Monday, December 28, 2009

the Senior Saints in my life

Through various situations this past term, I have enjoyed opportunities to get to know some of the elderly members from Church. One of these is a woman named Kris.

She is from India and moved to England when she married a British soldier...she has been widowed for some years now. She is known at Christ Church Bromley for her passion for the gospel and delicious home made curry.

On Sunday morning I was having a chat with her about my plans for the new year. "I hope to learn more about how to be a godly woman - ministering along side my husband - and finding ways to reach out to my neighbors..." I said.

Kris then told me how she has been trying to think of ways to be a witness for the gospel. When she was younger and still working, she frequently traveled by taxi and would share the gospel with the cab driver. Now that she is retired and lives by herself in a quiet apartment, she has very few interactions with non-believers. She has resolved to take the bus to the local library once a week and pray for opportunities to speak about the gospel to the people she meets there.

Here is a woman who, though she is nearing 80 years old, has not stopped running the race. It was a wonderful challenge to me - and I am so very thankful for it as I endeavor to run along the way in the new year.

For the Newtons

who live on Trafalgar Street in Texas...

Trafalgar Square in London

We miss you guys!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a little Christmas baking

Around this time 3 years ago - I, with the help of my sisters was busy making sugar cookies for my wedding favors (have a look at them here). Thanks to their creative hands they came out beautifully!
I now like to try to make sugar cookies to remind Nathaniel and I of our special day.

Yesterday invited my friend Betsy and her daughter Sophia to make sugar cookies with me. I made my cookie dough but when I went to roll my cookies out I remembered I have no rolling pin. After a bit of mutteling around in my tiny cupboards, I found a couple of jars that would make a good substitute.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

the other night we walked through Trafalger square and we visited the lions.

usually the four lions that guard the square are covered with children - I was thrilled to have a chance to climb up myself and have a picture with one of the lions.

something worth rushing & waiting for

Winter has come to London...
which means lots of rain and cold.

Nathaniel and I have been waiting with great expectation for the arrival of a new little one into the White family (Nathaniel's cousins...). She was well past her due date and we were praying hard for a natural birth.

You can imagine our joy when we received news that mother and baby were home after an exhausting 24 hours of labor. Soon after we received a special invitation to meet the baby - and though our schedule would be tight worked out a plan... I would leave work at 1.30pm so we could take the bus (35 min) then walk (20 min) to their house, we would spend an hour with cousin Daniel and family then make our way back home to make an appointment for 6pm.

But what a day it was! I was late leaving work and so we just missed our bus - and it was wet, windy and cold. Conscience of the our tight schedule we ran through the rain and were only 10 minutes late. But after knocking loudly on the front door several times we began to wonder if we had gotten our dates/times wrong. As it turned out there was only a slight miss-communication and after a couple phone calls and 20 min on the front door step we were finally able to meet the newest addition to the White household. Ophelia Rose.

and she was worth all the running and the wet and the waiting...she is a beautiful little miracle! Congratulations Daniel and Ellen!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goodbye Mazda, Goodbye school loan

While back in the States this Summer Nathaniel and I sold our Mazda 3, and it was hard. I remembered back to when I got my first car, a 86 Honda Prelude - a gift from my sweet grandfather who was graciously giving up his right to drive. The Prelude was one of my grandfather's special earthly possessions and it was I am sure hard to give it up. I went to pick up the Honda and my grandma did something that I did not quite understand at the time - over dinner she asked all who were at the table to give a memory of Grandpa and the Honda Prelude as a way of helping Grandpa say goodbye and let go of the car.

On August 31st as I handed the keys over to an excited new owner of our Mazda 3 and watched it drive away, I understood in a small way and appreciated why Grandma asked us to share memories with Grandpa to help with the transition.

So I am going to share a memory of the Mazda with you guys as a goodbye as it were...

A month before my wedding I was getting ready to move from my home in Santa Clarita Ca. to San Antonio Tx. My job was to whittle down all my earthly possessions to only that which I could fit into the Mazda 3. I think I must have packed and repacked about 5 times - I am sure my dad could have done the packing in 2 tries ... and then he would have fit about 10 extra things in that I thought I was going to have to give away. But there was no Papi around to help, so it was left to me.

Finally it was done, you could not see out any of the windows and the person in the passenger seat would have to keep things on their lap. So I was ready to be off - I just needed my traveling companion...Jeremiah who sweetly offered to fly out to Los Angeles only to turn right back around and make the long drive back to Texas in my packed to the hilt Mazda 3.

Certainly this is a memory about the Mazda 3 but also it is a memory of a wonderful exhausting trip with my younger brother (who insisted in driving the entire way - and anyone who has driven through New Mexico, Arizona & West Texas knows what a sacrifice that is) as I left behind a stage of my life to prepare for a new life as Mrs Jackson.

In a closing though a wonderful thing has come out of saying goodbye to the Mazda:

Part of the reason we sold the Mazda 3 was to enable us to pay off the last of my school loans. So it was worth it to see the Mazda 3 drive away. Last month I made my very last payment to Sally Mae for my college education. And it is Good! Thank you Nathaniel for being firm in insisting we sell the car! Definitely worth it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remember, Remember the 5th of November
gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no good reason why gunpowder, treason
should ever be forgot

I am hearing fire works going off in the neighborhood tonight - I believe a pre-celebration to Guy Fawkes day here in England. On the 5th of November England remembers a man named Guy Fawkes, who on the 5th of November 1605 was caught in the the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several barrels of gunpowder - for his plan you see was to blow up the noble Houses of Parliament and all who were inside. Guy Fawkes was tired and convicted for treason. So that all would understand how serious treason is the governing authorities made the 5th of November a day to remember the fate of man who tired.

And so this Thursday everyone here will be reminding each other that treason is a terrible thing and it will never be forgot. They will remember by setting off fireworks and making bonfires where effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned.

I don't think Nathaniel and I will be burning any effigies though we might try to find a good fireworks display to watch!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I always knew Fall was my favorite season... but I had to wait till I moved to Syracuse to confirm it.

Moving to Syracuse in 2007 introduced me to Maple leaves, crisp early morning runs, pumpkin patches (the real deal...) and apple picking. Yes - Syracuse does Autumn in glorious brilliance!

Last year I learned that London has it's own Autumnal conkers. Every time I pass one, I can hardly stop myself from stooping to pick it up and put it in my pocket. I thought it would be fun to share how I discovered them.

Early last September I was exploring the park across the street from our flat. As I walked beneath the trees I found lovely smooth brown spheres. I stopped and picked a few up thinking I would take them home and ask Nathaniel if he knew what they were. By the time Nathaniel arrived home from school that night, I had concluded that these must be chestnuts...and I was quite charmed by the idea! Nathaniel had a look and said he did not know what they where but he doubted that they were actually chestnuts.

I however, felt sure they must be chestnuts - I was not giving up on the idea! and the next time I went out to the park I made sure to bring along a bag. I happily filled it with these nuts - I confess to dreaming of new recipes I would get to try... and just how British was this to live across from a park filled with chestnut trees!?

Nathaniel remained quite skeptical to their usefulness in the kitchen, and so I agreed to talk to the local expert Aunt Gillian before trying to eat them. Upon inspection Aunt Gillian said, "Of course I know what those are - they're conkers." Conkers?! what in the world are conkers? Aunt Gillian explained.

Conkers actually come from Horse Chestnut trees and are inedible - as apposed to Sweet Chestnut trees which produce chestnuts that are edible. Conkers are completely useless, that is unless you are a child (especially a 7-11 year old boy) - in which case you would pick up several conkers, put holes through the middles, and thread long strings through the holes. The next time you see your mates, you gather up and play "conkers" (find out more detail with pictures here - conkers) where the point of the game is to hit the other persons conker - the one who breaks apart the other's conker wins.

hmmm - very interesting! I thanked Aunt Gillian and trooped back upstairs to inform Nathaniel that it was a good thing he insisted that I find out more about these nuts before I tried to feed them to him! But what to do with all these conkers? I was certainly not about to challenge Nathaniel to a game... not sure if swinging hard round spheres at each other would lead to much bliss in our little London flat.
What is a girl to do... You like?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

June came for us with a whirlwind of events including the end of Cornhill for Nathaniel. I have been remembering back to last year as Nathaniel and I packed our suitcases taking a big step across the ocean trusting that this was God's plans for us.

One of the things that has been a joy for me is meeting the other "Cornhillers", hearing their stories of how God has brought each and every one of them to London to study the Bible at Cornhill.

One of the guys we got to know well was Nick, a 23 year old medical student who took a gap year (an optional year break from studies offered to students who are intrested in travel or personal develpment) in order to attend Cornhill. Nathaniel and Nick would ride their bikes home through the London traffic after classes. They would intensely discuss the days lecture while I listened and made dinner. Then over tea and desert we would play a card game or two and chat about life...what God is doing in our lives.

So with the end of Cornhill, Nick came round to 10 Montague for a last time where we enjoyed pancakes in the back garden on a rare sunny evening in London. It was a neat time to reflect back on the year and look forward to work that God has yet to do. For Nick it is back to medical school, for Nathaniel and I it is continued work at Christ Church Bromley.

simple pleasures

Every third Saturday there is a little farmers market
across the street in Hilly Fields.
I usually enjoy a stroll through the stands
to enjoy the sights and the smells.
On this particular morning, I had a few pounds sterling
burning a hole in my pocket,
so I bought a few treats.

It is hard to explain but I am very inspired to be
creative with my cooking after a stroll through the farmers market...
not to mention when I have a few little treats to work with.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

All morning long on Friday there was the noise of construction outside my second floor window at work. At one point, I happened to glance out the window to observe two of these hard working men taking a break outside their British Gas Works van. Of course this is normal enough, but as I watched I realized that these sweaty, burly men were not stopping to rest their feet and take a smoke, no these men were making proper cups of tea out of the back of the van! Anyone else find this slightly amusing?

I began to reflect on the role tea plays in the life of the average Englishman - after living in London almost a year I think I have come to understand and even appreciate the place tea has.
  • Tea is the solution to any problem you may have no matter how big or small.
  • Tea is the perfect antidote for drippy dreary weather that seems to chill you right to the bone.
  • Tea naturally encourages people in social situations to feel like they have something to do.
  • No day is quite complete without a cup of tea - which somehow rights the world of all its issues for a few moments of the day.
I remember feeling a bit tea logged during the first month of being here because you are constantly being offered a cup of tea. To refuse is unthinkable or if you do refuse you must be slightly mad! I think my body has adjusted quite well since those first weeks, and I admit that every now and again I get an odd feeling that life is just not quite complete without a proper cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon.
well my birthday has come and gone...but it was such a lovely day I thought I would share the details with you all!

Nathaniel discovered that if you show up in the late afternoon to Wimbledon you can get in for a discounted price. I had shown interest in the past to go to Wimbledon and so it seemed the perfect birthday treat.

I left work at noon, and headed into London to meet Nathaniel where we would head out to Wimbledon together. To be honest I know little to nothing about tennis, but I was all excitement and as we purchased our tickets I could hear the crowd watching various matches ohhing and can't but help be caught up in the excitement.

We bought tickets to see a doubles match at Centre Court -where Nathaniel explained, the final matches are all played. As the match progressed Nathaniel had to explain a few things to me - here are a few bits I learned:
  • All tennis played at Wimbledon is played on grass courts
  • You are supposed to be very very quiet while the ball is in play
  • A Gentleman's match is between retired players
  • The match officials were very cute outfits
Here we are with Centre Court behind us after the match was done. I was very happy that day despite the pained expression on my face!

After we had our fill of tennis we wondered back to the neighborhood where Nathaniel lived way back when, and visited a few of his old haunts - then settle down for some Italian food.

We made our way back to the underground...this is Nottinghill Gate tube stop where it we happily waited for quite some time.

When we arrived home I walked into our flat to find this lovely pitcher of happy sunflowers to finnish off a wonderful evening together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nathaniel and I spent some time with his cousin Robert and family over
the Easter holiday. Robert's wife Gail and I had a lovely time together, and
before we left their wonderful company and cute home we had to be sure to
have some pictures to remember our time together...

I laughed and laughed when I reviewed the sequence below.

Gail is one of the most lovely women I have ever spent time with.
Nathaniel says I'm not such a crow myself. wouldn't know it from these photos!

We were in their backyard, but by our expressions we might have
easily been inmates at a psychiatric ward. So much for vanity!

Praise God that life is ultimately about substance, not appearance.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord,
she shall be praised!"
Proverbs 31:30

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Friday, April 10, 2009

a little inspiration

While we were in Spain for Christmas, I enjoyed seeing all of Rachel's beautiful projects. I think there were about six or seven different ones going - a couple dresses, pretty paper, balls of yarn some being knit into lovely little sweaters! Each beautiful and inspiring. Before we left Rachel gave me a bit of her yarn (what a treasure!) to start a project of my own. So I have brought out my knitting nettles too long neglected and I am trying my hand at a little baby hat.

Monday, March 9, 2009

are there rules for mixing denim???

So I got dressed this morning - without looking in the mirror.

Half way to my destination I realized that I was mixing my denims. Hmmm - Can this be done? I wondered to myself...or is that why those people back there looked at me funny.

When I finally found a mirror to get the full affect of my outfit - lets just say I was a little bit embarrassed.

Maybe some fabulous people out there could pull off mixing denims but quite frankly I look like a disaster.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This is what I found lined up by the front door last Friday afternoon! - the Whites had come for a visit and for me it meant the pleasure of sweet fellowship with friends, and the joy of children playing through the house!

I felt a bit like one of the bears in the story of Goldielocks when I found these two sleeping happily in our bed during nap time ...

The Whites stayed the night - and in the morning we enjoyed cinnamon rolls, coffee and tea, and good conversation.

Certainly God is good to bring friends like Daniel and Ellen into our lives - and for this I am thankful.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A couple weeks ago Nathaniel helped with a missions week in a little English village - Sherbourn St. John. He was gone for the whole week - and I was invited to join him for the weekend!

Friday morning I was up early and off to the train station. I arrived at Waterloo Station in London where I was to catch a train out to the country. I tend to feel a bit romantic about trains - I think I get it from my mom - so I brought along what any girl might have when traveling on a train to the English country side to see her husband. A good book, a few ginger snap cookies, and a special treat - a latte from a local coffee shop which I bought while stopped at Waterloo Station. hmmm - happy thoughts!

An hour and half later, I hopped off the train. Nathaniel and a few friends picked me up and off we went to see Winchester Cathedral where Nathaniel said I would see something very fun.

I was very intrigued by what I would find "fun" in a beautiful reverent cathedral so I looked and looked but seemed to look in vain! I made the full circuit and nothing! Nathaniel a few steps behind, called me back to look at something. Wouldn't you know, I missed it? There Nathaniel pointed out the "window" memorial of none other then Author Jane Austin!

The actual burial place was at the back of the cathedral - I was satisfied with the memorial window and felt no need to retrace my steps. It was indeed very fun, and as the week progressed I found out from several ladies I spoke to that I was in Jane Austin's old stomping grounds as it were! I did not have time to visit any other Austin sites but thought if I ever make it back out to Sherbourn St. John, I would happily make time to see a few of the well known landmarks.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mouse Update

Just in case you were wondering - I have not seen nor smelled the little mouse since taking drastic measures. You can only just imagine my relief!

Monday, February 9, 2009

a little guest

and an unwanted one at that.

For two weeks now we have seen small signs and ever so often a bold appearance of a mouse. We have tried some traps unsuccessfully - I was not however ready to move onto the poison for the obvious reason that I did not want to find a nearly dead mouse crawling across my floor.

Sunday, Nathaniel left for a week long mission an hour and a half away - leaving me to deal with my creeping fear of the mouse. Fear of a mouse being where it does not belong, dancing on my kitchen floor and counter tops.

I resolved not to be overcome by my natural fears. Sunday night I scoured the kitchen spotless, then I crawled into bed with chocolate and the movie Ratatouille - ready and willing to believe that rodents are totally cute.

This worked well until this evening when my space was invaded! Ratatouille though very cute as a movie just was not very practical in real life.
I have declared war on the local mouse. The mouse who had the gall to come into our kitchen/living room/dining room right in the middle of my supper! Who took his time having a look around, who caused me to shriek and jump up out of my chair, and who decided it was a good idea to run behind our refrigerator!

With my heart racing and my hands a bit shaky, I gingerly tip-toed across the room to, to, to - to do what? trap the mouse? and with what - a dish towel? I pulled out the fridge, the mouse jumped out and ran straight for the couch. Ahhh! of-course all I did what you might expect, I dropped my dish towel and danced about saying "oh, oh, oh!" Though traumatized, the mouse made a big mistake to run for the couch...I was not about share My couch with any old mouse! I was on a rampage, I tore the room apart looking for it. Not sign to be found, though I have a sinking suspicion that he is hiding in the couch somewhere (ugh!).

Yep it is war time - and I am going to fight to win! I cleaned the room spotless and then out came the poison, strategically placed under the couch and behind the fridge. No more trying to pretend it is all natural to have a rodent rummaging around in your space! Time to put on the ugly face!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It Snowed

We went to bed Sunday night and it was snowing.
I said to Nathaniel, "wouldn't it be nice if you had a snow day tomorrow?"

and he did - as did the rest of London because all of London city transport was shut down due to the 8 inches of snow that fell over night.

The park was alive with activity, young and old were enjoying this rare occasion. I am told the last time there was so much snow was 18 years ago!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nathaniel, Football & I

Nathaniel really really enjoys football (mind you it's football not soccer). This has been gradually dawning on me over the past two years with the help of little hints such as:
  • He keeps about 6 soccer balls in the trunk of his car (just in case!)
  • He slows down - when walking or driving - past a pick-up soccer match
  • He pours over the selection of soccer cleats in his sports catalogs as much as I do an Anthropology catalog
But I have arrived at a new level of comprehension. Not only does Nathaniel really enjoy football - he is passionate about it and loves to share this aspect of his life with me! This is evident, when he invites me to join him for a 'football workout', which often includes a mini lesson and the encouraging declaration, "You're a natural babe!"

So, the other night when Nathaniel asked if I would like to join him to watch Match of the Day (his favorite TV program that shows the highlights of all the English premiership games that day), it was with delight that I snuggled up next to him in front of the television for an hour of footballing fun.

While I took note of how "that poor guy is on the wrong team -- his hair color just does not work with the color of his uniform..." Nathaniel admired the skill and finesse of the athletes. Sharing with me bits of information about what was going on. He patiently answered my questions about the game, which always seemed to come at the most inconvenient moments (like right before a big goal was scored). My favorite part was when they showed the top 10 goals of the month. To my delight, Nathaniel even added his own commentary to his favorite ones.

I think I am getting it - this football business. Just the other day I made a football connection - I said to Nathaniel "I bet Josu looks a lot like Wayne Rooney (English footballing hero) when he was 3 years old!" Nathaniel laughed heartily in agreement. Score!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Mom,

Somehow - somehow I always miss your birthday. "How is this possible?" I ask myself every year after your birthday has slipped by. Well here it is - over a week past and I have missed your birthday yet again!

That said...I would like to say:

Happy Birthday Mom - truly you are a wonderful treasure! You are a faithful example of Christ likeness and you inspire me to press on to a higher calling! Someday I hope I can be even a little bit of what you are... fun, thoughtful, wise, creative, orderly, godly, cute, and a wonderful wife and mother.

I love this picture because it shows just how very fun you are!
paletas on a meltingly hot day in San Antonio - Yum!

I love you!

- Abi

p.s. Sorry I missed your birthday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Because he loves me so...

When we walked into Lewisham to do a few errands together,
Nathaniel bought me a cute pair of red shoes!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I love to say to Nathaniel: "Remember when such and such happened? ... "

Recently I have been "Remembering" to Nathaniel about our past two Decembers together! here are just a few:

Remember when we got married?
how overwhelmed we felt by the kindness of so many people?
how beautiful everything looked? how wonderful it was to go
to the airport and get on an airplane together
- isn't together such a happy word?

Remember last Christmas time? how there was a snow storm on our anniversary - but we went out anyway, and remember how magical it all was? Remember how you surprised me with a perfect little Christmas tree?

I can imagine that in a couple months I will be "Remembering"
to Nathaniel about this Christmas just passed...Christmas Smith style in Pamplona!

Remember wonderful conversations over cafe con leche with
the Smiths and Rachel?
Remember when Naomi made that
salad/tikka masala/pizza/stout cake/ministroni...?
Remember those delicious pastries and chocolate
covered orange peelsfrom Biatriz?
Remember Malachai singing Spanish Christmas carols?
Remember all the cheese Gillian brought from France?
Remember running with the bulls? ... errr um, bull statutes?