Bowing your head before eating that burger

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Policemen praying before a meal-Pinterest

Note: This post is not meant at all to draw attention to myself and to my prayer life. I’m just sharing some insights I recently had on the topic of prayer in public.

Truth to be told, I often eat at home because in the cafeteria there’s way too much food on the tray and the consequences of eating too much at lunch time are usually seen in the afternoon: in 6 years of uni I took more naps in class than I can remember. However, yesterday, for the first time in a long time- a very long time, I had to eat at the cafeteria with some friends. As people sat and start eating their entrées and undertook the task of gobbling down their cheeseburger, I looked at mine. What do I do ? I want to thank God. The first Person that I want to thank, and honor before that meal is the Lord. I rested my head upon my hand, said a quick prayer in my head and as always, people started asked me questions: “Are you okay ? Do you have a headache ?” “I’m okay, thank you !”. Though I have the habit to pray silently when I’m alone, I sensed that I had taken the posture I usually adopt when I try to “shrink”, to hide; had anybody seen me he would have never known I was praying. Yet I pray even when I’m alone- I am not trying to display it in public for the sake of being seen. Prayer is an integral part of my life. After the last lecture of the day, I tried to recollect my thoughts.

Continue reading “Bowing your head before eating that burger”

My (very blessed) (really cool) week in pictures !

This week was one emotional week, packed with celebrations, friends and new happenings. This week, on Thursday, I skipped class to attend my brother’s doctoral thesis defense and, in the small room where he presented his thesis, was overwhelmed with emotion as we heard the professors award him the summa cum laude honor !!! My parents, friends and I were so proud as he pronounced the oath of Galen !

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My best friend, study buddy, inspiration and partner in crime, is now a PharmD !!!

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Celebrating our champion at the restaurant, a few hours later ! 

Seeing my father bow his head in prayer as my brother pronounced the oath was something incredible to see. I’m extremely grateful for all the joy that my brother has brought to my parents, not only during the graduation ceremony but also during his life. My brother has been so good to me during the time we lived together as students and grew to be a strong man during these years. Seeing the pride, relief and happiness on Dad’s and Mom’s face, during that night, is something I will never forget. They worked so hard to help us make it through these years of pharm… We are definitely blessed with godly, wise, caring, generous, extremely loving parents.

 

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After the celebration and a good night of sleep, my brother had to return at his workplace for an early Christmas Party-which left me a few hours to study some immunology before I celebrate something else. Ummmm, in fact, there was nothing in particular to celebrate, it’s just that my friends and I never have the time to catch up, being in different programs, so it was about time that we gather again for our kind of food, raclette. Bring on the cheese, the cheese, the cheese, the cold cuts, and, I almost forgot to mention, the cheese. And the baguette. And the pickles. And the potatoes. And the mannequin challenge !! We ended the night with a hilarious mannequin challenge, and obviously one of the girls had to crack up every time I almost caught a perfect scene on camera.

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Today is a study day ! It might sound basic to a lot of people-especially if you are someone who is really organized and who plans everything in advancee, but I started to plan the day ahead as soon as I wake up. It takes a few minutes but saves you a lot of time and discouragement- I used to do homework and work on projects without much planning and scheduling and as the end of the day was nearing, I found myself discouraged, because I did not have a clear of idea of the progress I had done that day. Crossing items of your list definitely gives you a motivational boost !

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Call CNN, Fox News, BBC, everyone !! I took up running ! In fact, I’m taking up crossfit-my brother runs marathons and IronMan and every sort of competitions; it was not always this way, however. We are not a family where physical exercice was something that important, and it was not until his 3d year of university that my brother started going to the gym, running, etc. Since we have flat feet, we have a small disadvantage when it comes to training but my brother is not the kind of person to find excuses and slowly but surely, began to run. 20 minutes. 40 minutes. 1h30. And then, a few years later, crossed the finish line of two marathons after 5 hours of running non-stop. He oftens says that he would get depressed without running, and today for the first time, I took advantage of the beautiful, foggy weather (nope, as an autumn lover, these words are not antonyms to me lol) and went for a run in the local part that is 5 minutes away from my home. It felt SO GOOD ! I went back home  energized, and wondered why I never started before ! If you have never done it, go ahead- you can thank me later.

Running across flamingos, peacocks, ducks and a wallaby makes the experience fantastic…

… And makes returning to work easier.

Thankful for this week mercies ! Have a beautiful weekend y’all !

Daily diary

After two weeks of “vacations” at my parents home- I’m back in my appartment, ready for another week of school !

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Vacations with quotations marks since of course, I’ve been studying a lot and right after I post this short entry, I’ll be back at my desk. Though difficult and filled with tons of concepts and tons of “actors”, i.e cells and the way the interact with each other, overall, immunology is enjoyable. And while I’m talking about school, I have to mention that I’m really excited  for this week ! My older brother will defend his doctoral dissertation and, God willing, will become a Pharmacist ! I’m a proud sister, and my parents are overwhelmed. My parents called a friend who owns a restaurant and booked a table for the evening, are getting everything ready, from the camera to the chocolates for the professors, they are just so involved in the process, and getting all emotional about it ! It’s really a huge transition for my brother: right after his final internship in a pharmaceutical company, they hired him so he had the luck to find a job right after his studies, which he is really happy about, yet I think he is going to miss university. So will I. I have one month of school yet and then, I’m off to a 6 months internship.

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In the kitchen ! Lately, I was reading a culinary blog in which the author gave advice about finding your style in the kitchen and one of them was that it is better to stick to one type of cuisine rather than have all the ingredients, exotic and not so exotic, not use them a lot and , in the end, waste food. As basic as this sound, it definitely makes a difference when you’re learning to cook and to stock items in your pantry. So I decided that from now on, being Lebanese and Syrian, I would stick to traditional Middle-Eastern cuisine. Not that I refuse to cook something different every once in a while but it feels so much better, especially when you are trying to live with less and incorporate minimalism in your life, to have just the basic ingredients and fresh items and stick to a few dishes. Pictured above is Mujaddara, a dish of rice and lentils. It is traditionally served with fried onions and a tzatziki.

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Yesterday, I started reading a God-Entranced Vision of All things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, by John Piper and Justin Taylor. You can find it for free on PDF, by the way, something that Desiring God Ministries do with most books they publish. Jonathan Edwards is one of my favorite authors and I think I will post a few of his quotes online throughout the week. His words are stirring my affections for Christ, which, lately, at times, I have to confess, have been growing cold. I have been mourning over my sin-I realized that at times, I have desired the approval of men more than the approval of the Lord Jesus and I’m not as disciplined when it comes to the reading of the Scriptures and putting God first in everything than I used to be- a lack of discipline which has caused me a lot of grief. I told my mother this morning, that I did not want to be so anymore. Sin makes false promises. It’s alluring, it’s tempting, and then, it kills you. I was reading something in that book that caught my attention:

“Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn’t. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. And the reason it fails is that the power of sin comes from its promise of pleasure and is meant to be defeated by the superior promise of pleasure in God, not by the power of the human will. Willpower religion, when it succeeds, gets glory for the will. It produces legalists, not lovers.”-John Piper

And

Self-denial will also be reckoned amongst the troubles of the godly. . . . But whoever has tried self-denial can give in his testimony that they never experience greater pleasure and joys than after great acts of self-denial. Selfdenial destroys the very root and foundation of sorrow, and is nothing else but the lancing of a grievous and painful sore that effects a cure and brings abundance of health as a recompense for the pain of the operation.-Jonathan Edwards

So this week, I’ll be fighting for true joy. True Joy that is found only in Christ. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11). I will fight for it, and I know that the Lord will be my help in this fight, that I won’t be alone.

The Instagram Bible

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I won’t be long today as I am getting ready for my exams- yet, I really had to share that really short blog post by Jen Wilkin on her blog The Beginning of Wisdom; her reflection on the tendency lots of people have, because of social media (Instagram but also Facebook, blogs, and whatever app that exists), to get their “spiritual meals” on Instagram was definitely very convicting and worth reading.

It resonated with me in a particular area: I love reading blogs on modesty or scrolling through Pinterest, going from board to board and stealing modest outfits ideas. Sometimes I spend too much time there. But, isn’t modesty something biblical ? Yeah, sure. But you cannot base your whole theology on clothes. Its an element, pointing to something greater, and it can be made an idol under the pretext of godliness, at times.

See you after my exam, ya’ll !

 

 

Our conference in Vienna !

Hi girls !

I am sitting in our hotel room right now in Vienna and I thought I would share some pictures and happenings in Austria. I’m going back to University next Friday God willing, and I have a lot of things to finish before my internship ends… so now is the perfect time to write before life becomes busy again !

We were blessed to spend a week or so in a Christian conference that started after a fun encounter. My parents and my sister, two years back, spent the New Year’s Eve in Vienna and it was in Church that they met a Christian Arabic family living in Israel. Together, they decided to start a conference that would gather, every summer for a week, Arabic speaking believers. It is the second year I come to the conference and I have been enjoying a lot and, this being the second conference I attend this summer (the other one was in Pennsylvania) I was really blessed by the things I have learned.

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Posing with one of those famous horses in Vienna !

Two preachers/missionaries from Egypt preached during the whole week and one of the topic was the justice and the salvation of God in the book of Romans. A lot of things impacted me. I learned that often, when we talk to people about the Gospel, sometimes out of fear and maybe shame, we tend to hide the name of Jesus under a vague, generic name of God… to make it less scandalous and more “acceptable” to people. But as Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” We should never be ashamed to present the gospel as it is because though we are privileged to carry the Word of Life, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor 4:7). The power comes from the Lord, and there is no salvation apart from Jesus !

 

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The legendary Austrian cakes ! Yum !

I was also deeply, deeply encouraged by the love and the work of some brothers and sisters toward the lost, especially the Muslims. Being Arabic, they have that unique opportunity to help Middle-Eastern people, especially the refugees. Some Muslims attended our services, and it warmed my heart to see the brothers at the conference doing everything in their power to help our Muslim friends to settle in Vienna and to assist them both materially and spiritually with a loving heart. I pray that their heart would be opened to the Gospel and that they will come to know Christ who loved them and died for them. We heard testimonies of how some of our brothers and sisters came to know the Messiah, and, while I was playing with a 14 year old girl, she told me that the Lord knows how to refresh our enthusiasm and rekindle our courage by such testimonies. How true !

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Some sisters singing hymns

Also, the conference was a beautiful occasion to spend time with younger sisters and little girls. I noticed that sometimes, I think I am the only one to not have an assembly or Christians friends in the area where I live. I learned that I was not the only one and that from now on, it was important to encourage one another, even if we are a thousand of kilometers apart. Even as Young women, we have the ability to encourage and nurture younger ones (Titus 2:5) in various areas, and to be a good example to them. As we sat in Subway, I really enjoyed sitting with two 18 year old and one 21 year old as we discussed struggles, thoughts and encouraged one another. Pray that the Lord would help you in the life of another girl !

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That gentleman Lazarus caught all the ladies attention ! Can I have an “aww ?”

The last night of the conference, the same brother who explained the book of Romans wrapped up the week by preaching… on the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. Everyone was all ears while we heard the Word of Life preached on the things to come. The imminent return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The urgency of making the Lord known. And I want to say a few words about this…

I feel like the Lord Jesus is at the door. We all see it and feel it, in view of the events in the world. Even unbelievers can sense something is going wrong with this world. We have been blessed, we sinners, to hear the saving, Healing, powerful word and Gospel, the GOOD NEWS that Jesus-Christ came to die for sinners, horrible sinners as we were. Let us not faint. Let us not be afraid. Let us spend more time in the Word, and less time in things that would make us afraid of what people might say about us. If we are spending lots of time in social media and trying to look cool and to please people, and not to offend anyone by “watering down” the Gospel of Christ, we are making a great mistake. Let us get on our knees, for we have no power in ourselves. The power comes from the Father. Christ’s return is soon. very soon. Watch and pray. I learned that we are not going to change the world by being conformed to it. If today you lack courage, please- go on your knees and in the Word, and ask the Lord that your will would be aligned with His, and that He would give you what you need in order to honor Him: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 jn 4:4).

Get ready with me: heaven’s edition

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This picture was not planned, and neither was this post !

Tomorrow, I am going, for the first time, to travel alone. I took the plane alone once but my mom brought me to the Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris and picked me when I returned but so far, I never went through the whole “thing”.

So tomorrow, for the first time, this 23 years old girl who looks 18 without makeup will take two trains and register her bag and wait at the gate for the boarding. ALONE. ALL BY HERSELF.

I WANT MY MOMMY NOW. Continue reading “Get ready with me: heaven’s edition”

Memories of a loved girl to whom God said, “No”. Reflections built around a prayer from “The Valley of Vision” book.

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Pinterest.

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power. -The Valley of Vision

As I watch the sunset by the window, the walls of the houses before me bathed in golden beams, I am reminded of a line of a prayer I read last weekend.

“I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness.”

I am sitting there, as one who has been rescued from an addiction by a Loving Father, as a child who has been kicking everything in his way, screaming and crying, and, after a long time, only to realize, that the deprivation that tortured him was actually his salvation.

“Go on with Thy patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule.”

I had hard times last year. And instead of turning to the Lord in prayer, I imagined scenarios that exhausted me emotionally. I sought to please man rather than God. I did not ask for the faith that is needed to care only for the present day. Sometimes, although I could not see it, some of my desires that I thought to be godly ones…. Were sometimes hiding lots of pride, conditional love to the Lord, falsehood, unsecurity and fear.

“I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.

He disciplined me and I hated it, though I would not say it or even think it, but my whole attitude of dejection, when seeing I was deprived of the said thing I was coveting, betrayed my heart: The Lord was good only when I got the thing. And I thought I hated the prosperity Gospel.

Yet.

“No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin.”

What are we to fear ? What are we to long for ? A instant of fleeting pleasure or the smile of God ?

“If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction.”

Our blessed Lord Jesus was the object of delight of the Father, yet, did He live a comfortable life ? No !

“Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee.”

Yesterday, during my prayer time, I realized how SWEET communion with the Father and His Son is. And I welcomed at last loneliness, and kissed the silence wafting in my room. I have learned to kiss the rock that throws me against the Rock of Ages.

“Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.”

If you are reading this, and going through a hard time, I don’t know what pains you are going through, and at times we just want a presence, not somebody to give us a sermon of “futile” encouragement. Sometimes the pain is so raging and almost hurts physically. I felt the pain in my chest. I know how it feels. But after 3 years, in my case, of seeing only nonsense about my particular situation, after feeling that the last crumbs I possessed were taken once again from me, one week ago, the pain came to an end. It was over. The Lord made me see why I could not have what I wanted. He took it- so I can be filled with a nectar, with a treasure, that is, Himself. It could not have worked with all my pretenses and facades. Thank you, Father.

“Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.”

Back to the good ol’times: handwritten letters ! #1

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Pinterest

Hi readers ! It’s been a long time already and God willing I will maybe write a post or two on some reflections I had this summer. We were privileged to spend three beautiful weeks in USA, two at my aunt’s in Florida and another in Pennsylvania. Lots of happenings there led me to go back to my “first love”, writing. For years, I kept a diary, and every day after school, since the age of 16, I would let my thoughts ripe on the paper. Really, paper is my second brain and during the 4th year of universtiy, it happened for some reason I don’t quite remember that I stopped writing and it was a bad idea. A bad one. I thrive on writing.

During my stay in the USA, I talked to a relative and other girlfriends and realized something: we are in an age of rush. Of social media, of things-to-do lists. Some will be leaving for college and leave their parents behind, and sometimes, it can be quite overwhelming. They won’t always have the time for phone calls and answering emails and will be heavily disturbed when WhatsApp/Snapchat sends a “Ding !” while they are studying for their next quizz/test. Yet they need some presence. The warmth of those they love.

I wanted to stay in touch with these girls. Some of them cousins, some of them friends, sisters in Christ, older women at times. And yet, I, too, am getting crazy with the social media tornado that dominate our lives: you either choose to be an active member of it or, you socially die, forgotten of everyone !

It was upon these considerations that I have decided to buy a good, thick block of paper, a stash of envelopes and while decreasing my time on social media, to take the habit to write a letter once a day (while I am on vacations) but to have, at least, a special time, every week, to sit down with my tea on my little round table and to pen a few words.

The art of handwritten letters brings unique things…

The one who writes will see his/her thoughts unfold on the paper in a way that writing them on a computer won’t -there is no erase button after all… and it’s such a pleasure to go to the post office and print stamps to send your thick stash of letters. It’s usually hard to get me out of my appartment unless for shopping for groceries. My parents keep telling me, “Go out for a walk”- but this time I think going out on the Rue Nationale will be a much awaited time of the week !

The one who receives the letter will have the surprise of receiving something personal- all handwritings are different- and you get to have something that is specifically written for one person. And, unlike notifications, you get to have something that you can read at any time and requires your attention, yet is not as interrupting as those !

What’s not to love ? As I was sending an email a few minutes ago, I found, on my mom’s desk, a small adress book.*This is a siiiignnnn*. I just can’t wait ! And since I’m taking the train every Monday and Friday, I hope to, when I don’t want to study, to make it a tradition to write in the train.

Post #2 to follow !

Do you still write, or am I the only squealing Jane Austenish gal out there?

 

 

At last, I see You

She walked for endless years in the desert of dust

She would cry for help, only answered by the echoes of her voice

Suddenly a light, she enters the crystal palace

And on the chiseled diamond table found a Rose, stained with blood

Holding its stalk

She hears, behind her, the sound of footsteps

Her heart skipped a beat

Faith became sight

Giving God the crumbs…

Today, I received in the mail a copy of A.W Tozer’s book, Experiencing the Presence of God, and, as Randy Alcorn, who prefaced it, be prepared to be pierced by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. 

I read the first chapter, and, quickly looking at the second, stumbled on the title Giving God the crumbs. Reading those words alone appealed to my conscience and I went on reading.

“The simple fact is that God gets the leftovers, never the main meal. God never gets anything new. He gets the hand-me-downs. We give to God that which we do not need instead of giving to Him that which we need, and thus earning a crown for ourselves. If we were concerned with our spiritual condition as we are with our homes and our businesses and our income, we would go forward spiritually at a great rate. The beautiful thing about it is that we would not neglect our homes to do it, and we would not neglect our businesses to do it. You do not have to choose between making a living and going forward with God. You can do both. There is time to do both. You do not have to choose between keeping your house decent and cooking your meals for your husband, and going on with God. You can do both”.