Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jewelry Around the World #2

Hello, it's that time again for another Jewelry Around the World.  This is a two fold story, so pay close attention!  You may have seen some beautiful rolled paper colored bead necklaces sold at boutiques or places like 10,000 villages.  If you don't recall seeing any, you may recognize them but not have realized they are made from paper!

When I was in N. Ireland this year, a couple came and spoke to our group.  They were presenting a bit of what their non profit organization does in Uganda.  They are called Threads of Blessing, and employ women who then make crafts to sell and help support their families.  "Threads" is in their title since the women initially started by making beautiful embroidered tapestries of depicting village life, with inspirations of what they see and do daily.  They then expanded to learning the paper bead technique. This couple brought a bunch of the necklaces with them, and I of course, had to purchase one!  

To think that these necklaces are created from the materials that they have makes me think we are all similar in how we create.  (Hint: here's the second fold of the story I mentioned was two-fold) When I was overseas, I brought a small jewelry making kit with me including my tools and some basics, but when it came time to create, I really had to get creative!  I ended up making some paper bead necklaces myself.  A very special note to this is that I became very good friends with a Ugandan girl who helped me make the beads.  If I am not near beads, I will make them!  I was familiar with the process, because as it turns out, my very first jewelry making kit was rolling paper beads.  Here's the finished product:

My wonderful grandparents thought well when buying my Christmas gift this year, and also bought me some paper beads!  They are some of the most beautiful colors I've seen in these beads so far. They come from Kenya.  The beads came in kit, so I get to be creative again, joy!, and put them together myself in a necklace.  Maybe I'll post a picture of that when it's finished.  You all deserve it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Success on a creative day.

I was inspired by a chat with a friend this week on pursuing our goals and setting aside times to just focus on creativity and not all the business associated with what we do.  I bought a few new baubles to turn into a pendant necklace with a fun bauble cluster.  I like doing these because it's somewhat organized chaos.  It's me saying, "I don't care if the metals match or if it's symmetrical.  I just want it to be eclectic and fun." Here is the finished product!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jewelry Around the World

Hello again friends and jewelry fans,

This is a start of a new post called "Jewelry Around the World."  I am so inspired by the jewelry in the places I've traveled, from the silver in Mexico to the Celtic designs in Ireland, that I thought it would be appropriate to do some research and show some neat things that are happening.  An idea I really love is how so many women in developing countries are learning the skills of jewelry making to make a living. 

This week's post is about a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya called the Jacaranda Workshop.  It employs mentally disabled members from the Jacaranda Special School and exports products. They are able to stay in business through their two main export businesses--Ten Thousand Villages, and The Body Shop, International. 

To visit the Jacaranda Workshop Website, click here:

To visit Ten Thousand Villages website, click here:

Here are some beautiful pics of the jewelry made at Jacaranda:

Brass bars and findings with ceramic beads
Lovely glazed ceramic beads knotted on ribbon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Ring

The new "song"ring.     
I have been working on my metalsmithing skills this last year and a half or so, and wanted to create a ring to symbolize always carrying my inner song.  This ring was probably ring #5 in my trial and error of designs, and I am very pleased with it.  There was a time in my life when I was going through a difficult time, and I realized I wasn't singing around the house--this means something is very wrong.  Through a healing year or so, God helped me become myself again and a better person than before.  That song has come back, through enjoying my crafts, creating music, doing things that I enjoy, and listening to God.  I wanted a visual reminder to never put myself in a situation where my song is compromised.  It is how I am in balance with my world, and it is when I am truly being who God made me to be. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gospel Earrings

Gospel Earrings in the fabrication process.

I am starting my first post jewelry-related and am very excited about it!  I thought it fitting to start with something close to my heart.  While playing violin with a Christian singer on the road for one year, I was selling some of my jewelry at her concerts.  I wanted to provide a faith themed piece of jewelry that was more unique than putting a cross pendant on something.  After some prayer, Gospel Earrings was birthed.  It took a few years of tweaking to get where they are now.  Hundreds of pairs of Gospel Earrings have been sold or given to women around the country and even the world.  I would love to see them reach areas of poverty where the message can be seen in the small pictures I designed.  They are a tool to encourage, mark your own commitment, and to share the good news with others.

Friday, August 26, 2011

End of DTS, European Travels, and HOME!

The Giant's Causeway.

Hello everyone again!  DTS is officially over now.  I want to share the highlights of what I've learned with you all. 

Some of you may remember during the beginning of these blogs I described a time when God was teaching me that He wants rest for me, to rest in Him, and that I don't have to be anxious about anything.  I sort of knew this in my head, but it really sunk in.  I had gotten to the point where I knew God was healing me and growing me in the area of not having anxiety, but I was struggling quite a bit for the first month or so in N. Ireland:  I don't know if it was God's will that I came here, maybe I just get anxious about making decisions, especially big ones, etc.  So not knowing what else to do I thought at this point medical help may be an avenue to try.  I went to the local doctor, and this never amounted to anything.  Thankfully that meant my health was too good to raise much concern from her.  However, it was maybe the next day that a switch turned on the inside. I recognized this as God, and the switch was Him stepping in to my situation and saying, "It's My turn now."  How I am SOOO greatful for this.

Another wonderful highlight was learning better how to hear God's voice during prayer.  Oftentimes when we sit and listen, the first thing that comes to our mind is Him speaking to us.  This takes discerning and we can all grow here.  We were taught to ask for pictures and words from Scripture.  This is very useful in praying for others.  Often a picture will come or a Scripture verse and it can be really what that person needed.  The neat thing about praying this way is that God can do something supernatural and help us target the real need, instead of us only praying what we know.  (Please do this too!)

I learned a big thing about the way God created me--He placed in me a significance relating to my home environment.  I learned this during a weekend of helping at a youth festival and sleeping in stables.  I go very stir crazy and my mind becomes really disorganized when I don't have "home base" to go back to.  I create in the home--from crafts to jewelry to cooking, and I have God time in my home.  It is such an essential part of me.  I've always been a homebody to some extent.  I've been feeling internally a new season coming representing home and building. 

Another highlight to me was becoming very good friends with a girl from Uganda.  She is absolutely amazing and I've learned so much about how life can be in her country.  Many areas are more current with technology than I would have realized--people have cell phones and internet.  I've also been able to hear her stories of hardships, how both her parents have passed away, and death is a very real part of her life.  She has a great sense of humor and we had lots of laughs together.  She asked me one time about weddings in our country and who pays for them, the bride's family or the groom's family?  She was very surprised to hear that the bride's family pays.  In her culture the groom offers a gift to the bride's family, like livestock, and pays for the wedding.  I love this!!  How did it get turned around?  He he.

On the last evening of DTS, the staff presented us with our graduation and dinner, called the "Love Feast."  It was a wonderful time together.  We each had picked a student's name from a hat and prayed for them that day and wrote what we heard from God and how they impacted the DTS.  The letter for me was very meaningful.  Snippets said, "God says your violin playing sends love like sound waves over the listeners, and that it does wonders in the unseen world; your laugh is infectious and I have a smile that brings happiness; You are a motivator and a hard worker behind the scenes, God sees my hard work and you are storing treasure in heaven; God is going to give you His plan one step at a time, and you don't have to worry about your transition time.  Your family will be important in the transition."  Cool, huh?? 

After the school finished, Michelle and I traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, and Lisbon.  We planned this trip with lots of prayer, and believe we knew the reasons why we were in each place.  We ended up in Amsterdam during the last two days of the Gay Pride Festival.  It so happens we were only staying two days.  The first night we did some prayer walks around the Red Light District.  Lots of people got prayed for whether they knew it or not!  We also enjoyed some great pancakes and a canal cruise.  Paris was next, just a 3 hour train ride south.  We learned how the whole subway system works, and visited the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Champs Elysees, and even a tour of a chocolate museum.  We ran into a friend of her's through her university while climbing up the steps in the Sacre Coeur, crazy!  We believed he was our meaningful connection in Paris.  We got to talk to him all about God and he expressed how he didn't know if there was a God and was wondering how there could only be one God with all the religions out there.  It was some great conversation and we pushed the aspect of how our God is so relational and wouldn't he want to know Him if He could love him so perfectly?  Lisbon was our favorite!  It was truly a couple days of real vacation.  We ate wonderful fish meals and ate some pastries, which are famous there (and every place we went I think, lol).  It was our first time being in hot weather all summer, and we pulled out the bathing suits and sandals.  Portugal is sort of a Spanish Mediterranean type of culture.  Cobblestones everywhere, antique tramways that run through all the small windy roads.  Our hostel was on the tram line, so we got to ride it.  We also went to the beaches, about a 30 minute train ride away, to Estoril and Cascais.  Cascais was so beautiful.  Another monument we visited there was St. Jorge's castle, and watched the sun go down over the city and the water.  We both would love to see more of Portugal another time. 

So now I am at home in Morrow, Ohio.  I am actually loving being near Cincinnati for this season.  The transition "depression" sort of sank in yesterday.  It is hard being in a new place and being somewhat introverted.  Nobody really knows you're here or knows what you have to offer.  The job hunting is somewhat daunting as well.  I just feel like I can't do all the random jobs like I had in high school, that I want to do something related to my gifts, so we'll see how it all goes.  If I could make enough money on my jewelry, that would be ideal, or even to work for a jeweler to learn some new things.  So, please pray for these things:
1. a job that is a good fit
2. a church home and young adult group
3. some good friends

Thank you everyone and I love you!  I will keep posting updates, but may switch to a new approach to blogs now that I'm doing life normally. 

Love and blessings.
  Most of us the night of graduation.

Michelle and I on the plane to Amsterdam.

Streets and canals of the city.
A beautiful park in Amsterdam.
My huge pancake!  It had camembert cheese, raspberry sauce and bacon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

January, February, March, March, March. . .

I am on outreach now in N. Ireland!  The above title is a joke about how they name the months here.  During the summer there are lots of marches or parades that are a public protest against members of the other denominations.  Again, this is another symbol of the division here between the Catholics and Protestants and how deep it goes.  Along with marches are bonfires, seriously huge bonfires that are built of pieces of fencing, wood scraps, old furniture, you name it.  The piles have already been started in preparation for the "big day" which is July 12.  Historically, during the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, July 12 marks the victory of  Protestant Dutch King William of Orange over the Catholic King James of England.  From this the Orange order was created, a protestant group that is really about politics and not much about God.  Even today, the "orangemen" gather at the Protestant church at Drumcree, county Armagh and march to the end of the road, symbolizing their freedom and that victory.  This field next to the church at Drumcree has had many deadly battles over the years, particularly during the marching season. 

Our outreach group had planned on going to four places in the south of Ireland during the next two weeks, but the doors have closed at each place, and also our Ugandan teammate was denied a visa, which she needs to only visit Ireland.  Interestingly enough, more doors have been opening in N. Ireland which had been closed prior to now.  Through prayer and circumstances we really feel led to stay in the north, which has more need, especially at this time of year.  We have been priveledged to work with the church in Drumcree, mentioned above, and they have a need for us to come back.  We will be there just around the 12th of July, just beside the legendary field of public riots.  The pastor there is quite revolutionary and has a heart of reconciliation and is a catalyst of forgiveness for his whole congregation.  He has challenged his people to have living relationships with Christ and has seen many come to faith, even just in the last month.  Traditionalism runs deep, and the problem lies in religion being tied to political victory, even the national claim of "For God and Ulster" (Ulster being the name of the collective N. Irish counties).  God's name has been used for personal and political gain.  So this pastor has had his work cut out for him! 

So far on our outreach we have painted a room in our base to be used in the future cafe they hope to start within a year.  It will be open on a daily basis to the public.  The next week we went to the church in Drumcree and made dinners for a 30+ Teenmania group who had come to do evangelism and practical work there for 2 weeks.  We loved the relationships started with the pastor, so that's what's inspired him and us to work together again coming up.  During that week, we baked goodies and stuck a Bible verse in each one, delivering them to the neighbors.  The next weekend, June 24-26,  Philip, Kimberly and I packed up and drove across the country to Knock, a town in the south and helped run the registration tables at a Catholic youth festival.  Among Catholics, it is said that an apparition of Mary and Joseph was seen at this town, so a big shrine was created there, and many Catholics come as a religious pilgrimage.  Even with some slightly differing beliefs, we believe as YWAM Ireland that the unity of Protestants and Catholics should involve practical work together, so we packed up and many were blessed to know we were there supporting them even though we weren't Catholic ourselves.  Our leader, Jonny Clark, has talked about moving in the "opposite spirit" throughout our lecture phase and we are applying that to our outreach events.  Just last week, we were in Belfast helping run a YWAM venue at a big youth Christian conference called Summer Madness.  It is a 5 day festival, and we drove up 3 days prior to help turn this big warehouse type building into a hangout space for the kids.  We had a team of 20-30 youth workers from a nearby town help run the venue.  They have run several events in the past, so we really felt like we were helping them and not vice versa!  The biggest hit was the 10-midnight slot that we were open, with a DJ who played music.  There were also some powerful dramas, some live music and some group games.  In the afternoons we had drama, fashion/jewelry, and music workshops.  I helped teach the fashion/jewelry workshop and it was quite a success. 

Emotionally I am so homesick, even though being here is very good.  I am loving the people on my team and will really miss them at the end.  Spiritually I am a little discouraged.  I would appreciate some prayer, really for victory in the areas I have been struggling with for the past couple years of doubts and fears related to my relationship with God.  Physically I am doing well, we have been working hard but taking days of at least once a week to catch up on rest.  Since I am on outreach with a family, we do have more structure with bedtime and mealtimes, which is nice. 

Love you all.  Here are some recent pictures!
The Knock Basilica

Church at Drumcree

Four of us serving dinner to the Teenmania group.

Our whole team visiting County Armagh, and the church St. Patrick worked for.

My birthday cake!

Summer Madness at the Yak Shak, our venue.

Some of my chalk artwork.

About 2/3 of one side of our venue, while setting up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Israel and Ireland

Greetings friends and family!  Thanks for continuing to make this blog worthwhile.  These past few weeks have been filled with plans, prayers, and different countries.

Let me fill you in on outreach.  Our main outreach, or as we call "outreach phase" will be starting June 13 and go until the end of July.  I will be on a team going around the whole island of Ireland!  I was excited to stay here, even though the other options were South Africa or Israel/Palestine because I wanted to see more of this island.  I've had a heart to go to Ireland for many years and I wanted to stay true to that and see what else God had for me here.  Another reason I felt good about staying here is that I had an opportunity to do a 1 week trip to Israel and Palestine just a couple weeks ago for our mid-term outreach.  I was on a small team with Jonny Clark, the YWAM Ireland leader and our base leader, Erin Miller--a staff member here who is leading the team later this summer back to Israel, Kevin--a friend of Jonny's from Belfast, and Kimberly--a fellow DTS student.  It's interesting going to the middle east from America (via Ireland for a few months anyway), and it's also interesting going there with a team mostly not from America.  We tended to tell people we were from Ireland, since it's pretty neutral in the whole middle east saga.   

The point of this mid-term outreach was to understand both sides of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, and to bring a spirit of reconciliation wherever we went.  Regardless of what we all believe about Israel, there are lots of things there to work on in the areas of justice, Jesus, and poverty.  We spent the first 4 days in Bethlehem, staying in a small apartment down the road from a former YWAM-er who led us around during that time-frame.  We got to visit several past YWAM-ers and it was exciting to hear that their DTS inspired them to start ministries in that area, and in Israel.  The last 2 days we spent in Nazareth, with a family of a current DTS student here.  It was so fun to meet them!

We ate lots of falafel and schawarma, hummous and Arabic salad.  I would be okay with eating these things every single day!  My new favorite drink is fresh squeezed lemonade with crushed mint leaves in it, a drink common to them as well.

The sights we saw are. . . ready for this?  The Church of the Nativity, where Christ was born; the old city of Bethlehem; the old city of Jerusalem--the Via Dolorosa, the Church at the site where Jesus was crucified; the Wailing Wall; Nazareth; the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes. 

As far as ministry, we got to talk and pray with several people in the West Bank who are in some oppressive circumstances, and we prayed at the Wailing Wall for Jesus to be Lord of Jerusalem again.  We also prayed with all the leaders and YWAMers we met.  God is doing great things there.

Here are some pictures!
Love you all.

 The view from the apartment we stayed at in Bethlehem.

The birthplace of Jesus inside the Church of the Nativity--wait, I thought He was born in a manger!

 Outside view of the Church of the Nativity.

Wall dividing Israel and Palestine.

Greek Orthodox section of a church--most of the Orthodox churches has beautiful ornate chandeliers.  

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
Us girls--me, Kimberly and Erin--at the Dead Sea.
Kimberly and I on top of a restaurant in Jerusalem.
Arabic Coffee--my new favorite thing ever. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

A new heart.

I came to Ireland to see God.  I remember talking with Him one night and saying, "Lord, more than anything else, I want to go to Ireland to see You."  I needed to see Him in a new way, to love Him again, and to trust Him again.  What I have found through my almost 8 weeks here so far is that He has been the gentle Shepherd guiding me to quiet waters.  I realized in week 3 that I didn't believe that God wanted rest for me.  Sure, there are times we are supposed to fight and to use our energy to seek God.  But through all that, God was telling me that He also wanted me to rest in Him.  I was talking to our speaker during the third week of lectures, an incredible man who looks like a surfer and finds himself in Iranian prisons, living in Afghanistan, on staff at YWAM Hawaii (which I like to refer to as "Ha-YWAM").  He was teaching on understanding the will of God.  God really hit all the nails on the head with topics that have been difficult for me.  Dan, the speaker, kept emphasizing that finding out the will of God for something specific in my life doesn't need to be something that causes stress or fear, and he helped us learn to relax about all of it.  While speaking to him, I told him of my concerns about making the decision to come to N. Ireland and not being sure if God had led me to do it, or if I did it of my own rebellious accord.  He asked me what I thought God thought, asked me if I was enjoying it, and then said to think of this time as a safety net.   I am committed to being here these 5 months and to use it to rest in God.  Something in me switched that week.  I had come to a point in my battle with fears and anxieties that I thought something needed to break, and God tangibly started turning things around in my heart one night.  No matter what decisions I make, He loves me and desires to show His love to me.   

Also through this time, I have looked back on the last two years, and now see it as God leading me through the desert.  I think in Ireland, He is seeing the perseverance that I've had and is now leading me out of the desert, to an oasis.  He is helping me to trust Him and I realize that He has never left me, even when I felt so hopeless and tormented by anxiety.  I know that He set a seal on me when I first believed-- "When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:13b-14).  He is also restoring to me the joy of salvation, helping me once again believe that I am a chosen daughter, and I have a right to His inheritance and that I will be with Him in heaven--"Restore to me the joy of your salvation" (Psalm 51:12a).  I also know that if God started something in me, He would never abandon it.  That is not His character, especially since I have been seeking Him.  We learned, also through Dan, that God is more committed to fulfilling His will in me than I am-- ". . .being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6).  Through the help of the Holy Spirit, even when I feel none of Him, He has helped me to set my face as flint, fixing my eyes on Jesus, not wavering and compromising my faith in Him-- "Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,  I will not be disgraced.  Therefore have I set my face like flint,  and I know I will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:7)

I know that time has helped me see what God is truly doing, that only He could have changed my perspective and how He is gracious to give me the eyes to see it.

Having some quiet time and working on my book for the next book report.

A walk along the Fairy Glen.

My small group having a girls' chocolate fountain night, while talking about weddings and babies all night, lol.  Lisa so graciously let us have it at their flat.
Easter feast!  Roast chicken, cooked snap peas, and sweet potato fries (or chips, as they say it here).  
Easter service at Hillsong Church in Newry.  5 people from the London church flew in to help!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just Pictures!

 The shipyard in Belfast from which the Titanic departed.  They claim there was nothing wrong with her when she left.  Also, a running Catholic/Protestant joke is that while the Protestants were designing the ship, the Catholics were designing the iceberg.

  Some pretty stained glass in the Queen's University Botanic Gardens, Belfast.

 The local protestant church in Rostrevor, The Church of Ireland.

  A neat fair trade gift shop, particularly jewelry here. 

  City Hall in Belfast.

    Lots of us at the coffee shop at City Church, Belfast.

 Loyalist murals painted in Belfast.  The term Loyalist means loyal to the British throne, therefore      protestant.

The Ross Monument in Rostrevor, commemorating a victory in the U.S. where the General Ross burned down the white house during the American Revolution.  Into to forgiveness and reconciliation for me!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I am in Ireland

Hello friends and family!  I am in Northern Ireland now and wanted to share some pictures.  We got to go to Downpatrick to observe St. Patrick's day by going to a church service at a small church that he supposedly helped start.  Then we went on a "pilgrimage" to a cathedral in the center of Downpatrick where there was another church service.  We had a nice catered lunch there of Irish stew (yum) and apple pie. 

The facility where I am staying is very nice.  I have three roommates, all from different countries than myself--Canada, Japan, and Uganda.  My Japanese roommate's family is doing fine and was not hit during their terrible earthquake.  I am greatly enjoying all the groups I have been put in.  I am on the cooking team, yay!  And I have a great small group and one-on-one leader.  We just finished our first week of lectures and the speaker's name was Bruce Clewett.  We will have a different speaker each week.  I really loved Bruce and what he had to share with us.  He is a YWAM leader in Austria, originally from the USA.  He spoke about surrender, and some great foundations.  The foundations were: 1.God is who He says He is.  2. God can do what He says He can do.  3. I am who God says I am. and 4. I can do what God says I can do.  Just sharing a wee bit of our lesson for you! 

I've learned lots of new idioms here--trousers for pants, pants means underpants, everything small is a wee bit, cheers for thanks, queue for standing in a line, half seven meaning seven thirty, etc. 

God is definitely helping me see how surrender and trusting Him don't have to be sorrowful or a negative experience.  I am struggling with some fears still regarding being here and would appreciate prayer.

I love you all.

The local grocery store in Rostrevor.

The park in Rostrevor that leads to a mountain and hiking trails.

The Cloughmore Stone on top of the mountain "Slieve Martin". 

The church in Downpatrick where our pilgrimage ended.

A view from the top of Slieve Martin.

Cooking duty.  Holly, a staff member on the left, and Michelle, my Canadian roommate.