Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Not-So-Ordinary...

My life as a teacher is usually fairly predictable. I have scheduled classes I attend every day, I grade papers, and I read stuff for prep. Occasionally this regularity is punctuated by a child vomiting in the classroom, a visit from someone out of town, or the doorknob breaking and locking me or the students in or out of the classroom. These are the eventful days.

This summer, however, has proved to have it's own adventures. My arms are still weak feeling from carrying a heavy bookshelf up the stairs (with the help of a construction worker who was working next door). In the last week I've been chauffeur and photographer (in the dark!) for a wedding, soccer coach for dozens of children in over 100 degree heat, language learner, counselor for issues large and small, and problem solver for water shortages and appliance noises. This may be common for some of you, but it has been a busy week for me!

I noted the return of the mullet as a fairly common hairstyle for young boys here and we also cleaned, pulled up the rugs, and rearranged our living room.

265. Clean rug smells
266. Watching movies on the big screen (in the house!)
267. A new furniture arrangement
268. A new dress from Kuwait
269. Falling asleep from language study
270. Going to bed early because I'm so tired, this is a good thing.
271.Writing a note to Shokhan in Kurdish on my phone
272. Getting invited to RG with some students
273. Having water again in the house--and then not... again. hmm...
274. A day off
275. Living Water
276. Not having water not being a stresser. How cool is that! Totally a God thing.
277. The neighbor checking his trees in his pajamas
278. Lunch with my language tutor and giving her some company
279. Opening myself up for God to change me
280. Revelations (however painful) of how self-serving I am and how I seek my own glory
281. Good news from friends in Europe
282. Talking with Laurel on the phone
283. Red sparkles glinting on the wall from the jili kurdi my neighbors lent me
284. A quiet bus
285. Our dripping AC water caught in a bucket to flush the toilet =)
286. Zh. understands me!
287. Chatting and hanging out with Lizzy!
288. Long afternoon naps
289. A successful tournament

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Being Thankful...

It's all in how you look at it. I realized the other day that it was a bit funny that I was thankful for the sign with an exclamation point on it. And being thankful for a road sign that isn't exactly informative is somewhat out of the ordinary. But if the world is a story, and more than that, a story written by a loving father, then what else could that sign be for? It doesn't represent just a traffic warning, it represents a God with a sense of humor with stories that are funny and encouraging. It represents conversations about punctuation in grammar classes and cultures allegorized by their writing styles. It's no longer just a sign for cars, it is a sign for me that I have a God who loves and writes a story with details that make me smile... even if I have been on a hot bus for 7 hours. Thank You!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Exercise is a wonderful thing. Everyone talks about the endorphins and the energy you get and I don't doubt them. It's just that I haven't gotten there yet. I'm still at the drag myself out of bed and stumble around with sore muscles stage. I dream of the day where I can jog effortlessly like some of the people I've seen running. I hardly expect it to come, though. I just don't like running THAT much. It is rather freeing, especially her in the Middle East, for a woman to have a place where she can go and run or walk without feeling supremely awkward. So, I am thankful for the opportunity and the friends to encourage me to get in more exercise. Running or walking 4 times a week and doing exercise videos 5 times a week seems like we might be biting off more than we can chew, but I'm glad to aim high and it is the summer time after all. =)

254.My new orange skirt with sequins and all
255. Kalle helping me with my grammar and spelling
256. Jeremiah spending hours in the bazaar to find a part to fix the car
257. Breezes blowing at my back in Azadi Park
258. Seeing the guys awake, cheerful, and doing things in the morning
259. Mornings where we've accomplished things
260. Full breakfast with friends for dinner!
261. My chickens being cuddly in the evening
262. Running
263. Sore muscles that prove I did something!
264. Learning over and over again the same lesson, God cares enough that I actually get it... how patient he is. I wish I were so patient a teacher.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good Gifts...

I've been pondering and discussing good gifts with people lately. It probably stemmed from my reading of Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" a couple months ago. But it resurfaced as my roommate and I were trying to buy a gift for a woman we don't know that well. We both like our gifts to be meaningful and special for that person. We don't like to give gifts that have no personal connection to the person. We want to get something the person will like and use. This is hard if you don't know the person well.

If we, who don't even know someone well, want to give good gifts, how much more does our father in heaven want to give good gifts?

What if he is giving us good gifts all the time, we just fail to see them for what they are. I think he is. I think I fail to see.

In part, I fail to see because I fail to ask. I've always been a timid prayer, more afraid that I'll ask for something I shouldn't have or that isn't God's will than boldly stepping out in faith (or even curiosity!). I wonder how many of God's gifts I've missed out on, not because they weren't given, but because I failed to see the giver in them.
For the real good of every gift is essential first, that the giver be
in the gift-as God always is, for He is love-and next, that the receiver
know and receive the giver in the gift. Every gift of God is but a harbinger
of His greatest and only sufficing gift-that of Himself. No gift
unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best: therefore many things
that God would gladly give us, things even that we need because we are, must
wait until we ask for them, that we may know whence they come: when in all
gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things.
----George MacDonald (#92, An Anthology, C.S. Lewis)

242. My new sticky notes program for my desktop
243. Warm bagel smell
244. Funny chicken noises
245. Convincing Erik chickens can be fun!
246. Our house is cool
247. Byki (computer flash card program)
248. The smell of fresh basil, tomato, and cilantro plants
249. Quality time with friends, just talking
250. A new TV show, Human Target, made me laugh with friends
251. Peach iced tea at the grocery store!
252. Having convinced the local theater to get Super 8. This is at the only real theater in this part of my country!
253. There is so much beauty in an eggplant

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So my mother wants to see my chickens...

Easter: Check out my very long neck, everyone!

Hermes: I'm a one-eyed pirate! Arrrgh! ... oh, wait... actually, I'm winking at you! Can you tell?

Pecky: Strutting is what I do best. Have you noticed my fine feathers?

Pushy: I'll sit or stand on the highest thing I can find. This did prove a problem, however, as I... uh, descended down the wrong side of the wall from the roof and well,... made some noise. The tall man caught me and took me back to my peeps.

My happy chicken family.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

No new thoughts...

It is amazing how studying a language can drain out any mental ability to think of anything else. I have a newsletter to write but even as I try to think about what has happened over the last month I come up with a random blur of vocabulary, students, grading papers, and having people over for dinner. And they pop into my head in such a fractalizing sort of way that no cohesion can be brought to them. I become tired just trying to think about what I'll write and then I give up. How on earth do people write books and memoirs and newspaper articles with deadlines? I haven't the foggiest idea... props to Miriam for all her hard work!

Now on to some thankfulness from my week!

230. Audio Books
231. Chickens survive a 3 story drop
232. Classical Music and how it's so Christian
233. Being able to predict the power schedule
234. Playing football with the 5-7th grade girls
235. Problem solving on an elementary level
236. I am of a people held
237. Librivox
238. George MacDonald and all I learn of truth from his characters
239. Having a friend I can vent to who understands what it is like here
240.Our mubarida (swamp cooler) and how I even felt cold during an afternoon nap--it's over
100 degrees F outside!
241. Pushy's pitiful and cute attempts at crowing

Saturday, June 04, 2011


I remember reading about the seven deadly sins in the Faerie Queen in high school. Pride is such a key to all of them, a love for self that has permutations in various pleasures or behaviors. Pride gives way to each of them. But pride in and of itself is destructive on its own.

We see it in the faces of small children who don't receive a trophy or win a game. They are hurt not because they scored fewer times, but because they did not receive glory. It is easy to see in them, they haven't yet become skilled in covering up their pride and self-seeking attitude.

But we adults are the same way. We dislike being neglected, forgotten, behind the scenes, because we want attention, honor, glory. Maybe we don't want it in all areas, but each of us has an area we really care about, something we want recognition for, or something we feel we deserve.

Whether we deserve it or not, whether it is given or not, I have found it imperative to be willing to bring myself to my knees and kill those desires. Unless a seed die... Unless I die to myself, I am rejecting the life of joy where God's glory is made manifest. How much better to live in awe and wonder at what God is doing, rather than be puffed up with myself.

Thursday, June 02, 2011