I’m starting to think I need to retitle this vacation to something like, “Thank you, Jesus, for saving my kids’ lives one more day.”

It seems like every day we’ve had a serious scare. After Siah had his run in with the water cannon (he lost…), Button crossed a parking lot without looking and OOPS! there WAS a car coming. She’s safe. Then unbeknownst to us, Siah got a quarter, put it in his mouth, got it lodged in his throat, and was finally able to cough it up. Thank you, Lord. And I thought a kid his age KNEW BETTER. Then Joseph managed to break a teething biscuit in half and get the end of it lodged in his throat. An emergency finger sweep cleared his air passage… No more teething biscuits for the teething baby. Only for family members with teeth. Ugh- I’m seriously emotionally frayed right now. Guess I better get used to it – I wonder how much of this is simply life with 3 young kids?

Back to vacation! We met up with our dear friends Sarah and Anthony at the Science Museum in St. Paul – what a well done museum. Very cool, interactive exhibits. We spent a good part of the day there and the kids loved it. It was impressive, and also really pricey (made me appreciate the Smithsonians a lot).

My favorite exhibit was the Dead Sea Scrolls. They had artifacts from Jesus’ time in Israel, as well as a couple pieces of the Dead Sea scrolls (parchments containing sections of every book of the Old Testament, except Esther, that were preserved in jars in caves above the Mediterranean Sea). Here were some of my key takeaways:

1. Coins from Jesus’ era. I saw a replica of the silver coin that Judas received in exchange for betraying Jesus. Chilling. And to think how it means nothing to me, yet Judas gave up everything for it. I think that’s how mammon is. It promises everything but delivers nothing. And I also saw a replica of a mite – the small coin that the widow gave when Jesus said she gave more than anyone else. It was no bigger than the tip of my pinkey. Smaller than a dime. It really drove the point home – God isn’t impressed with the quantity of what we do or give, it’s the heart with which we do it and the amount that we’re trusting in Him.

2. Errors (or lack thereof) in Scripture. The Dead Sea Scrolls were early era copies of the books of the Old Testament. Some of them contain several differences from the version of the Bible that we have today. Yet nearly all of those differences are differences in writing (stylistic, if you will), and do not substantively alter the meaning or interpretation of the text. FASCINATING. It amazes me how God’s word has been preserved through history.

3. Penmanship. I was incredibly impressed by how neat and small the writing was on the parchment. So very very tiny. Like the equivalent of 8 pt font. And so neat that if you didn’t know better, you would think it was typed! Very impressive, especially given what little they were working with in that time.

4. The Blessing of Joseph. So there’s this section in Deuteronomy – just a couple verses – that contain God’s blessings for Joseph and his descendants. Those verses were given to us as a promise from God for our Joseph before we brought him home. And of ALL the verses in the whole Old Testament, the handful of verses on display at the museum from the book of Deuteronomy were the blessing of Joseph. How amazing was that! To get to see with my own eyes that blessing, written on parchment by a devout believer, some 2000 years ago. I was overwhelmed by the sacredness of scripture, the power of the Word, and the truth of the Bible in that moment.

So after all that, we went back to Sarah and Anthony’s house, and the kids played outside, and we did laundry (thank you, Sarah and Anthony!), and we had a fantastic barbecue All American dinner (right in line with the theme of our trip!). And the best part of all was the rewarding conversations we had with our dear friends. We didn’t have much time, but I felt like we made the most of it. And our hearts were encouraged, and lifted, and edified by our time with them. And we laughed, and we shared our hearts, and we picked up right where we left off. Oh, I am so grateful for our dear friends.

It also was really cool watching our kids play together and become friends (again) during our time together. And to imagine them all being friends when they’re our age, and them spending vacation time with each other, etc. How fun would that be?