Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The other half of me

You would think this is a post about how my husband completes me.
But it is not, although he does complete me.

You could think this is about a massive weight loss success story--a girl of 300 lbs loses 150 lbs and becomes a new woman.
But I didn't do that, quite thankfully

You perhaps might wonder if this is a post about how grumpy I am at home after putting on a happy face for all to see on Facebook or in public. Not quite. I do wonder if all the Facebook posting we do about our accomplishments and good things in our lives makes us more "virtual" and less "real".  Don't wanna talk about that right now, though.

This IS about me exercising the other half of my brain--the academic part that studied eyes and how the cranial nerves innervate the muscles causing cyclotorsion and how phenylephrine will stimulate the alpha adrenergic receptors on the iris dilator muscle. Now that was just showing off. Shame on me.

Not really, because here is the thing.  I love eyes. I studied them for a reason. We paid to learn about them, so I should know quite a bit about them, and you should want me to know about them so I can help you with them when your eyelid twitches rhythmically and no one else can see it but you. Or, when you sneeze when you walk outside.  Every time.  Yes, I learned about that stuff, including why the sky is blue.

But for a season, I've been more of a cook, a mother, and a friend.  I spent the first 10 years of my educated life being, well... educated!  Studying, practicing optometry, and paying off those loans that helped me learn about blue skies and refraction.  Then, all the security I had built up by having my world organized and know-able went out the door as we stepped onto the airplane to Jordan.

I became someone who knew nothing.

I had to learn from people who didn't even go to high school.  They knew how to cook and where to shop.  They taught me how to make people feel at home in my house.
I had to learn another language that I stunk at speaking for 3 years or so. I sounded very uneducated, on the level of a 7 year old at best. I sometimes cried like a 7 year old, too.

It was the season of my undoing.

But you know what? I found another half of me inside all my external layers of self-worth and all the padding I had added to my life so that no one would ever think I didn't know squat. That other half of me was needing cultivation and had 8 years to grow. I became a softer, more understanding, and hopefully more humble person.  I learned to appreciate watering the garden and seeing the blooms change. I had time to jog and look at the landscape and wonder who had trod here before me. I learned how not to argue with everything I didn't agree with, but to listen and wonder. I lived as that half of me for my years in Jordan, happily.

But then we returned to the USA; the land of opportunity where I have catching up to do. I need to get my brain firing again. I am asking God to merge the loving, listening half of me with the eye doctor half of me.  I need to be fully Leigh Anne--and not only slip back into being the half that is clinical.  No, that would waste the cultivated heart that God pruned through my undoing.  I can't do that to my Loving Father God. He wants for me to be a light unto this world by being fully who He made me to be.

 Fully Me--two halves.

I hope you enjoyed this and are sparked to wonder about your own self. I hope you are challenged to step outside of your comfort areas and see where may have a hidden half somewhere inside. If you choose to cultivate it, you may love who you become. Full, but not 300 lbs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Marhaba Ya'll

We did it. We moved.

After 8 years of life in the Middle East, we packed what we deemed keep able into 15 trunks and 6 duffel bags and moved back to Texas.
Last day of 1st grade in Jordan

As I was saying goodbye to so many wonderful people, I was convinced more than ever that our years were well spent, investing in the lives of a precious group of Arab people, and working alongside a precious group of American people. So, if days were currency, we spent them.
We lived them.
We did not put them in our pockets for a rainy day.
Good thing, because it didn't rain much in the desert.

We are ready to use the lessons we learned about God as our provider and leader, about people, about understanding others, and about investing in others' lives to begin a new chapter.

Our Texas homeland is organized. The roads are well paved. All the houses are master planned in rows. But, still people here need to know God intimately, so we want to share how He has met our physical needs, and how He was and IS our friend in lonely times.

Some things I hope to enjoy:
1. Smooth roads
2. Air conditioning
3. Wearing skirts
4. Nearness to family
5. A quiet outdoors without horns, mosque speakers, and loud cars

Some things I suspect I'll miss:
1. Cheap produce and hummus/felafel
2. Dry, cool breeze blowing in from the Mediterranean over Israel at night
3. Sitting on my balcony, enjoying that weather
4. Jogging in the hills
5. Simple living

My challenge is to search for the hidden treasures in the nature around me here--to slow down enough to look at the flowers here, and walk in the rain showers. Really, if I don't "do" my hair, then I can enjoy the rain as it falls on my head, rather than being frustrated it is messing up my perfect "do."  My challenge is to find the same, quiet place of peace and solitude even though my internet moves at light speed and the TV has recorded ever show known to man. Seriously, the phones here sync to your car speakers and things talk to you!! Technology has moved on while I was hanging out with the sheep and camels.

God is the same, yesterday and today. He is the same provider, friend, and father to Americans and Arabs.

I have nothing to fear.

I only have new challenges to work through...important ones like how to make my own hummus.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Miles to go before I sleep

A few days ago, I was thinking of the good-byes we had already said.
Then I realized all we still have left to finish. 

LA and girls at our first Christmas overseas, Lydia still a bun in the oven
You see, we have lived in the Middle East for 8 years now, but this time we hear a voice in our hearts--which we believe to be God leading us--telling us it is time to move back to the US.  We have a new job to do; maybe it is a continuation of the one we started here, or maybe something altogether different. We shall see--

So, I'm thinking...

Wow, we have been saying goodbye to many friends that can't fully understand why we are leaving. Being Arab, their hearts respond first, then their heads chime in with reason.  They are a wonderfully passionate people who can really cook well, BTW! They do hear us when we say we love them and their country, but it is time for us to leave. My husband's friend even tried to pull together all the men of influence in his life to have an intervention of sorts--to plead with him, and persuade him not to leave.  Apparently this works sometimes--but not with us. Not when you've sensed a "niggling" (is that really a word?) in your heart and prayed about what to do. When you know it is God speaking to you about a direction for the future, no intervention, or "juha" as it is named here, can get in your way.

That is when, from the depths of my memory, Robert Frost's poem came to my mind.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

If the woods were my home here in the Middle East for 8 years, and my little horse "thinking it queer" are all the wonderful family and friends who had a difficult time seeing us relocate to our "house in the woods" for this season, then it also seems likely that I can make a final parallel in saying goodbye.  I loved the last stanza about how the woods are lovely, but, indeed, promises have to be fulfilled and I do have to move on before I sleep.  We must move on the next place and finish our lives well--fulfilling our promises to God and obeying.

And sometimes, I just focus on the "miles to do before I sleep" part as the long to-do list. It is 12:30 am here and I am wide awake typing, so .....yeah.... I'm afflicted.

Girls all grown up after 8 years...
The Woods here have been good to us, yet--rather more like a desert wouldn't you say?

additional poetry notes for the nerds out there:

Frost wrote the poem in June, 1922 at his house in Shaftsbury, Vermont.  He had been up the entire night writing the long poem "New Hampshire" and had finally finished when he realized morning had come. He went out to view the sunrise and suddenly got the idea for "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". He wrote the new poem "about the snowy evening and the little horse as if I'd had a hallucination" in just "a few minutes without strain." --notes taken from Wikipedia

Bye, Ya'll!!!
I'm Texas bound in one week, but eating felafel and hummus every other day until then. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lessons learned even though I am not in high school

My apologies on my absence.
Did the principal not send a substitute blogger?
Oh man....
That's right, this is not high school.

Goats tromping down my street....
I've been busy packing our home of 8 years in order to come back to America. And I have been learning many a lesson in the season of uncertainty.

1. I hate dust and dirt. Every piece of furniture we sell reveals an empty footprint on the floor. I run right over and sweep up the months, or in some cases, years of dirt that had been hidden. I can't stand it!

2. One family's trash is another one's treasure. Case in point--my folding kitchen table was low on my "cool furniture to sell list" but one lady with a very small efficiency apartment had been praying to find one like it.

3. Trash bags can get heavy really fast when cleaning out drawers.
             3a. our dumpster is farther away than it looks
             3b. there is nearly always a cat or two inside the dumpster
                    i.    cats jump out when you throw stuff inside. beware!!

4.  The Amman hills, breeze, and smelly sheep all are sweeter than they were last month, since I know that I am leaving soon.
              4a. friends, too, but not in this order necessarily.

5. I improvise for many things with plastic gladware/tupperware that once was only relegated for food. Now for anything---holding keys, mail, money and even serving macaroni! Multipurpose has a true meaning

6. God still meets me for my personal quiet time, even though my couch is gone. I can sit anywhere.

7. All a person really needs is one coffee cup, washed over and over again.

8. I was overly dependent on my electronic devices for happiness. When I sold my iPhone, I was out of sorts for nearly a week. How can I praise God without listening to music from my phone in the mornings? Uh oh. Lesson learned.
             8a. I won't elaborate on when my computer broke and I couldn't email. That threw me down    another notch.
             8b. Trey's PS3 broke and we realized we were certainly learning much about living simply

                     ***putting in a good word for old fashioned pen and paper and CDs. maybe hymnals and guitars, too. ....They don't break as easily as computers do.

9. God will provide for us, over and over again--as sure as the sun rises, and it does every day. Right after the mosque calls the neighborhood to pray before sunrise at 430 am.

10. I am richer than I ever imagined I could be, especially after resigning from a great job in eye care and selling a custom home in a secluded neighborhood off the Brazos river in 2004. Rich in love and experience and things money could never buy. I am so thankful....

More later friends--

This blogger has to get off the borrowed computer and get to bed (aka mattress on the floor)

Every day has lessons to learn. Even if we aren't in high school.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Jesus Wuz Here

Time to go on a date with one of the kids---

Let's see.  Camryn has been asking to go eat Spring Rolls (random I know, but you should know Camryn) on a date with me. Ok. AND let's add something else.

A road trip!  To see the northernmost Jordanian city that overlooks the Sea of Galilee!  (modern name UmmQais)

ruins of...best guess??

She was excited to go, but honestly, the Spring Rolls sold the deal for her. The car ride was sweet, through the hilly countryside in North Jordan.  Once we arrived, we began climbing old rocks of the ancient city, built over 2000 years ago. Ruins of buildings, colonnaded streets--these still remain.  We found lizards and wildflowers, but where is the view we came for? The Sea of Galilee?

Finally we walk close enough to the downhill slope to view the sea. Cam asks, "Can we at least put our feet in the sea before we leave?" Sorry, honey, but no.  That land is heavily guarded in between Israel and Syria--no toe dipping in this millennium.
I was moving slowing, thinking about Jesus being in this land, even for a brief visit.  I was imagining the pigs running off the mountain side after Jesus cast the demons out of the sick men.

Camryn was loving just meandering, and climbing stuff. 

a colonnaded street

We did eventually leave and head back home for Chinese food and Spring Rolls as a finale to our Biblical sight seeing day. She told me it was a great time and was especially thankful for the 2 Spring Rolls all to herself. Usually, in this family of four kids, we share quite a bit.


Ahh, the view to the sea, with Israel across the sea to Israel
As I read more in the Bible about this occurrence in the Gadarene region, I was sad to find out what the last verse says.... 

He came to the other side ( of the sea of Galilee) into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.   And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”  Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them.The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.   And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.       Matthew 8:28ff

The people were so afraid of the power he demonstrated that they begged Jesus to leave their region. Well, he did. He got back on a boat and went back across the sea to Capernaum and the surrounding areas. He continued miraculous works across the sea, where more people rejected him, yet some did accept.

Phooey. Jesus left from this area quickly, but not without performing a miracle. A few here understood His power. A few.

May they ever multiply......

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How does 'beautiful' feel?

I notice my nails. I need a manicure.
I look at my face. I need to scrub my skin, moisturize my wrinkles, and trim my hair.

Me me me me me memememe

If I'm looking for a way to sink into a hole of self-consuming thoughts and focus on the faults of my body--that will do it. 
Looking into mirrors and trying to find faults.
The teeth can be whiter, and the list goes on.

There is rarely enough to be done to be perfect, because the standard changes with what society tells us is perfect.

What if we didn't care what beautiful looked like and instead focused on what beautiful feels like?

Beautiful feels like.....


Especially raising girls, whom the world will eventually try to tell are too fat, too tall, too short, with hair too straight--I find it IMPERATIVE....that's right, I'm saying imperative....to focus on the strength of character that it takes to be beautiful from the inside out. I try to reinforce good hygiene (yea, me!) but more than that, we encourage kindness, sharing, acts of service. And, it begins at home.  When we hear unkind or critical speech amongst the girls, or undue whining--it is our job to talk to them about loving one another. Yes, I would rather ignore it and keep doing my thang, but my responsibility as their mother/role model is to instill love and confidence in them, and I can't allow our home to be a place where they feel attacked verbally.  

  • Inner beauty takes longer to develop than beauty outside. It is more valuable, and it can't be destroyed as quickly.
  • Inner beauty doesn't change with who's famous in Hollywood right now. Loving people are always cool.
  • Inner beauty is attractive to others, because it draws other in, rather than pushes them away. Outer beauty tends to compare, but inner beauty tend to accept.
  • Inner beauty truly does affect the outer shell as well. Smiles, a softness, a self-confidence that cannot be mimicked by hair dye and a manicure. Nor a fad diet.
Even if you aren't raising young ladies, you can focus on increasing the inner beauty God gave you. Before you work out your muscles, don't forget to "tend to your garden" and water your heart. Go without make up and a fancy hair-do if you must, but don't go without resting in the peace that passes all understanding. For me,  this can mean reading my Jesus Calling devo book (I have a link in an earlier post) and listening to some of my favorite worship music (see some of my links on side of page).  I sometimes sit near a window and think. I definitely need to quiet my worrying heart and listen for where God is asking me to serve another person, or step out and do something special today.  If I dare, I ask God what areas are ugly in my heart and need to change.  Inner beauty--

We are ugly in areas of our sin, and we need help to be more like Jesus. Day by day, 

2 Corinthians 3:18 says,  "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord"

PS: We all have extra fat somewhere. Get over it. You are still beautiful and handsome.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spitters never win

Scenario from this morning in Amman--

Driving to Starbucks in an residential neighborhood
Two young teenage boys cross the street in front of my car.
I slow and motion for them to pass

One of them turns and spits on my windshield as I drive past them.

What in the world could have incited him to do such a thing?

Spite? Hatred? Anger?

The only thing I can figure is that because I was female or a foreigner. Either way, a puny reason to spit. (IMO: there is never a good reason to spit except at the dentist)  He didn't see my clothing, nor could he tell my nationality for him to pass a judgment on me, other than the two seconds he saw me as I waved them on in front of my car.

Isn't it outrageous?  After being irritated for 5 seconds, I sprayed water on the windshield and washed away the undeserved evidence. I didn't roll down my window and yell at him or anything, because the battle for this young man is bigger than correcting his actions of spitting at my car.

Somehow, he believes lies about who he is and what is worthy of praise.  Some people actually believe that just because you are female, that deserves spitting. Or of a different race. Or class of society. Or religion.
Either way, they are all incorrect assumptions. I hurt for someone so tangled up on the inside they think that spitting on someone else makes them higher up in society than others. This young man needs another young man to walk with him and teach him the ways of God.  I have a suspicion that his parents aren't involved in shaping his character.

Trey is reading a book , which I'm hesitant to read, about the early believers and the persecution they underwent.  Being spit upon would have been an easy day for them, it seems. Trey phrased it, "they really didn't love their lives unto death"  That is taken from Revelation 12, but it seems a bit hard to understand. What I understand is: The believers of old loved their Lord so much, that the love of their own lives/ safety/ worldly security was secondary to their love of serving God.  Beautiful....

How can we make loving the Lord our first priority every day? I don't have the answers,but I would think the answer lies within you. Just ask and see what He says. Someone might be asked to reach out to the youth of this nation and teach them not to spit. Or cuss. Or tease people.

I hope you and I both try to love our own lives a bit less today.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.