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.