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


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


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 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!


“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.