Thursday, April 30, 2015

Our First Lambing, a video

One of the things I looked forward to about the spring in North Yorkshire was seeing all of the lambs out in the fields.  There came a point this spring when I was afraid I had missed out, but then there was a week where almost every day brought the opportunity of seeing and photographing these little spring miracles. 

One evening about three weeks ago now we made plans with a lady in our church to visit her neighbors' barn where they had several lambs born that week.  It had been a really cloudy, yucky day, but that evening the sun burst out from behind the clouds, and it was so lovely.  In addition to the surprise of the weather turning so nice we got the surprising news that there was a sheep in labor in the field that needed checking on, and would we like to come along on the off chance we got to see a lamb being born? 

KJ and I were excited; the kids were less certain. 

It was such a surreal experience for us to be there in that sunny field at seven o'clock in the evening.  We just kept looking at each other and smiling because 8 years ago we drove back and forth to our little church in rural Kentucky, laughing over James Herriot books, and then there we were, right in his own backyard watching lambing in a Yorkshire field.  Life is full of surprising twists.

Just a little flashback to when we visited
Yorkshire in our imaginations on Sundays
I took a lot of pictures (of course) and thought a video would be a more pleasant way to share them.  In an effort to save myself time I let my video editing program put them together on its own (thus all the lens flare).   I thought it did a pretty good job except for the video footage at the end feeling long.  I hope you enjoy our first lambing experience! 

I couldn't get the video to embed properly for some reason, so if you like you can watch the video HERE.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Franco Fridays: Chatelet and Luxembourg Gardens

Our last day of ministry in Paris started with meeting church planter, Jason Procopio, hearing his story, and visiting this area of Paris with over 100,000 people and as far as was known, no evangelical church.  For my Alabama friends, Tuscaloosa had 95,000 people registered in the 2013 census. This number could be wrong, but a quick Google search brings up 58 Baptist churches in Tuscaloosa, and that's just one denomination.  There is a lot of work to be done in cities like Paris.

We were all greatly encouraged by hearing Jason's story, and as we did a re-cap of the week with our team several people mentioned it as being a highlight.

This is where the new church was meeting when we visited in June.

Last summer Parker was working with a group of students from Texas, and later that afternoon we joined their weekly meeting discussing church-planting in cities.  We were the loud Americans in the midst of such scenes as these.

I think KJ Pugh would enjoy this avenue of meeting people, playing chess in Luxembourg Gardens.

It was great to get to know these students during the week and get a glimpse of Parker's life and ministry in Paris.  The incredible thing these days is that we get to continue getting to know lots of this group through Facebook.

Au revoir, Paris. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Let's Talk About the Weather

From the moment we first thought moving to England might be somewhere in our future, I think KJ had an impression of a people that drank tea and talked about the weather.  And though the English certainly don't have a monopoly on talking about the weather, it really is a distinctive.  For some reason, even I feel a deeper connection to what is going on outside here than I ever have before.

I bought a book on Christmas Eve entitled The English Year, A Literary Journey through the Seasons.  It's a compilation of journal entries written on each day of the year.  I thought it sounded really interesting, but I didn't realize when it said "through the seasons" that each entry really would be literally about the weather and what was blooming or being harvested at the time.  I was focusing on the word literary, but the book is actually more focused on the seasonal aspect.  KJ thinks it's pretty boring.  I'm kind of fascinated by it.

I thought this observation by Horace Walpole in 1775 might sum up English weather pretty well, though of course I'm still a newcomer and don't have a lot to base this on.

I am perfectly well, and heed not the weather;
though I wish the seasons came a little oftener
into their own places instead of each Other's.
From November, till a fortnight ago, we had such warmth
that I should often be glad of in summer -- and since
we are not sure of it then, was rejoiced when I could get it.

There are some boring entries but there are also some more interesting ones. 

January 18, 1835
The few days' severe weather ceased, and it became spring again.  What a climate is ours!

March 7, 1814, Jane Austen
Here's a day!  The ground covered with snow! What is to become of us?  We were to have walked
out early to near shops, and had the carriage for the more distant.
All we can say about the weather this past week is:  completely gorgeous.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Newby Hall Gardens

Since moving to England we've been adjusting to new rhythms of life and creating new routines.  School is a big definer of seasons and schedules, and with the school schedule here being completely different than in the U.S. we'll have some adjusting to do.  For instance, we've just started the Summer Term, which is a complete oxymoron to an American.  The kids' last day of school before the summer holidays will be July 17th.  Traditionally, this is about the time my kids have started to get bored with summer.  In fact, since we've been homeschooling we have a tradition of starting back to school on July 30, getting a running start on the American school year.  Though going to school in the summer will be an adjustment, we had no problem accepting the 2-week Easter holidays.

The first week was busy putting on Grace Church's Easter Holiday Bible Club, but the second week was really low-key, and Easter week brought the best weather we've ever had here.  KJ really wanted to take us to Newby Hall, which is just about 10 minutes up the road from us.  Downton Abbey fans might be interested in these tidbits about Newby Hall

Since it was such an amazingly warm day we decided not to go inside the house but to explore the gardens and playground for the kids.  But first, you know we saw some lambs going up the drive and had to stop and take a few pictures.  I was so afraid I was going to miss out on seeing the lambs, and within a space of a week I had a zillion opportunities.  It made me thankful.

As soon as I got out of the car the mamas started calling for their babies, and the babies answered, running to safety.

My own little lambs were pretty happy to find some sticks and to have a big place to run around.  We love that they have this opportunity to be outside and enjoy these beautiful places.

The ones who love maps found maps, and we were ready to go.

On this particular day I was loving seeing the willow trees come back to life.  They're some of the saddest looking trees in the winter with bare scraggly branches, but with new green life on them they create magical little hideaways. 

I think they definitely win for having the best play area for kids that we've seen yet.  You can paddle these little boats around the adventure playground (I don't know if that's the proper word, but what else would you call something with zip lines and rope swings?).  Ella struggled to go in the proper direction, so she got some help.

The rose garden is all thorns now, but I look forward to going back when everything is blooming.  I had fun trying out the macro feature on one of my lenses.  I had to work hard at it because those bees are fast movers.  And of course, the daffodils need no explanations.

We also discovered a fantastic rock garden with a waterfall and just had a really nice time wearing ourselves out.  As we walked back to the car we came upon a band of black lambs.

They were doing some serious scampering about, and we sat and watched them for several minutes before finally saying our goodbyes.  Apparently they like to play Follow the Leader.

"Now what, guys?"

"Let's just dance because it's spring."

They met up with these shaggy brown guys.

And then these adorable little fellas.

I learned that I was wrong about all sheep with horns being rams.

Apparently, that's a mama.

 Until next time, Newby Hall.