Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scotland


"Were you really in the British Isles two weekends in a row?"

Kristi asked me this the other night at small group when we were discussing what we'd done for our birthdays.

The answer is yes, yes I was!

Amy, Christine, & I had been planning this trip since April. I like to take advantage of how easy and close it is to travel to other countries while living abroad. And since I'm only here for about two more months, I knew I had to hit up a few countries that I'd never been to before. Scotland was the first (We hit Spain and Ireland in December).

Despite a few mishaps with our booking reservation, we ended up staying at a lovely hotel right in the heart of the city center. It was within walking distance to basically everything and we didn't have to go far to get to the Royal Mile.

Friday evening consisted of finding Mexican food for dinner (that's a rarity over here and when it's found and when it's good, it's always a good day), buying our Starbucks City Mugs (basically a tradition), and going to see a movie. It kind of felt like going out for a real Friday night because we were in a big city.

On Saturday, we took two walking tours. One was a three hour tour of Edinburgh and the other was an hour tour of Harry Potter. There was a lot to learn about Scotland's history and it was interesting hearing about the religious struggles the Presbyterians faced on and off during wars with England. The Harry Potter tour was OK. I say "OK" because it was really meant for children but everyone on the tour was college aged or up. We ended up leaving a little early because there was this magician who kept popping up and it was a little redundant and boring. But still very cool to see where J.K. Rowling found her inspiration!

Saturday evening we went out for my birthday (this really cool guy paid for us to eat at a delicious Italian restaurant ;) ) and on Sunday morning we ate breakfast at The Elephant House, which is the cafe that Rowling wrote Harry Potter. 

Probably my biggest highlight was experiencing church services at St. Giles, the oldest Presbyterian Church in the world. It was a beautiful service and the whole time I couldn't believe I was sitting in this place on my birthday! 

We left Sunday evening and flew back to Germany. All in all, it was a fun weekend with two very special friends. I really, really enjoyed Edinburgh. 

Spain, I will see you on December 12 ;)


Sunday, October 5, 2014

England

England holds a special place in my heart. It was the first European country I visited when I did a theatre tour back in college. I remember embracing every moment of being in London and thus when I finished my last year of college, it was the country I assumed I'd be working in as an Au Pair.

Except that it's super hard to be an au pair in England unless you a) don't want a large sum of money and/or b) you aren't Eastern European.

So as most of you know, I ended up in Basel and the love affair with Europe really began.

During that year in Basel, I started attending the Anglican Church in Basel and got to know the chaplain, Geoff, and his wife, Marie-Louise. Last year, the Read family moved to England and so this past weekend I was able to go and visit them in their lovely home in Colchester.

It was a beautiful weekend and it was so nice to experience England's non-touristy side as I'd only ever been to London and Stratford. It was also a weekend of relaxation and visiting with dear friends that I have been blessed to know for thirteen years now.

Our goodbye was sweet and I know I will see them again, which was such a reminder from the Lord that even though the goodbyes draw closer here in Kandern, they won't be forever.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"How Are You Doing?"

I get asked a lot how I'm doing. The response lately has been, "That's a loaded question."

Last night I got home from dinner with a friend and sat down in the kitchen with Christine and Sandra, who were cleaning up from their small group. I began to process with them about how I was really doing, stating over and over again that I really didn't know how I was.

Within five minutes of our conversation, I was crying and opening up about my fears and my excitement for what the next few months would bring. I'm not just saying goodbye to my friends and students at BFA; I'm also saying goodbye to a continent that I've called home off and on for the last 13 years.

Rest assured - I know what I'm doing is the right thing. I have no doubts at all that leaving mid-year, as crazy as it may seem to some, is the best thing for me in order to cultivate my relationship with John.

However, with that comes the inevitable feeling of a loss and the realization that the goodbyes are coming soon.

I know God's going to give me the grace I need to get through these three months here and then the re-entry back into life in America. I know it. But it's still a matter of processing all of that and then being able to respond appropriately to the "How are you doing?" question.

I guess that's how I'm doing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lauren Elizabeth Stroud

My niece was born yesterday. Call me biased, but she's the most beautiful baby I've ever laid eyes on. We won't get to meet until January, but we had a FaceTime date yesterday and she was looking at me wide-eyed (actually, they were a little cross-eyed) and super excited to see her favorite aunt ;)

Welcome to the world, my sweet Lauren. I can't wait to meet you.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Lasts Begin

This weekend was the Kandern Pottery Market (Töpfermarkt). This is a weekend I've looked forward to every year because you get to see some really cool pottery and it's just a nice time to hang out with your friends while looking at beautiful art.

Yesterday Rachel, Amy, Christine & I went and had a great time walking around and hanging out.


However, today after church, I decided to go back and take it in one last time by myself. I was a little sad only because I knew this was the first of many lasts that I will begin to experience in the next three months. I made sure to capture pictures of favorite pottery booths, of things I could never afford, and stared longingly at a mug that was just too expensive in the long run.

As I left, I ran into a few seniors who were also experiencing the loss of the pottery market. One stated that he wished he could buy something from every stall to remember it by. I felt his pain.

The lasts are only just beginning. I still don't know what to really make of this.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Process of Transition

Transition is a word that all of us living over here are quite familiar hearing. There's the transition of moving to a new country, adapting to a new culture, and making friends. There's the transition of saying goodbye to those who leave at the end of the year - students and friends - and then adjusting to life here without them. And then there's the transition you start to feel when you, yourself, are on your way out.

Yes, that's me.

I am asked a lot how I'm doing. It's a loaded question. Because there are so many answers, I really don't know how to respond to it. I'm trying to soak everything in - last Budenfest, last Pottery Festival, getting to a certain part of France or Switzerland one more time, checking easyjet to see if there are cheap flights to a European country that I want to get to before I go.

I'm trying not to let myself get too caught up in the "lasts" just yet. That will come when in a few weeks when we head to Herbstmesse with the kids and it's my "last" bumper car ride, my "last" ferris wheel ride seeing Basel, not to mention my "last" Herbstmesse.

I am doing my best to be intentional with my friends here and with those who are dear to my heart. I know I stay pretty busy but I want to leave well and in doing so, I need this time with people who have poured into my life these last 2 years.

Of course I can't help but get excited for going back. I'm excited to live in Orlando, excited to see what life looks like with John not only in the same time zone and continent, but in the same city!

However, I've done this before and I know how painful the re-entry process can be and I know there are going to be plenty of times where I'll suddenly think about this sweet little town and begin to miss it all over again.

Transition, you are a necessary evil sometimes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wisdom from Clive Staples

From Mere Christianity and something that I must remind myself of on a daily basis, if not hourly:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

There's been a lot of change going on in my life lately. Some I am enjoying, some not so much. But reminding myself that this change is ultimately for His good and never something I could've done on my own brings me a lot of comfort.

Besides, who wouldn't want a mansion instead of a shack?