Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pictures of whats been lately...

My last Sunday at Christchurch. All of my LIFE girls except two ::missing them::

Last night in Wales- out with Jo and Lindsey at a pub for dessert and tea. They are seriously amazing friends.

Christmas with the fam. Basically just passing Jack around and staring at him all day as wrapping paper surrounds us. No, just kidding. Sort of. Really great time with the family. Didn't get anything I won't use...which...is wonderful! I am so blessed.

Jack Attack himself. We are currently at the Outter Banks for the week enjoying a very relaxing time with my sister-in-law, Katie's family.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

in the US of A

Yay for America!

Being an aunt, is...oh, one of the best things EVER. Jack is a little over a year now and started crying this morning when I left the room: talk about melting my heart. He is the cutest ever.

Christmas was wonderful. I love my family- and being in the States is so exciting. Texting friends DOESN'T cost 50p (well, unless its AnneMarie or Jo =) and I can just pick up my mobile and ring whoever I want, whenever: because I'm in the same time zone. oh, the gifts of being in the same country.

We're off to the annual beach trip tomorrow for a week or so: I plan to be working on leaflets, handouts, and promotions for "hair business" upon my return to Orlando. So many exciting things all at one time!

Treasuring this time all together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life at Heathrow

oh, severn bridge. why'd you have to go and freeze?

Anne Marie and I took 5 hours to drive the 2 hours to Heathrow...thanks to the bridges freezing. (Anne Marie is a legend. In case you didn't know that already.) I had a not-very-wonderful conversation on the way with Continental (after we suspected I'd miss the flight) where I was told that my only option for leaving the country was 2,000 pounds to fly out tomorrow morning (thats $3,000)...or leaving next week. Thankfully, the LORD provided much grace in those few hours before hearing that was NOT the case. And I'm very grateful for that...(though, Christmas at the Mc Cans would've no doubt been a blast.)

So, here I am, at Heathrow, awaiting my free stand-by flight tomorrow morning at 10:30am. (Praise the LORD.) I am safe, and fed, and warm (and wondering why homeless people don't just pretend they're travelers and live at the airport.)

Will probably hop over to the small pub across the little aisle here in a bit to enjoy a pint- just because I can one last time. VERY grateful for my web-cam gift from the Mc Cans as I was able to ring my parents immediately very inexpensive-ly via skype.

And...enjoying the way God reveals Himself in Isaiah- especially chapters 43-45 at the moment.

Hope your Christmas festivies are gloriously wonderful as the Gospel becomes sweeter to your soul: for unto us a Saviour is born!
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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today was my last Sunday at Christchurch; and the majority of my goodbyes. The Mc Cans graciously hosted a going away party for me.

I was overwhelmed with hugs, encouragements, letters, cards, gifts, and...well...love.

I believe today was just a taste of what heaven will be like. The "cost" it's been to be away this last almost year and a half- the things missed out on: weddings, babies, engagements, etc, the friends in Orlando I wish I could be caring for, the "homesickness" at various times...etc. etc. It all faded away. It was so worth it.

I think that's what heaven will be like. All the energy and effort of fighting sin and sacrificing, and denying self...we'll get there, see what God has done, and be like, "Yeah. So worth it. Doesn't even compare."

I don't know if I've ever been in such disbelief before about what others "attribute" to me, that I see actually no connection to whatsoever. And yet...in this, we find the humility of God.

HE pursues sinners. HE saves. HE reveals Himself. HE prepares works for us to do, HE gives us the strength to carry them out, HE acts- moves in hearts, changes things, does miracles...and uses the little bit of "effort" that we put into it...and then HE prompts others to encourage US. This. This is the mystery of our great God. One who would know sinners. Be associated with us. Redeem us. Call us His own. And then, encourage us in how HE's changed us and then used us: beautiful. glorious. mysterious.

And this is what we celebrate at Christmas. God become man to save us from our sins. The humility of God.

Not to us, but to Your Name alone, be all the glory, the glory forever...for Your faithfulness and steadfast love, receive the glory, the glory, belongs to YOU.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wrapping things up...

Friday was my last official day as an employee of Christchurch. Both in the office and with teens. So strange! Definitely feels like I'm going back in on Monday. You better believe I've already pulled the, "I don't know, I don't work there anymore" card a few times.

I got to babysit the Gweedo (Gaweda- [Guh-veh-duh]) kids today- it was so much fun! We made some sugar cookies-- using butter knives as our "cookie cutters." Lots of laughs and smiles and "will you help me"s. As you can tell...I am QUITE the artist.

And earlier this week- with all the talk of logos and websites and hair business, my "itch" to do updos was getting the best of my sleep. Yes, indeed, dreams of doing hair. So, in order to help my mind rest, I attacked Alex and Caroline's hair.

Well, packing has begun...and continued...and continued again...how much stuff can a girl have?! My excuse is: two completely different climates. (Is that a good one?) I brought all (ok, most of)my Florida stuff over here because its all the clothes I had...and then, I've accumulated several pairs of boots, warm socks, jumpers (jackets), etc.

In the LORD's amazing kindness and care for me, there are a group of guys going to visit Peter Benson right after Christmas- and I've managed to bribe them into taking some stuff back to the States for me. And still, I've had two "give aways" at different teens events of clothes I don't want, etc.

Gosh, am I boring anyone else?! I'm leaving now, sorry. Packing and clothes are on my mind.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One place to another...(again...)

All the way my Savior leads me
Who have I to ask beside
How could I doubt His tender mercy
Who through life has been my guide
-Chris Tomlin

Recently I've been meditating on Isaiah 43:18-19

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Returning to Orlando is not going to be a "back to the good ol' days" kind of season. It's different now. And I think I'm a little different too. This is a NEW season. NEW family, NEW relationships, NEW perspective, priorities, convictions, etc.

Yet, as I studied the context of this verse (ie: Isaiah 43 the chapter) I left my time with the LORD this morning FULL of reasons to hope in Him and His future grace. His promised care, His guaranteed provision, His goodness and mercy...will follow me.

"You go before me, You're behind me, nothing is hidden from You."

My ESV Study Bible notes say of this verse that the original exodus (the "former things") out of Egypt did not exhaust the power of God. (YAY.) But provided a new pattern of exodus.

So, if I'm understanding correctly, what Isaiah is prophecying ("new thing")...is about Jesus. The "exodus" and freedom from slavery to sin.

HOW MUCH GREATER is the Cross, and the freedom we have in Christ, than the already amazing escape/freedom from Pharoah in Egypt?

This is what awaits me: God's past faithfulness, because of His unchanging character, is prophetic of future faithfulness.

To this, I cling.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmastime in Wales

Last Tuesday, I went over to Cardiff and introduced my dear friend, Jo, to meatloaf for the first time. She made the chocolate chip cookies.

Decorating the Christmas Tree with the Mc Cans!

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Conor Mc Can

Lindsey and Graham Sisk having sloppy joes for the first time!

Rebecca Lee and I decorated Christmas Trees this week- I love her.

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Friday night, our teens gave their presentations from the "attributes of God" study they've done.

Saturday morning, after YPD (discipleship group), my LIFE girls and I had our last little party. They presented me with a farewell gift: a book of pictures and letters full of grace-filled words. Ah, it is a dearly treasured gift.

And I gave them their bags with their names on them. Oh, how I love them.
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Home Group Christmas Party at Toby Carvery!

I could list all the names of the faces...but, you won't know them; so it doesn't matter. This is my Home Group! I love them so much. A tremendous part of the LORD using Christchurch to affect and impact my life has been through the examples and encouragements of those pictured here.

I was very surprised to be BOMBARDED with gifts: each one had a note.

"A little something to be going home with...because we wouldn't wish American chocolate on anyone."
"Because its just plain WRONG not to have one!..." (a kettle)
"For a busy business woman to keep track of all her HAIR appointments" (a 2010 diary aka calendar)
"For a lady of letters...so she can write to us ALL!" (address book complete with HG addresses, and stationary)
"With LOVE from us all" (Welsh love spoon)
"So that wherever you are in the world you can enjoy a nice cup of tea!" (a teapot and mug with various teas)

My dearest Jo opening her Secret Santa.

Andy and Sue Rees. LOVE them. Will miss them dearly.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

::mixed emotions::

I've not been able to go to sleep quickly recently because the excitement of what's ahead is almost un-bearable! I have been learning (slowly) how to take things one day at a time...and the joy that has come from that is full of peace, abounding in hope, and ever so sweet.

I can't wait to see my family, hug my nephew, get back to doing hair (especially for weddings- last night I was doing updos in my head)...live in a warm climate. ::sigh:: oh, its thrilling.

But...today was that wonderful brisk cold. Like, proper winter. Decorating the massive Christmas tree at Christchurch with Rebecca Lee, who I'm training. (She is SO wonderful- they will not miss me at ALL!) Doing a "preview" of the slideshow I'll play for my LIFE girls tomorrow at my "farewell" party...over 400 pictures. Over 20 minutes long. Getting a facebook message just moments ago from a Bettws girl saying, "tell me more about God- He's fascinating!" ::sigh:: I will miss this place and these faces.

What struck me today as various songs played on my laptop was the tender, and caring way that my Heavenly Father has lead me. He has guided me from one country to another...and He is guiding me back again. He has carried me when the storms in this last year were more than I thought I could bear. He has given me strength when I knew not if I could ever be weaker. He has revealed grace as more amazing-- and promises to continue to do that for eternity. He has been Faithful. So faithful to me.

No one in the world will really "understand" my Wales experiences- all that this last year and a half has held for me. But found in that...is such sweetness. Only my Jesus knows. He walked it with me. He listened. He carried. He answered prayer. It was like a secret get-a-way with Him.
Oh, how grateful I am.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bye Dingo!

Dave Elsing (the Australian from the GAP Team) left Saturday night to head home.

Ten of us piled into my car and what is still labeled as "The GAPmobile" or "GAP car" and headed to London for the day.

Traffic was bad at this junction. One lady pushed in front, and when we passed her, Dingo rolled his window down and calmly informed her he thought it was rude how she did that. She laughed and rolled up the window. =)

The last of the Gappers. Toms, Me, and Dingo.

Smushed in the Tubes here is Toms, Jack Pemberton, Taylor Rees, and Nicky Davies.
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What a bunch o' lurkers. (I say that with affection.)

Tay, Pembo, and Dave

This is pronounced "Ber-uh Market". Jamie Oliver gets his food here, apparently. It was SO fun- I could've walked around there all day. Like super nice spices, cheeses, wines, etc. being sold at these little tables.

A proper London "hot dog" (sausage with onions) - it was so good.

Daddy, this is for you:

Dingo getting a steak sandwich- it looked lush. (And Emily in the background looking adorable as always.)

We went to get cakes! so delish.

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We went ice skating in "Winter Wonderland" at Hyde Park; so incredibly fun. I had such a blast.

The only socially acceptable time to quickly approach a stranger with a full embrace and screaming...is while ice skating. Just ask Nicky.

Nicky, me, Dave, Anna

Toms, Dingo, Me, Nicky, Dave (wow. lots of Davids. "Toms" and "Dingo" are also "Davids".)

taking the tubes back to the cars.

Nicky, Anna, Dave, and Emily. Rhys is on the end, but didn't make it into the picture.

What a great day in London!

Wales is now down a Dingo...
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