England Part 2: A Boot Funeral At Jone’s Bootmaker in Hastings

I had confided in Carroll that I was pretty sure during this trip in Hastings, God was going to replace my boots. Oh, my boots…I wish those 14 years ago when I first got my boots I would have had the foresight to realize how meaningful they would be – if I had, I could have captured the moment when they came into my life. But sometimes you just don’t know how precious something can become to you until it’s years later when you know a sad parting is very near.

I’ve known for, oh, I guess a year or so maybe that the time would be coming soon when my Italian boots would have to be laid aside – honestly, I’d been in denial every time my husband told me “you really need new boots, those things are on the way out.” It was probably that trip a year ago through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Israel in thigh-high water that did them in. Well, maybe it was my tendency to pretend they were snow boots…but really, it’s borderline miraculous they stayed in-tact the 14 years that they did when I think about the wear and tear and abuse my beloved boots endured.

But going back to the beginning when Ralph splurged that night in Vicenza and spent 110 Euro on my boots, it was love at first sight. They became my go-to shoe for all occasions: hiking, dressing up, running out the door for a quick shopping trip. And even though they got a much needed break every summer, as soon as the weather cooled just enough until the end of spring when sheer foot sweat made me pause the donning of the boots, they were my dear old pal and podial companion.

Now fast forward to that day, Monday May 15, at Jone’s Bootmaker. I walked in nervously – partly hoping to find a worthy replacement, and partly wishing no such thing existed and I could walk back out in my well-worn foot gear. The first pair I tried on were actually pretty good – I could have made myself content with them: same height, same color. Not perfect, but they really.. could … do….. until I saw them. They were brown, not black – but they still zipped up (one of my favorite characteristics of my boots). They had adorable buckles on the sides. They…fit like a glove and made me fall in love again. And if you are thinking at this moment that I am ridiculous, you’d better not read a single sentence further. Ridiculous is only about to begin. Continue reading

A Trip to Hastings

Hello, my friends! I’m not following through with any of my promises to write about Israel, or Jordan, or keep up well with the travels in my life. But by necessity of time and because there are just too many lovely stories to share, I’m going to skip forward to sharing some events from a trip to England.

My friend Carroll and I ended up with an unexpected and unique little vacation to Hastings, England. Quite honestly, God directed both the fact we were taking a vacation together, the place where we went, and the events of everyday. And the stories I want to share with you about that trip are a mix of silly and special. So enjoy this little mini-series on Hastings 🙂

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Carroll drew this for her bullet journal, she let me take a photo 🙂

A photo story of Normandy

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One of the many small roads out the beaches that have been renamed for a fallen soldier

U-boat and Memorial at Utah Beach

U-boat and Memorial at Utah Beach

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A bunker at Utah Beach

Pont du Hoc

Pont du Hoc

Memorial at Pont du Hoc

Memorial at Pont du Hoc

Stone sayings at Pont du Hoc

Stone sayings at Pont du Hoc

This trip I find very difficult to put into words. Over the three days we were in Normandy, France, back in July we saw and experienced so much history.

The only thing I want to say about this trip in words instead of pictures is this: if you have never gone on an historical vacation, particularly one where it speaks of human bravery and sacrifice, it is a sacred and sobering experience that everyone should have. To stand in the places where men – thousands of men – gave their lives for what they believe on behalf of others, to look out on the never-ending stones at the cemetery, and to hear the stories retold on our jeep tour of both fear, failure, and victory was something I can’t quite capture to relate to you, even if I shared every word from my journal. So take the time in your lifetime to visit such a profound place whether it be Operation Overlord in Normandy, France, the Battle of Corregidor in the Philippines, the battlefields of the American Civil War, or some other site where men have fought sacrificially and bravely. Let the magnitude of loss make you grieve. Let the stories of bravery and sacrifice make you inspired. And let the unlikely tales of mercy make you contemplate the same mindset (for one such specific tale that we heard, visit a link to the church of Angoville-au-Plain to hear about 2 medics in a church near St. Mere Du Mont).

the crosses at the American Cemetery

the crosses at the American Cemetery

our amazing Jeep tour with Jean Ferroliet

our amazing Jeep tour with Jean Ferroliet

the church in Angoville-au-Plain

the church in Angoville-au-Plain

Memorial at Omaha Beach

Memorial at Omaha Beach

Our personal memorial with my husband's jump boot on Normandy beach. We did not leave the boot there, but we wanted to remember in a photo at least the place where so many brave men set their feet for the last time in their lives. Honor the fallen. Remember how they gave their lives for other's freedom.

Our personal memorial with my husband’s jump boot on Omaha beach. We did not leave the boot there, but we wanted to remember in a photo at least the place where so many brave men set their feet for the last time in their lives. Honor the fallen. Remember how they gave their lives for other’s freedom.

And the end of the Sicily Vacation Story…

And it happens to be the end of the month also. I have been playing a lot this month, these last good days of summer. I’m told that today will be the last hot day we have here in Germany – so it’s back to work, back to waking up early and getting school going with kids, back to a lot of things that I really did take a break from over the summer. I always find ending things kind of bittersweet. But I’m glad I shared here some key thoughts and words about our vacation in Sicily. It’s a nice way for me to be able to look back too, and remember the lovely Sicilian countryside, the sweet family time, and the dear dear friends who gave 2 weeks of their lives to spend time with us. Ti voglio bene con tutto mio cuore!

(written June 22, 2015)

“The morning that my hubby left, we enjoyed a relaxing time at the campagna until he had to drive off. The kids played with their Nonno as he drove them around in his forklift, let them help feed the animals, and what not. Hubby and I got his suitcase finished. And we enjoyed one last yummy meal together before he took the rental car and left for the airport.DSC00528

The rest of the day was a day of repose for me as well: Mamma took Cloe and Zeke for the afternoon, and I went with the girls for a treat at the spa for the afternoon. It was fun :)…

The next day, Sunday morning, we went back to Arinella beach, Mamma, Manuela, the kids and I. It was very packed, but we still found a nice spot to relax and take in the beauty of our last time playing at Arinella. The kids and I made up a song on the way back: Playing at the beach (echo), the sun and sand so lovely (echo), we’re swimming with the fishes (echo), and drinking in the beauty. Arinella, la bella spiaggia; Arinella, la bella spiaggia.DSC00504

And there’s nothing quite as wonderful as playing at the sea, then eating wonderful grilled fish from the sea. Which is what we did.

That evening, I shared the song, Pace. It was so dear to my heart to play that. The song had kept me company almost this entire trip. And it spoke to the people of that church as well. Paolo played base with me, and Marco on the drums. In the end, I sang it along on stage, but because I’d been playing it all the time, my family and a couple of friends were singing with me from the congregation…. Continue reading

Sicily Vacation, Part 6 (second to last!)

As I start wrapping up this vacation story, I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I’ll have one last post to make to complete the tale. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it as much as I did writing it out, choosing the photos to share, and remembering the wonderful experiences. I’m so thankful that we had this amazing opportunity. And of course, I’ve got to say that if you are considering a vacation to Sicily, go for it! It’s just such a magical place, so full of old country richness and beauty (and good food, too!)

(journaled after the trip)

IMG_0478” [June 18 was] the first evening we stayed out at the campagna to sleep. And that was super nice! I also love to stay with Mamma and Papa’, but it was so relaxing and more our style to stay out there in the kitchen/house…so it was so wonderful to get to do both. The night air was cooler, IMG_0486I woke up early and first thing made a latte and sat outside where I could hear the chickens and read my Bible in peace. Funny though, I did not get to writing anything that morning. Instead, I made breakfast with the American goodies from the groceries we had gotten on Sigonella base – pancakes and bacon! And Marcello and Elisa came over to enjoy that with us and Francesca and Marco.

We then headed out to another beach, this last day that my husband had with us (June 19th). This time, we went to Arinella. The water was so crystal clear and perfect, with lovely sand, a view of Ortigia across the way, just picturesque. I think that was our favorite beach spot yet.

Arinella, Siracusa

Arinella, Siracusa

Continue reading

Sicily Vacation…Part 5!

Okay, I know I need to be wrapping this up soon. Especially since life keeps going, there are more events to share! But I must finish this complete picture of our vacation; I can’t leave you (or me!) hanging:

(June 17, ’15)

Gole Alcantara

Gole Alcantara

“So, on Tuesday (yesterday) the 16th, we got up and went just us four to Taormina; with plans of possibly stopping at Gole Alcantara on the way (a gorge nearby that we decided to visit)…It was a lovely drive. But the gorge proved to be spectacular: we paid the 30 euro and went down the elevator to the clear, crisp stream below. We had grabbed a few things from the car and stuffed them in a back pack for being about to go in the water. It was so much more amazing than I though it would be. At first, I couldn’t get used to the water though and I made my hubby piggy-back me to the first embankment on the other side. The rock formations were so surreal-looking! But after that first spot, I got some courage to step into the cold water. Its initial shock wore off surprisingly fast. The kids were hilarious! They were even running under a water fall spray – not me! We decided to go on through the gorge as far as we could – and that was a fun adventure… fighting the current, me trying to keep my purse dry and take a couple of photos, and Husband showing the kids how to cut through the water and not be taken downstream. we got to this one spot where we couldn’t tell how difficult things were going to get — having never been there before and not knowing what to expect. DSC00368My hubby went on ahead to check it out. The current was pretty strong and deep in places, so he carried the kids one at a time to a rock out shoot where we had a pretty view of another small waterfall across the river. And that’s where the kids and I stopped. There was an older couple there also, German, who were also venturing down the gorge. Hubby helped the man cross the rapid/waterfall to see if he wanted to keep going, but his wife stayed and chatted with me. It was fun to watch. If I had the right shoes on, I probably would have joined them a little. After the couple decided not to go further, my husband went ahead while I stayed there with the kids on their rock perch.

Finally about the same time I was feeling the need to get them back since they were getting cold, another family was braving their way into the area. The gentleman and I chatted a little, as he scoped it out to see if his crew would try to keep going (they decided not to). But before they turned back, I asked the man to help me bring the kids back to where they could walk themselves out. He was super nice and said sure. So after he had gotten us a little ways, and I was thanking him for his help, Ralph was just then making it back out from his solitary adventure (which I would love for him to write down). Ralph also said thanks then turns to me and said, ‘you know that’s a famous actor, right?’ I didn’t realize it, but later on we looked up his picture at the car and saw his name: Diedrich Bader!…Anyway, that was an entertaining tid-bit event. We spent quite a long time at the gorge before heading up to Taormina.” Continue reading

Sicily Vacation, Part 4, the Mishaps

So, something I was thinking about when I tell people about the things that went wrong, or accidents that happened. I like them. The bumps are part of the fun. My husband has been my best teacher that when ‘bad’ things happen, it doesn’t have to be taken badly. So here are our three from the trip. And when you read, please laugh! We did: Continue reading