Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blonde for the Weekend: A New Adventure with Turkish Culture

I don’t know what got into me, but it was probably temporary insanity.  After 46 years as a conservative brunette, I became a dishwater blonde last weekend.  Mind you, I didn’t exactly plan to go blonde; it just turned out that way, and believe me, it was a shock! 

This photo, taken at night, makes my hair look darker than it was.

Maybe it was a mini mid-life crisis? How embarrassing.  I’ve always said I’d never dye my hair, I’d just let it go gray naturally. But maybe I’ve been living in Turkey too long now.  Some Turkish women change their hair color like we might buy a new spring coat.  They get bored with the same look, so you see a whole gamut of colors:  black or brown with highlights, bright red, eggplant purple, blonde, and everything in between. 

I think I just wanted a change because, in fact, I had little gray hair for a 46 year old woman.  I’d been plotting for weeks to color my hair while my husband went out of town.  My plan was to get highlights just a shade lighter than my normal brown color to camouflage the gray. 

It was definitely a new level of bonding with Turkish culture! I went to the hairdresser’s at 2:30 and spent the whole afternoon drinking tea and chatting with the hairdresser, Binnur, and another customer.    Binnur and I chose what LOOKED like a light brown for my highlights. However, I should have gotten a clue from her hair: blonde highlights over black. 

After two hours of foil and smelly solutions, I was shocked to look in the mirror and see that the entire top layer of my hair was a brassy dishwater blonde.  Binnur and the other customer raved about how great it looked. 

When I got home, my son howled, “Yoo hoo! Mom’s a blonde!”

 My 11 year old daughter cried out, “Mom, how could you do this to me?” And she ran into her bedroom and slammed the door.

Over the next days it was interesting to see people’s reactions.  My Turkish sister said, “It’s a nice change.  I think it looks great.” My Mexican friend asked, “So does your husband like drastic changes?” One really honest friend said, “That color is too light for you.  It makes you look older. You’d better go get a darker rinse.” The funniest thing was that some people said absolutely nothing. 

What to do? Should I break out of the ordinary and enjoy being a dishwater blonde for a while?  Surely my friends would get used to it. Or should I play it safe and go get the dark rinse immediately before anyone else could see me? My children, who by now actually liked my new hair, insisted I wait until my husband return to decide.

When Jose saw me, he laughed, and said, “What have you done?”  But he didn’t really care whether I stayed  blonde or returned to my brunette self. So the next morning, I went back to the hairdresser. Binnur was shocked and said I’d regret it.

I don’t regret it.  Three days of being blonde was enough.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I got the light brown highlights I wanted. Oh, I have momentary twinges of wishing I were a bit more adventurous.  But maybe adventurous as adventurous does.

I don’t regret three days of being blonde either.  It was kind of fun.  It’s good to break out of the mold, even for a short time.  Have you done anything kind of crazy lately for the sake of adding adventure to your life?

Friday, March 18, 2011

How God Reminded Me I'm Not Superwoman

Have you ever planned something that just didn’t turn out as you’d hoped?

I thought I had a great plan for myself during my husband’s two and a half week trip out of the country. I knew I’d miss Jose, but I was almost looking forward to a little extra freedom to plan life on my own for two weeks.  During his absence I planned to visit a few women friends that I’m seeking to share God’s love with.   I would use the time alone in the evenings after the kids were in bed for working on a writing project, and I hoped to spend time with a few girlfriends I haven’t seen recently.

My plans came to a halt when I woke up with the flu the morning I had to take Jose to the airport.  After he left, I struggled through the days trying to accomplish the bare minimum of keeping house, cooking, homeschooling and driving the kids to their extra-curricular activities despite feeling lousy.  On week two a hacking cough set in. How could this be happening?  I hadn’t been this sick in years.  I felt overwhelmed by responsibilities and frustrated that I couldn’t make the visits I’d planned.

I was forced to rest. Sick in bed, I realized again my own human frailty and weakness.  God reminded me that I’m not superwoman.  Of course he’s taught me this before, but I guess I’m a slow learner.  I had time to think about several things:

I am dependent on God’s grace.

Being sick reminded me that I am not as capable or strong as I think I am. I can do nothing without God’s power and grace.  I kept remembering Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” That was good news because I was definitely feeling weak.

God doesn’t need me to accomplish his work.

I felt frustrated about not being able to visit the m friends I’ve been praying for and want to reach out to.  My husband and I have a vision for cp., and I had looked forward to continuing our ministry of sowing seeds while he was gone. So I was discouraged until I finally had a fresh realization: God’s work is not dependent on what I can do in two weeks while my husband is out of town!  He will still bring people to himself even if I have to take things easy for two weeks.  This is a no brainer. I was even able to laugh over how seriously I’d been taking myself.

I can let go and trust Him.

When I was able to let go and accept that God’s plan for the time during my husband’s absence was different than mine, I ended up with extra time to focus on my relationship with the Him.  I couldn’t meet friends and do many activities, but I spent some extra minutes with Jesus when I could, did a bit of reading, and enjoyed time with my kids.  Last month, I’d been feeling the need to be refilled, and perhaps God allowed this because it was the only way to get me to slow down.

I’ve decided once more that I don’t want to be superwoman.  I just want Christ’s power to rest on me.

How about you? Has anything happened to you lately that reminded you you’re not superhuman?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recharging your Batteries

What do you do to refuel your tank?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so busy with life that I find myself running on empty.  I enjoy my roles as a wife, homeschooling mother, friend, and cross-cultural worker, but sometimes responsibilities and pile up on my plate and overwhelm me. I run out of gas fast if I’m always working, serving, and giving, without stopping to fill my own tank.  I’ll bet you can relate.

Although it’s hard to find time, I know I need to care for myself if I want to keep serving effectively.  So I’ve been thinking about the things I enjoy doing to refill my tank.

  • Time with God

My favorite morning ritual is getting up before the rest of the family to drink coffee, read the Bible and pray. It’s a way to cultivate my relationship with God, and I find encouragement for the day ahead.  It’s a time to realign my thoughts with God’s word and be renewed. No matter what I’m going through, time with God changes my perspective. I remember Jesus words in March 6:31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

  • Quiet Time for Thinking and Planning

 I need time just to be quiet, to think, plan and dream.  I try to take a walk every day, which helps me to stay focused spiritually and mentally.  While I walk, I pray and think about what’s going on in my life. Also I take time periodically to evaluate my priorities and set goals.

  • Reading: Cultivating my Mind and Spirit

Recently I felt spiritually dry, and I realized I’d stopped reading. So I picked up a short, simple book called “Intimacy with the Almighty” by Charles Swindoll, and my spiritual life and desire for God were energized.  I also asked several friends to recommend books on a few topics, and I was pleased to get some great recommendations.  Ideally I like to have a novel and Christian non-fiction book going. 

  • Investing time in my family

I try to keep the conversation going with my 11 year old daughter and 13 year old son. We love playing card games while listening to whatever my son has on his MP3 player. (Okay, maybe his music doesn’t always refuel my tank!) We read the scriptures together and sing every night. 

  • Time with my Spouse

It’s easy to neglect the people closest to us, so my husband and I set aside a weekly time to reconnect.  Sometimes we go out and do something fun; other times we work on --ahem-- conflict resolution. Often we talk about our hopes and dreams, or even our schedule. Our weekly date is a lifeline for our relationship.

  • Good Friends

Remember the old Beatles song, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”?  I’m so thankful to have close friends who love me for who I am no matter what state I’m in, people I can be real with.  It’s life-giving to be able to share your heart and know that someone understands, and it’s refreshing to hear another person’s point of view. 

  • Exercise

I’m definitely no exercise freak, but the benefits I get out of my daily walk and short Pilates workout far outweigh the time I invest in them. 

  • Vacations and Time Outdoors

My husband and I schedule outings and vacations to relax together as a family.  I especially love being outdoors, as long as camping isn’t involved!  I love the beach, the mountains, rivers and streams.   

What about you?  What do you enjoy doing to recharge your batteries?

NOTE: If my blog looks funny or something's wrong, I'll have no way of knowing.  There's a court case that just opened in Turkey against Google Blogger, so the government is blocking all google blogs. I can't access my blog page!  I can post, and I can read your comments, but I can't respond to them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Taking a Break!

When was the last time you took a break?

I hope it hasn't been too long.  I've been out of town all week with my family at a retreat on the southern coast, taking time for some R & R, so I'm taking this week off from my blog.  Check back Friday, March 11th.

Have a great weekend!