29 December, 2011

Wall of Frames

At least a year ago now, Scott found a DIY project that he really liked on a blog, so he shared it with me and we decided that at some point in the future we'd undergo the task. The idea was an entire wall of differently shaped and textured, white picture frames with various pictures and memorabilia in them. Several months ago, we stumbled across an advertisement on Gumtree (like Craig's List) of 50 odd picture frames going for £10. Then about a month ago, I picked up white paint, sandpaper, and paint brushes so we'd be ready when we actually had some down time!

With all his chemo treatments lately, Scott's immune system has been down, so he's had to stay in the house and away from crowds. He became extremely restless last week and was wishing aloud that he had something to do, so I suggested he start on the Wall of Frames project we had talked about doing. He jumped at the chance to have something to do and began the task with a vengeance!

Our kitchen was soon overrun with the project (which was not my favourite), but I had a happy, busy husband which was worth the bother of a crazy kitchen! Scott sanded and painted the majority of the frames and I helped with a bit of painting and touching up and also washed and dried the glass for the frames. One night Scott couldn't sleep due to his prescriptions, so at 4am he painted more frames! It was about a 3 day process since most of the frames had to be painted with 2-3 coats and all the frames had to be hung.

In order to organise where we thought each frame should go and minimise the number of holes in the wall (I'm sure our landlord will be grateful for this), we measured and cut out cheap wrapping paper and blue tacked it to the wall. I have to say, it is wonderful to have a husband who likes to do things well!

Once the frames were all painted, we matched their sizes to the wrapping paper cutouts and began to hang frames in place on the wall. Several frames were the same size, but had different designs which were seen through the paint, so we spent quite a lot of time organising where everything looked best!

We had decided the wall would be one of memories and places we love rather than pictures of us or of other people, so once the frames were on the wall, we were on the hunt for things to fill them with! The first several frames were easy to fill, but as we got toward the last few, it was more difficult to decide what should go in them. Some of the things included on our wall are ticket stubs and program from our first official date at the London Theatre, scenic pictures of Trillium Lake and Hume Lake, ballroom dancing, our favourite movie: August Rush, as well as a few fun random things we liked the look of!

While all the frames are up with pictures in them, the wall is still definitely a work in progress. You may have noticed one last piece of wrapping paper on the wall awaiting it's frame and picture. Scott fell in love with a black and white sketch of Glasgow University that our friend Nichol Wheatley http://www.perfectcircleart.com had done, so it will soon be living on our wall. The larger blue picture will soon be replaced as well. Other than that, all we need to do is get white picture mount for a number of the frames and we're set! We LOVE our new wall decor!

So, what would you do if you had cancer and were undergoing chemo? :)

24 December, 2011

My Long Lost Olives!

I was at Tesco yesterday (kind of like super-Walmart, but a little nicer) doing my grocery shopping when I stumbled across a tin (can) of olives that appeared to be "brine-free!" Now, if you know me, you have heard me complain a few times that too many things in Scotland are preserved in brine. This isn't such a bad thing when it's something like tinned tuna, but it is NOT nice in my opinion when black olives are soaked in brine. It changes their flavour completely!

Ever since moving here over a year ago, I have been on the hunt for olives that taste like the "normal" ones I love and eat often at home. I've searched at specialty shops and all sorts and until yesterday had not managed to find anything remotely similar! Though it cost a whopping £1.50 ($2.50) for a single tin, I decided to take the financial risk...and boy was I rewarded! They taste very similar to what I'm used to back home! Thank you Spain for your olives that taste like the ones from California!

So, if you're from a country that has tinned olives in normal salt water and you've struggled to find somethings similar in the U.K., try Fragata brand Black Olives at your local Tesco! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

19 December, 2011

Pink Wins! Oh Yeah!

After a long and arduous competition and after being behind for the last while, pink (I) snuck ahead and won the 50 Person Challenge! www.scottandmonica.com 

When we moved to Scotland our support was at a scary low of 35% of our monthly budget. In normal circumstances we would have waited longer until our support was up to about 90%, but we didn't have that luxury as Scott's Visa to remain in the States had run out. So it was either go together with very little money or have him move ahead of me for who knew how long...we believed that God was sovereign over our circumstances and we were and are certain that He called us to Scotand, so we went together trusting that He would provide for our needs.

Soon after we moved to Glasgow, Scott thought up a brilliant support raising campaign that could bring us to about 85% our monthly budget if we each came up with 50 new people to support us at $20/month. It was Scott (guys/blue) against Monica (girls/pink). God immediately began to work and though things have remained tight a lot of the time, He drew new people to be part of our support team! After tallying up some of the folks that I "recruited" over the summer, the pink girls' team pulled ahead and won 50 people to 40 people! Woohoo! Time to celebrate, especially since in this competition we really both win! :) Thank you to all who played a part in helping me or Scott recruit new supporters!

17 November, 2011

English Test Results

Results are in...As it turns out, I CAN in fact speak and function in English! That fact is now officially recognised world-wide! It's a good thing, because I don't have any other language to fall back on! :) I did however learn that I probably shouldn't become a writer because writing is apparently my weakest area in English (apologies to those who read this blog!). Maybe I should try writing in Japanese instead! Anyway, just wanted to ensure that you're all aware that I AM proficient in English. :)

06 October, 2011

Can I Speak English?

For those of you who don't know, for the past few months I have been gathering and filling out paperwork to be registered in the UK as a dental hygienist. My hope is to continue with dental hygiene on a part-time basis because it is something I both miss and enjoy.

Registering to work in healthcare in a country not your own is quite the rigorous process! Now, I expected to have to give proof of the university I attended with transcripts as well as proof of licensure from the Oregon Board of Dentistry. No problem, no big deal. However, in addition to that I have to produce all the syllabi from all the dental hygiene classes as well as prerequisite classes I took. Whew! While this has been a headache, it is coming together and I can understand why the UK Dental Council would require these documents, though I feel it's all a bit much.

As it turns out, in addition to all of these more understandable and expected requirements, until I take a test, they won't believe that I can speak English! Anyone from outside the UK and British colonies must take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) to prove that they can read, write, understand and speak proficiently in English...to the tune of £115 ($180)! I've checked around and though it is obvious to everyone that English is my first language, there is no other lesser expensive test I can take to prove it. This is just one more hoop I have to jump through so I can be registered in the UK as a dental hygienist. After all, dental personnel are known for asking questions and not letting their patients answer without a million things in their mouth, so it makes sense that the dentist or hygienist would need to carry the conversation. ;)

All that to say, I have scheduled to take the IELTS on Oct 22 and will let you know as soon as I get the results whether or not I am actually competent in the English language!

30 August, 2011

Worthless Idols or Grace? What to Choose?

This morning I was reading for my weekly Bible Read Through Group in the minor prophets and was completely blown away by the depth of this verse in Jonah. I'll do my best to give you a bit of insight into my processing.

Jonah 2:8
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. " (NIV)

If the truth of this verse doesn't hit you the first time, read it again and let it sink in. My first thought was: "Wow, this is powerful." Powerful and true for the non-Christian as well as the Christian. Non-Christians forfeit the grace that could be theirs by choosing worthless idols such as other religions, relationships, clothes, money, self-centredness, success, etc. and miss out on a purpose-filled and satisfying (though not easy) life with Christ. Even more, the non-believer forfeits the grace of salvation which is offered through Christ when he defeated death on the cross. The best definition of Grace that I've come across is: "Getting what we don't deserve." No one deserves to be saved or even to have a relationship with God, but by His grace He offers both.

The thing is, as Christians, we are not immune to clinging to "worthless idols" and forfeiting the grace that could be ours. In fact, anything other than God, no matter how good a thing it is, is a worthless idol if it takes God's place of centrality in our lives. Any time we decide to go our own way and live in disobedience by placing something other than God on the throne of our lives, we lose out on a measure of His grace. Do we lose the grace of salvation, no! However, we lose out on living in and experiencing grace for each day. When we chose "worthless idols" over following God, our eyes leave Christ and focus on ourselves and life loses it's clarity, purpose, and joy.

I want to be the kind of Christian who worships and clings to God alone! I don't want to forfeit ANY of the grace that God wants to give me.

How are you doing with surrendering "worthless idols" and claiming the grace God wants to give you?

23 August, 2011

Fish Tea Anyone?

So, I was walking down Byres Road in West Glasgow yesterday and walked past this sign. It made me stop and think. Took me a minute, then I understood what it was actually offering (proud moment...I realised that I'm actually understanding some things Scottish!). I kept thinking about the sign and chuckling, so I actually grabbed my camera from home and returned a couple hours later with a friend and took a photo to share with you all!

First reactions? Americans and other non-British folks, take a guess at what this is offering! Just wanted to share a bit of the fun of living in Scotland. :)

11 August, 2011

Counting the Cost

I was sitting on the floor in our room in Glasgow with my back against the far side of the bed, sobbing uncontrollably.  I had picked that spot so that I was hidden out of the way and could deal with my grief and frustration alone, but at the same time I hoped that Scott would arrive home soon and would come looking for me and find me. 

I’d been in Glasgow for almost 6 months and overall I'd been impressed with how well I had adjusted to living in Scotland.  My sister Emily had come to visit for two weeks and I'd loved spending time with her and showing her around my new "home," but now, just a few days after she flew home, I physically ached to be back with my family and friends. 

Feeling blue, I decided to keep busy to take my mind of things and making dinner seemed like an easy distraction.  

It was the end of the month, and like each other month so far that meant I was low on groceries, had no cash on me and I knew we had very little money left in the bank. Trying to be as positive and resourceful as possible I came up with a dish I could make from the ingredients we had. All I had to do was jump across the street and pick up the two simple and inexpensive ingredients I didn’t have on hand—a can of corn and a green pepper.  Easy.  

With a renewed sense of purpose I walked across the street to the ATM to take out the minimum amount (£10).  My heart sank as our account balance appeared on the screen… £9.35. Trying to stay positive, I reminded myself that it was not the end of the world, after all, I could pay with my debit card.

I walked the few yards to the small store and successfully found a cheap can of corn but no green pepper.  This time I had to force myself to stay positive in an attempt to keep the now threatening tears and feeling of defeat from overwhelming me.  "I’ll buy the corn here and get a green pepper from the other store at the end of the street," I resolved. I took the corn up to the counter where, to my dismay, I was reminded that this store only takes cash. As if I wasn't already frustrated enough, the gentleman behind the counter kindly pointed me in the direction of the ATM I'd just visited?!?  I forced a smile, thanked him, and left the store empty handed and feeling even more defeated.

Fortunately the other grocery store on the street is only 10 yards away and I knew that this one allows you to pay by card.  I was relieved to enter the store and quickly spot a green pepper on the shelf.  But then I discovered that they had no can of corn. Why was everything in life so difficult?

Doing everything I could to hold myself together I convinced myself that the dish would be fine without the corn since Scott doesn’t like corn anyway.  I took the green pepper to the cashier who, as pleasantly as possible, told me that they required a minimum spend of £5 when paying by debit card. Then, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the cashier smiled and very kindly suggested if I'd prefer not to spend £5 I could go to the ATM just a few yards away where I could withdraw some cash?!?!?!

In that moment, on top of everything else, these daily inconveniences sent my world spinning out of control.  I felt frustrated, helpless and completely alone. All I had wanted to do was make a simple dinner and not have to think!  Using every ounce of strength I could muster I managed a stable sounding "thank you" to the cashier, left the green pepper, and sped off towards home.  

I wasn't even halfway across the street when the tears came in a torrent. Barely able to see, I fumbled my way into the flat and bee-lined for our room, where I collapsed in a heap on the floor and felt despair flood over me.

I was there for over half an hour before Scott arrived home and found me, huddled against the bed, a complete mess with snot and tears running down my face. He gently asked me what was wrong and through shaky, halting speech I told him the same thing I'd repeated to myself hundreds of times since collapsing there: "I just want to go home." 

I missed my family, my friends, a job that paid me more than enough to live on (so I could buy ingredients for dinner without stressing), a work schedule that was consistent and a job where I knew what I was expected to accomplish daily, a car and the ability to go for a drive whenever I wanted, etc.  I had finally come face-to-face with the COST of following Christ.  

Since being back in the States the past 4 weeks, I have struggled with the fact that I will have to again leave family and friends and American conveniences.  But do I think that moving to Scotland and serving in ministry is worth the struggle? Yes! 

Over the last year I have seen God claim and change the lives of many of the young women I am privileged to disciple and many of the young men Scott disciples. I continually see young people pumped up about being in the Word and becoming people of Prayer. I watched Him provide a church building worth £150,000 for £40,000 at a time when we had lost hope of finding a permanent facility of our own. Plus, I have grown tremendously in my dependence on God for both my identity and His provision. 

Without a doubt, God is moving in Scotland and I feel excited and honored to be part of what He is doing! Obeying and following God can be exhilarating, but is it always easy and without cost? No! Nevertheless…there is no place I’d rather be.  Despite the pain and the struggle, the frustration and heartache, I place my life in the hands of the One who Never Fails and I whole heartedly declare that I am committed to do Whatever God Wants, Whenever He Wants It, Whatever It Costs.

25 July, 2011

Granny Is In!

As many of you may have noticed and as the Bible funnily enough reminds us in Ecclesiastes, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Yes indeed, in Scotland not only are some of the most hideous styles from the 80s showing their colours, but all things "Granny" have become the in thing! For the past few years, Cath Kidston http://www.cathkidston.co.uk/ has been leading the market that direction with her cheery florals on handbags and aprons, but we have now moved forward (or should I say backward) into lacy doilies, floral teacups and knitted scarves and jumpers (sweaters)!

To be honest, I never thought I would say this, but I've become a sucker for knitting! At the start of June, Re:Hope launched a Wednesday night Knit and Knatter group lead by our very own Angela Porchetta and Maria McDaid. Not only was Knit and Knatter created to teach women of all ages how to knit, but our desire is that it will serve as both a non-threatening outreach opportunity as well as a church community building event. So far we have had success with a few new people attending the knit night as well as seeing a couple gals who have been attending Re:Hope get connected with other women in the church! If you're in Glasgow, stop in for a knitting lesson, tea and dessert, and a good chat around tables covered with doilies!

A few of us have become real knitting addicts! ;) The Sunday after the first knit night, a few of us were talking about how we had spent a lot of the week knitting and couldn't seem to put our projects down! I knit while watching t.v. (CSI primarily), when chatting with friends and even in the car when someone else is driving! Watch out...I may just be turning into a granny at age 28!

  My First Knitting Project was a scarf                                              Scarf Completed!
 Dish Cloth, Almost Complete!

25 April, 2011

Dedication Week

Many of you may know that Re:Hope (the church we work at) just bought a church building under a month ago. You may also know that we have spent much of the month of April, updating and renovating parts of the building. However, what you may not know is that this past week at the building was our Dedication Week. 

Dedication Week was a week focused on dedicating the building to God for His work by reading the Word and worshipping him. God provided the church building in a miraculous way (see story at Brian's Blog) and we know He plans to use it to further His Kingdom. We created a sign-up for 1 hour slots beginning at 8am Monday morning and allowed attenders of Re:Hope to sign-up for slots to read the Bible. Pastor Brian started us off reading Genesis 1:1 and each hour the person arriving would take over where the last person left off. I signed up for the Tuesday morning, 8am slot and read from the middle of Joshua through Judges 1.  It was a glorious, sunny morning and I loved starting my day off reading the Bible at the church!

The unique thing about this time was that each person read the Bible out loud from the pulpit, declaring the words of the Lord over the building. Sometimes the reader was the only one there, but other times, people were round about, either for the purpose of listening or to organe things in the building. We took the nights off and by Friday at about 5pm, the last reader finished up Revelation. There is certainly power in reading God's Word aloud and the church building was bathed in it and set apart for His work. Throughout the week we had 3 short evening worship times in which people came to simple sing songs of worship and praise to our God.  

The Bible Reading took place from where Brian is preaching in this picture

Easter Sunday was our first Sunday service in the building and God's presence was there and moving in people's hearts! I can't wait to see all that God is going to do in and through us at this new church home!

Re:Hope Easter Service

Re:Hope Easter Service

28 February, 2011


Saturday, I experienced my first hiking adventure! I was quickly informed that the word "hiking" is an American term and what we were doing was "hillwalking." There's a new term for you!  Scott and I got a "lift" (a ride in the car) with some new friends from Re:Hope a little after 8am. We drove about an hour outside Glasgow to Loch Lomond (a lake) and began our hike at the base of Ben Lomond which is part of the Munros, the highest mountains in Scotland. Ben Lomond is 3,250ft and the distance of the hike is about 7 miles.

Not really in the best shape of my life, there were a few points at which I wasn't sure I really wanted to make it all the way to the top, but I've never not finished a hike, so I was determined to finish what I had started. Though I have sore knees and a few sore muscles as a result, it was well worth the work. The weather was beautiful, complete with blue sky and white puffy clouds (a rare blessing around here) for most of our hike. When we had nearly reached the top an unexpected snow storm overtook us for about 10 minutes, but then blew away and left more beautiful weather! The views from the top and all the way up were so rewarding! Scotland is such a beautiful country!

The victorious gang: Cortney, Tiomoid, Rhiannon, Scott, Mon, and Stewart
Views from the Top of Loch Lomond

Love these ladies!
More gorgeous views of God's handiwork
One of the sweet ridges

21 January, 2011

Traditional Scottish Meal

We had a guest in from the States the other night, so I decided to feed him the most well known and tradition meal in Scotland: Haggis, Neeps (mashed turnips) and Tatties (mashed potatoes). I had never eaten turnip before coming to Scotland and I actually quite like it. The secret to making mashed potatoes and turnips taste nice is butter! Though maybe not the healthiest, butter will make most vegetables taste quite yummy. The food turned out quite well and our guest enjoyed it and the chance to try something new!

If you're ever in Scotland don't miss this meal! The first time I was in Scotland, my mother-in-law made it for me and I found I really like it! I was warned before ever visiting Scotland (by a few Americans) that haggis was not very good and was made of strange things. I won't disagree that for many people it might be best not to know what is in haggis before trying it, but I quite like it myself and would recommend it! For those who do want to know, haggis contains sheep's "pluck" (heart, liver, and lungs), onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt mixed with stock and it's traditionally simmered in a sheep's stomach for 3 hours. Today, most commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. Haggis is definitely a must try!

08 January, 2011

Our Flat!

I'm sorry it has taken so long for me to get the pictures together, but I'm finally posting pics of the amazing flat God provided for us! It is a traditional Glasgow style tenement flat and because of that it has some lovely features including high ceilings, crown moulding, stained glass archways, huge windows and lots of space! The front two rooms of the house have single glazed windows, so they are often quite cold, but the back rooms are double glazed so their a bit warmer. The best part about the flat is that it was advertised as a two bedroom flat with a small office and as you'll see it actually has 3 full bedrooms and it was only £45/month more than all the others that we were looking at that we half its size! We decided to invite our friend Mark to stay with us to make good use of the space and it's been great so far!

So enough of the rambling, I'll give you a tour! We are still working out of some boxes as you'll see and slowly decorating, but we're getting there!

Our Flat on Lauderdale Gardens

Come in!

Our lovely kitchen

Beautiful cabinets with our wedding dishes displayed

My favourite place to sit read!

The "small office"

Your room when you come visit!

Mark's room
The largest bedroom we'll ever have!
The living room...we're still deciding on d├ęcor