Sunday, August 21, 2011


In about 22 hours my classes start! I'm both excited and nervous! I've got butterflies and feel restless and I'm hoping that by the end of tomorrow or Tuesday at least I'll feel better about what to expect from the semester.
2 of my 3 roommates are here! I'm looking forward to spending the fall with them. I missed experiencing fall in America last year so it will be fun to see the colors and do fall activities. I must say though that part of me feels like I should be getting ready to go back to China. September 7th will be a year from the time I left the States to go there and part of me wishes I could go back to Jingdezhen. It kind of brings up some mixed emotions since so much has happened in that time and although it seemed long at times the year really has gone by quickly.
I think this year should be interesting too though. I had a meeting with 2 friends and our pastor this week to talk about starting a Bible study home group for college and career age folks. Although there are lots of campus ministries here it seems that a lot of them focus on the freshmen and getting them settled and providing an alternative to the party scene that our school is known for. And that's great and they provided a lot of encouragement to me. But we're hoping this will be something that offers more in-depth study and discussion of the Bible so hopefully something great will come of it. If we can get it going it should start toward the end of next month so we have to get cracking on planning and such. It's exciting!
Yesterday one of my roommates and I went to the new location our church is leasing to help paint it and get it ready for services. Our church hasn't had a permanent location up till this point and they have finally found a place to meet more permanently but it needs a lot of work to get finished. Some folks from out of town came in yesterday to help paint too which was so kind of them. I was there for about 3.5 hours and boy was I tired and my arms hurt later that afternoon. Maybe that means I should go down there more and help out and build up some stamina. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


As I said before this silly drawing was inspired by a conversation with a friend about being single and waiting to find Mr. Right or Prince Charming or whatever. And we decided that maybe our future husbands are still in the process of scaling (metaphorical) mountains, braving forests, slaying dragons and cutting their way through thickets while trying to find us too so maybe we should chill and be more patient instead of being sad that we don't know who our future husbands will be.
I wish we could wear pointy princess hats while waiting though. ;)

Summer pottery

These are some of the pieces of pottery I made over the summer while working at the Parks and Rec center. While none of them came out without some problems (will I ever reach the point where my pieces come out really good?) I did try a lot of new things and I think I learned a lot!
Like with this cup...I tried to focus on making bigger handles and I used underglazes for the first time.
I tried to oval this plate, but ended up with a big bumpy seam in the middle. And some weird glazing lines. But I liked the indentation and the alteration that I put in.
Inspired by a fellow classmate I tried my hand at pitchers and had a lot of fun with them! I think I'd like to make more.
More underglazing...
Remember how I said the ladies at the studio in NC were stamping geniuses? Well they definitely inspired me so I stamped this little cup and I think stamping is something I'd like to continue to play around with!
That pitcher on the right is probably my favorite item. Again, all my glazing is messed up, but I got a lot of ideas for things I'd like to do.
Lidded cup with flower detail on top...

Thrown and altered cups. Another idea I'd like to work on this year.
This cup is a different shape than I normally make. And it's also altered but it's not very extreme. As usual my forms, rims, feet, handles, glazing, painting, etc all need a lot of work, but I tried some stuff this summer that I've never tried before and had a lot of fun. And I'm really grateful for that!


This past Monday I made the 9+ hour trek back to school. The trip should only take about 7 hours but it always ends up taking longer because we usually have a hard time finding a gas station to fill up at in the middle of no-where-ville Appalachia. Sorry excuse but it's the only one we have.

Anyway, Adam and I got up here and moved into our respective apartments and I've been cleaning for the past 3 days. Well....part of the time...part of that time has been spent catching up with my friend Candice and meeting her sister. The rest of the time has been cleaning, unpacking and shopping for little things I needed for the apartment. I think the 3 days to get cleaning done at my leisure has been good. I don't think I've been this well set up ever. Last year I hardly unpacked anything at the beginning of the fall semester because I knew in just a couple of weeks I would be heading to China and when I came back completely jet-lagged I just left my room a disaster that I never quite conquered during the following semester. So hopefully this will be the beginning of a new chapter in my titled "Organized." It may not last, but I'm hopeful. :)
Bed linens washed, bed made and floor vacuumed, and although it is hard to tell the night stand is clean. I do have some buckets and bins full of clay stuff that need to go to the studio when I'm allowed to bring stuff back, but until then it will have to stay here.
Re-organized desk and cleaned out dresser!
Clean, organized bathroom...

Most of these pictures make no sense to anyone but me because I didn't take before photos. If you could have seen those you would be so proud of me! I literally couldn't walk into my bedroom when I got here on Monday. That is because my brother stored his stuff in there for the summer, but I left a lot of junk in there too. Plus my bathroom hadn't been cleaned in the 3 months that I'd been gone and so that was the first job I tackled when I got here. It feels much better and it's nice to finally have a place for everything and have everything in its place.

One of the surprising things that happened when I first got here was I realized that at some point over the summer our landlord changed our living room furniture. We used to have this old tweed-y looking couch and armchair but they replaced it with this black leather set. And my roommates who were here over the summer decorated the place with photos and flowers and was a pretty surprise to come back to. Thanks roommates!
Speaking of roommates, none of them are here right now so I've had the apartment to myself. One is coming back sometime today and that is exciting since I haven't seen her in 3 months. I am both anxious and excited for this new semester. I have butterflies over that silly? I'll be relieved when my classes start!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A little picture I've been playing with...

Based off a silly conversation with a friend and my love of fairy tales.

Not quite done yet, but soon. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Plans for the future.

Like a lot of people my age one of the most popular questions I am asked is "what are you planning to do with your life?" I've been asked this since I was about 15 or 16 years old. The answer has always been "I don't know." And there is definitely a lot of truth to that. There is no way of knowing what we will do with our lives. As I've gotten older I have a better idea of what I'd like to do with my life. I'd like to get married and be a wife and mom. I'd like to homeschool my children. I'd like to continue to be a potter. I'd like to travel again and see more of the world and different cultures.

In the past few years my truest answer to the question is that above all I want my life to be a service to Christ and to bring glory to Him. Last semester I heard a sermon in which John the Baptist's words were talked about...
John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

It's been occuring to me more and more recently that instead of spending my life focusing on advancing myself with relationships and a dazzling career my focus should be on dying. To myself.

Usually when we ask someone what they plan to do with their life they tell their plans for getting a degree that will bring them lots of money or their plans to travel the world or of being famous (okay, that may be a bit more grand than some peoples' plans but you do hear plans like these fairly frequently). But I'm starting to understand that to be a Christian means that each day we surrender more and more of ourselves to Christ and allow Him to lead and direct us. We are not supposed to seek fame and glory for ourselves but instead to direct all praise back to God. We're supposed to become less while God becomes greater.

Matthew 16:24 says "if any man will follow me, let him take up his cross, and deny himself and follow me." To follow Christ is to die. Or to start the process of dying. But only to ourselves and our sinful desires.

I don't know about most people but death is not something I want to think about and it's certainly not something I want to experience any time soon. I want to experience life. And ultimately I do believe that life is a gift from God and is meant to be lived to the fullest. Relationships should be treasured, interests should be pursued...but nothing should be considered more dear or more precious to us than our relationship with Christ and as Christians our most important goal and desire should be to follow Him and know Him more deeply.

It's so easy to think that if we focus solely on serving Christ and dying to ourselves that we will miss out on so much and will be miserable. After all, the words "serve" and "dying" have rather negative connotations in our culture. But if we chose to live for ourselves we miss out on our very reason for know and love God.

This is just some stuff I've been thinking about a LOT lately and, to be honest, am struggling with. While I want to walk closely with Christ other parts of me want to live for myself too. Mainly because sometimes little doubts about whether I can trust Christ with my life and well-being rise up inside me. I'm aware that dying to ourselves involves a refining process that is painful and that to follow Christ involves sacrifice and suffering. I try to remind myself that nothing I could ever endure in Christ's name could be worse than what He endured for me. I also try to remind myself that knowing God also means knowing the truest love and experiencing excitement and adventure and having a true purpose in life. It helps me to put things back into perspective.

Well anyway, the main idea behind this post was that ultimately my plans for life are to die. To myself and to the things that separate me from a closer walk with Christ as well as to see Christ become greater in my life and in my world as I become less. And to squash the little part of myself that is afraid to see how this happens.


Just about a block away from the entrance to Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute's old campus was a little bookstore. When I think of going to bookstores places like Barnes and Noble or Borders (lets have a moment of silence for the memory of sad that they're going out of business) pop into my head. Buying a coffee and looking through books and magazines at a table in the cafe or sitting on the floor to look at books also pop into my head. This was not the case in China. The bookstore I went to most frequently was like a storage unit with bookshelves and during the day the door was rolled up and at night it was rolled back down. There was no place to sit and browse through books and there seemed to be little rhyme or reason in how the books were organized. It made our bookstores seem like beautiful, extravagant places. While I was in there I came across these books and kind of fell in love with them. As best as I can tell they were all written or illustrated by the same person...2 of the Chinese characters are the same on each book cover and the drawings inside are very similar too...I picked up these four and am so glad that I did.
Here are some samples of the illustrations found within.

One of the coolest things about these books is that they're written in Chinese. So I have no idea what they say. I have tried to figure out the story plots from the pictures and to some extent can, but some of the drawings are kind of bizarre. I don't understand what they mean or why they are there. I think that is why I like them so much. They're mysterious to me. And in their own quirky and sometimes bizarre way I think they're very beautiful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Counting down...

I can't believe school starts in a little less than 2 weeks! Tomorrow I go into the studio for my last workday to finish some glazing. I really hope I'll be able to get my pots fired before I leave to go back to school. My parents are celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary this Thursday and my younger sister has her high school graduation the same day. It's all coming up quickly.

Endings make me anxious. The end of a semester or the end of a summer or a school break each signal the end of a season that I'm at least familiar with whether it is comfortable and happy or not. The unknown makes me stress. It makes me emotional too. My family has to put up with me during this transition time again. They should be sainted.

I know endings mean a new beginning is on its way. Deep inside I want change, but I always fight it too. Ideally I would like to go through life without a care in the world because I know God goes before me and makes a path for me. But I haven't come that far in my walk with Christ yet so I'll continue to fight the insecurities and doubts and fears that come from all the potential awkward scenarios I might find myself in with this new school year.

I guess I could be optimistic and focus on all the good opportunities that show themselves each year. I could focus on what I know is true and that is that God loves me and has a plan for my life.

Why is it so much easier sometimes to dwell on the worrisome and negative things than to dwell in the shelter of the Most High?

On the bright side, while it is supposed to be in the upper 90s here for the next 10 days it's supposed to be in the mid 70s to low 80s at school. So that will be nice. :)