27 May 2009

What do you do when....

...you and your spouse enjoy travelling/exploring new places together?
...and one of you has been wanting to go back to the Black Forest where he has great childhood memories from a trip to Europe?
...and you find flights for the both of you for £4 return including taxes (plus £50 in other misc fees!)?
...and you have a cousin in Germany who is willing to offer free accommodation for a couple nights?
...and you have no kids to worry about?
...and it's your 7th anniversary?

You book said cheap tickets and starting planning!

And what do you do when....
...you realize you will be a mere hour's drive from Switzerland?

You say sweetly to your husband, "Surely you won't take me that close to Switzerland and not let me go?!"

Thus was the initial stages of our upcoming trip. We leave tomorrow to fly out of Glasgow to go Hahn in Germany for a whirlwind tour of part of Germany and hopefully a couple cities in Switzerland. I'm sure there will pictures a-plenty to share upon our return next Wednesday, along with stories. Though, I have a good friend flying in for a week's stay the Friday after we get back so it might take some time to get around to sharing.

We'd covet your prayers as we go, especially for my food allergies. After we booked the tickets I had a dreadful thought that I've never travelled any where (with food allergies) that English wasn't really the primary language. While I know many people will speak it, it's still a bit frightening to not know ingredients and be unsure if I will be able to find what I need, etc. Since my brother is fluent in German and used to live there, he's translated some words/phrases for me to use when ordering food so that should be helpful. Nonetheless, we both ask you'd pray that I'd be free from any allergy issues, and that in general we'd both stay healthy.

You can also pray for us as Mark drives again on the right side of the road and I help navigate and read German signs :)

See you when we get back!

22 May 2009

Weekly Cultural Lessons

I have recently been enlightened with some cultural lessons I thought it only fair to share my new knowledge.

About two weeks ago I had a mystery solved. At the end of term here students have "Revision Week." Ever since the first time I heard this I wondered exactly what it was. I figured it was like a Reading Week or Study Week that many American universities have. When I was working with one of our student workers I finally asked her the question burning in my mind. Here is kind of how our conversation went:

Me: "What is revision week? What exactly are you revising?" (I thought maybe they were revising essays since they write a lot of those here and are often a large part of their grades.)
Ayme: "It's where you revise for your exams."

(Okay, not super helpful to use the term you are trying to define in your definition.)

We continued to talk and I offered: "Is it where you study for your exams?"
Ayme: "Uh, yeah, revise."

Right. So I was on the right track in my initial thoughts. But the question remained in this American mind, "But why is it called revision if you aren't rewriting something?" It's all in the terminology. So I used my trusty friend, Google, to help me get to the bottom of this by looking up "revising definition." That lead me to get this definition: "A revised or new version, as of a book or other written material." That's what I thought revision was, so how do the Brits/Scots have a different version? I had the brilliant thought to check a UK published (I think) dictionary. Oxford says "the process of learning work for an exam" and Cambridge says it is equivalent to the US "review." Now it makes a little more sense though albeit still confusing to this American mind. What I am going to ask now is "do you use the term 'study' for anything?"

Friday I learned another cultural lesson from another student worker. They are apparently a wealth of information. This lesson came in the form of being asked "Did you watch Eurovision?" Now mind you, I've was asked this multiple times this past week by co-workers, especially on Monday. But then they remember (or I remind them) that we don't have a TV and so other than "bits and bobs" I overheard I didn't really pay any attention. I'm used to hearing about various shows and knowing some about them without ever having watched them (especially during Big Brother seasons and lately it's been The Apprentice - both UK versions).

I think I proceeded to ask the student, David, if it was like American Idol? He said sort of. Come to find out, it's like American Idol meets the Olympics, meets a large music concert. (American Idol because it is a contest with judges and viewer voting; the Olympics because so many countries are involved and country pride is huge; and a large music concert because of the singing [of course], dancing, acrobatics, flashing lights, immodest and other crazy outfits, etc.) David told me that originally contestants representing their countries sang in their local language, dressed in the traditional dress, and sang to traditional music. Some countries still do that each year, but many of them now sing in English to reach a wider audience (thereby getting more votes probably!)

It's a once a year deal that has been going on for 54 years. Apparently it's a huge event. Like one of the largest (the largest?) televised and watched events each year. How did I miss this last year? And this year? But fear not, I have been caught up to speed both on the background of the song contest, as well as actually listening to parts of the songs sung by the 25 countries in the final. Wiki has all the info you need to know about Eurovision 2009. I hoped to also post the link to BBC's iplayer so you could see it for yourself (like I finally realized I could do!) but they only run them for a week after airing so it's gone now. So sad. However, I'd encourage you to check out the winner's song (Norway) by going here. It's actually really good!

21 May 2009

The Google Empire

This is not a paid ad (though I wish it were, because extra $ or £ is always nice and some lady's advert on Facebook tells me Google pays her tons per day!).....

I am a Google fan. All things Google are great! I use it or one of its products multiple times a day, sometimes simultaneously. I'm addicted to Google. I remember the first time I heard about and used Google. I think I was a Junior or Senior in college (a frightening 10 or so years ago!). I was working for a Bible prof at Cedarville and he asked me to do some investigative work regarding other university's Bible departments. I was amazed. It was love at first sight. And the Google of yesteryear wasn't even a drop in the bucket that it is today.

Let's list some of the wonders of Google:
--Any time Mark asks me something I don't know the answer to I reply "Google it." I think he's finally catching on that Google knows everything.

--Google Chrome, Google's innovative web browser. It took me awhile to appreciate it fully, but now I use it frequently. I love the one click that gets me to my favorite and most visited sites. I have to admit, I do still use Firefox (Internet Explorer is wretched, btw) but that is just because the blogs I follow are bookmarked there, as well as some other bookmarks. It's only a matter of time until I go completely Chrome.

--Googlemail/Gmail -- Seriously, if you aren't using gmail yet, you are missing out. Just click the link and learn why. I'm glad I have switched. My only complaint with this is that now I don't see any news headlines when I sign into my email, and that is easily remedied when I take the time to go elsewhere.

--Google Earth -- If you haven't seen what Google Earth can do by flying you around the world, zooming in on various places, again, you are missing out. Try the free download and see what fun you can have visiting the world. In fact, why don't you come see us!

--Google Maps -- Certainly related to Google Earth, especially with its new fascinating Street View feature. Did you know you can see our flat, street, medical practice (and old car) if you type in our address? I have long since quit using Mapquest.

--Google Docs -- Another brilliant innovation from Google. When my friends and I were putting together our website for incoming student families, we used this to collaborate our work. It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but once I understood how it worked I was hooked to yet another Google product! Just today I used it instead of my own word processor for some personal work.

--Picasa -- As one who loves photos you shouldn't be surprised I love this free photo editing (and online storage) program. And if you have gmail, it's super easy to send photos to friends!

--Google Calendar -- This has been a great resource for my friends here when we are taking meals to friends who have had babies. We can all get on the calendar, see what days are open for taking a meal and see what meal is being provided (so they don't get too many duplicates). Brilliant!

I know there are more products available, but I just haven't taken the time to explore them yet.

In the meantime, what will Google think of next?! I can't wait to find out! The past 10 years of my life have been so enriched by Google I can't imagine it not existing. Here's to more 10 more years of innovation and fascination! Thanks, Google. I love you!

18 May 2009

Contemplating Life

I invite you to contemplate life with me (and my friend the seagull - he's trying to figure life out too it seems).

I think I'm really always contemplating various aspects of life. It helps me process events that come and go. Today's events, and really many little things from the past few months, are no exception. Many of you know my dad is a pastor, so from my earliest memories I have been a preacher's kid (PK). I have actually really enjoyed the role most of the time. God gave me amazing parents and an amazing church family to grow up in as a PK. I saw God work wonders over and over again in His provisions and blessings for our family and church family. I never really remembering not wanting to be a PK, though I'm sure there were moments.

Fast forward several years to me being an adult PK. Until the past 4-5 months I haven't really thought about how although I am an adult, I'm still a PK. It's a different role than it was growing up, but one that still effects me even though I am not physically present most Sunday's at my dad's church. So when my dad started to sense the Lord leading Him to a new church (in a new state) my world got a little shaken. This wasn't exactly in my plans for us during our time in Scotland. My parents place has been/is "home base" in the US so them changing churches, jobs, houses (twice!), location wasn't part of how I'd pictured things happening when we're an ocean away.

In the midst of dealing with the change I began to see was inevitable as the church pursued him more, I came across this quote that spoke to my heart:

"Life involves change. Change involves loss. Loss involves death of one kind or another."

It was at that point I saw I needed to grieve. Loss and death almost always call for grief of some kind. I found my need weird in many ways. We left the US months ago, we're settled here, we never even lived in the same place as my parents (well, except for the 5 or so weeks before moving here), or went to their church (except for a handful of times when we were visiting). Yet, I grieved various things about their move that was effecting me.
The quote goes on to say: "....the life of the Christian is never about sameness. It's always about change. That's why we must learn to survive and once again thrive when change involves heartbreaking loss. We're being conformed to the image of Christ. When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses them with a nail-scarred hand. Life will never be the same, but I have the invitation from Christ to rise to a new life -- a more compassionate, a wiser life, a more productive life. And, yes, even a better life. Sound impossible? It is without Christ." (both quotes from Beth Moore in Breaking Free)

What helpful words that reminded me I always have a choice when change, loss and grief come. A choice to continue to ask the Lord to conform me to His likeness. That is my heart's desire, so I shouldn't be surprised when heartache comes to get me to that point.

All that to say, God is so good and has bound my broken heart and I am eager for what He will do in and through my parents (and me!) as they take on this new assignment for Him. And also to say, Mom and Dad, congrats on your new house! Thanks for loving me through all of this and not letting my feelings dictate what you needed to do. I love you both and can't wait to see your new home, your new city and meet your new church family!
(I leave you with bird yoga at sunset....what a way to contemplate life!)

10 May 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all you mother's out there, Happy Mother's Day! Here is a tribute to great mom's. I entitle it, "A Child's Rose." :) May they always grace your table and heart!

I just wanted to wish our wonderful mom's a Happy Mother's Day! Mark and I are both so fortunate to have loving, supportive mother's as we journey through life. We love you both! And I don't want to forget my dear Grandma Mina whom we also love (and miss) dearly! Wish we were there to celebrate with you all today!Much love,
Mark and Rachel :)

07 May 2009

Ever Have One of Those Days....

....when you just need to be reminded that God is on His Throne? I don't think I realized I was having one of those days today until I heard this song (that I hadn't heard maybe since we moved here).

And so you can be encouraged to0, here's the video with words. Praise God He is on His Throne!

01 May 2009

What I've Been up to....

Not sure if it is just me, but there seems to be less posts from me in 2009. Maybe you've noticed it too? I thought I'd share why.

My growing photography hobby has taken on near part-time job proportions in my life since we've been back here in Aberdeen these 4 months since returning from our Christmas/New Year holiday. I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning I've done on my own in my house just by reading/researching (and you thought Mark was the only researcher in this household!). But also the learning done "out in the field." Somewhere along the way I concluded I needed to start learning to take portraits since all I had really ever done was landscape, architecture, flowers, etc. To be a well-rounded amateur photographer I at least had to "give it a go."

Because I had 3 local friends due with babies in the space of about 4 weeks I thought starting with newborn portraits was an obvious choice. I've learned a ton by hands-on practice sessions with some very willing (and not so willing) guinea pigs. My friends have been incredibly kind to let me try various things with their children, who at the times of shoots have ranged from 10 days old to 2 and a half. Each time I do another shoot I learn more and am grateful that on the whole I think I'm getting better. That reward keeps me pressing on to try again next time, despite the challenges/fears that come with each new person.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the latest Rachel blog: http://rophoto.wordpress.com This is where I'm trying to put my favorite works so that if I do ever decide to do this for some income I have a place to refer clients to see my style/work.

In the midst of all these photos sessions, I noticed something random (because my editing program lists everything alphabetically) -- my friends have strategically, and in near perfect order, named their children according to the alphabet!

Abigail (She was born Feb 6 and is the daughter of Jeff and Allison)
Benjamin (He was born Feb 16 and is the 2nd son of Chris and Rachel)
Callum (He was born March 8 to Brannan and Kate. You might remember his big sister Lily.)
Duncan (He was born October 16 to Joe and Katrina. Okay, so they reserved the "D" spot a little out of order.)
Evie (short for Genevie, so kinda cheating on this one! She was born March 9. I haven't taken her photos yet because her family moved back to the US last summer when she was in utero - but, I'm excited that she is coming for a visit when her dad graduates in early July so I will get to add her adorable face to my growing collection of children's faces! She is the daughter of Trey and Becky.)

I can't forget two other shoots: Rebekah and Luke who are brother and sister and go with Josh and Emily

As you can see, there is no lack of precious faces for me to practice on! It's so fun to be surrounded by "family" while away from family.

I'm pretty excited that I also now have some "big people" who've agreed to be guinea pigs. Yesterday I took some photos for David and Rosie. They were a great couple to shoot for my first engagement shots and I'm so pleased with many images we got from the session. I have two more engagement shoots lined up for this month, as well as another 1 year old session.

Don't forget to check out the "Our World" links at the right side of my new blog as well. They are the holding place for my favorite non-portrait shots. I look forward to having some of them hanging on our own walls some day!

The blog is still a work in progress, but I'm pleased enough with it for now to invite you to visit, and keep going back if you like what you see!