Tuesday, August 23, 2005
More Completely Random Crap.
1) So I’m watching The Simpsons today, and it's the one where Marge takes Bart shopping (also known as the one where Homer uses Lisa for betting on football). And, of course, Marge does that lame mom thing of opening the changing room door while Bart is in his undies, and girls from school of course see this and giggle. (Don’t pretend your mom never did that to you.)
Now, watching this, I got that still small voice of déjà vu. Had I seen this episode before? Oh wait, nooooo….Home Improvement used the exact same gag on the rerun shown two days ago! SAME THING! Poor, cute little JTT! And the SET was almost exactly the same, which is funny, since there aren’t real SETS on the Simpsons of course. Since it’s a cartoon. But dollar to a donut (or “doughnut”, if you’re pretentious) one of the Simpsons writers was watching Home Improvement one day and wrote that sucker into the show. And all this time, we’ve been short changing Home Improvement in the humor department. We were wrong, friends. We we wrong.
2) If you thought that was the funniest moment of my day, though, you’d be wrong again. The funniest moment was, as you might guess, reading my tea box.
My money finally found the way to my bank, thank the Lord, so, being almost out of tea, I stop in one of them “organic/veggie/vegetarian/rabbitfood” shops, and spot some “Sweet Chai” tea. I do love Chai, but the brand I have right now gives me heartburn (true story). So I was hoping this kind might work a little better for me.
So I test it out when I get home. And its really not that great. It’s basically licorice tea, because there’s no black tea in it (which kinda is the base for most real Chai…I just didn’t see that on the box). Its not bad, just kinda funky.
But the other thing I missed on the box was the following “description” of the tea:
A sweet marriage of spices combining Yogi Tea’s classic recipe with strong accents of anise, fennel and licorice. This tea is dedicated to peace and understanding between the people of the earth and the different ways of life that they follow. Through each cup of tea may the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect grow within us all. May we remember that we are not born to judge each other, we are born to get together and know each other. May the melody of peace be cast forth from Krishna’s flute unto the world whispering that infinite secret: “We are One.”
It’s probably no surprise that this tea is made in Amsterdam.
What’s almost better is the free “meditation pose” on the bottom of the box:
“Self-Confidence (Affirmation): Sometimes we find ourselves dependent on appraisal and acceptance by others. There is a simple affirmation which brings back our own strength:
(Here is an actual drawing of the hand and sitting positions, I’m sorry you can’t see them.)
Press your thumb on the mount below the pinky and close the hand in a fist. Say to yourself before you meet somebody: “I AM HEALTHY, I AM HAPPY, I AM GREAT”.
Come on. This is HILARIOUS. I think it would be better, though, if everyone started saying that TO the other person when they meet somebody. I mean, at least you’d get that out in the open, right from the beginning. That’s pretty much like skipping at least three or four dates, right off the bat.
Seriously, kids. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
3) My biggest beef with living in a flat (or, “apartment”, if you will) is that no matter what, everyone else who lives in adjoining apartments is eating better than you. And you can smell it. Today, honest to goodness, I caught whiffs of fried chicken (which is a rare delicacy in Scotland) and garlic bread today. Someone in my building really likes asian food too, because I get that a lot. And I know we’re not supposed to covet our neighbo(u)r and such, but dang, that stuff smells good.
4) So they’re now selling toothbrushes with “tongue cleaners”: the Colgate 360. As in, degrees. And yes, there is a full-blown website dedicated to this toothbrush.
On one side is the actual brush for toothing. On the other side is a rubber washing-board-type-surface, which one is supposed to use to “clean their tongue”, because, as the commercial says, “90% of bad breath is caused by germs on the tongue”. (Incidently, the UK commercial for this says the 90% stat. The website says 85%. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TRUTH IN ADVERTISING?! Which one is TRUE?!)
Now, I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for stupid crap with completely unnecessarily added marketing tools. But this is extreme, even for ME. Surely….SURELY people aren’t gonna fall for this. SURELY they realize that EVERY SINGLE TOOTHBRUSH can be used to clean your tongue. Yes, even the cheap ones. You can use the same side that you brush your teeth with! Imagine that! I know, it’s a crazy thought. Sorry, Colgate. You can't convince ME that I'll get a "superior whole mouth clean" from this thing. Not even with that "soft polishing cups" line.
Seriously, if people buy this brush, I will lose all faith in humanity, full stop.
5) Today’s confession is that I actually like Kelly Clarkson. And her cheesy misspelled pop music. Is that such a crime?
That’s it. I don’t think I can take all this nonsense anymore tonight. I’m gonna go make me a cup of that crazyass tea in hopes that I will find my spirit of “tolerance” and “mutual respect” and “fennel”.
Monday, August 22, 2005
TWOP, Mouse Parties, and G&T
It’s 1:40am, I’ve just finished off a supremely strong gin and tonic (in hopes I’ll get to sleep sooner, rather than later, for once), and I’m watching the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves, top of the 3rd Inning, no score.
Whew, that was way stronger than I thought it was gonna be. I need some toast, excuse me.
(In random news, I found a shirt on eBay today that said “I *heart* toast”, and I really like it. I’m not even a crazy fan of toast, but that’s a great shirt. Too bad it was like, 8 quid. This is because, it seems, it has something to do with Trigger Happy TV, which I still haven't seen, much to Chrissy's sadness.)
I’m now officially going a little crazy. I’m really really hoping that my money comes through tomorrow, so that I can call Jonathan and Sarah to get out of this flat. As if things weren’t already not-amazing, my Grandma and Grandpa are both in the hospital (as well as my aunt), and are really not doing well. I hate that I can’t be there, and I hate that the UK Home Office has my passport right now. And it’s a little hard to not dwell on that kind of thing, especially since I’m pretty close to them. I hate feeling helpless.
What’s worse, is that I hate feeling helpless when I’m COMPLETELY alone. Marian is still in St Andrews, Ruth is still in Romania, Pete is still in Birmingham. It’s one thing if crap happens and you can manage to keep yourself busy with work and such. Or, if you can’t, you can at least count on the occasional coffee break out with a friend. But when you have neither, and are basically house-bound, its just not fun. I used to laugh at the idea of “house arrest”. How lame! It’s not arrest if you can stay in your HOUSE! But yes, now I understand. A thousand apologies for all my mocking, dear Martha Stewart. By the way, thanks for the K-Mart special "Egyptian" olive-green towels I got last time I was home. Those have done me well. And they were a total steal. GET IT? STEAL?! PRISON?! YOU?!
I’m feeling better than I was an hour or so ago, when I was pretty wracked over my grandparents. A phone call helped, as well as baseball on TV. (Which may sound strange, but it’s the truth. I’ll be the first to admit that baseball on TV isn’t that exciting. But it has more to do with the associations I have with baseball, and memories I have tied to it. If I think hard enough, I can remember the smells, to accompany the sounds that I hear on TV: “We Will Rock You” clips, the theme from "Leave It To Beaver", the ever-popular organist, guys burping up $8 beers, and the sound of chewing tobacco hitting dirt.)
Another thing that has lifted my sprits a little has been reading the recaps of Lost on TWOP. I LOVE Television Without Pity, and if you haven’t discovered it, then…well, you should. It’s funniest when you’ve actually seen the episode in discussion, but its funny even if you haven’t. Tonight, I watched episode 4 of Lost, followed by a reading of the recap, which always manages to actually pull an audible laugh out of me at some point, even if no one is around. (And I’m morally opposed to laughing out loud if no one is around. The only thing worse is when you PURPOSEFULLY laugh when other people are around, to get attention: “Ha! This article is SO FUNNY, that I cannot POSSIBLY contain my laughter when I’m sitting here on the Tube! I’m sorry, I just can’t control the hilarity!” That kinda thing.) With said recap, we get such memorable lines as:
My anti-monster routine was a little different when I was a kid; every night I would insist on having a ridiculous number of stuffed animals in bed with me. My parents always thought it was because I believed the animals would protect me from a monster, but I inwardly scoffed at their rationale. What kind of a baby did they think I was? I knew that stuffed animals couldn't protect me from a monster. Instead, I slept on my side and arranged the stuffed animals under the covers in a pile by my stomach. Any monster sent to kill me would, of course, have a description of the child they'd been sent to destroy. (I imagined the monsters holding a ripped-out piece of spiral notebook paper.) That description would describe me as "skinny" -- which I was, once -- and the monster would look at the paper, look at my bed, see what appeared to be a kid with a gigantic fat stomach under the covers, look back at the paper, look at me again, look at my "stomach" again, look back at the paper, look at me one last time, and then, shaking its monstrous head, would retreat back into the closet. I couldn't fight a monster, I knew, but I could outwit one, because monsters are stupid.
Jack wades in and breaks it up, determining that they were fighting over, literally, peanuts. This scene makes me want to fly Oh Shit, The Plane Is Crashing Airlines, LLC, because I'm sick of getting fed rock-hard pretzels on every flight I take just because some kid's nut allergy might make him swell up like Violet Beauregarde.
Jack wants to know why Kate's so loaded for boar to go off on this hunt. They banter inconsequentially for a while until she reveals Sayid's antenna, which he's asked her to set up. "This isn't about boars," Jack says. Kate replies, "I'm a vegetarian." Who ate bacon one episode ago.
(He’s right, she DID eat bacon one episode ago!)
What's a four-letter word for 'I don't care'?" she asks. Heh. Shannon is my heroine. However, I don't think she's just being a bitch; I think she actually wants to know a four-letter word for "I don't care." She's working on a crossword puzzle from Shannon's Big Book of Irritated, Bitchy Puzzles, Volume IV. She's currently working on Puzzle Number 14, "God, Why Won't You Just Shut Up," reproduced here with the kind permission of the McGraw-Hill Corporation.
Ahh, I could go on and on. It’s funny. I recommend it.
Oh, and I suppose I’m not TOTALLY alone here. Mr. Mouse is still throwing a non-stop plastic-bag party in my room. At this point, I don’t really care anymore. I set a trap, but only a completely suicidal mouse could ever get himself killed on that thing. I’m a fully functioning grown adult with an IQ of 130 something, and I still had trouble setting the thing off, even though I knew HOW to do it. Ruth says there’s poison around here somewhere, but I can’t find it. So for now, I’ll let him have his little fun. Besides, Pete doesn’t like the idea of me killing him. Somehow, this seems a little messed up. I’m the one who wants to kill the mouse (even though I saw him yesterday, and he’s actually kinda cute), and my boyfriend wants me to catch him and “set him free”. Wait, this isn’t right. Shouldn’t HE be the one to want to kill it and *I* be the one who wants the cute little thing to live? I suppose this just goes to show how terrible of a person I am.
Anyway. I’m going to bed, while that G&T is still working its mojo.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Brothers and Sisters, We Are Redeemed.
This afternoon, I sat down in front of the television to watch what has become (in my current lack of employment), my daily viewing of "Scrubs".
I do love “Scrubs”. It is by far one of my favorite TV shows. One of my friends once noted that she’s consistently surprised at the number of emotions that come to the surface in her during each half-hour episode. But in my viewings, I haven’t ever directly seen an episode that dealt with faith or God until today’s episode.
This Christmas episode focuses around Turk’s faith in God, which leads to discussion with the other characters, and a HILARIOUS “JD thought” scene, placing Turk as the preacher in a black pentacostal church service. (Seriously, it was funny.) As Christmas Eve wears on, Turk gets more and more weary as more and more people are coming into the hospital for a variety of reasons: drunk drivers, random stabbings, abused children, car accents, etc. By Christmas morning, he is no longer interested in going to church – he can’t understand a God who allows suffering, a God who didn’t protect those people.
In the end, Turk’s introspection (and stargazing) turns positive, and he runs to find a girl who was released too early, who needed medical attention. No one else could find her or contact her – yet somehow, he “just knew” where she was, and attributes that to God and his faith. Ah, the redemptive storylines are always the best.
Now, I am the first to admit that while my life not be entirely comfortable at the moment (what with having no money, and waiting on that darn letter about a visa from the Home Office), I am doing pretty well, and I’m pretty content. I have been blessed with deeper friendships, some time off, some warm (if grey) weather, a little travel, a nice young man, and a family who loves me.
But at the same time, I’m hearing a lot of negativity from friends. Like Turk, we see pain and suffering in us, and around us; this negativity is easy to grab ahold of in a world that is fallen. And I’ll be the first to claim I am not exempt. If anything, I have a bad habit of letting myself dwell on one small hiccup in live. And really it doesn’t matter where we are in life, we always seem to find something to complain about. As good as everything is right now, I found myself on the phone the other night complaining to Peter about how loud the neighbors upstairs were. (That’s right, at 23, I’m turning into an old lady.) I have a variety of friends in all stages: single, married, pregnant, with children, in high school, university, graduate school, working, male, female, unemployed, everyone has their gripes. If we’re single, we wish we were dating. If we’re dating, we wish we were engaged. If we’re engaged we wish we were married. If we’re in college, we wish we’d already graduated. If we are working, we wish we were back in college. (If we’re unemployed, we’re bored.) The list continues.
In continuing with my “Christmas in August” theme today, put in my Behold the Lamb CD, by Andrew Peterson (and compadres). And even though it was midday, in late August, I still got terribly teary at the beauty of that album.
And somewhere in the midst of the goosebumps that appeared during “Deliver Us” and “The Theme of My Song” I was struck with a very strong reminder of why this album is so beautiful:
Brothers and sisters, we are REDEEMED.
I realize that might sound trite, and that we’ve heard it before. It seems obvious. We know this.
We are REDEEMED.
We are redeemed.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (which I’m sure I’ll be stoned for using, but I will anyway) defines “redemption” as:
“The restoration of man from the bondage of sin to the liberty of the Children of God through the satisfactions and merits of Christ.”
Why do I so often forget that I’ve been redeemed, that I’ve been restored from the bondage of sin? Why do we not remember the Gospel? And why, even when we remember, is this not enough for us?
I suppose the theologically correct answer is while I’ve been restored and redeemed, I am still sinful, and still live in a sinful world. Our sins are based in our unbelief – that God truly wants what is best for us, or is able to accomplish what is best for us, in our lives. And that sin will continue to color my view, casting a view of negativity and discontent on a life that has been truly REDEEMED.
Please understand that I’m not meaning to negate the struggles, big and small, in our lives. Our struggles often shape us, and bring us toward God. Yes, we are broken, in need of mending. But what I am meaning to fight is our self-centeredness, and our “poor pitiful me” syndrome which forgets we serve an almighty God who is in love with us more than any human could ever be, who has come to bandage wounded hearts, one who is truly able to do “exceedingly and abundantly” more than we could ever imagine.
Behold the Lamb of God!
Who takes away our sin.
Behold the Lamb of God!
The life and light of man.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
All I Want For Labor Day Is....
Ah, but you're wrong. I already HAVE my two front teeth.
I'd really like Tim Keller's lecture on "Engaging the Renewed Imagination".....
I just wish it weren't $25.
1) I am going completely insane with no job. I really honestly don’t know how people can go so long without working. I was really looking forward to some time off after college was over, and after my placement was over. But instead, I’m just bored out of my skull. I mean, it’s a little nice…getting to sleep in… and not dreading the next meeting or deadline …and getting to do little random things like getting caught up in my journal, and on reading books…and, of course,watching the Newlyweds marathons.
I mean, erm no. Not that last one.
(Except yes. I love that stupid show.)
But the more exciting (and less embarrassing) TV watching has come in the form of “Lost” finally coming to UK screens. It’s just such a suburb show, and so addictive. Thanks to Channel 4, E4, and E4+1, I’ve managed to see the first three episodes several times each. (I missed the first showing of episode four tonight, because Pete called, but I considering the fact that they’ll replay it umpteen times, it would have been a poor excuse, to not talk to him. Well that and I preferred to talk to him, as much as I love “Lost”.) Add reruns of “Home Improvement” and “Friends”, and I’m a happy camper. Sort of.
Pete still has my crochet hook and yarn at his house in Birmingham. He claims he didn’t intentionally not remind me to take it. I’m not sure I believe him. Smells like sabotage to me. I miss my crochet.
(FTR, it was, in fact, my own fault – I forgot the crochet goods. But we laugh about it.)
2) Not all is lost, however. I find when things get frustrating, the trick is to have something to look forward to. Cheap (and by cheap, I mean 5.99) tickets to Birmingham mean a trip down there next weekend for a camping trip. Hurrah! And there’s a huge group of us (mostly friends of Pete’s that I’ve gotten to know over the past few months down there), which should make it uber fun. And yes, I said uber. THAT is how fun this should be.
3) I am extremely annoyed that I won’t be able to take my digital camera next weekend. Wait, no. I’m just annoyed in general that I don’t have my camera. Not that the weather up here has been very nice, but the Festival is on, which always makes things colourful. I may even be forced to break out my crappy old digital. I’m getting that desperate. I’d take donations, but without a job, I need to EAT, too. So nevermind.
4) I’m still waiting on my visa, of course, which is the number one reason why I can’t get a temp job. I’m still a little on edge about it. I had a dream last night that my visa didn’t go through, and I was going to have to leave in four weeks. It was pretty much my worst dream I’ve had in a while. And I’ve had a lot of freaky dreams lately. We’re talking giant rats, gondolas that look like fishing boats (cheap marine carpet and all), the Simpsons, scenes from Lost, and all kinds of crazy. Its getting kinda old.
5) Speaking of giant rats, Mr. Mouse is back in the flat. When I was trying to get to sleep last night, the little dude was making a HORRIBLE racket under my desk in the bags there. I ended up sleeping in the guest room (which will soon be my room) and – dang – that mattress is way more comfortable than mine.
6) I’m really missing the SUN. I’d seriously LOVE a holiday somewhere where there is SUN. It’s just so flipping dreary here. And I’m not even a big fan of beaches, I just want some sun. No wonder Scottish people are so depressed.
7) I’m getting all broody and domestic all of the sudden. I blame all my friends who are getting married or popping out babies. I actually thoroughly cleaned house last week. Like…for real. (It’s messy again now, but I’m chalking that up to my needing to make a mess in order to clean it, to have something to DO around here.) And if I’m being honest, I REALLY wish I had the money to get the ingredients to do some serious cooking. And I really mean that. I’m looking forward to, God willing, marriage (someday), and all that homey stuff…but I also realize I’ll eventually be eating my words along with my food. But I think more than looking forward to that…..I’m looking forward to a friggin paycheck.
8) Books of the moment: Real Sex by Lauren Winner (Finished….and REALLY STINKING GOOD…PLEASE go out and read this book as soon as possible…) – Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey (a reread..it’s been a few years, and I liked it a lot…) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – Reformed Theological Writings by RA Finlayson (Found a new copy for a STEAL at a used bookshop here...hurrah! But then, it's also free online, for those interested...).
And that’s me for the evening. Sorry my blogs have gotten so sparse. I suspect they’ll pick up again soon, I just don’t feel like I have a ton to write about these days. That or I’ll think of something to write….and forget about it by the time I sit down to blog about it. You are faithful readers, and I appreciate it.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
(Subtitle: "Like Is In The Air")
(Preface: If you aren'?t interested in mushy love and marriage stuff, look away now. I'?m sure there are a good number of "?theological"? blogs, which can be recommended by my friend Joshua, which can keep you far away from All Things Love.)
The Summer of Love continues in Michaela World. This coming weekend Pete and I will be at the blessing ceremony of our newly-married friends, Jamie and Bonnie (who got married last weekend in Bath - this ceremony is for their friends up here in Scotland). I have at least one other wedding to attend, in September, for my friends Linda and Chris. I may squeeze in another one or two weddings before the summer is over.
Last weekend I had the privilege of attending one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been to, for the Parkers, Neil and Lydia, who are long time friends of Peter's in Birmingham. (A few photos can be found at my Flickr site, but my camera is on the blink.) The noon wedding ceremony was held at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Tanworth-on-Arden, which is, for many reasons, fast becoming one of my favorite churches. (Random Fact: This is also the church where singer Nick Drake is buried. Some of you may know him from "One Of These Things First" on the Garden State soundtrack. So there you go. That has nothing to do with my loving the church, however.)
The afternoon dinner and reception was held at Ragley Hall, "The County Seat of the Marquess and Marchioness of Hereford". (For reference sake, if you are curious, the reception was held in the Great Hall, which is where the three windows are at the top of that crazy beautiful staircase and balcony at the front of the house.) It was, in fact, what most American girls dream of when they think of their ideal romantic evenings in Britain. (You can't really argue with a grand staircase leading to a ballroom on the arm of the best-looking guy at the party, who just happens to be in a tux. Not that I'?m biased or anything.) Lydia was simply one of the most beautiful brides I've ever seen. The wine flowed like...erm, wine. And I actually LIKED the wedding band. (I never like wedding bands.)
Anyway, all that is to say I had a great time, and felt so blessed. But what was probably most beautiful was seeing God bring two people together under his blessing. Lydia teared up and lost her voice in the middle of the vows, but both Neil and Lydia made it through them (obviously). Afterwards, the vicar addressed the congregation, asking them as a community of friends and family that surround them, to make a vow to support uphold their marriage commitment. This is a common thing in the Church of England, but I think it may be the first time I'?ve ever heard this in a wedding ceremony that I'?ve attended. In a strange way, it was probably my favorite part. While I've not known them long enough to consider them good friends, I was no longer a bystander or observer, but an active participant in the vows with them. To me, it was as much of a commitment to the institution of marriage - to my friends and family who find themselves in that blessed state of "?being one"? -? as it was also to Neil and Lydia in particular. Assisted by western society and the movie industry, we are led to believe that this "?love"? and relationship thing is private and personal, and we are not to interfere. I do not believe this is a Biblical model of marriage or community. (Indeed, "?love"? as we now define it had little to do with the "Biblical"? model of marriage in the first place. But that'?s for another blog, really.)
Lauren Winner, in her extremely well-written book Real Sex dedicates an entire chapter, entitled "Communal Sex",? to the place of community in relation to a married couple (including their sex life). Based on the writings of Wendell Barry, she points out that:
"?..In a rich domestic context, sex is not about individual desires that happen to be neatly matched, but is rather an embodied way of entering into community with one'?s spouse and of enacting God's love."?
Winner goes on to state:
"Marriages, in other words, are not meant to be simply pairs of people in love; they are institutions out of which cultures and societies are formed. Households are the foundations of communities. Because marriage is a community, marital sex is rightly understood as the glue that binds ?a woman and a man not only to each other, but to the communuity of marriage, the amourous communion at which all couples sit"?.
Jeremy Huggins, a nice guy I was able to meet at L'?Abri the other week, recently wrote a blog entry asking his readers to tell him "?What's so great about marriage?"?. The answers were fascinating to me -? I recommend a read-through if you get a change. A few of them stuck out to me. One said that he didn'?t marry his wife for love, he married her to grow old with her.
Another girl, Kate, rightly pointed out the spiritual partnership entered into. In reference to her parent'?s marriage, she says: "?They pray together, minister together, believe together, fight battles together."? It'?s the "?fighting battles together"? part that gets me, almost excites me. I am not naive enough to think that marriage does not also include fighting battles with each OTHER. But I think that at the very heart of this desire to "not be alone" is the desire of someone to simply be beside you, to hold up your arms when they are tired of parting the seas.
My ruminations could continue. Thoughts on the community of family, and the blessing of children in a marriage...the agony and the ecstacy of engagement...these are all thoughts and conversations that have come up among me and my friends over the past few weeks. For now, I'll leave you with what I have here. Maybe I'?ll give it all some more thought, and get back to you.
I am, however, no expert, I suppose.
(P.S. Apologies for the random question marks. I can't get them to go away, and its too late for me to be bothered with trying anymore.)
Monday, August 08, 2005
Guess Who Got Her Camera Back?
The good news is...*I* got my camera back.
The bad news is, I think it officially packed it in at the wedding last night, so these might be the last photos I post for a while. So, sorry. I'll feel a little like I've lost a limb, too.
So, a sample of my last few weeks follows. If you wish to see them all, you must go here.
I'll update with words soon.
(Click for a larger image...)
Neil and Lydia : Mr. and Mrs. Parker.
I had nothing to do with this.
Southbank Poo Market
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
This is a post.
OK, so here’s the thing. I’ve been gone so long, that I didn’t want to post just ANY old post here. I really wanted a kicker. I wanted to summarize everything, and do it well. So that’s why I have put off posting. As it is, it’s almost 3am, and I really should go to bed, so this won’t be too long either, but I’ll see what I can do.
(By the way, some of this will repeat information given in previous posts. But this is to put it in some kinda of context, and hopefully elaborate a little.)
So, in (sort-of) chronological order….
First of all, having Mom here was great, if kinda surreal. None of my family have ever been able to visit me overseas before, so it was a bizarre clash of my worlds. It was wonderful, though, to be able to show her my adopted hometown – she now knows what I’m talking about when I’m referring to people and places. It was even better to have her meet some of my friends and important people here, in particular Peter and Ruth. And I have to admit, it felt REALLY nice to have five days of not having to worry about paying for things. Hurrah.
So the next order of business, on the day Mom left, was traveling down to Birmingham to spend some time with Peter’s friends and family. Thankfully, Pete’s mum seemed equally sleepy when she picked us up at 6am from the bus stop, so I don’t think I made a TERRIBLY bad impression. But seriously, I felt pretty comfortable and at home right away at the Foster’s – they are just that kind of family. I knew the approval of Tom (and, by default I suppose, Tom’s fiancé Tara), Pete’s brother, was hugely important, and he was pretty easy to win over, with a little sarcasm and humor. ;) Almost as nerve-wracking as meeting the parents was Meeting the Steeles. Pete (S) and Deborah are among Pete (F)’s best friends, so I knew their opinion mattered, too. Thankfully, I think I passed my exams there too. Hurrah!
But we also just got some good quality time in, good walks and talks, including a night out seeing a show (Thomas More) by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford (which is a lovely place, by the way). Crocquet, tea, Pimms and lemonade, BBQ nights, lazy mornings with coffee and the newspaper, and meeting the new little Abigail Faith Steele….all highlights of a wonderful visit.
I do, however, hope to never have to face the Pub Onslaught again, consisting of most of Pete’s friends from B’ham, all out at the pub, quizzing me: “Have you ever shot anyone? Can you do an English accent? How do you feel about poaching elephants in Africa? What is your opinion of cricket? Can you play any instruments? Is Pete romantic?” All these and more for a couple of hours. I was tired by the end of it.
On the way to L'Abri, we managed a lunchtime stop in Oxford - which is a LOVELY place, actually. I liked it even more than I thought I would. Pete and I had lunch in the infamous (amongst apologetics/CS Lewis nerds such as ourselves) Eagle and Child (aka "Bird and Baby")pub, where The Inklings used to meet. We sat right in front of the very fireplace (sans fire) that Lewis and Tolkien themselves used to sit at. Ooooh! Aaaah! Pete even bought a used copy of A Grief Observed (which he'd been needing to get anyway for use in a sermon he gave that Sunday), and we talked over our favorite quotes from the book.
(Are we nerds? Possibly. But birds of a feather....And we got to kill two birds with one stone...I mean....erm....or something....)
L’Abri was good. It wasn’t amazing, I have to admit. I think I hyped it too much, and going at the end of their term was not preferable. And I needed to stay more than 6 days to fully be a part of the community, I think. But I got some good learning and good prayer in during that time, so it was certainly profitable. I’ll try to write more about my experience there soon.
Pete and I spent Thursday the 21st in London – the day of the second bomb scare. We weren’t really aware of anything that had happened, though, til we saw the Evening Standard, being read by a guy on the Tube, on our way back to Granny Smith’s – Pete’s gran, who lives in London (and where we’d parked). We weren’t really sure of what had happened til the drive home, when I called my mom back (who had frantically called my cell phone earlier that day – the cell phone I left in the car….and Pete’s mobile is more like a “stationary” phone, since it doesn’t often travel with him….). It was even more bizarre, calling my mother in America, and getting information about London….where we were…..
But anyway. What can you do? You can’t stop living your life, and you can’t really be in London and not use the Tube. You get on with it. We weren’t terribly freaked out, and we had a simply wonderful day at the National Gallery, and the Tate Modern Art Gallery, with a nice stop on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.
After a couple more days in Birmingham, it was back to Edinburgh. I have to admit it felt like I’d been away forever.
And this week has been admittedly a little nerve-wracking. The visa stuff has been mostly dealt with, thought I’m still awaiting some paperwork to pass on to the Home Office. I can’t get a job til that visa goes through, either, and the one I REALLY want won’t be decided til September. It has, however, meant a considerable amount of time in prayer, largely asking for forgiveness for my lack of trusting in God – which is really what worry boils down to. I think, in a sense, it is valid, my nagging worry about the possibility (which, for now, remains) that my visa to stay for the next two years in Britain may not be given to me. I have a lot to lose here in Scotland at the moment. But then, do I really believe God loves me and has the power to keep me here? In theory of course, the answer is yes. But theological understanding doesn’t always sit well with the heart, especially the sinful heart, laden with doubts. And so, you learn to pray a little more and a little harder, which is something we really have to keep re-learning how to do anyway – we so quickly forget.
Chrissy is here at the moment, with her friend Jen, and its been lovely. I adore Chrissy, and it’s wonderful to have one of my best friends here with me. We’ve been up all hours the last few nights, catching up on what’s going on in each other’s hearts. Oh, I wish she could live where I did…
And have I mentioned I can’t stop crocheting? It’s true. I can’t. It’s addictive. And Pete keeps making fun of me.
But I CAN’T STOP!!!!!!!!
I think that means its time for me to go to bed.
P.S. I feel like this post is a little empty. I don't really like "just the facts" posts, without much...introspection? thought? depth? I'm sorry. Perhaps I just have too much on my mind. And I don't want to vomit all that on the page here for you. It'll have to come out in installments. But now you know the context, at least....