Finding Home

Home – the place one lives permanently as a member of a family.

The past few months I’ve been extremely homesick. There- I said it. I am not one to focus on the negative things going on in life, but this homesickness has been so intense, it felt like a battle everyday.

At first I didn’t share too much of this, as people asked “How are you?” (Or in British words “You Alright?”) and I would respond with “Yes, I’m great, how are you?” -because honestly, I am great. I have so much to be thankful for, and live a very blessed life… but even our lives full of blessings come with struggle and pain. Without struggle and pain- we don’t have the chance to experience breakthrough.

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July 18th 2016 – The day we officially moved into our new home

When we first moved into this little flat over a year ago, we bought two mugs (one for me, and one for Shanen)… and every morning for the last year I’ve had my coffee from this mug. I knew when I bought it, that my home was here with my husband. I was in my newlywed state of bliss when I got this mug, and we started to make this little flat our home… but as this last season has been rough in feeling a deep homesickness, this little mug would encourage me with the truth I saw in it that day I bought it.

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This homesickness went on for months. I love social media for it’s ability to keep me up to date on what’s going on in my friend’s and families lives. But there is a side to it that is very hard for me, and was almost feeding my homesickness. On warm sunny days, people posting pictures of my beloved Folly Beach, or Forth of July BBQ’s with friends… even when they would complain about the heat (as I always did when I lived in South Carolina) – I would still want to be there, because this is the first year of my entire life that I have not been in weather over 90 degrees- I was really craving that sunshine on my skin. But most of all, I was really missing my family. Some days I was looking up weekend flights to America just to hug my mamas, see my brothers, and fly back to England.

I started noticing things in my life that was triggering this homesickness, and as I finished my summer this year I purposefully stopped doing these things, or watching those American tv shows- but at the same time I also let the American within me rise up, and fully realized how much it is part of who I am; I am going to embrace it; I am going to love this part of me, and be proud to be an American. I may not agree with a lot of my countries decisions, but my roots are from that beautiful land, and it will always be a home to me.

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One of my happy places – Folly Beach, SC

The last month as the seasons turned to fall, I’ve become much happier. I LOVE England in the Fall! It is so beautiful, and the weather is what I always dreamed of autumn weather to be as a child in those hot South Carolina summers. But I learned in this last season not to let my external circumstances (like missing a proper summer with beaches and sunshine, or the beautiful colors of Autumn) effect my internal emotions and feelings. It is true, they do play a big part- but instead of dwelling in it, I had to be the one to rise up and learn from it.

One night recently I took Kutta outside for his late evening potty, and looked up to see the stars were out (this is quite rare here). I was so happy to see them I ran back up the stairs and into our flat to quickly grab my yoga mat, and took it out in the back garden to lay beneath them. In that moment I just let myself cry- feeling the tears running off either side of my face as I looked up a familiar sky. Having many nights in my life laying beneath these same beautiful stars; every constellation still there- still shining down on us, bringing beauty to the night.
God met me in that moment, with His beautiful peace and comfort as He spoke into my heart. For me, home is bigger than where I grew up. Home is more than America; and more than England.

Home is Earth.

This big beautiful world is home- and wherever I go I will experience homesickness. If I go to America, I will surly miss life in England (I usually get homesick for our flat in England after 2 weeks in America).. And there have been several times in my life I’ve been homesick for India (those who know me, know my love for this country, and even though I’ve only been there for a total of 8 months- It has become another home to my heart).

I can’t help but to wonder how many more homes I will have in the days to come.

I’ve learned it’s okay to be homesick… and most importantly, God will meet us where-ever we are, and what ever season we are in. This week, He surprised me with something beautiful, that truly “Blessed my heart” as we say in the south…

A saw with my own eyes- a Palmetto tree in England.

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My first reaction, was to hug it. Of course it was growing in a greenhouse, but when I turned around and saw it there, my heart was filled with so much joy- and hugging that tree felt like reaching out and touching a part of South Carolina.
*For those who don’t know, Palmetto trees grow everywhere in Charleston, and they are South Carolina’s state tree. It’s even on our flag…

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So all this to say, I am truly happy to be right where I am. Here in England- for where there is rain, there are always rainbows. I don’t believe the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ (as the saying goes) because I know life here is amazing in so many  ways, and it fits me and Shanen very well. I know one day, our American season will come- along with many other seasons, but I don’t want to rush the season I am in…

I want to enjoy it- and grow my roots here even deeper.

I have the whole world to explore and my whole life ahead of me. I am truly thankful for this season that has taught me how to find the truth in homesickness, and to be okay with experiencing it.

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where there is rain, look for rainbows

 

This morning I woke up to sunshine, and out my kitchen window was a beautiful rainbow. The sign of God’s promise. I remember in 2014 when God first told me I would move to the UK, and at that time, there was no possible way…
Yet here I am. Looking out my kitchen window, remembering how excited my heart was at the possibility of one day living in England.

I am home.

Reflections on a Year of Marriage

Yesterday was me and Shanen’s one year aniversary.

It had us doing a lot of reflecting on life, and the incredible ‘wedding week’ we had a year ago, which started out with a blessing ceremony here in the UK; and then a group of family and friends flying across the ocean, to come together in Charleston, South Carolina- my hometown- to celebrate with us as we were united in marriage.

Me and Shanen never do anything traditionally- and we wanted to make our wedding our own; to us, marriage is about complete unity- and we wanted our wedding day to reflect this. Not just unity for me and him, but unity in all of us there- as people came from 3 different countries, and several other different cultures and states; we wanted the whole day to be a representation and celebration that we are all unified and coming together as one, in the spirit of God- and his incredible love.

For that’s what the day truly was. If it was just me and Shanen, the wedding would not have come together.

We had people cooking, decorating, giving us their home and land for the wedding, and rooms for guests; people filming; singing; playing instruments… people photographing, and doing several behind-the-scenes things to get the day ready and in order. The whole entire wedding was all done in the love and unity from our friends and family, and that’s what made this day so special to us.

It was truly the best day of our lives.

It was amazing having friends and family from the UK and Germany actually be in my beloved hometown, meeting my friends from America. My heart had never been so happy as I looked around and saw the mix of faces; especially when Shanen’s family was first meeting mine.

The week honestly was the most stressful week of my life and had many ups and downs. Poor Shanen even got really badly stung by a jellyfish at my favorite beach! But even of all the stress of trying to coordinate airport pick ups, cars, houses, the to-do list, sight seeing, and our wedding day; Even though it came to be the most stressful week I’ve had, it was also the best week of my life, and I would gladly do it all over again in every way! (Except I would tell Shanen not to go swimming on the day he was stung by the jellyfish!)

The week went by too fast, and it was suddenly our wedding day- it was as if this amazing week was all just to lead up to the best day, being the first day of me and Shanen’s new life together as One.

 

Last night we re-watched the Facebook Live video from that day (We did this so our friends and family overseas or in America that couldn’t be with us could still virtually be with us).

It brought tears to my eyes seeing all my friends and family together again, and even hearing the locus and forest sounds sing around us.

As we remembered the day, and listed to our vows again- I started to reflect on the last year, and how much of an adventure it has been. And how, just like that wedding week, even in the difficult times of this past year, the good times far outweigh the bad, and it has been one of the best years of my life in many ways.

Starting off with the Honeymoon, as we took a road trip back down to Florida to stay one night at Disney, and enjoy the fireworks from our hotel.

Then boarding a cruise ship to the beautiful Bahamas

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Coming back to the UK, and taking weekend hiking trips in England- just thankful to be living together as a married couple, and able to simply do the things we love, and finding adventure wherever we can.

Having date nights in, and watching films on the laptop as we enjoy our home cooked curries. (this is probably one of our most frequent date nights).
I’m so thankful to marry a man who loves garlic and onions in food as much as I do! 🙂

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I had to return to the states for three weeks in December to re-apply for a visa and wait on a decision. That was an intense three weeks- but I was so happy to see my family again, at my most favorite time of the year; along with taking long walks on the beach in the evenings when I needed to clear my head from the worry of not being approved. Those were bittersweet walks.

I made it home to my love for Christmas Day, and my gift was a trip to Leeds to see Cirque Du Soleil (Something I’ve Dreamed of seeing my whole life).

We spent new years in Scotland, hiking, and enjoying the fireworks in Edinburgh.

In March we flew back to the States to go to Disney World with my Family!
Me and my family are HUGE Disney fans… okay not just fans, but we are obsessed. Moana is my spirit princess. My sister Morgan is Ariel. We each have our own Disney Character we relate to- and I’ve always called Shanen my Aladdin. (Ironically I always said I would marry a man who looked like Aladdin- and he really does!)

We got to see the fireworks once again, reminding us of the Honeymoon- but this time we were actually in the park, and able to fully enjoy them!

Below is my parents in Epcots UK, enjoying a Guiness and standing in front of an English Telephone booth! I was trying to pretend they were in England, but the sunshine makes it unconvincing. 😉
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Shanen flew back and I stayed behind to bring the last member of our happy little family back to the UK with us… our beloved KuttaBear! He finally made the big trip across the Atlantic, and we are so happy to have him with us, completing our little family (for now).

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(above – me and kuttabear with jetlag in Amsterdam)

This summer we took Kutta on his first hike in Wales…

…and took some family photo at the top of a mountain.

It’s been an amazing year. These pics of course are our highlights, and next weekend we will be taking another trip together – all three of us – to Scotland to celebrate our one year anniversary.
We ended our first year in an amazing way- by celebrating two good friends here in the UK becoming one. As we dressed up to go to a beautiful wedding, it just reminded us even more of the excitement we each had within us a year ago, as we prepared for our own wedding day.

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But as good as the wedding day was, and as amazing as our of our adventures so far have been- I wouldn’t want to go back… because life is about living, and I know there is an adventure in every day- even if that adventure is just being us in a normal day. I don’t believe in the good ole days- even tho the past does hold good times and great memories- along with great wisdom. I believe in our future and all it holds- because I believe the best is always yet to come.

x

Jeremiah 29:11 (God always has a plan, and hope for our future)

Our Adventure in France

Last Sunday, Shanen, Sophie (my sis in law) and I flew to France to help their dad with renovations on his house there.
This was our first time leaving KuttaBear since he arrived in the UK. But thankfully he had a wonderful, stay in caretaker come look after him!

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Just look at those sad eyes he was giving us as we left…

We flew out of Manchester and into Limoges airport, where their dad picked us up and we headed to his house about 40 minutes away.

It was surprisingly sunny when we left England, making me very excited for going to France and enjoying some warmer weather- but unfortunately most of our week there was quite gloomy!

Also, as we were rushing to our gate at the Manchester airport, I realized I FORGOT MY VISA!! (Something I need to get back into England!)
Luckily, my amazing mother in law was able to go to our flat, find it, and overnight it to me while I was in France!

Our first day there we started with renovations, like removing the ceiling in the front room where Shanen and I were staying. This exposed the wood beams underneath to give the roof that beautiful farmhouse look again. Shanen and his dad did the removing, as me and Sophie broke up the roof into small pieces to feed them to the fire in the kitchen. We ‘set the roof on fire’… literally.

While they were removing the roof, Shanen discovered an old key! Me and Sophie when upstairs and found a hole in the floorboard where someone must have hidden the key. I still wonder what door this unlocks… hidden treasure???

After the roof was removed I went in with a broom to sweep away all the dirt and cobwebs that had formed over the years, and Sophie and Shanen finished up with cleaning the floors and moping up all the dust.
That night I made a nice big vegan curry for us all to enjoy after the hard work!

Oh! And check out this little gem that was discovered as we cleared out that room… An original Disney Land Captain EO visor! (For all the Disney Nerds like myself out there, you know how exiting that moment was for me!)

The rest of the days we all took our parts in things like cleaning, sanding/painting shutters, cooking, taking family trips to the shops, and making this old house into a home bit by bit. Another one of my favorite parts of the week was starting each day off with a big family breakfast together.

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My Favorite Kind of Breakfast

Another one of my favorite things of the week was being able to take a break relaxing in the hammock, enjoying the fresh air and listening to the birds.

Right down the road from their house was a little field with some very friendly sheep! I so enjoyed running up to the gate and having them all run to meet me. One day we all went down there with some break and carrots to feed them… we brought celery too, but they didn’t prefer it.


One afternoon Shanen and I went for a little walk and found a path through a corn field. This path then lead to a beautiful wheat field, where we decided to lay, talk, and then take a romantic photo- it was just so lovely!






On our last day (Saturday), the sun finally came out!
We woke up early and went to a big French market about 40 minutes away. This market was held on the 29th of each month, and since we were flying home that evening, we were luckily able to go!

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ew.
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Don’t worry mom… I didn’t bring him home. But I wanted to

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I love loose leaf tea!

We came home and fixed a massive lunch feast! Then I ran back outside to enjoy a bit of sunbathing before flying back to England.

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Yes, BOTH of those bottom plates are mine. lol

It was finally time to head back to the airport. I was so thankful to have both my passport and visa in hand as I realized they would have not even let me board the plane without it! Both our flights were delayed, and we didn’t get home til nearly midnight (1 am France time, so we were super tired! Especially after such a long day at the market).

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Hello England

We were so excited to see this little fuzzy bear when we got home! He even left us a handwritten note to tell us about his amazing week with Josh!
(thanks Josh for writing that for him 😉 )

 

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He made sure to get all his toys out for us to see.. lol