31 January 2012

a day in life...

Sticking with the one car thing, there are many days where E and I are just hanging out at home. This may seem fairly normal for a lot of you, but for so long I was at stay at home mom without a home to stay at home in that it has been a BIG adjustment for me to get used to just being home. (could I use the word home anymore times in one sentence?!) But the more we do it, the more I love. Let me tell you, we have had some great times that would have been missed otherwise. Today was one of those days.

We started off painting the bathtub. Thanks to pinterest we spent at least an hour painting and re-painting the bathtub wall. It was awesome. (because I am not a fan of naked baby pictures on the world wide web, I tried to paint a bathing suit over eleri. It didn't work and became a pink blob instead, but you can pretend I have artistic ability)

Then I unpacked some more. Yes, we have lived in this house for almost 2 months and yes we still have boxes to unpack. Dont judge, I move slow :)

But e thought it was more fun to get in the box and jump out saying "peeky boo" over and over. It was precious

We played in the backyard with her 'football' Yes, she still refers to soccer as football. Apparently, that British-ism is not going away. I am sure her father helps to perpetuate it.

(as a funny side note: She LOVES sports. Her favourite? "Rubby football" Rhys caught her calling Rugby 'football' once and when he tried to correct her she wasn't getting it. So he told her she could call it 'rugby football' which is technically the official name. Now she says 'rubby football' for everything and wants to watch it all the time! she really is her father's daughter)

We went on a walk. But about half way through she decided it was more fun to sit on the curb and scoot her way along. That lasted for about 5 minutes. Man, it was a lot of scooting!

And then on our way home from the walk, e had some fun with her shadow. She kept jumping and moving her arms saying "look mammy! my shadooo is moving!"

and all of this was before nap time! I am anxious to see what the rest of the day holds once the little squirt wakes up.

30 January 2012

daily lessons

One of my goals for 2012 under the Spiritual heading was to read through the Bible and read a 'study' daily. I put two one my iPhone because I figured that was the best way to ensure that I would do it every single day. It beeps regularly to remind me, I can read it anywhere, and I get a handy percentage calculator letting me know how far along I am. It's nice for me to see the progress. So far it is going pretty well. I am on track. Granted it is only January, but I am staying positive!

One study is called "Eat this Book" and it goes through the Bible from Genesis to Revelations with a Psalm or Proverb at the end of each daily reading. The other study is call "Parenting by Design: Daily Devotional" Basically it is just what it sounds like. Every day there is a little snippet about parenting and then it ends with a related verse. I like the reminders of parenting by God's standards.

The reading for today was particularly good so I wanted to share it....

Love of the World

"Is there a more important lesson we can teach our children? Pursuit of material things never satisfies and it never ends. God has much more for us than the things we desire here on earth, yet we often live in a way that our kids cannot see that truth. They see us striving and stressing because we have one more thing- yet want still another. They see us comparing ourselves to others. Sadly, they even see us comparing them to other kids, pushing them to be 'successful' in school, athletics, and relationships. Is the love of things of the world your example to your kids? How could you better demonstrate a love of spiritual things?"

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. For if anyone loves the world, the love for the Father is no in them. For everything in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world." 1 John 2:15-16

I think this is a particularly important lesson as we are raising kids in a culture that places such emphasis on what we have, what we look like, where we live etc.... I can tell Eleri that it doesn't matter what is on the outside, because it is the inside that really counts. But if the way I am living my life contradicts that, then they become truly empty words.

I have a friend who strives to show her kids daily what it means to seek after Jesus and not after the world. Her daughter recently turned 5. They had a big, fun birhtday party but on the invitation it said to not bring gifts but instead bring certain supplies for a 3rd grade classroom. The family had "adopted" a classroom from a poor, west Tulsa school and as her daughters birthday present, they took all the supplies and toys to the classroom and gave to those less fortunate. It makes me tear up even writing about it now. Talk about a living example. It is not what you have, the pursuit of more and more and more....

This mother truly lives that for her children.

Do I? Do I show E with my actions, as well as words, that material things don't matter as much as Jesus?

Something to think about for sure.

25 January 2012

She has a name!!

We have known that the new baby has been a girl for a while. And names have be tossed around for months. If I am completely honest, I have been suggesting names since the day I found out I was pregnant. Literally, the day I found out.

With Eleri is was easy. We had one girl name we liked and one boy name, that was it. There was no question. Simple. This time has not been quite the same. Rhys and I couldn't really agree on a name. We liked the idea of a Welsh name again but couldn't find one that we both agreed was ok. No offense to all the Welsh out there (especially my in-laws) but aside from Eleri all the Welsh names we came across were CRAZY!! WE serached baby books and on line naming sites. We asked friends and family and still couldn't decide.

Finally, we settled on a short list of names we liked:


Eleanor was first to go because we thought people would shorten it to Ele. But that is what we call Eleri. Two girls with the same name seemed a bit redundant (and weird). Rhys threw out Caroline and that still left us with 3. Then one day, out of the blue, the perfect name appeared. Just like that- and we both knew.

It is Welsh and it is different so we tested it out on a few close friends who we knew would give an honest opinion. and the name went over with great success. So new baby girl has a name!

Lowri Grace

Lowri means crowned or anointed with glory. After the complications of this pregnancy (which require a post all to their own) the meaning couldn't be more perfect. It is pronounced not quite like it is spelled. The LOW part rhymes with HOW and the ending, RI, is pronounced the same way the RI in Eleri is- a 'ree' kind of sound. The grace is two fold really. Firstly because of the pregnancy and issues, Rhys and I have really needed, and felt, the Grace of Jesus more than ever. He is watching over little Lowri and will do what is right and just in His own gracious, loving way. Secondly, Eleri's middle name is Ann. It is a family name, E being the 8th generation to have Ann as her middle name. I love that tradition. Ann means gracious. So because I couldn't really give Lowri the same, family middle name, at least her name means the same thing. They are connected. And I love that.

Lowri Grace it is. Yea for a name!

22 January 2012

verse of the year

It is easy to ignore some of the more 'famous' Bible verses. Things like "For God so loved the world..." and "In the beginning God created...." But sometimes it is those very verses that pack the most punch. There was nothing. and THEN out of that very nothingness, God created. Few things are more powerful than that. How many of us have created something out of nothing. Really, I venture to say no one. I am not much of a cook, but sometimes it seems like I create a masterpiece (relatively speaking) out of a bunch of seemingly random and unrelated ingredients. But I still have ingredients. I did not create a casserole out of black nothingness. I had something to make something else. But in the beginning- God just created. Powerful verse.

Another verse I feel like gets brushed over is the "Fruits of the Spirit" It is one of those verses that you learn in Sunday school. Then when you get older it is taught in women's Bible study and the occasional church service. But the true significance is lost in the normalcy of the verse. It is so common, we, or at least I, don't stop to think about the real impact. The real meaning.

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galations 5:22-23

Take a minute and think about how different the world would be if everyone lived according to the fruits of the spirit. It everyone was loving and faithful, patient and good. Think about how different the world would be if everyone who said they were a Christian lived by those principles. Life would look a lot different.

When we were still living in London, we went out nearly every Saturday night (or match day, or any day really...) with the rugby team. You could find us at our local pub sharing pints and laughs with people that we came to know as family. I remember one night in particular I had a conversation about God and suffering with a boy that was as far away from Jesus as you could get. He was no where near accepting the truth of Christ or even realising his need for a savior. He asked me if God was so good and powerful like Christians say He is, then why is there suffering, famine and pain in the world. I feel this is a common question non Christians ask. Why....? It is a hard question to answer. What I responded back with was this: Everything is a choice. God is God, but He gives us free will. People make choices, both good and bad. So think about the 10 Commandments (because he knew about those) They say don't steal, kill, lie etc.... If everyone in the world lived by those standards there would be no war or famine or heartache. But people don't. People choose to live in greed, malice, murder and manipulation. So when people choose to go against what God has ordered, then bad happens. He wont hit us over the head to make us love Him, but it will break His heart when we go against Him.

For some reason, my friend accepted that answer. He said he had never looked at it that way, people choosing the wrong things instead of God just doing them. And it got me thinking about the fruits of the spirit.

If someone followed me around for a week in my normal life would they see a wife, mother and daughter that truly lives according to the fruits of the spirit? Would they see patience when my little one is driving me crazy by disobeying? Would they see joy when things dont go my way? Would they see gentleness when I am tired and frustrated? uh, probably not.

So this my verse for the year. "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control" Principles by which I want to actively commit myself to pursing in the coming months. A verse that I want so ingrained my mind and heart that when unpleasant situations arise, those words are the first thing that come to my mind. I no longer want this to be a Sunday school verse, memorized as a 10 year old and long forgotten, but a active part of my daily life.

Galations 5:22-23, Verse of 2012.

20 January 2012


I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about the new year. I am always so hopeful at the beginning of the year. It is a fresh start; it doesn't matter what the past years have held, this one is completely new. It is like a blank canvas- anything can be painted through out the year. I love that.

It is especially poignant this year as we are in our very own house for the first time ever. It feels like life is finally ours. We can make our own plans, set our own budget, decorate any way we choose and basically life our lives how we want to. To say I am excited about the possibilities of 2012 is an understatement. I am so burst at the seams, cant hold it in, words can not express, overflowing with joy and optimism, about 2012 that well...lets just say I am pretty positive about how awesome this year is going to be.

I have learned a lot in my short and (lets be honest here) fairly sheltered life. I have been stretched more than I thought possible these last two years, and have finally arrived at a place of calm. Not an unsettling calm- like the calm before the storm- just a new found peace. And it is lovely. Which brings me nicely to my "theme" for 2012.

Peace and Contentment.

I have struggled with contentment pretty much my whole life. Peace is right up there with it. I let so much rob me of those two things. I have not been intentional in my choices, thoughts and actions to keep peace and contentment at the forefront. So this year my goal is to have a year calm with life, situation, circumstances etc... I understand there will be difficult and trying times in the year ahead. That is simply the nature of life in a fallen world. But it is my attitude that will (hopefully) be different in dealing with those situations. When difficult things come my way I so often resort to the 'woe is me' meantality. Sometimes I just get angry and become a not very nice person to be around. But rarely do I go straight to prayer, straight to Jesus and surrender to Him, accept His will and then act accrdingly. It is all about choices. And this year I want to choose Peace and Contentment.

Aside from a 'theme' I have also made some goals and prayers lists. I do this every year, but it usually just stays in the back of my journal for only my eyes. But I am sharing a picture this year. You must feel so fortunate. (picture from iPhone, ignore the quality)

Here is how it works. I have 6 main categories: Spiritual, Physical, Financial, Outreach, Sacrifice and Personal Enrichment. The 7th category is a fun one: Just for Fun. That is includes the silly 'resolutions' like try a new hairstyle or paint my nails a funny color.

In each of the main 6 categories I have 5 goals that I want to accomplish this year. Some are fairly small. For example, in the 'Spiritual' section one of my goals is to do a Bible study at my church. Easy and achievable. Some are more far reaching. For example, in the 'Outreach' category I have listed to become actively involved in OATH. OATH stands for Oklahoman's Against the Trafficking of Humans. Not an easy subject and not an easy thing to become actively involved in. The training is intense and the subject matter is difficult. But I have thrown myself in whole heartedly, really feeling the Lord's direction in this. And I truly believe God has amazing things for this in the coming months.

The 5 goals in each main area of my life are reasonable goals. I have found that if I break things up into smaller, manageable pieces I actually accomplish tasks. Same with goals. Instead of making a giant list with 20 or 30 things I want to do (which I have been known to do in the past) I prayerfully consider each area of my life. And then come up with 5 goals that I feel are important.

Just to mix it up, each category has a special "no pressure extra goal" written in red. This is exactly what it says. A no pressure, 6th goal in each of the categories. For example, one of my goals in the 'Physical' section is to run a half marathon in 2012. That, at least at this point, seems pretty doable. New baby girl is due in May so plenty of time to recover and train. The no pressure, extra goal is to run either a full marathon or 2 halfs. It is something fun to work towards, but not one the original 5.

I have taped these goals to the door in my bathroom. I look at them every single day, multiple times. I read and re-read them. And it has made a big difference so far. Granted we are not even through January, but nothing like starting strong eh?

As for prayers, I have made a specific list of prayers for Rhys, our marriage and my 2 girls. (can I just say that I LOVE writing that- 2 girls!) It goes something like this....

Things as simple as 'eat a bigger variety of food' to 'understand her need for a savior' are only Eleri's list. Again this is taped in my bathroom where I see it countless times a day. A great reminder to not only pray for my children but to pray specifically over some of their specific needs.

So there is it, 2012 goals. Here's to a great year!

Looking Ahead

so, the interlude was a bit longer than expected. But the break was needed. Life has been a bit crazy and overwhelming at the moment. Perhaps soon I shall write about such things. But in the meantime, back to 2011/2012.

It's been a bit to long to jump back to 2011. I know I only finished half of the reverbs that I wanted. Plus the blog is a nice way to look back and reflect, but as I have been praying over goal/plans for me and the family for 2012 I have come to a realization. It really is over. Obviously 2011 is over, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But the struggles/pain/heartbreak/heartache/despair/confusion of 2011 are also over. That saying "If God brings to you it, then God will bring you through it" springs to mind. 2010 and 2011 were the two most challenging years of my life. There were times so full of joy and laughter that those years will forever hold some of my favourite memories. But there were also time so dark and empty that going back simply to 'blog' about it is a kind of dwelling and remembrance that I do not need right now.

God brought me to it. And God brought me through it. Done.

And with that, goodbye 2011. Hello 2012!

8 January 2012

a pictoral interlude

I will get back to reflecting, but in the meantime.... here are some awesome pictures of my little one.

6 January 2012

Thank the Lord its Friday!!

I am taking a short hiatus from 2011 reflecting and 2012 goals to word vomit for a bit. I have lots of whinny, complainy things on my mind and would apparently write about those instead of positive reflection and looking ahead.

We only have one car. In the grand scheme of life this is not a problem at all. Seriously, it is waaaaaay down on the list when compared with world hunger and war. But in the daily living of my life, it is pretty annoying. The entire course of our marriage we have either had no car or only one car. But, we have also lived in a place where public transportation not only existed but ran smoothly and efficiently. Here? People look at me like I am insane when I ask about bus services. The looks I get in South Tulsa from drivers when I am walking down the street with my stroller? seriously, I may as well be an escaped mental patient.

I hate it.

Why dont people walk more here? Ok, ok, side walks are few and far between. and it is annoying to walk on uneven, often non existent grassy areas right next to the road. But maybe if more people expressed an interest in walking then they would build more sidewalks? I just don't understand it. Walking is good for you. It is a healthy way to get around. My church is less than a 10 minute walk away and people think we are crazy for walking there. Seriously? 10 minutes? my doctors office is a mile away, so is eleri's doctor and there are plenty of coffee shops and donut shops within a mile. Yet the looks I get when I show up with a stroller- oh man. What is so wrong with walking?! seriously south tulsa- get with it! The majority of the world walks places, get off your ass, out of your car and make the most of the crazy warm weather in January. (walking rant over)

Back to the one car thing. Our one car is kind of not working anymore. Remember the walking rant? Well it is hard to walk places like the grocery store, E's ballet class, my parents house, school etc... because there is no way to get there except walking on the main road. and that is not safe for a pregnant woman with her 2 year old. Rhys works downtown. We live South. It is about a 30 minute drive, give or take. On the days when I need the car to run errands or take E somewhere, we wake E up just before 7 (she usually sleeps until 830 or 9), put her in the car, PJ's and all and drive Rhys downtown to drop him off, turn around and drive back home. It is not the most efficient, but at the moment the only option. On those days Rhys runs home. It is only about 15 miles and he is crazy like that.

And yesterday our car all but died. The water pump is out, two front tie rods are cracked, there is an oil leak and we needed 4 new tires. Two of the tires were so bad that you could actually see through them. Yeah, we were minutes away from a blow out. All we fixed yesterday was the tires. And then this morning, bright and early at 7, we got in the car to discover that the power steering had gone out. seriously? SERIOUSLY? yeah, super awesome.

So our one car is pretty much not working and we live in a place where is there non existent public transportation and no sidewalks. again, in the grand scheme of life- not a big deal. In my daily living? a big deal.

well, more annoying and EXPENSIVE than anything else.

so that's where we are. annoyed about only having one car, annoyed that people don't walk anywhere here, annoyed that there are no sidewalks. just plain annoyed. I am SO glad that it is Friday and we have a weekend of lovely weather ahead. I need an attitude adjustment big time!

Happy weekend everyone- enjoy!

4 January 2012

2011 Reflections, part 2

a few days later than planned, but nonetheless a continuation of the 2011 mini Reverb reflections...

8. Where did you spend money?
uh, everywhere. seriously I cant say that 2011 was 'money well spent' I knew we were leaving the UK so I kind of went insane buying 'British' things so I would have them for our new house in America. What I ended up with is boxes (literally) of stuff that I have no idea what to do with. never buy just for the sake of buying. On a side note, that is one of my goals for 2012, to be aware and buy wisely. But that did not characterize my spending in 2011.

Aside from foolish spending (which was the majority let me tell you) we did have some good expenditures. Rhys and I went to Rome in February. It was heavenly and worth every euro we spent. We also shelled out quite a bit for plane tickets to America in April and then back to the UK in October. Costly, but again worth it. And lets not forget the large sum of money used to purchase our very first home. I couldn't be more thrilled at that use of money. Again, worth every penny. So perhaps 2011 wasn't all foolish spending....or perhaps I am just telling myself that to make it all seem better! ha!

9. When were you most scared?
January through to May. January and February were different kinds of fears. March and April different again, and May all its our kind of fear. But I can never remember another time in my life when I was so fearful and so afraid of life in general. I will spare you all the details because they are gory. But the first half of 2011 was not brilliant for me.

10. What questions did you ask?
When, What and Why. Why did we decide to leave the UK? What will America be like? When are we moving? When do we get our own space? When does this mortgage thing work for us? When do we finally get to be a couple? When do I get to be a mom without parents? Why am I a stay at home mom with NO house to stay at home in? What do we actually want to do? Why are we in Tulsa? When will it feel like home? When are things going to be 'normal' for us? What the hell is going on? Why is this life? Why? Why? Why? and so on and so forth

11. Who surprised you? was suppose to be the question, but I am changing it to What surprised you...?
Tulsa. Moving here was a hard transition. The hardest one of 2011 that's for sure. And it took me a good few months to actually adjust. But by about mid June I was shocked that we had friends that we really loved in Tulsa. That we had a community. And not just a community but a neat, relaxed, fun Christian community. Just like the one I 'reverbed' about wanting last year. Redeemer as a church really surprised and so did everyone inside of it. Rhys and I found a home that we thought we wouldn't have for a long time. And we are so grateful.

12. What did you learn?
More than I could ever really put into words. I learned what it really means to be a wife. and to be a mother. I learned there is a BIG difference between being a parent and actually parenting. I learned that if I don't take the time to invest in my family, then it simply does not get done. I learned that I am lazy and selfish. I learned it take effort on my part to fight against those things. I learned that I actually care about recycling. it matters. I learned that I can passionately about human trafficing. (lots of future posts on that) I learned that waiting is miserable if you don't take the time to actually wait- forcing life to happen is not a good plan. I learned that the waiting can be sweet- if you make it that. I learned that my friends are wonderful. I learned just how challenging a cross-cultural marriage can be. I also learned I there is nothing you could throw at us that would make us do it any differently. I learned that my husband is the strongest support I will ever have. He is also the strongest, most incredible, amazing man I know. I learned what family really means. I learned that I am more capable than I ever knew. I learned that ultra marathons ARE for me. I learned about life in ways that I never knew possible. I learned a lot.

13. When did you feel the most relaxed?
10 December 2011. The day we moved into our own house. After 18 plus months of living in someone else space, it was glorious to finally have my own. I cried that night as I laid down to sleep in MY own bed. Not some bed that just happened to be in the rented flat, MY bed. in MY house. ah, it was like a tiny glimpse of what Heaven will be like.

14. Where did you leave a mark?
I honestly don't know how to answer that. The beginning of the year was marked with so much pain and inner turmoil for me that I don't think I was capable of doing much of anything, let alone impacting anyone or anything. I got a lot more selfish and lazy as the year went on....so hmm....I would like to say that I left a mark on Eleri. But I am not sure between the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Peppa Pig that she even realised I was around. Ok, so that was a bit extreme. But I also want some honesty on my blog. 2011 was not a brilliant year for me as a person or as a parent. I got into some bad places, and some bad habits. My little one did watch a lot of tv. A great place to learn from and start again in the new year.

15. What movies did you see?
Date Night?.... did that come out in 2011? I saw Harry Potter, Part 2 in the theater last year I know that. But those are the only ones that I can think of...

So that is it for today....more up tomorrow.

2 January 2012

2011 Reflections

Happy New Year! The end of 2011 resulted in some pretty sporadic blogging as 'morning' sickness and moving took over my life. And even though the year has technically already wrapped up, I did not want to officially end 2011 on my blog until I did some year end blogging.

I ended 2010 with Reverb. 31 days, 31 posts- all reflecting on 2010 and looking forward to 2011. I went back through today and read those. It was interesting, funny, heartbreaking and humbling to read some of the posts. 2010 was a hard year. A lot of what I hoped for 2011 came true. and a lot didnt. But I am glad I had such a record.

So whilst I did not 'reverb' everyday in December, I am going to do a summed up version the next three days. Then on the fourth day I will post my goals for 2012. Then 2011 can be wrapped and the blog can officially welcome in the new year.

So without further ado, let Reverb 11 begin:

1.Where did 2011 begin?
The in-laws house. Lots of party food, wii games, dance party with the adults when the little ones went to bed, lots of drinks, lots of laughs, a quick skip over to the pub and a good time was had by all!

2.Who did you meet?
Gosh...lots of people. We moved in April and had to start over in a new country, a new city. Thanks to the graciousness of Tim and Ally, we met and were welcomed into an amazing church.

3.What books did you read?
Positive Discipline, Help your Baby talk, So Long Insecurity, Radical (I do not recommend that one), 12 Books that Changed the Word, and I feel like there might have been a few more....

4.When did you struggle?
I am not sure that I can fully answer that one. I struggled A LOT. 2010 was difficult, but 2011 proved to be no walk in the park. I struggled leaving Europe. I struggled moving back to Tulsa. I struggled letting myself make new friends and I struggled letting go of some of the old ones. I struggled living with my parents for 8 months. I struggled not having my own space. I am still struggling with not having a car and my own transportation. (hard to do in tulsa) I struggled investing in E the ways I wanted to. and then I struggled with guilt when I didnt. I struggled going back to the UK in October. and then I struggled leaving again. I struggled with getting pregnant. I struggled a lot. about a lot of things. a lot of the time.

5.What did you discover?
I discovered that life really is what I make of it. If I am negative- life sucks. IF I always point out the bad, then that is what I am going to get. I discovered that the opposite applies as well.

I discovered that I have even more of a tendency to be lazy that I thought. and if I am not careful, the day is easily wasted away.

I discovered that I am both stronger and more insecure than I thought.

6.Who was important to you?
First and foremost, Rhys. I am difficult. seriously. I cant imagine having to live with myself. Sometimes I step back and really think about what I just said or did and I am amazed that Rhys actually puts up with me. He is patient, kind, considerate and compassionate. I can say without reservation that I would not have made it through either 2010 or 2011 without him. He will never know just how important he is to me.

Also important in 2011: Katherine. without her in Brecon, well...it would have been even harder than it was. Allyson. Without her in Tulsa, I cant imagine what the transition would have been like.

7.What do you hope to remember?
I really hope to remember the gratefulness felt when we finally got our own space in December. (yup, barely made it in 2011) It was such a long wait, and such a hard wait, that the feeling was so incredibly sweet. To us our place is HUGE! after our tiny flat, which was the last place Rhys, E and I lived that was just us, that our house may as well be a mansion. I mean come on, you can NOT touch all the kitchen walls at the same time. Or sit on the toilet, with your feet in the bathtub whilst brushing your teeth in the sink. Our place is massive :)

And we are so grateful. I don't want to lose that feeling. I don't want to get caught up in what we do or don't have. I don't want to start thinking "oh we need to do this to the house and buy this or that" I want to live in that appreciation we first felt. I don't want to lose that feeling.

And that is it for today. More tomorrow as I try and wrap up the year in my head and prepare for the new year ahead.