Sunday, December 11, 2011

Language Learning and Idols

Our Language Helpers.  The girl on the left is our nurturer for phase 1, and the girl on the right is the Tardy's phase 2 nurturer.

In my last post, I shared the "facts" of our language learning.  In this post, I want to vulnerably share some of my "emotions" of language/culture  learning.

Everyone knows that situations that break us out of our comfort zones cause both stress and growth.  Stressful growth..not my favorite thing.  Many of the things I am learning about myself are not pretty, they are in fact sinful and ugly...please don't judge me  :)    God has been showing me places of my heart that he wants to change (and Ryan has been used in that process as in we had a small intervention after I cried multiple days in a row).

These are a couple things I am learning:

1.  I hate the word dumb.  I don't want to say dumb things, I don't want people to think I am dumb, I don't want to look dumb, I don't want my language teachers to think I am dumb, I don't want the other Americans in my class to think I am dumb, pretty much I don't want my name and the word dumb anywhere in the same sentence.

The root of this is definitely pride and in my own culture and language I could nicely hide this ugly pride, but not putting myself into situations where I had to face the fact that I might look dumb.  However, pretty much everytime I try to speak Hindi, I appear dumb.  So I am face to face with my gross pride.

2.  I want people to like me.  I need people to like me.  If people don't like me it deeply disturbs me and makes my stomach hurt.  This is pretty problematic here because although I usually think I can read people pretty well, being in a new culture with a totally different language kinda throws that reading people stuff out the window.  Sometimes you smile at someone and they glare back at you, or sometimes you smile at someone and then they smile back...but wait maybe they are laughting at you.  At this point there is really no way for me to know if someone likes me or not, and it drives me a little crazy.

After about 2 weeks of all these things bubbling at the surface of my emotions and Ryan bearing the brundt of my stress.  I hate how we take our stress out on the people who deserve it the least!  Ryan and I had a long talk(well I cried/talked he listened/talked and came to the heart of it all.

The truth is I have approval issues.  I want man's approval.  I think I need man's approval to make me feel okay.  Tim Keller (one of my favorite pastor/teachers) has written a book called "Counterfiet Gods" and he talks about things that become idols in our lives.  These idols consume us and we do everything we can to satisfy them.  I have the idol of approval.  At the loss of other things like reading my bible, praying, being nice to Ryan...I had to study!  I had to make sure I was doing good with language because that is how I was finding approval.  Yeah, really gross.

Thankfully, the good news is the gospel!  GOD actually approves of me(really God the all knowing, all powerful) he approves of me, not if I do well at language or if a lot of people like me or if I do not appear dumb.  He appproves of me because Jesus covered me with his sacrifice.  Jesus took all the disapproval, hate, consequences of not being good enough...he took all that and he took the punishment for it.  God looks at me and he approves of me.  That is pretty world shaking and I was totally not meditating on that truth.  Instead, I was trying to satisfy some stupid approval idol and it was killing me. (and Ryan!)

It was bad, but God's patience and refining is good.

It is not all gone, even as I write this I think about how I should be studying(even thought I already studied for the amount of time I said I was going to study today).....If only my eyes stayed continually focused on Jesus.

PS  I think studying is good and important.  But, it is good and important so I can learn to speak Hindi and learn this culture, NOT so that I will not appear dumb or so that people will like me.  There is a big different in these two.  One is totally about me, and one is about other people.

Well, this is really long.  I hope somehow my craziness can encourage someone out there  :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Language Learning the details

We have finished two weeks (50 hours) of our Hindi/Urdu language program and we are FLUENT!  Haha yeah right :)  That would be awesome if it was true....

The program we are using is called the Growing Participator Approach.  It is based on the process children naturally learn language.  Children learn by lots of exposure and repetition and are able to understand much more than they are able to speak.

It is based on the idea that  language works in our brain like an ice-burg as we develop.  Children have heard thousands of words, commands, ect by the time they are a year old.  So they understand a lot, but the tip of the ice-burg(what they are able to communicate verbally) is still very small.  As they develop, the words under the water of the ice-burg naturally begin to come to the surface and eventually you have a toddler who is chatting away.  I know any of you that have children have seen this happen.  One month your child can only say a few words, then a few moths later it seems like they are talking up a storm!

So what do we actually do in order to learn a new language in that way??  Well, the first week and a half we didn't speak at all.  Our language nurturer(use the word nurturer- like a parent with a child) speaks to us only in Hindi/Urdu and shows us pictures/objects that are common things we see or use everyday.  She tells us to sit, stand, walk, run, jump and we watch her do it and then try to mimic what she does by the words she uses as she does these actions.   We do many activities with lots of repetition.

The first week we were exposed to around 400 new words.  This doesn't mean we "know" these words or can speak them, but we are beginning to recognize them when used.

The last half of our second week, we began to speak.  We did not learn as many new words, but began to try to use the words we had been hearing repeatedly.  So we told each other to sit, stand, jump, point to the (...) picture/object.

We are in phase one"Here-and-Now Phase", which will last one month.  So for a few more weeks we will continue to use words we have been learning and add new words to the ice-burg :)  The goal is to learn 800-1,000 words in phase 1.  Research shows that if you have around  10,000 words  in a language you are fluent.

After phase 1, we will move on to phase 2 "Story Building Phase" and it will last 2 months.  Then we will move to Kanpur and begin phase 3!

Ryan and I are enjoying this approach so far, but it is HARD WORK!  I am not sure I have ever used my brain this much....EVER!  I am amazed by people that speak multiple languages....

All the objects we learned our first week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not that Different

There are so many things about this culture that are different and new it can often feel overwhelming at times. It is easy to focus on differences, but I really don't want to be that person.  I want to be a person that looks for bridges and ways to understand and connect.  The other night I was gently reminded that even if people grow up in totally different worlds there are some things that remain the same.....

I have met a lady(Yasmeen) here and she is teaching me to read and write Hindi(the script).  She has been married for 3 years and is 30.  I have been married for 2 years and am 29.  I thought these would be our main points of sameness, but I have been surprised that we have much more in common.  I have been praying the God would give me a sense of home in the midst of foreign and that God would help me feel like I have a connection with some women here.  God is so good and is answering both of those prayers.

The other night I was talking with Yasmeen about her weekend.  I asked her what she does on the weekends and she told me they are pretty much the same as all the other days of the week.  Nothing really special happens.  Then she got this sparkle in her eye and said, "But when I go visit my mother's house(she will go in March) everyday is special!  My mother makes everything special for me."  Then we talked about how much we love and miss our mothers.  It was a sweet time with her and a great reminder of what a blessing my own mother is to me.  My Mom has and will always be one of my best friends, and she somehow has the ability to make me feel that she cares about all the details of my life.  "She makes everything special for me." ......  So, I guess we are not that different after all  :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Schools in Kanpur

While we were in Kanpur for a few days last week, we were invited to visit a couple schools.  I was really excited to be able to visit a girls school.  In India they have government schools which are public and free and they also have private school which cost.  I am positive there are many other types of schools in India, but that is all I know about so far :)

We visited a boys government school and a girls private school(where the medium for the older students is English, so this means it is taught in English).  The principals of both schools sat down with us and gave us chai(hot tea) to drink and answered some of our questions about their schools.  We learned so much and are so thankful for their hospitality and openness.

Both of these schools are in a poorer area of the city and are predominantly Muslim.  The population of the boys school is an even poorer class of students than the girls school because it is free.  The girls school costs around 250 rupees a month.  This is roughly $4.80...yeah 4 dollars and 80 cents a MONTH! Many of the families in this area can not afford to pay that.

One thing I noticed in these schools was the level of respect for teachers and adults.  When the teacher enters the classroom the entire class stands and is not allowed to sit down until instructed to by the teacher.  Also, when a student wants to answer a question they must stand up and address the teacher.  They also have a big wooden stick at the front of the class in case of discipline problems.  This was all, MUCH different than when I substitute taught in low income areas of Austin.

We asked both of the principles what is the biggest challenge they face overseeing their schools.

For the boys school:

The principal said that it is hard to motivate his students.  Most of them will eventually work in the same profession as their fathers.  They see no need for education because they know what job they will do when they get older.  He says this tends to keep many of them in a cycle of poverty because they don't have very high expectations.  This, of course, is not the case for all his students and they actually have some students go on to University and even to the prestigious IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), but many are stuck in the cycle of poverty.

He also said their parents are not that involved in their children's education.

For the girls school:

The principles at this school face a different set of problems.  Because this is a private school and parents pay for their girls to go they are more involved and usually a bit more educated themselves.  The girls also want to learn and many of them have big dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, and lawyers.  However, the principles told us that many of these girls do not go on to college or careers because they get married and have children.

So those are some of the things we learned about schools in Kanpur.  It is really interesting how some of the problems are really similar to problems in American schools and some are totally different.

We didn't get any pictures at the boys school, but here are some pics from the girls school:

This is a handicraft class.  They learn to sew and do small handicrafts.  I wish I would have learned to sew in middle school.

A highschool class.  This girl was standing up to answer a question and she just kept standing while we took the picture.

A view of the school, it is 3 stories.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

clear up on water

After my last post about water, I had a really sweet friend text me from America asking if she could buy us a water filter.  So I thought I should clear some things up.  We do have a water filter in our apartment.  It is a reverse osmosis filter that we use for drinking water, cooking, and brushing our teeth.  I think that many wealthier families in India have these in their homes.  The other day I even saw a reverse osmosis filter in the home of a family that lives in our neighborhood.  They are definitely not wealthy, but are teachers so they have a stable income.

It is hard living in a country with so much poverty and need surrounding you but still having all the things you need(and WAY more).  It is something I don't quite know what to do with emotionally......

Our water:

A few blocks away....

Friday, November 25, 2011

Water and other Random things

Change is hard.  Most often, it is good and beneficial to refining a person.  But, oh man it is hard.

This past week we were a part of some training and one of the teachers talked about when the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus.  They were following God into a land that they didn't know and time after time God provided for them and showed them his power and provision.  HOWEVER, time after time they grumbled and did not trust God.

One part of the story that stood out to me is in Exodus 15:22 when they found no water to drink.  Then they found water and it was to bitter to drink.  Wow, if there is one thing I have taken for granted my entire life, it is having clean water.  Access to clean water is nothing to take for granted here.  The water that comes out of our faucets is totally undrinkable.  It is filled with bacteria and parasites :0

Apparently, the World Bank estimates that 23% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water.  Diarrhea alone causes more than 1,600 deaths daily-the same as if eight 200-person jumbo jets crashed in to the ground each day.  Most of these daily deaths are children under 5 years old.

I don't write this to make people feel guilty or have pity on India, there are actually many things we could learn from the people here.  I just think God is teaching me and helping me dream of what the world would look like if there was clean water, better education,(and on and on) and if there were not children needlessly dying everyday.  

God is in India.  He is working and moving and many people here are desperately seeking him.  Please pray for us that we would have wisdom and creativity in our role here and that you would have wisdom in your role wherever you are.  The Kingdom of God IS growing and it is really exciting! 

I really had no idea when I sat down what I should blog about, and honestly I don't think this blog makes much sense(its kinda scattered), but I guess this is just a glimpse of what is going on inside my crazy mind right now....

I do want to more consistently share our experiences about living in India, but right now there is so much I could share I feel a little overwhelmed.  Maybe ya'll could help me out by sending me questions or things you want to know about our lives here in India, India culture, food, travel, ect....  

Just leave a comment.....Thanks, hopefully my next blog post will be better ;)

A few random pics:

This was a first for me.  This toilet doubles as a western style toilet you can sit on and then lift up the lid and it can be used as a squatty.  I think you have to have pretty good balance to squat up there..

 Ryan in front of the Red Fort in Delhi.  It was built from 1639-1648 and was home to the Mughal royal family and served as the capital of the Mughal empire.  

Lauren and me at an Urdu festival.  People kept wanting to take pictures with us....

Getting Henna(Mehndi) done on our hands.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Isn't it Ironic

When Ryan and I first started dating we often talked about countries we wanted to visit and countries we wanted to live in.  One of our conversations went something like this:

Ryan:  So what country would you really like to visit?

Kristin:  I have always wanted to visit Morocco.  It seems mysterious and beautiful.  What about you?

Ryan:  I would really like to visit India.

Kristin:  Yeah, I think I would like to visit India but I don't think I would ever want to LIVE there.

Today marks day three of living in India and I can't imagine wanting to be in any other country more than here.  It is pretty ironic how things work out and how God leads us in ways we never imagine.

Here is a little tour of our temporary(3 months) home in Delhi, and a Sikh parade in our neighborhood that we happened upon.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Olive Oil...not just for bread...

I have a confession to make.  I am obsessed with natural living/food/exercise blogs.  I spend hours reading about vegan cooking, nutrition, and juice feasting, ect.  It is a bit ridiculous, because I don't practice these things very well in my life.

I firmly believe nutrition and exercise lead to a more balanced life, so I am always wanting to incorporate more balance into my life in these areas...but I have a very long way to go, and much room for improvement.

Saying all of that, recently I have been curious about all the chemicals that come in contact with the largest most exposed organ of our body.  Our SKIN and for this blog post, more specifically my FACE!!

I read here about a different method and have been trying it out for the last 3 weeks.  Obviously, I am still in the experiment stage and will keep you posted on my thoughts :)  I will not go into the "how to" of the oil method bc if you are interested you can read about it.  Currently, I am only using olive oil, not the combination of castor oil/olive oil.

I have been using olive oil to clean my skin at night.  These are some things I like so far about it:

1.  It removes all of my make-up really well
2.  It is cheaper than most facial cleansers
3.  My skin feels soft, not oily after using
4.  I don't have to use moisturizer (another money saver :)
5.  It is chemical free and very gentle on my sensitive skin
6.  After washing the oil off, it is virtually odor free (Ryan doesn't like the smell of many other "natural" cleansers I have tried)

Things I am hoping for that I have not seen yet:

1.  The wrinkles around my eyes to look less noticable (maybe this is expecting to much haha)
2.  The pores on my nose to look smaller.  So far they look the same.
3.  Less breakouts.  As a self-conscious girl I struggled with my skin through out high-school and college and used many different harsh products(lots of benzoyl peroxide,  salicylic acid that left my face red and flakey)  The last few years my skin has cleared up and even before using the oil I was pretty content with it.  However, I haven't seen a difference.  I've read that people with bad skin problems have started using oil and it has cleared up.  I can't really say if that is true because I started with relatively clear skin.  I am just hoping it continues to keep my skin clear.

Things I don't like:

1.  The process takes a while.  You have to place a hot rag on your face multiple times a night.  Not sure how conducive this will be living in India.
2.  It is messy.  Oil feels greasy and leaves a film on the sink that you have be sure and clean.
3.  The smell during cleansing.  Yep, it smells like you should be scooping the oil off with some garlic bread.

So there you have it, my adventures in natural face cleansing thus be continued...

Have any of you used the oil method or have natural products you love, recommend??

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inception, Inside Man, Ocean’s 11

What do the movies Inception, Inside Man, and Ocean’s 11 (12 & 13) have in common? For one thing, they are all very creative stories involving high crimes and revenge. We love to be entertained by and marvel at movies like this, don’t we?! It’s exciting to witness brilliance put into action.

Kristin and I were talking this morning about how amazing the human mind really is. Many of the artistic expressions of our culture display so much brilliant creativity that people are capable of producing.

Kristin read to me this quote by N.T. Wright: “One of the tragedies of rebellious humankind is the sheer waste of God-given intellectual powers: think of the clever criminal working out cunning, detailed plans to commit the crime and escape undetected, or the clever dictator thinking how to crush opposition, to keep people in the dark as to his real selfish motives, and to stay in power. Fancy using your God-given thinking power for purposes like that.” (From p. 17 of Wright’s commentary on Romans.)

Wow, we have so much potential to use our “God-given intellectual powers” to create things that are beautiful, God-glorifying, life giving, culture-celebrating. And yet we so often settle to leave “creativity” for the entertainers in our culture.

But truly we are all called to reflect God’s creativity into all areas of life, work, and play… What if we all fully engage in creative thinking to find ways to lead our families, cities, nations, global communities into true human flourishing – into a world that beautifully and powerfully reflects God’s glory?!

In moving to India we hope to find creative, self-sustainable solutions to issues in society that keep people from living to their full God-image-bearing capacity. Jesus came to lead all people into freedom from spiritual and physical oppression, blindness, poverty… (Luke 4:18,19). And because of the world-changing events of his life, death and resurrection we can participate in ushering in such a world as God empowers us.

May our minds be liberated by our King to imagine what part we can play in this great drama of God’s kingdom taking root in every community on earth!


Monday, October 10, 2011

two for two

On October 3rd we celebrated our two year anniversary!  Two whole years of marriage and we have learned so much and yet have so much left to learn.  

Because we are in East Texas right now, we were able to go back to Elmwood Gardens where we got married to celebrate.  It was fun strolling through the gardens and reminiscing.  

In honor of two years, I decided to tell about the two main(or most important) things I have learned by being married to James Ryan Hartsfield.

1.  Being honest is hard, but oh so good.  
To know someone's strengths, weaknesses, joys, quirks, and brokenness and let them know yours is an extremely sanctifying process.  

I used to (and still do...) want people to think I am a strong, smart, independent woman.  The one thing I never heard from Ryan when we got married was, "you are such a strong person."  At first I didn't think he admired me the way I thought he should....I'm so dumb.  The truth is that I am not any of those things on my own and he never expected me to be.  He dropped those expectations and helped me to drop them and see myself the way God really sees me.  Yeah, I am needy, over-analytical, dependent,  AND extremely loved and accepted by God.  It was really freeing.  

In no way do I think you have to get married to learn this, but God used Ryan in that way for me.  I long for us all to feel the freedom to drop our masks and pretenses and actually lived with each other like this, it would be AWESOME.  I am pretty sure the kingdom of God will be like that, lets be kingdom bringers now!

2.  Covenants are based on a promise, not a feeling
This past year we moved to Pennsylvania and it was hard. We had been married less than a year and weren't close to family and our group of friends was very small.   There were many days that I did not feel like being there.  There were even days when Ryan and I sat on the couch together and wondered why we felt so lonely and wondered if this was some sign, or horrible point in our marriage.  It was those days that we learned to trust in the covenant that we made, because someone greater made an even stronger, more lasting covenant with us.  God strengthened our trust in him which in turn strengthened our trust in each other.  

Andrew Peterson says it better than I ever could in part of his son "Dancing in the Minefields":

And we're dancing in the minefields
We're sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for
That's what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
'Cause He promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby,
I can dance with you

I love you Ryan Hartsfield!  Let's continue to dance :)

We tried to recreate.....

 This awesome pic....hmmm ....we failed haha

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another reason I love Chik-fil-a....

Yesterday, Ryan and I were leaving College Station on our way to celebrate our 2nd anniversary so we decided to stop at Chik-fil-a.  Yes, we have reached that point where we are leaving in a month and so we are trying to eat at all of our favorite places WAY to much!  It's almost gross...

Anyways, we were sitting there enjoying our chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and sweet tea when a really cute, blonde, very pregnant girl with a toddler on her hip walked over to our table.

She introduced herself as Ashley and said she saw us and felt like God wanted her to come tell us something.  (Honestly, at this point I started feeling a little nervous of what she might say...)

Ashley-  I just wanted to come encourage the two of you.  I, mean I love Jesus and I saw yall and God gave me this picture for yall.  It was a picture of a rock and ...are yall married?

Me- Yes.

Ashley-  I just saw that you are building your marriage on a strong rock and wanted to tell you to keep doing that.  God also told me that there are some really big things coming up in your lives, but that you can trust him in the midst of these big things because He is that rock.

Me(and Ryan)-  Wow....(sat there a little awkwardly)

Ashley-  And I just wanted to encourage you to trust God in the things that you want, the desires of your heart.  You can trust God to give you the things you are praying for right now.   So, I wanted to encourage yall with those things.

Me(and Ryan)  - (still getting over that I have never had a stranger share something like this with me in the context of chik-fil-a)  Well, today is our wedding anniversary and we are about to move to India and we are praying about adopting a baby......

Crazy, huh?  God is faithful and continues to surprise and stretch me.
Have you ever had any experiences like this??

Monday, September 26, 2011

Last 2 months in Pictures

The last two months of our lives in pictures :)

Ryan's first time to Sea World with his parents
riverwalk with Ryan's parents

discussing Ryan's paper with his Mom and Dad

Shady Grove with Ryan's parents and Jessica(R's sister)

Ryan's Mom and Sister after our dance party :)

Ryan and Rhett(R's brother) hanging out

Coffee with Amber(friend from journeyman training).
Love this girl, miss her sweet smile.

Went to Galveston with my (Kristin) family.

Train at Kemah.

Catching up with Amber(friend from college) and met Mercy!

Amy Marks!!  Woohoo.  Our matchmaker :)

Ryan went to a business training in Indiana

Mom and I went to San Fran for a girls trip together

celebrated Memee's birthday

Jessica Hall (friend from college) came to visit.  This girl, what can I even say, I am unexplainably thankful for her!
she lets me dye her hair

r                 Brandon's 33rd(K's brother) birthday

Bess(friend pretty much my entire life) had her first baby!
Cannon Walker Ray, so precious :)

Spent the day with Tory Vey(friend from middle school) and Kristen Hornback(friend and roommate from college).  I loved time with these girls.  Wish we all lived together like in college..umm except we are all married and Kristen has little Addie now.  Wish we could at least spend more time together ;)

  • Also celebrated my (Kristin's birthday)
  • Ryan's friends Nick and Sheridan got engaged
  • Rhett had his 21st birthday
  • Whew, so much!!  :)

  Only a little over a month until we head to India, CRAZY!

PS  I fought with the pictures on this post for about two hours and could not get them where I wanted them.  Uggghhh, sorry it looks kinda disorganized.  I am not so savy at all this....  :)

Monday, August 1, 2011


A few days ago, I made a comment about adoption and have heard a few of you were curious about that comment. So here is the scoop:

All through out scripture we read that God is very concerned with the orphan and the fatherless. The truth is that we are all orphans who are living in an "in between place." This world we live in is full of pain, sickness, loneliness, and fatherlessness. We were created for true one-ness with our father, God. In Genesis, we read about Eden. This is the place where everything was right and good. Man and God were together, fully known, fully loved, fully vulnerable. However, all this changed. Man's disobedience led to a separation from our true father, our true family.

So what does all this have to do with adoption/orphans, you ask? Well, our disobedience has plunged the world into brokenness and death. The orphan crisis that we now see is a direct result of this. The really great news is that God didn't want things to stay this way. He sent Jesus to bring us out of this brokenness and death. Through Jesus' life, death and power over death he began to initiate a new way of life, a new kingdom, and it is SO GOOD! Because of Jesus our sonship (daughter-ship) has been and continues to be completely restored. (Wow, I had no intention to be so theological about all that!)

Anyways that is the underlying motivation for us wanting to adopt...mainly, Jesus. I
(Kristin) also had an experience while I was living in Greece where I believe God really began to break my heart for refugees and that led to him breaking my heart for orphans. (maybe that will be another blog post, bc I am already getting pretty wordy :)

This is a tricky question. If we could do things in our timing we would love to have a baby in our arms in about 1.5- 2 years. However, adoption(just like trying to plan for a bio baby does not always happen in our own timing). We will be coming back to America around the winter holiday season 2013 and would love to bring our son/daughter back. That is what we are praying for and would love for you to join us in praying for this.

We strongly desire to adopt a baby from India since we will be living there. However, we do believe we will adopt more than one child so we are trying to figure out if we will adopt our first baby from India or from somewhere else. We really want to adopt an infant for our first child. Later we would like to adopt an older child. From our research so far it looks like most of the time in India older children are available for foreigners to adopt, but we are still looking into that. We would really, really love your prayers. If only older children can be adopted from India, we will probably wait a few years before starting that process which means we are pretty open to other countries where infants are able to be adopted. I would love any thoughts/input from those of you who have adopted about this....

The good news is that since we will be living in India, it looks like after we live there a year the process of adoption may be a little easier for us than for Americans living in America who want to adopt from India. Right now, India is changing laws and so some American agencies have stopped accepting applications for Americans living in America to adopt from India for now. So sad!

So that is kinda where we are at right now. Very thankful that we are fully adopted sons and daughters into God's family and longing to adopt a son or daughter into our family :) Thanks for your prayers and love!!

The Help

I am currently over half way thru reading "The Help" and I am counting down the days until the movie comes out. Here is the trailer:

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. It blows me away that our country was like this not long ago. I know it sounds stupid and arrogant, but I just keep thinking "my Mom and Dad were alive when all this happened" so crazy. I pray that God continues to heal and break down racial barriers.

READ THIS BOOK! Can't wait til August 10th!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jesus and Women

I love to read. I have loved to read for as long as I have known how to read. Sometimes I read to learn, sometimes to enjoy, and sometimes hoping something within me is stirred and changed. I unexpectedly came upon a book that did the latter. I started reading "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes" by Kenneth Bailey hoping to gain a better intellectual understanding of how Jesus viewed and interacted with women. What I did not expect was that through this book my love for Jesus would be expanded and enlightened as I became a spectator to his interactions with women in the scriptures.

Unfortunately, as a Westerner, I have grown up to read and understand scripture through a lens that is very well...Western. I honestly love the West. I love the freedom that has been fought for and established in Western countries. I love that(as a woman) I can write a blog and express anything I want to say because of this freedom. However, I often forget that Jesus was not a Westerner and the culture he lived in was nothing close to the Western culture I take for granted every day.

That is why this book has been so eye opening for me. I started in the middle of the book where he explores some of Jesus meetings with women. Jesus ushered in a radical new view of women that was in direct contrast of the view of women of his day. The book starts with his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.(John 4:1-42) Jewish men didn't even interact with other Jewish women they didn't know, much less a Samaritan half-breed, woman who had been married many times and was currently living with a man...radical, appalling!!) Jesus saw her and spoke to her need and she left a changed woman. Then there is the Canaanite woman of great faith,(Matthew 15:21-28), the woman caught in adultery(John 7:53-8:11), the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and anointed his feet with ointment(Luke 7:36-50). Jesus challenged men in their view of these women and in doing so helped seal his fate of taking the punishment for these women. Many of their lifestyles and reputations demanded punishment or excluded them in some way. Jesus, however, would not allow this so in speaking for them, he ultimately ended up taking their place and their punishment. AWESOME! There is no way I could go into everything that is said in the book about women(and that would be plagiarism ;0 ), so I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who follows Jesus, is curious about Jesus, or doesn't understand Jesus. I think it will rock your world, it has rocked mine.
Along with learning and trying to absorb all this, I am also very aware of how many women in the world today are so far from knowing these truths. They have never seen it, experienced it, or even tasted it. Check out these pictures:

I don't think Jesus has been teaching me all this just to feel better about myself or be happy that he loves me so much. Those things do happen of course, but I think there is more. I think his kingdom is much, much bigger than me.

I keep trying to imagine if I could speak directly with Jesus, what he would say about this. What would he say about these women? I think he would have much to say and I think he would have different things to say to each of us about our response to this and what our role is. Maybe it is advocacy, adoption, education, moving to these countries, prayer..... ect. As we get ready to move to India, I am praying God would answer my questions about my role and my response to this.

Sometimes when we see pictures like this or read things like this we can be overcome with guilt of how easy our lives are. My point is not in any way to say we should respond out of duty or guilt or with some crazy thought that we can repay God for what he has done for us, that would be impossible. Instead, I feel that God has been nudging me and reminding me of who he is and what he has done and it is out of this joy and thankfulness that I am moved to respond.

May we bravely and boldly(even when we feel scared) embrace the role God has for us in this great story of restoration and hope for men and women throughout the world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Our friend ,Haidar, was able to show his art at the same cafe Ryan worked at in Lancaster. The local news channel came out and interviewed Haidar!! So EXCITING, we are so proud of Haidar! He is an extremely talented artist and great friend. If you watch closely you can even spot Ryan and me.

click here:

We are back in Texas and would love to connect with many of you!! We are in Austin until August then will be in Tyler from August thru October.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We have officially started selling all our stuff. A few days ago, we put a handful of items on craig’s list and within 24 hours we had sold our chaise, ottoman, tv, dvd player, and a desk chair. Wow, I had no idea craig’s list was so fast!! Or maybe we are pricing our stuff to low..hmmm….

Material things and the way they make us feel are so strange. There is such a pull to have things and always want more. I realized this even more in my own heart as Ryan started posting all our stuff. It was very strange. There is a part of me that is so excited to sell our stuff because it means we are moving. It is a new phase, a new season. I didn’t realize that giving up my things would be a such challenge. I hate clutter and I like to get rid of things that add to clutter; however, this has been harder than I expected. Selling our tv, dvd player, chaise, and chair= easy, no problem, glad to see them go. However, when Ryan told me a lady was coming to pick up our ottoman I had a little break down. I know…. really, over an ottoman?!?

The thing about that ottoman is that it was a wedding gift. For our whole 1.7 months of marriage we have had that ottoman. It was used to the max. It was used it for seating when we had way to many people in our first small apartment. It was used as a table to hold snacks and drinks before and after we had an actual kitchen table. It was used by this cutie as a hiding place when Ryan came home from work.

Maybe it was only an ottoman, but it was a great ottoman!

Ahhh transition….I am sure there will be many more “ottomans” in my life that come and go.

What does the thought of selling everything do to you? Do you wish you could do it and get rid of all your stuff? Does it freak you out? I am swinging back and forth between both of those…..

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

remembering the past and being thankful for the future

Last Wednesday (April 27) was the 6th year anniversary of losing my Dad. In some ways it seems like so long ago and then in some ways it seems like there is no way it could already be six years. The older I get the more I realize what an amazing father God gave me. Growing up I always knew I was loved, cherished, enjoyed, and heard. I believe that our relationship with our fathers has a very big role in the way we view God. Do we see him as someone who cares, loves, and is present in our lives, or do we see him as someone who is distant and preoccupied with other things? My father (Ricky Dean :) Wilson) did an awesome job at reflecting God's love in my life and for that I am so thankful.
My Dad died on April 27th and his funeral was on April 29th. I remember that day probably more vividly than the day he died. All the people coming and going, all the funeral planning being finished, there was just an erie finality to it all. Something that I think is really amazing is that the same day April 29th, 20 years before my Dad's funeral, Ryan was born. I know many people would say this is coincidence, but I see it as a special gift from God. He knows all dates and plans and I think this is a beautiful picture and gift of how he knows everything and loves us. On the same (calendar) day that the most important man in my life up to that point was buried, the future most important man in my life was born. I think that is really special and awesome!

Here are a few pictures from our week long celebration of Ryan's birth!!

Ryan and Haidar. Haidar's bday was April 24th so we had a joint celebration for both of them with friends. We ate lots of taco salad, biryani(thanks Haidar) and 2 cakes!!

The lighting is kinda weird in this one. This is Ryan, me, Boston, and Jordan on the day bf Ryan's bday. We were in Texas, so Ryan(of course) chose Mexican food! We also had yummy red velvet cupcakes(thanks Mr. Youngblood!)

This is on Ryan's real birthday! We were at a rehearsal dinner so we celebrated Autumn and Steven Horne and Ryan :)

Happy Birthday, my love! You are more than I ever dreamed of :)

Friday, March 18, 2011


Most of you know that we just returned from our trip to India. There are so many things we learned and want to share with you. I have learned that I can never travel to another country and meet new people with out them changing me in some way. Our view on sharing life, hospitality, family, and Jesus has been stretched and challenged. I will be sharing over the next few posts different stories of people we met and things we experienced.

When we first arrived in India we had an orientation for a couple days. We discussed different things like; being a social entrepreneur (will share more on that later), culture, and family. It is amazing how much in our holy book the bible we see the importance of family and sharing Jesus in the context of family. Many people I know come from broken families and there is so much hurt that can occur in families. This is so far from the way God intended and created families. I KNOW that Jesus longs to restore families. He longs for families to be redeemed. For many people that would seem like a huge miracle, luckily Jesus in a great miracle worker :) I am praying that God would teach me more about how he loves families and groups of people. So often in the West we limit our experience with God to being a very individualistic thing. Yes, we do make choices about following God as individuals, but I think we miss out on something beautiful when we forget the aspect of following God in community and intimacy with others. God longs to redeem families and communities, not just individuals. I have so much to learn about this. Anyways, I would like to share about a family that we met that really touched my heart.

As we wondered around the city, we met a man who took us to meet his aunt and her family. We drank chai with them and learned some of their story. They invited us back for dinner the next night. A few years ago this family lost their husband and father. This left the wife a widow with three boys. In any culture this is such a great tragedy, but here this makes things very hard because most of the women don't work in the society. Now two of the sons are older and are able to work, but I still felt so sad for their loss. Their father was an artist. He painted designs on plates and cups. He was a very talented. I loved the way this family interacted, they had such joy and love for one another. The boys loved and respected their mother and told us how she was so important to them. They also lovingly spoke about how they missed their father and how hard things had been without him. The mother didn't speak any English, but I quickly fell in love with her joyful eyes and beautiful smile. It is hard to explain. I don't really even know her and we couldn't even talk to each other, but somehow it seemed as if our stories connected and she reminded me of my own Mom. I could see in her how much she missed her husband, but how much she loved her children and longed for the best for them. I am sure when we live in India we will hear many more stories of widows and loss, but I think she will forever have a place in my heart. I hope one day to be able to hear her story in her own language and to share with her my story and the peace I have found in Jesus through losing my father. Oh, how I long for the day when death is no more and families are not separated! Please pray for this family that God would be near to them and that he would provide for them. I think Jesus has a special compassion for widows.... I read this passage the day after we met them and it really touched me:

[Jesus Raises a Widow's Son]
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”
(Luke 7:11-16 ESV)

I love that Jesus SAW her and had COMPASSION on her. I pray he sees this woman we met and has compassion on her as well.

I think this post is kind of disorganized and kind of all over the place with my thoughts (Sorry!). I hope it wasn't to disjointed for you. I am still jet-lagging a little and have so many things yet to process from our trip :) My thoughts and emotions are all over the place :) I love ya'll, thanks for reading and praying.

Here is a pic:

this is lauren and me with the mother, isn't she so beautiful? the guy in the back on the left is a cousin we spent a lot of time with and the little guy on the right is her youngest son. oh my goodness, don't even get me started on how cute he is....he stole my heart. he had great english and was so adorable and so smart!