Yesterday was our one year anniversary in Glasgow. A couple of times I was asked what I thought of this first year, the highs and lows. I really struggled to answer. Then this morning, Cameron woke up crying because she couldn't decide which was better, California or Glasgow. In some ways she is our voice, she says aloud all the things Darren and I process internally. And she does it in dramatic, 7-going-on-17 fashion. So I thought I'd take some time to process what this first year has meant to me and my family.
First of all, I have to confirm that despite the highs and lows we have a deep sense of knowing that we are in the right place. And on bad days, we dig deep to cling to that calling so that the emotions don't overwhelm us and send us into the fetal position. Some days you meet with people and walk away feeling like you just participated in a divine appointment, and a life was changed. Other days, you walk away from a meeting realizing that the only good that came from that meeting was a decent cup of coffee. When I look back on the full year I feel a deep sense of honor that God would use us here, and I am reminded that we aren't meant to be sprinters in His kingdom but marathon runners, constantly striving to steadily press on.
After calling, I have to express a deep feeling of gratitude for the team in Glasgow. It would have been understandable if they treated us cautiously, waiting for us to fail and sending us back home without getting hurt themselves. But God has done an amazing work in assembling a group of people who are willing to be vulnerable, open to new friendships and graciously easing us into life in Scotland. We had amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with these people and at the end of both evenings my heart was full. They've pulled us in as family and helped us establish a new home here in Glasgow. I don't mean to be overly gushy, because they are human beings with failings and mistakes, but it has been and honor to walk beside them through the highs and lows of this year.
While it is nice to be surrounded by new friends and family, it doesn't mean that we have forgotten the people we left behind. It has been difficult to miss weddings and memorials. It has been painful at times to see facebook photos of events we can't attend. This year we lost Grandma Jean and we gained a new sister-in-law, a niece and a nephew. But at the same time, we've celebrated weddings here, welcomed new babies and gained the joy of caring for baby Sophie once a week (by the way, Tuesday is now called "Sophie Day"). In no way has the "old" been replaced by the "new", but somehow by God's grace we get to have both.
The cultural experiences have been high and low. Let's face it, we're in Scotland, surrounded by castles, how cool is that?! We have had a blast exploring the country, learning the history and enjoying the beauty of this place. But at the same time we've struggled with the weather. It's dark here, cold, and constantly wet. But the gusto with which people greet the sun and temps over 60F is absolutely invigorating. It seems as if the whole city drops whatever they're doing and goes outside, filling up the parks and cafes (there's an unfortunate amount of skin that is revealed on these days, but honestly, who can blame them? you've got to get as much vitamin D exposure as possible, right?).
The food, the spelling, the transportation, the laundry.... I could go on and on about the highs and lows. I guess I just want to ask for grace from you, reader. I don't know how to concisely answer the question, "how was your first year?". When I look back on this blog post I think my best answer is that I am grateful. I am grateful that God would ask my family to go and experience all these highs and lows along the way as we pursue His kingdom.