Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bucket List Revisited

Way back in November of 2010, I completed a "to-do" list of things I wanted to see and do while living in Turkey.  I thought it would be fun to check my progress now that we are entering the "home stretch" of our time here:

1. Visit Istanbul-Done.
2. Tour the Seven Churches(focus on Ephesus)-Still planning to go. 
3. Go to Cappadocia and stay in a cave hotel.-Done.
4. See a Whirling Dervish performance-Not happening.  Found out it is really strange and not worth it.
5. Ride a camel-W and Ryan have.  Does that count?
6. Visit Europe-I hit this one out of the park.  Germany twice, France, Austria, Italy, and Greece!
7. See Tarsus (no excuse for not checking this one off, it's only a 30 min. drive)-Done.
8. Go to Israel(this one will be a stretch)-Not likely.  Bummer.
9. Speak at least conversational Turkish- Evit. Cok guzel!!
10. Go to Antioch-Done.

Now for Ryan's "Turkducken List"

10) Read 10 books...read 8...close enough
9) Shoot under par for the course...did for nine holes + won the base championship...done
8) Run 1/2 marathon...nope, maybe before we PCS
7) Buy a shotgun (hey...Turkey makes the best guns in the world...when in Rome)...Check
6) Smoke a Texas style Brisket. I've already mastered Pork BBQ...when in Rome!...Texas Pride would be proud
5) Travel to Istanbul...check
4) See the Seven Churches and Ephesus...nope, maybe if time allows
3) Travel to Europe and see 3-4 countries...check, check, check, check
2) Get my handicap to 5 or lower....6.2, couple of months left
1) Surprise my wife with a mind blowing, thoughtful gift that will go down in the lores of husbandry for all to remember. AKA...I want a PS3 for Christmas so I need to start planning now....PS3--check, B-day on the way :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ahhhh, Turkey. Gotta Love It.

Check out this older entry from my friend Wendi's blog-"Life In The....".  It gives you a little glimpse into our world here.  We have learned that in most instances, it is an act of futility to ask the question "why?" here.  Instead, we just shake our head and mutter under our breath..."it's just Turkey.".

On we go......

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things I Am Thankful For Today

1.  Preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays-both for W and his mama!

2.  A fun Valentine's gift I am planning for Ryan

3.  Not one, but TWO new babies on the way!  Two different friends shared their news with me

4.  My new Zumba shoes-hopefully they will make class a little less painful-at least on my toes!

5.  Ryan's Grandma celebrating her 90th birthday with her kids at her side.  Special.
Happy Birthday to a special lady!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Desert Place

Blessed be your name,
when I'm found in the desert place,
though I walk through the wilderness,
Blessed be your name.

The above lyrics are from a verse of one of my favorite praise songs, "Blessed Be Your Name", by Matt Redman.  The main gist of the song- if you haven't heard it-is that we are to bless the Lord's name, regardless of the circumstances present in our lives.

I started thinking about this song, and specifically this verse, after a talk with my friend Sarah yesterday while our kids played on the playground.  She, like me, has had her ups and downs while in Turkey.  We were each discussing our journeys when she said something that struck me.  She referred to this time as her families "time is the desert".  As this idea rolled around in my brain, I realized that this is EXACTLY how I would describe the way I feel about my time here. 

Max Lucado once said "God orders our lives as He does nature....in seasons".  We all have "desert seasons" in our lives.  Some are more harsh or profound than others.  But regardless of the specific circumstance, they are times when much of our comfort and security are removed and we are forced to look at where we place our trust.  My time in Turkey has been just that. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying that the last year and a half of my life has been miserable.  Far from it. I don't want anyone to misunderstand that.  But it has at many times been uncomfortable.  It has felt at times almost as if I was living someone else's  life, floating above everything until the day we leave and things return to normal again.  Much like wandering in the desert. 

My prayer is that I will be better for my time in the desert.  I pray that I honor the Lord and am found faithful in this journey.  And I know this isn't my last time in the desert, but I am thankful that He will not leave me in the wilderness forever.

Blessed be his name.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Another not-so-great thing about this base?  Scheduled power and water outages.  They normally occur for 5-6 hours on a weekend day, and usually, they are pretty well spaced out.  But not this week.  This week we will have TWO power outage days.  All non-essential activities are cancelled-so that means no school for W.

As my friends and I were panicking and scrambling to figure out what to do with these kids for 6 hours (parks were not an option as it has been raining continuously for 5 days), I thought about the fact that for a long, long time-there was no such thing as electricity.  And people had children and they didn't lose their minds raising them.  We are just so used to constant stimulation from TV, movies, and even music that even a few moments of quiet seems like torture.  So I am trying not to complain and look at it as a positive time for my son.

But I can't cook.  Can't do laundry.  Can't open the fridge to feed my boy.  And this will happen twice this week.  I guess I should expect this though.  After all, you get what you pay for-and we pay no utilities here in Turkey. 

So life goes on this week.  Just a little quieter and darker for the time being.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I get lots of questions about living life in the Middle East-everything from food, to language, to culture.  One question stands out though-"what is the one thing about Turkey that was the hardest to get used to or strangest to you?" I honestly had many things to choose from.  However, in thinking about the question, one thing stands out above the rest: the Muslim Call to Prayer.

I wrote a post on the Muslim faith some months ago, but didn't include much about the Call to Prayer.  Muslims take prayer very seriously-it is one of the main tenants of their faith.  We hear the Call to Prayer 5 times a day.  The times are determined by the sunrise and sunset.  At most mosques, they are recorded calls, although at some of the bigger, more important mosques they might be live.  When Muslims hear the call, they are supposed to stop what they are doing, get on their face towards Mecca, and pray.  In Turkey, a more progressive country as far as Islam is concerned, we don't see people stopping that often.  We do, however, clearly hear the Call to Prayer several times a day.  I don't hear it every time, but it is loud enough to be heard if we are inside and things are relatively quiet.

If you are interested in hearing what I hear several times a day, click here.  W often asks what the noise is, and I tell him it is a reminder for us to sing to Jesus.  So a 3 year old in Turkey often sings "Jesus Loves Me" along with the Call to Prayer.  I can only imagine that our Savior is smiling down from heaven :).

I have often thought about how we as American Christians would be changed if we committed more to prayer.  What if we heard our favorite praise song or hymn blasted from loud speakers 5 times a day?  Would it help us to be closer to the Lord as our day rolls on?

Food for thought.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I am not big on New Year's resolutions.  I understand using the first day of a new year as a catalyst to make changes, but for me, it doesn't really work.  I end up breaking my resolution by January 2, and that is that.  I give up.  I much prefer going day by day, trying a little harder to be a little better today than I did yesterday.  Not in one area of my life with one resolution, but in every area. 

That being said, I recently watched a video clip that has made me think a lot.  It isn't complicated.  It isn't earth-shattering new information.  But it is presented in a way that makes it impossible to ignore or put aside.  If you have 9 minutes, this video is well worth your time.  This is definitely something I will incorporate more into my day in the new year-