Month: August 2013

Spiritual drama queens?

A&M at Humayun's Tomb

Lately, I’ve been really irritated by conversations that focus on how spiritually dark everything is.

I don’t feel like talking about boycotting Starbucks for supporting gay marriage, or how evil our government is, or how lost we are as a nation. I never really enjoyed talking about that stuff in the first place, but most the time I could be patient enough to listen. Now it’s just annoying and distracting.

Michael said that when we moved to India, it was like stripping away the support beams we used in the US to hold up our faith. We saw the real quality of our relationship with God and how much we depended on other things to keep it from falling over. But now that we’re back, a lot of those same spiritual support beams that I used to depend on just annoy me. It’s like eating dessert again for the first time after not eating sugar for months – you have one bite and it’s so sweet that it almost makes you sick.

What bothers me the most are statements that you can’t argue with because they’ve been made to sound ulta-spiritual or like the other Christian is just a helpless victim:
…Got a flat tire on your way into work? Watch out! It’s probably a level five demonic attack.
…The finance board at church didn’t approve the funding for a new church sign? Oh no! Better pray for God to soften their hardened and self-serving hearts.
…Non-believing co-workers don’t feel like they can go out to lunch with you anymore? Don’t worry, they’re lost anyways. What do they know?
…Have a Christian friend who thinks organizations that do nothing but sit around and pray twenty-four-seven are not being obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission? Guard yourself. They’re probably back-slidden and secretly practicing witch-craft!

I don’t think most Christians realize what they’re communicating when they hide behind these kinds of silly spiritual rationalizations. Sometimes stuff just happens and life changes. And I DON’T believe everything happens for a reason. Excuse me for saying it, but it’s really just spiritual bullshit. Really, it is.

And nothing good is ever going to come from having an “us verses them” mindset. It’s not sharing in the mind of Christ or in His victory. It just fear-based thinking. We’re supposed to be soldiers, not distracted by civilian affairs. Anything that isn’t motivated by and working towards the Love of Christ is a hellish distraction.

It’s funny how things change over time. There was so much spiritual filler in my life before going to India… whether it was riding the apologetic wave one minute or the charismatic wave the next. But the older I get the more I care about protecting my relationships than I care about being right. Everything else is just drama. And who needs that?

Pictures with the Riders!

A couple weeks ago I drove out to Paola to take some pictures for a friend and her husband’s family. Her in-laws have a beautiful piece of land that is great for family photos.

I learn something new each time I get the opportunity to take pictures for someone… Like this time around I was horrible about cutting off people’s hands, feet, and arms in awkward places. Whenever I do stuff like that I cringe and think back to this website my friend, Casey, shared called “youarenotaphotographer.com”. Let’s just say you don’t want your pictures to qualify for being blasted on their website.

Casey is a professional photographer, so she actually knows what she’s doing. I, on the other hand, basically only took two years of fundamental photography in high school and worked in a photo lab mounting pictures and cleaning printing machines. So I don’t have the experience under my belt not to make rookie moves like chopping off two-thirds of someone’s leg. But I’ll get there!

(I would like to take a quick moment to give Casey, some recognition for her inspiring photography. I have know Casey since elementary school and today she is an absolutely incredible photographer. She inspires me in a lot of other ways, but her photography in particular is amazing. If you’re in the Houston area and need a sweet and PROFESSIONAL photographer, check out her website, www.dreamtree-photography.com, or like her page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/dreamtreephotography.)

Another thing I realized was that I need to take my time and not rush. I start to feel bad when I’m taking a long time or the picture doesn’t “feel” right. And then I start to worry that the longer I take, the less natural everyone will look. So I don’t know what to do about that. I guess it’s something that just comes with experience. Maybe I should consider taking a few photo classes on Groupon eventually?

Anyhow, here are a few photos from my time with the Riders!

JasDesTractor

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DennisVickiDaxSeries2

DesJasDax2

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Home and lovin’ every minute of it!

IMG_0944 I can’t believe we’ve been home since April. Most days I don’t even stop to think that we just came back from spending the past year and a half in Delhi.

I’m not sure what to think about that… Is it okay for me not to really think about India? If we’re hanging out with other people I’ll process things out-loud for the sake of conversation, but when I’m alone or with Michael it hardly crosses my mind.

I really haven’t thought about traveling period. I mainly just want to nest. I mean, I keep getting those little travel deal alerts in my inbox and I’ll check them out occasionally. But for the most part, I want to be fully here. I want to be settled, comfortable and home.

I have noticed that I have a really strong desire to be creative. It’s like I can breathe again, both figuratively and literally, and I want to express that through art, projects, my wardrobe, and decorating. I want to try new things or do things that I didn’t really want to before we moved to India.

For instance, Michael and I are eating healthier. We’ve pretty much cut out all sugar from our diets and he’s starting to eat vegetables. We’ve been drinking red wine in the evenings. He’s growing a beard. I’m growing herbs. He’s wearing jeans. I’m NOT wearing kurtas. We’re both in the middle of learning new skills: he’s learning to program, and I’m learning how to not waste half the day away on Pinterest… just to name a few of the awesome changes happening in our lives. Oh, and we’re getting a dog. (Surprise!)

I find myself appreciating so many little things all the time now. Things like, watching doves coo and groom each other. It’s so sweet to me. Or being able to sit out on my back patio and read while birds are chirping and the wind is blowing through the trees. I love getting to ride my bike or going for a walk in the evenings. I feel confident when I cook again, partly because I’m using familiar ingredients and partly because I can be relatively sure what I’m cooking with is safe to eat.

I love being closer to family and friends. I love being in the same time-zone. When I flew into Houston to surprise everyone, I was amazed at how brief the flight was. Two hours. That was it. Not FIFTEEN hours.

We’re busy, but it’s still sooo good. I feel like I’m actually contributing to our marriage and life again and not just “dead weight”. (I know that I wasn’t actually “dead weight”, but I felt pretty useless most of the time in India). It works for us when I take care of the house chores and various errands/maintenance things while Michael is at work. So if a check needs to be deposited at the bank, or we need to renew our car’s paperwork at the DMV, I take care of it.

But in India a woman can’t even own a bank account in her own name. If I wanted to simply goto the grocery store, my driver took me. If I wanted to shop in said grocery store, I was shadowed by man who would hold my basket – not because I wanted the help, but because Indians expect that you don’t know what you’re doing since you’re a “videsi” (a foreigner). And you’re white, so that automatically means your wealthy and/or important. And if you’re wealthy and/or important, you’re “higher up” in the system, and if you’re “higher up” in the system, like other higher-caste Indians, you actually do expect people to wait on you hand-and-foot. (And yeah, that sooo did not jive with my American I’ll-do-it-myself-thank-you-very-much sensibilities.)

Cell phones? The company was in charge of that. Finding furniture for the apartment? The company was in charge of that. Getting propane for our stove on the black market? The company was in charge of that. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Bills? The company was in charge of that. Something broken in the apartment? The company was in charge of that. Not saying they managed any of those things particularly well, which was it’s own frustration, but the fact was I did not feel like a strong, independently contributing teammate in our marriage pretty much the whole time we lived in Delhi. Obviously that’s all changed since we’ve been back home and it’s super awesome.

Dishes Stahp

Dishes were another story. Normally I enjoy doing dishes. If I’m at a get-together and I don’t know what else to do, I’ll volunteer to do dishes. I’ve even brought gloves with me to places where I know I might be helping to clean dishes. I swear.

But in India, I hated it. Hated it, as in, I cried on multiple different occasions simply because I was at my wits-end and doing dishes was the last thing I felt like doing.

We had a dishwasher but it didn’t work, so everything was washed by hand. Not a big deal right? But in order to have hot water, you had to turn on the geyser at least thirty minutes before you needed it (this is assuming we had water in the first place, which was the case about 70% of the time thank goodness).  After washing the dishes, you had to make sure they were completely dry, because all it took was one drop of water and you could have a parasite. (Oh, and just one minor detail… if you forgot to turn off the geyser after you were done, or you left it on too long before washing the dishes, the heat and pressure would build up inside and cause a pipe to burst from the wall, spewing scalding hot water all over the microwave and everything else in the kitchen. So going to turn off the water without being electrocuted was a skill we quickly developed. And this happened to be an extra special reoccurring experience in our apartment, thanks to our neighbors upstairs who installed a pressure device on the building’s water tank just so they could have nice hot, high-pressured showers. Never mind the fact that everyone else’s pipes, toilets, geysers and sinks leaked incessantly.) *FACE PALM*

So I usually just waited until there were enough dishes to make it worth my while to clean, set out to dry, and then put away. Which mean I usually had dishes spilling over onto non-dirty-dish-designated-areas. NOT how I like to keep my kitchen. I know most expats had their maid do their dishes, but I opted not to train mine because with the communication barrier, I wouldn’t be able to assume she’d just “know” how to properly clean them, even if she watched me do it.

And naturally, after prepping and cooking a meal that also took me about three times longer to make than usual and pretty much NEVER tasted good, I usually didn’t feel like doing dishes. Just looking at them pile up made me feel helpless. It was like my experience of India could be summed up in that black hole of a kitchen sink.

But it’s so easy washing dishes now… I turn on my faucet, move the handle to the left, and like magic, there is hot water. If I don’t want to hand wash my dishes, magic, there is a dishwasher that WORKS. There is no geyser I have to babysit. If I miss a little droplet of water on a cup, I do not have to worry I will get worms. It’s really amazing.

Being home in general is amazing. We live in a really beautiful place. A very easy-to-live kind of place. I’m not sure I really understood how good we have it here in America until I lived in India. I know we have problems, and some of them are really serious and sad, but sometimes you just need to look at the good and be thankful for it.

I enjoy traveling, and there are lots of other places I would love to VISIT, but my HOME is in the good ole U-S-of-A. And man, it’s good to be back.

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