Monday, December 22, 2014

The ache, the struggle and the hope.

It comes out of nowhere
That thought that you're missing something...someone. 
There's an ache that exists in the 
knowledge that sometimes there's no one to appreciate the small and large things in life with you. 
There is a struggle that exists in making certain the things you think you want stay put in their proper place. We know too well how misplaced expectations hurt us in so many ways. 
There is a hope that exists in my heart that one day there will be someone with me to turn toward and enjoy the moment with. A friend for life. A challenger...a sharpener. 
There is an ache, a struggle and a hope within me. Sometimes quiet and sometimes loud. Sometimes they all compete for my attention while other times one speaks louder than the others. 
Above all there is a voice that comes through more loudly that says, "Do you trust me? Do you believe I love you? Do you know I'm enough? Do you love me more than your dreams?" Sometimes I don't know what my answer is. 
There is a Love that exists inside me that teaches me the hard things. That has a greater plan for us all than I ever could. Love tells me of a love story I couldn't imagine on my own that is happening in my life right now. It tells me to wait and to trust and to know Him. Love tells me that when the ache, the struggle and the hope are given to him there exists something else...peace, joy and life. 

The ache and struggle still exist. I believe that they allow me to worship him more. They are something for me to offer. In this way they are redeemable...they serve a purpose. The bitterness allows me to appreciate the sweetness in my life. The bitter reminds me that things are not whole and that I'm looking for that which completes me. The ache and the struggle point me back toward the Hope.

The final pots of 2014

Pie Plate
Pop-up Maker's Market

My favorite mugs of the year

I think that maybe...just enjoyment of ceramics is resurfacing. It only took a year and a half after graduating, but I think that I'm slowly remembering that I love designing, throwing, and finishing pots. There is very little that gets me quite so excited as opening a kiln to see what I ended up with...little more gets me quite so angry when things don't turn out the way I wanted them to as ceramics does. I still feel like ceramics and I are an old married couple. We drive each other crazy, but I'd rather have it than not. (Those last two sentences show that A) I'm crazy and B) maybe have a somewhat dysfunctional view of marriage?! lol) Also a pleasant surprise is that these may just be some of my favorite pots ever. While I prefer high fired, wood fired surfaces, these last pieces just felt like they were finished and that they were good enough. Nothing was really wrong with them...they were fine. That was a great feeling. And people bought my pots this year! I am so flattered and thrilled.

I'm taking the rest of 2014 off of pottery, but I'm actually excited to get back into it next year. That feels like a gift to me. :)

Waking up

Confession: I run from pain. For many reasons. Sometimes I feel like it's selfish to process pain. It makes me a burden on others, it makes me less productive, it means I'm ungrateful, etc. I want to be perfect (perfectionist tendencies...blah) and I want to feel whole so I run away from painful situations and try to push down feelings of sadness or grief.

But it's not serving me well. I have a friend who is going through a very sad time in her life right now and we've done a lot of processing together. I would never tell her not to work her way through her grief and to just get over it. In fact, I feel honored that she trusts me enough to let me grieve with her. It redeems my own times of sincere sadness and loneliness. At least now it can be used to assure someone that they can survive the sadness! I can tell people that it will take a long time to come through won't be the same again because you will be softer and stronger. I can tell them that maybe they will always have some grief that they carry with them. That years from now they will still be learning lessons from this experience. It is a big deal and it's okay to treat it like a big deal.

Through all of that I'm learning that those same truths apply to me. And I'm surprised to find myself feeling grieved over past experiences. I have to acknowledge that those dreams existed and maybe somewhere deep inside still do and the lack of their realization hurts. I remember the loneliness and confusion I felt when it seemed like most of my life was being turned upside down and wondering if it would make sense and if I would feel happy again. And sometimes it still hurts. In fact, sometimes I'm surprised at how raw the pain of it all can be even now almost half a decade later. I feel a lot older...a lot more cynical and a lot less willing to be vulnerable.

But, I'm trying not to be that way. I don't want to experience less of life even though it hurts us. Several years ago one of my aunts was in a serious car accident. She almost died it was so bad. She shattered one of her hip sockets and had to have it reconstructed and she had rods placed in her leg so she could walk again. She experienced some nerve damage as a result and didn't know if she would regain full feeling in her leg again. Some of the nerves healed and it was a painful process. As the nerves came back to life she experienced a lot of pain and discomfort, but she bore it so well. I think this helps me understand my emotional experiences. Experiencing the sadness and loneliness again isn't a bad's letting things I buried resurface; letting experiences I tried to kill wake back up to life. It's admitting something is wrong and that I want it to get better. But it's also understanding that just like when we're injured physically and our bodies repair themselves we sometimes have scars that never go away. It's part of us now and part of our story. And sometimes it makes me feel that I have this ugly scar that others have to look at and help me deal with and that's maybe a lot to ask of some people. But maybe it can have redemptive qualities too. Perhaps it will help me learn humility and vulnerability in a new way. Perhaps it will make me more compassionate towards those who need understanding and love. Perhaps it will help me be there for someone who needs comfort and hope. Maybe it's part of that painful refining process that yields a more useful version of myself.

I'm hoping 2015 will be a year of redemption. A year to heal from hurts in the work through problems left be open to new hopes and opportunities. I want to go back over some things this year and see them as meaningful and beautiful, not as destructive and ruining. I want this new year to be a Jubilee year.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Something sick

Maybe it's hormones... I think that's the default for blame when you feel emotional. Lately I have felt what I can only describe as homesickness only I'm not sure for what. I feel as though I miss something or someone but can't quite identity who or what. Maybe it's just an idea that I'm pining over.  It's almost maddening sometimes when you try to be content and find that you just aren't. It's hard to tell if it's a good longing or just ingratitude...or maybe the surprise of feelings you thought were put to rest waking back up suddenly. Whatever it is it's very difficult to try to cure something when you don't know what is wrong.

If we find ourselves with the desire nothing in this world can satisfy the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. 
--CS Lewis

On another note I'm pretty sure Lewis has a thought for every occasion. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Not content

Sometimes I have days that leave me feeling so full. It doesn't always take much. I can have a great conversation with someone or have a busy day that includes just enough sweetness in the form of sights, interactions or words that I needed to hear. On those days I'm left feeling so content. I'm thankful. I know how rich I am in this life.

And then sometimes I have days that leave me feeling drained. Empty. I feel like I have nothing... I am nothing...and that will always be my reality. Whatever I was put on earth to do...I'm doing it wrong and that makes me a screwup. I feel poor spiritually and in every other way too. 

Additionally I (like pretty much everyone) struggle with self esteem. I try to like myself and be confident. On those good days I feel loved and lovable. On bad days I see so many of my flaws and start hating myself. I'm selfish. I'm prideful. I don't trust enough. I don't love people well. I'm not thankful. All those things make me feel so defeated and worthless. Like I'm just contributing to everyone's problems, not bringing anyone joy. 

At times like these I know that I have such a poor understanding of who God is. I don't understand how he can look at me and love me anyway. I don't understand how he is working and planning and teaching me things.
The bible talks about God being light. I know light gives safety, warmth, and lets us grow. I also know it hurts to look into light. When you turn on a light creepy things run and hide. Everything can be seen...the good, bad and ugly. 

I want to be in the light. But maybe today is the kind of day where the Light hurts my eyes a little bit. Maybe the Light is exposing the things in me that I don't like. 

I'm not sure I know entirely what has me in such a funk but today I am struggling with these things and it leaves me discontented. I'm sort of okay with that if I need that to prompt me to change. But I don't want it to cause me to not be grateful for the blessings in my life and make me less hopeful of my future. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hibernation time

 I just want to be here. It's cold outside and I'm still doing my crazy work schedule so I'm tired a lot. Hibernating sounds really nice right about now. :) Thus far I'm enjoying the holidays, but I'm looking forward to those quieter, sleepy winter days. The kind where you don't have to be someplace every night and you don't have to work on special projects every day. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy those times too. But those quiet days and nights that allow you to stay in with your loved ones and force you to slow down...those are special too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bob and Joan

So I work at a coffee shop as a baker. It's fun. The hours are reeeally early, which can be a challenge, but it's been working out for about 6 months now. It's nice to start your day off making things and watching people come buy them. The maker in me finds that to be very satisfying.

Another satisfying part of my job is the interaction I get to have with my co-workers and customers. Every Tuesday there are a bunch of groups who come in regularly for Bible studies, hanging out, and to work on homework or just work in general. I have enjoyed getting to see the same crowd every Tuesday and learn peoples' names and a bit about them. It's one of the things I love about working in a coffee shop and about living in a small town.

There is one couple in particular that I enjoy very much! They welcomed me in as soon as I started and always say hello when they come in on days that I'm working. Their names are Bob and Joan and they're the cutest couple. They talk to everyone there, or rather, I think most people make it a point to stop at their table to say hi...they attract people because they're so very friendly! It's beautiful to see the community amongst our regular customers. Especially the Tuesday crowd. When they leave Bob frequently tells me, "don't work too hard...but work hard enough so that you're here the next time I come in." Once he added, "We'd miss you if you weren't here."

And that's enough to pretty much make my day.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The beauty in a mundane day:

The rare chance to stay in your soft bed as long as you want to...
The relief of crossing important things off your to-do list...
The comfort of coffee when it's cold and wet outside...
The joy of sharing your heart and thoughts with another person...
The ability to remember mundane yet important times...
The mundane is perhaps the most easily missed beauty in our lives...
The daily rhythms and patterns that provide security and consistency...
The daily miracles that have lost their charm on us...
The realization that your dreams have largely come true...we just forgot to be grateful.
These are the good old days if you'll let them be.

A Night at the Orchestra...

A couple of weekends ago my friend Hope and I went to the local college's end of semester orchestral performance. It was really good! It was a smaller ensemble, but the music they chose was really fun and beautiful. They had a guest singer perform with them. He sang musical selections from Gustav Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer. They kindly thought to add the English translation of the music in the program so I was able to read along while he was singing in German. The music was very sad and dramatic...about a man who loved a woman who was marrying someone else. It was very operatic, so of course it had to be sad, right?

Anyway, this performance happened at the end of a very busy, exhausting, and incredibly emotional week for me and somehow the music and lyrics were perfectly cathartic!
One of my favorite lines was from Ging heut Morgen ubers Feld:

And then, in the sunshine, the world suddenly began to glitter;
everything gained sound and color in the sunshine!
Flower and bird, great and small! "Good day, is it not a fine world?
Hey, isn't it? A fair world?"
Now surely my happiness also begins?! No! No! What I love can never bloom for me! 

And how about this part from Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit mach:

Do not sing; do not bloom! Spring is over. All singing must now be done.
At night when I go to sleep, I think of my sorrow!

I mean, that's exactly how I felt about all the snow we were getting and the realization that it was just going to get worse as the months continue!

And this line from Die zwei blauen Augen voo meinem Schatz

To me no one bade farewell. Farewell! My companions are love and sorrow! 

Anyway, this guy Mahler was incredibly poetic and somehow he managed to write the music of my soul and the lyrics of my heart for that particular week. Maybe he was more dramatic than I am and no one I love is marrying anyone else and causing me to have a broken heart. I just was feeling particularly sick, tired, emotional and lonely that week and the sad and lonely undertones of his lyrics combined with the beauty of the way they were written and accompanied by such beautiful music really resonated with me. That even in the middle of difficult times there is so much beauty around me in harsh but beautiful winter landscapes, beautiful and expressive words, and melancholy melodies. After the performance my friend and I went to a local coffee shop and caught up for a bit and that too was perfectly encouraging and rejuvenating. I realized that in the midst of my self absorption and pity parties I am so very blessed.

I used to think life was mostly happy with a bit of tragedy thrown in. I was so sheltered and I realize that my earliest memories felt so safe and secure and that for the most part I was a happy child. As I got older I dealt with a lot of anxiety and even depression and wondered when happy times would return or if they would ever return. Now, I think both exist together. "My companions are love and sorrow." The two are always together in some way. But maybe they need each other to grow us up. And maybe together they create something beautiful. Maybe life is always sorrowful but that love redeems it and makes it into something beautiful in the end. A few years ago I wrote a poem that talked about beauty and sorrow going hand in hand. Maybe that's why it resonated with me so much.

Also, I wish I was a real poet and I wish I could sing!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Attempting to adventure!

 I mentioned that one of my goals this year is to play more and have adventures! The day after my birthday one of my very dear friends helped me start the year of right by going with me on an exploration! We picked a nearby place on the map and went out to explore it.
In the end, it was a very typical western Michigan adventure....we found a park and explored it. Western Michigan is no West Virginia! I definitely traded "wild and wonderful" West Virginia for "pure" Michigan! It's very tame. No mountains, caves, waterfalls, valleys, or scenic overlooks here. I'm told that to see those things I need to go north and maybe into the Upper Peninsula. But for what we have it's still a beautiful place. I even managed to find a funny tree to climb. Ahhh! I just am aching to do something exciting and different! I want to go see something that makes me say, "wow!" I knew to appreciate the beautiful landscapes while I had them, but I had no idea how much I would miss them when I left!

All in all, quiet and tame experience that it was, it was so refreshing and rejuvenating to be outside and enjoying the company of a friend. We found some pretty sights and saw some beautiful swans. I'm so blessed in relationships! Having gal pals to share life and your heart with is a gift and God has given me many of those friendships for which I'm very grateful!

I am still keeping my eye out for opportunities to have an adventure though! Wish me luck...send me suggestions!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


 Another year older...I kind of had a hard time with this one. I am sometimes prone to the birthday blues. Perhaps it's ingratitude, but it's also partly a feeling that I didn't accomplish enough or do enough and time is ticking away.

This year I have some actual goals. I know I posted a list of goals a month or so ago, but since then I've simplified it. Now my goal is that by the time I turn 27 I want to have turned ceramics/art into at least a part-time job that I can count on to support myself. My other goal is to have more adventures and more fun. I know 26 isn't old, but I feel like I've lost my ability to play. And I also feel like I spend most of my time working. While I like my work I feel a bit dull and I'm constantly tired which doesn't really make me feel young. I'm hoping that this year I will try new things and play and have fun in addition to working really hard! :)

I'd say I got off to a good start! While my actual birthday (Saturday) was perfectly quiet and slow I had a busy and fun Sunday! I went exploring at a new-to-me park with a friend and later my sister and brother-in-law hosted a surprise birthday party for me. I was so touched! It was incredibly fun and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard! There was even a pinata which I've never had the experience of trying to break before. Every detail was so thoughtful and sweet. It really helped me to start the year off feeling loved and optimistic (and still young! Yay!).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The beauty in the shabby things.

Maybe it's because I went to art school and have learned to look at all things as a form of art...but I have to say that I've really come to appreciate the things most of us try to avoid or fix.
Like messy hair. My hair will never naturally conform to society's standards of conventional beauty, but I like my hair best when I've been outside and it's been blown around by the wind. Or when I first wake up and it's crazy.
I don't really mind little kid finger prints on windows or mirrors...or pretty much everything, because let's face it...little kids like to touch everything!
I like worn in furniture. Where you can see that someone found their sweet spot because it's the most worn in spot on the couch.
I love hand-me-downs. They're one of my favorite things. First of all, they're free...but additionally they're often perfectly worn in. They're soft, they make me think about the people who originally liked and bought them.
In our culture that loves trends and fads and new, shiny things I just find those old things to be so real and so refreshing. There's something comforting in them. To look at objects that have witnessed so many memories makes me appreciate them for being durable and constant. To see the evidence of life and learning in the trail of fingerprints left all over the house...seeing how the wind managed to style your hair after playing and enjoying the outdoors....there's something to those worn in things. They are evidence of a life fully lived and that is beautiful to me. I love the reality of it. I have lots of memories as a kid of exploring our farm and playing in dirt that led to messy hair and bruises and scars. There is photographic evidence that proves that I've been cleaned up and dressed up nicely too, which was fun. But the memories I cherish and the feelings of childhood that I wish to recapture most are the ones that involve the makings of messy hair, holey jeans, and the feelings of being carefree and beautiful just because I was enjoying myself so much.
The story is the beautiful thing. The history and meaning that is recorded in the daily messes we make and the wear and tear of our belongings is something I want to appreciate. Rather than viewing something as old and shabby I hope to always view it as well loved and used. Because that's how we are meant to be treated. Who wants a life that consists of being admired from afar and being untouched so as not to be spoiled? I would much prefer the grittiness of life as long as it's accompanied by love and meaning. I'd rather get old and worn in with lots of stories to tell than to be forever chasing youth and perfection.
What would you prefer?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Running away

 This past weekend I reached a breaking point. I had just completely had it. Physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion caught up to me during what happened to be a very busy weekend and it took me out. I rarely find myself unable to contain my emotions but this weekend got the better of me on several occasions. While I slept as much as my schedule allowed me to (not much) I was never refreshed. So on Sunday, after trying desperately to nap but being unable to quiet my thoughts I decided to run away someplace quiet and outdoors.
I went to a nearby park and found it to be completely empty. The luxury of having the whole park to myself was such a gift. I bundled up and went out to one of the benches and just sat...and waited...and thought...and prayed...and cried...and then did it all again. Nature, while fallen, is so whole. It just is what it is. It doesn't have to think about what it's doing it just exists and brings glory to God as a result. It's the closest thing to perfection that I can find on earth and that is why I find getting outside into more secluded places to be so restoring. It points me back to the Perfect One who made it. Sitting there in the middle of such a beautiful day I felt so incredibly broken...angry, passed by, wrong, hurt, many things that weighed me down and emotionally and spiritually exhausted me. And I wanted to know why I felt like that and if it was true. Am I really worth being loved? Do I belong anywhere? Am I ever going to see my prayers answered and my hopes realized? Is God playing a game with me?

I've not been reading the Bible as much as I should or would like to, but recently the study I'm in is going through the gospel of John. And while I sat there praying and asking why I was struggling with this and why I felt so worthless some truths seemed to be revealed to me. One being that God doesn't call me worthless, ugly, and he hasn't rejected me. Quite the opposite. He died to give me life and worth. He doesn't look at me and see filth and broken and worthless...He loves me more purely and truly than anyone else ever could and He sees me as someone that He can grow and teach and use. Also, in all my brokenness I can't understand why he likes me. Because I have a hard time believing anyone else does sometimes, so how could perfection stand to associate with me? I mess up without even trying. How does pure holiness stand to associate with me? But scripture says the He delights in the godly. And not only that, last week we read in John about the death of Lazarus and how when Jesus finally came to Bethany both the sisters told him: "If you had been here my brother would not have died." That is exactly how I felt this week. "You're in control...why am I" That is an ugly way to come to Christ. But in that story I learned something about Jesus. He was so so so compassionate. He grieved with them. He didn't tell them to stop feeling their sadness and not to question Him. He spoke truth and love. And although He knew he was going to raise their brother he didn't walk in saying, "don't worry, stop crying, I'm going to fix this." He wept with them and walked with them in their grief.

I think that meant so much to me because elsewhere it also says that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence...He lets us come to him and in such love He comforts, rebukes, teaches, restores....and gives us life. I know without a doubt that it is wrong to approach him with anything other than a heart of adoration and worship. But my God is so amazing that He lets me ask, "why?" And when I'm grieving He cares. And when I'm being lied to He tells the truth.

I'm still tired. My schedule is bananas lately and it seems like it is all I can do to hang on. But after having a serious time of confessing my sin and praying to the Lord I felt so much more rested and revived than any nap could have made me. It's like that feeling you have when you're starting to recover from being're hopeful of total healing. It's in sight. The thing is there are questions that are still not completely answered. I'm only given what I absolutely need to know for now. And that is that while I was unlovable Jesus loved me. And while I may feel like I'm floating alone through life sometimes I belong to Jesus forever. He does answer prayers and if hope truly is defined as divine expectation then I believe that in time He will answer my prayers according to His perfect will, not mine. And no, He isn't playing games with me. He's perfect. To believe anything else about Him is to believe a lie. I may not understand Him, but He is so patient with me. I'm at the beginning of working through my questions and struggles. I've only started to identify what they are. They didn't get here overnight and they won't go away that quickly either, but thankfully He is good and patient and loving. There isn't enough room to write all His wonderful attributes and qualities. He's better than anything. Why is it so hard not to be satisfied with Him alone?

I think I've written enough for now.

Golden leaves are my favorite...

Whether the skies are blue and they're shining, or the skies are gray and they're popping, or the skies are dark and they're glowing...

They always stand out in the most beautiful, glowing way. Walking under them is like walking under golden light. Everything seems so vibrant and warm even though in reality it's cold and the leaves are dying. What a paradox. It seems that so many things in life are. Nature hides...or flaunts sometimes, secrets about life and the way God works. After all, it declares Him. And scripture says His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than ours. Earth's funny ways of cycling and aging speak so beautifully of hope and redemption.

Sometimes my alma mater wins a football game...

 And since I never keep up with my alma mater's sports team (or any sports team for that matter), I find out after the fact on good old Facebook. Where people post photos like these that make me hang my head and then scratch it wondering a) what a shirtless man riding a bear has to do with anything football related...even our Mountaineer mascot always wears a shirt! b) why that's supposed to make us look cool, and c) why the heck people are still burning couches when they've been told not to and were warned against it.

Seriously...did someone from the graphic design program make this poster? And looking at the street I recognize the names of all the Morgantown bars...this is what they want people to know of those of us who have gone or go there.

Oh West Virginia University...way to always keep it classy and represent. I won't lie, I did laugh a bit at the shirtless man on the bear riding through the river. Smack my head!

Monday, October 6, 2014


My only nephew...fellow middle child...he is definitely my favorite little boy. He can be so cute I hardly know what to do with myself. He talks so much now and his personality is so sweet and funny and a little bit wily. I usually get the pleasure of having a coffee date with him and his mom once every week or so. He's so fun to watch during those times. Kids take such pleasure in little things. I think they're a great teacher to me in that way. I love seeing him learn and I love seeing his enthusiasm. He's a great little guy. I'm lucky to be his aunt.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


A while back I came across my old bucket list. Surprisingly, I had checked off a few major ones...try ceramics? Check. In fact I devoted 4 years to studying and practicing it. Get an apartment? Check...I do like having my own place and having roommates. Travel to another country? Check! China was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Finish school? Check. And as far as thoughts of graduate school goes...think of Queen Elsa singing "Let It Go" when she sings, "I'm never going back...the past is in the paaaaaaaast!" I really was surprised at what I did because those things seemed so unattainable in some ways. It was nice to see that they happened.

Anyway, I'm feeling super old and dull lately. I work all the time, which isn't bad because I like working. But I don't play much. I'm not even sure I know how to anymore. So I think I need to set some new goals and dreams for myself. I've felt stuck in a rut recently wondering what I ultimately would like to see happen with my ceramics degree/skill. It's gotten me to think more about why I like ceramics, what I want for the future, and what do I hold important in life? I'm still thinking about this...I'd love an "aha" moment, but I haven't had one yet. But to at least get started off right and to remember that I am young and I should take time to enjoy my youth and the world around me I've set some small goals:

Dance more.
Make more art.
Claim space.
Learn to be vulnerable.
Read books.
If an opportunity arises to snuggle a baby or a puppy...take it.
Spend time outside.
Write more.
Try new things.
Plan a big trip.

I have a lot more I want to plan out. I want to set goals and dream dreams. I think that's a bit of what's making me feel so old and down...sort of like whatever things are like now is how I can always expect them to be. I don't feel like I'm able to learn new things or do something adventurous because I've sort of set a course for myself. But I am not very happy at this prospect. I want to break out of that rut and be optimistic and feel there are possibilities for myself.

I think I'm a Pharisee

I'm in a Bible study that has been studying the gospel of John. It's been good, but I've been noticing something that's a bit disconcerting...I think I exhibit some characteristics of the Pharisees.

It seems that some of the bigger flaws in that group were: legalism, pride, self-righteousness, idolatry, and pride. I mean, we're all people and at one time or another we're all guilty of those things. But as a group they seemed to take great pride in their legalism and self-righteousness. And it was wrong!

I once heard a preacher say we usually fall into a camp of either legalism or licentiousness. The goal is to obey Christ, love others, and live in your freedoms without causing others (or yourself) to stumble. The Pharisees created a lot of extra rules for themselves and for others and oppressed people with them.

I try to have high standards. I want to be obedient. But I shouldn't take pride in my "goodness" or compare how good I am to how bad others are. When you do that you are making goodness into an idol of sorts. How is that possible? It seems kind of weird, right? I think we humans...Christians especially are great at taking good, holy things and turning them into idols because we hold them more dearly that Christ. It's tricky because it looks like we are clinging to Christ when we really aren't.

I haven't been able to make it to Bible study every week, but almost every time I go Pharisees show up in the text doing thinks like grumbling, arguing about little unimportant things that ultimately turns our focus away from worshiping Jesus and into a quarrel, loving the law more than Jesus (I'm thinking of John 5 where he heals a lame man on the Sabbath and they get on to him for carrying his mat instead of praising God for healing a man). I also think of the Pharisee who prayed out loud about how grateful he was not to be like the sinful man next to him. No concern for his fellow man, just conceited arrogance at how much better he was. Or thought he was. How often do I do that consciously or unconsciously about other people? In that way, I'm portraying an attribute of the Pharisees.

I sort of became alarmed at myself when I was reading these things and caught myself thinking..."well, I'm glad I'm not a Pharisee!" Hmm...that sounded an awful lot like the Pharisee I talked about up above. And if I'm thinking that I think it almost makes me worse than a Pharisee. Because I have the benefit of scripture to look back and see how lost they were and how they held others back from truly knowing God and I don't want to be that person. I find myself feeling no compassion toward them when we all equally need(ed) Christ to pay for our sins. It's so easy for me to lost sight of who I am without Christ and with Christ...always always always in need of Him.

Anyway, if anyone should catch me exhibiting very self-righteous behaviors, holding unnecessary rules more valuable than Christ and holding them over others, please feel free to lovingly correct me.
Because contrary to what we Pharisees think, self-righteousness is just as bad as drunkeness and stealing, legalism is just as bad as's all sin, it all requires the blood sacrifice of Jesus and to see ourselves as better than each other causes us not to see ourselves appropriately in comparison to Christ.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Some thoughts on art and Christianity.

Spend a little time in art school or around serious artists and you will realize something: art is their religion. It's their god. I'm serious. The people I sat under in class shared their stories with us over the course of many semesters and I heard so many stories about the sacrifices they made for their art. Some of them put aside money each month for art funds to make their own art or support other artists (does that sounds a bit like tithing?). Talk to an artist for a short time and they will start singing the praises of art and let you know that it's a part of their lives. Because it's usually their whole lives and such a huge part of their identity that they can't help but talk about it (does that sound a bit like evangelism?). They believe no sacrifice is too great for their work (does that sound lot like worship?). One professor shared that when money got really tight he lived out of his car for awhile rather than stop making art to work more or taking money out of his art fund to pay rent. He believed that if he kept working and kept trying that someday he would make it work out somehow. That takes a lot of commitment. You wouldn't do that for something if it wasn't the most important thing in your life. Stories like these were not that uncommon amongst my professors and some of the students.

I had some classmates who threw themselves into their work. They worked SO HARD and it never seemed like it was enough so they worked even harder. They were incredibly dedicated to their work and their art. You see, in art school if you completed the assignments exactly as they were given that was an automatic C. You had to go above and beyond to earn an A. And I had some classmates who were bound and determined to get those As. I also had some classmates who were fine with the Cs. Or even Ds. Classes weren't quite that important to them and ceramics and art in general was an interest but not their whole life. I saw (and was guilty myself for judging people this way) classmates and professors get so irritated with those students. Things were said about those students like, "why are they even doing this? If they aren't really interested go study something else." They expected an all or nothing attitude from everyone who considered themselves to be an artist. It seemed that in some ways they based how moral you were on how dedicated you were to your work. It's kind of funny to me now. It seems that it's okay to be somewhat interested in other fields...if you want to be in college and have a life go study science or English or a language. But you must be 110% devoted to art or you pretty much aren't worthy of studying it.

So this is really convicting for me. I've rarely seen such a devout commitment in Christians. If our church couldn't meet it's monthly financial commitments I don't think any of us would decide to live out of our cars rather than not fulfill those commitments. I don't think that would even cross our minds as an option. We just say that God will provide. And it's true that we don't do things on our own strength and that God is powerful enough to make anything He wants to happen come to fulfillment. My question is where is our...okay, MY heart? Am I really willing to give everything I have to the glory of God or do I just pay that lip service and do my own thing? And I think that while we say we are all in 100% as Christians, I wonder if when people meet us it is that obvious to them that we are committed to following Jesus? Is that something that flows out in our conversations because it's our identity? When you spend a few hours getting to know someone how long does it take to learn what they're passionate about? Is their faith one of those things? Is it at the top of the list of their passions? Is it at the top of my list of passions? And if not, what is?

Last year I was flying to visit my parents and one of my seatmates on the plane was this man who after a moment or two of small talk asked me if I was an artist. I was kind of surprised and asked him why he thought that and he said he had two cousins who were artists and something about me was like them. He could just tell. I didn't think I looked particularly artsy or anything and he had hardly just sat down before asking me that. I'm still stumped as to what it was about me that said "artist" to him. But it makes me wonder, within moments of meeting me does anyone think "Christian?"

I want them to notice that about me. When I think about my professors' irritation at students who were halfhearted in their work I can't help but think of the verse in Revelation 3:15-16  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth. It's not enough in the art world to be kind of interested. You have to be passionate. It's the sign that you are in it. I just want to see that same commitment and passion in myself for following Jesus. The willingness to do any and every hard thing because it's worth it.

Blessed are the Homemakers.

No, I'm not adding to the Bible's Sermon on the Mount.  But the Bible does talk about women and households a bit and that's something that's been on my mind recently. These are a few of my thoughts.

While I was in college my family moved away from WV and back to NC. It happened the summer after my freshman year and I remember how strange it felt. I felt really homeless. The town I'd spent half my life in was no longer my home. I had very little reason to ever go there and revisit the places I used to hang out at. The new place my parents settled into was really nice, but seeing that I was in college I had very little opportunity to plug into that community and make friends and create memories that would make the place feel like home. College was a very temporary home and that semester I only had three weeks after going back before I left for China for the semester. I knew I had family and friends in many places and I always had a place to stay, but I was hit with a different kind of homesickness that made me uncomfortable. It was this feeling that I had no home. I had no permanent place to build memories and ties to my community. I craved a place that felt stable and familiar. I craved community. I started thinking more about what made up this idea of home and how I could create one or if home was something I could have during this period of my life.

This had a big impact on my art making. When trying to understand what I made and why I made it I started to realize my inspirations always came from the idea of home. Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked making blankets and hats and things for people to use. When making pots I like to think of the situations in which they will be used by people...dinners, coffee visits...times where people share their lives and their stories with each other. It was about nurturing and connection. When I moved to Michigan I brought things that were handmade or had some other sentimental memory attached to them, because they were the sights, sounds, and feelings of home. They brought memories and familiarity to a strange new place and helped me deal with changes. I think that since I've moved many times already in my life home has been something I've been chasing.

When my brother moved to college he and I went to the store to get supplies for his apartment and I remember he bought a candle for the living room. He looked at me and said, "my friend's mom burns candles in her house and it always smells so nice. It's relaxing and it feels so comfortable." He wanted to recreate the sense of that peace and comfort that he experienced when walking into his friend's house so he bought a candle. This particular friend's mom doesn't have a house that looks like an interior decorator styled it. It is older and well lived in. It's very comfortable and I always enjoyed spending time at their home too. As did many other kids. It seemed that whenever I visited this family there were always a few extra kids visiting them. I, too, always wanted my home to be full of people like that.

I was talking to a co-worker about her plans for when she finishes college and she told me she wants to open a restaurant someday. She lived in a lot of different countries while she was growing up and she wants her restaurant to have different dishes from each of those countries and to put up stories about those places. She said the restaurant would have a name like "Tastes of Home" or something like that because those were all places she called home. She can't go to all those places all the time so her hope is to bring those things to one place and share them with others. This struck me because it seems like home is a muse for her too. She's ready to make a career out of capturing that essence of the homes she has had.

I think we all have this longing for home. I think that no matter our past experiences with home and how many times home has changed for us we long for that feeling of safety and connectedness and love. We long for a place where nurturing and growth happens, where we are comfortable and ourselves. Important things happen at home. We learn and grow and find our identities within our homes. We impact each other and share our lives from our homes. We work through our problems at home. It's the perfect place to do ministry and work and experience real life together. Why do we as a society look down on homemaking as a career and as a priority? We are willing to pay big money for technology and to have people design apps and upgrades for our phones or make movies for us to watch but society trains us to think it's a waste to dedicate our careers to the place that helps give life. Women are told that they are not living up to their full potential if they want to be homemakers or that they are lazy in comparison to women with careers in the workplace.

Biblically, women are the keepers of the home. We have this special call and responsibility to our homes and those within them. We women have been specially designed to nurture and create that sense of safety and comfort in our homes that allow all of us to grow and develop and excel in our lives. And it's not about how many candles you burn or how many pictures hang on your wall. It's about so much more. It's almost undefinable. It takes a special person to foster an environment that makes people feel safe and loved. It takes a lot of work and energy to take care of others' needs and help them grow. It takes a lot of skill to manage budgets and cook and teach and to do all the things that go into raising families and preserving relationships. And it is never said in the Bible that a woman must be in her home 24/7. It seems clear to me that women can be entrepreneurial and have goals and grow but that our greatest calling is to care for our families and homes.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to give up their careers or to say that the work anyone else does outside the home is bad. I'm not trying to tell anyone that they need to get home and stay there. I guess I'm just voicing my thoughts that in a world where you may be looked down upon for staying home and treated as though you're doing nothing, I would say that you have a great calling and career right there at home. The work moms and wives do is incredibly important. You have this place to care for people and pour into their lives. It's a blessing to be a homekeeper and being a homemaker is a dying art. There is nothing shameful in the dream to be the manager of your home. It's a great thing. Throw yourself into it and make the most of it.

I read a C.S. Lewis quote once that said "The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career."  I like that. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The other night I was feeling really yucky. Tired, head-achey, a bit emotional...overall completely exhausted. I decided to skip Bible study with the group and just go to the beach for some quiet rest time and to catch the sunset. This is something I had been doing occasionally before life took a turn for the crazier and I enjoyed it so much. As it would happen, one of my roommates was going to the same beach with some friends to hang out and she invited me to come along. I don't know this roommate as well as the others and decided to go with her. And I'm so glad I did. By the end of the night I felt much better and so encouraged to have met new people and have been so welcomed by them.

So much has changed in the past year. New state...3 different family members...  It hardly seems like it's only been a year that I've lived here. In that time, three of the friends I've met up here have become engaged and old friends of mine have gotten married. I'm so happy for them, but I know the dynamics of our friendships are going to change. You can't always drop things and go off spontaneously when it's not just you anymore. Relationships require a lot of time and attention to stay healthy so people aren't always as available anymore. It's a good thing! But it's inspiring me to get out of what feels like a rut (how you can get into a rut after one year full of change is beyond me, but sometimes I feel that I am). To try new things. To meet new people. To change alongside everyone else.

I think getting out and meeting new people and doing something out of my routine was so good for me I will try to do it more often. I crave some sort of stability and community. I usually shy away from change. I'm kind of self-conscious about putting myself out there and meeting people. It's awkward, but usually the "pay-off" is well worth it so I think I should be more open to it. :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

I got caught in the rain

Happy Labor Day weekend! I found this weekend to be the perfect mixture of work, play, and rest! For once! I even slept in really late (for me) today.

I ran an errand before heading into the studio and on my way back to my car I got caught in a downpour.  I wasn't parked too far away from the entrance of the store but I still managed to get soaked while walking back to my car.

Perspective is everything, isn't it? I've really struggled with my emotions, self-esteem, and self-worth recently. I'm not sure where some of it is coming from. Certain things that I haven't really dealt with for years have suddenly re-surfaced and demanded to be acknowledged. Yuck.

And then today I got caught in a downpour while going back to my car. While getting really wet isn't my favorite thing to do, this particular event was one of those that made me feel so alive. For some reason this event helped to remind me that it doesn't matter what I look like or what I do. The same God that knows exactly how many drops of rain fell this afternoon loves me. It reminded me of when I was baptized.

I'm grateful for senses to take in this world. I'm grateful for a mind to process it too. I'm not trying to make being doused with rain out to be anything more than it is...but I also don't want to make life out to be anything less than it is. All of it is a miracle. Life, is a miracle. A chance to know the Creator. In looking back on this situation I want to live a life where I'm all in. I'll get soaked. I'll be really happy. I'll be really heartbroken. I'll be really uncomfortable. I'll be really blessed. I'll be really frightened.

It takes a lot of bravery to live life all in. But it's REALLY living. Running out there and having my senses shocked reminded me of all there is in life to take in. And since we are more than physical beings we can take in a lot more than just the physical experiences we come across. Just like I can feel rain hitting my skin I can feel emotions and experience love in all the beautiful and painful ways it makes itself known. I am so frightened of all these things. I'm frightened to know that I can feel hurt and pain keenly. I try to shield myself from that every way I can. But my desire is to be willing to go all in and be soaked in every situation I find myself in. It takes trust and faith that God has a purpose for all these things to refine me and grow me and that my present discomfort could be something sanctifying in the end.

It's so much easier said than done. And even harder to do with a good attitude.


Help me to remember to be still and to see
Help me to see all the beauty that exists in every day
Help me to marvel at the perfect placement of petals on flowers
Help me to delight in the laughter I hear from the people I love
Help me to be grateful for the small things that make up each day.
For every sight, sounds, smell, taste, feeling, breath...
Help me to live in an attitude of thankfulness
Let it inspire a heart of worship and devotion and gladness.

Relationship Status with Ceramics

We're iffy. Ceramics and I. We're in a better place than we were last year, but not as tight as we've been before. It's okay. We're working through things.

I realize how silly it is to make this interest in ceramics out to be a relationship, but I can't help it. Clay is almost an entity to me. It has such a personality as a material. I've blogged before about how the Bible talks about God being a potter and us being the clay and I can certainly see characteristics in clay that I find in myself and other humans. Stubbornness. Weakness and strength. It takes a lot of patience to work with clay and a lot of attention too. In order to see something through to completion you spend a lot of time with it. That may be one of the things we potters like about our work. Before you send something out into the world to live with someone else you spend time with have a connection to your work and you send a piece of yourself out to live with someone else.

I think that relational component that I loved about ceramics is part of what makes it so hard to do ceramics right now. Or rather, the lack of that relational component is what makes it hard to be there. In school, at first, I was making pottery because I was in a new place and really scared and homesick. I found a lot of comfort in being at the studio. My favorite time to be there was when it was quiet and no one could see me working. It was like a refuge for me. But after switching into it as a major and especially after China it almost became as much about the relationships I made in the studio as it was about the work I was making. The studio was still my space. I loved having my own studio space and knowing I could go there at any time. It was like a second home. I probably spent more time there than at my own home. And as a result I got to know my classmates really well. I was so blessed to be around them as they taught me so much. They taught me about clay, themselves, about me, and encouraged and challenged me in many ways. They also took care of me in many ways too. I can't count the number of times people made tea for me, or helped me lift heavy things or make and bag clay, or fire kilns.

I miss that. I work a lot of hours during the week and when I have time to go into the studio I don't want to be there. I don't want to spend hours by myself with no one to be around. I still enjoy making things with clay. I enjoy some of the quiet times I get to spend in the studio. But I'm realizing that I don't see myself sustaining a studio practice without community. So how do I accomplish that?

Well, when I know I'll tell you. If you come up with an idea, let me know!

On the bright side, I've had several people ask to buy work from me recently and have been invited to participate in some craft fairs too. So I really need to buckle down, lonely or not, and make work and see what happens.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grace: aka Martha

Is it just me or do we really give certain Bible characters a lot of flack for their weaknesses? As if we don't experience them too? Martha is one of those characters that I relate to a lot. She's a servant. She works hard. She sounds like she could be the oldest of her siblings...she came from a culture where woman ran households and took care of people. She came from a culture where there was no Meijer to go to when you ran out of bread or eggs. I'm not an expert on ancient (or even current) Jewish culture, but it seems to me that their culture had a lot of reverence and respect for rabbis and religious leaders. You honored your guests and treated them well.

So what else would a well-to-do woman do if she had a rabbi and his followers coming to her house? She would try to be hospitable. She would try to have a meal for them. She would want to show them honor in that way. I know from reading the gospels that Jesus attracted crowds wherever he went. It's possible that when he came to her home he might have brought a crowd with him. I highly doubt that Martha had tons of extra bread and food hanging around to feed all these people. She was probably overwhelmed because she had to prepare a lot of food to host these people and that's why she became angry.

So yeah, I identify with her. I express love by serving. I think she did too. But Jesus tells her that Mary, who chose to sit and listen to him, had chosen better. So I've been thinking about that. This past year has been very busy. I keep waiting for it to slow down but it hasn't. If anything it gets busier. I find myself agreeing to do more and more. And the things I'm doing aren't bad things. It could be serving lunch at church or watching someone's kids so they can get out. I get a lot of joy out of doing those things. But this past weekend it came to a head where I committed to doing too many things in one weekend and only barely was able to fulfill everything and I didn't get much sleep. I was so busy I couldn't live in the moment of what I was doing, I was already mentally on the next thing on my to-do list and wondering if I was going to make it to that thing or if I'd let someone down because I over-extended myself.

There seems to be so much to do and I feel so guilty for taking time off. I keep thinking things like, "you're never going to get anywhere if you don't start working now." "You're wasting your time." "You're flaky." "You're not ambitious." "Everyone thinks you're a failure...because you are a failure." "If you don't sign up for XYZ you're are selfish."

Usually when I first sign up for things it's out of this overflow of wanting to serve because, like I said, it's how I show love. To others and to God. But when I see this shift into obligation because I'm afraid of what others think I should be alerted to the fact that my motivation is no longer to serve God. It's to please others. Or maybe I do think God will be disappointed if I am not serving lunch or stacking chairs or doing something for someone else so they can take a break. Either way, I think both things are wrong. One is a misunderstanding of who God is, the other is a form of idolatry I think. I worry more about what others think than about sitting at God's feet and resting in Him and enjoying Him and learning from Him.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hao Jiu Bu Jian (Long time, no see)

Life happened and I neglected writing.

It wasn't an accident. I'm finding that sometimes you need a big break from things. Things that you're not obligated to to spend time on. It would seem that sometimes things that fill me up also empty me out and I need to step away. Also, as with any creative release, sometimes you need to go out and live in order to create content. So I'm back writing here again because I'm so full of words and emotions that sometimes can't be expressed out loud, but can be put into writing. I guess because I need this again

How to even catch up after so long? I think my last post was February 23rd of this year. In six months time I've moved twice. I've changed jobs. I became involved an extra Bible study in more of a leadership role that has been really challenging and taken up a large chunk of my time. I've become really busy and I'm not even sure where my time is going anymore. Sometimes it just seems like noise. Sometimes it seems like important work. Sometimes I feel quite fulfilled and blessed beyond measure. Other times I feel drained and like I'm just missing something.

I guess all those things exist together. I can acknowledge my blessings while acknowledging that I want even more from life. I can acknowledge that the mundane parts of our life are the foundation for the important things of life. While I want to have a genuine heart of gratitude for all the things I've been blessed with, and while I want to try and keep my interactions with people lighthearted and God-centered sometimes you just need to be honest and say what's in your heart of hearts.

And that is this: I want more. I don't want to feel like I'm filling my time just to be busy. Or that I'm doing unimportant things so others can do the important things. What is important anyway? I don't want to look back on my 20s with regrets of the things I should have done...whether important work or just taking time to enjoy the life I've been given.

I have a lot on my heart and mind and I feel like recording it again for a little while at least.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gathering together

I live in a town that is home to a small Christian college. Every Sunday night there is a chapel/church service for the students. I'm not a student, but I go anyway along with several other friends from Bible study. I really enjoy it. It's a bit of a unique experience for me because it is held in a small cathedral-like church and the service is rather traditional. My college services that I went to were very contemporary and modern...the culture here is different. And I appreciate the differences in experience very much.

Anyway. In addition to teaching there is also a time of singing and praying that is led by students mostly who sing and play instruments. Singing in church or gatherings has been kind of a confusing thing for me lately. Sometimes I feel that I'm being performed to instead of led in singing. Sometimes I feel that more emphasis is placed on the singing than on anything else. That's really not what this post is about, I just felt like getting it off my chest. But back to what this long winded post is really about...

The last couple of weeks the selection of songs we sang happened to be songs that really ministered to me lyric wise. And I have to be honest, the people who lead the singing and playing of the songs are very talented people. But no one was trying to be the one was upstaging was simply a chance to worship through song. The music is beautiful. In the midst of all my anxiety about corporate song worship these last few weeks have been opportunities to step back and revel in the chance to come together with others who love Christ and sing to him. I think of how He created music...and the chance to come together and sing to Him is's so right. I guess it struck me in a way that it hasn't ever before that this is what it was for to begin praise Him. So even more lovely than the sounds of the music is the chance to view people using it for its intended purpose: to sing praises and glory to God. In fact, it didn't matter whether I knew the song or even thought the song itself was beautiful...seeing the music be used the way it was always intended to be made it all seem like the most beautiful music I'd ever heard. This doesn't just happen to me while singing in a group or a church. And I'm grateful for that experience because worshiping through song is usually difficult for me because I don't know if it's meant more for my entertainment or more for God's praise. Tonight while listening to the the sounds of all our voices singing to Him, I thought about how in the Bible it says around the throne the angels will be saying, "holy, holy, holy is the Lord God" and thinking of the day that all those throughout history together with the angels will in unison sing and cry praises to God. It just was a glimpse this week...someday we will see that though.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It doesn't get much better than this...

Friends, this is where being a live-in-auntie gets fun(ner). Cause not much can top winding down by snuggling a little baby, can it?

On Making

I made a New Year resolution. It was to make at least one thing a week for the year of 2014. Small or big...the goal was just to be creative. I've already failed in a big way! I haven't done very much. I've started some stuff but haven't finished. And the burst of creative energy and enthusiasm that I was hoping for...yeah, still don't have it.

And I'm okay with that. Mostly. It's relieving to be able to not make things if I find it more stressful than fulfilling. It also makes me feel guilty too. In school I would just push through feelings of unmotivation and complete assignments. In school I also had a community to bounce ideas off of and share work with. I think that is part of it. Not having people to share art making with makes it lonely. And even though I've been here for about 7 months now, I'm still new and figuring things out. I am trying not to be lonely. I'm trying to get out there and do new things and meet new people.

However, even though I haven't made a lot of stuff personally, I did teach a two week ceramics class in January and am lined up to teach another next month. I really liked teaching! It's a little scary, but so fun to share something you care about with other people. Like I said, sharing art with a community is inspiring and helps me want to make. I want to teach more as opportunities present themselves. Also, I have lots of ideas planned out in my sketchbook and have pinned tons of ideas on Pinterest of things I would like to learn, try, and make. It's funny, teaching that class made me more inspired to make pots and other art. Probably because I felt a bit of that community again. :)

I suppose the real thing I'm trying to say right now is that I see myself in a place right now where it's hard to make art or craft. It's easy to feel like a failure. I finished art school and haven't done anything to speak of since then. But I am trying to think more long-term. I got hugely burnt out by the time I graduated. I've gone through a lot of changes...I am sure I have changed in some ways. I think I need this time to learn other things and have new experiences. And I'll count any little thing as an effort toward living a creative life. Even if it's just making and decorating cupcakes for my the ones pictured above. :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Happy 2014 and Winter

It's been a long time. A lot has happened. The new baby niece is here. I've been sick off and on for a long time now. I'm told it is the result of working with kids.

This has been the snowiest winter of my life. Hello, Michigan. I must say that it has not been the worst experience. I can't help but think looking at all the tons of snow we have that it's amazing that each snowflake is different.* And I tried ice skating for the second time in my life. It was as painful as I remember it being, but I'm feeling a bit stubborn and kind of want to figure it out.

With the new year I have some new goals. None of which I've started working toward. That's typical, right? I guess having the new baby come and being sick a lot has set me back. But each day is a new beginning and a chance to start again.

*I began to get skeptical of the idea that no two snowflakes are identical after all the snow we have been getting. I mean, with as much snow as is still out there on the ground and all the snow we get almost every day, how much possibility is there for variety? So I did a little resesarch, and while it can't be proven that nowhere, ever have there never been two identical snowflakes, it has been proven that it would be so hard to find identical ones that it's safe to say they're all different. Whoa! That's the kind of amazing God we serve. One who can create endless shapes for little frozen water that can make each person unique and's quite miraculous when you stop to think about it.