26 February 2009

"I don't want any more character..."

I found myself saying this to God this week.

But let me go back a couple weeks. I'm in a Bible study with some other ladies in the area whose husbands are doing a similar degree as Mark. We meet every fortnight (why don't we use this word in America? It's a good word meaning "two weeks") to discuss a chapter from our study book. We've been studying the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. I've really enjoyed it thus far.

I was, however, dreading the two weeks we'd be thinking about, praying about and focusing on patience. Ah, yes, that dreaded word. Those of you who have ever studied patience or prayed for it know that God usually brings trials into your life so you can more fully grasp the concept of patience, thus growing in that area of your life. So you can see why I was a bit hesitant to go into the study.

Whenever your car breaks down a week into a study on patience let it be known you should be afraid. Last Wednesday when we met I told the ladies that at that point I was doing okay with no car and dealing with the minor hassles we had encountered up until that point. I thought God was encouraging me to see that I have learned some patience in handling circumstances while living here. As soon as it broke down I prepared myself for it being in the shop for a good week at least. I had experience enough to know it would just take longer than I'd like or thought it should.

So all was smooth sailing until this Monday of this week, then it all began to unravel. I won't go into the gruesome details of dealing with car mechanics/part suppliers, having our hands tied, somewhat bribing the first mechanic, having our car fixed for about 3 hours, having our car broken - again, wasting money, finding a new mechanic, oh, and in general, WAITING!

I will say, though, that one phrase from the study that stuck out at me at the time was "convenience doesn't produce character." It's similar to what my dad often said to me in my high school/college years (and probably even occasionally now) when going through a hard time, "It'll build character." You know, "what doesn't break you will make you stronger." Having a car is certainly convenient. Not necessary in Aberdeen, but a blessing to be sure. I had been doing okay without having my convenience (aka car), but on Monday when we realized it was going to be another many days without it, I found myself saying several times to God "I don't want any more character." LOL. Apparently I have much still to learn in the patience department, and definitely still lacking in character. How exciting that with all this character building, I'll look more like Christ when it's over!

"....but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." (Romans 5:3-5)

22 February 2009

Photo Booth Fun - At Home!

I've been wanting to get an updated photo of us for awhile but haven't done it yet. This is in part so you can see my bangs, but also so you can see Mark's gotee! Just when you think you know a man, he decides he's going to do something wild and crazy like grow facial hair. I actually like it a lot more than I thought I might.

So today's surprisingly few extra minutes before we had to leave for church afforded an opportunity to snap a few photos to show you the new MO and RO. I felt like we were in a photo booth at the mall, except I had the remote control and knew when the picture would snap. Poor Mark was such a trooper through it all, especially for one who dislikes having his picture taken! (Sorry about the yucky coloring....)

21 February 2009

The Return of the Snowdrop!

It has been refreshing to see the lengthening days again! Mark and I were talking tonight at dinner that it will only be another 4-5 weeks (I think) until we'll spring forward, then we'll really see some long days again! This week we've even had a couple days of spring-like weather. And I was completely overjoyed to see my first snowdrops and crocuses straining their necks from the earth towards the fresh air!!! I have been waiting for this event for nearly a year. Last year I photographed the snowdrops several times and they were some of my favorites of the whole year that I took. Looking back at last year's post, I was astonished to see it was the exact same day that I first wrote about them last year!

I had a few moments today before my counselor training course, and the park where I went last year wasn't too far out of my way, so I decided to stop by for about 30 minutes. It was refreshing to be outside photographing again! I just really adore these dainty flowers. And while I know that it will be May sometime before the trees really start to get leaves and the days really stay warmer (if they ever really do stay warm here!), but it's still been rejuvenating to have small bits of hope that longer, warmer, prettier days are coming.

15 February 2009

A Word About Us

Since it's been awhile since we posted, thought I'd give you a quick update of life here.

The snow is finally melting. It stuck around for a good 10 days before even really melting. It's so nice to see the sidewalks again (though there are still some icy patches to watch out for). Locals tell us this is the longest cold spell with snow they've had in at least a decade. This old NE Ohio girl was having major flashbacks to growing up with inches/feet of snow for days on end. I used to like it then. I realized this bout of snow I've gotten over that like/love. One day of snow, maybe a few more a Christmas time, is more than enough.

I got my hair cut last week. I now have a little more "fringe" (bangs) which are growing on me. I also found out during that visit that I have "virgin hair." LOL. They were amazed I'd never had my hair colored or permed. I think the one hairstylist was ready to start experimenting on it right then.

For Valentine's Day I surprised Mark by booking dinner reservations (on Thursday evening) at a quaint Italian restaurant near our church that Mark's been wanting to visit. It always smells amazing when we walk past it a couple times a week. It was super adorable inside and we were both thankful that no food smells bothered me. I chose not to eat this time around not knowing what I could find to eat at an Italian place that specializes in, well, Italian and seafood (my two biggest allergies). But there may be hope if we go again, and Mark is hoping there will be an "again."

We are glad to have our internet connection re-established after 3 full days without it. AOL was having major issues that we are glad are now resolved :)

Yesterday I had an experience I hope not to repeat. I was driving along one of our fairly main thoroughfares in our part of town when one minute I had gears into which to shift and the next minute I did not. Talk about panic! I never knew a gear shift could go round in circles without the clutch being pressed in. Not good. Needless to say, I blocked traffic for several minutes while frantically deciding what to do and also received a great many angry stares. Because cars were already parked on both sides of the road, the road was two lanes, and I was blocking one entirely, leaving only the option of passing in the other lane. I even had an ambulance stop and angrily demand why I was there. I wanted to say "You know, I thought I'd randomly stop in the middle of traffic, with my hazards on, during a busy Saturday afternoon and see what would happen." I held my tongue and just told them the situation. At least their lights/sirens weren't on so I don't think it was an emergency. I eventually got out of the car (thinking I'd be safer if the car got hit, after calling Mark on the cell phone, of course) and pleaded with a young 20-something year old to push the car the 15 feet or so to a clear spot on the side of the road while I steered. He looked doubtful, but I was pretty insistent it would be easy and very helpful of him, so he obliged me. Mark had been able to phone a tow truck who arrived maybe 20 or 30 minutes later and hopefully our car will be in working condition again by tomorrow or Tuesday. While the entire situation was un-nerving, I thought of many reasons how I could see God's grace and hand in the situation. It's always comforting to see that!

Mark's been busy writing more words than his goals for each week so I'm quite proud and he's quite exhausted!

My spare time has often been filled with learning photography (whether that be taking photos, reading books, watching You Tube videos, or editing), which is in part my lack of much writing on here. I'm finding the more I learn the more I want to learn. It's such a great hobby with endless possibilities, which is one thing I love about it. I can't wait for warmer weather (which it seems may be on its way this week, even if temporarily) to do more shooting outside.

So that's our past 10 days in a nutshell. Hopefully it won't be another 10 before you hear from us again!

06 February 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We've been seeing our fair share of snow this week. It has snowed the past 3 days, a couple inches each day. You think we'd be buried but it keeps melting after each snow so there isn't as much as you might think actually lying on the ground at present.

My favorite part of the week has been hearing my co-workers (and radio announcers) making fun on Londoners the way Northerners make fun of Southerners for shutting down cities and stopping life for a couple inches of snow. Very humorous.

I'm actually impressed that Aberdonians can handle the few inches each year with much more ease and determination (not to stop life) than North Carolinians can with the same amount of snow and about the same (or less) equipment. I had one co-worker spend 2.5 hours trying to get to work yesterday. That's impressive!
My biggest complaint about the snow here is not the roads (though ours doesn't get "gritted" [or salted, or plowed for that matter] most roads aren't too bad). The trouble is with the "pavements" (sidewalks). They are bumpy sheets of ice. The snow turns to slush, which in turn gets slippery, which freezes, which is more slippery creating very dangerous walking situations. In a city where pedestrians are as plentiful as Super Bowl watchers (okay, maybe not that many!) you'd think the city would sweep, plow, salt, or "grit" the sidewalks. Before Mark left for work today he was saying how he dreaded the 15 minute walk on ice. I told him he should walk in the street because it would be safer.
(The above little guy was "freezing his tail off" in our neighbor's garden!)

All in all, the snow has been beautiful, albeit somewhat messy. Still better than Tuesday when it was "peeing down rain" (my new favorite Scottish phrase that my colleague uses frequently!) and very dark with heavy clouds. At least the snow is brighter (except for below when it was really coming down in huge, thick flakes)!

01 February 2009

7 Years Ago Today....

......my life changed in another drastic way. It was the day I became Mrs. MO-to-be!This past week I was telling one of our student workers the lengthy story of Mark's proposal. I had forgotten how sweet, thoughtful, funny and romantic Mark had been that wonderful Friday night! In brief (so as to not leave you hanging about how he actually did it), he left notes in various places for me after I got off of work telling me where to go or what to do next. The game was "Find Your Boyfriend" with the statement "You will not be disappointed" at the end. He was right! I was NOT disappointed. Quite the opposite! At the end of the game the trail led me to his car where he came and met me (I was blindfolded at this point). He then drove me to a cute little park tucked away in our small town that I didn't even know about. He kept me blindfolded, sat me down on a bench and then was on one knee when he had me take the blindfold off. The ring above was in his hand ready to put on mine. He, of course, said amazingly sweet and beautiful things that I wish I could remember. I, of course, cried while listening and saying yes. I walked around in a daze for the next few days (and months, and maybe a year). We were married a very fast four months later! What another wonderful memory February 1st holds in my heart.

28 Years Ago Today....

.....my life changed forever. My little brother was born! Apparently I wasn't too smitten with him back then because I asked my mom something to the effect of "when is he going back?" My mom, upon asking "back where?," received my reply "to the doctor's." I innocently didn't realize what a great friend he'd be some day! And while we've had our moments of fights and dislike, we've also shared some amazing moments and tons of laughter. I can't imagine having grown up without him!

I love you, Todd! It was definitely worth having my world rocked back then to have you as my brother.