Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Things!

Ah, I can hardly believe that in two weeks’ time we will have been here for eight whole months! It still feels like we have only been here for such a short time. We have been on a few adventures recently so I thought I would start this post by sharing some of the lovely Scottish landscapes with you. There is something about this country, the beauty in it, that just captures my heart! :)


These pictures are from a recent trip we took to the Highlands (which is where Ali’s Nana and Granddad live). We drove up through the mountainous west coast of Scotland and were just so amazed as we drove through such breath-taking sights. We were totally delighted to see such beauty. Driving at the bottom of those mountains was quite a new experience for me, as you could imagine being a Texas girl (everything is SO flat), they were so big and I am so small. They are majestic and reflect God in a way that only they can. Those mountains are so much smaller than even the size of His finger! What a mighty, majestic and grand God! He deserves the utmost praise, glory and honour!

Anyway, while this country is so beautiful, more and more I am beginning to really miss family and friends and am longing for “home”. I am finding that what’s underneath this longing for home is not so much a place as it is a longing for relationships in which I am known and loved. I think loneliness then is the opposite, it’s when I am not in relationships in which I am known and loved. So, I suppose I have been feeling quite lonely, and it makes sense that during these lonely times I most long for home. But even as I write this I am reminded that wherever I am, wherever I go, I am always at home, though I often forget. Jesus is with me, He has not left me. And, with Him I am known like no other and loved deeply and perfectly.

It reminds me of what I was reflecting on in John 14 just a few days ago, when Jesus begins speaking very clearly with His disciples about what is going to take place, namely that He is going to die and then be raised. But He will leave them to go to the Father. I imagine they must have been terrified thinking, “But Jesus, we can’t do this without You. You’re our Lord, You’re our leader, You’re our teacher. We need you!” Jesus, perceiving that their hearts were totally troubled and fearful, as you could imagine, He says to them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you,” as He proceeds to comfort them with the amazing news that they will be indwelled with His Spirit forever. They will never be without Him, they will never be alone. For indeed, what amazing and comforting truth to know that the One who knows me and loves me is with me always, even to the end of the age! And it’s in these words I put my hope and my trust, and only in these words that I find peace. How grateful I am that in the gospel, the lonely can be known…forever!

Updates and Prayers:

Mom:  My family continues to go through a difficult time with my mom’s sickness. They are currently trying to decide on a good treatment option, but have many obstacles in the way ranging from practical things (like difficulty getting to doctor’s appointments), financial things (the cost of treatment), and spiritual things (there are spiritual forces of darkness that do not want my mother to get well). Please pray that God would provide the practical and financial help my mother needs in order to get treatment and pray that God would deliver my mother from the power of the enemy.

Marriage:  God is doing such an incredible (and miraculous) work in our marriage. So I know that you all must be praying! :) To be completely honest, most of the change is happening in me (Erica) and it’s having a huge impact on Alisdair. God has been showing me the areas in marriage in which I have believed the culture rather than Him, and the destruction that’s caused in our marriage. Through help from God I’ve been able to see these things and seek forgiveness from Alisdair and approach things differently. It’s changed everything! It’s been SO good and has given me a fresh desire to teach women more about what it means to be a wife who knows and believes that what God says about marriage is truly best. Please keep praying for us in this regard because I feel like this is only the beginning!
  • Roles (wife/helper suitable, husband/leader head) – Please pray that we would become even more aware of the ways in which our cultures have defined how we view our roles in marriage. Pray that we would reject the cultural views of marriage and that we would be able to see and experience God’s design for marriage. Our prayer is that our marriage and the marriages in the church would be a very real picture of Jesus’ relationship with the church to a broken culture.
  • Gospel-Centred conflict – We are realising more and more that we both have learned how to (and just naturally do) deal with conflict in weird and hurtful ways. Please pray that we would learn to communicate and deal with hurt in a godly way. We are praying that a new pattern would begin to take place in our marriage: that we would take our hurt first to Jesus, experience repentance and renewal through the gospel, and then go to each other with it. This pattern, when it’s done is so refreshing! Please pray that God would give us wisdom beyond years in regards to marriage.

Co-Workers:  SO much is going on here and we are filled with joy! I just started a new job in April with a small team of six girls working in HR. It’s a temporary role for up to four months with a potential to be extended. I have already gotten the opportunity to hear what some of the girls spiritual beliefs are and I am so excited to know more! Please pray for me, that God would give me supernatural interest in these girls, to know them and learn about what they believe. Please pray for favour and the ability to connect. Ultimately, please pray for opportunities to share Jesus with them, I am only there for such a short time.

The Lord is doing such an amazing work through Ali’s relationships and has given him so many opportunities to share the gospel with people and to chat about spiritual things. He’s gotten a chance to get to know many of his co-workers on a deeper level and is considering how to build the relationships further. Please pray that as Ali gets to know his co-workers more he would have the discernment and opportunity to speak the gospel directly into what’s going on in their lives. Please also pray that Ali would not lose sight (it’s so easy to do!) of the fact that he is entering into a mission field each day.

Church:  We are continuing to serve on the prayer team and it’s been so much fun to grow in edifying the church in this way. Please pray for us that as people come and share what they’d like for prayer we would have discernment and wisdom to see how the gospel directly applies to their situation. Pray that we would speak God’s words and it would bring great refreshing to the church.

Also, our wee Bible reading group is going really well! Each week we lead a group of young people through the word of God and point them to Jesus and the gospel as often as possible. It’s great fun! :) We are interested in getting to know each member of the group better and are seeking to establish closer one-on-one relationships with each person. Please pray for direction with this group and with each individual coming. Pray that God would help us know how to encourage each person spiritually and help them grow.

Next Steps:  We have been seeking God for direction about what is next and feel clarity on two things:
  •       Preparing for a family (specifically in the form of financial provision)
  •    Opportunities to shepherd, teach and make disciples

Please pray that God would open doors for both of these things and show us what next steps to take. Very exciting! :)

Thank you for praying for us. Let us know how you are; we’d LOVE to hear from you! Love to you all and glory to God.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Six Months In and Cultural Differences

Six months ago today, we jumped on a plane (on our two year anniversary) and began the crazy journey of moving to Scotland to be a part of what God is doing here. It’s been thrilling, joyful, confusing and trying. All good things are. :) Our marriage has experienced refining like never before, our purpose in life is being shaped and revealed daily, and our pride is being brought very low. What an adventure! More than all of this though, we are getting to experience a life oriented around being on mission with God in our everyday lives. I am so excited about what God will have us be a part of here in Scotland in the years to come! I am so humbled that He has invited broken, messy people like us to be a part of His glorious work.

Since arriving I have been collecting a list of cultural differences I have noticed thus far. It’s all so interesting, and the differences are both fun and frustrating! I should say first that these are major generalities and cannot be said for all of Scotland, just like they cannot be said for all of America. They are all comprised of my experiences being in this culture so far, therefore should in no way be considered a definitive list of the actual cultural differences between Scotland and America. So please, do take this with a grain of salt. :) I hope you enjoy learning about the Scottish culture (and the American culture) below:
  • Friendliness – People here seem less friendly on the surface or in the initial getting to know you phase of a friendship. I think it’s because Americans have a tendency to be superficially friendly (I am realising that Americans smile A LOT), which is not a bad thing, as it does produce a feeling in the other person of being liked. And who doesn't like that right?! On the other hand, I have found that the Scots that are genuinely interested in you will seek to know you with all sincerity.
  • Entitlement – We Americans have such a sense of entitlement, which, I am realising I strongly possess. We often think “I deserve _____”, fill in the blank! We believe we deserve good service, getting something on time, and receiving something when we have paid for it. The Scots, however, don’t have this same sense of entitlement, or at least, not in the same way. Or if they believe they deserve something, they often wouldn’t fight for it in the same way Americans would. They don’t like to make a big deal out of things and have much more of a “what can you do about it?” attitude. Though, they are more than happy to have a wee grumble about it to other people!
  • Indirect communication – I went to the doctor the other day and was so surprised at the contrast in the medical guidance approach between Scotland and America. Generally, my doctors in the states will quickly collect the facts and then give directives saying, “okay, we are going to do this and this” without giving you time to give an opinion. Whereas here, the doctor was saying, “what do you think should be done here?” They seem to want to involve you in the process a wee bit more and have more of a patient-centred approach.
  • Don’t mention it – Again, while at the doctors, when I was leaving I proceeded to lavish the doctor with appreciation for his help and service (partly because I haven’t seen a doctor for my diabetes since August). He responded with “right, the exit is just down this way” completely unresponsive to my blatant praise! It was pretty funny. There seems to be a real “don’t mention it” attitude in this country, but it’s more like, no really…don’t mention it. Generally, Americans love flattery and praise and are totally comfortable with it, whereas people here seem to be less comfortable with it.
  • Emotional Expression – This is a huge one! And it seems to affect everything. In fact most of the other points I have written are tied to this cultural aspect in some way. People in Scotland are much more reserved with their emotions. In fact, because there are generations of people who don’t express their emotions, it would seem that the Scots aren't taught how to recognise what they feel, so probably wouldn't know how to respond when asked. Because of the emotional suppression, there is a great deal of fear and shame when emotions are expressed. Americans, in contrast, are characterised by showing their emotions all over their face, keeping little about what they think to themselves, and being slightly overly dramatic. :) Now, although the Scots are very reserved, I am convinced these emotions still do come out in other ways, however unhealthy. My theory is that these emotions are being expressed in other aspects of the Scottish culture. For example, there is a huge drinking culture here. People here drink all the time, they drink a lot and they do so from a very early age. It’s such a huge problem that the government are coming up with initiatives to deal with it. Also, I think others express their emotions passive aggressively through sarcasm, “ripping into each other”, and gossip. Others still, to an extreme degree, are just blatantly aggressive, stabbing, raping, and killing. Sure there are aspects of all of these things in the American society and all over our broken world, but it all seems very prevalent over here.
  • Come bearing gifts – This is a great one! When you invite Scots over for dinner, they ignore you when you say “you don’t need to bring anything, we've got it taken care of”.  Regardless, people would come with flowers, snacks or something! :) So now, we have to ensure that whenever we are hosted we come bearing gifts. It’s as if they couldn't possibly come empty-handed. It’s quite cute.
  • Always get a “fresh” cup – This one drives the practical side of me really crazy! Everyone here insists on getting a new cup for every different thing. A new cup for a new cup of tea (and they drink about eight cups of tea a day so this means eight new cups!), a new plate for a new snack, etc. Because we have no dishwasher, it obviously kills me even more. When I have asked them about it, while also (in my very American way) explaining that it is neither rational nor practical, they say that “it’s just what we do”. So, I better start learning how to make better use of my time while I wash dishes, because it seems I will be spending A LOT of time there. :)

So, those are some fun things. They are very interesting and it’s even more interesting talking to the Scots about these differences and asking them what they think about their culture. Now, not all of these things need to be evaluated but it does beg the question:  How do we navigate through these cultural messages? I have had to ask myself this question a lot during my time here as I struggle to evaluate what I have always deemed “normal” or “right”. And the only conclusion I can come to is to go to the gospel. I have to ask myself often, “How does the gospel apply specifically to the things this culture is communicating?”

When I think specifically about the minimisation of emotions and the mind-set that the Scot’s carry: that it’s not that bad, it’s not that big of a deal, don’t worry about me; it often brings me to the gospel. I think about the fact that God desires ALL of our heart, including all of our emotions (whether we deem them valid or not), because He wants real and deep intimacy with us. The greatest commandment is that we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. How can we love God with all of our heart if we are closing parts of our heart to Him? Then there’s Jesus, who had a perfect relationship with the Father, always bringing His whole heart to him (garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, just to name a few). Because Jesus paid my debt before God, I (and all of my emotions) am completely acceptable before God. Moreover, through Jesus I am approved of, loved and delighted in. Does that mean that all of my emotions are free of sin? Unfortunately not. But God desires me to bring them to Him nonetheless. It’s there that I find healing and renewal in the gospel.

Updates and Prayers:

Praise:  For amazing healing! First, within a couple of weeks of my recent surgery I was pretty much fully recovered (they anticipated this would take closer to six weeks). This is incredible and I am certain came about through your prayers and the mighty hand of God. Thank you for praying! Also, my recent labs containing all my hormone levels (which were previously completely unbalanced) are now completely normal. In fact, all the potential syndromes assigned to me because of my symptoms and abnormal labs have now been completely discounted! The doctor said, “Based on these labs, I don’t see a case for any of those conditions at all”! Praise God. Also, we have been given a car…without cost! Who does that?! Jesus! :)

Mom:  My family is going through a really difficult time as my mom has been diagnosed with several potentially fatal illnesses. It's all quite serious and my mother will die unless there is a great move of God in power and deliverance. Please join me in praying for my mom, for her healing, for life and for deliverance.

Marriage:  There is SO much going on in our marriage, constantly. As I mentioned before, our marriage is being refined continuously and it’s just so good. We are challenged deeply as we see the perfect design God has for marriage and as we learn to deal with conflict in a gospel-centred way. Please pray for two things in regards to our marriage:
  • Roles (wife/helper suitable, husband/leader head) – Please pray that we would become even more aware of the ways in which our cultures have defined how we view our roles in marriage. Pray that we would reject the cultural views of marriage and that we would be able to see and experience God’s design for marriage. Our prayer is that our marriage and the marriages in the church would be a very real picture of Jesus’ relationship with the church to a broken culture.
  • Gospel-Centred conflict – We are realising more and more that we both have learned how to (and just naturally do) deal with conflict in weird and hurtful ways. Please pray that we would learn to communicate and deal with hurt in a godly way. We are praying that a new pattern would begin to take place in our marriage: that we would take our hurt first to Jesus, experience repentance and renewal through the gospel, and then go to each other with it. This pattern, when it’s done is so refreshing! Please pray that God would give us wisdom beyond our years in regards to marriage.

Neighbours/Co-Workers:  In December we went around to meet the neighbours in our flat and give them a little gift, yet only a few were in. Please pray for creative opportunities for more contact with our neighbours so that we can begin to build real relationships with them. Also, Ali has taken the month of February to go out for a drink every Thursday night with two guys from work. It’s been really great, as it has given him so much more opportunities to get to know them. We are now considering how to build the relationships further as we enter into March so please pray for wisdom and opportunities to go deeper with them.

Church:  We are delighted that we have begun to serve our church through the prayer ministry. This has been awesome. On Sunday mornings, after the sermon is preached, the congregation is given the opportunity to go up for prayer in response to what they've heard and that’s where we come in. We get to hear what’s going on in their hearts and pray for them. Pray for discernment and wisdom as we do this. Also, we have started our own little Bible reading group. We basically read through big chunks of the Bible midweek and then come together to share what we loved about it. We are really excited about all the people that are coming so please pray that God would give us insight and wisdom as we lead this group toward Jesus!

Again, thanks for keeping up with our lives, listening to all my ramblings and for praying for us. We really need it, so please keep praying! We love you! And, please drop us a line so that we can keep up with your lives too. Love to you all and glory to God.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Recent Happenings

I wanted to write briefly to give you all an update regarding our recent events. Since I last wrote, we arrived back in Scotland safely and were settling into life back in Glasgow. We arrived in on Saturday and I was SO pleased to find that on Thursday I was given an appointment with an Endocrinologist, which was much, much earlier than I expected. As many of you know, I am a type 1 diabetic and since arriving in Scotland in September, I had not yet had anyone looking over my blood sugars! So, this appointment was a major relief. 

On the Thursday we made our way to the hospital for the appointment (travelling quite a ways out with many setbacks), only to find that we came to the WRONG hospital! By this point I was exhausted and really frustrated, but we pressed on trying to get to the right hospital. After much walking, a bus ride, a train ride and a taxi trip we managed to get to the right hospital and thankfully, were seen immediately. I had an awesome visit with the Endocrinologist. I am feeling so relieved to have someone taking care of my conditions and am so grateful to God. 

THEN, immediately following the appointment I began having horrible abdominal pains. Now, while we were in the states I had pretty intense abdominal pains as a side-effect of the drugs they gave me to terminate the pregnancy, so I thought this was more of the same. However, these would not let up at all even with paracetamol (Tylenol). The nurse saw me hunched over in pain and offered me a bed until it passed. Eventually, when she saw my pain was not subsiding, she insisted that we make our way to A&E (ER) to get urgent medical care. So off we went.

Ali explained the whole situation to them and they immediately admitted me and gave me morphine (thank God). However, they didn't have any emergency gynaecological services there, so they had to transport us to another hospital in Glasgow via ambulance (to Alisdair's delight). When we arrived there, they did an ultrasound to find that there was heavy internal bleeding and assumed something ruptured, but couldn't see what. Because I was stable at the moment, they suggested exploratory surgery in the morning to get rid of the blood and to see what was going on. But that hospital was undergoing reconstruction, so they didn't have any beds. So, they sent us to ANOTHER hospital in Glasgow via ambulance. Alisdair was having a great time and we have now been in all the main hospitals in Glasgow. :)

When we arrived there, my pain was manageable for a while, and then suddenly things took a major turn for the worst. The pain meds were no longer working and the intensity was increasing rapidly. Apparently, they were VERY concerned by the look of me as I had gone extremely pale. They immediately started preparing everything to take me into emergency surgery. At that time, I could hardly breathe, the pain was so bad! They continued to give me morphine, but it wasn't working at all! It was agony. 

After the surgery we found out that my left fallopian tube had ruptured (where the ectopic was) and caused a lot of internal bleeding. They removed my left fallopian tube, but were able to preserve everything else, which means I can still conceive, God willing! I was provided with incredible care and amazing nurses. It was also a huge relief to know we are not going to get a big, fat bill for all of this! 

Physically, I am doing well, and feeling so much better with each new day. I'm totally off pain meds and can do most things like normal. The recovery has been really fast which I know is God working through so many people praying for me. We have been so cared for by our friends and family back in the states, friends and family here and our new church family. This first week out of hospital we have received meals from friends, had people coming round to help with household things, flowers delivered and visits from folks to check on how we are doing. We have received countless emails of people letting us know they are praying for us and are watching God answer their prayers before our eyes. I am humbled and SO grateful. Spiritually, we are also doing really well. Every day we continue to process all that has just happened with God and He is speaking to us constantly. I just "happened" to be reading through the book of Job (a book in the Bible about God's response to one man's tragic circumstances) when this whole thing took place and just finished the book this morning. Jesus has revealed Himself to me even more deeply through this situation and His word. What an incredibly gracious God we get to know!

As always, and possibly even more at the moment, we need your prayer! Find out specifics below:

1. Rejoice! There is SO much to praise God for. Please know that your prayers are being answered, so be encouraged!
·  Praise God that I am alive!
·  Praise God that we were not on a plane when my tube ruptured!
·  Praise God that we were in Scotland when emergency surgery was needed; thank God for the National Health Service!
·  Praise God that we were in the hospital when the pain began and were given immediate care!
·  Praise God that only one tube was removed, nothing else was damaged, and God willing, we can still conceive!
·  Praise God for incredible, unusually kind and caring nurses!
·  Praise God for a speedy recovery free from complications, thus far!
·  Praise God that our hearts have not been hardened as a result of this situation and that we are getting the amazing opportunity to know God more deeply through it!

2. Marriage. Please continue to pray that we can process this together, with Jesus and that we would grow closer to one another and Him as a result of these circumstances. Pray for increased faith and protection from the enemy's lies.

3. Healing. Please pray for a continued speedy recovery and full physical healing

4. Ali's new job! In the midst of all that is going on, Ali also started his new job this last Monday. After feeling quite discouraged by the content of the work so far and wondering why on earth he accepted this position (oh right, we need money!), yesterday he got invited out for a pint after work with two guys his age! They had lots of chat regarding real things and they are now arranging the start of a work football (soccer) team together! Can you believe it? What an incredible answer to prayer. He was so encouraged! The things God has put on our heart, He is bringing to fruition and we are amazed. 

Thank you so much for walking with us in this life and for interceding on our behalf. To Jesus be the glory and honour and power, forever and ever. 


P.S. Oh, I almost forgot! Quick story about the photo at the beginning of this post. Before we left for the states we went down to Alisdair's village to see his family. They have an artist in their village who wanted to give us one of her paintings for our new flat, so I went over with Ali's mum to pick it out. Out of all the paintings that she offered me, this is the one I was totally drawn to and chose! And I didn't even know I was pregnant yet! Pretty incredible.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Four Months In...Time Flies When You're Unemployed!


Hey hey! Well, I can hardly believe it, but we have been in Scotland for just over four months now! We have spent most of our days looking for jobs and time is flying by. We are grateful for this unique season in our life where we have been able to spend extended time together sleeping in, going for nice walks, making awesome food, reading fun books, and hanging out with new friends.  We know it will all come to an end soon, but it has been really fun! Look at some of the awesome food I am making:
Photo: Tonight's Dinner: Chickpea, vegetable curry and coconut brown rice. So good!Photo: Delicious Dinner! Lentil meatloaf with steamed vegetables.
Now, this may not look appealing to some of you, but I can assure you, it is tasty, nutritious and satisfying! :) We have also taken a few photos of some of the amazing views in the Scottish countryside. This country is SO beautiful!

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So, besides all of that, we are adjusting quite well. We have several updates on this crazy adventure, which I am delighted to report:
1. We have moved to Glasgow! In late November Alisdair and I both had second interviews with different organisations. So, we decided that we should start looking for flats under the assumption that one of us would get a job. I began researching everyday for flats that were available in the area. We viewed a few and were not impressed, not because we are high maintenance, but because they were pretty run down from university student living. Then, one evening that week, a new flat popped up on the list and it looked amazing! This flat is located in the perfect area, just a five minute walk from our church, a five minute walk from our good friends, Scott and Monica, and walking distance to all shops and public transport. It is located in an old tenement building in Glasgow which are characterised by tall ceilings (with beautiful crown molding and embroidery), big spacious rooms and large bay windows. They are SO lovely and not at all what you would normally picture for a flat in the UK. This flat has two bedrooms (which was a non-negotiable for us as we love hosting), one bathroom and a nice spacious kitchen (for all my cooking endeavors). Alisdair went to view the flat the next morning without me, as I had my interview, but I gave him clear instructions: "If it looks anything like the pictures, reserve it!" It did, so he did. :)
However, after that week ended, we both didn't get the jobs! We were pretty disappointed, considering the flat seemed so perfect. We also learned that because we didn't have any income, we would have to pay six months rent, plus deposit, up front in order to rent the flat. We definitely did not have this kind of cash lying around so assumed we were not going to be able to get it. Then, we received word from a friend stateside (who is managing our mail there), that she deposited a large check into our bank account (from retirement money I had put away). We did not know when this check would come in nor did we know how much money it would be. When we got the amount and ran the conversion rate, it came out to be just short of what we needed for the full six months! We couldn't believe it, but took it as a provision from God and decided to move in faith that He would provide us with jobs in His good time. Here are a few pictures of our lovely (furnished) flat.
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2. Alisdair got a job! So, literally two days after we moved into our flat, Alisdair got offered a job with Bank of Scotland as a Customer Adviser. The location he originally interviewed with was in a town just outside of Glasgow, but he didn't get offered that position. Instead, he got offered a position at a bank that is just a seven minute WALK from our flat! We couldn't believe it, but were so grateful to God for the provision of this job.
3. We have a roommate! Less than a week after we moved in we had dinner with Alisdair's friend, Libby, who had just moved to Glasgow with her new job. She was looking for a room to rent and we were delighted to have somebody live with us, so we offered her the room! She is great, and we are super grateful to share a flat with her and get to know her more.
4. Some sad news. We went back to the states for the holidays to visit family and friends and to be in a wedding in Houston. When we arrived, I realized that something was going on with my body as I was exceptionally tired and moody. So, we took a pregnancy test just after Christmas only to find out the super exciting news that we ARE pregnant! If you know us well, you know that the fact that we were able to conceive, given all of my health conditions, was rather miraculous, so we were in major disbelief. We decided to go to the doctor in the states, even though we don't have insurance, just to make sure everything was okay and progressing as it should. During our appointment, we were made aware that the pregnancy was not progressing as it should and they believed (but were not certain) I was having an ectopic pregnancy (which is when the developing tissue gets stuck in the fallopian tube). They basically said that the pregnancy was not viable and was potentially life threatening for me, so we had to terminate the pregnancy. As you can imagine, this was very sad. Nothing in us wanted to terminate this pregnancy.
So, we had to extend our stay in the states for a few weeks and received the medical treatment to terminate the pregnancy. However, the medicine did not work as effectively as it should, so they brought me back in for another ultrasound. At that appointment, they were no longer thinking it was an ectopic pregnancy but believed it could be a molar pregnancy (which is when the meeting of the fetus and sperm is chromosomally abnormal and a "tumor" pregnancy is developing as rapidly growing cells that will never form into a normal baby). This type of pregnancy is also not viable, so they suggested minor surgery to remove the pregnancy. We complied and went through with the surgery.
Afterwards, we found out that based on the diagnostics of the surgery, they did not believe it was a molar pregnancy and their best guess was that it was an ectopic, as they had originally stated. At that point we were emotionally spent, as you can imagine. They had to give me a second dose of the medicine to terminate the pregnancy and wait for my numbers to drop. And they finally did!
All throughout this time, we have been SO taken care of and blessed by our dear friends and family and by our incredibly gracious God. We had several friends who took us in and let us stay with them for weeks. We had heaps of people praying for us in both continents. We were supported emotionally, prayed with, and cared for. We also had tons of people meeting all of our practical needs, such as making us dinner, taking us out and just giving us money. All of the medical staff were unusually caring, kind, and generous. We were given so many free services, such quality care and just over-the-top kindness. My doctor even gave me her cell phone number in case I needed anything! I have never experienced that before! There is no doubt in my mind that God has been with us and His good hand has been upon us. The whole time, even before I found out I was pregnant, I felt like God was saying to me "I am in this. This is Me." I know it has ALL been God. Through several scriptures and songs He led me to the point where I was able to say, "I have to trust You. I have no other choice, there is no other option. You know what's going on and I don't. Your ways are good and that is enough." He is constantly working everything out according to His perfect plan and I trust Him. I have been filled with peace that surpasses understanding, faith in things unseen, and hope in the glory to be revealed someday. Oh, how I long to see His glory! This scripture below brings great delight:
 "Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Now, we need your prayers! As you will see below, so many of our previously requested prayers have been answered. We believe that God hears us and responds, so please keep praying!
  • Relationships: Ministry, family and friends. As mentioned before, we believe that our whole lives are meant to be on mission with God, and we desire to minister to our co-workers and neighbors in our ordinary lives, so please pray that where He has strategically placed us He would give us opportunities to build relationships and make an open door for the gospel. This is the whole reason we are here, so it's very exciting! Please also continue to pray for mom, as her health is deteriorating and it is quite sad. My constant prayer is that she would experience the nearness of God and that He would deliver her from her suffering. Please also pray that God would continue to grow our friendships. We already feel we have so many friends in Glasgow (a city we have lived in for only two weeks) and are so blessed. Please pray that God provides us with a few couples that we can do life with and run hard after Jesus with.
  • Marriage: Protection and Love. In the last few months God has done so much in our marriage! We are beginning to regularly communicate the ways in which we hurt each other and are learning how to love each other better. Please pray that we would continue to grow in our friendship with one another, that we would have "Jesus-centered" care for each other, and would be for each other. God is already doing a major work in us here, so we are looking forward to Him continuing to refine us in marriage.
  • Mission: Now and in the future. Now that we are settling into Glasgow, we are beginning to think about where God would have us long-term and what He would have us do. We both still have a great desire to be a part of planting a church here in Scotland and have our ears open for opportunities to do this. We have already heard of two different plants that will be going out in the next two years, and therefore, are very excited about what God is doing in this country. Please pray for direction from God in this regard.
Thank you so much for your friendship, partnership in the gospel and prayers! We love you! Lookout soon for a post on all the cultural differences I am experiencing here. :) More coming soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Month In!

 Photo: It's a beautiful day in bonnie Catterline!

Time has absolutely flown by and we have been here for over a month now! I can hardly believe it! 

We have been living in a beautiful little fishing village called Catterline which is where Alisdair grew up. The photo above was taken just a few days after we arrived on a gorgeous sunny day (which we have had heaps of...miraculously)! It truly is a little dream world here but can be kind of tough for someone like myself who is much more accustomed to city life. More on this later! :)

So, we've been here for over a month now and there has not been a dull moment. When we first arrived we had a few days in Catterline with Alisdair's family and then headed off to Glasgow (about 2 1/2 hours away) to visit the church we have been following. Glasgow is an eclectic city in Scotland with rough ends and nicer ends. The area that we were visiting is in the West End of Glasgow and is right next to one of the main universities, so has much happening for the buzzing student life. It reminds me a lot of west campus in Austin, TX (for all you Austinites reading this). Here is the church below.

While there, we met up with this lovely Scottish/American couple that worked for Re: Hope and had a great time with them as we learned more about the church. We then paid the church a visit on the Sunday morning and it was lovely. We met up with Brian and Ruth (the pastor and girl who heads the prayer ministry) for lunch and had a great chat. However, after our time in Glasgow we didn't feel a strong indication that this is where we should be, but continued praying that God would give us more direction. 

We headed back to Catterline, resolved to make another trip to Glasgow in the very near future and continued praying. After about two weeks, we made another trip to Glasgow, this time staying with Scott and Monica (the Scottish/American couple). They were incredible hosts and we just spent a lot of time chatting with them, processing through where we feel God leading us. We visited the church again, going to prayer in the morning before the service (so fun) and met a lot of new people. During this stint in Glasgow we walked away with the following:
  • We highly value being a part of a church that is biblically sound, is making disciples, is missional in their approach and is making room for the movement of the Holy Spirit.
  • We found that Re: Hope is doing all of these things.
  • We feel like God has wired us for church planting and we believe we will be a part of planting a church here in Scotland in the future.
  • In the mean time, we will jump in and serve, make disciples and get even more equipped for ministry at Re: Hope.
So this means...we are moving to Glasgow!!! Whew, this took a long time to process and pray through, but we feel assurred that this is the direction we are being led in. Now we are spending our days applying for jobs, which is a lot of work!

Now, your part in this. :) We need prayer! We truly believe and have experienced that only by prayer does anything happen, so please join us in our efforts to pray and petition God for our next steps. Your prayer is invaluable! We would like to ask you to pray for the following:
  • Provisions: Jobs and a home. Right now we are looking for jobs, not having had any experience working in the UK and the market in Glasgow is not great. Please pray that our CV's (resumes) get into the hands of the right people and we get a job! Also, we are really looking to live in a specific area of the West End of Glasgow that is very close to the church. Living in close proximity to our church has been something that God has put on our hearts for some time now so please pray that the right flat will become available at the right time in the right area! :) More than all of this, we really believe that our whole lives are meant to be on mission with God, so please pray that God would put us around the right co-workers and neighbors to minister to. It is our desire to reach people with the gospel in our ordinary lives, so please pray that He would strategically place us and prepare hearts in advance. This is very exciting! :)
  • Marriage: Protection and unity. As you can imagine, moving to another country can be quite tense at times. We have recently felt that we are newly married all over again! Fun times! :) We are learning how to communicate lovingly when stress levels are high, how to care for Alisdair's family, and how to rely on Jesus in the midst of changing circumstances. It's been hard, but SO good. We are realizing that we have developed some poor communication habits in our marriage and are working to change. We believe that through the amazing grace and redemption that Jesus provides, we can change (and will!) and our marriage can be a picture of Jesus' relationship with the church. There is great hope in the gospel! So please pray for protection from lies and unity in the gospel.
  • Relationships: Family and new friends. We have never lived in close proximity to Alisdair's family before, so we could certainly use prayer in learning to do this well! Also, my family is not well at the moment, my mother is having a lot of health issues and has been in and out of the hospital in the last month. It has been very difficult to be away from my family during this trying time. Please pray for healing for my mom and that God would provide them with heaps of people to love and support them during this difficult season. I have already been amazed and so grateful for our dear friends who have been ministering to my family in our absence during this time. On another note, we are in need of new friends! We miss everyone from the states SO much, and are looking forward to moving to Glasgow and making new friends at Re: Hope in the very near future. Please pray that God will provide us with a few couples that we can do life with and run hard after Jesus with.
Now last, but certainly not least, here are a few things that I have found to  be interesting and different about living in this country. Please know that I know these are ALL first world problems. :)
  • Laundry. Doing laundry here actually takes at least two days minimum whereas I could knock this out in a few hours in the states! I have to wash clothes, hang them out to dry (yes...outside) which takes at least a day (that's if it doesn't rain), and then iron everything! Whew! This is going to take some getting used to!
  • Coffee. I really love a good cup of coffee. In this country, not many folks buy coffee beans and grind them so it's been difficult to find a good selection of coffee beans and even more difficult to buy a good, inexpensive coffee grinder. We have actually already gone through TWO coffee grinders which both broke! :(
  • Lettuce. I didn't realize how spoiled I was to have Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market and HEB within a 20 mile radius as the selection of food shops here are limited. I have found it really hard to find fresh, organic heads of lettuce in this country. They certainly don't have the many varied options that I had become accustomed to! So, for now, bagged lettuce will have to do.
  • Driving. We have been so blessed by our cousin who has lended us her car for 3 months! Otherwise, I would be stuck in the countryside all the time and would go totally mental! ;) I have driven once so far and found myself veering to the left. Also, because the roads are SO narrow, I find myself flinching, making it hard to keep my eyes OPEN when another car crosses me from the opposite direction (dangerous!). So, I have given up driving at the moment and Alisdair takes us everywhere. :) He's a pro and has found it relatively easy to adjust to the opposite side of the road.
I am really beginning to miss everyone and everything stateside now and I anticipate that this will grow even stronger. This morning I am reminded through scripture that I am a foreigner and stranger on this earth and the home that I long for can only be found in heaven. I hope this word blesses and challenges you in the same way:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."                        Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16
Oh, may He give us grace to see Him the way we ought! To God be the glory and blessings to you all!

The McKibbens