Friday, September 30, 2011


Many apologies for disappearing from the realm of cyber-space these past couple weeks!  Life has gone from hard to impossible to unbelievably insane...I have been severely overwhelmed, and frankly, blogging hasn't even crossed my mind.  But, to fill the void until I'm back on my feet, here's a post I wrote while in Jordan but somehow failed to publish before we returned:

Over our time in Jordan I have developed several perceptions of Jordanian life & culture...I don't say "observations" because that might indicate that these things are unbiasedly true, which they may be, but I only am aware of my own perceptions.

So, without further ado, here is Jordan through my eyes:
  • They love to add their two cents to your parenting...even the men.  Every time I go out, the security guard or trash man or shop owners or random ladies have to comment that the kids aren't dressed warm enough or need their hat on or shouldn't be sitting a certain way in the grocery cart, etc.  They usually tell me these things in Arabic with a few Enlish words sprinkled in, so I just smile and pretend they're saying something nice and move on.  They aren't being not nice, just nosy.
  • They have no concept of respecting your personal "viewable" space...Not sure how else to phrase that, but the point is: People will stare at you unashamedly and continue staring even after you've spotted them staring, and will not look away.  If you try to stare them down into the submission of averting their eyes, you will end up having a staring contest--and you will lose.  This issue is always a bit disconcerting to me; it makes me uncomfortable.  It's very un-Western.
  • Gas prices are uniform at every gas station across the country, and prices do not fluctuate.  They have been the same now for six months, and counting.
  • Hair salons are called "saloons," and are for men.  I know that they have salons for women, but I have not yet seen one...Probably because they have to be private so that the general public is not exposed to the letting down of a woman's hair?  Men's saloons are everywhere, however. 
  • Stores have the funniest names...What would you anticipate is sold at a store called "Baby and Lady"?  To me, I would expect it to be a baby clothing and maternity store; but nope, it's shoes and bags!  There also is the "Whatever Outlet," "Needs Supermarket," the store advertising "Open 8 days a week!" (where are they finding an extra day each week??!!), etc.  There's also the "Ladies Fat Breaking Gym."  The "True Value Home & Garden" store, with the same font/logo as in the States, surprisingly is a toy store, with a sprinkling of camping and blow-up pool supplies.  I know this is juvenile, but our favorite store name is "Haboob."  
  • They still have real, old-school tailors and shoe smiths, working out of hole-in-the-wall shops packed with supplies.  I feel like I've traveled backward in time every time I see one, and I love it!
  • They don't seemed concerned with quality or presentation, but simply do things for adequate functionality.  I say this as a generality, and does not apply to every situation.  To their credit, they can rip up, grade, and pave a huge section of road in less than a day (where the same section in the States might take a week), and build a massive apartment building in a matter of weeks. 
  • People are extremely hospitable.  A taxi driver invited us to his house for dinner after meeting us for 5 minutes.  Sweet shops always hand out free cookies.  When shopping in the souk, almost every shop keeper offers tea, coffee, soda, water, etc.  
  • They seem to attach no gender value to colors.  I will consistently be asked if Safita is a boy or girl, even when she's wearing a pink outfit.  I also have noticed little boys dressed in purple, etc.
  • There are lots of Asian/Polynesian/Philippino nannies and housekeepers about that accompany their employing families out and about.  I've been told that Jordanians will not do this type of work and so they hire people of other ethnicity for the jobs
I'm sure there are things that I missed, but that gives a fun sampling of the colorful beauty of culture!  I am so glad that God did not make us all alike.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011


    Hope is such a powerful thing...I think, it really makes or breaks a person, what kind of hope they have.

    Of course, our greatest hope should always be in the Lord, who will never fail and always exceed.

    And it is He who gives us the "life" hopes, the things that inspire us and ignite a passion and get us excited to wake to face another day.  The hopes, be they little or big, that fill life with meaning and purpose.  Hope really does lift one's soul like a balloon rising on the wind, away from bondage and care.

    Tonight, I am feeling hopeful.  It is a hope that is securely attached to hard, difficult work, but also reality--as in, my dreams can be realized, if I remain disciplined.  Here's my resolve: to grab hold of that balloon of hope and see to what heights the wind might blow!

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Silver Lining

    This business of coming home has proven to be a bit of a turbulent landing.  We are struggling to find our feet and steady ourselves, but seem to just keep stumbling and bumbling.  I feel the wear acutely, and this past week it's been noticeably hard on the kids as well.  Very, very noticeably.  The struggle and insecurity of re-acclimating to a culture while being homeless and fatherless/husbandless and not knowing where you belong or what's going to happen or having a place and no means of's so hard on me, I can only imagine for them!

    The good news is, we have finally secured a place to live!  And it has a pool, which is thrilling Jack to no end.  We can move in on the 23rd of the month, which is still 10 days away, but sooner than what we'd originally expected.  This item accomplished provides huge relief! that now my mind can wander to the hundred other stressful cares needing immediate attention. 

    Most days, we feel (and act?) like we are falling to pieces, and my goal each day is to find some solace of normalcy.  But it occurred to me tonight--a nugget of wisdom gleaned from preparing the evening meal--if we're falling apart, at least it means we're tender.  We pray the tenderness will be productive and soon give way to satisfied souls. 

    Thursday, September 1, 2011


    Many have been asking lately, "How does it feel to be home?"

    Good question.  I'm not sure yet myself.  And I'm still trying to figure out, "Where IS home?"
    It's good to be back in America for:
    • an endless supply of any foods I crave, including garden-fresh produce
    • a whole country full of people who speak the same language I do
    • shopping where I know how to find deals
    • having our own stuff, and not having to fear "accumulation"
    • boat rides on the lake and walks in the field
    • quaint yarn shops with community knitting and crafting super-stores with endless inspiration
    • of course, being near family and friends
    • little conveniences that we take for granted & don't realize till they're missing

    It's also hard being back, and some of the reasons are strange:
    • The landscape is very lush and's beautiful, but strangely hard to get used to.  I'm kind of pining for southern California just for the familiarity in landscape.  It's crazy how the harshness endears itself to you...struggle creates the closest bonds.
    • Humidity...suffocating.
    • Driving is boring because people actually drive in lanes and obey traffic laws...having a hard time being okay with that.  I mean, I really shouldn't have to wait for cars to pass to pull out onto the road--fluid traffic, people!
    • I miss being mobbed with people coming up to pinch my babies' cheeks or steal them away to show their friends.  I miss perfect strangers treating me like a long-lost friend.
    • (disclaimer: this point is in no way intended to be directed at the people or places where I am currently located, it is merely a feeling): I feel enclosed and bound by small thoughts and small ambitions and single-paned ideas and safe actions...when I'm kind of ready to take on the world.
    • Homelessness is really, really hard.  It's been enormously hard coming home husbandless with 2 small children and a load of stuff, and just kind of float in limbo with no place to belong.  We can't unpack, we can't find things we need, we can't begin the process of feeling normal, we just kind of exist haphazardly.  And those of you who faithfully read my blog (many thanks!) know how important a place and belonging is to my emotional here's praying God answers soon!
    Well, that's all I can think of for now!