May 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Again… It’s been a while since I spent time writing here. I’ve been busy. Very busy. Been around Germany, The Netherlands, Florence, back to The Netherlands, back to Germany and then all over Germany, then flew home. It’s been literally nonstop since early April. And I could also say it has been generally nonstop since Christmas. It’s honestly an amazing blessing to be able to afford a month away from Europe at this point to sort of detox my brain and soak in some love from my family after being overseas for so long.
But since being home, I have been faced with a lot of wants that I wish to reintegrate back into my lifestyle, no matter where I find myself living. I’ve had a fresh light shined on my passions that I worked so hard to feed before I had left for Germany the first time. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of these things to go and do what I do simply because of my location, but I’ve also let certain things slide through the cracks because of other external factors (like uncomfortably adjusting to living in a foreign country.) It helps me to write things out so the thoughts in my head become concrete and carry some weight.
Things I love that I haven’t been keeping up with as much as I had been:
- Eating clean and organic
- Cooking clean
- Rock climbing
This is a short list. But each of the bullet points encompass so much more. Each requires time, money, and accessibility.
Eating clean and organic is a huge priority of mine. But living with young roommates and in a small community where most gatherings are centered around food, I can’t always control what is being served. When I cook for myself, I cook clean a confident 99% of the time. But 50% of my meals are cooked by others. On one hand, I am really proud of myself for how much progress I have made towards becoming less religious about what I put in my body. I used to be controlled by meal times and religiously scrutinized nutrition labels. My family and friends would get a lecture from me on how bad the food they were eating was for them. I was probably very annoying. But I am less like that now and have learned to enjoy food again. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I should have to compromise health when dining in a community. I haven’t figured out the formula for that quite yet, but I’m hopeful.
Exercising is also a huge priority of mine. But much like my old lifestyle of cooking and eating clean, I let exercising and activity control me. But since I’ve given myself the time to re-prioritize my life, I am longing for that energy and toned body that I worked so hard to achieve a couple years ago. Making sure I have the time and energy to devote to regular exercise in my current living situation is no easy task. I don’t have access to a gym and I live directly above my landlords, so any kind of cardio is a risk. My prospective living situation in Amsterdam is even more limiting, as far as I can see at this moment. My spirits are a bit dampened because of this, but I have faith that I will have everything I need when I need it. Again, I haven’t figured out the formula for this one either. But I’m going to need to.
Rock climbing and hiking are my favorite ways to get active. But these things aren’t exactly accessible where I’m living. I have no car, and the nature isn’t super exciting where I live in Germany. There’s indoor walls, but those cost money. Priorities. That’s what it’s all about.
I don’t know. I’ve given myself one more year of this volunteering lifestyle, where I’m living off support of others. I don’t love it. I feel highly restricted and limited on the things I’m able to do because of my environment. I’m not a stereotypical missionary. I’m not living in the bush. I’m meant for mainstream professional society (to some extent).
I wonder if God will continue to ask me to continue to sacrifice during the time of this next direction He’s taking me in. After all, it’s just one year. Or I wonder if He will enable me to build and maintain a lifestyle I am proud to live long term. I believe the world He has made me for has room for all the things that I love to do. I suppose it’s about timing right now. But I do need to change my mindset. I want all these things, so I will need to fight for them to happen. Just a general rule for life I suppose, no matter what or where it is.
April 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
I learned that living in a guest house means a lot of things. One of the things I wasn’t expecting was to have a kitchen… but not be supplied dish soap, sponges, rags, basic cooking ingredients (oil, spices, salt). But I suppose it makes a lot of sense. Supplying all this stuff when the cost of accommodations is already incredibly cheap could pose some financial stress. I just never thought of it before.
So, lesson learned. Which left me having to buy dish soap, sponges, and olive oil. Angela gave me the drying rags to use. I chose not to buy other things that would satisfy my palette, like salt and vinegar, just because you can’t buy these things in small quantities. Small as in “finish within 2 weeks” quantities.
The point is, I’ve just been cooking with olive oil. No seasoning added to my cooked veggies. And no salad dressing for my salads. Yup, just eating raw or cooked unseasoned vegetables for now, with maybe just a hint of olive oil. And plenty of beautifully ripe fruit. And you know what? I’m actually really refreshed by this. I used to eat clean like this before coming over to Europe. I used to taste food for what it actuality tasted like, raw, not how it can be manipulated to taste.
But the stress of being in a foreign country slowly takes its toll, at least in the first six months. The more I added salt or seasoning to things, the more I got used to those tastes. Soon, I was adding more salt each time because I got used to saltiness. I remember when I couldn’t stand to eat milk chocolate because of how sweet it was. Now, I can eat a whole bar of German chocolate and only feel just a tad guilty instead of gagging or running 5 miles to work it off. My taste has gone pretty off-kilter.
Yes, my habits have evolved. I’ve become far less religious with how and what I eat. I’ve let a lot of unhealthy things slide, but I’m really not beating myself up about it. I’ve come a long way from scrutinizing labels, memorizing chemical properties and exercising compulsively. But now I’m really looking forward to eating totally clean for these next two weeks in Florence. Not totally by choice, but I’m fully going to embrace real, unadulterated flavors once again.
April 11, 2014 § 1 Comment
Oh no I’ve neglected this for about a month! I think all that means is that I’ve been too busy living to sit down and write about it. A ridiculously short recap to get me back up to date:
- Pioneering in Amsterdam
- Plein-air in Florence (current)
These two events have been the major things taking up my life at the moment. Florence just started the day before yesterday. Amsterdam happened before that. Pioneering is heavy business. But it’s fun when God’s leading it.
In Florence, my aim is to just seek His face everyday. This is a special retreat he set aside for me. I get to travel by myself to a beautiful city I’ve never been to. I’ve been given the best room in an amazing villa all to myself. And I get to spend the next two weeks painting and exploring. There’s some pioneering business involved too, but God’s going to take care of that. I’m not going to let it worry me. Because when it’s in His will, it’s in His hands. I’m just praying for my eyes and ears to be open to what He’s going to have me do here. But between that, I’m going to be sitting in the sun, sipping espresso.
March 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
So I’ve been thinking about quite a lot of things for the past 10 days. My heart has not stopped fluttering in anticipation of what’s next with Amsterdam and Florence. I’ve had ups and downs, but mostly ups. I was definitely stressed last week from everything that I needed to get sorted out in order for me to go, but it wasn’t a manic kind of stress. It was just knowledge that I had a ton on my to-do list, and that I would just need to bury my head and check off the tasks as they came and went.
The tasks came and went, and now here I am, looking at another six days before I go. I find myself wondering how I’m going to fill each of these days now that the emailing, chasing people down, and conversations are over and done.
I was reading for a good four hours this morning and then I was suddenly reminded of the reason I started blogging here. I wanted to record each day with the hopes of understanding my purpose for living through each day. So what was my purpose for living today?
It was for knowledge. I read a good chunk of Proverbs and I really began reading Healing the Wounded Spirit. My mind was being overloaded with such goodness coming from these texts. I had to put Healing down at one point and just laugh in awe because truth was just penetrating my spirit. I couldn’t handle reading anymore. I thought that my brain might short circuit if I kept trying to read.
This is a thick book. It’s intimidating. And if I feel this much intensity in my spirit after only 18 pages, I’m in for a long ride. But all of it is so good, and every sentence is so saturated with meaning that I have to read things at least two or three times over to fully understand it. I’m really into completing this challenge. I think it’s the perfect book to accompany this season of my life.
March 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
I challenged myself to draw something each day about 3 days ago. I succeeded in two of those days… Well one sitting and another short sitting. My goal is not to create a new drawing each day, but to put pen/pencil to paper for at least one sitting a day. It’s about exercising my drawing muscles and trying to keep myself trained until the next time I have proper instruction. It’s not spectacular but it’s progress, and I’m happy that I’ve committed so far. Crappy lighting=crappy photos, but hey it’s not about the glamour.
March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Two weeks have passed. Flown. I can hardly believe how fast my time in Amsterdam went. I originally thought I would have time to sit and reflect each day on what I learned, write all my thoughts down here and just be internal with it all. But I am so glad it wasn’t like that. Every day was different, every day was new, and I was so busy enjoying the city and my new friends that I didn’t even think twice about trying to document every moment. It seems a bit silly to say, but these last two weeks will remain an example to me on how to just live life. The point is I was too busy enjoying being where I was, doing what I was doing, to feel the need to compensate for anything by trying to immortalize a moment by writing it down or taking a photo of it.
But I did take a lot of pictures. The point is, I didn’t feel like I had to in order to validate my time. All of it was so intensely enjoyable that I was just busy living in it.
God wrote heaps of new things onto my heart. He showed me that I am an artist. As simple as that sounds, it was a huge step for me to accept that. Art was always just something that people told me I was good at. Art was something I enjoyed doing because I could see that the things I produced were generally praised by others. But I had never let myself believe that I was an artist. Because if I was an artist, then I would have the responsibilities of an artist. It’s a scary thing to suddenly feel accountable to something bigger than myself. And I didn’t fully understand what those responsibilities entailed.
A responsibility to God to become the best artist I could be and never hide what He is doing in and through me.
A responsibility to myself to lay down everything that distracts me from that goal.
And many more that I’m sure I’ll gain revelation of down the road.
But above all that, I realized that nothing is worth doing without Jesus piloting me, guiding me. Writing this down, it all seems so simple. But there is a huge difference between knowing it in my head and understanding it in my heart. Maybe I’m not an experienced enough writer to be able to transcribe my thoughts into words, but what I’m feeling is new, scary, exciting, hopeful, hungry… God give me grace. How does a single person feel all these things at once? I’m shocked nothing has physically exploded inside of me yet. Bursting out in tears is as close to exploding as I’ve come.
Willem said something hugely profound to me. He said, “Every step you take away from Jesus you have to retrace at some point.” Mind. Blown. I love and hate how the simplest statements mean the most. Why can’t I just take the steps Jesus wants me to? I feel like I am, but then I get to a certain point and I find myself off track again. I need to remember to just sit back, take my hands off the project in front of me and let Him do all the work. It’s so much easier that way, and the result is that much more beautiful.
Wow, just had a revelation. No wonder I said earlier that I couldn’t help but feel close to God while drawing using these methods used in the workshop. A relationship with Jesus is just like an art lesson. He gives me the paper and tells me to draw what’s in front of me. I begin, He steps away. He comes back and corrects the lines going the wrong angle, and gives me back the pencil. I go back to it, He steps away. He comes back, erases the unimportant bits, the mistakes, makes corrective marks, then hands me the pencil and tells me to keep going. I draw what I think looks right for a while. He comes back, erases the unimportant things, makes corrective marks, instructs me on how my next decisions can be better, hands me the pencil and the eraser, and steps away. This goes on and on. Even though the corrective process happens over and over, it looks different each time because the drawing is constantly progressing. At some point, I’ve learned how to use the pencil and eraser to make progress. Learning how to build up the shape with additive and subtractive methods. Learning how to make the decisions on what to emphasize and what to give less attention to. Look at that, making relations all over the place.
I loved being a student again. But this time, what I was learning felt real. It felt like it mattered. It didn’t feel like I was trying to grab air with my hands, like it did in university. God’s up to something big in Amsterdam with the arts. I believe the whole world is going to be shaken and realize it needs to head back to tradition, specifically with art.
I’m just so deeply thankful for everything I saw and everyone I met in Amsterdam. Jesus, take me back soon.
February 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
Man… Turns out writing here everyday isn’t as simple as I had hoped. I mean… It could be simple, but life gets in the way. But I am okay with that! Because SO much has happend in the last 10 days. I still can’t even believe it.
I am writing from my cozy guest room at De Poort, YWAM Amsterdam. Today is February 16. On January 30, I sent out my newsletter talking about this two-week portraiture workshop in Amsterdam that I wanted to attend from February 18-28. Eleven minutes after I sent out that update, I received all the money I needed to go to the workshop. Travel, housing, food and course fees were all covered. Guys, The Lord provides. Simple as that. On February 10, I sent in my application to the Russian Art Academy to attend their workshop and confirmed my stay with housing at De Poort. On February 11 I got my acceptance, booked my overnight hostel in Dresden, and bought my train ticket to Amsterdam. On February 14, I left Herrnhut and stayed the night in Dresden. On February 15, I took a train from Dresden to Berlin and from Berlin to Amsterdam.
My mom was the one who provided for me to be able to come here. I am so encouraged that she believes in me and wants the best for me and for me to grow to my potential as an artist. She has believed in my talents and invested in growing my skills since I was a little girl. She has pushed me to go further even when I had given up on myself. I owe to her all of my art education and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
And I just want to comment on finances. I hope I never lose sight of this truth: Provision is provision. It doesn’t matter who it comes from in order for it to be miraculous because all the wealth in this world belongs to The Lord. He just distributes it and trusts each of us with some of it. He gives more to some than others and hopes that those with more will see others’ needs and be the answer to those needs. I see many people disregard money provided by parents or relatives as some kind of substandard donation. But the truth is that your family doesn’t HAVE to give you anything. They give because they love, just like God. To demean a family member’s giving, no matter the amount, is demeaning God’s generosity. I love that I get to see my parents and family still providing for me financially for years well beyond the culturally accepted time frame. I know they don’t have any obligation to give and that anything they sacrifice on my behalf is such a special thing.
This trip has been one of many firsts. It was my first time travelling totally alone from one country to another. It was my first time booking a mitfahrgelegenheit alone and taking that ride alone. It was my first time staying in a hostel alone. It was my first time navigating through many train stations alone. Going into it all, I knew that this would be a pivotal experience for me. I had a lot of fear about traveling to break through. I was afraid and anxious, but I also knew that God had set up this entire venture for me in order for me to be able to have this new experience. And I am so thankful that he did.
The trip was not without it’s minor inconveniences. My mitfahrgelegenheit person dropped me off in Neustadt instead of HBF like it said online. Having been in Neustadt many times, I was comfortable taking the train to HBF. It’s only one stop away. But I have no idea how I messed that up. I double checked the track and time time but I still got on the train going the opposite direction. Annoyed and confused, I got off at Mitte and found the track back to HBF. Still confused with my sense of direction totally off, I missed the train because I thought it was heading in the wrong direction again. About three second after the train took off, I turned around and saw that ugly pink and white mosque behind me that the train passes on the right side and realized I had just missed the correct train. One more time, I found the correct track, oriented myself and waited for correct train. I got on and order was restored. I still don’t understand how I confused the first train. In my mind it all made sense, and it wasn’t like I had never been there before. Now I’m convinced that the enemy was trying to screw with me. But I’m in Amsterdam now, so guess who won.
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather for a few days now, but I am not going to let that get in the way of enjoying my time here. Willam, and Australian and a colleague of Nadia, is working to establish the Russian Academy of Art here in Amsterdam and is already becoming a buddy. We’ve got plans to tour the city a bit and visit an art store. I’ve also already sat down with a lot of different people at the base: DTS students, master’s class students and just a couple staff. It’s funny coming into a new base as a guest. I’ve already seen that the DTS students are very shy, as most of them have only been here at the base themselves for about a week. I ate dinner with a few of them and the conversation was very sparse and very observational. But this morning, I sat down at breakfast with some of the master’s class students, an older bunch of people, and got far more conversation out of them than with the DTS students. As small as a revelation as it is, it’s become real to me just this morning: the older generation has so much to offer in the light of wisdom and experience. You can just feel their confidence as they speak, and it’s contagious. I’m sure it looked kind of funny: me, a 23 year old American girl, asking to sit down next to a table full of ladies at least 35-55 years old. They looked surprised but were so much more friendly and showed way more interest than the DTS students. I’m not here to mess around and I love how “old” people can get to the point.
Just these two meals at this base have motivated me to be more engaging with the guests that visit our base in Herrnhut. These people have come from far places, have stories to share, have a purpose to their travels, and they shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable or weird in our little castle. We have so many people with the gift of hospitality at our base but I think we still need to step it up, especially as staff. Not to say I haven’t experienced hospitality here at De Poort. The base leaders have been more than welcoming and so generous. I am looking very forward to these next 13 days!