good times in glasgow.

February 2, 2012

I mentor a lovely girl called Julia. We got to revisit the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow (it had been almost 6 years since I’d been there!). The chairs are designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (a famous Glasgow designer who designed the curtains in my lounge). Six years ago, the Willow Tea Rooms made a friend and I late for a flight to Ireland, which caused us to buy new tickets. It was worth it–

We ate pecan cheesecake, bought matching necklaces, ate fish and chips (at a different place), and then went to see a gig. Chasing Owls and Admiral Fallow (listen to them!).

Julia says, “Every time we get together, we eat the best food and find the best places. You should have a tagline, ‘Mentoring on steroids.'” (She mentors me far more than I mentor her anyway!).

In March, I get to meet a Polish friend’s parents in Poland. I also get to revisit Madrid to see a fellow missionary. So much to look forward to! I am very, very, very thankful for such a fun life and great friends in the gorgeous journeys I take.

morning prayer

February 2, 2012

When I struggle to open my hand,
should I not be thankful I can move my fingers?

Last year, I told you that I was reading the 30th chapter of every book of the Bible to celebrate my birthday. I have decided to do the same this year, and so far, Exodus 31 has been particularly encouraging.

(By the way, I haven’t made many resolutions this year. I want to learn to make jam, I want to do sit-ups everyday, and I want to stay positive. Reading the Bible definitely helps with staying positive).

Exodus 31 is well known among artists. God gave Bezalel “knowledge and all craftsmanship to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” God says that He has “filled him with the Spirit of God.”

I often get two negative thoughts about art. 1. I should simplify. Should I be writing a novel, playing guitar and writing songs, painting, and doing graphic design? 2. It is not spiritual to do art.

This passage showed me that Bezalel knew how to do A LOT of different things, but they were absolutely needed for building the temple. I am meant to use all of my artistic gifts–that God has given me–to build up God’s house.

In the second half of Exodus 31, God talks a lot about honouring the Sabbath. (I am also doing my best on this one!). I often find that I need to not spend all my free moments making stuff, but to just Be. If I take a day off, my talents also find rest, and I am therefore able to more fully use them the next time they’re needed.

May you know God’s goodness and rest this year and use every gift He’s given you to glorify Him!

decorating food

January 14, 2012

Since making the decision to renew my visa here this summer (2.5 more years in Edinburgh!), I have been settling a lot more, buying things to make my flat more homelike, and dreaming up new things I can make and eat.

I’ve been putting up more paintings and photographs in the flat. Below are some photos I put up in the kitchen. The second photo is some rose lemonade I bought so I can use the bottle to make my own vanilla extract.

During Christmas, I got really into hot chocolate, which really got me into cute-looking tins. I also went to visit friends in London and got inspired to make my own granola. I will make this for the rest of my life!

a few of my favourite things

December 12, 2011

I watched The Sound of Music this past week with my flatmate (for whom I am very thankful). I’m not sure I’ve ever watched the entire musical on film, but it made me feel so THANKFUL. You cannot watch Julie Andrews sing and think ungrateful thoughts.

I’ve also been having a lot of fun this holiday season, celebrating all the good things that have happened this past year. Before I make resolutions and decisions, I just want to thank God for all the good that’s come this year. Here are a very FEW of my favourite things:

1. Music. I played 3 gigs this year and recorded my music. I am so thankful I am able to express myself creatively and for a very supportive group of friends and open mics where I get to play every week should I take the opportunity.

2. Inspiring people. I have been so challenged and blessed by my friends’ lives and all that they are doing. I had the privilege of collaborating this year with some amazing people (in art and music). I am also currently reading Jackie Chan’s biography. What an inspiring story!

3. Coffee & my sunlamp. I had a bought with Seasonal Affective Disorder this year. If I didn’t have a sunlamp, I’d be a complete wreck. Thank God for artificial light, which gives energy when it’s not coming from the sun. I also just got a red tea that looks like Christmas and tastes amazing.

4. Finally, I am thankful for these socks I’m wearing. I feel like a strong bear when I wear them.



a reminder

November 17, 2011

Faith is not based on feeling. Anytime I believe this, I feel condemned. It would be exhausting to try to feel hopeful everyday.

Faith is based on fact, the truth of God’s Word. Here’s an amazing promise I am reminded of today:

I Thessalonians 5:23-4 “Now may of the God of peace sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

an observation

November 5, 2011

As I’m a bit sick tonight and can’t go out to see fireworks for Guy Fawkes, I watch Dry the River videos. Here’s one of my favourites:

My observation is this. Bass players virtually have nothing to do in videos. Is there/should there be such a thing as an acoustic bass? I think the bassist for this band plays it off really well. He’s a very happy guy. I saw them perform live last Halloween and he jumped through the entire set.


October 29, 2011

For those of you who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month challenges its participants to write 50,000 words from 1-30 November. I signed up two years ago ten days late and never came close to “winning” (I may have eeked out 3,000 words, which I cannot even find). Mathematically, to get 5o,000 words, you have to write about 1,667 per day. I just did a trial run and got 1,877 words in about 45 minutes. I can do this! And now I’ve told my blog, so it kind of makes me want to stay faithful.

Mind you, I have a lot on at the moment. I’m preparing for an exhibition at the end of the month. We finally set a date. I am designing a high school yearbook. I work for a church. I am recording my music. I am a very social person.

However, I have also gone to two writing events this week, both of which were very inspiring. One was a networking event where you met actual writers, publishers, aspiring writers, and students studying either writing or publishing. I used to be terrified of networking in university and went to some university posh dinners and networking events to see what they were like. I realise the secret to such events now is the ability to come with encouragement. Don’t go to these events hoping to receive, but go to listen. Listening works with most people I meet. If you want to have friends ask, “How are you?” and wait through the one-word answer and the ensuing silence for the honest answer. With many people, there is no awkward silence, but paragraphs. Everyone’s favourite topic, admitted or not, is his or herself.

Today, I went to an event at the Scottish National Poetry Library. I heard from two publishers of literary magazines. I bought an issue of Dark Horse, which has beautiful type setting and essays that go way over my head (i.e. challenge me!). The poems are of the sort where every word is carefully measured. All this for £5. It is a publication for Americans and Scots with headquarters in both nations. How could I not be interested in an idea that sits so carefully close to my current situation? The biggest takeaway from this lecture was to only submit to publications that you would want to publish your work and wait until things are ready because it’s too late to take it back once it’s out there. (Made me really think about recording my songs and if I was certain about the lyrics).

When I get photos back from my gig photographer, I’ll write a post about my gig. Maybe all this motivation to complete NaNoWriMo (so fun to say aloud) this year is a result of feeling like a rockstar the day after my gig just as much as I did last night.

my first performance

October 23, 2011

I have never played an entire set, even though I’ve been a semi-dedicated open mic attender over the past few years. This past Tuesday night, I got my chance, and I have another gig coming up this Friday. Here’s a video with highlights from Tuesday’s performance:

It was odd being on the other side of the microphone (I’ve supported a lot of musician friends over the years). It only made me want to encourage musicians more, buy more albums, and work harder on the musical stuff I’m learning. It was a very odd thing having people who I don’t have personal relationships with come because they saw I was the feature. I was also really surprised people like my singing (I love writing and playing guitar, but singing has often felt like a necessary evil).

I still don’t know what motivates people to perform. It is so nerve wracking! My guitar teacher said that every time he performs, he learns something. That’s how it is with everything you show up for in life, I guess. The thing is, you don’t get to pick what you learn. I learned from the sound man that my “guitaring is great,” but I “need to work on my vocals.” My volume gets higher when I hit higher notes, and I need to stabilise and even it out. I can hear it now when I listen to others (and I’m hoping soon I’ll get it with my own work).

The more guitar I learn, the more I can hear how tunes fit together and how soon, I’ll be able to do more, like barre chords, I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I’m also recording, playing music with my friend, and got to go to a songwriting workshop for 3 hours this past Saturday with a lovely lady called Jo Mango (look her up!). It’s all happening so quickly, but beautifully. I’m growing and that’s worth celebrating. In the context of all the open mics I’ve ever sung at, my first performance was fantastic, and I am proud of this video, even though in a few years (or maybe months), I’ll wonder what I was thinking.

deeper still

October 23, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about depth recently. Shallow water moves and ripples. The depths are still. And, as I know about a lot of the creative work I do, sometimes you have to sit still for hours.

This past weekend, I got to go to an arts conference here in Edinburgh. It was in every way refreshing, but I was staring at the depths of people’s work and raising my hand for about 4 artistic endeavours (music, writing, graphic design, painting). I’m not saying it’s not okay to have a lot of interests, but I do find that I can only really focus on one or two in any given season. I was also a few years ahead of some at the conference, which has gifted me with more time to explore. I don’t mind being multifaceted. However, I don’t want to be busy without a purpose. I don’t want to use an art form as a distraction from another I’m finding difficult, especially when I’m working for others and need to get a project done.

A few conversations came up this past weekend about why it is easier to create when we are sad. That being sad somehow feels deeper. One chat rested on the conclusion that you want to correct what’s causing sadness so you examine to find out. When you are happy, you aren’t wondering why you are. You simply want to enjoy it.

The Bible has a lot to say about the deep. Most of these verses appear in Job and Psalms, supporting the idea that sadness makes us sit still and consider.

The last thing I want to do when I feel “deep” is sit still and consider. I have overcome a lot of fear about creating based on negative emotions, but some still remains. Job, however, in the midst of his pain, exhorts his friends, He uncovers the deeps out of darkness and brings deep darkness to light. Job 12:22

God wants us to process our pain and find a way to use it. For me, that comes most often through artistic expression or encouraging someone else going through a similar situation. We go to Him. He makes sense of it. And, even when the inexplicable sadness returns as it always does, we’re less likely to be moved so quickly by it, sitting still as the shallow ripples pass over us.