Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Driving in Wales.

Lew and Jen's wedding

My hair business has officially gone international! Look at this transformer-- its massive! Bob Mc Can did carpentry for years- this is his. Converts my curling iron voltage to the right amount so they don't blow up. This thing weighs a TON.

Lewis was our leader in Germany in July. He is the pastoral intern this year, and Jen, his wife, is quickly becoming a dear friend. Love them!

Beautiful bride.

Got to follow them to the church- what a sweet lookin' car.

I know its blurry, but look at Lewis' face!!! How could I not post it?! Do you think he loves her?

Don't worry. In "doing hair for the wedding" that didn't include Lewis'...he was bald before.

My cheeks hurt at the end of the night from the laughing that went on at this table! I felt so privileged (I AM!) to sit around with these godly men and women. Get counsel, joke about Gav being the senior pastor (as he answered, "ya" when someone asked the question- hilarious) and being mocked for not getting the "memo" about not raising our hands while worshipping during the service. Hysterical.
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Dear August,

Thank you for raining while I was gone. September looks great thanks to you...and its only rained one day since I've been back!

My car. It rocks.

Gap Boys- thought you'd like to see a picture of what used to be home. (Ok, well, your neighbors. The big tree was blocking your house...)Weather was gorgeous this week. (obviously)

This might look familiar-- its the view I used to run to everyday; I think its my most photographed view of Newport. But look at it! That's why!!!

Ok, who's coming to visit?
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random pics for you

It's been surprising being back in Wales how many "British firsts" I'm still having...even after living here for a year! It's crazy! The more I learn, the more I realize I actually know very little about life over here.

When getting my UK bank card sorted (which I finally got today! Yay! No more, "Oh, there's not a chip in it, you have to swipe the card- its from America" - and then a manager being called over everytime I check out at the till.) Anyways, I was in HSBC and saw this tea and coffee VENDING machine- what?! Totally genius! You take the PG tips or instant coffee plastic thingy on the left and place it in the slot above the cup, and bam! Hot water comes from somewhere and makes you a beautifully hot brew! There was a dodgy lookin' cup of milk on the side...but I used it anyways. It was all about the experience.

Loving living with the Mc Cans. They've totally let me barge in on their lives and I love it so much. This is Alex and I the weekend Bob and Anne Marie were out of town (just for the record, older kids are so easy to take care of for the weekend! No baths or brushing their teeth or bedtime stories...just "go take a shower"...amazing!) I had so much fun with them.

...and this is just another day in the office...
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A few weeks ago, at our LIFE social, we had the year 7, 8, and 9s build bridges with totally random materials I found around the office, kitchen, etc. They impressed me!!! They were judged on how much weight (coffee) their bridge could hold, how pretty it was, and how well their team worked together.

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The winners!

The night ended with some SERIOUS dodgeball. Leaders vs. Teens. The better team won. =)

Our first YPD (young people's discipleship). We had over 16 girls between the ages of 11 and 18 at the church building at 9 AM on a Saturday morning to devote their time and energies into learning how to enjoy the Gospel more and grow in their relationship with the amazing! What grace already at work in them!!!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"...confident of God's sovereign control..."

We've been going through the book of John off and on for months at Christchurch- taking detours into Psalms and 1 has been a wonderful series.

On Sunday, Pete preached from John 18- excellent message. I haven't been able to leave it this week. I'm stuck in it- enjoyinig it, loving it, reading it over and over time and again- convicted, challenged, and my eyes are being opened to the same truths in new ways. Ah, nothing but the Word of God coupled with the Holy Spirit can do that. What gifts.

This chapter closely mirrors Matthew 26-- a loved and often visited portion of Scripture (that I regularly refer others to as well) amidst trial in relationships. Jesus' response to Judas in the moment of betrayal: "Friend, do what you came to do" always hits me--

UGH! It cuts to my heart!!! Not only do I not address those who wrong me as friend, but I don't trust God above their sin or the circumstance- I think and respond in a defensive way (like Peter does in vs. 10 of ch. 18 in John- trying to fight with his sword). Here, Jesus entrusts Himself to God-- at the hands of ungodly, unmerciful sinners (who are sinning in this very moment) who hate Him and intend evil and harmful and wicked things for Him. Wow. And He knows that God is going to let all of those awful things happen...and He trusts that God's plan is redemptive...even when all He can see is sin and gloom...and Jesus trusts that it has an outcome that is worthy of the suffering and pain involved...

Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself...back to John 18. So amidst the countless glorious truths in this chapter of the Living Book, verse 4 has been most read, meditated on, and done the most probing of my heart the the last few days.

"Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?"' (emphasis mine)

Knowing all that would happen to Him. Yes. He knew it all. Every lash of the whip. Every thorn in the crown- every nail, every splinter, every single ounce in every drop of holy and righteous wrath (that I deserved) that would be poured on Him...He knew what awaited Him. All of it.

Knowing this...He came forward. How can we not marvel?! How can we not worship?! HE came forward. HE took a step. He said, essentially, "Here I am" to the enemies that sought Him. To the wrath that awaited Him.

My ESV Study Bible notes say this of verse 4, "Jesus, confident of God's sovereign control, hands himself over to His captors."

I read that and said aloud in a room by myself, "Wow."

And then I thought about my life. And how different it is from the Savior's. Could that sentence ever be said of me? Ever? "Janelle, confident of God's sovereign control..." sigh. Oh, Father, make it so. Change me.

Just those words. Confident of God's sovereign control.

If I really believed, in a functioning and practical way...oh, how my life would look different.

So as the days have gone on, I've thought about my season of life: Wales. Administrative Assistant. LIFE leader. Single. Away from home. Away from friends. Many different "worlds" around the globe. Temporary season. In each of I willing to consider, marvel at, and enjoy a CONFIDENCE in the sovereign control of God?

Though currently, no storms are pressing (Scripture promises their soon arrival) the mundane trials and struggles of I surrendered to God? Do I see my "international inconveniences" as His sovereign hand? Not being able to call my sister when I want to, or wish my dad a happy birthday the first time I think of it (because its an ungodly hour his time)...growing increasingly more aware of just how "out of the loop" I am with ones I dearly love, hearing how many new teeth my nephew has gotten in the last month...those little things- all the tiny stings of the cost of being in this I think God has overlooked it all? Do I think He forgot I am from the States? Or doesn't know what's important to me? (That I really like goldfish and they don't sell them over here?! =)

Oh He knows. He knows fully. He knows just as He knew "all that would happen to Him." And He sees the other side. He sees the big picture. He is WORTHY of my trust. His character has WORTH...His character is holy and just and my confidence can rest in His wisdom and love...and timing.

The freedom that has resulted from the illumination of these sweet indescribable. JOY and peace...oh, He is good. Oh, He is so good!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Driving uphill

Driving this week has gone surprisingly smooth- I love enjoying the grace God gives in the "little practicals" of life as well as the major storms. It's unbelievable how His faithfulness spans all things. Big and small.

A few trips from point A to point B have been made without any stalling whatsover- this is a miracle.

I must inform you of my encounter with my first major hill. Here in Wales, it's very hilly. Some looking like they go 90 degrees up. I hadn't realized until I came upon this hill, that I hadn't really done one yet. (Gap girls-- I was driving back from the big Tescos- the route that we used to walk. You know, after you cross the streets with the lights, go uphill (past the subway on the left), take a left, round the bend, and then travel on that way...)

As I approach it, I'm going slightly downhill in 3rd gear. (If you don't know anythinig about manual- [like me last week]- than none of this will make any sense to you.) As I begin to go up the hill, I realize the car needs more "umph"...what do I do? Go up to fourth. (You're laughing already, I can hear you.) That doesn't seem to work and I think, "Man, 5th? Really?"

Yes. I'm in 5th gear in a probably 30 mph zone going UPhill. With no success.

At this point, I'm half way up the hill, my car has ceased to "go" and I am FLOORING the accelerator down in utter confusion as to why in the world I'm not moving. I'm afraid that I'll start rolling backwards and hit the cars behind me. (There were about 6.) I look at my hand wasn't on. I put my hazards on, clutch goes in, put the car in neutral, and try to apologetically wave the other cars by.

When I got back to the church office, Joy (who I work with) laughed hysterically informing me that you're supposed to DOWNSHIFT going up hills. This I now theory. Simon from my home group is a driving instructor and we're hopefully going out at some point this week for him to help me break some bad habits I'm sure I've already made...and not be quite as big of a hazard on the road.

I find it so fun that I'm learning all of this in a foreign country on the wrong side of the road. How absurd...and wonderful!

Thank you for your prayers-- I need angels! (and so does everyone else over here!)

Brittany the Glamour Girl

I sat next to a 19 year old girl from Chesapeake on her way to LA on my flight to Atlanta before coming to Wales on the 3rd.

Brittany has her own blog and its quite popular-- so popular that TJ Maxx flew her to California with 14 other bloggers, put her up in a Hilton, gave her a gift card, told her to shop and then blog about her experience. Pretty neat, hey?!

Sweet thing was terrified on the flight- we got to talk about heaven and hell, and I got to share with her how Christ has given me hope.

We swapped info and I walked her to her next gate, and said we'd keep in touch and hoped to get coffee next time I visited my parents.

She said she'd give a shout out to me on her blog and link mine...haha- my little old blog. How sweet. I just now have been able to sit down and check hers out and I thought I'd return the favor. Glamor Girl Tips


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday morning at Christchurch

Are the biscuits back? You're dying to know.

Did we get over 100 members to join the facebook group to bring the buiscuits back?

Sadly, no. The final number was 72. Sure enough, Pete took time this morning during his announcement to address both people affected by this news. Those who wanted the biscuits- should rejoice in all things. Though trials of various kinds come upon them...and those who didn't want the biscuits, need to beware of self righteousness.

As he was talking, someone yelled, "Is this your message?!" Then Gav shouts out, "Will there be biscuits in heaven?!" to which Pete couldn't answer, but randomly affirmed he believes there will be NO animals in heaven. After discussing why for several minutes, glanced at a kid and interrupted himself,

"I'm only joking. If you're a kid here this morning and you're waiting to get to heaven to see your dead pet..." and continued re-tracting his previous comments.

Oh my goodness. I was in stiches; absolutely hysterical. I wish they'd recorded that section of the meeting for your sake.

We had 4 people get baptized today! Two women from Bettws (the town right next to the church- where we went every Thursday on the GAP Team to do workshops in the high school), one of the teen girls, and one of the guys who just graduated. The women from Bettws were there because of how Christchurch as reached out to the community. Unbelievable. What an example this church is to me in the way they reach out to the lost.

Their testimonies were incredible. One woman had tears running down her face as she thanked each member of the church for the ways they have served her. Her love for the Savior and gratefulness for what He's done and saved her from was moving.

This is Jack Pemberton (aka "Pembo") getting baptized. He was in the sr. teen group last year and is helping out with teens this year.

And this is Rachel. One of my LIFE girls last year. (And this is us below.) What an encouragement she is to me! Oh how she loves the Savior.

I have dinner plans with TWO families this week- three if you count the Mc Cans! I'm so excited. The Slocombes are making me my fave: cheeseburgers, and I actually get to finally bring the Rees' dinner before Home Group because I can drive! Its been a long time coming. I'm enjoying Christchurch in ways that were providentially hindered on the GAP Team. So grateful to be here!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First week in Wales post GAP Team

Today in the office, I turned around and looked at Dingo and said, "The GAP Team feels like so long ago, doesn't it?!"
"I know, mate, it's crazy!" We kept talking about it and just couldn't get over the fact that two months ago everyone else was here. Life now is so different! I'm really loving this season.

I am pleased to announce that on three separate occasions today, I have driven a manual car in a foreign country on the "wrong" side of the road from point A to point B and not once yet has someone been killed or injured. Oh, the grace of God!

It's funny how my cultures are running together. The keyboards on the computers over here are different-- I have a UK one at work, but my laptop is American...but I'm finding (even in this blog post) that I'm getting more used to the UK keyboard, and typing random @ instead of ". Nuts. Yet...I tried to get in the passenger's side of my car tonight to drive home. My mind has no idea where in the world I am.

So, I don't think we've had a drop of rain all week. Weather like THIS. I know! Go figure! This is Jo's back garden. (They don't use the word "yard.")

Dinner with Lindsey and Jo on Wednesday night. They are both in the Rees' Home Group with me, and I've been dying to get to know them all year. I can quickly see, that they will be dear, and precious friends over this next year. (And Jo is working with the teen girls as well! Hip hip, Hooray!!!)

Thursday night I got to watch the Gaweda kids! Leah, Caitlin, Noah, and Hudson (below.) It was Dan's 9th anniversary of his 21st birthday- so they went out to do some big celebrating. I love these kids so much.

Ok, how adorable is this face?!
LIFE was incredible tonight!!! One of the guys, Alan, lead worship (did a great job) and Lewis preached from Eph. 2:1-10 about being dead in our sin and made alive together with God. It was excellent.

Something Lewis said tonight, I'd never ever thought about before. He was talking about God's anger. How God is calm, measured, and controlled in His anger-- what we are not. I sat in disbelief. Controlled anger?! Isn't that an oxymoron?! But then I began to consider...the character of God does not, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in all aspects of His nature at all times. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. Each and every one of those is present in the righteous anger of God. WOW! That's something to study...

My amazing, sweet, LIFE girls came a half hour early to make pizza for everyone. They are gems!!! This is Rachel and Alex. (We talked in our discussion time about "justification" and "sanctification." [It's not even what the message was on- but the girls could describe both very well!] We then started putting "ification" at the end of other words, and our names...In Wales, they call red hair "ginger." So, Rachel asked about "Gingification." We now have officially made it a word.)

Carys and Caroline.

Eleri and Alex.

Ru and I. (yes, she spells her nick name "Roo"...but I started with "Ru" and I can't get it out of my head.)

Driving in Wales

So, yesterday, my car got back from the shop, and three brave souls requested a drive to Subway.

Really, they didn't need a ride, but wanted to give me an opportunity to practice that my brakes are done and all ready to go.


We climed in. Dave Taylor and Lewis in the back, Gav in the front instructing, and me in the driver's seat- on the right side of the car, listening to Gav's every word. Clutch, gear change, accelerator, clutch, brake...

We stalled a fair amount of times, but somehow made it to Subway and back in one piece! Without a dent on the car- whew! Gav had to reverse out of the car park for me-- there was a Mercedes next to us.

And a little less than an hour, I will venture onto Welsh roads on my own. I just took a spin in the car park around the building; first time in this car alone- making myself start and stop again, pretending I was going around round abouts, etc.

I don't mind if I die, but please pray I don't kill anyone else on the way home!!!

M4, here I come.

(M = Motorway. What they call the interstate.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Welcome back to Wales!"

Sunday after church I went with a bunch of Uni students to Dingo's new flat for lunch.

It was so strange being in the kitchen seeing all the GAP girls dishes and mugs, or spices with a "D" on it- indicating we purchased it for "Gap Family Dinner." The GAP Team seems so long ago-- how weird. It's all just a memory.

It was such a joy to catch up with Nikki! We chatted forever. none other than Pete Greasley- yes, my senior pastor- on just an ordinary Tuesday driving home from work. I love it! I'm hoping to get a ride soon. =)

I have absolutely loved being in the office the last two days. Gav, my boss, is wonderful to work with and is quite possibly one of the most efficient, productive people I've ever met. It's been fun answering phones again and having friends call (ehem, Anna) and BURST out laughing when I answer with my "phone voice." It is quite unique, very cheesy, and almost Disney-fied. I won't lie. It's great to have a real job again. Deadlines, to-do lists, post-its everywhere, and just lots of thinking- trying to stay on top of everything and take it all in.

I love being here so much. I love mundane, ordinary life. Hearing songs from "Wicked" played from the ipod speakers in the kitchen as water bottles are sung into as loud as possible and scenes are being acted out. Babysitting for families with adorable children. Having dinner plans with two godly women from my Home Group (FINALLY!). Loving it. Absolutely loving it.

Ps. I just want to say, to all those people who make fun of how I say the word "jewelry," that I in fact, am just pronouncing it the way the Brits spell it. Who knew?!



Monday, September 7, 2009

Christchurch Blog

Christchurch just finished posting the GAP Team's highlights throughout the year on their blog.

Surely, you know mine, as you read about them everday; but if you'd like to take a look, click the link below and scroll to the bottom.

Christchurch website

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bring back the biscuits!

Christchurch today was wonderful! It is so good to be back! It was great to see so many faces (and be told I looked tan!) Feels like I never left; feels like I've been gone ages. So strange without the Gappers. I am so excited to be here.

When Pete got up to speak (an excellent message by the way), in traditional Christchurch randomness, he made an extended announcement about a new facebook group. Apparently there is a "petition" on fb to "have the biscuits back" on Sunday mornings. (Biscuits are cookies that you eat while drinking tea.)

Yes. This is completely serious. Pete agreed before his sabbatical (this was his first Sunday back) that if over 100 members were apart of this facebook group upon his return, biscuits indeed would be back on Sunday mornings...with a few new "house" rules about clean up and crumbs, etc.

As of this morning there were 115 people apart of the group...and this week, it will be confirmed if over 100 of those are MEMBERS of Christchurch or not. I sat in my seat laughing uncontrollably. Only at Christchurch. Oh, only at Christchurch.

Love 'em.

I have a feeling that part of my job tomorrow will be counting members in a fb group...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I love Sheree Phillips. A lot.

We went around reading a paragraph each of Benny and Sheree's "story" of how they met. It was hysterical and so much fun.

LOVING Jules' face.

Do my friends know me, or what?! This whole "dinner" was some-what of a surprise. I knew a bunch of people were invited over for dinner, but didn't realize we'd be like sitting down and eating cheeseburgers and that they'd so intentionally be encouraging me.
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