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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Poured Out

If you've been reading along, you know that I whined and complained my way through most of May and well into June.  Have you ever noticed that once the pity party starts, it's really hard to call it out off and get all the revelers like Woe is Me, Self Doubt, What was I Thinking, and It's Not Fair to go home.  The Enemy loves to let them hang around and help you dig yourself deeper into that hole of misery.

Believe me when I tell you that my little party reached an all time high, when I realized, despite my sweet mom's best effort to conceal it, that my family in the states were all leaving to head to the beach for their week long vacation ON MY BIRTHDAY.  Seriously?!  That is just not right!

Thoughts like, "I wanna go!", "It's not fair!", "I deserve that kind of break." were running rampant.  That's when I had to stop for a minute and really consider where my thought path was taking me.  I DESERVE to go?  Really?

I realized as I processed that all these thoughts were on a collision course with some other things God had been impressing quite regularly onto my heart.  I've said before that I tend to learn in themes.  I think it's mainly because God knows that He has to hit me with something from all sorts of creative directions before my stubborn mind will soak it all in.

In the midst of all my "woe is me-ing" over the past few months, God's been up to some pretty cool stuff in the background.  We have met more neighbors and made more national friends in the past 6 weeks than in the rest of our almost 2 years in this city.   Our new home has become a gathering point for the neighborhood kids and those kiddos have parents that we've begun forming relationships with.  It's something we've been praying for.  Seeking after.

It's hard enough to live in a foreign culture, but living in a foreign culture, surrounded by an American bubble of traditions and friends is harder still.  You begin to wonder, what am I doing here, really?  What kind of difference can I make?  So we seek after the kind of relationships that will teach us about the people among whom we have chosen to plant our lives.  And let me tell you, it's hard stuff.

We pack up our bags and we move across the ocean and we set up house in a new culture.  That's the easy part.  It's walking out your front door and knocking on that neighbor's door and offering yourself to them as a learner that's the hard part.  It's allowing yourself to be vulnerable and admit, "This is completely FOREIGN to me and I don't know what I'm doing."

It's saying as you attempt to make friends, "I don't understand your background, your traditions, your heritage, but I want to TAKE THE TIME to learn from you, and on the most basic level, I want to be your friend".

It's opening yourself up in a way that invites rejection fairly regularly.  You see, just as we have preconceived notions about "them".  They also have these notions and assumptions about us.   They may not want to be your friend.  They may assume things about you, a Westerner,  that are very much not true, just like we, as Americans, so often do about "them".  And before you know it, you may have lived in a place for years on end, and have very few nationals that you can call "friend".

So what does all this have to do with my pity party?  I'm getting there....

You see, God was up to something, as He usually is.   In the midst of the craziness that defined the month of May at least for Jason and me, our girls were making friends right and left in our new building.  Our patio has become grand central station just about every evening.  The girls have taught their new Jordanian friends how to play Capture the Flag of all things and it has become a nightly affair.  As the kids have played, Jason and I have met parents.  We've exchanged plates of food (and plates and plates and plates of food...).  The tradition here, like many places is that if you receive a plate of food you return it full to it's owner.  Y'all.  I can't keep up!  On one particular day my neighbor sent over a plate of fresh plums from her backyard tree.  I sent the plate back with some lemon cake I had leftover from having guests the night before.  The next day, I received another plate of plums.  I had just make cookies so I sent it back about an hour later with cookies.  Literally, within 10 minutes, her daughter was delivering the plate again, this time overflowing with chocolate cake.  That was several days ago.  I still have the plate.  I'm deliberately slowing down the exchange!  So we've met parents, had tea, sat outside and visited.  Basically, we are getting to know our neighbors and it seems being accepted into their circles in ways that haven't happened before.

You know what's funny, though?  As all of this was playing out, I wasn't thrilled and excited that a long time prayer was being answered.  No.  You see, I was pity- partying.  So instead of recognizing God's hand at work, I was selfishly complaining about the inconveniences all this was bringing to me.  I'm tired after all.  I've been working hard all day.  I don't want to answer the doorbell again.  It's hot outside and in.  I'm wearing shorts and a tank top within the walls of my home, but if I answer the door, I have to change clothes.  Whine, whine, whine.  I deserve a break.  I deserve some "me time".  Again, REALLY?  That ugly D word again that really points to a deeper issue that God has been pointing to in my heart.

Entitlement.  We all deal with it in one form or another.  Entitled because of our nationality, our religious background, our ethnicity.  Entitled to good food, clean water, good education.  We deserve this, we deserve that.  I deserve a frappuccino, I've had a hard day.  I deserve a shopping trip to the mall.  Retail therapy always helps homesickness.  I deserve a beach vacation.  Around and around we go.  The mental soundtrack of how much we don't have and how much we want and need and even deserve can be exhausting.

And so distracting from God's greater plan.

When you get down to it, OF COURSE, I want to spend time with my neighbors, get to know them on a deeper, heart level.  But, if I'm perfectly honest, all to often, I want it on my terms.  I want to visit in the hours that seem normal to my cultural upbringing.  I want to be able to say "no" without offending.

Here's an example of how some of this has played out... The family in our building that we've gotten closest to, came back over about 10 minutes after we'd called the girls in for the night a few weeks ago. It was pushing 10 PM.   Jason's brother Jeremy had just arrived in town the night before.  I was having my LASIK surgery the following morning.  Naomi was in the shower, and Abbey and Maddie were about to play Wii with their uncle.  The doorbell rang and I so didn't want to answer to, but AJ got to it before I could tell her to stop.  It was the youngest son's birthday and they were inviting us over for the party.  At 10 PM.  My first response?  Nope.  Not going.

"Let them know we can't," I tell Abbey.

Thankfully, I listened to that gentle nudge in my spirit that said, "oh yes, you should".

So I told myself I'd just pop over quickly and explain that Naomi was already in the shower, I was having surgery the next morning, it was late etc etc.  I knocked on the door just minutes after Abbey had told them we weren't coming and was greeted by the sight of a fully decorated dining room table- balloons, party hats, blowers.  Cake, chips, fruit punch.  All for us.  And our new friends?   Standing around looking somewhat confused that they had been refused.  Because of course we would come to the party.  Why in the world wouldn't we?!  My excuses got stuck somewhere in my throat and I immediately said I'd hurry home and gather up the girls and we'd be right back over.   And we did.  And we ate cake and chips and sugary juice and hot tea until almost 11:30.  Yes, we were tired and no, maybe in our selfish nature, that wouldn't have been our first choice of how to spend the evening.  But was it worth it in light of a developing friendship?  Definitely!

Another evening as I'm scrambling to get dinner on the table as we have guests coming, Abbey runs in saying that they've been invited to go to the mall that evening with our new friends from 8-10 PM.  Can they go?  Please, please, please??!  All logic from a Western mindset says absolutely not.  I barely know the adults, the mall at night?  Etc etc.  Then I have to remind myself, "I'm not in America" and this is one of those times it's a good thing.  Because it's an honor and shame society, they will watch out for my kids like they are their own because it would be shameful not to and they will probably treat them to all sorts of things.  So off they went to the mall.  At 8PM.  My 13, 11 and 7 year olds.  And they came home at almost midnight, with bellies full of candy and treats and heads full of fun memories.   So again, yes they were exhausted and we may have paid for it a little the next day, but was it worth it?  I think so.

So yeah, as much as I want things on my cultural terms and built around my expectations of what is best for my family,  I have to stop and think,  "Are my terms God's terms?"  Or am I putting parameters around something that God didn't intend to have limits?  By bending my cultural rules and expectations and allowing my kids to learn from those around them and do things that seem a little off to me (culturally) and possibly inconvenient, will I teach them far more about what it means to truly love their neighbors and pour themselves out for the sake of Christ?

In the midst of all of this, God reminded me of Paul's words to the church in Thessalonica.  1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."  I WANT my neighbors to be that dear to me.  I truly desire to be "delighted" to share all of myself with them, but I had to be honest and confess that my thoughts of what I deserve during a fairly stressful season of life, had quite honestly been getting in the way.

And speaking of what I think I DESERVE and am entitled to?  Yeah, let's talk about that.  To be clear, there is nothing wrong with frappuccino's, shopping trips and beach vacations in and of themselves.  Obviously (I hope), that is not what I'm saying.  The problem is with the attitude that is seeking those things out.   The endless mental cycle that can have us constantly in a place of wanting and seeking more, more, more.  As if I wasn't convicted enough by the passage in Thessalonians, God proceeded in His infinite wisdom to hit me between the eyes with another doozy.  He pointed me to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:15 where he says to the Corinthians, the people He was serving among, "So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well."  If it's not as painfully obvious to you as it became to me, there wasn't much about serving those around me that I had been doing "very gladly" lately especially when it came to expending myself.

So on my birthday, as I took advantage of my gift of a day at the pool,  I pondered as all these different trains of thought came crashing together in my head.   I thought about all the things that we as a western culture have begun convincing ourselves that we deserve.  I thought about how easily I find myself inconvenienced by other people.  I thought about how whiny I have felt inside lately while preaching to my kids about "choosing joy".  I thought about how all I've been thinking about is me.

And then I thought about Jesus.

And what He deserved vs what He freely poured out for me.  Poured out freely and sacrificially not because I deserved anything or had earned it in any way.  And I was humbled.  And ashamed of my selfish heart.  But also thankful for His unending, ever merciful grace that loves unconditionally and continually picks me up and dusts me off even as I fall on my face over and over again.

Picks me up when my eyes are constantly turned inward so that I fail to see the glory of His work around me.

Dusts me off (and maybe shakes me up a little) so that I can renew my focus and turn my eyes back to Him.

As I said before, God teaches me in themes, as I can be a little dense.  Today was no exception.  I've been working on this post for a few days, trying to figure out how to tie it all together, and even praying that in the process of writing God would continue to reveal Himself to me.  Praying that He would show me not just how I could tie all this together for the purpose of this post, but how HE was desiring to tie this all together in my life.

This morning I picked up a devotional book I haven't read in a while:  Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby.  I'll close with an excerpt I read from the entry for June 25.  It pretty well sums up what I think God would have me to learn from this season of my life.  Blackaby says,

"There are two ways to look at every situation:  How it will affect you, and how it will affect God's kingdom....
Often when we encounter a new situation, our first thoughts are not about God's kingdom.  When we face a crisis, we can become angry or fearful for our own well-being, rather than looking to see what God intends to do through our circumstances.  If we remain self- centered we will miss so much of what God could do through our experiences, both for us and for those around us.  
Ask God to make you aware of how He could use your present circumstances to bless others.  Perhaps someone around you needs to see the difference Christ's presence makes in your life.  Are you willing for God to use your circumstances to demonstrate His saving power to those around you?"


Jesus, keep my eyes on You and show me day by day how to lead my kids to do the same.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

10 Things I would tell new moms...

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  It's simply lessons learned within the walls of our home.  Hard lessons.  Funny lessons.  Lessons that may not apply to others in any possible way but make up the fabric of who we are. Lessons that I share as things that I wish I'd known way back when.  Here they are in no particular order...

  1. The sooner your kids learn you're not perfect, the better.  There will come a moment when you realize (probably in the midst of disciplining) that your sweet little angel is now old enough to remember.  And if you're anything like me you may become instantly panicky thinking "oh goodness!  they are now going to remember not only the good things but all the times I mess up..."  Be real with them!  Tell them if you mess up.  Don't try to cover it up or ignore it.  Chances are, they are watching you like a hawk and they know many of your flaws even if they don't understand it or know how to express it.    Apologize, confess, and in doing so, teach them how to do the same.  You may not be on that pedestal anymore, but you will be more real in their eyes, and they will begin growing in a deeper understanding of unconditional love and forgiveness.  
  2. Just say no to the comparison game.  God made you the momma of your little ones for a specific reason.  You have unique giftings that will enable you to best meet the needs of your kids.  Suzie Homemaker next door may very likely do things differently than you.  Her kids may do more stuff.  Her kids may do less stuff.  They may make different crafts, play different sports.   She may choose different schooling situations for her cherubs than you do.   With the internet constantly at our fingertips, it's so hard not to look at our families in light of what those all around us are doing.  Don't listen to the enemies subtle whispers that "if you would just do it like so and so things would be so much better"...   So what DO you do?  Pray for your little ones.  Pray about the decisions you and your husband make on their behalf.    Be confident in the decisions that God leads you to make even if they are different  than those around you.  
  3. Find ways to say yes.  Even if saying yes means you may have more messes to clean up.  In looking at the days that I am most exhausted, they are often the days that I am a broken record set to "NO!", and often times they are things that could have been yes with possibly a little more energy put forth on my part...  "Mom, can we make a home movie theatre with all the chairs in the house and all the stuffed animals?  Mom, can we dump the bucket of water on the back porch and mop it around ourselves?  Mom can we build a tent in the living room?" etc etc.  Be deliberate with your "yes" and look for ways to say it.  In the long run, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to learn to respect your no!  Don't create more unnecessarily...
  4. Look into their eyes.  Put down what you are doing and look in their eyes.  It connects you to them and says "you are important and I am listening".  And believe me, they know if you aren't.  (listening that is).  We started with our girls when they were very young saying "look at my eyes" when disciplining.  There is an instant connection that comes along with eye contact.  Simple, but true.  As you look in their eyes, pray for discernment into the heart issues, the deeper questions.  You will see things that need to be addressed and the unspoken communication is priceless.  
  5. Disconnect from your iWhatever.  Not permanently.  Not even for a full day.  I am fully aware that some people use such devices to work from home and actually enable themselves to be more available to their kids.  Just long enough to show your kids (especially tweens or teens) that it can indeed be done and the world won't come to a screeching halt if one goes several hours without checking a news feed or updating a status.  Here's the thing.  I believe that those of us of my generation (did I just say that?  how OLD am I?!?) have to walk a fine line between criticizing all the connectivity that creates such a different atmosphere than what we grew up in and embracing the technology that defines reality for our kids.  I may never be as tech savvy as my kids, but I can show them by example how to strike a balance between being connected and using the internet for the amazing tool that it is and being obsessed with creating a cyber personality that is a far cry from reality.
  6. Require obedience while encouraging questions.  We've always had the rule of "obey first, then question if needed."  I'm not saying it always works, but in theory, our girls know that when they first show obedience, they are allowed to question us if appropriate.  Obviously, this does not apply in all situations, but there have been times when they have respectfully asked if they could question a decision after showing that they were willing to be obedient, and we have then changed the decision based on their input.  Especially as they get older, I think it's so important to show that you value their opinions and knowledge of situations.    
  7. Consider the source of your conviction.  You will learn that there are SO MANY out there.  Convictions that is.  People are convicted about books to read, movies to watch, schools to attend, games to play, products to buy, foods to eat, the list goes on and on.  The question you need to answer for yourself as a parent is what has God convicted YOU of.  What is he telling you for your family?  Are you making decisions for your kids because God has convicted you or because you feel pressure from someone else's convictions.  It's easy to get the two confused.  I'm not saying you shouldn't listen to Godly council of friends and family, but still it comes back to considering the source.  Are you convicted because God used a friend to convict you or are you convicted because of what is right or good for someone else?  
  8. Be their best friend.... and their mom.  Yes, you heard me right.  I know, I know, all the best parenting experts remind us that we are to be the mom, not the best friend.  And I do agree with the heart of that guideline, and there are many times when you will not feel very much like the best friend when you have to carry out a discipline measure that angers or hurts in some way.  However.  Don't discount your ability to be a true best friend to your kids!   Especially as they get older.  Take advantage of opportunities to simply enjoy their company. They're probably pretty sure of your love for them, let them know that you LIKE them as well.  
  9. Allow trusted friends and family the joy of investing in your kids.  You may think this is fairly obvious and wonder why I would bother pointing it out.  Let me take it a step farther.  Allow trusted friends and family the joy of investing in your kids AND go away while they do.  That's right, leave your kids.  For a day, a night, a week.  You are not being a bad mom if you allow yourself the "me time" you may need.  Better yet, escape with your spouse.  Allow your kids to see the importance you put in your relationship as a couple.  I repeat, you are NOT a bad mom if you occasionally need an escape. Invest in your kids by allowing others to invest in them.  I firmly believe that in the long run, the occasional day or night or week apart can be good for your relationship with your kiddos and for overall family dynamics. 
  10. DON'T BLINK!  I'm not kidding, don't do it.  Because the second you do 
will become this...

And this...

becomes this...

And as if that's not scary enough, this
 and this

becomes this..

The point is obvious, I suppose.  Time flies, and as much as we want it to slow down, it doesn't.  Soak in every moment.  Savor every heartbeat.  Choose joy in the mundane moments when you think no one is looking, because they are looking.  Little eyes are always on you, taking it all in, and your life has just become a lesson book that they will constantly be reading.  By doing little things each day to teach them the fear of the Lord, you are building a fortress within the walls of your home.  A safe place, where they can take refuge.  

So press on, momma!  Eyes wide open, not blinking.  This parenting thing is an overwhelming, God-sized task that is not for the faint of heart, but thankfully He gives what we need for each day.  

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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Herding Cats

That's what we spent a portion of our morning doing today, quite literally.   I told you about our oh so very cute, but not so welcomed backyard guests in my previous post.  Our original strategy regarding the kitties was kind of an "ignore them and they'll go away" approach.  The girls were allowed to watch them all they wanted, but not touch, ooh and ahh over them, but not feed.  See, I heard from several neighbors that this particular momma cat had had several litters of kittens in our backyard and that typically she carries them over the wall when they're big enough and off they go.   And let me just remind you in case you're thinking how could you possibly not care for an adorable litter of kittens, these are not fluffy, clean, pretty American kittens.  These are mangy, wild, Jordanian dumpster cats.

So anyway, earlier this week I realized that our ignoring approach was not going to work so well.  Unfortunately, momma cat disappeared.  Who knows if she abandoned them or if something actually happened to her, but she was gone.  That, and the fact that the wall around our back yard is too big for them to climb, made me realize that a different approach would be necessary. We already had one kitten die in the yard and I didn't want 4 more to meet the same fate.  Plus, I found out from a friend that there is a Humane Society in Jordan and they take in abandoned animals and care for them.  And they actually continue to care for them- they aren't euthanized if not adopted...  Anyway, for all those reasons, we changed our approach to "feed the kittens for a few days until we can find time to drive them to the Humane Society".

Really a better approach in so many ways...  Happy girls because they get to feed the kittens, happy mommy because the kittens will go far, far away from the yard where they know they can come and get food, and happy everyone because we all know that the kittens will be well taken care of and not meet the fate of the typical Jordan dumpster cats.

Our back yard is a small enclosed space.  Within the small enclosed space is a screened in porch.  The goal was to get the kittens into the screened porch so that we could get them into the cardboard box that we prepared to take them to the Humane Society.  We knew that part would be easy.  They had come to expect the opening of the back door to mean food and therefore they were always ready right by the door.  What I hadn't anticipated was how difficult, and somewhat comical, it would be to get them actually into the box.  Herding cats, people...

The players involved:  me, Jason, Jeremy (Jason's brother who is here visiting), Naomi, Maddie and Abbey, and 4 kittens, who, yes, have names:  Bandit, Mila, S'mores and Ash.  Naomi had a very specific plan about who was going to get to pick up which cat and deposit them in the box.  Easy right?  Not!!  As friendly as these kittens appeared when we opened the door and showed up with milk, they had never actually been touched by human hands and I did not anticipate that it would go that smoothly.  Like I said, though, Naomi had a very specific plan.  We had a cardboard box with small holes poked in the top, lined with newspaper and big chunks of bread at the bottom to lure them in.  

Part 1 of the plan went flawlessly.  We opened the screen door and for the first time let them onto the porch.  One of them actually jumped into the box and explored a minute but pretty quickly jumped back out.

First problem- we forgot to close the screen door back so they couldn't get back out and retreat to behind the storage shed- essentially the only place in the backyard where they could hide.  Second problem- Naomi's plan was not working.  If you know Naomi, you may know that this was not a good thing.  Someone got Ash into the box (but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the person Naomi assigned to Ash) and in the midst of that, Bandit escaped off the porch and S'mores started climbing the screen.  Ash then got out of the box which led to Jason lunging for her (and missing), which led to Naomi wailing about one of the cats getting hurt or mistreated (not happening, I promise), or she may have been wailing at that point that she wasn't getting to pick up the cat she wanted.  At some point I looked at her and asked how in the world she was planning on picking up one of the streaks of fur that was flying around our balcony- she didn't know, I assure you.  It was about this point that Abbey left and went inside.  She was stressed that a cat was going to be harmed in the midst of our shenanigans.

So we re-grouped.  At this point we had one empty cardboard box, 2 kittens trapped on the porch, and 2 kittens who had escaped into the yard and retreated behind the shed.  Thankfully, they were just curious enough to only retreat for a few seconds.  Jason hushed Naomi's wailing and told her that she was not picking up any cats- they would scratch, they would bite, and there was no way she would catch them...  (background wailing continues for next few minutes as Jason, Jeremy and I took over the cat catching process while the girls watch).  Jason was able to fairly quickly grab 2 of the kittens by the scruff on the back of the neck and deposit them in the box where Jeremy held the lid down.  (I was busy re-assuring the girls that that was indeed a proper way to carry a cat, that the kittens mother would carry them like that and that Daddy was not hurting them in any way).  In the midst of getting the first 2 secured in the cardboard box, the other 2 escaped (again) into the yard.

This time I got reassigned to hold the lid closed while Jeremy and Jason attempted together to catch the remaining 2 kittens.  There was a bit of hesitancy on their part as there had been no shortage of claws and teeth flashing around during the first few minutes of the craziness.  The goal was to herd them back into the porch where they could be grabbed quickly and deposited into the box.  I'm wondering how in the world we're going to get the lid off the box and the remaining kittens in without losing the first 2...  Anyway, within a few minutes, Jason and Jeremy had them headed back into the porch.  There was a minor incident in which Jeremy (who was trying to avoid touching the kittens) scooped one up in a bucket which then got away from him resulting in kitten and bucket flying through the air.  Let me assure you that resulted in many more wails coming from the general direction of Maddie and Naomi who had retreated to a corner of the porch to watch.  (oh, and I forgot to mention that we closed Anabelle in the house during the excitement knowing that her presence would not help.  Don't worry though, she was standing at the window yelling "knock, knock, come in!" just so that there would be one more high pitched female voice joining in the excitement).  So, where was I?  Yes, kitten and bucket flying through air...

So finally they got the remaining 2 kittens on the patio, while the first 2 were miraculously still in the box that I was holding shut.  Jason was having a hard time getting his hands on #3, so Jeremy suggested wrapping his hands in a towel that had been left on the porch and grabbing it with that.  It worked and somehow they got it into the box without letting the other 2 out.  He then got #4 who was half way up the porch screen (resulting in again more wails from Naomi as he again held her by the back of the neck) and miraculously got her in the box (the kitten, not Naomi) as well.   WHEWWW!

Thankfully, the trip to the Humane Society was uneventful.  As much as I had hoped that dropping off the kittens at their new home would be the end of the story, it is not quite done.  In my efforts to reassure the girls that despite the trauma of actually catching the kittens, they would be very happy and well cared for in their new home, I sort of promised them that they would be able to see them in their new environment.  Unfortunately, the closed box was whisked off when we arrived to bathe the kittens and let the vet check them over.  The lady assured us, though, that we could come back in the next few days and see the kittens in their new home.  So that, my friends, will be the end of the kitten drama.

Well, that is, until momma cat decides to have another litter in our backyard.  Here's hoping that doesn't happen anytime soon...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Facebook Meltdown

I confess that as involved as I am on Facebook, I do have mixed feelings about it.  I find myself being immensely frustrated one minute by the over-connectivity of today's world, and the next minute being super thankful that I have such an amazing tool at my fingertips to quickly ask for prayer or share family updates with my family and friends on the other side of the world.  I roll my eyes at some things that my "friends" (and seriously, the whole concept of Facebook friends is another topic altogether) decide to divulge for all the world to see and then find myself doing almost exactly the same thing (especially when Jason is out of town...).  The whole idea of creating a Facebook image for yourself and what that really means and especially what it means for teens and tweens is definitely a mountain of a topic that I'm not trying to tackle today, although it is something I want to talk about on a day that I have a little more brainpower..

This is more an account of how I melted down for all the world to see (or at least the 671 people that I'm "friends" with), and then maybe a thought or 2 on why I didn't delete it..

So if you read my previous post you know that the first part of May was more than a little stressful.  That was, of course, almost immediately following my hair-brained scheme to move our family across town while Jason was traveling.  Yeah, so life has been more than a little stressful.

What I didn't mention in my post about May was the following additional stress....A day before Jason and I left on our trip, Abbey came running through the house, "Mom, Mom, come quick!  You're not going to believe it!"  I hurried into her room where she had her face pressed against the window out into our backyard.  Looking at this...

Yes.  That is a mother cat and her 5 adorable little kittens.  In our backyard, behind the storage shed.  "Why in the world is that stressful?" you may ask.  Let me tell you.  First off, cats in this part of the world are not like cats in America.  They are not adorable, cuddly and clean.  They are dumpster cats.  Mean and often bloody and missing limbs or eyes.  Mangy, disease carrying yuckiness.  Well, she's just not a cat person, you might say.  No, I actually am.  I grew up with a cat.  Quite literally.  Charlotte Rose (the name of my cat, thank you very much) was given to me on my 8th birthday and she died when I was 24.  I do not dislike cats.  I do however dislike cats in this part of the world.  I also very much dislike stressing over my girls happiness and having to explain to them time and again WHY we are NOT feeding the precious, adorable kittens and why we cannot adopt them all into our home.  This my friends is stressful to me.  Also stressful is the fact that these cats that are now IN my backyard and cannot get out due to the size of the fence around our house.  They are IN our yard.  They are extremely small, and let's face it, the odds aren't great for their survival.  I do not LIKE to neglect a precious creature.  I do not however want them to stay.  I need for them to be cute and adorable and watched out our windows.  And then I need them to go away.  

They're very playful and very cute.  And of course they all have names.  NO, that does not mean they are ours.  The dumpster cats by our old apt also had names.  It simply means that my girls love animals and named all of them.  

So that happened.  And then Jason and I left for a week leaving Aunt AJ to deal with the constant "can we feed the kittens? can we touch the kittens?" questions...

(this is all relevant background to my meltdown, by the way)

So the latter part of May, Jason had another trip (the last one for several months, thank goodness!).  Sadly during this particular trip I got sick.  This was not what my exhausted self needed.  Honestly,  I'm truly thankful it was me and not one of the girls, but I think being sick while he was gone, was possibly the beginning of my pity party.  Let's face it, moms just really don't have the option of "being sick".  Even when you don't feel like doing anything besides crawling right back into bed and staying there all day long, you just don't have that option.  It's a generally known thing that moms just don't get to be sick- especially when Dad is gone.  (I know, I know- woe is me, right?)

Let me start to tie all this together.   I generally don't spend a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and just looking at stuff.  I look at what is there when I open it up, sometimes look at certain people's walls etc.  Sometimes I scroll through, but I try not to spend too much time doing it as I do know that I can get sucked in and way too much time passes with me staring dumbly at the computer screen.  However.  HOWEVER.  

When Jason travels, I spend a little more time there- sometimes more time than I should, but usually just in the evenings when the girls are in bed and I am unwinding.  I do like having the ability to catch up with people that I might not otherwise connect with.  This particular week- let's call it the pity party week, was around the end of May.  Stress had been abounding in my house.  Jason was traveling.  I was sick.  My girls were still plugging away in school getting ready for exams.  

And all my friends in America were celebrating.

School's out!

Headed to the beach!

Neighborhood pool is open!

And yes, I do realize that at any point, I can shut my computer and walk away.  I can choose to not read, to not scroll.  (notice I did not say that I can choose to celebrate with my friends about their beach trips and pool parties- I was not in that place of feeling happy over other peoples' R&R- I know, totally selfish, just being real...).  All that to say, I do recognize that I have a conscious choice in all of this Facebook jealousy.  

But Facebook was not the only contributor, people.  I already mentioned the sick thing.  And the cat thing.  Then there's just simply the "life is exhausting right now" thing.  We have made the conscious choice to plant our lives here.  To give up certain things: beach trips, neighborhood pools, backyard BBQ's with family to name a few.  Most days, I am able to embrace our lives here, count the cost of the things we've given up and recognize that it's ultimately worth it.  Because truly, there are also beautiful, wonderful things about life over here:  my children's love for and awareness of different cultures and peoples, the places we have the privilege of traveling to as a family, the slower pace of life at least in the sense of how quickly kids grow up.  All these things, and many others, are things for which I am very, very thankful.  

But there are days.   Oh there are days when I just do not see those good things.  I try, but I don't.  No, let's be real.  Some days, I don't try.  Some days, I want to feel sorry for myself, and, if I'm being real, I want others to feel sorry for me too.  Yes, I did just say that out loud.  I look around my house that I just dusted yesterday and I see this....
...and instead of wanting to pick up the can of Pledge once again (despite the fact that it's only been 24 hours!!!), I actually want to hurl the can of pledge out the open window at the construction site containing all the dirt.  What's that?  Close the window?  No, see, it's 95 degrees here and we don't have AC.  Windows stay open.  Ahh, life in the dessert...  See what I mean?  Not doing such a great job of choosing joy here!!  And that too, the whole choosing joy thing, is a conscious, very deliberate CHOICE  that I have to make.  And when I choose not to make that choice, oh it can be a day!  

Anyway, mostly these are days when I have not likely had my morning quiet time.  I have spent the day whining in my head about this or that. My girls are likely looking at me with this "wide eyed, stay away from Mom" expression.  I am not deliberately CHOOSING JOY.  It's just overall a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  

My Facebook Meltdown day was one of those days.  I was sick (have I mentioned that yet?), Jason was gone (not sure if I've mentioned that either), people in America were happy go lucky kicking up their heels, showing me their feet at the beach (you know the picture), and I. WAS. DONE.  

So I yelled at the facebook world about their happy little beach pictures.  And I hit post.  

It went something like this:
arggghhh! If I see one more picture of someone sticking up their pretty little manicured toes against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico it is going to be the end of me! Yes, I'm insanely jealous and I'm sorry, but after the month I've had I do NOT want to share in your vacation bliss!! so there.

In all honestly, I was truly trying to add some humor to my very woe-is-me-ish day.  And, maybe I wanted a little sympathy too.  Then after a few minutes, I felt a wee-bit guilty even though sweet friends were letting me know of their prayers and some even thanked me for being "real".

So I posted this:
Now I feel guilty for my previous post. To clarify... Jason has been traveling for 897 days. I am sick. I tried to snuggle my 7 year old tonight and she told me to leave because I "smell funny". My 11 year old who never rolls her eyes at me, rolled her eyes at me when I made what I thought was a pretty funny joke. And did I mention I'm sick? And Jason's gone? And I have a repetitive track of Veggie Tales, specifically King George and the Ducky running through my head at all hours. So yeah, have fun all you beach go-ers and soak up some rays for me 

Yeah, obviously I was a wee bit hung up on the "Jason's gone and I'm sick" thing.  And 897 days!  Let's just say that stress-induced exaggeration runs in my family...

So what's the point?

What's the point in melting down for all the world to see?  For me, at the time, it was truly not very contemplative.  It involved a lot of angry pounding on computer keys.  

I considered deleting it.  Then after reading a few people's comments who thanked me for being real I decided to leave it.  (to clarify this was all like a 4 second thought process at the very most).

But it did get me thinking about the whole Facebook image thing and the pictures we attempt to paint of ourselves and our lives, AND the fact that we even have the ability to do that in this day and age.  To post things and create this virtual world that kind of defines us- at least in cyberworld.  Our kids don't know anything different than that.  That scares me a little.  

Not that I would ever, EVER (just to be clear) equate Facebook world with the Body of Christ, but I did start thinking about how often, even within the Church, within the greater Body, we try to maintain these images of ourselves.  We make attempts, often unknowingly I think to meet certain expectations that we are sure people must have about who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act.  I come from the deep south, which I love and adore.  What I don't love and adore is the standard answer to the Sunday morning question of "How are YUUUOOOO?"  is "FINE!  I'm FINE!  We're all FINE!".  Well.  Sometimes we're just not fine.  And that's ok!  

We have to be ok with each others' "not fine-ness".  We have to be able to carry each other's burdens and hold each others hands up when we simply don't have any strength left, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.  I'm not at all saying that there has to be a constant airing of the dirty laundry and posting of all your deepest, darkest secrets for all the world to see.  I guess what I'm saying is, let's be real.  

Let's learn that the answer to "How are yuuuooooo?"  Can be, "I'm really not so great."

Then when we find out that someone is NOT fine- pray!  I mean how can we really truly intercede for each other if we never know that anything is wrong?! .... right?  We have to be "hand holders" for one another and how can we do that without knowing that one another's hands are tired?

So all that to say, I didn't delete my post.  I melted down for all the world to see and I left it out there.  

I wish I could say that I woke up the next morning, deliberately chose joy and everything was rosy and wonderful.  Not so much.   

I actually woke up the next morning in a tizzy having slept through my alarm.  Got the girls out the door barely on time to make their bus and was preparing to collapse in my recliner with my cup of tea and Bible before Anabelle woke up, but I happened to look out the bedroom window into the backyard first...  

OH NO!!!  No, no, no, no, no!!!  (and yes, I posted something along these lines on Facebook).  One of the little kittens was way too still over by the back fence.  The others were prancy around the fence and little Oscar was just too still.  I crept out into the backyard, and sure enough, Oscar had died during the night.  


Here's the thing.  I don't do dead animals very well.  I mean, who does really?  But I REALLY don't do it well.  There may or may not be light-headedness involved and extreme queasiness.  (YES, I'm a nurse and am aware that this makes no sense, nor does it make sense that I faint at the sight of blood on fingers or occasionally on my children, but that's another story altogether).  So yeah, dead kitten in my backyard.  Not excited about that.  

So as I'm fretting over the dead kitten, contemplating how I'm going to remove it from my yard and how I"m going to talk the girls through this.  (I know, I know- fabulous life lesson, teaching opportunity, blah, blah, blah).  Anyway, as I"m contemplating all of this, while washing the dishes from the morning, up out of the drain of my sink and up my arm comes a GINORMOUS cockroach.  (remember, stress induced exaggeration...) I scream, fling it into the pile of clean dishes and back away, quickly.  It had wings.  

So I mentioned I don't do dead animals.  Yeah, I don't do bugs either.  I kind of have this mental image of myself that I'm afraid is not too accurate.  I like to think I'm not too much of a girly girl but there's the whole needing my make-up and jewelry thing (from the suitcase trauma).  And then there's the whole not doing bugs thing.  I can do ants.  Can kill ants with the best of them.  Spiders?  Oh absolutely not!  Do not even get me started.  And cockroaches?  Are you kidding!  Have you HEARD the crunch when you kill those things?!  

Yeah, I don't do bugs.  

Especially cockroaches.  That come flying out of my sink and up my arm.  While I'm thinking about dead kittens.  

And in case I haven't mentioned it yet....  wait for it....  JASON IS NOT HOME!

So I can't cover the stupid thing with a tupperware and wait for him to come home and kill it.  NOT that I would do that...

It was taunting me, climbing around my dishes...
(that's big, right?!)  Those are the handles of scissors, people.  BIG scissors.  

And then it had the nerve to get on the clean utensils.  Hey, I don't think I've complained yet in this post about not having a dishwasher?!  Yeah, I don't.  Stupid cockroach made me have to wash my dishes again.  By hand.  With VERY hot water.  

But I conquered and I killed it!  And I did a little happy dance.  This was a major victory people.  

And then one of our dear friends came over with his wife and rescued me from having to do away with the dead kitten.  I don't think my heart could have taken it.  

And then, I just couldn't help myself, I posted this picture on Facebook...

Take that you beach go-ers!  My toes are ready for financial reports and more dusting!

"As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset."
Exodus 17:11-12

An impromptu photo shoot

I took the 3 big girls yesterday for their summer haircuts.  I realized as I typed that, that it sounded like a thought out and deliberately planned thing.  You know, like, we get winter haircuts, summer haircuts- a regularly scheduled thing.  Umm.  Not.  I am not that mom.  No, these haircuts were the result of a certain daughter realizing, with horror, that she had awful split ends which prompted me to realize that it had likely been somewhere close to a year since I'd cut any of their hair.  Go ahead and judge...  I likely deserve it.  Ooh, and I just typed something else that might have been misleading.  To clarify, I, me, myself do absolutely NOT cut their hair.  Again, I am not that mom.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that mom.  As a matter of fact, I would love for her to jet on over to my house for a week or 2 and cut hair, grow herbs and make laundry detergent from the dirt in my back yard.  I would be grateful.  But that is not me in this season.  Anyway, I don't cut hair.  I do hack at my 2 year old's bangs but I"m pretty sure that doesn't count.

ANYWAY.  Where was I?  Yes, haircuts.  Took the 3 big girls yesterday for much needed haircuts and as a result we had a little impromptu photo shoot of my beauties when we got home.  

Growing up way too fast!

The windblown look...  She loves how straight they can make her hair.  Something I tell her could be also achieved at home with the use of a little thing we call a hair dryer and brush, but we're still big fans of the air drying thing.  Not complaining..

Rocking the short locks for the summer...

Pleased as she can be...

Just a little trim, thank you very much...

She's planning to donate to Locks of Love again next time we're in the states.

And all 3 together...

And then there's little bit.  Word of explanation here.  Anabelle seems to be opposed to clothes these days.  Or at least shirts.  I can hardly blame her.  It's hot and I strip her down for naptime anyway.  For all of these reasons, the clothes battle is one I am choosing not to fight.  Yes, we dress her if we're going out and she actually seems to understand that that is required, but around the house?  Not so much...

Here she is hiding when I suggested clothes the other day...

Just hanging around...

Anyway, back to the photo shoot...  Naked Anabelle wanted in on the action too..

Anabelle has by far been my most difficult child to photograph.  She is less than interested in cooperating, and that is somewhat of an understatement.  Which means that it is rather difficult to get a shot of all 4 girls that is anywhere near normal, much less a family shot.  We have family shots scheduled for later this summer- should be interesting!

For all of those reasons, I was pretty pleased to get a somewhat normal picture of all 4 girls (even if AB is topless...)

And then, things got interesting, as they always do when I want JUST ONE normal picture!!!

Photogenic or not, they are beautiful inside and out, and I'm glad they find each other so amusing!
(well, I guess AB wasn't thinking things were too funny by this point!)

What's the lesson?

Do you ever go through a season, or even just a series of events where you think, "ok, there is probably a major life lesson hidden in here somewhere if I can just focus enough to wrap my brain around it"?  That theme pretty much defined my existence for the month of May.  If it was not one thing, it was another.  Little things mostly.  But annoying things.  Things that eat away at my stress level, not to mention my time.  But also things that when I start whining about them (inwardly of course), I realize how truly insignificant they actually are in the grand scheme of things.  Things that when I look at the struggles of others around me- big, truly heartbreaking struggles- the loss of a child, the loss of a home, war torn nations.  Well, my petty complaints truly pale in comparison.  But in the moment, in the midst of the frustration, these petty little things can really do a number on my frame of mind!  

So I have to pause and ask myself, "What is the lesson here, Lord?  What are you trying to teach me?"  And honestly, most of the time I'm thinking, "enough already, I get it!"  (whatever IT is).  

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what defined my crazy for the first few weeks of May and maybe you can help me figure out the life lessons involved...

I was really looking forward to May, especially after the craziness of moving during April.   I was going with Jason on a mostly business trip to Morocco- my FIRST time to Africa, which is crazy in itself since I've been literally dreaming of going there since I was 6.  Anyway, even though the trip was going to be mostly business it would involve spending time with dear friends and a little bit of R&R simply because we would be staying in a resort type place, meaning I wouldn't be cleaning or cooking for a week.  So hey, even if meetings are involved that in itself is enough to make it somewhat relaxing.     I even gave myself a manicure before I left which I NEVER do since it never lasts more than half a day- one load of dishes and it's peeling off.   Anyway, all that to say, May was something I'd been lookign forward to for a while.  And added bonus, Aunt AJ (Jason's youngest sister) was flying all the way across the ocean to stay with the girls.  So leaving the girls behind was not going to be at all stressful because they were super excited about time with AJ.  

So, first thing.  In the process of beginning to pack for our trip, I realized that almost all of my earrings and several pretty precious pieces of jewelry were missing.   I had inventoried and organized all of my jewelry right before the move, but in the process of moving, I had left my jewelry in my top dresser drawer (where it stays), intending to move it myself.  On the craziness of moving day, I completely forgot and all I can figure is that when the movers (or hired guys off the street) moved that particular piece of furniture, they opened that top drawer and helped themselves.  Completely my fault for leaving it but frustrating nonetheless.  I'm particularly mourning my sapphire and diamond ring that Jason bought me for Christmas when Maddie was a baby and my grandmother's pearl ring.  Also frustrating is the fact that the jewelry was obviously scooped up in a hurry and they only got away with 1 of most of my most favorite earrings.  So the lone earrings are left behind reminding me of how much I love them and miss them!  I know.  Totally superficial and it's just stuff.  But it was my stuff.  And I happen to kind of have a thing for jewelry.   

So that was annoying and frustrating.  But, in the long run, it's just stuff, right?

So May 1 arrives.  AJ has come and gotten settled into our family routine.  I've fully stocked the fridge and freezer so they don't have to worry with meals while we travel.  I've arranged transportation to various activities and friends to check in on them,  and Jason and I head off to the airport. 

 Funny side note that you will soon see the relevance of- in the process of packing, Jason asked me if I wanted to pack together in a certain not so large suitcase.   Pretty sure I looked at him like he'd grown a second head.   Why in the world would I want to have to stress about how much I was going to be able to pack when for the first time in a long time, I am only packing for myself and not 4 other little people.  No thanks I said.  I'm likely packing everything I own :).   For one, I"m not totally sure what type of clothes I'll be wearing, plus I'm only packing for me so I don't have to worry about space.  Whoo hooo!  


 So I proceeded to pack essentially my entire spring and summer wardrobe, all of the jewelry I had left, all of my shoes  (and by the way, I like shoes.  I may or not have had almost an entire bag of shoes packed when Jason came and picked up the bags I had packed for our honeymoon oh so many years ago- that should have been an introduction for him to my (ahem) somewhat challenged self when it comes to packing light....).  And yeah, I am also not so good at the whole 'put a change of clothes in your carry on' thing...   There might have been in a time when I wore Jason's clothes on a trip because a certain toddler threw up all over me mid-flight and I didn't have a change of clothes in my carry on.  I've gotten a lot better, especially when we travel with the girls.  However, this particular trip, I packed in a hurry.  I did not pre-plan.  I actually put things in my suitcase that I know better than to put in a checked bag simply because I was in a hurry and I've never actually lost a bag.  So there.  Can you see where this is going?   

So off we go to the airport.  

Jason and I actually had a slightly different itinerary because he was traveling a bit more after the Morocco trip.  I was with friends though.  Off we went to Agadir, Morocco.  By way of Istanbul, then Casablanca and finally on to Agadir almost 12 hours later.  We all arrived safe and sound.  Sadly, my bag did not.  We went through the motions of filling out the appropriate claim forms for a missing bag at the airport in Morocco and headed out to our hotel- about a 30 minute drive from the airport.   

I was grumpy.  And can I just tell you that is kind of a major understatement.  

I had no make-up (always put that in my carry on- not this time!), I had no jewelry, I had no clothes or extra clothes of ANY form, I had no contact solution, I had no glasses etc etc.  

So, with the understanding that the airline would be calling me (hopefully the next day) when my bag arrived from Casablanca (in my head, it made the most sense that it had been delayed there since we only had a 50 minute layover), we began a week of meetings.  I didn't want to go buy a bunch of stuff since I had so much in my bag which would surely be showing up soon.  Unfortunately when I contacted the airlines the airlines the next day, I was eseentially told that they had absolutely no idea where my bag was and were attempting to track it down.  Great.

In this whole process I learned more about the airline luggage "system" (and believe me I use that word, VERY loosely) than I ever wanted to know.  After learning about this system (or lack thereof), I can fully understand why there are 100s and 1000s of missing bags out there.  I should know.  I was in the lost baggage storerooms at 4 different airports over the course of the next week.   

Finally after 3 days I was told that my bag had been found in Istanbul and was due to be sent that evening- hooray!  See, it was a good thing after all that I hadn't run out and bought a bunch of stuff that I really didn't want.  Thanks to generous friends who also apparently overpacked, I had several outfits to select from each day.  One friend even had a bag full of Mary Kay samples that she let me use.  

The next 4 days were a blur of meetings, going back and forth to the airport tracking my bag that had supposedly arrived in Casablanca, and each day was due to be sent on to Agadir, numerous phone calls to various airlines who were somehow involved in the whole process.  There was Royal Air Maroc with whom the claim was filed since they were my final carrier.  They mostly spoke French and were the ones who told me "ma'am, perhaps you should check at your home in Jordan"  Dude.  I'm pretty sure I would remember if I had LEFT MY SUITCASE AT HOME YOU COMPLETE MORON (ahem) nice man who is attempting to help me.  

They there was Royal Jordanian, the original carrier that I flew on to Istanbul.  They claimed no involvement and no responsibility at all since I filed the claim with Air Maroc.  (didn't seem to matter that they were the ones who didn't get the bag on the flight in Istanbul to begin with).  They recieved a nasty email which I'm sure did worlds of good.

And finally, Turkish Air.  And no, I did not fly Turkish Air.  However somehow they got involved when the bag was left in Istanbul.  I will tell you about some of my lovely conversations with them in a minute.  

Let me just pause here and say that the bag never arrived in Agadir.  On my last day and final trip to the airport, the told me that the bag was due to arrive from Casablanca that night at midnight and I could just get it that morning when I checked in for my 6 AM flight and re-check it(I'm thinking I might actually attach it to my wrist, thank you very much).  If for some reason, it did not arrive, I could just check in as far as Casablanca, go out through customs and go to the baggage area and retrieve it there.  Lovely.  Sounds like the way I want to spend my layover.   And can I say that I had I known at the beginning of the week that my bag was NOT going to arrive, I would have settled in to my friends clothes, bought a few things and that would have been that.  It was the back and forth to the airport, the your bag is coming, Ha! just kidding, your bag is in Istanbul, oops no, your bag is in Casablanca.  Yeah, that was tiring.   

So on the day we returned from Agadir to Amman (by way of Casablanca and Istanbul), of course my bag was NOT there that morning.  I went through customs in Casablanca to pick it up, nope not there either.  They tracked it on their computer and said it had been sent from Istanbul back to Amman on May 5.  Hmmm.  I DON"T BELIEVE YOU!!!!   Interesting that on May 7 they told me it was sent to Casa and now here it is May 8 and it's back on Amman on May 5.  You confused?  I was!  And so tired!  So exhausted!  

Anyway, I did the same thing in Istanbul.  Had to buy a Turkish tourist visa, check out through passport control and go down into the baggage claim area.  (thankfully we had about a 4.5 hour layover).  That is where I encountered a lovely lady with Turkish Airlines who  confirmed that my bag had been scheduled to go from Istanbul to Amman on May 5 but it apparently did not get loaded onto the plane for whatever reason.  She then proceeded to explain to me about the "room of the chutes".   

"Ma'am,"  she says. "There is a big room with 3 giant chutes.  All of the bags go down the big chutes before they are put on the planes.  Sometimes they do not get put on the plane and they stay in the room of the chutes.  I think maybe your bag is in the room of the chutes."   

She then goes on to tell me that I can't go to the "room of the chutes" to look for the bag because I don't have an ID badge.  When I asked if she could go and look she explained that no she could not because the room is too big and it would take too much time.  

After spending another 2 hours with a guy in baggage claim trying to find the bag, he finally determined that there must have been a gliche in the system and that the bag was in fact put on the plane to Amman (on May 5) and would surely be waiting for me when I arrived later that night.  

It was not.

Fast forward 6 more days.  After numerous more frustrating conversations with airlines and baggage handlers and customer service representatives, I was oh so very close to giving up.  (however in the course of these conversations, they supposedly found the bag again in Casablanca and it was sent on to Agadir and then back on it's way to Amman.  Yeah, never happened).  However, that's why I didn't give up.  They kept giving me hope that they'd come up with the bag.  Despite the fact that it wasn't true at all, it was still hope.  So maybe the lesson is something about hope?

After another trip back out to the Amman airport to pick up the bag that had supposedly arrived and it had not, I made one last attempt at calling the Turkish Airlines baggage handlers again.  I was fairly certain that since my bag had been positively identified in Istanbul, that it was likely still there (in the room of the chutes!!).  Miraculously, I got the same little guy on the phone who had helped me for almost 2 hours the week before.  He gave me an email address, told me to email him personally with an exact description of the bag along with a thorough description of its contents and he would go himself down to the tag less luggage warehouse and see if he could identify it.   

I got an email back within 10 minutes that he found my bag and was sending it on to Amman that night.  

And miracle of miracles, he did!  AND all my jewelry, electronics, clothes etc were completely intact.  Not a thing was missing.  
Thank you Jesus!!!   (I love that there is a tag on it that says RUSH)   

In the midst of this lovely life lesson that I've decided must have something to do with my vanity and desire to have pretty clothes and jewelry and make-up (and shoes), I also got 2 mega sized mouth ulcers that made it pretty difficult to eat.  I also got a nasty infection in one of my eyes so I couldn't wear my contacts (and my only pair of glasses was in the missing bag!).   I've been wearing glasses since age 8 and can't see a foot in front of me without them so there was very little of any use I could do for the 36 hours that I was blind!  I can promise you that it was not a very pleasant week in our household.    Definitely not the relaxing, refreshing few weeks that I had planned on!  

And I confess that in all of the craziness, I kept asking , "Lord, WHAT is the lesson?  I am listening!!  And whatever it is, I've learned it so please just give me back my stuff!"  (ok maybe lesson NOT learned).  

I did learn that sometimes that streak of stubbornness that I get made fun of for, pays of every so often.  I was NOT giving up on the bag and I was NOT going to let people get away with claiming "no responsibility".  So maybe the lesson is about perseverance in the midst of hope?  Regardless, so thankful that with a little perseverance, I found a friend in the bowels of the Istanbul airport willing to go beyond his "job" and help me out- thank you Ozgur!  

(and for those of you thinking, good grief- just go buy new clothes...  remember where I live and take my word for it- not that easy!!) 

So what lesson do you see for me here?  Maybe you've read something between the lines that I missed?

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12