A year in photies part 2

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1st day of 2017. This was a very long day and I was grumpy for most of it (I wrote a blog about it!). Beautiful things however have a way of beating the grump out of ya…

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#tourists

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HOME!

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I got to go visit my old primary school in Northolt! This fabulous window mural was painted by the fabulous Gail Malloy (I still remember this being done…) and continues to serve as a welcome to all those who walk and enter the halls of Viking Primary School.

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This is the most snow I saw in Scotland. Very disappointing for this lover of cold…

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Took a day communal day off with my sisters to be THOSE tourists. Store from Auchentoshen. S/O to Alistair who chauffeured us for the morning!

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Drum demo from Del at the Racket. The kids LOVED this day so much (so did I!)

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Lorraine and Angela finding alternate uses for some equipment at the end of a JLU session *crying laughing emoji*

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“Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrenndered”

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So I joined a choir during my YAV year. Being a part of Cresendo was truly one of the best parts of my year. Wednesday nights in Anderston, tea breaks and pops music with brilliant humans. Yes please!

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Nicola’s driveway. Very far away in the distance is the isle of Lewis!

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My trip to Skye to visit Nicola was really lovely. Nicola is very outdoorsy and surrounded by nature so naturally out activities included interacting with some of it… I’m really proud of myself for agreeing to go out! 1) I can’t swim so that’s a thing… but also I’m pretty clumsy so I try to not engage in activities that can be injury provoking… Either way this day was dope as hell and I loved getting to drive through Scotland (though I may have been napping for most of it…) and spending time with some  of my favorite humans in a beautiful piece of God’s wee kingdom 🙂

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Faerie Glen. “The Tempest” was filmed close to/around this spot!

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After church walks around Loch Lomond

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Visit from Scott Burton, a minister in Perth who came to talk to us during our retreat about his book, “Holy Whitewater,” during our second retreat of the year. This was a beautiful night filled with gin-infused birthday pie, reunions and stories of ministry and transformation!

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GK staff launch or Northern Lights??

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Thursday night games with the Glasgow 59th Troop of the Girls Brigade. This pic is great for so many reasons…

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I will always associate spring with being a child growing up “down south” and being surrounded by yellow daffodils. This frequent sight this past spring tickled my soul

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YAVs and a dashing young thing prepping for the 1st wedding at the new church in Castlemilk’s new building. If Joey wears a kilt for him as Isabella’s wedding, literally so sorted…

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“Hand of God” by Jon Bellion

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one  of the station’s from Olivia’s #MessyChurch in Bridgeton

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All of the pictures of me from this day of me are very sad. So here’s my peeps taking a break on the day that Lynn forced us to climb Ben Lomond (it’s cool tho cuz she gave us certificates…)

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#simpleliving

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Much of the housing in Milton is scheduled for demolition. About 50% of the housing in the past 10 years has been removed and is yet to be replaced.

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Fort William

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impromptu Motherwell match w/ my fave Davie B. This was a really beautiful evening actually. Motherwell did a thing and everyone was very excited… Also watching families walk to (and home) from their local team’s stadium after work and school. It’s what spectator sports is all about. Local, affordable, family-friendly (keeping short cuz I could actually write a whole book on this…)

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display during General Assembly week

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I LOVE OUR SACRAMENTS! During General Assembly, Izz and I got to crash worship, war-planning and togetherness with some truly amazing young people who are making waves and taking names for the church that they both want and deserve. We broke bread with them, it was beautiful.

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Kilochomen Beach, Islay

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#vacayviews from Jura Cottage. S/O to Renee and Walter!

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Amazing sunset on the way to the Lochside to see Tidelines on my last night on Islay

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The Switch (minus a drummer who was actually working hard, lol). Hahaha I love this gang of troublemakers. I got to sit and and see these guys record some stuff in the studio in Milton and it was super much fun! I have 1st dibs on A&R/tour management for their 1st US gigs!!

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ruined nun’s quarters on Iona

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Iona Abbey

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Leaver’s assembly at Miltonbank Primary (I cried).

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hahah I hate them. they were supposed to be writing sermons

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Isabella being cute as hell preachin’ and stuff. This is one of many scenes from our worship service we planned and led at Anderston as a way of thanking our peeps for rockin’ with us all year!

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haha best pic of my bestest wee pal Ffion

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Scaraway Flats

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YAV favorite David showing the kids in Possil some tricks. David goes nowhere without a deck of cards or his coin and I love giving him a hard time for it!

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Arts Residential w/ GK. This tent was the struggle.com to put up (and take down, and dry…). I had so much fun this weekend, getting to spend some time and make some noise with the kiddos but also get to know some of the young leaders even better. Truly, truly amazing times.

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The Arc, Milton

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Isabella actually took this photo. It’s my top 5 fave of the year. To celebrate my birthday I stole a grill and even though it rained all day (hence our rain location of the church courtyard), I had so much fun with all of my favorite people in one place!

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for my actual birthday I went camping for the 1st time, lol. S/O to Olivia for making sure we didn’t die…. We did get lost for like 3 miles, got a lift from a kind stranger, and there were no midgies #win

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lunch date under the watchful eye of a Glasgow mural

That’s my top photos up until July. I’m still working  on my music festival recap as I want it to be perfect… It kinda feels like the longer we keep our stories to ourselves, the longer we can keep them from ending… No matter what I say about my year, I truly did have an insane amount of fun and “wonderment,” I hope these flicks are a little window into some of these moments!

 

 

 

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Sometimes words aren’t enough…

So I took hunnas and hunnas of photos with  my handy dandy iPhone this past year…. I actually was scrolling through looking for my favorite picture I thought I took. I was on the bus or maybe a taxi with either Izz or O. We were crossing over the Clyde and the view was just perfect… Idk if this moment is just a figment if my imagination, but I hope it’s not and I can find it cuz if it’s a thing I’ve been wanting to get it framed (cuz adults frame stuff and put it on their walls, and I’m an adult…)!

But here’s part 1 of some of the photos I took this year. I actually don’t have many photos of me in my possession from this year. I did take many snaps of my peoples and and pretty things I saw over the course of my crazy ass year. These are their stories *SVU music*

 

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1st #YAVsisterselfie on UK soil

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Bench in by the WeVolution storefront

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Ekama LIVES for a stained-glass. I actually for the life of me can’t remember where this is (maybe St. Mungo’s museum or Glasgow Catherdral??), but yeah, I’m taking commissions for my bedroom window… Seriously I love the stories behind stained-glass, the colors they let into be it a daunting cathedral or your granny’s front room. Plus, who doesn’t like shiny things??

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Lady O and a beautiful sunset on our beloved Renfrew Street

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The Kelpies! Very random but beautiful sculpture pieces in Falkirk. I got to see this wonder while tagging along with Just Like Us for the 2016 Scottish Recovery Walk. A show of support, strength and visibility for those who struggle through living in recovery from addiction, every day.

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Anderston Kelvingrove. Home of the Priority Areas fam. Best cuppa in Glasgow.

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Map @ casa YAV with pins of all the places there were YAVs last year and places where we all have a piece of out hearts

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St. Columba Church. This was actually kind of a really interesting Sunday morning… I decided to play hookie from Milton one Sunday and venture into my backyard for the only Gaelic service in the toon. I was late (as usual) and being a very old church with them small ass pews, me and my hips had a very stressful and loud time getting to a seat… The was maybe a dozen people in the congregation. If I could blush, I would’ve been. I had intended on staying for both the Gaelic and English services. During the sermon, which was on the Gospel reading from Luke, the minister very kindly switched to English so “our guest can understand,” which actually made me feel way worse for being late and interrupting these folk’s service. But I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that so much of my year felt like being a very noticeable and loud presence. Which at least for me in terms of what mission is and looks like, is not an intention but a very unavoidable consequence. Either way, I did enjoy this morning, listening to the word of God in another language, in the midst man-made, divinely inspired creation!

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Early morning walk started in Kirkintillock… This was the first of many purposeful nature-flavored activities over the course of my year. It not that I hate nature, I just struggle to exist in the midst of insects and green things…

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Only day worth 2 pictures… After we got lost in a golf course….

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Sunny Saturday morning in the heart of Glasgow city

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O talking to goats….

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These 3 probs spent a decent amount of time waiting on me. An impromptu tea date next door at our fave spot was no different. If you’re in Glasgow you HAVE to go to Single-End!

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Edinburgh. I’ve never been super into Harry Potter. I always roll my eyes when people say London is like being in Hogwarts (cuz girl which London did you go to??). But man, stepping off the train in Edinburgh, I see the inspiration for the wizarding world of HP. I mean there’s a castle in the middle of the city (behind this pic)!

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Wet cobblestone streets = death

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Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

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St. Giles Cathedral. This along with many other beautiful historic churches that open their doors daily,  not only for services but to hundreds of tourists. They also charge (only like £2) for folks to take pictures inside. At first I was shocked by such a practice, but as I checked myself, and I now understand more about the many challenges facing the Church of 2017, I get it. Stewardship is a huge part of the life of the church, and it’s not only about money, but money is a huge part of how churches are able to minster to the people. Anyways… we got a cool personal tour of the church and met with Calum MacLeod, the minister of the church who was the former minister for Fourth Pres., Chicago, and an American Ph.D. student from Edinburgh Uni also working at the church.

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Old Kirk and Muirhouse Parish Church

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hoppin’ around with the Centipede Project in Muirhouse 

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Quote taken from Love Milton consultation

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I’m 100% sure there are like a handful of pictures with Iain’s face in them. This is not one of them! This was one Monday at the Racket. Iain, who’s like a dope-ass bagpiper, played the kids some stuff and they LOVED it!!

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Fall is my favorite season. The weather is perfect, the colors are beautimus. My walk through the leaves and Milton, on my way to a weekly meeting.

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Sanctuary set up up for Remembrance Sunday. 

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Yeah love these peeps. If you were to come into the flat at any given time, you would most likely find us in the smallest room in the flat. Our kitchen.

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Opening of the Boiler Room. I loved to see the different ways this sanctuary space was transformed and transfigured over the course of my year! Also I have a new appreciation for year-round fairy lights! The writer James Kelman was interviewed in the hall, preceded by a wonderful evening of tunes, food, and good vibes.

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Yes this is our fridge dressed up as a cow, but I’ll have to set this scene up cuz I love telling this story… I was minding my business working on my computer when O stormed in like a tornado with scissors and a bunch of construction paper. I ignored her as best as I could cuz I knew there was no point in asking what she was doing as soon all would be revealed… She cut out some black blobs and stuck them on the fridge and alerted me to the fact that her mission was complete… She opened and closed the fridge and there it was. a COW. Lots of the appliances in our flat had lots of character and the fridge was no different. It made this preposterous sound, but only Olivia would think to dress it up appropriately. Literally I died laughing for a good few minutes after this… 

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Work meetings in Greenock. The sun actually was out for like 30 seconds this day. Also Trident is somehwere over to the left of this I think…

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Our 1st Orange Walk… Being woken by the sound of drums (not early) on a Saturday morning was not on. And once we ran down the hill I was confused to see marching outside of the season, which I knew was in July… This is like the 1st week of December I think…

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YAVs 1st GK event

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#teatimeatAnderston

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2016 was the 1st Christmas I spent away from my family. I spend a few days in Milton with the Rowes. Even though I ended up being pretty ill during Christmas week, I loved spending Christmas with excited tiny humans. I brought in my Christmas at church for a midnight service which was probably my favorite service of the year, other than Easter. This is the very large Christmas wreath the Rowes have, and the tree is logs that they add to every year with of memories and significant things that happened that year. I was very chuffed to make 2016! #MerryChristmas

Journeys Part 3: HEAM

I guess this is kind of a continuation of thoughts and feels on the journeys series so this will be the 3rd one!

Mama bear and her cubs all back together after a year apart! S/O to the Hoover Dam for this killer view. And the lady who saw the selfie stick that saved us…

In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, our epic hero Odysseus journeys home after being gone for 10 years, fighting in the Trojan war. His journey home, takes him another 10 years and is filled  enough adventure and drama to last a lifetime. Now, I ain’t no Odysseus, but the past 11 months have definitely felt longer, and maybe parts of the story would fit better in an MTV reality show (I’m serious!), but at the end we all make it back home.

This blog is coming to ya live from Denton, TX, from the comfort of my bed. I’m entering week 3 of reentry into the States and my post-YAV year life. It does feel weird to be home… So much is the same, (2-4 is still happy hour at Sonic, American presidents are still announcing troop deployments to the middle east (maybe, what was that???), Texas is hot), yet so much is different. Idk, words fail me in this regard.

Rachel and I shared a flight from LDN to Dallas. We ran into fellow 16-17 YAV Simon (South Korea) in customs!!

People asked me a ton what I missed the most about home, and I’ve struggled to answer this question, but I think now that I’m back I can most definitely say trap music (Bodak Yellow isn’t a musical masterpiece but it is nevertheless a BOP as the kids like to say #Cardi4President), the smell of my family’s house, and just feeling like I belong here…

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The last month of my YAV year felt completely nuts… So instead of words here are some pics of some of the shenanigans I got into during the month of July!

 

Day trip to Cumbrae w/ #teamCastlemilk

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Day out to Helensburgh w/ some of my JLU family

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I always seem to end up in open church buildings and this is what I found during this adventure in Helensburgh!

 

 

I went camping for the 1st time w/ O for my ‘actual’ birthday!

 

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WEDDING IN MILTON (yes, there were kilts)

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Randomly (or not) 2 of my favorite Scotsmen are also magicians. You can’t take Craig and David anywhere w/o then pulling out a deck of cards. Poor Jack here wasn’t ready!!

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Finally made it to this spot for a few pints!

 

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crashing the GK retreat on our last night. Serenaded by a couple of the Young Leaders

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David Borland, cheif YAV driver, bestest pal, making tea for us on our last night. Thanks for being a part of our crazy. WE LOVE YOU TO PIECES

Everyone wants to know what I’ll be doing now that I’m home. A very well-intentioned pastor asked me “what my vocation was going to be” the other day and other than say ‘GIRLLLLL,” I politely answered that I was still trying to figure it out. Which is totally a lie. I know exactly what I want to be doing with my life and where I see my journey continuing. But I think one of the things that keeps falling into my path is that I’ve gotta chill out and slow down, and also I should be careful about how I make my plans with the universe and myself. So in October of last year, I told myself that I was going to push back my plans until I was done with this year. Which is terrifying and extremely anxiety provoking. But I’m only a couple of weeks in so we’ll see how it goes. I will say that I know that I want to continue my work life in an adventure that will allow me to continue to foster healthy relationships and work environments. Whether that’s sitting at a desk answering calls, running around after children, or even working in a church again, only time will tell. I will keep y’all updated though. We did a reflection with Lynn a while back, I think on Iona, and there was this great quote to the effect of ‘if you don’t know the end goal, you can’t call it traveling.’ I LOVE THAT.

But at least for the next month (only, hopefully), I’m firing out applications, typing up cover letters until my fingers cramp up, catching up on American TV that I’ve missed out on, exploring Denton again, and drinking margaritas!
As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m going back to Scotland next month. MAP will be hosting the inaugural Milton Music Festival and I have the opportunity to go back for it (if you’ll be in Glasgow on September 16th, GET YA TICKETS FAM). It’ll be a whirlwind of a week, but I’m getting more and more excited as the calendar draws near. And then, less than 12 hours after I return from Scotland, I’ll be heading on another plane to Colorado, for our YAV transition retreat. I cannot wait to see my peeps again (if you ask my YAV sisters, this is a GIANT shift from how I was feeling about the month of September a couple of months ago…). Closure is such a privilege, so that we will get this space to decompress, hear each other’s stories and begin to find tools to truly be finished with this stage of our journeys is a blessing.

On the topic of home: Scotland has totally become that for me. I’ve gotten to live in some pretty amazing places over the course of my short life. The beauty of being in relationship with people and places is that they all seem to happen at a place in your life when they need to (or not sometimes…). I’m so grateful for some of the people in Scotland that I’ve gotten to be in relationship with. I know my life is fuller for it. Everyone keeps asking me when I’m coming back permanently, and that I shouldn’t worry about a place to stay etc. My public answer is, “chill out, I need to go home.”

 

 

 


Okay, that’s enough rambling… here’s a playlist. Songs about home. I clearly got distracted as I was making this one, but anyways…

Journeys: Part 2

One of the greatest reality TV moments of all time. S/O to better days of MTV and the legend Puff Daddy. This makes more sense with the playlist featured at the end…

Endings aren’t meant to be easy. Leaving one thing to start another is often exhilarating, terrifying, and extremely saddening all at the same time.

“But you get to leave…”

These are words, spoken to us during our orientation last August (!!) have stuck with me throughout the course of my year here in Scotland. I’ve had my return flight booked since November. The YAV Program lasts for 11 months. Pretty clear cut time lines. Which in life, seem to happen very rarely. The amount of time and it’s clarity have totes been a comfort to me in the year full of uncertainty, fast and slow-paced changes and not a lot of hyper-organized structure (I’m obviously rethinking my love and adoration for the latter as for some reason I keep running towards things that are definitely not, lol).

If I’m being honest, I’ve been ready for the end of this YAV year for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I will always cherish this experience. This year has been absolutely bonkers. I’m not sure if I yet have the words to begin to tell some of how I’ve felt about some of what I’ve experienced. I will say that the thing I’ve missed most about home is a sense of familiarity. Smells, sights, sounds and people that I’m used to. I often feel way out of my element here, a feeling that is uncomfortable and shakes my confidence more than I’m maybe willing to admit…

On a similar yet unrelated note on endings, the YAVs did a super cool and wonderful thing yesterday. We had the opportunity to make a silk print yesterday. We have encountered these beautiful and awe inspiring works in the various places we work. Pauline who works for the Transformation Team in the Priority Areas office led us in the process I can only describe as transcribing the stories from our year using silk. Pauline has led workshops doing these silk prints in churches and groups all over. It was such a wonderful process. Thanks Pauline! We love love love ya! We were also joined by Carolina Trevino who is the YAV site coordinator for the Austin site.


After our silk print dries, it will be cut up into six pieces and we will each get a chance to take home a piece of our creation home with us. Much excites…


So here’s a breakup playlist of sorts. Songs about endings, relationships and some stuff in-between. Falling in love with a place and people who you know you have to leave does feel a little bit like ending a romantic relationship. So I may have found myself in some state while making this playlist. Also I was listening to the 2003 masterpiece album Confessions by Usher….

4th of July Ramblings

The only song you need on you Independence playlists tbh…

One of the biggest challenges about being away from home has been celebrating. Being away from family, friends and the comforts of home doesn’t make wanting to keep traditions and such easy. A lot of times after a stressful day or week, all we want to do is lay in bed, in our PJ s and eat ice cream, call and text home, or like cry.

Today is the 4th of July. This is how my morning started…

 


I really appreciate being surrounded by folks who not only work extremely hard, but party even harder. So much of the time, with life and the things it’s so important that we create some wee pockets of sunshine. I so much appreciate the GK crew (whom I have willingly sold my soul to for the week!).

I feel like the Scotland YAVs have done a pretty stellar job of celebrating stuff this year. From our post-Christmas sister day, to birthday stuffs to just leaving the flat cuz it’s a healthy thing to do.

So here are some pics from our 4th of July picnic in the park this evening (I’m pretty sure it stopped raining just for us). I like celebrating with this gang. I’m very glad we’ve had so much to celebrate over the past 10 months *cries*

 

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Happy 4th to all the shawds @ home. Enjoy your day off.

 

 

 

 

 

Journeys: Part 1

I LOVE shoes. My personal shoe collection is a thing of personal joy and admiration. I know it’s just stuff but I think a good pair of kicks can change your whole vibe. A fly pair of kicks turn an outfit from meh to YAYYY. They change the way you step out of the room. They comfort you on journeys. They show off a killer pedicure.

Now, one of my virtues is NOT packing lightly, and that has definitely been a struggle on this year of simple living. I have a lot of STUFF, i brought a decent amount of it with me to Scotland (both of my suitcases were EXACTLY 40lbs), I carry a large bag, most of the time. I want to be prepared for most any scenario.

I don’t know if I’ve yet discovered what a lifetime of living simply looks like for me, but I think that packing a little lighter, both literally and figuratively will play a huge role in that. But until then, here’s a blog about [some of*] the shoes I brought with me to Scotland and some of the adventures we’ve been on…

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Converse: I’ve had these pair of shoes since I was 16! If these shoes could talk… They did end up being perfect colors for the university that I graduated from #GMG It was totes an interesting experience to be told to not wear them (in jest, kind of…), as they were the “wrong color.” Football and the teams people support here in Glasgow has been a pretty big part of my year in terms of topics that people can easily relate to and can cross cultural boundaries. For many people, things like colors and language go way beyond someone’s favorite sports team.

 

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Teva sandals: These puppies were my birthday gift from my other half last summer (and a compromise as the object of my affections were above her price range at the time…), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I’ve gotten to wear them during the course of this wee heatwave that seems to have been sweeping across Scotland while we’ve been here. This is a picture of them enjoying the ICE COLD waters on a beach in Iona.

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Wellies: cuz Scotland

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Black platforms: You never know the adventures that life will take you on. Or the parties you might get invited to… However these were my unfortunate shoe choice for a NYE ceilidh (see New Year’s blog)

Blue suede heels: these are the best shoes I’ve ever purchased. They go with every outfit ever. I couldn’t not bring them #noselfcontrol

 

 

 

So here’s a pretty killer playlist of songs about shoes! Thanks for tuning in!

*this is not an exhaustive list of all of the shoes I brought with me to Scotland, but that is neither here, nor there…

A Case for Easter Egg Hunts

If you know me, you how I feel about fun (spoiler, fun is awesome). Enjoying life, sometimes in spite of many of the challenges that we face is difficult yet important.
So when handed to opportunity to attend the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly (GA) this past week, I was really fucking excited. I’ve never attended PC(USA)’s GA before, so I was pretty stoked about attending a GA in Scotland, in one of the oldest GA halls in the world. I think was a little too enthusiastic about displaying my excitement about GA but many whom I expressed my excitement to were shocked and confused as to my enthusiasm. For me, a GA is the coming together of the denomination, to meet and make decisions about our future, to also gather in fellowship and pray with one another as we journey together. A family reunion of sorts. I just really am a fan of going out into God’s world and then coming together for a wee catch up and a little bit of polity (if anyone can find me the origins of why things get passed with foot-stomping, that would be greatly appreciated!).

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*blows whistle*

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The GA hall was heavy roasting. Olivia’s drawings helped!

It was really helpful to read through some of the reports in the [Blue Book] and witness and listen to all of the work that the wider church has been doing over the past year. In terms of working for the Church of Scotland, we are very much in a wee Priority Areas bubble, which is not a bad thing, but a thing.

I enjoyed my 1st GA experience. On Sunday we attended Heart and Soul which is a mini-festival the church of Scotland puts on. The councils of the church and various organizations and church showcase themselves in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh and the day ends with an outdoor worship service in the park!

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Outdoor service w/ Grant and outgoing Youth Moderator, Andrew!

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I have no self-control and I saw Princess Anne 3 times last week…

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I ended up in the public gallery with 2 lassies from my presbytery back home (waddup Grace Pres!)! Emily who is studying abroad for the semester in Edinburgh and Tara who is a probationer minister for the Church of Scotland right now. So random, but basically it’s defiantly a big fat tiny Presbyterian world!

Lynn, YAVs and Kerry Rice who was the PC(USA) rep to the GA this year. It was lovely meeting you Kerry!!

SIDENOTE: S/O to the Church of Scotland Youth who allowed me and Isabella to crash their GA war room. The National Youth Assembly folk have been amazing to the YAVs this year and we appreciate them greatly. Also THANKS FOR LETTING US SHARE AN ENERGIZER WITH YOU (I love energizers, and other than me freaking about them, here’s a great article from NEXT Church about where they fit into this thing we call worship. They are fun. If you dislike energizers, you dislike fun…)


One of the addresses from last week was from Sam Wells who is the current vicar at St. Martin-In-The-Fields in London and previously of Duke Divinity School. I went back and read his address as I wasn’t around for it. I will say I’m so glad I read it while/before completing this blog. Fun and its place in my life, especially as it pertains to work, religion and church have been on my mind heavily. I think that in the context of church, enjoyment and personal fulfillment can be viewed as frivolities. I think my takeaway for right now is that MY Lord and Savior Jesus Christ turned water into wine at a party, so lighten up. The sacraments we celebrate, the community we build, the love we share, the session meetings we attend, they should all bring us some ounce of joy.

One of the things I’ve gotten to do this year is to help plan a music festival in Milton. The inaugural Milton Music festival will be taking place at the church in September and I am so glad that I will be able to come back for a week to see this piece of work through!!!! Planning a music festival is totes a bucket list item for me, so that I’ve been able to be a part of the MAP team this year and work on this, is a feeling that words fail to describe (though I’m still job hunting at the moment sooo, any festivals that’s trying to hire your girl full time, holla)!

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So here’s to not being so serious all the time, swearing in church and when you stub your toe on the side of your bed, dancing in pews and on tables at bars, Easter egg hunts, celebrations, wearing red on Pentecost, laughing uncontrollably, and striving to live into the abundance that God is calling us to live out.

No playlist this post, but here are some pictures from fun things I’ve been up to including a trip to Islay

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Port Ellen Lighthouse

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Wee purple house. I want one…

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Kildalton Cross

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My trip to Islay happened to coinside with the Whiskey Festival, so had to hit a few of the stils!

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Sunset (10:30pm) view in Bowmore

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Tim Horton’s opened their 1st UK store in Glasgow last week, so obviously our resident “Canadian” had to show us what the hype was all about!

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#SquadGoals Part 2

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I started this blog on the train to go and meet Olivia at the end of the West Highland Way. A 96 mile walking trail from Glasgow to Fort William.

This is a love letter of sorts to my YAV sisters, but mainly Olivia. I know I’m probably not supposed to have favorites, but here I am. Rachel and Isabella are equally as fantastic and I really don’t know if I can hit it home enough about how much I appreciate them, but yeah, Olivia is probably everyone’s favorite too…


Olivia and I are different in almost every way. She’s a 4 on the Enneagram, I’m a 2 (Isabella and Rachel are also 2’s). She loves being with nature, I enjoy looking at nature. Planning things far in advance brings me joy and tranquility and I try to stay away from spontaneity at all costs. Planning far in advance isn’t necessarily Olivia’s fave thing and she is truly comfortable going with the flow (a trait that I am extremely jealous of).

Olivia does joy in a way that not a lot of adults do. Everyday is the potential for a party, every moment has a song and accompanying dance (dancing in Morrison’s while shopping for Thanksgiving is a highpoint) and, our fridge is a cow (you’ll have to pop by the flat for that story!!).

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This past week, Olivia spent 7 days walking and camping her way through Western Scotland. I would definitely never do that (especially not at this point in my life…). She fucking owned the WHW. Her entrance to the end of the of the trail was PERFECT (I’ll set the scene: I see her and scream, giant bear hug to the tune of “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, lots of noise etc.).

We proceeded to have an amazing weekend in Fort William. Lots of quality time with my favorite YAV.

It’s not just that we’re different that makes this harmony extra special or anything like that. No two people or groups of people are the same in every way. For me, it’s that despite this, we’ve been able to build friendship that’ll probably leave us entertwined in each other’s lives for quite a bit. That the universe has aligned us is really cool and wonderful, and I will be always grateful!

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Killer views at breakfast from the guesthouse we stayed in at Fort William

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One of my fave thing to do in new places is to go to church. Thanks for indulging me O!

Here’s Olivia’s WHW playlist. Enjoy!

#SquadGoals Part 1

I saw a tube of toothpaste and I cried. But we’ll get to that later.

One of the five values of the YAV program is intentional Christian community.

                “YAVs explore what it means to be a Christian community with one another and their neighbors. While some will live in housing together and others spread throughout their country, all YAVs will reflect together on their service and explore their relationship with God, the church, and their ministry in a broken world.”

Not that I wasn’t expecting it, maybe more so it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but my intentional Christian community in the context of my YAV year extends far beyond my YAV community. Serving in Scotland has meant being a part of the Priority Areas family. From the PA staff to all the folks that work in Anderston, to the folk with whom I cross paths with in Milton, my squad is endless. And I love, love, LOVE them.

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#teatimeatAnderston

Back in October (!!) our flat got broken into while Lynn was away. We were still babies and didn’t know anyone really well (or have a ton of Scottish phone numbers in our phones yet). The only name that came to mind was Irene, who is the Session Clerk in Milton. She’s also one of my favorite people here and has played a huge role in my life here in Scotland. But anyway, that call sparked of a chain of other events and phone calls that sent the cavalry to the YAV flat on a really shitty day (Fred was our MVP of that night).

I believe that God calls us to be in relationship with one another. In April of last year I found out I would be coming to Scotland and I met Lynn for the first time. I also got to meet some of the folks that would be serving in my YAV class, many of whom would also be serving internationally at different sites. Having people to spend the summer exchanging Jesus-themed memes and packing lists with was very reassuring. It’s a blessing to get to do life with other people.

One of the challenges facing the Church is that people aren’t walking through the doors in the ways that we’ve previously expected them to. We say that we need to now go OUT into the world into communities and be with people in ways that THEY expect us to. Now, I certainly don’t think that I have all the answers, but I know one thing is for sure: this is a hard task. Meeting people on their home turf, by their standards is difficult. But then again, being in constant relationship with people, with God’s people, will always be hard work. It’s the sort of hard work that we should be running towards.


Huge shoutout to my housemates, my Americans, my sisters. Their crazy meets my crazy. One, we all decided to do this thing called “mission” together and that will always be a bonding point. But more importantly, it’s absolutely a blessing to come home to, no matter the day I’ve had, a live music video in my bedroom, a reorganized kitchen, or an offer of ice cream (that will always be rejected on my part, to much chagrin).

Below are various shots of us spending time together. We do it quite a bit, in various ways. One of my favorite things to do as a group is to pray together. I really haven’t made prayer a good practice in my adult life so far.  So getting the opportunity to pray with them has been such a blessing. We have various selfies, our kitchen catch-ups, ceilidhs, concerts, walks, and a couple of train rides…

Isabella and I had both run out of our respective toothpaste tubes and had moved on to the travel-sized tubes hidden in our toiletry bags out of pure laziness. A week later I walked into our bathroom and there stood a brand-new tube of toothpaste. I’ll blame it on an uncharacteristically emotional day, but I saw the toothpaste and burst into tears.

There was something so overwhelmingly comforting about a conversation on collective laziness turned into a super mundane, but equally grandiose, act of love. And that’s been my takeaway of being in Scotland this year- learning to live with strangers and working in a place that is different from my current home in so many ways. These are simple things, and people go through these feelings of newness, of novelty, every day. But in the newness and the constant learning, I’ve gained a family I didn’t know I needed. A family that rides for each other through the thick and thin. A family spread out amongst a whole nation. A family that shows up for each other. A family that argues with one another. A family that is probably single-handedly keeping the tea industry together. #priorityareasaregoodplacestobe #Oliviawashere

Below is a playlist of some of our flats all-time fave songs. The best part of today was getting everyone to pick just three! See if you can guess which song belongs to which YAV (we each have 3)?!!?!

On Death, Dying, and Things that Happen Around That

Of all the blogs I could have possibly planned out this year, this was totes not on my radar at all. But here we are.

Conversation between me and Carys (7 years old):

C: Where are we going?

Me (E): We’re going to plant a tree for Bernie?

C: Why?

E: (unsure…) For people to remember her by… Sometimes people do that when someone special to them dies.

C: But we don’t do that for everyone…

E: I know, but Bernie was super special to lots of people here and I think that that shows how special she was here to lots of people…

C: looks at me, then turns to brownspace and starts talking about picking up trash and how they should build a football pitch for people in the neighborhood

Shoutout to Carys for keeping me on my toes and always challenging me with her questions. But yeah, she was totally right, we don’t always plant trees for people when they die. Funerals and memorials and things we do for people (or maybe more for ourselves??) in their passing varies across a wide spectrum of both culture and expense. The funeral INDUSTRY is a multi billion dollar one. But for every person that gets soon-to-be beautiful plum trees planted in their memory, a horse-drawn carriage down Saracen, a bench, a plaque, a wake thrown, or all the other things we do to mark people’s death there are people whose death is but a blip in time. Like I said, wide spectrum.

I don’t do death. Well not really that I don’t, more I’ve never had to. I only ever met one of my grandparents, once. Most of the funerals and people passing around me in my life so far haven’t been people I’ve had super close connections with. And in all honesty, death makes me extremely uncomfortable.

On Wednesday 28th of December I woke up to the news that one of my favorite people had passed away. Though we didn’t grow up together, and our connections can’t be easily mapped out on our family tree, Desiree was my cousin and on my Top 10 List of favorite people.

Our dads grew up close to each other in Nigeria and obviously moved to the States at varying points to raise their families. We met for the 1st time as they passed through our home in Maryland on their way to spend summer (’05 maybe) with their dad in NY, and to be honest we never really got the opportunity to get to each other past that day. Fast forward almost a decade and a few moves later, both of our families are now in Texas by chance, and we’re older so Facebook is a thing. Texas is large af so, though in the same state they were like 6 hours away. We got back in touch as university started to roll out for us. Desiree and her other half, Destiny, have become a fixture in the Eni house over the past few years, and truly it’s been a blessing. We’re all children of the diaspora, who are caught somewhere between our upbringing in the West and our love of our Nigerian culture and heritage. It’s actually really cool how our generation has created this space of extremely cool existence for ourselves. This is something we all talked about quite often during our increasingly frequent get-togethers.

When I found out about Desiree, it was probably like 4am in the States, so I was extremely pissed off that no one was answering my phone calls. I cried like most of that day (S/O to my YAV sisters and Irene and James). It made the week and definitely the start to a new year seem sadder and slower. But, I think it was the weekend of Desiree’s memorial service, I was laying in my bed in a seasonably grumpy mood. I just knew that, I was done being sad about missing THIS. Desiree did life extremely well. I knew she’d be pissed at me for being a big ol’ sour puss during this year. She was so excited that I was coming to Scotland to work for the church.

During my time here in Scotland, I’ve had the blessing of being able to celebrate the lives of folks that have been very important to the lives of people here. In October one of the people really important in one of the groups I work with every week passed away unexpectedly. Chris was volunteer extraordinaire for Just Like Us and I enjoyed his voice being one of the 1st when I walked into the church on a Wednesday morning, moving around pots and pans, listening to the news on the radio. He was loud, and passionate about social justice and rights for the most disadvantaged Scots (I loved talking to him about Margret Thatcher and the politics of my country). His passing hit my Just Like Us family really hard. His funeral was “absolutely mobbed man,” and in the lead up to it, it was wonderful to hear stories of his life, memories, both fond and difficult by people whose life he touched and was a part of.

Bernie, the subject of my conversation with Carys, was someone that I didn’t get to meet. She left Milton before I got here, but it’s been very clear to me that her impact on this place, among the people that I’m getting to know during my year was tremendous. She was the manager at the sheltered housing complex in Milton, but more than that, she was a friend and confidant to so many here. Yesterday, there was a wee service in Milton followed by a the planting of 3 plum trees at Taransay Court, where she lived and worked.

Getting to mourn the lives of those who have been important to the lives of the people who I’m growing to call family here in Milton, has made being away from my own family as I come to terms with and mourn the life of my cousin Desiree so much more comfortable. I was really angry that I couldn’t go home for her services. Like totes not a thing that I get to be angry about, I knew what I was in for when I came to Scotland for the year, but still a thing.

Desiree is a #twin2 (LIKE ME!!) so our connection will be forever written in the stars of twindom. So thanks to Milton and this year, for unexpected gifts and, for the space to begin to learn how to mourn those whom we love, especially when we can’t be there (physically)

No playlist, cuz I literally can’t even, but here’s a song that I think captures the essence of what the spin around the dancefloor of life is like. This song was sung at Chris’s funeral by Iain Morrison. It was stunning and wonderful.