May 30, 2012

Crash Landing


We've truly crashed back to earth - from picnics in the pack on green grass, in splendid British sunshine, to, well.... The Clarion Hotel at La Guardia Airport, NYC. 1 star, if I was feeling generous. And that's not even the half of this majorly average landing back onto American soil.

It's not been a smooth welcome home for two weary travelers. SO, I choose to forget where we are at the moment & remember where we've been! 

We added a new destination to the UK tour this year, venturing over the bridge to Cardiff, Wales. 


  
My only prior Welsh experience was gained via "Gavin & Stacey" - a highly inappropriate, extremely funny British Comedy. Apart from that narrow insight, I was clueless. As we drove West I fired all my Wales-related questions at Nate - why the strange language? why a separate country? what's the history? who founded it? - only to find that he didn't know much more than me. Disappointing really. And potentially highly annoying for him.



Truth be told, I didn't leave Wales much more informed*, apart from discovering that the Welsh are a very friendly, funny, kind & hospitable bunch, with a very beautiful Opera House beside the sea.


 

 {Opera House Exterior Walls}

For our part, Nate sweated his will to live at a packed-out concert & we vowed to come-back next year, to a bigger venue... And with a guidebook in-hand!
xx

*I DID learn Roald Dahl was born here. Thank you commemorative plaque.

May 28, 2012

A Lazy London Day

Where has the time gone?! I believe it's flown-by in a whirl of activity, people, songs, walking (& more walking), tube riding, talking, coffee drinking, sweet eating & English sunshine (yes, it exists!)

Sunshine turns London into the perfect place to kick-off your shoes & have a picnic...


 

 It was a glorious, mid-tour, day-off. Much needed & much enjoyed!

xx

May 16, 2012

Marking Time

One year ago today my brother-in-law called as we drove to Heathrow airport - my beloved dad had just died. As prepared as I thought I was, I wasn't. Illness doesn't make it ok, it just gives you a heads-up. A little warning... News of his death turned the world gray, silent & broken on that early morning as we sped by London in a taxi.

 [San Fransisco, CA 2007]

The reality of life without my dad knocked the wind out of me then & still does today. There are regular moments when I forget he's absent & believe I can pick-up the phone to hear his voice on the other end. I tell myself to remember a funny story, so I can tell him later. I look forward to seeing his face at the airport as he arrives in Nashville, or a big hug from him when we land in Adelaide. All these thoughts are for just an instant, but it's still enough to make the reality of his absence deeply painful.

 
[Adelaide, 2008]

I think that's why it's called the year of magical thinking... And I wonder if it doesn't continue on for quite a bit longer than just a year. I wonder if that's the power of a person, a soul, which proves the unnaturalness of death & the truth of eternal life.   

[Savannah, GA 2009] 

I miss my dad today, as I do everyday. My sisters & our husbands are so thankful to have been blessed with an amazing father & friend; my Mum, a wonderful husband. His legacy remains in the stories we recount as a family, the lessons we remember he taught us, the example of a life lived well - with conviction, wisdom, faith & love. As I think on it now, his love was deep, uncomplicated, unreserved, unconditional. Is there any greater gift than that? 

I wrestle myself to turn to Jesus as the original source & guide of such love; to trust the plans He set in motion 12 months ago & has ahead for us still, missing my dad nonetheless.

xx

May 13, 2012

Tea & Crumpets

We are abroad! In lovely England*. Our time here has been brief so far, only a few days, & I don't have an abundance of news or pictures to share.

I will endeavor to remedy this, as our adventures accumulate. Until then, a few twitter pics will get the British flavor flowing!

 {Ginger & White, Hampstead. I believe Nate has a homing-beacon for this place}

{Story time with Tilly, Sheffield}

{The beautiful drive from Sheffield to Manchester}

{Northern Men's Convention, Manchester}

It's wonderful to be back, in the land of tea & crumpets**, with dear friends & tiny cars & narrow roadways & enthusiastic church communities. (And gracious men that let me sneak-in on their day to watch Nate play. I kept my sugar & spice & all things nice on the downlow.)

It promises to be a great trip, even if a little busy & demanding on our vitamin C levels. We're so thankful to be here.

Ok, cheerio!

xx

*Innnng-ga-land / En-ga-land / Ung-lund.
**not actually pictured here, I'm misleading and stereotyping.

May 9, 2012

Stories

Every week we receive a note or email, a brief word in a bigger conversation, or even a comment on this blog, from someone who has experienced loss in a profound way.

The stories of others stun me, time & again.

Most commonly it's the disorientating loss of a child, sometimes the empty loss of a parent. Painful, broken, deep loss. For some it is as fresh as the new year; and others, its older, smoothed over by time, but never fully healed or forgotten.

I am honestly speechless & humbled, that others would feel comfortable to share their stories with us & let us know of their hurting & pain - especially knowing how often I prefer to just hold my sadness close & not release it into the care of others. That others would release theirs to me is beautiful & weighty. 

As the thread of Christian community pulls us around the globe, from one stop to the next in the coming months, I pray we would serve these stories well.

As we enter a season of 1-year milestones & remembrance, I pray we can carry our own story with an eternal perspective.

Thank you for continuing to talk, write & share with us. It is what binds community together & helps bring each of us out of our "aloneness".

xx

May 2, 2012

Looking Back

While recently searching through one of the spare rooms in mums house, I came across a photo album sitting on a random wardrobe shelf. 

[You never know what you'll find where in my mum's place. It's a surprising treasure hunt. Mum is aware of this & finds it amusing. I, on the other hand, break-out into a rash of organizational anxiety.]

ANYWAY, the album... The photo's inside were from my dear Granny Kate's 70th Birthday celebration.


Each picture was labelled by my dad, in his distinct handwriting, with the names of guests & where they fit into the family tree, right-down to our names. He was so patient in caring for my Granny in these small, simple ways.


Although the party list wasn't a hum-dinger, late-night, dance your shoes-off kind of crowd, we thought it was marvelous all the same - being trotted around the gray-haired circle, Granny's pride & joy. Apart from her older brother, we were the only family she had & I couldn't have loved it more, knowing we didn't have to really share her with anyone.


As I flicked through, the faded pictures transported me back to a little family unit I hadn't thought of in a long time. What struck me most, amongst all the cousins, aunties, neighbors & siblings, were several pictures of three girls, bound together by a mum and dad we loved, and a Granny we adored. I was reminded of how complete life seemed to me then, still safe in the cocoon of childhood.

Time, with it's immense complexities, has added-to and taken-away so many parts of life. This picture of family has been permanently changed & those 6 people grouped together seems like a faint whisper.... But a whisper all the same... It doesn't take much for me to turn-up the volume and remember it with clarity.


I love this family. It's important to me to remember this family. I know we can't press pause forever, and I wouldn't want to when I think of who has been added to this picture since! Instead, I'm learning to delight in the memories and enjoy the blessing of preserving the story, no matter how "too short" it sometimes feels.

[I cannot end without acknowledging our chosen attire & style. I was obviously channeling my inner Where's Wally. And Stephanie clearly missed the request for nice / Sunday attire. A jumper & jeans, tucked-in no less, and so much white sock. Nate, in response to my puzzled laughter, informed me - "the reason her jeans are so short, is that they're pulled-up so incredibly high.. They're actually normal length jeans". Regardless, I thought both my big sisters was cool.]

xx