Saturday, January 9, 2016

It Hurts to Have Your Heart in More than One Place

Lately I've found myself missing things about South Asia that I never expected to miss. For example when the clock struck midnight to ring in the New Year it seemed so quiet here. I could barely hear any fireworks. Now in South Asia they know how to party. I'm not saying I always appreciated their partying abilities but they do know how and I found myself strangely missing it.

It's a strange and painful thing to have your heart in more than one place. I love being back in Louisville, KY. I love my job (Assistant Kids' Director at Sojourn Midtown),  my church (a good thing since I work for them), my coffee shops, my cozy apartment, and so many other things. I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be for this stage of my life.

But at the same time there are days I miss South Asia so much it hurts. I miss the cows roaming the streets, the sounds outside my window (but not the sound of pigeons–never the sound of pigeons), the cheap food, the chai, the colors, and the hospitality. Given, I don't miss the honking, the me-first attitudes, the unfriendly stares, the trash piles, or the attempts to rip me off because I was clearly a foreigner. I could name some other things I don't miss but that's not the point.

If I were to move back there it wouldn't be long at all before I would be missing KY and MS like I miss South Asia now. (I don't miss MS as much right now because it's at least driving distance.) It hurts. It's both a win-win and a lose-lose situation. Win-win because I've gotten to experience so many amazing things and meet so many amazing people. Lose-lose because I can't be everywhere my people and places are at once.

There's this strange feeling I have where I've been longing to be settled and establish community somewhere without an end date in sight but also I want to hop on a plane tomorrow and be somewhere else for a while. Somehow I have both these feelings at once sometimes and it doesn't make sense.

Ultimately I know that the world as it is is not our permanent home. God has created us for more but I'm thankful for the many places and people he has given me to love. I will continue to pour my heart out wherever God has me even though it may hurt sometimes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home: A Tour of Our Flat

Welcome to my South Asian home!

First up is my bedroom. I like it's simplicity. My room in Louisville got too crowded.  Our AC is just the ceiling fan and opening windows, but AC hasn't really been needed so far…I've actually been getting chilly in my room lately. Those marble floors can be cold on bare-feet.

Here is another view of my room. You can see my built in desk here, and that door leads to my balcony. Those cabinets are my closet.

One more view of my room. Had to get in the painting I did. I'm glad there are art stores here! :) 

This is the view out onto my balcony.

 View from my balcony

One more view from my balcony. The netting keeps out pigeons and helps deter the monkeys.

In case you were wondering, I do have a Western toilet, however, there isn't any division between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom. I put up a shower curtain to create some barrier. 

That box thing you see above my shower curtain is how I get hot water…first I have to turn on the switch outside my bathroom and let it heat up. Then it's a race to shower before the water goes cold.

This is our dining area. I like the built in storage space. Behind the curtains is another balcony.

Our kitchen. I like the openness of it. That's the water filter above the sink…don't drink unfiltered water unless you want to risk getting sick!

Another view of the kitchen. You can see our laundry area behind the kitchen. You can also see our gas canister sitting out because we had to move it due to a gas leak. Hoping to get that fixed soon so that we can hide the ugly canister again and because gas leak. (Don't worry, it's not connected to the leaky pipe now.)

Our lovely laundry area which is also where we have our toaster oven for now. There wasn't enough counter space or plugs to have it in the kitchen so we make it work.

Looking down the hallway toward my room.

Last, but certainly not least, our living room with our cute little Christmas tree.

One more shot of our living room…we're still hunting for a coffee table and it could use a few wall decorations, but it works for now!

There you have it. That's our flat. It's a nice place and in a good neighborhood. We have some really great neighbors, which is definitely a blessing. It's a relatively quiet neighborhood by South Asian standards, which is nice. I'm getting used to the horns, dogs, and trains, ha.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Living Life in South Asia

Well, I haven't blogged in a while, but I've started multiple blog posts so I got the idea from my friend Kate's latest post (that is now several weeks old, but was new when I started typing this) to combine the various posts I've been working on. Here's a little update on my life lately, enjoy!

1) Home

This Nathan Fillion GIF perfectly shows what happens when I try to answer any question about where my "home" is. 

I'm from Mississippi but I lived in Kentucky for the past four years. Louisville, KY is the first place I where really lived on my own (The dorms at MC don't really count.), but MS is where I was born and raised. Both have a special place in my heart, but if I'm back in the U.S. after my time here, I will most likely move back to Louisville. Who knows what will happen during these two years though. Thoughts about what's next can wait at least until the end of July aka halfway through my term. I hold plans very loosely, and I honestly don't know what's next. Thankfully I serve a sovereign God who does know. 

2) Language Learning & Harry Potter: A Lesson in Patience

Some days during language learning I feel like Ron when he was trying to learn how to properly say his spells. To quote the book (because the movies are good but the books are better), "You’re saying it wrong," Harry heard Hermione snap. "It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the 'gar' nice and long." I feel for you Ron. I really do.

I like languages. I find them fascinating, and I know basic greetings in multiple languages. But learning a new language is hard, especially learning a new language in a way you've never tried before. We're using a method of language learning called the "Growing Participator Approach," also known as "GPA." You can find out more about it here:
The main thing you need to know about how this method is different for me is that it's an oral approach to language learning. It requires a lot of listening. Never in my life have I struggled so much to hear whether a "d" or "r" sound was said. Our language helper told us the other day that we're her funniest students she's had…I'm glad we can make her laugh with our ridiculousness.

Language learning and the general process of adapting to a new country is a very humbling experience. In many ways it's like becoming a toddler again at age 26.

3) Exercise and a 10k

I've been trying to figure out the best way to exercise here. I miss going to the gym for free at SBTS. That was really nice to have. I also miss all the wonderful parks Louisville has. It's just not pleasant to exercise outside here, which saddens me because I love being outside, but breathing in the dirt and pollution does not work well for my lungs. Some friends of mine have started a weekly exercise class to teach national ladies how to exercise with a wholistic health approach. We teach the ladies exercises and then share a story at the end of class. There are just a few ladies who come, but it's fun.

These same friends are the ones who convinced me to do a 10k. I've done 5ks and a couple of half-marathons (not well, but I did finish) in the States, but this 10k was unlike any race I've done in the states. In typical South Asian fashion, it was chaotic.

The race was scheduled to start at 10p.m. (for those concerned about safety, we had a ride with some friends) so we got there early to pick up our race bibs and timing chips. There was only one place to pick up the 10k packets with only a couple of guys working the table. The line hardly moved for the 30-45min we were standing in it due to the way lines tend to work here where people tend to push their way to the front. Finally they gave up on their check-in procedure and said that if you just wanted a bib and timing chip you could form another line. You would just have to remember your number to get results. We were fine with that since we all had our own timing devices anyway.

Once we had our race bibs we made our way to the starting line and joined the massive crowd of people. It was about 10 min until the race was supposed to begin. As the time approached 10 they announced that they would be starting the race a little late because of the chaos of check-in (my version of what they said). Finally around 10:20 (or was it 10:30?) we started the race. I immediately lost my friends in the crowd, but we had set a meeting point for after the race so I wasn't concerned. I had my music, so I was good to go. I am an introvert after all.

The course was actually a 5k loop that we had to run twice. It was definitely the most crowded race I've run. The street got pretty narrow in some areas, and since I was running a pace that kept me back with the walk-runners it could get frustrating and gross trying squeeze between sweaty people. At one point I got shoved by one of the leaders lapping me…thankfully I kept my balance. After I finished I met up with my friends and managed to shove my way through a crowd of sweaty people to claim my finisher's medal. Thankfully we had a ride home, and collapsed in bed after quick showers around 2a.m.

I'm really proud of myself for being able to run the whole thing. Sure my pace was almost a 12 minute mile, but I finished. I have knee issues so I was trying really hard not to push myself too hard. I've learned my lesson the hard way too many times. I did wake up feeling pretty stiff (downside of a night race), and sure, my knee hurt some but not nearly as bad as it has in the past. I'm glad I decided to do the race simply for the fun experience with friends…and I admit that I do like a challenge. There's just something about running through the finish line of a race that I love.

Oh, and fun fact…this race was sponsored by Target which is such a tease because there are no Target stores here, just offices. We talked to several of the Target workers and told them that they need to bring Target to this city. :)

4) Future Blog Posts…

I definitely have more I could write about, but this post has already gotten longer than most people are willing to read so I'm stopping. What would you like to hear about in future posts about my life here in South Asia (that I'm willing to write about on a public blog)? Food, cooking, transportation, shopping, holidays? Those are some topics I considered talking about. I might do a series on different foods I try. Let me know what you would like to hear about!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finding the Light

*Warning: Photography geek-out ahead.*

Yesterday an online photography workshop that I signed up for began. It's a four week workshop on natural light by Brooke Snow done through the Rock the Shot Forums. Each Tuesday a new lesson is posted with several videos. After one session I'm already loving the workshop, and definitely think it was worth the money.

The first session covers "finding the light." Lighting is everything in photography. Brooke says, "Find the light first and the location second." She proves this point during one of her demo videos when she shows how she took some awesome head shots while standing in a bathtub. Sounds crazy, right? Well there was a window, which allowed for great natural light, and the white walls and tub are natural reflectors.

Her talk about natural reflectors and absorbers was really helpful. They were concepts I knew but hadn't thought about in some of the ways she mentioned. I find the demo videos to be extremely helpful. Some of these concepts have been explained to me before, but actually seeing how she set up her shots helped me a lot. Sometimes I just need to see it for it to click. I'm a visual learner (which shouldn't be surprising).

Each week she also gives us an assignment. This week she told us to focus on "catchlights." Catchlights are those highlights or "sparks" you see in a subjects eyes. They add life to the photo and draw your attention to the person's face. One of Brooke's demo videos focused on shooting with natural light while indoors. She showed us various ways to use windows. Since I haven't done many indoor portraits, I decided I wanted to try it out...but I didn't have anyone around at the time so I decided to attempt a self-portrait, and I'm glad I did.

I love the way my self-portrait turned out. I used the window to get good lighting on my face, and I was able to achieve good catchlights by looking out the window toward the bright sky. I love this photo because I feel like it captures my emotions right now. It's kind of hard to explain how...and I feel like any way that I try to explain comes out sounding cheesy, so I'll just let the photo speak for itself. :)

If you read this post, thanks for bearing with me in my photography geek-out. I could go on and on about the things I learned just in that first session, but for everyone's sake I won't do that (anymore than I already have). I just hope that you'll be able to see my growth as a photographer through my photos. :) Also, I confess to a love of learning, and I love that I can go through this workshop at my own pace since I can save the videos and materials. Okay, I'm really done geeking-out now.

What do you think of my self-portrait?
Anyone else out there have a love for learning and photography?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bucket List

Is there a better term? Moving list? Wish list? To do list? ??? "Bucket list" isn't quite the right term here, but I couldn't think of anything better. :\

I'm only going to be gone for two years. That's really not that long, but I do have a list of things I would like to do in Louisville and back home in Mississippi before I ship out. Some things are things I've been meaning to do for a while and just haven't gotten around to. Others are things that I love, and want to squeeze in a few more visits. Hanging out as much as possible with friends and family is a "duh," and, therefore, not on the lists.

Louisville List (In no particular order):
  1. Big Four Walking Bridge–I actually just did this, but I want to go again at sunset with my camera.
  2. Louisville Zoo
  3. Louisville Bats Game
  4. Visit my favorite local coffee shops as much as possible without going broke. (Vint and Quills)
  5. Eat at two or three of the places I haven't been to that people have told me I must try. (Hammerheads is the main one I can think of that my CG keeps telling me about.)
  6. Go on more walks at parks, particularly my favorite, Cherokee Park.
  7. Serve as photographer at least one more time at my church, Sojourn. (Doing that tomorrow.)
Mississippi (Jackson/Ridgeland/Madison area) List:
  1. Eat at Keifer's (My favorite Greek restaurant)
  2. Eat crawfish
  3. Hang out in my backyard, by the lake, in my hammock. 
Okay, so my MS list isn't very long because I mainly want to spend time at home with my family, and eat. haha The things I do in MS are not as much about places as they are about people. That sounds like Louisville isn't about people, which is not true at all. Honestly, I would love to do the things on my lists, but I would be just as happy simply hanging out with the people I care about...preferably a few at a time so I get more quality time with them. :) (Plus I'm an introvert.)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things I would put on my lists so tell me what would be on yours.

Louisville people, what would be on your list?
And Mississippi people, what would be on yours?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Next Step

Well, I did it. I officially a graduated from Southern Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree last friday. A friend and I were talking at my graduation party about how weird the term "Master of Divinity" is because I am no where near a master of divinity. If seminary has taught me anything it's that I can never learn all there is to learn about God. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know...and I think that's awesome. Our God is an infinite God. If we could learn everything, then he wouldn't be God. As someone who likes learning, I find that pretty cool. There's always something new to learn. Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent.

For the most part, people know that my next step is moving to South Asia. The main questions I've been asked are about my timeline and if I'm excited. (Timeline = leave Louisville at the end of June for Mississippi, followed by training in VA for 8 weeks at the end of July, then heading to South Asia at the beginning of Oct.) That's more of a loaded question than I think anyone realizes. I always tell people that I have mixed emotions. I am excited but I'm also sad and scared and so many different emotions all at once. And that's okay.

I've come to realize that it's okay for me to be sad and scared. In fact, I think it's even a good thing. I'm sad because God has blessed me with a wonderful community in Louisville and a wonderful family back home in Mississippi, which makes leaving hard. I'm glad that leaving is hard because it means I have wonderful people in my life that make it hard. I'm thankful for technology, but it's not the same as being in the same place with the people I love.

Like these people (not around them enough as it is):
Daddy, Momma, Taylor, Me, & Lindsey

And these people:
Community Group
Jack, Christi, Lowell, Dustin, Ben, Meghan, Eric, Laura, Josh, Me, & Trey
Also these:
Jamie, Liz, Me, & Becca
Former hallmates/roommate

 And her:

Me & Sharon
Former Roommate
And many other people. I've experienced being separated from friends and family before. My best friend, Lindsay, lives in Africa right now. My family is 9 hrs away in Mississippi. Laura Leigh and her precious new baby are 6 hrs away in Memphis.

I knew one family when I moved to Louisville, and I have come to love this place. Honestly, I'm not worried about making friends when I move to South Asia. I already have some friends there, and I know I'm going to make many more friends. I'm simply sad to be leaving my community here.

It's also okay for me to be scared. I don't feel adequate, and I'm not. I'm not some super Christian. I struggle with self-discipline and making time for the things that are important and not just "good." I struggle with feeling like if I can't do something perfect, then why do it at all. I'm not a super outgoing person. Small talk isn't my thing. The thing is, because of these weaknesses I know that anything God does through me to bring anyone closer to him is all his doing. I can't save people. I'm not adequate. I'm not perfect. But God can use me. He uses our weaknesses to show that he is strong, and that's freeing.

I don't know what my plans are beyond these next two years, but I'm okay with that. I know that moving to South Asia for the next two years is God's plan for me, because my own plans were pulled out from under me in a big way not once, but twice, and everything has worked out better than I could have planned on my own. I fell in love with Louisville, and I have no doubt that I will fall in love with South Asia as well. I'm excited, scared, sad, and thrilled about this next step in my journey. Please keep me in your prayers, and feel free to email me ( to learn more about my move or anything really.
"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Monday, April 22, 2013

Washed by the Water

This past Thursday I got to see two of my favorite bands in concert, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, and NEEDTOBREATHE. I bought my roommate and I tickets for her birthday, and I'm so glad I did. Such a great concert.

I fell in love with Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors a couple years ago when I saw them in concert at a really small venue here in Louisville. Ellie Holcomb is possibly the cutest person ever and has an amazing voice. I just want to be her friend. I didn't bring my camera to this concert because I didn't think it would be allowed in, but here's a picture of Drew and Ellie from the concert I went to a couple years ago. If you've never listened to Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, do yourself a favor and look them up now. (Their old song, "Mercy," is a personal favorite.)

NEEDTOBREATHE has been a favorite band of mine for a while, but I've never had a chance to see them in concert until now. I think I had forgotten just how much I like them. I love cranking up their music in the car and singing screaming along. They have so many great songs that I can't really choose a favorite...The Outsiders, Something Beautiful, Washed By the Water, Drive All Night, Let Us Love, etc.

Recently I've been listening to Washed By the Water a lot. The lyrics of that song remind me of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." This song talks about how even when storms come, Christ won't let us down. We are still washed clean by Christ even when things around us seem to crumble. Plans I've had for years have changed, people I know have been diagnosed with cancer, I'm moving across the world, and terrible things have been happening in the world lately, but I still have Christ, and he won't let me down. (Disclaimer: Moving across the world is exciting, but leaving my community in Louisville and knowing I won't be able to talk to my family as frequently is hard.) This song is reassuring during a very transitional time in my life. It's comforting to know that while many things may be changing, Christ's love for me will never change.

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