By The Sea

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



Goodbye My Summer of Travels

Well, we made it back from the last of our Summer travels.  What a Summer it’s been!  These last few months we have been to Kentucky to visit family, my husband worked in Scotland for two months and I visited him there for one month, and we just got back from a fun filled week in Walt Disney World where we were even able to see our favorite Christian artists play for Night of Joy.  This Summer my faith has been tested and stretched, my patience tried, my fears faded, my joy filled, my God grew larger and my world grew smaller.  For someone who has never been excited about traveling, I would never have believed I could do all this!  But now that I am home, I certainly am very glad to be here!  I am now looking forward to settling into our routine again, not thinking about any traveling plans any time soon.  I’m excited to welcome the soon-to-be-here Fall weather, (which I can feel in the air is quickly approaching) and all that this season brings- hearth and home and memories to be made right here around the living room and dinner table.

Goodbye, my Summer travels!  I will never forget you!



Home Sweet Home

We are finally home from our adventure in Scotland, and I am forever changed. I was sad to say goodbye to the first place I ever traveled outside my home country, but also glad to be coming back home to familiar faces.  It’s been a couple rocky days. We expected to come home and flop down into bed, but instead found our electricity had been turned off and let me just say that is not good in south Texas’ hot humid weather.  We are finally settled in again, but there’s been a lot of chores to do and the house is a mess.  Among all this busyness I took a few minutes to clear off the dining table, pour some fresh limes and lemons in a bowl and arrange a bouquet of flowers in the center.  All it takes is a few minutes and a couple dollars (flowers were on clearance) to make the whole house smile.  There’s still much to do to get our house back in order from such a long trip, but this clean pretty space makes me feel that all is right with the world.

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.

Confessions of Traveling Vegan

a good vegan meal of lentil stew and brown rice

A few months ago I decided to begin eating vegan.  I love the purity of the vegan diet.  No meat, no dairy, no cheese, no eggs, no animal products of any kind.  To me, it wasn’t about what I was saying no to, but what I was saying yes to.  Whole grains, gobs of vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes which is basically the foundation of every anti-cancer, anti-heart disease (both run in my Dad’s side of the family), anti-whatever-is-bad-for-you diet.  But becoming vegan right before our Summer travels made me a little nervous.  Would I be able to keep it up?  Find good food?  I have to be honest, being vegan is not that hard at home when you can control the ingredients coming in your house, but outside of the home it is harder.  The biggest hurdles?  Surprisingly, for me they are butter and honey.  Vegans don’t eat honey because it comes from an animal- therefore an animal product.  I’m on the fence with that one, because I really like honey and truly believe that raw local honey can be a good, even health beneficial replacement for refined sugar.  And butter is not that big of a deal because I buy non-dairy butter, but eating out I realize that pretty much everything is probably cooked with a little butter.  Even being as safe as I can and ordering vegetables, beans and a potato out at a restaurant, I’m pretty certain the veggies were cooked with butter and the potato comes with butter already on it.  I could ask for no butter, but then my taste-buds might stage a revolt against me.  I mean, I want to eat yummy things too.  That being said, I haven’t even ventured into my travels yet.  So, I have to admit, I have some confessions to make…

So far I love eating vegan, I love how fresh, light and satisfying vegan meals can be, but besides not always having access to vegan meals when eating out, there is something else.  There is, of course, the desire to throw away all my convictions and pull up a chair to a plate of something meaty, buttery and cheesy.  As far as traveling goes, I was doing pretty well.  I brought some vegan snacks with me for the plane (peanut butter, vegan granola bars, crackers) and even requested a vegan meal for the plane ride (which wasn’t too bad actually, although too spicy) but when I arrived in Scotland, I was weary, tired and very hungry from traveling and just wanted a comforting meal, I didn’t really care what it was.  I underestimated my relationship with food.  No matter how much we try to distance ourselves emotionally from what we eat, I’m convinced it can’t be done.  Eating is as much a social, emotionally, and cultural event, as it is a physical one.  Sometimes a salad and some beans just won’t cut it when you need something deeply warming and filling.  So the first week I was here I wasn’t really sticking to a vegan diet.  At first I was more vegetarian since I incorporated butter and dairy (Dairy inside of food that is) but one night I even sat down to a fish dinner with my husband!  Now I really don’t have a lot of bad things to say about meat, fish and dairy.  I like them.  I have just chosen to not eat  them so I can focus on eating other good for you foods, but it had been so long since I had incorporated them into my diet, that it actually made my stomach hurt for a while.  So back to being vegan as much as I can.

Although traveling vegan can be tricky, I have had some small successes.  I’ve learned that if I see something on the menu that I like I can ask the waiter if they would leave off the cheese or something else to make it vegan, and I’ve never had anyone say no.  Yesterday I went into this cute little cafe.  It was so lovely.  Scones and cakes looked delicious under the glass.  Organic goodies were everywhere.  Tea and coffee were being made in the back.  I asked her if any of the treats were vegan.  She said no, but that she would bake something vegan this week and told me to come back!  I talked to her a little bit and turns out she was trying out being vegetarian for 30 days.  How awesome is that?  Of course this was a little, privately owned shop- you probably couldn’t walk into a Starbucks and get that same kind of service.

So there you are.  I’m a vegan who sometimes eats butter or cheese and even meat…I am still passionate about a vegan lifestyle, but it’s hard living in a world that revolves around meat and cheese.  And I don’t want to become a social outcast for the sake of my food choices.  If I’m hungry and there is truly nothing vegan around (although that is almost never the case, you can always find something vegan) you can bet I am going to eat something anyway.  I love this quote from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet on being vegan, “It’s a journey, not a destination,” and I always remember that.

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

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