Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Hot Now

The thermometer reads 107˚ F. We've had a long spring, full of rain and thunderstorms. The wind a few days ago nearly blew away my poor chicks and chickens and the dust that came with it has turned the sky tan for days. But even this is something to be thankful for. After all, the temperature would be considerably higher if it weren't for the dust. Our swamp cooler is able to keep the house at a comfortable 85˚ F, for which we are quite thankful, now that the city power isn't on as much. We can run the swamp cooler off of generator power.

I've been walking at the park some mornings and we're considering moving it earlier because we feel sluggish walking in the sunshine even at 7:30am. Another group of girls has begun running even earlier and I'm not sure if I'll join them or opt for a gym fee and some air conditioning instead of the heat and dust.

I'm memorizing Psalm 23 in Kurdish today... or rather working on it today. I struggle memorizing Scripture in English. But I always tell my kids that memorizing helps learn language and gets you used to the patterns that occur in it. So I'm taking some of my own advice. I'm going to write it up on one of the tiles in my kitchen in wet-erase marker.

Other than that... I graded my tests, I mopped the floor, I started a load of laundry, and now I might just take a nap to ward off the head cold/allergies that I'm fighting. Life is good.

213. Laughter at the dinner table
214. Good wine
215. Kind friends who tell you nice things
216. New desktop sticky notes program
217. Kevin graduated
218. Chickens liking watermelon
219. Our swamp cooler
220. Being done grading my tests
221. Spring smells in the park in the morning
222. New breakfast ideas
223. New sister discovered
224. Student presentations
225. Pleasant picnic spots
226. B. talking to a small brown bird
227. Mr. R's charisma with the students... they're wrapped around his finger
228. Students' love for their teachers
229. Good conversations

Monday, May 30, 2011

After the hard times...

After the hard times filled with Satan's lies, after pushing through and demanding the snake's silence, after going back to my knees with thanksgiving, humility, and death to self...

Then it comes.

The vision of grace.

God's glory unfurled if only for a moment or even a series of moments stacked one upon the other. And I am thrilled down into my marrow at the seemingly random fitting into place. I am amazed at how God doesn't always call the people we think he will, he redeems the Moabite widow, the harlot of Jericho, the girl who cried in the hallway slicing her arms, Saul who persecuted the church, the boy whose atheism sounded loud through the years, and God builds his kingdom step by step.

And in a moment my heavenly family grows and I see how God put things together that I never could have and how the ugly is used for his purpose and how my failure was what what was needed and how our great mistakes can be the answer to someone's prayer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Do you ever have days where the lies of the enemy crowd in around you and you can barely hear yourself pray because of the din they make in your mind? ...where you see the good work of others and despair because you know you will never be that kind of person, have that talent, be that impressive, have that charisma? The distraction of this cacophony can be intense like a screeching microphone during a speech. The pressure bows the shoulders and tries to push tears from the eyes.

The enemy says, "You don't impact these peoples' lives, why even try? You won't be remembered by any of these students. You don't make a difference. You might as well go back to the States for all the good you do here! Other people are far better at this than you. Why are you even here?"

But this is where He goes wrong. Being remembered isn't the point. And if I look only to myself each statement is true. But while I can't make a difference, God can and HE has asked me to be here. I can't accomplish good here, but God can and HE has called me to be here. Other people may be far better at this or more talented, wiser, more impressive, but God's power is made perfect in weakness. Myself must die; I don't matter.

As the lies of the devil lose their power, the noise quiets, and I am in the quiet again. How do people survive if they are really the center of their worlds, if it is really they that matter?

Does the leaf complain that it is transitory and falls to the ground instead of being a more lasting piece of trunk?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Days...

Some days the internet is so slow that I give up on posting altogether.

Some days Easter is so sad to be left outside with the other chickens that I take her inside with me and even let her sit on my shoulder for a while as I write blog posts or try to load various searches and pages.

Some days the sky is the most beautiful thing I can imagine as it fills with rain, clouds, and lighting. But almost as much as that is the cool air it brings and the delay of the desert heat.

Some days I can barely think of my class work as I marvel at the change wrought in some by the Great God of Heaven.

Some days my allergies are so overwhelming that I just curl up and take a nap.

Some days I get to play games with my sister over Skype and how awesome is that!

Some days the chick falls asleep on my touch pad and makes it difficult to navigate.

Some days I want to do nothing more than clean my room but it still isn't high enough on the priority list to be accomplished that day.

Some days I pour water on the B-ball coach's head to make friends with the girls and to make them laugh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Orange Tree

(My late Monday post due to lack of internet)

This is the first year I’ve owned an orange tree. It is small and this year it put on three buds. I watched those buds and waited… I thought at one point that they were ready to bloom. I expected them soon. But time went on and the buds got bigger and bigger. They became nearly triple their earlier size. I had no idea how far they had to come before they would finally bloom. Would they ever bloom? Then one day one petal folded itself out of one bud. By the next day all three were open and fragrant, permeating the patio with glory. And at the same time, but waited for and prayed for many years rather than weeks, the full blooming of a new creature in Christ was born. And the fragrance was revealed before the telling and the permeating of God’s glory in this new creature will not fade like the flower, will not wither and will never die.

192. The American Christians in Michigan who help Kurds... such an impact.
193. Halparke
194. Beautiful fabrics that make me dream of my next jili kurdi
195. Me actually wishing for the baby I'm holding to spit up on me (how funny is that... I thought I wanted to go home.)
196. Fake cheering and applause played over a speaker
197. The bobby Dutch groom learning to dance Kurdish style
198. Writing thank-you's by strobe light!
199. Baby Zhian and all her cuteness and slobber
200. The servant-king/beggar-king
201. Staring at the sun, round and clear through the dust
202. Persian Rugs
203. Child prayers
204. The pigeon and his iridescent blue black feathers beside the soft brown koterie bird
205. Softy's continued flights carrying sticks up to build her nest
206. Black Highlander Grogg coffee
207. Toasted bagels with cream cheese
208. Good conversations with friends on the phone
209. Leaving messages for my family
210. The answers to my student's question being in God's hands not mine
211. The orange tree blossoms
212. New life in a person

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The First Crow

I think Pushy is a rooster. The comb on his head is far higher than Pecky's... although Pecky seems to have quite the tuft developing. Today, though, I think he tried to crow. He became serious looking and lengthened his neck out and made a funny noise... something between clearing your throat and honking... but quiet.

I know, I know... I've got dozens of pictures of my chicks. They are just the most willing photography subjects and give me the opportunity to play with all sorts of lighting and movement. Chicken photos are my new hobby. =)

Monday, May 02, 2011


We all know that we go through phases in life. Some of these phases are determined by our likes or dislikes: a cooking phase, a stamping phase, the phase we went through in 5th grade where we only wore pink. (Most fifth grade girls have a pink phase... even in the Middle East!) Other phases are a little more out of our control. They can look the same, like my sister's phase of wearing pink that came not of her own desire but because all the hand-me-downs were that color. (Sadly, she hated pink and still does.) Others that fall in this category are phases of frugality or wealth, phases of business or more rest, singleness, motherhood, or retirement.

I am beginning a new phase. This is the phase of being alone. I've had phases like this before. One of the best things about phases is that you know they won't last forever. Nearly all of my close friends and housemates have left the country. It happens when you live overseas... people go back to their home country or they move on somewhere else. But when all leave at once it can leave you feeling a bit at a loss. There is loss. And in a life with much work and few believers it can be hard to find that friendship and fellowship that fits into the rest of life.

I am thankful for this phase of alone. I should be able to spend more time reading and doing language study. And I'd like to spend more time in prayer as well. I have high hopes.

And as one of my students so aptly reminded me... God is not a phase. Christianity is not a phase.

170. Drenching rain with my sister and one last lightning storm together
171. Giggling past 1am
172. Choking tears of finality
173. Buying a basketball rim
174. A successful Kurdish phone call
175. Leveled benches
176. Laughing over dishwashers and tea-bags
177. Coconut-milk in the refrigerator section
178. Laurel's visit and all the games and backrubs
179. Giving my students something to be thankful about
180. Student saying, "Oh yeah, he's cool." in reference to God
181. Listening to a French Quartet perform live
182. Bad acoustics
183. Plucked violins and cellos
184. People who say hello, good bye, good morning, good night, and thank you
185. Little chicken feathers and stretching wings
186. Nursing mothers
187. Fellowship
188. Spontaneous hairspray adventures
189. Praying during the call to prayer
190. The Iranian woman... and her story translated through
191. Fruit that looks like it is glowing