Saturday, November 26, 2011

Full Hearts

i think the old platitude, distance makes the heart grow fonder should be lengthened a tad.  I would like to add a lead-in;  the moments prior to an impending distance can also have a pretty powerful impact on the heart.  A fleeting timeline has a way of flavoring simple events with delightful moments that beg to be savored.  This move of ours is reminding me that time with those we love is a lot like opening an expensive well aged bottle of wine.  We are attempting to fully taste life and relishing the fragrance of its bouquet and the hints of every flavor buried within each moment.

Ear tweakings from Grandpa when apprehended from a crime.

Peeking out a kitchen window to find cousins raking leaves without being prompted...

with absolutely NO ulterior motives...

apart from torturing innocent little girls.

Thankfully there is always an adult on hand to advocate order

Things we are thankful for right now...

Muddy little fingers that grasp brightly colored leaves!

Teaching younger cousins new tricks

Older cousins to cling to

Fountains to swipe coins from

Lots of little digits to help control traffic 

Pajamas covered in doughnut sprinkles

Peeking into Christmas dressed windows.

Our hearts are full this Thanksgiving as family from near and far gathered around one table to give thanks for our abundant blessings!

Giving Thanks Always


Friday, November 11, 2011

Lessons from Dubai

There has been lots of chatter around our house about all the things we will learn about ourselves and others as we move out of our comfort zone.  We will be living as guests in a country that is not ours which by its very nature will teach us patience and humility.  We will be lost, confused, frustrated and curious all at the same time.  The way i see it, much of what we will learn while we are there is realizing how much we have yet to learn about the rest of the world.  In case you are wondering... Yes, we have developed a well thought out game plan for our family in those unfamiliar situations....

Don't take yourself too seriously & learn to laugh!

1.  When using the restroom in the mall and an attendant points to the one open stall asking you, "You use Arabic Bathroom?"  Look around you before answering, "Sure!"  Note that the Arabic women in front of you, dressed head to toe in black are choosing NOT to use the Arabic bathroom.  Quite possibly, Arabic bathroom means something other than just LOCATION.  In this particular instance it means: stall in need of a toilet.

2.  If you open up your email account a couple of times while in Dubai you will automatically get a new font.... Arabic

3.  Speaking of bathrooms... i can already foresee the temptation for daily water fights with the foot washing hose.  Pretty much every bathroom comes with all 3 you see here and it's not even considered an upgrade.

3.  Whilst sitting pool side listening to your husband talk to a man from Qatar and the wife of Qatar gentleman comes out dressed in her abaya (click here to see it), it is very awkward to attempt to walk up to her and drum up a conversation if you are wearing a 2 piece....

4.  Sand Storms will be the new "Fog" since they both have about the same amount of visibility.

3:00 afternoon sun during a sandstorm. 

Yeah, this isn't a sunset...

 Palm Island without sand...

Palm Island with sand.

5. Short cuts in Dubai are called "sand bashing."  Want to avoid the traffic?  Just take a dune to your destination.  (But be prepared to rescue fellow bashers attempting the short cut without 4 wheel drive.)     

6.  i will need to brush up on my stealth camera moves.  i knew before arriving that taking pictures of government buildings is a big No No.  i was also versed in the likelihood of security guards telling you to put your camera away should they see you taking pictures.  And of course there is the obvious, never take a picture of someone without their permission.  So with all those rules i was constantly in a state of turmoil.  Can i take a picture now or not?!

One picture and i was banned from any more.  Apparently, this hotel atrium had been blacklisted.

I was fascinated with this mannequin family but fearful to take a picture due to my recent run in with photog security.  This was a sly move i discovered quite by accident.  While photographing souvenirs in a window shop, i realized i could photograph their reflection. 

7.  Change your camera strap before the camel ride!!!

When a kind Bedouin offers to carry your camera in order to take pictures of you on his camel, don't make him walk around with the girly frou-frou strap around his neck.  

Although he is more than willing, it's just not right having to lead a camel full of tourists through the desert while wearing pink flowers.

7.  And i quote, "As long as you have a  good pair of water shoes on you should be fine."

8.  5:00 traffic looks a little different.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just to Clarify...

Having a peace about stepping out into the great unknown doesn't mean there are not moments of tears and butterflies.  

In fact, just tonight as i was doing the dishes @ MY kitchen sink in the house that i love, i realized that within a matter of weeks some other woman will be using this sink and it will be her kitchen.  Our entry way lights are still on, friends have just left, the kids are in bed exhausted but happy and the only thing left on the dining room table is the empty bottle of wine and a couple of place mats.  Just an hour ago our house was full of children, laughter, delicious food and friends.  Adult conversation was often interrupted to comfort a crying child,  but funny stories where exchanged and i got to snuggle a baby that wasn't mine.  These are the things that make life rich.  Maybe it is because i feel there is a count down happening lately that i take in and savor every moment that i can.  i am constantly attempting to store away the precious bits of life that i would typically take for granted.    

The sweet friend that handed me a note and i knew i would have to read in private because it would bring tears to my eyes.  

A yard filled with boys playing football, who have known each other since preschool.

Swinging by a friends house after the kids have gone to bed to work on last minute craft projects.

Talking to my mom on the phone without having to figure out the time zone first.

Not getting to sign up for the up coming 1/2 marathon with my Runner Girls.

Laying back on the grass on a crisp fall day and looking up at the billow white clouds to look for shapes with my children.

Watching my kids sit at our glass double doors waiting for their friends to arrive. 

Running into the library where they all know and greet me by name.

Watching the leaves change into a myriad of colors.

Seeing my favorite entryway light on and dimmed low, hearing the dishwasher humming and feeling the quiet contentedness of our home after an evening filled with family friendships.  The type of friendships that mingle between the adults and children and fill our home and life with love.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adventures in Peace

Adventure and Peace are not typically two words you'd string together in a sentence.  Some words are perfectly balanced and complete each other, they are just more suitable side by side than standing solo.

Peanut butter & Jelly, Romeo & Juliet, Wine & Cheese, 
Welcome Home.

   See?  They are meant for each other.  

Adventure and Peace, not so much.  i would typically classify them more along the lines of opposites, oxymorons really.

 Yet those two words seem to be riding in perfect tandem all over our lives lately.

The thought of packing alone would normally send me into a tailspin.   i have been known to exhibit some control freak tendencies.  i like to have well strategized plans in place as well as a couple extra backups.  Moving is just plain stressful no matter where the truck takes you and i prefer to be well prepared.  

Yeah, except God has an extraordinary way of teaching you things in ways you'd never imagine.  Sometimes you just can't plan LIFE.  A few years back when we started discussing the possibility of taking an international position, i pretty much remember us both saying we'd be willing to go anywhere BUT the Middle East.  (i think that was right around the time i still believed i would NEVER homeschool and we all know how THAT turned out.)  After recovering from the shock of the possible location we started to pray about it... all four of us.  And before we knew it there was a very clear and present peace about walking through the doors that were open.  i mean like a really amazing, God's in control and we are not and it's all good, kind of peace.   We know there are going to be LOTS of amazing adventures mixed with some really BIG challenges but there is a renewed confidence that whatever comes our way, the Lord is going to use it to shape our family in ways that were previously unknown to us.
Some days i eye the stacks of documents to be processed, the boxes to pack, store, sell, ship, the logistic emails to answer and wonder... "Why am i not freaking out right now?"  But really i know, it's a peace that passes all understanding and it's guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)  

Who knew the first part of an Adventure could be Peace!?  

What about you?  Tell me something you've done totally out of your comfort zone that's changed you?