Waiting…

I feel I am in a season of waiting. For a type A personality waiting is very, very hard. I like to “fix” things and make them happen. I even admit…dare I…that I like to control things. Now, I know that fixing and controlling do not fit into the character of a child of God so I am constantly a work in progress in these areas. There has been growth in both of these struggles and I am thankful that God doesn’t give up on me. But sometimes I just need a little encouragement to know that the waiting isn’t for nothing. And it seems that just when I feel I am too frustrated with the inability to fix or control the things for which I am waiting to happen, the Lord comes in with just what I need to sustain me. Isn’t He so good in that way? His mercies are truly new each morning and great is His faithfulness.

This season of waiting is pushing me closer and closer up against the Lord. And for this, I am truly thankful. He is the ONLY thing that sustains and lifts up and He is worthy to be praised.

In my devotion this morning there was a picture of us as a child learning to take our first steps. Even though we can’t run right away and we even may stumble and fall God isn’t angry with us and doesn’t yell at us or punish us because we can’t do it perfectly. No, He helps us, lifts us up and encourages us. So, when I struggle or fail or don’t do things perfectly the first time (type A rising up again) then I should give myself grace just like my heavenly Father does. In giving myself grace and learning to let myself fail and try again I will be better suited for seasons of waiting where things don’t feel they are going according to my plans. I can rest in the knowledge that God is still there right beside me and He sees the path out in front of me and has my future in His hands. It helps to sweeten the waiting.

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View from a garden in the area which my husband’s family is from. 

Wherever He Leads….

This past week my husband had a couple of days off and one of the days we decided to go walking on a new trail in the mountains that we found a couple of months ago. It was a hot day and of course we happened to pick the hottest time of day to go. Oops! But thankfully there was a breeze and a little shade as we went along so it wasn’t unbearable. We enjoyed walking and talking and exploring. At one point we even found a little river and a shady place to sit and have a devotion together. It was a wonderful day!
After we finished our hike up the mountain it was time to go back down. I thought this would be so much easier than the steep hike up but as we started our descent I quickly realized that it wasn’t so easy as the trail was full of sand and rocks. Sometimes I felt myself slipping as I walked and could just imagine falling hard on my backside and ending the day in a not so lovely way. My husband and I had been walking side by side and talking but when I started having trouble keeping my balance he offered to walk a little in front of me and then later told me to give him my hand so he would make sure I wouldn’t fall. It was then that it hit me. This walk was a wonderful example and picture of our relationship with God. As we walk through life He loves for us to walk beside Him, talking and sharing our joys and our struggles. But when we start to go through a difficult time and are on a hard path He leads us and guides us so lovingly and even takes our hand to make sure we don’t fall and if we fall He is always there to pick us up and help us to keep going. I was so happy and thankful for this visual aid that helped to remind me of God’s loving care for us. Sometimes I need to see these lessons in a way that I can picture forever.

Thank you, Lord, that You are always near me and there to guide me as I walk through this life. I pray that you will keep me in your care and that I will always keep my hand in yours!

 

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A Love to Last Forever

My husband and I just celebrated three years of marriage last month and though three years is not very long, a lot has happened to us in that short time.
When I was thinking back on our wedding day and the life experiences that have transpired since, I was reminded of how much my Heavenly Father loves me and how much I’ve experienced on my spiritual journey. I know I have grown so much and yet still have so much further to go. I am thankful that the Lord is never finished with me. He is so patient and kind, loving and merciful.
I wanted to encourage other women to remember that no matter where you are in life, God’s plan for you is never finished. He is constantly molding us into His image. Sometimes that is painful and sometimes it’s exciting but no matter what it’s beautiful because He is beautiful.
I want my life to be a beautiful reflection of my Father and for my life to encourage others to seek His face.
As women, we desperately want to be loved and accepted for who we are. We want to be told we are beautiful, intelligent, capable and strong. We want a love that lasts forever and often are looking constantly for that love in the form of earthly relationships. Though earthly relationships are important, we were created for the ultimate relationship with God and our heavenly home that we will dwell in forever. I pray that I will take the time to nourish that relationship with my Father and in turn let the overflow from that time with Him spill out into my marriage and other relationships in my life.

Looking back at some pictures from our wedding I came across this picture as we were leaving to start out on our journey together. The smiles on our faces fill my heart with so much joy. I feel you can see the anticipation of our life together in our smiles. This is just a small taste of the joy I feel when I spend time with the Lord praying or just listening to Him speak to me through His word. And I know that one day the radiance coming from us when we meet the Lord face-to-face will be so much more amazing than the best days of our lives here on earth.

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Thank you, Lord, for the life you’ve given me. Thank you for writing my story that is unique to me. I pray that I will fully embrace the journey you have me on. Thank you for giving me a Love that Lasts Forever that can only be found in You.

Wonderful Memories

Most of you reading my blog know that I love acting, singing and dancing. Though I have been in several theatre shows over the years, the times I remember that touched me the most were the years I was in the Atlanta Passion Play (APP). This production of the ministry, death and resurrection of Christ was such an honor to be a part of and I learned so much about the Lord during my time in the play.
I remember my first year I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of the play and how many people were a part of it and how detailed the script and the sets were. Each year after that I looked forward to each spring and the next play. It was such an outreach to the community and through the years hundreds of thousands of people attended and I know their lives were touched. There is no way you could attend or be in the cast or crew and not be touched deeply.

I was so sad when the play stopped being performed after sharing the story of Christ for 35 years. Though I was only in the play for a few years I will always remember those times with fondness and joy. I pray that even though it is no longer in existence that those that were touched by it will never forget it. I know I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

As I look forward to Easter Sunday and all that it represents for a follower of Christ, I remember how the APP made the death and resurrection of Jesus so real in my life. The year I played Mary Magdalene, one of the most vivid memories was when Jesus appears to Mary and asks her why she is crying. She doesn’t realize that Jesus is the one asking her so she replies, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will go and get him. ” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God.'” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. – John 20:15b-18 (NIV)
What incredible emotions Mary must have felt when this happened to her!!! As I played that role, I was really trying to capture all the emotions and some nights during the performances I found myself being completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of this particular scene. I pray that the wonder I felt then never goes away when I think about coming face to face with my Lord! I know in reality it will be so much more awesome!!

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He hears me

Do you ever stop and think about the ways the Lord shows you His hand each and every day? Sometimes it’s in the big things and sometimes it’s so small you might miss it.

Yesterday evening, I realized that I had let a medication run out that I needed right away. My precious, patient husband and I went to both of the pharmacies near us and neither one of them had what I needed. In fact, one of them told us it wasn’t available in Lebanon anymore. What?! I was already frustrated at myself for waiting until the last minute and it was getting late in the evening and my poor husband had a long day already. However, he was so sweet to keep driving to find the medication for me. As we were driving I was complaining that we would have to drive 25 minutes or so to a bigger pharmacy. We stopped at three different ones and no luck. At the fourth pharmacy we stopped, thinking they probably wouldn’t have it. My sweet husband went in and came out with the medication!! As he got in the car he said, “It was already on the counter as if waiting for us”.
I smiled and thought, I know Who was waiting for us.

It seems like something so small, but in that moment I felt the Lord whispering, “Why do you fret, my child?  I am here and I am capable. You matter to me, your needs matter to me. Rest in me.”

Home really is where the Heart is….

I watched a movie today that really tugged at my heart. It was one of those days where I had a lot on my mind and just wanted to kind of escape for a bit. When it started I just thought it was a nice story but by the time it was over I was in tears.

The movie is called “Brooklyn” and it is about an Irish immigrant who goes to America in the 1950s. She soon falls in love and has to choose between the tugging of her heart from her home and her new life in America. The byline is “Two countries, two loves, one heart”. This resonated with me because of how I met my husband and how we wove together two countries and made them one heart as well.
What surprised me was how I related to the emotions of the character. She loves her family and her country but she also finds new love and connections in a new country.

When I moved to Lebanon it was so hard for me to leave my parents, siblings and friends. The aching in my heart hurt so much though I loved my life with my husband and wanted to fit in as much as possible in my new life. Well, it’s been almost 3 years and I can say that I really have come a long way and I really feel this is my home. I have been learning the language, understanding the customs and really falling in love with this country every day. My heart is wherever I am with my husband and no matter where we live, that will be home.

At the end of the movie, the words of the character stayed with me: “You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won’t kill you… and one day the sun will come out and you’ll realize that this is where your life is”.

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“Hello”…. from the other side

Hi! I wanted to send out a little update on my life over on the other side of the world. 🙂
Things are going well and we had a wonderful visit to TX to see my family over Thanksgiving. We also enjoyed some time in NYC as well. It was Wissam’s first time to NYC and he loved it! I also loved getting to see him enjoy one of my favorite cities for the first time. We spent some wonderful time exploring Central Park, wandering in Times Square, eating wonderful food, experiencing a Broadway show and meandering through the city by subway like experts. 😉

 

NYC fun

NYC fun

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NYC hot dogs are the best!

NYC hot dogs are the best!

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My parents have a lovely new home in TX and we enjoyed getting to see it and spending some good time with my family. We were able to rest some, do some shopping and Wissam got to see a real TX rodeo, which was quite the experience! Maybe it’s time to get him some cowboy boots! We also loved getting to eat lots of Mexican food and we can’t forget the froyo!! 😉

Rodeo!

Rodeo!

Froyo is our fave!

Froyo is our fave!

 

While I was in TX I got to visit my best friend and see her new little baby girl who is so precious!! It was such a fun time to visit with dear friends.

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I also was able to see another dear friend in TX who I hadn’t seen in several years. She is such a sweet person and I loved getting see her and her precious mom. We had such a quick visit but I enjoyed every minute of it!!

Childhood friends :)

Childhood friends 🙂

Wissam took me to a restaurant in Byblos for my birthday and the food was sooooo good. It was Lebanese food with a twist, and I loved it!! Then we walked around for a while and saw a lovely sunset. it was such a wonderful day!

 

Birthday celebration

Birthday celebration

Hommos with pesto

Hommos with pesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloum salad

Halloum salad

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beef with Broccoli

Beef with Broccoli

 

Christmas was spent in Lebanon and it was beautiful! We went to see some beautiful decorations in Byblos and it was a wonderful season! I love Christmas in Lebanon. There is so much joy and the decorations everywhere are so beautiful!

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Christmas Eve we spent time with family and some special friends. We played games, enjoyed a lovely meal all together and had a gift exchange. I am so grateful for the most important gift of Eternal Life and a personal relationship with my Lord.

 

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Our little apartment is coming along nicely and we are really loving it! We finished our bar area and it really adds a lot! We also just added some carpets and they make it cozy and much warmer. 🙂 We have had some really cold days so far this winter and a little bit of snow. I hope we will have more because it’s so beautiful when it snows here.

Our new bar!

Our new bar!

New console and mirror for the entry way

New console and mirror for the entry way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My love!

My love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are really enjoying our time together and I am so grateful that I married my best friend. It’s so much fun just to be with him and enjoy talking and sharing our dreams for the future together. I am so thankful each day that God brought us together and I am excited for what He is doing in our lives.

Pressing On

Hi. It’s been a while. For quite some time I haven’t felt I had anything to share. It’s not really true because we are always learning and changing and therefore there’s always something to say. However, sometimes I feel that I have nothing of significance to say. But I realize that in reality that is pride because I am here to honor and glorify the Lord and when He is at work that is always something I should share. It’s not about me. It’s about Him. This past winter has been very hard. In Lebanon winters can be beautiful but also hard. Isn’t that a lot like life? People don’t go out as much because it’s SO cold! And we just moved in the past few months to a place that’s colder than where we were. I have to confess that this winter brought some pity parties and some meltdowns. Why am I so far away from my family? Why do I STILL not feel comfortable speaking the language here? Why is it so cold? Why can’t I just be more content? But I realized that though I am ever changing and struggling; God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He wants me to bring my mess to Him and leave. it. there. No ifs, ands or buts. He wants it all and He makes something beautiful out of my mess.I saw this the other day on my walk and took a photo because it immediately spoke to  me. So many times things in life: struggles, changes, difficulties, they seek to strangle  our joy and choke us so much that we can’t focus or grow. But out of the difficulties  and sometimes pain, life still blooms, joy still comes and God is still good. If we leave  our burdens at His feet, we have to leave them there. We can’t decide that later we  might need to come back and get them because He isn’t taking care of them the way  we think He should. No. We must leave them alone and TRUST.

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This picture was also on my walk the other day and it took my breath away to see this cross in the middle of these bushes on this mountain. What a poignant reminder of where I need to leave my burdens but also a reminder that I can rest in my Savior and know that He is pleased with me. photo 2

Winter is ebbing away and the sun is starting to come out more and more and I am soaking in the sunshine. I went for a walk today and was just amazed at the beauty around me. What a big God I serve. I have to press on towards the goal and on the journey rejoice in the ways He is molding me to be more and more like Him. I am grateful for this journey and I pray that I will move through it with grace and confidence knowing that He is by my side always.         photo

Bondage and Victory

Lately I have been dealing with many thoughts. Some consuming, some fleeting. I have prayed and then tried to be busy and forget these thoughts, but they just keep coming back. I know I have been given a gift, actually each of us has. And it is our responsibility to use that gift for His glory. But of late, I haven’t been accepting of my gift as I should. My gift is mercy and service. I feel things deeply for others and I put them before myself most of the time to the detriment of myself. I know this is not right, and there is a balance, but often I don’t keep that balance in check and that is when fatigue comes over me. Recently I realized that this is a form of bondage. I keep myself tired and then end up resenting the very gift that God gave me to use for good. He has been molding and shaping me to realize that with each gift He gives, there is a bondage side and a victory side. I have been living in the bondage side of my gift and not the victory side. Let me explain….I can live to serve and care for others and show them His love and then rest and let Him replenish me and keep serving, or I can give and give and give and never allow the replenishing to take place, thus leading to bondage to my own gift. He wants me to rest, He wants me to trust Him and look to Him for my needs instead of trying to meet them myself; ultimately, He wants my obedience.

It has taken me a while to process these thoughts and even now I don’t feel I fully realize the extent of what He is seeking to have me learn. But I do know that all He demands is my obedience and devotion and through that comes all things. He has given me everything I need, EVERYTHING. And I don’t have to feel guilty because I “feel” I’ve disappointed someone. I don’t have to worry that I won’t be liked if I take a certain stand. I don’t have to be held captive by the Enemy’s destructive thoughts that I am not adequate or that I am not doing enough. I can rest in the fact that I am a child of the King and He is pleased with me because my heart desires to love and honor Him. There is a time for everything and sometimes that time is to rest and wait. Oh, there is that word! Wait. Never has one word, so small, caused so much turmoil in my life. I don’t wait well, in fact, I hate to wait. But the last few years have held a lot of waiting times. And I am realizing that these times are precious and oftentimes worth so much more than all the “doing” times.  In my devotion today, in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I read something that seemed to jump off the page at me. It said, “He works where He sends us to wait. ‘Tarry ye…until…’ Wait on God and He will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told. These are phases of His ways we rarely recognize.”

Wow! Really, Lord? Have I been spiritually sulking? Yes. Have I given in to spiritual hysterics? Guilty again. But isn’t it a blessing that His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness. I am blessed that He gives me a new chance each day to obey Him. I do desire to wait patiently and to be busy while I am waiting. Lord, please show me how to wait on You in a way that glorifies You.

I am challenged to live in the victory side of the gift God has given me. And I determine that I will trust Him to work where I don’t see a way and that I will wait where He shows me to wait. His ways are truly the best and I know that I will experience true victory when I release my dreams, hurts, longings, frustrations and desires to Him. He sees the bigger picture and what a privilege to know He cares about me.

I pray today that you too will experience victory in your gift. That you won’t let thoughts that are not true consume you. Rest in Him, wait patiently, and watch Him work. He truly is able and He is enough.

Touching the heart

It has been a while since my last post and it’s not because I have been too busy to write but I have gone back and forth about what to share. It’s nice to have pictures and updates on what is going on in my life here in Lebanon and I will definitely continue to share these kinds of posts, however, today I wanted to share something that is weighing heavily on my heart.

Since moving to Lebanon I have been bombarded with news updates, articles and details about the war in Syria and the great impact on Lebanon as there are now more than 1 million registered refugees in Lebanon (there are many unregistered). At work, my job has consisted of reading these articles and helping to keep people in the States updated on the work our organization has been doing to help through our efforts alongside our partners and donors. The Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) has many departments and only one of those is Relief, however, we have seen relief efforts bleed into all other areas due to the current crisis in Syria.

Today, while I was at work, I was reading on the website for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and saw a document titled “The Future of Syria: Refugee Children in Crisis”. As I scrolled through this report I was brought to tears reading the stories and reported facts about the realities of refugee children as it relates to education, work, emotions and family. It was especially touching to me because I have volunteered at some of the camps and events for refugee children through LSESD’s Baptist Children and Youth Ministry (BCYM) and seen the faces of precious young ones who have stories just like the ones in the UNHCR report. I would encourage you to read through this report and pray as you go for the hundreds of thousands of children and their families who are displaced and literally living moment by moment.

I don’t write this to be depressing, please don’t take it that way, I just wanted to share some of the realities of the area in which I am living now and the great need for support and prayer for these refugees.