Heather, Ronen and everyone who made this trip happen and embarked on the adventures that we had. And thank you for reading and experiencing a taste of this trip. Bless you all.

 

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Things I’m Loving Lately.

Hello sweet people of the interverse. I do hope your week has been a bright one and that you’ve had a chance to step back and admire the beauty that is life.

I decided to do a Things I’m Loving to get into the blogging life again. I’ve always loved writing and feel that this space is for great for rattling about things and ideas and food talk that if we’re being honest, the only way people can handle this kind of talk is by willingly reading it. Am I the only one that feels this way? Like, no one wants to go to Thanksgiving dinner and talk about yoga wheels and the slight B12 deficiency that vegans face. ZZZZZZZZZ. But I’d like to build Jesus and PB as a creative place to express and share love for food, fitness, B12, and whatever else I am (and you are) particularly excited about at that moment.

WHEH OK let’s get to the good stuff.

There are a select few things in life that get me as excited as quality kitchen appliances do. So you can imagine my excitement when I was gifted a VITAMIX for my college graduation.

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Just a girl and her industrial blender.

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I’ve also been crushing hard on this book. I found it randomly at a thrift store a while back and have made a number of dishes out of it. I addressed my vegan phase here.

ECOBAGS.

These babies are so sweet. I first saw them on Ellen Fisher’s youtube channel and after receiving them for Christmas, I don’t plan on going back to plastic/paper grocery bags any time soon. As the label notes, they stretch like crazy and are perfect for a farmer’s market haul! Of which we had on Sunday:

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About half of our bounty.

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Who’s seen these?? I’m the most amateur yogi you’ll meet, but this is great for assisting in balance and stretching out muscles. I use it like you might a big foam roller.

I’ll be back soon enough for more good stuff. But for now, au revoir as I eat shepherd’s pie from that cookbook!

On eating plants.

Hello long lost (but never forgotten) blog and blog readers. I hope those of you stopping by JPB have had a wonderful holiday season are are settling into the new year happily.

A mini life update if you’re curious: I recently finished my undergraduate degree and am living at home enjoying being close to family and friends while I learn how to adult. I decided to revisit the good ol’ blog and write about something I’m especially excited about right now, and that is plants.

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Few are strangers to a bashing of vegan eating, whether you experience it personally, or leave your house every decade. Vegan is a foreign word that more often than not, stirs skepticism and uncertainty. Up until recently you could hear me boldly say “I could never be a vegan. It’s too restricting and dramatic” (note the objectivity), and I truly believed this. I assumed that vegans live their lives in a bubble and are so vehemently opposed to animal cruelty that they refuse to go within a 2 mile radius of a can of chicken stock. While the facts of a vegan lifestyle have not changed, my feelings about it have begun to change.

Veganism for me looks like a concentration on fruits/veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, healthy plant-based fats and steering away from products that contain animals and their secretions (though one can definitely eat poorly and still be a vegan. mountain dew and oreos anyone?). I refer to my veganism as plant-based, not only because most of what I try to eat focuses around plants, but also because I have no fear of tasting a friend’s whole milk hot chocolate. I’m finding that this lenient but respectfully persistent approach to uphold the bond that food creates with people and importing my values/habits into everyday life is a healthy approach for me. I like to think of it as flexibility. Also, as with anything, things are always changing and evolving, so the goal is to go with the flow as best as I can.7a0a1f9a6f9d2bb805809dd59a1062dc--vegetarian-humor-vegan-humor

Learn to be light-hearted (esp about this topic)

What matters to me is that people who encounter this lifestyle, either by reading about it or meeting a person who identifies as a vegan keep an open mind and strive to inform themselves as they would on any other subject. There is an overwhelming stigma and by effect, a sense of prejudice against “the vegans” which I’m eager to help break down by the way I speak and sympathize with both meat eaters and non alike.

Now, though many who know me might think otherwise, I do recognize food and our physical bodies are not the entirety of life. Of course not. I’ve tried to keep this space for the purpose of uplifting readers so their spiritual, mental/emotional and physical life can live in harmony. My goal is that a sympathizing of plant-based living can be a means by which we impart compassion and understanding to extend to every aspect of our lives. Whether a person adopts this way of eating for ethical, environmental or physical reasons, it’s just as important to approach vegans and non respectfully and kindly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on plant-based living.