Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home in Doha

Well, it's summer here. (And technically everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere if you want to get picky about it.) But summer in Doha is different from anywhere else I've ever experienced summer.

Here in Doha, virtually all the Western expats flee the summer heat. The day after school was out, half the people we knew were leaving town headed for one destination or another. Most were going home.

Home. It's strange to think that this place where I live is home, but only a temporary one. Yesterday, as I was pondering what to change my Facebook status message to, I briefly considered, "Lori is tired of feeling like she lives in temporary lodging." Our house is wonderful, but it still feels like it isn't really "our home" yet.

We haven't painted, something that makes a huge difference and warms up a home. There are still, over a year later, boxes that we haven't even opened. (They are all in the extra bedroom. We know what they are, but we just don't need them. Mostly old photos and things.) I'm still living with curtains that Hubby bought from the people that were here before for convenience, but I haven't found anything I liked, so I live with ones I don't. It seems like so many things don't have a "place" but with no closets, that's to be expected, I guess.

We have made some strides. In the past few months, we've either bought or been given some furniture from friends who were leaving town. The best purchase was a set of two shelving units with doors. They fit perfectly in a little alcove I have and are now serving as my pantry. Rearranging some of the other furniture has helped make the place seem less...empty.

I think some of the reason we haven't really invested more time and money into making this place feel more like a permanent (or at least long-term) home is that we would like to move into a compound. Compounds are kind of like gated communities. They have pools, gyms and other facilities, but the best part is that there are lots of kids usually. In our neighborhood, there are no kids, at least not that we can tell. Everyone drives in and out of their gated driveway with very little contact. We'd love to have a neighborhood where the kids can walk to a friend's or just go out and ride their bikes.

The problem is that most of the compounds are way above our price range. We already pay a little extra over and above our housing allowance and really can't afford to go much higher. Moving to a compound would probably mean moving to a smaller place (goodbye 5 bedrooms/5 bathrooms with a loft!!), but would be worth it if the kids were happier.

So in the meantime, we wait. We live in this house, but I don't think any of us think of it as a home yet. Maybe that's something that comes in time, or with enough effort and investment. I don't know. Even if we move, I don't know if that will feel more "homey" to us. I hope that by the end of summer we will have made a decision whether or not we will move or stay here. I think that a year and a half is long enough to wait to be at home.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Dear Blog,

I know, I know. I've been a neglectful blogger of late. I've allowed my busy personal life to take over, keeping me from our wonderful relationship. Even this last week since I finished work for the summer, I've still ignored you in favor of cleaning my house, doing laundry, cooking meals.

And I know it is hurtful. I know you feel unloved, unappreciated. Your visitors are down, and I don't even want to think about your Technorati rating. I'm sure it must be devastating to have fallen so far.

I'd like to ask you to forgive me. And to give me another chance. I promise to be more attentive, to share with you the silly little things that happen to me here in this crazy place. Maybe, just maybe, we can rebuild what we once had. Please give me another chance.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One. More. Day.

Tomorrow is my last day of work for the summer.  Whoo-hoo!!

Sleeping in, hanging out, being a full-time homemaker again - I can't wait!  

We will be staying here in Doha until late July when we'll head on out to visit family in Jordan. Hopefully this summer's visit will be a smoother one than last year's.  

Oh, and just on a side note, the bigwigs took us support staff out for lunch today.  It was yummy and we had a nice time just hanging out, but what I really want to mention is the temperature. When we got in the car to leave, about noon, the temperature was 120 degrees!!!  

So, um, we'll be staying inside a lot the next few weeks!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This is Why I Love the Blogosphere

I've had an emotional week.  Working at a school, this is what I would imagine is the busiest, craziest time.  Factor in the fact that teachers and students all pull up stakes and escape town as soon as the final bell rings and it's a recipe for utter madness.  I've been coming home so exhausted I can barely think.

On top of that, Emily and I have been dealing a lot with loneliness. We both have lots of acquaintances, maybe even friends, but not that one real, true friend - the one you call just to gab, the one you call when you are crying, the one you call when you need help.  

Then there's the issue of everyone going home and we are staying here.  We'll be going to Jordan later in July, but it's kind of hard to be stuck here in Doha when almost everyone you know is enjoying life back in the States (or wherever they hail from).  

So I've been having a big pity party the last few days.  In fact, I am still trying to kick out the last few guests.  

But then today I visited a couple of my favorite blogs, the two Jess's.  (Jess'es?  Jess'?) Jess over at Mourning into Dancing just got the devastating diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.  And yet she wrote a post today that helped me put my troubles in perspective.  She helped me remember that I have the most important things - my health, my family, a relationship with Christ.  I have a home and enough food to eat.  We are blessed indeed.

Immediately after reading her blog, I clicked on over to Making Home.  This Jess had written a beautiful post on the importance of suffering.  No one likes it, but it's necessary in our lives, particularly as Christians.  Suffering is often the tool by which God chisels away the imperfections in our lives.  Without it, there would often be no growth.  Jess made the point that we often do all we can to eliminate any pang of pain sent our way, but that actually can negate what God is trying to do in our lives. 

I'm so thankful for wise, wonderful women who can uplift others through the ministry of their blogs.  Though I've never met either of these amazing ladies, I'm grateful for the things they have taught me and for how they lifted me up out my pit today.
Friday, June 12, 2009

Notes from My Life

So I have no big story to tell today. Life has been pretty routine around this place. Here is just a sampling of what's going on.

* The kids had their last day of school yesterday. This means I am officially the parent of a high schooler, but I'm choosing not to think about that!! They had, I think, a very successful year (well, half-year anyways) as their initiation into the world of school. Some hard lessons were learned, some friends were made, and I think they are looking forward to next year. Well..maybe they will be in a month or two!!

* I still have to work for the next week. Ugh. Things are definitely better on the work front, but I am just so looking forward to the summer break. Sleeping in, not having to get dressed up, having a relatively clean house. I actually have to work today, even though it's Friday which is normally a weekend for us. At least I get to go in half an hour late!

* I have come to the conclusion that I care way too much about what other people think about me. Why do I get so worked up about the people who don't absolutely fall in love with me? There is this couple at church who I feel kind of dismissed by. I've tried to help out in their ministry for a year now, but am only given menial jobs to do - nothing of any import. They throw parties that we aren't invited too. They are polite and friendly, but if someone else walks up their attention immediately goes there. And what bothers me most is that it bothers me. They certainly aren't required to invite me to their parties or anything else. I don't know why it weighs on my so much. (And if any of my Doha friends know who I'm talking about, please don't say anything to them - this is MY issue of needing to be liked that I need to get over.)

* We are actively looking for a new house to live in. Although I'm really quite happy with our house, the kids, especially Daniel, would like to be in a compound so he could go out and play with other kids, ride their bikes around, etc. I'd love that for them too. The only thing standing in the way of that is money. Housing is super-expensive here in Doha. Most houses in compounds start at around 15,000 riyals a month. That equals out to $4120. Many are as much as 20,000 riyals ($5500). Our housing allowance is 12,000 riyals a month.

We looked last night at another house in a very pretty little compound. It was 13,000 riyals, but that's what we pay now, chipping in the difference. However, it was way too small, the built-in appliances were too small and looked like they were from the 70's, there was water-damage to the laminate counter-top and the kitchen smelled from it, the upstairs flooring was horrendous and it was only three bedrooms, three bathrooms (we now have a 5/5). Any one of those things would be acceptable, but together? We decided to pass.

That's the biggest stuff, I guess. I'm off to go get ready for work.

Five. More. Days.
Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer To-Do List

12 more days until I have the summer off. 12. More. Days.


Here is a list of what I want to do over the summer:

*Sleep late

*Take bubble baths

* Read

* Have a clean house

* Breathe

* Sleep late

* Have clean clothes

* Rearrange the furniture

* Look for another house to move to in our price range (which won't be easy!)

* Sleep late

* Shave my legs more than once a month

* Grocery shop when less than 90% of Doha's population is also trying to grocery shop

* Pick up trying to learn Arabic with Rosetta Stone

* Make my children perfect

* Lose 75 pounds in two months

* Explore the shops of Doha

* Sleep late

I'm wondering if my apparently over-arching goal of sleeping late might affect getting all the other things done.

Oh, well, too tired to think about that right now. LOL!!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cheap Grace

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran who opposed the Nazis, wrote the following in his book "The Cost of Discipleship":

"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ...  Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace -- for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves."

This will be my last comment on the issue of Dr. Tiller's murder.  I certainly don't feel that churches should not be warm and welcoming places.  We need to love each other and pick each other up when we fall, not kick each other.

However, that doesn't mean we can choose to ignore sin.  It's not about judging other people.  That's God's role.  But we, as the body, are called to confront sin when it is in our midst.  In I Corinthians 5, Paul very clearly tells us that it is our obligation. 

It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife.  And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?  For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present.  When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus,  turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.  Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough?  Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.  I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.  For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside?  But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.
Look, I want to be kind and loving and forgiving just like anyone.  I would hate the thought of having to confront someone with their sin or of having to go further and having to remove them from fellowship.  But Paul doesn't really leave us that option.  And if we as Christians say that we accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God, then it's not something we can opt out of.  As much as we hate it, as much as we know that we too are sinful, it's in the Bible.

I know that I am sinful.  But I think that there is a difference between me stumbling and falling and repenting and between those who knowingly, willfully, continue in sin unrepentantly.  And I think a church that ignores that fact does so at their own peril.  Perhaps had they instituted church discipline and called him to repentance, Dr. Tiller would still be alive.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Don't Even Know What to Say

As many of you know by now, an abortion provider has been murdered while serving as an usher in his church in the United States.

I just honestly sit here not knowing how I feel.

First of all, I am ardently opposed to abortion.  The fact that this man was a provider of especially heinous "late-term" abortions makes his work even more sickening.  The murder of unborn babies, particularly those that could have survived outside the womb, those that could have been given up for adoption - well, it's horrifying.  It's even more horrifying that our nation allows such an abominable practice to go on.  

But how can we condone killing someone?  Does God think that's okay when someone who is admittedly slaughtering baby after baby is murdered?  On the one hand, I have to say no, that God would want us to work through the legal system.  That taking the life of a murderer is murder as well.  I'm honestly shocked that someone could do this in the name of God.  But on the other hand, I have to wonder how many innocent lives will be saved now that this man is no longer going to be there to end their lives before they even have a chance to live them.  

But what really upsets me about the entire story is that this man, this abortionist, was a churchgoer.  That he was killed in a church.  I never thought of abortionists as churchgoers before.  It honestly never occurred to me.  I just think to myself, how did he justify in his heart what he did for a living?  How did he stand before God in His own house, probably reading His word and singing songs of praise, knowing that he made his money off of killing God's precious children?  What could he possibly say to himself to make him think it was okay?

Even more troubling to me is what his pastor thought about the matter?  It's not like it was a secret.  Dr. Tiller had been the target of pro-life protests for many, many years.  And it's not like he was just casually visiting the church.  He was serving as an usher that day.  His wife was in the choir.  They were obviously plugged in to the life of the body there.  How did the congregation, the elders and the pastor not call this man on what he did for a living?  How was he allowed to participate in the life of the church body when he did what he did?

Clearly all of us sin.  I am not saying that I'm perfect or that you must be perfect to be an active member of a church.  But when one willfully, knowingly, openly commits grievous sins (like the murder of innocent children over many years) there must be some kind of accountability.  There must be some kind of stand on the part of God's people.  

Dr. Tiller's attorney issued a statement following his death.  "This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."  When I read that, I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.  Because the very man he was referring as deserving that place of peace is the same man who ripped children from their mother's womb, God's specially designed "place of peace."  

I am saddened for the doctor's family.  I am not suggesting that we kill all those who disagree with us, or who we see as sinners.  I'm just honestly trying to wrestle with the issue myself and trying to understand how the leadership of that church welcomed this man in.  It's a sad statement with regards to the acceptance of sin in the body of Christ.


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