Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas stockings

When we were packing for Scotland back in July, I was not thinking about Christmas in a foreign country. We did not bring any Christmas decorations. But it has become very apparent that we need a few Christmas items, namely stockings.

A friend here was enthusiastic about making felt stockings this year. She is an incredible artist and her stockings are amazing.

I am very pleased with how our stocking turned out, though they are not quite as perfect as I imagined in my head. I just hung them tonight ... to surprise Joshua and Abigail in the morning.




















Joshua is so excited about trains right now that his was a logical choice. It was a little more difficult to decide what Abigail should have on her stocking. I finally decided on butterflies.

Now we are ready for Christmas morning!

Winter Solstice

Sunrise at King's College, Aberdeen

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
Sunrise: 8:47 am
Sunset: 3:27 pm
Daylight: 6 hours and 40 minutes long
At it's peak, the sun rose to only 9.5 degrees above the horizon.

I have never been more excited for the first day of winter. Starting tomorrow we begin to regain our daylight. By mid-January the sun will be up an hour longer each day than it is now.

I am looking forward to those long summer days that everyone keeps talking about, where the sun is up for almost 18 hours a day, rising by 4am and setting at 10pm. That is going to be crazy, too!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stroll After Dark

There is a beautiful Christmas tree lit up next to King's Chapel. The other afternoon (yes, around 4pm) the kids and I walked over to campus to enjoy the lights and get a little exercise.

The kids were excited by the big tree, but were disappointed that they were blocked from touching it. We were also sad that they didn't have the building lights on behind the tree. Darren said they are normally on every night when the tree is lit.

I took the opportunity to catch a few night shots of King's Chapel. The lighting is so pretty at night.

Darren joined us at the end of his study day to play with the kids and walk home with us.

This is the back of the chapel, from inside the courtyard and King's College.

It was a wonderful break from the usual afternoons spent inside after dark. I know the kids are looking forward to going to the big tree again this coming week.

Peace on Earth!

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
Luke 2:14

Peace on earth seems to be an elusive thing. There are wars fought around the world. Terrorism. Conflict with our neighbors and co-workers. This world is a far cry from peace.

Yet at the birth of Christ, before he had done anything, God declared "Peace on earth." The entrance of the God-Man Jesus Christ into our sinful, war-ridden world altered our existence forever. Believe it or not, there is now peace on earth.

As with so many of God's statements, there is part of this that is for us here and now, and there is part of this that is yet to come. We will see a day when we will "beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks," but that peace is coming somewhere in the future.

Today I am pondering the part of this "peace on earth" that we currently have. After the surprising entrance onto the scene of Immanuel, God with us, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1) God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. (2 Cor 5:19)

Where we were once enemies with God, separated from his grace and love, we are now brought back into relationship with him. And he has called us to declare a message of peace, of reconciliation -- with himself, with each other, with the whole of creation.

Although we may not see this fulfilled in its entirety in our lifetime, still we have this promise: "Peace on earth, good will to men."

--
This is a reprint of my post from the Christmas season last year.

Christmas Sunday!

Have you ever tried to push a double stroller up a hill on an icy sidewalk in 30 degree weather while dressed in church clothes for Christmas Sunday?

We decided to ride the bus to church today. The bus was late and very full, but we made it to church; a little late, but we made it.

Joshua was just in time to join his Sunday school class on the stage to sing a Christmas song. Funny thing ... we didn't know about the performance and Joshua didn't know the song. He has only gone to Sunday School 3 or 4 times (in the beginning he just wanted to stay in the nursery with Abigail).

It was a fun service, a family service, where all the kids stayed with their parents during the service. It has been a while since Joshua stayed in church with us. I enjoyed watching his response to various elements in the service - his look of recognition during the Lord's Prayer, the way he held my hand during prayer time, the way he stood up for every song.

After church, we had lunch downtown and walked some of the shops. By the end of the trip, though, Darren and I were a little worn out trying to keep track of the kids among the crowds of Christmas shoppers.

The kids had a very busy day, but they did wonderfully. They are growing up so quickly. We had a wonderful family day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm thirsty...


During the colder, winter months I find that I do not drink much water. I drink hot tea, coffee and cocoa, but very little water. I just do not have the same thirst in the winter, the same need to cool down. But am I truly not thirsty, or have I just hidden it with other things?

Now I am dehydrated and desperately need water, a lot of water. And it is going to take time for my body to recover...

There are times of thirst in my spiritual life, in the desert when I know I am thirsty and desperate for constant water, for constant refreshing by the living water. At those times I hunger and thirst, seek and knock, draw near...

But there are times when I don't recognize my thirst... just like in the cold of winter. Times like those I am in right now.

This last week has been a revelation for me. I am thirsty. I am dehydrated. I desperately need the living water ... to cleanse, to refresh, to fill, to overflow. I did not realize how much effort was being required of me, and how much it was using my "reserves." But now I am dry... And it is going to take time...

Yet, the very fact that I know this reflects on the faithfulness of God. He gently calls, gently draws, gently showers, gently leads me again to still waters.

Is God calling you to deeper waters?

Snowing!

During quite time this afternoon, Joshua and I were hanging out in the living room. Joshua suddenly exclaims, "Mommy, its snowing ... a lot." I looked outside to see the huge snow flakes falling from the clouds.

Joshua was so cute!
All afternoon he kept looking outside to let me know the status of the snow.


After an hour or so, the snow started to stick.
Here is a shot out the front window around 2pm.


Joshua was checking out the cars driving by leaving prints in the snow. There were a few cars that were piled high with snow. They must have driven from an area that had already received more snowfall.

Can you see the snow starting to stick in the grass across the way?


This was what it looked like out our front window by 4pm.
Mommy was not feeling well this afternoon, so we did not have a chance to go out and play.

It has stopped snowing now and a thick fog seems to have rolled in. The kids are really excited about playing in the snow tomorrow.

I hope it sticks around for another day or two. The weather forecast doesn't indicate that it will be around very long, but you never really know. Maybe we will have snow for Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daddy's School

Taking advantage of one of the sunny (but cold) weekends, we took a family walk to "Daddy's school" (technically, King's College at the University of Aberdeen).

Darren is standing in front of King's College. To the far left is the chapel, under the bell tower. Directly over the archway is the office of Darren's adviser, John Webster. On the second floor to the right is the Divinity Library.



This is a closer shot of the King's Chapel. We love strolling past here at peak wedding times. There are always beautiful Scottish weddings, complete with kilts and bagpipes.



While Mommy was busy taking pictures, Abigail was enjoying some "Daddy time." I caught this precious moment as they were deep in conversation.



Darren and the kids strolling through the archway next to the New Kings.



This building stands at the end of a long, narrow road that runs through campus. Traffic is diverted to the right and left of the building. It is called "The Old Town House."

We had a beautiful walk through campus. What a wonderful day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Weekly Weatherly

Today's weather forecast in Aberdeen, Scotland:

Showers // Humidity: 89%

High: 6°C (42°F) // Low: 4°C (40°F)

Sunrise: 08:42 // Sunset: 15:25 (3:25 PM)

~~

So, we have adjusted to the rain and gray for the most part, but I am completely thrown off by the darkness. Check out the sunrise and sunset times. Yes, we only have 6 hours and 43 minutes of light each day. And we still have another week before winter solstice, another week of losing daylight.

When I get up with the kids in the morning it is as dark as night, even when they sleep in until 8am. It doesn't start to get light until around 8:30am.

And by the time Abigail gets up from her afternoon nap around 3:30pm it is already too dark to do anything outside. We have to learn how to make better use of the mornings because it is our only time to go outside in the daylight.

The sun hangs so low in the southern sky all day. It never gets anywhere near over-head. If you go downtown at noon, the sun is still so low in the sky that it doesn't shine over the buildings. The main stretch of downtown doesn't see the sun for the entire winter.

I heard a rumor that everyone in Britain suffers from Vitamin D deficiency during the winter (not sure if that is true, but it is definitely believable).

But we can be thankful that it is not as cold here as it has been for most of our family and friends in the States. At least it is staying above freezing. The high humidity levels (at 89% for today) make it feel much colder than it really is. It also makes the wind stronger.

This next week we are suppose to get some snow or mixed rain and snow. I doubt that it will stick, but it will be fun to see for Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Joshua's Fourth Birthday

Joshua turned 4 years old on Saturday, December 5.
My little four pound baby is now a playful preschooler.


We had a little party with some of our new friends here in Aberdeen.
It was a great day of fun!


Everything was decorated in a train theme.
And we celebrated with yummy Thomas the Tank Engine cupcakes.





Joshua was so excited about all the wrapping paper and presents



And, of coarse, he was thrilled with his new engine, Trevor the Traction Engine.


This was the first birthday that Joshua really seemed to understand. He loved having everyone sing specially to him. And he knew that the party was just for him.
We had a wonderful time celebrating!
Happy Birthday, Joshua!

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