Today I was having some coffee at Redamte and FOUR songs came on the radio that I used to listen to constantly during high school. Okay, so I listened to a lot of music those days, so it’s not an unlikely thing, but they all happened to be songs that I listened to a lot (read: was obsessed with). One of those songs was Coldplay’s Fix You. I immediately had a flashback to the summer I turned 17. I was driving in my car with someone whom I cared very much for. I played them the song and something in me was hoping they would understand the lyrics the way I did.

Reader, I’m sure you’ve heard this song. It’s not anything special. But at 17, the song captivated me and I recognized a deep longing to be fixed, to be home, and I recognized a void I was trying to fill with the wrong pieces.

These are some of the lines that still gave me goosebumps, even today:

when you love someone, but it goes to waste

when you lose something you can’t replace

when you feel so tired but you can’t sleep

stuck in reverse

if you never try you’ll never know just what you’re worth

lights will guide you home

I will try to fix you

Okay, so maybe you’ve never been a 17 year old girl and you can’t relate to getting goosebumps over Coldplay lyrics. I admit, I’m a little embarassed that I’m blogging about this. Have some relief though, because I’m with you–if this post was just about relating to Coldplay lyrics, it would be pretty shallow.

It’s about transformation, longing and fulfilling.

At 17, there I was, listening to this song and recognizing that what I needed (whatever THAT was…???) was missing. And I was hoping anyone would take the time to fix me, to give me what I needed. But I didn’t even know what I needed. I just wanted to be whole, to be fixed. Of course, no person on earth can provide that kind of healing. 17 year old me realized that and it darkened the gloominess I felt.

That was five years ago, folks. And now I’m perfect and everything has been fixed–NOPE. That’s not how this post is going. Here I am, still broken (in fact, a full on mess some days) and still longing. Most days I feel hopeful about the future, the image of me glorified in spirit and whole, the way my Creator intended. But that day is far off it seems. Many days I feel the weight of how hard it is to have hope in an invisible Savior. How can I be healed by someone who I cannot even see in the flesh?

If you don’t know, I am a woman who loves the Lord, who has faith that Jesus is the savior and lover of my soul. Jesus is God, my friend and father in one. If you don’t know Jesus, you should meet him. He is God in man, who saved the world through his death. We are unworthy of God’s acceptance and love, but Jesus (perfect and without sin) took on the wrath of God that we deserved. It was a gift, grace. Since his death, man and God are reconciled–God promises not to see our sin, not to have anger towards us.

I BELIEVE this, fully. That I am fixed. That Jesus fulfills my longings (ALL of them: acceptance, love, to be known, happiness). In saying that I believe this, you also have to know that I too have doubt.

I live my life to know God and for others to know God. The thought of him being absent or not existing  terrifies me, devastates me, leaves me with the greatest emptiness I’ve ever felt. Every once in awhile, I entertain this possibility that God doesn’t exist at all and I find myself spiraling into a temporary depression. Temporary…

I have to tell you, that I cannot make myself believe that God doesn’t exist. I’ve tried. But the evidence for his existence is GREATER than the fact that I can’t see his flesh or hear his voice audibly.

Because five years ago, I was a totally different being. And the hand of God swept down and lifted me from the struggles I was stuck in. Folks, when I look back on the 5 years, I cannot deny God’s presence in my life. I CANNOT NOT see him.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you everything he’s done because there aren’t enough pages on the internet for that. But here are a few highlights:

He healed severe depression.

He healed addiction.

He taught me Chinese. (Have you SEEN Chinese? It looks like this: 真的吗?我能说中文!非常好!)

He made me succeed as an artist.

And perhaps the most unbelievable: He showed me that I have value during I time when I felt like the scum of the earth.

If you don’t understand how unbelievable and great these things are, we should talk in person. Because I cannot think about these things without getting goosebumps, without praise because the unthinkable has happened, and I have been changed and reconciled to God. I am pleasing and whole in his sight! It is unbelievable AND true.

If you’re longing to be fixed, I promise that there is transformation to be had. Please don’t read this as a Christian’s attempt to “convert” a non-believer, but an incredibly heart-felt confession that I have been changed, brought from the depths of the pit to the heights of a new life with my Creator. I’ve been fixed as I have so longed for since I’ve realized my incompleteness.

That’s all. :)



I’ve found that a good painter most likely has more than paint and brushes in the tool box. The past few years a variety of tools have made their way into my collection and prove themselves useful*. The most recent (and most fun!) tool I’ve been experimenting with is the orbital sander. Today I spent close to an hour taking off several layers of paint from a medium-sized acrylic painting on wood. The results (shown here!) are layers of paint pushing against another battling for the foreground. This process is helping me figure out color combinations and order of application for my next paintings. I’m going to experiment with some smaller paintings on wood using colors patterns I found successful in areas of this painting, and then sand them down after drying.

*And if you are wondering, some of my other favorite tools include:

very basic photoshop skills, medium and heavy gel mediums, black and colored ink, palette knives, tiny jars, relief-printmaking skills, masking tape, sharpies, gel pens, artist books or books on anything that remotely inspires me creatively (way better resources than the internet. also, i was recently inspired by a book on quilting–anything happens!), chalk, hairspray to keep the chalk in place, gesso, long handled medium and large sized brushes and a good quality liner brush ( during the rare moment when I paint something small)

i’m hoping to add a staple gun to my tool bag after Christmas (thanks, mom!). Also, you will never find me thanking pencils for anything, hate them.

Do you know what it’s like to long for? Every once in a while, something sparks the recollection of a memory. I close my eyes and I’m in the back seat of a taxi with city lights and skyscrapers shining as I pass them. It’s such a painful feeling, to long for. Tonight I came across something I wrote my last night in China. Here it is, written months ago and unedited and never intended for another to read:


Tonight is my last night in Tianjin. For three months, I’ve learned how to live in China, how to interact with people of a different tongue, and how to value another culture. As I sit here and reflect, I enjoy the brisk air from the open window, the softness of my silk robe, the clear view of the skyline, and the silence of this room. I am fond of this country. I am happy with my time here. I will miss the hidden places I’ve found and loved. All the things I’ve barely soaked in with my eyes, the sights, sounds even some smells. For each awful moment, a dozen more wonderful ones brightened me. As defeated as I felt during a moment of cultural differences creating misunderstanding and miscommunication, each time of successful interaction gave me such a high that I couldn’t shake the smile from my face. In China, I am light. Not only do I have the light of knowing my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, but the light of the Holy Spirit that lives within me. This light drives me to be kind, to be a friend to all. I have worked hard to be Christlike so the Chinese can know there has been one good and pure One in this world.


It’s been three months. I want to remember this: I can live here. I do love the Chinese, I do love this place. It may take months, but one can adjust to a new culture to a point where the living is harmonious. I say to others that I may never be back, who knows. But this is the truth, I MUST come back here. I MUST bring the Gospel again, and again, and again. This was only one summer, one summer of God teaching me, breaking me, giving me freedom, and so forth. The Lord has clearly showed me more than anything else how much he loves his people. I must come back.

I’m a terrible blogger, and I’m kind of sorry about that. I really have trouble with organizing my thoughts, so it is really hard to write a cohesive post! And that is the truth!

Anyway, what can I tell you?

I’m back in Wisconsin and life is moving forward faster than I want it to. It scares me–my summer was huge and life changing and quickly fading. I can’t even imagine how much I suck at speaking Chinese after a month being home!! But, while these things are hard, new things are wonderful and sweet.

I’ve finally got this idea that I don’t need to franticly rush through the phases of my life, but that I can enjoy the now and see where it takes me. Anxiety isn’t necessary and neither is obsessive planning. With that being said, I am considering my options for next year and graduate school is feeling like the next stop on this journey! I’ll keep you posted.

But as for THIS day, I’m just going to say that I feel loved and that I’m loving. ;-)

God’s goodness and faithfulness is what this moment is about. I’m a blind person who has been cast out into the world and the Father has opened his arms to embrace me. Daily he gives me what I need. Sometimes that need is rest and sometimes it’s healing. He always gives me joy, often in the most unexpected places.

This summer is also the summer of the Gospels, for me. And there is a tiny little thing mentioned in them that I am loving: that Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray. I love that Jesus goes out into the wilderness to be with his Father. I’ve started asking God, where’s my mountain, what desolate place can I meet you at alone? Tianjin’s a pretty big city, but I haven’t found any mountains. I’m like Jesus, I like the outdoors, minus the smog and skyscrapers.

So, you wouldn’t believe how happy a person can be when seeing mountains and blue skies after a month and a half of big city living. Joy was leaking out of my ears. (Okay, gross use of imagery, sorry)

The grasslands in inner Mongolia was the most beautiful sight I’ve seen in China. Not because it IS the most beautiful place, but I think it was just what I needed. Endless blue skies, fresh air scented with wild thyme, that sound of wind rustling through bushes… perfect recipe for solitude and rest.

With a small group of other foreigners, I soaked up the grasslands with new activities, like collecting dried cow poop for the fire and watching an animal sacrifice at a festival. After I scrubbed my hands, I hiked out into the field to find my desolate place and search for my Father. He meets me there, and of course I don’t even know where to begin. I just give him all I am.

I think that’s one of my favorite parts about being in China–he calls me to meet him in unexpected places. To read about Jesus on a bus ride from Hohhot to Tianjin. To praise him in a dark coffee shop down the street. To tell him about the friend I just met while I’m walking around campus. To meet him in a park, by the river, on the train… through emails, conversations in broken Chinese, and daily assignments. Through praying for friends, long bike rides, and new experiences I find him.

Okay, friends. I am getting along in China just fine, now that the first few weeks are over. Tianjin really is a charming city! It is even more charming now that I can finally order food for myself and bargain in Chinese ;)

Here are a few snapshots of what I’m dealing with over here. I’m also going to teach you some lingo.

可爱!Ké aì!  Cute!

Is anything cuter than love notes wrapped around a tree? Maybe high heeled shoes with blinged out bows? Chinese babies with big eyes and chunky faces? Dainty glasses of tea and coffee? Korean men? (hah, I’m serious!)

麻烦!Má fan! Troublesome!

So hotel living has its perks, like room service, free slippers, nice view… but it is definitely troublesome. This is my laundry drying mechanism made out of two belts tied together and stacked chairs by the open windows. Other troublesome things in China include bad water, frequent upset stomach, fear of saying incorrect tones, and unpredictable traffic.

好吃!Hâo chí! Delicious!


Chinese food is still one of my favorites. The best part is that the most delicious stuff is also the cheapest. I’m talking street food. You have to be a little adventurous and set your anxieties aside. You won’t regret it. This being said, I am dying for a good plate of spaghetti or a taco. Oh well.

Quaint! (Sorry, I don’t know a Chinese word for this yet.)

This category includes endless Chinese to English translations, couples in matching clothing, pea-flavored ice cream, and the baby-sized plastic lawn chair seating outside small restaurants.


That’s all for now. :)

These are my short sweet reminders. Maybe they can help you. If not, they’re certainly things I need to remember regularly:

1. Sometimes I can’t help but feel defeated because I don’t fit in, but I’m not OF the world, and I’m not going to be accepted by the world. Don’t not fit in grudgingly, but joyfully don’t fit in. Be a walking testimony of salvation.

2. He lives in me. The power of He who lives within me is stronger than all who are around me.

3. Think of myself less. Instead of internalizing every moment (which just hurts!), realize where I am, in the heart of a dead city. Nearly every person here is on their way to the slaughter. Don’t waste a moment.

4. The testing of my faith produces steadfastness. I feel a real struggle, around me and inside me, but this is the truth and i will hold on to it.





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