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.
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.
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.


Stacy said...

I just love to read your entries. It is neat to hear of your journey -- the struggles and the joys.

$15 for gas! I put 1/2 tank in yesterday in my mid-sized car, and even with the prices having gone down, it was still $30. It is hard to make the $ stretch these days, but God is faithful!

Ann said...

My kids have been singing part of that psalm--it's on the CD I turn on to wake them up! Thanks for inspiring us to find what God has for us here and now, instead of pining for something else.

Denise said...

You are precious, bless you dear.

Debbie said...

Once again you touched my heart. I love Psalm 84 and it does tell us that He is our dwelling place. It's a good reminder that this isn't our home, Heaven is. So, whatever our Him.

P.S. I hope you post some pictures of your life in this part of the world. I'll stayed tuned. :)

Leeann said...

Excellent post today, Lori.

Very thought provoking. I am so glad to see that things are getting easier for you. Getting acclimated and settled makes all the difference!

PS- when is your trip back to the States and where will you be going?

Denise said...

Beautiful reminders to be thankful.

Jill said...

I love that God can bring us together in prayer around the world for each other.

Know that I will continue to lift you up in prayer and trust God to bring you all the friends and loved ones in His name to keep you feeling close to Him!

You are never alone and no matter how far you move from your earthly family He is right there living inside of you - keeping you close to Him!

Blessings in His name,

Rachel said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this.

Nancy M. said...

That's wonderful! So many things you are thankful for.

I almost want to move over there with you, just for the gas prices!

Traci said...

$15 for gas! We spend hundreds a month now. Debt free would be lovely too!

Marsha said...

I love this Psalm, also. One day, we all be home and rejoicing in His presence forever.

I'm so thankful that you are finding more and more positives about this season of your life. God is good.

Blessings to you this day.

Heart 4 My Home said...

Thank you so much for posting that particular scripture. It was divine intervention that I was directed to your blog to read that today.

Mu mother's home was made unlivable due to hurricane Ike last month and although she was born again when I was much younger, she never really has lived her life for the LORD. This portion of scripture is exactly what I needed to read to help encourage her.

Again thank you.

Pia said...

may God keep you safe in His arms. be blessed. ♥

Bonnie said...

I love Psalm 84!! What an awesome perspective. Thank you for the reminder that we are, technically, "aliens" here and our home is with the Lord. You make Qatar sound enticing - almost wish I could experience it, too. Blessings!


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