Friday, August 19, 2011

It takes a heap o'living'

As we prepare to move from our home of ten years and from the city that has been home for 23, many of the sentiments conveyed in this poem mirror my own. Thank you, Mr. Guest. And thank you, Tayta, for bringing this poem to my attention . You are so good at making those poetic connections which bring beauty into our home.

~Edgar A. Guest

It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used -- they've grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb marks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled,
an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart,
an' when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more -- ye can't escape from these.

Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes' t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.

I wish I had the time to insert meaningful images which play through my mind as I read this poem. Someday. As important as it is to remember, right now I must use what emotional and physical energy I have to close up this home well and let my heart fill with anticipation for the next place we will make home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Say Hello to the World for Us

I can still picture our new friend, Micha, sitting at our dining room table, crouched over his Mac for hours at a time, watching, listening, thinking, editing. Last month Micha accompanied my daughter, Lauren, and fellow violinist, Holly Jenkins, as they performed, led workshops, and gave lessons in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan, quietly and unobtrusively capturing the defining images and ideas of their music project. Yesterday he released his short film. A few words from its creator:

This is not just another film about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. There are enough films out there, which attempt to show the conflict in its perplexing and ponderous entirety. They end up, inevitably, dwelling on the injustices and the violence perpetrated on both sides, on refugee children and IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers. Surely, it is important to document these realities of the conflict, for the world to see and assess. However, when filmmakers take this approach, they all too often forget that they are dealing with people and not just an issue. Righteousness takes the place of compassion. As a result, they dwell on the ugliness and not the beauty of region, proffer a message of desperation and not of hope.

Yet, there is much beauty and hope.

"Say hello to the world for us" takes a compassionate and searching look at the people behind the conflict, through the eyes and music of two young, maybe slightly naive, but intensely passionate violinists. It follows their travels from Amman to Bethlehem and back, as they perform and give workshops to eager children along the way. As the trip unfolds, the film offers rare glimpses into the lives of sundry Palestinians--from the old shopkeeper in Bethlehem, to a group of lively boys from Al-Azzeh Camp. In all of this, "Say hello to the world for us" does not seek to explain the conflict; rather, it shows the people who are caught in the midst of it, struggling silently to live and prosper.

~Micha Hilliard

Say Hello to the World for Us

As I watched the film, a new wave of thankfulness to God for calling us to this region of the world, washed over me. Amidst the hatred and strife there is yet beauty and hope. God has not forgotten and he neither slumbers nor sleeps. Thank you, Micha, Lauren, and Holly, for the reminder.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Ingredient Ice Cream--Really!

This is one of those revolutionary recipes which changed the way we prepare food and eat it--right up there with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I found it a couple weeks ago while perusing a helpful food blog: Handle the Heat, but by the looks of the comments on this recipe, it seems that dessert secret has been out for awhile.

The Mystery Ingredient: Bananas

So, everyone who does not have an aversion or an allergy to bananas should be totally excited about this recipe. All you need is bananas, a freezer (of course) and a food processor. The bananas should be ripe, but not too ripe. This is not the recipe for your I-wouldn't-eat-these-but-maybe-I-can-make-something-with-them bananas.

Simply cut peeled bananas into bite-sized pieces and freeze them on a flat pan/cookie sheet. Depending on your freezer this will take a couple/few hours. Once you have frozen banana pieces you are ready to make ice cream, and this will take under five minutes.

Simply pulse the frozen banana pieces in a food processor. (Take care not to overload your processor. Depending on the amount I am processing, I do a couple batches.) If your bananas are very frozen they will ricochet off the side of your processor for several pulses before they begin to transform into smooth, creamy ice cream. I move from pulsing to continuous processing toward the end, and use a spatula to work the remaining banana pieces into the ice cream--when the processor is turned off.

The texture of this ice cream really is smooth and creamy, just like ice cream, but without the cream and sugar. As you can see by the picture, we are enjoying our banana ice cream (almost daily) with a few add-ons: homemade chocolate syrup (yes, there is sugar in this) and chopped salted peanuts.

Tayta's Chocolate Syrup (not as sweet as Hershey's)

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cocoa, sugar, water, and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil for one minute, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

My Summer Salad

Last summer my friend, Brenda, informed me that every summer she makes a new salad recipe which she then designates as her Summer Salad. Nice idea. I am officially dubbing this Simply Delicious salad as my 2011 Summer Salad.

I knew I'd love this salad when I saw the ingredients as it has all the flavors I love: tomato, chickpea, mint, olive oil, and of course, basil. I've tweaked this recipe and come up with:

Tomato and Chickpea Salad

3 cups (or so) cherry or grape tomatoes. Depending on their size I cut them in half or leave them whole.
2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
a handful or two of fresh basil, chopped
some fresh mint, chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
coarse sea salt

Toss all tomatoes, chickpeas, basil, and mint together. Drizzle/dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with coarse sea salt according to taste.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Mabruuk! (Congratulations)

Dear Husband completed his Master of Divinity degree just days before we traveled to the States last June. At the time, life was a swirl of activity as Active Son graduated from high school and we helped him wrap up his life in Jordan in preparation of moving to the States from college--not to mention transitioning our family back to the US for seven months--and so we assumed that Dear Husband would not walk in the graduation ceremony to be held later that summer. No matter--what was important was that he was finished!

The opportunity to complete his MDiv was a gift from God: Dear Husband had completed a three-year masters of biblical studies + ministry degree 23 years prior, however it wasn't accredited. Dr. David Martin, who was the academic dean at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS) at the time Dear Husband approached the seminary about working on a degree, gathered up some of Dear Husband's academic work done in the States and some done in Middle East in the interim years, had him sit for some language tests, and then awarded him 48 of the 96 credits needed for his MDiv.

Dear Husband plugged away, part-time, on the remaining credits, taking regular and intensive courses from Jordanian and visiting US and European professors as time allowed. His favorite classes were Old Testament courses and Hebrew--much easier now that he knows Arabic, he says. He was allowed to submit papers in English but about half of his course work (reading, exams) was completed in Arabic. Dear Husband's very last course was Eschatology, in Arabic. Working so hard to keep up and succeed in this course, he was waking up at 4:30am with the dawn call to prayer--not voluntarily--and wasn't able to fall back asleep.

Due to circumstances, JETS didn't hold their graduation last summer, so last year's graduates were invited to walk this summer. With Dear Husband's completion of his degree a year past, there wasn't much motivation on his part for participating in a graduation ceremony. Dear Husband even contemplated missing it for a softball game (and the boys would have except that the other team providentially forfeited the day before). In the end, it was an unexpected celebration and official recognition of all the hard work of study that Dear Husband had so diligently completed and I am so glad that we were able to attend the graduation together.

The proud, though small family

I had Tatya grab this shot to contrast the Arab family shot with our own. It looked like the grandmothers came in from the village (note the head scarves). This young graduate had the largest family in attendance and thus received the loudest applause, yells, and undulations. Our dear friend undulated (shrill celebratory noise made by rolling the tongue) for Dear Husband so we weren't completely pathetic.

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology in Arabic

This was Dear Husband's graduation present from a church in Texas who donated them to JETS. He says he looks forward to reading them.