Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Almost Christmas!

Well, I thought it was about time for another update, and now that I have temporarily relieved myself of all of my evening work (i.e. worked my tooshie off this week and now I’m done with my projects.. yay!) I have an evening to do so. Not to mention that I am suffering from what apparently 95% of the population of Scotland is suffering from right now.. Ian started it. I thought I was going to make it through with my awesome immune system, but I had to stay up until 2 a.m. on Monday to get some work done (seriously.. deadlines had to be met.. and I didn’t dilly dally either, promise!) and my immune system made it very clear on Tuesday that if I wanted it to do its job, I was going to have to try harder than that. So now I am being punished. My immune system hopes I will remember this next time. And so do I. So I am not at Bible study like I would normally be at this time on a Thursday. No, I’m on the couch, hoping I can breathe through my nose tomorrow, not to mention hear, and have a normal sized throat. That’s what I’m hoping.

Now on to the fun stuff! On Saturday we had our very first womens’ event in the St Andrews Free Church! It was all very exciting :) We had it at our flat (Ian wasn’t there of course, being a man and all..) and started off with about 10 of us and ended with 13 (I think.. unless my memory is failing me, which is very likely). We had a Christmas tea with lots of goodies, which I forgot to photograph, and we made Christmas cards for the residents of the Gibson house here in town. It falls under the category of an eventide home, or a care home for the elderly.

We had a wonderful time visiting together and are looking forward to planning a few events for next semester. Any of you ladies out there with ideas, please send them my way!

Here are some of the ladies that helped serve Saturday morning..




And here are the results!


They were beautiful little cards, and I must say they turned out wonderfully despite the many claims of not being creative. You never know until you try and I hope many of these women will have more confidence next time! :) They were all different and so creative – maybe this will become an annual event!

We’ve had our Christmas tree up for several weeks now (we put it up the weekend of Thanksgiving) and, as last year, we LOVE it. It was an awesome investment as well. Super cheap and a wonderful addition to the living room. Let me demonstrate…

This is what I see when I come home from work..


If that isn’t just the coziest little corner you ever did see! If only that was frost in the window instead of the never-ending condensation :) (side note: I got out some wrapping paper to wrap Ian’s present tonight and you’ll never guess what I found all rolled up in it… MOLD! Man, the things I never knew I’d have to worry about in life!)


It’s such a sweet little tree and has been greatly enhanced by the red bobbles this year (left for us by the beloved Williams! Thanks guys!). By the way, do you call them bobbles? I thought I always did, and then I was informed that it’s kind of a UK word. If it is, it just snuck right in without me even batting an eye! I’d like to know how crazy I am, so if you could let me know what you call the brightly colored Christmas orbs, that would be fantastic :)


Let me highlight the main parts of the tree.. You have the bobbles, the sparkly ones are my favorites; the hand-made twig stars which somehow survived being stored over the last year; the ribbon from the Poundland candles we purchased last year that ‘hold’ the stars on (even though they fall off all the time); the lovely lights that warm the room so nicely; and the noticeably plastic ‘tree trunk’ from our £4 tree! I think it works well together :)

And finally, my very favorite part of the tree..


The BIRD ornament! Yay!! This ornament makes me well up with good memories and love from our trip to Germany in April. While we were there, we took a day and traveled to Northern France with the Smith family to find some of their favorite wine (and to discover why it was their favorite!). Alyssa’s Grandma was with us and we made a stop into a Christmas shop where each grandkid is allowed to pick out an ornament every year. Well, bless her heart, Grandma let Ian and I pick one out too! It is most definitely my favorite ornament ever and I think it is beautiful! I am so grateful for it :)

Last Saturday evening (after the morning festivities and an afternoon of working – boo!) was the Christmas party for work at the…. Old Course Hotel! I’d never set foot into that place, and honestly didn’t think I ever would, but lo-and-behold, not only did I set foot in it, I ate, drank, laughed, experienced my first Christmas cracker, and danced (if you can call it that). It was beautifully decorated and the food was sooooooooo good. Pumpkin soup with crème fraiche, RED meat (it was either ribeye or prime rib, I can’t remember.. I think it must have been prime rib because that sounds nicer and it was the Old Course after all) with yummy grilled vegetables, and then a luscious lemon tart for dessert. I really enjoyed the evening and spending time with my co-workers outside of work. I have to admit, I only hit the dance floor when I was dragged there.. Cut me some slack, I haven't been to a proper dance since high school! :) Anyway, there was much drama about what I would wear because the one nice dress I brought with me had a stain and snags across the front when I pulled it out of the closet - which would’ve been cute no doubt, but I was a little intimidated by the Old Course I have to admit. I found a dress I really liked, but it was very much out of the price range of what I was willing to spend on this outfit. However, my sweet hubby went out and bought it while I was at work to surprise me, so I got to wear it after all. And now I have the ‘little black dress’ that I’ve never owned, but always borrowed from dear friends :)


(you’ll notice I’m bracing myself on the wall, that is apparently to keep my balance while I stand on one foot.. I think it’s a lovely pose! :)

And, lastly, so you can see the fruits of my labor.. Ian’s presents under the tree..


The tall on on the left is from Terry, my boss, for both of us, but I thought I’d wrap it anyway just for fun. The one in front he already knows about and has been playing for about a month.. And, the one on the right is the only one that remains a complete surprise that he is going to love! :)

I wholeheartedly hope that each of you find much love and warmth this season, whether you are with family or away from them. Jesus is not bound by location.. May He fill your heart with grace and mercy, and may you reflect on the truth that while we celebrate His birth on December 25th, we’re really celebrating what that birth made possible - his life, death, and resurrection, and His sure return to make all things new. May you share in this anticipation with us this season!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Glencoe Hoooooooooooooo!

As promised, a report on our trip to Glencoe. After our Thanksgiving celebration we tried to get ready as quickly as we could so we wouldn't be up really late.. But, we were up really late anyway :) No biggie, we're on vacation! Friday morning we were picked up by the Enterprise guy (I think his name was Bob) and taken to get our CAR for the weekend. We were more than a little bit excited. We got the car, Ian managed to get us out of the parking lot and we were on our way! Until we got to Cupar (about 5 minutes from where we started) and missed a turn.. Never ones to be upset about getting lost (wonder why??) we just kept going and lo and behold we found a Lidl! Lidl is a store that we always get flyers for but can never go to because we don't have a car. It's sort of like a small walmart. There's food, but there's also other stuff that costs less money than it does in most other stores. So we had a good time marveling at how inexpensive the chickens and frozen food items were and bought some snacks as well as a stainless steel cake decorating set (come on, it was £4, like I was going to just leave it there). So anyway.. We headed back in the right direction and were happily on our way!

Until we got to Perth. Perth is where I told Ian to go the way I just told him not to go. Because I got confused. Because I had to decide where we needed to go real fast. And I wasn't ready. But it was OK! Because we were driving in a CAR.. and because we're used to getting lost. I don't fear it anymore. I don't hate it. I say, bring it on!

It worked out quite nicely though because we took a scenic route and ended up at the Crieff visitors' centre which happened to have a super cool glass blowing facility! So we watched and oooohhed and aaahhhhed while they made pretty things we can't afford. They also had a free bathroom! So we made use of that once and then stayed long enough to make use of it again! :) As we headed onwards and upwards to Glencoe, it got progressively snowier, I got progressively more excited, and Ian got progressively more quiet and tense. He did a great job driving, left-handed shifting and all! We both kept saying how weird it was that it didn't seem weird that we were driving on the left side of the road. I guess we've been here long enough but I still thought it would seem more strange since we're rarely in vehicles. The only thing that still gets me sometimes is turning. Fortunately, I'm never driving, so you don't have to worry.

So we made it safe and sound to our cabin, got ourselves organized and got kind of disappointed with the provisions in the cabin. It was a great cabin, but just lacked some of the essentials for making a meal, and you know, drying off after you shower (we had one hand towel), and you know, heat. But, we cranked her up and set out to find food! Fortunately the cabin had lots of movies to choose from.. The nights are long and cold and dark in such remote places in the highlands :) Not much to do after the sun goes down.

The next morning we woke up to snow! As we got closer to Gencoe, the snow started disappearing because it is very close to the coast like St Andrews (yes.. we drove across the horizontal axis of the country in less than one day! crazy!). I was afraid we weren't going to have any, but the Lord blessed us with a snowy Saturday. We went up to ask some questions before deciding where to go hiking and left for a hike that would be fairly easy, but would have good views and last us a few hours. The views were AMAZING! It was a beautiful day and we were just amazed at the treasures in that area.

We headed out to Fort William in the evening and found most things closed (one of the downfalls of being a tourist when it's not tourist season) but grabbed some ingredients for a delightful dinner of chicken, potatoes, broccoli, rolls, and cheesecake! Yeah, we were roughing it. It was really tough.

Sunday morning we decided to drive to Oban with a stop at Dunstaffnage Castle on the way. It was another beautiful day and the drive was stunning. We most definitely want to head back west during the tourist months so we can experience more of this location. It was a wonderful trip!

I know I haven't included any pictures in this post.. That's because I'm tired and it would take longer and I just spent too much time going through our pictures for the slideshow over there on the right. So please, please look at the slideshow. There are some beautiful pictures that I wouldn't want you to miss! :) And, more details of our adventure that I know you will enjoy!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Master Carver

Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure you all have moved on to Christmas by now. They start packing out the stores with Christmas items even before Halloween here, but the Christmas music is blaring through the speakers at Tesco now, as of Dec. 1. It is Christmas time and all the cheesy Santa sing-alongs won’t let us forget for a moment!

Before we move on to Christmas however, let me tell you about our Thanksgiving… I got to have 2 days holiday last week! I took off Thursday and Friday knowing it was Thanksgiving, and… Ian’s graduation!! I got to sit and watch my hubby get tapped on the head with an old dirty hat and receive his official Master’s degree! It was all very exciting.

He got all gussied up in a black suit complete with white bowtie (required, I might add.. and stunning. I’m a fan of the white bowtie)


Here he is looking all GQ getting ready to have the degree conferred…


And here is the tapping.


Oh, and the part where he gets the hood added to his robe :) There are lots of traditions here at St Andrews, which is to be expected from a university this old. Most of the graduation service is conducted in Latin between the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor. The Heads of the departments present their students to the Chancellor, he says a little something in Latin, and the degree is conferred. The student has to come up on stage, present the hood to the helper man (I’m sure there is a more correct term for that guy), kneel before the Chancellor after which the graduate gets tapped on the head with the cap (some believe this cap was made from John Knox’s britches, I don’t remember what the more likely story is, but it’s been used for quite a while in the graduation ceremonies) while the Chancellor says the Latin words and the helper man puts the hood on. The graduate then rises and bows to the Chancellor who returns the formality, then proceeds off stage where he/she is handed their diploma and returns to his/her seat. It’s all very formal and fun to watch. Ian did an excellent job, but as you can see, I couldn’t use the flash so it’s all very blurry. I can’t hold still! I try so hard. I’m using a video camera next time..

If you can bear it, there will be lots more fuzzy pictures in the slideshow to the right when I post it later today :)

And, here he is… Master Ian


There was a big tent party afterwards, but I couldn’t stay (don’t worry, Ian did) because I had to run back to salvage our Thanksgiving turkey! And make stuffed mushrooms, and finish the pumpkin cheesecake and… Anyway, it was my first official turkey and I think it turned out really well. I got very good comments from the eaters :)

Here’s my few-hours-graduated Master Carver hard at work


The oven full of a few things needing to be kept warm until we were ready to eat..



And when we were all set to go, I took a quick snapshot of the group (sans myself, of course). You can see the lovely Thanksgiving decorations donated to the cause by Rebecca and Christian, and lots of food donated by everyone! There were three other big dishes on another table that you can’t see.. we had quite the spread :)


And here is a picture of the whole group all together


Left to right you will find: Sara and Shawn, David and Joy, Ian and Corrie, and Rebecca and Christian. All PhD students and their wives – goooooooooo husbands!!! We had a great time eating and enjoying one another’s company and eating and telling about things we’re thankful for and eating. Oh and we also had THREE desserts! Apple pie, Pecan pie (or crouton pie as we affectionately call it in the Church household), and pumpkin cheesecake. Mmmmmm…

So now that you’re drooling and wishing it was Thanksgiving all over again, I’ll sign off with promises of pictures from our amazing weekend excursion coming soon!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snowy Onions

I know, random right? Well, I was chopping onions a while back and couldn't resist taking a picture of the little guys...


what do you think? Onion army? Art subject? I'm thinking both.

In other news.. We woke up to this on Saturday


I was so excited that we had some snow! I've been waiting with baited breath to see if we'd get any snow this year after the measly dusting we had last year. Little did I know what was in store..


THIS is what we woke up to on Sunday morning!!! Talk about exciting! It melted by midday but it brought such joy to my heart to see beautiful white snow again! We have high hopes that this means a nice, white winter. Hopefully next time we'll get to go check out the beach as well - a snowy beach! How exciting :)




We did venture to the castle on a roundabout walk to church and got some nice shots of a snowy castle.

We are anticipating some fun events in the next few days which I will be sure to update on next week :) Until then, I leave you with a shot of my studious husband...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Pelican

‘Australian Pelican’
Oil on Board
2008

About a month ago one of my friends here approached me with the idea of commissioning me to do a painting as a surprise for her husband’s birthday. She was very trusting because she has never seen any of my work! But, her husband has a love for pelicans, and I have a love for birds and painting, so we decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t allowed to tell ANYONE because she’s never successfully surprised him before, so my lips have been sealed :) Until today! Because his birthday was yesterday.

I really enjoyed getting back into oil painting a bit after a long fling with watercolor and acrylic on paper. It was interesting to see the evolution of my approach to oils as I incorporated a lot of my ‘usuals’ that I would normally only do with watercolor or acrylic paint. There is a lot of layering and the use of paper shapes in the background, and then the pelican itself is only nice thick paint. I used to fear thick paint. If I couldn’t see through the layer it made me uncomfortable, but with this little guy I went for it nice and chunky :) Those are a type of Australian fish in the background that this Australian pelican would be very likely to eat. Some of the papery texture you may (or may not) be able to see is the addition of a formation of circles cut from a dress pattern that showed the overlapping nesting areas of pelicans. All in all, I think it was pretty successful and I am definitely excited to start the next one!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pumpkin Carving! (I know, I know, Halloween is over..)

A little over a week ago we joined our good friends, the Tallons, for some chili and and some pumpkin carving (not to mention the post-carving party in which we had our first exposure to the X-Factor!). The chili was delicious and warm and the pumpkins were nice and goopy. It was Isaiah’s first time carving a pumpkin so he was very excited…


And, well.. So was Ian..


I was too – I LOVE carving pumpkins! I’m no good at it, but I love the fall season and everything that comes with it (except Halloween.. I don’t like Halloween). And, Holly even roasted the seeds for us to enjoy the next day!

Here is Isaiah with all of the pumpkins.. this was after the bath :).


And this is my attempt at getting all of us in a photo..


Apparently I think I’m enormous. I tried setting up the shot two different times and still had a ton of room on my side. Fortunately, Luke has a much better grip on the physical world than I do, and he was able to take a great shot that you can find here.

I also got some fun shots of them with their candles in the dark.



Here you will find Mr. and Mrs. Church.. I bet you can’t guess whose is whose! :)



You’ll notice that one of us went to great lengths to carve fleshy teeth into his (oops! did I say his?? :) pumpkin’s face and they came out quite nicely.

We didn’t have quite the Reformation Day celebration that we had last year because one of us (I’ll let you guess again) had a boat-load of work to do this week and tried really hard to get it all done before Friday night so that we could have a big get-together, but to no avail. BUT, I was able to finish enough work that we were able to have Sara and Shawn over last minute, and Shawn and Ian drank German beer and we enjoyed Luther once again.

Stay tuned for my most recent completed painting!

Monday, October 27, 2008

And We’re Back…

Back into the throws of dark, dark winter. Back to feeling like we should be going to bed at 6pm. Back to actually noticing that we are losing between 4 & 5 minutes of daylight each day. The darkness just settles in and makes everyone a little more inward and a little more distant.

All it took was one little time change. One little turn of the minute hand and it seems like never-ending darkness. The sun was long down before I even thought about going home from work today. As I walked home I considered the pros and the cons. The only pro I could think of was that it is much easier to cross the street since I can now see headlights. That’s the only one. I thought of lots of cons. For instance, you just can’t see people in the dark. You can’t share a smile or a chuckle about how your umbrella just blew inside out for the third time quite so easily. And.. because I am who I am.. everything seems a little more creepy and a little more dangerous. That sweet little school girl with her violin that I pass everyday suddenly becomes a little girl with a secret.. a secret that involves a huge plot.. See, see? She didn’t smile today.. and that’s definitely not a violin in that case, it could be anything! Probably a communication device to help execute the huge plot… probably..

According to the weather people, it feels like 2 degrees outside. I know that’s not what I know to be 2 degrees, but it sure does make it seem cold. And dark. Walking around today one sweet little voice kept popping into my head.. Remember the movie 101 Dalmatians? Remember this part?

“my tail's froze...
and my nose is froze
and my ears are froze.
And my toes are froze.”

That about sums it up :)

I think we should all just hibernate. November and December should be declared human hibernation months in Scotland. That would be nice. Maybe I’ll start a petition…

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fly Haven

It all started about two weeks ago when our trash didn’t get picked up. We don’t have a wheelie bin as most people do, so if our trash doesn’t get picked up, it just hangs out with us in the house for another week. Usually we put it out in the stairwell so that if it smells, it at least only smells in the stairwell and not in the whole flat.

Well this trash was particularly stinky because there was a chicken carcass in it – yummy, I know.. So, we had our teeny tiny little window cracked open in the stairwell to try to air it out a bit since we can’t just leave the front door open. The day finally came for our trash to be picked up and when I moved the trash bag to take it down to the sidewalk I noticed little pellets all around it. I called Ian out to look at it and we determined that somehow a very small rodent must have smelled the delicious scent of rotting chicken and climbed in through the cracked window and pooped everywhere. The only question was, where did the little rodent go? It’s a long way down from that window and we couldn’t figure out how on earth it would have been able to climb all the way up the wall to get out the window again. So, we just assumed it had gotten into the trash bag and had been taken away with the smelly carcass.

Well because we are busy and lazy and hate our vacuum cleaner and not easily put off by unsanitary situations, we left the ‘turds’ out in the hallway for a while. The main problem was I would forget about them at all times except for when I was actually in the stairwell, so I just never got around to it. Finally I decided today was the day.. it was time to rid ourselves of the turds.

A few days ago I had noticed we had a few gargantuan flies in the house. These babies were biggies too. Nice meaty flies. I assumed they got there, as they all do, when the windows had been opened on a nice day.

WELL. I went out into the stairwell Saturday morning to assess the situation and noticed there were a TON of flies out there. I was totally baffled as to where they were coming from.. maybe the mail slot?? I wasn’t sure. Then I thought, ‘I wonder if those turds are actually fly eggs!’ I went back in to get the vacuum and jokingly mentioned it to Ian, and upon further thought, he said ‘you know, I bet you’re right.’

Being the manly man he is, he went and got a knife and dissected one to find that, indeed, there were flies inside the little turds. UnbeLIEVable!


So, despite my reassuring Ian they would just be very dizzy and not dead as he supposed, we decided that it wasn’t very humane to try to vacuum up all the flies along with the pupas (or whatever they were) and we ran around our house catching them in tupperware and letting them go out the windows. We caught 17 flipping flies! 17! AND there were still 11 more unborn flies that we also dumped out the window. Do you know how full of flies our little flat would have been had they all emerged before we figured out what was going on!? I think it’s actually significantly grosser than if they had been rodent turds. SIGNIFICANTLY.


(sidenote: this is not the window that was cracked open through which we thought the alleged rodent had come, we have no idea how to open this window.. I think it's just for light.. and for flies to gather around)

As I began writing this I had a flashback to when I first moved the trashbag that had the chicken carcass in it – before it was all tied up and everything. Guess what happened when I moved it.. a FLY flew out! I had no idea what that fly had been doing in there! Apparently sweet little mama fly thought that rotting carcass was a perfect bed for her developing babies. And then the nasty little maggots crawled on out and took up residence in the stairwell until they hatched.

Sick sick sick!

So that's pretty much how our Saturday morning went.

Unbelievable. And gross.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A New Slideshow!

We've been enjoying this Autumn season, as well as getting to know many new families that have moved here. A couple of Saturdays ago we went over to enjoy the sunshine at the Castle with some friends you'll be hearing about more frequently - Shawn and Sara. We'll try to get a picture of them soon :) It was a beautiful day and I've put up a new slideshow with some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

In other news, I like to claim I broke my toe Friday night. I don't think I did, but it bled and it hurts. I just like to think I'm so tough that I can break things and continue on with life as normal. That's what I like to think...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Season, New Look :)

I know, it’s sad. I wanted to sound really cool as if I knew about fashion and all.. that was the best title I could think of.

Anyway. I spent a wonderful hour with a hairdresser this morning chopping of my hair. It was fabuloso! I LOVED her and I love what I came out with…


Yes. I’ve started wearing the glasses again. My eyes have been getting extremely tired after staring at screens all day and I’ve been getting headaches more often, so hubby suggested I bust them out again. I thought since I had a new haircut, I could justify wearing dorky glasses :)

AND. Hubby is letting his hair GROW.


Katy started in on this idea long before I was in a position to make suggestions about Ian’s hair, but I definitely chimed in any time the subject of him letting it get a little longer came up! The only problem is, he doesn’t really know how to style it, and I don’t really either. So, sometimes it looks awesome and he’s totally studly and other times.. well.. let’s just say those are the times he asks me to cut it :)

We’ll figure it out eventually, but we will definitely take any tips you know of on how to style enviously thick, smooth, cowlicky boy hair..

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Let Me Elaborate..

I’m not going to lie to you. This post is mostly for my mom. It kind of relates back to some things I said two posts ago.. kind of.

The three of us were pretty picky eaters as I have mentioned before. I maintained my pickiness for quite a while, only occasionally introducing new elements to my diet. While this was disappointing for Ian when we got married, being the sacrificially loving person that he is, he would just spice his meal of bland (yummy) Midwestern food (starch) separately post-cooking.

When we moved to Scotland, cooking was not so easy. The prepackaged food we were used to was either nonexistent or very expensive and small, and very odd combinations of things to our Midwestern palates, so I had to learn how to cook from scratch. You’ll remember we started with things like CPP and cooking whole chickens, but I’ve got to say, in the past few months, I think my taste buds have gone through puberty. They are CHANGING!!

I always assumed adults (ok ok, and my peers) would eat such a wide variety of things because their taste buds were just dull and I had VERY sensitive buds. I think I’m a super taster. I don’t really know why adults eat such a wide variety of things compared to kids (or at least me when I was a kid) but I’m not afraid, as Ian will confirm, to hold on to illogical and/or disproved theories to answer all of my questions. (That was a nod to you dad. Such a good question answerer. Ian gets that joy now :)

Anyway, I want to mention (again this is mostly for my mom but you can use it as an opportunity to feel better about how un-picky you are), the many things I will now eat that I used to adamantly refuse…

Pepper. I hated pepper. While I still don’t pepper my food, I LOVE the taste of it in a dish.

Peppers. Another item I would pick out or complain about. My mouth now waters just thinking about them. MMMMMMMMM. I drool when I chop them.

Spicy food. Always a no no for me. Just didn’t like it. Now one of our favorites (chicken enchiladas) is super spicy and deeeeeelicious!

Enchiladas. No thank you in so many ways. Not anymore! I love them.. chicken, cheese, whatever. Yummy.

Mushrooms. I am going to, once again, give my mother a moment to climb back into her chair. I won’t eat them plain, but in something, in moderation, I will consume mushrooms.

Squash. Now squash is a little too squishy to enjoy on it’s own, but if you go with the squishiness and enhance it by squashing the squash into a butternut squash and red pepper bisque, it’s pretty darn good. Squash. Squish squash.

Peas. My mom, dad, Ian, and my grandma would be proud of me for my delayed love of peas.

Hold on to your hats for this one.. curry. The word alone made me want to gag. We have my coworkers to thank for introducing me to the wonders of a spicy curry.

Lamb. If my mom had ever offered me lamb to eat, I would have laughed at her I think. And then said, ‘no seriously, what’s for dinner.’ I don’t enjoy a lamb meatball or anything, but I love Shepherd’s Pie.

Onions, of any variety. My motto was just say no on this one. I still don’t love the texture, but I am willing to endure it for the amazing flavour (OH MY, a UK spelling just snuck in!).

Meatloaf. Sure to get significant whining from us. I won’t refuse it anymore. And I will admit that I enjoy eating it.

Gravy. Please serve me everything as dry as possible. While I won’t slather anything, I love our dishes that involve gravy as a main ingredient.

Cheese. I liked cheese, but I would usually want whatever it was without it. No cheeseburgers, no cheese on any sandwich for that matter, no cheese sauce on my broccoli, etc. I’ve moved passed my fear and embrace many-a-cheesy meal, and also my cheese-loving husband.

Sour Cream and Cream Cheese. EW! Ok, so I'm notting putting a dollop of daisy on my Mexican meals or anything, but I will definitely not refuse a dish that involves sour cream anymore. And.. HELLO! Cream cheese makes many-a-yummy dessert! What was I thinking?

Plums.

Crunchy Peanut Butter. Once you switch, you just can't go back.

Any spice not wearing the label ‘salt’ or ‘cinnamon’. Yes, we spice our food together now, while cooking, and I have found a whole array of flavors I enjoy that I had previously shunned.

Dark chocolate. Not joking. I ate a digestive biscuit the other day with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate on it. I can’t lie. I fell in love. I don’t think I can stand the bitterness of dark chocolate on its own, but a new world of items involving dark chocolate has just been discovered in my tasting realm.

Coffee. Stop. You can’t be serious. CORRIE DRINKING COFFEE??? Gotcha! :) I don’t drink coffee, but I have started craving it and enjoying the smell. This one is huge for me because I usually hate the taste and smell of coffee. I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. It’s such a gross flavor.

Wine. I still can’t stand the flavor, but I enjoy smelling it. Ian is hopeful.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. I also eat lots of combinations of things that I used to avoid, but it would take forever to list them and you might judge me for my former pickiness. To which I would say – I couldn’t help it!! :) I wouldn’t force you to eat brussel sprouts in my house, so don’t look down on me if I ask for a plain hamburger. I just don’t like condiments, ok?

Now I’ll leave you to wonder what in the world we DID eat growing up in the Goshert household.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Paintings.. Where did they go???

I was hoping you could tell me! Just kidding. If you read my last post, you will notice that my life has gotten very consumed with designing. That’s just the way it is at the moment. I tried getting up early to paint, but I found myself struggling with significant fatigue all day and being a generally unhappy person dealing with guilt over the thing she was ‘supposed’ to do this morning but didn’t do because she was so tired from trying to do it the day before.

I don’t know why this has been such a struggle, but the morning is not going to work. I didn’t give painting in the morning a thought this week and have had much more energy and enjoyment of life than I’ve had in several weeks. There are only so many things you can ask of yourself I guess. Painting is very important to me and a huge part of who I am and how I process what is going on in my life. I’m not willing to let it fall by the wayside. But, I’m also not willing to bring forth a break down. So, painting will be a weekend activity. This is kind of sad for me as it will mean much slower progress and a greater possibility of painting not happening, but I think it will work for the time being.

I am posting the continuation of this painting simply to fulfill my need to post about painting after a long stretch of nothing. It's not great progress, but it's something. My favorite parts of the painting kind of got muddled as I worked on it and I definitely need more color in all that whiteness, so I'm going to have to approach it from a new angle I think. But that's the fun of it, isn't it?!


It is unfinished, but it’s getting there. I don't think you can see much of the detail in the picture, but you get the idea. I’ll post a good picture of it when it is completely done and you can tell me what you think! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Church Family Philosophy #2: When you hear the sound of hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.

You can find Philosophy #1 here.

Isn’t that a great saying!? While I have been dubbed unflinchingly optimistic by my hubby (a title that came about a few years ago when I was convinced that we only had an hour left in our drive and we definitely had at least three… I haven’t been able to shake it, apparently he’s noticed some trends :), I tend to occasionally focus on worst-case scenarios. Actually, I would say we both have these tendencies. It’s very easy to see negative possibilities for any given situation, and once we get focused on them, it’s hard to convince ourselves otherwise without some prodding from the spouse (watch out if we go down that road together! Who’s going to talk us out of it?? :).

I came across that little phrase a few days ago, and decided it was here to stay! Maybe I’ll needlepoint it on a pillow :) Right after I put my dishes in the dishwasher (ahem..). So, when we hear hoofbeats, we’ll think horses.. unless we’re in Kansas with Ian’s Grandpa Jay. In which case, it’s very likely to be zebras..

Well, it’s been a while! We have been doing all kinds of crazy things and have all kinds of crazy updates.

First of all, my hubby spent the first week of September in ROME! Which no blog reader knew because I wasn’t allowed to post that he was leaving because he didn’t want anyone to know I was home alone and come ‘get me’. I did not love being here by myself (which I think is a healthy sign that I’m in love with my hubby!), but I survived and spent a couple of evenings with a dear friend whose husband was also in Rome.

Someday, Ian’s going to post about that trip to Rome and the wonderful life experience that it was.. Someday.. Maybe you guys could help me out here and hound him with phone calls and emails until he does.

Although, he kind of has a legitimate distraction right now, being that he suddenly became a PHD STUDENT last week! Everyone say YAY!!!!! God is good and we are going to be hanging out here in little St Andrews for three more years. He has been accepted into the PhD program, has a multitude of supervisors (aka 2 of them), and has just taken off for an Arche meeting for the day. He is very excited most of the time, with the occasional ‘I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT MAYBE THIS IS A MISTAKE WHAT I AM GOING TO DOOOOOOOO!!!!!!’ moment (capital letters for emphasis, I actually can’t remember a time my hubby has yelled, he’s a very level headed man.. at least on the outside :). After I finish my chant of ‘horses, horses, horses’ to him, I remind him of how he wrote a whole proposal about what he was going to write on, so actually he does have some idea what he’s going to write about, and that he doesn’t have to do it all tomorrow. So he can just take a deep breath and relax.

I don’t know if this has crossed your mind yet, but this new development gives you AMPLE opportunity to start planning a visit to the one country we all know you’ve always wanted to visit! :) I know, shameless.. While there are significant challenges involved with living here, as often as we have questioned it in the last week neither of us can argue with the clarity that this is where the Lord wants us. There have been developments over the past 1.5 years that have made the thought of the Lord not wanting us here an impossible one. We know the Lord has placed us here, and we know He will provide for us here.

As for me, well, I work. :) Hence, the lack of posting. I head out to work in the mornings for 7.5 hours of staring at a computer/wishing I hadn’t messed up again/hoping there’s some way no one will notice I messed up again/enjoying my coworkers, I get home around 5:45, maybe help fix/eat dinner, work some more, take some breaks for hubby time/running/not staring at a computer screen time, work some more, go to bed. There are some things I slipped in there that need elaboration.. Like how we RUN now.. whoa.. We’ve been bad this week, but overall have been very consistently running in the evenings and working our way up time-wise. There’s something about the cool salt air that Ian’s lungs like because he’s had no signs of asthma and we have no idea where his inhaler is.

Also, how I MAYBE help fix dinner. Yes folks, my husband is amazing. Maybe it’s because somewhere in his psyche lies some guilt about how is wife is ever-working to help pay for his schooling, but really I think it’s just because God put such sacrificial love in his heart. Did I mention he’s amazing? I can’t remember the last time I loaded the dishwasher, and I’m eating off of clean dishes. Any time we need to clean, it’s immediately a team effort to get it done more quickly. I don’t even remember how to cook chicken pot pie anymore because someone else keeps making dinner for his wifey who comes home with NO desire to spend an hour making dinner when she needs to finish that brochure, and do another ad, and edit the project she’s trying to wrap up and, and, and... (I do want to mention here that we have way more variety in our diet than just CPP, in fact, I LOVE the developments we’ve had in our dinners lately, that’s just the one I actually can’t remember how to make). AND he never even complains when I ‘sneak’ out to the couch to read a few blogs while he slaves away in the kitchen. We all know I would complain. And I would do it loudly until he came into the kitchen to help me :) The Lord is still working on my sacrificial love.

Ian does occasionally express those feelings of guilt, but I must say I am loving life right now. I really enjoy working at West Port. I have bad days, but who doesn’t? I really like coming home to my computer to work on evening projects, and love the fact that the Lord has blessed me with WONDERFUL people to work for in the States. I love being goofy all evening with Ian and making our precious moments together fun and interesting. While we can’t be as social at the moment, we are looking forward to Bible studies starting again next week and hopefully getting into a solid weekly routine so we can have a little more social activity. I love that there are new people in town that we are befriending and growing to love! I love the fact that we’re going to get some BIRDS! Turns out those cute little budgies (aka parakeets) are WAY less expensive than the cute little cockatiels. We’d much rather have a doggie, but the dollar/pound exchange is just not allowing for that. And, budgie kind of rhymes with doggie, which is good enough for me :) You can bet there will be pictures on that joyous day.

I’ll stop now.. If that felt long, just pretend like you read a bit of it every day for the last two weeks. That’s less than a paragraph a day! See? Wasn’t that easy? :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sluggard

What a great word. I mean talk about a word that sounds exactly like what it means.

Remember this post?

I came across a couple of verses a week or two ago that have really helped me to evaluate where these tendencies are coming from…

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
Proverbs 13:4

“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.”
Proverbs 20:4

Basically, I should’ve gone to college and majored in the art of being a sluggard. Talk about overachieving.

I’ve been keeping the second verse on my desktop to help me remember that I want to have something at the harvest, something other than the title of ‘Sluggard’. I’m thinking about making it pretty, printing it off, and hanging it on my wall. So I can look at the word sluggard and, while enjoying the way it sounds, remember how much I don’t want to own it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Expectations

I was expressing some form of hopelessness to Ian the other day.. We were talking about where we’d like to see ourselves when we’ve moved past the ‘school as a student’ phase of life into the ‘school as a professor’ stage of life. I think we both know exactly what we’d like that to look like, in theory. But, I found myself struggling with the desire to even talk about what I really want because I felt so sure that if I wanted it that much, the Lord would definitely do something different (I don’t think this is the first time I have expressed this particular struggle here, and if you’ve talked to me much this year, you’ve probably heard about it considering I often battle with desires to not be exactly where I am right now.. but that’s not where I’m going with this..). I told him it’s really hard because I feel like in the past year, I have seen the Lord answer many of our prayers, but so often, not in a straightforward way and not in ways we expected. There seem to always be long, tense, insecure times of waiting followed by a partial or seemingly hesitant answer, followed by continued struggling and waiting, etc.

I told him I just wished I could count on the Lord to give us clear answers and to bring our hearts into alignment with His will, rather than allowing it to be so difficult. I told him I didn’t even want to hope for the things I hope for because it seems so likely my hopes will be crushed. And how will I stand back up again and again, how will I remain hopeful for anything?

And as I continued to spiral into this thinking, I began to pray for something so small, so insignificant, but something I really wanted to happen without even realizing I was doing it.

And then. It happened.

I was thrilled that the Lord had answered it so quickly because at that moment, it was just what I wanted and felt that I needed. I started to tell Ian of another time this week when that very same order of events had happened, and then I realized there had been several times lately when I had prayed for something and it happened almost immediately. Yesterday, the Lord clearly used me to answer a prayer for Ian that I didn’t even know he’d been praying.

I then realized (I know, this is quite the series of epiphanies) how good the God I love is. How gracious of him to use these little, seemingly insignificant things in such a significant way. To remind me that he does love me with a depth I cannot fathom. That he is willing to show me in little ways that he hears me, he listens to and knows me. And no amount of my waywardness will change that.

I realized that my hopelessness did not stem from the way the Lord was answering my prayers, but that it was founded in my loss of focus. I am not the main event in this little life of mine, Jesus is the main event, and will be for all eternity. If the Lord gave me what I wanted all the time, my life would be drastically different and I would have missed out on incredible things that have been crucial in my development as a human being. Things that perhaps I didn’t ‘want’ but things I’d never change.

Psalm 103 verse 5 says that God ‘satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’

My favorite thing to remind myself is that this verse doesn’t say that God satisfies your desires with exactly what you want. It says he satisfies them with good things that will breathe fresh life into your lungs. And sometimes that means waiting, being unsure, risking having your hopes crushed. Because there is a God that wants to draw you nearer to himself, and He will satisfy your desires. Even if it’s not what you expected.

Monday, September 08, 2008

We're going to talk about the weather

First things first.. This post is one in a series of posts during the month of September over at mandythompson.com. Mandy has taken the platform of her blog and used it as a host to talk about what people around the world are DOing to impact the people around them. Hop on over and take a look at previous posts and what lies ahead for this month!

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“Who am I now? How do I make this work? What in the world am I supposed to do with myself? What were we thinking?”

These were some of the questions running through my mind when we moved last year. I had lost all sense of identity as I had unknowingly placed most of it in my surroundings rather than my Savior. It led to real, painful insecurity and seemingly hopeless searching.

I frantically attempted to patch activities together because other people that seemed normal and adjusted were doing them. Bible studies, making meals, baking, hosting, serving at church, having babies (oh wait.. no.. I didn’t get to that one).. I patched and glued, and oh-so-slowly, I began to settle. I began to remember who I was and the passions the Lord had given me.

Now I am looking forward to a new group of women. They will all have different stories, different experiences. Most likely, they will have moved here because of their husbands, searching for their place in this new stage of life.

I cannot wait to meet them. To cry and laugh with them. To meet their families and learn their stories. The Lord has been preparing me all year long for these women.

And I am petrified.

I pray that He will give me the strength to remember where my confidence lies. To remember to point them to Christ for their comfort and assurance. To be brave in meeting these women just where they are, unhindered by judgment and filled with compassion.

That is what I will be DOing in the year to come. That is my ministry. To love, to help, to hope with the women that will be moving into my life and heart in the next month, as well as the women He has already planted there. May God bless us as we walk together.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Make That Three…

I mentioned we had lost 2 pets in my last post.. 

We lost Hugo


(hugie, hugester, hugini, choochers, etc), a family dog, in January, as well as our first pet after we got married, Hamilton (Ham).

I found out yesterday that we just lost Bubba.


(This picture does not do his exquisite furriness justice, it was post-summer-haircut)

Bubby boy was the last addition to our doggie family before I left for college. The last animal link to my childhood (as long as being 15 still counts as being a child :) which I’m learning more and more that to some, being 24 still equates being a child..). Sweet Bubba. He was so sensitive, so docile and loving. As I describe him, I want you to imagine Aslan (from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) doing these things, because that’s pretty much what he was like.

He was a chow husky mix, and my parents were concerned about the chow part with kids, so I have great memories of playing with his food while he ate, tugging his ears, and just generally being obnoxious towards him with the hope that he would learn to ignore it and be great with kids. And it worked.. mostly. He was fine with us, including my 11 year old brother, but our little shrimpy neighbor kids (who are strapping young men and a beautiful young lady now) scared the daylights out of him. You could not quiet him when they were outside playing with my brother. We thought maybe it was because they were closest to his eye level.. who knows.

He was very protective too, in a tail-wagging kind of way :) But he sounded like he was going to eat you, so we always felt very safe when home alone with him. I think the fed ex man and any maintenance men hated coming to our house because of the giant scary dog, but any of them that came regularly knew he was just a little lambsy.

When Luke died (our first family dog), Bubba went kind of crazy. Any time he was alone he went nuts, chewing on the door and walls. This behavior led to Hugo. We’re not sure Bubba much liked Hugo, or that he even liked Pip (the newest addition), but we know he liked having them around more than he liked being alone. He was a very social dog.

And I loved him. I loved getting right into his face trying to force the eye contact he so longed to avoid at such proximities. I loved kissing his big, flat, furry nose. I loved his exceeding fluffiness. I loved attempting to get him to (please, please! Pleeeeeeease Bubby) let me use him as a pillow, which usually lasted all of 5 seconds before he relocated. I loved how he would never eat a grape. He’d just roll it around in his mouth for a while and eventually spit it out and walk away. He was a very picky eater.

I know he’s just a dog, but that’s exactly it. For us, he was a dog and a companion to our family. He was an important part of all of our lives. And anyone who has loved and lost a pet knows the truth of that. We will dearly miss the Bubster. Sweet, sweet Bubby.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

One Year Later..

So hard to believe.

A year ago yesterday we said goodbye to Indiana and all things close and familiar and stepped on a plane. We had 7 suitcases of various shapes and sizes filled with books, clothes, and a precious few other things we couldn’t bear to leave behind. We had pictures in our minds of the place we were headed, expectations, assumptions, and excitement for what might await us there.

A year ago today we officially stepped foot onto Scotland’s dear earth and somehow managed to make it to our flat (mostly because the Lord blessed us with Grant, our taxi driver, who saved me many, many tears that surely would have come had we tried public transportation with 7 bags and no sleep). We learned on the drive that the Scottish accent would take some getting used to, more than once having no idea what our driver was talking about. We officially met our downstairs neighbors as we accidentally attempted a break-in thinking we lived on the first floor. And, came to find out that we did actually live on the first floor, but we lived in Scotland now, so that meant we lived on the second floor.

We wandered around trying to figure out how to navigate the three little streets, how to remember which store was crammed into which aged avenue. We found Scots to be incredibly helpful as we were constantly wearing looks of utter confusion. We marveled at the ocean and the size of the supermarket (tiny) and the seagulls (gargantuan). We ate a meager dinner of some random frozen, flavored chicken, broccoli, and microwave mashed potatoes and lamented at how nothing tasted quite right.

And then we headed for bed. We thanked the Lord for bringing us safely to our new home, and we prayed that He would bless our life in this unfamiliar and different place. And I cried. I fell asleep crying in fact. I cried for the fatigue. For the weight of what we had just done. For the realization that nothing is as easy as I thought when shrouded by the darkness of night. For the empty place in my heart that was searching already to find significance and meaning in this new setting.

This year was so far from what I expected. And it was so much better than I expected. It seemed nothing happened as I wanted it to, but everything happened as it needed to. The Lord brought us joy in Him, in one another, in newfound friends, in breathtaking scenery and unexpected experiences. He blessed me with a patient and forbearing husband as I meandered in and out of contentment. He brought us through the loss of 4 family members and 2 pets. He continues to show us grace when we are given long and difficult days.

This has been the most difficult year we have ever faced together, the most spectacular highs and the most defeating lows we have ever known. And we have both agreed on numerous occasions that it has been the best year yet.

Praise the Lord for His abundant mercy, His saving grace, His unfathomable love.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

a few mornings ago...

I was walking to work. I always walk the same way because it's the quickest. Well, this morning, an old man also decided to walk this way, but he was a ways ahead of me. I'm absentmindedly watching him in the distance and I notice him stop suddenly, while several people pass him by. Apparently I looked like an interested (and I do mean interested) person, so he waits for me. As I approach he catches my eye with a semi-crazy-but-oh-so-gleeful-at-the-blessing-of-such-a-wonderful-topic-of-conversation look on his face and says, "Plague of flies!!!" I then notice the absurd number of flies buzzing around and respond in some concurring manner. He continues in true Scottish fashion and brings us right back to where we need to be: the weather. "Must be because of all this heat we're having!" I think I may have let a chuckle out at this point, since I'm not sure it's gotten above 70 yet this summer (but, we all know I'm a horrible judge of temperature), but I agreed again and continued on while he gazed with satisfaction on the innumerable flies.

I then began to think about how much people here LOVE to talk about the weather. Scotland has had crazy weather for like the last 4 gazillion years, and people are still fascinated that it starts out sunny, rains for 10 minutes, and then fools you into thinking it never rained, and then starts over again. And it IS fascinating. That's the crazy thing. Even after 4 gazillion years.

I love people. I love weather. The end.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

my job is dangerous

i mean.. look what happened.


the biggest paper cut ever. it's more of a gouge really. it was a thick piece of paper. and then i had to be really careful about not getting blood on all the rest of the paper.

yeah, i know, it's hard to believe i lead such a perilous and complicated life.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

You’re going to CANCUN, MEXICO!!!

The phone rings. I pick up and the automated voice says ‘CONGRATULATIONS! Your application has been chosen and you’ve won an all inclusive trip to Cancun, Mexico!’ It doesn’t tell me WHO is calling. ever.

I keep listening, hoping something will clue me in or remind me of some application I sent in for a trip to Mexico.. Nothing. So, it tells me to press 1 to find out more. I HAD to. I was very aware that it could be a scam, but I needed to know if I was really getting to go to Cancun as I have dear ones very near to Cancun and that would be really exciting because Cancun is much further away than it used to be.

So I press 1. Then this guy picks up. He must be sitting in a room full of LOTS of people and machines. He says, ‘CONGRATULATIONS!’ from some company that I couldn’t understand the name of. So I’m like, ‘who is this that’s calling me?’ So he tells me his name. ha. Then I say, ‘no, what’s the company’ and he rattles it off again, still have no idea what he’s talking about. So he says, ‘isn’t this Mrs. So & So that lives here [about 20 minutes on foot from where I live]?’ and I say, ‘no this is Mrs. Church and I live on North Street.’ And he says, ‘Oh sorry.’ And I’m like, yeah you should be! Getting my hopes up like that! geeez. Some people.

No, I didn’t say that to him. And no I’m not going to Cancun. Maybe next time.


By the way.. I'm just wondering who thinks it's a good idea to play the bagpipes at 12:13AM?? Seriously. I mean I love the way they sound (even at 12:13am) but come on..

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A sure sign that my worlds are colliding in new ways.

Sometimes when I’m painting and I ‘mess up’… (it’s hard to mess up when painting because you can just paint over it.. there’s always a way to fix it, right Bob, right? Our happy accidents??)

I frantically search for the ‘edit, undo’ button.

And then I remember that life doesn’t work that way. :)


“That'll be our little secret.”

- Bob Ross

Friday, August 29, 2008

Resolve

It has come to pass that we have made a great many resolutions since we have moved here. Suddenly with modified responsibilities, we have lost, to a certain degree, motivation for many things that should be a ‘given’ in daily life.

For example..

We now have a dishwasher (awesome!), but it’s not the greatest dishwasher ever and you have to scrub the dishes before you put them in or they come out with the same gunkiness they had to begin with (we mostly rely on the sanitizing nature of the dishwasher as opposed to that whole ‘washing’ thing). So, instead of letting the dishes sit in the sink for weeks like we used to, you know, to get them good and fuzzy before we spent hours wishing we had done them sooner, we let them sit for a day or two before we spend about an hour wishing we would’ve just done it piece by piece.

And we have resolved to do that. And it lasted about one mealtime.


Another example…

We have this great habit of leaving things about the house instead of putting them away. I get home from work, change into comfy clothes and lay my work clothes on the bed, chair, whatever surface is available. That goes on for a week, until finally on Saturday I spend an hour cleaning the bedroom. And Ian loves his piles. Piles everywhere. And I don’t know what to do with stuff so I just chuck it somewhere to ‘deal with it later’.

We resolved to put our [fill in the blank] away (at least twice) and that actually may have never happened.


Yup, we’re still going…

Remember this? When I resolved to paint every morning? Yeah, well, I’ve been painting, but it has gotten more and more sporadic as the weeks have passed. My only hope is that with being consistently full time at work, I will be a consistent painter, as I was the first week I started this resolution, when I was working full time.


Not to mention when we were going to start working out consistently (at least a dozen times this year).


And that is only the tip of the iceberg. I have been able to maintain a few things that I have consciously decided to do pretty consistently, but that’s about it. The frustrating thing is, I genuinely want to do these things.. really badly. I want to be disciplined. I want to ‘have it all together’ at least at the most basic level. I want to be able to overcome my desire not to do something by realizing the value of doing it. You know?

I also want to tell myself things like ‘oh, you’ll figure it out eventually’ ‘when you have kids it’ll get straightened out’ ‘you’re going through so many transitions all the time, how can you possibly hope for any consistency’, but I know that those are just excuses and ways to put off the truth of the matter. I’ve just got to do it. It’s not going to be any easier tomorrow (and who am I kidding thinking KIDS will make it easier??), in fact it will probably just get harder and more frustrating the longer I find ways to drag it out.

So. I’m going to try to come up with some kind of system for myself to dredge up that motivation on the good days, so it’s not as hard to find on the bad days. I would also love suggestions… :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Return of the Hamburger Things


The hamburger thing is a beautiful meal. It's like hot pocket, but you can customize it. My mom always made these for her picky kids, two Pillsbury crescent rolls laid out flat, filled with ONLY hamburger, then folded over to make the 'pocket'. Being married and also a college student, I loved this meal because it only took like 20 minutes to make for dinner. And it tasted sooooo good! 

When we moved to Scotland, I discovered that 1) I didn't really care for the flavor of the beef - the main ingredient, and 2) I couldn't find Pillsbury rolls anywhere (although, now I'm on the lookout - thanks Kristin!). Since Tesco has some pretty great clearance deals on their meat, we ended up with some beef and had a hankerin for hamburger things, so we started looking to see what kind of pastry we could find. We ended up getting a 'roll it out yourself' puff pastry to attempt the dinner and got the lovely result above. I cooked the meat with seasoned salt and pepper, and next time I'm going to add some onions to make it taste EVEN BETTER (just give my mother a moment to pick herself up off the floor). Ian likes to stick cheese in there with the meat for some extra goodness as well. 

They were delicious - even on day 2! - and we are so grateful for the re-discovery of a quick and easy meal! :)

Now, I just have to learn how to make 'tastes like kraft' macaroni and cheese from scratch, then we'll be all set.. (Yes, my childish taste buds still prefer kraft over 'sophisticated' macaroni & cheeses, unless it's made with velveeta.. mmmm velveeta :)

Quote of the Night...

As we are walking past one of the many street musicians that show up around St Andrews when the weather is nice, Ian says..

'I always give her money.. sometimes..'

followed by the look that makes it hilarious as he realizes what he just said :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Painting - Week 3 - SLACKER!

That's the only way I know how to describe my painting attempts this week. I started one.. mid-week I think.. and never finished it because I hated it and was getting tired of working so detailed. So, I painted over it nice and sloppy this morning, and will hopefully reach a finished painting this week.

Sorry for the poor photography!

And, I started another one, but it's just an under painting at the moment. I'm painting a picture my sister took a few years ago while in the UK that she has been wanting me to paint... for a few years :)


I'm using my new water-soluble oil paints, and am very excited to see how they work.

I know.. kind of a disappointing week, but maybe this will be a good chance for me to demonstrate the many layers of thought and process that go into a painting :) 

I've had some good points of inspiration this week in Scripture and in random works of art I've been looking at online. One of the things I'm going to pursue: BEES! I'm super excited :) I'm expecting my progress on the smaller 'weekly' paintings to slow while I'm working on the larger oil painting, but hopefully I'll still have some good results to show on both each week, unlike this week..

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Honesty.

I like to think. I like to assess. I like to figure out, ‘why?’ about myself and situations. I think that’s why I enjoyed Psychology so much in school, because it was always exploring the ‘whys’ of human behavior.

Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I overanalyze things rather than going with my gut, which occasionally leads me to do more harm than good. Though sometimes, my gut will do just the same.

This part of my nature causes me to generally be very in-tune with myself. I know when something is amiss in my physical or spiritual life. When I get that feeling, I think about it. I try to figure out what it is and where it’s coming from. But, sometimes it takes me a little while to put my finger on it.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been having some issues after we turn out the lights to go to sleep. That is the time of day when I am most susceptible to questioning, giving in, losing battles, getting discouraged, etc. and sometimes it keeps me up at night. Recently, my struggles have come so far that I actually feel physical repercussions of them. I feel weight in my chest, fear gripping me, helplessness, uncertainty, vulnerability. That’s new for me.

Sure I’ve felt all those things before, but not like this. I always felt them within the comfort of external things like: mom and dad downstairs if I need them, my roommate in the other bed if I need to talk, my analyzing brain, my husband right next to me. They could help me solve my problems.

One of the things the Lord has been teaching me this year is to forgo relying on those external things for my help in times of need and to rely fully on him. Not to downplay the importance of those relationships and the way the Lord uses them, but to emphasize that the Lord should be the first one that I run to.

But what if the Lord is what I’m afraid of? What if my understanding of Him has gotten so messed up that He’s not my place of comfort any more? What if my heart feels shriveled and dry and unable to be reassured?

The funny thing is, that’s just it. I don’t question my faith, I question the Lord’s faithfulness. I know that I believe in and love Jesus with my whole heart regardless of whether it feels shriveled or not. I know that. But what if he strikes me down.. what if when I die, I find out he’s not going to save me. He’s not going to save me because I wasn’t good enough, because actually, it does all depend on me.

Stop. Ok, how many times have you heard the gospel?

At least in the hundreds, and I love it every time.

Ok, so tell me how it goes..

We were created to be good, full, beautiful people. To commune wholly with our God and Father. To be close to him, to praise him in his nearness, to see him, sense him, to flawlessly love him. That’s how we were supposed to be. But, we couldn’t do it. In our fleshliness, we wanted what he had. We wanted to see and know and to be praised.

And we fell. The human race fell. We fell into blindness, helplessness, bondage, distance, death, sin. We fell into an uneasiness with a Holy God. We dirtied ourselves, tattered our clothes, starved and neglected ourselves, but still wanted to approach the King.

So he gave us some rules. We had to make up for our mistakes and follow his rules if we still wanted to meet with him. But it was really hard. Impossible. How could one person keep track of so many things? What if the priest made a mistake? Everyone else is relying on him, what if he does it wrong? But we need the Lord.

Then Jesus came. He came and showed us that we were even more in debt than we understood. It wasn’t just about following those rules on the outside, it was about following them on the inside, in our souls. Our very beings needed to know and understand these rules and their significance in order to make up for the mistakes we had made. And that is hopeless. Even more impossible than before.

But. We are not hopeless are we. We don’t have to be in bondage or blind or distant anymore. There is relief. That’s what Jesus did. He followed the rules perfectly with his entire being. He knew what it was to have fleshliness and he overcame it. He was stronger. He never once broke any of the rules. He remained in perfect communion with God from the confines of a fallen world.

And then, he did the unthinkable. He took his perfection and smeared it with our dirt. He wore our tattered clothes, he claimed our starvation and neglect as his own. By his choice. He allowed himself to suffer the blindness, helplessness, bondage, distance, death, sin that he never had to know. He never had to know it because he didn’t deserve it like we did. He didn’t earn a bit of that condemnation. But he took it. He took it all before a Holy God and said, ‘it is mine.’

His perfection wiped us clean. He made the most uneven, unfair, unbelievable trade the world has ever known. He paid our debt knowing fully we could give him nothing in return. It was free. Our debt is paid regardless of how many times we struggle with the same sin. It is paid no matter how much we get confused and fear the same Lord that is our salvation. It is paid no matter what. Forever.

That is what I believe. Jesus took my imperfection and gave me his perfection. I can stand before the King and be me, in all of my grime and muck, because the King’s Son, the true royalty, wants me to be there. He made it possible. He made it so I can know my God the way I was meant to, to be near him, to sense him, to love him. He made it so I can look forward to a day when I will do this flawlessly. When the entirety of creation will do this flawlessly.

And that is beautiful.

Remember? Remember how none of it ever depended on you?

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Let your fears be stilled and feel sweet relief. You cannot be good enough, I promise. You will always fail, just like me. The Lord is not going to strike me down and he’s not going to close the gates of Heaven on me because I wasn’t good enough. He knows I’m not good enough better than I do at one o’clock in the morning when I’m worrying about it. He knows that Jesus was good enough and that I have trusted Jesus to be good enough for me. And that Jesus, he is my life and breath and comfort, and he will bring me through and fill my shriveled heart.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Love is in the air…

If you remember things that you have read in the past, (then you are not like me) you might remember that Ian and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary on a plane flying back to the UK with my brother. With the subsequent busy-ness of the weeks following, we never really celebrated or had much time to think about acknowledging our three years as an old married couple.

We shop at Tesco for our groceries. When you shop at Tesco, if you have a clubcard, you get points every time you buy something (you earn a penny for every pound you spend). Those points add up and then you get sent vouchers every three months that you can use in a number of different ways. You can use them in the store with a direct exchange (so if you have GBP 5.00 of vouchers you can use that to buy yourself a large-ish chicken or 5 tubs of Tesco ice cream, for example), or if you go online there are all kind of special offers you can use them for that sometimes make your pounds go further.

One of the special offers is dinner vouchers for Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant that we have in town. If you exchange your Tesco vouchers for Bella Italia vouchers, you get to multiply your pound amount by 4!

So we decided to turn our 5 pound voucher into a 20 pound voucher and go out to Bella Italia for dinner to celebrate our three years together. Basically a free meal. Basically amazing. We are rewarded for buying groceries to feed ourselves.. nice.

So we got all gussied up


and headed out to ‘give it a go’ and see if our vouchers would work as seamlessly as it seemed they would. We asked about it right away because we are skeptical of such things since we didn’t read the fine print last time we went out for dinner.. And lo and behold, it was that easy! Yay! So we enjoyed a yummy meal and NEITHER of us ate chicken!! Here we are in great anticipation of our meal. This is like what our food sees when it looks at us (I was trying to be discrete with the camera :)



We both got seafood. We enjoy plentiful helpings of pasta, shrimpy, saucy goodness, as well as some amazing garlic breadsticks (although, every time I eat bread here, I always miss soft bread.. All the bread we’ve encountered with dinner here is ‘crusty’ if you know what I mean. Does anybody know where I can find soft dinner rolls?? Maybe I just need to make them. Where is that little dough boy when you need him..)



Our waitress was wonderful and dinner came out to a grand total of 28.45 including tip. That is pounds. Which means we just spent nearly $60 to eat at a restaurant similar to the Olive Garden, but without unlimited breadsticks and salad. For two of us. See?? See why we don’t eat out!? :) That’s why we’re grateful that we actually only paid 8.45 of that.. again.. nice.

Anyway. It is significant (and I believe very providential) that we ended up at an Olive Garden-esque restaurant because we had our first date EVER at an Olive Garden (after deciding Texas Roadhouse was far too noisy to have the deep discussions we needed to have about life, meaning, and significance… on the first date) and have gone to an Olive Garden to celebrate each anniversary thus far.

We enjoyed great conversation and walked down toward the beach after our lovely dinner. Unfortunately, I wussed out because it was FREEZING yesterday so we never made it all the way to the beach, but we enjoyed the sea air and sounds nonetheless (we love taking deep breaths outside). We got home to home-made brownies, ice cream, and DOPE!! My first ever time making dope by myself without the rest of my family. Whoa.

No, we are not a family of potheads. We do not have such skeletons in our closets. That is not why our parents chose to live so far back in the woods… We have this recipe for chocolate sauce that actually is probably better than dope if I had to guess, because it’s CHOCOLATE!! Yum! My grandpa made it and passed the recipe on to my dad, who passed it on to me a few weeks ago. And, we’ve always known it as dope. No one knows why. Right? Family? Does anyone know why? Regardless, it’s amazing and not like what you’ll expect it to be like, guaranteed. And I will make it for you if you come visit :)

So we enjoyed our brownies while we browsed a selection of movies to rent FROM THE COMFORT OF OUR COUCH! That’s right folks. The iTunes geniuses have made it so you can rent movies from iTunes and you get to keep them for 24 hrs. That is good stuff. We rented a movie called ‘Wristcutters: A Love Story’ from the comedy section. Sounds weird right?? Well, it did not disappoint. It was weird with a capital W-E-I-R-D!! I’m not sure what to think exactly, but I don’t think I would call it a comedy. I thought it approached suicide (constantly referred to as ‘off-ing yourself’ throughout the movie) too casually and didn’t do a good job at addressing some of the issues it could have addressed in a very thought-provoking way. It felt like the movie wanted to be kind of deep and meaning-of-life-ish, but just didn’t quite make it. I don’t know, maybe that’s what they intended. Maybe that’s why it was in the comedy section. I think this review sums it up well, “It's certainly melancholic, occasionally funny, and ultimately life-affirming. But overall, it feels as if writer-director Goran Dukic dropped a rather promising ball.” It seems like a good ‘let’s watch it and discuss’ movie, but definitely not a ‘let’s sit down and laugh and feel like we just had a really good time at the end’ movie.

So we had a good date night. And are still thankful for our three+ years together :)



p.s. Is it harmful to use makeup that might be almost 7 years old? I mean, because I have this friend.. And she was wondering.. because it still looks normal and works normally.. she wanted to know..