Wednesday, April 30, 2008

india: dumpsters and memories

so the past two days, as i've walked to the gym, i've passed this dumpster that stinks pretty bad. actually, i pass this dumpster all the time, but only the past two days has it really smelled bad.

the funny thing is that this immediately brought about memories of india. and good ones at that.

almost every day when i lived in india, i'd walk past the nastiest dumpsters you can imagine. i mean, stinky, gross, with trash overflowing EVERYWHERE. and quite often, animals or people digging in them. so gross, but so normal.

we had to pretty much walk everywhere that we wanted to go. i was lazy and tried to take rickshaws as often as possible, but even then, we often had to walk to catch a rickshaw, and walking in india is not like walking in the US. really, i've noticed that hardly anybody walks here, but that's another story.

i live pretty close to the gym here, so i try to walk there, and it's really a nice walk. shady, beautiful neighborhood, little traffic, nice trees blooming, etc. nothing like walking to the gym (or anywhere else) in india. even just a five minute stroll down the street involved dodging cars, buses, bicycles, people, animals, animal droppings, trash, beggars, carts full of vegetables, and all sorts of other random things. not to mention being stared at and even whistled or yelled at most days.

but i got used to it. i won't say that i liked it, but eventually all that becomes pretty normal. and yet, in the past 9 months, normal has changed and i'd forgotten the adventure that walking/living in india is.

until i walked past that stinky dumpster.

the smell was a shock to the senses, and something i wanted to get away from as quickly as possible, but it was also a little wake up call to how nice it usually is to walk down the street here. to enjoy nice weather and shade and quietness and being able to walk casually without really having to worry about getting run over.

i thought to myself, at first, yeah, you really appreciate all this nice stuff once you've lived in a place that's nasty...or that you hate...

but really, neither of those is a fair way to describe india. i don't hate it. not all of it, for sure, though there are things that make my blood boil. but there are things like that in the US too. and it's not totally nasty--actually, some things are delicious and beautiful and down right amazing.

i think it's seeing the different things, both good and bad, that makes me really appreciate what i have in both places. nothing's perfect, but appreciating the little things, like dumpsters that don't usually stink, can sure make me a lot thankful for how good i really have it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

to the brim

i love to drink stuff.

now, let me clarify that--what i mean is, i'm almost always thirsty and almost never without water or a coke or something. my 2 nalgene bottles are my constant companions. i literally drink around 4 liters of water a day on average, plus cokes and coffee and what not. and when i go out to eat, i pretty much cannot order something if it isn't going to have free refills--it's just not worth it because i'll drink it within 2 minutes and then be thirsty the rest of the meal. there's really only one person i know that drinks more than i do, and that's my friend jared, who has been known to carry around a 2 liter coke the same way most people carry around a 20 ounce.

anyway, when i pour myself something to drink, especially coffee, i ALWAYS fill the cup up as much as possible. most people would probably say it's too full actually, because i like to get the liquid right up to the brim. get every drop possible, i guess. actually, i never really thought it was weird until other people started pointing it out, usually when i'd serve them something and they'd be shocked by how full the glass was.

but i say all this because i think i'm learning that this is how i really love to live. get everything possible. down to the last drop. to the brim. i love moments that are full and alive and exciting--i think i could just live in those moments forever, and last night was a great example.

it's not that i did anything exciting yesterday. really, i don't know how to describe it, because i'm still processing it myself, but i'll try.

yesterday was a day of good conversations. i drove/rode in the car about 9 hours. first from dallas to west monroe, with friends, and then west monroe to lafayette by myself. i had some great conversations in the car, pretty much the whole way--both with my friends i was riding with, and then on the phone and with God later. good, meaningful, real conversations. answered prayers. realizations of deeper things--kind of like waking up spiritually.

then when i got back to lafayette, it was just about 7 pm, right after church and just in time for dinner at the college house. one house, full of all these people i love and am getting to know and so so SO many good conversations. my good friends from my small group. old friends. new people--even 2 girls from thailand. older adults who've cooked for us and have great stories to share and are so loving and gracious. funny stories. awkward moments. meeting new staff members and getting excited about the future, the potential, what the Lord is going to do.

it was so simple, and yet so amazing. that's the kind of stuff that i just want to fill life up to the brim with. i was talking to my friends after and trying to explain to them the joy i felt, but it was just about impossible to put to words. they could see it in my face, but how to describe that kind of joy...i don't know!

i mean, honestly, the past 9 months of my life have been probably the best so far. not the easiest, but the best, the fullest. God has taught me so much and grown me and is so amazingly working in and around me and sometimes all i can think is, are you kidding me? really? seriously?

He is good, folks. really. and my heart is just bursting these days with it all. joy beyond words, to be able to look at life, the good and the bad, the fun and the messy, and see the bigger picture. to choose to rejoice and love it. it's not just a moment or an experience, it's a totally freeing way of viewing life, and i'm loving it.

don't know how much sense that all makes, but i think that's about as good as i can get it into words. amazing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


so i guess i haven't really done so well on my original plan to make this a year of writing. i'm online enough, just not blogging much anymore. ah, well, as they say in india, what to do?
write more, i guess.
and i have tons i could write about, if i could make myself sit still long enough and think things through in a logical way, but for now i'll just say this: i am thankful for family. not just blood relatives, but people that become family.
right now, i'm in arrlington (sp?) texas with people who have become my family. people i know and love from india, and who i'm connected to because of our love for God and His kingdom. and LOTS of shared experiences, both good and hard. so, while we're not technically related, we are family. really, i'm a lot closer to them than some of my real relatives, which i find rather bittersweet, but that's another topic.
basically, i am feeling thankful right now, enjoying this brief but sweet weekend with family/friends, and living out one of the sweetest, deepest seasons of my life thus far. more on that later, i hope :)