Sunday, December 26

Narnia

There's something about walking out of a movie that's a little like leaving Narnia.

I went with my family to see the new Narnia movie this Christmas eve, and I didn't expect to like it. But hey, it's a free movie and we'll get there on my parent's gas, so i'm not going to complain about the two hours of silence in a plush leather chair.
the problem is, of course, that I almost always enjoy movies more than I expect to.
I got sucked into the fantasy. I enjoyed the ride. My heart went out to Eustace when he became a tenderhearted dragon. oh, i'm hopeless, aren't I?
the point, I guess, is that when Carrie Underwood started to sing (she doesn't qualify as a fat lady, but her song did signify the end of the film) I looked around and was not pleased with how i felt.
The movie is about Lucy to me... of course it is, right? It's always about the young heroine who I can -so naturally- relate with. Anyway, the movie closes on Lucy having remained unhappy with her appearance, unable to ever return to Narnia, girlishly hugging everyone in sight because she knows she's leaving behind her favorite land - the place she feels she most belongs - she's leaving behind friends, she's leaving behind crushes that became nothing more than crushes, she's leaving behind a title, she's leaving behind all the magic her ever-changing life has ever known.
She has to return to life, a homely child. she has to return to the daily grind, where her Master is not a tangible Lion, where her brothers are not Kings, and where her family is quite normal.
That's what I was doing when I was thinking about leaving that movie. I was withdrawing from my time of respite and magic, and returning to a normal family with a duty to do - a homely girl without any of my favorite imaginary friends to keep me company.
It seems, however, that a time of emotional respite is not entirely without its moments of crossover into the relevance of the everyday.
One quote has stuck with me.

Lucy longs to be beautiful. It is her deepest self-directed desire. She begins to make a decision that will all but sell her soul just to have the beauty of her coveted older sister.
Her Lord the Lion stops her, and reprimands her with a few meaningful words.

"You doubt your value.
Don't run from who you are."

Oh, vanity. when will i defeat you? when will your tempting words not capture my imagination? I renew again my vow to embrace who i am, how i am. i'm tired of thinking beauty is all there is.

signing out of Narnia,
Julie, the valued.

Thursday, December 2

Confidence

"nothing tastes as sweet as what I can't have."

Confidence.
I was listening to this song tonight, and it kinda struck me - no one has had to exert any confidence over me in quite some time. No one has said, "This was hard, but it's worth the risk of my feelings and my pride - I have to be brave today. You're worth that much to me."
all the guys in songs love these sweet-faced girls who twirl their hair around their fingers and have limpid green eyes and lyrical laughter. Seems like real guys just like boobs.

Now, at the risk of sounding like a lonely college senior who has literally completely run out of all time and any gumption to find a man, I ask you to hear me out.

As I grow in my own confidence, I mind being single less and less. I have a lot to enjoy here, and now. It's not that I never sit in my room and think, "I wish I had somebody I could call right now, just to talk about nothing with," and it's not that I never want someone to be sitting behind me for me to lean on, and it's not that I never want somebody to be holding my hand. I just don't always want that. It's just not always on my mind.
The some times that it is, though, I can get to feeling pretty lonely.
Maybe that magical moment will happen. Maybe I'll find him. Maybe I won't. (sometimes i'm okay with "won't". but if i'm honest,
the "won't" part cripples me sometimes.)
but why?
Someone has exerted confidence on my behalf. someone has said to me "This is going to be hard for me, but you, you- i love; and you're worth it, whether you ever love me back or not." He was a man, not a boy. He was selfless and pure, he was all any girl could ever need.
He has. He loves. He's confidence when i'm unstable. He's faithful when i'm faithless. He showers his affection on me daily. I just have to shift my mindset to accept it.

Monday, November 15

we are nothing. we are forgiven.

there comes a day in the journey to spiritual maturity when you realize it.
"i am nothing. i am wrong. i am, by anyone's account, the most undeserving."
it is that day that you are freed from pride and allowed to comprehend more and more fully what it means that grace abounds in your life.
it is then that you can stagger, stunned with thanks, under the weightiness of the meaning of the cross.
it is then that it sets in why you should regard others as more important than yourself - namely, because they actually are.
but it is also then you realize that you what you want more than anything is just a fresh start.
you want God and everyone else to forget what you did so you can actually begin to try.
your peers, friends, enemies and acquaintances may not be able to give you that;
but it is a promise to you from your God.
He has hurled the memory of it so far away from His being that we have no earthly measure of its distance from Him.
He forgets. He gives you New Life. and He loves you all the same.

forgive yourself; for you've been forgiven.

Saturday, November 6

a little armor

Truth - Righteousness - Readiness - Peace - Faith.

you can't forget the truths you know: they'll guide you through the conflicting feelings. they're all that will keep you going.
Don't ever forgo doing what is right. you will always, always regret it.
be always ready, to share, to go, to be, whatever He wants.
Don't lose the sense of calm and contentment that you've been given. He has everything under control.
be mindful that Christianity is not faith. faith is following blind; trusting a force that may not do the "good" to you that you would prefer. faith is ridiculous. faith is everything.

He is for me, He is with me, His promises protect me.
i shall not fear.

Wednesday, October 20

tranquil

a tranquil fall morning, and fog on the lake
does not this ethereal calm beauty make.
and neither the sunrise, the colors, the clear,
nor the stubborn dawn stars twinkling still, and so near.
This beauty, comprised just of the sum of its parts
would not tear at our fancies and tap on our hearts -

no, something is behind it all and tying it together
something makes reflections be, but rarely meet, if ever.
and something is just forcing us to halt our gait and stare;
that something is informing all our souls of just what's there.

for the calmness of first light, the grasses deep green
we yearn to just stay there, our duties forsake;
for i always return, lest i miss the great scene,
to a tranquil fall morning with fog on the lake.


Sunday, October 17

God is beautiful, and i always forget.
He has his timing, and He is constantly doing something. How little i deserve His love. How unfair of Him to let me even be the least deserving of these. He should forget me.
He doesn't forget me!
Lord, how I wish you didn't have to always draw me back to you. How i long to walk ever closely with You. You bless me with your goodness and with things that i love - what a personal God you are, knowing my individuality (having created it purposefully). Why do you care about what i am, what i stand for, what calms me and excites me?
My beautiful God; i always forget.

please continue to provide for the children of India through child sponsorship however and whenever you see fit.
please continue to mold me into your image, whatever that looks like.
please continue to take away from me that which i do not need, that which You do not love.
please continue to rend my heart.

Let me love those you love... let me "identify myself with Your interests in other people, not identify YOU with MY interests in other people."

oof, God, you're good and i'm just not. Thanks for love - thank you that it's there for me, whether i believe in it or not.

Wednesday, October 13

that's my everything.

well, i'm not gonna lie.
i'm sitting in class right now.
but i'd rather be writing than concentrating on William James and psychology laboratories founded in 1879.

i was thinking the other day about how some things in life are everything, and i haven't been able to keep the concept off my mind.
see, as style goes, confidence is everything.
in photography, light is everything.
as far as contentment, nothing is everything.
you can be stylish without confidence, but confidence is really what creates style. you can pull off almost anything if you're comfortable rocking it.
Photographs are made up of more than light, but without the correct lighting, no picture will stand out. light is beauty to photography.
nothing as everything is a rather tricky concept - but the way i think about it, i'll never be content unless i feel i need nothing else, and hold nothing in my current possession too tightly. the entire concept revolves around my view of nothing.

What i am now learning, as a subsequent concept, is that to life,
Jesus is everything.
it's been said before --
but here's what it means to me in light of all of this.
you can have life without Jesus, but He's really what makes it life.
Life is made up of more elements than just Christ,
but without Him, no life will have meaning.
He is beauty to life.
I'll never have life until i know what it means to me that i have Jesus.
my entire life revolves around my view of Christ.

i know it sounds elementary, but...
wow. He is really everything.

Tuesday, September 28

life's soundtrack.

Have you ever been listening to a song, in the car on the radio, on your ipod as you're walking, blaring from your laptop while you clean your room, and felt like it was the soundtrack your life needed?
I'm convinced there's a music to life. It's lurking under the surface and daring us to break out in dance. It's conveying our emotions in brilliantly worded lyrics. It's bursting out of the seams of our interactions.
And then sometimes, somebody, some musician, gets it. He says what we're feeling. He plays and he means it. There's heart in the music, and it just fits. This music is the conversation of our souls. It's in communion with what we believe in. This music harmonizes what's under the surface with our audible, enjoyable means of entertainment.
This music is the soundtrack of life.

Maybe I'm the only person this happens to? but whenever it happens, i love to embrace it. i smile softly. i close my eyes. i dance.

i hope you find your soundtrack;
and though it can't always be happy,
may your life's music always be eloquently lyricized, and beautifully played.

Monday, August 30

21 reflections on 21 years.

in my experience...

1 - it benefits me to speak as little as necessary; mostly when I feel like complaining.
2 - stuff doesn't matter. people matter.
3 - life with the joy of obedience is better than life with the excitement of rebellion.
4 - singing always helps.
5 - beauty is everywhere. in everyone. no matter what.
6 - an embrace goes a very long way.
7 - the night sky, in its slow changing, fading, twinkling, and moving, is the most beautifully decorated canvas i know of.
8 - being alone can be important.
9 - it is too expensive to always be fashionable!!
10 - trusting people is vulnerable and risky business, but generally is extremely worthwhile.
11 - i really don't matter; not as much as i think i do.
12 - to find a passion and pursue it may make you feel more alive than you knew you could.
13 - eating healthy can be fun and tasty if you play your cards right.
14 - if you expect too much of people, you can't like them for who they are. and from my experience, it's tragic what you miss out on when you miss out on who people are.
15 - making cookies is just such a good idea.
16 - if you start to feel dumb, just make it fun. it's better than never being uncomfortable in the first place.
17 - everybody has a different body. rock yours!
18 - travel is worth it. worth the cost, worth the discomfort, worth the time. so worth it!
19 - asking the how questions of life will not get you nearly as far as asking the why questions. the why is what really matters.
20 - reading more books is a really good idea that you won't regret later.
21 - doing what other people think is right will leave you confused and disappointed in your decisions. decide what you believe, and decide what you want. then, do it.

here's to another year; may i learn grace and justice, love and surrender like never, ever before.

Saturday, August 21

thanks, AirTran.

i just have to write it in every capacity, and every venue i have available to me:
i'm on the internet in a plannnne. i can look out my windowseat window, over the air-splitting wing and see clouds beneath me. i hated everything about this airline [tiny plane, weird boarding system, no boarding passes, $65 bag fee, ETC...] until i realized the plane was half empty, i have a windowseat and no seatmate, and they offer me the option, nay- the joy, of wi-fi. since when was this possible??
technology and the world moves forward.
and so does my life!
do you know where i'm going?
i'm going back to Cedarville again! i'm going into my last semester.
it's gonna be pretty hard on me. i can tell. i never planned on getting out of college early. i like college. but the decision to finish up ASAP kind of spiraled me into fast-track mode, and i feel like i'm doing all i can to keep my head up where there's oxygen sometimes.
makes me feel like everything's marching, everything's moving, everyone's changing.
i guess we got to. i guess it's good. i guess there's no stopping it.

otherwise, i'd have no wi-fi on an airplane.

love from 30,000 feet,
Julie; the changeling.

summer 2010:

It’s a summer that’s stolen my heart, returning it full to exploding with joy, hope and promise for the future, and memories of silver-lined clouds, matchless friends, and fantastically diverse places.

I’ve traveled the nations, I’ve loved with abandon. I’ve seen wonders of the world; places shaped by skillful human hands and places shaped by the hand of God. I’ve somehow discovered family in more ways than one. I’ve made it, folks, but I’ve never arrived. How difficult and beautiful together to be always leaving, always going. I have found growth, I have found joy, I have found home – and all within my heart.

the highs wouldn't have been so memorable without the depth of the struggles i have had, but upon reflection, the last three months seem rosy, filled with laughter charged with meaning, and tears displaced by the brevity of great love.

It’s been the summer of a lifetime, and I have a hard time believing that this is not the climax of my life. of course I have more excellent days ahead, but I know I will always remember my twentieth summer;
the summer that stole my heart.


Sunday, August 8

the painted desert.

so, tomorrow, we're off to the grand canyon for our family vacation.
i'm super excited.
i was looking at the route we're taking, and i saw that we drive through the Painted Desert to get where we're going from where we're coming from. It reminded me that when i got back on my Donald Miller kick recently, someone recommended his book "Through Painted Deserts". I thought it would be cool to be reading the book while we were there, so i asked my mom if she and my dad had bought me a birthday present yet -i'mgonnabeTwentyOneinthreeweeks- and hinted that i'd like the book if they needed suggestions. My parents decided to give me some money to get some things for myself, and i needed the book before we leave tomorrow, so i headed out to the bookstore and the mall today.
i love to drive around my familiar places in Texas. i love having my windows down. i love knowing just where i'm going, and enjoying getting there. I picked up the book at barnes&noble, and made my way over to the mall, thoroughly enjoying walking around by myself and getting myself earrings.
when i got back into my car, which was parked in the second closest spot to the mall door - stroke of birthday luck - i looked over, and reached for the book i'd left in the passenger seat.
Through Painted Deserts is an easy read about a road trip which starts in Texas. (ironic?) i looked over to one of the testimonials on the front which reads "A reminder that life was meant to be lived, not just gotten through." shoot, that's exactly how i'm feeling today! it got me excited -
i like this book already!
happy birthday to me!
so, i thought about the positives in my life as i shared my screamsing talents with all the occupants of highway 75 on the way home with my tank top on backwards, sporting my new $5 wal-mart shades and not wearing any makeup. i'm about to go see God's power displayed in His creation, and i get to share it with my family. i'm excited.

i'm livin this life.
[i hear the painted desert is beautiful!]

Thursday, July 22

my God is the opposite of my shortcomings.

though i am weak, he is strong. though i am faithless, still he is faithful.

movies to see: despicable me and toy story 3. [what am i, 12??]
oh, and dead poet's society.

books to read: Through Painted Deserts - Donald Miller; Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne; The Folley of Prayer - Matt Woodley

i'm doing a lot of driving out to frisco and prosper lately... i can FINALLY get my car for real inspected again tomorrow. all i can say is that it had better pass. max and i have had some arguments lately.
the online classes are going a little better; i've passed two more quizzes, so that might start moving along more smoothly. i hope so! it's going to be hard to keep up with all the traveling i'm doing starting next Tuesday! i'm sure the Bacon wedding is just going to be beautiful; they asked me to photograph the girls getting ready, which i'm cool with. just let me be clear: I DO NOT WANT TO BE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER. oh, the stresses, the lighting, the brides, the unpredictable children... the pressure! i admire wedding photographers greatly, and i stinking LOVE their stuff, but becoming one is Not. my aspiration. maybe someday i'll be good enough and be comfortable enough with awesome enough gear to be cool with it, but as of now, it's not the plan. =]

i am still (always, forever) learning about faithfulness. it's amazing to me that i can take my cues from the example of my very creator in this area. now, here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him. if we endure, we will also reign with him. if we disown him, he will also disown us. if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2tim2.11_13
what a paradoxical portion of text. in each statement, the second half is the result - it is contingent on the first half. except for that last one.
no matter what, God is faithful. there is nothing we can do to change it. his faithfulness is contingent on nothing - it just IS.
that's the God i serve. that's the way i'm supposed to be.
but i'm left feeling a little like monica in "the one where ross hugs rachel" when she tells her roommate rachel that chandler is moving in and rachel has to move out. She's sad to tell rachel the bad news, but when rachel doesn't bat an eye at the news and handles it like a champ, monica feels a twinge of remorse.
"don't they feel the least bit sad?" i ask the empty space next to me, "i mean, it's the end of an era!" because it's obviously all about me.
i am just a selfish, faithless girl. Lord, transform me into a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit, one who trusts in You regardless of the responses of others, one who serves those surrounding her with no expectation of reciprocation.
come close, listen to the story about a love more faithful than the morning.
the Father gave His only Son just to save us.
that's what i'm talking about.

love from dallas,
faithless.

Saturday, July 17

Donald Miller and Dr. Seuss.

some people are just innately profound. i like that.
i looked up some quotes from Dr. Seuess and from Donald Miller recently. The Dr. Seuss ones made me smile so much. the Donald Miller ones made me think again. you know, i'd love to be a reader. i like to read. i just always forget to pick up the books.
--
you know what i really like? things that are the same around the world. i mean, it's cool to know that people are just people, no matter where you find them. it's awesome to find that God is a faithful God; a God of the nations, whose praise rises from the whole earth to the heavens in one song - wow, what a beautiful song it will be when we're all truly unified. dogs chase cats in every country. Venus burns as brightly in the Middle East as it does here in my Texas culdesac. kids everywhere love stickers. it kind of connects us, you know?
--
somehow, a part of this summer has been the death of my constant search for love. sometimes i feel like i'm still beating it with the shoe-sole of my will when it twitches, but its main sentence came with my decision to pursue India. and who am i to think i need a man to find love?

love is affection, love is passion, love is a sense of constancy.
love is someone to serve, love is incandescent happiness, and love is a choice.

my Daddy puts his arm around me when i sit next to him in church.
it's all the affection i need.

excuse me while i gun it through the darkness on the fastest windiest road i can find and blast my music out my four open windows.
it's all the passion i need.

i make chai for my family every day, and they ask for more.
it's all the constancy i need.

my momma has way too much on her plate, and there are always dishes and laundry to be done.
she's all the someone to serve that i need.

a cow moo'd goodbye to me today as i got in my already-running parked car to leave him.
he gave me some of that incandescence. :)
i find love in a thousand different places, and i'm not ready to commit to being tied down to just one. why do i think i want something that i honestly, really, truly, just don't?
i've fallen in love with the life i lead, and it's gonna take a pretty DANG perfect man to coax me away from it and into his arms.
my being single is not a disease,
and from now on, my being single is no mistake. it's a choice.

so, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "sometimes the questions are complicated, and the answers are simple."
in the words of Donald Miller, "Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon."

i don't have to wait. i decide to acknowledge that love is happening to me now.
it's just that simple!
and that's how i feel today.

love from Dallas,
Julie. [moo.]

Friday, July 16

wealth and integrity

finally.

in India, things would happen every day that i would mentally tag, thinking, "I need to tell people about this."
in America, as i've mentioned, things are a little different. i lounge around. i take my car to the shop. i spend money i don't have. i'm not adventurous or proud of myself. i'm not pleased, refreshed, or delighted by my surroundings.
consequently, i have little to report.
but TODAY, it happened! that feeling, that hope, that excitement that means i have something to say.
Still not quite on American time, i hit the sack at 3 in the morning... and my eyes popped open a mere four and a half hours later at 7:34 AM. I decided just to get up and use the extra time i now have to get cracking on some work i have to do. I checked my CSP email to stay updated, and found that two more people who i don't even know want to sponsor Indian children who are so dear to my heart. I reflected on the people i've met, the churches i've had contact with, and the family members i've spoken with here who have such bighearted devotion to this God who transcends nationality. I started to realize that people who are overseas are not the only people who have hearts for the evangelization of the world...
and the chip on my shoulder started melting away.

this does not mean that my feelings have changed for India.

i am going back.

but it is helping me to understand and integrate my Stateside role, and i'm kind of loving it this morning. I love still being connected with PMI. I love what God's got me doing, who He's got me meeting, and the Truths He has me discovering. Oh, i must serve Him wherever i am.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
PROV3:3
anywhere i go, may i remember love and faithfulness. may i always be the same Julie-Didi. THAT's integrity.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
PROV3:9
here is something that Americans can do more than Indians can. my position at this point has put me in contact with Americans who are living this. this heart has been the redeeming point of America to me. this point has reminded me of love, and is winning me back.

Christian America, you're surprising me.
Keep it up.

Wednesday, July 14

silence.

Here in America, everything is different.
yes, thank you captain obvious.
but i mean, my desires, my thought patterns, my life drive - it's all different here. the struggles have shifted from sweating while walking, bucket washing, toaster oven cooking and keeping track of my padlock key to getting lost on the streets of the city, keeping updated with my cell phone calls and finding the best deal on a camera charger.
yesterday was a remarkable day.
i got up around 8 and began going over GRE strategy tips and practice questions - mostly math, since thats what i kept forgetting. i printed off my directions, took a shower, and headed out the door at 11:00 to drive my 21-minute route to my 12:00 test.
and i was late.
i was actually thinking about how nice it was to be able to drive my cute black car again when i realized there was a tricky portion of the directions, and it was really all downhill from there.
so, i was late to my GRE. the nice old lady calmed me down and assured me i could still take it, and i felt a little better. i was still uneasy because i had little time to prepare for the graduate-level test and i am still feeling jetlagged. my fears turned out to be well-founded, as my scores were well below what i would expect of myself.
whatever, i shook it off and went to buy a new phone charging cord to replace the one i left on a different continent, and took my car to fail its two months overdue inspection.
oh, life mundane.

there is one thing that is the same in both cultures that i've noticed...
there isn't a lot of escape from the noise.
whether it's traffic and bellowing vegetable vendors or ringing phones and chattering people, i find no silence.
i plug my ears with headphones. i put my pillow over my head.

but when i talk to God, silence is all i hear. How real He is, but how quiet.
"Father, how do i reconcile what i've seen with where i am? Father, how can i keep from becoming apathetic? Father, who have you given me to help today? Father, where am i meant to be?"
....

my open-ended questions trail off into the silence. the trust that was so recently so real to me is again a grasping at straws. I trust i have a reason to be here. I trust that if i follow Him, He will use me. I trust that my American life is purposed.

God of my details, God of all nations, God of the silence.
How good my God is.

Saturday, July 10

back to the land of feet and fahrenheit...

Muscle relaxers > caffeine. Woo, just slept away a whole 8-hour flight and still can’t wake up!

Well, here I am – just chilling in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport once again. I think I’ll skip the crazypurpletinyspaceman “Yotel” experience this time around, if at all possible. J I wonder what Asheesh is up to!

Seeing the table where I sat for hours awaiting my hotel booking time and flight departure makes me wonder if it’s the same me that sits here, just a chair and a booth over, and just two months more mature.

I can say that in my opinion, they were two months well spent. Obviously I can never regain what time I have spent in my life, but I wouldn’t retract my exhausting, dusty, heartwrenching, trying time in India for anything.

But, back to my question. am I the same me? Well, friends, I know it doesn’t make much sense: I feel that I haven’t really become different, but I know I have been changed.

Same me. Same love. Same quirks. Same needs. Same struggles.

But I’ve been introduced to a whole slew of new options for the direction of my path in life. I’ve been opened up to receive a new perspective. I’ve been once again enlightened to, and honestly slapped in the face by, a world that is bigger than me and my tan and my bed and my boyfriend.

I’ve been set free to find satisfaction.

I’ve been given an opportunity to know how a confident, competent, courageous and caring woman would act.

Oh, I have indeed been changed.

What have I done in India, you may inquire, that has had such a profound effect on me?

Man, I’m so glad you asked.

· - First of all, I cultivated a strength for generating friendships with complete strangers, which is something that has always really drained me. I think it’s important to be able to be personable even when it’s hard sometimes, and that’s a definite lesson I can take away from India; PMI specifically.

· - I created something out of nothing. I got to use my different talents in work with children, photography, graphic design, language, and organization to start up a brand-new program, the effects of which will surely outlast me. Yes, you know what I’m talking about: the child sponsorship program is officially up and running! There are fifty children enrolled to be sponsored to provide for their education, food, clothing, and extracurricular development from ages two and a half to sixteen. We have our first sponsor registered, and I have three more names lined up to be taken.

· - I have learned that taking the intiative is a fantastic habit, but that forcefully taking the lead is a bad one. No one else will step up to the plate if you do it every time. No one else will grow if you do everything for them. I’m excited to see the turns my life will take as I let myself be led. I’m an independent girl, and I like to know what’s going on. But I’m going to stop worrying about it so much, and try to learn that my role can be fulfilled in sometimes simply waiting.

· - I have grown up. Not to take Shaniah’s line, but man, I feel like a woman! My name means “youthful.” I know I have a youthful spirit; it’s something I quite enjoy about myself, actually. But I hope that I am learning to purge some of my childish actions. I am putting away childish things. I am thinking as one who bears responsibility. I can find my way around India! I can travel internationally by myself! I can initiate my own growth. I can problem-solve. I can make it without holding anyone’s hand, and I can prove it.

· - I have discovered for the first time the excellence of fellowship; of community. Friendships outside The Family are simply not the same. I am only truly refreshed when I spend time with those people who know the truth that I know. How beautiful, to have been created dependent. I appreciate the diversity and unity among believers immensely more now.

How precious this trip is to my heart. I have made friends I will never replace, memories I will never forget, and growth that will not regress.

I got a card signed by everyone in PMI right before I left – wow. What a huge encouragement it was! I couldn’t stop grinning and giggling like a fool in the Delhi airport as I waited to board my flight. I think another thing I’ve found out about myself is that words of affirmation are extremely important to me. I just loved remembering the sweet times and experiences shared with each of these precious people that I love… I think my favorite quote from the card goes to Monty, though… “I can’t believe that Julie is leaving so sad I will never forget you especially your beautiful singing and your Bonny sweet smile.” Haha! I’m going to miss the Hinglish for sure!!!

As for those goals I made at the beginning of the trip… let’s see how I did!

they can be found by clicking HERE

1- i didn't have one tailored, but i bought so many kurtas, it's ridiculous. i count this one as complete.

2- fail. but we've talked about this.

3- check.

4- check. yum.

5- check. so easy.

6- hm, not daily, but i did take 4,000 pictures in India. so, that's more than one-a-day, and i did blog PLENTY. check.

7- fail, but i did say i scratched this one. haha. i will say, though, america has so many more mirrors than India, and i am now confident it's time to hit the gym!!

8- fail. fail fail fail. it was really nice to be able to keep up with people, though, and to post these blog updates on my wall page so it would be easy for people to find. yeah. no excuse for this though. just fail.

9- check, and double check. prakash and me, we tight.

10- check. that's all i gotta say about that.

11- check, it didn't really bother me!

12- check! still alive!

13 - wow, check. this was more true than i even thought it would be.

14- check. two days before leaving.

15- check. guys, i gotta go back.

Just as it wasn’t real to me that I was about to be in India until I saw the Delhi skyline and wedding fireworks, I think it’s not yet real to me that I’m actually gone. What do you mean, I’ve left? You mean my feet won’t be constant stankpiles of dirty callouses? You mean I won’t see cows eating trash on a daily stroll? You mean I have to pay more than three dollars for a pair of shoes? You mean I won’t be suckered into cricket matches to display my profound and hilarious lack of athleticism? You mean there will be Dr. Pepper??? You mean people will arrive on time and I won’t have to wonder at every meal whether I’ll be eating my food or it will be eating me? You mean I’ve really left?

Oh, let me return.

India, you have stolen my heart.

– julie-didi.

Monday, July 5

MONSOON!

oh, rain, where have you been all my life?? This morning i woke up for pathshala (we decided to go on our day off just so that i could get more interviews in -- my sincerest thanks to sandeep and andrew for their great sacrifice.) and was sitting in the balcony room reading in Psalms when i heard a dull roar. i thought maybe a truck had turned down our insanely narrow and already double - car - lined street and was coming towards us, but as i looked up i saw not a vehicle, but a wall of water approaching. the heavens dumped their buckets of LIFE on Delhi! It was a beautiful sight, and a wholly welcome one.
how refreshing and renewing water is to these filthy streets and buildings. how vision-changing to see reflections in the road and droplets on the drains.
[speaking of water, after a month and a half of living here i got our water bill... i cringed as Raj began to inform me of the price! I had been waiting for it, unsure of how expensive it would come out to be. You'll be simply shocked. for a month and a half, it came out to two hundred and ten rupees. my friends, that is a little over four dollars. i am little surprised that this is practically the most populous country on earth.]

the raining started last night with a magnificent lightning storm, which was the end of another of my favorite days in Delhi...
it started off with Praise Team practice before church. I've grown away from singing in public, but after having done it for two months consistently now and getting to know these wonderful people, i got very comfortable doing it. I loved being able to sing "None but JC", a song originally performed by Hillsong, and not feel nervous, but instead only worshipful. I sang to conclude the partaking of the Lord's table - our proclamation of His death until He comes - and after the song was done, Peter came to the front to pray and conclude the service. He reminded the congregation that this was my last Sunday with them, and he said "So as she travels home, let us pray for her.... that she will come back!" I was touched. Not that i would have safe travels, not even that i would finish strong in this remaining week, but that i would come back. It's a blessing to know where you're wanted. this passing comment and the prayer for me that followed moved my heart so profoundly. people, let your brothers and sisters know what they're doing right. it means the world.
after church, i was waiting to see what the lunch plans would turn out to be and as i stood in the back, i caught sight of one-month-old Silas, whose birth was announced after my arrival and settling into Hudson Line. I asked his mother if i could hold him, and sat the next half hour in the back of the room just marveling at how wonderfully we are made. His works are wonderful, and my soul knows it, oh, so well. what a precious gift, to hold someone so small, to pray over him and to be reminded of the love and the wonders of God.
After my tiny baby fix, Tiffany, Erica and I headed out to Kamla Nagar to do some last minute shopping, and to grab lunch. when we got back we borrowed Veer-Zaara, a popular 3-and-a-half-hour bollywood chick flick, from Heather and returned to our pinkhouse to watch it. Not sure if i knew this before, but you should be forewarned: Bollywood is NOT true to life in India! Now that i think about it, it's probably comparable to the fact that Hollywood film doesn't really reflect life in America, but this is slightly different i think, due to the fact that Bollywood movies have GOT to be TRYING to be cheezy, over-the-top acting and extra-ridiculously colorful! i'm pretty sure every movie is a musical, and every actor can perform supernatural feats in the plot unattainable by the average human exister.
anyway, we didn't finish before we needed to leave for the 4th of July game night celebration at Peter and Heather's house. We had a great time bonding with the GBC team, eating pizza and playing catch phrase, and telling embarrassing stories. When our dear Indian friend Esther needed to go home, all of the 6 short termers decided to pile in Peter's tiny blue car with her and take her back in the storm which had already started. we rolled down our windows for the rain and cool wind to freely enter, and squeezed in next to each other, laughing and singing and talking about home. We then returned, and Raj stayed in the driver's seat to drive the GBC team back to their hotel. The short termers then snuggled up on the Malakar couches and chatted with Peter and Heather, laughing at our Indian missteps and at Tiffany's inability to keep a secret and at Peter's inability to function without his iphone in his hand. I made chai for everyone (naturally) and brought it in on a tray like the Indians always do, and Peter again said "Wow, well you are welcome in Delhi anytime!" he asked me jokingly, "How long are you prolonging your trip for now?" not gonna lie to you right now, i'm pretty tempted to try! haha :)
We played a couple games of Settlers to finish out the night; Raj won the first game, and after an epic struggle against the boys' pact together not to ever trade resources with me, (thanks a lot!) I won the second. mm, serving the Lord is fun.
fellowship.
how good it is to be with those who love God.
leadership.
how excellent it is to have your steps numbered for you.
provision.
how beautiful to be guided daily by the Truth of the Word.
faithfulness.
how assuring to know that trust placed in God is not ill-founded.
growth.
how blessed I am to be learning more and more, not as some kind of fleeting mountaintop experience, but day by day by day in a place my heart feels is home.

wow, wow, wow. i love reflecting on this experience. i am continually encouraged and spurred on towards love and good deeds.

Peace from Delhi,
-settlers master, encouraged and surrounded by love.

Sunday, July 4

my name is written on His heart.

aw man, is time ever flying and dragging.
done with today; done with leading another (my last) focal point. it went pretty well, i spoke briefly on peer pressure. i didn't feel very qualified to speak, or quite as prepared as last time, but ultimately with what Peter decided to do with the topic i think it all turned out just great.
This morning at 7:45 we had a chai time to say goodbye to the Master's team. this was.. GREAT. number one, it was the perfect time to take pictures with, say a last goodbye to, and otherwise conclude with the precious people on that californian one-month team. number two, starting with chai makes your day way better than i ever thought! haha, i think i'm going to get up early tomorrow to get some chai supplies since i'm out, and make some before church. man, it really got me up and going! After they headed out, i worked on CSP some more... it's coming along! Then we went to the team study of the word, which was based out of ezekiel 4. It was an interesting passage, but it just made me so thankful for the sacrifice of the Son so that i know all my sin has already been borne. It made me think of the song "Before the throne of God above" so i asked if we could sing it. what a wonderful picture of the grace of the good news. I have a strong and perfect plea with the judge. it's my lawyer, my high priest; it's love. love ever lives and pleads for me.
after the study, Tiffany and Erica and i went to Janpath Central Delhi and had some adventures! a drunk guy continually asked us questions on the metro, from whether we were russian to whether we were friends of india, to asking tiffany her name. after leaving his delightful aroma behind us, we ventured forth to the bartering and tourist attraction found in the marketplace. we bought handmade paper for the CSP brochures, and i got a couple trinkets for different people, and some pants for myself :) Tiffany and Erica got me this beauuutiful chai set which i can hardly begin to describe. it's probably my most india-ish thing i have even, and it's just amazing. it touched me that they bought it for me - i'm serious, i really love it. if you come over and i do some entertaining as chaiwalla, i'll let you use it :)
after that i prepped for focal point and did some more CSP readiness work, and then changed into my little white kurta and walked myself over to the resource center to lead those indians in individualism and maturity! man, how unqualified i am, but how great He is. i'm also unqualified for His grace, am i not? and this very unqualification is what brings me into life with him. it's hard to walk away now that some relationships are beginning to form among the people here. two ladies who come to PMI regularly are Sarika and Vida. i've enjoyed talking to both of them. i guess others will have to finish the work i began with people like these two women, who make my heart long for the belief of the world. i wish i could stay forever and just build my relationships and rapport, but alas, i must trust and go.
well, i fell asleep typing this, so it's really time to sign off here.
with love from Delhi,
the girl with the name that is graven on His hands.

Friday, July 2

In me O Lord can you create a pure heart 'cause i'm afraid that i just might run back to the things i hate...

Wow. One week left until I go.
I’m so excited to share all my stories and experiences with you guys in person, and to show you all I have for you and see you and get you as excited as I am about India!
Today was a really good day. We went to pathshala in the morning after quite some time off because of medical camps going on and sickness of the teachers and translators. I finally got to get started on the sponsorship program with these younger kids, and I’m excited to get them all entered into the system and finally get some of these brochures printed off! It’s gonna be awesome to hold them in my hand, knowing my effort for the last month could change some of their lives. Wow. I hope with all my heart that it will!
After pathshala was the PMI meeting, and the photoshoot for the new brochure picture of the PMI staff. i love these people. they're the heart and soul of my last two months here. and how cute are they?? :)
after that we had an outing to Kamla Nagar (the nearby market area) for lunch. After almost all the Master’s team girls got henna, we ate Chole Bhature again, like when we went with Kelly and Jenny a couple of weeks ago. Man, that stuff is delicious. We also all got legit mango shakes, which for some reason always hits that spot for me. You know how sometimes you’re craving something, and even though you eat and eat you don’t quite feel satisfied? Well, these mango shakes have something in them that, after I’m done, makes me want to sit back with my hands on my belly and my face to the sky; just full, fat and happy, not in need of anything else. I may go back again tomorrow to take tiffany and Erica, and to show them the new KURTA stand I found!! It’s no bargaining, which I like, and they have a row of kurtas for 100 rupees, a row for 150, and a row for 200. (ps. That’s sUPER cHEAP.) wooo! I may grab another one when I go back with them, because I saw a few that could be really cute even as American shirts – I’m bringin this stuff into style, I’m telling you! I love it! now, I know I’ve been saying that about overalls for years now; though I may still be the only one wearing them, I ROCK that hicktown comfort. I guess that may just have to be how it is with Indian modesty. Yayyuh, bring on the eclectic style, cuz I got it all.
Anyway, after all that lunch nonsense, I went to heather’s to upload the pictures for her to get printed and played with prakash and worked some on CSP.
All of that was really great in and of itself, but the best part of the day was the end. Some of the short termers and I had decided to go to Sandeep’s home and meet his family! Tonight he took Andrew and me out there. Right as we left, it started sprinkling. A cover of clouds rolled in and a refreshing breeze blew through Delhi as we traveled by auto to get to his place. It seems a little more rural, though it’s not that far away from where we’ve been working. They have domestic cows everywhere there, for their milk or their labor. Sandeep took us through the four (or was it five?) story house which his family both lives in and rents out to people, all the way to the rooftop add-on room he calls his very own. I know the view was in some ways plain, but it seemed nothing less than breathtaking to me as I stood gawking over the Indian scenery laid out before me. To one side, the highway with the traffic lights beyond a marshy field, to the other, a whole region of a community of people who love each other, and love to stare at white people and maybe even make a stop on the roof where they’re to be found. Yeah. We had visitors. We watched the hazy sun set through the dense clouds as we sat cross-legged on Sandeep’s bare cot and chatted contentedly with his family and some close friends, and simply enjoyed ourselves immensely. Since they own cows and buffalo, Sandeep’s mother (who was much younger than I expected her to be!) was milking the cows when we got there. Guys… I got brave, and I did it – I milked a cow in India!
They said I was pretty good at it, I mean I got the milk out and all. So after pull-and-squeeze-ing the milk out of the buffalo cow, it was immediately made into fresh chai. How simply delightful is that?! we sat and watched the sun set on the village with the neighbor women putting out laundry nearby and children flying kites all throughout the region.
we had a categorically Indian good time, and didn’t leave for probably 3 hours, at which point Sandeep took both of us home on his motorcycle. At once. Sandeep first at the helm, Andrew holding onto him, and me bringing up the rear, clutching Andrew’s backpack and the bar on the back of the motorcycle. Ok seriously. Why do I love motorcycles so much? There’s something about the wind in your hair and having nothing between you and the open road that gets me. Maybe that’s just me being twenty years old, but if it is, I love being twenty.
We finished off the evening with an episode of modern family saved on Andrew’s computer… which is quality television, if I do say so. I always giggle, it’s feel-good tv for me (that and the bachelor, which I cannot wait to watch! Kelly saved the whole season for me!! Yeah America, bring on the Dr. Pepper, Tex-mex, sour gummy worms, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and reality tv.) Anyway, after finishing a short episode and making chai for prabin, now I’m feeling nice and tired right at midnight.
I can’t think of a way my day could have gone better.
I want to end with the lyrics to a song that have become new to me here… just one of the many things that I’ve been learning in such a profound way on this trip.

"Before the sun has touched the sky
Colors bursting from Your eyes
Before the flood of the morning light
Before the earth has felt Your heat
Before I stand up to my feet
Before I begin to feel this weak

Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
I'm begging You, to help me see
You're all I want, You're what I need
Oh, satisfy me Lord

When the day is closing in
Like the stars in the night I am falling
Into the pull of the earth and it's affection
In me, oh lord, can you create
A pure heart cuz I'm afraid
That I just might run back to the things I hate

Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
I'm begging You, to help me see
You're all I want, You're what I need
Oh, satisfy me Lord

You're beautiful, so beautiful
You're more than all this world can give.
You're beautiful, more beautiful
Your love is all I need to live"


Father, don't let me run back to the things i hate.

love from delhi,
~satisfied (in the Savior and the mango shakes He created.)

Tuesday, June 29

nottiredcan'tsleep...

...dang caffeinated chai. :)
well, in reference to my last entry, it's funny how plans always change.
Mr. Jingles was in the downstairs kitchen tonight as i was making chai for the boys and i. Prabin has started to call me "Chai-walla", which as you'll remember from my previous bloggings, means 'the one who makes chai'. He likes mine better than the way he makes it (well, that or he's just lazy, which does happen to be a stereotypical Indian trait...) Either way, the Indians enjoy my chai. I see that as a definitive passing grade in the school of tea. Even though there will be no mouse to greet me on the kitchen counter, and though the milk will be in cartons rather than thin plastic bags, and the cups will be large-sized, and the stove will light itself, i am excited to bring my chai stateside.
the moon is beautiful, but the roof is locked. my heart is so saddened!
as far as Prakash goes.....
ha. man, i think i underestimated how much i would love the children here. i've fallen back in love with everyone under 8 years of age, and i just know my path in life is solidified. i want to love on kids, i want to make peoples lives better, and i want to renew, brighten and enhance beauty and satisfaction in the lives of those around me. though i don't yet know where or how, i trust the father with that much, and i hold on to that which i can know already.
The USA lost their soccer game. I lost my voice for church, but i sang anyway. the custom-made jeans were a bust... they don't quite fit right, and they have a saggy bottom. (boo!) nobody wanted to go to India gate with me, so we skipped it today.
haha, the plans of man are quickly foiled. i'm so glad i know the One who orders my steps.
we had a good time wandering central delhi today though, and had a VERY squished metro ordeal. it seemed like the entire overpopulated country was crammed into one subway car as we stood, not shoulder to shoulder, but plastered back to front with total smelly strangers. it was so crazy, any time anyone moved you got smashed up against anyone around you. As if there weren't an overabundance of cars on the street... there are really SO many people here! and boy, do they all need to hear the truth. i know, i'm like a broken record, but i'm struck with the reality of it every day. the Satisfaction i can find, the fulfillment, the leadership, the love, the light, the completion; an astounding majority of them don't see it as an option. they choose oppression and fear, they choose devotion without hope. OH, India. How He loves you.

sports day tomorrow! i won't be playing cricket again -- i'll be a happy and supportive spectator. nobody wanted me on their team, but that's ok, the feeling was mutual :)

it's real late, guys. i'm going to bed.
love from delhi,
Chaiwalla.

Saturday, June 26

times two.

haha!
only in India!! I'm here listening to the guys' conversation as they try to fit all four of them in their tiny air conditioned room. "But we have to give way for de mouse!" says Prabin, "Yes, odderwise he will come and tickle us," said Raj. Yes, the boys have a mouse in their room which they've named Mr. Jingles. The Americans think he's cute, but Prabin claims to have been bitten by him.
Tonight is a full moon. i saw it right outside the Malakar's door at Joy's 6-month birthday party, all huge and beautiful and framed by the alley between the tall buildings of Hudson line. It was just so India!
i cant believe i have less than two weeks left here. I just know the chai won't taste the same, and the heat will mean so much less. i'll miss my kurtas and my pinkhouse, and oh! how i'll miss my Prakash!! but... what am i saying? i still have time. i'll try not to think about going just yet.
so, i'll stay up to watch the USA play soccer tonight, sing with the praise team in the morning, get custom-made jeans created to my specifications in the afternoon (how cool is that??), and have my day off and go to India gate on monday.
in other news, today i made a picture of Josh into an Avatar Navi :) that was a good time. and i got to sing backup to a girl named Jena singing Brooke Fraser's Shadowfeet.
life's crazy, guys. i never know whether i'm enthralled with this place or ready to snooze my windowseat way across the oceans home to hug my ever-lovin momma.
my heart is full, but it's planted in two places.

love from Delhi,
Julie the double-minded.

Thursday, June 24

delhi day, girl's night.

i'm sitting by my closed balcony doors, sweat dripping rhythmically off my chin. (and i only wish that were a literary exaggeration) There's a sand storm going on which is both massively disgusting and beautifully exciting at the same time. The air everywhere is charged with dust, visibility is down, and everything is brown. However, the winds bring such a cooling touch, and the hope of rain soon! mmm, rain would be good.

undoubtedly, the highlight of my day yesterday was the moment in which Sandeep leaned back in his chair, which was back-to-back with mine, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Julie," "yeah?" i replied. He grinned and said purposefully through his accent, "Let's blow this popsicle stand!" i couldn't stop laughing. oh, how Americans love to teach Indians memorable phrases. from "Yeah Buddy" to "peachy keen", they have a whole new world of vocabulary now. sooooo good.

today i went on another Delhi tour with the Master's team, much like the one i had with the Liberty team. (Liberty, we missed out on the dagger selection at the Sikh temple... SO GOOD and less than half the price of the ones you bought at Janpath.) I really only went for Karim's, which is, in the opinion of some, in the top five best restaurants in the greater Asian area. wow, butter naan. it makes me want to stay in India, if nothing else did! Sandeep is veg, too, so he introduced us to some of the delicious non-meat options there as well. just. so. awesome.
so, all of that was fun -- at the largest mosque in India:: times two, i got to climb the high tower and view the city from 300+ feet, and got to hear the 12:45 call to prayer which signals all Muslims to face the west. All of it was beautiful, saddening, fantastic, and overwhelming all at once. Sikhs are compassionate. Muslims are faithful. Hindus are self-sacrificial. but where is the truth? where is the love? where, oh India?

After coming back from Karim's, since i don't teach the English class with the team, i went out on errands for my house and for Heather. it was the first time i've ridden the metro by myself, and boy, was i intensely aware of the stares. sorry bout my white skin, guys, but i'm made up of the same stuff as you!! it's crazy how few white people they see here, and how unashamedly their eyes lock onto one walking by. But honestly........... maybe i'm guilty: Every time i see someone who looks American or European, my head jerks up! We saw a white guy walking by while we were leaving the Sikh temple, and a couple of the girls on the Master's team pointed and exclaimed! So funny, the differences in different cultures.
so i got what i needed, and we're making brownies and ordering ice cream for our GIRLS NIGHT tonight which Tiffany, Erica, and I are hosting in our lovvvvely third floor apartment.
what a good end to a fun day.
I'm going to get some laundry and cleaning done before that time, and i think i'll shower too.
mm :)
love from delhi,
julie the delhi-ite.

Wednesday, June 23

Good.

today, my heart is found longing.
longing to see His face. longing to feel, and not only know, that i am fulfilled and satisfied.
longing not to be bogged down by a second cold, by nosebleeds, by early mornings, by language barriers, by spoiled milk, by dusty floors, by inconsistency, or by lack of fully deep relationships. i'm not upset. i'm not hoping to complain. but i am tired, and i am longing.
but today i was reminded by my good friend Erin that every Indian smile i see is a gift from God. wow, how true this is. every jubilant white expression of happiness framed and brightened by deep dark chocolate and mocha colored lips is evidence of glory; is the truth of blessing. He has surrounded me with His divine nature and evidence of His power and sustaining hands. I don't want to walk around this exotic, wonderful place missing it. I don't want to lose my wonder.
in other news, the PMI staff and team just finished Lamentations, and i liked it probably more than i think i should. haha. just a few verses stood out to me and really made me think. the second to last verse in the book just gives me the chills. Restoration is only from our life-giving creator. only. He is the one, he is holy.
i'm still working on the CSP (child sponsorship project). i have close to 30 kids registered, and i start on Pathshala either tomorrow or the next day, depending on when i can get a translator up there.
in EXCITING news, i'll be going with friends to Sandeep's house to meet his parents and his herd of buffalo soon! Also, he has a motorcycle here, and he said he would give me a ride someday fulfilling another of my Indian goals :)
chai is good. the word is good. the work is good. He is good, and i know it.

love from delhi,
-longing.

Saturday, June 19

live itttt

oh, my! i woke up this morning happy, and ready for my interesting day. I think i have an imposter in my bed, though, because after five weeks with no bug bites at all, i woke up COVERED in them today! they're mostly on my left side, which is weird, but whatever. maybe i'm just allergic to Erica. :)
Went to Pathshala with Andrew and Kirshan (who gave me a bracelet last week, by the way... i'm trying to be careful in my interaction with him now but he's just so stinkin' fun! i wanna be his friend! haha) and got to do a kind-of makeshift "moral story". things didn't quite go as planned, but i hope to make it more of a steady part of their teaching time, since Kirshan won't be integrating that on his own. maybe it will be easier next time.
yesterday i went out with Mehnaz and got some Chai cups!! everyone here drinks out of really small cups, and i lovve them, they're just the perfect amount. i've decided as a result of my new curtain, sheet, and chai cup colors that i'm changing my room theme to orange/yellow and blue. after i got the cups out this morning, i somehow got on a cleaning frenzy. i took my little hankies and dusted and used my "Lizol" to wipe down the counters and i did the dishes. it felt really good. i think i'm going to clean more often!
today i also decided to try something new instead of always just putting my hair up in a ponytail... sooooo i taught myself to french braid!! it's kind of ugly but i'm real proud of myself, this is my first time to actually do it. i have tried before but my efforts always get muddled halfway through and my arms get tired and i throw up my hands in frustration at my thin, fine hair which is now tied in knots, and must be pulled out in order to be straightened out.
this is actually my effort to check it, i had no idea how it looked and our only mirror was in use, so i just point and shot at the back of my head until i got a picture that actually had me in it. haha, seems like everything is makeshift here :)
now that i started singing again, i don't remember why i havent been blasting my itunes this whole trip!! i love singing in these rooms, it's so fun :)
getting ready the rest of the day for leading focal point today. i hope i can communicate what i know clearly, and that i can communicate the truth with wisdom and accuracy.

sometimes i wonder about whether people who love things in the US shouldn't be overseas. a lot of times we see it as a sign that we shouldn't leave America that we would really like to have a bed and a showerhead. but really, everyone would like to have a comfy-snuggly bed to jump on and snooze in, and we would pretty much all prefer standing under running water to dumping it over our heads from plastic containers. but at the end of the day, what makes us ALIVE: beds and showerheads, refridgerators and tex-mex, DVDs and lushbeautifulfoothugging carpet on the floors, or a fulfilling way of life? Should i stay in America because i really like my little black Honda civic? Should i not consider India because walking in the sun can be hard on me and auto-rickshaws piled with people i don't know, though hilarious and fun, can make me uncomfortable? maybe i actually don't know the answer. does a love for americanism point a finger to not being cut out for a "service"-centered life?
just on my mind.
guess what, life is beautiful. so live it.

thoughts of the night.

tonight while i thought about how i should prepare for the presentation i'm giving to anyone who happens to wander into PMI tomorrow, i stood on the roof and watched the moon set through the cloudless clear star-studded sky. i saw the big dipper, clear as day... though everything is just a little browner here. the tilted half moon sank lower and lower, and i leaned up against the staircase to the rooftop and thought about how to live a full life.
then i came down, all contemplative, ready to start my outline, and just turned on some itunes and started to sing in this empty pink and marble room. the echoes and acoustics fill you up as they reverberate throughout this house, and i thought about how to make my voice count.
i continued to procrastinate, and through a friend of a friend, picked up an awesome new photography blog to follow. as i flipped through the snapshots filled with love and gorgeous, nearly-tangible light (wedding photographers these days... fab) i thought about why beauty is so life-changing, and how i can let it make me more openhearted. i thought about how i can remove all bitterness from my heart. i thought about how i may best strip the callouses from my soul so as to truly feel.
i began my study on child development to present in about 15 hours, and continued my thoughtfulness, re-realizing in awe the desperate evil at the core of the human heart. it's a wonder we ever find love. we don't deserve it, do we?
i thought about the ultimate sacrifice, and the reason i've come here to this wonderful, culture-rich, intensely warm, trying, fulfilling, exotic place. i thought about how what i really want to say is what the sun would say to the sky for giving it a place to come alive.
i reflected on the people here, the sights, the foliage, the monkeys, the buildings - and thought about how everything has been made glorious.
now it's 2:10 AM and all i have is a bare-bones outline for a 10-minute presentation, and a responsibility to teach children in the morning.
here's to the unfinished.

thoughtful in Delhi,
[notjules]

Wednesday, June 16

reckless abandon.


So,
if there was one Indian-ism i could instate in America, it would be the common practice of public access to building rooftops. I love going up in the evenings to feel the coolish breeze absent from our third floor apartment, and to see the stars that occasionally twinkle through the clouds. it's nice to get to go and just sing and just be. I love standing at the edge of the roof looking down on my world, watching birds fly above me and bats flutter randomly close below. I finally get to stop worrying what i'm wearing or who's looking, so i spread my arms as wide as they will stretch, lift my head and smile at the vast, hazy sky.
i've decided here in India that i love reckless abandon.
wisdom is built on experience. right? whether mine or somebody else's, i have to learn from some experience.
if this trip is full of anything, it's the opportunity for just such an occurrence. and what an EXPERIENCE i have truly had. i've done what is possible for me to blend in, to live like these people live, to reach out, to be in this world, though i'm not of it, to be a picture of grace, and to do it all with such open arms that it seems i'm running blind just to be as Indian as i can possibly be without getting some brown-flavored contacts & a box of black hairdye, and pulling a reverse Michael Jackson.
that being said, there's something about being here that makes me want to just do it all; try everything; follow my heart and laugh about it later. i know this is one of the furthest things from sound judgment, but i don't want to miss a THING while i'm here! "the food will get me a little sick tomorrow? so what? i want to try it! the children here are dirty and infested? so what? i want to kiss their heads so that they know i love them!" it's this bravado that has led me, after some discourse and introspection, to my decision pictured below:
yes, i thought i'd go ahead and let you all know: i got my nose pierced. everyone here thought it was such a great idea - they all really love it. the majority (as in more than half) of the girls here have it done... it's just such an India thing. i'd love for this little shiny dot on my face to become a conversation piece so that i can tell people about the hope that i've found, and since i'm hoping to come back, i'll be one step ahead of the game for next time :) it's an expression of my freedom to me, and the grace i hope to exemplify. it's not my hope to cause a ruckus or a scene - i just want to do what i do, and do it like the Indians do it, because i really love them.
with reckless, pierced, abandon.
[ha, iphoto mirror-images me.]

ok, enough about that. let's talk for a moment about how excited i am for my sister's wedding. She's marrying the cool, calm, and collected Mitchell Plant on or around November 20th, and i'm beside myself. she's allowing me to be her wedding photographer!! she's going to be positively lovely, and i can. not. wait. i got a little teary-eyed reading her details message tonight; i kind of can't believe it. bridal photos, roses, classy dresses, the canon in D, the snazziness of men in tuxes, cake and ice cream, dancing, friends and family gathered close... i love all of it enough just on its own, and when it's all because of my sister -- man, what a wonderful day it's gonna be. here's to knowing her better and thinking of her in India. love you, Rene.


peace, love, and great grace from Delhi,
-may i never judge anyone again.-

Tuesday, June 15

home

It’s strange to think that in three days, I was scheduled to leave. I’m settled in, I feel like I’m home. I feel like India is my place!

Look! I have ice cream in my freezer!

I have chocolate Indian cookies (known here as biscuits, along with crackers, chips, and anything else crunchy and bread-like!) oh, and don’t even think I haven’t been

dipping these double-chocolate-overkill version of oreos (they’re called pure magic,

and the advertisement doesn’t lie!) into my nutella. I told you, I’m on a chocolate kick! I can’t stop eating it! The girls on the master’s team are all doing P-90X together, and I feel like I should start, too. ALL I eat is carbs and chocolate!

Well, and fruit. Yummmmmm. That’s possibly one of the things I’ll miss most about India. I’m not a huge fruit person in the States but the fruit here is DIVINE. You’ve probably never had a litchi, but it’s delightful, let me tell you. It looks like a strawberry, but you peel back the hard skin to reveal the slimy white meat, and there’s a big brown seed inside. The taste is something comparable to a grape… but different. But yum guys. Im serious J

Today we had another kid’s camp, and I did love it once again. I took pictures and saw a lot of the kids I know already. There was one girl who just fell asleep on the floor in the middle of all the hustle and bustle - I couldn’t believe it! She just passed out! After awhile of just watching her there on the marble floor, I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat down next to her and gathered her up into my arms and let her sleep with me. It’s been really really hot here lately, and one of the volunteers said the case was probably that she was so hot in her home that she got no sleep last night. mm. what a privilege to hold her precious snoozing self underneath the air conditioner and pray for her and love on her.

preciousss

after kid's camp we had a volunteer lunch that consisted entirely of chow mein. Now, after 5 days straight, a lunch that has chow mein and no supplement can seem rather bland, so i got brave today and poured some of the dipping sauce into the smaller portion of my handy-dandy sectioned off paper plate. I had seen the aftermath of the red sauce earlier in the week when some red-faced coughing Americans ran by me looking for water, so i steered clear of that and carefully selected the green stuff. i twirled up my dry pasta on my tiny plastic fork, dipped it in the green delight and shoved it all right down the gipper. WHOA THERE! right when it touched my tongue, my whole head started to burn. i thought it might inflate and popright on the spot like i was in one of those airhead commercials or something. I wasn't sure if i was just a wimp, though, so i kind of tried to keep my agony quiet while i chugged some water and piled the dry pasta, on extinguisher duty, onto the flames i was breathing out my pie-hole. a couple of people noticed, and we had a good laugh. When one guy came by later talking about the sauces and mentioned how the green is so much worse than the red, i felt a little better (maybe i'm stupid but at least i'm not a wimp!) I just got over the tingle in my lips. man. food here is so intense. :)

tomorrow, we have medical camps and then Pathshala and BSP. i'll hopefully be getting at least 10 more pictures and bios of the BSP kids, at which point i'll move on to either CHEP or Pathshala. Things are going really well.

mm:) love from delhi,

julie the purposed.

Followers