John, Jesus’ Friend/Apostle: Ephesus

Sitting in the Ruins of St. John’s Basilica: October 16, 2011-Sunday

St. John’s Byzantine Basilica Ruins

Camel in Ephesus

Summary of John’s Life

John is the only Apostle who did not suffer a martyr’s death. He was human just like the rest of us, and he had his faults, but there was a spiritual connection and understanding that John had with Jesus that the other 11 did not. John and his family were well known in Jerusalem. He must have been liked by the Jewish rulers as well because he (Had to have been John!) was witness the trials of Jesus during the night of his arrest (John 18:15). John is then present at the crucifixion with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Because there was no Joseph, Jesus was traditionally and culturally responsible to take care of his mother. John was more family to Jesus than his own brothers and sisters, and on the cross, Jesus gave John the honor of becoming Mary’s adopted “firstborn” (John 19:26-27) to be responsible for her until her death. John carried out his appointment with love and dedication.

John the Apostle also died and is buried in Ephesus at approximately 100 years of age, and a huge church was built over his grave. Emperor Justinian and his wife, Empress Theodora of the Byzantine Empire replaced the large, simple church with a huge, Christian, Byzantine basilica. Based on the ruins ( earthquake), it looked quite impressive. It is said to be the first Christian church built in the form of a cross.

We had a great time searching through the ruins. There is even a Princess video that shows Ammon and Carter happily running and investigating their surroundings. The whole experience at Ephesus was excellent. We even got to have our pictures taken with a camel before we entered our tour bus to return to the port of Kusadasi.

The Final House of Mary, the mother of Jesus: Ephesus

The final house of Mary, the Mother of Jesus

My most memorable and spiritual experience while we were in Ephesus was at the house of Mary the mother of Jesus. It is a very small church that still has services. We did not have a service there, but we were allowed to enter and pass through. The five of us were just about all that could fit at one time, and we passed through quite quickly. However, while I passed through, I felt such happiness and peace, and it dawned on me that this lady DESERVED the happiness and peace she experienced the last years of her life.

She had lost her husband, Joseph. When her eldest son was 33, he was crucified for no reason yet rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. She knew since before his immaculate conception that he was the son of God, but can you imagine how she watched this miracle that she bore live, die, be resurrected, and ascend into heaven with such anxiety? After helping establish the church in Acts 1:14, she and the Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted, so John, her son appointed by Jesus, took her away to finally end up in Ephesus.

It is there that she died peacefully. I did not say a word how I felt the day I was at her house to ANYONE except to God through prayer. However, several evenings later, Sean and I were jogging. We reflected back to Ephesus, and while we were jogging on the deck of the Star Princess, Sean said, “You know I had such peace while we walked through Mary’s house!” I grinned and said, “You know, so did I!” Coincidence folks? No, it’s the Holy spirit working through the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the son Mary bore.

Ephesus, Turkey



In the middle of Ancient EphesusEphesus: Headed the Library

Our trip to Ephesus/Kusadasi, Turkey last October entailed learning how the Mediterranean Sea has retreated in 2,000 years and Bible history.

Since the time of Paul the Apostle and the Apostle John, the Mediterranean Sea has retreated some 14 miles back to the port of Kusadasi. The people journeying to Ephesus via the Mediterranean would have ported very close to the Temple of Diana one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. After all the years of fires, rebuilding, earthquakes, rebuilding, the temple was never reconstructed. In an open field there, is a single column remaining that represents the magnificent temple.

Ephesus was built on the side of a mountain. The tour began at the top of the city, and we worked our way down. It was so amazing to see the ancient roads, the ancient latrinum (bathroom of toilets) of the rich, and the amphitheaters.

Antony and Cleopatra also “hung out” in Ephesus for a while. While I was there, I learned that these two conniving love birds had Cleopatra’s sister, Arsinoe, murdered in Ephesus.

Ammon and Carter spent their FIRST excursion without a stroller. They did great, and it wasn’t easy for their little legs to make it over two hours of touring the ancient ruins.

Ammon & Carter: Earth Day 2012

Carter and Ammon’s 3 year old class from preschool along with the school’s four year olds sang at church yesterday in honor of Earth Day. The song, “God saw that it was Good” was the perfect title to magnify the creator of this wonderful terrestrial ball.
Helping Carter and Ammon learn to memorize the song was something new for us. We are so blessed to have two children with such good minds and bodies.

Two sweet things that happened:

Carter, who doesn’t like change, had a hard time lining up and going down to the stage to sing. As a matter of fact the director (Kathy Lookabill) of the preschool and fellow church member with us, sent an usher down to get me in the congregation so I could come back to the group and give support to Carter. Kathy said to me, “Why don’t you just walk beside him and walk in with us?” I agreed, and Carter got better.

As you can see from the video, I had trouble remembering how to focus and zoom in. I thought it was automatic, but it was manual (LOL). Okay, I mentioned that I was able to walk in (it was an honor) with Carter and Ammon. The children sang, I zoomed, I focused, and I sang with the children. Several hours later when I finally finished the video, I saw something I had not seen because of all the “camera crap”. When I finally focused in, Carter and Ammon were holding hands. I didn’t cry, but it made me a little “misty”. I was very proud of both of them.

Carter & Ammon: Laughter Memories (Haven & Nanny)

Ammon's Irises

Carter & Ammon

Carter and Ammon
Okay, to begin with, I don’t have a bath picture of Carter and Ammon.
Ammon picked me some irises Saturday evening then Sean gave both Carter and Ammon a bath. During the bath, I stayed in the kitchen (some 40 feet away from the bathroom but with CLEAR ear shot) to do some cleaning. It wasn’t exactly the conversations that were clear and enjoyable but the laughter. I just had to stop and enclose the moment in my “Carter and Ammon treasure chest” that is in my heart.
My Nanny Caylor and I were parents at two different times in life: I became a parent at 42, and my Nanny became a parent at 21. However, when the laughter started I had a flashback of my Nanny telling a story about my father and his younger brother when she was a young parent. In 1944, Nanny, Granddaddy, my father, and uncle were in Brunswick, Georgia where Granddaddy was working in the shipyards to fulfill the government’s requests to keep Granddaddy working for the government without being drafted. They were living in “modern” apartments with showers: running water and showers were not a part of their house built in 1867 back in good ol’ Varnell, Georgia. Nanny was telling me the story in her kitchen about a year after my father, her son had died. It was probably the autumn of 1983. We were talking about modern conveniences, and she was telling about how modern the Brunswick apartments felt in 1944. Daddy and his brother were at the ages of like 5 and almost 2 in 1944, and they would play in the shower for fun and entertainment. That day in Nanny’s kitchen she had a flood of memories, and she said, “I can just hear them playing and laughing in the water now.” It had only been a year since the death of her eldest son, and we were all still grieving. She was standing at the stove, stopped, and tears began to fall down her cheeks. Missing my father, I got weepy as well. There was no wailing, but we had a brief cry then continued with our evening.
Last Saturday night, I became “misty-eyed” again thinking about my love for my father and my grandmother and shed a tear of happiness for having my Carter and Ammon. Since their births, their laughter has become my most favorite sound on earth.

Spring Fling: Christ United Methodist

Jumping through the obstacles: April 14, 2012 Spring Fling

We are so blessed to be members of a congregation that is an entertaining and interactive Christian church which is Christ-centered like Christ United Methodist Church. We were first attracted to the preschool program, and now we are engaged in the congregational atmosphere as well.
Yesterday (Saturday April 14) there was a Spring Fling at the church. It was so fun! There was no petting zoo this time, but there was still face painting, animal balloons, regular balloons, inflatable obstacle courses, a climbing wall, and all the free hamburgers, hot dogs, desserts, and beverages you could hope for. Carter and Ammon had a grand time, and we had a great time watching them.

Haven's Ideals by Haven Caylor-Brown

Because our Jesus was resurrected, we know that we will be resurrected as well. Thank you, God for sending us your son and our savior to take on our sins on the cross at Calvary. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us enough that although you were without sin you became sin for us so that we may stand sinless before God’s throne in the day of our resurrection.

“He’s Alive” by Dolly Parton

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Haven's Ideals by Haven Caylor-Brown

Well, it’s almost noon on Good Friday. Jesus’ crucifixion had probably begun the 6th hour of the day as Apostle John records, and that would have been 6:00 in the morning. Jesus was so popular (remember his triumphant entry just a few days before there in Jerusalem), and the arrest, the trumped up charges in the “Jewish court”, the beatings and the questionings had been done in the early morning hours so the general public would have no idea Jesus was on trial. Jesus’ followers probably would have revolted, but it all happened according to God’s plan.

Jesus’ garments had been divided, Jesus had been taken down from the cross, and he had been placed in a tomb bought for him by Joseph of Arimathea. What a bleak and sad Friday for Jesus, his family, and his friends.  However, as we know, and as we should always remember, it is…

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Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, was human like us. He did not want to endure the physical pain of his upcoming crucifixion. From Mark 14:36, Jesus implores to God in the Garden of Gethsemane  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The “Abba” is Aramaic for “Daddy”. It reminds me so much of when Carter wants something and says “Please, Daddy!”, and my heart either wrenches and gives in or I say  “No” to what Carter wants.

God’s answer was for Jesus to endure the cross and be the sacrificial lamb for all mankind. My human heart can only imagine the anguish God was feeling for Jesus to die for us. An angel came from God and comforted Jesus (Luke 24: 43) so as to fortify him for the excruciating death that awaited him.

I also think of the 12 disciples being “cowards”, but yet, what would I have done? Do I betray Jesus like Judas did (Matthew 26: 47-49)? Do I like money, cars, clothes, traveling, or food more than Jesus and put them before my love and dedication to him? Sometimes I feel that I would have run like everyone but Peter and John. However, Peter snuck around and denied that he knew Jesus. Tradition tells that John and his family was well-received in high Jerusalem circles and probably mingled with the crowds during those early morning hours being as close to Jesus as could even until Jesus gave up his Spirit on the cross (John 19:25-27). Oh, how I would love to think that I would stay by Jesus’ side until the end.

No matter what, Jesus still loves me like he loved Judas until the end. Jesus STILL called Judas “friend” (Matthew 26: 50): Unbelievable and remarkable! However, that’s Jesus! He is LOVE and forgiveness!

This evening as we lay down in our cozy beds for a great night’s rest, let’s remember our tired and sleepless Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and getting ready to face the death on the cross so he could be our sacrificial lamb and take on our sins. What a man! Thank you, Jesus!

* It’s because of Jesus that I have begun to write and share about my life, if you have a few minutes, enjoy my latest adventures as of March 2014,