Before the Throne

When I Think About the Lord
Your Grace is Enough

How Great is Our God
Before the Throne of God Above
Take My Life

Here are the songs we did this morning during praise and worship at St. Andrew’s. I had to take care of Trinity during the sermon and missed the entire thing. I did receive the Word from the songs this morning though. Especially- Before the Throne- “Hallelujah. Hallelujah. praise the One, risen Son of God.” It is such a beautiful and thought-provoking song. To really come before the throne of God with all that we are. That is something that I am striving to do. Come as I am, as imperfect as that is. He still loves me and I am fearfully and wonderfully made in Him. praise God for that! Amen? 🙂

Hope you are having a great Sunday and know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made too!

A Whole New World- A Night of Theatre at Our House

So, you may have heard. We had a star-studded performance of Aladdin performed exclusively at our home this Summer. You didn’t hear about it? Well, here is the press coverage to prove it. Now that you know about it, you won’t want to miss what we are doing next Summer. It’s gonna be off the hook!

Here is the story of how this came to be:

Houston offers amazing Summer activities for kids: camps, events at the zoo, museums, theatres, etc. One of the things I was really interested in getting Bakri involved in (our four year old) was musical theatre. He loves music and loves acting things out. But, he is a four year old boy and his attention span is not yet cut out for intensive 3 hour rehearsals. So, my very bright husband said, why don’t you just do your own musical? hey. That is a great idea. I’ll teach the kids a musical that we can do at the house. It will give us something fun to do on those hot Texas Summer days and the kids will love it.

And, they did. It was super easy. First, I had to pick the musical. I chose Aladdin, because the kids were familiar with the movie and liked it AND when I did a quick google search, I was able to find the script right away online.

Through I was able to download all of the music from the soundtrack and a few of the songs in the karaoke style(without voices.) It was perfect. We picked the most energetic song first and got to work…uhhhh….play. The first song we learned was “One Jump Ahead.” I choreographed it. Which basically means when the song says “Jump” I had the kids jump! And when it said “swing” I had them swing their arm. It was so simple, and so easy.

After we learned the first song, we moved on to the rest. The kids had their favorites, but we would practice them all.

The costumes were super easy too. I used white baseball pants and stitched patches on them. And I cut the vests out of felt. The Prince Ali costume was the most fun to make. I used a child size straw hat that I found at Goodwill and covered it with a white puffy silk material. I then placed a feather and jewel on it. It really looked nice.

The backdrop was also made of felt. I drew the castle and cut that out of posterboard. We had pottery barn outdoor lights which I used to make the stage more lit up. Over all, our house served as a very good location for a theatrical production.

So, if you are up for something to do next Summer with your kiddos, I would highly recommend this activity. It’s a ton of fun and very rewarding. Here are some photos of our Summer Musical 2009!

Dress rehearsal….what’s in this lamp?
Trying on his costume. Maddux played the part of Abu (the monkey) and the genie. Really both of the boys did most everything together.
Here is Bakri in his Aladdin costume.
The boys together.
The backdrop.
Last minute touches before opening night!
The show begins….

The audience (our family came to the house for my birthday and the Aladdin performance!)
Prince Ali!

Singing “A Whole New World” on the magic carpet ride!

The end!
Some after photos!

Actors can be so dramatic. 🙂

The Idea of the Day

It’s Summer. And It’s Hot. So, we’ve got to come up with things to do that

1. Keep us active
2. Keep us cool
3. Keep us alive 🙂

So, after a mis-hap this morning, Moustapha and I had the bright idea of me teaching the kids a show and then having them perform it for him and some other family members. So, I did (a little) research and settled on the musical Aladdin. The kids already know the movie and probably are familiar with most of the songs. And, I thought it would be perfect for our family. Bakri could be Aladdin and Maddux could be the genie & Abu. And they were both totally excited about it when I mentioned it this afternoon.

I went to and downloaded the soundtrack from the movie and a couple of songs (karaoke style) without words so they can practice singing with just the accompaniment.

Our first rehearsal went pretty well. I taught them two songs “One Jump Ahead” and “A Whole New World.” The first song is a great song for boys- lots of jumping, punching and marching. That seemed to keep their interest. Now the biggest problem is- they are both Aladdin. So, we had to take turns practicing the song. Oh well. I hope our audience doesn’t mind watching everything twice. You don’t, do you, Moustapha???
I’ll keep you posted on how this idea works out. We’re having an issue with the camera. So, hopefully I’ll have a new- working- camera before the “show.”

Keeping up with the El-Hakams is so much fun!!!- and so exhausting!

So, keeping up with these three kiddos is pretty tiring. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. I love being a mom and having this opportunity to nourish and teach my children. And I’ve learned that in order to make the most of our days, I have to have a plan and stick to it.
Since Bakri has been staying home with us, the four of us have been busy nearly every morning. We either have a play date, bible study, zoo visit, rodeo day, music class or concert to go to. There is literally always something to do. It is super fun. But, I am completely exhausted. Last week we had a birthday party to attend at the zoo and a concert at our local Pottery Barn Kids. We had never been to a concert there before. We did go to a free Chick fil A concert which KSBJ puts on once a month back when we were expecting trinity and the boys both still talk about it. So, I try to take them to things (particularly music things) that I think will interest them.

This is Bakri with the “Non-Toxic Band” performing in the background. Joe- the guitar player, writes music for Sesame Street.
Check out Maddux sitting in the front. 🙂
One of our recent zoo visits included an orangutan with an attitude. See him up next to the window??? When his 6 year old son would come over to him he would slap him away. The zookeeper said he was playing. But, Bakri said “he hit him. that’s not nice.” I told him that wasn’t nice, but remember he’s an orangutan, not a human. It’s kind of hard to explain away the misbehavior of a daddy animal. Anyway, I tried!
Maddux enjoys playing with all of the kids at the children’s zoo playground.

And Trinity, of course, can sleep anywhere. Here she is sleeping in the double stroller. I’ve finally gained enough control of the kids that I can let Bakri walk around and he doesn’t run away from me. I’m very thankful for that. It has made traveling with 3 kids a lot easier for me to handle on my own.

Bakri really loves the California Sea Lions. We can not leave the zoo without seeing them and telling “Cali” the sea lion “goodbye.”

Maddux loves the sea lions too. I think that is Cali in the background…

I can find inspiration in all of my friends and they way they mother, how they interact with their husbands, how they balance work and family, their relationships with God, etc. One of my friends I met since returning to Texas just had her fourth child. That, in and of itself is inspiring. But, she not only has 4 children, she is an amazing mother that devotes her life to raising her children with a love of Christ. And no matter what, she’s always doing things with her children. And they are super smart and well-mannered because of it. Her son that is Bakri’s age, just turned four last week. We celebrated his birthday at the Zoo on a cold and rainy day.
Every kid loves to get in this tunnel with the fish!
Here’s an alligator, the birthday boy, the birthday boy’s little sister and Maddux. They had a great time together.
This was in the reptile building. I try not to look at anything too close. I totally get freaked out at the sight of snakes. But, my boys love to get up close to the windows and peer in at these very large scary snakes. EEEK!
So, on our way out, we had to visit our favorite animals- the sea lions. And guess what?? They were doing their daily show and this was our first time to see it. It was really impressive. These sea lions can do some great tricks for fish!

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My new job….

So, I have a new job as a worship leader at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in West University. It is really an amazing journey we’ve been on for the last several years to get to this place. I don’t know if this will make sense, but the place we are in right now is a moving place. We’re moving forward in the direction and on the path that God has for us. It has just been an amazing adventure so far…and I wanted to share it with you.
As most of you know, I’ve been singing all of my life. And in church, I was always singing growing up. Once I went to college and then to LA, I was still active in the churches I attended, but never in music. When Moustapha and I were led to First Pres in early 2004, things were soon in transition there and they were searching for a new worship leader for their contemporary service. They found that leader in August of 2005. – Our friend Jasen and his new wife Amanda (I think they were married the first week he started the job) came to Texas from California and he began his job as the new worship leader of the service. Once he arrived, I was put in touch with him. I met him in his office one afternoon, he played guitar, sang a familiar tune and I sang harmony. It was great! And he asked me to sing that Sunday. I pretty much had the opportunity to sing praise and worship with them every weekend for 2 years. (until Amanda & Jasen hooked it out of here and headed back to California :0) It was so amazing. And I was really happy with that. One thing that I really learned from Jasen, was being open to the gifts and talents of others. It was because of this openness, that I was given the chance to lead songs. I really can’t thank him enough. I love working with other singers and musicians. It is such a gift to be able to be a part of worship in this way.

For the past year and a half I have been singing at various non-profit events in Houston and at church events. I’ve also led the worship for a couple of women’s retreats. But, I haven’t had a steady- every weekend- worship leading job. I didn’t even know where to look for one…and so it turns out, it was looking for me.

This past Summer. we visited St. Andrew’s. We planned our visit around vacation bible school, since we were going to send Bakri there. A couple of weeks later, I received an email from the pastor about leading worship for their contemporary service. He had heard about my experience at First Pres. So, we had coffee and I met with some of the other church leaders. A couple of months later, I led their services for 7 weeks while they were searching to fill the position. And now, I am leading there 2-3 times a month on a more permanent basis.

As a worship leader, I work with the band and choose music for each service, that I then lead the congregation in singing.

Here are Last Sunday’s songs:
opening song: Sweetly Broken
worship songs :Jesus Paid It All

Take My Life
offering: Prayer of St. Francis

This Sunday’s songs:
opening song: Lord, Reign in Me
worship songs: Your Grace is Enough
Prayer of St. Francis
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
communion: Lamb of God
offering: When I Think About the Lord