Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Road Not Taken... Ever Think About Other Lives You Might Have Had?

I've found myself in a very interesting position lately. CousinBean is getting to that age where one must start thinking about college. He's set on the US, and really seems to want California. In looking at various options, one of the schools that I sent off to for information popped up on the list. I had flirted with the idea of kicking the dust of Alabama of of my heels and hitting sunny California. That was in the days when I still believed the hype about California being warm... nowadays I know better. I'm cold every single time I'm in the state. Don't know what it is about me, but the state of fruits and nuts leaves me cold... literally.

Anyhoo... looking at the information on this particular college got me thinking about how my life would have been different had I ended up there. The school is, in many ways, similar to the small, private liberal-arts college I attended. So, imagining myself there isn't so hard. But it gets you thinking. Clearly, I never would have met El 3atal. I suspect had I gone out to Cali for college, I might not have made it back. After all, cold or not, California is much more diverse than good old Alabama. And, since never quite fit in there (what Southern girl who would move to Jordan would?!), I sense I wouldn't have rushed back.

Would life have been all arts festivals, unique opportunities, days on the beach? I doubt it. But, certainly it would have borne little resemblance to days spent in the Alabama sun, which were, after all, much like all those that had gone before them. It's interesting to wonder how your life would have shaped up differently if you'd only made this decision instead of that one. I think that's why the movie Sliding Doors (Gwyneth Paltrow, excellent performance) appeals to me. It chronicles a couple of days in the life of a woman. We see her in the guise of having made each of two critical decisions and what comes out of that. Her life is simply not the same.

Any one else have thoughts of what if?

Happy possibilities!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Missed Anniversary... She Loved Them So Much She Gave Her Own Life

So, a few days ago I missed an anniversary that I typically recognize each year. With all of the field trips and other things going on, I totally spaced out on the anniversary marking the day that Rachel Corrie died in Gaza.

March 16, 2003 Rachel was intentionally run over by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier intent on demolishing homes. Although the dozer operator and the IDF claimed that he was unaware that she was there, every eyewitness agrees that it would have been impossible to miss the young woman, clad in a fluorescent orange vest.

Rachel is an inspiration to me. She held her love for people and her conviction that Israel was doing evil so tightly that she put herself in harm's way. Sadly, harm did come to her. In these days when the Middle East has gone crazy and Japan suffers a crippling triple blow, Israel is able to take advantage of the distraction of the world to take any heinous action they want. After all, how bad would it have to be to make the front page?

And so, I mourn for Rachel. I mourn with her family who has spent 8 years without their daughter, their sister, their heart. And I keep the faith that eventually the world will see that any country that is systematically racist, that degrades more than half of its population, and that is so hurtful to people that they create the first woman suicide bombers - that the world ill see that this country does not deserve our support. It does not deserve my American tax dollars. It will NOT hasten the second coming and using Christ as a reason for this unconscionable support is something that will come back to haunt them.

So, pray with me, for Rachel's family. Pray with me for a softening of the hard-hearts in Israel. Pray with me for peace and for each of acting from our best, rather than worst, instincts.

Happy Reminders!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

The composer-songwriter, Hugh Martin known for the age old classic, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" died last Friday. In addition to the fact that he penned one of those classic tunes that are known world-wide, Hugh Martin is from Birmingham, Alabama. I think we need to celebrate the greats from Alabama whenever possible. So... in honor and tribute, here's a great singer singing his great song.

Happy Alabamians!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blog About Jordan Day 2011: How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

Ahhh, Jordan. It's that time of year again, spring breezes blow, the region goes haywire, and Blog About Jordan Day come around. In honor of the day (and in the spirit of tradition), I'm going to blog about why I love Jordan.
  1. Lack of commonly available articles in the US challenge your creativity and inspire a world of substitution ideas when trying to replicate recipes.
  2. Groups of like-minded ladies are available at a moment's notice to visit and enjoy a morning's breakfast.
  3. Visitors come bringing food, even when YOU invited THEM to visit and have something nice.
  4. There's always one more little shop or restaurant with excellent owners who will give you great service and a friendly reception (shout out to Ray and Khalil at the Waffle House).
  5. Spring that comes, not tiptoeing in gradually, but roaring in with dust storms, wind, and rain.
  6. People who are happy to see rain... days in a row... no complaining or whining.
  7. Close families and love of kids.
  8. ButterBean's new-found confidence to make a presentation in 3ulum (science) class on Senor El Maa' (that's Mr. in Spanish and water in Arabic).
  9. The fact that ButterBean sees nothing odd in naming someone with the Salutation in one language and the name in another.
  10. JuniorBean's ready reception and instant understanding of the presentation on water in Arabic and his ability to answer all of ButterBean's questions.
All in all, today I'm loving Jordan. My challenge is that everyone either blog or status about Jordan today!

Happy Jordanian!

Friday, March 11, 2011

And Once In a While Jordanian Service Goes Above and Beyond: Rare Kudos From MommaBean

Yesterday the whole bean family headed out to lunch to celebrate ButterBean's birthday. We let the Beans pick where they want to go and these days the preferred favorite is Chili's. We went to Chili's for a regular Bean lunch (read that as 2 hours before any self-respecting Jordanian would consider eating lunch). When we arrived (and in fact for 3/4 of the meal) we were the only ones in the restaurant.

The service was, in general, quite good. Our waiter is one of those who know us from the good old days of Bennigan's. It was a sad day for service in Jordan when they closed their doors. But, on the plus side, the folks they trained have moved on to other restaurants. At any rate, as a result of his fine training, this waiter always provides excellent service. After our meal, we ordered a molten chocolate cake thing to celebrate the birthday.

For those who may not be aware, the servers at such places do a rousing (if terribly off-key and often in questionable shape) rendition of Happy Birthday to you. It is embarrassing to most adults, but kids really seem to love the over-the-top experience. So, it took longer than usual for them to come and sing to us. I joked with El 3atal and MimiBean that they were going out back to see if there were any deliveries coming in so they could task the driver with singing. Finally, after maybe 10 minutes, they all gathered around for the Happy Birthday extravaganza. The choir was made up of the servers, the Kitchen Crew, and the chef. I kid you not... they didn't let a little short staffing impact their ability to deliver the over-the-top experience that ButterBean wanted. She shyly smiled with a light in her eyes that could have powered Amman for a year. She loved it.

So, kudos to Chili's, Mohammed (our wonderful waiter), and the entire (and I do mean entire) Friday crew. You made a little girl very, very happy! Oh, and you showed other restaurants just what responsive service is. You go guys!

Happy Birthdays!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ugly Disrespect: Why American Christians Should NOT Support Israel Blindly...

So, we went to take some out of town friends down to the Baptism site on Saturday and to our surprise found that the Israeli site opposite is open. What surprised us, though, isn't that the site was finally open. It was the apparent purpose of their new facility. I couldn't help snap a picture of the people we found using the site. As you will notice, these are not religious pilgrims at the Jordan River for a spiritual experience. These are Israeli sun-seekers out for an afternoon swim. All of the visitors spoke in Hebrew and the kids had a riotously loud and raucous time. Oh, and I don't mind that as a tribute to the good weather, but rather as a tribute to the bad taste of the Israelis.

During the time we were there, a Bishop from England was trying to do a study and worship experience for his tour group. So, over the sounds of frolicking children, he explained the religious significance of the site and then began a service. On the plus side, the singing of his group of tourists drowned out the sounds of the children splashing about. But I ask you, why would any Christian provide blind devoted following of a group of people who so disrespects them?

Most people who visit the Baptismal site do so as part of a trip to see where Jesus was baptized. They continue on along and see the current path of the Jordan River. The whole site is a spiritual experience of some meaning. Having loud, obnoxious day trippers 5 feet away rather degrades the experience. It's one more small and calculated way that the Israelis disrespect everyone else. After all, they could have put this totally non-religious site anywhere along the Jordan River. If they wanted a swimming hole, better they had put it at a wider spot with more water available for the kids, right? There's lots of river out there, so why the rudeness?

From a seemingly small annoyance to a major showcase of their intractability and hatred for Christians... have you heard about the "illegal" Bishop of Jerusalem? The Jordan Times has a brief mention here and a more full article is available here. Basically, the current Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani had his residence permit for Jerusalem revoked. The Cathedral is in East Jerusalem which the Israelis claim, but the world does not recognize as theirs. So, the Bishop is left without legal right to reside and preside over the Diocese that he has been elected to run.

And American Christians support these thugs? Seriously? Wake up, ladies and gentlemen. See what this government is and what it does. The Palestinians are placed in untenable positions and then we, as a people, don't understand why their frustration runs high enough to turn to armed resistance. My fondest hope is that one day Americans will look for themselves. Spend 10 minutes and you can find information on the terrorism practiced by the Israeli state. They will account, in the after-life for their actions, but remember as Christians, so will we. It is a timely lesson for each of us to remember.

Happy degradation!