Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Treasuring Clarity and Abundance

It is hard this time of year not to feel extremely blessed and grateful for my two beautiful daughters.  In Advent, as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the mystery of Christmas, we reflect on Mary's favor with God leading to life in her womb...
Elizabeth's once barren womb now the home of one of the greatest prophets in human history...that same baby kicking with joy inside of her belly at the presence of the Savior...
a sweet baby King lying in a manger....and Mary treasuring and adding up in her heart the young years of her precious son- the miracle of life he brought to all around him.

Claire is turning 5 in a few weeks and I want her to know how much joy she brings me.  I love to watch her color with focus and pride, to behold her dance happily throughout the house to Christmas and Scottish songs, to hear her sing sweet melodies in her own words, to be a part of her imaginary world and enjoy the creativity and discoveries she makes alongside of her, to have her by my side in the kitchen ready to lick any bowl that might have sweet residue, to teach her how to hold and love her baby sister and then treasure in my heart their young moments of bonding.  I am so proud of Claire who has learned to write all of her letters and numbers, add and subtract, read four letter words, skip rope, swim, color in the lines, draw figures and objects, to share generously, to invite friends to play with her, to introduce herself to new people, to brush her own hair without yelling at me, to ride a scooter on bumpy sidewalks, to tease others and to be teased, to pray and give praises to God as she begins to question His connection to the world He has made. 

Her budding personality could be described as shy yet friendly, enthusiastic in comfortable environments, very strong willed, easily disappointed but also easily elated- also easily frustrated, a passion for food and dancing, extremely observant, enjoys organizing and cleaning, perfectionistic tendencies in arts and crafts, very sensitive emotionally in her relationships, very attentive to friends, independant though not altogether confident, genuinely nurturing and showing little aggression unlike her mother before her;)  I can see real gifts of leadership emerging in her as she often leads friends into play and games and regularly tries to take charge at home- to the point of resisting what Keith and I have told her to be true (like that it is a "cloak room" and not a "clock room" or that Santa is not a real person or that she has written her "J" or "4" backwards or that ice is slippery and skipping rope on it will make her land on her bum) . 

Her areas of growth include confidence and self-esteem, obeying authority, and calming herself down when she upset and disappointed.  I am excited to watch God bring her grace and opportunities for growth in the coming years.  For her, we pray this verse "Behold I stand at the door and knock.  Whoever hears my voice and let's me in, I will come in and dine with her and she with me."  We are teaching both her and Autumn that big sisters love, share, and protect while little sisters love, share, and respect.

And my baby Autumn is nearing 9 months and working on her 1 year old molars - already has 6 teeth.  She is a petite little one, full of wiggles and smiles.  She likes cuddling and leaning her head on my shoulder when she sees a new face, but continues to exchange remarkable smiles with strangers.  She seems to really like people and being in large groups of new faces.  She is content to sit on the floor with her toys, watch her sister romp around, and sit in her high chair while I roam about the kitchen.  So content that she has made few attempts to move beyond just sitting up.  She likes to stand but is happy to wait until her big sister picks her up and totes her around the living room.  So far, she likes her puree'd foods and isn't big on trying new tastes and textures.  Our Autumn Leigh is full of joy and life and happiness so far, always happy to be held and smiled at.  I am so proud of how easily she moved overseas and into a new pattern of eating and sleeping and into a new community of people- bringing many smiles to the Scottish elderly we encounter on the bus;)  She loves her big sister and enjoys being held by her. She does have her getting smooched and squished limit when it comes to Claire, but her tolerance grows over time and she seems most cheerful when she is sitting on big sister's bedroom floor playing with her big girl toys.  Her areas of growth include crawling, eating, pooping without strain, sleeping in, and overall physical strength;) We pray that she will "Abide in me and I will abide in you" and that the Lord will wash his "quiet waters" over her as she sleeps and grows in his "green pastures"

There are times I wish Keith and I would have had more "alone" time in our marriage early on and there are times I wish I could spend days by myself sleeping, reading, relaxing, eating, and conversing calmly with friends.  My heart reminds me, though, that the clarity my Claire has brought me and the abundance my Autumn has brought me are an overwhelming grace.  I needed daughters, I needed a strong willed side kick and I needed a cheery bundle of joy and God brought them at just the right time.  Our marriage has grown deeper as we parent and treasure our girls together and I love having two girls that look like their Da-da and have wills like their Mum.  Like Mary treasured her baby boy in a stable- though he came early in her life without little time to prepare or to enjoy Joseph alone, though her baby boy would have one of the strongest wills the world has ever known- like her, I rejoice in God my Savior who has blessed me with fertility and has brought angels into my life that bear His message and remind me of His unmerited favor.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our first Thanksgiving in Scotland

No, they don't celebrate American Thanksgiving in Scotland;)  Because we are in a town of alot of ex-patriots (North Americaners), though, quite a few Americans gathered in small groups to share their tradition together.  The Jagger family was invited to the home of a very hospitable couple, likely our parents ages, that actually lived quite nearby.  A few familiar friends also attended and Claire had some younger playmates.  Appetizers started at 6, a spread including wine, cheese, grapes, gourmet breads, nuts, deviled eggs, crips (chips)- honestly, it was enough for dinner!  Claire saw the table that was set for all the guests- some 20 of us- with china and real wine glasses, cloth napkins, a white tablecloth and gasped.  She said "Mommy, it looks like a table for a king!".  So that certainly made an impression on her.  She ended up helping the teenage babysitter take care of the little ones from Autumn's age to about 2 and a half and of course snacked the whole night through!  Auty booty had everyone smiling and complimenting her "Mommy's little lovebird" shirt.

It was definately a treat to sit down to a four course meal with other adults.  The hosts read some bits from the original pilgrims journals (or some version thereof) which was a good reminder for why exactly we were sitting down to eat together.  I also learned that either Ben Franklin (or maybe Jefferson) chose the turkey as the traditional bird because even if 20 redcoats entered the turkey yard, the turkey would stand up and fight them off showing extreme bravery and fortitude.  Americans were there from Texas to Minnesota and had plenty of stories to share with one another.  Let's just say it was QUITE a cast of characters.  A close friend of ours said the evening reminded him of a Seinfeld episode and I would have to agree.  And some of you know how much I love Seinfeld!  Best of all, I felt that the hosts were extremely generous.  I had written to a friend recently how frustrated I have been by people's lack of generosity here.  This couple were some of the most generous people I have met and made a bunch of strangers feel welcome and more importantly loved at their table.  So, I give praise to the LORD for such generous fellowship that uplifted our spirits.

It was a interesting and memorable evening to say the least.  Tonight, we hope to have a quieter family meal include the Jagger tradition of orange jello, a roast chicken, and some pumpkin pie spiced pudding- can't really find pumpkin in a can over here for less than 20 pounds!  I will also let Claire finishing watching Charlie Brown and Garfield Thanksgiving cartoons that she is just old enough to start getting into...

Also, Claire is attending a free soccer session for primary school kids after her school day.  It is being held at the Sports Centre where I coach at the university so she is pretty excited feeling like it's the real thing.  She also wants to come to soccer training with me tomorrow because the girls on the team invited her after the game on Wed.  She hasn't stopped mentioning it since.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and family.  We will be putting up our first Christmas decoration today- a little reindeer that says "Santa Please Stop Here".  Claire lucked out in getting it because I ran over it with our large pram in a cluttered store yesterday.  I guess it was meant to be;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting high off the new carpet smell

 Goodbye old carpet!

The new carpet is in and we are loving it.  I think we might move all of our furniture into the hallway...
Before I forget, here is a link to some new photos and a video of Auty in the mix:


My  women's football team has it's first match today.  We are likely to lose badly since it's our first match and the girls say the opponent is a  "sporty university".  And it's windy, not good for those who aren't so good with controlling the soccer ball.  Im excited, though... a first match makes one feel like an official coach (however much it might leave one with a bad reputation.

Tomorrow is the American Thanksgiving holiday.  We are attending a large party at the home of some people we barely know.  But there is childcare and it's a potluck- so very little cooking for EvE (always a good thing).  Not much else to report- life is busy and we are trying to keep up- making friends slowly and continuing to adjust to a car-less life.  For now, we are just watching and waiting to see how God continues to write this chapter of our lives.  The Divine Artist works mysteriously, but creatively.  The Storyteller behind our lives can see more than we can.  Even though many things seem to go wrong, we are trusting that He is writing our story into his Greater story....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Claire Bear and her Auty Boo

The sisterly bond is growing.  Autumn always smiles when Claire walks into the room and frequently stops nursing to turn her head and see what her sister is up to.  Claire still continues to ask to hold Autumn and is actually getting quite good at it.  She is able to carry her around the room, stand her up and help her bounce, and even wrestle her gently.  Claire was especially concerned for her little sister the other day when we found a mouse in the house.  At the dinner table, while Auty was napping upstairs, Claire demanded that someone go get Auty so that the mouse wouldn't get her in her baby "cot".  Sometimes, I can even catch 10 minutes to myself while Claire plays with Autumn on the floor keeping herself and the wee one enterained and occupied.

Halloween was somewhat of a bust for us.  We weren't sure if there was trick o treating and there wasn't any in our neighborhood and we didn't have much in terms of costumes.  Add that together with the fact that it was a Monday night and Claire has a serious anxiety about people "looking at me", we decided to just skip out this year on whatever was happening around town.  It turns out some people did trick o treat, but mostly among friends and that Halloween garb here is still quite scary and devil-ish, not all too kid friendly.  We hid a few candy pumpkin chocolate balls in the house for Claire who put on her KY cheerleader outfit (wildcat blue) and we dressed Autumn up like a little lamb. 

Claire has been struggling lately (as in the past 2 years) with being "wrong" or having to be corrected.  Even if she writes a "J" backward she refuses to admit it and demands that she be able to write it the way she prefers. A few nights ago, she tried to quit a game she and Keith were playing because she knew he was right about a certain rule and didn't want to give in.  I told her she could quit, but still had to look at her Daddy and tell him that he was right and she was wrong.  A long time later (including an intermission of sobbing), she reluctantly managed a whimper along those lines.  Then, the other day she asked me where her coloring book was.  I told her it was in the drawer in the living room.  She had just been looking there and told me it wasn't there.  I told her that it was and I was certain of it, but she needed to look more closely.  She had a hissy fit saying it wasn't there even though she did not look again.  So I left the room, but Keith was on the other side.  He said he watched her from the corner of his eye and saw her quietly pull out the coloring book she of course found where I said it was and try to toss it in the corner like she found it there instead.  At the last second, she saw that Keith was there watching so she hesitated and paused for a moment.  Then she said sadly, "Daddy, I just wanted to be right...Mommy's always right!".  We have a stubborn little one dealing with a mix of emotions that come with slowly realizing life is disappointing and pride is hard to swallow.

We had a glorious family morning, though.  After a hike up the steep hayfield behind our house that climaxes with a breathtaking view of all of St. Andrews all the way to the white capped waves hitting the shore 2 miles away, we found an amazing hiking trail which was completely secluded and led to one of the best playgrounds I have ever seen.  It's obvious that both of our girls have adjusted to our non-car existence here as Claire walked 2 miles without so much as a whine of being tired and Autumn fell asleep in the hiking backpack twice today (More and more, she is falling asleep in strollers, backpacks, arms, wherever without a peep no matter the amount of stimulation surrounding her or the discomfort of her sleeping position- a girl's gotta sleep!). 

Keith continues to dive into his studies and I've begun training the University's second women's football team and helping out with a local youth ministry.  We are keeping busy and enjoying our down time.  There is a Thanksgiving meal planned for the Americans at the University, though, it is pretty late at night and will be tough on the kiddos.  We don't yet have Christmas plans, but rumor has it my best friend Lori and her Scottish husband may be visiting his folks here over the holidays and hopefully they can make some room for us in their schedule!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

In a castle, Forfar away....

Our first castle visit!  The Glamis Castle is located just outside the town of Forfar, about an hour north of us.  Due to last minute planning and the bus system, it took us 3 hours to get there and 3 hours to get back.  Fortunately some of the buses were double deckers (Claire's favorite) so we at least had a nice view of the Scottish countryside on the long trips.  As for the castle, it had some amazing grounds and garden areas (though we didn't have enough time to explore) as well as a great outdoor wooden park area for kids.  We met some of our American friends there and took a tour of the castle where the current Queen Elizabeth's mother once lived and her sister was born.  It was not quite as ritzy as I hoped, much more grandmotherly looking in terms of decor, but it really did look and feel like a castle for the most part.  We did not get a tour of the entire place because people still reside in certain parts- pretty cool considering it was built in 1372!  So it was an adventure of a day, and despite several small regrets, we are glad we went for it and experienced some British history.  I think Claire was disappointed that Rapunzel and Cinderella weren't there, though.  She expressed frustration several times over how boring the tour was- especially since she was not allowed to touch ANYTHING...

The night prior to our castle escapade, Keith and I were able to escape for our first date in St. Andrews.  We biked to the centre of town and joined some friends at a Ceildh (kay-lee), a Scottish folk dancing party/lesson.  Keith is great at learning new dances, but he doesn't have the best of partners...So we skipped and spinned for about an hour and then left early for a quick drink at a local pub, the Blue Stane.   A nice St. Andrews evening memory for us.

Last night there were fireworks in town celebrating Guy Fawkes Night.  Guy Fawkes was part of a plot to blow up the House of Lords in 1605, but was arrested in the nick of time.  The country began celebrating the survival of King James I and their triumph over treason.  We didn't make it to a fireworks display, but we could certainly hear them going off a bit. 

We are bracing ourselves for another week of school for both Claire and Keith.  We have our first conference with Claire's teacher on Tuesday night and are interested to hear how she is doing in class.  She seems to be doing well, but still has many emotional breakdowns at home when we are firm with her.  Auty is still basking in her innocence and continues in her sweet disposition. Claire put a shower cap on her in the bath tonight and Auty was giggling away. She has her upper teeth breaking through the gums! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Night before Halloween

 It was an eventful weekend.  I went to a youth outreach event on Friday night.   The following morning, our friend nearby went into labor and dropped her kiddos off with us for the day.  Claire, Elizabeth, and her little brother Spud (aka John Paul) spent the day running around.  I managed to get out and play ultimate frisbee (aka flatball) for a bit and then we had 2 families over in our small place for dinner.  It was chaotic and cramped, but also quite fun.  After everyone left, we set the clocks back an hour (daylight savings comes a bit earlier over here) and Autumn was ready to be up around 5:30 am today.  This morning we scampered to the bus, made it in the nick of time to church, and made it back home in the nick of time for Autumn's nap while Claire and I ventured out on her scooter to our rector's house for lunch and fellowship. 

This week should also be quite interesting.  Tomorrow, I have a meeting with the university women's football (as in soccer) coach regarding an opportunity to start up a JV team.  There is also a trick o treating event in the "Roundel" building where Keith studies.  They do celebrate Halloween here, but it does not seem to be a big deal.  The local university students will of course party is up.  From what I've heard, there are not really any trick o treaters that walk door to door- unless friends or neighbors arrange it with you ahead of time....Rumor has it, there is also a Scottish dancing get together at the end of the week hosted by Keith's school.  I hope to put in another order to have my groceries delivered to my kitchen counters again (I believe Claire thought it was Christmas last time Tesco's dropped off all the food packages we ordered).  Keith is busy finishing up his first official paper, and Autumn is continuing to delight in any new taste I bring to her palate.  The girl can eat, but she is really pretty petite at this point. 

Because you've asked, here are a few videos of Autumn and a bit of Claire mixed in: (Below is the link to copy and past into your  browser)


Claire is starting to read 3 and 4 letter words and Autumn can sit up on her own without a problem!  The girls send their love !
Here's a picture of my handsome husband (a study partner took a bunch for him recently- see his facebook if you so desire...)  He looks a little too cool for school, hey?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life more simple is....more complex

This blog won't really give you much of an update on the Jaggers, but it may give you some insight into what life feels like for us at the moment.  As you know, we have no car, no dryer, no real income, poor indoor heating, and are just lacking some home comforts.  In a sense, then, life is more simple for us.  But because it is more simple in a material sense, it has become more tiring and in some ways more challenging (I suppose this is no surprise to those who grow up in more rural settings).  You may not be hearing from us as much as you or we expected because of this.  Daily errands and chores are zapping a good deal of our energy and attention.  It's hard to explain, but a friend of mine helped articulate some of the idea for me through her perspective on life in a small African village:

"I’ve been thinking about what you said about life being more “simple” in the sense that you don’t have a car or many of the luxuries you had in the States, but that it seems to do anything but simplify your life.  I was thinking about the Ganza and they have what we normally think of as a “simple” life.  That’s it.  There are no cars, televisions, internet, sports to track, news to watch, weather channels to track, obligations to send emails or notes or call home, no papers or dissertations, it’s just life.  But how does that play out?  There are no washing machines so an afternoon’s work can be carrying the washing to the borehole or river to wash it by hand.  Where we would turn the knob on the stove, they take a trip to the bush to cut and collect firewood then borrow hot coals from a neighbor and spend time staring and fanning the fire.  Where we throw the pasta in boiling water, they plow the field by hand, dig the holes, plant and weed the field, harvest it by hand and carry it home in big baskets on their heads, baskets that they made by collecting and fashioning and carving out the wood to put the basket together.  Then the women hit the wheat off the stalk, grind it, soak it, and grind it two more times on hands and knees before a grinding stone while taking pauses to nurse a baby.  Then they put it on the fire and get a tricep workout stirring it.  OK, I don’t need to keep going…but that’s what we consider simple.  “Simplicity” materially results in the majority of our time being taken up with everyday tasks.  There isn’t the same complexity of obligations and concerns, but the business and never endingness of the workload is just the same, often more.  It’s funny isn’t it?  We idealize simplicity but do we realize that it’s at the expense of the complexities of modern society?  Are we really willing to give them up?  I think in order to attain actual simplicity in a western society, we’d have to be total misfits in the society, totally counter cultural in the way we spend our time.  The problem comes when we try to attain both simplicity in life while still maintaining life with all its modern complexities.  That’s why it’s hard for you without a car.  It’s more “simple” materially but while still trying to maintain complex social standards, the pressure mounts."

So, currently we are trying to live life in a complex modern way, but with fewer modern resources than usual.  It's hard to know what God might be teaching us through this so early in the adventure...In any case, I a gaining a new understanding of humility, poverty, and priorities/necessities in life. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pictures FINALLY!

I managed to take a few pictures of our place and posted them on Picasa.  Below you will find the link.  For your enjoyment, I also added captions to each photo! 


Here's a taste:

Sunday, October 02, 2011


It has been a little over 3 weeks or so and Claire has already began picking up Scottish inflections in her language.  Over half of her questions now rise up at the end and I have to look and make sure my daughter hasn't turned into the little girl in Mary Poppins.  Her "mommy" is becoming "mummy" and she has informed me that it is not a trash "can" but a "bin".  Claire is doing really well with school and enjoying being chased by the boys before school while she runs off with her friend Amy.  We also found a girl just a street over who is also an American to play with and the two connected immediately- Elizabeth is certainly an answer to prayer. 

Auty booty boo (Autumn that is) seems to be adjusting to life in a stroller.  She and I frequently walk 2+ miles a day and she has to take several naps in a seat that only slightly reclines.  She is getting used to the many curbs and bumps in the sidewalk and I think it distracts her from the pain of teething that has begun.  She is making more noises- growling and fussing when she wants attention.  Overall, though, I have to admit that she is one happy and easy baby.  People are constantly ooh-ing and ahh-ing over her bright blue eyes (that stand out more because she seems near incapable of blinking).  We are finding that she really delights in playing with her legs, pushing on people and toys- looks like we may have a soccer star in our future!

As for me, well I am EXHAUSTED.  Walking everywhere and dragging the kiddos along is no picnic especially in rainy Scotland.  Hanging laundry all over the house, taking mile hikes to and from the grocery with little room to carry what we've purchased, keeping up with auty and claire, and trying to be as extroverted as possible to make new friends is taking all the energy I have.  I am, though, meeting some great people and feeling more connected to the community.  I have managed to get involved in the university's ultimate frisbee club and even passed for a "Fresher" (a first year undergrad!).  Once we manage to find me a usable bicycle and a baby bike seat I think life will get much easier.  For now, I think I am gaining a taste of what life was like for women before cars, dryers, phones, and internet.  I am also getting to meet a few more Scottish mom's from Claire's school.  For the most part, they seem extremely down to earth, honest, sarcastic, and ready to enjoy a few pints themselves.  I think I am going to enjoy them thoroughly;)

I wish I had more interesting things to share, but my brain is fried and I've been too tired to even take pictures yet.  I will get around to posting some soon.  Love to you all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Wee Puff o' Wind

It has been awhile- thanks to Sky Mobile, our internet company. Apparently it can take up to three weeks after ordering internet for it to actually turn on. So, you’re thinking- why not just go out to a nearby café and use their WIFI? Well, the nearest library or café is actually a 30 minute walk from our home. And towing a baby that long in a stroller will make it fussy enough to not want to keep quiet in the public library for long. But we officially have internet in our home and I can now begin blogging and posting pictures more frequently.

What have the Jaggers been up to?

  1. Fixing up our place which was quite a dump upon arrival: Smells like smoke and dust. Curtains, carpets, and furniture smell the same. The white walls have lots of scratches and gross stains smattered on them. Our laundry machine didn’t work the first week we were here (a challenge when using cloth diapers and trying to wash gross curtains, etc) and the used one it was replaced with broke again yesterday…And while the place was supposed to be furnished, it more seems like the owner put the remains of a garage sale in here- many things missing or broken. This has all been very disappointing for us because we decided to pay quite a chunk of extra money to have a nice place for our transition and a place with furniture all ready to go. Instead, we’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to get new furniture, carpet, and appliances and make the place clean enough to set Autumn on the floor without worrying she would get sick. I must say, though, that the location is peaceful and we have a great view behind us. My hay fever is not too happy about the acre of hay field lying only 50 feet behind our house.
  2. Surviving the tail end of a hurricane: It has been windy here, very windy. Breezes are expected, but even the locals were surprised by the 3 days of hurricane wind last week. Trying to walk around town without a car and with a wee one in a stroller was difficult, but an adventure nonetheless.
  3. Getting Claire adjusted and into school: Claire is doing really well considering all she has been through. It has helped to have her in school all day making friends and giving mommy some time to manage the house. It took quite awhile to find her a uniform since she is starting late and all the stores had just taken them off the racks. We finally found her grey skirt, white shirt, tights, and dark trousers up in Dundee (half an hour by bus). She looks so cute in her red sweatshirt with the school’s emblem and her little skirt when she runs off to school with Daddy each morning. She and Autumn are very excited to reunite at the end of the school day.
  4. Keith’s orientation. Keith is meeting some other postgraduate students and spouses. It will take a good while to make any real friends since we live so far from the city centre where most single students or those without kids live. Now and then, I’m there to meet one of them, but I’m mostly at home on the other end of the city with Auty. He has also met a handful of undergraduates at orientation gatherings. The other day he attended a champagne breakfast hosted by the Christian Union, a free lunch from the Vegan club, and a “make your own sea glass jewelry” session with the Pagan club;) He said the student center on campus has the largest bar he has ever seen and smells like the basement of a frat house….Keith has also met his advisor and is excited to get researching. I’m anxious for him to get started, but I also know it means I will see even less of him and more on my plate at home. But this is what we are here for!
  5. Visiting churches. We’ve really only managed to visit one church. Of the 150 attendees I think we were the only ones under 50. There was only one other child and not really any options for nursery or Sunday school so I wasn’t able to sit in the service. We hope to find some more family friendly places in the near future…It’s funny that we recently become United Methodist, but that denomination is unheard of in our location. So it looks like we will be either Episcopal or Presbyterian.
  6. Sleeping. The jetlag really wasn’t too bad and the girls were amazing on the flights. We had a baby bassinet on the plane for Autumn, but it wasn’t really of any help since their was a bright florescent light right over it, it was located right across from the bathroom door which was slamming shut every 3 minutes, she had to be taken out if there was any turbulence at all, and there was no way to strap her (which was scary because the sides of the bassinet were so low. The couple next to me managed to squeeze their 1 and a half year old into one though and he slept for a couple of hours. Lugging the kids through the airports and customs was the most difficult and confusing part. By the grace of God and some help from some very friendly airport personnel- we made it with all of our bag arriving in minutes! The girls adjusted to the time change in about 2 days and we have begun to let Autumn sleep through the night- letting her cry here and there, but nothing too dramatic.

How is life different here so far?
I don’t think there is too much culture shock. The shock we are facing more deals with not having a car, having no babysitters, no church community, and no actual income- so it seems to be more situational and transitional issues making life unpleasant. There are a few cultural differences though:

  • People are friendly, but somewhat reserved. They seem hesitant to offer any help or hospitality. We need to initiate most conversations and go out of our way to get what we need. No locals seem too interested in getting to know us. It doesn’t help that the Chinese and Russian couples who lived her before us seemed to stick to themselves…
  • Everything takes longer. Getting repairs, getting internet and phone, email correspondence…As Americans, we are so used to instant gratification that it is requiring some exercise of patience to wait on things…Because there are no dryers for washing clothes, even waiting on clean clothes seems to take longer
  • There are a lot more delivery and pick up services. They will deliver and pick up laundry and groceries for a small fee and people seem to use the services. The other morning there was a van in the middle of the street beeping much like an ice cream truck would in the states, but it was offering fresh fish instead.
  • Weather. It really is windy and rainy most of the time. Every now and then the sun will pop out, but it may only be 10 minutes before a rain cloud hits again. This doesn’t bother us too much other than the fact that we don’t yet have the appropriate coats and boots for such weather but we are working on it.

In general, we feel isolated. We have not had internet or TV for over 2 weeks and calling home is expensive and difficult with the time difference. Our house is much further from the school and people we have met than we imagined- compounded by the fact that we have a baby and a four year old that makes travel and late night get-togethers tough. The bus is too expensive to take frequently which was also a surprise. We live in a suburb type neighborhood surrounded by folks our parents’ age that lead quiet and private lives. Hopefully, once we get some better technology and child seats for our bikes, we will feel less isolated and alone. We know that in time the Lord will provide us with the community and fellowship we need. For now, I think He may be asking us to take more time to listen for and see Him in our daily lives and interactions however minimal they might be. Pictures and more stories to come…

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

American girls off to the UK!

After a year of waiting and catalogue perusing, Claire finally had her moment. With some cousins and grandmas, we traveled to downtown Chicago to the famous American Girl store located adjacent to the Lego metropolis if any of have boys...The tradition in the Jagger extended family is for the little girls to pick out an American girl when she turns 5. Since we will be overseas when Claire turns 5, she was allowed to get one half a year early to accompany her on the plane ride to Scotland. She thoroughly delighted in the shopping and tea party afterwards.

The American Girl store is overwhelming- dizzying even with the walls lined with books, dolls, accessories and who knows what else... I at least find it positive that the dolls each represent a historical period about which the girls can learn through books and the dolls' clothes and styles. Claire chose the 1970's doll while the 1800's or early 1900's dolls seemed more appealing to me. I had to let go of control, though, and Claire chose her Julie doll (whose long blonde hair makes me think Claire chose her because she most resembles the typical Barbie doll), who interestingly enough, is moving to a new home and school in her first book. Should be a helpful way for Claire to work through her emotions and thoughts during our major move and transition.

Updates? Keith leaves this week for the UK. We have been packing and organizing into the wee hours of the night. Claire, Autumn, and I along with Grandma Chris will be leaving about a week from now. I am unsure what the furnished place we have rented will look like, but it is in town (though on the outskirts) and within walking distance of the supermarket and Claire's school which will be helpful with no car. Claire will actually be starting kindergarten or primary school as they call it because she only has to be 5 by Feb in the UK. She is more than ready and with no friends yet, I'm not sure what I'd do with her in the house all day- especially while Im trying to figure out the local culture. I'm most excited that she will be wearing a uniform and we won't have to fight over her morning outfit;)

Aside from the long plane rides, we are excited to get there and get settled. We have enjoyed our families this summer, but we are ready for our own little family time and more than ready to stop living out of a suitcase. There is a great deal we could be worried about, but God continues to remind us to have faith, take a leap, and enjoy the journey. We will be in touch. I plan to use this blog as a way to share stories, experiences, and regular updates. I changed the blog name, as you might have noticed, and replaced it with one that shares a phrase from the Scottish poet Robert Burns in his poem, "To A Mountain Daisy". So mark your calendars for a visit to the UK!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jagger clan update!

Before I begin, I just want to share what Claire said to me today as she was furiously cleaning the toilet bowl with the brush (which she begs to do frequently and thoroughly enjoys). After she told me to pretend that she was "unclogging" it she said "I just wish I could get all the way down in the toilet hole and see what's down there!". Proceeding this was a detailed question and answer session regarding where the stuff in the potty goes, who cleans it, and if those people smell because they clean the "poopy".
As for the rest of the Jagger family, we are beginning to make our much awaited move out of Wilmore. Yes, hard to believe and I still wonder if something will pop up and keep us here last minute BUT I am pretty sure we are ACTUALLY leaving this time. Much to our dismay the Forbes family made it out of Wilmore before we did. JK, We do wish them well and will miss them greatly, but are glad they have found a great place to move on to. I just hope Claire runs into Nathan sometime, the cuddliest boy on earth who will be quite the heartbreaker in the future...
So we are headed to Illinois to stay with Keith's parents for most of June. Then we will be around the Midwest, visiting WI some in July and August. I'll be taking it easy with the kiddos while Keith starts to do some PhD prep. Come September, we plan on Keith heading to Scotland to settle in at the beginning of the month with the rest of us to follow (with the help of Keith's generous mother) a few weeks later. After that, I have NO idea what life will be like, but I trust there will be much FOOTBALL in my future and I don't mean the American kind;)
Autumn is growing fast and continuing to endure the thousands of kisses she receives daily from her big sister. Mom is recovering well and Keith is tying up loose ends with his work at the seminary. With many of our friends moving as well there are many parties and goodbyes in the coming weeks...We came to Kentucky engaged and in need of a great deal of formation. We leave with 2 beautiful daughters and hearts more prepared for facing the challenges of the world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Autumn Leigh

On Wed, March 30 my little family of 3 was blessed with a new addition- a beautiful, healthy, and cherished daughter. Autumn Leigh Jagger was 8 lbs 12 oz and made it through labor like a champ.

We felt so blessed to be able to bring her into the world through natural childbirth and with only 2 hours spent in the hospital. It seems our Bradley Method class prepared and educated us well to make it through the early stages of labor at home and with little awareness of any "pain". Though Autumn was a week "overdue" it seems the LORD knew the best timing for her to enter the world. I must say I appreciate that He chose a time that allowed us a full nights rest before hard labor and a time when someone was here to care for Claire. By the time we arrived at the hospital I was already 7cm dialated and ready to lean on a birthing ball for the rest of the labor. Keith did great as a coach, was quiet when I asked but fully present throughout the experience. The midwife allowed him to announce "It's a girl!" and allowed me to deliver in whatever position felt comfortable. Our nurse was fully attentive, sensitive, and considerate of my needs and wishes.

When Claire first met Autumn, she was all smiles and pride. She said "Mommy, she has the same nose as me!" Such a precious moment when Claire first held her and realized she had a little sister.

I must say we are all adjusting well. Claire wants to hold and kiss her sister constantly. Keith is sleeping just about all night and I only have to get up to nurse after which Autumn goes right back to sleep. She continues to sleep well during the day too. She has occasional fussy periods, but nothing like the colic behavior Claire exhibited constantly. So, at this point, I feel like the transition from 0 children to 1 was much more drastic than this move from 1 to 2. We are getting ready to move from Wilmore and then likely overseas to Scotland in September so there is a lot of change coming for us. As for now, I'm enjoying time at home with my girls and appreciating the spring weather. Nursing is exhausting, as expected, but I'm glad I'm able to nurse and take it easy without worrying about work or school.

Welcome to the world our lovely Autumn Leigh whose name means "harvest" (or abundance) and "clearing". Claire brings us "Clarity" and Autumn brings us into a place of perspective and abundance with her new little life filling up our family.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Healing Conference Reflections

The "Wind of the Spirit" brought Revs. Larry and Audrey Eddings to Wilmore to host a "Healing Academy" a few weeks ago. That same Spirit gently prodded me to attend. A few people have asked me why I wanted to do it...I'm not sure I have an answer. I have never known much about healing, the Lutheran denomination I grew up in was largely bi-nitarian in practice focusing mostly on the Father and Son with very little explanation, sense of, or connection to the work of the Holy Spirit. This conference also seemed to be good timing. One last thing I could do for myself and by myself before I give my energy and attention to a second labor and child. So, I guess it was curiosity, a bit of selfishness, and wooing by the Healer that led me to come. The only pregnant woman to attend, my baby received a lot of in-utero prayer. Some sort of prophet or ball of heavenly fire is going to be coming out of me! ;)
Since the conference was 4 days and included a 15 chapter manual, it is hard to know what exactly I learned or the most important take aways.
-God both desires and wills the total wholeness of people- in spirit, mind, body, and relationships.

-(This one is obvious, but I so easily forget) Jesus sometimes preached the Gospel and healed the sick...other times he preached the Gospel by healing the sick- He was the incarnation of God's desire and active work to heal all of creation. His healing ministry included:
-forgiving sins (spirit)
-releasing persons from fear/lust/oppression/rejection (soul/mind)
-delivering from demonic forces (spirit/soul/body)
-and healing the sick (body)

-Jesus died not just for our salvation but also for our sanctification which includes "the cleansing of those hurts, traumas, fears, sins, and negative attitudes that keep us from being the people God intended us to be..." This includes emotional healing- healing of "hurt of a broken heart, a confused mind, a shattered personality, a personal in, a frightening trauma, a shocked loss". I found this process, simple as it is, so transforming when it comes to healing of memories that cause us emotional pain:
1. recall the event 2. Forgive the person 3. Ask forgiveness from God
4. Ask the Holy Spirit to give a vision of Jesus being in that scene- ask Him to allow you to see or sense what He would do to heal that situation and have his presence bring healing...

-Blessings & Curses/Judgments have lasting effects on our lives and the lives of those around us "There is still power in the spoken word. The spoken word has the power to affirm or negate; the power to create or destroy; the power to encourage of discourage; the power to give hope or bring despair; the power to wound or to heal; the power to bless or to curse..." It was interesting to think about these in terms of generational ones as well how to renounce curses through faith in Christ and forgiveness

-Baptism in the Spirit:"To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to be immersed in God's nature...in God's holiness, God's Spirit, God's consuming fire, God's light, God's love and God's own Person". Again this is something I've known little about and known what to expect in the experience. I have to admit there was a bit of skepticism when it came to both baptism in the Spirit and deliverance from demonic forces but I think I came to see my skepticism was more about the STYLE in which these were pursued - quite southern compared to my northern tastes- than my belief that they are real and need to be dealt with. Even after 6 years in KY, I still have culture shock.

There was a great deal more of material and learning that went on. Surprisingly, I think I also had my own experience of receiving physical healing. I had had a bad hold cold for over a month which was making me miserable especially being so pregnant. Two women in the group prayed over me and at one point I felt a lightening of my head and instant relief from sinus pressure, snot, etc. I couldn't believe the difference I felt and I can't deny that some sort of healing had to be attributed to Jesus there. Oddly, though, that night I went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible ear infection. The first one I've EVER had in my life. Not sure what that was about but a woman at the oonference mentioned to me the next day that sometimes there is a "backlash" that comes after a physical healing. Is that similar to a spiritual one where more demons come back than were in the "house" to begin with? Im not sure, but I praise God for His healing work through antibiotics!

God graced me with new Kingdom eyes through the whole experience. He enlightened me as to the true width of ministry and how much healing all of broken humanity is in need of- healing that comes by His Spirit and that I can be a part of wherever I am in the world. Jesus was and is a liberator, Risen LORD empowering us to liberate in His name...HALLELUJAH

Monday, February 07, 2011

From Lark Rise to Candleford

Those of you who know me know that I'm not a big fan of movies, television, and the like. I find most to be a complete waste of my time or a detriment to my spirit. However, over the past few years in Wilmore, Keith and I have enjoyed three BBC television series via Netflix, Youtube, DVD's...First, was the "Vicar of Dibley" starring Dawn French. Absolutely hilarious and I suggest you look into it! Next, we tried the BBC "Robin Hood" show but were sorely disappointed when Maid Marian died at the end of season one, was resurrected by Robin (ridiculous), only to die again for good at the end of season two. So we gave up for awhile until we came across "Merlin". An interesting show about the young Merlin to young prince Arthur of Camelot. A lot of fantasy, magic, dragons, etc, but with likeable character and creative story lines. However, Keith and I have fully caught up Merlin which will not be aired again for another year...so months went by with nothing worth watching again other than the occasional Antiques Road Show. However, I eventually came across Dawn French starring in another BBC show called "Lark Rise to Candleford".
After watching 3 or 4 episodes I was hooked to the characters and the development of their rural English lives. Here is a good description from Wikipedia:

"The series is set in the small Oxfordshire hamlet of Lark Rise and the wealthier neighbouring market town of Candleford towards the end of the 19th century. In Season Two, episode 17, the date carved on the new clock tower in Candleford is 1895. The series chronicles the daily lives of farm workers, craftsmen, and gentry, observing the characters in loving, boisterous, and competing communities of families, rivals, friends, and neighbours.

The narrative is seen through the eyes of a teenage girl, Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan), as she leaves Lark Rise to start a new life under the wing of her cousin, the independent and effervescent Dorcas Lane (Julia Sawalha), who is Post Mistress at the local Post Office in Candleford. Through these two characters, viewers experience the force of friendship as Laura and Dorcas see each other through the best and worst of times."

Sadly, the producers have decided to "quit while they are ahead" and end the show mid-season even though it is one of the most popular in the UK right now. There is just one week left and I'm disappointed. I think the expression of small town life, wisdom gained in the ordinariness of life, and the depiction of REAL community that I found in the show have really helped me deal with some of my journey in Wilmore. I was highly impressed with the show's expression of issues, tensions, and human formation through the everyday experiences of marriage, work, and friendships. I recommend watching it and holding onto some of the quotes, especially those that aim at gender interactions, roles, and relationships.

Right now, in particular, I am struggling with contentment in my everyday life that doesn't seem to be of much value which I'm largely measuring on my ability to positively influence others. The idol of influence! Here is a quote from Marva Dawn's "The Sense of the Call" that I find connecting to some of the spirit of Lark Rise:
"Even ordinary tasks are edged with splendor when we remember that they are part of the overall work of the Kingdom..." (p.11).
I'm also waiting to fill in the title for my own life which is adding to the discouragement..."From Wilmore to ______". I hope the BBC soon offers another show to give me perspective in the mundane tasks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blueberries and Kilts

My beautiful friend Loriann Hofmeister is now Loriann Matheson. Lori and I have been friends since freshman year of high school- that's about 14 years now. We have enjoyed the adventures of high school, soccer, travel, youth group, and the Hofmeister family kitchen table and vacation van together. We've been dreaming of her wedding day since about the time I met her :) About 50 crushes later and 9 different men literally saying to her "I want to marry you", she tied the knot with the best of them! On January 2nd she married her scottish groom Peter, a young man she met while doing mission work in the bush of Sudan. God dropped in "out of the sky" quite literally since Peter is from the Scottish island of Skye.

Even in the midst of clashing American and Scottish cultures, the spirit did a mighty work in and through this couple and their families and friends. I have never felt so honored (I must say "Maid of Honor" was quite fitting) to stand by another person's side and support them through a life-changing event. Highlights:

-Wearing a bridesmaid dress while being 7 months pregnant. Not only did I look like a blueberry because of my belly and the dress color, but the hair lady gave me quite the hairdo that seemed to add to the big ball effect I already had going on...
-My little Claire walking down the aisle as the flower girl (pictures to come)...she kept her head down, but dropped all the petals and once she made it to keith threw the basket down and jumped into his arms and hid her soft and shy little face. If that wasn't enough to bring tears to my eye, she was followed by the gorgeous bride and her loving father who was often a father to me in years growing up...
-The groomsmen and ushers wearing kilts and all the other Scottish garb. They were apparently "free-balling" it so I have to give them extra credit for that. Fortunately, kilts were longer than I imagined them to be:)
-Dancing the Scottish waltz with Neil, Peter's best friend and best man from Scotland. I generally despise dancing, but had to fulfill my bridal party duty by dancing a Scottish waltz in front of all the reception guests for about 10 mins. Don't get me wrong- I hated every minute of it- but Neil got me through it and its not every day I get to dance with a friendly Scottish man who was actually my height:)
-Riding in the limo with Peter's sister, Grace (who has the cutest Scottish face and accent) and the rest of the bridal party. I've actually never been in a limo and the best part was that when we hopped back in after taking pictures in our summery bridesmaid dresses in the 10 degree Wisconsin weather- the limo driver had it all warmed up for us!
-Watching Claire dance the night away with Creighton, Lori's 6 year old nephew, who was also wearing a kilt and a yellow plastic knife as the dagger in his sock.
-Learning more Scottish dances at the reception- one was in a group of 8 and had you spinning about 40 times in a row with no break. A little much on my pregnant belly.

And, in case your interested, here was my Maid of Honor speech. I cried through the whole thing and apparently had many others in tears. This was just after the Best Man's speech- wish is Scottish tradition is anything but sentimental- so it was all the more embarrassing when I couldn't control my emotions. But who could with a friend like Loriann?
Here it is:

"I feel so honored to have been a close friend of yours all these years, Lori and to have witnessed the various ways God has worked in your life and your response to Him with faithfulness. To have received your attention, your care, your encouragement, and your loyalty has blessed me in deep ways.

Lori, you have so often seen me when no one else noticed, listened to me when no one else cared to be there, and believed in the goodness in me even when I could not see it. You have given me the ability to be the same to others, to deeply appreciate the most awkward and difficult people with the heart of Christ that you share and live.

And today, I am honored to be a part of your commitment and celebration to Peter, who I believe will be a true companion to you as you continue to journey through life.

It has really been a long time, Lori, since we were giddy sixteen year olds writing letters to our future husbands one late night at the Hofmeister kitchen table. Despite your passion for marriage and excitement to be united with another in the Lord's eyes, you have had to struggle through much disappointment and doubt. Yet, you remained patient, obedient, and trusting to God's good plan for your life.

And, in the most unexpected of places, he brought Peter to you- a man who is a better match for you than I could have dreamed up. It is such a joy to see you someone who shares your faith, your values, your light-heartedness, and your deeper Kingdom calling. I feel peace and happiness around the two of you, a gift that will be given to many our encounter throughout the years.

And Peter, as you well know, this beautiful woman beside you is a treasure- a priceless one! She is friendly, encouraging, creative, curious, pure-hearted, peace-making, genuinely loving, and has a courage that amazes me. I'm not sure there is a greater wife out there- I know there is no greater friend.

So with a toast, your family and friends rejoice with you in your love and loyalty to one another and we commit to you our care and support as you begin a new adventure together."