Monthly Archives: February 2013

Trying to be Still… And Usually Failing

I’m normally not one for girlie kinds of books. Aside from my devout adoration of Jane Austin (and BBC’s interpretation of her greatest work, Pride and Prejudice), I’m generally more of a thinker-type reader. I delve into the works of CS Lewis, grapple with Andrew Murray and find solace in Richard Foster. I read on business, leadership, news and everything in between. I’ve discovered the beauty of an expanded mind through the written word. Then I write furiously of the great nuggets of truths I’ve discovered, working to apply them to my life. So, generally, I scoff at current works on marriage, being a wife, or being a woman. They are well beneath the level of spiritual greatness I normally enjoy. I prideful response to be sure. But time is limited, is it not?

An unknown time ago, I somehow downloaded a book entitled Beautiful Wife. I subscribe to some updates that tell me about free books. It must have been one of those. And then it sat in that list of books I’ll probably never open. However, this morning while enjoying a nice cup of coffee wrapped up in a blanket and watching the sunrise over the neighboring buildings, I found myself drawn to this book. I cannot attest for any information beyond page 27, but I was inspired.

Although her premise is becoming a lovely wife, I was struck by a section on being still. This isn’t a new concept for me. I’ve read the scripture in Psalms about being still. I know the song. I’ve read countless books on being still and letting God take over. And yet I find myself worrying or trying to force something to happen or telling the Creator of the universe my grand plan and then expecting his help when things go sideways. As I reread parts of my current journal this morning I was struck by how often I’m simply not still. I’m antsy. In life I’m pretty quiet, but with God I’m a chatterbox, constantly badgering him with my wonderful ideas or great requests or desires for becoming a better person, wife, leader, or whatever other role I play.

I thought I had learned this lesson the hard way – through a time of total desperation living in a land full of adversity. I thought I understood how to match my priorities with God’s and be obedient. Maybe I did. But now I find myself relearning how to stop striving for perfection and allow Christ
to be perfect in me. I’m relearning how to pause and simply listen to the voice of the Spirit gently guiding me. I’m relearning how to take a breath amidst the insanity of life and praise God for the beauty of the geranium growing in my living room. I’m learning to stop and thank God for the journey our business is still on and the lessons I have learned as we struggle to even open it.

With so much emphasis on being intentional I’m finding myself at war within my heart to simply be. And I’m praying that the Holy Spirit wins and that I am closer to God in the process. I’m praying my plan for every day matches his and that when I fall into bed at night I can rest with a smile knowing my heart and my life brought him glory. And I’m praying that I learn to be still and know that he is God.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Categories: life, spiritual growth | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dancing Queen

I’ve lived in the Middle East for awhile now. I have studied the language, learned to play the music, and appreciate the art. Oriental dancing, however, alludes me. I grew up in America, so I never learned to make my hips do whatever it is that they’re supposed to do in oriental style dancing. My Sicilian heritage failed me for I have surprisingly short legs. Makes dancing of any type awkward.

As I was making a fool of myself today in a dance aerobic class, I was reminded of a time early on in my time in this part of the planet. I had been spending a lot of time with a group of girls. Their favorite pastime, aside from watching Turkish dramas dubbed into Arabic, was to put on some music and dance. I would get up from the cushion on the floor, try to wake up my sleeping leg and shake various parts of myself, mimicking what I thought they were doing. They would fall down laughing as tears rolled down their smiling faces at my futile attempts to assimilate into this part of their culture.

One particular day stands out in my memory. My friend’s brother was getting married and I would be invited to the female reception (they have two – one for guys and one for girls). After quizzing her on the particulars regarding what to wear, what to bring, etc., she informed me that I needed to improve my dancing skills. I begrudgingly got up as the music started. Ceremoniously raising one hand to “change the light bulb” and then lowering the other to “pat the dog,” I began to try to dance. This time, however, my friend placed her hands on my hips, telling me, “shake like this!” I tried. I kept trying. Finally, I looked at her and said, “It’s no use. I’m a foreigner. Our bodies just don’t do that.” She shrugged and said, “Keep doing that with your hands and maybe no one will notice.”

They did.

Categories: Changes, life | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Gym Rats

I recently joined a gym. I’ve discovered that I need a trainer yelling at me to push harder in a class in order to get a descent workout. So I joined a ladies only gym with lots of classes to choose from. Although definitely different from my body pump or spinning class in the States, it works. I get a good workout, and then shower and get ready there, all while ladies stare at me trying to figure out who I am and why in the world I’m at their gym. When communication becomes necessary, one will gesture and grunt and then grow wide-eyed as I respond in Arabic. It’s fun.

I find the gym an interesting study of a particular demographic. In the States there are these big, buff guys who hang out there all the time with their protein shakes and gigantic arms. The kind of guys I would want on my side in an alley fight. At my gym now, though, there is a new breed of gym rat. These middle-aged upper class women don’t have much to do at home since the househelp cleans and their kids are old enough to take care of themselves (but not old enough to need to get married yet – that’s a full time job). So they put on their matchy-matchy purple velour bedazzled track suits with matching hair ties and watch band ready for a full day at the gym. They may or may not take a class and they may or may not actually lift a weight or take a step on a treadmill, but they are sure to sit in the appropriately placed cushy chairs to peruse the latest gossip magazine or check their email at one of the open computers. When hunger strikes, they’ll purchase a box of chocolate covered digestives (think giant graham crackers) and a Pepsi at the little “cafeteria” by the locker room while discussing what food is nutritional and the best ways to workout. Then they’ll sit in the little salon to get their eyebrows threaded, nails done or hair “brushed” (washed and styled). Then after a preset amount of time, they will done their headscarves and long coats and leave their place of respite. But don’t worry, you’ll see them again tomorrow, only maybe in neon pink this time.

Me, I’m on my way to Zumba class in an old t-shirt from high school and a pair of yoga pants from college. It’s going to get sweaty and gross anyway, right? Why buy nice clothes for the gym? No wonder they stare at me.

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From my Perspective

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken throughout my journey.  Enjoy a laugh with me!

Our language is intense

Our language is intense

Happy Other's Day!

Happy Other’s Day!

bedcure

bedcure

I prefer my pizza sans trees

I prefer my pizza sans trees

And it wasn't even Christmas time

And it wasn’t even Christmas time

A car that nice can afford a license plate, right?

A car that nice can afford a license plate, right?

Trying so hard!

Trying so hard!

Imprisonment

Imprisonment

Stink, and I'm alone today.

Stink, and I’m alone today.

How do you decide what to name your building?

How do you decide what to name your building?

A sad day for this kid

A sad day for this kid

Inspiration comes in a variety of places, including notebooks.

Inspiration comes in a variety of places, including notebooks.

A common food here...

A common food here…

What's your shirt made of?

What’s your shirt made of?

A tribute to the great 90s love ballads adored here.

A tribute to the great 90s love ballads adored here.

A place to go if you're a girl alone.

A place to go if you’re a girl alone.

Yummy

Yummy

Categories: Humor, weird things about living overseas | Tags: , | Leave a comment

NASCAR

Until I moved to this country, I always took public transportation. More than once I worried for my life. Especially when trying to convince the taxi driver that lights are important after dark and they don’t use any more gas. Or when they’re trying to convince me that going to their house to meet their family (and agree to some sort of marriage proposal) is a much better idea than going to whatever place I had previously determined. In those moments, I get out and find another taxi.

No, now I’m empowered. I can drive. And the moments where I feel I’m taking my life into my hands have increased. I’ve never actually watched NASCAR, but I image it’s very similar to what I experience every day. When traffic gets insane in a taxi, I can just close my eyes and pray for it to be over soon. (Like the time the driver took 10 minutes for a ride that should’ve taken 30, weaving in and out of traffic to the beat of his gangster music.) Unfortunately, I must keep my eyes open at all times while driving. No matter who horrified I am by the guy going in reverse up the ramp to the highway. Even if I feel like everyone else is driving blindfolded. I must keep my eyes open because I get cut off, people turn without looking, and go the wrong way down one ways.

It’s so true in life, too. I can choose to walk around with my eyes shut to everything hoping to be blinded to anything unsavory. The problem is then I miss so much, like that awesome sign that says “Muscle Factory” or donkey cart with a hand made license plate or a beautiful God-made sunset.

Sure, life is ugly. There are atrocities around every corner. But there is also so much to laugh about and admire. So, I choose to enter the race with eyes wide open knowing that my gracious Heavenly Father will guide and protect me as I observe all that’s around me. And I’ll be more thankful for the dead stop traffic when I can catch my breath for a moment.

Note pictures from my life: (the camel was “parked” at a gas station)

20130213-073721.jpg

20130213-073950.jpg

Categories: life | Tags: | Leave a comment

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