Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Weekend Fun: A Quick Trip to the Seaside

"Let's go to the beach!"

Those sort of spontaneous declarations were the kind I made in college, the sort of spontaneity that I cast aside for a few years when there were nursing babies and napping schedules, the kind that gets cast aside because there are always more jobs around the house that need doing.  It's the kind of spontaneity that comes back now that the kids are more flexible and the forecast says sun, sun, sun with not a cloud in sight for a 9-hour stretch.

Ella and I were all in amazement at shorts, flip-flops, and the feeling of warmth on our skin.

I also love how different a place the seaside in North Yorkshire is to Alabama beaches.  I like that we have such a creative God, no two beaches the same, all distinct with their own kind of beauty.  In North Yorkshire it's ocean, cliffs, open farmland all in a row.

I think it's somewhat of a travesty in England to go to the seaside and not eat fish and chips.  We brought our own sandwiches.

Side note:  James looking down on the village by the sea said, "People are lucky.  They live at the beach."  

We were in a more sheltered bay area so the wind was not quite strong enough to keep our kite afloat long.  But James sure enjoyed trying.

I've never seen a tractor launch a boat before.

Today may be the hottest day of the year in North Yorkshire, and I'm feeling slightly regretful of having the kids in school all week.  It would be such a great field trip day!  But there is packing to do, and I'm thankful we had the gift of a spontaneous beach evening on Saturday night.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Thoughts on Going Home

It's a rainy, cloudy morning in North Yorkshire, and I've been writing things on the calendar for the week ahead.  It's so strange when my eye travels downward to the end of the month, and I see times with extended family written down!  After almost two years living in North Yorkshire it is hard to believe we are coming home.  We are all getting geared up for our "Great American Summer," looking forward to thunderstorms and lightning, fireflies, flip-flops, and two years worth of Vitamin D in a single afternoon at the water park.

We're looking forward to our family, our church family, Chick-fil-A, the library, the River Walk, all the little things that made up life in Tuscaloosa.  Familiar playgrounds, friends, the constant sheen of sweat...maybe that last thing not so much, but then again, maybe we're looking forward to that in its own way.

Before we knew living in and loving two places would be a part of our life's story a friend who was already living this kind of life said to me, "Now, wherever I am, I'll always miss somewhere."  And with my head full of all the fun ahead for us in the next few weeks, last night I felt a little sadness about missing the long days here, where you can almost always wear a cardigan and the golden light lingers on the fields long past ten o'clock, and where 4,000-year-old standing stones are 100 yards from your doorstep.

Sometimes the always missing someplace, always missing family and knowing they're missing you, feels like a hard load to carry.  But it also comes with so many, many, many gifts.  Before we left Alabama and since I've been pulled back to these words of Jesus:  "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."  And all I can say after nearly two years of missing people and places and two years of receiving the rich gift of people and places on this side of the ocean, is that Jesus has proven so true.  

A few months ago I listened to an interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones, the children's book author who wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible loved by so many.  She, of course, is from England, living and writing in New York City so experiencing the living away from home and family in the opposite way we are. On the subject of missing things she said:

The point of what we're up to right now is not 
coziness and comfort and safety.  It's about...
we only have a limited time to do what God's given
us to do, and we have eternity not to miss out on anything.

So in all the different ways this might look for you and me, let's remember that eternity spent with Jesus is long and full of every good thing, including all the things we might be missing out on right now.  And the days we have to trust Him and do what's before us with faith are but a short window in time.

Now we're off to finish off the school year strong (It's still going!) and work on our packing lists.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

240 Years

We had friends over last night to celebrate the Fourth...English friends which feels slightly strange when you stop to think of the event we are commemorating.  It made me stop and give thanks that the bad feelings between our two nations didn't continue for too long.  It was a really fun night, a typical July 4th in England perhaps, listening to rain on the conservatory roof, being glad I chose to do BBQ chicken in the oven and hamburgers on the George Forman grill instead of cooking outside.  The day was filled with sunshine, though, even if the night was filled with rain.

I didn't take any pictures last night amidst the fun and mayhem of lots of children, but I did have a few from our celebration on a local American base a few days ago.

Last August our church went door-to-door with leaflets about Grace Church so people in the surrounding villages would know where we were.  One of those leaflets made it through the doorway of an American military family who never would have found us without them!  The Geis family then became regular attenders at Grace Church until they went back to the States this past spring.  Through them I met several other ladies at a Bible study on the base where they have so generously welcomed me and my family!  It was so fun to be able to celebrate America with fellow expats and to see a good fireworks show.  There were all kinds of fun activities for the kids, keeping them occupied until it was dark enough for fireworks, close to 10:30 p.m.  We watched Irish dancers, and there was a magic show.  I got a little tickled at the irony of being entertained by the English at a 4th of July celebration.

See you soon, America!

Sunday, July 3, 2016


June sure was a quick one!  I remain thankful for those little cameras we carry in our pockets all the time now that help mark the moments on these days that seem to slip away so rapidly.

June 1 - We were still visiting with the de la Hoydes, being shown around their new town in France.

June 2 - I promised a euro to the person who spotted the Eiffel Tower first.  Ella won the contest by spying it above the trees while we were at the Arc de Triomphe.

June 3 - It's just such a good place to take a photo.

June 4 - Ella got a great souvenir in her Parisian Happy Meal.  Did I mention that we ate at every McDonald's between Yorkshire and Paris?  Because I think we did. 

June 5 - James got very into taking pictures on our vacation, which was fun for me to watch, but I also ended up bending over a lot like this so he could take a picture with my camera still safely around my neck.  It's a little too expensive for me to want him to run off with it.

June 6 - Fountain right outside our friend Parker's apartment where we stayed

June 7 - We had about one hour to wonder around Bruges, Belgium before boarding the ferry back to Yorkshire.  The sun came out, and it was around 70 and felt amazing for the first time in several days.
James immediately went in search of shade, which doesn't bode well for our August in Alabama.

June 8 - I saw a warm sunrise over the North Sea when I woke around 5 a.m.  I laughed when by the time we reached the coast of England there was a cloudy wet mist in its place.

June 9 - It was a school night, but when the thermometer reaches 70 in North Yorkshire you seize the summer moment and get out the waterhose.

June 10 - "I came back from vacation and went straight to school."

June 12 - Boroughbridge wishes the queen a happy birthday!

June 14 - Every now and again I come across these type of things in the grocery store, and it makes me smile.

June 15 - We discovered that staring into a butterflies eyes was a little creepy.

June 17 - We released our butterflies into the wild of our back garden.  I thought of the dream Father Tim has in the Mitford books, "Go, and be as the butterfly."

June 18 - We were out doing some shopping the day before Father's Day and had to make a stop at a craft table to make Father's Day cards.

June 19 - James decided to begin reading his Bible aloud to us, which I thought was really great.  But when he read the end of Genesis 2 to me this week, "And Adam knew his wife Eve..." I suddenly remembered how there were many parts of the Bible I wasn't ready to discuss with my 6-year-old yet. Good thing he's taking it slowly.

June 20 - I noticed this phenomenon last year:  The entire day can be gray and overcast, but around 7 p.m. it's all, "Hello, this is the most beautiful place on the planet, isn't it?"

June 21 - Dinner with friends - The boys are obviously shy about showing their faces.

June 22 - 8:20 p.m. - There's that evening sunshine after the rain again.  I'm always hanging out the skylight at night.

June 23 - I took a cute two-year-old to the bakery for a treat.  She picked out shortbread almost as big as her head.

June 24 - An early July 4th celebration with Americans living in the area.  I always wanted to jump on one of these trampolines with bungee cords, and Ella got to do it for free.

June 25 - Horses in a field of buttercups feels like quintessential English summer to me.

June 27 - I've always wanted to take a picture of this door in the wall and never stop when I'm jogging.  Since I was just walking on this day I took advantage of the opportunity.

June 28 - Sometimes words and phrases we don't use in Alabama catch my eye.

June 29 - Daddy to the diorama rescue

June 30 - Morning Hugs

And now onward into July!