31 January 2009

Ceilidh Fun!

Last night our church hosted a Ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee") just to have fun and as an opportunity to get unbelievers interacting with believers on a non-threatening level (with the hopes that they'll be more likely to attend church or Bible study one day). I have to say that it is probably the most fun I have had at a church function in a very long time! (But that's not because other things are so boring, just that this was that fun!)
Where do I begin? I thought I would wake up more sore that I did from all the exercise received from all the active dancing (somewhat similar to square dancing). While my arms hurt some, I decided my stomach muscles hurt the most from all of the laughing I did at myself (and Mark)!! It was good fun and I wish you could have all been there (and not just so you could laugh at this white girl dancing)! Unfortunately, we never managed to have anyone capture us dancing but if we can get some from other people (and they are decent) we may let you have a peek another day.
There was a great turn-out for the event. Here is the last dance of the night after a number of people had already gone home.
I, of course, enjoyed making fun pics with my camera while people were in motion.

Don't let Mark fool you, he really is great with kids! This little guy was enthralled with all the action so we kept an eye on him while is parents were dancing. Can you see that wee kilt and homemade thick wool "jumper" he has on?! Precious! Often times Ceilidh's are formal events (like for a wedding reception) and traditional Scottish dress, like the kilt, is very typical. Some, not all men, had them on. Mark still refuses to even try one on. I think he'd be a stud in one!

Above you can see a few of the formations used while dancing. Below you'll see me with one of the Scottish ladies who is super sweet, as well as my friend, Mercy, from Kenya who is doing her Master's here in Divinity. She is also a sweet friend I'm enjoying getting to know better each week.

Below is a video I found on You Tube to help you get a better feel for what actually took place since I find it very hard to describe. The music is sort of quiet, but the moves were ones we were doing. Listen for the yells/hollers in the background. This was quite common as well.

25 January 2009

An Era Ends (Part Two)

After reading Rachel's last post and contemplating her experiences over the past 8 years, I was reminded of the "wild ride" she's had as a result of our marriage. For some random reason, a song by Willie Nelson popped into my head - "Momma's, don't let your babies grew up to be cowboys." I then mused that maybe someone should write a song (we have a couple of friends in Raleigh who could probably do it) along the lines of "Momma's, don't let your babies marry graduate students!"

I do have a lot to thank Gerald and Kay (Rachel's parents) for, and certainly have even more to thank Rachel for! At any rate, prayerfully this "wild ride" will be over soon!

24 January 2009

An Era Ends

I've been wanting to write this all week but guess it's been a busy week again. I'm rather intrigued that virtually none of the blogs I read have mentioned Obama's inauguration. I thought most would. Granted many of the ones I keep up with are friends over here to whom it probably doesn't feel much has changed because of the lack of media influence in their lives. Maybe I'm wrong, though.

Before you think I'm going to delve into some great political essay, I'll stop you and instead say I'm going to take a look back at the Bush era...more accurately my life during the "W" era. I realized (ha...just wrote realised...I'm sure those of you living here will appreciate that!) a lot has gone on in 8 years. Being one who reflects on life like I do, on 20 January 2009 as Obama was being sworn in, I couldn't help but remember where I was when George W took office on 20 January 2001.

I was working at Progressive Insurance as a temp in one of their thousands of departments in their headquarters in Mayfield, OH. I don't really remember Bush coming into office, though. I had completed my college degree the previous June and was trying to figure out what I was going to do with life. My parents were just about to move to NC. Shortly after this I felt the Lord's leading to go to seminary, which also happened to be in NC.

So to keep this brief, here are the amusing stats. While Bush was in office I....

--lived in 2 states: Ohio and North Carolina
--attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for 2 semesters
--MET (and married) MY DEAR HUSBAND! Obviously the best part about the 8 year term!
--had (get this) 9 jobs! Wow. I knew it was a lot, but not that many!
--lived in 8 dorm rooms/apartments/flats/houses and had 10 addresses (thanks to using Mom/Dad's address as our permanent US address and they moved) (No wonder I feel like I've submitted so many change of address forms! That's over one a year.)
--lived in 2 countries
--attended two great churches who preach the Word of God and challenge us to grow in our faith.
--had multiple friends who have been in and out of my life but that's I've loved dearly and miss!

What about you? What happened during your life in those 8 years?

It makes me wonder what will happen in the 4 (or maybe 8) to come while Obama resides in the White House.

18 January 2009

Bits and Bobs

So it's been awhile since I've posted. Not much to report, really. Just trying to catch up with friends, get the house back in order after unpacking and being gone for so long, restock the cupboards/freezer (namely with my foods for quick meals), and enjoy being back in our own flat (not that we didn't enjoy being in our family's homes, but it's just not the same!).

Work's been a little unusual since I've been back because one co-worker has still been on holiday (hurray she's back tomorrow!) and another one took a job right before Christmas and she has yet to be replaced. I've been doing parts of these ladies' jobs and a little of my own. I'm quite shocked that the University seems to have it as their policy to never hire a replacement employee until the other one is long gone? WHAT?!! So much for training by the person who knows what the job is all about. So, needless to say, my other colleagues and I will continue sharing the work of our departed full-time office mate for another 4-6 weeks.

I haven't had the chance to take many photos since returning, though I do randomly photograph things here at home just because I like to see what fun I can have with what's around. However, yesterday I had fun taking maternity pics of a friend who agreed to be my model for a little while. Thanks, Kate! Here's one of my favorite shots from the day - isn't she cute? You can see two others if you click on the flickr photos to the right.
The past two Saturday's I've also started attending a 12 week lay (peer) counselor training course taught by a lady in our church. There are 9 of us being trained in some basic counseling techniques. The course is designed to prepare us to help volunteer staff a free (biblical) counseling center for women in the city. We are unsure when or if God will allow us to open a center, but we are excited about the possibilities of offering such a service to hurting women in the community. As far as I know there isn't really anything like this available here, and from what I've been told, mental health/counseling facilities through the NHS (National Health Service) is lacking. So this center potentially has the opportunity to show Christ's love in a practical, and hopefully, life-changing way.

And lastly, our pastor started a series today on Job -- the man who suffered greatly and ultimately still loved and trusted in God as his source of joy and comfort. Just hearing the intro to the book and the probing questions that will be dealt with both convicted me and made me excited to hear the rest of the series. I'd encourage you to download it to your iPod this week so you can take heart in the midst of daily trials. It will eventually be posted here but isn't there yet.

07 January 2009

A Taste of Reality....and Jetlag

Praise the Lord we are home safe and sound along with our 4 carry-ons and 3 checked bags!

Here's a summary of our trip and some thoughts since arriving back in Aberdeen:

--We said tearful (well, I was crying anyways!) good-byes to my parents.
--We left thick, miserable low clouds/rain/fog in Charlotte.
--We had a terribly bumpy flight from Charlotte to Philly. (Note to self, don't sit over wing.) Mark somehow slept through a good portion of those bumps. I'm still not sure how except he has a stomach of steel.
--We landed in thick, miserable low clouds/fog (but no ice!!) in Philly.
--We joyfully discovered our connecting flight was the gate next to the one we landed at!! How cool is that? God was so gracious to answer our connecting flight prayers! We were even one of the first on the plane.
--We complained about the lack of personal video screens (guess we've gotten spoiled with these in past flights) and the small size of our aircraft...only 3 seats on a side, with only one aisle, not the normal two! We didn't know they flew those little guys overseas. We honestly had a bigger one from Charlotte to Philly! But in the midst of our grumblings I said "wait, we prayed we'd make the flight and we more than made it!"
--We made it out of Philly easily after being de-iced.
--We again had much turbulence the first hour or so (Note to self again, don't sit over wing). I was praying fervently the whole flight wouldn't be like that mess because I didn't think I could take 6 hours and 45 minutes of bumpiness. I was soooo grateful that we finally managed to get above or beyond the bumps.
--I was reminded that I sleep little to none on airplanes.
--During such a no sleeping time I happened to look outside to see if I could see the stars. Not only did I see a gazillion bright stars, I saw the most amazing thing. I am assuming it was the moon setting (?) and it was huge and redish-orange, and right on the western horizon. It was more like a sunset (minus the brilliant colors all around it), but that had happened hours ago. I'm trying to track down on-line what it was because I was in awe. Due to a sleeping neighbor next to Mark I didn't ask to get the camera down from the overhead compartment so no photo to show you how amazing it was.
--We landed in London in thick, miserable low clouds/fog (do you see a theme? but no ice or snow, though there was a little snow on the ground).
--All our luggage arrived to Gatwick and we noted Gatwick needs more signs about immigration. We were among other international travelers looking very lost, confused and frustrated more than once.
--We had no problems transferring to Heathrow via a coach.
--We tried to get on an earlier Aberdeen flight to no avail. They said if we were off-shore workers we could have done it. Oh well. I prefer Mark as a student rather than off-shore oil worker. So instead we waited and napped in various locations throughout the airport.
--We finally headed to Aberdeen!

That's when reality hit:
--We're back in the beautiful land of Scotland where sunsets last for 45 minutes, and are so beautiful! Would you believe that though there were some clouds, it wasn't the oppressive stuff we'd seen in every other city. We could see the last of the "gloaming" from the sunset and it was exciting to be "home."
--Back driving on the left -- woo-hoo! I really like driving on the left.
--I realized that aside from one blood sugar issue and normal jetlag feelings, I have done great health wise through this long trip. Thanks for your prayers!
--We (or least I) am FREEEEHHHHHZZZZINGGG!!! We were greeted by our cold flat! I'm glad it has warmed up a little since arriving, but Mark insisted I drink some hot tea to warm up more since all my layering hasn't cut the chill yet. People, I was not made for this cold stuff!
--We have to heat our water as needed.
--I keep trying to switch light switches up with a flick of the finger, rather than push the toggle switch with my finger.
--Mark tried to drive the car to the store to pick up dinner for him and a few food staples but the car wasn't having it. We knew before we left that the parking brake was having issues, but didn't really have time to get it checked out before leaving. In the month it has been stationary it decided to permanently make the parking brake stay on, even though the release handle is down. Trouble. Guess what Mark will be doing tomorrow?
--My biggest realities:
1. I have to cook for 2 people again. While on vacation it's been nice to only think about what I'm going to eat and I've trusted that others will take care of Mark's food (Thanks to our mom's who greatly helped in that matter).
2. I have to work tomorrow (though not until the afternoon and just my usual 3.75 hours)! Here's to hoping for a good night's rest since the maybe 2-3 hours of naps throughout the past 24 hours won't cut it much longer.

With these many random thoughts I will leave you so I can head to my bed shortly. Thank you for letting me ramble while I attempt to stay awake :)

P.S. The photo isn't actually from tonight's sunset, but he one we had from Cayman to Charlotte.

06 January 2009

Would you Believe....

....MO and RO are on the GO again?

Probably you could believe it since we still have to make it back to Aberdeen. That day is almost here. It has been a fantastic 3 and a half week holiday! We feel refreshed and ready for what God has for us in 2009 as we continue to live in Scotland.

Tomorrow at 5:45pm we fly out of Charlotte, head for Philly, have a 1 hour and 10 minute layover (please pray for us and luggage to make it!), land in Gatwick at 9am UK time, transfer to Heathrow via coach, check in again, then around 2:30pm head toward our final airport - Aberdeen! It will no doubt be a long day and we would covet you prayers, especially that the short layover and ice/wintry mix that is being called for in Philly and maybe London/Aberdeen would not hinder all of our scheduled flights.

See you on the other side!

01 January 2009

Happy Birthdays & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hope everyone has been enjoying their first day of 2009. We decided to celebrate the Aberdeen New Year (at 7pm EST) so we could go to bed before 12:00am :)

Each New Year's Day brings other celebrations at our house since it is my Dad's birthday. While it is tough for anyone to have a birthday close to Christmas we strive to still make it a special day for him. Today was no exception. Mom made a great breakfast (well, I heard/smelled it was great since I couldn't actually eat it) and then Dad opened gifts. You can see my youngest brother (i.e. my parent's dog, Yafo) was close at hand to help when it was time to open gifts. Too bad I had the lens focused on Yafo rather than Dad (or both of them) -- oh well, that's what happens when you are learning!

The other birthday we have in our family is my Mom's Mom, my Grandma. Today she is 75! And while she is miles away in Missouri we still all enjoyed talking with her on the phone. Happy Birthday, Grandma! Thanks for your love, example of a godly woman, and prayers for all of us. We love you! (And thanks to my brother for the photo.)Other than those events today, I've been learning more about my camera, new lens, and photo program that came with the camera. Poor Yafo has been the target of much of my learning. As long as the flash doesn't go off he does a decent job of letting me photograph him. At this point he is more willing than the other members of my family. One of these days I hope to get some more cooperation from them!
This is his "I dare you to grab the bone" look. He loves to play tug-of-war. He is tons of fun and we'll miss him when we leave.
Edited: How could I forget the other big event of the day? Watching the Georgia Bulldogs (Mark's favorite team, of course) play (and win) The Capital One Bowl! How fun to be able to view one game this season. Such a treat!