Middle East Monday: How powerful is YOUR passport?

I lived in Israel and the Palestinian Territories for three years: 2006-2009. I knew there was a global inequity regarding the utility of certain passports. I knew mine was more of a door-opener than many. This reality was made painfully obvious by the restrictions placed upon the Palestinians I lived amongst. Most of them were unable to LEAVE the Palestinian Territories at all. They couldn’t go into Israel proper, they couldn’t get visas to other nations, and this greatly influenced their worldview, their concept of identity, and their sense of injustice.

Likewise, when I was in Baghdad in 2011, I talked with a number of people with a similar problem. However, for many of them, it was a matter of emigration. They wanted to leave Baghdad and they could not get a visa etc to do so. Thus, they were stuck in a war zone. That is absolutely awful. Can you imagine the sense of powerlessness, desperation, and hopelessness one might feel? Daily, friends and family are dying from acts of war and terrorism. You worry about your family, your kids’ safety, and your family’s income in the state of national instability. Not only that, you are exhausted from the daily journey of normal activities which could find you unwittingly at a bomb site, harmed or even dead. That is a very rough life.

Ironically, the following infographic doesn’t represent the Palestinian Territories! That is a further indicator of the lack of awareness about the issues therein.

So, wherever you are from, be thankful for the mobility you have – even if it is limited. Moreover, open your mind to have more compassion and understanding for those who are without some of the simple options you take for granted.

ALSO, what are you going to do with YOUR passport? It’s a key, you know. A key to new places, new spaces, new faces. It’s a courier train, taking your ideas from your norm to someone else’s norm. It’s a library that flies. It’s a thing of wonder, possibility, and beauty.

It’s a pass to other ports. Enjoy it. 🙂

 

Middle East Monday: Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube

326660_10150967130345080_2061845131_o

Me, Andrew, and Lina in Baghdad in 2011

 

Andrew White is a dear friend of mine. He is the person who invited me to go to Baghdad with him in 2011, and we went! We share a deep love for Iraq, the Middle East, hope for the nations, peacemaking, absurdity, and revolutionary risk-taking (otherwise known as “faith”).

If you would like to see him speak in person, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

 

Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube.

Middle East Mondays: One Woman Plants Flowers In Tear Gas Grenades

I lived in Israel and Palestine for three years. My heart still beats and laughs and rolls and tumbles in a cohesive scramble of love and vision for that place. I long to see peace reside there fully. The story of one woman’s prophetic planting is sweetly inspiring. May it prompt the question: “What can I do toward peace?”

 

In A World Torn By War, One Woman Plants Flowers In Tear Gas Grenades As A Symbol Of Peace.

Middle East Mondays: Iraq’s Soul and “What We Left Behind”

roosevelt quote

 

Iraq had national elections last week. Prevailing through the pain of disillusionment, death, and destruction, people arose and shared their voices – putting votes of possibility into the collective POT-ential. This is crucial. In times of uncertainty, sharing one’s voice is key. Yet, it is not easy to do so in a nation belabored by official and unofficial war. Much is shifting since the end of the official war in Iraq in 2011 (the war ended the same month I returned to America from a visit to precious Baghdad).

If you’d like more perspective on Iraq these days, here’s a great article from The New Yorker.

What We Left Behind” by Dexter Filkins

As you consider the staid countenance of Prime Minister Maliki, send him some loving thoughts. Point your mind toward “What would it look like for Iraq to move past its conflict and flourish?” Imagine that world. Dream with Iraq and for Iraq.

If you want, pray that Maliki receives an infusion of courage today straight from the heart of God. Pray that he feels safe, peaceful, and appreciated. Pray that he comes to a full revelation of how loved he is by God. Pray that he arises as a model of courageous vulnerability in Iraq. In a schema of self-protection, mistrust, violence, threats, assassinations, and power-play after power-play, CREATIVITY and VULNERABILITY can bring healing. When people are scared, they hole up. They lash out. They use might to establish power, instead of leading through humility and love. Iraq is stuck in this cycle of fear. Yet, the nation can be un-stuck! We can collectively use our hope and resources to invest love in Iraq. Consider today how you can help Iraq, or your next door neighbor, experience more freedom from fear-cycles. Get on the hope-cycle.

 

vulnerability quote

 

Middle East Monday: An Amazing Way for Your Kids to Learn ARABIC!!!!

Image

Our One Year Old Godson Learning Arabic

It’s a possibility-charged Middle East Monday here at upsidedownbethelehem.com!

I’ve been cogitating about how to help people be equipped for understanding and loving the Middle East in increasingly direct and effective ways. Well, one way is to do what our really fantastic, smart, kind godson Jonah is doing: learn Arabic! OR help your kids or important kids in your life learn Arabic! Jonah is one. His parents lived in the Middle East for a couple years. His grandparents still live there. Before age six, is the statistically optimal time to learn a language. Granted, Holy Spirit can trump that and help one learn language at any age, but still, it’s extremely useful to facilitate language learning in young children.

So, I highly recommend the Little Pim language learning program! They offer all of the following languages!

 

 

Right now, you can get 15% off all products using the following link!

http://littlepim.refr.cc/37GP8CT

Plus, they offer free shipping on all U.S. orders over $50!

It’s really amazing to get the complete set, which includes the teaching DVDs, a chart, AND a stuffed animal version of Lil Pim, the animated panda who narrates the program. I love the fact that Jonah can sit with Lil Pim to learn Arabic while watching Lil Pim teaching Arabic on a screen! It’s very connected!

 

Check it out today! Order the program! Start the learning journey!

And if your child, or a child you know, is learning Arabic as a second language, please do share about that in the comments below! I’m sure we can encourage each other by sharing our stories about language learning!

 

 

The start of MIDDLE EAST MONDAYS!

Marhaba! (That’s “hello” in arabic.)

This past weekend I went to the 7th annual Arab Women’s Conference in San Francisco, California

It was incredible. 

While there, I met one of the speakers. In our introductions, I said, “I’ve been passionate about the Middle East for almost twenty years.” She stopped in her pin-striped blazer, well-hanging trousers, and politely savvy heels. She smiled, poignantly. “Thank you for loving the Middle East. We need more of that.”

I smiled a reflective accord. “You’re welcome,” came the happy hope from my living words. 

I love loving the Middle East. It’s one of my most significant passions and callings. Well, I’ve been thinking about commencing the habit of posting on this blog about the Middle East every Monday. The fire found in the conference was my tipping point. 

So, WELCOME TO MIDDLE EAST MONDAYS. This is merely the beginning. See you next week! 

Do share this blog with friends who have an affinity for the Middle East! I want it to be a place for people to come together and strengthen each other in hope and vision for the region. Plus, I truly want to enjoy the great things about that region together. So, if you have a poem, painting, video, etc about the Middle East that you’d like to share here, email me at hopeiraq@gmail.com

Let’s hug the Middle East together… especially on Mondays! 🙂

 

 

 

Henna heart in His hand

About five years ago, when I was living in the Palestinian Territories, a Palestinian friend was preparing for her wedding. She invited me to the henna party. I’d been invited to hennas before, but I’d never gone or thought much about it. I began to think about how thoroughly I loved henna. I didn’t end up going to her henna, but I did decide that one day, when I married, I would have a henna party.

I didn’t know then that I would marry someone of Indian heritage, who also had henna (or mehndi as it’s called) as part of the wedding traditions. Thus, when his mom recounted her wedding preparation stories, there would be henna involved. Moreover, when I would eventually tell my future husband’s mom about my own henna plans, she would appear as if near tears, light and joy shooting out of her very being.

God is smart. He can out-think any box. And He has a knack for fulfilling promises in very amazing ways.

He’s worthy of being handed your heart.