He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MY story, MY song

I've realized recently that for the most part, I've pretty much just used this blog as a place to share pictures and stories about the girls specifically meant for family and friends who live so far away.  Anyway, I've realized that writing is really an outlet and stress relief for me, so I may ask you for the occasional indulgence to just share my heart and my ramblings- I know, I know, look out all you grammar and spelling police, hear I come!  Have a little grace though, most of the times that I have to sit down and grab a few minutes to blog, it's between spelling and math lessons with the big girls, games of all different sorts with Naomi, combined with Arabic classes, laundry, and yeah, I guess my family needs to eat too.  All that to say, I claim to enjoy writing as a stress relief- a way to express my emotions, thoughts and feelings, not a way to be grammatically or even theologically correct.  So thanks for indulging me for an occasional rambling session that doesn't include pictures of my little beauties. 

Here's what's been rolling around in my head for the last few days, and, yes, even belted out in the shower.  (hang with me and you'll know what I mean).  I've had a tough few days, it's just been one of THOSE weeks.  Nothing went like I thought it would.  Things did not happen according to MY plan.  God answered prayers, but not in the way I thought He would (and not even according to my suggestions- imagine that).  I guess, truth be told, when it comes down to it, I just didn't get my way, in my time.  I find myself wondering why this is still such a hard lesson for me...

Anyway, on Saturday, we were gathered with dear friends for a time of worship.  In the midst of struggling with why I didn't get my way, we sang a priceless old hymn that has become so dear to me.  As we sang the words of "Blessed Assurance", I looked around the room at all my blessings:  my incredible husband who has been my rock, my beautiful girls, precious friends who mean the world to me- my overseas family, sweet Naomi was sitting in my lap and I simply couldn't hold her tight enough- all my girls are priceless miracles, but the unique miracle that she is especially spoke to my heart on this day.  Anyway, I looked around at all these things, even all the little details of the home we have made in Beirut- a painting from a favorite place in Lebanon, another from France, the framed picture that I gave Jason on our first Valentine's day together in 1993, the priceless pieces of furniture that Grandaddy made me, the crazy Lebanese couches that will just never quite be comfortable enough, the African guard chair from Jason's days in West AFrica, Jason's "chemo chair"- the recliner so dubbed after his grandparents gave it to us during Jason's cancer, the framed Scottish blessing that my best friend re-gifted me with before we came overseas.  I took all these things in in a matter of seconds to the back drop of "Blessed Assurance" and God just said so clearly to my heart, "my child, all of this is your story and your song.  The story of your life that I am writing.  Take the good with the bad and learn in the midst of it to sing My praises."  Oh how I needed those words and I pray they encourage your heart as well.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Saviour all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Saviour all the day long

(For those of you who might still feel the need to comment on any grammatical errors after my above explanation, here are some pictures of the background noise I was dealing with while writing- YOU try getting out a coherent thought with your 4 year old telling you how to do "downward facing dog" on the bed behind you)

"Mommy, mommy, mommy, look mommy, I'm doing yoga, this is downward dog" etc etc etc

I got a few minutes pause between chatter sessions but she was soon back showing me how to "roll around like a ball" (and yes, it is afternoon here, and yes, she is still in her pj's (Go, Tigers, Go!)-this is not the norm for us so please don't go there with me, today :)). 

Looking for a little humility?

If any of you blog readers out there have been praying for an extra dose of humility in your lives but haven't been entirely sure how exactly the Lord might work that out in you, I have some suggestions for you.  These are all things I have learned over the past 7 years as I have attempted the monumental task of learning not one but two foreign languages as an adult.  Here are my suggestions, take them or leave them...

1.Attempt to learn the beautiful French language while living in Paris.  For the most part, they will not be helpful, they will not be nice, and your ego will be smashed on a daily basis.  (but, hey, at least you are living in beautiful Paris, so try not to take it for granted even while lugging your own personal "18 wheeler" (the term we began using for our double stroller carrying an almost 4 and very hefty 2 year old in) around the Paris subways which conveniently have no elevators or escalators).

2. Attempt to learn the beautiful French language while living in Paris while married to an MK who learned to speak French as a child.  Quickly inform your sweetheart that he is not to participate in ANY WAY in the correction of your French pronunciation that can't help but have an endearing southern twang.

3. Come to think of it, let's give this one it's own category- Marry an MK and then attempt to learn any foreign language alongside him or her.  I guarantee they will beat you hand's down.  For many of you that may not be a lesson in humility, but for this competitive girl it is a constant kick in the teeth (smile, I love you honey....)

4.  Put your very young children in a preschool or elementary school where they will begin learning the language that you are attempting to learn.  (this is again a kicker for those with a competitive spirit).  Not only will they far surpass you in their ability to learn the language, but they may even begin ducking their heads in embarrassment when you open your mouth to speak. 

5.  Attempt to learn Arabic in Beirut after learning (I use that term loosely) French.  Quite a change from Paris.  They WILL be nice to you, they will love you, they will think you are a genious because you said, "hello, how are you" in Arabic, then they will proceed to want to speak to you only in English. 

6. While married to an MK who is a language phenom, walk around your neighborhood and let everyone tell you what a genious your husband is and how well he speaks Arabic.  Silently wonder if anyone will ever notice your somewhat pitiful though very genuine efforts to also grasp said language. 

7. (this is a doozy for anyone wanting a dose of humility from all fronts at once)  Take Arabic lessons from a beautiful Lebanese girl.  Be prepared to answer the following questions:  "Why does your hair look like that?" "Do you mean for it to be that color?"  "Have you thought about changing your hair color?"  "Did you want to do your make-up like that today?"  "Why don't you speak better in Arabic?"  "Who taught you the alphabet in Arabic?"  "Do you know that you can't pronounce anything correctly?"  "Do you like the way those shoes look on you?"  "You look fat in that outfit, have you gained weight?" "You need to get your eyebrows done, have you thought about getting a facial?"  "Have you considered changing hair stylists?"  (in the midst of all these questions remind yourself that this is someone you are praying for, keep your cool and continue to attempt to speak in the language that apparently no one can understand coming out of your mouth)

8. Quit Arabic classes for over a year and begin again.

9. Start Arabic classes again with a dear friend who is just a tad bit better than you.  Listen to all of her sentences be given a "bravo" while every word out of your mouth is corrected to the point that you can't remember what your sentence was going to be in the first place. 

10.  Praise God for the daily reminder of how much I need His strength for all things!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From the mouths of babes

My last post with the picture of the "D" word written on her cup in her precious little 4 year old script made me think of a few other stories of misspoken words in the Cox house.

First, let me just clarify that cursing, at least of the four letter more serious words has never been something that I personally have struggled with- not even in my head.  I'm pretty sure I can honestly say that I even made it through natural childbirth three times without a four letter slip.  Now, please don't think I'm tooting my own horn- I'm just saying this is not one of my issues- that's not to say that I don't have plenty of others!  I would also be lying if I didn't tell you that I have been guilty of teaching my kids plenty of choice phrases of the slightly less offensive variety.  There have been plenty of "darn-its" and "oh my goshes" and I'm pretty sure that I heard Naomi the other day say, "oh crap".  Thankfully big sister Maddie was right there to tell her in no uncertain terms that "that is not something that we say".  Apparently Maddie was so serious in her rebuke that it sent Naomi off hiding under the coffee table for a bit.

Anyway, I digress.  I do have a point, or at least some funny stories to tell.  The first is about sweet Abbey, our little reader.  At the time she was reading, "Harriet the Spy" a kids' fave I"m pretty sure and not one that I had felt the need to screen.  She was in third grade I think.  Anyway, I picked her up at school and as we were walking to the car she started with her almost daily ritual of rattling off her list of places she wanted to go after school- burger king, the park, the corniche (big walkway down by the mediterranean where the girls ride scooters and such).  This particular day we were busy and I said, "no, not today".  Without missing a beat she looks at me and says, "Well, damin" (with emphasis on the "N" at the end of the word).  Of course after I regained my composure (I was internally cracking up) I explained that that is something we do not say.  I must say that I was thankful that my then 9 year old had made it that long without actually hearing the word, since it was obvious from her pronunciation that it was something that she read (In "Harriet the Spy" of all places!).

Next story is on Maddie.  We have a somewhat tradition (somewhat because it doesn't happen that often but tradition because it happens often enough that the girls beg by saying, "but we always....") of ordering pizza and watching old "Cosby Show" DVD's on Thursday nights.  (I think this started as a Thursday night thing because Jason and I used to have a Friday night date night which hasn't happened nearly as regularly as it should anymore...).   Anyway, we were watching Cosby Show one night and Cliff comes out with, "well, you're damn right" clear as day.  Jason and I glanced at it each other, hoping it had been missed by little ears (should have none better).  About an hour later we were cleaning up dinner and had asked the girls if they wanted to play a game before bed.  In all of the passion that only Maddie could muster up, she says, "You're damn right!".  Again, I must say that on some level I'm thankful to have daughters naive enough to have not heard these words before to know that they shouldn't say them! 

Learning her letters.... and apparently some interesting words

Every week at house church, whoever hosts usually provides refreshments and drinks.  The habit has become that we have plastic cups and a sharpie to write your name on the cup to minimize dirty dishes for the host. 

Well, sweet little Naomi is learning her letters- writing them mostly.  She can write a lot of them, but we haven't moved on to forming them into words very much.  She CAN spell her name, just mostly chooses not to.  But if you ask her to, she will mostly recite the right letters.  One of her favorite things to do is to sit down at her little table while Abbey and Maddie are doing school and write out lots of random letters on paper.  Her lists typically including various combinations of the first five letters of the alphabet (what we've worked on mostly), plus the letters in her name. 

Saturday morning at house church, Jason brought me Naomi's cup to show what she had written.  Obviously, she hadn't tried to write her name, she just came up with an oh so classic combination of the letters she already knows...

In case any of you school teachers are worried that she can't yet spell her name (Mom... :)), we had her try again later (after our entire group got a good laugh out of her slip...)