Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Preston Park Prayers

From Dr. R.L. Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith:

"There can be no question where the blame must be placed for our spiritual poverty. Every sin problem reveals a prayer problem. There is no sin that the Christian will ever commit that could not have been avoided by prayer. Jesus instructed his disciples: 'Pray that you enter not into temptation' (Mark 14:38) and he taught his disciples to pray that they would be delivered from temptation and from the evil one (Matt 6:13, Luke 11:4). James declares: 'You do not have, because you do not ask God'... Paul's experience highlights the simple yet profound truth that prayer is not the means by which we from God what we want. Rather, 'prayer is a means God uses to give us what He wants.' We have completed our discussion of the three means of grace, the Word of God, the two divinely instituted sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and prayer... Their faithful, worthy employment will strengthen the Christian and equip him for every good work in life. Their willful neglect can only result in spiritual loss. Christians should faithfully attend upon these gracious helps that the wise God has established for their growth and health."

As I read that in the park today, it caused me to stop and think. At first it seemed too harsh and abrasive, but the more I thought about it and reflected on scripture, the more truth I saw in it. I am responsible for my sinfulness. Not, thankfully, ultimately before God. But I think in my heart I often chalk my poor behavior up to my sin nature, so I think it isn't really my fault. If I want to be more holy, I must make use of the means God has given me. I can't just expect to wake up one morning more patient or kind. I must ask God to make me that way, and I must read the Word, and spend much time in prayer and meditation on God and his goodness to me. God doesn't forsake me if I don't do these things, and he is no less pleased with me salvifically. Through Christ, he is eternally pleased with me and I am justified. But for my own spiritual life and sense of encouragement and strength in the faith, I must pursue God. Why should I be surprised at his seeming far off when I spend so little time seeking his face? At any rate, Dr. Reymond is far more eloquent than I.

We spent the day at Preston Park. I spent time praying and Brian did some of his reading. (There is a lot of reading involved in getting your PhD!) If you are a Grace gal, or a friend from Ft Lauderdale, or a new friend from England, I prayed for you today! I hope that God makes my prayers powerful and effective in your life. Iain enjoyed the swings there. You can watch a video of him swinging by opening this link:

As we were walking home from the park, I snapped this photo of St. Peter's Church. It just looked so pretty in the setting sun. Speaking of the setting sun, I can't get over how early it is getting dark now! The sun is going down at about 4:30!

Tonight is Iain's first Halloween. They don't quite know what to do with this holiday here in England. They've realized that Americans have a lot of fun with it, so I guess that is why they decided to try it, but nobody seems to know what to do. They're always putting on costumes (they call it fancy dress) over here, so they like that part. We went to a party tonight for the kids here on campus and they served a "traditional American supper" of hot dogs! Everyone was asking us if this is how we did it back home. Ha ha! But, travesty of travesties, there was no candy anywhere to be seen at the party! I brought a bag along to give to the "trick o' treaters" which they enjoyed, but were surprised to receive. I'm not a real big fan of Halloween, but it was kind of a funny evening. Here's a few pictures of the old cowhand for you all to enjoy!

Behold the throne of grace!
The promise calls me near:
There Jesus shows a smiling face,
And waits to answer prayer.

My soul, ask what thou wilt;
Thou canst be too bold;
Since his own blood for thee he spilt,
What else can he withhold?

Thine image Lord bestow;
Thy presence and they love;
I ask to serve thee here below,
And reign with thee above.

Teach me to live by faith;
Conform my will to thine;
Let me victorious be in death,
And then in glory shine.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ambrosia: food of the gods!

Brian here again: As you can see above, I have discovered the true ambrosia! For all our uninitiated readers, ambrosia is the food of the gods in ancient Greek mythology--it was stuff so good that it was unsuitable for consumption by mere mortals. Since I learned this, I have dubbed many wonderful dishes to be the true 'ambrosia, food of the gods.'

One thing that we have discovered in our month-plus living in England: if there's one thing that Britons make very, very well, it's desserts (or puddings, as they call them--a vast majority of sweets fit into the pudding category). And the king of all British desserts is custard, which is a thick, sweet sauce made mostly of milk and sugar. It can be served either hot or cold, and you simply pour it on top of just about any kind of pudding. It's amazing, and what a great idea: you take a wonderful, tasty dessert and make it immeasurably better with a generous dose of custard! It is undoubtedly the true ambrosia, the food of the gods.

Thanks to our friends Charlotte & Paula, who brought this box of custard when they joined us for dinner last Friday. And FYI, Ambrosia is a brand name here in the UK, so we mortals can now partake in a whole series of divine delicacies.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Urgent Request for Prayer

Through a message board I belong to I found out about Baby Noah-- he is the same age as Iain and is very seriously ill. I'm not terribly clear on all my facts, because I just read about all this tonight, but this is what I think has happened: He has been in the hospital since he was born, and the doctors can't seem to figure out what is wrong with him. He has nearly died multiple times. This poor little guy has been through so much. He has some kind of metabolic problem, but the doctors can't figure it out. He is beginning to lose brain mass... I think of my own son going through these things and I can barely stand to even imagine it. Please, please pray for the healing of baby Noah. His family is organizing a day of prayer for him on Oct 31. Please consider not only praying, but also fasting. Here is his mommy's blog: www.noahsteven.blogspot.com She has some precious pictures posted of the little guy. You can leave her a comment and let her know that you are praying.

For we know that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Seven Sisters Country Park

Last Saturday we visited the most beautiful place that I think I ever been to. The Seven Sisters are gigantic white cliffs right on the sea where the waves crash with joy. Brian and I had a great time, and Iain did too at first, but he didn't like the steady cold wind that came off the ocean down on the beach. I can't wait to go back again soon.

The park has a lovely old farmhouse with a bed and breakfast and a little restaurant inside. We ordered lunch there and ate it in the pretty walled courtyard. They had the most delicious scones and cream.

After lunch we started to walk through the park down to the shore to see the Seven Sisters. The green rolling hills were covered with grazing sheep and lots of families were strolling about. Lots of people brought their dogs, who ran around delighted with all the open space and new smells, but were very well-behaved and didn't cause any trouble at all.

Here is the stream the runs right down through the valley and empties into the ocean. It was so pleasant to walk beside it.

Our fearless guide.

Here is the pebbly beach with some old homes overlooking the sea.

And here are the Seven Sisters. Aren't they gorgeous?

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want
He makes me down to lie,
In pastures green He leadeth me,
The quiet waters by.

My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness
Even for His own name's sake.

Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me,
And in God's house forevermore my dwelling place shall be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lots of Playground Fun!

Look at my sweet boy! Here he is trying out the swings for the very first time at the playground on campus. He thinks it is pretty great, as you can see. I'm looking forward to taking him back soon. I've just been pretty busy. Brighton is a very family oriented city, which I didn't expect at all since it has a reputation as England's party/gay capital. There is definitely that side to this town, but there are also a lot of folk who decided that they were done working in London and decided to head south to Brighton to start their family. Many of the mommies here are older-- you can see they waited to have their career before kids. We already go to the Wednesday playgroup at church and we're hoping to add the "Baby Boogie" at the library to our agenda as well. Iain loves to watch other babies and children.

In other news, I'm grudgingly acclimating to life here, but still finding just the basics of shopping, cooking, laundry, and getting around challenging. I'm praying that God would give me patience and a spirit of submission to His will. Keep me in your prayers. One wouldn't think that life in England would be hard, but it kinda is. I think that not having a car and not having a lot of disposable income have a lot to do with that. But I'm hoping that this is furthering my santification. I'm discovering lots of hidden materialism in myself!

As an example of what I'm talking about, let me tell you today's story. There is a great website called freecycle that my mom told me about where you can get stuff that other people don't want anymore for free! So today I was supposed to pick up a hair dryer (yay!) and it was on Compton Rd, or so I thought. I let Iain have his morning nap and fed the boy and got him ready to go into town. We rode bus # 1 for about 45 minutes and then rode bus #2 for another 15. It is gently sprinkling as Iain, I, and my trusty map are deposited in an unfamiliar neighborhood. We set off in what we think is the right direction walking for probably another 15 minutes climbing the steepest hill I think I have ever encountered. When I get to the summit I can't find 43 A, so I knock on plain old 43. The man who opened the door was very nice, but told me that I was in completely the wrong place because I was looking for Compton Ave! So I walk back towards Compton Ave, but get turned around and spend another 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction before correcting myself. So I have to walk back. Luckily I was able to figure out my way well enough to catch a bus to the right part of town. So again we have a 15 minute bus ride and are deposied in strange neighborhood #2. It is raining harder and windy now, but we sucessfully find 43A and obtain free hair dryer. Yay! My next errand is to head to a shop to have Brian's briefcase repaired and go to the thrift stores to look for things for Iain. So I walk back to the main road and figure out what bus will take me where I need to go and where to catch it. So Iain and I wait in the rain for the bus and have a 10 minute ride to the shops. We walk to the store we want and a lady rudely cuts in front of us with her order. Then we speak to the Turkish man who owns the repair shop. Unfortunately, it will be 25 pounds to fix the bag. As we are there, Iain lets me know that it is time to eat! (I am very blessed that he finds all this travel very interesting. He just absorbs it all and seems perfectly conten to be drug all over creation as long as he gets his meals on time.) So I head to a nearby restaurant to feed him. The stroller doesn't really fit in the restaurant and another mom and I play stroller musical chairs since she was in there already with a stroller that only fit behind the door. Since I am using their nice dry chairs and I am hungry I order some food. But after ordering 3 drinks with my meal just to make it expensive enough to use my debit card, I discover I can't use it because it is American. Grr... Thankfully I had other money with me that I had forgotten about, so I can order just the food I really want. yay! By the time we both finish eating it is raining very steadily and although it is only 4pm, many of the shops have already closed for the day. My umbrella somehow becomes quite entangled in the stroller and I can't get it out! I decide it is time to head home, especially as I want to try to attend the feminist meeting tonight. We wait 20 minutes for the bus in the rain, but during this time I disentangle my umbrella. Iain stays dry thanks to a stroller cover I bought at home. I'm very thankful for that cover, because the thought of my baby being cold and wet too would send me over the edge at times of stress. We get on the bus, but no one will make room for the stroller and the stroller and I are blocking the aisle of the bus and dripping water on people. Finally the bus clears a bit and we have room to fit into the stroller space. We change buses and finally arrive home.

I know that narrative was long-winded and poorly written and whiny, but I wanted to get it out. I feel better just saying how it was today and is many days here. The frustrating thing to me is how long it takes to get anywhere on the bus. They do come frequently, but they stop frquently too. Everything I went to was probably within 7 miles of my house today. So at rate, apologies for the boring whiny post, but now posterity and I are satisfied. So please do pray for me that I will see the little providences and be patient under the little providences.

I tried to go to the feminist meeeting again, but again the room was dark and locked. They have the world's worst publicity, which is probably a good thing. :)

Praise to the Lord who over all things so wonderously reignth,
Shelters thee under his wing, yes so gently sustainth.
Hast thou not seen, how all they desires have been
Granted in what He ordainth?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What, are you stupid or something?

Brian here again with a humorous story from our Battle of Hastings trip that we forgot to mention in the previous post:

Before the battle reenactment, the soldier pictured above with Iain and me was explaining his weapons and armor (or should I say armour?) to some of the visitors. We caught the latter part of his explanation, and when he was done, Jordan asked him if he was a Norman or a Saxon. Before the soldier could answer, a little boy standing next to her, maybe only 6 or 8 years old, looked incredulously at her and asked in all earnestness, "What, don't you know your Normans from your Saxons?!"

I guess not! Where in the world are we from anyway, and have we no education at all?

For the record, he was a Saxon.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm a little too old for an identity crisis, aren't I?

We went to an interesting lecture last night-- at least it finished up being interesting, but the beginning was rather obscure and almost intellectual to the point of display rather than communication. Afterwards there was a wine reception, a bit similar to the wine reception they had to welcome all the new graduate and post graduate students. And there is an abundance of rumpled plaid, corduroy, and serious contemplative expressions among my new acquaintance.

I met a woman at our Wednesday playgroup whose husband works in a hotel in Brighton. We were chatting along just fine until she asked what my husband did. When I told her he was getting his PhD in history at the university, she actually physically drew back and said "Well, you'll be living in a mansion when he's done, eh?" I tried to explain that professors don't actually make a lot of money, but our conversation was stiff and quickly died away after that.

Wine and cheese? Conversations about rhetorical redescription and paradistole?

Who am I? I'm not one of those snobby turtleneck-wearing intellectuals, am I? To be honest with you, I'm not terribly fond of them. They tend to be very proud and self-important, boring others and making them feel small with their learned nearly unintelligible theories. Are other people going to be intimidated and uncomfortable because Brian has his DPhil for the rest of our lives? Is this going to be a stumbling block to building real relationships and sincere communication with others? I certainly hope not.

No one, including myself, seems to know where exactly I fit. A mommy on campus? It's a little weird. I don't quite fit in with the normal people who live in town and I don't quite fit in with the intellectual crowd-- and I'm not sure I want to either, though they've all been nice to me.

I think I may have met my first kindred spirit this week at our church's playgroup, which I plan on making that part of my weekly routine. Her name is Katy and she and her husband attend our church. She runs the toddler group along with the pastor's wife even though her kids are my age. She gave me a few much needed hugs yesterday and told me that she was praying for me every day. I hadn't said anything to her about being homesick, but she knew I was and she was so welcoming and kind. What a blessing. At least I know there is one place I always belong all around the world. With my brothers and sisters in Christ.

PS- Have I mentioned how thankful I am for the internet? It really enables us to keep up with the other side of the world. Thanks to everyone who has dropped by with an encouraging comment!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Norman Invasion!

Last Saturday we traveled to Battle Abbey & Battlefield to see the largest ever re-enactment of William the Conqueror's invasion of England in the year 1066. I didn't know anything about William or the battle when we arrived here in England, so I read up on it a little. Edward I died without any having sons, so the crown was up for grabs. Two different guys named Harold along with William (who was at that time Duke of Normandy in France) claimed the throne. The two Harolds fought it out in the north of England while William landed his force in the South. The winning Harold came down to fight him in what is now known, appropriately, as the town of Battle. I bet you can guess who won. They don't call him William the Conqueror for nothing.

It was pretty cool, because there were about 3,ooo people dressed up as Saxon and Norman soldiers out there on the battlefield. Here is part of the Norman cavalry (quite the innovation at the time) showing off their stuff on the battlefield:

These next two shots are the ruins of the Abbey, which William had built to comemorate his victory. The high altar, which is no longer in existance, is supposedly the spot where Harold died, shot through the eye with an arrow. There is a little plaque there in the ground now. Saturday there were lots of flowers laid there. Brian and I thought it was a little funny to see how vehemantly the English people there supported the Saxon cause, since William's line was on the throne for quite awhile and includes guys like Henry I & II and Richard the Lion Heart.

They had all kinds of demonstrations of life in the 11th century-- how they ate, what their weapons were like, etc. This guy did a falconry demonstration.

Brian got to try on an 11th century style helm, which pleased him to no end. He told me that this was the sort of thing he was born to wear. :)

This is a shot of the empty battlefield through part of the ruins of the Abbey.

This is the from the interior of what is left of the Abbey.

Here we are, footsore, damp, and a little chilly, but having a good time none the less.

Here is Brian getting ready to duke it out with a soldier. Brian was disappointed because the guy looks so friendly in this picture.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lovely Falmer

Brian here again. On Friday we walked through the beautiful little town of Falmer, which lies immediately adjacent to the university. Compared to the hustle & bustle of campus and the Brighton area, Falmer is almost perfectly pleasant and peaceful. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Settling into life in Brighton

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121: 1-2

Fall is beginning to show her face here in Brighton. They've had a bit of an Indian summer lately, but today as I was walking home the crisp air turned my cheeks a rosy red and the trees are gearing up for their pagentry. It is a show that I haven't seen in quite a while, so I'm looking forward to it. Autumn is my favorite season.

We're still settling in here. It is surprising considering the place is only 2 rooms, but there are still some things we need to buy and some repairs that need made. We're meeting lots of our neighbors who are quite the eclectic bunch. We've met people from Uganda, Ireland, Nigeria, Iran, England, Mexico, and Malaysia. Brian is busy with reading and seminars and meetings. He is actually going to be involved in editing an online history journal that US puts out, so that will be a great resume booster and very good experience for him. I'm busy trying to stretch our money as far as we can make it go comfortably: going to the store, buying things for Iain secondhand, cooking from scratch and creatively using leftovers, hunting for deals online. And of course taking care of Iain! I just got a job watching the 1 year old, Kon, who lives in the flat above ours. It's once a week for 3 hours and I get 12 pounds. It is not the greatest pay, but his Mom is a student too and it is nice to have a little extra money, particularly when I don't even have to leave the house to get it! I was praying for something like this, and I'm so thankful for it.

Iain is getting SO big! Here he is in the Bumbo seat that I got for him today. Look at him sitting up! He can't do it on his own yet, but he sure is trying!

I also fed him rice cereal for dinner tonight. I couldn't shovel in fast enough. Brian made him some and I didn't think we'd use all of that batch but he ate it all, plus a second batch that was even bigger! I'm glad, but I'm also a little sad, too. I guess that is just the way we mommies are. I rejoice over his development, but I always feel a strange pang knowing that part of his life has fled into the past forever. It is silly really because I want him to grow and become a strong man of God and he can't do that if he is a baby forever.

And now, to finish up and remind myself of God's graciousness, a list of thanksgiving:

1. That the buses that go right by our house run straight into town, accommodate the stroller, run 24 hours a day, and come frequently.

2. That we can pack so much onto the stroller.

3. For the annual bus pass that allows us to go anywhere on the bus as much as we want without additional cost.

4. For a washer/dryer in my own flat.

5. For the lovely singing birds right outside my window every morning.

6. For the pretty campus and hills surrounding it.

7. That people are so friendly here.

8. For the very inexpensive bumbo seat, and 2 bags of baby clothes, and little table that I found.
9. For the brand new double glazed windows that keep the noise of the students out and the heat in. They were installed just days before our arrival. Apparently the old windows were terribly drafty.

10. For our church.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Some England pictures

Hello, everyone. This is Brian, posting some new pictures here on Jordan's blog. Enjoy!

This is the Brighton Pier, the most well-known landmark in Brighton. It extends far out into the English Channel and is basically a carnival on the water, complete with rides, food, and comfy beach chairs to sit on and enjoy the breeze and sun.

This is the pier from the shore.

Here's Jordan relaxing on the pier.

This is me drinking a very good tea with the pier in the background.

Here's Mr Iain lying on the rocky Brighton beach. It's strange to a Florida boy like myself: there is no sand on the beach here, only these large pebbles.

These are two shots of Brighton, our fair city, from the pier.

These are some gorgeous white cliffs visible from the pier. There are some even more stunning ones known as the Seven Sisters further up the coast to the east.

There used to be a West Pier in addition to the Brighton Pier, but it burned down . . . twice. There are, of course, some conspiracy theories about the owners of the other pier trying to take down the competition. I'll bet you didn't know piers were such a tough racket!

This is another area landmark, Brighton Station. It's a Victorian-era station, built very high to accommodate all the steam engines that used to service it. The station was the first of Brighton that we saw as we arrived on train from Victoria Station in London. From here we can get pretty much anywhere in southeast England in 2 hours or less. Trains on platform 8, such as the one on the right side of this picture, travel straight to the university!

This is the old gate in the town of Lewes, which lies just across the Sussex Downs to the east of the university. Lewes is a very ancient town, originally built in the 11th Century by William I, aka William of Normany or William the Conqueror. We plan to return to Lewes soon to visit the castle there. The original castle was built by William I, and the present day castle sits on the original foundation.

Here is Jordan in part of a large and beautiful garden in Lewes.

This is a pub in Lewes that is typical of the many wonderful old pubs in England. According to the information board inside, this one has been family owned for over a century. Also, they're hosting the pea throwing world championship soon if anyone's interested.

Before we came to England, we thought our huge American stroller would be a liability as things such as vehicles and doorways are much smaller here. We have learned, though, that it is a tremendous asset, as it can haul stuff like no British stroller. Here Jordan has it loaded down outside our apartment after a run to the grocery store.

But stroller is not the only way Mr Iain travels these days. Here he is all bundled and strapped to Papa on a run into Brighton. He really likes traveling around this way--he feels very comfortable and often falls asleep.

Note Papa's ever-present umbrella: you can't be too careful in England!

We know the real reason anyone looks at this blog is to see pictures of Iain, so here you go. Be sure to leave a note and tell Mama how beautiful her boy is as that always makes Mama happy.

Aunty Kathryn made Iain these pajamas. She's become such an amazing seamstress that I think she could make just about anything she wanted.

Iain's ready to go to church, but he's always losing his shoes!

Barky the Dog has become Mr Iain's best buddy. He smiles quite big every time he sees Barky.

Here's Mr Iain all bundled up on a particularly cold night. He's wrapped first in a blanket lovingly made by Ruth Slagle and then in a quilt lovingly made by Shirley Reymond. Ruth's is his very favorite blanket. That's Rags the Bear sleeping with him, a gift from my sister Robin. We are very blessed to have friends and family who would would give us such nice things.

That's a Detroit Tigers hat on his head, in case you were wondering. The bill usually droops down over his face, so he often wears it sideways. Yeah, Iain & Papa have been following their beloved Motor City boys' amazing playoff run. This picture was taken just after they watched the Tigers' game two ALDS victory over the NY Yankees together. Many thanks to Al Gore for inventing the internet (and global warming) as we can now watch live baseball even though we're on a different continent.

I guess that's about all for now. We plan to post some pictures of the campus and our flat before too long. We miss you all--call or write sometime!