Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Things I'm Thankful For Friday

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

~Psalm 19:1

This week I'm thankful for:

Beautiful Oman
1. Creation.  It's an incredible world that we live in-- creation just astounds me.  Last weekend my friends and I camped out on a beach Musandam, Oman.  We laid on a mat and gazed at the stars while the strains of cheesy pop songs from the next camp over invaded our silence.  Above me was a crescent moon accompanied by the big dipper-- the only constellation I can pick out, and the soft lapping of the waves on the shore.  The next day, we donned masks and snorkels and explored the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.  Incredibly, below the water's surface was a living world-- beautiful technicolor fish, the likes of which I've only seen behind glass.  Wow, how great is our God!
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
2. Faith.  At church this morning, while singing praises to God, I stopped and thought about how thankful I am that He is real to me.  It is inconceivable to me to imagine a world without God.  (This is not to say that I'm a super Christian-- I doubt, I don't always trust Him, I stray-- one line from a favorite hymn which I've always identified with goes "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.")  I know what it's like to want to believe, but to not be quite able to.  It's a terrible place to be, and when I felt that way, my prayer always echoed the exclamation of the poor father in Mark whose son was demon possessed: "I believe; help my unbelief!"  Belief in God is a supernatural event-- I recognize that my belief in Him stems completely and only from Him-- I can truly say that he opened my eyes.  I am thankful for this gift of faith, because it is what sustains me and leads me to life.  Dum Spiro Spero.
3. Goldengrams.  Four years ago today, my grandma departed this world and flew to her Father's arms.  I had an incredibly close bond with her-- she is perhaps the only human I've ever known whose love I could trust in-- I had no doubt that she loved and cherished me and that love inspired me, gave me confidence.  That unwavering love of hers and the bond it created was a wondrous gift.  I loved her with my whole heart and I'm thankful for the woman that she was: her faith, her devotion to her family, the daughter she raised that became my mom, her selflessness... She was an amazing woman.  Her absence her and her presence there is just one more treasure I expect to find in heaven.
When the Lord takes a child, there is one less cord to fasten you to this world and another band to draw you toward heaven... Happy is the trouble that loosens our grip of heaven.  From Beside Still Waters by Charles Spurgeon
4. Work.  After a slow first month working in Dubai, work seems to be steadily picking up.  Last week was great, and I ended up turning down four jobs this week due to being already booked for another week-long job (one of the declined jobs was for the Atlantis Hotel and involved swimming with dolphins, another was in Jordan, another in Qatar, and the last in Bahrain.  I would have had a blast doing these jobs-- or at least would have enjoyed seeing these new places-- but I'm thankful that I'm working and I hope this bodes well for future bookings).

This picture of me as a child gives you an idea of why I'm so thankful those spindly things support me! 
5. Legs.  In the last few months I've tried to make it a practice to stop and be thankful for the little things-- the gifts that God gives me throughout the day.  This seems silly, I guess, but this week as I power walked from my house to the bus stop, I thanked God for my legs, and by extension, my health. Temperatures here in the Middle East have already hit 100F/37C and I'm sometimes out under the direct sun for quite a bit of time.  I'm thankful that I'm well, and that these toothpicks I call legs are able to support me and transport me wherever I need to go.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Do

I emerged from the hair salon today with a new hairstyle.  The most notable difference is that I'm now sporting a fringe!

Te gusta?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I know not everyone is on the photo social networking app Instagram (Hello parents!) so I thought it would be fun to share with you my pictures that I've taken since I've arrived in Dubai.  Captions are below the pictures.

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Clockwise from top left: Poster; Easter Sunrise Service; Statues; me with salesman in souk; ATM for gold; hummus;  the Burj al Arab hotel; the street where I live; the Address Hotel; the Palace Hotel
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Clockwise from top left: Souk al Behar; me in Ahlan!; Cheesecake; cakes at Tiffany and Co.; getting my hair done for  a job; my friend, Romana, at the Archive; view from above in Mall of the Emirates; bowling!; with friends in Kuwait; night view of the Burj al Arab
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Clockwise from top left: 6.23 carat ring at Tiffany & Co.; friends (and crazy hair) in Oman; models at a casting; Golden Tulip Hotel in Oman; waterfall at Dubai Mall; oranges at Waitrose; dancers rehearse for fashion show; view from mall in Ras Al Khaimah; Thursday night grocery shopping at Carrefour; model at casting

Monday, April 22, 2013

Newark Symphony May Concert

I designed the flier for the May 10th and May 12th Newark Symphony concert which will be a performance of Verdi's Requiem.  I'm really bummed that I'm not playing in the orchestra for this concert as I'm sure it'll be powerful and amazing, but it's kinda hard to be in two places at the same time.  If you're in the Newark, Delaware area, by all means, buy tickets and support the Symphony.  The angel on the flier, by the way, is from a cemetery near Longwood Gardens that I always passed on my way to work at QVC.  I was captivated by the angel-- was she crying or in supplication to the Almighty?  When they asked me to design the flier, I knew immediately that I wanted to include her.

I also designed the flier for the March concert, which was a concert I did get to play in.

Best wishes to all of my Symphony friends.  I know you guys are going to kill it.  I really really wish I could be there to watch and enjoy the beautiful music.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five Things I'm Thankful For Friday

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This week I'm Thankful For:

1. Burgeoning Friendships.  It's been a a fun week growing deeper in my relationships with the other girls from my church.  Over the weekend, we gathered on the beach for sunset, and I ended up staying until after midnight bonding with one of the girls over are shared love of a certain photographer.  I also played a card game at another girl's house, and as we roll into another weekend, I look forward to more time spent with my new friends.

2. The Blue Sky.  As I swam my laps in the pool behind our villa, I looked up at the blue sky and felt blessed.  It's a beautiful world we live in and I am lucky to be in it.  I'm thankful for the nature that surrounds me and it's tie to something much bigger than myself.

3. Learning My Way. This seems like a silly thing to be thankful for, but I'm thankful that I'm figuring out how to get around in this town.  I don't have a car, the metro is inconveniently located in regards to my location, and taxis are just too darn expensive, so I've resorted to taking city busses to get around everywhere.  It's been neat because it shows me a different side of Dubai.  The busses wind down roads that are unfamiliar to me, and I'm joined in my travels by mostly poorer residents of Dubai, namely, the immigrant workers.  It provides me with a different perspective on life in this town, and I'm thankful for it.

4. Work. I am ostensibly here to work, and well, a girl does need to eat to live, and so I'm thankful when it comes my way.  I did one fashion show this week at the Dubai Mall, but I'm gearing up for a week of straight bookings (so many so that I've had to turn two down!) next week.  I still haven't gotten paid for anything I've done so far, but I think it's accumulating somewhere, so hopefully it'll be making it's way to my bank account some time soon.

5. Solitude. I'm getting lots and lots of time to myself.  Copious amounts of solitude.  Usually this makes me depressed, as I begin to long for human companionship, but today I realized that I should be thankful for this time as it gives me a chance to reflect and it's something that I won't always have. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


These came out this week for Ahlan!  Shot in the neighborhood of Satwa by Murrindie Frew, with styling by Sam Kientsch, and makeup by Zahra Kadom.

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“Talking only makes me feel more alone,”
you said once in the car outside the clinic.
Two years later, you spoke the same sentence
word for word one night after friends had gone.
Within a month, you’d erased yourself    . . .
Erased? “To absent oneself,” I found scribbled on
a wrapper a year later    . . .

Now sunlight and tree
shadow rush over the windshield of  the car:
I’m talking with my new wife — then gone, absented.
“Sometimes I feel almost too much joy,”
you wrote from the balcony of  your cheap
hotel in Paris. “What are you thinking?” she asks.
Light shutters across us. Wherever you are
in me I’m there, though it’s not what you wanted.

~Infidelity, Philip White

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trust in God and Yourself

“You see now how the case stands—do you not?” he continued.  “After a youth and manhood passed half in unutterable misery and half in dreary solitude, I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you.  You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel.  I am bound to you with a strong attachment.  I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you, and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one."
“It was because I felt and knew this, that I resolved to marry you.  To tell me that I had already a wife is empty mockery: you know now that I had but a hideous demon.  I was wrong to attempt to deceive you; but I feared a stubbornness that exists in your character.  I feared early instilled prejudice: I wanted to have you safe before hazarding confidences.  This was cowardly: I should have appealed to your nobleness and magnanimity at first, as I do now—opened to you plainly my life of agony—described to you my hunger and thirst after a higher and worthier existence—shown to you, not my resolution (that word is weak), but my resistless bent to love faithfully and well, where I am faithfully and well loved in return.  Then I should have asked you to accept my pledge of fidelity and to give me yours.  Jane—give it me now.”
A pause.
“Why are you silent, Jane?”
I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals.  Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning!  Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol.  One drear word comprised my intolerable duty—“Depart!”
“Jane, you understand what I want of you?  Just this promise—‘I will be yours, Mr. Rochester.’”
“Mr. Rochester, I will not be yours.”
Another long silence.
“Jane!” recommenced he, with a gentleness that broke me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold with ominous terror—for this still voice was the pant of a lion rising—“Jane, do you mean to go one way in the world, and to let me go another?”
“I do.”
“Jane” (bending towards and embracing me), “do you mean it now?”
“I do.”
“And now?” softly kissing my forehead and cheek.
“I do,” extricating myself from restraint rapidly and completely.
“Oh, Jane, this is bitter!  This—this is wicked.  It would not be wicked to love me.”
“It would to obey you.”
A wild look raised his brows—crossed his features: he rose; but he forebore yet.  I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support: I shook, I feared—but I resolved.
“One instant, Jane.  Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone.  All happiness will be torn away with you.  What then is left?  For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard.  What shall I do, Jane?  Where turn for a companion and for some hope?”
“Do as I do: trust in God and yourself.  Believe in heaven.  Hope to meet again there.”
“Then you will not yield?”
“Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?”  His voice rose.
“I advise you to live sinless, and I wish you to die tranquil.”
“Then you snatch love and innocence from me?  You fling me back on lust for a passion—vice for an occupation?”
“Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself.  We were born to strive and endure—you as well as I: do so.  You will forget me before I forget you.”
“You make me a liar by such language: you sully my honour.  I declared I could not change: you tell me to my face I shall change soon.  And what a distortion in your judgment, what a perversity in your ideas, is proved by your conduct!  Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law, no man being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me?”
This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him.  They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamoured wildly.  “Oh, comply!” it said.  “Think of his misery; think of his danger—look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair—soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his.  Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?”
Still indomitable was the reply—“I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.  I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now.  Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?  They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.  Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.”
~Jane Eyre to Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte's classic, Jane Eyre
I love love love the Bronte sisters.  I count Wuthering Heights as one of my all-time favorite novels.  Who could ever forget Catherine Earnshaw's famous 'I am Heathcliff!' speech:
My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.
I love Jane Eyre as well ("Reader, I married him.")  The highlighted passage above is an inspiration.  Poor Jane has been alone her whole life, an orphan, and when she finally meets a man whom she loves and who loves her in return, she learns that he's already married to a madwoman in the attic.  What's incredible, though, is that she values herself enough to walk away.  She refuses to compromise on what she believes to be true.  It paints an incredible picture.  She knows who she is, she knows her worth, and she trusts in God as her salvation.  I love it.  Years ago I wrote a post on what we can learn from classic literature, and this book is no exception.  I wish I had half the resolve, gumption, and faith that Jane has.

Charlotte Bronte, by the way, was the only sister to achieve literary success (many people thought the book was trashy, but sales were high) during her lifetime.  She wrote most of Jane Eyre in a frenzied three week time period.  Unfortunately, she watched her mother and all five of her siblings die before her.  She died at the age of 38, shortly after getting married, due to complications related to pregnancy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five Things I'm Thankful For Friday

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

~Mr. Beaver responding to Lucy's question as to whether Aslan is safe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 

This week I'm thankful for:

1. Prayer.  Life isn't always so rosy, but I have a whole host of people praying for me (as well at the Holy Spirit-- Romans 8:26) which is a great comfort.  I've also heard it said that we do not pray to change God, but to change ourselves, and I can definitely see this in my own life as I see the perspective of my heart changing after time in prayer.  Keep it up, friends-- I'll take all the prayers you care to send my way!  (If you're reading this now, won't you stop and say a prayer for me?)

2. Women.  It's been a girly sort of week.  Our head of household is out of town this week (he's in the US for a conference), so it's just us girls around the villa (unless you count Winston, the dachshund).  On Monday night, instead of our regular small group, just the women got together to eat salad and pray for one another.  It was a wonderful time of sharing and comfort.  I also flew to Kuwait with two lovely women (whom I just met, but with whom I am now tentatively planning a trip to Kerala, India), and just today passed the afternoon and evening in the company of three lovely ladies.  Female companionship is wonderful, and I'm blessed to have found it here.

3. Work.  One of the perks of my job is getting to travel to new places.  This week, I went to Kuwait City to help open the flagship Tiffany and Co at the Avenues Mall.  I am thankful for the work, the travel, and the lovely people I met along the way. 
That's me on the far left!

4. Being Fed. When I thought of this, I was thinking of the joys of getting to eat-- and especially for free (money's tight these days, but I got fed on my jobs this week, and friends have treated me as well).  I'm am thankful for the little things-- having a full tummy, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over my head.  But, after typing this, I realized that I'm being fed spiritually, too.  Earlier in the week, I watched the Together for the Gospel Conference live on the web as friends of mine spoke in Orlando, Florida.  I've also been more diligent about reading my Bible and praying, and it feels good to be growing in my love for and knowledge of God.

5. God's Grace. It's usually only in hindsight that I can see God working in my life-- how he cares for me, and how he spares me from things.  Once again, I am humbled by His grace and goodness.  Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; 'tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home (John Newton, 1725-1807).

I just watched this 2-minute testimony from last year's Together for the Gospel Conference and found it encouraging.  I hope you do, too.  I think the talks from this year's conference should be up on the Together for the Gospel website soon.  I'm looking forward to hearing Tim Keller's talk as well as those of some of the other speakers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Binds to Himself a Joy

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.

~Eternity, William Blake

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Gospel cannot be preached and heard enough...

"The Gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped well enough..."

~Martin Luther 

Amen.  I pray God would remind me daily of the Gospel and that it's message would never be far from my heart.

Friday, April 5, 2013

5 Things I'm Thankful For Friday

This week I'm thankful for:

1. Easter Sunday service on the week. I'm far from home, but still got to spend Easter with family (my Church family). We gathered at sunrise, sang worship songs, and listened to a sermon about Jesus's resurrection. We also heard a couple of people give their testimony, and afterwards they were baptized in the Arabian Gulf. It was pretty powerful. After the service, we broke bread together and had a picnic on the beach.

2. Generous friends. I am always humbled by the generosity of others, and this week I've been on the receiving end of several acts of generosity. Multiple friends have treated me to meals, I've been given rides, people have texted me to check in on me... It's been great and I hope that someday soon I'm in the position to repay such generosity.

3. Work. I managed to snag a couple of jobs this week- one I posted pictures from- and the other was for a website. I am firmly convinced that God brought me here for other purposes than work, but, I do still need to make a living.

4. Lingering and languorous Fridays. Friday might just be my favorite day of the week here. Weekends in the Middle East are Fridays and Saturdays and Fridays are the holy days so we have church on Friday mornings. It's a great way to kick off the weekend. After church (and 'Friday' school where I'm learning about church history), a group of us go out for lunch, which gives way to late afternoons in coffee shops. It's not uncommon for me to get home from 'church' after midnight on Friday, having spent the whole day in fellowship with my Christian friends. I truly treasure these days.

5. The right to gather as Christians and have services and Bible studies. I don't take it for granted that here in the Middle East I'm allowed to own a Bible, pray in public, and attend religious services. It's a privilege that is not afforded to all Christians throughout he world, and many continue to meet even when it's not safe to do so. I'm thankful that it's not a daily reality here, although that might change one day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Two snapshots from a shoot I did on Tuesday for Ahlan! magazine... I honestly want to post more frequently... It just doesn't seem to take high priority in my day.