wherever you go


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Single Lonely Guys

Last week my sister told me I needed to write a blog post about the Christmas party I hosted last week.  She writes a blog over at TexasSchmexas and it is all about community.  She gets her interest in community honestly, our parents were always hosting visitors in our house, whether it be for a social evening or as a place to stay for an extended time.  My wife and I also focus much of our lives around the concept of community, our last house we purchased was bought primarily due to its layout and ease of hosting people.

On Christmas day, I hosted the “First Annual Single Lonely Guys” Christmas Party.

This year I unfortunately was spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’ and 3 birthdays 5,000 miles away from my family.  This did not stop me from celebrating.

My good friend David and I decided to host a party.  David lives in a small studio apartment and I just moved into my house so it’s full of boxes.  We needed to find a bigger place for the festivities, I am currently “cat sitting” for some friends who are back in the States for a couple weeks, so we used their house.  They have satellite TV with a DVR, I was able to record an NFL football game for us to watch.

I sent out invites to a few of the guys I knew would be around and asked them to forward it to anyone they knew.  I had no idea how many people, if any, would come and if no one showed up, David and I were going to have fun.

We got a count of about 10 people and stopped by the restaurant in our compound to ask them to bake a turkey for us.  No turkey.  L “so what can you make us for 10 people?”, we asked. 

We ended up with a platter of roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, veggies with cheese sauce, and an apple pie.  All for 250 SAR ($65 USD).  Not bad, especially with plenty of left overs.

We had a great time.  We had some new people show up.  Most of them I had never met before.  Some of them had just arrived in Saudi Arabia, some had been here for a couple years.

Community can be found EVERYWHERE.  When I came over here I wouldn’t have expected I would be hosting a party for a bunch of us “single lonely guys”.  It was absolutely worth the effort and work.  It gave us all a chance to share some fun stories of life here in the sandbox.  It made sure we weren’t at home alone on this wonderful holiday.  

We are planning on getting together for New Years.


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counting

This evening, as Christmas draws to a close and I sit planning ahead, I’m doing some counting.

 

8 days until I see Stephen.

14 days until we fly to Saudi Arabia.

 

Christmas is all about hope, new beginnings, and joy.  Merry Christmas to each of you and may the year ahead be filled with the Spirit of Christmas!


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My Only Christmas Gift?

Today I returned from using the restroom to find a package on my desk. 

Yippeee… It’s Christmas Eve and I got mail. 

Mails seems to only appear when I am not at my desk, I wonder who brings it by.

As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and who it was from. 

We’ve been talking about it for a couple weeks, maybe even months. 

My sister’s first published book of poetry.  She wanted to send it to me, I told her it would be ok for it to wait until I returned to the States to pick it up myself.  It would cost lots of money to FedEx it 5,000 miles around the world.  It would take too long by USPS. 

Nope, it’s already in the mail.  $5.22.  Postage on the front, customs form on the back.

I hate poetry.  I don’t think I have EVER voluntarily read poetry in my life.  I feel silly reading nursery rhymes to my kids.  I know the terms from English class years ago, iambic pentameter, couplet, sonnet, haiku.

But, I read every page, every sentence, every word.

Thanks for sending me something to open, something to read, something to remember how wonderful a writer and poet and person you love.

I love you, Elizabeth.


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Psalm 89:1-52

I receive daily devotional emails from The High Calling and today’s was titled “Advent Reflection on God’s Promise to David” focusing on Psalm 89:1-52.

It hit me right between the eyes, I could relate to what this message was saying.

If you’ve seen any of my status updates on Facebook you probably noticed they’ve been kinda grumpy.  One friend described them as “dark”.  Yes, they have been grumpy and dark.  I’ve been having a rough couple weeks. 

Over six months ago when I started the journey to the new job assignment,  I was enthralled with the idea of living overseas.  Working in an exotic location with coworkers from all over the world.  Exploring new places with my wife and kids.  I worked tirelessly to quickly complete all the paperwork, I prepared and practiced for my interview, and scheduled appointments right away so I wouldn’t delay the process of getting the new job.

So here I am, approaching Christmas. 

I have been here in Saudi Arabia for nearly 3 months.  The job is not exactly as I had expected.  I feel a little let down.  I am bored by what I do all day.  I feel underutilized and over qualified.  I was told this job required someone with 10+ years of experience and all I do is data entry.  I am often on the verge of shouting matches with others because I disagree with the process or procedures or lack thereof.   I struggle to keep a positive attitude and usually moan and complain to my wife and family via email and FaceTime about how horrible my time has been. 

I was whining to a coworker with quite a bit more experience over here than I have and he said I have 3 choices: 1. Suck it up and deal with it and change myself, 2. Try to get transferred to another department here, and 3.  Go home, maybe international work isn’t for me.

Then I read today’s devotional and God smacked me across the back of the head.

Long before Jubail, Saudi Arabia was a possibility, God put something on my heart and Kelsie’s heart, to live, work, and travel overseas.  We believe it is what we have been called to do.  We believe it is the career God has promised to me and the life He has promised to us.

“Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!” Psalm 89:52


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Emery

My boy.  Emery turned a year old earlier in December.  We were a little late in celebrating, but I don’t think he noticed.

I love this boy.  He is up about 7:00 each morning Ready To Go.  He wakes up happy and full of energy, in contrast to his sister who needs a moment to wake up even if she sleeps longer.  He is Loud.  Goodness, this boy can make noise.  He has a theory that all items should be on the floor instead of on tables.  Everything goes in his mouth;  he’ll eat just about anything.  It makes his day if someone feeds him ice cream.  One of my favorite things to do with him is tickle him until he’s laughing real, joyful, chuckles. He loves his sister, grandparents, and just about anyone who will hold him.  He loves music and clapping and has this incredibly cute wiggly thing he does with his head.  He climbs on things, is starting to walk, but prefers to crawl quickly to get where he’s going, which is everywhere.  One of the best moments of the day is when he sees Daddy on the phone while we’re video chatting.  His face lights up and he smiles and shows his dimples; it’s a reaction that nothing else can get out of him.  I love it.

Emery, it’s been quite a first year of life.  You bring us so much joy.  It will be a privilege to watch and help you grow up.  Always know you are loved.

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I will keep you safe…

Safety is an important topic.  I think a lot about safety.  I start every meeting at work with a safety topic.  I have a personal commitment to safety posted on the wall beside my desk.  We have monthly meetings strictly dedicated to safety.  Attending these meetings is a part of my annual performance goals.  I have changed many of my personal habits at work and at home to be more focused on safety. 

I have regularly had to explain to people why I could risk taking my family to Saudi Arabia, a dangerous place.  In fact, the US State Department warns people regarding traveling to Saudi Arabia.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5813.html

I feel very safe here in Saudi Arabia.

My daughter has started saying “I’m scared”  We usually explain to her that there is nothing to be afraid of.  Her fear is not necessary.  We are not exactly sure where this idea of fear has come from.

I read this article this morning.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/15/opinion/granderson-children-safe/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

I have prayed this prayer. 

I have made this promise.

This is in fact something that I can’t promise.  A promise I can’t keep.

I remember going to see the Mel Gibson movie “Ransom” with my Dad, Step-Mom, and Sister, back in the day.  If you don’t know, the plot basically revolves around a young boy being kidnapped and the father, played by Mel Gibson, trying to get his son back.

Because my family is weird, we had quite a few conversations about what we would do or how we should react in such a situation.  I am not sure where my Dad came up with the idea, but he had very specific instructions for what we should do if we were ever held at gunpoint or were kidnapped.

Once I got married and now have a wife that I care for and a family to keep safe, I have passed along those instructions to my wife and will probably do so to my children when they are old enough to understand.

Yet, this is something I cannot guarantee.  Safety. 

Why did this tragedy happen?  How can we prevent it from happening again?

More gun control laws?

Less violence on TV?

No violent video games?

Better mental health care?

The list goes on….

But there is nothing we can do.  There is only one reason this happened…

Sin. 

We live in a fallen and sinful world.  I can’t explain much more than that.

Will I stop promising my children I’ll keep them safe?

No. 

I will continue to pray for them and with them. 

I will try to lead them closer to God as my parent led me.

I will comfort them in the scary times.

I will prepare them for the scary times.

I will continue to pray for them and with them.


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My abaya has arrived

It’s here! I’ve tried it on and I like it.  Well, as much as one would like an abaya, I suppose.  I like it because it gets me one little step closer to Saudi Arabia and Stephen.  It’s a good balance of what is necessary and what I’m comfortable in, not too floppy and but conservative enough.

It’s black.  It’s simple. It’s an abaya.