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

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I'll say from the start that this post is mostly for the Cox family archives.  It's not going to be terribly exciting...  I just want to be sure and record all the things that Anabelle is saying at this stage because judging by my memory's history with the other girls, I will NOT remember what happened when etc.   

There's a statistic out there that says something to the effect of women speaking around 21,000 words per day on average while men only speak around 7,000.  I actually googled this and come to find out that study is now being refuted and it seems that women and men actually have (again, on average) about the same number of words per day.  Well, can I just say from my experience in living in a houseful of miniature women- I BEG TO DIFFER!!!   Let's face it, we girls have a lot to say.  I have 4 little women living under my roof and I can tell you that despite their very different personalities, they all LOVE to talk.  Of course, it looks different for each of them.  Recently during a particularly heavy assault of the verbal kind, Jason held up his hands looked around and said, YOU (Maddie) talk too much, YOU (Abbey) talk to fast, and YOU (me) talk WAY too quietly (I must have been having an off day... that and he's becoming increasingly frustrated by my mumbling habit...)  So, yes, the talking styles vary, but the amount of talking- yeah, it's up there...  It may take some digging to get the talking juices flowing with Naomi, while Maddie has to be reminded frequently that others might want a turn.  Abbey will talk your ear off on certain subjects if you can get her nose out of whatever book she is reading, and Anabelle, oh mercy, Anabelle!  I have a feeling she is going to far surpass them all!  (for those of you who know us well, yes, even Maddie!).  Sweet little angel (that would be Anabelle), DOES NOT STOP TALKING.   She's at that very fun stage at almost 17 months (WHERE does the time go??!!) where she will repeat absolutely anything we tell her to (or at least try to), much to the delight of her older sisters.  I came home the other day and Abbey was changing her diaper and had her saying "butt paste".  Lovely.  

So in an effort to document this stage of her toddlerhood, I thought it would be fun to make a list of the vocabulary that makes up Anabelle's days.  These are things that she says on her own free will spelled according to her pronunciation- not things that we prompt her to repeat because I don't know that that list would end!  
Hiiieeee! (after staring around a room and finding a stranger- this was also one of her first words)
Mommy, Daddy, Mamee (Maddie), Nomi, Abbey
meeeeyaaaahh!  (Mia- always said enthusiastically) 
Bapa, Nana, Annie, Da (occasionally throws a Nannie in there- a combo of her grandma's!
Bob, Warry (Veggie Tales)
Woowy, Jessie, REX  (Toy Story)
Baby, Ra Ra (rock, rock), Jesus! (as she Ra Ra's baby)
Bopper, wops (wipes)
Maii!  (milk)
I, I, I, I, I!!!  (ice)- notice the repetition and the emphasis- comes out like this at top volume!
Tay tay (Abbey's best buddy here whom Anabelle adores)
nigh, nigh (she will ask to go if she's way tired)
Wuvy (her pink giraffe lovey from target- EXTREMELY important)
paaay (play)
ahside (outside)
wa wa (water or walk, walk- gotta know the context)
kee cat (kitty cat)
stower (stroller)
nana (banana)
cacker (cracker)
goalfeesh (goldfish)
nak! (snack)
MO! (no)
uh hmm (yes)
pat pat (for baby's, Mia, anything she needs to be gentle with)
Yalla!  (Arabic for let's go!)
Go, go, go! (anytime we are leaving the house or she wants to leave...)
shuuu (loves shoes and brings them from around the house to whoever they belong to)
dance, dance
pri-py (pretty)
bash, bash (brush, brush)
hello?!  (when doorbell or phone rings)
BAAA!!!  (bath, very excitedly)
bahhl (ball)
Maya, Dain (Zain)- recent friends who came to visit who she really loved playing with
peeez (please)
mamin (muffin)
i keem (ice cream)
yoyurt (yogurt)
offee (coffee- she is her daddy's daughter!)

biiy, biiy (bite)

hur yup (hurry up- she walks around yelling this each morning as the girls are getting ready for school...)
was tat? (what's that?)
who dat?  (points at pictures)
wher dit go?
i da no (I don't know)
there tis (there it is)
hee ya go (giving you something)
bom bom bom bom (when she sees Veggie Tales)
seet down
uh oh
ummm maaa (giving kisses)
ta too (thank you)

And if we're friends on facebook, you've probably seen this video but it totally cracks me up everytime I watch it so I wanted to share.   Here's AJ trying to get her to say some things- this was about a month ago.  And just fyi, her eye is halfway swollen shut because of a mosquito bite..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today's project (a peak into life over here)

 I have told my sweet husband several times in the last few weeks that I feel like my house is attacking me.  Literally going on the offensive not allowing itself to be cleaned/straightened/organized- nothing!  No amount of work that I do seems to make a bit of difference in the way it looks at the end of the day!  Ok.  That's a slight exaggeration but seriously as I sit her comfortably rocking away in my recliner, the mound of (thankfully) clean clothes on my bed is ridiculous.  And somehow there is an equally large mound in the dirty clothes hamper even though it seems like it was JUST water day/wash day.  (In Jordan we get water from the city 2 days a week to fill the water tanks on our building.  We can typically only wash clothes on those days because the water continually flows and fills in what you use.  You run the risk of running out of water if you do laundry on other days).  And then there's the dust.

Oh the dust!  

I really don't know how to explain it if you have not lived in this part of the world, but cleaning here is truly a whole 'nuther (I said that just to bug Jason, he swears it's not a usable phrase...) monster.  But I don't want to get into all that now.  Just take my word for it.  So, back to the dust.  It's EVERYWHERE.  I mean we pretty much live in the middle of the desert.  (not dessert although I could get into that...).  Houses here for the most part don't have AC.  Although it gets into the low 100's for a bit in the summer there is literally no humidity (which is mostly awesome- more on that later) so it cools down to the 70s at night.  Quite pleasant.  But because of the no AC thing, we pretty much leave our windows open all the time.  We do have screens THANK THE LORD, but it's still quite dusty.  The cleaning schedule I have worked out right now between the girls and I has us vaccuuming and dusting 3x/week and there are still days you can right your name on a table top just hours after wiping it down with Pledge.  

Ok, so I'm rambling on about cleaning and the dust and I was going to tell you about today's project- all the info above was somewhat relevant in case you're wondering.  We have a long balcony off of our kitchen that extends down the side of our apt about halfway down the living room.  It's a decent size as far as balconies go.  Sadly, it can't be the green haven like I had on our balcony in Lebanon that you can see here.  It has to be functional.  It's where our dryer lives during the summer (we had to bring it in last winter because when it rains this entire balcony stays wet which is quite annoying).   So, yeah, I had a dryer in my living room.  Lovely.  Anyway, the balcony is home to my dryer and clothes drying rack (since we try not to use the dryer much due to the cost of electricity).  I have big windows in the kitchen and living room looking onto the balcony and before we left for the summer, I had some beautiful flowers to add just a little green.  A dear friend babysat them for me all summer and I keep forgetting to get them back from her.  So all that to say, today I decided to thoroughly scrub down the balcony because the dust has truly been threatening to carry it off.  And sense it's plant-less right now, it's kind of a blank slate.  
I had a very eager helper who has just gone from 2 to 1 daytime naps so we are looking for exciting activities to get us through the morning.  She was very happy to strip down to her diaper and help "keen up" with the "wa wa".   

(sorry the light in above picture is so bad.  It's from my kitchen going out onto the balcony)

So when you walk out onto the balcony and look right this is what you see...

My clothes drying rack usually goes in the space in front of the dryer, and there are usually flowers in the window.  The white shelf is something we had built to cover our huge bottles of drinking water.  We have 4 delivered each week and they won't fit in the house but it's not good for them to be in direct sunlight so they slide under this little shelf.  Also our extra gas bottles for the stove are under there.  Can you see the rectangular imprint on top of the white shelf from the planter I just moved? Oh the dust!

Turn left coming out the kitchen door and this is what you see.

I'm currently using the plant box to hold scooters and a pogo stick because I got tired of finding them all over the balcony all the time.  They are hard to prop up against the wall- go rolling everywhere so this keep them in place.  We would like to eventually get a narrow balcony table and high stools so we can have a place to sit out here but that's kind of low on the priority list at this point...

Here's my kitchen window also shown above with my herbs.  Right now I have basil, mint and rosemary and they're in pots that they girls helped me paint several years ago.

We are actually looking into closing this balcony in before the rainy season starts (mid November?).  We can have glass windows put in so we could still open it up when we wanted, but we would also have the ability to completely close it off if needed and still have it as a functional space.  Last winter, there was literally water out here almost all the time between December and March and when there wasn't water there was muddy gunk.  Because, yeah, have I mentioned the dust?  

Anyway, today Anabelle and I tackled the balcony.  Here's the dust pile from about one square foot of sweeping.  It's this really fine powder that sticks to everything.

 And see the walls up there?  I also have to sweep them down pretty well because they are constantly flaking off and dusty and if the clothes hanging out to dry brush up against them it ain't pretty (for me since I"m the one who does the laundry- again...)

So the cleaning process involved sweeping the dust, wiping down all the window sills and ledges and tops of anything and then pretty much throwing water all over the balcony and using a squeegy style mop to push the water to the floor drain in the far corner.  

My little helper was thrilled!

Doing her "happy dance" in the "wa wa"

And, the finished product...

(I know, I know, you totally can't tell a difference but believe me when I tell you that it's SO much cleaner.  Hopefully will have more pictures in weeks to come when I add some green to the very white/light brown palette!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rock Bottom

Any F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fans out there?  I confess I am a fan. Yes, I know it's crass and mostly inappropriate but it reminds me of my college days and there are few TV characters that can make me laugh out loud 'til it hurts like Joey and Chandler.  I'm just sayin...

Rachel Greene is actually not one of my favorite characters- she always kind of bugged me, but one of her quotes has been swimming around in my head lately that kind of describes pretty well where I am at this phase in my life.  It goes something like this-

"I really thought I hit rock bottom.  But today it's like there's rock bottom, then fifty feet of crap, then me..."

Oof.  Sadly, that's kind of where I've been at least emotionally and physically these last few weeks.  I mean we knew heading into the month of September that it was going to be insanely crazy.  School starting, busy travel schedule for Jason with back to back trips, meetings that we're hosting/planning/leading, birthday parties, simply just getting settled back into the school routine especially after traveling all summer.  Add to that mix some other unexpected things that only made the schedule that much more crazy.  Add to that ear infections and sleepless toddler nights (which to clarify are much more difficult than sleepless newborn nights at least in my opinion...  Sleepless newborn nights= sweet cuddles, very little crying, and a green card to be lazy the next day.  Sleepless toddler nights= sippy cups being hurled at your head, angry cries of "mommy, mommy, mommy, daddy, daddy, daddy", and life going on as normal when the alarm goes off the next morning).  Add to that raging teenage/preteen hormones, raging 6 year old hormones (yes, I'm convinced they exist), and an oh so precious 16 month old who has decided that throwing herself onto the floor in a raging fit is her favorite M.O. these days..

(and yes, she has a mommy who at this point chooses to video her rather than discipline her)

(and the video didn't work- will keep trying...)

I had great plans of transforming our family in the month of September.  Yes, in spite of knowing in advance how crazy it was going to be- I had grand plans.  Becoming a meal planner again, cooking in advance, organizing our chore charts, having work prepared for the girls to supplement what they're learning at school and filling in the gaps, and and and.  All sorts of grand plans.  Yeah so none of that has happened.  At all.  Quite the contrary I seem to find myself sort of ringing my hands, looking around helplessly thinking WHO is in charge here? And then I realized, DANG IT- it's me (and Jason of course but you get it ).  I'm supposed to be in charge and things are falling apart!  

I had 3 good days. The first week the girls started school.  My stupid alarm sang it's stupid song at 5:30 and I was out of the bed.  It was actually kind of nice to have 45 whole minutes of solitude in the Word time.  That has been my goal for quite some time and it actually happened!  Yay!  I did it!  

But then things inadvertently started falling apart. Things completely out of my control reared their ugly heads and reminded me that no, I am actually NOT in control at all and more importantly, I better stop thinking that I am the one in charge (of my household, my daily activities, my goals, my kids, my marriage) and remembering that Almighty God, the Creator of this often confusing but oh so amazing universe is THE ONE who should be directing my days.  I should not pridefully take the credit for finally getting my stuff together in a way that makes my home run more smoothly.   Because as He's gently reminded me this week,

"Unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain."  Psalm 127:1 

And wow.  I don't want to labor in vain.  The business of raising kids is a serious one.  Molding these little people and helping them discover what God has for them.  Not something I want to mess up or even pretend for a minute that I am the one doing it.  It's ALL HIM.  The days when I find myself ringing my hands while they are running circles around me are the days that, for whatever reason, I have decided that I am in charge and have helplessly tried to dig myself out of the fifty feet of crap (thank you Rachel Greene for that visual) that I feel mounding on top of me.  

These are the days that I do things like tell Anabelle to go potty (instead of going to change her diaper- she's no where near potty trained), put the milk in the cabinet and my keys in the freezer (true story ), write 2013 as the year on my passport renewal form while at the embassy (yep did that yesterday), stare blankly at my husband when asked a simple question, completely unable to make a decision.

All that to say, rock bottom.  Yeah that's where I feel like I am.  But I've actually discovered a good thing about rock bottom.  Something that I"m certain Rachel never knew.  God is there.  And not only is He there, but He is ready to lift me above all that stuff that's piling on threatening to suffocate.  Take a walk with me through the Psalms that have been like a balm to my soul over the last few days as I've meditated on my God, my rock.  (and I have to say it...  How cool and relevant is God that He can take something pretty unholy like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and use it to lead me straight to His heart)

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Psalm 40:2

I can call out to Him asking for deliverance, and even more comforting, I am not alone in my sinking feeling.  Even King David hit rock bottom and cried out to God.  

"Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters."  Psalm 69:14

And I love that when he pulls us out of the pit, the miry clay, the crap (in modern terms), he puts us on a higher place where only He can sustain.

"From the ends of the earth I call to you.  I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. "  Psalm 61:2

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."  Psalm 18:32-33

His strength.  His provision.  A way out of the pit.  Praise Him that He is in charge not me!  

So, rock bottom.  Not such a bad place to be when my feet are planted firmly on the King of Kings.  

"He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 62:6

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

"Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal."  Psalm 26:4

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Writing is therapy for me.  I know my grammar is, well, bad.  And my spelling?  Not so great either.  Maybe that's because my writing has typically been for me and Jesus.  I am now and always have been a journaler(see, case in point- my spell check is yelling at me but how else do you say that?  Is journaler not a word?!).  Me and God figure stuff out (well me, I guess he already has it figured out), but I figure stuff out in the process of writing things out.  I've discovered since starting this blog that I typically just get around to posting the family pictures, the "what's happening around here" kind of post, but there's all this other stuff swimming around in my head.  Thoughts on this or that issue.  Irritations about certain things, rants about who knows what...  Things that typically are reserved for the pages of my journals have become blog posts in my head...   Occasionally a bit of my more of my "journaly" side will leak out here but it's usually just the fluff of our lives.  And by fluff, I DON'T mean unimportant.  It's all important.  Every picture and every memory recorded is important.  I guess by fluff  I mean the stuff that's easy to share.  I don't very often dig very deep in what I actually end up writing.  

I've been wondering why.   Am I afraid of offending?  Definitely.  Am I a pleaser who wants everyone to agree with everything that I say always?  Oh yes.  Am I beginning to recognize that that is completely and totally ridiculous? yep.  So why am I fearful of expressing my thoughts, my fears, my lessons learned through the path God has me on?  Not sure yet.    A few theories though..

There's this whole school of thought out there questioning why anyone would bare their soul for all of cyber world to see.  I've listened to that (idea) in the past  but I don't think I really see it that way anymore. I want this to be more than photo memories and traveling adventures but a safe place to write and share  the things God puts on my heart.  I don't know if anyone's listening or not and I don't know if that's really the point.   I mean, yeah, it's encouraging when someone comments or someone else "follows" because you realize that you are making connections, but I think the point is more in expression.  Safely expressing (if you are a non- verbal processor like me you will know what I mean here by safely...  you can write your thoughts, then delete your thoughts, then re-write your thoughts again and again and all the while, NO ONE verbally responds and tells you your silly or wrong or slightly crazed ) .  Anyway, you can safely express your emotions, thoughts, experiences in a way that communicates to others and maybe in some way encourages someone out there who can say, "YES!" "What she said!"  I mean, how many time have you read someone's blog and thought, "wow, I wish I had said it that way- that is exactly what I was thinking!".   

The other big fear revolves around being wrong and a lifelong habit of avoiding confrontation at all costs.  Yeah, I don't like to be wrong and I definitely don't like to confront or be confronted.  (just ask my husband)  So the idea of writing my thoughts about things that I"m probably quite often WRONG about or things that others will simply disagree with me about is a bit intimidating.  But, come one.  We're all human, therefore we're all wrong, A LOT!  And God definitely didn't use the same cookie cutter mold when he made us so we are quite likely to disagree on occasion.  I"m becoming more and more ok with that.  So I am surrendering this fear. I am ready to be wrong.  And I'm ready to be confronted. (sort of) In writing.  

So, all that to say, I'm going to start putting myself "out there" a little more.  I'm going to share a bit more of my personal "stuff" because in seeing this blog as an opportunity to journal my life, I want it to be the full picture.  The good, the bad, and the oh so ugly.    There.  I've said it.  I've edited it (a little but not too much- still want to be real).  So now I'm committed to it.   Writing more.  Expressing more.  Offending more?  I hope not, but possibly.   

And to be clear- this (all that I've just expressed...) is my heart's desire.  Keeping more of a record of God's lessons for me through this crazy life journey.  There will definitely be periods of silence because, let's be real, I just don't have it that together yet and I'm coming from an extremely exhausted, sleep deprived place (see next post-- hopefully coming tonight nope tomorrow, this one took too long...), but this is my goal and I"m putting it out there for all to see.  Maybe someone will hold me to it?  Regardless, I just wanted to redefine a bit of what my posts might look like.   Because for whatever reason,  for me the process of putting my thoughts down onto paper a blog for all the world to see (?) is therapeutic.  And healing somehow. In the process of writing, I almost always learn something that God has been trying for days, weeks, sometimes months to pound into my thick skull,  so I do hope you'll stick around for this new season of Pink Laundry.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The extraordinary ordinary

To say that the last few weeks have been busy would be a massive understatement!  Thankfully in the midst of the craziness, we've captured a few moments of ordinary- just being family.  Here's a glimpse of the extraordinary ordinary days that bind us together as family.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom....Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:12,14

 Sister snuggles

Dividing school supplies

We took a drive up to Mt. Nebo with some visiting friends and tried out our baby backpack that some friends gave us.  Looking forward to lots more hiking!

Miss Anabelle hit the 16th month mark on September 11 (which incidentally is also the 20th anniversary of Jason and my first date- last year, I blogged here about our own version of this date).  Anyway, I tried desperately to get a sweet picture of the little missy, but she was not very cooperative.
Here she is smacking the camera out of her face...

and here she's making every face but a smile..

Then she decided it would be cute to run and hide..

Finally, a shot of that stunning profile- check out those lashes!

In other milestone news, this little beauty is now a teen!  I guess that definitely qualifies as more extraordinary than ordinary.  Abbey Joy you have extraordinarily blessed our lives and we love you!

Yep, I am officially the mom of a teenager.  There's a blog entry about that swimming around in my head, but for tonight I only had the brain power for a post that's heavy on pictures, light on words...  Can't believe my baby is 13!  She got to celebrate her birthday with one of her besties who also has a birthday this week..

These 2 have been sharing birthday for a long time.  Here they are 5 years ago on their 8th birthdays!

We had a family birthday dinner of homemade sliders, oven fries, feta coleslaw, and oreo cupcakes.

With school starting, we've had to get back in the homework routine.  Our little first grader has had her share too and big sis has been happy to help her!  Here they are working on Arabic script.

And math..

Naomi taking a break from her studying to work on those art skills.  Her favorite subjects are, after all, art, P.E. and recess.  She set up her own little studio in her room and dressed the part...

And the masterpieces..

Anabelle has been busy discovering new things to climb on..

Like I said, it's been a stressful few weeks.  We're hoping things will slow down a bit.  So what better way to speed up the effort to relax than a little family workout session.  Anabelle was very curious and jumped right in!

don't know what I'm doing but it sure is fun...

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands."
Psalm 90:17

Introducing a good thing early...

 Anabelle and I have had lots of quality time over the last few weeks with the big girls going back to school.  I'd gotten kind of used to having all my babysitters around, but I've really enjoyed getting some one on one play time with my baby girl.

Today we raided Naomi's toy story stash and AB loved it!  In case you've missed it along the way, Naomi is a HUGE toy story fan and we have quite the collection- Woody, Buzz, Jesse, Bo Peep (bidded for and bought on e-bay thank you very much- my one and only e-bay encounter...), Mr AND Mrs Potato Head, Slinky, Rex, even Mr. Evil Dr. Pork Chop...   She's such a huge fan that even in the midst of her pinkest little girl phase, she had a fabulous Buzz lightyear party.  So, today I introduced little miss priss to the whole Toy Story gang and she had so much fun!

She was especially excited about Buzz Lightyear!

And let me backtrack about 9 years here to say that Anabelle and Naomi are not the first Buzz fans in our family.  The first package that we recieved after moving overseas to France was a Buzz for Abbey (age 3) and Maddie (age 2).  Can you tell they were a bit excited?!

And there were definitely some tears when big sister didn't want to share...
Poor little Maddie- don't worry, she could hold her own

Anyway, back to the present....
Anabelle, for the most part loved getting to know the Toy Story gang.

You may have noticed that I mentioned that we have Rex, but he is no where to be found.
Let's just say Anabelle was not such a fan of the roaring dinosaur!

We had to tell Rex "bye bye" and put him back in the closet..

Fun day of classic Toy Story play!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer in pictures- part 2- Lebanon

After a week of pretty intense jet lag when we returned from the states, we were off for another month in Lebanon.  And before I get to that, a comment (or 2 or 3) on the whole jet lag thing.  If you've traveled internationally you've no doubt experienced this glorious phenomenon- it's just lovely being desperately tired and longing for sleep, yet lying there WIDE AWAKE.  And try adding jet lagged kids to that mix- oh the fun!!  We try to follow certain guidelines to help the kids get over it like not letting them sleep in too much, getting plenty of sunshine during the day, drinking plenty of water.  However.  This year we timed our return right with the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month during which they fast from food and drink during daylight hours so out of respect we don't eat or drink in public or allow the kids to so being out in the sun when it's 100 degrees is not so fun if water is not an option...   Anyway.  Jet lag with kids= NOT FUN!  But thankfully we got over just in time to hop on the plane again and head to Lebanon.

This trip has been in the works for a while and had several purposes.  First, when we left Lebanon in September of 2010 to spend some time in the states, we didn't know for sure where we would living upon our return.  So we didn't exactly say goodbye to Lebanon and the girls especially didn't really have any kind of closure.  And no, saying goodbye and getting that closure wouldn't take a month which leads to the second purpose- language study!  Jason and I were able to have a month of intensive Arabic language study and have a little vaca at the same time- the best of both worlds!  And no, you won't see any pictures of studying in this "picture review" of the month but that doesn't mean it didn't happen...

First on the agenda was to introduce Anabelle to all of our favorite places.  I was about 6 weeks pregnant with her when we left in 2010.  

Solidaire- rebuilt downtown area with a beautiful clock tower and walking area...

She was quite fascinated by all the pidgeons...

...as long as they didn't get too close!

Bliss House ice cream!  

Bike riding on the corniche (walkway by the Mediterranean)

Naomi was super excited about her ginormous tricycle

AB was not entirely sure about the whole bike thing..

Quite literally riding off into the sunset

Byblos, an ancient city by the sea is tops on our list of favorite Lebanon places.

Walking through the old city

Manaeeshe!  Favorite among favorite Lebanese foods- she was a fan!

In keeping with a favorite family tradition of Sunday afternoon mountain drives, we actually headed to a new place this trip.  Lebanon is famous for it's Cedars and we had always been to the same Cedar reserve in the north of the country.  This time, we headed to the smaller reserve closer to Beirut and we were so pleasantly surprised.  It was absolutely gorgeous and very well kept.  A perfect Sunday afternoon activity!

Some of the older cedars, which grow at a rate of about 1 cm/year are thousands of years old.  The girls enjoyed climbing on the huge trunks...

Looking out through a cedar canopy..

No slowing this girl down!

Driving home through the Bekaa valley with Mt Hermon in the distance

We finished out our time in Lebanon with a trip to one of our favorite restaurants in the mountains overlooking the city.  The air was crisp.  The food was fabulous.  The atmosphere- amazing.  

I almost said above that the restaurant was the perfect end to the perfect month but that wouldn't have been entirely true.  See, I've been sort of pining away for Lebanon over the past year as we've lived in a new city, and I've made it very difficult on myself as far as learning to call Jordan home.  Yes, Lebanon was home for almost 7 years and we have many amazing memories there.  Yes, our older girls especially spent a large part of their childhood there.   What's ironic though is that of the almost 7 years we were there, it took my at least 5 to learn to love and appreciate it!  (not gonna think about right now what that says about my ability to be content...  Paul does say, "I've LEARNED to be content..."  hummmm).   Anyway, I realized during our month there that I've been remembering all the wonderful things- the places, the people and forgetting about all the things that made it difficult for me those first years.  Because, yes, it is still quite the concrete jungle and it takes quite a bit of driving to get out of all that concrete!  And the electricity still goes out ALL THE TIME and the internet is still TERRIBLE in most places.  

So, the lesson?  Neither place (where we are now or where we were then) is perfect.  Both have their ups and downs as do any of the cities or countries or farms or cabins that any of us live in, but God places us in specific places for specific times and seasons, and the best gift I got out of our time in Lebanon, was that God showed me oh so clearly what a gift it is for our family at THIS season to be coming back to Jordan.  I realized as I stood at my kitchen sink looking out over our amazing sunset view on our first night back home, that non only was I glad to be HOME after 2 months of travel but I was glad to be HERE.  In this place.  Jordan not Lebanon.  

Thankful for our wonderful years in a place that is still as amazing as ever and I would love to move back to if the Lord ever called, but just as thankful for my new perspective on our current home and the way I could see my beautiful balcony sunset with renewed appreciation.