My Photographic Mission, In London

We’re planning on trolling around London today. I hope. And having spent a decent amount of time in this uniquely fascinating city, and being a little on the tired side from the adventures thus far, my only goal is a simple one. Besides maybe getting fish and chips. Hero Hubs obliging, I’d like to get a photo right here:


{That’s me and Big Ben, 2004… living with a bad hair decision}

but I want a picture like this:


{with the Bear, 2009, better hair choices}

But I’d like a photo like the Eiffel Tower one in front of Big Ben with the Tank.

What do you think? I’m hoping my chances are good. And my hair looks better than in did in ’04, so that’s a start.

My dear friend Pam wrote a few special words about her return to the UK — we lived together for a bit here in Scotland, she’s most recently been in the States, but she’s from Zimbabwe. And honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself — and I mean that with the most sincerity possible, try as I might for as long as I can, I can not weave words as delightfully and whimsically as she does.

So please take a few moments to enjoy her words about this magical place I also wish I had a “secondhome” word for. I think it’ll give you a laugh. If you speak English and have a heartbeat. And mayhaps you’ll understand my sentiments toward this place a little better at the same time.

And can you believe it — TOMORROW is the day — our big long flight from Heathrow to the tall trees and sunny skies of the Carolinas beckons. A reunion, an introduction, and much merriment will ensue. It’s simultaneously six long years and nine long months in the making. And I’ll keep ya posted.


It’s Like Rain, On a Wedding Day

Sorry for the delayed update from the road. By and by an explanation will be produced for this great pause in communication. Really, it all started not long after we last spoke on Thursday. Friday we got ourselves together to take the train up to Scotland. Besides consolidating ourselves to one suitcase for the week away, we also needed to pick up diapers and a quick lunch before the departure.

We found the diapers {but I should say nappies since we’re in the UK} and some snacks for the road {hello, pan au chocolat, I missed you} and the Hubs and I grabbed some chips {but I should say crisps since we’re in the UK}, and what have since been dubbed the chicken wraps of death. We won’t mention the name of the supermarket, but it starts with S and ends with ainsburys.

And all seemed right with the world.

After a quick lunch we were headed to the train to the tube to Kings Cross Station, to take the train up to Scotland.

And all seemed right with the world.

But as we made our way up the largest of the British Isles, as the light began to scatter across the green sheepy fields in the way that it only does in Scotland, and as the long hours of a Scottish summer day were drawing to a close, and we were nearing that sweet train station destination where I first arrived to settle in Edinburgh six years ago, suddenly

all seemed not right with the world.

And by the time the last train journey of the day brought us to our dear friends and hosts (life looked like this when we last were together)


they were offering us dinner and we were asking where the loo was.

And through the night, we got exceptionally well acquainted with the bathroom of their new home.

Hero Hubs seemed to experience a slightly more expedient recovery, and we managed together to muster the strength to make it to the wedding ceremony the next day.

There was a slight drizzle about as we made our way to the absolutely breathtaking church near Linlithgow Palace (gorgeous!) where the beautiful moment took place. I am SO glad I cowgirled up to be there. The bride looked beautiful and so joyful, the groom dashing and kilt-bedecked… love and joy in abundance. The music and readings were very well-chosen, and it was all just so special.

{The father of the bride and mother of the groom, and then father of the groom and mother of the bride, skipping down the aisle after the blessed event… awesome and priceless highlight.}

Very very very sadly, I had cowgirled up for as long as I could, and the Hubs, too, was pale and weathered, and we weren’t able to continue in the fantastical merriment. Meaning: we couldn’t enjoy the reception or the ceilidh, and that was a BIG bummer. My heart is still sore about it.

But the pledging of two loves to one another, in love and faith before God, that really is the highlight of the day (besides folk skipping down the aisle) and I am ever-so glad we were privileged witnesses of that special event.

{Congratulations, Grace and Gordon! We were so happy to witness you two tying the knot!}

In summation, the S to the ainsburys chicken wraps of death rained on the wedding day for us a little, and we were still a little worse for wear on Sunday, but we enjoyed being at church {a story for another day} and catching up with friends throughout the afternoon and evening, and were afterwards anxious to return to the beds from whence we’d risen.

And now to set about the business of enjoying the rest of our time in Bonnie (rainy) Scotland…


Six Years Ago OR Lessons for the Journey

Six years ago today I boarded a plane in Atlanta with my big brother. Since we’d booked our tickets separately, we weren’t seated together — he was in the row in front of me in a bulkhead seat. I decided to ask the interesting character of a lady beside me if she would be willing to switch seats with my brother so that we could sit together. With the extra leg room and a little bit more space, it seemed like a no-brainer.

She turned to me, and with such poise and calm I wouldn’t have been more surprised if her teeth had fallen out in my lap, she answered:

“Absolutely not.”

Besides the surprising answer, the manner in which she responded left me so aghast I just quietly turned to stare at the back of the seat in front of me. I sat still and quiet long enough that I think remorse got the better of her, and she eventually turned to me again and said,

“Well you can at least read the paper or something.”

Ten or fifteen extremely uncomfortable minutes later, the guy sitting in front of her (beside my brother) realised his TV was broken and ended up being bumped up to business class. I then had the pleasure of moving up a row, just in time to avoid the interesting lady’s evening routine, which included changing to sleeping attire in the restroom and carefully putting her waist-length hair in a humongous bun directly on top of her head.

That flight was bound for London, and a day later my brother and I were on a train to Edinburgh, where another surprise awaited us. After a warm morning and a good breakfast in London, we moseyed on over to King’s Cross train station, and I was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops.

We arrived in Edinburgh that afternoon, some friends of mine doing us a great favour by bringing the majority of the luggage up with them by car that evening. My landlord, David, a wonderful gent who’d soon become a great friend, met us at the train station.


{A view from the School of Divinity in Edinburgh}

As we waited and looked for David at the train station, I realised all my warm clothes were in those suitcases coming up from London, and though it was the 29th of July, I was convinced that the rain falling outside was freezing and would be turning to snow at any minute.

After settling in to the temporary digs in Gorgie where I’d be staying for my first month in Auld Reekie, we turned up the heating and went out to the pub across the street to enjoy some impressively poor renditions of Oasis’s Wonderwall while waiting for the flat to warm up.

We returned to a freezing cold flat, and figured out that the gas had run out. I knew nothing about topping up the gas. I knew nothing about the five pounds of emergency credit available if I’d pushed the right button. I just knew it was cold, I hadn’t bought bedding yet, and it was going to be a long night.

While I pulled on half the clothes in my suitcase, my friend Julie was sleeping in the other room, and decided to boil the kettle and then cuddle it on the couch to try to keep warm through the evening.

{Warning: Don’t try that at home.}

The next morning was the beginning of life in Edinburgh: trips to the big Tesco for the necessities, getting denied a bank account, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, getting denied a phone contract, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella again, and catching the bus headed in the wrong direction.

It was also the beginning of discovering what I’ll forever hold in my heart as the most beautiful city in Europe, finding a little shop that served Chocolate Soup, exploring the fantastic finds waiting to be had in charity shops, and studying for a Master’s Degree (and half a PhD) at a university so exquisitely located, I never once left the Divinity School without savouring the incredible view — Edinburgh Castle to my left, Princes Street below, the Firth of Forth, broody in the distance, sun streaming onto the yellow rapeseed meadows of Fife on the other side.

Those days marked the beginnings of these six years of life, thousands of miles away from the place that never stopped feeling like home, though I tried hard to set up shop wherever I was. And though this season has been full of good surprises, and bad ones, it seems I could’ve taken note of what was to come in the foreshadows of those first few days.

Though that simple moment of surprise on the plane made me think the chances of enjoying my brother’s company on the nine-hour flight was no longer a possibility, beside the closed door was an open window, just a little further along. And though the heat-less night in Gorgie was a tough start, the memories my brother and I share from Robertson’s Pub and Julie hugging the kettle make the inconvenience worthwhile.

Indeed these six years have gone rather differently in many ways from how I expected when I boarded that first flight, but I’ve continuously seen glory in the triumphs and the failings, especially in the times where things happened differently from how I hoped or expected.

Among the many lessons tucked into my heart for the journey home, another I’m holding onto is the realization that it’s easy to get discouraged when things aren’t going according to plan, but we can hold onto faith that even disappointments and trials can work out for good, when we love our Creator and are willing to wait on Him.

So hold on to hope, whatever you’re facing today. No matter where you are on the journey of life, tomorrow is pregnant with possibility, and it’s an adventure that’s just beginning.


I Get On My Knees

I‘m not one for creating a religious rule to abide by any means. Or for saying something always ought to be done a certain way, at a certain time, or in a certain place. (Since Jesus seemed to move in different ways at different times.) So please don’t think for a moment that with the following I intend to create a rule for you to begin to abide by as soon as you’ve finished reading this post.

Lately I have taken the time every now and then to get on my knees before God. I often sit and read my Bible on the couch in our living room while the Bear is napping. I’ll pray for a while, just sitting there quietly.

Sometimes, however, I just want to make sure I remind myself that God is God and I am not. I am glad that He calls me His friend. I also want to revere Him as my Lord and King.

Out of a desire to do so, the other day I spent a few minutes on my knees in prayer. A great calm met me there, and I felt peace at just having taken the time to bow myself before a Holy, Holy God. There was a great reverent intimacy in that moment, and I was glad I had listened to the prompting to get low. It reminded me of some lovely lyrics from a song that is sung by Nicole Mullen (and some other folks):

I get on my knees, I get on my knees,
There I am before the love that changes me.
See I don’t know how, but there’s power,
When I’m on my knees.

If you find yourself struggling to focus, distracted, or perhaps just unable to dig deeper in prayer, I would love to recommend getting on your knees before your heavenly Father. Ask Him to help you pray if you don’t know how to pray or what to pray. Sometimes the most simple acts of worship can have incredibly profound results.


One of My Favourite, Favourite People

I have a lot of favourite people. I guess. I mean at least a gracious plenty. But this chick is one of my favourite favourite people.

She’s the one on the right. That’s me in the middle, in case you were wondering. Yeah. That was before I had a baby. I could button that vest. And that’s her also-awesome sister Natasha on the left, currently in Indonesia. She’s also one of my favourite people. And even if spell check tries to correct me one more time for putting a “u” in favourite, I’m gonna keep spelling it that way because I said I was gonna stick to British spelling on this blog way back in Scotland and I meant it! Travel…ling Tuesdays and all!


As I was saying, one of my favourite favourite people, also seen below, a dear friend of mine from Scotland via Denmark, is considering coming to South Africa to do an internship with Samaritan’s Feet and stay with us. And I’m so excited, I want the whole world wide web to know!

Everybody has to sit in dog poo at least once in their lives, right?

It’s like that scene in Elf, where Will Ferrell runs into the conference room, throw his arms out wide, tosses his hat aside and says, I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

So. Two prayer requests for you guys today. #1 Please pray that it will work out for Agnes to come stay with us in South Africa. And that she’ll stay for ages and ages. (It’s a little selfish, I know.)

#2 If Agnes can’t come to South Africa, I might be heartbroken. Forever. So I’ll ask twice, please pray it works out for her to come. 🙂

The Bear loves her, too!

Thanks for letting me share the love. For one of my f-a-v-o-u-u-u-rite people. Who will hopefully rock up on the scene in SA in early 2011. YES!


Travelling Tuesday: the Pentland Hills, Scotland

In honour of Scotland’s special national day yesterday, we return to beautiful Caledonia this Travelling Tuesday for a wee walk in the Pentland Hills. These beautiful hills are a delightful escape into the Scottish countryside, sitting just on the southern edge of the city of Edinburgh. I didn’t spend nearly as much time on them as I should have.

Picture happy sheep, grreen grreen grrass, and enjoying wee kick back in a pub after a nice chilly hike in the rain. How the outdoors in Scotland should be. Herewith, the aforementioned visuals:

I dinnae remember the name of the loch below, sorry!


But enjoy the fact that all that purple is these delicate and beautiful flowers:

Bonnie Scotland

Scotland the Brave, Scotland the Beautiful. We salute you!

Happy Trails to you this Travelling Tuesday. May the road rise to meet you!