Month in Review: March

devotionals, lifestyle

Happy almost May, everyone! April is more than halfway gone so there is no better time to post up our March review than right now. We had a busy month filled with lots of good things. Working hard to meet deadlines with the PhD, taking part in some exciting things at The Prince’s Trust, traveling to Belgium, road tripping in the Highlands with our besties from Colorado and getting Ryan prepared and packed for Germany.

It was busy. Busy isn’t bad but I came across an interesting print this month and have been thinking about it a lot lately. It made me realize that we live in a society that glorifies being busy and that many of us have bought into it. We have bought into the belief that being busy = being a productive person = a greater sense of accomplishment = attaching this to our identity and our self-worth. It is when we are immersed in busy times that I forget a very simple and profound piece of advice – slow down!

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It can be such a challenge and an art isn’t it? The art of slowing down, being mindful, enjoying the moment and taking rest. Mindfulness is not a hippy thing, it is not a religion, it is not something to be afraid of, it is the act of intentionally drawing your full attention to whatever you are doing.  Giving everything a time and a place, that whatever your hands find to do, to do it well (Ecclesiastes 9.10 ESV).

Some of the ways that we slowed down in March was by flipping through the pages of books and listening to some new podcasts.

Books 

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis : Starting with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to the final book of the series, The Last Battle. I remembered these books being exciting as a kid, but their themes and symbolism is even better as a grown-up.

The Lion’s World, by Rowan Williams : This book explores the moral landscape of all seven novels in the Chronicles of Narnia series, and reads as a guide to their spiritual subtext. The Lion’s World is a rewarding and ultimately joyful read that gave us a deeper appreciation for Lewis’ work.

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins: This book was a page-turner, a psychological thriller and kept me up way too late. If you have ever binge watched Law & Order, I think you’ll appreciate it.

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson : A beautiful read, full of wisdom and simplicity. Her writing style is magic and the memoir of a father to his son is beautiful and full of spiritual goodness.

 

Podcasts

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. It’s mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues such as; The Creative Brain, Jesus of History vs. Christ of Faith, Feminism and Activism, Exercise in Radical Empathy, and Netflix: the New Age of Television, just to name a few… if you like TED talks, I think you will also enjoy these.

Gretchen Rubin – The Happier Podcast is a thought-provoking podcast that brings practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits. Episodes include: Flawed Can Be More Perfect than Perfection, What Do You Do if You Can’t Remember a Name?, Do You Suffer from the Sunday Blues, The Challenge of Impulse Shopping, and Make Your Bed. I have applied a few of Gretchen’s practical tips to try at home like setting an alarm an hour before bed, reminding me to power-down and be intentional about a bed time routine.

 

Part of slowing down for me is finding a good work/life balance. I find a lot of joy in youth work but it doesn’t come without some difficult days sprinkled in here and there. Work took it’s toil on me last month but there is always something that encourages me at the very moment that I need it.

Every year, the charity that I work for, The Prince’s Trust hosts an awards ceremony called Celebrate Success. Two of the UK’s biggest names in entertainment, Ant + Dec, host the red carpet event, and many of our celebrity ambassadors show up to support young people that have overcome incredible obstacles.  This year, I had the privilege of attending and walking the red carpet at London’s Palladium Theatre. Being present at this event gave me a boost of motivation and reminded me of why I am grateful to be part of an organisation that seeks to empower young people across the UK.

 

It wouldn’t be a complete review if I didn’t include the weather. Although the weather is still not warm here in Edinburgh, the breeze is a bit more mild, the skies are bluer and we are having less rain these days (knock on wood). My morning walks to work are a highlight of my day, keeping an eye out for all the fuzzy green buds on tree branches. The first sign of spring here is always the daffodils- yellow, bright, cheery and you can’t help but smile when you see them.

 

 

April is almost over and before long I’ll being writing a review of it. But until then, may we take time to enjoy our days, to slow down and draw attention to what our hands find to do. I am eagerly waiting for my first trip to see Ryan in Germany next weekend. Thank you for your thoughtful emails, cards and texts over the past couple of weeks, God has helped to ease the transition and we are grateful for this opportunity.

Upcoming posts…

Travel Journals: wandering Bruges, Belgium and a journal of our legendary road trip to the Scottish Highlands

 

With love from Scotland,

R + A

 

 

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citrus + pomegranate mint salad

breakfast, dessert, holidays, salads, treats

 

I don’t know about you, but when I like something I stick to it.

I can always count on my Oma to have full, juicy bowls of oranges and grapefruits around during Christmas and Easter. Maybe because she knows it is the perfect antidote to all the overindulgence of the holidays. I have fond memories of watching my Papa sit at the kitchen counter helping her to peel all of the membranes from every slice- he hated the white stuff, he was determined, and checked and re-check that every seed was out of the bowl.

This year as we celebrated Easter brunch with friends, I decided to keep the tradition going with a little twist – pomegranate and mint. Best served chilled, it is perfectly sweet and slightly tart, refreshing and very easy to put together.

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This salad is a showstopper, requires very little work and feels like a fancy salad despite it only being four ingredients. It is easy enough to make for yourself for breakfast but also to serve guests. This recipe is AIP (auto immune protocol) compliant, in season (yep, November till July) and packed with nutrients.

  • Grapefruit is extra good for you this time of year with plenty of immune-boosting Vitamin C to help fight off colds, lycopene for glowing skin, and free-radical fighting antioxidants. I eat a grapefruit every day because it is perfect for hitting the metabolism-reset button. Pow!
  • Pomegranates contain high levels of antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pure pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
  • Mint is a great palate cleanser and promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation.

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Ingredients

1 pomegranate

2 large navel oranges
2 pink grapefruits
Fresh mint 

Method

  • Place the pomegranate on a surface that won’t stain. Do not wear white. And follow this link for the easy way to remove pomegranate seeds. When finished, pick out any bits of the white membrane so all that remains in the bowl are seeds and juice.
  • For the oranges and grapefruits, cut a small slice off the top and bottom so the fruit can sit flat on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, work your way around the fruits to remove all peel. Carefully cut the segments cross-wise or cut around each segment.

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  • Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and fresh mint leaves over the sliced citrus
  • Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to share with your people
  • Slurping up the extra juice at the end is an extra treat

Enjoy! x

 

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My other half in Tübingen

devotionals, lifestyle, travel

 


His alarm went off at 3:45 this morning. 

I crawled out of bed to keep him company, make sure he remembered all of his last minute items- passport, phone charger, gum, my letter to read on the plane and tell him over and over how much I love him. I did not want him to be late for his bus but I did not want to let him go. Is it possible to suffer dehydration from crying? Happy tears, sad tears, scared tears, proud tears- all the tears. 

Today he lands in Stuttgart, Germany and half of me went with him.

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Ryan will be living in Tübingen, Germany and taking a 15-week language course at the University of Tübingen. This time will also allow him to access some very important theological texts and a research archive in Erlangen for his dissertation. We applied for this opportunity a year ago, received funding from the university and I cannot believe that this day is here. I am so proud of all the time, effort and energy that Ryan puts into his PhD. He is easily the most disciplined person that I know and I am his biggest cheerleader throughout this process. No doubt this time apart will be difficult, but I am hopeful that we will come out on the other end of this better for it.

It will be quite the adjustment for both of us over the summer. I do not envy his renewed twin-bed, noisy hallway, dorm-life very much. He will share a small kitchen with his hallway, so over the past couple of months I have taught him easy meals to ‘cook’ on his own. I think he will get his fill of muesli, scrambled eggs, avocado toast and tuna salad over the next few months. I will be keeping myself distracted with tennis lessons, restoring my old bike and craft nights with friends.

This weekend in Edinburgh was a special one. We took time to slow down and really enjoy each other, filling our days with all of our favourite things. Long, slow breakfasts at our flat, seeing a movie at The Cameo, long walks in our neighborhood, sitting on sunny benches in Prince’s Street Gardens, sipping warm drinks at the new  Cairngorm Coffee and Leo + Ted’s, a competitive (and friendly) match of tennis at Inverleith Park, chilling out and listening to Chvrhes while cooking in our kitchen. These are moments that I will treasure during this time apart. We have booked travel plans to see each other every three weeks until the end of July.  It feels better to think of it in three week chunks rather than keeping a 100-day countdown. 

For those of you know that us personally, or if you feel like praying for strangers, we would covet your prayers for this time of transition for us.

 


May our eyes be open to the way the Lord is working in our lives, on our behalf, right now, whatever our circumstance may be, Let us trust in His past faithfulness for our future, May this be a moment of great faith in our story, May God keep watch between us when we are out of each other’s sight, Put us like a seal on one another’s heart, Whatever our hands find to do, let us do it well, with purpose for His namesake, for His kingdom and His glory, Help us Lord to love well, to pray well to be apart well. Amen


 

With love,

from Scotland (and Germany)  x