Friday, October 31, 2008

We Interrupt This Vacation...

Ok, now I'm just mad.

Why is it ok for Sarah Palin to be hung in effigy and we say it's covered under free speech rights, but when it's Barack Obama being hung in effigy, people are arrested and are being threatened with expulsion from their university.

Personally, I think that it's a hideous thing to do. I think it is reminiscent of a time in America that we would all like to think is far, far behind us. It brings up painful memories of the past, certainly more painful for African Americans than for others.

But that shouldn't mean that it's ok to "hang" white people, regardless of what you think of their politics. The fact that no charges were filed or were ever even considered angers me.

I think that race is being played in the election in a way that is so subtle. No one dare say anything negative about Barack Obama for fear of being labeled a racist. Did you know that a study was done that reports that late night comedians told jokes directed at Republican candidates 7 times more often than those directed at the Democratic ticket? 7 to 1. During no other election has the ratio been even 2:1, let alone more than three times that amount.

Listen, I don't care if Barack Obama is black, white or purple. I think he's a very charismatic guy who tells people what they want to hear. And when times are tough economically, that's all you need to win an election. Or at least win in the polls.

It just angers me that it's almost taboo for anyone in the media to even question his background, his positions, or even to make a joke at his expense. Regardless of his color, he should be subject to the same scrutiny and harsh light of day that McCain and Palin are weathering.
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday



I don't even know where to start today. I don't usually like just doing a bullet-type list of things I'm thankful for, instead choosing to elaborate on something meaningful to me at the time. But right now I've just got a million little things I'm thankful for. Coming home to the US after 7 months overseas, there's alot you learn to appreciate.


*The color green - For years I complained about the lack of green in Miami. And, truthfully, it has been ranked as a city with one of the lowest percentages of tree cover. But after Qatar, let me tell you, it's a feast for the eyes and I am enjoying seeing something other than beige.


* Brilliant blue skies


* Chilly weather - which I've been told will make an appearance in Qatar at some point, but it's been nice have a little snippet of it this week.


* American grocery stores - All of you get down and thank Jesus if you live near a brightly lit, clean, well-stocked grocery store. Right now. I will wait. You just don't appreciate what you have until you don't have it.


* Fox News


* People who know how to drive and don't try to make their own lanes in the little bit of space you leave between your car and the curb.


* Comfortable couches - For some reason, all couches sold over there are about as comfy as sitting on a piece of lumber.


* And, of course, some of the most amazing friends in the universe.


God is so good to have given us this little time back in Miami. We leave Monday to head out to Arizon to spend November with my family, which we are also excited about. But meanwhile, we are enjoying a whirlwind of being with friends and loved ones. I'm really looking forward to worshipping at church on Sunday. It will be so sweet!


For more Thankful Thursday ideas, be sure to visit Iris at Grace Alone. It's always a blessing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Checking In

A big hello from Miami!!!

So let's check in with my list of what I'd been missing and see how we are doing less than 48 hours in.

Friends? Oh yeah. Yesterday we met with our homeschool group and last night a group of friends from church came over for a girls' night while my kids were sleeping over at friends' houses. It's been great to laugh so hard my sides hurt.

Weather? Highs have been only around 70 degrees. 70 DEGREES!!!!! I haven't been chilly since last February maybe and it's been great to be a little nippy.

Blue skies? Got 'em.

Grass? Well, it's basically crab grass, but at least it's not sand, dirt or concrete.

Bologna? Check.

Abayas? Not a one in sight.

Radio stations? Yes!

Kids buckled? Thankfully, yes.

People meet you in the eye? Hello, friendly people!

So, in case you lost count, that's eight out of fourteen. Not bad for under two days.

I'm refusing to step foot in either Wal-Mart or Target until I get to Tucson. It's hard as Target is one of the happiest places on earth (sorry, DisneyWorld), but I don't want to lug stuff from here to Arizona that I can just as easily get there.

Today is taking-care-of-business day: pediatrician for medical records, insurance agent to straighten out some stuff, banks, etc. Then tonight we've got church and more friends.

I'll pop back in soon!
Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whoo-Hoo!!!

Today is the day!!!

Kind of.

I mean, if we leave at 11:55 pm, we are really talking about tomorrow.

It's kind of like how gas stations advertise their price as $3.99 and 9/10! I mean, let's call a spade a spade - that's $4. (Although I must admit you may be laughing at what $3.99 - maybe you are paying over $5. Initially I thought to put in a price of $2.99 - that shows how out of touch I am with regards to gas prices!)

But tomorrow, I'll be all caught up on gas prices because I will be in America!

Here are some of the things I'm most looking forward to:
  • Great friends, of course
  • Family
  • Cool weather
  • Rain
  • Pork products
  • Dryers
  • Target
  • Wal-Mart
  • People wearing normal clothing
  • Straight roads
  • Radio stations
  • Book stores
  • Seeing small children buckled up
  • People meeting your eye and smiling

Ah, America. I love you, my darling! I've missed you, but I'll see you soon!!

I may be posting rather sporadically the next week, but I'll try and fill you in on all our fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Can't Imagine Doing This

So I've mentioned how my kids are both doing blogs now. I think it's a great way for them to express themselves, to work on their writing (please don't judge me on their writing skills!!! - I don't make them edit their blogs!!), and to share what life as an expat kid is like.

What I didn't expect is to have another mother trash talk me to my child.

Yes, I made her do a full day of work in running our home. Yes, initially I had planned on it being three days, but decided to waive 2/3 of the punishment as I felt she had learned her lesson. She was grateful and completely understood what I had been trying to teach her. She was repentant and has been more gracious and helpful since our little role-reversal.

But she's still 13. She still opted to vent about her punishment on her newly-found soapbox. Which is fine with me. I had read her post and felt it was a fair representation of how the day went. Yes, she was tired. Yes, she had a cold. Yes, her back was sore from lugging laundry around all day and working hard. Well, guess what - that's my day more often than not. That's what she was supposed to learn - that mom needs help and if we all pitch in together, none of us have to suffer.

So, I just want to drop a note to the woman who felt it was appropriate to reinforce an attitude of disrespect in my teenage daughter.

First of all, you weren't here. You don't know all the details. You didn't hear the tone in her voice and see all that had lead up to the event.

Secondly, you mention that you are a mom of three. I don't know their ages, but if any of them are teenagers and never complain about helping around the house, kudos to you. You are obviously a better mother than me. However, if you ever have issues where you feel you need to really make a radical impression on any of them, I hope that you remember this:

As an adult, as well as a mother, I would NEVER contradict a parent to their child. I may opt to say something to the parent if I have a concern for the child's well-being, but I would not ever denigrate a parent to a child. In some children, it could embolden them to rebel and embrace an attitude of disrespectfulness and resentment. In plain language, it's like hanging a millstone around someone's neck, just encouraging sinful attitudes.

Fortunately, my daughter and I have an excellent relationship. But had she been a child who was already struggling with her parental relationship, your comment could have added fuel to the fire.

Next time you have a comment on my parenting, take it up with me. She's got enough teenage friends to commiserate with.

(To everyone else, sorry for the rant. Back to normal programming next time.)
Friday, October 24, 2008

Well, I Always Knew I Was a Trendsetter

But I never thought it would be my own kids who would be following in my footsteps. Probably they won't be in too many areas, but it seems they both have caught the blogging bug from me.


A few days ago, I told you about Emily's new blog A Girl in the Gulf. She's been so excited and encouraged by all your comments so big hugs to all of you. I, on the other hand, am shocked that none of y'all saw the cat, but I will let it go. That photo may appear here one day with a full explanation of how I find a cat in that hole, but for now, I'll let it go. Although every time I drive by it (which is several times a day!) I wonder, "how do they not see it?!?!?!"


But I digress...


Now the cutest boy in the world, Daniel (seen here with part of his nutcracker collection, trying to look as serious as they are) has started his own blog too. Emily has already promoted it on her blog, but if you haven't checked it out, well, most of us won't feel that we are missing much. HOWEVER, if you have a kid that is into video games, please have them go and check it out. It's all about the video game cheats that he's discovered in his "way-too-much-time-playing-video-game" life. It's called Cheating Like Crazy, which I think is actually a pretty cute name! So, be a doll and go give him a little bloggy love too.
I promise this will be the last time. Trust me, Hubby has WAAAAAY too many privacy issues to ever start a blog!
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday - Home



This is it!!! In just a few days I'll be on a plane back to what was once home. While I'm totally excited about it, and my kids are bouncing off the walls about it, it's got me thinking about what "home" really is. For a Christian, I mean.

Yesterday in Bible study, I kind of got us off on a tangent about adapting to life here in Doha, mostly about our children, but also about us grown-up women. We had just looked at Jeremiah 29, the part before "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord," which everyone knows and loves. Here it is:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."

I guess I just needed to vent a little about my frustrations with Emily refusing to adapt to living here. This verse just spoke to me about what she needs to hear (and apply!), that yes, we may be living in a foreign and strange land, but God brought us here. It's His will for us to be here and He wants us to make our lives here and be productive and live life to the fullest while He has us here. It brought up a lot of thoughts from the other women, but one in particular said something that has stuck with me.

Having moved around all her life, she said that she feels like she doesn't really have a place to call "home." She looked so sad and forlorn as she spoke that I just felt God overwhelming me with the thought that none of us have really experienced "home." Not how it was meant to be.

Sure, we may have the beautiful house that could be in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. We may have a place where we feel cozy and loved and safe. It may be beautifully decorated and be the center of activity for your family and friends.

But God has so much more for us.

I'm just starting to read the book, "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. It's been great so far, though I've only finished the first couple of chapters. But he points out that there is shockingly little discussion and, even worse, understanding of what heaven will be like in Christian circles today. I'd encourage you to get this book, but I don't really want this post to be about the book. It just seems as though all of us - whether you've lived in the same place your whole life, have moved from place to place, or suddenly find yourself in a culture completely different from what you've known your whole life - all of us long for something more.

So today, I'm thankful for the promise of Heaven. I'm thankful for Christ's intercession on my behalf. I'm thankful that God has put me here for a season and has made clear to me that, while this isn't all He has for me, it's what He has for me right now.

For more Thankful Thursday posts, be sure to visit Iris at Grace Alone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The "One Principle"

Do you ever feel like this?

Things are going well, life is good, you are happy. All is well with the world.

And then one person isn't just in love with you. And that one person can ruin it all and you end up feeling as though NO ONE loves you.

I call it the "one principle" as in, it only takes one to spoil your day.

You could get tons of compliments on a new hairstyle, a new outfit, whatever. But if just one person has something even slightly negative, all those other kind words go right out the window. Our confidence is shaken and can deflate like a popped balloon.

Right now in my life this is going on. And it's stupid, I know it. But there is this one lady here that I really thought I would like to be friends with. I've been friendly, chatty, you know, my normal witty, fascinating self.

And she is not interested at all.

And it's killing me. It doesn't seem to matter how many other women I'm getting to know and build relationships with, this one woman's approval eludes me. Which is totally silly. It's not as if she's the be-all-end-all of the world. She's a very nice person, I'm sure. But she's just a person like me.

But why do I discount all the good and obsess over the one thing that isn't perfect?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creative Counterpart - Executive Vice President


Today we tackle one of the most misunderstood principles in Christian marriage.

Submission.

Now before you click on out of here, hear me out. Rather, hear out Linda Dillow. She covers the topic in a way that you may not have thought of before. In fact, this chapter revolutionized the way that I thought of submission and roles within the family.

There are a few different ways of looking at these roles. The first one would be that whoever is the most qualified should be the one handling the decisions. If the wife is the smarter, more confident person she may naturally move into the decision making role. The husband, though he may have heard that a husband is supposed to be head of the house, might turn the reins over to the wife as she seems to be doing a good job.

So that works for everyone, right? Well, until the husband starts resenting the wife. It may become a competition where they struggle for power, or even worse, where he tries to get the respect he lacks at home from other places - friends, hobbies, and even other women. And, unfortunately, it also can lead to problems for the wife, who may feel resentful of bearing the burden of running the family. She can lose all respect for her husband for not stepping up. She becomes tired and cranky because she is bearing a burden she isn't meant to bear.

Another way of looking at man/woman roles is thinking that submission means woman is merely a housekeeper. This woman believes that she is not to voice her opinion, not to grow as a person, but lives only to serve her man. She doesn't see her role as that of a creative counterpart, but rather becomes boring and unmotivated. She is unfulfilled as a wife and mother and so begins to complain and becomes contentious.

Here's a better alternative: Instead of competing with each other or complaining to each other, a man and a wife can complete each other. When each takes his or her role and not the other person's, both parties will grow and enjoy their life more.

What we are talking about here is a woman who has chosen to be submissive but who "strives to be capable, intelligent, industrious, organized, efficient, warm, tender, gracious."

Being a helpmate to your husband is not an indictment of inferiority or status, but merely a functional difference. We must not look at the act of being in submission to suggest that God considers us as women to be of lower stature. Christ Himself was in submission to God, and yet they are equal. He did not grasp at His rights, but allowed Himself to submit to the Father in order to accomplish God's will. If it isn't shameful for Christ to be submissive, why would it be for us?

Mrs. Dillow quotes a speech she heard from Henry Brandt which makes the function of each role easy to understand:

"The husband and wife are similar to the President and Executive Vice President of a bank. Both carry heavy responsibility, help make policies, and live in accord with and are limited by the policies. On occasion, when a meeting of the minds is impossible, the President must make the final decision. The husband is the head of the wife, but the relationship should involve loyalty, good will, confidence and deep understanding."

Now, let's be clear - "God never says that your husband has earned the right to be head or that he deserves it. He says that He, God, decided that this was the best plan and therefore asks you to honor the plan. God had many plans available to Him, and He chose this one."

Maybe you are smarter. Maybe you handle the money better. Perhaps he's made some mistakes. You may know your children better. That may all be very true, but God's plan for submission doesn't mean that your husband is somehow superior to you - just that God put in place a chain of command and, for His purposes the husband is at the top of the family flow chart.

Does this mean you sit back, keep quiet and never say a word? Not at all! Offer your opinions respectfully and then let it go. Let your husband make the decision and then live with the consequences. Yes, perhaps he'll make a few mistakes. Yes, it may be uncomfortable for you.

But God may be teaching your husband (and you!) something through any mistakes that are made. If you believe that God is ultimately sovereign, then you have nothing to fear. God will use the good and the bad to make you more like Him.

Submission is a beautiful concept, but one that has come to be considered almost a dirty word. It is still God's plan for the Christian wife, however. If this is something that you struggle with, ask God for His help and be willing to try.

Karen had some very interesting thoughts on this chapter as well, so be sure to go on over there to see what she had to say.

I Caved

Ok, so I'm weak.

After spending the day working my child to half-death, I think my point had been made. The rest of the punishment has been forgiven. By the end of the day, she was on the verge of tears from exhaustion and soreness. At 9 pm when she still had dishes to wash and laundry to fold, I knew I had accomplished my goal. (I have been given permission to reveal her identity)

Here's a list of what she did during the day:
  • Folded and put away three loads of laundry from the previous day (remember we don't have a dryer, so things were drying on the rack overnight)
  • Sorted and washed and hung to dry two more loads of laundry
  • Prepared a delicious dinner of roasted chicken and potatoes, salad and strawberry cheesecake (Jello brand)
  • Three loads in the dishwasher
  • Mopped the floor
  • Cleaned the loft
  • Dusted
  • Tidied up the house
  • Took garbage to the dumpster

On top of all this, she had to do her schoolwork. And she has a cold which contributed to her misery.

So, like I said, I think she got the point. She has come to a new appreciation of how much work is involved in running a home and family and I don't think she'll be giving me a hard time again any time soon.

I could have made her continue for the full three days, but I'm a big believer in grace. Once I saw that she had a new-found appreciation for my job as the mom, there didn't seem a point to make her do two more days other than just to be punitive. The point wasn't really to punish her, but to have her understand why everyone in the family needs to help out. And trust me, she gets it!

And a big thanks to those of you who went over and visited her new blog. She's having fun with it and all your comments and encouragement are so fun for her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Blog You MUST Check Out!!!


My sweet baby girl has started her very own blog called A Girl in the Gulf!! She just started it tonight, so it's very new, but please go over and give her a little encouragment.

AND she and I have been having a debate on something which she has posted on her blog. No, it's not about doing chores, or who to vote for in the upcoming election. It's much, much more important than that. But you'll have to pop over there to find out what I'm talking about. Remember - be on my side!!!

Today





Now, I'm not going to be doing this on a regular basis, but today I thought this would be a good way to give you a little snapshot of our home. Thanks to The Simple Woman for hosting this.




FOR TODAY...


Outside My Window...the birds are chirping about and wondering why I haven't put out more bird seed for them.


I am thinking... about all I have to do to get ready for our trip to America on Sunday


I am thankful for... so many things I can't begin to list them



I am wearing... jeans and a white crepe blouse


I am creating... two disciples of Christ here in my home


I am going... to America! in six days!


I am reading... "The Illuminati" by Larry Burkett


I am hoping... we enjoy our trip without making it harder to come back to Doha. Oh, and that my husband doesn't pick out horrible rugs for the house while I'm gone!


I am hearing... the tv, birds chirping, the air conditioner running


Around the house... the kids are working, the dog is sleeping, the sun is shining - life is good


One of my favorite things... Pepsi. Yes, it's sad, but I'm addicted. Please pray for me.


A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: starting to pack, trying to find gifts, keeping it neat


Here is picture thought I am sharing... (grass - that's real grass and I'm going to see it soon!!!)
Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kids and Chores

Ok, I'm writing this post out of frustration. That means I may say things I later regret, but for right now I need to put this out there.

I know that I cannot be the only one who has children who resist helping out at home. I am sure that there are other mothers out there who, like me, dread asking their kids to help because of all the whining and complaining that will follow. I know that my children are not the only ones who believe that they are put on this earth only to play and think they should never be disturbed by parents asking them to help around the house.

There are different ways of handling the chore wars. One extreme is not to expect anything of children. I know many mothers who bear the weight of running the household alone, never making their child do so much as cleaning their plate from the table. Other families are able to afford maids and/or nannies who clean up after the child and do much of the housework.

The other extreme is to expect too much of the children, putting so much work on them that they are not able to keep up with their schoolwork, let alone enjoy being a child. These mothers often are so busy with their own pursuits (hobbies, social activities, work) that they fail to see that they are unfairly burdening their children.

There's got to be a happy medium, right?

I try to balance it all out, making sure that my kids have plenty of time to play, plenty of time to do their schoolwork and still help out. I honestly believe that helping around the house is important, for a variety of reasons. I want them to know how to take care of a house (yes, even my boy!), I want them to understand that families work together, I want them to develop a work ethic, I want them to understand the value of a neat and uncluttered home, I want them to know the satisfaction of a job well-done.

I don't seem to be getting through to them.

Just a short while ago, I asked one of my little darlings to unload the washer and put in the next load of clothes (which I had sorted and brought down). We are starting to pack for our trip in ONE SHORT WEEK (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and getting the laundry done so we actually have, you know, clean clothes to pack is top on the list. You would have thought I had asked this child to climb Mt. Everest. It didn't get done, the child kept stalling and finally I picked up the laundry basket and went to do it myself, slamming doors all the way.

On more than one occasion, my kids have told me that I put all my work off on them. Well, this child is going to get a chance to see if that's true. As punishment for not doing the laundry, he/she will be taking on ALL of the household responsibilities for the next three days. Cooking meals, doing dishes, unloading the dishwasher, laundry, dusting, picking up - all of it. Without any help from me or the other child.

Now this may seem unfair and extreme, but I thought it was more than appropriate for this child to get a taste of what a big job it is to care for a house and family and to help him/her realize why I ask for help.

What do you think? Too harsh? Not harsh enough? How do you manage chores in your house with your kids?
Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama's Radical Abortion Stance

Ohilda at A Bouquet of Blessings has written an excellent article outlining some facts about abortion in the United States and Senator Barack Obama's position on it.

For instance, did you know that Sen. Obama has openly stated that his very first act as president would be to sign a bill reinforcing abortion rights?

Did you also know that he has continually and fervently supported allowing late-term and partial-birth abortions?

I would encourage you to go and check out Ohilda's post and then do some more research for yourself. If you, like me, support a right to life for all children, you may be shocked at what you find out. Senator Obama is a very charismatic speaker, who lulls you in with everything you want to hear. I was shocked to find out just how cruel and callous this seemingly gentle man could be.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thankful Thursday

*** This week's Creative Counterpart post is below. Thanks for your patience!***


Well, to be honest, the last couple of days haven't been the greatest. I have been smacked in the face with the feeling that I'm so far from where I want to be. I'm not the wife and mother that I desire to be. I have a long way to go apparently.

Feelings of failure swirl around me as I try to figure out where I'm going wrong. Like everything else in my life, I've got all the head knowledge, it's just the application part that trips me up. As much as I try, I realize that I am not who I want to be.

And yet...there is Christ. He is my hope and my shield. For that I am so thankful. Even though I fail repeatedly, He never turns away from me. He always picks me up, dusts me off and sets me off again, much like a parent with a toddler learning to walk.

When I want to cry and curl up in my bed, He tells me to get up and try again. When I want to give up, He reminds me that it is never hopeless. In Him, there is the hope of finally getting it right. In Him, there is forgiveness. In Him, there is redemption.

And, just for today, that's enough for me to be thankful for.

(Thanks, as always, to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday.)

Creative Counterpart - His Greatest Fan




Slightly late, here's my look at the next chapter of Linda Dillow's book, Creative Counterpart.



Today's chapter is entitled, "His Greatest Fan" and looks at the power of approval and admiration. Last week, we looked at how as wives we are called to "reverence" our husbands. This week, we learn why.

Many men in today's society have issues - plenty of 'em. They don't want to grow up, they refuse to take on responsibility or leadership. This can often be traced back to problems of self-esteem and at it's root, a sense of inferiority. Learning to give our approval and admiration to our husbands will build up their self-image and give them the confidence they need to be the man of God you have been longing for. And if your husband already has a positive self-image, your admiration and approval will be used by God to make him even better.

There are three key words that apply to building up your husband's self-image: Accept him at face value. Admire his manly qualities. (Stop the snickering, ladies!) Submit to his authority. Last week we talked about accepting him for who he is. Next week we will look at God's organizational plan for the home and how and why a wife should submit to her husband, so this week, let's look at how our admiration for our husband's can improve our marriage.

Both in public and in private, the messages we send our husband can have a profound impact on him. Mrs. Dillow opened the chapter with the story of a young boy who was raised by a domineering, busy single mother who had little time for loving on her little boy. This boy, a loner all his life, grew up into a man who married a woman who had nothing but contempt for him, due to his lack of providing well for their family. She demanded more and more of the things he could not provide and became his greatest critic. She began to bully him and, on one occasion, even locked him in the bathroom to punish him for some mistake. She kicked him out of the family home and he came back, crawling and begging to be taken back in. She humiliated him in front of friends and belittled his attempts to provide for him. She laughingly informed a friend of his sexual impotency right in front of him. She crushed his ego.

One day, this man, totally destroyed and without any hope, took a rifle and ascended the building where he worked, a book storage facility. From a window on the third floor, he took aim at and killed President John F. Kennedy.

I wonder if Lee Harvey Oswald's wife had understood these principles and had built her husband up instead of tearing him down, if history would have been changed. She received him damaged, to be sure, but in her hands, Oswald would have become a different person had he received the love and admiration God designed him to need.

Now you may be thinking, this sounds silly. You can't go around "admiring" your husband. Let's look at why you may feel that way.

1) Feeling awkward - Well, yes, it may seem strange at first, but you can admire your friend's new haircut, a delicious dish she made, or her garden.

2) He's too self-centered already - He already thinks enough of himself, if I just encourage it I may create a monster!

3) No admirable qualities - What if you just don't see anything at all in him? Well, think back to why you married him! Goethe, the German author, said that if you treat a man as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, and could be, he will become the bigger and better man.

4) Failure to accept him at face value - Mrs. Dillow says, "Until a wife totally accepts her husband with no condition of change, it will be very difficult for her to admire him. The negative must be removed before the positive can be planted."

So, how do we develop admiration for our husbands in light of all these barriers?



1) Realize that he is one of a kind - How well do you know your husband? Mrs. Dillow recommends trying to answer the following questions about your husband and then asking him for his answers. You may be surprised.

  • What has been the happiest thing that has ever happened to your husband?
  • What has been the hardest experience of his life?
  • What are his secret ambitions, his goals for life?
  • What are his deepest fears?
  • What does he appreciate about you the most?
  • What traits of you would he like to see changed?
  • What man or men does he most admire?

2) Take an interest in his interests - Regardless of what it is - hunting, jogging, intellectual pursuits - make an effort to become more a part of his life and to understand what interests him. You may see new things to appreciate in him as you see him in a different light.

3) Be a good listener - As Mrs. Dillow reminds us, "Can your husband talk to you and not be ridiculed? Can he confide in you and know his confidences will be safely guarded? Do you minimize his weaknesses and emphasize his manliness and strength? Do you create a climate in which he feels safe to voice his fears because you believe in him? Do you treat your husband as the most special person in the world, or are you more polite to neighbors? You teach your children to be polite, yet how polite are you to their father?"

4) Don't interrupt - Do you finish his sentences? Perhaps you are impatient, subconciously feeling that your time is to valuable to wait for him to put his thoughts together. Maybe you feel that you know him so well you are just sure you know what he's going to say. Take the time to invest in him and listen. Another habit may be interrupting him because you want to get your point across. Do you focus on what he's saying, or on what your reply will be? This is good advice for communicating with anyone, but particularly with your husband. Be an active listener rather than just waiting for your chance to talk.

5) Don't hang on to the past - Yes, your husband may have made mistakes before. We all have. But don't throw them up in his face. Encourage him when he wants to try again. Listen, ask questions, offer encouragement and wise advice, but temper all of it with the assurance that you know he will do what is best for your family.

6) Let him dream - When he brings up something that may seem far-fetched to you, let him dream. Sometimes by our practicality, we stomp all over something that may just be a passing idea, but leave the taste of our negativity.

7) Be specific - Don't just say general things like, "I admire you" or "You are wonderful." It comes off as if you are unable to think of something specific so you are just throwing it out there. If you need a little help, keep in mind these characteristics: leadership ability, mental capacity, superior strength, sexual capacity, steadfastness, courage, logical mind, financial expertise, and athletic skill.

Ok, now is the time to put this into practice. Sit down and make up a list of all your husband's good qualities. List physical qualities, then emotional, then intellectual, then spiritual ones. If you have to dig deep, that's ok! Look back in time over the course of your marriage if you need to.

Now that you have a list to work from, don't keep it to yourself. Put into practice the art of admiring your husband. Do it not only in private to him, but boast about him to your friends and others in public. Thank him for all he does and tell him you appreciate him.

Mrs. Dillow ends the chapter with the following quote, which I think is fantastic. "I told God about his bad points and I told him about his good points." That's the way to do it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sorry, I've Been a Little Out of Sorts

Sorry to those of you who are waiting on my Creative Counterpart post. Tuesday was a busier day than normal, with Erica and her adorable little ones coming over for lunch and a chat. She's preparing to leave Doha in a short while and I wanted to take some time to get caught up with her as she'll be leaving while I'm away.

Even though I've just been here 6 and a half months, Erica is just one of several people I've gotten to be friends with who have left already or who are preparing to leave. It's tough being in such a transient place where people leave with little to no warning. Someone who's been here for more than 3 years is considered a real old-timer.

On top of that, Hubby and I haven't been sleeping well lately as the a/c unit in our bedroom hasn't been working. Finally a few days ago we drug the mattress out to the loft, but that brings with it other problems - namely the kids' music and the hall light, which they prefer on. Hopefully they are supposed to be coming tomorrow to replace the unit and then we can all go back to getting a good night's rest. As it is, I feel like I'm walking through my days in a fog and have even fallen asleep several afternoons.

But I promise that I will be back tomorrow, double posting both my Creative Counterpart post as well as Thankful Thursday.

See you then!!!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quirks? Oh, yeah. I Got 'Em.

A couple of weeks ago, Jennifer tagged me to do this meme where you have to name 7 quirky things about yourself. At first I was like, "Hmm, I can't think of a single thing." Then I was all like, "Uh, yes I can."

Myself and I often have conversations like this where we disagree.

Anyways, here are a few of the thing that the other half of me thought up:

1) I don't like drinking water from drinking glasses - I'd rather drink it from a plastic bottle or plastic cup. However, I don't like drinking anything else in plastic cups or bottles, only in glasses.

2) Whenever I make a salad, as I'm tearing up the lettuce my nose automatically squinches (is that a word? I don't think so.) up like I'm dealing with the most distasteful thing on earth. But I love lettuce and I don't know why I do that. It just happens.

3) I like my house to look neat and pretty but only from afar. Dusting, cleaning sinks, etc. (i.e., stuff that you would only notice from up close) are way far down my list of things to do.

4) I have a terrible memory. Seriously, I can't remember what I was doing yesterday. This causes my super-extra-organized Hubby grief to no end. He can ask me to do something for him and by the end of the phone call I will have completely forgotten about it.

5) I'm a reality tv junkie. I know, I know - it's hardly reality. But I love Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser, and Top Chef (those last two may be somewhat incompatible, if you think about it.).

6) I hate to shave my legs. In fact, one of the perks of living in Doha that I've never mentioned before is that, since shorts are pretty much off limits, I get to shave less often. Whoo-hoo!! Hubby, sadly, does not appreciate this fact.

7) I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm frustrated, I cry when I'm embarassed, I cry when I'm having an uncomfortable conversation. I cry at stupid tv moments and at sappy love songs. Basically I cry all the time. Now, 15 and a half years into marriage, Hubby finds this ridiculous. When he and I were first engaged, he found it "touching" that I had such a sensitive spirit. Isn't it funny how time changes your perspective???

I hate doing the tagging thing so I'm just not gonna do it. But I had fun playing along and if anyone else wants to play along, please do and let me know! It's a chance to get to see a side of ourselves we may not normally share on our blogs.
Monday, October 13, 2008

House Pictures, Updated


Ok, I know that some of you have asked me to post some pictures illustrating the oddities of life here in Doha, but, naturally, once mentioning things like lamb carcasses being wheeled through the store in shopping carts, I haven't seen anything funny again. Of course.

So in an effort to appease the masses (all 20 of you who read, LOL!!), I wanted to put up some updated pictures of the house. Nothing too dramatic has changed, but it's looking a little more put together than it was when I first posted pictures of the house. Be sure to take a look so you can compare the two.


So here's a shot of our bedroom. The fancy bedcovers from the first picture are gone and now on the guest bed. They are pretty, but not very sleep-compatible. We've swapped the curtains for ones that were also hanging in the guest room and are actually long enough to reach the floor. And you can just see the corner of the most-uncomfortable-couch-in-the-world, which was in the loft but is now being put to good use as "a-place-to-put-folded-but-not-put-away-yet-laundry."

We haven't been able to put any artwork up under the a/c unit as it's been leaking and actually spitting ice out at us, as well as just plain not working. They are supposedly replacing the unit on Thursday and hopefully I can put something up on the wall then. I took the mirror downstairs and am using it in the living room.



And here's the other side of the bedroom, crooked lampshade and all. Yep, the wood color of the bed doesn't match the wood color of the wardrobe. I'm trying to be relaxed about it, but to tell you the truth it drives me crazy.



Here's the loft - sorry its a little blurry. The loveseat is part of the set from downstairs and the rug is too small, but it's a little more homey than it used to be. Hubby is going to buy a new rug for the room while I'm in America. The store will be having a 30% off sale - just pray that he picks something I don't hate. We have, shall we say, slightly different tastes. Oh, and see my treadmill over there!!!! Hooray!!! After 6 months, Hubby finally got the special transformer I needed to make it work over here! I'm so excited! Oh, and Emily says I should point out that the stairs lead to the roof, not a whole other floor, lest you think our house is the size of the Spelling mansion. Well, that part about the Spelling mansion was mine, not hers. I don't think she knows about Aaron Spelling. Thank goodness.



Here's the loft from the other angle. If you look, well, you can't really tell, but it's like Gold's Gym up there. Besides the treadmill, we've got handweights of all sizes, a fitness ball and a medicine ball. Plus Guitar Hero. Which, we all know playing guitar to any Pat Benetar song is a major workout. Oh, and the Wii, which clearly is just as beneficial as going for a long run. Right?

My bedroom is the door at the end of the wall, Daniel's is just opposite the staircase and I'm standing near Emily's door. The extra bedroom upstairs is to your left.




Ok, again, sorry for the blurriness. I wasn't using a flash so you could have an idea of the "natural light" but it didn't work out. Anyway, this is the family room. I gave up on angling the couch - it was just a pain. And see that plant in the corner? That was my Mother's Day gift. I really wanted something living and green. Hubby is going to get a rug for here as well while we are gone.



And here's the dining room. Not much changed but some things on the wall and another plant (this was for our anniversary).


This is the living room from the front door side. You can just barely see Emily in the picture at the computer, which we ended up putting on a table behind the loveseat. I don't like it there, but we are big believers in having the computer in a public place and this seemed like it was as good a place as any.

And here's the living room from the other side. See that box in the corner, the one with the stripes? That's our "shoe box." Tradition is over here, even among expats, to take off your shoes when you enter a home. I HATE it, but must admit that with all the dust it is a good idea. But I got tired of all the shoes by the door, so I got this box to put all the shoes in. It looks so much neater than 15 pairs of shoes scattered around!

So that's a little tour of our home. Slowly but surely, it's getting to where I want it to be.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Video

I have nothing to add to this. The video says it all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You Might Be in Doha If . . .

1) All your electrical clocks are wrong, all the time because the electricity supply is rather sketchy. You only trust battery operated clocks. And your cell phone.



2) The word "round-a-bout" strikes fear into your heart.



3) When you find a favorite product in the store, you buy every. single. package. because you might not see it again for a year.



4) Fully 1/3 of the candy aisle at almost every grocery store is devoted entirely to Kit-Kat bars.



5) Men walk hand-in-hand down the street and freely express affection, but public displays of affection between a man and wife are frowned upon.



6) You often receive your change in candy.



7) You think the sky is actually a lovely shade of beige.



8) Swimming pools have "chillers" as opposed to heaters.


9) Even though you are in an Arab country, you'd be better off knowing how to speak Hindi or Tagalog (the main Phillipino language).


10) You notice that about half of the cars still have the plastic wrap on the seats. It's kind of like the mobile version of that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Marie keeps her furniture covered in plastic.


11) While doing your grocery shopping, it's not unusual to see men wheeling whole lamb carcasses through the store. In the same shopping carts the customers use. Ick!
Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thankful Thursday


A little over six months ago, I packed up our suitcases and moved to the other side of the world. I left everything I knew and set out to live in the tiny Persian Gulf country of Qatar. Friends, family, home and culture - all left behind.

It's been a hard six months, I'll be honest. The last month or so has been a huge improvement as I've started to feel more at home and made some more connections.

I know I'm not alone. Many of my blogging friends, as well as friends in real life, have also made huge moves this year. And it's hard. Everything from missing that girlfriend who you always called when you were stressed to not being able to find your favorite product in the grocery store. While I may win the prize for moving the farthest, it really doesn't matter. You are uprooted and it can feel like you are all alone.

Then yesterday, during a bout of insomnia, I was reading Psalm 84 and I feel like I have found the Psalm for those who are feeling uprooted.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob.
Selah
Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

Do you know what I see here? I see the promise that, wherever I live at the moment in this life, my true home is in Heaven with Christ. I see that everyone is given a true home in Christ. That if we are dwelling with Him, abiding in Him, we are home.

If we "set our hearts on pilgrimage" we will be blessed, because we will understand that this world is not our home, that we are just passing through. Pilgrims, if you will. When we keep our focus on our true home, Heaven, we will be able to keep our joy, rather than despairing about our present circumstances.

One verse that stood out to me was this:

"As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs..."

The word Baca means desolation. In fact, some translations use the phrase "Valley of Weeping." I know that many of us who have been relocated can totally relate to that feeling of desolation. As you get lost (again!) in your new town. As you enter the church where you know no one. As you see girlfriends giggling together and feel left out.

But we are told here that we are to make our valley of desolation a place of springs. I believe that we are too invest in our new homes and new lives. Make it a place of beauty - both your home and the community around you. Get involved at your church and at your children's school. Volunteer somewhere. Join a gardening club to find out how to grow something beautiful in your new climate.

And, just like God promises, these things can help us make connections and we will be blessed through them. We will meet like-minded people and begin to make friends. But by getting out and trying to be positive, we will keep ourselves from sitting at home feeling sorry for ourselves.

So, today I've decided to focus on what's positive about my move here to Qatar. By focusing on the positive, it makes it easier to be at home here, rather than always looking back. Here are some things about Qatar that have surprised me:

  • Gas is cheap! I fill up my Chevy Tahoe for about $15
  • Though it was really hot in the summer (up to 120 degrees), it didn't feel near as bad as I expected it to
  • We are able to afford a beautiful huge home
  • I really love our church
  • We are able to make enough money that now we have hope of getting out of debt
  • Driving along the water at night is just beautiful with the skyline reflecting on the bay
  • We are able to afford a little household help for me
  • Hubby is home by 5 pm now, instead of 7:30
  • I can pretty much find all the things I need. Well, sort of. But it's better than I expected.
  • The malls are great - beautiful and lots of different options
  • Our home has two huge trees (unusual here) and lots of room for the kids to play outside
  • We have a rooftop terrace that will be great when the weather cools down just a little more

I'm grateful to be living in a place where God is using everything around me to teach me and draw me closer to Him. Everything from the Islamic call to prayer to grocery shopping is a tool that God is using to stretch me, draw me to Himself and grow me.

For more Thankful Thursday posts, visit Iris.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meet My Hubby

I found this cute meme on husbands over at Tracye's blog. Since I rarely talk about Hubby here (which is HIS preference, not mine!) I thought I would at least give you a little peak into who he is. As long as none of this information could be used in any way to identify him. Yeah - he's got privacy issues. It's my cross in life.


1. He's sitting in front of the TV: what is on the screen?
Well, in America that would have been Christian programming. But as that's unavailable here, his new favorites are either news or the Animal Planet.

2. You're out to eat. What kind of dressing does he get on his salad?
Usually he doesn't use dressing. It might mess up his "finely tuned body." Snort!

3. What is one food he doesn't like?
He's pretty good about this, but he doesn't like pork and he hates it when I mix fruit into anything hot, like a fruit salsa on fish.

4. You go out to the bar. What does he order?
He wouldn't be caught dead in a bar (he's a bit more fundamentalist than me), but he'd get a soda if he was stuck on the side of a road and it was the only shelter in a snowstorm.

5. Where did he go to high school?
Private all-boys Catholic school in Jordan. His graduating class behaved so badly that they cancelled the graduation ceremony. He, of course, denies any involvement in said bad behavior.

6. What size shoe does he wear?
10 1/2

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be?
This is my big problem. He collects EVERYTHING. Nothing would ever go in the garbage can if it were up to him.

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich?
Turkey and salami on whole wheat.

9. What would the Husband eat every day if he could?
Sweets - he'd live on dessert if he could. Ice cream, pecan pie, carrot cake - those are some of his favorites. And the stinker still manages to keep his 32 inch waist.

10. What is his favorite cereal?
Don't remember the name of it cuz I can't get it here, but it's flakes with almond clusters and comes in a blue and white box. Oh, maybe it's Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds?!?

11. What would he never wear?
Um, a dress? I don't know. He's always very nicely dressed, but I can't think of one specific thing he wouldn't wear. Something wrinkled, I guess.

12. What is his favorite sports team?
He's not really into sports, but does like the Miami Hurricanes (college football).

13. Who will he vote for?
Whoever is the most conservative person on the ballot!

14. Who is his best friend?
Me!

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn’t do?
Oh, this list could go on for quite some time. Got a cup of tea? A comfortable chair? Well, he wishes I wouldn't drop my clothes on the floor when I get undressed. And not say things like, "Oh, dang!" when he's driving because he interprets that as, "There is a Mack truck about to hit us!!!!!" when it really just means I'm out of mints. And he hates it when I forget to dust the tops of things, like pictures hanging on the walls and the tops of the canisters in the kitchen.

16. How many states has he lived in?
Two - New York and Florida. Hey! He could be an elderly Jewish man in disguise!!

17. What is his heritage?
He is Palestinian, but born in Jordan. Both parents are from Jerusalem and were forced to flee during the war when the land became Israel.

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind?
Either carrot cake or Hawaiian Wedding Cake.

19. Did he play sports in high school?
Not that I know of. Like I said, not much of a sports guy. Well, maybe he played soccer. But there weren't huge organized school sports at the time like we have in the States. There was a war going on, you know!!!! (He likes to remind us of this when the kids and I are a little whiny.)

20. What could he spend hours doing?
Piddling around in the yard, if we had one. Surfing the internet. Paying bills. Cleaning the house because his standard of clean and my standard of clean are just a little different.

So that's a little glimpse of my super wonderful, awesomely fantastic husband. I love him and am so proud to be his wife.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Creative Counterpart - My Own Robert Redford


Today's chapter deals with accepting our husband the way they are. Mrs. Dillow offers the following quote from Judith Viorst:

"Infatuation is when you think that he's a sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Connors. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you'll take him anyway!"

Now, granted those names are all from the 70's but I hope you get the picture. Often during the first rush of emotions of a new relationship, we are wearing rose-colored glasses and don't notice our loved one's faults. As time goes on, we start to notice those faults, but convince ourselves that we can somehow change our men after marriage.

Wrong!!!

Ephesians 5:33 is translated in the Amplified Bible like this, "And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband - that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly!"

I dont' see anything there about giving him an extreme makeover!! We often get so wrapped up with the things that our husbands do that bother us, that we don't even see his good qualities and can't remember why we married him in the first place. All we can see is the areas he needs to change in. But we are not called to be his own personal Holy Spirit, convicting him of all the wrongs in his life. We are called to be there to build him up. Let's take a look at this.

There are many reasons a wife may feel the need to "improve" her husband. Perhaps he has an irritating habit or doesn't spend enough time with the kids. Maybe he has anger issues or weak social skills. He may not be the spiritual leader you wish he was. It could be any number of things.

But when we try to change our husbands through nagging, yelling, or other manipulative ways, here are the results: tension, destruction of love, rebellion, discouragement. Not exactly the recipe for a healthy, loving relationship, it it?

So what is a frustrated wife to do? How should we help effect change in our husbands?

Step 1 - Learn to totally accept him. Yes, I hear the cries of agony now. But believe it or not, when we accept our men the way they are, they feel motivated to improve - quite the opposite of our natural feelings. When they feel totally loved and accepted, they will strive to be the men we deserve. This kind of love and acceptance is possible through Christ. He alone can change our hearts. Remember that while we were still dead in OUR sin, He loved us enough to die for us. If He can love us that much, He can surely love us enough to change our hearts towards our husbands.

Step 2 - Take the plank out of your own eye - Besides the fact that we are sinful creatures in our own right, have you considered how your response to your husband's (perceived) failings may be sinful? Mrs. Dillow recommends the following exercise: Fold a piece of paper in half length-wise. Make a list of your husband's problems on one side. On the other side, list all your responses that may be sinful.
Here's an example from the book:

His fault
Lack of time with kids

My response
Nag, belittle, sigh and moan, compare with other men, criticize, neglect, reject as a person, cool sexually, anger, indifference, gossip to other women, publicly tear him down, quote Bible verses at him, feel self-righteous, feel bitter, silence

I think once we go through this exercise, we can see that we have much to be repentant of and that our response to our husband's faults are often more sinful than the initial problem.

3 - Give up your rights to God - Stop expecting anything of him. Look to God to meet your needs.

Ruth Bell Graham writes in her book It's My Turn, "I pity the married couple who expect too muchfrom one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every aread, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectatons put a man under and impossible strain."

We have to look to God to fulfill us. Our husbands are only men - faillable just like you and I. We must rid ourselves of our expectations and beliefs of what we deserve in a husband and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

Think of Jesus - He left Heaven to come to earth to be raised as a poor child in an occupied territory. He abandoned all of His glory, forgetting His "rights." Our rights, as children of God, must be just as willingly sacrificed. We often want our husbands to change for our benefit. Not for his own good or for the glory of God.

And we can't come into this thinking that we will surrender our rights for a few weeks and all will magically change with our husbands, only to be frustrated when nothing happens. We have to be motivated by pleasing the Lord and doing the right thing - not by getting what we want in another way.

Try this - make a list of the things you want changed about your husband. Then copy the words of Phillipians 2: 5-7 over the chart. Pray over the list, giving it all to God. Surrender your rights and ask Him to be all you need. Then tear up the list and throw it away.

Step 4 - Seek out his positive qualities - Is he a good provider? Does he fix things around the house? Is he kind to you? Does he play with the children? All these are things you can thank God for. Look for the good in him and train yourself to focus on the positive.

Step 5 - Ask your husband's forgiveness - If you recognize that you have contributed to the problems in your marriage by not accepting your husband, do the right thing and ask his forgiveness. Do it carefully, not using it as an opportunity for listing his many faults (raise your hand if you have ever gotten one of those apologies!!!).

Step 6 - Vebalize your acceptance - Now go back to the verse above, Ephesians 5:33, and begin to show him that love, favor, acceptance, reverance that God calls you to. Encourage him, compliment him, learn to be silent when he does something that bothers you. There is a time and a place to talk to him about your concerns, but in general, the things we choose to nag about are not that important in the end. If you are running late or get lost on the way to a party, is it more important that you get there on time or that you protect your marriage? Choose to be positive instead of critical.

I believe that by becoming our husband's encouragers we can make a real difference in our marriages, as well as set good examples for our children. Learn to be a positive force, rather than a destructive one in your home.
Monday, October 6, 2008

Cheap Eats or Not Menu Plan Monday (take your pick)


So, let me start by saying that I'm still probably going to post menu plans here every now and then. But I think linking up with Menu Plan Monday only serves my desire for lots of hits and increasing my fame (oh, yeah...it's fame, people!) worldwide. So I'm not gonna do it.

For a while anyways.

Ahem.

Anyhoo, so this week I'm trying to feed my family very inexpensively. I know that with the current financial situation, probably a lot of people are. So here's my plan.

I went through my freezer and cupboards looking for any possible thing I could make into a meal. The first step is using what you've already got in the least expensive way. Go through those cupboards and try to figure out what you can do with all those canned tomatoes and half-empty boxes of pasta. Here's what I came up with.

Spaghetti

Corn Chowder

Bezella
(and Arabic stew of beef, tomatoes, peas and carrots served over rice)

Chicken with rice, broccoli and tomatoes (from the back of a Rice-a-Roni box)

Mezze (hummous, kubbeh, olives, pickles, pita bread, tabbouleh, etc.)

Shredded beef over mashed potatoes

One way to lower your grocery bill is to go meatless a few times each week. Or at least try to use meat as an accent to your meal, rather than the focus of it. An example of this would be a stir-fry that is comprised mostly of healthy vegetables with just a little meat thrown in.

Another thing is to buy what's in season and what's locally grown. Or, in more simple terms, buy what's cheapest in the produce section. This is harder for me now that we are in Doha as I'm completely baffled by much of what's in the produce section. I'm telling you there are things there I've never seen in my life. The biggest problem for me is that some of my favorite things are pretty pricey here - broccoli and celery, especially. I mean, a head of broccoli could be around $5. I tell myself all the time I'm not going to buy it, but I love it too much not too. But maybe I should try some of the things I'm unfamiliar with.

I'd love to hear what you are doing to tighten your belt. And if you have any recipes to share that help you spend less at the checkout line, I'd love it if you shared!
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sunday Funnies

Updated: Duh!!! I can't believe I just put the URL's in before! Here are the actual videos! Sorry to all those who had to cut and paste!! I was tired!

Ok, if you haven't discovered Tim Hawkins, you are missing out. He's a hysterical Christian comedian that makes me laugh out loud. Here are a couple of clips of his:

1) What happens when corporate sponsors start using worship songs




2) Things men should not say to their wives





3) Tim discusses his favorite Bible verse - or maybe not!






Enjoy & have a great Sunday!!

Free at Last, Free at Last!!

Ok, now, I love my husband. Really I do. But a little too much togetherness can put a strain on any relationship, right? Hello? It's been over a month of being off schedule now!

Today we are back to normal. Back to him being gone when I get up (my friend Mylinda would NEVER do that, excellent wife that she is!), and coming home around 4:30.

I feel like walking around the house singing! Does that sound horrible? I know - it does.

But I don't care!!

Now we can get back into our normal routine of schoolwork and chores and cooking and shopping. All of which is thrown off kilter when Hubby is home, as we just try to enjoy our time wiuth him to the fullest extent. He, while bordering on obsessive complusive disorder in many areas, has yet to learn the value of routine.

But over the course of the last few years, thanks in no small part to the help of FlyLady, I have learned the enourous value of routines in a home.

For instance, in our home, Thursday is shopping and cleaning day, Saturday is laundry day, etc. The kids know to rise, have breakfast, get dressed, do their chores and start their schoolwork by a certain time. I know to have dinner decided on and begin work on it by noon. We can count on Hubby coming in the door between 4:30 and 5. Dinner is around 6.

That routine makes every day go smoother and, consequently, makes everyone a happier camper. It's funny that my post today is titled "Free at Last" when I'm talking about the joys of having a routine. Many people would feel constrained by routine, desiring instead to just flow with whatever the day brings. There is a time and place for that. We all need to be open to the Lord's direction throughout the day.

But there is a quiet peace in knowing what the day ahead will bring. A sense of calm and purpose. Having a plan frees me from "the tyranny of the urgent" and allows me to focus on what my true priorities are - those things that I have purposefully determined in my heart ahead of time.

For years I struggled through the life of a homemaker who didn't have a plan, but just ran from place to place, putting out fires and trying to keep my head above water. Now, my days are busy, but calm. I have taken the time to decide what is truly important and have made the decision to focus on those things.

If you struggle with feeling like your life is out of control, I would encourage you to sit down and take some time to do some planning. This is well worth the time, I promise. Consider your priorities, then make a plan of how to focus on them. Schedules and routine, while sounding very dull and monotonous, can actually be very freeing.

Now, excuse me while I return to singing about the house.
Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thankful Thursday


Welcome to Thankful Thursday here at The Simple Life at Home. I truly do have so much to be thankful for this morning. God is so good to me and He is teaching me to trust Him more and more each day.

* Since moving overseas six months ago, God has been growing and stretching me. The first five months were SOOOO hard. We felt alone, friendless and lost. But the last month has been a real tipping point. We have made great strides in really feeling at home here.

* Throughout this process I have learned to give it all to God, trusting Him in situations I would normally cry about and fall into self-pity. Getting stuck in the sand dunes? God's way of teaching us that Qataris can be kind and generous. Being in a home that I am less than satisfied with? God teaching me to learn contentment? Disappointment with the lack of homeschool support here? God teaching me to rely on Him. I'm learning to look at each situation through God's perspective and that is a great gift.

* I'm grateful that Ramadan is over!!! I had been all excited since Hubby would be able to be home by 2 pm each day. Well, that would have been great except that EVERYTHING was closed from 1 until 8, so we just sat at home like slugs anyways! Now we are in the Eid holiday marking the end of Ramadan and he's had 3 days off with everything open!! On Saturday, everything goes back to normal. Yeah!!

* I'm grateful for my friend, Tammy. She and her family (her husband and four kids) have effectively been kicked out of Qatar, seemingly because of their work ministering to the Nepali workers here. They have been here for almost 10 years and love it here, so this is really hard for them, but instead of being bitter they see God opening a door. They are being led to move to Kathmandu, Nepal to minister full-time to the Nepali people. Instead of being bitter and resentful, they are joyous and excited.

* I'm grateful that we are going to be going to the States at the end of the month. I am nervous, however that we may have a setback. Since the kids have finally gotten used to being here, I'm worried that the timing may be bad for a visit back home. But the tickets are bought, so there's not much I can do about it. I just pray it will be a positive experience.

* I'm grateful for a wonderful husband whom I love with all my heart.

* I'm grateful for my kids who are sweet and loving.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Day in the Sun


Yesterday was probably the best day we've had since moving to Qatar.


With the start of Eid (a three day holiday marking the end of Ramadan), we decided to get out of the house and explore a little. It started off with a plan to drive to the border of Saudi Arabia, just for a ride. Well, we got a little sidetracked...


We decided to head south instead of west and passed through the town of Messaeid. Then I saw the signs to a beach resort and wanted to head that way just to look. Although Qatar is a peninsula, surrounded by the waters of the Persian Gulf, there are surprisingly few beaches. On our way to the resort, we came upon some of Qatar's famed sand dunes. We could see there were several places to rent quad bikes. We decided we'd come back in a few weeks when it's a little cooler and give it a shot.


The we saw a dune that had only a few people on it, with no bikes. The kids asked to get out and climb the dune and Hubby happily obliged. So we pulled off and drove up to the dune and all piled out. We climbed up and down, the wind whipping sand in our faces, but still it was exhilarating. Finally we decided to move on and got back in the car.


As we went to leave, our wheels spun and spun, digging us farther into the sand. Just as panic was about to set in, someone on a dune bike pulled up to help. This young Qatari man (just turned 18) and his friends spent well over an hour trying to pull us out. They had a tow rope, which promptly broke after a few pulls. We were in deep, people.


A couple of the boys set off to buy a new rope and Hubby had a chance to talk to the first young man, who stayed with us. They had a good conversation while the kids and I played on the dunes some more. Finally they came back with a stronger tow line and managed to pull free my poor little Tahoe.


Then the first guy offered us all rides on his quad bike. Emily went first and loved it! Daniel went and, well, he had fun, but I think he was a little scared. Ibrahim went and had a great time. Me? Well, I didn't think it was culturally appropriate for a married woman to get on the back of a bike with a Muslim man and wrap my arms and legs around him, so I passed. But we are going back soon to give it a try for ourselves.


Lessons learned:


1) There's lots of fun to be had if we just get out of the house.


2) Park only in approved areas! There were other cars parked up by the dune, but they either had 4 wheel drive or had let air out of their tires to improve their traction.


3) And the most important lesson we learned is that Qataris aren't all rude, mean people. I think that many Westerners have a negative impression of Qataris and that's often justified. They drive like maniacs, they cut in front of you in line, and they can just be very dismissive. But we will never forget the kindness of those young Qatari boys who spent a good portion of their holiday, not to mention the money for a new tow rope, just to help out a family they didn't know at all. We talked quite a bit on the way home about how we will never speak badly of Qataris again.

It was a great day!

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