Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Beauty of a Needle in a Haystack...

Love being back and taking the
evening walks I fell so in love with
last year.
Sometimes God has a funny was of taking us by surprise. We may walk into some situations with certain expectations and enthusiasm, and we end up walking out with a different excitement than we had anticipated; yet still somehow meeting our expectations.

This month is crazy busy, with students returning and plenty of work to do at JMC...and I am so pumped! I have such a good feeling about this year, especially for the next few weeks--to meet new students and young professionals moving to the area, and make solid connections. My diary (British for a planner/schedule book) is filled with events at the university and JMC to welcome people to Newcastle and put myself in the right place at the right time to make these connections....but it seems that each day I come out with stronger and unexpected encounters from times and places outside the ones I have penciled in.

It took three brilliant examples for me to finally see the pattern...

1- I was working a stall at one of the welcome fairs last week, thinking that I would meet students that are really looking for that home away from home, and we (the university chaplaincy team) would be there to help. Instead, God gave me a taste of home myself! One of the students I greeted, of hundreds at the fair, had an American accent, so naturally I got all "USA proud" (as I do when I meet another American...it's a rare occurrence here), and asked him where he was from. When he said Colorado, I got even more geeky-excited, because I have never met another Colorado native in the UK, let alone Newcastle of all places. And to make this world even smaller, and make the encounter a bit more unbelievable, he said he was from the Vail Valley! Completely unexpectedly, I met probably the only other valley kid to have ever lived in Newcastle. We knew each others siblings and were flabbergasted at the coincidence because, for those of you who don't know, Vail is a very small and tight community. But apparently the world can be even smaller :)

Who would ever expect the preacher to ask you to sleep
through their sermon?...mine :) in order to create an image of
waking up and shedding the comfort of our personal
"sleeping bags", Katie asked me to crawl into this bag
and take a 10 min nap as she gave her sermon on Sunday.

2- I was booked in to help with the international student meet and greet last week. So when I arrived at the Student Union and saw a table with another Chaplin helping hand out coffees, I walked over and started pouring hot drinks and chatting with the students who turned up. I had quite a few good conversations and welcomed students from all over the world. There were two students who I had a great conversation with and connected them to some helpful information for their first few weeks. It was a great afternoon and they were very sweet and thankful for the event. When we were cleaning up, I asked one of the student volunteers if she was going to be at the next week's meet and greet. She laughed and told me, "the meet and greet is going on in that room right now, this was the student life coffee lounge." I had been in the wrong room! Honestly I felt very silly, but it turned out that again my expectations were twisted, and although I was at the wrong event, I made those solid connections (and I don't think Student Life minded me helping out either haha).

3- And to really drive the message home: we had a few newbies at JMC's Sunday service this weekend, which was great! But, as I was apart of the worship band that morning, I wasn't able to welcome and meet them all until after the service. So when we found that one girl (who had come to the service on her own) left early, I was bummed that I didn't get the chance to talk with her or get her name.
The next day, I was working another stall at the Fresher's fair. It was buzzing with hundreds of students and over 50 stalls! So as I was leaving when my shift was done, you can imagine I was trying to sift through tight crowds to get to the exit. And randomly, through the mass of students, I bumped into that very girl from Sunday! I said hello and she explained that she's sorry she had to leave early, but she really enjoyed the service. We agreed how lucky our chance run in was and made a plan to have coffee later this week :) again God surprised me and twisted my expectations.

I don't know how, and I fully give that up to God, but I know this year is gonna be a good year :)

Cheers for Now!

Some people in the states asked me what English Muffins are called here...well there you have it! They are simply called "muffins."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Found this gem in Vail :)

I'm Back!

After spending a solid 3 days asleep (jetlag), I'm back in good ol' Geordie Land, and have hit the ground running!
Back to leadership training days, meetings in preparation for the arrival of the students (which is just around the corner!), catching up with friends, and of course back to Sunday mornings at Jesmond Methodist Church. All this activity and excitement makes me so thankful for my time back home in the Mountains to relax and play.

As blessed I have been here in Newcastle, it did not take long to be reminded of the amazing support and blessings I have back in the states. I was reminded of the beauty in Colorado that I got to call my backyard growing up: hiking, biking, paddle boarding, off-roading, and even just looking at it all! I spent time with my amazing family and life-long friends that prove, it did "take a village" to raise this kid. And what a village I am lucky enough to call home :)

Left: Took my dad's Jeep up the mountain to hike around Piney Lake

Right: Some of my childhood friends that I got to catch up with while I was home.

Left: I was able to make it up to Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp for a week, which was such an amazing time as always :)

Right: I had time to relax and just be (my parent's home)

Left: More of my friends supporting me at my "Very British Evening" fundraising night.

Right: Hiked up Pitkin Lake Trail behind my friend's house.

Although I will always be a mountain girl at heart, it was time to get back to Newcastle and the home I've found here for one more year.

So looking at all that lies ahead this year and all the plans being devised and set in motion, one quote has sprung up to the forefront of my thoughts.

While in Dublin with a fellow YAGM last year, exploring the Trinity College campus, we came across the hashtag "#Failbetter." The quote preceding the hastag read, "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Looking forward to this year, I hope to take on this mantra fully and give my all to JMC for one last year. We will be doing a lot of the same, and even more new things here at the church and in the surrounding community. I want to approach each situation with such enthusiasm and hope that we blow people away, or fail more epically. It may seem a bit mad, but isn't that what faith is sometimes? A bit mad?

So, here we go. Round two. Faith is fully in God's hands. And JMC is gonna #Failbetter!

Cheers for Now!