wherever you go


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21st

The 21st of each month is always a special day in our household.  You see, Kelsie and I started dating on May 21st and we got married on June 21st.  This year we will be celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary and 13th year of being a couple.  Wow.. 

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the corporate bigwigs that occasional visits this project.  He and I were discussing how my wife and family were transitioning to live here in Saudi Arabia.  I stated that I was very fortunate to have an easy going wife who is relaxed and acclimates quite well to the new places we go.

He told me a story.  He said that at one of the big company conferences our Big Boss, the company owner, was taking questions from the audience.  After all the usual questions of how the company was performing or where it was headed, a young engineer stood up to ask a question.  This young engineer said he just started working at our company and wanted to know what the Big Boss thought was the one most important aspect to career success.  Without missing a beat Big Boss said, “find the right spouse”.

There are lots of uncertainty in life, but there’s one thing I know for sure, I have found the right spouse.  She is the perfect match for me and I her.  She has been by my side and in my corner nonstop since we started this journey together.  She loves me unconditionally, cares for me no matter what.  She has been my friend through dark nights of despair and celebrated every victory.

She is my wife, my best friend, the mother of our children and a Godly young lady.

I love her more and more every day.

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Grace and lent and loving our family

I finally figured what it is that I’m giving up for lent.  I’m late (nothing new there..haha..), but I’m not one that has to make resolutions on New Years Day.  Every day is a new beginning!

There were a couple blog posts that got me thinking and helped me actually make a decision.  The first one that got me thinking was written by my sister-in-law, Liz.  You can read what she wrote here:

http://schmexas.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/turning-inward-turning-outward-staring-into-the-abyss/

I need to spend time letting God remind me about what is really important, letting Him change how I see things and respond to situations.  Lent isn’t about giving something up but about how giving something up changes you.  I’m giving up some sleep – something near and dear and very precious to me!  But I like how spending some time with God helps me respond with patience instead of frustration.  Because He responds to me with patience instead of frustration when I mess up time after time after time.

And then there’s this blog post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/02/of-women-sisters-family-how-you-really-speak-lent/

And if you read both articles you will see a link, a pattern. Grace.  Grace, grace, amazing grace.  And that’s lent. The time preceding the ultimate moment of Grace.

So what started out as finding what I’m giving up for lent really turned into a reminder of grace and love and how we’re all family.  But isn’t that what the point was anyway?

There is this memory of a young boy we saw the other day that keeps coming back to me.  He was walking through the stopped traffic in a busy intersection tapping on windows.  Tap tap. Tap tap.  That’s all.  Just tapping.  And looking.  And it broke my heart to think of the kind of life this boy must be living to be sent to walk through traffic asking for money.

The picture I have of myself with empty hands and nothing to give needs to change because in reality I have so very very much.

I read an idea somewhere about putting bags together with some food and basic toiletries and keeping them in your car so that when you see someone who is homeless or asking for money or food you have something to give them.  You are ready and prepared.  I want to be ready, prepared, and willing to give to someone who needs it.  So I’m going to put some bags together and take some with me whenever I go out.

When I was first thinking about lent my goal was to be more generous, more giving.  More loving.

I like the direction I’m going.


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The liturgical year

Lent begins today.

I’ve been reading The Circle of Seasons, a book my sister-in-law gave to me, and I’m really enjoying it.  It’s one of the books I keep nearby and read as we go through the year, moving through each of the liturgical seasons.  I grew up in a non-denominational, charismatic church, and I didn’t really know anything about liturgy either in a church service or as seasons through the year.

One of the definitions Merriam-Webster has for liturgy is “a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances.”  A repertoire – something you rely on, go to for reference.  Your repertoire is what you have available to use.  As I go through each day and struggle to just be patient, kind, or gentle with my children, I realize that I need more ‘skills’ in my repertoire.  Liturgy helps me remember that just asking God for help can completely change my day.

I could use more structure in my life in many ways; often I can be too relaxed and dismissive of things.  I procrastinate. I ignore. I forget.  So the liturgical year helps remind me of what is important, my priorities, or rather what I want my priorities to be.

Still, I forgot about lent until yesterday.  Yesterday was Fausnaught Day or Fat Tuesday.  My sister-in-law asked if we ate any doughnuts.  Confused?  Here’s a short explanation:

“Pennsylvania Dutch fasnachts are often made from potato doughnuts, and may be uncoated, powdered with table sugar, or dusted with confectioner’s sugar.”

“Fasnachts were made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter, which were traditionally fasted from during Lent.”

http://askville.amazon.com/Fausnaught-Day-call-today-day-eat-fatty-doughnuts/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=66236157

Because I forgot, I get to think and pray about what Lent will mean to me today, the first day of Lent.  Better late than never?

Will you be giving something up, changing something, doing anything different during Lent?


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A different culture

I’m so unobservant.

Yes, all the women are wearing abayas and almost all of them have their heads and faces covered.  Yes, the men wear thobes.  So? It’s what they wear. It doesn’t shock me.  And I’m unobservant enough to not really notice.  Why am I like that?

And how living in this different culture affects me:

I have to wear an abaya.  I can’t drive, so I can’t just go where I want when I want.  Well, I could, I would just have to pay someone to take me.  Like taco seasoning – I can buy it here it will just cost me $3 a pack.  Also, the prayer times restricts when you can do things.

Having sand everywhere all the time will annoy me more than having to wear an abaya when I go out.

If I covered my hair or my hair and my face, I would save so much time! Stephen who love that…oh, that could lead to a different conversation.. But, really, I’m all for wearing what I want, doing my hair.

As we experience more of this culture it will be interesting to see how our perspective changes. Hopefully, I’ll be aware enough to notice!


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…and away

image[3] (3) image[2] (3)

Oops.  What a scary moment that must have been for the driver.  But they did just drive over a curb and into a ditch, so…

image[13] image[12]

I took these from inside a mall in Dhahran. We went to two malls about two weeks ago.  Tons of stores!  People really do like to shop here. If you would like to see a little bit about them, I’ve included links the their websites.

http://www.dhahranmall.com/?en=1&m=4

http://www.rashidmall.com/AlRashidAvenue.aspx

I was planning on adding to this post when I went to Lulu, a grocery store in Khobar, last Saturday.  But, alas, there were only two women on the bus, and the driver said there needed to be five in order to make the trip.  I was so disappointed.  I wanted Pita chips!  *sigh*  We’ll try again this Saturday and make more of a fuss if it happens again.

Even though the traffic and driving is crazy, I like going on these trips.  I want to have more photos of our trips. You’d think that having a phone that takes pictures would mean I actually take more pictures…


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Silly Things I Do…

Sunday night I needed to get to bed early.  I was waking up at 130 AM.  I was going to a Super Bowl party.  Kickoff was at 230 AM.  Oh the joys of living overseas.  A week or so ago when the party was planned I asked Kelsie if she minded if I went and she gave me her blessing.  The night of I wanted to make sure it was still ok and here’s how the conversation went.

Me:  “Are you sure it’s ok that I go to the party tonight?”
Kelsie:  “Yes, it’s fine.  I just think you’re silly.”
Me: “Will you be annoyed if I go?”
Kelsie: “No, I’ll only be annoyed if you want to sleep tomorrow evening instead of be with the family”

This was good information to know.  I am glad we got that cleared up.

So at 130 AM my alarm went off and I got up and ready to cheer on the 49ers.  There is not much traffic on the highway at that time of night, but the traffic I did have was impressive.  A single vehicle accident that looked like it had rolled about 20 times before coming to a rest.  I am pretty sure no one survived.

I arrived at the party just after kickoff.  There were a total of 7 guys at the party, there were supposed to be a couple more, but they slept instead.  It was great fun to watch the game with a bunch of guys and cheer on the teams.  We didn’t get all the amazing commercials I am used to watching, but we did get to see the halftime show.

The game finished just in time to go to work at 7 AM.  I was already tired.  I made it through most of the day but headed home to catch a short nap before my normal time of getting home.

I still had an evening with the kids.  I love my evenings with the family.

Even though it was great to watch the game and the team I really like was in the Super Bowl, I’m getting too old for this.  Kelsie was right, I am silly.

Yesterday, I took my first trip to Bahrain.  Bahrain is a small island nation you can drive to from here.  It takes about 2 hours or so to get to the causeway which takes you over to Bahrain.  Depending on traffic, the causeway with all the formal customs agencies, leaving Saudi Arabia and entering Bahrain, can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 5 hours.

This trip had a purpose…  Racing.  Go-kart racing to be specific.  One of the guys here at work organized a day of racing for us.  Next to the Formula 1 race track is a go-karting track.  Our race captain had arranged for us to have a practice race, a qualifying race, and two timed races.  It was loads of fun.  It was also very difficult and I was horrible at it.

After a long day in the sun on the track, shopping, going out to eat, the long trip back home, I was tired when I arrived at home at 10 PM.

In the middle of the night I woke up to get some pain medicine.

Kelsie didn’t say it this morning, but I was thinking.  I am silly, but it was lots of fun, and I wish my dad was here so he could have gone racing with me.