Friday, May 24, 2013


I am most afraid of forgetting.

I have learned so much. I have come so far. The Israelites saw the Red Sea parted as they walked through and yet, not so much longer they were wanting to turn back.

I've seen things like that.

How long will it take me?

May it not be so.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


My mini vacation was lovely.

The weather was perfect, the trees were evergreens, the hiking refreshing, and the company better than you can imagine.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Joy is a Chance to Die

(Skip to about half-way for the start of the song.)

I first heard this song this weekend. Wetfaced, my heart broke over my own sorrows sure, but even more so my sin. I was reminded of the truth that God's ways are not our ways and that sorrow and pain are not exclusive of each other. But in this I realized my own pride and how I had begun living according to a lie.

You see, the way of the world can be so alluring, so "reasonable". We are told to be assertive, confident, push for the best pay, the best situation, the best treatment. "You deserve it," is slyly whispered in the ear and I believed it. I traded the truth for a lie.

My thoughts had become consumed with what I wanted and what was best for ME. And I had become my own god. Death to my desires or wants was not even tickling the back part of my mind. And then suddenly opening before me like clouds parting to let the sun through... I remembered. I think it was her story of waiting for her father's faith and then the grief and pain and joy all rolling together that spoke to me of the truth I've known for years. God's way is not our way.

Our way is proud, happiness is based on circumstances, and we each should fight for our due, what we think we deserve for what we've put in. How drastically contrasted is that from the truth of the slave who works hard without thanks and says "I was only doing my duty." Far too many people live this lie and speak this lie to others.

There is more to this thought and how to apply this truth that I'm still working on. But I am reminded of one of my favorite books titled "A Chance To Die". This is what real life is, a chance to die to self. And it is in those moments that I find myself most happy because it is in those moments that I am most in tune with God's way rather than my own.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What If?

What if Christians really believed what they said they did? 

What if Christians regularly portrayed the truth that they had personally encountered the God of the Universe?

What if Christians treated other people as if they were made in the image of God, no matter what they said or did that we disagreed with?

What if Christian parents loved and raised their children to understand and engage in the world without sheltering them out of fear?

What if Christians prayed for their neighbors, expecting God to bring them in contact with each other, expecting God to bring up their needs and ways to serve?

What if Christians met Lisa, the chatty pack-a-day smoker with wrinkled hands and face and a missing tooth, and loved her in spite of themselves, and soon she, who hated all things churchy, came to church and came again and again?

What if Christians met Noni, their Iranian neighbor with a fluffy white dog, and talked to her even though they were going to have worse traffic because they'd be late. And they found out that Noni needed her lawn mowed because her mower guy was sick. And then were blessed by God to somehow to defy time and make it to work on time anyway?

What if Christians prayed in faith and then walked in faith, even when God called them to do uncomfortable things like talk to strangers about lawn mowers or Jesus? 

What if Christians really valued living and walking and talking with God more than any of the earthly good gifts God gives?

What if...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Questions of American Identity

As much as we'd rather not admit it, we judge people. Everyone does. You can tell the criteria of that judgement by comments and questions both. Here in the U.S. it is first one's profession. The question is, "What do you do?" And even if you don't think less of a person necessarily for their job, you do form your ideas about what that person likes, dislikes, and is good at from what you've learned from their answer.

Even when not asked this question, Americans answer it because it is the standard. Sit in a room of strangers and tell each one to tell a little about himself. You'll get several things most often, where he is from, what he does for work, his marital status (he'll mention it if he's married), and, of course, his name. (And if you live in the South, you'll get both first and last name.)

Perhaps in Iraq these things are similar, although if you asked them where they were from they'd all give the same answer. But for me, being a blond, white, American female, it was these most obvious characteristics that shaped what people asked me about and how they perceived me. My profession occasionally came up, my marital status was responded to with shock and confusion, and where I was from was guessed at wrongly about half the time. (Do I look German to you all?) But those questions always came later. First things first, after all.

First was always, "How do you like Kurdistan?" Or for the less linguistically capable, "Hello, Goodbye, I love you!" Then came surprise and laughter at my Kurdish speaking. Lots of laughter and smiles. I would smile too if it were a woman, nod, chuckle a little, and then they would tell my I was beautiful and so white. Then the women would ask me what color of hair dye I used (sorry, ladies) and where I got it. Then they would tell me I was fat, which was a compliment to them (it took a while to get used to that one).

Then eventually we'd get to all the normal questions, but they would be passed over quickly to get to topics like picnics, the weather, beautiful places around Kurdistan, Presidents Bush or Obama, whether or not I liked Yaprax, tea with lots of sugar, and lots and lots of rice. I never felt isolated or separated by Kurdish families for my differences, for being single, for not having a prestigious job. To them, I was a foreigner first, and that meant a chance to show off the wonders of their world and inquire into the oddities of mine. It was good.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Morning Poem

Rubies streak across the black asphalt,
The other side glitters with crystals, crushed.
Tires run smooth over the sparkle,
Eyes squint seeking between the orbs
But blind to each diamond drip dropping.
Sheer misty multitudes obscuring
The far lands and closing us in 
To this immediate and momentary world where we
Slowly go, careful and afraid, cautious
To guard our plans from sliding on the shining slick
Roadway, all wet with plashy puddles and rain.
Ignoring the glory invisible to our dull eyes
Trapped in the bland gray clouded vision
Instead of being made free by the beauty
Of the silver-lined cloud itself.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

A Pile of Hats

I don't like doing nothing with my hands... or my mind... audio books and TV shows streamed online are an escape mechanism for me. But the hands...what will the hands do? They crochet or cross stitch. It's been more crochet for the last few months. This has meant that the pile of hats I've made has grown. I thought at first I could give them away as gifts. But, I don't have that many hat wearing friends and its getting on into summer here, so it's just not ideal. So, what's a girl to do?

Back in January I decided to set up an Etsy shop. I looked and poked and signed up, but then I never did anything with it. Until today. I finally photographed my hats. It felt like it took forever but I got five put up online. I think I have another eight or nine, but I figured I'd start there. You can see them at I have no idea if they are sale-able, but I figured if I even sold a couple that would both clear out space in my cupboard as well as buy a couple more skeins of yarn. Maybe I need a bigger project. Do people crochet blankets? I'll have to look into that.

Part of the kick in the pants was the fact that one of my dear friends also started up an Etsy shop. We've been telling her she should for ages! She is one of the most talented and creative young ladies I have ever known and her jewelry is stunning. I can't wait for her to post more things, but you should check out what she has at

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Pot "Luck"

The potluck is one of those unique cultural events in the United States that has a whole host of usually unspoken rules and expectations associated with it. The word originated in the 1590's and generally just meant a meal where there was no planned menu and so there was some level of "luck" or chance as to what might be in the pot.

The no planned menu fits in with our modern American concept of the potluck, where participants generally bring dishes without planning some sort of cohesive whole one with another. While there may be some discussion about what sorts of dishes might be brought, there is no proscriptive list of requirements. As a side note, this is where Kurdish potlucks differ, meaning that everyone organizes what food will be brought to a picnic so that there is always the yaprax, bryani, rice, kifta, and cake. There is no luck left in that pot unless you include the fact that it has sat warm on a bus for hours before you eat it.

The American potluck has just as many rules but all carefully cloaked in the filmy garb of individualistic freedom that we are so fond of. First, women bring the food. Single men are congratulated if they bring a 2-liter of soda or a stack of paper plates. Second, one must bring ample amounts of food, not merely enough to serve your own family but usually enough for at least 30 people. Third, everyone else will definitely be judging you on what you brought by both how well they liked it and by how much is left over when the meal is finished. Since everyone eats a lot at potlucks (another unwritten rule) if there is very much of your food left over, it must be a dud.

There are many more unspoken rules but some are based primarily on more local culture. I have noticed that here in the South, vegetables, unless done as a veggie platter, must have butter, whereas, in the Northwest, they must not have butter. Also along those lines, fried food is far more popular in the South. I had never seen anyone bring restaurant fried chicken to a potluck before until I lived in Nashville. Along with that, a lot of my friends are also seriously into various types of health food and healthy eating. No community is completely homogeneous. I'm sure if I went further south or to the Northeast other variations would appear.

Knowing that there are these unspoken cultural rules, while often a blessing, can also be a curse. I always felt like I knew what to bring to a potluck in the Northwest (we almost always had breakfast ones), now I can easily be paralyzed by all the unknown possibilities. How does one play the rules of this particular game? In this city? With these people? How does one serve the vegan, gluten free, butter loving, organic, almond milk, fried chicken people? And you wonder why I find this intimidating! (And I haven't even gotten to the pressure I've heard other single women talk about where they feel like their potential wife skills are being judged by what they bring to the potluck.)

I'll be honest. I have no idea. But I'll be going to the potluck this Sunday. And I'll bring something. Any suggestions?