Monthly Archives: February 2013

one week down…

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Welcome to Frances Street–this is our front door entryway.

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Which contains the laundry facilities. Talk about accountability on not letting my laundry pile up…

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Immediately off the entryway, across from the laundry is a small toilet (half-bath). Nice to have one of these for company and small potty-training boys who don’t make it up the stairs as quickly.=)

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The entryway, which obviously needs some organization. I’m learning that the answer to many of my problems in life right now is “ikea.” The house is built into a hill so so it’s two levels but the levels are split to go with the grade. So we have several little tiny flights of stairs.

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Just looking back into the entryway towards the front door. You can see the doorway into our  “lounge” there.

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The “lounge” (living room). As we’re on the top of the hill, we have quite a nice view of the town.

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Walk up the stairs, enter the kitchen and you meet this beauty, my #1 favorite thing about my new house. It has a “fan-assisted gas cooker” (still figuring that one out, but seems to do things a bit faster and hotter), a regular coil-heat oven, a grill (broiler) and EIGHT hobs (burners)!! As pastor Mark said, I have no excuse not to be hospitable! When I got my new food processor a few years ago with the shredding blade, I saw it as a challenge to create as many shredded foods as possible. This is my new one–at some point I will be using all eight hobs at once…

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Turn to the right and you see the dining area and the lovely pre-existing hanging system which was put to immediate use.

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Dining area overlooking the back garden. All the furniture was donated or lent by Newtown members for us to use as we settle in.

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My #2 favorite feature of the house: the back garden. Can’t wait to eat out on the patio in the summer and try not to kill all these plants!

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Exit the kitchen and you are on the stairs again.

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At the top of the stairs is the main bath. Does the job. We’re not so adept yet at using the “half-sail” shower guard/door thingy–water everywhere every time yeesh. Looking for a shower curtain like we’re used to…

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Another new favorite is the towel rack directly above the radiator. Brilliant!

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Also at the top of the stairs, to the right of the bath, is the master bedroom. Can’t believe I’m putting this up in its current state, but there you have it… What else do you expect with no dresser yet…!?

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Go up another tiny flight of stairs and you have this little room which will eventually quit being the “worst clothing organization system ever” and magically transform into a lovely guest room. I’m still waiting on my elf. Or, rather, Ikea.

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The apparent star of this slideshow… And a victim of the aforementioned awful clothing organization system. Went to church in his 2-year-old brother’s shirt without any responsible adult noticing until afterwards. Also to the right of where Clive’s standing is the boys’ room. There was a nap in progress when I took these, so no pictures of it but let’s just say that it’s also an Ikea project waiting to happen. Beds to sleep on at least, but they’re certainly having fun with a week off of cleaning their room…

Here’s some of the main events of the last week:

Wednesday, February 13

We landed at the airport, had no trouble at the immigration services, and managed to navigate five trolleys piled with luggage, two children and a stroller from baggage, through customs to the exit where five friendly faces awaited us. They lugged our things out and drove us to our new home and left us to rest. Job and I, who had not slept much on the plane, napped for a few hours while David and Clive started the unpacking. The church had outfitted the house with beds, linens and furniture on loan as well as a full pantry and fridge. The presence of three different varieties of cheese made me a happy new European! Later in the afternoon Clive the younger got to meet Clive the elder for the first time. That evening we walked to Pastor Mark’s home for dinner where his daughters Hannah and Beth elicited the first smiles of the day from Job with their hamster. We also got to use the telephone there and call our parents. We put the boys down at 10 and we got down soon afterwards and didn’t wake up till noon the next day—that’s 14 hours of sleep!!

Thursday

We woke up late and barely managed a meal and getting dressed before the shops closed around 5. But we made a quick stop in the hardware store for a few items and a few purchases at the toy shop. When we arrived home everyone exited the vehicle to allow David full concentration as he parallel parked our borrowed vehicle. You’re looking over the opposite shoulder, opposite hand on the steering wheel and opposite hand on the gear shift and on a steep hill…. So yeah we stood on the pavement and waited. Then we heard giggling behind us and turned around to see one of the church families who had stopped by with a welcome gift and got some extra entertainment thrown in. They graciously gave us the hyacinth and headed out so David could take the slightly larger parking spot they had used!=) Another highlight of the day was having Clive the Elder show us how to turn the hot water on. Here’s how to cure jetlag: take your first shower of two days in ice cold water on a brisk Chesham February morning. That item quickly moved to the top of the to-do list!

Friday

My first run in Chesham. To come to Chesham is to immediately enroll in a new fitness program: “calves of steel.” No matter which direction you head you eventually will hit a steep hill since the town is in a valley. We’re at the top of a hill and between walking to church, school and high street I’m beginning to see how the hobbits can take in second breakfast, elevenses and tea. Although to be fair being chased by Gollum through mountain passes probably burns a few more calories… We made it to Clive’s new school that morning to buy his uniform pieces and also got a lot of cleaning done, more sorting of the stuff, and found out our credit card had been put on hold for security reasons which put put a jam on getting a few things done (grr…. Should have thought to tell them ahead of time we’d be using it internationally…).

Saturday

David’s first run–his knees ages in ten years in that half hour I think. Allan, one of the deacons, came over and apprised us of the internet/phone/cable/banking situations. Afterwards, my very brave husband drove me to a somewhat nearby town to view a couch I had seen on ebay. Unfortunately, it smelled like cigarette smoke, so no go… That evening we had our first fish and chips from the local chip shop. Have to say it was excellent, even for myself who doesn’t normally go for fish.

Sunday

First day at our new church.  I’m quickly learning to have Clive use the toilet before we leave the house as a matter of course… running back up that hill at top speed is no fun. We also had a small chat with our new neighbors and are very excited to find out that they have two boys, one just younger than Clive and one just older than Job. So not only are they sympathetic to the bits of noise they’ll hear from our shared wall, but we have potential playmates!

To be honest, there have been some rough moments this past week: impatience with tired, whiney children, feeling overwhelmed by a to-do list that stretches for months and made more overwhelming by the different ways of getting those things done, and just plain irritability among us all in the midst of our suddenly more chaotic existence. But there have been some bits of order and beauty as well like realizing the care of Christ’s boy for us on both sides of the ocean. In many ways, this time of transition reminds me of the time following the birth of my first child: it’s entirely overwhelming and you feel so disoriented but in that time you find that God provides people who simply carry you along supporting and caring for you till you can find your feet again. And we’ve enjoyed seeing again the people who’ve been in our prayers for the past months, the blessing of new friends and discovering that no matter how crazy life gets I can still share a laugh with my husband about it. Sometimes, due to exhaustion, more laughter than would seem appropriate to anyone else. And that after a pretty icky week, going to church is refreshing and fortifying as it should be. Above all, that Christ is the same yesterday, today, forever and anywhere.

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words for these days

DSC_0494There are two ways of living:

 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy a field.

Living for the kingdom is not a careful, calculated decision but a wild abandonment of everything else in life. It’s not even a choice, but an irresistible compelling. We are citizens of heaven, people under the enchanting spell of grace. In contrast, the careful, calculated decision of the rich young man come from groveling servitude. “He did not own his possessions; they owned him. If he had owned them, he could have been free of them.” (Bernard of Clairvaux) It is impossible to live for stuff and God because it is an issue of worship. What we allow to dictate our days, order our emotions, what we serve and worship shows what we love. Like Hansel and Gretel dropping crumbs in the forest, the little choice we make about what we give and what we take and what we labor for leave a telltale trail straight to where we really are.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Furthermore, it is impossible to truly own anything already destined to be destroyed by sin. No matter how hard I try, I cannot hold on to anything material in this life. The only things I have a lasting part in are the eternal, the “treasures in heaven” that God gives. Granted, the eternal and the physical are so intertwined as to be nearly inseparable—and this is why throwing away a shirt or bowl or blanket can feel like throwing away a memory or a friendship. But it is not. Serve what the creation was designed to enable and flesh out rather than the creation itself and embrace the fearlessness that an offer of eternal life can give us.

This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they don’t harvest or store food in barns for your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Can all your worrying add a single moment to your life?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and he will give you everything you need.

Worry is completely unproductive. In my mind, in the alternate reality I’ve constructed, I think that stuff makes a life and that I control that stuff (by planning, purchasing, choosing, worrying, etc.). But every good gift comes from our Father above whom me call “Abba” to and only have to ask for whatever we need. The stuff? The unbelievers run after these things…

If you think this is a show-uppance (because I think I’m doing this), I wish I could show a replay of the many moments lately where I’ve been the rich young man with the Holy Spirit prying my white-knuckled fingers off of shiny trinkets. But this is not who I want to be—I want to be the girl who sees the treasure, throws comfort and caution to the wind and runs after it. Don’t you?

Bonus: songs for these days

Love is not the easy thing…walk on. What you’ve got they can’t deny it, can’t sell it, can’t buy it. Leave it behind, leave it behind… from U2

I am a poor, wayfaring stranger traveling through this world of woe. I’m only going over Jordan, I’m only going over home. I’m going there to meet my Savior, to dwell with him and never roam. From Wynter Poe

Let’s do this right, you know what I’m talking ‘bout!?” from Lecrae

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ! From the Na Band

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