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I Had A Dream

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Culture, Citizenship & Hiraeth (Part 2)

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Now we come to hiraeth. It's a Welsh word. You may have seen it on Pinterest with a definition. Or an attempt at a definition. Because actually it has no direct translation into English.

Hiraeth. (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.

This week, in the face of much heartache happening among my friends and family in America, I am homesick for the US. But that is not hiraeth. Hiraeth is something so much more. It's knowing that I belong somewhere and wanting to be there but being unable to go because I am not quite sure where there even is. But I yearn, I long, I need to go there.

It is inherent in human nature; we all have it because we were all designed for this home. And this world just can't quite cut it. Somewhere in the past, in the history of humanity we had a home and we can't figure out how to go back to it. But oh, how we want to.

Hiraeth.

Culture, Citizenship & Hiraeth (Part 1)

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This weekend I started reading a book for work. The topic: culture.

Funny enough, the woman who wrote it is a fellow American Southerner who has lived in multiple cultures - I have to say that she beats me on that count by quite a lot.

As I read the book, I realised a few things.

First, I don't quite fit any culture anymore. If you divide the world into two types of cultures (this author uses climate which is one accepted way of doing it), I come from one type of culture (hot climate) and have moved to another (cold climate). I've still got those Southern roots, but I've also assimilated some into my British home (I'm definitely still learning).

My friends here in Britain think that my Southern drawl is sweet and laugh when I bring out my "jumper" (American English: sweater) when they think it is still summer. My American friends think I'm crazy when I use British English words but find it neat that Afternoon Tea is a real thing.

I'm not quite one ye…

Honor, Glory & Acknowledgements

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There it sat in its little (expensive) green binding. Done. The final part of a year long master's course. Few people will ever read it. The people who grade it. The people who review those grades. That's basically it.
Of the people who read it, few will notice the end of the acknowledgements section. "Finally, and most importantly, I owe my gratitude to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for setting me on this journey in the first place and for always providing me with exactly what I needed when I needed it." I thanked my supervisor; I thanked my friends. I thanked my family. But those are the words that ended my acknowledgements for my master’s dissertation. And they were not enough. But how does one sum up, a year’s worth, no a lifetime, of gratitude in a single sentence? How does one say thank you for putting me where I am? For direction? For provision? For the right people? The right church? The best family? For peace? For the right Scripture, the right song when I …

The Stars

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When I lived in France, my fellow international students used to ask each other what we missed the most from home. We had one rule though: the answer couldn't be people or food. Why? Because, with out that rule, it always was. (Yes, whether we ex-pats admit it or not, generally the most missed things while abroad are family, friends, and food). So what do I miss most about America – sorry dear ones, for the time England is home – that is not family, friends or food?

The stars. Right now, what I miss most about America is the stars. Anyone who’s ever lived in both the city and the countryside knows what I’m talking about. There is a marked difference in looking up at the sky when the city lights cancel out the beauty of the stars.
I’ve been thinking a lot about stars lately. After a few late night car rides in the US, I got to spend a lot of time looking at the stars.
Do you know why God made the stars?
No? Well He tells us. Genesis 1:16-18 reads as follows:
“God made two great lights …

Homesick

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I should be working right now. It's not quite five o'clock, my usual cut off time for research if I am not done with the days tasks, but here I am writing a blog. One that is long over due. It was one I started to write weeks ago, but could not finish (as I realize is often the case).

Homesickness.

Anyone who has been away from home knows the feeling. Although, I keep in touch with friends and family at home (thank the Lord for technology!), occasionally I still find myself going through intense bouts of longing for the people and places that make up home. After all, technology cannot always make up for the fact that I'm on a different continent, in a different time zone and have an entire ocean between me and where a part of my heart will always reside.

A few weekends ago, I had one of those moments. Sometimes, it's the little things that trigger it; like going to see a movie that I would normally see with my family. (Yes, going to see Captain America: Civil War made…

{SE Travel Edition}: The City of Bath

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Do you have a place you've ever dreamed of visiting? You know the one. There is a reason. Maybe it means something to you and your family; maybe all of your friends go. It could be in your own country or in one half way around the world. Perhaps you want to journey there for the adventure or because it holds the promise of calm. Whatever the reason, the name is probably dancing in your mind right now.

For me that place (or one of them as I have many), is Bath, England. Home of all thing Austen, Jane Austen that is. The setting of the latter half of my favorite Austen novel (Persuasion) and a few Austen movie scenes. It was at the top of the England bucket list.

And right after Easter, I got to go!

So buckle your seat belts and I'll take you on a virtual tour of the city that lived up to (and far surpassed) all of my dreams!


The first stop of the trip was the beautiful and impressive Bath Abbey. The detail of the building was incredible.

And then of course the famed Roman Bath…

{SE Travel Edition}: Two C's: Chatsworth & Cambridge

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While the vast majority of my Easter "break" has been devoted to writing essays - thirteen thousand words worth to be exact -, I have had a bit of fun and done a few other things.

My actual break took place around Easter weekend when a friend came to visit me. We've both bounced around quite a bit of the world since we've last seen each other in person and it was the perfect chance to catch up. And geek out over all things England and Austen. Yes, Jane Austen.

The day after my friend arrived, we hit the road - ok we actually hit the rails and then the road - and visited Chatsworth House. If you're a fellow Austen fan, you might recognize it as the house which was used as Pemberley in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. It's also rumoured to be the actual house that Jane Austen based Pemberley on in the book.

 The house is exquisite in its own right with centuries of history. Pictures don't even begin to do it justice. It's like a small(er) versio…

And Though She Be But Little She Is ...

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As someone who can be best described as ... petite, I've always found this particular Shakespeare quote relatable. Yes I may be small, but just because I lack in height doesn't mean I'm short anywhere else.

I know, it was a bad pun.

There is something about that quote that draws me. I want to be fierce.

But why I ask myself? Why do I want or need to be fierce?

Because I want to be strong and independent, to hold my own when it needs holding. To have it all together and to fight my own battles. When life's challenges come calling, I want to be ready. I want to be fierce.

Or so I thought.
"Oh, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!  She was a vixen when she went to school.   And though she be but little, she is fierce." Oh, context, there you are.

This famous Shakespearian quote, the battle cry of those of us who are or feel little but want to be taken seriously, was not about that at all.

Instead it was one woman insulting another; let's just say the …

Heaven's Triumph

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They spent three years of their life following Him; they had given it all up. Homes, jobs, families.

But as the sun set on that Friday, the body of their Lord was lying in a borrowed tomb.

What now?

Huddled together, locked in a room.

Shock. Tears. Grief. Numbness. Fear. Uncertainty.

This wasn't how it was supposed to end.

Every dream, every hope, gone. Vanished. The center of their lives had been brutally beaten, mocked, humiliated and hung on a cross.

The questions. The inability to cope much less move on. What was there even to move on too? Did they just go back to the way it was? Could they? Did they have another choice?

Three days. Three long excruciating days ...

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I've often though that for Jesus' disciples and followers, the day we call Good Friday was anything but "good".

Every year Good Friday rolls around and those thoughts cross my mind.

I'm reminded of a promise made and forgotten.
We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betr…

Going It Alone

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On Thursday, I posted about how God had sent me champions and throughout the last few days He has continued to do so. Small gifts, unexpected prayers, encouragement, laughter. Reminding me to lean on others because I am not meant to do this on my own.

But that was not all I needed to learn this week.

Because as I stood worshipping Him through song this morning, I realized that I was fighting for breath.

Now I have asthma and the weather has changed quite a lot over the past few days - this is one of my triggers. So I knew exactly what was happening. And my rescue inhaler was in the bag that sat at my feet. I just needed to reach down, pull it out and take it.

But I didn't.

Why?

Because I told myself I didn't need it. I could breathe just a little deeper, I could sing just a little softer. Then it would all be ok. It was totally unnecessary to disturb or distract others worship. I could do this on my own; I just needed to try harder.

It sounds completely and utterly ridiculous…

Champions

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When you read that word many of you may think of your favorite sports team or maybe that summer or school league you played in. But today I have been reminded of another meaning of the word.

Oxford Dictionaries defines the second type of champion as "a person vigorously supports or defends a person or cause".

This week has been hard. The work is piling up, I've had a few disappointments, I was stressed about thing and I was feeling pretty down.

But rather than keep that all inside - which I've been known to do in the past - I shared it with close friends and family.

They encouraged me. They hurt for me. They made me feel valued. They made me laugh. They helped me cry. They prayed for me. They brought me brought me to the throne of the King of the world.

They were - and are - my champions. They are my support and they are always read to jump to my defense.

And they remind me of Jonathan.

In the book of Samuel, we find out that David - the future king of Israel - had …

{SE Travel Edition}: York & Bolsover Castle

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As promised, I want to tell you a little about my latest adventure(s)!

A few weeks ago, my older sister, Hannah, came to visit me here in England for five days. It was a fun 'long weekend', if not far too short. The weekend was also her birthday weekend so it was a trip and birthday celebration.

While she was here, we actually left Leeds! It was the first time - excluding school trips and going home - that I had left Leeds since I arrived back in September. We took two trips: one to the nearby city of York and one to Bolsover Castle.

York is an adorable and charming little town. When we arrived we walked into the city centre area. We did not have a game plan, just a mental list of suggestions from friends and a day to explore. We spent a good part of the day just wandering around the city. Three definite highlights of the day were walking along the Shambles (the oldest road in York), climbing Clifford's Tower, and having tea at a cupcakery (if you're ever in York I hig…

Not My Home

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I am not here to make apologies for my lack of blogs since the beginning of the year. This year abroad has been much busier (in both good and hard ways) than the one I spent in France or the eight months I spent in the US in between. I am here to share a bit with you though.

Today was the end of a long weekend visit from my older sister, Hannah.

She came over to England on Thursday and we spent a fun filled weekend together traveling and celebrating her birthday; *hopefully* more on that in another blog soon.

However, today I dropped her off at the train station in Leeds and she is currently on her way to London to catch a flight back to America tomorrow morning.

This made me sad. I think I am beginning to realize that this is my life now, whether I am here or in America. I am growing up and that means that from now on I will have quick visits with family and friends. Long distance texting, calls, and Skype dates. And it certainly does make me miss being stateside.

As I rode the bus …

One Step Closer

If I had to pick one phrase to describe this year, I would choose “Letting Go”.

It has been one long process this year; so many things that I’ve let go of in 2015: An amazing year in France My undergraduate university years Where I call home My stuff (at least what I didn’t box up or pack in a few suitcases) My future My control For the most part, I let go of those things only after God pried my fingers loose. One by one. I wish it weren’t true, but I am so stubborn. That letting go process has been hard (my own fault: see above). But I feel like I’ve learned some valuable lessons. For instance, every year is amazing, just in different ways.
I will never stop learning, at school or otherwise.
Home is where my heart longs for, but it is also wherever God plants me.
My things are just that, things; the most important part of my life is the people in it.
My future is not mine; it is the Father’s. And I pray that this year I follow His will and call.
Control is a figment of my imagination; sometimes hav…