Saturday, February 2, 2013

Simple Woman's Daybook - February 2, 2013


Outside my's a bit grey and cloudy, but I am enjoying the cooler weather knowing that all too soon the blistering heat will return.  The winter weather is what makes Qatar bearable.

I am thinking...about the future and all the changes in store for us over the next few years.

I am thankful...for a good time with friends last night during our game night.

In the kitchen...with the cooler temperatures (mind you, 66 degrees F is "cooler" to me here!), I'm thinking I might bake a fresh loaf of bread and make some soup or chili.

I am wearing...a robe my mother-in-law gave me.  It's white with pretty pink and blue palm trees on it.

I am creating...order in my kitchen.  Today is the day I'm going to weed through my utensil drawers!

I am shopping this morning.  Yay!!!  (Can you feel the sarcasm?)  ;)

I am if it worth it for me to purchase a new blender.  The one I brought from the US 5 years ago finally burned up the motor last night as I was attempting to make hummous for the game night.  That's really all I pretty much use it for, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth the cost.

I am reading...Reading Lolita in Tehran, a lovely, beautifully written memoir of a college professor leading Iranian college girls through some "forbidden" literature during their country's religious revolution.

I am hoping...Emily does well on her IB French external exam this morning. (Why on earth there is an IB exam in February I have no idea!!)

I am looking forward to...a weekend getaway with Hubby in a couple of weeks to celebrate our 20th anniversary!

I am trust God and know that He is truly all that I need.  Before this school year is over, I will be losing many of my closest friends here as they are moving on.  It's heartbreaking, but I know that God, my BEST friend, will still and always be with me.

Around the house...all is quiet at the moment.  Hubby has left for work already and both children are still sound asleep.  I love these precious moments of quiet when all seems right with the world.

I am pondering...what do do with regards to my job next year.

A favorite quote for today..."The days are long, but the years are short."  As our time with Emily home with us draws all-too-rapidly to a close, this is ever more coming to mind.  It seems like just yesterday she was a little girl playing with dolls and now here she is, ready to fly out into the world on her own.

One of my favorite things...climbing into bed at the end of a long day.  Makes me happy!

A few plans for the rest of the week...Work, work, work.  Try to catch up on laundry.  Try to make my home a haven for my family.

A peek into my day...

I'll publish before and after pictures of my de-cluttering efforts in the kitchen later today.  In the meanwhile, if you'd like to read other women's daybooks, be sure to visit The Simple Woman's Daybook  home page.  :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Minimal Minimalism

I've been reading quite a bit lately about the minimalism movement.  I have to say that it certainly sounds appealing.

The idea of having just the bare necessities sounds wonderful.  So much less to worry about, to move about while dusting, to hunt through while looking for something else.  Sounds like my idea of heaven on earth.

But actually making it happen in real life?  That's a whole other matter.  Most people have an abundance of personal possessions, things that they cling to for better or for worse.  This can range from sentimental treasures picked up while traveling to every little doo-hickey or gadget that ever crosses our paths that we keep because "someday it might come in handy."

Having recently helped a friend as she packed up to repatriate back to the US, I was struck by the amount of stuff we accumulate.  (Yes, Melissa, should you ever read this, this means you.  Still love you!) I started to think ahead to when we move back home, hopefully in about 2 years.  I decided then and there that I needed to streamline my life well in advance of that move.  Not just for the sake of a smooth move, but for the sake of my sanity every day in between now and then.

Some of the minimalist blogs I've been looking at are a little too radical for me.  Selling off their cars, moving in with parents, only owning enough towels for one for each person in the family.  I'm not quite there yet.  I don't know that I ever will be.  That's why I'm calling this post "Minimal Minimalism." I just want to simplify without hardship.  To me, that seems to negate the point.

In the course of my brain processing all this, I actually discussed with Hubby perhaps getting rid of one of our cars.  After all, I live less than a 10 minute walk to school.  Couldn't the kids and I just walk to and from each day?

Hubby patiently listened and then reminded me that right now, in January, that might seem like an ideal plan.  But soon enough, January turns into April, which eventually brings June when the temperatures at 7 am during our morning walk would already be over 100 degrees and by 3:30 when we head home it would be well over 110.

This is why I married him.

I think that minimalism is great - but it should bring relief and happiness to our lives.  It shouldn't be just  getting rid of stuff for the sake of it. Maybe being car-less works for some people but it wouldn't for us. So here are a few areas where I think I can whittle away at the amount of "stuff" in our home and have it be a positive thing rather than a negative.

  • My closet - I have a rather over-stuffed closet, but rarely use more than half of what is hanging in it.  Some of it I just have grown to dislike over the years, but some of it just doesn't fit.  Instead of telling myself, "I'll get back into it someday!!!" I should tell myself, "When I get back down into that size, I'll have worked hard enough at it that I will deserve a new wardrobe!"  Time to donate those clothes.
  • Paper - I have tended to keep every paper that is some what official.  For years.  I have a filing cabinet that we moved over here with us five years ago that Hubby and I went through over Christmas break and weeded out maybe 75%.  I guess I don't really need maintenance records on cars that we no longer own or insurance policy documents on policies we've let lapse.  Who knew??
  • Kitchen gadgets - Oh, this is getting a little sensitive now, I know.  I fancy myself somewhat of a good cook and have amassed quite a little stockpile of gadgety items in my kitchen.  So much so that I can barely close a couple of cabinet doors and drawers.  I need to ask myself - how often do I use this and does that make it worth me dealing with it taking up space?  The espresso machine that we bought two months before moving to Doha where we can't use it because it's a different voltage?  5 years it's been taking up massive space in my kitchen cabinets.  The rolling pin that I never really use because I can't make a pie crust to save my life, but I keep hoping I will  magically become a pie-maker extraordinaire?  It needs to go.  I'm going to try this plan - if i haven't used it in 6 months, put it in a box and move it to the storage room.  If by that time I haven't had to dig through the box looking for it, to the end-of-school-year garage sale it goes.
  • Books - This is a real sacred cow for some, especially us homeschooling types. (Yes, yes, I know I haven't homeschooled in 4 years, but it's still in my blood.)  Hubby and I have 4.5 bookshelves of books, and the kids probably have enough to fill another one between the two of them.  We need to seriously assess what we need to keep (any material which enhances our spiritual life, for instance) and what we need to part with (school materials the kids have outgrown, fiction we won't ever read again, etc.).  I'd like to get it down to just three bookshelves, working our way down to just one eventually.
I'll keep you posted on my progress.  Things may get a little complicated because Hubby, well he's not as into this minimalism thing as I am. 

And, well, there's an IKEA opening up here soon.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Commitment in a Christian Marriage

As I mentioned yesterday, Hubby and I have a rather unusual "story."  We never dated, skipping ahead from friendship straight to engagement.  Our marriage is truly one that is based upon the knowledge that God led us together and this has always been the bedrock of our marriage.

At the time that we met, we were attending a church which preached rather actively against today's dating culture.  Instead, young singles were encouraged to seek God's guidance with regards to a marriage partner.  This teaching was called "Perfect Choice," believing that God's choice would, indeed, be the perfect choice for you.

(Please note that I have no problems with dating between Christians.  Each person needs to do what is best for them and whatever they feel that the Lord is leading them to do.  However, I do believe that in today's society, the way that dating often is handled leads to needless heartache and a "let's try each other out" mentality which often carries over into marriage.  But between two mature, godly Christians of course God can work in any way He chooses.)

Given the fact that Hubby and I hadn't dated and hadn't really even spent much, if any time alone together prior to our engagement, it was only natural that we didn't have the opportunity to learn exactly how opposite we are from one another.  While I'm a huge extrovert, he's much more of an introvert.  He's a total germaphobe, whereas I am normal take a more laid-back approach.  I'm a yeller; he goes quiet when he's upset.  He wants to keep everything.  I throw things out and purge every opportunity I get.  We are from two radically different cultures as well and that throws a whole other box of wrenches into the equation.

In those early days of marriage, there were many fights and misunderstandings and arguments.  Many times when I would throw something and go storming out of the house.  But even in our hurt and our pain, we had one shining light that kept up from giving up on each other.

We knew that God had put us together.  And, even more importantly, we knew that God doesn't make mistakes.  Ever.

If God joined us, we could trust thoroughly that He had a purpose for that.  That He knew all of our ins and outs, our issues and our conflicts.  And, yet, He still chose for us to be husband and wife.  To be the foundation of a family.  To be lovers, friends, co-parents.  Yes, there would be rough edges to be smoothed over time.  Yes, it would be hard.  Yes, some of those struggles continue to this day, twenty years into marriage.

I haven't mentioned the most exciting (in my mind anyways) part of the "Perfect Choice" philosophy.  While, yes, it's a very novel idea of not dating before marriage, to me the truly beautiful part of the "doctrine" was that if you had married someone that wasn't necessarily led by God, the amazing thing is is that your spouse now becomes your perfect choice.  God does a miraculous work.  God hates divorce and so therefore is thoroughly invested in blessing your marriage and seeing it thrive. You can count on the fact that, once you are married, God has a purpose for your marriage and wants it to succeed and bring honor to Him.

I offer you hope here today.  Know that God wants your marriage to succeed.  Know that the man that you are married to is God's perfect choice for you.  Divorce is not the answer.*  Working through the problems, clinging to God when the going gets rough, and celebrating the good times - that's all part of the answer.  If you ever feel that you married the wrong person, take heart! Know that God works through all things to bring glory to Himself and nothing you could ever do would surprise Him.

God will and can give you all that you need to prosper and thrive in your marriage.  He can heal the broken hearted, bring forgiveness in place of bitterness and anger, and make it into a beautiful representation of what marriage is supposed to be, a living picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride - the church.

* I know that some women are in abusive situations and I firmly believe that God would never want them to be in that situation.  I urge you if you find yourself in such a relationship to seek out wise counsel and to not allow yourself or your children to be placed in danger.
Sunday, January 27, 2013

Where We Are Today

Given that it's been nearly a year since I've blogged and what with my newfound commitment to resume, I thought that a good place to start would be to reintroduce myself and my family.

My name is Lori.  I'm in my mid-40's (technically I still have a few months left until I hit the official "mid" point, but let's not split hairs), I have two teenagers, an amazing husband, and a wonderful rescue dog.  For the past five years we have made our home in the tiny Persian Gulf country of Qatar.

Yep - that's us, right there in that little circle. Just south of Iran and east of Saudi Arabia.  It's a happy little corner of the world.  ;-)

As for me, I'm a former homeschooling mom who now works at the school my children attend.  It's been four years since my children started school, but I still identify myself as a (former) homeschooling mom.  Strange, isn't it?  For so long it was a huge part of my identity.  Working at their school has allowed me to still stay involved and informed.

I'm a Bible-believing Christian who right now is struggling.  Not with my faith.  That hasn't wavered, but I definitely feel that I'm in a desert in more way than one.  Moving here, being removed from our church family, from homeschooling, from my womens' group - it's gotten harder and harder as time has gone on.  I'm praying that God reignites me.  I'm trying to organize a small group of women into a Bible study, hoping that will help.

My husband, known here affectionately as "Hubby," and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary next month.  We are two very different people who were brought together by a pure work of God.  You can read our story here.  Hubby is in the construction industry which, sadly, is still struggling to recover from the economic downturn back home.  This job here in Qatar has allowed us to  not just stay afloat but to pay down quite a bit of debt while allowing us to give our children a top-notch education at a private school here.

Our daughter Emily is 17 - a high school senior.   She can't wait to spread her wings and fly, like most young people her age.  She'll be going to school in Florida; which school is still up in the air. She's received a couple of acceptances already, but is still waiting to hear from a few others before making her final decision.  She's a total drama girl - literally and figuratively!  She's served as the assistant director for the middle school productions two years running, as well as participating in high school productions, and was recently elected as president of the Thespian Society.  She hopes to eventually go into television production.

Daniel is 15 years old.  He is the jokester of the family and keeps me in stitches.  He's unable to stay angry for longer than 2 minutes.  Less if you make a funny face at him.  He founded the archery club at school and is currently getting his toes wet in the world of drama, after much encouragement from his sister, with the lead role in a short one-act play.  He is a total animal lover and is also involved in a fledgling effort at school trying to improve the lives of Doha's many street animals.  It was he who led us to our wonderful rescue dog, Diego.  Diego was the first dog Daniel walked as a volunteer at the local animal shelter and he picked a winner.  He plans on studying criminal justice in college, with hopes of being a K-9 officer.

So that's us.  I hope to get to know you as well over time.  Please feel free to comment and introduce yourselves.  Thanks for dropping by.  :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Changes Must Be Made

Lately, I've come to realize that I am not really happy with my life. I mean, I love God, my husband, and my children. I'm happy in that sense. But I'm not happy with my quality of life. There's very little fun, very little inspiration. Just a whole lot of chores, driving people here and there, and sitting around with everyone in the family on their separate laptops.

Not my idea of a great life.

So what can I do about it?  I want to enjoy this amazing life God has given me.  Instead of just sitting on the sidelines, I want to savor every second, falling into bed at night with a smile on my face knowing the day has not been wasted.

Here are a few steps I hope to take in that direction:

1) Start blogging again.  As I was considering this change in attitude I realized I have no creative outlets.  Nothing.  Like the Dead Sea who only takes in and doesn't give anything out, I've become dead inside.  We are meant to be creative like our Heavenly Father.  Now, I have no actual artistic talent per se.  But back when I was blogging regularly, I felt invigorated by it.  Once I started working I felt too pressured to keep it up, but now I realize that for me it is a necessary outlet that will bring some small measure of life and joy back to my spirit.

2) Embrace simplicity.  I've been reading a lot lately about minimalism and it's really drawing me.  The thought of just streamlining and simplifying, not just our home but our lives really speaks to me.  We have so much stuff.  Needless, pointless stuff that weighs on me day and night.  Recently a dear friend here in Doha repatriated back to the US.  As I helped her pack up I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things she had in her house.  Now it was, for the most part, all very beautiful stuff, but it made me very aware of how the over-abundance of belongings doesn't really bless us.  As she struggled to decide what to keep, what to give away, what to throw away, it struck me that probably most of that stuff she hadn't used in years and that I have a similar situation in our own home.

In a couple of years, we plan on moving back home to the US and I don't want to find myself in that situation.  While we plan on only returning home with things that are truly meaningful to us, selling off everything else and starting fresh back home, I want it to be as smooth a process as possible.  To that end, I've started a pile of things in my room - things I don't use, don't love, don't need.  There's a large "garage sale" in May at our school and I'm planning on clearing out big time in preparation for it.

3) Have fun.  We very rarely socialize.  I don't know how it's happened, but we've become virtual hermits. Between the flat-out exhaustion of Hubby's work schedule (6 days a week, starting at 6:30 am) and the kids' demanding homework load, we spend most of our evenings helping them out, doing dinner dishes and then heading to bed.  But we've decided that we are going to invite others over at least every other month.  We're hosting a game night for 3-4 other couples this weekend, in fact.

For our marriage life, I've decided to quit whining about how we never do anything fun and make it happen instead.  I've discovered an awesome site "The Dating Divas" that's got a bazillion ideas of ways to break out of the same old dinner and a movie date night.  One idea I have used is a series of dates in which each date is set in a different country.  I printed up phony plane tickets, an official itinerary, and even a fake passport for Hubby.  We had our first date a week or so ago and "travelled" to France - I made homemade quiche, salad, and threw in a bottle of non-alcoholic bubbly and we had a lovely picnic on the living room floor with a video of scenes of France with cafe-type music playing on the tv screen.  Then we cuddled up and watched The Artist before heading out for dinner crepes to cap off the evening.

I'm excited about these changes.  Small tweaks that hopefully will make a difference in my outlook on life.  I hope you follow along.  I know I've been AWOL from the blogosphere for quite a while, but I'm looking forward to getting back on board.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Hi! I'm Lori and once upon a time I used to blog here. Then real life interfered.

But right now I'm on Spring Break. And I have one glorious week (almost) all to myself. Both the kids are away for the break and I am blissfully enjoying my quiet, able-to-stay-clean-for-more-than-six-minutes house.

Where, you might ask, are the kids? I'm not sure you'll believe it if I tell you. I certainly never dreamed of taking such amazing trips when I was in school. Emily is in Paris with her French teacher and about 20 other kids, soaking up culture and language. Daniel is in Nepal, ministering at an orphanage and trekking tomorrow to an isolated village to share the gospel and pray with people for salvation and healing. About 23 kids, plus leaders from the youth group, are part of this trip.

When I was in school, the big excitement of spring break came if the roller rink had daytime sessions.

Otherwise, life is good. I love my job, the weather has been A-MAZING this winter here in Doha, we are planning our trip back to the U.S. in the summer during which time we will make several college visits for Emily. Hard to believe that that little baby girl I used to sit and rock to sleep as her tiny little fingers grasped the hair at the nape of my neck is now making college plans.

And so life goes.
Monday, June 6, 2011

Facebook - My Addiction and Blessing

Are you as addicted as I am to Facebook?

I just can't seem to stay off it. I love hearing from friends from near and far, new friends and people I haven't heard from in 20+ years. I love the opportunity it provides to stay in contact with so many people, especially people who once meant the world to you, but through time and circumstance lost touch with.

I know some people hate those "I ate a meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner" status messages and deride the posters for being mundane and boring, but I love them. I love the little peek Facebook provides into other people's daily ins and outs of life. I love knowing I'm not the only one who's lost her hairbrush or who is still watching "Survivor." I laugh hysterically and am thrilled each time I'm reminded how funny my friends are. I can weep when I know my friends are hurting - when a child is diagnosed with a serious illness or a parent passes away.

Living so far away, I often marvel how missionaries and others who left their homes and travelled far, far away coped. How did they manage without a reliable, quick mail service? How did they stand not having Skype, which allows me to not only hear loved ones' voices, but to actually see them as well? No email for quick little jots home. No Facebook to keep up with the lives of those you love.

So, yeah, I spend waaaaayy too much time logged in to Facebook. I usually have it open in another tab while I'm doing a myriad of other things. I'm down near addicted, but I have no desire to cure that addiction. I love having the live updates to find out what my peeps around the world are up to and I'm not ashamed!

Life is great in the 21st Century!!! Can you only imagine how life will change in the next 50 years??


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