Thursday, July 30, 2009

Following His Plan

Mark 8 34-38: ........."If any of you wants to be my follower..... you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."

I just wanted to share a particular portion of Biblical Scripture with you this morning. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, these verses describe how you should be living your life and the benefits received.

Some people are told that if you become a follower of Christ, then the road ahead is easier and you will be happier in the days ahead. Well, this is true in a sense, but this doesn't mean that you will only experience the good things and not the bad. The truth is, that all people experience the good and the bad, but if you are a follower or Christ you have Christ to rely on in those bad times. Since becoming a believer in Christ my life has changed so much. It has taken me a direction I would have never thought about going before. My life took a drastic change when my husband told me we would be moving so far away from family and friends. I was excited about the aspect of experiencing a different culture and way of life, but at the same time was sad to be leaving family, friends and my own dreams and aspirations of being a nurse. Never in a million years did I dream that I would fall in love with the Egyptian people or feel at home so far away from what had been my home for a little over 30 years. God has given us a purpose in being in Egypt. Whether it has been working to help the unfortunate Sudanese kids that are there to obtain an education, or even working in our own son's school, helping the expat's kids adjust, grow and flourish in their new environment, it has been a very rewarding experience. In this world of materialism, greed, and self-fulfillment, this experience of living in a 3rd world country has really opened our eyes to see that we are so blessed and that we have so much. It took me a while to realize it, but I know that I am living a much more fulfilling life in following Christ's plan for my life instead of my own. All that I do I do for Him because I am what I am, and I have what I have because of Him.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Special Aunt

My Mom was the baby of the family with 6 siblings, the oldest of which is my Aunt Shirley. Aunt Shirley is 20 years older than my Mom, and therefore sometimes felt more like a Mom to my Mom and a Grandma to me. She has always been a very special person in my life.

As a child, I can remember going to her house and my sister and I would always cry when we had to leave. Like I said before, she always felt more like a Grandma, and we even called her husband, my Uncle Carl, Papa. He was the only Grandpa figure I remember, as one grandpa passed away long before I was born, and the other one when I was around 2. Unfortunately, Papa passed away a little over 20 years ago.

Aunt Shirley continued on though, still being someone very special in my life. She loves to do for, and give to others. About 10 years ago, I graduated from college, and her gift to me was a beautiful hand made quilt. Well, after receiving that quilt, I had a new obsession. I love quilts. I would love to be able to make them, but I probably would not have the patience to do them by hand like Aunt Shirley. Also, I have a wrist that bothers me quite a bit, so I don't even know if I would physically be able to do this. It has always amazed me though, how Aunt Shirly, being around 82 years old now, can still whip out quilts at an amazing speed. Since that first quilt I received back in 1999, Aunt Shirley has made around 6 or 7 for my family alone.

The quilt above is a quilt that I went out and bought the fabric for, intending on trying to make a quilt for Levi myself, but I just didn't have the patience or the time. So, I took the fabric to Aunt Shirley and asked her if she could make it. Well, she had the top of the quilt done in about 2 weeks. She doesn't do her own quilting anymore, so the quilt was then off to a woman she uses to be quilted. After just a few days it was ready, and I went and picked it up yesterday. I tried to pay Aunt Shirley something for doing this for me, but she absolutely refused as she always does. I will just have to go buy her something special or take her out to lunch sometime. She sure deserves it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

You'd Never See "That" in Cairo #3: A Unique Dining Experience

This is our group. Notice the dingy waitress in the background. That's my sister.

This is my meal. Notice it is served in a huge skillet.

Yesterday, we met up with a family that we knew from Egypt, and we had the fun experience of taking them to one of our favorite places to eat here in SW Missouri. The name of that place is "Lamberts".

"Lamberts" in a unique place to go eat, and it is unique for several reasons. The first reason is stated in it's logo, which is : "Lamberts Cafe: The Only Home of Throwed Rolls". The rolls at Lamberts are fantastic, and if you are not careful, you could easily get full on these rolls alone. But, even better than their taste is the fun experience of sitting clear across the restaurant and catching one of these rolls that is tossed to you from a young gentleman walking through the restaurant yelling "hot rolls". I often get paraniod thinking that at any minute one of these rolls might hit me in the back of the head, but so far, I have fared pretty good.

A second reason "Lamberts" is unique is it's menu. They provide "pass arounds" at no charge to those ordering from the menu. These "extras" are brought to you by servers carrying pots or other containers of fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, black eyed peas, and sorghum and honey. They also offer such a huge variety of entrees that you are sure to find something you will love. With each entree you also get a choice of 2 side dishes, and for those with a bigger appetite, everything, and I mean everything, is all-you-can-eat, so, absolutely no one goes away from "Lamberts" hungry.

The third reason "Lambert" is unique (to me anyway) is because my sister is a waitress there. She has been a waitress there for 10 years now and she still loves it. Kathy is one of the best waitresses I have ever known, and I am not just saying that because she is my sister. She has a very outgoing personality and she loves people. She also loves to make people laugh. If you look closely at the group picture above, the goofy-looking one in the back is her. I didn't even know she had snuck into this picture until I was looking at it later. It makes the picture all the more special to me.

If you would like to know more about this "Unique Dining Experience" you can go here:

Or, if you would like to watch a video of the "Throwed Rolls" go here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Beautiful Window with a Beautiful View

In the 7 1/2 years we have lived in Egypt we have moved several times. Even though I wish we could have found one place and just stayed there, there have been circumstances that have made that difficult.

One of my favorite apartments, and the one that I will probably always remember over the rest was the one pictured above. It stands out in my memory for several reasons. The first reason, is that it was on the 18th floor of a 24 floor building. When I first heard about the possibility of living on the 18th floor, my first thought was "What if there is an earthquake"? Needless to say, I was always a little nervous while we were there, but there were other things that made it worthwhile.

The second reason this apt. stands out in my memory is because it was on the Corniche, and therefore, we had a beautiful view of the Nile River. It was so neat to be able to look out the window any time we wanted to and see the Nile River. I loved the view we had of the Nile. In certain areas along the Nile, the other side is filled with huge, high-rise buildings, but across the river from us was a small village-type area.

This apartment was in an area of Cairo called Shubra. Shubra is one of the most densely populated areas in Cairo, and the people that live in this area are not that used to seeing foreigners. We lived in this particular area because some of our best friends we had made lived in this area, and we thought it would be really nice to live on the Nile. We enjoyed the year we lived in this apartment, but after that year we decided to move back to the area called Heliopolis because it was much easier on our kids. In Heliopolis, our kids could get out more and travel a little more on their own. We were a little nervous about letting them get out too much in Shubra, just because it was much more crowded, and like I said before, the people in this area were not used to seeing foreigners.

One of the features I loved about this apartment was the huge window that looked out over the Nile. When we first moved in, the owners had very unattractive, black-out curtains on this window, so, we immediately went and had curtains custom-built for this window. You can see for yourself how beautiful these curtains turned out.

Even though we have lived, and even now live in a more beautiful area, I will always miss being able to look out that beautiful window and see that beautiful view of the Nile.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Feeling Old

Back when she was my flower girl.
In the hospital after having her 2nd baby.

Yesterday, I went and visited a friend in the hospital. I hadn't seen her in a long time. She was in the hospital after having a baby. This is her second child. What does this have to do with me feeling old? Well, this particular friend just happened to be the flower girl at my wedding.

I can't believe the cute little, 4 year old girl that was my flower girl is all grown up, married, and now has 2 kids. Just doesn't seem like that much time has gone by since Tim and I were married.

If you ask me, she's still cute, and I'm so happy for her and her husband who seem so happily married and seem like they really love being parents.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You'd Never See "That" in Cairo #2

My in-laws' beautiful garden.

Just a little of the sqaush they have gathered.

Some of the squash they have frozen.

A recent post I did was on the place we are staying in the States. That place is my in-laws' home. Just thought I'd post another thing about their home that you probably would not see in Cairo.

They have a beautiful garden, and since being here, I have noticed that there is one particular vegetable that is growing in over-abundantly right now, and that vegetable is squash. They have bags and bags of green and yellow squash already cut up and put in their freezer, and on a daily basis they are gathering bags and buckets of it. They are even trying to give it away when they can so that none of it goes to waste.

One of my favorite ways that my in-laws cook it is to slice it, sprinkle it with different spices and herbs and then grill it. Boy is it yummy this way. Another way it can be used is to make "Zuchinni Bread", which I would like to do here soon. If I do, I will do a post on it and the recipe.

The reason I say "You'd never see "that" in Cairo", is because even though there are lots and lots of farmers in Egypt who grow tons of fruits and vegetables, there is hardly anyone who has their own garden just for the purpose of feeding their own family. The main reason is just because people do not own land. The vast majority of people live in apartments so they don't even have the opportunity to have a garden. The nice thing is though, is that fruits and vegetables are fairly cheap is is a staple of the Egyptian diet.

Above you can see the pictures of my in-laws' beautiful garden and the beautiful squash they have gotten from it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our Trip to Silver Dollar City

One of our favorite rides there, "Wildfire"

My husband and two sons at the beginning of "Wildfire"

Tim and Levi rode "The Lost River". You usually get soaked on this ride.

Riding the train. We got robbed. This is the robber and the conductor.

A lady making peanut brittle.

A man who made beautiful knives.

Funnel Cake, Yum!

A lady that was in character.

A man that was in character.

One of my favorite places to go when I am back home is a place called "Silver Dollar City". It is a theme park that takes you back to the simple life of the 1880s in America. One of the things I love about this theme park is that it is so family friendly. Another thing I love, is that there is something for everyone.

This is a list of what SDC offers on a daily basis during the season they are open:

-A Culinary and Craft School featuring cooking and craft classes.
-30 thrilling attractions and rides.
-60 unique craft shops.
-Live entertainment featuring more than 40 shows daily.
-Branson Craftsmen demonstrating skills in pioneer crafts.
-A dozen family friendly restaurants offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My husband, our two boys and I went to Silver Dollar City yesterday. Our daughter did not get to go because she had to work. The first thing we did after we entered the park was go ride our favorite roller-coaster "Wildfire". There are some pictures above of this roller-coaster, and one of Tim and the boys as the ride was just beginning.

Another neat thing about the park is that all of the employees dress as if they were still living in the 1880s. They are always in character. I think it would be so much fun to have a job here.

There are tons of craft items also that are made by craftsmen right there in Silver Dollar City. Usually, you can go around to the craft stores and watch each craft being made. There are glass-blowers who make beautiful glass items such as vases, jewelry, all different kinds of dishes, and tons of little trinkets. There are blacksmiths, woodcarvers, women who make quilts, rag dolls, lye soap, etc. I could go on and on.

The food here is also spectacular. One could easily gain a few pounds in just one day from the homemade taffy, pork rinds, straberries or peaches and cream, funnel cakes, and all of the good Southern cookin.

Also, the entertainment in fantastic. There is all sorts of shows going on all over the park, from gospel singing groups, country or blue-grass music, comical shows, and kids' shows. One of the most popular ones that has been around for ages is the Saloon Show. Yes, there is a saloon in Silver Dollar City, but don't worry, the strongest beer they serve is Root Beer.

If you would like to check out Silver Dollar City for yourself, here is a link that you can do that.

I have posted quite a few pictures, but it was hard to choose just a few. Hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You'd never see "That" in Cairo #1

A view from one of our previous apartments in Cairo. We lived on the 18th floor here.

The front of my in-laws' home.

The back of my in-laws' home.

A view of their back yard.

As I was driving around today, I kept seeing things that made me think "Hmm, you'd never see that in Cairo". So, I decided to do a series of posts of things that one might see here in the States (or in Missouri) but you would never see in Cairo, or things that might be different.

I thought I'd do the first one on the place we are staying in the States. We are staying with my husband's parents, and they have a beautiful, ranch-style home with a basement. Also, their home sits on 10 acres. There is a lot of wooded area, and they have several horses on the back part of it. Most homes in Cairo are apartments, and one has lots and lots of people around, above and under them. My in-laws have neighbors, but only one family to the South of them and one family to the North.

Where we stay in the States has lots of "green" around it. By this I mean trees and grass. In Cairo, there is just a lot of "beige". Most of the buildings are one form of this color, and then you have the desert. Most of the land mass around my in-laws home is grass-covered land, and in Cairo it is mainly concrete.

Fortunately, Tim and I have moved to a new area just a little outside of Cairo, and there is a little more greenery in the form of grass and trees. So we have a bit of a mixture of what we are used to in the State, and what there is in Cairo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad on their wedding day back in 1964.

Mom and Dad just a couple of years ago.

Tomorrow is my Mom and Dad's 45th anniversary. That is a long time to be married. I am really fortunate to have been raised in a home where the parents were in it for the long haul. It is really a blessing to see that the love between them seems to grow each year. Yes, they had their struggles, just like any other married couple, but I think it is a real accomplishment in this day and age to remain married. It takes a committment, right from the start. It takes the attitude that, no matter what, problems will be worked out.

So, I just wanted to take today and post a couple of pictures of my Mom and Dad and let everyone know how much I love them and how proud I am of them.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!! May you have many more years together.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

This World is Not My Home

No matter what your idea of beauty is, nothing will compare to the beauty of heaven.

One of the reasons the title of my blog includes the words "Living in a Foreign Land" is because of the concept in Christianity, that "this World is not our home".

After living in Egypt for over 7 years now, I struggle with knowing where to call "home". Do I call Egypt my home? That's where the majority of my material belongings are. It is also the place where we live our daily lives, with many friends and "work" responsibilities. Or, do I call Springfield, Missouri my "home"? This is the area where I was born and raised. It is where the majority of my family lives. We also own a small home on a 3 acre tract of land in this area.

Well, as a born-again Christian, there is another place I call "home", and that is heaven. There is a popular Christian hymn that goes like this:

This world is not my home,
I'm just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me
from heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home
in this world anymore.

As a Christian, I strive not to get too caught up in living my life in the "here and now". I am not to live my life for myself, but for the One who created me. I am to live my life for His purpose. I have found, in doing this, true happiness and meaning. Our life on this earth is so brief compared to what our lives will be in heaven. Our lives there will last for an eternity. I am so blessed that God has allowed me to have these 2 different places in the world to reside for a time, but I am even more blessed, to know that I will have a beautiful "home" in heaven for eternity.

Colossians 3:1-2 says:
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Surprises

Seems like my family loves to surprise me. Last March, my son Levi and I were the only ones in our family, and amongst some of our friends, that did not know my daughter Kaily was coming to Egypt for a visit. I was sitting in our apartment, waiting for Tim to get home. I heard the front door open, and assuming it was Tim, just kept watching TV. All of a sudden, someone came up behind me, and started kissing me on the cheek. I almost had a heart attack when I turned around and realised it was my daughter. What a wonderful surprise!!

Well, a couple of days ago, I was surprised by my family again. As you all know, we recently returned to the States for a visit, and I was at my sister's house. Someone knocked on the door, and I did not think anything of it because we were expecting my sister's best friend and her kids. Well, imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw one of my favorite uncles, who I had not seen in 12 years. Then in walked my cousin, and an aunt who I had not seen for a very long time as well. I have to say I was very, very close to tears.

Again, my whole family knew about this. From what I heard, my sister had let it slip a couple of times in front of me, but I was so busy playing with my niece that I didn't hear her.

My uncle, aunt, and cousin that were here are from Oregon, and I am sad to say that they are already on their way back. But, I am so glad that it worked out they were still here for a couple of days after we arrived. It was such a blessing.

In the picture above, I am standing between my aunt and uncle (who are brother and sister). Also in the picture is my cousin with her husband and their little boy. The other picture is one of my favorite pictures of me and my daughter Kaily.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Newest Niece

Hi everyone! I haven't posted in several days because we were traveling back to the States. We arrived at 11:00 PM Monday evening, and I have been too exhausted to do much on my computer, but I had a good night's sleep last night, and thought I'd better get busy.

Another thing that is hard about living in a foreign country, away from family and friends, is that sometimes, friends or family members have a baby, and you have to wait a while before you can see them. This is my newest niece Natalia. She was born last December, but I did not get to see her in person until yesterday, June 30th. Of course I had seen pictures, but that is just not the same as getting to hold, hug and kiss. As you can see, she is totally adorable. I'm so glad that she is not a shy baby and scared of strangers. She came to me right away, and I think I held her pretty much the whole day. If you know anything about me, you know that I love babies and children. Well, I was right in my element yesterday, as my sister has this baby and a 4 year old daughter as well. Then, my sister's best friend came over and she has 4 daughters, ranging in age from 7 to 2 months. Boy did I have a ball.

It will be hard when we have to leave the States again and she changes so much before the next time we get to see her, but for the time being, I will try to spend as much time with them as I can, holding and hugging all of my nieces to help them remember me.