Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are Muslims Dangerous?

There are some posts that I love to write and there are some posts that seem to write themselves in my head.  I don't want this to come across as a rant of some sort, but I feel like a few things need to be said and said clearly.

If you have been reading this blog or know anything about our lives, you know that we live in India and live in a neighborhood that is majority Muslim.  We are learning language and researching business ideas that will be what we like to describe as, "a blessing to the community."  We believe God led us to India and we believe that small sustainable business can help communities.  We also follow Jesus and know that he has called us to love our neighbors and share his love and the story of what he has done and what his Kingdom is about among our neighbors.

We have been meeting with a lot of people to share with them about our experiences in India and one question seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue.  Some ask it in curiosity, some ask because they really just don't know, and unfortunately some ask in animosity.  What is this question??  In some form or fashion it is something like this:

"Are Muslim's dangerous, are you in constant danger?"

Uggh, where to begin.  I don't even know.

As a disclaimer, I write this blog as a follower of Jesus.  So the things I say and believe are rooted in the teachings of the Bible.  So, if you are reading this and are not a Christian, I can't say how you should or shouldn't see Muslims(although I have my opinions), but if you are a follower of Jesus, it is time for some heart change.  It is time to re-read the message of Jesus and realize that this idea that Muslims are bad or horrible is really not okay, in fact it is sinful.

So back to the question, "Are Muslim's dangerous, are you in constant danger?"

The quick answer is no and no.  There are estimated to be around 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.  Are some of them dangerous, sure.  Are enough of them dangerous to justify the claim that ALL Muslims are dangerous, absolutely not! Does the media portray them as dangerous and violent, yes.  Some of you may read this blog and think, "okay, Kristin likes Muslims and thinks they are nice people.  So what?"  So my challenge to you is instead of feeling fear or apprehension when you see a Muslim family walk into your grocery store, or your school, or your favorite coffee shop go talk to them.  America is full of refugees, many of them are Muslims.  I can assure you, most of them come from cultures that are much more relational than America and it is likely they would love to see a friendly face that wants to get to know them and not just clump them into a category of dangerous or violent.

Do it, live differently!

I promised my Muslim friends I would speak for them and I do and will.  But, learn for yourself.  It is so easy to judge when you just watch the news (or pass along emails that are filled with false accusations and facts) and live separately from everything going on "out there."  Get to know Muslims, share your life, share your table, share their table(it will be tasty for sure!), ask questions and watch your heart and assumptions begin to change.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"What is it like being back in America?"

People keep asking what it is like being back in the States after being gone for (almost) two years.  Honestly, I am not sure I can even write about that yet.  Or at least write very well on the subject.  Yet, here I am writing a post...hmmm weird.

It is kind of like in, "The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe."  The children all go into the wardrobe and experience these great adventures, joys, and hardships and when they come back to England they realize life is the same as when they left, yet they are profoundly different.  They have met Aslan, they are Kings and Queens of Narnia! (thanks to Steve Husmann for the Narnia reference)

Obviously, we are not kings and queens now, nor has time stood still in America...yet it seems strangely the same. Almost as if it was all a dream in a way. We have been living the last two years in a world that is extremely different from the one in Texas. We dressed differently, spoke a different language, and functioned differently in society than we do here.  

I feel a bit as if I have been wondering around in a fog, trying to piece together these two very different realities that are now make up who I am.  I am sure as time goes on here, the processing will continue and as the journey into motherhood unfolds my identity will transform even more.  What will it mean to be a mother in Texas and then what will it look like to be a mother in India?  All I know is that grace and patience are greatly needed on this journey....

On a lighter note, here are a few weird things we have done, or things that have seemed strange to us:

1.  Ryan and I went to a store in Tyler to get a birthday present for my brother.  At the counter there was one woman who I guess was trying to check out.  R and I walked right up to the counter and started asking for a gift card(totally not acknowledging that there was a women there).  We weren't trying to be rude, but this is just how you get things done in India.  You walk to the front and try to get the person's attention.  The guy behind the counter, nicely told us he would help us as soon as he helped the lady who was standing in line in front of us....ooops!

2.  We have a scooter in India and R is the only one who drives it (although I think when we return, I would like to learn).  In our area, women don't really drive that much and let's be honest, Indian traffic still scares me.  Anyways, I was going to visit my Memee the other day and it was my first time to drive in two years and I was alone.  I drove out of the neighborhood then I had this total freak out about which side of the road I was supposed to be driving on.  India is opposite of America.  I sat there until a car came down the road so I could make sure I was on the correct side.  Oh dear...

3.  I have been amazed by how much space there is everywhere!  There is so much open-ness and I keep wondering where all the people are.  Even people's personal space is so much bigger.  I know that Indian's have a different meaning of personal space, but I didn't realize how weird it would seem to me now that people give me so much space.  I was coming out of a public bathroom the other day and there was a girl about 5 FEET away from me and she crossed to the other side of the hall and said, "oh, excuse me."  I was like "really"???  There was FIVE FEET, we could have fit about 5 people in between us with no necessary "excuse me" or "I'm sorry for walking so close to you."

4.  America is so extremely quiet.  We have been staying with our parents who both live in peaceful areas (not big cities), but still everything seems so quiet.  The first few nights, I felt like I could hear my heart beating in my ears due to the silence.  Also, everyone has central AC here in Texas so it clicks on and off as needed.  For the first few days, everytime the AC clicked off, R and I were like, "oh man, the power is out."  Nope, it's not.  

5.  There are Christians and Churches EVERYWHERE.  I mean seriously, as we drove from East Texas to Austin I thought about counting how many churches we passed, but I don't think I could have kept up.  There is Christian music on the radio, Christian signs and posters everywhere, and we keep overhearing conversations by Christians in public places.  It's all very different for us.  

I think this is what they call, reverse culture shock and it is strange :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What's in a Name?

I have been dreaming about kid's names since I got married.  It is hard to pick a name, it seems so weighty.  This is what this kid will be known as forever!  That is a lot of pressure.  R and I both assumed our adopted child would join our family first and so the names we picked out where for him or her, then we when found out we were pregnant and started thinking about names, it just seemed like we were supposed to save those names.  Which means we started back at square one.  The meaning of names is important to us, we want it to be a type of prayer or declaration over our child, if that makes sense.  Also, living in India has made the meaning of names become even more important.  In India (at least among our Muslim friends) names all hold very special meanings and everyone wants to know what your name means.  With all that in mind, and now that we know we are having a little girl, we are proud to announce our baby girl's name will be:

Ava Lily Hartsfield

Here is the breakdown of her name:

Ava-  As I was searching names, I just loved Ava.  I had no idea it is really popular these days, but oh well.  The name Ava comes from the name Eve.  Eve was the first woman ever created and her name means "life" or "living one".

Lily-  About a year ago, I read a book called, "The Language of Flowers."  Great book!  It describes how in the past as men were courting women they sent messages through flowers.  In the back of the book there is an appendix with flowers meanings.  After I read the book, I became a bit obsessed with naming our future daughter with a flower name.  Lily means, purity.  We loved the way Ava Lily sounds together and the way life and purity go together.

Ava Lily.  We pray that our sweet girl will be a fresh breath of life and purity in everyone's life that she comes in contact with.  The kingdom of God is a place full of life, newness, beauty and purity.  May her precious life make people long for God's Kingdom.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pieces of My Heart

Before R and I moved to India, we committed to staying here for two years before going back to the States. Well,  three weeks from today we will be leaving on a jet plane.  To say we are excited is an understatement.  We are counting the days!  To be able to have our first baby in America with our family and friends all around does something amazing for this "mom-to-be" 's crazy heart!

However, R and I have both been experiencing some torn-ness we didn't quite expect.  We have moved into a new house and love our new neighbors, we have been plugging along in language, and we finally have a sense of belonging here.  Don't get me wrong, there are still up and down days, but something has clicked for us and we feel like this exactly where we are supposed to be.  I wrote a blog post about HOME recently that talks a little about this.  How strange it is that we feel like Texas is home and India is home. In a million ways, they are worlds apart, but we have given pieces of our hearts to people in both lands.  When we are in India we long for Texas, and I am sure when we are in Texas we will long for India.  I wonder if all people who live in such different cultures feel this way.

I know these last two years, living in India has stretched R and I, changed us, made us more compassionate, made us more angry,  and perhaps made us skinnier than we have ever been before.  But, right now, as I think about traveling to Texas in a few weeks, I feel grateful.  Grateful to be going "home" to my country, my family and friends, my Tex-Mex food ;).  Grateful that God has allowed us to live in a city where there are relatively no foreigners in a neighborhood full of Muslims who know more about hospitality than I could ever hope to learn.  And most of all, grateful that we know and follow a God who is not just for one culture, or one people.  His kingdom is made up of and continues to grow into a kingdom of people from every country, every language, and every beautiful skin color on this earth.  So although my heart will always hurt when I am on the other side of the world from those I love, I'm grateful that this is the life God has given me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Do I feel at home?

A few days ago, Ryan and I were skyping with his sister and she asked a question that I have been mulling over the last few days.  She said, “Now that you have been in India for a while, does it feel like home?” 

  What does home feel like?  Home feels like a place where you can be yourself and know that you are loved.  Home feels like laughing with your best friend, crying with your Mom, joking with your brother, eating your favorite foods, going on dates with your husband, praying, singing, and dancing with people who have grown up in similar way as you have. 

  Home is always some kind of illusive place we all want to go back to.  Like going back to the garden, before the world went wrong.  It is a place where all is right.  We walk with God in truth and vulnerability when we are truly at home.  There is only beauty there.  That home doesn’t quite exist here on earth, but it will.  God is recreating the garden and he is doing it in Jesus, so I will continue to wait, long, and hopefully be a part in some small way of bringing the new garden, the new kingdom to this earth. 
  Here in India, I will always be stared at and misunderstood simply because I am from a foreign land.  In that way, no I do not feel at home.  BUT, I am “making a home here.” There is a difference.  It doesn’t always look the way I expect it to look, or feel the way I expect it to feel, but it is slowly happening.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

You're adopting and pregnant? Q&A

Since we announced that we are indeed expecting another baby, this time the biological way, we have had many questions.  Thought I would attempt to answer some of those for you here J

1.  Are you still going to adopt?

  YES, most definitely!  Our decision to adopt was never based on if we could or could not have biological kids.  We have known since we were engaged that God was leading us to grow our family through adoption.  We still imagine that most of the Hartsfield kids will join us in that way. 

2.  Where will you have the baby?  India or America?

   The timing works out really great for us to be able to have the baby in America.  When we moved to India we wanted to stay here for two years in order to really acclimate, dive into culture and language.  We planned a long time ago that we would be returning to visit the states during winter of 2013, it turns out the baby is due around December 7th.  We will extend our stay a few weeks in order to be in Texas by the time I am around 30 weeks, until after the birth.  This puts us in Texas from late September-mid January.  We are really excited to be able to experience this with our friends and family in America.  I am seeing a Dr in a city that is about an hour from us until we get back to America. 

3.  So now that you are having kids are you going to move back to America?

  Nope.  Although the last year and a half has been one of the toughest we have experienced and are still experiencing (pregnancy in India during the summer is not my favorite!).  Even amidst the hard days, we feel really strongly that God has lead us here and we are excited to start this new chapter of our lives in India J  All of our Indian friends are so excited and don’t really understand why we have waiting SO long to have kids anyways.  It is uncommon to wait here.  As soon as you get married, you get to trying to have babies!  

4.  (Most common question (more like a statement) from our friends here).  You want a boy, don’t you?

  We don’t care either way, just a healthy baby.  Of course, it is too soon to tell, but I have this feeling it will be a girl.  We want to find out the gender as soon as possible, but it will be complicated here.  It is actually illegal to tell the gender of an unborn baby because there are so many abortions done due to the fact that many families want boys.  Girls are a financial strain on families.  It is a sad reality here.  We will see if our doctor or the sonogram technician will give us a hint without actually telling us. 

5.  And the last question, I know many of you are wondering, but only a few of you are brave enough to ask:  Was this planned?
  I don’t know how everyone goes about trying to plan his or her family, but for Ryan and me, we definitely both imagined our first child would come to us through adoption.  After our home study we were floored at how long the wait might potentially take, esp when we were thinking about adopting from Bulgaria.  We had also gotten to a place in our relationship and life where we began to really long to bring children into our family and into our love for one another.  Because the Bulgaria wait was around 3 years we decided we would try for a biological baby, then we switched programs to Madagascar and we didn’t change anything.  So there you go.  Planned, yet still a little unplanned. 

And lastly, just a little side note/thought J

  Of course many more of you have had children the old-fashioned biological way vs the adoption way and so it is just easier to understand for most of you.  However, the way in which a child comes into a family is always a miracle and although different still very much a blessing ONLY from God.  Although the time-line for our biological baby is a bit more tangible, we are still counting down and longing for the day when both of our babies our in our home and we can’t wait to celebrate this 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Adoption Change...

If you have kept up with this blog, you know that a few months ago Ryan and I got some discouraging news about our adoption process. We found out that the process for adopting from Bulgaria was going to take at least 3 years, maybe more. We were devastated, you can read about it here.

The main reason we had chosen Bulgaria is that our options were pretty limited due to the fact that we live overseas. It is hard to find a reputable agency that will work with you and countries that are willing to adopt to Americans living outside of America. It came down to two options for us, Bulgaria or Ethiopia.

I'm gonna be real with you here. Our initial preference was Ethiopia. It seemed right for us. However, we were concerned and fearful about what it would mean to raise a child from Africa in India. The belief that white is beautiful/good, black is ugly/bad is a sad reality we deal with daily among Indians. Ryan and I struggled with what to do. We emailed with friends who live in India and are adopting from Ethiopia, we talked with friends in America who have kids from Africa, we analyzed, analyzed, analyzed. And I am glad we did. After we analyzed our hearts out we decided we should just go with Bulgaria, we decided to play it safe.... in a way.

Then we found out about the wait for Bulgaria.

Then we listened to some sermons from the Stone (our church in America) and we felt convicted.

Not convicted on our own racism, although I think all of us are prone to our own forms of racism. But, convicted that we were letting the views of Indian culture speak loudly into how we would grow our family.

Not to mention as we have grown in language and understanding of culture here, we realize we will always be misunderstood. We are different. So we adopt from Africa...we will just be more different.

So the big news is.... we are adopting from Ethiopia! We are really excited!

How long will it take, you ask. Probably a year and a half, but in the world of adoption, those projected time lines can easily change.

Please pray for the last bit of our home study paperwork. I feel like so many people we know are flying through their home study stuff, yet ours drags on and on. Mainly due to lack of electricity, random issues of living in India, ect.... So please pray for Gods favor and speed for these last few documents (on the home study front). There will still be more to come after that. Adoption is a marathon, but one we are excited to be running :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Review

Wow, I can't believe this year is over.  It has been a very different year than I expected.  Last year I wrote this, so I thought I would do it again.  Hope you enjoy a little overview of my year.

1.  What did you do in 2012 that you have never done before?

-lived with a Muslim Indian family of 8 in a 2 room house
-bought a scooter
-had a washing machine(first time in married life)
-got my nose pierced
-rode an elephant in the jungle
-lived over 8 months in a city where Ryan and I are the only westerners

2.  Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for this year?

-Ummm, not really a new year's resolution kinda girl, so nope didn't keep them and nope won't make more this year.  I think there is a lot of wisdom in what this guy says about resolutions.

3.  What countries did you visit?

-Thailand twice.  Once for a language learning training(outside of Bangkok) and once for a conference(outside of Chaing Mai).

4.  What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

- deeper friendships with Indian women
- a generator for the hot summer to keep from melting!!
- babies...

5.  What dates will remain etched in your memory from 2012 and why?  There are so many, but here are a few that stand out right now.

- March
  the day the mother in our bonding family took my face in her hands and told me they would be my family on Easter, because I was missing my family so much

  the day we finally found a flat to live in!  after searching for a month, I thought we would never find a place

  we went to a two week language learning training.  it was amazing, i learned so much more than just a method to learn a new language.  it was refreshing and inspiring.  unfortunately, Ryan got some crazy rash on the back of his leg...!

  we had some friends come spend some time in our city checking out if they wanted to move here.  it was so fun showing them around and spending time with people from our church, even if it was blazing hot!

  went back to Thailand and got to meet a lot of new people and spend time with friends from PA.  was so fun to catch up with them.

- August
  Rhett came to India!!  our first family member to come visit us.  it was awesome because he is a pretty awesome guy, we are trying to get him to come back permanently!

  our first Ramadan.  we had a great time breaking the fast with friends.  so many people were so inviting, i don't think i cooked dinner one time that month ;)

  our first Eid.  this is the festival at the end of Ramadan.  again, so much fun with friends and SO.MUCH.FOOD!

  our friends that live in our city had their first born son in America.  he only lived a few minutes before going to be with Jesus.  it was so hard to be so far from them on that day, but i will always remember hearing the news while sitting in a hotel in delhi.  you can read about their journey here.

  after a year of not seeing each other, my Mom came to India!  oh my goodness, my heart was so happy.  i loved every second of her being here. i didn't want her to leave, but was oh so thankful for the time she was here.

  going to a wedding with our neighbors.  it was the most fun day we have had in India.  we spent the day(in between the important wedding stuff) playing at the Ganges with our friends.  so fun!

6.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?

-...umm we passed our home study.  that was a GREAT achievement that brings us one step closer to baby Hartsfield.

7.  What was your biggest failure?

-this question is tricky.  there is a lot this past year that i have felt like a failure in.  my biggest regret, not sure i would call it a failure, because failure seems so final, is that i was/still am so timid to put myself out there in trying to speak Hindi/Urdu.  i have this gross tendency to want to look smart and that has caused me to not try to speak knowing i will look dumb.  pride and fear....gross combination, i know.

8.  Did you suffer illness or injury?

-had some stomach illnesses, but hey that is life in India...right?

9.  What was the best thing you bought?

-washing machine :)  so boring, huh?
-scooter, it is so much easier and faster to get places now.  i do have a love/hate relationship with the scooter.  i didn't know you could have so much fun and feel so freaked out at the same time.  traffic in india is crazy.
-vegetable chopper, seriously it makes chopping veggies so much better....
-microwave.  the convection kind that you can make cookies in.  we don't have an oven, so this was a great purchase

i see a household item theme....i feel old...

10.  Where did most of your money go?

-to the above items
-plane tickets, train tickets
-a deposit on our apartment

11.  What did you get really excited about?

-adoption and getting closer to bringing our little one home, even thought the paper work feels never ending....
-being able to understand and communicate deeper things with friends here in a their language.  being able to understand their stories
-monsoon season...the summer was hot yall!

12.  What song will always remind you of 2012?

-"For Your Splendor" by Christy Nockels.  this year was extremely challenging personally and for friends in our life.  this song continuously spoke to me in a deep way.
- "Some Nights" by Fun.  this was our pump ourselves up song.  so much time spent dancing to this song.

13.  Compared to this time last year are you:

-happier or sadder?  honestly...probably sadder.  the last 8 months have been a pretty lonely time.
-thinner or fatter?  hmmm not really sure.  probably a little fatter right now, haven't had stomach problems for a while :0
-richer or poorer?  richer, baby!!

14.  What do you wish you would have done more of?

-pushed myself to speak more in all those hours of language learning
-danced more with my hubby(that stinking long hot summer prohibits some of my desire to dance)

15.  What do you wish you would have done less of?

-being self-critical.  feeling like i should be better or doing better at language/adjustment stuff

16.  How did you spend Christmas?

-ate some chocolate chip muffins then headed to the train station.  we were planning on a 4 hour train ride to visit some friends, but it turned into a 3 hour wait at the station and a 15 hour train ride....dang fog!

17.  What was your favorite TV program?

-i know we are totally behind, but we started watching the office from season 1.  i love it.  michael is so hilarious and i love jim and pam(like i wish we could hang out with them)

18.  What were your favorite books?  this year i had a bad habit of starting books i thought i "should" read and then getting bored with them, but some of my favs were:

-Jesus Storybook Bible.  i know this isn't really a "book", it is a children's bible, but it is so good!
-The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
-Luke for Everyone by NT Wright
-Saturday Nothing by Josh Martin
-Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis
-The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
-Anything by Jennie Allen
-MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche
-Simply Jesus by NT Wright

I am currently reading-
-Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
-Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parent Knew

19.  What was your favorite music from this year?

-Andrew Peterson's new CD
-Austin Stone's Christmas CD
-Christy Nockels new CD
-Chelsea Moon
-The Civil Wars,
-Phil Wickham

-i'm always wanting suggestions for new CD's esp since we live out of America now!!! suggest away.

20.  What were your favorite films this year?

-oh man, we only saw a couple movies when we were in delhi.  our theatre in our city only shows movies in Hindi.
-Argo was good
-counting down the days til Les Mis comes to Delhi....

21.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

- two girlfriends from delhi came to visit for the weekend and we went to pizza hut with my language helper and her mom.  great fun!
-got my nose pierced :)
- Ryan had some of my closest friends send me video messages for me to watch on my birthday and some written messages.  he had them answer certain question about me.  he then organized us to skype with his family and my family and he had asked them to answer the same questions.  it was really special.  so thankful he did that and so thankful for such great friends and family.

22.  What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

-i loved the opportunities we have had to grown in friendship with locals, but having a community of Jesus followers would have been a great thing.

23.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

-haha, bright colors.  actually, in a lot of ways i just bought close quickly because i had to get a whole new wardrobe.  now, i am more aware of the styles here and hopefully this year i can grow into my own American living in India style ;)

24.  What kept you sane?

-Ryan-words can't express how amazing he is and how patient he is with me
-the mall with an AC during the summer when our power was out
-lots and lots of God's grace and remembering how Jesus experienced everything we have experienced

25.  What is a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012?

- i can't do things in my own strength, not matter how hard i try.  

Dear 2012, you were a lot more difficult than I expected and I am sure there are things that we experienced that may take many years to understand, but God has been faithful and he has given us exactly what we needed exactly when we needed it.  Bring on 2013 :)



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Living in the Longing

Living in India definitely has its perks.  The opportunity to learn a new language(on good days I call it an opportunity, some days not so much :/), new friends, a simpler life,  yummy food, vacationing in places like Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  There is much about my life to be thankful for and much that many people would love to experience.  However, one thing I was not quite prepared for in moving here, was the longing I would feel.  The longing for things to be made right, for women to be equal, for kids to have clean drinking water, for orphans to have a warm blanket(not to mention a family who loves them!!).  My heart has learned to long for many things while living in India.

Christmas brings out the deep, personal longings.  In ways that make me want to not get out of bed and cry a lot. I know that the whole deal with Christmas is about how hope has come, Jesus has come and what wonderful news that is and the hope that he is coming again brings even greater joy.  Yet we live in the in between.  Oh that in between time, I feel like I am always talking about it, always thinking about how it is a beautiful yet dreadful time, full of hope and full of longing.

This Christmas there were deeper longings than I have felt in a long time.  This is not my first Christmas away from family or in a different country, but this year it just felt deeper.  I long to cuddle up on the couch with my nephew and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or who am I kidding, that would probably be boring to him(he's only 4).  Anyways, he would pick a Christmas moving and we would snuggle on my Mom's couch and drink hot chocolate and eat chocolate chip cookies.  I long to sing Christmas carols with my Memee.  She always wanted to sing Christmas carols on Christmas eve and it was always awkward trying to sing acapella when we are not exactly a musical family.  But,  I would hold her hand and sing my heart out and she would tell me I am the best singer she has ever heard.  And she would mean it.  I long to help my brother set up all the toys for Christmas morning for my nephew.  I know he hates all the instructions on how to put those toys together and I would help him..err Ryan would do it and I would keep them company.  I long to sit around that big wooden table Ryan's Dad made for his Mom so many years ago.  We would talk about marriage, relationships, intimacy, and how aloneness is so bad.  I would even drink a little coffee along with everyone else this year.  Then I would ask my bro-in-law question after question about girls in his life and he would pretend like it annoys him, but I know he likes it.  I long to sit around my Mom's house with some of my best girlfriends.  Hold their new babies, talk about husbands or boyfriends or how guys are jerks, and how much life has changed in the last year, and remember how we are best friends because even if we don't see each other or even talk that much (because lets be honest, I am a horrible long distance friend) it is so easy to pick back up.  My heart longs....

I used to think longing was a bad thing.  I thought that if you were really walking with God then you should always feel content and that longing meant you probably had some kind of sin in your life or something.  I don't believe that anymore.  We are living in the longing time.  That is what Christmas is all about that Jesus came into the world and we are longing for him to come back.  So Christmas looked really different and not really in a good way, but thats okay.  This year I grab that cup of longing and take it in both of my hands and drink deeply, because in the longing we remember we are still alive.  Our work here is not finished.  One day it will be and we will no longer live in the longing, but for now we do and we say, "Come Lord Jesus, come".