It’s a week before Christmas.. well… almost anyways…the volume of people in the shops is a very big clue.. the Christmas music playing in every store… people frantically searching for the perfect presents for cousins once removed, or the distant aunt whom is only thought about cause her Christmas presents already arrived under the tree.
I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I love the lights, the thought of peace.. the tranquil spirit shown in every magazine and shop window…
However, as I sit here drinking a cup of tea I can’t help but remember that story about Jesus clearing out the temple because He disagrees with what His Fathers house should look like. Did He know 2000 years ago how commercialised Christmas has become and how the most important element to remember at Christmas is all but forgotten about? Am sure He is sad about that.
Jesus came to this world as a little baby, which we are privileged to remember at Christmas time. He did not stay a baby… he grew up and showed us unselfish love when He died on the cross… which we remember at Easter.
I wonder what would happen if we all slowed down and took the commercial aspects out of this period of the year. Would we truly have that Christmas atmosphere every song sings about?
I hope I will be better about it all this year… yes, am in a shopping mall, but I went to look at the fishes… they remind me about the verse in the Bible were it says ‘don’t worry about tomorrow’… I know those were birds.. but it’s winter, cold and the fishes were available to look at.
There are few American celebrations I can identify with… most don’t relate to anything I really know. However, Thanksgiving is something that resonates with me. Remembering why we can be thankful.
In the American history, this signifies hard times and new beginnings. Religious persecution lead to the voyage to America to pursue religious liberty. And after a slow start in Plymouth, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first successful harvest. This gets celebrated every year. It’s a national holiday. In Europe we also celebrate the harvest of the year. It’s celebrated in October and I wonder of the pilgrims took this tradition with them and gave it new meaning.
Thanksgiving.. giving thanks for abundance. Often in the humdrum of life, we don’t stop often enough to say Thanks to Him who provides. We may believe that hard work got us there, and not always see the significance of giving thanks.
Over the past years I have been privileged to be in the US during this holiday. Families and friends come together, spending quality time, remembering why they are thankful. Maybe a round table saying out loud that which they are thankful for.
I wish we would pay more attention to this in Europe. To be thankful is an act of acknowledgment that what we have is not of our own making. And that is always good to be reminded of! God relishes in our giving of thanks to Him.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.Psalm 100:4.
We do not need to minimise the giving of thanks to just the 3rd Thursday in November. We can be thankful every day. Every day is a new gift, a new chance to make choices. But to be especially aware of this act of giving thanks once per year is wonderful.
I will certainly miss it this year, to not be in the US. However, wonderful American friends have invited us to celebrate with them in London. So don’t mind me if I am just a little teary eyed, remembering why I am grateful, and thinking back to last year, visiting Plymouth Rock… there were this remembrance started.
It’s maybe not my all time favourite thing to eat, but it’s probably a very close second….Dutch pancakes with cheese and pineapple… or pancake with apple, cinnamon and sugar… or just simply pancake with stroop…. or I have been known to order all 3… just for me…
The family was deciding what to eat…. and it soon transpired that one of our nieces is waitressing at a pancake restaurant….as we would not have an opportunity to see her on our whirlwind visit, and we love pancakes… the decision was quickly made…. pannekoekenhuis!!!
A quick call to make the reservation, ensuring we would sit in her section, and asking if they would not tell her…. and off we went…
The family is loud… everyone talking over everyone else, laughing, joking…. but surprisingly she did not hear us until we all stood in the doorway, waiting to be seated…. judging by her face the surprise was a success… at least for us loud bunch…
The pancakes were delicious! Being waited on by one of the youngest nieces a pleasure… her boss allowed her to sit with us…. memories were made!!! we missed those not able to join..
My earlier post spoke about illness in the family, and the unknown ahead… that’s when these moments are most precious….
There is this song by The Isaacs… the words are below…
The sentence ‘I don’t know about tomorrow…. I just live from day to day…. I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine…..
It speaks to me…
we may not see each other again… but the pancake moments remain!!
I know who holds tomorrow
i don’t know about tomorrow I just live from day to day I don’t borrow from its sunshine For its skies may turn to grey I don’t worry o’er the future For I know what Jesus said And today I’ll walk beside Him For He knows what is ahead Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand I don’t know about tomorrow It may bring me poverty But the one who feeds the sparrow Is the one who stands by me And the path that be portion May be through the flame or flood But His presence goes before me And I’m covered with His blood Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand
These last 10 days have been a real adventure… deciding in the morning which way to travel, or which campsite to let our motor home rest. The initial intention was to drive the total 500 route along the Scottish Highland coast. We managed a fair bit, am happy to report… but needed to turn back at Thurso due to the weather. We visited John O Groats, the most northern point in the British mainland. A couple years ago we visited Lands End, the most southern point. So we can now truly say we have driven the total length of Great Britain!
We loved spending time at Chanonry Point, searching for dolphins. We did see a seal, but the dolphins did not decide to appear for us. Nonetheless, we walked the beach there and found other treasures…. shells and sea glass… the area is breathtaking… I could be parked up there for hours with a nice cup of tea.
We have been truly blessed by the weather… we have seen snow, had a little rain, but had mostly sunshine… that was until last night when our stop happened to be near Carlisle, just outside Gretna, the Scottish bordertown. We did see the amber wind warning, but assumed we were going to be ok…. well, we were ok… but as the winds battered the caravan we were strategically parked behind, the whole motor home rocked… for most of the evening and night… not too much sleep for us all there!
That brings me to today… we have returned home… and even though I have truly loved our adventure, evenings playing Yahtzee, crochet or reading… this is my home… and I am very glad to be spending another night here before flying back to my Minnesota home. We have seen east (Scotland) and west (Scotland)…. but home truly is the best!
It’s the day before the last day of the year, and time to reflect on that which is now the past…. What did 2017 bring you?
For our family, 2017 has brought a lot of change. Melody passed her Masters in Zoo Conservation Biology (a great accomplishment and I am very proud!), Geert bought another car to replace the car he had…. and I have lived in the US now for 7 months.
At the moment our family is reunited in the British Isles. In Scotland to be precise. We had read a lot about the area above Inverness and therefore decided to explore it. Currently we are driving the Route 500 in a Motorhome. We are hoping to ring in the new year in Durness, on the beach. Who knows… we might be lucky and spot the Northern Lights! So far we are loving every minute of it. Below you can see a few snapshots.
In a few days, life will return back to our normal. 2018 will have begun and with it, the promise of another blessed year. No one knows what the future holds.. am sure glad I know Who holds the future. Even if our family will spend some more time apart, we are together in love, faith and knowledge that we will spend eternity together.
Everyone probably knows the feeling…. suspense, nervous, excited, with anticipation…. something has been worth waiting for and is drawing near..
That is what I feel.. I have not been home in the UK since May this year, and in only 6 days I will be going home to visit. Am excited to see those things I hold dear, spend time with my family that I miss. Making new memories along the way.
Am also a little nervous. Will my cats remember me? Will my home still feel like my home? Will I be ok to leave again after the holidays?
Having been travelling between the US and the UK extensively, I have truly had the best of both worlds…when in the UK I miss the US and vice versa. And yet… the UK is my home. Or is it?
What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the Christmas period to end so all can get back to normal? Are you looking forward to spending Christmas with loved ones? Are you eagerly anticipating the presents you will receive? You are not alone….
Know that your biggest gift is freely given. And all you need to do is to accept it. Christmas is a reminder of Gods love for us, and He is waiting eagerly for you to be with Him.
Maybe that is what waiting is about? Anticipation to be reconnected?
Doing a road trip in America is a strange experience for a European. You can drive for days and not leave the country! Quite different from where I come from… a state is like a country.
In some states more time was spent than in others: Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and back in the Home state Minnesota.
What was the highlight of my trip? Spending time with family, especially those not often seen. It makes you realize how important connections are, and how special family time is!
The holiday is over, life returns to a sense of normality… the next event to look forward to is Thanksgiving. A moment of reflection on all the things and moments of the past year we can be thankful for. And after that Christmas, thanking God that He came to this world to show us how much He wants us to be with Him. And I get to spend the holiday with my own little family in England. Yay!
And so we are on our way… as soon as I knew my parents were coming I had booked up the road trip to visit my dads brother. A long way away, in Chattanooga.
We set off about 3 Friday afternoon with destination a hotel in Independence Missouri. About an hour south of St Paul we saw a massive Cabellas. If you have never been inside you probably don’t know what pulling power that store has for Europeans, who never really see shops where you can buy positively everything to kill and cook animals. My mother had seen a coat in that shop, and our mission was to check if they had her seize on a good colour.
We were admiring the stuffed animals, when my dad realised he was naked…. no phone!!!! I don’t know about you, but without phone these days we feel lost, drowning in a feeling of emptiness without something to hold in your hands… so back we went to retrieve it…
We arrived in Missouri at 1.30am… a little later than anticipated… but on our way!!!! Today the destination is Memphis..therefore… to be continued….
Sometimes strangers touch your heart and leave a warm fuzziness inside…
Let me start from the beginning. After we flew back to the US from Costa Rica I already started to feel a little funny. Worn out maybe? I put it down to the hot sun, and ignored it, but suggested to the family we would start our camping trip a day later. We got everything unpacked and repacked and on Friday set off to Bear Head Lake state park in Northern Minnesota. The state park had very good reviews and the trip to it went smooth. As we got closer I started to feel more unsettled but thought that a few days of no outside contact, cooking on fire, family time, fishing etc would do the trick.
We arrived and got the tent nicely set up. We cooked over a hot fire and yep… that which I had been fighting came back with a vengeance in the evening. What a shame of the lovely salmon, corn and mashed potatoes! Each one of those would make my meal normally! Off to bed I went, and the other 2 followed out of sympathy (after clearing everything away… bear aware!)
It was a bitter cold night, although Geert said I was like an oven… I did not sleep…. the first day of our holiday started well!
The next day I could do nothing much but stay in bed, trying to sleep it off. Geert and Mel went off exploring around the campsite and met the wonderful host from the side. God always sends lovely people to lift the spirit! An uneventful evening, (we won’t mention the soup….) and another night to pass.
On Sunday I woke up feeling more like myself… so off to Ely we went. We wanted to visit the famous mukluks shoe shop we had read so much about! We walked over a lovely little village market before going down a hill to the shoe shop. Shoes always make me feel better! Except… this time it did not and I realised I had already done too much. We decided to have a quick drink, mostly because I needed to rest… no sooner did I sit at the bar seats or I passed out… Mel sweetly held my hand… Geert ran off to get the car. The bar tender came over to ask if he could do something… a glass of coke, no ice…. I asked… I needed sugar in my blood fast! I felt a little better and could go to the toilet…. and God sent another little angel. ‘Minnesota nice’ the bartender called it…. don’t need to pay…
Sometimes it’s just the little things that make us smile… it takes little to be kind!