Friday, 30 November 2012

Twenty One.

   I am 21. Crazy.... Well, pretty logical actually, and I often feel older than that but still - it's a good number to reach. Just over a week ago Dad and I went up to Dundee to catch up with friends, celebrate my 21st Birthday, pack up my things and move me back home. As well as celebrate [my first] Thanksgiving with the Galloway's in Glasgow! So much food. Good times.
    I apologise for not blogging in a while I have about 3 posts on the go and a 'thought' to come is one which I've had up my sleeve for times such as these when indecision and procrastination call... I also have many thoughts running through my head today. Today was the day of the funeral of a school friend, my thoughts have been in her family and friends who are grieving at this time - more on that later as well. 
   Another thing is - life. Just a small subject.. I am in the process of clearing out my room, replacing old with new and I came across an old diary in which I said some interesting things, prediction kind of things, which are now coming to light. It's funny how life just works out sometimes, how you can look back on what you've done, where you've gone and who you've known and think 'Oh wow, nice one God. I see what you did there.'
"There must be a day or two in a man's life when he is the precise age for something important."
      - Franklin P. Adams

A thought: Maybe it's time to take some advice of my own?
   When I was younger and we would go out as a family into town or to visit an attraction we would sometimes be given a bit money to buy ourselves a wee something to take home. My sister would chose something sensible like pens or a book, my brother would either buy a small sturdy toy or he'd ask to save his. But I would always go for the shiny, plastic, fun-for-a-second toy like an artists 'pallet' with hard tablet paints and a tiny brush, or a mini fake Barbie when I had other real ones at home. My Dad told me not too long ago that when I did this he hated saying yes because he knew it would last 5 minutes and then it would break or, as usual, I'd get bored with it. A waste of money. Fickle, I realise I was only a child though. This does parallel well to situations such as moving house, relationships, jobs, etc. But in some of these things I have often leaped with my heart before thinking with my head. This history tells me two things about myself which I have recently become conscious of [I guess this is growing up]: 1) I need to be careful what I invest in things and 2) I need to recognise my reaction before concluding that's how I really feel.
   I won't say much more on that, these are just things I need to consider more, and a warning against hastiness.. If it's worth a lot, it'll take a lot.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Sound of Silence.

   There is something quite powerful in silence. Dramatic pauses, ellipses and quizzical pondering make for memorable moments in speech and literature. But what of life?
   Today I was reminded of the silence, the calm, which comes after the storms and trials of life. Some struggles amount to mere pot holes in the path on which you have walked through life; you look back at them, triumphant. Others make as diversion signs, making you go in a different direction, and maybe one day you understand why. But there is storm that will come which will tear up all ground around you and make it so you can no longer continue on your journey, indefinitely.
   There is a school of philosophy which professes that our life is defined through our motional experience. Meaning that your 'life' is a movement. From when you stirred in your mother's womb to the last time your chest rests from breath, you would have moved on the earth continuously in bounds, strides, sways and tumbles. I find this fascinating, and for analogy's sake wonder if the idea could be stretched past motion and into sound so that our whole life is, in effect a song, and when it ends - there is silence.
   Upon finding out that one of my school friends passed away yesterday morning, I felt a calm creep into my mind. Anxieties and excitements for the week, trivial thoughts for the day and just about everything else seeped into an abyss and I sat, surrounded by silence. I regretted not keeping in touch more since we left school two years ago, I was sad I hadn't heard more of her illness to be there for her, I was heartbroken for her family and close friends to have lost so much so soon, I tried to process the thought of never being able to see her laugh again. I know that she was with her family until the end, and she had many friends who were with her through it all, and I am thankful for the good memories I have of her from past school days.
   I am reminded that we are here just a moment before we move on, we need to love each other while we can. It shouldn't take death to realise that we have a life worth cherishing, but so often it does. Even considering the death of my Mum last year, it still shocks me at how short life can really be. I know of so many who are going through life and death trials and it makes me feel useless not being able to change the outcomes. I understand that death is a part of life but, sometimes, I wish it really wasn't.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Home is where the Heart is.

Hello England!
   I have shared with you my emotional and thinking process in me moving out of my city flat into a family home after Mum's passing. And also a little in thoughts about a possible move in the future - but these past 8 weeks have given me a new thought on the phrase 'Home is where the Heart is'. In this time I have come to a greater understanding of what it could really mean, and how it will affect me for the rest of my life.

   Someone asked me the other day how many new 'Facebook friends' I had added over my time in the States. I wasn't quite sure, as I think only a month's additions is shown on your page and mine said 15 'new friends', but the number is probably double that (by mathematical calculation). That is not to be boasting at all, it is merely to say I have met that many people who I would like to keep in touch with. The only boasting I can do, is in that I am part of such a wonderful family that allows me to care for a lot of people, and vice versa. I am quite an open person, and find it quite easy to talk to just about anybody. I tend to get comfortable with people quickly, and because of this I get to share such interesting things with them. There are three things I want to tell you to make my point:
     Firstly, Cassidy is a girl I met in Henderson, TN. We spent some time together and within just 3 days became so close. We have some things in common, I couldn't necessarily tell you what her 'favourites were' - except pugs - but we bonded over mutual grounding and a fundamental understanding which leads us to strive to be the women we want to be. It is an honour to know her. My friendship with her is just one of many I was blessed with in my time away.
    Secondly, years ago I was at a Youth Weekend (retreat) in a girls' class we were talking about 'how far is too far' - you know the lesson - and it was mentioned that even holding a boy's hand is like giving him a piece of your Heart (so you need to be careful you don't give yourself away before you meet that one person you want to share everything with.) I use this lesson as an analogy - rather than physical aspects of love I am talk about sharing acts of kindness, experiences, memories and wisdom which I call Love.
     Thirdly, I thoroughly enjoy getting to know people. I find people fascinating. How different we all are, yet how similar our Hearts tend to be. We hear expressions like 'I could never love them more than I do right now' or 'my whole heart belongs to you' and I have been there. Yet I continue to Love and Love and Love, and even when my Heart feels broken, or shattered, I still find capacity to Love all the more. If you have children you truly understand how your Heart seems bottomless, because even with each new addition to the family you Love them the same, unconditional, utmost amount. 
   N.B. With these things considered I have seen that we were made to Love one another. As a Christian I believe we were made to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength - first and foremost, but there is always room to Love your neighbour as yourself.

    So, I was really upset the night before we left America. I couldn't quite figure out why until it came together in my head like this: I was sad because I felt as though I had gained so much, had so many fantastic memories, pictures, souvenirs, gifts to take back with me, but I also felt as though I was leaving something behind. Every teary-eyed conversation, be it from common sorrows or sheer hilarity, made an impact on me. I felt as though pieces of my Heart had been left with these moments and these people I had encountered. I fell in-love with fellowship, with the different relationships we can have with one another. 
   I am blessed to have been given many opportunities in my life to really get to know and Love people. Some so well that I think that when we Love someone we give them a piece of our Heart for strength and safe keeping. Whether it's crying together over similar struggles of grief at a dining table with sweet ice tea, playing card games and end up talking about past relationships with a new acquaintance, sitting beneath the stars talking about hopes and dreams with someone you've always-known-but-have-never-really-known, you're sharing your Love with people.

   Going back to the phrase 'Home is where the Heart is', I am learning that Home really IS where your Heart is. Be it in one place or a hundred. The truly awesome thing about Love is that it is infinite, it is overwhelming and it sometimes does surpass understanding - to the extent even that a born and bred Brit can feel 'at home' sippin' sweet tea and shootin' skeet with the best of 'em. ;] I consider my family to be one that extends to many wonderful people across the pond, and I realise 'yeah, I could get used to this...'
   But when I sat, a little begrudgingly, in 39A on the plane in Nashville airport, knowing I would not get a decent sleep or meal for the next 24 hours, a face with a smile came into my mind and I stopped caring about how I would get home, just that I would. I knew that I was travelling back to a place where I had stored little, medium and large pieces of my Heart, and everything was OK. 
   Home is where your Heart is. Be it vested in your family, friends, acquaintances, cultural traditions, land history or hopes for a brighter future, when possible, people will go where they most want to be. For me, for now, it is in the house I grew up in, the residence in which my Mother and Father built a home, the place I first learned to truly Love. So, yes, I am happy to be home.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Remember, remember...

 I am back from my travels with Dad in America! We are safe and soundly back on British ground and even though I was sad to leave, I am happy to be here, and thankful it was a smooth journey. More on that later, though.
   Upon coming into Peterborough I recognised the Showcase Cinema (We need to upgrade to an Odeon...) the Peterborough Cathedral and the race track where Oswald's House won Sports Day when I was Vice-Captain (thought I'd slip that in somewhere!). Memories flooded back to my time here growing up, and although I hadn't been away long - except the two years I spent in Dundee at University - I found I had missed it, and in many ways this is my true home. 
   Memory is an interesting thing as when I stepped out into the brisk, but surprisingly dry, weather I couldn't help but feel that it was Christmas time. After all it was cold, and I was at home. Coming into the house was strange too - everything was more or less as we had left it, I just remember there being less mess... ;]

   Before Mum passed away I had a creeping fear that I would forget her. That I would forget how she was before she became ill some 5 years previous, then forget her laugh, her smile, her subtle Northern Irish accent.. I was afraid that over time, the 19 years I spent with her would fade from recall and become too distant and blurry that she would cease to be a part of my mind, and essentially, cease to be a part of me. 
   A few days ago Britain celebrated what is known as Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, where the countries remember 'gunpowder, treason and plot'. We celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes in 1605 as he was about ready to blow the House of Lords to smithereens with barrels of gunpowder he had meticulously stowed and was guarding before he got the go ahead to light them. We do this by having bonfires, fireworks, sparklers and other things pyromaniacs would be jolly excited about. Today Sunday 11th November is also our country's (And the rest of the Commonwealth's) Armistice Day, or Poppy Day, (or Veteran's Day if you're in America) falling conveniently on the same day as Remembrance Sunday, where we remember the lives and sacrifices many people have made in service to our country. Celebrated since the end of the War To End All Wars, specifically after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles to end WWI - on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At the time 11:11 we hold a minute's silence in respect and reverence.
   As people, we are mortal. We are not meant to last forever, our bodies decay - to the pessimist, every hour we live brings us closer to our last. But this is a fact of life. We celebrate and set apart periods of time to actively ponder upon events or people who have impacted our lives, out of love. It is brilliant to remember these things once a year, to make them special and truly lifted up above all other things on that one day. So celebrate your freedoms, celebrate others who have made your life wonderful, do not be idle and forget those who love you - for in your time of need they will not forget you.

   We remember because it is an act of love - to spare a thought for the one who brings you joy.

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Ephesians 1:16

   We must remember before it is too late and we forget.

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them.'" Ecclesiastes 12:1

    We remember so that we have hope for the future, and a continuous motivation to keep us going.

"But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you." John 15:11
"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." 16:4
"These things I command you, so that you will love one another." 15:17

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 16:33

"People will not remember what you say, they may not even remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
Here is a poem based on the rhyme 'Remember, Remember'  which is told to remember Guy Fawkes on November the 5th...

Remember, remember, wee child, your Creator,
Every morn when you awake from your sleep.
For when you closed your weary eyes, you said your goodbyes
To the world, but He graced you and let you to keep.

Remember, remember, my friend, your defender,
In days of sweet joy and lonely pain,
For he created them together - the one and the other,
For purposes unknown until He let it be shown through His plan ultimately in gain.

Remember, remember, dear brother, your redeemer,
When you see the poor man by the way,
Be he poor in his pocket or heart under lock, it
Is surely your duty to share with him the bounty of good news you enjoy every day.

So remember, remember, every time you surrender,
That you are highest when in prostrate to Him;
For He lifts up the weak, richly blesses the meek,
So fear not when you fail, for His LOVE will prevail overall for the ultimate win.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Travel Journal #11 - The end is nigh...

Sunday 4th
   Today we went to church with Bob and Dad have the sermon. Good stuff. *I'm in two places at once.* :] We went to Fuddruckers for lunch and I had an amazing Buffalo burger with sweet potato fries and sweet tea! We head back to the house for some hot tea before Dad's class in the evening church service, and spent time with Sherry when we got back - she'd come home from her wee holiday :]

Monday 5th
   Today I had my first Mani-Pedi experience with Sherry! For those of you less understanding of women's beauty rituals, this is a manicure and pedicure - makes your nails pretty on your hands and toes. :] We went to a salon run by some nice Chinese people and had a laugh with them whilst I got beautified! Now my fingernails change colour with heat!!! Black/maroon when cold and pink when warm, useful stuff.

Tuesday 6th
   Up early, packed the car and head out by o7:40 from Swansborough, NC to Gallatin, TN. That's a 11 hour drive, not including rest stops, lunch  and dinner. We went via Virgina - as you do, for a bit more of a scenic route, and also checking off our 9th state this trip! We got to stop off and see Patrick Sullivan (Dundee Youth Minister) in Cookeville as well which was nice, not seen anyone from across the pond in a while! And we'll see him again when we're back in Scotland. Arrived in Gallatin by about 10pm and spent some time with the Carnes' and the American Political televisual feast before heading to our much needed comfy beds!

Wednesday 7th
   Today was our last full day stateside. We had a good sleep and made sure cases were packed and under the limit - having to ship some books Dad happened to 'acquire' on our travels... We have successfully packed everything. We're taking 2 extra cases and I'm taking an extra hand luggage bag. Manoeuvring our way on the London Tube will certainly be an experience... After having dinner at Chick-fil-a we went to church for Dad to give the last  of his BBS presentations, finally found Will :P, and went back to Bill and Anna May's to watch Duck Dynasty with them and the Carnes. Ok, so you NEED to watch this program. 'Duck Dynasty' on A&E TV in America and somewhere online otherwise. Hilarious stuff. Proper Southern culture, right there. :]
   Just set my alarm for 06:30. Not too bad. Then we'll be off. 

America, it's been grand.

Truly grand.