28 September 2011

NHS - Surgery

Yes, I had appendicitis and an appendectomy.
Yes, I survived the National Healthcare Service and I was in the hospital for 6 days.
No, I did not like it.
Yes, my mama is here taking care of me (with Grant's patient and attentive care, of course) and I seem to be recovering well, albeit slowly.

I really don't like talking about it and am ready to be done with the whole experience, to be honest.
Wednesday through Monday I was in the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. Having been woken up every hour of the night with by-the-book symptoms of appendicitis, a neighbor offered to drive us! Praise the Lord! I was examined by a med school student and an EMT in training. It was a little disconcerting for him to be examining me in so much pain, asking questions like, "So should I begin by pressing here? and applying about how much pressure?" I did NOT want to be his guinea pig. Oh, also, I was literally on a cot in a storage room. Seriously. People would come in and out to get gloves, IV bags, etc while I was being examined, each one shocked to find a patient in that room!

Hours later they told me that it probably was appendicitis, but they wanted to get a Gyn opinion and an ultra sound. Oddly enough, many departments in NHS work M-F 9-5. At this point, the ultrasound department had just closed, so they put me to bed to wait it out. When I asked What if it should burst, releasing toxins into the incredibly compact area of my abdominal cavity? They reassured me: If it bursts, we will know...!

Thursday, they operated.

Friday, I was told the surgery was successful. I have two scars: the laproscopic approach didn't work, so I have the typical appendectomy scar, too. I was detained Saturday, Sunday, and most of Monday. I never saw my surgeon again. I won't dwell on the negative, but the care and overall experience was sub-par. Please pray for healing, for a full recovery {the woman next to me had been back FOUR TIMES for post-op complications after her initial surgery 8 months ago....} and for restoration.

Mama's here now! Yay! She arrived on Monday and got to experience first-hand a bit of the NHS with me until I was released. Her timing has been perfect because this is a really busy week at school for Grant!

As for me now, I am still struggling to get up, sit up, stand up, and walk - but I'm doing it! My wounds throb, and daily things have become exhausting: taking a shower, drying my hair, getting dressed may take hours...! But sleep is good for healing so I sleep as much as possible.

A few positives, so as not to end on a negative with NHS:
  • They serve you tea every day, twice a day in the hospital at 10 and at 2.
  • The food is actually really good and you have a full menu to choose from for up to a full 3-course meal, if you so choose (and are able).
  • You are in "wards" which means your bed is one of 4, 6, or 8 in one room. This may seem like a negative, and sometimes it can be, but visiting hours are STRICT! so for the majority of the time you are alone, except for your fellow companions, and the conversation is usually easy and it all makes you feel less lonely.
Your prayers are much appreciated!

18 September 2011

Times and Seasons

"Jesus said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.'" (Acts 1:7)

I realize that this was in response to the disciples' question about the second coming of Christ and the restoration of Israel, not in direct response, to say, my equally important question. But I feel I am in the middle of a season of when and why not now and I find myself pleading with God all the time.

Nothing wrong with that!

The disciples understood this and came from a long line of Jews asking desperately how and when and how long, oh Lord?! Most of the Old Testament is sprinkled with the groaning of people - the Israelites in the desert, the people striving to establish justice through judges, the nation crying out for a king, the prophets lamenting Israel's wayward heart, the "remnant" of the Babylonian captivity, the revelation of the coming Christ Messiah - the waiting, the disbelief, the confusion, the crucifixion, the three days, and finally the resurrection! There is hope and a promise and salvation as a result of all that, but what a history to have come out of.

So we, too, as believers corporately step into this long line of patiently waiting for the revelation of something to come. There is a powerful spiritual implication for each of us, if we can grasp it, accepting the season of already, not yet.

Today at Hillsong, I was reminded of this verse, and it seems that God is speaking right to my soul: Lucy, it is not for you to know times or seasons that I've fixed by My own authority.

There is a purpose.

I am God. You are not. {It's better this way.}

I don't need your permission; I have all authority.

I am trustworthy.

It seems to be much easier expelling energy (to my detriment, I might add) fighting the whole thing, but to what end?

He has designed it - any season of waiting - as a time to either struggle against the not-knowing and pout like a child {me, mostly} or to revel in the journey. Do I let Him lead me or do I seek my will, missing what could be something beautiful? Am I stiff-necked, proud, and untrusting or pliable, teachable, and moldable? Do I value the known over the unknown - no matter the cost; regardless of the One who goes before me and behind me?

It is a simple and frustrating question: Do I trust Him?

I want the answer. He wants my heart.

I want independence. He wants my humility.

I want knowledge. He wants my trust.

I want the destination. He wants the journey.

And he gave a cry, saying, "I have faith; make my feeble faith stronger!" (Mark 9:24b) Lord, help me learn to wait.

A Treat for You

Just for those of you who read and follow my blog. Here's a shot of the Lady Chapel {aka: Albert Memorial Chapel} of St. George's Chapel at Windsor. Stunning, isn't it?

And a few Guards just walking around on duty in the Lower Ward of the palace.

And finally, we have had a guest in our backgarden today. I was sitting in bed reading this morning, when something outside caught my eye... a fox! I'm pretty sure it was just perusing the garden for things to snack on, but still....

I have limited iPhone evidence. After I show it to Grant, I'll see if he confirms or denies my claim that a fox is what I saw. {I wish you could have seen me trying to record this darting, quick little creature outside the french doors of our bedroom.... He was a good distance away, I was perched on the edge of the end of our bed, trying to get a shot that worked, all the while battling the curtains to stay open without dropping the phone... that could've been a noteworthy sight in and of itself, had you been here this morning...!}

17 September 2011

One Month

It's officially one month today: we've lived in London, dealt with the transition of moving, found a flat we call home, mastered survived public transport, and seen some pretty awesome sights.

London is amazing and intoxicating and the energy here is vibrant.

There is this beautiful combination of Old World and New World here where you can plan an outing to the largest occupied castle in the world {more on that later!} or just wander around randomly and have an equally intriguing encounter with this great city and its surroundings. We love it.

Today, we went to Windsor.

Private apartments of the Queen

Back Gardens and State Rooms
We got a deal on tickets and got to be a part of history, too! They just reopened The Round Tower for the first time in 30 years - it's a trial run for August and September only - and we got to be in one of the groups.
Loved it. The view was unparalleled!
You can see all of the surrounding royal grounds, gardens, and park, as well as the Thames River Valley and London skyline. We took the train out there, packed a picnic lunch (yum!), and toured the castle - tower, state rooms, upper and lower wards, St. George's and Lady Chapel {aka: Albert Memorial Chapel}. Followed it up with a quick jaunt through Great Park - The Long Walk to George III's statue - and a look around the charming and picturesque town. I know why it's the Queen's favoured residence.

My Favourite Part: The Norman Gate

15 September 2011

The Sweetest Thing

Every once in a while, I'll come into that twilight sleep/wake of morning to discover that at some point Grant's hand has sought mine as we lie sleeping, and our fingers are still entwined.

This is becoming a trend (I first noticed it around our 3rd anniversary) and one I treasure.

13 September 2011

The delightful problem of a good book

The delightful problem of a good book is that I can't put it down. I have read 5 such books since we've been settled in our flat. Two weeks tomorrow and one MONTH in London!! Time's flying! I find I read constantly while out and about - even (and especially) at home.

Herein lies the second problem: nothing to read on the tube/ bus. I have seriously started out my day, realized I have nothing to read because I've finished my recent read, stopped into a bookshop on the way to the tube, only to repeat the process two days later.

A delightful problem indeed. However, not sure my sweet, caring, handsome hubs appreciates me buying several books every few days, what with both of us on the verge of purchasing many heavy books of the graduate degree persuasion... Perhaps these minor buys - like my lunches out - will remain a mystery to him. Yes, he reads my blog...!


12 September 2011


Forgive me, but I must write these phrases down so I don't forget our funny and sometimes embarrassed or flustered transition into the local lingo.

British : American

Jumper : sweater
Pants : underwear
Trowsers : pants
Ice lolly : popsicle
Knickers : ladies' panties
Left luggage : baggage check (a good one to know!)
Chips : fries
Crisps : potato chips
Fag : cigarette
Frogs : French people (ha!)
Fanny : vagina
Mate : friend (boy or girl) this has replaced the old-fashioned "bloke"
Bangers and Mash : sausage and potatoes
Scottish egg : hard-boiled egg, wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried
Holiday : vacation
Let : rent
Flat : apartment
Lift : elevator
Loo : toilet
Toilet : bathroom/ powder room
Licenced : restaurant that sells alcohol (ie, all of them. And yes, Mama, that's how they spell it ;)
Off-Licence : liquor store
Afters : dessert
Snogging : making out
Rubbish bin : trash can
On offer : for sale
Torch : flashlight
Wellies : (rain) boots
Petrol : gas
Pissed : drunk
Half eight : 8:30 (not 7:30)
Cheers : hi, bye, thanks, and many other conversational uses (when in doubt, say Cheers!)

11 September 2011

9/11 Ten Years Later: We Remember

It is strange to be over here in London and look both back and across (to America) as we remember.

A decade ago, my cousin was killed in the Pentagon, leaving his pregnant wife behind. We mourned the national tragedy and personal loss deeply. She has since happily remarried and has had other children, but she'll tell you that moving on and raising a kid as a single mom was the hardest thing she's ever had to do. She wouldn't wish that inner turmoil on anyone-- that mixture of grieving over love lost and hoping for new life; a blessing to come and heartache to bear. (I think she'd also tell you that God has redeemed what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25a) and God has brought abundant joy and family out of a situation meant to destroy her sense of family.)

I'll never forget where I was: Mrs. Gonzales's pre-cal class when someone from the front office told us about it. Mrs. G didn't believe the aide and continued teaching. Only after both Towers were hit did we make our way to the library with so many others and watch... And wait. That day is forever suspended in time, burned into memory.

In the shocking aftermath we watched our country come together. Neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, American helping American.

I have so much pride in our great nation; it is difficult to be away on days like today, when the rest of the world could not understand. But the distance doesn't change or waver our hearts. We're still as present as we can be and we still remember. We are still

One nation under God,
With liberty and justice for all.

08 September 2011

Hillsong: Our Home away from Home

{The other 1/2 of that previous post's excerpt}

Hillsong London has been the other surprise.

We love it. I mean, we knew the reputation that precedes it: awesome worship, solid theology. What we did not know was THE PEOPLE. Oh my goodness, the people. I cannot explain to you the full extent of my gratitude for their welcoming openness.

We filled out the requisite "Welcome Card" thinking it would be weeks before either of us heard anything. Nope. People had called us and set up coffee for later that week! We have met more people and made new contacts in this otherwise overwhelmingly huge city. We've attended drinks (several times), dinner (twice), a Hillsong party (amazing. they rented out an entire bowling alley/ 2-story bar and maxed out its occupancy), a birthday party (South African braai!), and a clothes swap with tea and cakes (just the girls).

These people are completely open with their hearts, homes, experiences, contacts, and calendars. It makes me wonder why we tend to be so guarded in our relationships and friendships. It seems to me (looking back) that I would almost expect people to prove their worth--jump through a few hoops at least--then I would take the time to invest in them.
Not these people. You want a look at first century church... it is here. And it is beautiful. And humbling. It will absolutely bring you to your knees when you witness giving, sharing, and generosity at someone else's expense (making cupcakes from scratch just for you; going out of his way to include you in his birthday party; journeying across town to meet you just because you're new and don't know the area; making a special trip to the store to be sure they have enough -- for you).

We find ourselves, in the still darkness of night, asking, "Why do they do it? Why do they give and give and give and then give some more? Have they never been burned? Do they not end up with crushed expectations? Is there ever a return on their investment?" {If I'm honest, I'm still trying to figure out how they do it without being constantly disappointed, constantly heart-broken over people and things that didn't turn out the way they thought.} I know why they do it. I know it's because the love of Jesus in them runs over into the lives of others.

Here's another happy surprise: knowing that His love spills over and being the recipient of that love are two entirely different things. Wow. Blown away is an understatement.

We're adjusting quite nicely and I have to admit, at least 95% of that has to be because some sweet, real, authentic, raw, un-churched church people decided to take us under their wing and share their world with a couple of strangers who, honestly, may not even be here a year from now... which makes their commitment to us all the more dear. How do they do it? I'm amazed
{and am learning MUCH about myself and my motives and my heart}. London and God's grace is treating us well. Thank God for Hillsong London. Seriously.

God has done great things for us and we are filled with joy! {Ps 126:3}

Daily Life Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from an email I recently sent out. I think it just about sums up daily life (at least at first).

As for daily life, things have been surprising. London, for being a world power and the seat of Europe's academic and financial business, can seem like basically a third world country when it comes to customer service (none), processing paperwork (weeks and it may have to be restarted), finding a place to live (a fanatical, fear-driven "get-what-you-can-when-you-can" supply/ demand), and standard of living (crazy expensive plus the unfavorable exchange rate).

There have been plenty of frustrations--many of which, yes, would be the case no matter where in the world we were living because moving is a huge and incredible headache; some of which are completely unique to London life.

But really and truly, that is to be expected and God has been gracious with us and the transition: we didn't lose any luggage, we found a flat and moved in within one week of landing, we have bank accounts set up with access to our money in pounds, our flat is cheery with lots of light, our flat included all kitchen accessories (cutlery, plates, glasses, and basic cookware), we ended up living less than 1/2 a mile from our friends Claude and Mary Elizabeth (KD with me at UGA!)... the list goes on and on and on.

Great is His faithfulness.

Our Flat: After

Ok. So the full list of pics are here.

I was going to include a few on here, but the blogger uploader was taking FOREVER! We like it; it's a work in progress ;)