[2018 Holiday Blog Tour Stop #19] My Galilean Sea Change


Connecting with the Jewishness of Jesus over the Holidays

Welcome to Mountain Brook Ink’s 2018 Holiday Blog Tour! We’re so excited you’ve decided to join us on this journey of family, friends, traditions, and memories over the next month. You as our reader have done so much to pour into our lives, and this season we want to give back to you with insights into our lives AND some giveaways. The more days you follow, share, comment, and engage with us, the more entries you’ll have toward a Kindle Fire Grand Prize or one of three Amazon Gift Cards! 

NOTE: In order to count toward the contest, please use the “Powered by Rafflecopter” form near the bottom of the post to follow, share, comment etc.

Also, I’m going to give away two copies of my novel to two new subscribers to my author newsletter this week. Choice of formats, Kindle or paperback. To enter, please subscribe on this page. The winner will be notified on Monday 11/19. (If you’re already a subscriber, you can enter my drawing too. Just fill out the same form.) Unfortunately, you must live in the U.S. or another country Amazon serves to win.

More details on the novel can be found at the bottom of the post. You might check out the discounted pre-order pricing… And the paperback just went live for orders… just sayin’… 🙂

For me, this year’s fall season has meant international travel. I’m a pretty seasoned traveler, since I was blessed with the opportunity to travel fairly extensively during my corporate career. But this has been loco!!

My husband and I just returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan–our second time over. When we planned that, like a year ago, little did we know it would land right in the midst of the birth of our first grandson (in Wales), our daughter-in-law’s graduation (in Worcester, England, a month later), and the launch of my debut novel!

Graduation at Worcester Cathedral
Our daughter-in-law’s very grand graduation ceremony at Worcester Cathedral. We could only actually see her on the screen in front of us, but praise God the simulcast was excellent. 🙂 

But all of that is a story for another day. For this blog tour stop, I’d like to talk about how our trips to Israel have made a sea change in my life of faith–and how they’ve even impacted our holidays. 🙂

Honestly, before our first Israel tour, I had my doubts. It was a big financial commitment / sacrifice. And as believers we’re looking for the new Jerusalem (Heb 11:16, 12:22; Rev 3:12, 21:2), which we’ll all see soon and very soon, right?

But I’ll tell you the sacrifice is worth it, if you can swing it. Seeing the land really helps wrap flesh around all the wonderful stories from the Bible.

For me, the most magical moments were the ones where I knew I was walking where Jesus walked. There’s a lot of hype around certain sites, which may or may not be where the Biblical events transpired. But when you:

  • Walk the shores of the Sea of Galilee
  • Stand in the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum
  • Wander through the Garden of Gethsemane
  • Walk the Palm Sunday Road, which is the old Roman road from the Mount of Olives to the Old City

… you know you are literally walking where Jesus did.

Daybreak Over the Sea of Galilee
Daybreak over the Sea of Galilee

Excavation at Bethsaida

Active excavation at Bethsaida. This was a significant city in its day–but look how narrow this main street is. Imagine Yeshua moving through the throngs who’d come out to hear Him, and picture the pavement strewn with pallets of the sick laid out for healing (Mark 6:56-67, Matt 11:21)!

My Feet Where Jesus Walked
My feet where Yeshua walked!
(Although the bling-y sandals might not be the authentic look… :-/ )

And further, exploring Israel impresses on you the magnitude of the prophetic work the Lord is doing in our day, regathering His people to the land. When you see, for example, how the Negev desert is blooming and how Israel has transformed from a region about which Mark Twain reported:

“There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
– 1867 (Quoted in Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad. London: 1881)

…to one of the world’s leading citrus producers and exporters, you gain a new appreciation for what God has done to revive the land. Salads made with fresh local produce are one of Israel’s culinary specialties.

Spectacular Array of Salads at Tel Aviv Restaurant
Spectacular array of salads kicks off a restaurant meal in the ancient town of Jaffa

We drove past broad acres of lush fruit orchards, including bananas, apples, cherries and berries, grapes, dates and pomegranates as well as bountiful citrus. My daughter tasted her first persimmon in Israel.

All this in spite of the fact that Israel’s climate is challenging! A drive through the Negev now puts me in mind of California’s Sacramento Valley.

Algoculture au kibboutz Ketura
Aqua-culture in the Negev Desert, at Kibbutz Ketura. Source: Wikipedia.

What does any of this have to do with a holiday blog tour? Walking where Jesus walked made me want to go deeper into the cultural milieu in which He lived. To steal a phrase from my dear friend and co-blogger, Lauren Crews, to connect with the Jewishness of Jesus.

That includes honoring the Biblical holidays He observed. In fact, it set me on a bit of an odyssey to research the Biblical Feasts of the Lord. I discovered such overwhelming messianic and prophetic significance in the Feasts that I felt called to blog about what I learned. (You might check out examples here and here, if you’re interested.) It’s become my passion to contribute toward the emergence of what Paul called “the one new man” (Eph 2:15). (There’s another blog post in there somewhere… 🙂 ) And I’m looking forward to taking my series of novels, set in 1948, to Israel in the future!

I don’t “keep” the Feasts, although Jesus and Paul and the apostles did. You really can’t keep them today, since the Temple and its sacrificial system are an integral part of them. That system ended once Messiah’s sacrifice fulfilled it.

And I don’t observe all the Rabbinical traditions that have gotten intertwined with the Biblical directives over the millennia. (But, it’s fascinating to me that many Jewish traditions, while they may not be Biblical, are that ancient. Versions of many central Jewish traditions we know today probably were observed in Yeshua’s home as he grew up.)

But I do honor the Feasts. What does that look like for us?

Feast of Tabernacles Chez ThompsonFeast of Tabernacles chez Thompson. Our booth (sukkah) wouldn’t pass Rabbinical inspection–I think it’s pretty good, except that the roof is definitely wrong–but I really enjoy spending as much time as possible there during the Feast of Booths anyway. Including writing time!
I’m always sad to break it down at the end.

Hanukkah Table
My holiday table, set with a Hanukkah theme. Hanukkah is not one of the Biblical Feast days, but Jesus observed it (John 10:22).

Every believer should know the Hanukkah story, by the way. I wrote an ebook on it last year. If you’re interested, you can download it here.

Temple Menorah with Cat
One final photo, Hanukkah related. This is the replica of the Temple Menorah displayed–behind bullet-proof glass–outside the Temple Institute in old Jerusalem. It’s gold-plated (from a single sheet of hammered gold, as per the Law of Moses), and stands about five feet tall! In this photo, our then-teenage daughter hasn’t even noticed the gigantic gold menorah! She is more intent on making friends with the kitty.

Thanks for visiting today’s stop on the Mountain Brook Ink blog tour. Here are the other stops on the tour. Feel free to visit the past stops to interact. You can still earn points toward the drawing! (Please note that some future links will not be live until their designated date. But feel free to poke around the authors’ websites and blogs while you’re waiting for that special post!)

Stop #1: October 28 – Kimberly Rose Johnson
Stop #2: October 29 – Christina Coryell
Stop #3: October 30 – Mary Davis
Stop #4: October 31 – Angela Ruth Strong
Stop #5: November 1 – Susan Paige Davis
Stop #6: November 2 – Amy K. Rognlie
Stop #7: November 3 – Gayla K. Hiss
Stop #8: November 4 – Christa MacDonald
Stop #9: November 5 – Linda Hanna & Deborah Dulworth
Stop #10: November 6 – Richard Spillman
Stop #11: November 7 – Annette M. Irby
Stop #12: November 8 – Miralee Ferrell
Stop #13: November 9 – Jeanette-Marie Mirich
Stop #14: November 10 – Anna Zogg
Stop #15: November 11 – Teresa H. Morgan
Stop #16: November 12 – Kelsey Norman
Stop #17: November 13 – Barbara J. Scott
Stop #18: November 14 – Patricia Lee
Stop #19: November 15 – Linda Thompson
Stop #20: November 16 – Janalyn Voigt
Stop #21: November 17 – Cynthia Herron
Stop #22: November 18 – Trish Perry
Stop #23: November 19 – Heather L.L. Fitzgerald
Stop #24: November 20 – Sara Davison
Stop #25: November 21 – Taylor Bennett

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Linda Thompson

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories where reckless faith meets relentless redemption. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading-yes, that does make her a throwback-taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan. And she’s writing today from Wales.

The Plum Blooms in Winter

“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it’s a stay-up-all-night read.”

-Jerry B. Jenkins–21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge–In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission–Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ’s forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother’s life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him–even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka’s treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends–only to confront a decision that will change everything.


  1. Tina Myers says:

    Some awesome pictures. I bet you love to travel all over.

  2. Just a reminder to all to visit the Rafflecopter form to get credit toward the grand prize! Thanks <3

  3. I’ve learned about Passover but not about any of the other Feasts. I’ll have to check out your links!

    • That’s exactly where I was before that first trip to Israel. I’d attended two or three Passover Seders, which were wonderful, but that was as far as it went. You’re in for a treat if you choose to dig deeper, I think! 🙂

  4. Trixi says:

    I would have loved to be in your shoes (bling not required, lol)! Walking where Jesus and the disciples did, participating in the Feast of Tabernacles, just everything! What an amazing trip, thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and telling us about the Hanukkah traditions. What a fun blog post 🙂

    Thanks for participating in the tour. I just signed up for your newsletter too!

  5. Edward Arrington says:

    Very interesting post. We have never been to Israel and probably won’t but we’re looking forward to the New Jerusalem. Praise God! Thanks for sharing today.

  6. Melissa Lemaire says:

    I would love to visit and walk where Jesus did. What a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing

    • It’s a huge thrill to make that trip–and an even bigger thrill to think we’ll all see him face to face very soon! Thanks for stopping by, Melissa, and for the comment 🙂

  7. Lila Diller says:

    I got to go to Israel in college for a 10-day Holy Land study tour, and it was a highlight of my life! It does make the Bible come alive to you after you’ve been in the very places Jesus was and walked where all these stories I’ve heard from childhood actually took place!

  8. Beautiful post, Linda. Thank you. I teared up at the picture of you walking where Jesus walked. That’s what Christians are called to do.

  9. Great pictures and post. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to walk the shores of Galilee or to stroll through the Garden of Gethsemane. 🙂

  10. Edith says:

    Amazing presentation. You’ve got a midas touch! It is my heart desire to visit Israel someday. I trust God to bring it pass. Remain blessed.

  11. Maria Dalmau says:

    Such a beautiful story. It is my biggest dream to one day visit Israel.

  12. Jan Kruzel says:

    This is ohhhh so gd, Linda! I agree, going to Israel was like “wrapping flesh” as you sad, around some of these sites! We hope to go again, too, and the alumni tour is what we want, too…would love to talk further with you about that!

  13. Linda Moffitt says:

    I’ve never been out of the US
    Thanks for sharing this book and the pictures with us

    • Hi, Linda! Yes, we do live in amazing days, when a few hours’ flight can take you around the world. One sort of loses track of how huge that is Thanks for reading, and for the comment! 🙂

  14. Sara Davison says:

    Beautiful post Linda. I’ve always wanted to go to Israel and now would like to even more. My dad went once and said they are pretty sure which house was Pontius Pilate’s, and standing inside it everyone on the tour was crying, it was so powerful and moving to be exactly where Jesus once was. Thanks for sharing!

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