Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I am among angels.

Every word they say... how do they know it's exactly what I need to hear? What I didn't know I needed to hear?

Out of nowhere, everything I wanted this trip to be to me just fell right in my lap. I feel swept into flight, spiritually and artistically.

Today is a good day.

Oh, and Grace Decker, you rock! Thank you for the new letter, dandelion, and your awesomeness! It made my day twice as good. You will get another letter from me in return :).


The sky right before sunset yesterday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

“It is better to suffer than to except a gift from uncaring hands.”

- Henri Nouwen

A group of us started up times of prayer three times throughout the day, for a time to know each other better, share, give up requests, and praise. Most of us have been struggling in different ways, so personally, it will be a huge help to me.

Today, I learned that I'm not just here to grow, heal, and learn. I'm here to contribute to others' growths, healing, and learning. It was sort of selfish of me to not realize that before. I guess I didn't see how I could be of use in someone else's story, but this is one of the many things I am learning.

Our director read an excerpt from the book "Out of Solitude" for a brief devotional today (where the quote above came from). It was on the topic of caring, and not in any way less than the true meaning of the word. It was about sincere caring and how it is showed. Often times, when we see that someone is hurting, our tendency is to withdraw. Maybe we don't think we can really help, but that is not the mindset we should have. Everybody comes from different backgrounds and pasts, and we all have those certain people in our lives that are struggling with certain things. What should we do when we know someone is hurting? What do we do when someone is going through something that we've never experienced and cannot relate? Is simply patting them on the back and hoping they feel better nearly enough? Maybe all that we need to do is be there. "I don't understand what you're going through, and I don't know what to say to help, but know that I am here with you."

Maybe you've experienced a time when you sought help, and somebody offered a "cure" for the pain. Only, something was lacking. There are all these "cures" out there. "This is what you do when you're feeling this way" or "This is why this happened, so next time, do this." Whatever it is, there is something lacking. Care.We all need somebody, and someone that will stick around no matter what. We need someone who truly cares, and shows it. We need to be that someone for somebody else. I've fallen short in the past, and I'm learning from it. More and more I am understanding what true and sincere relationships are, and that makes me stronger as a person. And no matter where I am in life, if I'm a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a wife, a teacher, the president... no other title matters more than my title as a child of God. I found a cure for my greatest problem, and that makes life worth living.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate now knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." - Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Three days well-spent in beautiful Venice... just like they say it is.

This is the first thing I saw when I stepped out of the train station. The beautiful canal. I almost cried.

This is the view from the guesthouse where two of my friends and I stayed.

I have sooo many pictures of the canals and gondolas, and chose this one to stand in for all of them. Pretty much, instead of streets and cars, they had canals boats.

Okay, I added another canal photo.

Here is the view from the Rialto Bridge.

A gondola driver. Classic.

View from the Rialto Bridge at night.

And again.

I liked this photo that I took at a small piazza in Venice at night. There were so many tourists, and the city was constantly lively. We had perfect weather the whole weekend, and enjoyed every bit of it.

I have to ask myself every day how I got here. Lately, I've been figuring out why I am. Through the past week, things that I thought long buried had resurfaced, and I've sought out certain people for guidance and comfort. I know why I'm here, and I feel like something is hatching. There's not much that I can publicize here, but something amazing is happening... as much as it hurts in the present. It all makes sense when I consider the words of my Father in 2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 5, and other verses. Not everything makes sense now, and some things never will. But I will be better. I'm going to come out of this whole.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday and Easter


On Friday, I participated in Orvieto's Procession of the Stations of the Cross. We all held candles and followed the candlelit roads. There was a sea of people, and every now and then we stopped for a song. We followed a Priest, cardinals, and a cross that people held at the front of the procession. It was a really great experience, especially with other members of the program.

So. An Easter in Italy. I never dreamt that it would happen to me.

Well, "Buona Pasqua!" from the students...


and from the program kids and friends... :)


I hope to post more photos soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

“When you start working, everybody is in your studio—the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas—all are there. But as soon as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.”

- Philip Guston

I know I try not to have any expectations for anything for a number of reasons. One, it protects me from disappointment, and two, it makes for better surprises. However, I did hope for certain things to come out of this semester abroad. So far, it has exceeded my expectations, and is overflowing with more than I can hold... things that I need, and didn't even know I needed.

My director, Matt Doll, plays a huge part in the artist's aspect of why I am here. For almost every single class, he has some passage from a book to share with us, something of his own experience, and encouragement that comes from a true passion for art and it's purpose for Christians. He has challenged me a lot already, and helped me see in ways I've never seen. I feed off of his drive for this, and I am overly satisfied with how much progress has been made in the three weeks of drawing class we've had. Next week is the last week, and I can't believe it. I don't feel overwhelmed in any way, but so excited about what I can do and what I thought I couldn't do. Right now, I feel like I can take on anything.

When Matt read that quote above to the class today, I felt the floor drop. I don't think I could ever fully describe what it's like for me to be in front of a blank page. Sometimes it's unsettling. Sometimes it's beckoning to be filled. But as soon as I put a mark down, I enter into a new world. Everything is there, and it's up to me in that time to compartmentalize it all. Something is to be said about every stroke I make. The things that appear and disappear--even underly--play into what is created. How is it meeting my needs? How is it changing me? When everything else is gone, where does it put me?

A huge part of why I chose to study abroad was to find out who I am. Yeah, I know... cliche. But I mean in it all seriousness. I need this getaway. I need healing. I've found that to be a recurring theme of the students here. My only prayer is that we all find it--abundantly.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Very, very early this morning, I woke up feeling like my bed was teetering on top of a rock. It was sort of like the feeling of sleeping on a boat, only it wasn't as calming, and it made my vision skip a little. I was between asleep and awake, and I looked over to see if my roommate was reacting to anything strange, but she was still sound asleep. I convinced myself I was dreaming, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

When I woke up, I discovered that there had been an earthquake northeast of Rome that was 6.3 on the Richter scale and did some pretty bad damage in some places. I just heard that, as of now, 92 people were killed.

I never experienced an earthquake in my life. It's not like a train riding by your house. It felt like the entire building was being lifted and shifted. My director was concerned about this convent, built in 1200, and said it wouldn't take much to disturb it. Some girls down the hall are convinced that a crack in their wall wasn't there last night. Who knows... thank God it wasn't worse.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


These are pictures from last weekend, a trip I went on with my drawing class for intense sightseeing, drawing, and observing what Rome, Italy had to offer us. We saw the Sistine Chapel, the School of Athens paintings by Raphael, lots of churches, the Moses sculpture, many amazing fountain sculptures, and tons more. The first day (Friday) was the busiest day. We walked an incredible amount and saw an overload of amazing things.

This is one of the apartments we stayed in, in the middle of Rome. We had two apartments for the girls, and one for the guys, and this is the guy's apartment where we all met up for dinner on Saturday night. This is just a glimpse, but this place was GORGEOUS and looked like it belonged to some wealthy family. Just down the street and around a corner or two stood the Pantheon, and the best gelateria around.

On Saturday night, a group of us decided to walk to Pantheon after dinner and gelato. The Pantheon always amazes me, and was absolutely stunning at night in the soft spotlights. I sat at the fountain infront of it and let it carry me away. There were plenty of people out sitting at nearby outdoor restaurants, taking pictures, and enjoying the sight as well.

This is the group sitting in a piazza surrounded by 8 intersecting streets. We did a panorama drawing by standing in a circle facing each other, turning around, taking three steps, and sitting. We had to talk to the person next to us to see from what point we would start our own drawing and what point we would stop. It was sooo cool sitting there drawing as tourists walked by taking our pictures. I was feeding off of the energy of the students around to me to complete my drawing. Just knowing that I was contributing to something bigger made it so much better.

This is part of a sculpture we stopped at that was part of a fountain. I liked the irony.

This is our director Matt Doll. Here he is giving us some insight from his journal. He usually has some great things to challenge us with or encourage us with. He made the trip so much more sufficient with information and things we could apply to ourselves and our own work. He and his family are key to this program, and so great.
Matt Doll took us to a great spot where we could overlook all of Rome. Here is a group of us while we relaxed and took a break from the intense traveling. I was going to say we were "giving our eyes a rest" but that is hardly the right phrase. In Rome, your eyes never get a rest! That is being said in the best way possible.

Here is a sculpture we walked by on the way to a sight that gave us the best view of St. Peters.

This is the stairwell on the way to the Sistine Chapel.

"When the water in Rome runs dry, Rome is dead." There are fountains everywhere, always flowing. These are a few of the students refreshing themselves with some water on our travels.

St. Peter's... none of these pictures really do any justice to what it all looks like.

I liked this little alley-way that was strung with ornaments. I have soo many other pictures, but sadly it takes forever to load them and forever to choose what few I should post.

Since that trip, I've been TRYING to update this blog, trying to write back to emails, trying to do homework, and trying to squeeze in everything I need to do in the time I have. It's been great, don't get me wrong. The weather is getting warmer and Italy is getting even more beautiful. I find myself walking around in the mornings, occasionally speaking to the people of the community in Italian, and finding some nice place to sit in the grass under the sun and listen to music. I have been walking a lot, trying new flavors of gelato, getting closer to my friends here, and soaking up the experience. I try to write in my little journal at least once a day, and every day I have something else to say about how much I'm growing and learning. God is good.

This morning, I sang in the Italian mass that I've been going to, and took part in their Palm Sunday traditions. We started outside with olive tree branches in the bright sun, with tons of people around. The priest said a few words, as well as other church members, and then we had a procession into the church singing a song. The church was decorated with these white flowers on tall, green, windy vines. It was beautiful. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time.

Everything is beautiful.