Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seasons of Change

Hate is a strong word, so I will say this...I strongly dislike change, and as I grow, I'm realizing it more and more. I always order the same drink at Starbucks (chai: hot in the winter and iced in the summer); I always eat the same dish at the Cheesecake Factory (lemon herb roasted chicken); I like to follow the same weekly routines and keep things in my life as predictable as possible.

Ironically, in the past 8 years our life has been anything but predictable. We moved to Kenya twice (once before kids and once after) for over 6 months each time, all three of our children were not exactly planned (by us at least ;)), my mom was stricken by an extremely rare disease called Pick's around 8 years ago and became someone unrecognizable almost overnight, my dad passed away completely unexpectedly around a year ago, and here I am now in Fairfax, Virginia, my husband an ordained a priest for the Coptic Church...none of which we could or would have predicted at the beginning of our marriage.

So seeing that I dislike change, one would think that I would be miserable, but it has been quite the opposite! There is a special grace and blessing I've found in allowing God to take us places- both literally and spiritually- that doesn't necessarily make sense logically. This past Sunday, I was visiting a family with my husband and he shared his meditation about St. Mary and her thoughts and feelings when she was informed that she was pregnant (out of wedlock) with the Son of God. That isn't exactly easy news to swallow for a young girl who lived a very simple and most likely predictable life. This change would affect every part of her life- her emotions, her social life, her responsibilities, her daily routine, and so much more. She had two choices: obey God and submit to the plan He had for her life, or continue on with her life pretending she didn't hear Him.

Clearly, we know what her choice was. Was it an easy choice? NO. Was it an easy life? NO. But was she blessed? EXTREMELY. Was God glorified? TREMENDOUSLY.

We all have the same choice as St. Mary when God ordains some type of change in our life. We can obey and submit to His plan or we can act like we never even heard Him. If we choose the latter, our life will be simple, routine, and predictable, but it will never be blessed. I've had the blessing of experiencing this several times in my life, yet now when I am the verge of an eminent change, I still fear and long to cling to routine, stability, and predictability.

But as I write this post, I am reminded of an all too familiar verse, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11. I make the decision to willingly submit to the upcoming changes that God has planned for us, with full confidence that even though tough times may lie ahead of us, there is blessing and glory at the end of the tunnel, and through it all, we have a heavenly Father who will hold our hand through it all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Funny choice for a blog post, I know. These flavored popsicles actually hold great sentimental value for me. I was sitting outside with my kids eating them today when a flood of memories from my own childhood came rushing to my mind. The long summer days of playing with neighbors, going through sprinklers, going to the Detroit version of the "beach" with my parents...

How fleeting those moments were. I get a pit in my stomach when I think that the home which held the spirit we had known as children is empty, and those moments are gone. I could have never predicted the early death of my father, and my mother battling with dementia at such a young age. Life is simply unpredictable.

So as I sat outside with my kids tonight eating our popsicles, I focused not on the fact their shoes weren't on and their popsicles were spilling on their clothes. Instead, I focused on the sweet moment we were sharing, realizing that these moments also will pass.

As hard as it is sometimes to not wish it was time for the kids to go to bed so I can finally get some rest, I promised myself tonight to savor every single moment- good and bad- because these are the moments that one day we will wish would come back...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spoiling our Kids...Just a Thought

I am always trying to make sure my kids are not spoiled. Of course I believe its important to discipline, after all, who wants to deal with spoiled brats? But the other day, God revealed something to me that really struck me...HE spoils US. While journaling, I was recalling the abundance of blessings in my life, one by one. After a while, I was a little overwhelmed. The amount of blessings certainly did not match up with my devotion, my service, or my sacrifice. In other words, I am doing NOTHING to deserve what He gives me, but that doesn't stop Him from giving.

With my kids, a lot of the time, I give them rewards based on what they have done, or not done. I know it is important to teach responsibility and of course not give them everything they ask for, but sometimes, I feel like we should just give to our kids simply because we love them. The other day, Daniel asked, "Mommy, can I have ice cream if I am behaving?" and I answered, "You can have ice cream because I love you." The sweet look on his face was priceless and reminded me that I should do it more often.

Kids gain an understanding of God's character mostly from the way their parents treat them. I want my kids to grow up confident of God's UNCONDITIONAL love for them. I don't want them to think of God as a stern parent always looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren't doing anything wrong.

Lord, fill me with Your Spirit so that my kids can see You and Your amazing love through me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heaven Isn't So Far Away...

It's been about 7 months since my dad passed away. Suddenly. There were no warning signs, no major health problems, nothing to prepare us for the news we heard on September 8, 2010. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my dad and miss him. I have been wanting to blog about him for so long, but there is so much to say that it has been too overwhelming to narrow it down to one post. God's hand in the last years of my dad's life was the most powerful and touching example I have ever seen of God's love and His desire to save every single one of His children. I've journaled in detail the events that God orchestrated in the last years of my dad's life and one day will blog about it.

But for now, I want to talk about the window into heaven that we've been blessed with ever since my dad's departure. For the longest time, I imagined heaven to be a big room with pews where everyone was happily singing liturgical hymns and praising God- for all of eternity. I know I'm supposed to think that this is wonderful and that I couldn't think of doing anything else for an endless amount of years...but to be honest, I was always a little uneasy about this and was afraid (although I know its impossible) that I would be...well, bored in heaven. So when my dad passed, I remember crying to my priest and telling him I was sad just to think that my dad was going to miss out on so many wonderful experiences in this life like watching his grandkids grow up, enjoying his family, going on vacation, even just enjoying his relationship with God and the abundant life that God provides. My priest politely grinned and asked, "You really think all of this is something he's going to choose over his experience in heaven." At that point, I realized I knew nothing about heaven which was why my grief at that point was so great- I felt like I had lost my dad to this mysterious abyss that I knew nothing about. And that's when my obsession with heaven began. I started reading every book I could get my hands on that would give me a glimpse of what heaven really was about. I started to delve into my Church's view on heaven, the saints, and the liturgy- which we believe actually takes us into heaven. Thankfully, after all of this "research", God enlightened me to truly get a glimpse into heaven and my life hasn't been the same since.
I now am passionate about learning more about heaven and telling others about it. In fact, as Christians, I can't believe that most of us know nothing about heaven and yet we continue in our walks, not knowing anything about our final destination. We know that this world is not our home, but wouldn't it make such a big difference if we knew what our true home has to offer us?

I believe that all of us get glimpses of heaven that draw us to a place that we've never been before, but where we are all longing to go. I call it the "God feeling". It is the feeling you get when you are staring at the ocean, not able to see the other side. It is the feeling you get, when you are by yourself at night and you look up into the sky and see the stars and realize how big our world is. It's the sweet and fleeting moments of almost perfect love and fellowship you feel with your family, your kids, and your friends. I believe that this is the Holy Spirit drawing us to our eternal home, giving us hope that our souls will one day find their rest. It is our glimpse of hope in a world that seems hopeless, yet ours is a hope which demands nothing of time or earth, but seeks all in the world to come!
At first I was going to write about all the details I learned about heaven...but I think its a journey that God wants to take each and every one of us on. He gives us the Church,the Bible and His Holy Spirit which all give us amazing glimpses into heaven. I encourage you to take this journey and I guarantee that your perspective on life will completely change...for the better!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Invisible Mother

I absolutely love this piece. I am sharing it from another mom's blog.

Invisible Mothers

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible - The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.

"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'

I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'

I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Someone needs to be the Donkey...

The week of our Lord's Passion began today, Palm Sunday, and we joined in praising Him with the crowds chanting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the Highest!" On most Palm Sundays, I get emotional. In the Orthodox Church, we believe that all feasts, such as Palm Sunday and the events of Holy Week, for example, are not just annual remembrances of the events of that day– they are, instead, by the grace and condescension of God, a true participation in the event itself. The liturgical and spiritual reality of holy events are a gift from God – a condescension to us – not unlike the condescension of His incarnation. God gives Himself to us in our worship of Him. It is pretty mind boggling. Maybe that is why I get emotional, because I close my eyes and I see Him right in front of me, smiling at the praises of His people but also inwardly saddened at the denial he would face by these same people- by me...

What can I do to ensure that I please Him and truly live a life that glorifies Him, just as my verbal praises proclaim? If I allow Him to do as He pleases with my life. If I see Him as my creator and my redeemer and realize that my entire purpose in this life on earth is for Him- not for me. If I volunteer and say, "Take me! Take me to be your donkey!". Without the donkey, Christ wouldn't have been able to ride into Jerusalem and carry out our salvation. The donkey is the least of all animals, but Christ chose it for His good purpose. If He chose a donkey, don't you think He could choose us if we humble ourselves and allow Him to use our life for His glory...even if it means being like a donkey?

This was the message of today's sermon, and a message that God has been ingraining in my heart this entire Lent. Humility. And humility does not mean, like we so often think, thinking horrible thoughts of ourselves and how horrible we are. Humility means having a true assessment of who I am and who God is. Humility is the realization that we can do NOTHING without His help. This realization should draw us into prayer throughout the day, not out of obligation but out of complete desperation knowing that without this time of supplication before God, nothing fruitful or successful will come out of our day.

I have been so humbled as a mother, especially recently, realizing that whatever "perfect" plan I put in place or however hard I try, I am a mess on my own. No matter how many pep talks I give myself..."I won't lose my temper, I won't yell, I won't be upset"...I find myself falling day after day. I was convicted of my pride in thinking I'm just a "strong" woman, who can "handle it".

I desperately need a Savior.

And can it be that He needs me too? For so long, I have tried to be good enough for Him to use. But this week, He is telling me that I will never be good enough, and until I reach the point where I can admit that, He can't use me in the ways I want. The Holy Spirit is given to us in proportion to our humility. I can go through my life thinking that I can do things on my own; that if I read up enough on the best parenting techniques, I would be the best mom...if I read tons of spiritual books, I would become spiritual...if I served until the point of exhaustion, my service would somehow be more acceptable. No. I can do nothing at ALL WITHOUT HIM. Admitting this will give Him the invitation to come in and use me to glorify Him and bring more people to His Kingdom...just like the donkey...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just "Be"

As I mentioned before, my goal for this Lenten season is to “declutter” from the inside and out. So far, I must say, it has been very freeing. There are a few things that I have cut out such as excess time on facebook, e-mail and texting, among other things, that I didn’t think would make such a difference, but taking these distractions out of my life has carved out some time and space that I didn’t even know was there. I have also been trying to resist the urge to plan something for the kids, or my husband and I, on any free time we may have. In the words of my wise mother, I am learning to just “be”.

During my high school years, I was constantly running from school to sports practices, games, and other extracurricular activities during the week. On most weekends, I’d want to spend time with my friends. There were times when my mom wouldn’t allow me to go out and insisted that I stay home. When I’d ask her why, she’d say, you just need to learn how to “be”. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t even watch television while I was home away from all the fun. Of course I would throw a fit and tell her that she didn’t know what she was talking about but now, years later, I am starting to see the wisdom in her reasoning.

I strongly believe that one of the main reasons I don’t get bored as an adult is because of these years of “training” from my mom (and thank God for that because I have a lot of moments to myself as a PW!). Not only did I just learn to keep myself busy with a ton of different hobbies, reading, etc, but it was in those moments of quiet that I felt an emptiness that eventually led me into my journey with the Lord. Without having a second of quiet in my life, I may have never felt my desperate need for God and the bitter taste of life without Him. It was in those moments of just “being” where I could reflect on my life, when I tried my hardest to avoid it. God was always there, but in those moments when all the noise was moved away, I could finally see Him.

As a mother now, I can see how hard that must have been for my mom to tell me no when I’d ask to go out with friends or busy up my schedule. We parents take absolute joy in giving to our kids and allowing them to do things that make them happy. My kids are only 2 and 4 and it breaks my heart when I have to tell them no. I have the tendency to fill up their free time with playdates and activities so that they’ll be “enriched”, social, and entertained. But I often wrestle with the thought that, just as my mom did to me, I need to teach my children to just “be”. In fact, I believe that it is my responsibility as a mother to train my children in this "just being" way of life that has even become hard for us adults these days.

I need to trust that the same God who met me in those quiet and empty moments can and will meet my children too, even at their young age, and His presence- more than any activity, playdate, or form of entertainment- will enrich my children in more ways than any of these things can- I just have to believe it!

Monday, February 28, 2011

More time for the little things...

In my attempt to de-clutter and simplify around here, I've noticed that I've had more time and energy to enjoy the little things. When my mind is preoccupied with a million different things, I sometimes give my kids and those around me the short end of the stick, and that is something I want to change. My dad passed away almost 5 months ago, and I am still dealing with the reality of it. One lesson that continues to echo in my mind daily is to seize the day because we don't know how many we have left. What a shame if I would just spend my life being too busy for the most important people and things around me.

On that note, here are some good ways that I've found for the kids and I to spend good quality time together- enjoying life's little moments:

-When it rains, go outside with an umbrella (see above). I explain to my kids that God needs to pour the rain down so that the trees can start growing leaves again.
- "Bug Catching" (above and below). We found bug catching nets in the dollar area at Target. When the weather is decent, the boys go outside searching for bugs, leaves and other things to put in their nets. Actually, the other day we saw a bunny and the boys were chasing it with their nets...haha. This is a nice chance for them to be outside and exert some energy and its also a great walk for me.

-Library Days. This is an idea I remember from my mom when we were little. Choose a day to go to the library once a week or once every other week, and check out some books. That night when you come home, make popcorn and read books in Mommy and Daddys bed. This makes the kids excited about reading as they see it as a special event.
-Wooden Puzzles- I just discovered these. They are much easier than regular puzzles for preschoolers and toddlers and they keep the kids busy. We also like to do big puzzles together as a family, everyone has a role in finding and placing the pieces.
-Coloring and painting. I find that when I have the time to sit and actually paint or color with the kids, not only is it therapeutic and relaxing for me, but the kids really enjoy it and spend more time doing it compared to the times I just let them color on their own.
-Cooking. (I know, I need a girl!) The boys actually love helping me to cook and bake. I have them pour the ingredients and stir, and they love it. Hopefully they'll impress some ladies with their cooking skills later on in life ;-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Lenten Goal

We just got back from our road trip to Toronto and despite the fatigue that comes from traveling with two young children, I feel spiritually refreshed! I'm almost ready for this season of Lent that is coming up. I say "almost" ready, because I literally feel like I was just getting used to being able to eat-and cook- meat and dairy... :)

Even before my trip, this whole urge to "de-clutter" was building up inside of me. Maybe its a little bit because I'm genetically OCD (haha) or maybe it was really a message that God was trying to give me. Not so coincidentally, two of the women that I got to spend lots of time with on this trip were also feeling the same urge. One of the very practical de-cluttering tips I got is right here!

I'm planning to use the 55 days of Lent to physically clean out my home, and during this process, I am going to pray that God could spiritually "de-clutter" my mind and my spirit. As I clean up each room, and see which stuff needs to be thrown out, given away, or cleaned up, I will also pray that God reveals the things inside of me and the "stuff" in my life that needs to be cleaned up.

It's my prayer that during this process, my mind and heart will be cleared from clutter so that I can more diligently listen for God's voice. Exodus 15:26 (my quiet time the day before I left for vacation) says, "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you." The part about diligently heeding His voice really spoke to me. Though I take "quiet time" every day, I also feel like my mind and heart are elsewhere, too cluttered to hear His voice. I may read His word every day, but I can't say that I diligently listen for His voice. I believe that listening for His voice, hearing what He has to say, and obeying it, will be life changing for me...even in just the little things.

Pray for me! I'll keep you posted on this process :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Road Trip!

So I very spontaneously decided to take my kids on a road trip to tag along with my husband for a retreat he is doing for a sister mission church in Toronto! Even though it seemed spontaneous, I just found out that the other priest's wife from the church in Toronto had been "praying me over" for the past several weeks, asking God to find a way for me and the kids to come. I was very touched to hear that, and I think that's why I feel a general sense of peace and excitement about this trip. I'm actually looking forward to the car ride to get some relaxation and time to think and reflect. I'm going to download some sermons and songs to my iphone to keep me company along the way, and the kids will be busy sleeping and watching their movies (thanks to our new car and its DVD player :)).

I'm looking forward to our little adventure and I'm asking for prayers that the trip goes smoothly, safely, and peacefully. I also pray for a personal revival and time of refreshment for my spirit. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cute things my kids say and do...

This post may not make sense to anyone except me. I just want to document the things I remember about my boys so that I won't forget as time goes by. I have memory books for both of them, but there isn't enough room to capture everything. I think this is just another one of my attempts to freeze time and pretend they'll never grow up :)

Actually, speaking of growing up...
Me: Daniel, don't grow up, ok?
Daniel: No Mommy, I want to grow up
Me: Why?
Daniel: So I can have my birthday party

Whenever Daniel is in the bathroom, he tells me to shut to door because he needs "some privacy please". But Timmy is always allowed in and says "pivasee mommy" and then shuts the door in my face..

This one made my heart melt...
The boys were pointing at my wedding ring and asking what it was for. I tried my best to explain to them that when Daddy knew that he loved me, he wanted to ask me if I would marry him (live with him in his house), and gave me the ring to show me how much he loved me. Then I explained that when they were older, they would find a girl they loved and ask that girl the same question. So I asked Daniel, "which girl are you going to ask to live with you?" I figured he would tell me one of the girls in his class, but he looked really seriously and said "But I want to live with you, Mommy"...I literally melted at that moment.

The other day we were at a friends house and Daniel asked if he could pray. Usually he says the same prayer they say at school (God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our food...) But that day, he pulled one out of left field. He closes his eyes, folded his hands and very seriously sang (to the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree"):
'Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, you are the Holy Spirit. Amen'
LOL- interesting theology, Daniel!

We were reading the book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and Daniel kept asking why the Grinches heart was too small. And then he answered his own question and said, "Oh, is it because Jesus wasn't in his heart?" Yes, Daniel, that's exactly why. So now I add my own ending to the story, that as he came down and decided to like Christmas with the Who's, it was because he realized it was Jesus' birthday and he wanted Jesus to come in his heart. That will only last until the boys start to read ;)

And here is a dictionary of things my kids mispronounce. I never get sick of it. Makes me smile every time.
Mosquito bite = Riskeeto bite
Distract= Ristract
Hiccups= Piccups
Lemonade= nemandade
Veggietales= Beggietales
Alter= Walter

I can probably come up with a million more, but that's just a bit for now. I'm thankful for my boys' simple hearts and minds and how they make me smile every day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Fever!

Today felt like the first day of Spring! It might as well have been for us Virginians who have been trapped inside our homes for the past four months. After having school closed for snow just a few weeks ago, today was a breath of fresh air (pun intended) for my kids and I. We took full advantage of the weather and ventured off to the park. I was so excited to discover a great park right next to our home. The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park has two large play structures for the kids (safe for my two year old and challenging enough for my 4 year old), huge fields for open play, biking and hiking trails, and a picnic area.

Today's weather couldn't have come at a better time. One more day indoors would have been unhealthy for all of us. It's funny, because right around the onset of fall, I was exhausted from summer's activities and excited to begin a new season of days being forced to stay home and spend quality time together, and cozy nights drinking hot tea and reading. It seems that every season comes at the perfect time :)

This new season has also inspired me to start a new season in my life as well. The past few months seem like a blur from the business and clutter (ahhh the clutter!!) that have piled up in our house and in our family. With so many things that need to be done each day, and so many goals that I want to accomplish, I've been left in a whirlwind of events, to-do's, and did I mention the clutter?? I am praying that this new season be a season where as I begin to declutter and organize the outside, I can also declutter and organize myself on the inside...prioritize...Seek. First. His. Kingdom. More on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hear Our Cries

The Coptic Orthodox Church in North America has called each congregation to fast and pray for the safety and future of our beloved Egypt.

For the past week, Egyptian citizens of all ages and religions have overcome their fears of being criticized or punished for expressing their opinions about the current state of their country. They have had enough. Enough unemployment without the government doing anything to create jobs. Enough police brutality without the government intervening. Enough poor education without the government coming up with a plan to improve things. Enough of the rising costs of food and housing leaving many families hungry and many couples unable to marry because they cannot afford an apartment. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

I'm a first generation Coptic Orthodox Egyptian Christian. My parents immigrated here from Egypt in 1977, and shortly after, they had my sister and I. At the time, thirty years ago, conditions in Egypt did not provide much opportunity as far as jobs and education, especially for Christians who were (and still are) often discriminated against. My parents left their safety net of their home, their culture, and their family and friends in order that my sister and I (their future children) would be born and raised in a country that provided opportunity, hope, and a future. Sadly, things in Egypt have not changed and in fact, things have gotten worse. My church here in Northern Virginia welcomes hundreds of immigrants each year because so many are fleeing from the worsening conditions.

The problem seems very overwhelming. I'm glued to the tv these days, and I'm not quite sure what I'm waiting for. The Egyptian people want Hosni Mubarak, the current president, to leave. It is believed that once he leaves, things will get better. But his absence also gives room for the Muslim Brotherhood to gain more power which would make conditions worse, especially for the Christians living in Egypt.

As I mentioned early, the church has called a 3 day fast and prayer for the situation. I find myself unsure of what to pray for. Of course, I want justice, and I want the Egyptian people to be treated with dignity. I want the children of Egypt to have hope and a future in their own country, and not have to wish that some day their parents will win the lottery and move to America. In moments like these, I look up.

"Our God...We do not know what to do but our eyes are on You." (2 Chronicles 20:12).
"There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12)
I'm also reminded of my son Daniel's Bible memory verse from a few weeks ago, "As for God, His way is perfect." (Psalm 18:30)

So along with fasting, the church asks that we increase our prayers. Sometimes that is hard to do, because you don't really know what to pray for or what to say besides God be with your people, protect them, and protect Egypt. After 3 minutes, you're done. That is the beauty of the Coptic Book of Hours (the Agbeya). It contains prayers for seven different hours to be said throughout the day. The hours are chronologically laid out, each containing a theme corresponding to events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Egypt was on my heart and mind today, I could lift up the prayers I was reading for them. The Thanksgiving prayer which is read at every hour reads:

All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from {the people of Egypt}, and from all Your people, and from this holy place, {and this country} that is Yours. But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us {and for the future of Egypt}". And then following these introductory prayers are sets of Psalms which also bring our heart into the spirit of prayer and relate to the situation at hand.

The Agbeya is such a wonderful tool to deepen our prayers and keep us in God's presence longer. When dealing with this situation in Egypt, with so many anxieties lurking, God's presence is the place with all the peace and all the answers. So I decided that that is what I will pray for, of course along with peace, freedom, and true democracy. I will pray that during these uncertain times, when people don't know where to turn for help, they will look up and find the One Answer they need. The majority of people in Egypt are Muslim and I'm really praying that this will be a time when they see Jesus Christ Himself as their true deliverer.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bringing up Boys

I just started reading Dr. Dobson's book, "Bringing up Boys". So far, I really like it. I am blessed with two very energetic and happy little boys (Timmy 2 and Daniel almost 4). Every day, I try to come up with a way that I can freeze them so they won't grow up...seriously...I've thought of having them sleep in the freezer :) That's why its hard for me to read the book, because it discusses when boys become older and the problems they'll face...and I don't want to think of my baby boys all grown up! But of course I know its reality, so I want to use the time I have with them now to really prepare them for the future. I never wish this time to go by quickly because I know that these are the days I'll treasure forever, the days before they have their own life and so many other outside influences. I look at their first five years of life as real discipleship since I am basically with them all the time and these are the years they are most impressionable. That's why I feel that it is so important that we as mothers fill ourselves with God's Word and His presence during these years (and of course later too)- because our children will be filled from what we give them and if we are empty, how can we fill them?

After reading the first few chapters of Dobson's book, I realized its good to have a goal when raising kids. Its good to remember that one day, my boys will be grown adults living in this world...they may be husbands, fathers, church leaders, teachers, etc, etc, so we have to prepare them for that day.

My goal is to raise honest, caring young men who will be respectful of women, loyal and faithful in their relationships, keepers of commitments, strong and decisive leaders, good workers, and secure in their masculinity. Most importantly, I hope for them to have a lifelong passion and love for Jesus that drives their every thought and action!

God, please help me, I can do nothing at all without You.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Day!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

What a great day God blessed us with today! It's days like this where you realize His grace and blessings come so freely, even when we least deserve it. God doesn't wait until we are "good" to bless us, He just blesses us because that's His nature :)

The kids had a snow day today and two of their friends came to spend the day with us! So I had 4 kids- one 5 year old, two 3 year olds, and a 2 year old. Believe it or not, it was such a great and easy day! The kids played so nicely together and kept each other occupied. I love watching kids play together- they get so creative and never get bored.

I added in a few structured activities for them to break up the day: morning and afternoon snack, story-time, painting, and a movie; so the day actually flew by! I was also able to get a lot of cleaning/organizing done- stuff I've been wanting to get done for a year now! I am so thankful to God because a day locked in the house with four young children normally would have been tough, but our day was filled with so much peace and joy! Enjoy the pics from our day!

SNACK TIME (veggie chips)

Gracie playing with cars

Antony Reading

Timmy wanting me to take a picture of him :)

Daniel playing with the Veggietales Pirate Ship

All the kids working together to build a castle


This was the longest Timmy ever painted- he loved it :)

Lunchtime (Daniel was pretending to be a pirate with one eye)

My kids eating their bedtime snack

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." MLK, Jr.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'" MLK, Jr.

"This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day." MLK, Jr.