Sunday, May 27, 2012

Israel Travel Diary-International Flight Tips

International travel can take a huge toll on a body and a mind.  Don't plan on going on a long flight without keeping these things in mind.  I've made treks on 22-hour flights to Africa, 8-hour flights to Germany, and 12-hour flights to Israel now.  Trust me, I have some good input here!  :)

1. The eye mask and small pillow really does work.  
I've not always been an eye mask wearer.  Pillows are usually a staple for me on a flight over 3 hours. But this last trip I made use of an eye mask for the first time.  I have discovered that the eye mask really helps the mind focus on resting.  Without the distraction of light, your eyes are able to relax and let the rest of your body relax as well.  Did you know that we were actually made to wake with the sun and sleep with the lack of sun?  Our bodies respond strongly to light, so if you can control the light, you have the upper hand on getting to that elusive rest.  The neck pillows simply keep you from getting a kink in your neck.... at least... you'll get less of a kink than if you don't use one.

2. Get on the new schedule immediately.
One travel tip I read before I left - and I used this last trip - was to go ahead and set my clock to the time of the location I'm headed to.  Since Israel is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, I set my clock forward 7 hours as soon as we boarded the international flight.  This really helps prevent jet lag.  I've noticed that as you cross the time zones, you can really lose all sense of time in general since you're chasing the sun instead of sitting still.  This is where your eye mask will come in handy as well.  If you set your clock to the time of your destination, and sleep according to those schedules, you'll find jet lag is not as much of a problem.  I used this technique on the flight back to the states as well.  We left at midnight Israel time, 5pm EST, so I waited until about 3am Israel time (8pm EST) before I took my first nap.  If you have trouble sleeping, I would highly recommend talking with your doctor about taking some sleep aid with you to help you coordinate your body's sleep times.  (ie: Ambien, Tylenol PM, Melatonin, etc... I am not recommending these specific pills, I'm just giving examples!  I'm no doctor!)

3. Find the handicap restroom.
Really!  On international flights, it is imperative that you get up and do a lap or two about every hour.  Our bodies get "stuck" sitting for so long, causing awfully poor circulation, poor blood pressure, and can cause serious, life-threatening conditions if we don't take action.  My friends and I got up together and took laps around the plane - doing our best to not disturb other travelers - but to stretch our legs and encourage circulation. I also found that the handicap restroom has enough room in it to do squats!  It sounds so silly, but there are certain ways you just cannot move on a plane, and this provided the room and privacy to not be completely annoying to other passengers.  Please make sure there is not a handicapped person waiting to use the restroom, though.  ;)

4. Bring your own treat bag.
Sure, the airplane will provide a meal or two sometimes, and maybe a few treats, but they have the uncanny ability to serve them at the most inconvenient times.  While the food may be edible, and perhaps even tasty at times, it is seldom truly nutritious.  Try to find snacks you can pack in your carry on  luggage that will get through security.  I've found that fruit bars, granola bars, nuts, jerkey, and crackers all seem to be fine to take.  Choose foods that will fit your own dietary restrictions, try to stay away from terribly salty foods, and don't forget that fiber is your friend!  Also, sports drinks offer powder mixes that you can dump into your water to provide extra electrolytes. I bought bulk packages of individually wrapped snacks and split them between me and my friend.  The leftovers I packed in my checked baggage to refill our treat bags on the way back.  This worked wonderfully!  It was also nice to be able to pass a treat along to someone else who had perhaps a bad taste in their mouth or a sick stomach.  You never know when you'll be able to be a blessing to someone else!

5. An hour spent on Sudoku is still an hour spent.
It is advice I feel like I stumbled onto.  Right before I left for Israel, my friend Myron came into town.  An avid traveler himself, he made the comment "an hour spent on a silly Sudoku book is still an hour spent", and I feel all the wiser for it.  On a twelve hour flight, bring stuff to do.  If you spend an hour on a puzzle book, that's only 11 more hours you have to "endure" the flight.  Find activities you can pass the time with.  When you combine these activities with your hourly-ish plane laps and schedule-preparing naps, you will find the time passing.  Not necessarily passing more quickly, but passing.  Try to remember mind over matter as well - don't let your mind get in panic mode about how much time is left.  Focus on how much time has passed and tell yourself "I've been on the flight 45 minutes - that's 45 minutes closer to the time I get to get off!" instead of the opposite.  It does no good to become claustrophobic on a flight when you're 40,000 feet in the air.  If you are prone to claustrophobia, talk to your doctor about some anti-anxiety medication you can have available for your trip should it become necessary.

6.  Keep a positive attitude.
Make every effort to stay positive, and when you've exhausted those efforts, make new ones.  Decide in advance to make a friend with someone around you.  The person right next to you may not want to talk, but there is almost always someone who wants to be heard.  Ask them about their life - simply from a factual standpoint.  Don't expect to find all their faults and change them, simply get to know them, respecting who they are.  They may ask you in return and you may make a great international friend.  Be kind to the flight attendants.  They are stuck on this long flight with you and probably hear a lot more annoying things from people than the snoring person behind you.  Cut them some slack and throw around a joke or two.  We found that it got us extra chocolate and water when they were told to be stingy.  Just be friendly!  Nobody likes the circumstances, but everyone is looking forward to the destination.  Enjoy practicing your smile and lowering your blood pressure.  You will find everything so much better!

Happy Traveling!

This is Shalev (means "peace" in Hebrew).  His mom was on the plane traveling to see her husband in Israel.  One of the most beautiful babies I've gotten to hold on a plane!  He was precious - loved to dance and laugh.  And by building a bit of a relationship with his mother, we were able to help her keep an eye on him when he got anxious.  A wonderful mother! A wonderful baby!  This is why you meet people on planes!  What a sweet little joy!  :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Distraction Factor

The Distraction Factor
I find myself in that place of confusion sometimes – that place where I’m not really sure what to think.  That’s when - once again - I’m reminded of my desperate need to cling to nothing but God.  To trust in nothing but Him, but to fully trust in Him, is a daily readjustment process that I must go through.  

It is so easy for me to be distracted by circumstances, events, even people, in my life – good people!  So often I’m faced with the reality that I’ve put my hope in something or someone – someone good – but not God. 

So my prayer in these times is as follows: 
Lord, forgive me for putting anything, or anyone, before You.  Your love and purpose is what I want to be consumed by.  Thank You for taking things out of my life that do not suit your purposes for me!  Help me to be increasingly more grateful for those things You withhold along with the things that You bless me with abundantly.  You are good, and Your plans are for Your good purpose!  That’s all I need to remember.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this place, know you’re not the only one.  I’m confident that God’s love doesn’t change for me – or for you – despite our lack of focus at times.  God is all about redemption (note: JESUS CHRIST!), and when we go to Him with humble hearts, ready to change in His strength, He is always ready to redeem.  Remember this with me today.

Psalm 86:12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The In-Between

Seasons in life resemble a story.  We have an intro, a plot, a climax, a resolution, and the end.  That's how every season goes. This ebb and flow of a season can bring about physical and mental sickness from the roller coaster ride of emotions we all go through (right mom??).

Then, there's always the in-between time.  That time between the end of one season and the beginning of another.  All the waters are steadily flowing - no major cliffs or rocks ahead.  But we can be sure that there are rough waters coming. These rough waters always bring about change. 

Now I'm not a huge lover of change.  There's a lot of comfort in knowing something is stable and working well.  I have a good job.  I have a good family life.  I have a good church.  I have a reliable car.  Yada yada yada....

The change factor is so painful.  It just is.  It rips us from these norms and most times, the pain is totally worth it.  Sometimes it's not.  However, I really believe change is what we make of it.

I chose today, while faced with anxiety, to praise God.
I chose today, while frustrated with illness, to keep working on (and believing in) healing.
I chose today, while my schedule changed, to be excited about the different opportunity.

If we stay in that in-between place and refuse to face change, we will be sitting pretty until the sun rots our skin.  (Go with the metaphor, people... :))  But as we move with calm and turbulent waters, we become more beautiful and we are saved from lack of purpose.  And we also learn that, oftentimes, there is no "dropoff ahead", but rather, a very lovely place of new life.

And if ever you doubted that God can use [seemingly bad or hard] change for good purposes, don't.

Miriam chose, while babies were being killed, to trust her baby Moses to the God who controls the water.  And her son became the rescuer of an entire nation from slavery.

Harriet Tubman chose, to stand up for justice and took a beating for a fellow slave at a very young age.  Later, God used her to rescue slaves in America for many, many years.  She knew what a beating was like and was able to face it head on when it came.  She was unafraid of it anymore.

Mary chose, while facing incredible ridicule, to become mother to the Savior of the world - and later watch him die for the world.  Would she have changed her mind if she could go back?  I don't believe she would consider it for an instant.

Let's move from that in-between place.  Let's not let fear of change keep us from pulling our shoulders back, looking toward heaven, and letting God walk us through it gracefully with strength and purpose.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Giving time to Anger

Ephesians 4:26 (MSG)
Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry-but don’t use your anger as a fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

I was talking with a new friend today.  A very positive person, I wondered how they would answer the question:  what makes you angry?

It’s easy for me to assume something makes everyone angry.  And perhaps that’s still true, but my friend’s response got me to thinking about what I possibly waste on anger.  

Let me explain – 

Anger should always only be temporary.  The Bible talks about letting go of the anger because if we do not, the Devil will have a place in our life to step in and control us like a puppeteer.  

So my challenge to myself is this: don’t go to bed angry.  Also, never give anger more than a moment’s thought during the times that it does come around.  

Every moment angry is a moment for the Devil to move closer to me, and that’s the last thing I want. No dancing with the Devil for me, sir.  No thanks!

And what do I waste?  I waste time to praise and thank God.  It seems like only moments now, but when I get to heaven one day, I don’t want to have wasted a single moment on anger when I could have invested it in my Lover, my King, my Savior.

Anger Management Class...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who are you looking for?

I just read  a great short blog on the lists we create for our [future] mates.  I thought I'd share it with you.  I love the thought process of "dating mercy".

Read it here:  She Seeks


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!!  I love you and I am thinking about you even though I can't be with you today!  :)

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present to you my beautiful, age-defying mother...

She's the bestest!!!