Across the Sea: London

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Being already half way across the world it seemed self-evident that we simply must pause in London for several days on the journey back from Africa. (See previous post.)

We had four days to cram as much of London into our souls as possible. Of course, this only whetted my appetite for further acquaintance.

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Naturally, the first thing to do after stuffing our luggage into the tiny, retro-decorated, no-screens-on-the-windows, hotel room and falling into exhausted heaps on the beds (and giggling at the dichotomy of one bed being as springy as a trampoline and the other as hard as a stone)…was to seek sustenance. Wrapped in our mittens and caps, we sat on the terrace of a pub eating fish-and-chips while a young father regaled his impossibly cute offspring with mythic tales and a scruffy drunk contemplated his bottle. People are fascinating.

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We spoiled ourselves with tickets to the theatre every evening. First up was David Suchet (Hercule Poirot if you’re up on British TV) in the classic  comedy, “The Importance of Being Earnest”. We sat in the highest, steepest balcony and felt as though we were in the living room of Algernon Moncrieff’s flat.

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St. Martin’s-in-the-Field which is on…

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Trafalgar Square! There was some sort of football festivities cluttering up the view.

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Also, on the Square is the National Gallery. We spent all morning wandering through the works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Monet. It was glorious to take all the leisurely, meandering time we wanted.

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I realized a bit too late on that taking photos was allowed. Oh well.

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All afternoon we explored the treasure-filled labyrinth of the British Museum.

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It was hard to comprehend just how ancient the oftentimes enormous artifacts are.

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In the evening, we had supper at the Bad Egg before immersing ourselves in the experience of getting to watch Benedict Cumberbatch play “Hamlet”. #1 of Top Three Things We Did in London. Utterly mesmerizing and completely riveting.

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The Monument to Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo.

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We and a bazillion other tourists decided it would be a good idea to go see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Mostly we got to see the band and the tops of their hats, but, still it was an experience.

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From the bridge in St. James’s Park. Looking toward the London Eye. (The view the other direction was Buckingham Palace.)

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Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

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Oh you know, just the Cabinet War Rooms.

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Outside the Red Lion where we dined upstairs on delicious pies and learned that it was a favorite haunt of Charles Dickens and various Prime Ministers.

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Another Top Three Favorite: The centuries of living and worshiping enfolded in the exquisite walls of Westminster Abbey give off an atmosphere of compelling weight. We loved it immediately and visited twice. The first time to tour and the second time to an amazing, free, organ recital of Mendelssohn and Schubert.

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The purposeful frenzy of the Subway Station.

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Phantom of the Opera!

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St. Boltoph’s-without-Aldersgate/London City Presbyterian Church. Unassuming on the outside…beautiful on the inside.

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Last of the Top Three: London City Presbyterian Church.

After the greatly inspiring church times in Uganda I was expecting church in London to be rather stuffy and lukewarm in comparison. Ha! Never discount the Spirit’s ability to work in very different ways and places. The church we visited was tucked in a leafy courtyard just off a rather dull, modern, industrial street. It’s an Anglican building rented by the Free Church of Scotland (Scottish Reformed) and it was marvelously alive! Full of extremely friendly, welcoming people of all ages and nationalities just as passionate about Jesus and the Gospel as those in Africa. It was an extremely encouraging, challenging, and energizing morning of worshiping through song, prayer, and the preaching of the Word with fellow believers. (Besides which they served us biscuits [cookies] and real, loose-leaf tea after the service. :) )

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St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Harrod’s was like a Willy Wonka, movie world, department store. I had been told previously (and correctly) that the best of the glittering array was the “Food Court”. There I overheard a gentleman buying 100 pounds worth of caviar, stared at mountains of chocolate and walls of tea, and purchased a scrumptious duck and orange meat pie and a superb pear and dark chocolate dessert.

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The looming White Tower which forms the central fortress of the Tower of London.

The entire layout of the Tower is enormous and we could’ve spent hours there. As we were rather short on time we concentrated on the Crown Jewels and the armories of the White Tower. Fascinating history. The quaint building in the left-hand photo is presumably one of the residential sections that the Tower guards or caretakers live in.

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Tower Bridge as seen from the Tower of London.

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The Thames and Parliament as seen from the London Eye. The Eye had “mechanical difficulties” while we were on it and we ended up being “stuck” near the top for a good 20-30 minutes which was perfect.

Lovely end to an excellent visit.

 

 

 

Across the Sea: Uganda

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Coffee house in Kampala.

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Sunset over Lake Victoria.

Some photos from a (somewhat) recent medical mission’s trip to Uganda.  Memories flitting through my brain include rain every day, holding a (dead) black mamba, riding a motorcycle for the first time (sideways, in a skirt, on a dirt road,in Africa!), discovering that break dancing is huge in Uganda (seriously), drinking the most delicious ginger soda on the planet, having great conversations about life, and music, and ministry, getting sick on the way to the airport (yuck), learning a song in Luganda, being bombarded by a pack of highly excited children, laughing a lot, seeing the wonder in a child’s face who’s seeing the world clearly for the first time, praying with a young mom who’s just found out her baby’s likely blind, worshiping Jesus together, spending more time with dear friends I made last time, and getting to make some precious new friends along the way!

This time we did a number of outreach eye clinics at local village schools in addition to treating the children at the ministry’s orphan center site. That was revealing. Suddenly toilets, concrete floors, clean drinking water, and having more than one outfit to wear turn into privileges.

Above all, it’s marvelous and supremely encouraging to see what God is doing in the lives of His people way across the globe. He’s not limited by backgrounds, or resources, or brokenness or expectations. He works wonders in the hearts of people despite ourselves and it’s amazing.

Good things to rest on as a New Year rounds the corner…

Summertime Snippets

Window Treatment

Buttercup Dogwood

Open Spaces

Sunday Meeting

Wildflower

Queen Anne

Narnia

Porching

Butterfly!!

Random splottering of photos that nevertheless are something of an accurate glimpse into the my world of early summer: growing things, roadtrip, going to church, hiking in the canyon, Fourth of July celebrating, butterflies…

We’ve recently been fixing our porches up – Dad in big ways (re-flooring, putting in light fixtures, new railing), Mum in grand ways (painting, decorating, curtaining), and I in little ways (watering the flowers, giving my opinion). Now, we’re getting to enjoy each covered nook. (Our jolly, generous, old house has five!) Apparently it’s a verb – “porching” – and involves reading, sipping iced tea, waving at passer-bys, and reading. Hear! Hear!

Minutiae

Johnny Jump-Up

Lady Pink

Powder Puff

Nesting

The Rosy Apple-Blossom

Periwinkle

Ladybug, Ladybug

Strawberries to Come

A cheery new coat of paint on the garage door.

A cheery new coat of paint on the garage door.

Minutiae (noun): The small, precise, or trivial details of something. “The minutiae of everyday life.”

Once again I (sort of) apologize for seemingly only ever taking photos of flowers. There’s something about the hope and promise of Spring that pulls me outside into the warmth to document the changing of the seasons. My mum says when I was little and we would be working in the yard I was forever being distracted from the task at hand by studying some enthralling bug, or root, or plant specimen. I still marvel at God’s design in Creation. Ladybugs are astounding. The fact that rosy blossoms will soon turn into delicious strawberries and apples is miraculous. Dandelions are ugly and troublesome yes, but, they’re also absolutely gorgeous. Wonder is a worthwhile thing to have. If God has designed and upholds such astonishing things in Nature will He not also design and uphold equally astonishing things in our hearts and lives?

Because joy, laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously (self-importantly) is also good to cultivate:

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This is James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree. (Commonly known as Jim.) Originally he was a small, garden ornament frog gifted to us years ago by my Auntie J. I christened him (because names are important) after one of my favorite A. A. Milne poems. Wind, weather, dogs, and time tend to be hard on small, clay, frogs and eventually Jim’s body disintegrated as did the teacup originally topping the above garden stake. Mum united the two, giving decapitated Jim a rather dainty, Elizabethan ruff and us a slightly bizarre, giggle-inducing, flower bed adornment.

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

My Luve Is Like

Later this afternoon you will find our house filled with friends celebrating the day with a high tea complete with eccentric finery, delectable goodies, and poetry reading.

Somewhat in jest, one of the invited guests recently sent me a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer somberly titled “Death” as a possible reading for the tea. Chuckle. But…you see the power of Love that can transform even Death into something wonderful.

Coincidentally, for a while now I’ve been enamored by a poem/hymn of John Newton’s called “Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart” that is a paraphrase of Isaiah 54. The Scripture and the song tell of God’s faithful, redemptive, Love that abounds and triumphs in the midst of our desolation and seemingly forsaken-ness. Below is the Indelible Grace version to ponder if you like. (However, I’d even more strongly suggest digging into the even better source material of the Isaiah chapter!)

My favorite line in the hymn is the last one: “All thy walls I will repair, thou shalt be rebuilt anew; and in thee it shall appear, what a God of love can do.” In the Bible verses we find that God doesn’t just restore our walls (our life, soul, relationships etc.), but, adorns them with rubies, sapphires, and precious stones. He doesn’t just revive us, He makes us beautiful reflections of Himself!

“This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord.”         ~ Isaiah 54:17

 Aren’t you glad that the God we belong to doesn’t have the fluffy, weak, sentimentality that usually passes for Love around Valentine’s Day? His Love is mighty, enduring, renewing, and redemptive!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

An Incident of Meticulous, Unmerited Goodness

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Isn’t God good? Isn’t His grace inconceivably, flabbergastingly lavish?

Isn’t it worth reveling in, shouting, singing…retelling?

Here’s a little, recent tale of a wink of His goodness in my life:

Some friends of mine were off to Uganda this January and kindly offered a corner of their suitcases for sending a little something to a few of the dear souls I’d encountered there last year. Merrily I assembled a few seemingly suitable odds-and-ends and scrawled out letters to be tucked in. Happy, little, easy Service that would more fittingly be named Joy.

February now and the hometown friends have returned to their firesides and handed off to me responding notes from the Ugandan friends. Honey-sweet words of how The Lord had taken my meager, pitiful bundles and turned them into His lovely, precise, timely, blessings. Tears seep into the crinkles of my eyes and dance steps take hold of my heels.

This particular account is so exquisitely The Provider I must share its details: one of the Recipient Families had recently taken in an precious girl who is an Orphan No Longer. That poem of the Father’s heart having recently captivated me I wanted to send Her something specific. The Spirit jolted into my memory the box of donated fabric I had started turning into dresses for the Ugandan young ladies. Life’s fullness had impeded the progress of that project, but, there was a slim row of finished frocks hanging expectantly in the Upstairs Spare Bedroom. Now what size do you suppose a fourteen year old girl I’ve never met wears? “Lord, let it be a blessing; Lord, let it fit.”, I silently pleaded as the dress disappeared in white tissue wrapping. A month and God’s incomprehensible working later I’m staring at the inky testimony of a Girl wanting a dress, the counsel of “Ask Jesus”, and a purple frock that was “just her size”.

Isn’t He a God worthy of trust and praise? To reiterate the verse from Isaiah I sent one of the missionaries: “Lord, You will establish peace for us. For You have also done all our works in us.” (Is. 26:12) The wonder isn’t just that He’s good, but, that He (the infinite, Universe-breathing God) works into our weak, minuscule frames His dazzling, holy, goodness. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us”. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

~ Psalm 107:8,9

Treasuries of Snow

Around the Bend

Trekking

Cool Defined

Top of the Line

Little Hope

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Boarders

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power…

He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold? He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow…

Praise the Lord!”

~ Psalm 147

All Glory Be To Christ!

Clear Blue Sky

Through the Trees

Gateway

Snow Shovel

Madame Blueberry

Overhead Still

Christmas Cupboard

Snow: In & Out

Candles + Cards

Snow on Snow

Tannebaum

Holiday Home

Silent Night

Unseasonably mild weather lulled me into an incredulous complacency about the increasing acceleration of Christmas’ arrival this year. Meanwhile with work, festivities, relationships, and just plain living, my attention to blogging has been minimal…so, do forgive the flurry of catch-up photos from the last month.

Below is a song that has been currently running through my mind and out my mouth. Seems a particularly good one to reflect on at the turning of the years. Reminds me of Peter’s comment to Jesus, “Who else can we go to? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68), and of a preacher I heard once say, “Jesus isn’t all you need….Jesus is all you have”. 

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.”     ~ Psalm 115:1

May your 2015 be overflowing with the joy and presence of the One who is The Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Life, and King of the Universe!

Harvest Home

Welcome Home

Despite an unusually early September snowfall, we’ve had a beautifully mellow Autumn. Makes me feel much more hearty about the oncoming snow and ice of Winter!

As a new month steadies its legs, a month that contains Thanksgiving, I’ve been considering God’s limitless faithfulness, sovereignty, and provision. How worthy of trust and praise He is! We are so, so, blessed and even if He were to take back all the material and relational gifts He’s bestowed – yet, He would still be good. He would still be enough. His grace the air in my lungs.

Consequently I’ve also been meditating on Zechariah. Don’t know where my head was the last time I read this book of the Bible. I seem to have forgotten all the glorious imagery of Christ that it contains. I suppose that just goes to show how the Lord always has MORE of Himself to reveal to us in His Word! In Chapter 3, Zechariah has a vision of the high priest, Joshua, standing before the Lord. He is clothed in filthy garments and Satan is accusing him. God’s response is to take away Joshua’s dirty rags and clothe him in rich robes. And it goes on to tell of the coming BRANCH, Jesus, whose righteousness is our perfect covering. Behold God’s ultimate Provision!

Music : Lately I’ve been finding myself entranced by John Mark McMillan’s Borderland album. It’s the sort of album that necessitates unearthing anyhow. More poetry than prose, the lyrics demand excavating, but, reward you with their uncommon treasure. Musically, it’s slightly different than my usual fare, but, somehow I rather like the pulsing beats, mournful saxophone, and gravely voice of McMillan. Give the first track, Holy Ghost, a listen. Guessing you’ll either be inspired or conclude I’ve lost my marbles.

In contrast, are the gentle, earnest, heart-songs of The Hedgerow Folk. Scripture-imprinted calls to abide in Christ. Their new album, Come Close, is currently available for free download over on Noise Trade. Below, is one of their songs that dwells on the utter completeness of what we owe to Christ:

 

 

 

When Life is Rosy

Polka Dot

This melody has been following my brain around lately, so, I decided to attempt recording a snippet of it on my phone.

It’s an old, French, love song, called La Vie En Rose – which essentially means “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”.

Rather the sort of thing to accompany Autumn, I think…