month in review

devotionals, lifestyle

Autumn is crisp evenings, a mantle with lit candles, dressing in layers and, best of all, comfort food.

After the trips and activities of summer, I crave the serenity and quiet of fall. We are going into this season incredibly grateful for the friends and family that visited us this summer. Our sweet parents all made the journey to Edinburgh and being able to share our second home with them was more than sweet. There was something so special about taking them to our favourite benches, walking in gardens, tucking into museums and drinking coffee at our kitchen table. A blog post on their trips is to come, but we go into the next months with super full + warm hearts from their visits.

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As the days turn cooler and darker we tend to indulge in lots of reading, catching up with Netflix (on all seven of the shows we have going on…) and entertaining friends with homemade dinners. A simple after-dinner walk along the Water of Leith and smelling that campfirey smell of fall (you know the smell, right?) is delightful.

Latley, I am noticing the vivid changes that occur this time of year. The leaves change color, the sky is darker, the wind a bit chillier. Autumn is a good time to reflect on what was and what will be. This time of year encourages us to sit back and remind ourselves of the simple pleasures in life and to prepare for what is ahead.

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There is beauty in passing from the green and fruitful days of summer into the shadowy hues fall. All things change, somehow. There are lessons to be learned from our times of activity but I have found that I can only find what God is attempting to show us by taking a step back and being still.

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Our lives can be a reflection of the season both secular and sacred. We experience many autumns, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I slide my feet through crunching leaves, small piles of them on my walk to work and take a break from my headphones to listen to the sound. The trees shed their leaves, but only for a time. They rest and wait with hope for what is ahead, preparing for a deeper time of hibernation – winter.  Our lives are like this too and we can take advantage of the season of hibernation as one of contemplation.

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God allows the spiritual seasons of our lives to coincide with the physical seasons. And in that I find great comfort. Autumn brings wisdom, reflection and time to repair and plan. The hope of new chances and life renewed. A time of rest. To plan (or not plan) and letting go of what was. I am encouraged by the words in Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’

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What is your life yielding this autumn? Can you recognise what you have planted and what you have reaped? We need this period of fall – of gathering + remembering – to see where we are and where we are going and to be reminded that God is in all seasons.

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We pray that you are enjoying your start to the season and find time to enjoy the simple things.

With love,

A+R

P.S. Canned pumpkin is very hard to find here + I am eager to use it in every recipe from now until Christmas. If you feel inclined, book a trip to come see us and bring some with you, #jokingnotjoking.

 

 

 

 

 

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month in review

devotionals, lifestyle

Summer is the best. Ryan being home from Tubingen is the best.

We’ve been making up our lost time in cafes, hill walking, playing tennis and going for bike rides. If the weather is dry in Scotland, we better take advantage of it and get outside. The dark/windy/rainy days are ahead.

We are approaching our two year mark in Edinburgh.

Hard to believe. I talk about it a lot, but I remember leaving Colorado and it was heartbreaking but really dang exciting to do something new. And again, we find ourselves in a similar situation.  As we start our third year here, there is a cloud of sadness already setting in as we think of approaching the ‘end’. But we are also met with great anticipation for what lies ahead.

The challenges of moving half-way around the world–visas, jobs, a place to live, not knowing anyone, away from all things familiar–were all stacked against us. At the time, there were three solid options on the table:  freak out, ignore it or pray for it. Well, those are generally my three reactions, and maybe you can relate. Most of the time I do not know what to ask for in prayer. But the beauty of it is that God knows. He knows what we need before we ask.

He knows what we need better than we ever could. The Holy Spirit comforts us in our weakness.  Our prayers are not powerful because we ourselves are powerful. The power of prayer lies in the power of God.

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Our flat. Our jobs. Our community. Our friends. Our new familiar. God surprised us (and continues to do so) because He provides for us in ways that we did not even know were possible.

He provided us with a flat that is a retreat. We find comfort, rest and healing under its roof. He turned the faces of strangers into a reliable community. We break bread, we pray, we let our guard down with our friends.  He transformed our ‘foreignness’ into quiet confidence. We started off lonely but now we find solidarity with other New College students and families. Our joy in Edinburgh now has deeper roots than the day we moved.

I pray that we can be intentional about the way we do this year, as it could be our last. We want to wholeheartedly invest in the people, the spaces and the communities that have made our time here so full and encouraging. To travel and experience places and cultures that will be soon too far away to see. To finish our work strong, to be diligent and do well.

But for now, August is here. Here’s to enjoying the long daylight, fresh fruit and all the many festivals + street performers here this month! I hope your summer is all you hoped it would be.

Love to you. Peace in your heart. And the grace to live fully, today.

x

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month in review: May

devotionals, lifestyle

I have been thinking about our last summer in Colorado before we moved to Edinburgh a lot these days. Mostly, because I miss the feeling of getting into a really hot car after it’s been sitting in the sun, family BBQ’s with the whole gang, hitting the trails with our dog and those brilliant performances of thunder and lightning that you can count on around 4pm.

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I remember packing up our house in Denver, preparing for the big move. I lost sleep. My anxiety was sky high and the emotional toil of leaving behind our community was more than I could bear at times. We knew we were in for something new, something different and the hope that looking back we would be able to say that is was a ‘good experience’.

I am a type A personality. I am a planner. It challenged me to the core. The plan was not a complete plan and it did not feel normal. We boarded our flight in Denver, without a place to live, without a job, and we would not know a single person on the other side. It makes me realise what a false sense of control I thought I had over my life. A reminder that I can plan all I want, but sometimes, I have to go into things blindly. To be brave. To be humble. To be trusting. To be prayerful. To be out of control.

This entire experience has sealed so many aspects of my faith. My faith in a God that hears the cries of our hearts, who knows what we are praying even when we do not have the words. Who can provide peace to a weary soul that bounces along in uncertain tidal waves in life. Scotland was one HUGE uncertainty.

Prayer. Prayer became our anchor. Prayer was the only thing that made me feel fearless. “Give us this day, our daily bread” is the prayer of the day- every. single. day. Our daily bread is quite literally our food. It is our jobs- Lord, bless the work of our hands. It is our home – Lord, provide us a refuge and bless all those that enter it. It is our marriage – Lord, help us to love one another deeply. It is our community – Lord, lead us to a church, friends and neighbours that we can share life’s joys and burdens with.

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One of the most profound and greatest gifts is my job. Unemployed for several months after we moved here, I prayed for work. At first, I was very specific in my requests/wish list- Lord, let me be a history teacher. Lord, provide me a job in a school. Lord, give me a job at that school around the corner. But as the time went on and the savings account got smaller, it changed into something more desperate and real. Lord, give us this day, our daily bread. Any job, anything you want me to do, Lord let your will be done.

The interviews came but I did not secure anything. Finally, just when I thought we might have to move back to Denver, I secured a job as a receptionist for a youth charity called The Prince’s Trust. I knew that it was an organisation that I could get behind. Seven months later, a position opened in the Fairbridge programme and I found a spot on the team.  This month marks my one year anniversary in the best job I have ever had.

I work with very resilient, courageous, adaptable, adventurous young people. They have a funny way of letting me know that I am liked and accepted. Some days are hard and sometimes the burdens they carry are emotional and taxing as a support worker. They continue to amaze me through their hardships. They have felt unloved, not valued, incapable, powerless and hurt by others. By the grace of God, I am reminded that they do not need to be punished or lectured. They need understanding, compassion, support and room to grow.

This job has opened doors that I never thought I would walk through. I get to see beautiful parts of Scotland, do adventurous outdoor activities that I otherwise would not have the opportunity to do and attend special events that honour the young people we work with, like the 40th Anniversary Garden Party and Celebrate Success Awards held in London.

 

But the best part about work is them. It all just feels so right. They laugh. They cry. They confront their fears. They push themselves. They often leave their struggles at the door and allow themselves to be young. To be curious. To be challenged. To learn. To be better. To love themselves.  I am honoured to be a part of their journey and grateful how God provided something so rewarding and fulfilling as we continue to navigate our time here.

Love always wins.

x

 

 

Month in Review: April

devotionals, lifestyle

I am noticing a pattern here. I am always changing and my faith is always growing. Lately, I have been reminded of my (many) shortcomings and I am thankful for seasons to examine my heart and soul.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I just ended 6-months of being unplugged from Instagram and it was a much needed break. But now I am back on, I like it. I like keeping up with friends. But [honesty alert!] for me, I struggle with feelings of it being self-indulgent and self-promoting. I get caught up in the likes, the follows and if it is even relevant, if I am relevant.  My life ain’t perfect, the living abroad thing ain’t perfect, my relationships nope, and the things I decide to post they aren’t either.

The purpose of having a blog is to help me be more intentional about reflecting on our life experiences and the months that pass too quickly. I like the creative platform that a blog provides, a space for me to work on recipes and show my enthusiasm for healthy living and cooking. Posting things ‘on time’, more regularly, or even interesting, can create a bit of anxiety for me. Which is silly. Like really. My anxiety levels do nothing to make me feel more productive, more organised, more relevant… nothing. It just robs me of my current joy. Alas, my April rambling.

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It is a delicate balance to find and difficult to let go of trying to make a good impression on other people all of the time. When I finally decided to let go a little bit, I found a bit of freedom from the self-focused life  Evelyn Underhill describes: “We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” Quite simply, it is part of our sinful nature. When we die to self, we are no longer obsessed with self. I am perpetually putting my hope in a God who redeems, restores, makes new and reminds me that perfection is not the standard. Oh bless my heart, we were not made for being in a perpetual state of unrest, discontent and comparing ourselves all the time.

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But thanks be to God, I am always learning, growing and I have come to depend on new mercies. Every. Single. Day.

Amen that our worth is not dependent on our popularity or cool factor. What lasts are the words that we speak, the way that we treat others and how well we love. We can be so harsh, so cruel to our own souls. May we be reminded that we are wonderfully capable, braver than we know and that we are enough. Even when it feels like we are not.

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April brought us an incredible road trip to the Highlands with old friends, link here. We have been wanting to make it north since we moved here and I am so happy that it finally happened! Ryan has been in Tubingen, Germany for a month now. He spends most of his time doing research, going to German seminar and treating himself to the occasional treat at Dunkin Donuts. At times, I ache for him to be here but we have both experienced some very real grace moments during this time apart. Spring is in full swing in Edinburgh, cherry blossoms, full green trees and mild-blue-sky days. The warmer weather seems to be making the distance a bit more tolerable.  I can feel my Vitamin D and dopamine levels skyrocket, makes such a difference.

[April]

  1. Good friends change everything
  2. Sitting in the sun and looking for signs of Spring helps my spirit
  3. Pray even when I do not have the words, turn that anxiety into anticipation
  4. Guacamole fixes most things
  5. Sarah McMillan + Spotify [Acoustic Coffee] on repeat

 

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And now… May is happening. I love May. This week I attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, playing dress up has been a unique experience with all the amazing British hats around here! I will post more about this special event next month. We are also anticipating a special visit from my Oma!  She will visit Edinburgh for a few days and then we will meet Ryan for a train trip from Germany to Croatia. There have been many May celebrations, birthday’s and Mother’s Day fun that we have relied on Face Time for recently – heartfelt wishes to our friends and family back home, we miss you!

 

May you have a beautiful week and thanks for doing life with us.

R + A

 

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

 

 

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

 

February: month in review

devotionals, lifestyle, travel

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I am almost thirty years old and still struggle with the concept of a leap year.

I think it has something to do with the sun/Earth’s orbit? Someone told me that if we did not do the leap year thing the seasons would shift around the calendar, and in 700-ish years June would find itself in the middle of winter? Just crazy. Did you also know that the 29th is known as ‘Bachelor Day’? Have you heard of this tradition? On this day, women are ‘allowed’ to propose to men and it is seen as socially acceptable and people were wildly excited about it around here. Leap years are just full of surprises, eh?

Speaking of surprises, we stayed up until 5am watching the Super Bowl on a work night this year. Worth it? Yes! Do we have Bronco fever? Yes! Did we miss American Super Bowl snacks and watching it family? Heck yes! However, we are really lucky to have an amazing group of  friends that also had NFL fever and hosted a Super Bowl party. And for the record, I loved the halftime show- I know there are some haters out there, but it brought me to tears! All of the Beyonce, Coldplay (#firstconcert2005), missing Colorado, and let’s be honest ‘Merica, I was just feeling emotionally overwhelmed in a fun and homesick kind of way. We miss you Denver!

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This Valentine’s Day was a little different, because we kind of forgot to plan something. Remember the elementary school days? Staying up late to make a homemade mailbox, signing your name on what felt like thousands of pre-made cards and getting sick off candy hearts? The pride of coming home with a treasure trove of My Little Pony and Nascar cards and buckets of candy?  A wee collection, a reminder, that an entire day of school could be devoted to love and friendship. Those were happy times. But over past couple of years, I think I know more people now that kind of hate Valentine’s Day and for fair reasons. Some people that I love are grieving for ones they have lost, experiencing loneliness without that someone they have prayed years for, angry at the commercialism and money-making scheme, disappointed with unmet expectations, or like me, dumped your sophomore year of college on Valentine’s Day (you can laugh at this one), who does that, so mean?!

I am a big fan of letting people know that they are loved, every day! I understand that the 14th can be a fun way to celebrate, indulge, remind us to love our people well. It is so important to tell people. To tell people they are loved. They are smart. They are valuable. They are beautiful. They have purpose. I pray that I can know God’s love more fully and more deeply because that is the only way I will know how to truly love others well and freely extend forgiveness and compassion. Thanks be to God that He gave us an example of this in Christ, without it I would truly be lost.

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This month, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten season- part of the church calendar that is dedicated to repentance and remembrance leading up to Easter Sunday, a time to focus on the cross of Christ. I am following the reading plan led by She Reads Truth and it has been a very educational and encouraging study to read. So far it has covered the traditions of Lent and takes a deeper look into the spiritual disciplines of repentance, fasting, and prayer. I love this season because it helps to refocus the heart, gain a deeper understanding of the Cross and remind us that Christ defeats the power of the grave!

We had the privilege of finding some peace and quiet on a weekend trip to  Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, with some of our best friends, Benj and Amy. Located in Northumberland, near the border of Scotland and England, Holy Island has been a place of religious pilgrimage and retreat for centuries. It was St. Aidan who arrived on the Island in 635AD to start his Monastery and from here the Christian faith spread across the world, garnering the nickname ‘the cradle of Christianity’. We loved the island’s natural beauty, ancient remains and peaceful surroundings. 

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The entire area is tranquil and feels much further away from the city, although it only took us an hour from Waverly Station in Edinburgh to the front door of our cottage on Holy Island. We stayed at Sally’s Cottage, a charming cottage from the 1660s, built above an ice cream and fudge shop.  If you are planning to visit or stay on the island, make sure you check the tide timetables! The causeway to the island is a narrow two-lane road that is only open to drivers during low tide or you risk getting stranded.

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One of our favourite places on the island was a local coffee bean roaster and cafe called Pilgrims Coffee. Each bedroom of the old house has been converted into living room styled spaces for guests to take a break from the windy shoreline. We went back a few times for the homemade cherry almond scones, iced tea (Ryan’s fav, also harder to find in the UK than you think!) and delicious pour over coffee. Like I said, perfect weekend escape.

Around the corner from the cottage car park are the ruins from the Lindisfarne Priory. The monks first came to the island in the year 635 but fled after the violent Viking attack in 793 AD. The ruins you see today are from the early 12th century! Up the hill from the Priory is a quaint observatory where you can take in picturesque views of the coast, Lindisfarne Castle, walk to St.Cuthberts Isle and see Bamburgh Castle in the distance.

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Sunday morning, Ryan and I walked out to St.Cuthbert’s Isle while the tide was out – and the colours in the sky were just perfect. St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of north England, would often retreat here to pray. Just one of those moments that made us slow down, to think about Christians from all over the world, over hundreds of years, that make pilgrimages to this very place.

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“The serenity of Christ be ours

The serenity of Christ, King of tenderness

Help us to make the transition from criticism to joy

God of renewal, lead us from complaining to appreciation

From stagnation to creativity

From coldness to love

From ourselves to you

Most glorious Giver of Life

May hills and islands praise you

May male and female praise you

Darkness and light praise you

Stars and moon praise you

The sheep and the butterflies praise you

The ducks and the sea otters praise you

May all creation praise you and give you glory forever.”  

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A little wander around the quaint village found admiring the sheep in the fields and collecting driftwood and colourful sea glass along the beach. If you are lucky and depending on the time of year, this area is also home to lots of wildlife, including baby seals!

Our February was a busy one. I still can’t believe how quickly the month went by despite it being a day longer than usual. We are now ramping up for Ryan’s departure to Germany next semester and going to enjoy every moment we have together this spring.

I hope you are entering March with the motivation you started with in January and carrying lots of good things over from February. Here is to looking ahead to spring weather, (less rain and clouds here in Scotland?) buds on the trees and longer days of daylight!

With love from Scotland! x

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Princes Street, Edinburgh

 

 

Month in Review

devotionals, lifestyle, travel

January – the first month of the year but the second month of winter.

Three words that come to mind; cold, windy and damp. Maybe you are thinking that it’s Scotland and I shouldn’t be surprised, however, locals say that this is one of the worst winters in recent memory. So alas, I’m not too pathetic.

Keeping the new year mentality and momentum leading into February is hard when the entire month of January can feel like a perpetual Monday.

Like most of us, I start the year feeling new– a clean slate, my to-do list in order and the momentum is in full throttle. Then, by the end of the month, the January blues are trying to set up camp and I start googling symptoms of seasonal affective disorder on my lunch breaks. The long winter days are marked by harsh winds, dark walks to and from work and an umbrella that has taken a beating.

However, I am trying my very best to hold onto the momentum and reminding myself of why January can be a great month. After the bouts of excess and hustle in December we are finally feeling settled and rooted back into the grooves of Edinburgh. I have more time at the flat, reading books (an even better experience with my new glasses! yay for being able to see!), catching-up on projects I haven’t yet done, focusing on eating healthily and my at-home yoga practice.

This year, 2016, we have so much to look forward to. Friends and family are always keeping us updated on their trip planning and we are beyond excited to finally be able to share this dear city with visitors we love.

We will start next month with a quick trip to Bruges, Belgium to celebrate Ryan’s recent publications, and we are nearly finished planning an epic road trip to the Highlands + Isle of Skye with our best friends from Colorado in March. We are daydreaming of German food in Tübingen and European travels with my grandma this summer. Summer will ask us to be tour guides as our beloved parents come round this July + September, and we’ll be sure to catch a Fringe Festival show sometime in August. Still trying to decide on where to celebrate my birthday (30th!) hopefully somewhere warm and lovely at the end of the year, but we have time and all I know is that I am grateful for what is happening now and for exciting things ahead!

Right now, I’m taking the time to hibernate, refocus, plan exciting adventures and, keep the momentum going. I’m not pretending this virtuousness will last the whole year, but I am praying that it will last for what has turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable start. Lord, may I be reflective and intentional this year and pray for the patience and compassion to do so. Friends, I hope this finds you well, that you be compassionate toward yourself and reminded of what has made your January great, keeping those blues behind you.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

-Fanny Crosby, 1873

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I can see! I highly recommend Glasses Direct for your next pair. They send you as many frames as you want to try on at home so you can test drive the frames with all those hats, hair, outfits, make-up. Yep, awesome!

 

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This month we had the thrill of waking up to small dustings of snow, blue sky and a beautiful, wintery crispness outside.

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Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

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Scott Monument, Princes Street Gardens

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Artisan Roast, where the hippest of hipsters sip on some joe. This stop is definitely high on the ‘where to sip’ list in Edinburgh and if you go on a Sunday you can stroll the Stockbridge Market beforehand. IMG_3010

This year, I am reading through the Psalms + Proverbs in the One Year Bible as part of my efforts to be in scripture daily. I am really enjoying this and the thoughtful devotionals over at SheReadsTruth.

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I started Kilts+Kale one year ago! I am really enjoying it as a creative outlet and place to keep my thoughts and recipes. For those of you that have cheered me on along the way, I really appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

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Grassmarket, City Centre

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After a hike up Arthur’s Seat, I finally visited the oldest ‘skittle alley’ and pub in Edinburgh, The Sheep Heid Inn 

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Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile

 

the return of my senses

devotionals

I am not content when it is winter. I complain a lot.

But we have accomplished something tremendous- our first Scottish winter. Although, Scotland is more mild than Colorado and we got two dustings of snow, I still found lots of things to complain about. I complained about the darkness, the wind, my walk to work, my lazy attitude, a strange state of mind and body that can only be compared with that of a hibernating bear… and that is how I felt for 6 months.

Winter can be tough. We need to be reminded that winter does not stay forever and that is why God created spring. In life, there are growing seasons. Seasons of want and seasons of abundance. Seasons when we are down, and seasons when we get better. Winter life can be dreary, and seemingly endless. But new life was the plan all along.

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Spring is the return of our senses and new life.

  • We tidy up our gardens and get our hands dirty.
  • We absorb the rays of a regenerated sun.
  • We crave the taste of fresh and bright foods.
  • We hear the precious melodies of happy birds.
  • We curiously inspect branches for their buds and blossoms.

I am trying to be intentional. To pay more attention this spring because I waited longer for it this year. I am seeing the flowers and the trees. I lay in bed, eyes closed and listen to the birds. There is an abundance of life at every turn. This renewal and this hope is the essence of spring.

Spring is rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal and resurrection. Spring is when vitality returns to the land after the desolation of winter. When nature’s cycle of life, death and rebirth is at its most visible. But the message of spring is that we need not fear death. It is the resurrection of hope. Life bursts forth, bright and full, as it is with Jesus and the tomb. Three days He lay in death and darkness, having taken on the full punishment for our sins; but on the third day, He burst forth into new life—a life that cannot, will not end.

Lord, help us to find hope year round. To immerse ourselves in the beauty of spring and to trust in your goodness. To be reminded that in Christ we am made more fully alive and to rejoice in the beauty our salvation.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” – 1 Peter 1:3-4, ESV

The Beginning

devotionals

 take care of each other

If there is a ‘right’ way to do your first blog post, someone should write a blog about that. I am laughing to myself because for whatever reason, typing up my first blog post is more intimidating than I thought. So, rather than worrying about saying the right thing or continuously wiping off these sweaty hands as I type, I better just get down to it.

This is Kilts & Kale. Welcome!

This might be a good time to explain where the name came from. Kilts: my favorite color is plaid and we live in Scotland + Kale: I am enthusiastic about healthy eating and I love my veggies = Kilts & Kale, a blog dedicated to travel and cooking.

I have a few hopes for this space. I want it to be an easy way for my grandparents to keep track of us kids while we are away.

I want a way to document our life abroad. God has provided in mighty ways for this adventure to happen and we are truly humbled to be where we are.

I want to archive our best experiences, favorite places, best-loved recipes and other bits and bobs from our life abroad.

2015 is the beginning of our fifth year of marriage; my ten-year high school reunion and the first year we have not lived 30 minutes from our families. We moved to Edinburgh, Scotland exactly four months ago today. We are still adapting to the newness of it all. It is the beginning of new responsibilities; a new job for me and the start of a PhD for him. It is the beginning of a new project; entertained with researching, preparing, cooking vegetarian and gluten-free recipes that I would one day like to turn into a cookbook (a girl can dream).

The beautiful thing about beginnings is that they don’t just happen on January 1st. Beginnings are not confined to the moment we lift that fresh and unmarked month on the wall calendar. Each day is a new beginning. God bestows on us the grace to make each day new. A fresh start for whatever our beginnings may be. “For from his fullness we have received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. Thanks be to God that we can live freely, creatively, in unity and relationship with one another each and every day. Thanks for sharing life with us!