Friday, September 27, 2013


I miss West Virginia's sunsets. Michigan's are very pretty too...but the landscape is very flat.

Friday, September 20, 2013

One is silver...the other gold.

This past week...

In the past three days I received emails or texts from old friends in far away places. The UK...Korea...and home (West Virginia). As happy as I am to hear from them and know they are well it makes me feel ever so slightly wistful to remember past times. I love them all.

In the past few days I have had more opportunities to visit with new friends that I have made here.This makes all the difference in the world being someplace new. I already feel so welcomed and even a bit attached to some of the new people I have met here.

So that little song about new friends and old...that "one is silver and the other is gold" is ringing true with me right now.

And speaking of gold...tonight's sky was peachy and golden. I think it's so funny how inconsistent life is. Moves, changes, obstacles...yet every day the earth spins around on an axis while it travels around the sun. And even on some of the gloomiest of days the sun will peek out and everything will seem so...lovely. Actually, I don't think it seems like anything, I think for a moment I am simply reminded that it is in fact lovely. So when I feel like everything in my life is new and/or crazy, I take comfort in the fact that God has everything under control. All of it. And if I'm not being particularly dense, I remember this truth in time to sit back and enjoy the view instead of fretting about or regretting everything.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Love is a mysterious thing...
It is captured in words...
Expressed in actions...

Love is invisible...
But it can be seen in a person's eyes...
And felt just like a hug or a punch in the stomach.

Love is complex...
It is fierce and gentle...passionate and quiet...
It makes you free and a captive all at once...

Love is a life-long lesson we learn...
It is a sacrifice that we must make...
Love is a gift that makes us and breaks us...

Love is a decision...
It is choice...
Yet sometimes it chooses its recipients without consulting us first.

Love died for me.
Love chose me.
Love saved me.

1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.

Three Years.

Three years ago today I left to go on an adventure that changed my life. My time in China was possibly the most difficult three months of my life. It was also beautiful, heartbreaking, sweet, and an experience that I will always hold dear to my heart. I am so grateful for the time I spent there. I hope that someday God will allow me to go back. I pray that God will always allow me to remain involved with the international community, and especially the Chinese community.

This week I re-read my blog journal from my trip and remembered lots of things that I had begun to forget. I am really glad that I blogged my way through that trip. It's a wonderful thing to look back and read accounts of the time spent there. It's great to reflect on how God has used that time to change me these last three years. In reference to my post awhile back on monuments I would say that the blog for that trip is in a way a monument. A way of reminding me of that time.

This weekend I got to talk to a new friend about my time in China and it started to bring back all the emotions and memories of being there. The good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. One thing the trip taught me is that beauty sometimes wears a cloak of sadness, pain, and hardship. Beauty in life is more than fun, happiness, and pretty surfaces. Jingdezhen could be described as dirty with uneven sidewalks, trash in the street, dilapidated buildings, and not very pretty in general. My time there, though exciting and sometimes really fun, was hard and left me confused, lonely, and depressed. But somehow it was a beautiful place and experience. That place that was so real. And the site of a time in my life where I learned that all the weaknesses and ugly parts of my life were only made beautiful because of God's strength and perfection entering in and rescuing me.

When I think of China, I think of God's fulfillment of his promise to never leave or forsake me. And also of the verse that speaks of how we will endure many different kinds of trials in this life, but to be of good cheer because Christ has overcome the world. I think in order to appreciate the beauty of these truths and promises you might first have to experience some of that darkness. And perhaps that is part of why my time in China meant a lot to me. Because in such a dark time God's light shone more brightly and clearly to me than in any other time of my life. And I'll always be a little bit broken and a little bit softer because of it. But I am grateful for it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

I guess they missed the sign that said not to feed the ducks.

Michigan thinks it is already fall.
In what seems to  be typical of the beginning of each month here, we found ourselves in long sleeves and pants and were still too cold to be outdoors very long. We went on a little picnic at a nearby park. It reminded me of Clearbrook Park from way back when. It wasn't very cold, but the wind was chilly. We should probably start keeping sweatshirts in the car when we go out...just in case.

It was a very relaxing day. I got nothing accomplished studio wise. Oh ceramics. I did get to work in the studio for a bit over the weekend, but my timing for drying was very bad so most everything was too dry to continue working on. Maybe tomorrow will be different. There is something so relaxing about working with clay. I love feeling it move through my hands while I work to shape it into what I want. Although after four years I can see a big improvement in my work I still am such an amateur. And maybe it is just this phase in my life, but it is so hard to have a consistent studio practice. I can't replicate what I had in school. And it's okay. I don't really need to be full-time or even putting in 20 hours a week with clay yet. I would like to be, but it's not feasible. I am trying to be easy on myself and remind myself that the fact that I get to work with clay after school at all is a privilege and something to be very happy about. I am also trying to discipline myself enough to consistently get in there and work. I've been putting in a lot of 11 hour days at my job and am tired when I get off. And while I was comfortable being at the school studio till the wee hours of the morning I am not comfortable being at this one past 9 pm. It's a different situation. I am trying to make the best and most of it.

I have so many ideas though. Ceramic-related and otherwise. I am realizing that this move has been more stressful than I thought it was. Stress and anxiety really hinder me in making work. I feel very inhibited and can't concentrate. It takes a lot more effort to get started and stay attentive to what I am doing. I have some plans to try and jump start some projects. I hope to maybe record them here. I also realize that I am very new to this area and am maybe in survival mode. Before I can really settle into an art-making routine I have to get my basics needs covered. And right now that means getting my job situation straightened out (thankfully I have a job, but am encountering some scheduling issues), becoming acquainted with my surroundings, and trying to get involved with a church and make friends. I have visited a Bible study here a couple of times and it has made such a big difference in feeling more at home. It seems that I need to have some sense of belonging to feel well. And I think it's okay to focus on meeting that need before I try to make a full-time thing out of art. I am just trying to make sure I do something artistic in the meantime, because that also helps me to feel well and continue learning.

I had a good talk with a friend last week and she asked me what my goals are. It was a good question, and one I don't have an answer for. I have ideas of what I want, but not clear goals to work toward. I guess that is also something I am trying to figure out and am having some trouble with. Transitioning out of college is not easy. It's not that I want to be back in school. I am grateful for that time, but I am glad to move on. I miss my home still, but am much more comfortable here than I was even a few weeks ago. I knew I would have things to work through and figure out and am now in the middle of that. It's this process of waiting, trusting, seeking, and trying to discern what I should do next. And trying to find answers for others questions and my own questions and not get too frustrated with this stage, nor be complacent. I guess I'm learning a lot, but it's slow going.

Anyway, that's enough for one night.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I thought of you today.
I frequently find myself thinking of you.
The littlest things remind me of you...
Scents, sounds, conversations, even the weather.
Sometimes when I see something lovely I remember you.
And wish you were with me to share it...
Because I know you would appreciate it as much as I do.
And I wonder what you are doing.
And whether you ever think of me anymore.
Or if you ever really thought about me to begin with.
These days, it doesn't usually make me sad.
But sometimes there is a tiny pang of sadness.
That tiny voice in my head that says, "what if..."
What if things had been different?
Best not to dwell on that...things are as they are.
However, you left an impression on me...
You taught me to notice the blessings in my life...
And to see the beauty that is all around me.
I will always be different because we met.
I like to think of you out there living life to the fullest.
I truly hope you are happy.
But I hope more for you than mere happiness.
I wish for you to have true life.
Abundant life. Everlasting joy.
You know, I never meant to care about you
My heart never asked me for permission.
It took me completely by surprise.
Funny how the heart picks its objects of affection...
(That sounds just like something you would say)
*They* say: It's a beautiful thing when you love someone.
*I* say, to love someone can be one of the most painful decisions we make.
But do we have any other choice?