Tuesday, 18 December 2007

In trying to keep in step with one, Chris Bowser, (and to give him a bit of a mention), I am blogging away these days. My parents are in the air surely to be crossing the Atlantic in a matter of moments en route to see me in Londi for the holidays. I am beyond excited to show them my city. I had another "I love London" moment today as I took the scary step out my door into the frigid weather and into the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers. I chose Covent Garden as my first destination, trying to avoid Oxford Street at all costs. I spent an extremely pleasant quarter of an hour sipping my grande Starbucks and leaning over the red railing in the center of the market area to listen to a string quintet...no, there were six of them... What do you call that? Anyway, I watched and listened to these superbly talented folks play with such joy. If you have ever been to Covent Garden (at any time of the year, not just during the holidays), you can picture this scene of talented street performers. The word that comes to mind? I must say... "lovely", followed by a deep sigh. The guy playing the stand-up bass ran round and round it never skipping a beat. He would carry his bass around the cafe-type sitting area to cajole passers-by to throw a bit of change in their basket or to buy a copy of their cds. He blocked the staircase and stared at people until they caught his eye and made them smile. Lovely.
The day did not start off quite so delightfully. I saw, what you might say, both sides of the coin of a city today. As I hopped on the 247 bus to go to my Lord's Cricket Ground stop, my head turned to the rear of the bus. A seemingly drunken man (I must mention it was barely noon) began to argue with another bloke about who got to sit in a seat on our crowded mode of transport. Pushing and yelling ensued. The bus pulled over at the first stop possible, and the bus driver yelled from his enclosed seat in the front that he would call the police if they did not calm down. The two men paid no mind to the driver's warning. All of the rest of us who were lucky enough to be witnessing this interaction, which was bit unnerving, to be honest, seemed to be staring at and inching toward the closed doors to make a hasty exit. As the bus driver yelled that he was, indeed, phoning the police, those of us longing for escape were given our wish when the doors were opened. We filed out and all stood around watching the goings-on, quite the show, actually. By the time we had alighted onto the curb, another 274 bus had pulled up behind us at the stop (which I must say, is utterly shocking since I rarely see these busses meeting up as they seem to be horribly off-schedule most days). All of the passengers from my bus immediately went to board this new arrival but were halted by the second bus driver leaving his seat to go support his colleague. As these two bus drivers, the two disgruntled men, and the gaping masses waited on the police to arrive, I chose to walk. When I arrived in St John's Wood, my core was a bit frozen, but at least I avoided getting into the mix of that altercation any further. Life in a big city...lots of people equals drama and delight all at the same time. I do love London. If you ever get the chance to visit, do not hesitate! Lovely.

Word of the day? Christingle. Google this. Our entire church service comprised a skit of one of the student pastors standing on stage in a paper mache orange. Hilarious! : )

Happy Christmas!!!!

Friday, 14 December 2007

I love London. I have just had the loveliest, most humourous walk home I have had in a long time. Oftentimes, I look straight ahead or at my eye level when walking down my city streets. As most of you know, I stopped growing in 6th grade, a.k.a. 11years of age, so my "eye level" is not all that high. This most recent stroll goes to show me that sometimes it pays to look up and around. No lie, as I looked to my left into a window of one of the many brownstone-esque looking houses (picture the Cosby-style houses with white facades rather than red bricks), I saw a man holding a slice of bacon on either side of his face. Yes, bacon. A woman was standing inches away from him, taking a rather professional-looking picture of his face with the meat bookending his face. She had a stand up flash and light meter...the works. A double-take was necessity. Then, as I popped into the local newsagent to grab a Diet Coke, my entry was blocked by a mum and her two 4-or-so little kiddos trying to exit the tiny shop. I looked down to see a pushchair (stroller) awaiting their return from their shopping. As I stepped out of their way, the little boy looked up at me and said, "Well done for guarding our pushchair!", with a smile. His mum almost fell over from laughing so hard. I giggled, as well, and went inside to buy my soda. I exited the shop to see the mum and kiddos still making their way across the street adjacent me. I could still hear the woman giggling to herself. I love London.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

As I took these pictures at FWEL (Friends Who Eat Lunch) today, Micaela (a.k.a., THE BOSS) told the boys that they were going to be put up on my blog. Yeppers! She was spot on. We had quite a gang this week for pizza. Sam is sporting Micaela's nod at festiveness, the Peter Pan hat, which she claimed was similar to that of an elf for our Christmas lunch. Ok. : )
The semester is drawing to a close, and I must say that I am a bit sad to see my friends go away for several weeks. I will miss them big time! It will be nice for us all to have a break from daily routine and crazy schedules, though, no question.

My parentals arrive in a matter of days and will spend two weeks here with me in Jolly Ole'. We will be the quintessential tourists, and I am excited for us to spend the holidays in London. Not being home on Christmas will be strange. I cannot recall a Christmas morning that has happened in any other place than in my own living room in Arkansas. We return to the States on 2 January. I will spend most of my January stateside time in Florida at our Young Life All-Staff Conference that we all attend every 4 years. Palm trees, flip flops, and loads of friends run rampant in this massive gathering of over 3,000 YL staffers! I know we will have a blast!
More musings from the semester next week most likely after the school year is officially wrapped and I have no limit on my time for composing...
Oh, the bottom picture is my friend, Courtney, me, and my pal, Lana, at the David Gray concert here in my neighbourhood!!! We were on the 4th row standing! It was AMAZING, to say the least!!!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Central London WYLDLIFE!!!
We had our first event tonight which involved watching "a classic", in the words of one of these cool middle schoolers, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", eating pizza, and doing a little Christmas celebrating by decorating a couple of "trees". :) We had a great time, and we had quite the crew, especially for the first gathering ever! I am thrilled! We hope to start getting together for a WYLDLIFE event once a month beginning in February!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Primrose Hill may be my favourite place right now. Fall leaves spread across its grass simply made me want to breathe deep every time I caught a glance, strolled down a path, or happended to crunch a few underfoot. (Sigh) You see a gate here. The other night I stayed over at my friend Claire's house with her and her sister. After they were off to school the next day, I stayed at the house a bit longer. As I was leaving, I seriously stood in front of this gate for 10 minutes trying my hardest not to look like a moron to the passers-by on their way to work. I could not figure out how to open the gate. Yes, that is what I said. Finally, I noticed a button to the left of the gate, and my clearly superior problem-solving skills kicked in. Aha! I was soon free and on the other side. (I just thought that my amuse some of you.) At FWEL (Friends Who Eat Lunch- YL)...Micaela's mom brought her back this excellent turkey hat from the states about a week ago. The amount of fun we have had with it...well, it is astonishing, really. Alexis clearly is a bit jealous as she jumped in the picture. : )
The photo the crimson curtained theatre boxes was taken at Royal Albert Hall. I got to go hear Ray LaMontagne a couple of weeks ago. I felt like at any time I was going to look up into one of those boxes and see the two old men from The Muppet Show pop their puppeted-selves up and make comments. The show was amazing! Check out his music...very soulful and just...wow! Lastly a view that guarantees that I do indeed live in London these days. When my friend Mindy was in town last weekend, we, along with our pal Lana, strolled pass the Thames and this view seemed definitely picture worthy. I, like Brian Dandy, have a phone that takes great shots! In fact, now that I think about it, all of these were taken with my handy Samsung.
I am beyond excited because one of my most favourite people on the planet is on her way to see me...Sarah (Harmey)!!!! She will be here for an entire week to celebrate Thanksgiving with me. Our first Turkey day meal will be tomorrow at my precious pals, Susan and Rudy's house. We are even going to hop over the pond to see some hills that people keep saying are literally ALIVE with music. Look for updates on that trip. : )
A bit sleepy...daylight is precious these days. Darkness sets in properly at 4:30 p.m. Oh, I must mention that I got my hair cut yesterday by a fellow named Dror. Yep. Have you ever seen the sketch on SNL with Nuni and Nuni? If not, youtube it. It makes me cry with laughter...just random. When I heard other people saying Dror's name, when he said it, even when he wrote it down on a card so that I could come back and ask for him, I still couldn't sort out how to pronounce it. Made me chuckle. Just for those of you jonesing for it... I must say, he was a lovely bloke with an eye for styling. I am quite keen to make a return visit when I deem a cut to be necessary again.
"Nothing of any note"... Rather than saying "noteworthy", an English gent chose to say it this way the other day when we were having a staff meeting.
Have I told you my thesis statement for Britain?...
"the same, but a bit different". Truly. Come see me, and I think you will agree.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Visuals, as promised. You will see my bday cake with the perfect candle arrangement for my years of life. Can you do the math? I loved it! The group below is the crew who celebrated with me that day after my bday at our Thursday lunch group. Lastly, Micaela almost got third degree burns on her arm from me blowing out these clever candles. : )

Saturday, 27 October 2007

A Saturday filled with laundry, cleaning, and further nesting... just what the doctor ordered, I would say. Have I mentioned in the past that I have a handful of life words that are important for me to stay aware of and in contact with in order for me to feel centered and healthy? I feel sure that it has been mentioned. Words like balance, breathe, perspective, focus... Today I received the gift of time which allowed me to live out and see these afore mentioned crucials , as well as a few more not mentioned. It is easy for me to get lost and bogged down in the moment, in the current issues and situations, in my own world or sphere. I can get caught up in disorder, analyzation, and dirty laundry. In the midst of people at all times, I lose my compass and lose direction to my true north. Noone else knows what I need to feel healthy and in the center of effectiveness in ministry, in relationship, and in relaxation. Well, noone else knows me from the inside as well as I do (and the Lord, of course), that is; I do have friends at home that can tell from a mile away that things are a bit off with my world. Without the luxury of those people seeing me and living life with me here in England, I am realizing that it can take me a bit longer to find my center. Some of you who read this blog are just those people who act as a litmus test at home. I miss you.
The Lord has blessed me immensely with amazing friends in my new home here, but those that have known me for years and weathered heavy storms and light drizzles, along with picturesque days full of sun and birds chirping, are irreplaceable and invaluable. Relationships take time, and close friends are a gift. Thank you for your friendships, those of you who love me unconditionally across oceans and continents.

I need to mention that today, the 27th of October, marks the one year anniversary of my dear friends' Matt and Ginny's son, Eliot, passing away. He lived 99 days. Many of you may know his story. ( http://www.ignitermedia.com/products/iv/singles/570/99-Balloons ; http://mattandginny.blogspot.com ) My heart hurts for my friends as I think of them especially today.

Ministry moves along as the weeks do. Thursday YL lunches are fast becoming a tradition filled with pizza, chatting, and usually something chocolate provided by Lizzie who I fully expect to be find out has become a pastry chef in days to come. She loves to bake and make treats which is just one more reason why we like her. : ) As mentioned, this past week my great friends celebrated my birthday with me which made my heart full of joy! My birthday would not have been complete if I had not gotten to eat cake with these Thurs lunch friends!
We have decided to do an ice skating/bowling/pizza-eating even for Wyldlife kids (middle schoolers) in early December as a Christmas party. I think this gathering is going to be a hit! I hope we have lots of kids come out to play with us, and I look forward to putting a spin on the Christmas story that I predict these kids have not yet heard.
Coaching softball again this spring will in fact be a reality, and I am exceedingly excited. I may even have an opportunity to help coach some cheerleading during the winter. Who would have thought it? After trying out 3 times when I was in school and not making the squad... me, coaching it? Let me just say that I will mostly be supervising and trying to prevent injury if I do end up helping out. (And, I also must say that I would not have picked me to be a cheerleader back in the day, either. I hold no bitterness for not having made any of these squads. Does anyone remember me back then? I wanted nothing to do with being in front of people, and I was fairly quiet. Being the center of attention was never, never my desire. I still would prefer behind-the-scenes jobs, though I have learned I quite enjoy speaking when the right time arises.) I am hoping they do need me, honestly. I would love to get to know a few more girls. We shall see, and I will keep you posted.

I am thankful that I am not the source of balance, breath, perspective, and focus in my life. I am thankful that none of you are the source of these things for me either. Though, you are all wonderful and special in your own individual way to me, you are not, nor will you ever be, the source. I am thankful that the Lord is full of grace, love, and joy. I am thankful that He meets me right where I am and embraces me with His unconditional love every time. Every time. (full stop) Every time I listen or do not listen. Every time I remember or forget. Every time I feel lonely or loved. Every time I am selfish or unselfish. Every time I am lazy or productive. Every time.

Psalm 139 (The Message)
A David Psalm

1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Thanks be to God... the one true constant, the true north, the source. For me, some days engaging in relationship takes more choosing than other days. How beautiful to be assured that He chooses me EVERY TIME.

Ephesians 1 (The Message)

3-6How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7-10Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

13-14It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

pictures to come when own computer connects me to the internet.

Try saying the word "water" with a British accent today. Or get a friend to do it. If it doesn't sound lovely and make you want to drink more of this essential life beverage, I will be surprised. : )

Friday, 26 October 2007

My new house in Camdentown. Ok, well more like the path to and the front door of my house in Camdentown. I have been here for right about a month now. I am still in the process of getting settled in. I will say that when you come see me, you will notice quite a difference between the nearest high street to me, Camden High Street, as opposed to St John's Wood High Street where I lived for the past year. Camden is quite a colourful place with people of...well...let me just say every walk of life. : )

Transition...passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another. To adjust...to adapt or conform oneself (as to new conditions); to achieve mental and behavioral balance between one's own needs and the demands of others.
Webster helps me explain a couple key words that keep reoccurring in my dialogues lately. This move to this new neighbourhood has not been exactly as I anticipated. I see no need to go on and on about all the details of my move here in this platform. I mention the transition and adjustment simply to give you a touch of insight, perhaps, into my world for the past month. Most of you have probably moved a few times in your life and can remember all the new rhythms that must be learned.
One of the bits in the transition to Camdentown has brought with it many an issue with technology. Our internet has been in, out, this way and that... We got it up and working, and I thought my world had finally been put back on track and revolutionized. I had around a week of dependable world wide web dependability, and then three days ago, my computer just decided it didn't want to detect our signal in our house. What on Earth? So, my flatmate is patiently allowing me to use hers when she is not in need of it.
I have some great pictures to post of my YL lunch group from this past week where they made me a cake and creatively adorned it with candles that added up to my appropriate age. : ) I also have a couple pics of my new flatmates and my friend, Becky, who came to visit Londi all last week, and was here to celebrate our birthdays together (we have the same bday). Hopefully, I can get those posted soon. I am spending the weekend at home, laying low, and trying to recoop from, well, life, from the last month or so. I will have more ministry updates tomorrow, hopefully.
Thanks for reading, friends, and for being so faithful in prayer and support!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

The official first YL gathering of kids from ASL you see to your left! : ) From L to R: Lizzie, Micaela, Claire, Devon, and Alexis.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Look closely. Can you see the image on the green shirt Brooke is wearing? Gwen Stefani, that is correct. Liz, Brooke, Kerry, and I had a bit of a girls' staff night "winding it up" to a little Gwen. She put on a great show and even ran out into the crowd very near where we were sitting. It was a blast!

My sincerest apologies about the lack of update lately. I have moved into my new abode, and with a move comes many a challenge of setting up life, as you know. Well, in England, things tend to be a bit slower than that to which I have become accustomed to in the States. So, I am told I will have regular, predictable internet access as of next Wednesday, the 10th of October. Keep your fingers crossed, people! : )

My move went super smooth due to a gang of friends who showed up with vehicles and willing arms to carry and many boxes and bags. I truly think it took us something like 45 min to load it all and move it. Lizzie and her mom, Micaela and her mom, Claire, my friend Courtney, and myself moved it all a few weekends ago. I wish I had had a camera ready to have taken a picture of Claire and Micaela carrying the mattress for my futon across the street to Micaela's mom's van. They looked hilarious and dropped it several times. Claire even fell down at one point and stayed there laughing her head off for a few minutes. It was, in a word, awesome. : )

I am continuuing to settle in. It is proving to take a bit more time than I had anticipated. I have moved to another community in London with different shops, restaurants, grocery stores, Starbucks... It is taking a bit of time to get my bearings. I don't know why I always fail to remember that it takes some time to re-nest (Is that a word?) myself, but I do forget. Once my internet/tv/phone is all sorted, I will feel like all the puzzle pieces are in place.

Young Life begins this week with my kids at ASL! A group of us are meeting on Thursday of this week for lunch at Lizzie's house. I am truly excited to start a regular meeting. Thursdays from here on out I plan getting together. We shall see what this time shapes up to look like from week to week. Right now, I know there will be food, kids, me, and good times. This information is enough for now.

I have about 10 more minutes of internet time before I must go elsewhere today, so I will just give you one other snippet...

I am writing a book. Have I mentioned this fact? I know some of you know that I have toyed with the idea and that said book has been on the "Big Life Goal List". But, I have really begun to work on it a bit more as of late. I am enjoying piecing it together, and I thought I would let you know. Hopefully, I can begin to have some discipline about compiling my thoughts. It does seem that I am an intrinsicly drawn to write, so I am able to be more frequent in doing so. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Cheers! More soon... kb

Word/phrase of the week: "Well done!" Have I done this one? I have heard myself saying if far more lately than before. Instead of saying "Way to go!" or "Good job!", I would the Brits say, "Well done!". As far as the words/phrases of the week go, this one may be lame. It is, however, a new phrase in my vocabulary that has become a staple.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Hi, all.
Just a quick word for you on this picturesque evening in lovely St John's Wood. I have moved into my new flat (pictures to be posted soon), but my internet has not been set up as of yet. I am sitting at Starbucks doing a bit of work. My regular access may not be up and dependable for another week, sadly. So, bear with me.
I am loving my new flat! My room is as big as my entire flat that I lived in the past year. : ) I also have a washing machine! Woo hoo! It is all about the little things, folks.

Today makes my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of living in Londontown!

How blessed, I am! Soon...

Friday, 31 August 2007

So, tell me that Izzy and Ella aren't ready to come see me. Look at those Wellies. They are ready for London weather! This other picture is at graduation this past spring...my great pal, Leslie, who coaches softball with me, Micaela, me, and Claire.
Happy Labor Day for those of you in the States!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

My latest adventure?...Wyldlife camp in a place called Kidderminster for 5 days last week with all these crazy people you see above. On the right is me with our silly high school kids who were on work crew. The camp consisted of leaders and kids from three of the international schools (none from my ASL, hopefully next year) and from Hertford where we have ministry with British kids. We had quite a long weekend with the usual camp antics of field games full of water balloons and flour bombs, rousing games of four square, and an opportunity to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34.7). I made some great new friends that I now treasure, and well...just got to be at camp, which let's be honest feels like a bit of heaven. I always love it! : )

I realise that many of you have been jonesing for an update for quite some time, and I have left you wanting. To be honest, just yesterday, I felt like I have finally arrived back home in London, though technically I have been home in England since 5 August. As soon as I returned from Arkansas, I had friends on my doorstep to stay from the States. We took a short plane ride to a place called Kandern, Germany to visit my sweet pal from university days, Suzanne. Suz is the head of the music department at a school called Black Forest Academy (a school for missionary kids). She plays the piano like an angel. Wow. It turns out that Kandern is very near to both the French and Swiss borders, so we did a little border-hopping. We got to spend an entire day in Zurich, which was breathtakingly beautiful. We drove through vineyard lined streets up to a French castle, and ate food that makes me want to seriously consider living in France at some point in my lifetime. : ) Suz is such a dear friend that I had lost touch with due to life and distance since university days. I am truly blessed to have reconnected with her on this side of the Atlantic. (The first few pictures are from time with Suz.)

Upon our return from everything Germanic, French, and Swiss, I was off to Wyldlife camp to be a work crew boss...one of my favourite jobs. I so enjoy being behind the scenes and helping all the elements of camp come together in a way that dumbfounds those there as campers. What a joy! Despite the unexpected rain and wind that gave us all a bit of a cold, the time there was sweet. You just have to love camp in England where there is a coffee/tea station with a vat of hot water every ten feet in every building. Excellent!

I am thrilled to be back home in London. I am only a couple weeks out from celebrating my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my move overseas. My friends Angie and Jenny calculated the number of countries I have gotten to step foot in in this past year...drum roll, please, SEVEN! I am dumbfounded. What a blessing! What a journey the Lord is walking with me on. He continues to surprise, bless, and challenge my idea of who He is, how much He loves me, and how much He longs to fight for me.

Psalm 18.1-3...

"I love you, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.

He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies."

Zephaniah 3.17...

"The Lord your God is with you,

he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing."

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Back home in London after my three week stay in the States. I am posting some pictures of my sweet nieces, Ella and Izzy, as well as, a couple of pictures of Istanbul, where I spent the week prior to going to Arkansas. I do so to accomplish two tasks: 1. to let you know that I am still around, just traveling to and fro and trying to recover from some heavy jetlag, and b. to remind myself what I need to update you about all of the last month soon...next week. Much to say...much to say. I have a friend in town visiting, so to avoid rudeness, I will most likely hold off on the long overdue update until my world has settled back into normal routine. : )

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

I had a notable moment this evening, so I thought I would share.
I have not gotten the chance to inform many of you about something BIG happening soon for me here in Londi. I will be moving about 20 minutes away (by foot) in September when I return home to London from the States. My new place is just around Regent's Park from where I live at present, and on the map, it doesn't look all that far.
In reality, it truly isn't, and I will get more exercise...always good. However, I have been a bit bummed about the fact that I will not be living in a flat right on the high street, which is 2 minutes from the school and is 30 seconds from Starbucks where I spend 95% of my time with girls. All the other aspects of this move are complete and utter blessings! Two girls who love Jesus will be my flatmates. Loads more space than I have now (which doesn't have to be much to be much more than now). A garden!!!!...I could, and I will when I see you, go on and on about the exciting prospect of this move that have come together quite quickly...just an immense number of blessings that continue to show me the Lord's hand on and His care for every tiny detail of my life.
The one downer in this new scenario has been the distance of this new spacious abode from where I do ministry.
Tonight, as I said, I went to my home group which meets near where I will be moving. Right outside the flat where we were meeting sits a bus stop. (I must interject here that I have never been to this particular flat where we met.) I discovered tonight that said bus gets me to the end of the high street, where I currently live and have begun mourning leaving its nearness to all that my world encompasses these days, in a matter of four minutes! Until tonight and this discovery of transport, I thought I was going to have to resolve myself to trekking this journey by foot multiple times daily to get to the street that has become so vital to me. I told Becky, my friend and one of my two new flatmates who made this discovery for me, quite enthusiastically, that this find of transport has now "revolutionized my world!" She just laughed at my enthusiasm and walked me to the bus stop.
After my bus ride, I walked down the high street to get to my studio flat where I will reside for essentially another month, factoring in my time abroad this summer, and I thought..."It just keeps getting better..." Sound familiar to any of you? For most of you, it might not, but for a selected few who who wore a red bow and an oversize mouse pin for a week , I know you recognize this statement. For those of you who are not Ouachitonians (what we are called who are alumni of Ouachita Baptist University), this is my sorority's motto. Funny that it popped into my head tonight. I can honestly say that this statement has never come to mind before in post-college life. But, how poignant and appropriate for this evening! I must say that I am not certain if this motto is holding true for my EEE sisters, but I can say with certainty...
Life with the Lord..."it just keeps getting better..."
kym : )

Friday, 8 June 2007

Ok, from top to bottom... La Mer (a.k.a. Meditteranean Sea); a random Frenchman in a shop actually wearing a beret!; my cool freshman pals, Micaela and Claire; Randy Jackson; Roger Moore.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Nice equals 'NICE'! What a lovely mini-break in the south of France with Mom, Aunt Char, and Aunt Karen! I got to spend 4 days popping around the cobblestone streets, mountainsides, and rocky beaches of the French Rivera earlier in the week. : )

What a gift to get to see the Mediterranean in all its majesty and to get to see my fam on this side of the Atlantic. I also saw a couple of celebs on my plane on the way home to Londontown. Roger Moore, a.k.a. James Bond, and Randy Jackson, of American Idol fame, were both on my flight. Pretty cool! I tried to get some pictures on my phone, but I am afraid my trying to be inconspicuous sort of hindered my photography. I will see if I can post some pics of them so you can see.
The school year is coming to an end here at ASL. All my girls are in the midst of finals and are looking forward to graduation next Friday. I must say that I am looking forward to it, as well. I have had a great time especially this semester here coaching softball and getting to spend fantastic, meaningful time with my new friends high school friends. I am also ready to get to come to the States to see you all.
The weather in Londontown is delightful! In the winter months here, as some of you know, the weather is extremely dark and dreary. On the flip side, the summer brings much daylight, soothing breezes, and smiling faces! The sun rises about 4:30 a.m. and sets near 10:00 p.m. I love it! I am pleased to get to spend the whole of June here to enjoy this amazing city!
The summer months bring time for to relax a bit and time to think about and plan for the upcoming fall. I went to my first small group from church this week, and I loved it! I met a couple of people that I instantly clicked with and look forward to hanging out with more in the future. Over the past month, I have also started volunteering at church with the 4-6 year olds! Oh, my goodness. I cannot put into words how cute these kiddos are with their English accents. I had a little girl correct my grammar the other morning. She was colouring a sheet with Jesus and the man with leprosy on it. I asked her which one was Jesus and which one was the leper. She replied, "You should have asked who are these men?" Oh my! A few seconds later, she was wrapping me in "loo roll" (a.k.a. toilet paper) to demonstrate being a leper. So fun! Such a dose of joy on Sunday mornings for me! The Lord is definitely blessing my pursuit of community, and I thankful!
Oh, one more thing...I saw PAUL MCCARTNEY outside my Starbucks! Yes! I was sitting inside having coffee with one of my senior girls...I looked out the window...and said (a bit too loud) "Hello, PAUL MCCARTNEY!" I was dumbfounded. He has just recently released a new album and was there with a friend to pose in front of the poster advertising it on the Starbucks' window. He stood directly in front of me to pose. I had not the sense of mind to find my phone in my bag to try to snap a photo of him. I mentioned that I exclaimed a bit louder than I intended? Well, at least 3 people around me said, "He's in here all the time. He just lives up the street", nonchalantly. "Well, I have heard that, but I had yet to see him," I replied. Pretty cool.
Back by popular demand...
Word/phrase of the week: "Brilliant!" In place of "great" or "excellent" or basically any other term of emphatic excitement, it seems to be more often than not, "brilliant."

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Just a few shots of our week in Frankfurt. We brought home third place! Go Eagles! Off to Nice in a matter of hours so must get some zzzzz's.
I love these girls! Thanks for helping me get here to meet them! : )

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

I always hate to begin a letter, post, or email with an apology, but I am doing so here today. Sorry for not being in better touch over the past few weeks. I am on my way to Frankfurt, Germany tomorrow in the early a.m. for our big end of the season tournament for softball. We would equate it to a state tournament, I suppose. We call is ISST's, or International Schools Sports Tournament. Our hopes are high that we can come back with the title! : )

I will and can only be brief about the past couple of week's happenings... I can tell you that relationships with girls are deepening at a rate that only the Lord can explain. I am blessed to say that I have great friendships with several of the girls on the team, and I am having opportunity to be challenged, to be strengthened, and to become more and more reliant on the Lord's wisdom to show me next steps to take in certain situations. I feel overwhelmed at times and completely humbled to be placed into such life issues as those I have encountered as of late. If you think of it, would you pray for my continued boldness, wisdom, and follow through? Thank you. I assure you that the Lord is being faithful in circumstance and is using me to be his vessel. I am sure that He is doing the work, and I am only the vessel.

I am traveling to Nice, France to see my mom and two aunts almost immediately upon my return from Germany. I will be home in Londontown for the entire month of June, and I promise to work harder on giving you more detail and update. Thanks for being my friends, for being faithful to pray, and for your continued support in so many ways!! I cannot wait to see you this summer! I will be in the states in July. I will send an email update with dates soon!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Munich equals beautiful. I know that I have spoken many times about visiting Munich, but up until this last trip I had only been to the airport in Munich and then promptly caught a train to Starnberg. I got a proper view of Munich this time around.
I have posted a few visuals of my few days in Germany last week. Liesl, me, and Adam in the English Garden standing in front of a very cold river; Taryn, me, Julie, Liz, Liesl, and Michael at the biergarten near the Chinese Tower; a maypole in on of the "platz"es; Liz, Liesl, Taryn, and me with the Glockenspeil in the distance; a German guy surfing, yes, surfing on a river in the English Garden.
Munich is pretty in a different way than England is pretty. The foliage in Munich reminds me of North Carolina or Arkansas...a bit more of a natural, unmanicured green beauty.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

ASL Eagles in the huddle on Sunday at our all-day London rec league tournament...

We came in 2nd. I even got to play a little 3rd base. If you look close, you can see me in uniform with them. Just thought you might like to see the girls. They crack me up and delight my days as of late. More soon...

Off to Munich for the rest of the week for our last bit of training. Cheers until next week!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Ever felt like you have too much to do to pray? And then, "something" inside tells you, "You have too much to do NOT to pray!" Yeah. Life overwhelms me and I get tossed to and fro oftentimes, like I am trying to swim in an ocean. As I think about this imagery, which by the way, scares me even more since I don't have a love for the water, I feel beaten down, tired, helpless, and worried. The next thought tells me that the Lord calmed the storm "immediately" when the disciples asked for help (Mt. 8.23-27). I am thankful for that "something" that lives in me that quickly jerks me out of my desperation doggie-paddle. More often than not, I try to do what I can to fix a situation, brainstorm, make phone calls, make lists... My first inclination is to "do", to "problem-solve", to "work harder" to come up with an answer. I know these tendencies like the back of my hand. I carry them with me like luggage from one place to another. I functioned this way in Arkansas as much as I do now in London. A wise friend of mine who lives in Guatemala on YL staff told me months before I set off for Londi: "No matter where you go, you take yourself with you." Yep. Confirmed. I find a lot of comfort in that statement, actually. I also find a lot of frustration and aggravation. What comes after those negative thoughts and emotion about myself?...a thought of a passage in Romans 9 that I remember reading one day in college while sitting by Lake DeGray during a necessary afternoon getaway (I spent a lot of time there.), "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " I beat myself up for not being gifted in certain areas, for not being able to do certain things well that seem so easy for others. I struggle to ask for help, not wanting to burden or make presumption. I suppose I had figured out how not to struggle there would be no need for Jesus, yeah? Yeah.
I have learned that being alone for long stretches of time intensifies these predispostions to be so independent and self-sufficient. I will say that I feel good about having begun to take steps toward decreasing the alone time as of late. I am doing all I can at a measured pace to begin to build a bit more community. You can pray for that quest, if you think of it. You can also pray that I would not swim so rigourously, that I would wade out bit by bit, and that I would cry out for help when I need it "being fully persuaded that [had] power to do what he [has] promised".

Word/phrase of the week: "unlucky!" Clearly, we all know what this word means. However, it is a true testament to the politeness of the English in my opinion when you hear it on the "pitch" (field) of various sport competions. We (our ASL team, and even I got to play a little 3rd base) played in a London women's league sball tournament yesterday, and I heard it frequently when someone overthrew the ball or threw a poor pitch. I have heard it on the football pitch (soccer field), as well, when someone misses a goal kick..."Oh, unlucky!" Makes me smile.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

I am at a complete loss about where to begin. My week in Bulgaria was, as I said in my email, mind-boggling. It was beyond belief to me that people live in such a place as this orphanage in which we spent the week working.
Before I forget, let me explain the pictures you see above... One of the things that we discovered we could do without speaking the same language was make friendship bracelets. This is one of our girls making a bracelet with a boy that lives in our orphanage. This particular boy loves to say things like, "SUPER!", and the fave word of us all..."WOOOOOOW!" : ) The next two photos give you an idea of the work we got to do. The walls when we arrived were a deep green color like the gate you see in the last picture. The place quite honestly, looked like a dungeon, especially with such little electricity inside. We painted a mountain scene in light colors, which did a world of good to brighten up the place. We also made several picnic tables to put in their dining room in the basement and to place outside for them to sit on.
In the midst of all the work, we did take a bit of time to play with the kids. You see Jon here bouncing the basketball to four of the kiddos. The final picture is my friend, Desi, on the final day during our celebration. He adorned himself with streamers.
In the picture where the first picnic table has just been completed, you see the center room of the building. To the left of this room is the boys' corridor, and to the right is the girls' corridor. Up the stairs you see are rooms that house adults...why?...good question. (I can elaborate on that bit later.) Directly beneath the upper staircase is a staircase that leads down into the dining room and kitchen. In my email, you saw a picture of what that entryway to the dining room looked like...horrid. The dining room when we arrived had 2 inches of standing water sitting in it. The kids would have to walk through this water to get their meals and sit at tables in this room to eat. The drain in the middle of the room had been clogged for 2 years! No one had attempted to remedy that situation. Shocking. There are countless more details I can tell you about this facility...I will stop there for now. Let me just say...no human being should live in this environment. Our biggest feeling of accomplishment came when we unclogged that drain and saw the floor dry when we left! We put 6 picnic tables inside for them to eat on, as well.
Since my return on Saturday, I have been praying that I will not forget what I saw. I am praying that I will know what I am to do to continue to be a part of life at the orphanage in whatever way that is possible.
I found myself overcome by emotion throughout the week. My heart hurt for Bobby, who didn't have people to play football with him. I was moved by Desi, who went to sit and look out his window when we left after our week of work because he seemed overwhelmed by emotion knowing we would not return the next day. As I helped scrub the floor in the dining room that we bleached beyond imagination to remove as much filth as possible, tears surfaced as I thought about these kids not even knowing what "clean" smells like. I laughed with joy as I watched Desi speak broken English to my girls. He gradually showed us that he knew more than he initially let on. He giggled with delight when the girls called him out on how much he knew! I smiled from ear-to-ear as my friend (above making the bracelet) constantly affirmed my painting with a thumbs-up and a "Super!" every few minutes for an entire morning one day. He also helped me tear tape to protect a window. He would tear me a piece and then walk away. I would have to look for him between each piece I needed. (It makes me laugh right now just thinking about it!) I was touched when I saw Bulgaria and America unite and play a friendly game of football, helping each other up when they knocked each other down and encouraging great shots on goal.
So many other memories and stories float around inside me, and I am trying to journal them to avoid forgetting any moment I spent in Tran, Bulgaria. I will tell you that I heard the Gospel in a different way this past week. I heard the message of Hope with new perspective. I am filled with a new, clearer sense of thankgiving knowing that this world we live in is not the end of the story. I must believe in a loving God who did not intend for life to be lived as I have seen it in the past week. I must. The alternative, the hopelessness and utter depair is too painful to comprehend. I choose to believe.