By The Sea

Pictures from our trip to Scotland, when we were by the sea…

 

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A Coastal Town and Castle Ruins (Our Last Days in Scotland)

Our adventure in Scotland is winding down and I’m trying to drink in the last drops of this amazing experience. Saturday we attended my husband’s boss’s housewarming party. Food, fun and nice people despite the unpredictable Scottish weather! (Literally one minute sunny, the next minute raining!) Sunday we debated on what to do on our last weekend here, if anything, since our Sundays are usually spent napping and resting. We decided to visit a quiet coastal town called Stonehaven. My husband had actually visited before and it was recommended to us by many that we go there.  The only thing was, it was Sunday, and unlike our consumer obsessed country of America, many, many places of business are closed here on Sunday. (Even on the weekdays many places close around 5 or 6pm!)  But I’m so glad we went.  I loved the feeling of this sleepy little town.  On one side you had beautiful old structures, always with a steeple or two rising to the heavens, and on the other, a beautiful coast, surrounding by green majestic cliffs.  Breathtaking and magical.  

leading to the ocean…

running to catch her as she charges for the water!

the harbor

After that we decided to take the short drive to Dunnottar Castle, beautiful castle ruins located on a towering cliff.

our walk to the castle, just breathtaking

Worship is Who You Are

Today is the last Sunday we will be in Aberdeen, UK, but I’m so glad it’s Sunday.  In many ways God has been preparing me for this trip.  Not in physical ways, but in spiritual ways.  Long before I knew anything of these travels I believe God was putting a special desire in my heart- a desire to burst this little bubble I was in and really know what it felt like to worship.

God’s been inviting me to hear Him…”Brittany, worship is not a place, it’s not a song, it’s not an event…It is who you are.”  And somewhere in my spirit I’ve been saying, “Yes, Lord, teach me to worship.”  Along with that came an ache to experience a type of worship I have never known.  As much as I enjoy worship back home at the church I’ve been going to for over a decade, somewhere I longed for more.  I knew there was more.  I’ve felt a deep burden to experience the limitless bounds of true worship that is done in spirit and in truth, not confined by anyone or anything.  I’ve been longing to experience worship that doesn’t leave you unchanged.

To give you a little perspective, let me tell you about the church I was raised in.  Let  me say first of all, that I have nothing bad to say about it!  The Churches of Christ do not have instruments, and we sing A Capella, which I have always thought is very pretty.  But along with that we have always been a conservative type of congregation.  Never been big hand-clappers or even hand-raisers, and don’t even mention dancing in the aisles!  I have never seen it!  I grew up shy and quiet, kept to myself and if I was honest maybe even felt uncomfortable with those who felt stirred to dance or fall to their knees in adoration of the Almighty God.

But somewhere inside of my quiet soul, I longed to worship God like that.

Last week we decided to try a church here in Aberdeen.  It’s less than a minute walking distance from our apartment and we looked them up online before we went to make sure we were in agreement about their beliefs.  I was so excited to be trying a different church from the one we go to back home.  It’s different here.  Here in the city, the churches sit right on the sidewalk usually on a busy street.  Many people walk and there is very little parking.  The doors to the churches stay open wide on Sunday and as you walk past you can hear voices of praise and worship spilling out into the street.  It beckons you to stop what you are doing and just come in.  I love that!  So different from our huge parking lots and huge church buildings back home.  I think with all that space, somewhere we miss the opportunity to just grab people off the street with our praises and invite them to experience Jesus with us.

We loved the church we visited and this Sunday we went again.  It’s called New Life International because much of the congregation is made up of people from all over the world.  Indians, African-Americans, Scots, and I’m sure many more of different nations were all there to celebrate Jesus.  I was excited by this as I longed to witness different kinds of worship and everyone being free to manifest their love for Christ in different ways.  It is a much smaller church, just a tiny fraction of the two services we have back home, but they were incredibly warm and inviting.  They had a small band and we were led in praise and worship for a good hour.  There was hardly a break between the songs, not really any scripture reading or prayers except what the Spirit was putting on the heart of someone to say.  Voices were raised loudly!  Even in this small church you could hardly hear your own voice among all the voices praising God!  Some people raised their hands and clapped their hands without hesitation.  There was a couple in front of me who found it necessary to dance to some songs too!  I felt myself loosening up among people who felt so free to express their love to God.  Between the songs, the band played softly waiting for the next song to begin and mingled with the chords and strings were whispers from the people praising God.  Perhaps they were praying or singing to themselves but it was hardly silent, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if maybe someone was speaking in tongues.  I know it sounds like an ancient mysterious thing, but it is simply a sign of being filled with the Spirit.  All those voices were truly captivating.  You could truly tell this was a Spirit led church and I was excited to be a part of it.

God is so good.  Every morning I try to read a little bit of the bible before everyone is up.  This morning I decided to flip over to 1 Corinthians and read a little bit about what was going on in the early church.  I was reading about the Lord’s Supper, and this verse in particular jumped out at me. “Therefore my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” 1 Cor 11:33.  I never knew that.  As far as my memory serves me when we take communion we’ve always just ate whenever it was passed to us, pretty informally.  God is good because I believe He gave me this verse for this morning.  I remembered it as we sat in church this morning and we were asked to wait until everyone got their little juice and cracker so we could all eat as one body- such a great demonstration of unity!

After this trip, I know I will never be the same.  It has taught me so much, and these past two weekends worshiping with the body of Christ has changed me.  I continue to be amazed and excited about God’s plans in and through me, and I know for sure that worshiping Him is a part of that.  I know it’s not about the songs or the place or the time it takes.  Worship is an attitude of heart when you wake up in the morning.  Worship is the way in which you live out your faith.  Worship is everything you were created to be.

A Day at Victoria and Westburn Parks in Scotland

There are several parks in the area here, two very close walking distance from our apartment, and what better place to be than at a park with a toddler?  It’s a great way for us to gt out of the apartment, even on chilly days.

Westburn park is just down the road from Victoria park

their version of a merry-go-round

Our First Weekend Sightseeing in Scotland Part II

Thanks to the brand new batteries we bought here strangely not working at all in our camera, I couldn’t post the rest of our pictures from last weekend.  I had just enough oomph to get them off of our camera and onto our computer ready for posting.  So here are the rest of our fun from Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

After our lunch and nap on Saturday we decided to head out to Drum Castle, not far from Aberdeen, the oldest castle in Scotland’s National Trust.  It was beautiful drive out there, but we were met with rain on a seemingly perfect sunny day!  We learned very quickly to always take our umbrella no matter what the weather looks like!  We couldn’t take pictures indoors and it was too rainy to walk around the estate, so we have just a couple pictures.

The drive. It is ridiculously beautiful here.

My husband took this beautiful picture.

View from the top of the castle tower.

This castle was amazing; it was handed down through the same family- unbroken ownership for over 20 generations from the early 1323 to 1975 when it was gifted to the National Trust.

Sunday afternoon we went to a nature reserve which was very peaceful and quiet.  There was a section of beach where we were not allowed to go because birds nested there.  Marlee wanted to walk herself which means we walked very slowly and didn’t get very far before turning around and going back.  Did I mention it was cold?  And then she fell in an awful pile of animal poop and had to be changed.  Thank goodness Mike told me to bring another change of clothes for her!  Still it was very beautiful there.

it was near the beach so we found the prettiest little shells

upon meeting a snail…

and back through the tunnel of trees

Next it was a very short drive to another beach where we could see the seals! (Or are they sea lions? I don’t know…) It was so breathtaking there.  The seals were on the opposite beach so we couldn’t get a real close look (at first we thought they were rocks) but as we walked closer you could begin to hear them.  It was a truly eerie sound, all of their barking and howling swirling together to create this haunting sound on a very quiet beach under the gray clouds.  

Marlee of course had fun playing on the beach and didn’t want to leave, but we had a long weekend and were ready to rest.  I think this weekend we will stay around town and do some window shopping and relax.  Despite news that we will be leaving Scotland 4 weeks early, our favorite thing to do sometimes is just to hang out, eat good food and watch a movie at home- no matter where we are!

Our First Weekend Sightseeing in Scotland Part I

We have been here one week!  I wanted to get this post up much sooner but the internet here has been either dreadfully slow or not working at all, but today it is back up and running.  Our first week was mostly spent trying to get over jet lag, but finally it seems our internal clocks are catching on to the time difference here.  We woke up Saturday to a sunny, nearly cloudless sky- quite unusual so far but very welcome!  We packed a lot into the day.  First there was the once monthly country fair, much like a farmer’s market back home.  It was wonderful!  A street packed with vendors, I couldn’t wait to see what local Scottish delights were there.  I have been eager to dive into the traditional and local flavors here and sure enough there was plenty of food to excite.  Since we are on the coast, fresh fish vendors were there as well as farm fresh dairy cheeses, meats, sausages, eggs and bacon from Aberdeenshire.  Fresh bakery items were available like bread loaves, steak pies and more.  We tried the traditional “clootie dumpling” which reminded me of a banana bread type loaf only dried fruit in it and a spicy sort of flavor like ginger cookies.  We tried and bought some monarch- a locally made mild cheese and tried “tablet” at a candy vendor which is like fudge only harder and sweeter and sort of crumbles and melts in your mouth.  So good!  There were also people selling jewelry, pottery, art, soap and children’s items.  It was a great start to our day!

We walked on and decided to stop at St. Nicholas Kirkyard, a really old and beautiful cemetery.  It was amazing.

A short walk a little further on and Mike wanted to show me Marischal College.  The architecture was stunning and impressive.

There we are!  We walked back to the busy Union Street because we needed to stop by the store.  Mike noticed one of the streets was closed and many people just standing or sitting around.  We asked a lady and she said the Armed Forces Day Parade was about the come through.  We decided to stop and wait- how exciting!  And there was a lady passing out paper Scottish flags.  Hearing the bag pipes was thrilling and memorable!

After that we went to the store and back to the apartment for lunch and a nap.  More to come… our outing to Drum Castle, a nature reserve and to the beach to see seals!

 

Finding My Way Around “The Granite City”

Sunday- our first day out and about! There we are right in front of our apartment called Skene House

I love this picture but it doesn’t do the scene justice. This is when we were walking down Union Street right in the city and all down that street hanging from one building to the next were colorful banners! They were from the Diamond Jubilee celebration- the Queen’s 60th anniversary of being Queen!

We stopped by Central Library and got a temporary library card. They have a great children’s section with toys and story times plus a great media center with DVD’s. We thought the DVD’s we brought would work in their DVD players but they don’t!

Monday was my hubby’s birthday (I came just in time!) so we went out to a little pizza place, which actually had the best pizza I think I’ve ever had! (Yes, I caught Marlee with a weird look on her face!)

Here we are in Union Terrace Gardens with His Majesty’s Theater in the background.

These are some of the first places Mike took me to see when I arrived here in Aberdeen, also known as “the granite city” because all of the buildings are made out of granite.  He was quickly trying to get me acquainted with the streets since  he knew I would be walking around by myself.  This is quite a task since I routinely manage to get lost even at home in a city I have lived in since I was in the third grade!  Nevertheless, on Tuesday I wanted to go out and do some shopping and Union Street was only a ten minute walk or so.  We walked down and found an adorable toy shop with a wonderful lady who gave us a list of fun things to do in Aberdeen with children.  Then we made it down to one of the malls (the malls close at 6pm everyday by the way- I can’t figure out why!), we got a snack, stopped by the co-operative food store for some groceries and started back.  It was a beautiful sunny day, although chilly and I was feeling really good about my journey so far.  I kept telling myself, almost pinching myself, “You’re in Scotland, you’re walking around Scotland!”  But in predictable Brittany fashion I started back for the apartment and couldn’t remember how to get there!  I walked down one street where I thought I would soon see the street I was supposed to turn down, but I didn’t see it.  I kept walking but nothing looked familiar.  I made careful note as I walked to the mall of the many unique shops on the way so I would remember my way back.  I didn’t see anything I had seen before.  Oh dear.  I ended up asking several nice people where Esselmont Ave was, some seemed confident, others didn’t, but their directions weren’t getting me where I wanted to be.  Finally one woman and a very nice man (who I asked directions from before and didn’t know actually came back over to where I was to let me know he had gotten directions) led me to the street I needed to go down.  I turned the corner and it was like the skies parted- everything was familiar again!  What I had forgotten (which Mike DID tell me about) was that I was looking for a street that had two different names.  (Kind of how Hwy 6 and 1960 are the same road). Ugh.  Well, we made it back and what an adventure for my first day out!

It is beautiful here.  Many of the buildings are very old.  Cobblestone and pebbly streets are everywhere.  Beautiful church steeples rise up towards the gray sky.  Trees line narrow roads and where it’s green, it’s really green.  It’s just how you’d imagine Scotland to be- beautiful old stone walls with moss and plants peeking out and sheep dotting country fields.  Many of the apartment and house doors are brightly colored- blue, red, hot pink, light purple, creating color against otherwise monotonous gray granite buildings.  And I still have so much to see!

What I have noticed is that they are very conscientious here.  They are big on saving energy- lights may not come on until you walk through and trigger the sensor.  Also recycling is a greater effort here.  What I really like is that on the foods you buy at the store and in the restaurants, if the food is vegetarian or vegan it will clearly say so.  It will say “V- suitable for vegetarians (or vegans)”  How nice!

So now we are trying to decide what to see this weekend, perhaps a castle or the beach.  There is an international market going on so I think we will see that on Saturday.  For now I am hoping we will soon get past this jet lag!

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