Thursday, 21 December 2006

Arkansas. I have returned to "the states", and I am pleased to be here. In the words of a great friend from years past, I will give you a few "snapshots" of my time thus far. While finding a table outside at the neighbourhood Starbucks with my slice of lemon cake, I look up to see a dear friend sitting at the drive-thru window. Correction...I hear her before I see her. I hear: "OH MY GOSH! IT IS KYM BRINKLEY!!!!" Now that is a greeting that I have definitely not heard in 3 months on the other side of the ocean. Wow! Some the best hours have been spent with a boy named Drew, who one afternoon while we were hanging out told me, "Kymmy, you are best girl I know." (Yes, Drew is 4 1/2 years old.) Drew and I made my favourite Christmas candy and took a walk around his neighbourhood picking up sticks. His reaction to the gift of a toy London taxi and double decker bus..."Mommy, this is amazing!" I mean, come on. Wow. Multiple meals have commenced that have included tacos, Rotel, and salsa, and though my stomach is trying to remember spice after having being immersed in such bland English food for a while, I have thoroughly enjoyed some Mexicano flavor back in my diet. Friends gathered around a table eager to hear stories, to listen for words that I have added to my vocab since moving abroad, and to make me laugh delighted my spirit beyond my ability for description. Christmas classics watched with my extended family while eating tasty treats and singing at the top of our lungs to R&B favourites. Nice. Time with the family has begun, and I appreciate it deeply. Time to rest, to read, to sleep, to turn off my brain for a bit. Time to chat, laugh, play, and be in the land of familiar.

Christmas will come in a few days. Presents will be unwrapped. French toast will be eaten. : ) After the festivities, my precious friend, Sarah, is visiting from Texas for a few days whom I have not seen in way too long who makes me laugh, reminds me of the definition of "real", strengthens my faith, and challenges me to be a deeper person. I could not be more excited!!

I do miss this hallway that you see above these words. Or as my vicar in London would describe it, my "corridor". I do love that word. It rolls out of the mouth a bit sweeter, does it not? When you walk into my door off the high street you walk down this corridor to reach the door to my flat. I miss London, which I think is a good sign. I am convinced my place of residence is at the end of that corridor at this time of my life. Surreal. True. I look forward to going back without doubt.

At the same time, I love being here with my friends and family. I know I write about it often, but I am so beyond thankful for them. This appreciation grows and intensifies inside me more than ever with an ocean between us. What a blessing to be able to come back and spend time with so many people who long to know how I am and how the Lord is working. They(you) humour me with my endless references about "in England, they do this" or "in London, it is like this..." I appreciate that love and know that you genuinely enjoy hearing me go on and on as you continue to ask questions. Thank you. I am humbled to have difficulty seeing all the people that would like to see me and hear stories. Thank you. I am overwhelmed by blessing and thanks.

Christmas is my favourite. Ok, birthdays are my favourite, too. Well, truly I like to celebrate, in general, let's be honest. But, I love Christmas. I love watching White Christmas with my pop, singing along with Bing and Danny. I love listening to Harry Connick, Jr. sing "Ave Maria" and "I Pray On Christmas". I love watching my family open gifts and holding up said gifts making the same goofy expression we always make. I love laughing my head off with my brother as he...well, just as he is himself. : )

This year, I especially love that I get to be here with my family for Christmas. What a gift! Truly, as I am continuing to discover, the gift of relationship with people...people whom you love and people who love you the greatest gift of all.

Thanks be to God. kb

(I will ask for a reprieve from my normal "word/phrase of the week" segment, as I am not within country for the next few weeks. I will pick it back up when I touch back down onto English soil.)

Oh, and I just realized that the option to comment was not possible on my page. I think I fixed it, so if you want to try to comment, feel free! : )

Thursday, 7 December 2006

A bit of Christmas-lit London for you. The giant light bulbs hang all along Carnaby Street, a cute little shopping area off Regent Street. The "grotto" sits in Covent Garden. I love that it is called a "grotto". Zsa was with me when I took this picture. "You don't say 'grotto'?", she asked. Nope, we say "workshop" or "village". Most of the time, it is the little things here that make me glad and tweak my norm. I love it!

Speaking of little things...I am unsure if I believe in them. Little things are BIG for me most of the time. A package received from a precious friend filled with songs that delight my spirit, new friends who have so much in common with me and make me LAUGH!, figuring out a way to disassemble a piece of furniture in my flat that has been cramping my space, finding the last switch to turn on my towel warmer (I don't know if I have shared that fact with you, but all the outlets here have switches to turn them on. It took me a week of looking to find the switch for my heater. The last mystery has been this one of turning on my towel warmer!), a tea kettle that boils water in seconds, and having clean dishes...

I spent the past week at some Young Life training in Hertford. I think I mentioned it. I was blessed by knowing eyes. To be with people who you can see and sense understand your inability to articulate exactly how you feel or need to be prayed for in the situation you are in, is huge. Prayer from people who love the Lord and love you...huge. I cannot say enough about how I enjoyed this time last week and feel that I know the Lord deeper after having spent this time.
Do you have people who know you? I mean, people who truly just "get you"? I am blessed to have these people in the states and now abroad. I pray that you take the time to tell these precious friends how much you love them and appreciate how they love you during this holiday season. The Lord knew what he was doing when he told us to "not give up meeting together" (Heb. 10.24) and"for where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them" (Matt. 18.20). We are made to live in community.

Word/phrase of the week: "sorry" "Sorry?", meaning "I didn't hear you". "Sorry", meaning I bumped into you, and I am sorry. "Sorry.", meaning I got close to bumping into you. Whereas we would say "Excuse me", the common way of expressing this is "Sorry".
Honestly, I have said "Excuse me" multiple times, and people have ignored me. I said, "Sorry", and people move immediately and respond with an affirming nod.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

So, I am reading this book at present on the recommendation of some American friends here in London. If any of you have any interest in behaviour of the English, you would truly enjoy this read, I think. It is quite interestingly done. Kate Fox is English, so it is the real deal. I have found that as I co-exist with natives here that many of these observations are quite true and add humour to my world.

I left some of you wanting if you checked on Thursday for a posting, but since it fell on a holiday, I thought you might be otherwise engaged. I spent the day celebrating, as well, though it looked different than any day o' turkey I have spent previously. I attended a church service at St Paul's Cathedral with quite a few Americans, sang God Bless America, and got to hear the American Ambassador speak. I enjoyed it, and the aesthetics of St Paul's could only be topped by some of the churches in Rome that I saw a month ago, though I believe I prefer the more understated "Paul" to the extravagantly ornate "Peter". I finished my day with Brooke, Tate, Kerry, and their friends who visit every year at Thanksgiving. We feasted as is appropriate on this American holiday that seems to focus on good eats! : ) We even watched a bit of NFL to truly remind us we are Americans.

I am on my way out the door to have feast, the sequel, with my friends who live around the corner. What a blessing to have multiple people to celebrate with, especially when I couldn't be home with my own fam on this weekend.

Sad to read about the Hogs getting beat by LSU, but hey, on to the title game, yeah?


I started this post the day after Thanksgiving, so clearly our Hogs did not pull out the SEC title. Sad again. But, I left that little bit in because, I mean, no matter what... GO HOGS! : )

I have spent the last week in a little town called Hertford (pronounced "Hart"ford), which is about an hour commute for me from my flat in central London. Young Life goes there as well but differs a bit as ministry is done with nationals, a.k.a. English kids. For three days, I attended some YL training, the second installment of the year. (The first was in Munich when I first arrived.) Wow. What an amazing time of rejuvination and uplift for me. Being with people who are experiencing the same struggles, joys, are of the same heart and mission...priceless. Truly. To be prayed over, to laugh LOUD, to be moved by wisdom and insight that Scripture and years of life and experience of others...priceless. I hadn't even realized that I was in need of some of those things mentioned prior until I received them. It is truly a great gift that the Lord is omniscient and knows my thoughts, needs, and desires even before I do. I continue to stand amazed.
I deepened some friendships with some people and began new connection with some fantastic new folk. : ) I am so energized by other people who love the Lord. We talked a bit this weekend about how truly awe-inspiring friendships are that begin so quickly, grow so deeply, and bond us so closely when we have the common denominator of a relationship with Jesus. I hope and am assured that many of you have experienced this phenomenon in your own lives. I was reminded again this week.
After training, some of my pals came back into the city with me, dropped off their luggage at my flat, and we ventured off to see the lights of London. I loved it! We laughed hard. We shopped, looking longingly at shoes, clothes, etc. that exceeded our income. We walked by the Thames, looking at the city lit up in beauty. I had a couple girls stay with me in my flat on my snazzy Ikea sofa bed. I loved having people stay with me even though we realized quickly why I am the only one who lives in those small quarters. So fun! We went back into the city and met up with the boys and a friend of theirs (who is now friends with us) to do a bit more sightseeing. Such a delight to play with friends. Fun for friends to come into my flat and compliment it. Fantastic to navigate the tubes with me and be silly. A stake digs in this past week as a time of ease, a time when I have truly begun to feel like myself here. A burden of...something has fallen off my shoulders, and I have busted through a wall of realization of my home being in England. I struggle to find the words to express all because I cannot really explain it. I just feel good, refreshed, full of joy, and encouraged to love the Lord more deeply.
I went back to Hertford after my day of play with friends in the city to attend the European Women's Conference. Also amazingly refreshing and uplifting to see and relate to women in the same situation as myself. I am thankful. Closer connection with my fellow staff women that I work with here in London is a blessing. I love my England family.

So, I come back to Arkansas in a week and a half. Wow! I am baffled a bit about that fact. I am excited! Though I love it here and am assured I am in the exact spot where I belong, I miss you guys! I am pumped that my annual Christmas gathering where we watch Christmas classics such as "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is planned and on my calendar! I cannot wait to see my family and sweet nieces! I am excited to see many of you!

Oh, can I just say that my internet is not only working at my flat, but it is crazy fast! It takes me less than 15 minutes to download my weekly "Grey's Anatomy". Woo hoo! : )

Word/quote of the week: "loads"(in honour of stef), meaning "a bunch"
or "lots". As in...I love you loads. I have loads of friends and family to see when I get home. I have loads of things on my to-do list to accomplish before leaving England.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

In the top right hand corner...the gang that took the trip to Roma; Kerry, me, Stacy, and Chris. Adjacent you will see us smiling after my birthday dinner at this great little restaurant called "The Yellow Pumpkin". Next, you see me enjoying a Latte Machiatto that I got as many days as possible. I found it at a little sidewalk cafe across the street from the Vatican. (I went so many days that I figured out exactly how to order from the Italian man behind the counter...when to pay, when to step aside and wait. My travel companions laughed at me. Hey, when I find something I like...well, I like it A LOT! Next to my coffee bliss, a street with cool trees that I saw all over Rome. Here I am at the Trevi Fountain (on my birthday!). Also, me in front of the Pantheon. (It is enormous!) Lastly, me inside the Colosseum, and to your immediate left...ancient Rome.
I am happy to give you a proper slide show and narrative when I come home for Christmas, but I thought I would share a bit now.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Connection. So, as per usual, I looked up this word in Webster. Would you believe how appropriate definition number five is? "5 : to establish a communications connection ". I mean, come on, could that express my newly acquired internet capabilities any better? : )

Yes. It is a reality, and keeping with the spirit of previous posts, I feel "complete" as a person, no having internet in my flat to use at my whim. In my email to my fellow London staff today, my comment was, "(Sigh)...So nice!" I think that pretty much sums it up.

You are looking at the view from the platform at my tube stop, St John's Wood. (I took this picture actually a few weeks ago. All the posters are changed often, so it no longer looks exactly like this when I wait for my train.) I spend quite a bit of time standing and waiting for the tube to transport me to and fro around the city. I quite like this form of transportation for the most part. Rush hours (a.k.a. work traffic in morning and evenings) cram people in like sardines inside these trains, and I like to avoid carrying loads of any great size...but all in all, I appreciate public transport a great deal. So there is a bit of a glimpse into my world.

A friend of mine here, Min, invited me to attend a class with her being offerred through All Souls Church (one of the churches I have mentioned visiting in posts prior) entitled "Engaging Islam". I must say I am enjoying it quite a lot. As many of you know or may have interpreted, I love learning, studying, and absorbing information especially about belief and people. What amazing opportunities I am finding here to feed that part of my person. Perhaps these kinds of opportunities have been at my fingertips in the States, and I have not taken advantage due to my comfort level and lack of awareness of my need to be continuously learning. I know not. (I do know, however, that my brain has not turned off since landing on this side of the pond....which is ok, fun, difficult, challenging, exhausting, and a blessing. I can see it as a pendulum swinging amidst all of these descriptors.)
So, this class... The instructors are intensely knowledgeable about the topic of Islam and the Muslim community. I could give loads of information that I have learned in the few hours I have sat in the church soaking in all I can and scribbling frantically trying to write notes that will peak my memory when I read them again, but I will refrain for the moment and focus in on my "take-away" from this evening's time. I felt sad. I felt sad that this community is told not to question. I feel like that takes away a key part of our identities as people, our ability to think, ask questions, and discover why we hold fast to something or someone. I am even more convinced that LOVE is the answer. Always love. Part of the focus of this class is to learn how to effectively minister and express Christianity (Jesus) to our Muslim friends. Respect. I love that our teachers are placing high value on respect for the Islamic culture and their beliefs. I believe that the truth should be spoken/expressed in love. If I am to tell anyone of any faith, of my beliefs, I am to respect that person with whom I am speaking. I should not be combative or argumentative or aggressive. I should be thoughtful, gentle, honest, and loving. I am truly passionate about gentleness.

My point? I think oftentimes I worry about my knowledge. I want to be an authority on any topic I may be discussing. Though I place a high value on knowledge, I am constantly moved by"how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Eph. 3.18). Pervasive. Learning about other people shows respect in my mind. Taking the time (a precious commodity) to read, study, ask questions about others, what they believe, where they come from,etc. is an act of love and respect at the exact same time...commandment #2. So, learn and love; love and learn. I would write these two words on top of one another if I could. I believe they should be ongoing and simultaneous.

Ok, so in the world of central London Young Life... I am fortunate to have a few girls (who I have mentioned repeatedly previously) who will lead with me. We got together this week for the first time (for YL reasons...we have been meeting up on Sundays for church for quite a few weeks.) in my neighbourhood to talk about loving on kids. I am truly excited about these young women, their hearts for the Lord, and the sparkle in their eyes when we brainstorm about how to love kids here. The Surrey crew (Brooke, Tate, Kerry, and Zsa Zsa) are having their annual tea (banquet, which is appropriately a tea here) this coming Sunday, and I will be helping out. Basketball season is gearing up, so I am pleased to be able to watch an indoor sport as opposed to football (soccer) in the now chilly, windy climate we are now experiencing.

As for me... I have been here right at two months now. I am learning to slow down...when walking around the city, when making my schedule. But mostly, on the inside...learning to take deep breaths and truly settle in. I keep telling people that I am "still getting settled", which is quite true. I think I have been saying and writing that, though, with the expectation that at some point in the near future there will be a day where I say, "Yes, I am settled in!". I have come to believe that as I began my last post, that "settling in" is a process, as well...a process that will not be complete for some time. So here is my challenge to you... If you catch me saying anything as vague as "I'm still settling", call me on it. : )

Ok, B, here you go. Word/phrase of the week: "sorted" ex. "Did you get everything sorted?" You probably understand this statement. They just do a way with our usual "out" at the end of the sentence. I hear this all the time. It could be used..."Have you gotten your flat sorted?" or in general..."Are you sorted?" meaning "Are you ready to go?" or "Do you have everything?". It is key when you read this to speak in your best British accent.

A bit of a bonus. My favourite word spoken in a British accent... "water". Say it. It sounds so romantic. Say it like you would normally say it. Then try it in accent. See! Just gorgeous.

I think you are great. kb

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

So, the "process" continues. Good news in the progress, though. I have an appointment for tomorrow morning to have my digital cable installed and the equipment for my broadband to be up and running is in the mail on its way to me. Woo hoo!!! Perhaps my next blog can be done from the coziness of my flat. (Fingers crossed.)
I am a day early this week because I am at Starbucks with my computer, because I missed this past Thursday, and because...well, I run this show. I can blog when I want perrogative, yeah? : ) Extra high fives if when you just read that word..."perrogative", you started singing the Bobby Brown interpretation of what this word means. I did, so I will high five myself. Ok, I won't. I am in Starbucks in my neighbourhoood. I spend a lot of time here, and I cannot afford to make myself look like a weirdo.
Ok, the word/phrase of the week? "By in large..." which means, "on the whole" or "for the most part". It is one of those phrases that is used commonly here. Yet another phrase that is not all that odd but simply another way of phrasing the English language. I love it. I cannot say that enough. I love it.
At church this week (at HTB, and by the way, you can download their sermons every week at I discovered that the British accent lends heavily to my worship experience. Those of you that know me well (and/or read my blog regularly, I suppose) are aware of my love of language. I live in the right spot for that passion to be fanned into flame, I assure you. At times, "I get lost in the language", as Meg would say in a popular movie with Tom Hanks. The sermon on Sunday morning pertained to our covenant relationship with the Lord. Not any of the subject matter was new or foreign to me necessarily, but usage of works like "corridor" rather than hallway or pathway speaks to my spirit. (I truly recommend you listen to that sermon online if you get a few minutes...Archie Coates was the pastor who delivered it.) I dunno. Just thought I would share.
To be honest and real, I must say at times the language, phrasing, and speed of talking does make my brow furrow and hurt a bit after long conversations with my new pals here in the U.K. I must work harder to process and sift through meanings, sarcastic undertones, and intent. Dialects are distinct just as they are in the States. Someone from Scotland sounds completely different from someone from London. Different parts of England carry different accents, as well.
A great realization has been that people are people no matter where you reside. What a gift the Lord has given us in the commonality in humanity. This thread that runs through us all, a need for love, respect, laughter, etc... allows me to feel at home regardless of whether I know only a handful of friends here or whether I know loads as I do there in Arkansas. What a blessing!
In terms of ministry... I have met a handful of parents and kids. I am filling out paperwork this week to coach middle school and to help assist with the high school softball teams at ASL. I feel positive and uplifted about the connections that are being made. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions or just want to chat. Oh, and it looks like I will be home (visiting both Fayetteville and LR) in mid-December! Just FYI. You guys are the best, and I love you much!
Oh, I think there are more pigeons here than people, so I posted a picture of them. Let me just say that back before the cold snap that has hit us, I was a bit fearful to open my windows too far as I thought I might have a few uninvited guests. : )

Monday, 30 October 2006

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Michael Bolton. As I sit in the lobby of our hotel in Roma, the greatest hits of Mr. Bolton plays over me and my fellow friends and travelers, Chris, Stacie, and Kerry. You know I am not afraid to admit that I loved some MB back in the day. That guy can belt it out. Ok, sorry, tangent. But truly when was the last time and when will be the next when you sit and listen to Michael of one's own accord. I cannot forsee it happening, so I thought it noteworthy.
Rome. Wow. Bellisima! I am overwhelmed by how ancient, how full of history, how rich with talent and meaning...amazing. We have made the rounds to say the least and walked ourselves to the point of throbbing feet for the past handful of days. We happened upon the best tour guide of all time, Michael, an English guy who truly knows his stuff. What a joy to have his perspective as we looked at ancient ruins, picturesque statues, and vast buildings. He truly loves history, storytelling, and people. We even went to the extent of getting our picture taken with him...American groupies, we are and proud of it. Well, "proud" may not be the word, but we got a picture to capture our three days we spent with him on guided tours.

OK, this post was started last Thursday, on my regular posting day. I only had a bit of time to compose, but I wanted to leave it on there so you could hear some words directly from Italy. I sit presently taking a break from being on hold with the would-be company who will hook up my broadband and cable. Process. The theme for my life, I have discovered. I could write a book about all the implications of this seven-letter word in my life, as I am sure you could as well. My thought at the moment lives with the process of setting up house, if you will, here in England. I suppose moving anywhere involves time taken to get all put in place, but it seems as if another country adds a new dynamic. So, the process of constant, predictable internet access continues. I'll keep you posted on the progress of said process. : )

So, I spent my birthday in Rome. I turned twenty-eight as I toured St. Peter's Basilica, The Christian Catacombs, wandered past The Pantheon, and ate gelati. Never before in my life...I am overcome with awe. Fantastic, special, and memorable. I missed Becky, who is my twin seperated by a few years. I missed Ginny and Steph, my pals who also have October birthdays, who I would have celebrated with had I been home. I missed Bordino's from last year with my fun friends and the year before when I got surprised with a birthday ghetto dance party... My point? The only thing that would have made my celebration better would have been to have my sweet friends there to hug, laugh with, and stay up late with chatting. So, though I feel blessed to have a bit of a dreamlike 24th this year, know it felt strange to not be with you guys.
Rome is amazing. The city holds such history, story, and visual impression. As mentioned, we had a great tour guide that showed us around and increased my enjoyment of my living history lesson. I was pleased to find that a few years of life has deepened my interest in topics such as Constantine legalizing Christianity, St Peter's Basilica being worth $40 billion, and what prison would have looked like for Peter. It truly is a shame that when you learn all these facts in school, they are so crammed in for the purpose of test taking that they easily seep out of your memory. I wish I could have retained all my facts I absorbed on my trip, but though some have been lost, I do remember quite a lot and can tell you all you want to know (and more, I am sure) when I get to see you in December as I show the massive slide show of photos that I will have in my possession.

I have taken a few snapshots of my flat and will try fervently to post some of both my home and Rome. HA! Laugh, you know you want to...feel like I am there with you being a complete goof. : ) (That pun was unintentional, by the way, but I left it in because I laughed out loud at myself.) Sometimes this blogger rejects my requests to put up pics. Ah, technology!

As far as words/phrases of the week go, to be truthful, I must speak a bit of Italian to you...interesting how it seems that Italian is sort of Spanish and French put together. (Ok, it probably is not at all, but knowing un pocito de espanol was a bit helpful in communicating there.) So... "Grazie" and "Prego", or Thank you and You're welcome, were the most foreign words used this past week. Ok, that's lame. You don't wade through all my thoughts and analyzations for that sillyness that you already know...what can I come up with for the week? Hmmm...
ok, how about "spot on". It means what you would most likely think it would, but it is used here quite a lot. Our equivalent would be like "on the nose". A little boy answered a question on our tour in Italy, and Michael (the Englishman) replied exhuberantly, "Spot on! You are correct." I liked it. Tis clever.
Look for more on Thursday. Oh, and Happy Halloween! Eat candy corn for me!

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Well, I officiallly have a home in London. I moved in this past Tuesday and have been working on settling in. I cleaned like crazy this morning, and I truly was able to unpack most of my suitcases for the first time since I have been here. It felt great! I took my first trip to IKEA on Tuesday and purchased a sofa bed, desk, and desk chair to put in my studio flat. I also got some essentials to enable me to live there. : ) I am making my next massive list of little things to decorate and other items to shelve and store my clothes, etc. to truly make me feel organised and efficient in my small space.
I am jetting off to Rome next week with Kerry for a handful of days on holiday (what we call vacation over here). I am truly excited to visit Italy, eat great food, and sightsee like crazy. I will post pics in a couple weeks of that trip. I might be able to do so from Roma, but no promises. Not sure what the internet situation will be.
Tuesday was a big day. I also went to see "Guys and Dolls" at the Piccadilly Theatre. Patrick Swayze was advertised as playing Nathan Detroit, but unfortunately was a no-show. I heard he has been having trouble with his voice since he has been in this show. Oh well. It was fantastic, and I had a great seat...15th row, center! No flash photography allowed, or I would put up some photos of the show.
As I wait for my internet to be hooked up in my flat...could be a week and a half or so, I am using my new friends', Rudy and Susan's connection. I have been blessed to have met a few people who live in my neighbourhood!
I met this morning with the athletic directors at ASL, and it looks like I will, indeed, be able to coach softball at the school. Most likely it will be middle schoolers and getting to help with the JV and Varsity teams in the high school! I am super excited about this opportunity to plug in at the school.
The next couple of weeks will be a bit like it was when I first got here in my ability to be in touch via email. Just wanted you to have a heads-up, so you didn't think I was ignoring any of you!
Thanks, thanks, thanks for being my friends!

Word/phrase of the week: "You alright, yeah?"
This phrase is used in place of "How are you?" or "What's up?" I love it!

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Well, friends, I have found a flat!!! Yep, I do not tell a lie. I now have a home in England. I move in on this coming Tuesday, and I could not be more excited! I will be sad to leave my current temporary home with my pal and colleague Kerry, but I am thrilled to be able to settle in and feel like I am a Londoner. My home is also crazy close to the school where I will most likely be helping coach softball (looks like it will be middle schoolers), and close to all the shops and the ever important Starbucks! Tangent: I must say that I have a new affinity to Starbucks. Not that I didn't love the have-it-your-way coffee company prior to moving, but it is so nice to feel the familiarity that 'Bucks brings while wandering through this new city. (I am a bit of "the worst kind", "high maintainenance, but I think I am low maintainenance", so I do like the order-it-like-you-like-it way of this company.)
Ok, I will explain the pictures you see above. I know you are anxious to understand. The first one is me and the ever-mentioned Zsa Zsa (pronounced Zaw Zaw) on the train one day coming back from the city. (Hats are good in this city for me...oh the dampness of the weather.) She is a bit goofy, as you can see. The next photo is Kerry, my roommate for another few days wearing a little gift from me. I am sure you recognise it easily. In her snout-adorned picture, she is looking at the guy in the next picture, Tate, my Area Director, pal, and also a happy receipient of a hog nose. (All six of my fellow staffers got one as a gift upon my arrival, but we have not all been in the same room for me to get a pic of the lot of them thus far. Speaking of our mighty Razorbacks...GO HOGS GO! I have been keeping up! Woo Pig!) The background of both Kerry and Tate's photos is where we spend a lot of our time, the gar-office...affectionately and appropriately named because though once a garage, it has had a facelift, making it our office. Clever, I know. I love these people. : )
I went to my first vball game yesterday and met a couple of girls who I believe may come with us on our Spring Break service project to Bulgaria to teach English, work in orphanages, etc. (We do this trip in place of taking kids to the states to do the traditonal YL camp in the summer.) I have begun to meet parents and other friends in my neighbourhood, as well as wonderful people at church. I have been visiting two different churches, All Souls and Holy Trinity Brompton...both great bodies of believers.
Other great news...I believe I have three volunteer leaders to join me in working with kids in central London...two college-aged girls who are here studying for the next year or so, and a dad who has interest in helping out. Fantastic!
One of the common statements that I have heard since moving here is that coincidences don't exist. When the Lord moves, provides, or works, no doubt is present. I am not sure I ever believed in chance, luck, or coincidence before now. I always have had a sense that the Lord is in every good thing...little and big, so this conclusion is not revolutionary to me. However, I will say with full confidence and conviction that I have never seen His hand, His preparation, His timing more tangible, practical, or real in my life than at this moment.
I think of my brother who consistently and constantly reminds me to expect blessings and to expect that the Lord will take care of me. I am thankful to see this advice fleshed out in my direct frame of reference.
Dependence is necessary. Since I can remember, I have longed to be independent and self-sufficient. I still possess such a desire, but I am thankful for new perspective on dependence, "the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another";"one that is relied on". (Far too long since we visited my pal Webster.) I think you see where I am going with this one. Getting to the end of oneself is a beautiful place to dwell.
More about my flat? Of course, you want to know more. To be honest, it could not be more perfect in my convenient to where I will be spending so much time and to the tube, my gateway to the rest of Londontown. I have always wanted to have a studio apartment in a quaint neigbourhood with much character. How intimate and fun is our God! I will be sure to post some pics of the interior once I get settled, maybe even as soon as the next blog. We shall see how my progress in nesting happens.
So, this week has been significant, as I guess the three weeks prior have been as well. I am encouraged, blessed, awestruck, and overwhelmed (meant to be positive, not negative as I often think it to mean) by the Lord's work in the course of this last month.
It is "time". Time for me to be here. Time for relationships to form with parents and kids in YL in central London. Time.

Word/phrase of the week: "I'll come back to you."
Ok, I got in a phone conversation that caused a bit of confusion this week with my letting agent who helped me let my flat. He is called Daniel, and he was a tremendously brilliant gentleman who was fantastic in all the process that could have been quite confusing. When we were speaking on the phone about price, he told me he would "come back to me" with an answer from his boss about whether we could come down on the price. I replied thankfully that I would appreciate that. I sat on the phone silently waiting. He repeated himself. "I'll come back to you with his answer." I agreed once again and prepared to hold the line. So, I learned first hand that this phrase means in my terminology the same as "I'll call you back". Not a standout in the world of fun British terms, but definitely a bit of a usage difference that can easily confuse and run a bill on your mobile if you never get the correct meaning. : )

Thursday, 5 October 2006

A rainy/cloudy Thursday here in the land of Eng. What? Ok, I am a bit odd today, I think. I could erase that sentence, but why would I? It is no secret that I am a bit odd. : ) No news about a flat as of yet. I have feelers out, so we shall see. Will let you know when I do have a spot to call my very own.
I met a girl yesterday, Mallory, who moved to London from Pennsylvania to go to grad school at Sotheby's. She wants to be a voulunteer leader with me as we work with kids who attend ASL. I am excited to have met her and to get to know her better. She will be here for at least a year finishing her schooling. I am going to meet another girl, Alix, for coffee today who I know also wants to volunteer. God is good...bringing excited believers around to join his work here in central London.
I don't believe I have mentioned as of yet my church visiting that I have been doing. I have spent time at both All Souls Church and Holy Trinity Brompton. Both churches are solid and uplifting. I am praying about which one to call my home. I am going to church this coming Sunday morning at All Souls and then afterward going to eat with a friend at one of the pastor's flats. What a neat opportunity to plug in a bit more to Christian community and fellowship. I am thankful.
As far as kids, adults, and ASL goes... I am making baby steps of progress in meeting people and building friendships. I am truly excited to get to know more of the community of St Johns Wood. I have joined the SJW Women's Club to help feel a bit more a part of that area. I look forward to plugging in there.
Ok, all mentioned up to this point has been a bit informational and factual, yeah? Wondering how I am in my transition?
All is truly well. I am getting a bit anxious to live within the city rather than on the outskirts so that I can truly dig into my new world here. However, this time in Surrey is a complete blessing as I get to know my fellow YL staff better, get to have a retreat away from the chaos that is central London, and save quite a bit of money by staying with my great pal, Kerry, for free. I am trusting that the Spirit will lead in the way of housing, connecting, and ministering. He knows the pace that is approprate for me and His work. Baby steps.
Riding the train to and from the city affords me much time for reading, an activity I dearly love. I so enjoy reading and have since I was very young, but unfortunately, I often do not take the time to immerse myself in books as I once did in those younger years. My mind feels a bit more active and alert if I keep myself concentrated on books and processing information. So, the Lord is faithful in all situations to bless. This extra time allows for deeper growth in that regard. : )
I am still working on the Skype access...calling for free through the internet. I will let you know when I know how to work that specifically so perhaps more of us could chat it up with a bit more ease.

Word/phrase of the week: rubbish (trash). Truly, this word is used in constant conversation and dialogue here. I have even heard the garbage man called "rubbish man". I love this word. It is so much stronger in meaning and with the right intonation is more passionate than using the word "trash". Check out Phillipians 3.8-9..."What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." At HTB last week, the speaker focused on this passage. A smile spread across my face as he spoke and read this passage aloud. I just love words and the power they have...I tend to think God loves words and feels the importance of their meaning, as well. (By the way, HTB has a podcast you can download should you ever feel so inclinded.)

Thursday, 28 September 2006

So, here is the proof about last week's mention about the Coca-Cola machine that greeted me with "Hallo" every time I walked past of asked it to dispense a diet beverage. For you boys, you know who you are, I thought of you and laughed every time I read it. Noone else seemed to be as amused, but when are others as amused as I am? Truly. I know you guys know the proper inflection to say this greeting in. Made me think of home, and I loved it! (By the way, I took this pic with my new snazzy new mobile (pronounced with a long "i") I just got. All those that have made fun of me for my archaic cell phones in the past would be amazed by how hi-tech I am now. : )
So, I ventured into the city yesterday to meet up with a mom who has kids who go to ASL. We had a delightful late morning chat with a coffee. We sat on the high street and spoke about life in that particular area of central London where I will be living. (Each area has what is called a "high street" where all the shops and cafes are, sort of like 6th street in, more like Dickson St. Very quaint and perfect for meeting up with people.) I got loads of info about how to get more connected with others in the neighbourhood, and I look forward to moving into that area. Still praying for a flat closeby. I have a few leads, but none have panned out for sure yet. Though St. John's Wood, the area I will be living in, is technically in central London, it has not the feel of Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, or Covent Garden does, for those of you who have made a visit here. It is quite peaceful with tree-lined streets. From what I have heard, Jude Law lives nearby, so you never know when he might be bumped into at the local Starbucks. I will keep you informed, no worries! : )
My trip to the city yesterday left my feet in agony! Note to self...regardless of the amount of walking that you think you will do, do not wear heels! Walking is always a major player no matter where you are going for no matter what length of time! I have blisters galore all over my feet from trekking about London. I had to "pop into a shop" to buy some ballet-like flats to soothe. I also had to make a stop at Boots (similar to Walgreens) to buy "plasters" (a.k.a. Band-Aids) to cover my wounds to make it home. I mean...serious pain. But, hey, in the words of my pal, J.D., I'll bounce. : )
Liz, Paul, and I sort of wandered around the city on Tuesday afternoon. It was quite fun. Liz loves to absorb and share lots of random trivia, show me where the cheap places to shop are, and points out great cookie shops. Paul is Captain History, so he tells us factoids about how old buildings are, how to find our way around the city, and knows where the cool museum exhibits are. What a nice balance they are for one another. Guess this is why they are a couple. Liz, just in case you are in the dark, is a fellow staff girl who works at an international school in Hillingdon closeby. I will post some pictures from our time soon. Sorry that my pictures seem to be on average one post behind. Sometimes this site doesn't like to cooperate, and sometimes, I don't have the camera/plug with me to coordinate the download. (Yes, I just thought of "Boomerang" when I wrote that word..."coordinate". Oh how hideous that mushroom suit was! And oh, how beautiful at the same time!)
Today marks my two week anniversary of having been in England. Frankly, it seems like 2 months in some ways. I feel as though I could write a page in my journal about every hour because all is new and many "firsts" are happening.
Things I love... water bottles with cool squeeze tops; sitting on the left-hand side of the car as a passenger; saying "I'll ring you later"; that my staff team all put on their hog noses I brought them as soon as I handed them to them...then began to cough from the fumes emitted from the rubber and paint (truly, ever worn one of those? will make you high!); walking on cobblestone roads; recognising and confidently using pounds and pence; calling carry out or to go food "take away"; the mystery of walking through the city, riding the train, or riding the escalator in the underground and wondering what accents people speak with and thinking they don't know what mine sounds like either; going to a YL staff training in Munich and having a fellow staff member sneakily change my ringer to his voice that said "Pick up the phone! Do it!" and not knowing he had done it until my phone scared the living daylights out of me when it rang the first time after returning back to England...
Things I miss... you all; Pepperridge Farm Goldfish; driving my car (though not as much as I would have thought); you all.
As you can see, much more that I love than I miss. God is good! He is so taking care of me! Thanks, friends. More soon...
Oh, I've almost forgotten...
Word/phrase of the week: "lorry" (truck), as in... Lorry Restriction on this road. Zsa told me a story about a car that she happened upon that was smashed between two "lorries". She could not imagine how the people got out. Perhaps through the sunroof. Thanks be to God for Zsa, who in normal conversation teaches me several new words a day!

Saturday, 23 September 2006

Hallo! I returned from Munich last night...thus the greeting. I must say that I feel a bit less intimidated about living in England after spending two days in Bavaria where I could understand only a handful of words spoken or read. Truly. Words that made sense..."penne"(pasta), "pizza margherita" (cheese pizza), and "tomaten" (tomato). I am not exaggerating. I would open a menu to order something to eat, and...nada. I knew not a thing. The time there was nice. I went to participate in a training time to learn more about working with a committee, managing volunteer leaders, and also to spend some good time with others from around Europe who have the same job as I do. I went with three of the other staff women from here in London.

Ok, I know that all have been waiting for more detail from this side of the pond. I have promised and promised. I will do my best. You may have to read this in multiple sittings. : )
Life is fairly loaded with new information and circumstance these days.

I am currently living in Surrey, about a 40 minute train ride from central London. I am staying with one of the other staff girls, Kerry, in her flat...about a mile from the office/Brooke and Tate's house (my supervisors/fellow staff). We are joking currently that I am about 2/3 of a person here in the UK. I have set up a local bank account and acquired a "mobile". I will consider myself 3/3 once I have a home of my own, I think. But, hey 2/3 of the way to fully existing in about a week is amazing from what they tell me over here.
I am in search of my home, a.k.a. my flat, currently. I am looking for a flatshare somewhere near The American School in London (ASL) where I will be working. I have some prospects, so pray for that when you think of me. : )
I have embarked into the city a couple of times which has been possible with no issue and quite a bit of ease. I am thankful. I was not as intimidated as I thought I might have been last Sunday when I went in to meet a girl for church at All Souls. It was quite a delightful day, attending church and then going to eat at a place called Nando's, attractive for its food and for the free refill option on soda which is quite sparse in the UK. I had lunch with a girl who is Dutch-Australian, two Chinese-Brit girls, and a Scotsman. So cool! I was amazed at the diversity and the ease of conversation and relatability.
My new pal, Zsa is a delight! She is teaching me English lingo and phrases just by hanging out with her. She asks me things constantly about America and is eager to clarify all things English.
We got lost the other day driving to visit Liz's Wyldlife club. We even had a navigational GPS system, but it turns out that if the wrong address is plugged in, this device has trouble working properly. : ) We got stuck in traffic, and she exclaimed, "Oh, this is dire!!". I laughed the entire 2 hours we drove around. She is overwhelmed by the loudness of American kids..."I wasn't prepared for the volume", she remarked. Yes, we are loud, us Americans.
Strange. I feel as though I have been here a month rather than a 9 days. I feel like I could spend every moment recording a new thought due to the newness of each experience.
I went to the movies the other day with Brooke and Kerry here nearby (in Staines). The seats had absolutely no recline...the antithesis of the American movie theatre seat, not a bit of recline. Interesting. No wonder the Brits are known for having good posture, even in the movies, they sit up straight! : ) We saw "Little Miss Sunshine". Funny, I must say.
I have a dehumidifier in my room at Kerry's is that damp in that corner of the interesting. The weather here has been lovely! Today it is a Simpson cloud day, with a nice breeze and 70 degree temperatures.
Ok, I will post again at least by next Thursday, my normal posting day. Hopefully, my routine will begin soon.
Ok, word/phrase of the week... "I couldn't be bothered..." Such as, "I couldn't be bothered to go to the store to pick up groceries." Basically it means, I didn't want to do something, but it sounds so much more proper and polite, less like a lazy statement that we would think it would be.
Feel free to email with questions and or whatever. My email checking is a bit sparatic due to no internet connection at Kerry's, so I ask for your patience til the routine kicks in. :)
Love you and miss you all. Check the email for the contact info for number.

Monday, 18 September 2006

England equals good. So, I have been here for 4 days. I am supposed to be here. I can tell you that for a fact. I feel it. I know it. My mind is, as you would imagine, still swirling and a bit jetlagged. I love my Young Life team. I just got an amazing deal at Boots, the local Walgreen's-ish store on a hair straightener (on clearance, then when it was rung up, half off of that clearance price!!). I have two new English friends called Zsa Zsa and Barney. Starbucks is a staple. All is looking good. I am flat (apartment) searching and hope to find something in the city to call home within the next couple weeks. I leave for Munich for some training on Wednesday to return on Friday. I know I keep promising you all who have emailed and posted messages and comments that I will give further details soon. I am going to continue to ask for an extension on that promise. I need to get my mind a bit clearer before I can compose thoroughly. Trust this, as previously mentioned... I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. With the next post, I will have some pics of Munich and hopefully a bit of clarity to tell you stories about getting lost with Zsa and Barney, embarking into London successfully and confidently on my own, and digging English lingo. Thanks for your prayers, and look for a more depth at the beginning of next week.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Hi. I leave a week from today. Whoa. All has been going well in preparing for this momentous move. At times I feel completely on top of all the to-dos, and the next moment I feel completely overwhelmed. I don't do well going 90 miles an hour. I need a measured pace. Thankfully, the Lord knows (and made) this trait within me, so he often reminds me to"just sit with Him awhile". Now the list of necessaries has shortened mostly to the daunting task of packing.
I spent a great weekend in Fayetteville over Labor Day. I was blessed to spend precious, meaningful time with dear friends that I realised should be characterized as family members to capture their importance to me and my heart. Fayetteville has been my home for the past six years since graduation from college. One friend I have made in the past handful of months continues to be amazed by how many people I am know in NW Arkansas. "Do you know everyone up here?", she asks over and over. A smile creeps across my face. I do not know everyone, of course, but I am thankful for that repeated question becuase it does help me to continue to appreciate the vast number of friends (and family) I can count in NWA, a.k.a. "home".
Goodbyes are tough. Each person I spent time with over the course of the weekend dealt with our farewells in different ways. I loved it. I love the dynamic nature of people and relationships. I sat and chatted away answering questions with some friends, hugged and was on my way. With others, we just sat and did what we normally do, sort of avoiding the topic on everyone's mind, my leaving. Jokes were made to lessen any bit of emotion that might surface and produce awkwardness. The beauty of it all lies in the uniqueness and life of each friendship dynamic. If those who normally joke and are silent suddenly sat intently asking questions and being overwhelmed with emotion, it would have been sort of strange. If those who normally chat it up had avoided information...odd and disheartening.
Expectations. All of these observations leads me to thinking about expectations...and the Lord. Predicting people, life, interaction is selling you and those involved short. Allow people and relationships to be dynamic. Beauty lives here! Expecting someone or something to always look or play out a certain way can at times paralyse individuality and limit depth. The Lord desires that we love people as we love ourselves. I like to be free to evolve, grow, change as life and the Lord moves me. I guess, in all this rambling, my thought is to remind myself to let life happen as it happens, to let the Lord lead and to learn to be flexible in our expectations, predictions, and notions of the way things may look.
He surprised me this weekend by allowing me to spend sweet time with friends that blew my mind in depth, encouragement, connection, and love. The interactions looked different, but each moment spent was captured in my mind and heart as a moment well spent. From chats over tacos, to coffee on a patio, to a rocking chair on a porch with slow jams, to a football game with synchronized swimming done on turf, to weeping with laughter over old YL skits, to a visit with a 47-day-old blessing, to a four-year-old who laughs with me like he is my age and enjoys "two flavas" with dinner, to reuniting with old friends who recommend learning to be a "Guitar Hero", to time on Custer with my brothers watching Ali, to a ride and a sweet prayer with a best friend... I could tell you stories for days. Thanks to you all, and I have no doubt you are in my corner cheering me on as loud as you do our beloved HOGS! : )
I fly out on Wednesday, the night of the 13th from Dallas. Will be in touch!

Oh, and the sermon on Sunday focused on these words and following (Ecc. 3.1-15) which touched me. Allowing ourselves time for each is important. I am thankful that the Lord affirms us in each of these moments of life.
Ecclesiastes 3.1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..."

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Well, hello! Yep, this flag is positioned stategically for an important reason...
I move to London in three weeks!
I know! I know! I know! I found out today, and needless to say, I am gathering my composure from receiving such exciting news. I will have much more to come in the very near future without doubt as my brain will now not be able to rest for some time. But, I could not let the day pass with a quick note to document such a TREMENDOUS day!

Monday, 21 August 2006

So, here you have it...the visa. Woo hoo! I kept trying to add it to that last post, but for some reason, the blogger dashboard was not pleased with this request. I am getting closer to being able to jet across that big pond. That trip has become a bit more tense in the past days for those embarking, yeah? I am pleased to say that all my fellow London staff have been traveling tran-atlantic like lately and have arrived home to the UK.
Life is in what seems to be something of a holding pattern in days recent. On the verge of being ready to move to London, but...not quite yet. I anticipate I have only a matter of weeks left here in the States. I am pleased that I will be able to attend my pal, Sally's nuptials in a couple weeks, and I amy also pop in at my 10 year high school reunion. What? I know, 10 years. Has anyone seen "Grosse Pointe Blank"? John Cusack stellar...a bit of a movie reunion for he and his "Say Anything..." cast friends. I highly recommend both of these films to this reading audience. Now, for those knowledgeable, I am certain my reunion will hold none of the morbidity that GPB contains, but I have been thinking about this strange interchange that goes on with John, Minnie Driver, and Jeremy Piven as old friends reunited as I think of my soon-to-be time with old friends. Lives lived, families started, careers embarked
It truly does feel like ten years have passed for me since I lived in Springdale with long hair and a life that consisted of homework, bowling, crushing on boys who were oblivious, and riding around in Felicia's sweet Nissan Pulsar with, get this, T-tops, like a convertible, well, almost! I thought that was the coolest car. I drove Feli crazy asking her to take them off all the time, which were actually quite a hassle to deal with most days. Oh, funny!
But, I started in most places in Arkansas today. I love the beginning of the school year! School supplies! (refer to "You've Got Mail" for great quote.) My mom would not take me to get them when I was a kid until right before the first day because I got so excited about opening them! I am not certain when school begins at ASL (my soon-to-be home of YL London-The American School of London), but I believe in September. I hope to be a Londontown local soon after the beginning of their fall year.
I don't guess I really have that much of any profound nature to relay at present. I am thankful for your prayers that I know are still being prayed on my behalf. I realise the invaluable value in your intercession, I assure you, in these days on the verge.

Monday, 31 July 2006

To your right, you will see the British Consulate in Los Angeles, California where I was issued a 2 year visa for residence in the U.K. this past Thursday. (You also can see my mom in the bottom lefthand corner with the sunglasses on.) The building looks a bit grand and intimidating? I thought so upon entering, but I was greeted by complete kindness from each person I interacted with in the half hour or so that I was inside.
Mom and I arrived about 9:30 a.m.(Pacific) for my 10:00 a.m. appointment. We were directed to the elevator where a man cleared us to go to the 12th floor, home of the Brits who approve this important document of which I was in pursuit. After going through the metal detector, which thankfully did not pick up the butterflies in my stomach, though I hardly think any device was needed to observe this feeling (a set of eyes would have worked for anyone in my vacinity), we took a seat and waited to be called forward. The interview could not have gone smoother. I was prepared with a file-a-fax full of documentation verifying my qualifications as a missionary, my proof of income... I needed none of these items. The wonderfully British-sounding woman who called me to her window asked me a few simple questions, asked for my letters (a letter from Tate and Brooke, my supervisors in London, that officially invites me to join their team, and a letter from Young Life here to verify my employment), and typed information into her computer. My mind was blown! "Take this ticket and wait for my colleague to call your number so you can pay her. Then, come back between two and three, and pick up your visa." I have spent more time at paying my water bill or getting my driver's license renewed! Wow! You see a bit more why I thanked you over and over. So blessed!
Mom and I caught the bus down Wilshire Blvd to the Santa Monica pier and to the 3rd Street Promenade where we shopped a bit and ate some great pizza while we killed time between interview and pick-up of visa.
The next morning we awoke early to grab Starbucks and take a brief tour of some movie star homes and pop onto Rodeo Drive. I have a million pictures of houses that I cannot now identify who lives in them. But, trust me, someone famous lives in each one. I wouldn't lie to you! Yes, we went into the "Reg Bev Wil" for a brief moment. Some of you will get that reference. : )

We flew out later that afternoon and had a rather scary ride. I sat in the middle seat on row 19 attempting to read my latest Jane Austen novel, Emma, which takes much concentration. (Jane can get a bit lengthy in her descriptions, background info, and nuances...must be why I enjoy her writing so much, huh?) The beverages had just been delivered and all were settling in for a pleasant flight, when...drop! Yes, the plane dropped. The flight attendant standing at the end of my row fell to the floor with no opportunity to brace her fall. Another attendant who was closer to the rear of the plane, near my mom's seat, was thrown to and fro against the wall and sustained minor injury. Everyone who had a drink on his/her tray flew all over the person sitting next to them. ("Emma" and I got a bit wet from the passenger sitting on my right.) Apparently, a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere and the pilot could not avoid it as he had hoped. Have you ever seen any of those made-for-TV movies about plane crashes and such? Though I try not to watch such frightening drama, I must say I have seen bits and pieces of one or two. I felt as if for a few moments, I was in a movie. Flight attendants and passengers alike screamed in the rows behind me. My stomach was tied in knots as I tried hard to transport myself back into old England and Mr. Knightley's obvious growing adoration for Miss Woodhouse, while praying the promise that the Lord alone makes me dwell in safety(Ps. 4.8). It honestly took me about an hour "to sit back, relax, and try to enjoy the rest of the flight" as previously directed by the flight crew. After the flight, I heard mom was completely drenched during the jostle with her freshly-poured coffee and also got to overhear the freaking out of all of the flight attendants throughout the remainder of the flight. (Sigh!)
We came out unscathed, full of thanks, and happy to be back on the ground. Our trip was a success and a blessing!
Perhaps in the next installment I will tell you a bit about our driver, Rulf, who was half Peruvian, half Columbian. He is married to a Japanese woman, and speaks three languages. What an educated, trivia-filled gentleman who helped calm my nerves on the way to the consulate by making me concentrate on understanding his thick accent as he told us facts about endangered condors in the California.

Sunday, 30 July 2006

1 Corinthians 12...
4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

The promise from my last post was that I would address my realisation of my need for people in my world. I would like to gladly fulfill my word.
Throughout my life post-college, I have repeatedly come face-to-face with my need to allow friends to help me live a healthy existence. Yes, this lesson is undoubtedly learned by everyone one way or another, sometimes with ease, sometimes with resistance.
I must say that many times I resist this need to involve others. I have a tendency to think through issues/problems, decide on a plan for resolution, and take that action step. I know this behaviour can exclude people from my life, keep relationships at surface level, increase my stress level, and hinder health.
One large lesson from this process of the Lord readying me to move to London for which I am thankful? I must have friends surrounding me, praying for me, helping me, in order for the Lord's ministry, His call on my life, to be healthy, balanced, rooted in truth, and effective. The Lord knows us with such intimacy. I am convinced that He knows the need for practical example in my life to help me see his lessons. The stories he plays out in my life help me remember what I can/should do, and what I cannot/should not do. I am beyond thankful for this continued lesson!
Friends, I am very close to being able to make this move across that pond to Londontown. The Lord honors his promises, hears your prayers, and leads at just the right pace.
So, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again for being my friends, my teammates, my prayer warriors, my brothers and sisters. I am convinced of my need for each and every one of you in order to effectively do the Lord's work!

Saturday, 22 July 2006

"Hold a true friend with both your hands." * Nigerian Proverb
"There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven't met yet."
-- Anonymous

Friends are my favourite. I know that this truth is what causes me to have such devotion to the fifteenth chapter in the book of John in that wonderful ancient manuscript full of faith, hope, and love.
One of my pals, Michelle, told me last weekend that she loved hearing me talk about my friends and the way they bless me so deeply. She said she was amazed by all the sweet, deep, and memory-filled relationships I am privileged to have in my life. I have known this fact, but it was so great to hear her perspective and see her smiles mixed with tears as she truly felt the love and appreciation I have for my friends. I must say here that Michelle is one of the most caring people I have encountered. I saw this lived out as her tears came in conjunction with my own. What a heart she has been given!
I had a great week of spending time with several of these dear people in my life. I went back to Fayetteville for a few days to have some meetings over quite a few meals. How could it get any better? Friends, food, and fellowship. Love it!
I chatted with current friends and met a few new ones. Each one blessed me in their excitement for my upcoming move to do ministry. Oh how I need all of you desperately to go do what I am about to go do. (Look for the next blog to address just this topic. Thanks, Ryan.) Thanks to you all that took the time to chat with me, share meals with me, and care about me!

My friends Matt and Ginny had their precious baby boy, Eliot Hartman, on Thursday! You can check out their website for more info on them...such a beautiful story of God's peace in the midst of difficulty, confusion, and unanswerable questions. The Lord is the giver of peace and hope. I have never in my life seen such an instance of the fleshing out of this verse: "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." (1 Cor 10.13) Their story of the life of Eliot is not one of temptation, but one of the Lord's faithfulness to not give them more to deal with than they can handle. His faithfulness is present obviously in His gifts of peace, joy, hope, and thankfulness for their firstborn little boy. Their burden has been taken on by Him to enable them to "bear" life in the midst of uncertainty. I am thankful to be able to call The Mooney three my dear friends!
My trip back up to the ville to see Baby Eliot provided me a sweet opportunity to reunite with some friends from college. I was afforded the gift of hearing "the rest of the story", if you will, from one of these friends I traveled with about quite a story that I was on the periphery of in my last year or so of collegiate life.
The Lord provides such unexpected blessings sometimes! I love His surprises. It is as if He knows how much I enjoy being surprised. Go figure. : )
Touched. Inspired. Filled with respect. Humbled. Grateful. Honored. Thankful.

People are beautiful...such dynamic beings who fall, have victory, make mistakes, rise above those mistakes, provide insight, teach through their stories, set examples, know their limits, forget their limits, live in pride, get reminded to be humble, get lost, are found, do things that are not the greatest, apologize, show love ... (the list goes on and on)
I believe so much of my affection for hearing others' stories of redemption lies in my own undeniable need for redemption. I believe it is no coincidence that Jesus used the model of "story" to share His good news.
Effective. Touching. Inspiring. Practical. Intentional. Relatability.

Relation: an aspect or quality (as resemblance) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together or as being of the same kind. (Webster, of course) Makes sense to me. Relationship: the state of being in "relation".

I adore being educated by others. I long to listen and be sensitive to not miss chances to hear. May the windows continue to open, so I may continue to have a peek into "real" life lived out by my friends (current and future).

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Just a quick note to explain the obvious update to the aesthetics of the blog. The ability to comment, email me, and set up other personalizations was hindered by that last template, so I have opted for this new one. Please feel free to comment, and if you should want to email, you can click on my profile, select that option, and it will direct you automatically to my address. So much mo better!
Look for a new update at the beginning of next week speaking of my move to Little Rock, a venture back up north to Fayetteville for meetings, and my upcoming trip to Los Angeles to obtain my UK residence visa.
Thanks, friends!

Saturday, 8 July 2006

The last move ...the last one that is until I move to Jolly Ole, as I have taken to calling England lately. My residence lies in Little Rock with my fam. currently.
Over the past month, the wave of the World Cup has washed over me, as I have been heartily rooting on "stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp, ENGLAND!" in their attempt to win it all. Unfortunately, they have not made it as far as we all had hoped. I can see myself getting very involved in football, as they call it. Thinking about becoming an avid soccer watcher, where most of the time the only applicable cheer seems to be "KICK IT!", I have had my doubts about how much I would join the rest of the world in loving this game. However, the energy and excitement of this grand tournament has awakened a genuine interest and enjoyment that I am quite excited about, knowing I will not have to feign interest or learn statistics and players' names just to not sound ridiculous in conversation once living in the U.K. Much to my dismay (and the entire country) England lost to Portugal in penalties. Heartwrenching, it was. Well, we will just have to win it next year when I live there. Yes.

Also, I have come upon the conclusion that one of my new looking-forward-to's (Yes, I just made that up...if I had my own vocabulary dictionary, that one would be in it, my pal, Aaron.) about moving to England is simply the vast amount of knowledge to be learned. What a gift to move to a new culture and immerse oneself in new smells, sounds, tastes, conversation, music... you name it. Some might differ in opinion, but knowledge-gathering is one of the reasons why I have come to enjoy watching Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show. He completely cracks me up,(I mean, please, what isn't funnier in a Scottish accent. Let's just be honest.) and he teaches me all sorts of facts about Britain. Trust me. It might be worth staying up a bit later just to watch his monologue one night. He can get a tad racy at times, but overall he is just plain funny.

My goal for changing my address to Londontown is AUGUST! If you think of it, please pray that this timeframe becomes a reality. I believe it to be possible, as I have reached 60% in my fundraising.

My friend and fellow lover of England (and King Kong), Joel, tuned me into a church in London that is truly blessing my soul. Podcasts are delightful, I must say.
A great word from this past week's message was simply stated (quoted from the movie, Junebug):
"God loves us just as we are. But he loves us enough to not let us stay that way."

How poignant a statement! God is big. God is intimate. God has perfect timing.
Recently, I have had an interesting experience with the Lord's timing. I don't know about you, but most often I want difficult, awkward, uncomfortable things to go away quickly. The Lord often desires to teach me through what seems to me to be quite a lengthy process. Well, this past month the Lord has decided to work a bit quicker than previous experience would have predicted. He knows exactly how to love on me, what length of process in healing/reflection is necessary, and how to remind me what is His job and what is mine. What a wonderful God! He desires so much for us to give every inch of ourselves to him...every part of our heart, plan, hope, love...our life. He is showing me that He is faithful to fulfill what He has promised. I pray that tomorrow I will have the resolve and desire to give him more than I have today.

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

A nomad... yes, time for another look at our pal Webster. The word nomad is defined as "an individual who roams about aimlessly". I'd say that pretty much sums up my world this past weekend. I am amazed at how I am beginning to realize that "home" is the place where you make it, where your heart resides. When I was growing up, I was super attached to my house, my neighborhood, my normal rhythm of life. I lived in the same house from age three to eighteen. When my family moved out of said house, I wanted no part in packing up my childhood and seeing my favourite place in boxes.
College and the world of Young Life have taught me that I take home with me wherever I go, that no building truly creates comfort. We fill those places with life, laughter, coziness, and connection. I am thankful for this realization so that I am not as devastated when I leave a house, apartment, or room; however, I must confess "[roaming] about aimlessly" is not my preference. I realize the necessity of this lifestyle at the moment, but I do look forward to my move to London when I can nest again in my new space. My friend, Brian, likes to use that word, "nesting", to sort of poke fun at girls in general because we seem to have that innate need. Boys nest, too; they just will not call it that. : )
I have just been watching Bonnie Hunt on Letterman. Friends, she is hilarious...such quick wit and comedic timing.

Today, I read an article that referenced The Princess Bride, quoting Wesley as saying, "Life is pain. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something". Sounds pretty depressing, doesn't it? Well, life is depressing at times. Exactly the point. The author of this article makes a great statement: "This isn't as depressing as it seems. It's just perspective. A realistic perspective on the hardship of humanity."
Perspective is one of my life words. I call it a life word, I think, due to my immeasurable need for an outside look into me and because I continue to be so thankful for it when this view comes into my world, from the Lord and quite frequently from my friends. My friend, Mark, once called it having thermometers in our lives, those who can see a side we cannot see of ourselves and help us gauge our temperature, our health. What a great analogy, I have always thought.
Life evokes emotion, feeling, and decision-making. Owning up to and identifying emotion is always a bit of a challenge to me. My default is to put on a good face, take care of myself, and swallow any frustrations or uneasiness. Though I cannot pinpoint the source of these behaviours of mine, I have no question they exist. Understanding that life truly lived involves awkwardness, emotions, mistakes, communication, apologies, rebuilding, change... frees me to feel normal, human, and okay with not being perfect. I like smoothness and comfort.
"Trust me", the Lord says. "But I think I can take care of it. I can sort through it and figure out how to make all of this healthy and smooth", I reply, matter-of-factly. "I can do it, and I will if you will just allow me", says He.
May I encourage you that this last statement is completely true. He never said anything about it being easy or lacking pain. He did promise to be faithful and to never leave us. Pain is a part of life. We should expect that fact. Thankfully, we get to choose who we rely on and in whom we place our trust for our ultimate comfort, our true Home.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Congratulations Fayetteville Lady Dawgs on winning the 5A State Fast Pitch Softball Championship this past Saturday!!
As some of you know, I have been an assistant coach with these girls for the past 3 years. I could not be prouder of them for all their hard work this year to get all the way to holding up this trophy! We have won the conference 3 consecutive years now, had 2 semi-final appearances the past two years, and now a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!
Last week the team and I spent a lovely 6 night, 7 day vacation at The Cranbury Inn& Suites in the lovely destination of Jacksonville, Arkansas. Our stay was lengthy due to multiple rain delays. What an of those where memories are forever made. One of my favorite things...memories.
I am so grateful for my time invested in this team of unique, hilarious, and spirited girls who have enriched my life immensely. Coach Shirey, our head coach, has taught me lessons in leadership, discipline, and expecting excellence. The impact he has made on me cannot be measured. I am thankful. Girls who call me "Brinktizzle", who knock on my hotel room constantly wanting to play Samaurai, who incessantly try to mess me up as I count heads over and over in the bus... I will miss it all. What a great ending to my time coaching! Go Dawgs!

Monday, 24 April 2006

The beauty of technology. One can spend above an hour attempting cleverness and literary sharpness for readers to enjoy, scratch their heads, and praise the author for her insight, and then the computer can choose to disconnect and erase all contents of said scribe's composition. Ironic, I think it, as some of my topic from my first compilation of words dealt with my pride issue. : ) Yes. Perfect.

The prayer laid upon my heart since my journey to Londontown has begun has been that the Lord would provide open doors to assure me that this path is indeed His. A thought occurred to me today as I was surfing the net for pictures of cool old doors in London. I googled "open doors in London". I found a few, but I found more that look like this weathered one here. Is it locked? Is it unlocked? We, as the audience looking at this two dimensional entryway know not the answer to these questions. We would have to be physically present to touch the handle and turn it to reveal this mystery.
New perspective on my prayer about doors...The Lord is not a puppeteer. He will lead me, but what is my life quote? "Faith is in our feet." I must step up to the doors, open them, and walk through for Him to show me his continuing, active, tailor- made living plan. He has continued to answer my prayer of doors. At times I let my pride, self-sufficient nature, and stubborness become giants standing in front of those doors. I am transported back to the question..."What am I convinced of?" "What, or rather Who, is my center?" Always easy for me to get those commandments one and two out of order. How beautiful, intimate, and intentional the Lord is with me, to give me a couple instructions for life that I so desperately desire with my personality of wanting to have directions to follow. I love reading directions on anything...shampoo, recipes, rules to games. I know, I know. Love me or leave me...just a dorky insight into me. Thanks be to God for Sarah Harmeyer, my ambassador of pointing me to the order of one and two!

John Piper writes, "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him". My trek takes my mind to this significant quote often. Funny, it does not say that we should be satisfied, gratified to the full (Webster), in Him, my friends, my family, my finances, my home... Nope, "in Him"...first. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6.33) if I keep number one in its place, number two will be taken care of? Right. Thanks again for the reminder. Seems like Piper has some wisdom here.
Lord, may my full gratification come from your Well.

"And the weight of glory, if you held it in your hand, it would pass right through you, so now's your chance..." --Caedmon's Call
(Amazing album!)

Just a recommendation for a great read, in my opinion. Our community group has been working our way through the pages of this book. I find myself underlining like crazy.

Monday, 10 April 2006

Do you have friends that make you more clever? Friends that you feel smarter and funnier around? Have you found music that holds unpredictable, profound lyrics that challenges your prior notion of how a song is normally composed? I hope you do. I do. A handful of persons in my life make my wit sharper, my smile broader, and my heart richer. My friend, Lauren (pictured above with her boy Patrick) sharpens my humor because she challenges me to retort in a similar way as she has just spoken, with smart, sometimes random, word choices. A handful of musicians fill my heart with joy and make me sing at the top of my lungs. I love it!
Do you have people who you feel like are "your people"? You feel a level of ease, depth, unspoken understanding, care, and kindredness of mind. I hope you do. If you don't, find them. I believe everyone has at least a couple of kindreds to immerse themselves in. I have been struck lately by the definition of friendship. Not all look the same, nor should they appear identical...tis impossible and improbable. At times that notion is difficult for me. My longing for connection with people often can supercede my knowledge that "my people" my not number in large quantities, and that is ok. Expectations are huge, as well as, parameters. Once I know the framework and expectations of a friendship, my heart and head live in such freedom. Most times my heart runs way ahead of my brain, and the reins have to be pulled back to assess how to balance connection rather than going to extremes.
So, my word is this, I guess...treasure "your people". Treasure those that you don't consider "your people". After all #2 tells us to love our neighbor. We should treasure everyone. But do so for who they are, not for who you think they ought to be or who you would want them to be. The key is to remember how I want to be treasured...just how I am with all my junk, unconditionally. The word treasure, as my pal Webster sees it, means to hold or keep as precious. Who doesn't want to be treasured? Noone, I dare say. Expect that though all friendships will not look alike, they all enrich our lives. No man is an island, as Merton says. Thanks for being my friends, my favored companions who I think precious.
Music feeds my soul. What a poweful medium that can uplift, challenge, help us turn off our brains, inspire... The other day, I was driving to work listening to my ipod on shuffle, my favourite feature these days. I love to listen to David Gray. I love to listen to Jason Mraz. I love to listen to several other artists, of course, but I was struck by these two specifically that morning. You know how sometimes you listen to music because everyone else does or because you want to sound like you are cool because this artist is the one that everyone is talking about? I do this, yes, I am admitting that, I fall to peer pressure and always want to be in the loop of "coolness". However, I happened upon both of these gifted gents on my own, and I love them both...musically, of course. (I know them not.) People sometimes laugh at me about my intense liking of both artists. (I think this laughter comes mostly from them only knowing their radio-played songs, which as per usual most times does not reflect true depth from an artist, only what the masses will tap their toe to and sing over and over.) Tis ok. I am secure in appreciating their talent. Richness, poetry, originality, depth.
A bit of a random monologue, but my point is embrace music you love, treasure friends, and be passionate. Life is so rich and full of passionate pursuits. I believe we all have something we hold passion for and our hearts know joy when we find it.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

today: thirty march oh six...
How cool is London? I found this picture on a website on St. Patrick's Day. They dye the water in the fountain at Trafalgar Square green. I just thought that was rather fun and worth a post. : )

Last Sunday I was introduced to all three services at my church as a missionary that is being sent out to London. What a blessing that time was for me! I got to see many friends at my booth I was assigned to out in the foyer, as well as getting to meet some new folks who have interest in what I am going to be doing when I move. I even had a guy, who I believe was a high schooler or maybe a college kid, come by to tell me about a great band that he loves that is based in London. This interchange with the afore mentioned nameless fellow makes me smile as I remember it. What a picture to me of why I love kids. He was hanging around waiting to chat for a little while as I was occupied with others. I saw him leave, and then when the crowd thinned, he reappeared.
"What's up?", he asked enthusiastically.
"It's been so long since I've seen you!" he continued.
"I know...seriously!", I said, playing along with him.
"Like at least five minutes", he quipped.
I loved it! He went on to tell me about this band that he loves, as well as mentioning a girl he knows who is in London who needs Jesus. The Lord continues to amaze me in his attention to detail. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." (James 1.17) I see this as a truth. The Lord can and does use anything to affirm, encourage, and inspire. Chatting with this mystery kid affirmed yet again why I love working with young people!
I am spending today indoors working on organizing my world as much as possible, doing follow up with potential donors and assessing where I am in my goal to move. From the looks of things, I am at about the halfway mark of having my money committed. The goal I have set currently for being ready to leave sits at the end of May. I know I had mentioned possibly moving in with some friends to cut down on costs in this lean time, but it appears that I will be staying put until the middle of May thanks to a sweet friend who is helping with some expenses.

Trust..."assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something", Webster says. Ok, yes. I agree with the definition. A bit harder to put into practice, yeah? Yet another essential entity that must take root in one's heart in addition to one's head. Trust...a daily decision I continue to discover, just as love is.
All is on track as far as I can see. I continue to keep my headlamp on.
"Remain in me, and I will remain in you." (John 15.4)