Thursday, February 28, 2008

Asia's splendor

I remember, as a first grader, my best friend at school was Thai, her name was Oeay (nickname) or Warunya was her real name. I remember being at her house all the time eating noodles and rice and playing by the wonderful reminders that they had up of their Thai home. I remember eating at a Thai resturant her cousin's parents owned (previously it was called Wild known as Wild Ginger). I remember being facinated by her culture, even at a young age.

As I grew up I gained a love for the American attempt as Asian food. Many of my friends and I would make going out for Chinese a wonderful treat on new years eve, or any other important event, like needing to discuss a boy problem, or having a sleep over. It was a source of comfort to me.

Then again, as I began to register for my wedding, Aaron and I decided that we wanted to have an "Asian" theme in our house as much as possible. We wanted some of the simplicity that it brings. We almost got a table that was low to the floor so that we could sit on pillows and eat (but we didn't think it would be condusive to having many people over).

And now I find myself thinking about Asia. Thinking about how through my life, there have been little things that have connected me with the culture and made me extremely curious about it. I find myself thinking of the beauty, the uniqueness, the sweet faces that I have seen. And so the other day I looked up pictures of many different countries in Asia. And more and more I am just in awe of each culture and each type of beauty that there are in so many different places in the world. I have seen many different parts of Europe. I have been to almost all 50 states in America. And now I find myself pondering about all the different Asian cultures. Like Europe or the states, I know that each one has it's own beauty and own splendor. So here are some pictures I found that just facinate me and give me a little bit of wanderlust!

Thank you google images for increasing my desire to travel all over the world!

How I would love to stand next to these deep strong roots!

I have seen cathedrals and castles in it would be wonderful to see temples and palaces in Asia.

I remember even in Czech seeing prayer flags. What an interesting and intriguing thing.

Can I just tell you how many movies I have seen filmed in Japan that just make me want to hop on a plane instantly?!! This is why Aaron and I want a Japanese garden.

WOW. Need I say more?

I wouldn't mind being here right now!

Monday, February 25, 2008


I love to paint. I am not the best at it, but I enjoy it. It is freedom to me because I process things in such a visual way. When I paint, I can get my ideas out. I can free them from the jail of my mind and let them fly on the wings of canvas and paint brushes. Once they are out of my mind they can run free and be what they are without the bounds of my rational trying to fit them neatly into place. Once they are out and on a page or a canvas, I cannot turn them into anything other than what they are. I cannot reason them away or make them more subtle or even make them more wild and fun. That is what painting is for me. It is reality unbound...and even more than that it is usually God's reality unbound, because it is almost always things that he shows me or tells me that I feel I must write out or paint. In the picture above are two paintings, the one on the left I painted after I felt like God was showing me a picture of what surrender and submission look like in my life. The one on the right was a picture of a vision that a very amazing woman, Joyce, had for me a few weeks ago when we were discussing my Spiritual gifts and my passions.

Here is the reality of the painting on the Right. I have been taking a sabatical from Youth Ministry. I have been doing it now for 8 years straight and along with that I married an amazing man who happens to be a youth pastor. I was a Junior High Director for three of those eight years, and Intern for a year and a half, and a volunteer for the rest. On top of that, I also spend two and a half years studying Youth and Family ministries for two and a half years while I was the Director. I have done a great deal with the youth and I adore the youth. But I felt strongly that I was needing to take a break. The Senior girls that I have been working very closely with will leave the youth group this year, and I felt that I needed to evaluate where God wanted me next.

That is where the Sabatical came in. And I just so happened to take it during a course our church was doing on finding your Spiritual Gifts, Your personal ministry style, and your passions. I have done many things like this before, and in fact taken this course before, but this time I was in a bit of a different place. I figured out my Gifts, which were no surprise to me. They are 1. Creative Communication, 2. Shepherding, 3. Mercy, 4. Encouragement, and 5. Words of Wisdom. The problem came when I was trying to define my passions. That also happened to be the day that I sat next to Joyce and ended up getting this beautiful picture from her that I truly believe that God was giving her for me. She explained it like this...

I see you walking through this field, and it is a shepherds field, except it is in beautiful, bright colors. It is pink and orange and blue and just bright bright colors. And you are walking through the field with the wind in your hair and you are free. And as you are walking you sprinkle some encouragement here and some wisdom there and some mercy over there and as you do this, these flowers grow. And they are not just all daisies. Their are all these different colored flowers and different types of flowers and whatever you pour into grows and blooms. And you are not growing like vegetables, you are growing these strong tall flowers that bloom as you pour into them. And you pour and pour and then you move on to the next thing and pour into those seeds and they bloom too.

When I was able to capture this and paint it, there was a freedom. Truly there was an unbelievable since of freedom when Joyce gave me the vision, but beyond that, once I was able to paint it and capture it for what it was, I felt this freedom and this truth of where God wanted me to walk, and how he wanted me to live.

I still don't know what my next step is. I have been really praying through my Sabatical, and I have many different options, all of them seem amazing. But I trust that God will show me and I will continue to walk in the field that he has given me and pour and pour and pour and through me God will make some amazing things bloom!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My life savers

I believe that so many people go through life without ever really truly opening up to people and letting themselves be vulnerable. I on the other hand, almost have the opposite problem where I usually throw my heart out there even in situations it is not safe to do so. And in recent years I have learn the health of boundaries and vulnerablity and try really hard to maintain an appropraite balance.I remember my amazing councelor, Chris, pointed out to me that even Jesus did this with his friends and people he interacted with. What a refreshing thing for me to realize. Jesus had what Chris labeled a "Circle of influence". If you look at the example of Christ's life, he had God in the center. Then John was the next circle out. Then Peter and James. Following them were the 12 disciples. Then the women and the 70 other disciples. Next came the crowds of people that he interacted with. And last were the Pharasees. Chris pointed out that Jesus apprpriately interacted with all of these groups of people, but he also had strong boundaries with them as well, being the least vulnearable with the Pharasees and the most vulnerable with John.

All that to say, that I am so thankful for the women who I have close in my circle that I can be vulnerable with and that I can trust. These women are truly live savers for me and I am so grateful for them.

JAMI: I have known this girl since I was in diapers. She has been with me through thick and thin. And while we may not always have a lot of time to connect, we are always there for each other. We have gone from playing together in each other's back yards, to standing with each other in weddings, and now she has her own child that one day will play with mine and the cycle will continue! I love this girl and she will always and forever be the friend I have known the longest because one day we will be 90 years old and remembering when we were 5...or not remembering because we lost our memory, and it will be awesome! I love her. By the way, this is a picture of her being sneaky after her and Paul agreed to be our "get away car" at our wedding so no one would to anything to my car. And what does it look like she is doing? Yep, she got my car.

Allison: Al and I have lived together in college and she currently lives with Aaron and I in my house. She will eternally be my "roommate" even when she doesn't live with me. We have had our ups and downs but no matter what we have stuck it out and just grow stronger. She is like family, she sees me at my best and at my worst. She has taken care of me when I had a broken ankle and has let Aaron and I take care of her when she has needed some cheering up. Also, she is ALWAYS a person I know will be praying for me and it is the most reassuring thing ever!

My mom: This woman is amazing. I can't say more than that. She has been my sounding board, my outlet, my comfort, my friend, my mom, my councelor, my cheerleader, my nurse, and so much more. I am so grateful for her. And while we sometimes drive each other nuts (and others who are around) because we are so stubborn, I would do anything for her and she knows that.

Naomi: What a breath of fresh air. Naomi walked in to my life at the absolute perfect time. Truly there was something very divine in us meeting. She brings out the artist in me in a way that is so freeing! We can talk about everything and I know that she sees me for who I am. She is my MTV-watching, scrabble-playing, blog-reading, BFF and I am so glad that she is in my life.

Laura Lily: This was another divine meeting. Long story short, I had to rearrange my college orientation because of medical reasons and ended up going to the last one of the summer. I didn't know anyone and felt super awkward there. However, at this lame dance that was put on I met this awesome girl Laura who ended up being one of my absolute best friends and truly a soul mate if you will. This girl has spoken truth into my life unlike any other, she has helped me to laugh so hard, she has been a great companion on roadtrips, she is the best co-dancer in a car that I know. She helped me to love coffee and "The hampster dance" song. Also, we have our special tradition of painting our toenails whenever we need to laugh, cry, or anything in between.

Beth: I have known Bethy since the second grade. We went to the same elementry school, middle school, and college. She was my roommate for a year and a half during which we had some wicked dance parties and have lots of memories of talking to each other on our bunk beds. I have seen her say goodbye to her dad and hello to her new son. I listened to her talk in middle school about this boy name "Chad" who is now her husband. We have only got in one fight that I can remember during which I called her an earing and she called me a bracelet...which at the time was the meanest we could be to each other. Later we apologized and moved on.

Becca: Becca and I met when we were both working with students up in Greeley and ended up leading "Platoon 4:20" for quite a few years. Her husband was my boss at one point, and they both were life savers for me in college. Becca and I were always late to meet each other, so we would plan things 15 min. early so we would both be there on time. We both love art and good coffee and things that are genuine. Becca and I have a hard time connecting but we leave each other fun messages and know that no matter what, we are still always there for one another.

Jada: This is my older sister. I lived with her and her family for two years, during which I became family. I am "Auntie Cheryl" to her children, I saw her daughter Jamison when she was only a couple min. old. I know both her and Jon's families and I know many of their friends. They were the ones who answered the door on my first date with my now husband and they were both in my wedding. I tell her that I know her better than she knows herself...and I am too stubborn to believe differently!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Project 2-Kerith, Amanda, Arie, Alyssa, and I

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

For Seminary I did a project based on this verse and photography. I had students take pictures and I take pictures of things that we thought portrayed this verse. We tried so show pictures of things that were lovely, noble, right, etc. I framed them and put them around the underground. Then the next Sunday I had created a powerpoint out of the pictures as well, and had small waterfalls running in the background, had fresh smelling candles lit, corners of the room divided up with water that had lemon and lime in it, grapes at the little tables, and refreshing music playing. After the powerpoint I asked students to go sit and reflect on this verse and some how creatively express it themselves. I had some students write a poem. Some students wrote lists of things that they could think of that were in these categories and things that they think about that are the antithisis of this verse. Some students colored or drew out what they thought of this verse. It was such a fun project. Here are some of the ones I took, and I will put up the ones some of the students took later (they aren't on this computer I am working on).







Project 1-Amanda

So I love to let other people use my camera. To me my camera is probably the way I feel most connected with God. Therefore, I love to let others use it hopeing that it will somehow do something similar for the other users as well. I know that this may be silly, but if I experiance God in some great way, then I want to be able to share that with others. Sometimes I will take my students out and go shoot, other times I will let them do it on their own so that I don't influence what they see and what they take pictures of.

My camera was a gift to me from my husband for our wedding, so I feel that the best thing to do is to share it as well. Granted, I am rather attached to my camera and if anything happened I would be tremendously sad, but I really feel that if God has blessed me with different material things in life, I must share them and somehow let them be a ministry, otherwise I am holding on to them too tightly. That is my own personal conviction, I don't go around judging others, I just know for me that I have a tendency to love the material. So, instead, I know I must share the material!

And the truth is, out of the sharing of my material possessions have come some AMAZING pictures! So here are pictures from one of the first projects that I did with a student. And I must say, Bravo Amanda Gossack, Bravo!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Garden Party...

So on my bucket list I put some of the things that I really want to be able to do before I die. One of them has been on my mind a great deal lately. A garden party. I want to throw a lovely Itallian Evening garden party. I looked on line to see if I could find pictures of the type of garden party that I wanted, and I did so to no avail. HOWEVER, I still found some cool pictures. Here they are.

This one would be fun, but I want mine in the evening.

This picture had to be thrown in there because it is a garden party in the Czech Republic and I think that is just awesome! Seriously, I love this country more and more every day.

This is the picture that is closest to what I want, but I don't want the tent and I don't want it that big. But I love the lighting.

And this is where I think I have gotten my romantic idea from. I adore Jack Vettriano's art. To me it is so interesting. And while I don't want my garden party to be formal, I love the idea of the lights.

So here is what I think I want at my garden party:

-Candles at the tables
-White lights strung around garden
-A full herb garden to pick stuff from
-Shoes optional
-Soft Itallian music
-Good wine
-Fun table cloths
-Good Itallian food
-Lavender Lemonade (or something as refreshing)
-Lots of laughter
-Warm summer evening!

We will see if it happens!