Remembering: Choosing to recall God’s faithfulness

Hello, lovely readers. A little something different on the blog today. Some food for thought and reflection.

It was just in August that I wrote the following words at the end of my “There is a Season for Everything” post:

“So I am doing this now. Raising my stone called Ebenezer, saying “Til now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12, ESV). Marking this spot and time as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and proclaiming Him to be faithful as we move forward in hope and anticipation. At a later time in life, I pray that I can look back and remember all of the monuments that I have raised as a testament to God’s faithfulness throughout my life. They will be far and wide, spread out across the globe. The current one being raised in Littleton. Next one, Aberdeen.”

The key word to me here is remember. To draw to mind once again; to think of something that has happened before. And specifically, for my purposes in this post, to remember 1) Who God is, and 2) His faithfulness to me and others.

Why is it so much easier to forget the things that we should remember, and to remember the things that we should forget?

For over a year, I have been journaling about the role that remembering plays within Scripture, and consequently, in my life as a Christian. I have not delved into some extensive study or exegetical project (at least not to date). I have simply jotted notes, observations, and verses in my journal…realizing that remembering is important. Perhaps more than we ever think it is. And what exactly do I mean?

Scripture is, in elementary terms, one large story; one giant narrative. Though there are clearly many genres of literature present within, different contributing writers that span many many years, and hoards of smaller stories captured in its pages, it is still the story of humanity and its Redeemer. It is the story of many people that forgot the faithfulness of God, and those that remembered it. Or perhaps, as is most common, those that teeter and totter between the two, as I relate to. Remember-forget-remember-forget-remember-forget…….. remember! And more than this, it is the story of the Faithful One. A God who binds himself to us in covenant, steadfast love.

So I began documenting some important details that I picked up in Scripture. Practices and rituals that helped people to remember how far God had brought them. How long he had been faithful. How constant he was, in spite of their own inconsistency, brokenness, sin. In spite of dire circumstances, feelings of utter abandonment, and times of deep darkness and hopelessness.

By the rituals and remembrance practices, the people were reminded of previous times of God’s faithfulness. And humorously, these rituals were often initiated by God himself, which only leads me to a fuller realization of our need for his perfection and omniscience.

It’s like a movie I began to watch on Netflix. The opening scene is of a young man, stricken with amnesia, waking up. He turns to his alarm clock and stuck to it is a bright green sticky note that says, “You are in New Orleans.” Next to that, a manila folder, marked with thick black Sharpie “Read this every morning,” and around him, a room of sticky notes telling him about his life, who he knows, where he needs to be that day, etc.

This is a good analogy for us. Or at least it is for me! I need to be reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness in my life. Frequently. Daily. Why? Because when I don’t, my mind and my emotions default to panic, to hopelessness, to self-reliance, and to fretting.

I have seen this time and time again in my counseling work with clients. Most often, the root of panic and anxiety is fear and self-talk that says, “It’s all going down the tubes!!” “The end is near!!!” “I won’t…I can’t…I’m not able…” and on and on and on. Catastrophic thinking patterns. And I have had the pleasure of helping these lovely people to remember. The ways that they were able to overcome, to change, to make it through situations and circumstances that were seemingly impossible at the time. Fear blinds a person and makes him/her forget that there are resources, possibilities, and hope!

Without intentional remembrances, we forget. And we forget quickly! Nathan and I are only 4 weeks into our new adventure in Aberdeen. But I will be honest, it is oftentimes easier for me to panic about logistics and daily life needs than it is to remember God’s faithfulness to us. We wouldn’t be here without Him in the first place. And if I choose to remember, my disposition and my outlook change dramatically.

My journey with this topic began with Psalm 78, specifically verses 1-7 (ESV), and a few others:

“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark saying from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

v. 11 “They forgot his works and the wonders he had shown them.”

v. 35 “They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.”

v. 42 “They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe…”

So my first thoughts on this were:

  • Why was the Lord instructing them to tell the coming generation of His glorious deeds?
  • Verse 7 says it’s “so that they should set their hope in God and NOT FORGET [or fail to remember] the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

For the Hebrew people, forgetting led to panic, to rebellion, to trouble, to bitterness, to a mess. It is no different for us.

I got to thinking about other scriptural examples of intentional, ritual remembering. And perhaps you’ll think of others that we could add to the list…

  • The jar of manna as a reminder of the provision of food in the wilderness (Exodus 16:33)
  • The “stone of help” called Ebenezer raised as a monument to the victory the Lord gave Israel (1 Samuel 7:12)
  • The Passover celebration to remember Israel’s deliverance out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:14)
  • The bread and the cup, given by Christ who instructed us to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19)

Ebenezer

In addition to this, we have the oral passing down of the scriptures throughout the ages, and the written Word. We have crosses, other Christian symbols, as well as songs, poems, books, artwork, etc. All tools that help us to remember God’s faithfulness throughout time.

But remembering is not an individualistic enterprise. It is done within the larger community of believers. That is why the Hebrew people were instructed, as a community, to tell the coming generation of the works of the Lord! Had the news and remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness been entrusted to just one individual, it would have died off with that person. It was assigned to the entire community! They were to remember both as individuals AND as a collective people.

So how do we remember as individuals, and as members of the larger Christian community?

Individually~

  • Personal prayer and meditation on the scriptures
  • Intentionally choosing to recount memories of God’s faithfulness to you
  • Writing
    • Journal: I am a huge proponent of journaling! Write it down and capture the Lord’s faithfulness as it happens. Then look back over the years and remember who he was for you and how he intervened. My mom has encouraged me for years to document, document, document! Lest you do, you will forget.
    • Blog: Part of the reason I blog is to have a record of my journey. It’s different than my personal journaling. It’s intended to share with others and give insight into what I’m experiencing over time.
    • Underline and highlight: Bibles are meant to be used, and margins are great. Write down significant dates, underline verses that are speaking to you.
  • Music: Listen to songs that remind you that He has been faithful. I can still remember the worship song that ministered to me at age 12! And every so often, I need to revisit that and bring it back to the basics.
  • Photos/other artwork/images: Document important places, people, events that spoke of the faithfulness of God in your life.

Communally~ 

  • Worship with people regularly: Being in the fellowship of other Christians is important! Music, sermons, teaching, prayer, liturgy, Eucharist. The community is called to bear with one another in love. When one person is rejoicing, we are called to rejoice with that person. When another person is grieving, we are called to grieve with them (Rom. 12:15). The community bears the burdens AND the breakthroughs of life together! This can’t happen if you’re isolated.
  • Listen: We can get so enthralled with our own circumstances and needs. But in order to remember, we need to listen to what those around us are saying. Their testimonies, their insights, their encouragements will have a way of lifting you up when you need to remember!
  • Tell it on the mountain: Just as listening is important, telling your story is also important. Tell others what you have come through, what you are experiencing, and how you are choosing to remember God’s faithfulness in all things. The upcoming generations will not know about your experience with the Faithful One if you don’t share it. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your children.
  • Connect: This should be an obvious one, but connecting is an imperative. Isolation breeds all kinds of issues. Depression, helplessness, hopelessness, fear, doubt, shame. He is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5). Connection is important for health and quality of life. And I’ll just mention it now… it is too tempting for my generation to view social media as a quality way of connecting. But I’ve ready too many articles and studies on the deception of such beliefs. Our favorite social media outlets can actually isolate us even more. We THINK we are connecting with others, but it is not the same as being together, in the flesh. You need to SEE people, HEAR them, SMELL them, TOUCH them. Quality interaction. Together, in person, we can remember the faithfulness of God.

When we remember, we are reminded that God’s faithfulness is not just about his ability to do something for us. It is about who he is in his very being and nature. He is good. He loves us. He is faithful.

Choose to remember, friends. I am telling myself the very same thing today.

Morning Song Lyrics

 

 

 

 

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Week 3 + wind + tea

I just finished cleaning up from dinner, and I’m propped comfortably on our 1980’s dark teal love seat, compliments of the University of Aberdeen. Decaf is brewing in the kitchen behind me (side note: the bubbling sound of a brewing coffee pot has to be one of the best sounds on earth…at least to me [insert Folgers ad here]. It’s a windy night, and the trees are blowing loudly just outside the door. I had a productive and fulfilling day, completing some online work, a session with a client, and a visit into the city to meet an ORU friend for afternoon tea at the cutest tea shop, which was OH so delightful! And I must say that it pleases my heart to no end that Nathan and I have friends here from our alma mater. When we walked the halls as students of the ORU seminary severals years back, we could have never imagined that we would 1) be married, 2) be living in Aberdeen for PhD work, 3) be reconnecting with fellow ORUers here! A blessing that I’m gladly receiving!

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Afternoon tea service at Cup

In other news, I am sort of in disbelief that it’s already Thursday of week 3 in Aberdeen! The first week or so felt like an eternity, but the days are picking up now. Nathan officially began his program this week, got the keys to his office, and he’s jumping in to his topic, research, and writing. He is feeling exceptionally happy about the fact that he has an actual office space in which to work and write in peace and quiet. The library here is beautiful and aesthetically appealing, but every time we’ve set foot in there, it has been a people zoo. 7 levels of students buzzing around, typing, talking in whispers, walking about, and loading up the elevators to bursting. So needless to say, Nathan is a happy camper, tucked away in his 3rd story office in an old stone building that resembles something straight out of A Christmas Carol. My father says to tell Ebezener and Bob Cratchit hello.

The building where Nathan offices

The building where Nathan offices

I am enjoying the connections we’re making here! So many lovely people from school and from church, and all very willing to connect, to meet up, to have us over for a meal, to be available. Though I know our schedules will fill up and days will become more structured, it has been special for me to have time to enjoy life with some other people, and so soon after we arrived. Immediately, in fact! It helps the transition feel less…um… transitional, if that makes sense.

Autumn & cobblestone streets make a lovely combination

Autumn leaves & cobblestone streets make a lovely pair

We are looking forward to the weekend and more time to explore the city together. There are parks, gardens, shops, cafes and lots of places that people have mentioned that we want to enjoy. And of course a lot of beautiful countryside to see beyond the city limits, which we’ll plan for soon, I hope! Just need to get up the courage to rent a car here and drive a stick, left-handed, on the other side of the road. And as the close-calls increase in number… when I am 2 inches from getting clipped on the curb by a bus blasting by or by a car mirror, the more I second guess the rental car decision. But we will do it one of these weekends soon, and we’ll look forward to sharing pictures with all of you!

This little garden nook off of College Bounds road that I admire with each passing

The little garden nook off of College Bounds road that I admire with each passing

I’ll sign off with one last picture! It was a brisk day, with cool winds bursting through the city. The clouds looked wispy and thin. Tomorrow the rain comes, and it’s supposed to stay for days. Good thing I ordered a waterproof, windproof parka on Amazon UK yesterday. #bundlemeup #wrappedlikeanenchilada #thewinteriscoming (Ok, enough with the hashtags). Until next time! Xoxo

On my walk home. Lovely lovely.

On my walk home. Lovely lovely.

Weekend update

Monday will make it a week since our arrival in Aberdeen. We’re enjoying our time here and continuing to adjust. We find that it’s nearly impossible to peel ourselves up and out of bed before 9am (oh, jet lag), and nearly impossible to get to sleep before midnight. And our stomachs continue to growl at odd times, reminding us when it’s a meal time back home.

We have probably walked over 20 miles since Tuesday, and our legs remind us of it! We have been out and about for most of every day getting things to set up for life here. Finding the grocery stores nearby, the bank so we could open a new account, superstores to buy items for our flat, etc. We are also learning how things go differently here than back home, as was to be expected! We sadly left the cell phone store yesterday without our new iPhones…after we saw them, with our names on them, within reach! But until our “chip and pin” cards arrive next week from the bank, we are not up to par with the way people verify their identity here when establishing cell phone plans. Go figure. I guess US passports and drivers’ licenses won’t cut the mustard.

Our wifi is a bit spotty in our flat, making FaceTime calls interesting. Our shower sprays full bore and only at one angle, which coincidently is directly in my face. The downside to being 5’5″ in this shower, friends. And the water temperature fluctuates from lukewarm to boiling a dozen times throughout each bathing experience. We’ve also come to realize that our toilet takes some priming. Two quick pumps and the third will flush… Usually.

While my list of these quirks may seem like a complaint, we’re actually getting on fine here! We’re enjoying this new experience and everything we encounter with each new day. I had the pleasure of meeting several more ladies from the Aberdeen Divinity group at a gathering on Wednesday evening. The veterans shared loads of helpful information with us newbies, and we all left with our pick of free goodies for our flats, which were kindly donated. Lamps, pillows, power cords, small appliances, etc., as well as custom made informational packets for those of us settling in. So our welcome has been amazingly warm, which is nothing short of a blessing!

Nathan met with his academic advisor yesterday who will oversee his doctoral dissertation, and he then returned home from the meeting with anticipation and energy. It felt good for him to get the scoop on what to expect starting out; to make his arrival here as a PhD student and the start of his program a reality!

Today the sun has been out for the first time in nearly a week (which is a big adjustment for us Colorado folk who are used to seeing sunshine 95% of the time!) So I enjoyed a cup of coffee with my new friend, Crystal, and her sweet two year old boy and baby girl. We then walked down to the coast so I could officially lay eyes on the North Sea. In our jaunt that way, we came across Nathan who had been out on a morning photography stroll. We all proceeded to the beach and spent some time talking and enjoying the gorgeous scenery! Being near the sea felt refreshing, and I was happy to see people jogging, walking, and playing with their children and family dogs down by the waves.

We are now going to enjoy the rest of our Saturday afternoon before heading out to spend the evening with some other new friends, and contemplate where we’ll begin our weeks of church hunting in the morning! I’ll leave you with some of Nathan’s pictures from today. Xoxo

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Greetings from Aberdeen!

We arrived into Aberdeen on Monday evening around 5:30pm. It was raining, foggy, and a tad chilly, which felt wonderful as we stepped off of a stuffy plane where I sat by a couple who had a bit too much to drink and, in turn, got overwhelmingly loud and talkative. Nathan and I were tired from our 17 hours of travel. We left Denver at 5:30pm the day before, flew nonstop to Frankfurt (walked 12,000 miles in the Frankfurt airport between terminals and recurring gate changes), and then took our second and last flight on to Aberdeen. Fortunately, all of our luggage arrived without issue, and we zipped through customs. We were then greeted by the familiar face of a new friend. Crystal loaded us and our tower of bags into her car and we headed to our new home, as we looked eagerly out of the windows to see what this new place looked like. Online pictures only do so much, and being on the ground seems entirely different.

We pulled up to the Meston Flats, where Flat #2 awaited us. Nathan went to reception to gather our keys and we walked into our quaint little place. We had no previous pictures to reference or knowledge of the layout. We signed on the dotted line months earlier to secure something in the city, knowing that flats can be difficult to come by at the start of the school year.

A one bedroom with living room, shower room, and kitchen with a fridge and compact stove/oven…all complete with radiators to beat the cold, and assorted furniture. We even had some kitchen pots, pans, plates, and utensils stocked in the cabinets. “Hooray,” I thought! All of the necessities are included, and we aren’t stuck with communal bathrooms or windowless, prison-like conditions. Just another testament to the Lord’s provision in this process! It had been an easy and joy-filled arrival.

Outside our new flat!

Outside our new flat!

Walkway to our home

Walkway to our home

Meston Flat 2

Meston Flat 2

Our entryway

Step UP to shower!

Step UP to shower!

Living room study area

Living room study area

Kitchen glimpse 1

Kitchen glimpse 1

Kitchen glimpse 2

Kitchen glimpse 2

Our bedroom (we arrived to 2 twin beds, ha!)

Our bedroom (we arrived to 2 twin beds, ha!)

Thankful for large wardrobes for each of us in our bedroom, and for space to keep our giant luggage!

Thankful for large wardrobes for each of us in our bedroom, and for space to keep our giant luggage!

Living room! Nathan says hello :)

Living room! Nathan says hello 🙂

Since Monday we have been making our way around campus and parts of the city within walking distance, gathering items for the apartment and checking off to-do’s for Nathan to begin his program. We unpacked our load of bags and have started to make our place feel a bit more homey.

This morning we finally got to snap some pictures, so you can share in the beauty of this place. It is lightly misting today. My Colorado skin is not used to the humidity here, and my face looks perpetually dewy. The air smells of damp moss, and the seagulls can be heard as they fly above. The coast is just about 5 miles from our flat. People have been very friendly everywhere we’ve gone, and our ears are still adjusting to the thick Scottish brogue.

A good portion of the campus is exceptionally old. Built in the 1490’s out of thick, granite stones. All of which have developed a slight green hue, from the thin layer of moss growing on them. It’s all quite stunning. There are also some very modern structures, which you’ll see below. The library was just opened in September of 2012, and it is a work of architectural beauty!

On this note, I will leave you with some lovely pictures. Nathan and I just received a knock on the door from one of our neighbors, Hannah. A lovely greeting from her as well! Soon we’ll be off to gather some more items for the flat. I’m feeling the need to liven up the walls a bit and bring in some color!

I’ll write again soon with more updates and photos.  Xoxo

 

The Sir Duncan Rice library on the U of Aberdeen campus

The Sir Duncan Rice library on the university campus

A view from the top floor of the library, looking down!

A view from the top floor of the library looking down!

King's College

A rainy day on campus

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King’s College

See the crown on top?

See the crown on top?

Another of King's College

King’s College Chapel

Realized I wasn't supposed to snap this pic in the chapel until AFTER I had done it! Ooops!

Realized I wasn’t supposed to snap this pic in the chapel until AFTER I had done it! Ooops! Isn’t it gorgeous?!

Other side of the chapel from inside the quadrangle at King's College

Other side of the chapel from inside the quadrangle at King’s College

Meston Walk

College Bounds road

More of campus!

More of campus!

Does anyone know what a hobby is anymore? Bueller…Bueller?

Nathan and I are back in the Prius, out on the open roads. This time in rain and colder temps. We will stop for a couple of days in Nebraska, en route back to Denver, and then we’ll be into our last week in the states before departing for Aberdeen.

While we spent recent days with family in Oklahoma, I got to thinking about hobbies. We toured through my aunt’s gorgeous quilt room, next to the room where my uncle ties flies. Then I quizzed my grandmother about her knitting, her tatting, her needle point, her sewing, her smocking, the crossword puzzles she does, and the many books she’s reading. And all around us in the house were intricately and beautiful pieces of furniture that my grandfather hand made in his wood shop while he was still alive. They have never been strangers to hobbies and juggling several creative projects at a time…just for FUN!

So I began wondering and revisiting this idea of hobbies. Google defines a hobby as “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure,” synonymous with pastimes, avocations, side interests, diversions, and so forth. I got to wondering if my fellow Millennials have hobbies. Do we have the time? Do our work schedules or types of jobs allow for time to enjoy recreational activities? Are the hobbies of our parents and grandparents being passed down? Do we want to carry those on? Do we consider some things to be hobbies that are really more obligatory activities we wouldn’t opt to do with our free time, if fully honest with ourselves? That last one might be a leading question (ha).

I really have no clue or research to support a soapbox speech. I just know what I’ve observed in my own life and in the lives of those I’m close to, and I’ve arrived at my own conclusions; that a lot of people my age and in my generation struggle to have hobbies, and more specifically, they struggle to have hobbies that aren’t technology related. Meaning something other than surfing Facebook, shopping online, or tweeting their latest thoughts. Though those things are surely enjoyable ways to spend leisure time, I am more interested in finding out if our generation knows how to enjoy hobbies that are creative and engaging ways to spend down time. Hobbies that are more than swiping, tapping, and staring into lit screens. And yes, I’m well aware that I am doing that very thing at this moment while I type! So this post is not intended to bash our technological advancements and smartphone culture, but to rather ask about what we’re doing, in addition to utilizing technology, in order to enrich our lives.

I came across some entertaining posts on the web about Millennials and their lack of hobbies. One article on Ask Men.Com really resonated with me. Many of the writer’s points spoke exactly to what I’ve been observing. Yet, I found another article whose author feels we are already a well balanced generation that is active and involved in diverse activities. So it’s definitely a topic up for debate!

I have observed that we may be involved in many diverse activities, but perhaps overcommitted and spread too thin. I also tend to think that we select activities and get involved more out of an obligation to satisfy peers’ expectations than to satisfy our own personal interests. And perhaps we don’t even know what we enjoy or what our interests are in the first place? I definitely feel quite shallow and unexplored when it comes to knowing what my personal interests are. As a girl, I enjoyed a lot of assorted hobbies, but as an adult, I really haven’t had a pastime activity that I would call a hobby. I do enjoy jogging outdoors, being a coffee connoisseur, playing the piano and singing, writing music on occasion, reading assorted novels and devotional writings, traveling, writing on this blog, watching movies, creating good playlists, and some other random things. But nothing that is an art I can really have fun with and perfect over the years. Nothing that requires me to keep learning, to keep gathering, collecting, or exploring. At least not in a way that I feel a hobby would.

So I’ve been contemplating options. I feel it’s a perfect time to try out some new things. While we enjoyed time in Tulsa, I decided to try my hand at something I’ve considered for a while–knitting. I follow the neatest blog about knitting, and I have for months. All before I ever picked up a set of needles and yarn. I loved seeing the pictures of what they were making! I just didn’t have a clue how to begin, until I sat down and tried it. My grandmother showed me the basics and helped me work out some quirks in my stitches, and then I discovered a fun and lively tutor on YouTube with her own amazing knitting site and yarn business!

Granny and I made our way to a knitting shop in Tulsa. We picked up some new German made wood needles and 2 hanks of gorgeous hand painted merino wool in a burgundy-rust. So as Nathan and I have cruised through the open countryside of Kansas and Nebraska, I’ve been working along on my first official knitting project. A wool infinity scarf!

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Wish me luck on this project and newly selected pastime! I’m enjoying it. Now, I’d love to hear from YOU! If you’re a Millennial with a laundry list of various hobbies, I’d love to know about them! You can prove my conclusions wrong on what our generation is up to, or not up to. And otherwise, I’d love to hear from whomever might like to share about what hobbies they do in their spare time for fun.

Observations on Preparing for an Overseas Move

I married a very well traveled, cultured man. Originally from small town Nebraska, I met him in Tulsa, OK at Oral Roberts University. He worked in the missions department, across the chapel foyer from my office in the worship department. I thought, “a sailor from Nebraska? That’s different.” He grew up on an incredibly charming lake set in the midst of small hills and corn fields, about 10 miles from his hometown of Lexington. By the time Nathan and I began dating, he had already experienced the world quite a bit, having traveled to places near and far. A small town boy had become a man with the nations in his eyes. He wore brown leather strapped sandals from Jerusalem. A Polska zip up coat. He carried a Mountain Smith pack, and wore a Tilley cap. He belonged in distant lands, eating diverse foods, speaking in languages not his own, and making friends wherever he went. These were things that drew me to him, no doubt. I wanted to adventure with him. And it wasn’t a forced façade or performance of some sort. It was really Nathan Scott French. A unique soul.

Nathan Explorer

Nathan lived in Haifa for a summer in 2007. He then went back in 2009 to live in Jerusalem for two years, as he worked on his master’s degree from the Hebrew University in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern studies.

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Late at night, we would Skype and I’d marvel at how nonchalant Nathan was about life in Jerusalem. Not in a disinterested way, but in an easy way. Despite hang-ups, quirks, and unexpected obstacles, Nathan was at ease doing life in Jerusalem as a single man. He thrived in a place where everyday life required learning and the ability to be flexible.

I, too, was fairly well traveled and cultured, just not as much as my counterpart. By age 26, I had lived in Denver, CO, Tulsa, OK, Concord, CA, and back to Denver. I had been to Mexico, England, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Niger, Romania, Israel, and other places. However, I had never been abroad for more than a month at a time. Nevertheless, I’ve had a desire to live overseas since age 12. That is a whole other story in and of itself, of which I might share some other time.

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But in a nutshell, I am 29 now and I’m new at this. I am certainly no expert on what it’s like to move abroad, much less live abroad. But there’s a first time for everything, right? So this is it. My time to experience something my husband already has. Something many others have done long before I. Perhaps I am naïve and starry eyed. But I tend to keep a balanced view of things, knowing that life in Aberdeen will be different, difficult at times, and full of challenges. But it will also be an experience that Nathan and I get to share, and something I’m thrilled to do. It feels right, and it feels like it’s about darn time!

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And now we have arrived at the final days of August 2014. We are in the car on a last road trip to visit family and friends. We vacated our apartment yesterday, finished our jobs the day before that, and now we are just over 2 weeks to our departure date to Scotland. In this preparatory process, we’ve noticed a few things about what it’s like to prepare for an overseas move as a married couple.

  • This type of move is easier to complete when one spouse has done it before. Nathan warned me months ago, when we decided to go for it, that it would be hard. It would require a LOT of logistical oversight and preparations. I believed him, but now I’m living it. He was right.
  • This type of move feels different than other moves. You don’t get to throw your stuff in boxes that will be moved across town or even to another city or state. Instead, we’ve purged large amounts of “stuff,” so that only the essentials are back in the states with family. That way only the basics go with us in checked luggage. Clothing, some books, a small picture album, important documentation, and a couple very small wall decorations to make our new place feel a bit more homey.
  • This type of move feels like a high-speed train barreling full force towards the set deadline…toward the moment we’ll get on the plane at DIA. Before then, a lot of stuff has to happen. A lot of wrapping up, and tying up of loose ends. And let’s be real… a LOT happens AFTER the flight! A whole new life begins. But our minds are currently locked onto the departure date on this side of the pond.
  • This type of move is harder on family and friends. The distance is greater, the travel is longer, and it’s more costly to see each other. In other words, we won’t be finding $50 Southwest tickets to visit our loved ones. However, our new home will be a travel destination and somewhere friends and family want to visit. So that’s a plus!
  • From what Nathan has described, this type of move carries a sense of finality with it. This is part of why it seems to be harder on friends and family. But in reality, technology is advanced enough at this point to allow for frequent and quite normal communication, once the time difference is taken into consideration. Thankfully, we aren’t in the days of snail mail as our only means of contact. And so, it might just feel like we’re on a bit of an extended vacation to those we leave behind.
  • This type of move requires you to be OK with the unknown. We haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Aberdeen or any other Scottish location prior to this move. So we will show up, get settled in, and learn the lay of the land. At this point, we don’t know much about The Granite City, but we will!
  • This move has been blessed even before it has happened. Everything has fallen into place, and I was connected with a wonderful group of women at the University of Aberdeen via Facebook. I’ve been in contact with several of them for months. I’ve asked questions, interacted with them, and already made plans for social gatherings when we arrive to town. And not to mention, we’ll have one of these new friends at the airport upon our arrival! Let me say how wonderful this has been. These expats have already “been there, done that.” They know what we’re experiencing and they give great advice on the highs and lows we can expect coming into it as the new kids on the block.
  • This type of move is likely much more enjoyable with a spouse who enjoys adventure! Nathan has years of experience leading teams of people into different cultures and places. This time it’s just us two, but I rest in knowing that he is travel-savvy and experienced at this whole moving abroad thing.
  • This type of move is both exhausting AND exhilarating! We are both astoundingly tired given all that’s happened to get us to the move, but our excitement for the change and chance to explore something new drives us onward.

Signing off from the plains of Kansas. Until next time!

Thoughts while on break

We are about finished with our deep cleaning checklist for the apartment move-out, and I needed a minute to sit and breathe. 3 pages of things we must do before we exit our place, if we wish to see any of our deposit money back (wishful thinking, I know, but we’ll try for something, rather than nothing!). This is the time when you realize how gross unseens nooks and crannies have become in 3 years in one apartment. Though I can be an obsessive cleaner, I’m not that obsessive. So now I pay the price, and my fingers are raw from scrubbing, and my neck and lower back are paying the price for being in a perpetual bent-in-half position.

We are oh so close to finishing up here. Thursday we will turn in our keys and wave goodbye to our first apartment as a married couple. It’s been grand. Set in a quaint Littleton neighborhood near historic Main St. 3rd floor, with a view of the Rockies from one of the west-facing bedrooms. We’ve been grateful for this little place to call our own.

For me personally, the last 3 years have been especially sentimental. I was raised not far from our apartment, for a good portion of my childhood. So the parks, the library, the streets, houses and shopping centers are all reminders of being a child here. They are reminders of spending time with family, especially my grandmother who took me to museums, parks, and let me twirl around her front yard on Ridge Road in party dresses and high heels. There have been many fond memories made in Littleton. And now, we depart from this place with many more! Memories made as adults, as a married couple.

First Presbyterian Church of Littleton is now forever a part of those memories. We said goodbye to the congregation on Sunday in both worship services. The sermon was tailored to us, encouraging us to run the race that is set before us with perseverance. And we responded with our words of love and thanks for the people who allowed us to serve them in ministry for 2.5 years. Elders and deacons laid hands on us, commissioned us, and prayed for our safety and success in our upcoming season in Aberdeen. I sniffled and cried my way through the day. Abundantly thankful for the outpouring of love that we received. And Sunday evening we said goodbye to our youth group, thanking them for the wonderful adventure it has been! More tears. Lots of hugs, and lots of love.

Tomorrow we will conclude officially at the church. I know it will be surreal, and entirely bittersweet. We’re leaving there on such a positive note, sent out with immense support and encouragement, which we couldn’t be more grateful for. Goodbyes…or “see ya laters” are wrought with paradoxical emotions. Happy, sad, and the stuff in between.

I am even feeling such paradoxical emotions today regarding another goodbye. Yesterday, we sold my 2004 Subaru WRX. That car entered the family 10 years ago, first owned by my brother. I took it over in the summer of 2007. The neon blue, hot rod of car was part of me. After listing is on Craigslist yesterday for an insanely good price (given the hail damage and some other quirks), we were immediately overcome by a zillion phone calls. My poor dad had offered to show it for us and sell it off, but little did he know, his phone would blow up with callers, begging to get an “in” before other interested buyers, and all within minutes of listing it. And so, we sold it off to an auto company from Fort Collins that specializes in Subies. The guy showed up, started the car, rolled it a foot frontward, rolled it a foot backward, turn it off, signed the bill of sale, took the title and keys, and we called it a day. Within a matter of minutes, the legacy of the Subaru had ended.

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Lots of things wrapping up in the lives of Haley & Nathan French, all in preparation for some new doors to open. Welp…back to the grind, friends. I’ve now got an accompaniment of thunder, lightning, and rain to go along with my afternoon scrubbing.

There is a season for everything

Farewell Clip

Last night we gathered with several close friends and family to celebrate 3 wonderful life transitions. Our move to Scotland, my dad’s 60th birthday, and my brother’s 27th birthday! Life transitions serve as markers along the journey. Monuments indicate that one season is concluding, so that another may begin. Whenever I approach a significant life change, a predictable process ensues. Excitement rises, nerves buzz, and expectation leads to several restless nights and antsy days. I know that the moment I pull out the rolls of packing tape and cardboard boxes, I won’t be settled until I’m on the other side. Finished with the packing, moving, unpacking, and resettling. I’m such a forward thinker, which means I have trouble being content in the moment. So along those lines, I found myself saying “We’re just ready to go” to multiple people at the party last night. That was in no way intended to discredit the pleasure of spending time with those we were with! But it was rather a reflection of my internal climate. READY and ANTICIPATORY. There are still loose ends to wrap up before we step aboard the plane, but mentally and emotionally I have come to the point that the preparation phase is passing by and the action phase is here. “Let’s go!” I think multiple times a day. But the transition-tension is a good teacher on patience, especially for yours truly.

And so, I am striving to experience the shift. The ups and downs of emotions. The excitement and impatience. The tears, the laughs. The stresses and the reprieves. If I don’t, the occasional meltdown lurks, waiting for its moment where something small, unrelated, and petty sends me into a momentary, faith-faltering tailspin where I think, “How’s it all going to come together?!!!” “We have to do this…that…and that, and this!!!” Those moments where it looks like too much in a limited amount of time. But what has life taught me so far? It all comes together. It all gets finished. We will look back and see God’s grace upon us. Look down at the waves beneath us, or up to Jesus walking upon the deep. There’s always a choice. Hmmm…this rings a bell! (A shameless plug for Nathan’s most recent sermon, “The Passerby”)

Life transitions are both a thing of joy and grief; gain and loss. What we have known to be our daily reality will change, and we’ll be invited to embrace something entirely new, as we release the old. A new normal. I have often told clients, with regard to grief and loss, that there is much to be said about ceremonies and memorializing the lives of those they have loved and lost. It is therapeutic and significant for the person walking through grief to do something unique and personally meaningful to remember a loved one. And more than once! So whether it be through a specially made photo box, the planting of a new tree, the organization of a special annual gathering, or many other things that help memorialize ones we love. Ceremonies and memorials are important. And not just for the death of a loved one, but also for major life changes. And even more so in the life of Christian faith.

So I am doing this now. Raising my stone called Ebenezer, saying “Til now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12, ESV). Marking this spot and time as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and proclaiming Him to be faithful as we move forward in hope and anticipation. At a later time in life, I pray that I can look back and remember all of the monuments that I have raised as a testament to God’s faithfulness throughout my life. They will be far and wide, spread out across the globe. The current one being raised in Littleton. Next one, Aberdeen.

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Time for tams!

A not so wee little adventure

We are just over the 4-week mark until we depart for our new life in Aberdeen, Scotland! We have been in a whirlwind of preparations and planning, goodbye gatherings, travels, packing, and time with family and friends. We received our finalized visas from the British Consulate. Our flat is secured in Aberdeen, flights are booked, and ending dates at our jobs are coming up fast. In a matter of weeks we will step aboard a plane and enter into an adventure of immense proportions! As the days pass by, the emotions surrounding this life transition continue to rise. Extreme excitement, anticipation, eagerness, mingled with sadness and a burning in my chest when I think of parting from those we love here in the states.

Nathan’s PhD program awaits him, and I find it wonderfully delightful that he will be Dr. Nathan Scott French in the years to come. I look forward to seeing the development of his dissertation and what will be the fruits of hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard, laborious work. I’m excited to be by his side as he pursues what is not only a dream and goal of his, but what he is built to do. His humble brilliance is one of the many reasons I love this man and I feel incredibly blessed to be his wife.

Personally, I am walking into this next chapter of our lives as a bit of a blank slate. Many have asked what my plans are in Scotland, and I answer honestly and happily with, “I’m not really sure!” I have plans to take whatever opportunities the Lord provides, and if you know me, you know that I’m already stewing around on ideas of flexible and sundry work I can do. I have some of those pieces in place, but the larger picture remains unknown as of now. That’s part of the fun of this for me! I can’t recall a single time since early adolescence that I didn’t have some sort of plan in place for most everything in my life. Not that my plans always materialized as I hoped or thought, but I had them. I am a check-list girl. I grew up with sticky notes lining my bedside table. Do this, check that off. So for me, this move to Scotland is quite liberating! I honestly can’t tell you many plans beyond now. Once September 14th hits, it’s all one big adventure and discovery! My calendar remains almost as naked as a jaybird once we skip over the pond! Oh happy day!

There has been a growing theme in our lives with the decision to make this move. SIMPLIFY. That presents itself in many different ways: purging unnecessary and excessive material belongings (aka 500 million car loads to Savers!!); downsizing our lives to 4 suitcases, a couple carry ons, some boxes, and a few furniture items left behind in storage with family. In addition, simplifying by purging busyness, a constant state of being rushed and overbooked, and excessive noise that so easily comes as a part of the 24/7 lifestyle of Americans. Or perhaps just MY American lifestyle!

Don’t get me wrong, we have been immensely grateful for all that our lives have included in recent years! We have grown in relationships with many amazing people, we have served wholeheartedly in ministry, and we have developed as individuals and as a couple. The past few years have been an integral part of the path leading to our tomorrows in Scotland. But the time has come for a change.

So I invite you to follow along on our journey. I really do intend to keep up on the blog consistently, so that you all can partake in our “Scotland Adventure.”  Posts, pictures, updates, and more.

Almost every person we have told about the move says, “What an adventure!” So we take that in and expectantly reply, “Yes! That it will be!”

 

Passport Case

 

I had to share this picture of my lovely, purple leather passport case! This was what I might call a gift with a prophetic purpose. My brother, Tripp, purchased this for me this past Christmas. Nathan had just submitted his application to the University of Aberdeen, only days earlier. We had no idea where the path would lead in the months to come. I opened this little beauty, which Tripp found in some obscure boutique in Denver. I loved it instantly, and then I pulled out a small tag tucked into one of the card slots in the inside cover. Made in Scotland. Well, I’ll be darned. He had unknowingly purchased a gift that was pointing to the next step of our lives. Thanks, Tripp.