9 Things I Learned in June

I don’t know about you, but June felt like a blink. We’re enjoying sunny, warm weather here in London. Sipping Pimms in the pub garden is my new favorite Thursday afternoon rhythm. A slight breeze blows through our open windows allowing me to hear the buzz of bees culminating over mounds of flowers blooming in the garden. Winter coats are banished to a spare bedroom and summer skirts are hanging in the wardrobe. Let me tell you what I learned in June before July arrives with all its fireworks.

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1)  My husband’s name is really and truly just H. For those of you who thought I shortened it for the purpose of the blog or to keep his name confidential, well, SURPRISE! Here in London, they call him HAYTCH. Initial names are uncommon in the UK and so, pronouncing them is also peculiar. He loves his new English name because let’s face it people, any word spoken with a beautiful British accent is totally, completely acceptable.

2)  They have Costco in London!! And the stores are laid out exactly the way they are in the US with mostly the same products. Our first shopping trip felt nostalgic, familiar and comforting.  As Expats, oddly out of place, like walking into an alternate universe. However, I’m grateful to know I can buy salted nuts, agave and pure vanilla extract in bulk and if you come to visit, we will always have toilet paper.

3)  A mimosa is referred to as a Bucks Fizz here in England. And Prosecco is commonly served in church for special celebrations and garden parties (sometimes on silver trays with canapés). This little detail might be considered my love language.

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4)  We do not own tents or campers or anything portable really but we’re camping with 6,000 people in less than a month. Pictures will be forthcoming because honestly, I can’t wrap my mind around it either. The best part? I can order groceries three weeks in advance and they deliver directly to our campsite. This gives new definition to camping. And affirmation that I truly belong to this culture. However, hauling all our stuff without a car may be the content for my entire What I Learned in July post.

5)  A purse is called a handbag, pants are trousers and a sweater is referred to as a jumper. Amen is pronounced Awe-men. That last one seems appropriate; the others, just a little lesson on saying the right words because I live in another culture and allowances for the wrong words are becoming slimmer.

6)  Five Guys is a ten minute walk from my house. And costs approximately $50 for two people to eat a burger, share fries and sip some soda. And yes, its tastes exactly the same as it does in the US. Too bad the price tag isn’t the same too!

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7)  I learned to make elderflower cordial last week. St. Germaine (elderflower liquor) has been a mainstay at our house for summer cocktails so learning how to make the cordial is other worldly. A new friend shared a family recipe and then delivered the elderflowers to my doorstep, harvested from a weekend away in Dorset. Somehow, this makes all the pages of English stories I’ve read seem real and dreamy.

8)  Being interviewed on a public platform without knowing what is going to be asked isn’t as scary as I initially thought. I’m so grateful for all your kind comments, emails and texts after listening to my first radio interview about what we are learning in the Sabbath Society.

9)  God remembers. He hears your pleading prayers. Don’t mistake His seeming silence for ambivalence. The ways in which God reveals His love for us is always clearer when you have enough distance to look back. Your dreams are worth waiting for: hold fast.

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I saw this bridge in a vision during prayer before I ever knew it existed in London.

What have you learned this month?

Linking with Emily Freeman.

 

Why You Might Influence More People Than You Think

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Last Friday, I wore sandals for the first time in London. Walked to the tube station and sat on the train across from an Italian couple who didn’t care who was watching them make out. I arrived at a tall building, signed my name in a registry at the prompting of a man with a foreign dialect and received bruises on both arms when the elevator doors closed and I was still in the middle.

Alone in the silence, I rode up to the first floor and entered the office of Premier Christian Radio for my first live interview.

As I waited to meet Lucinda, the presenter of the program for which I was a guest, I scanned my mobile, eavesdropped on a conversation between an expat and Brit, and looked repeatedly at my watch, wondering about preparation as the time ticked on. Will I have time for that?

In that brief waiting period, I thought about all the helpful comments I received from those with more experience when I asked for advice on Facebook. In the end, the only notes I brought with me was Matthew 11: 25-30 from The Message, printed off at the last minute in a divine nudge during morning prayers.

And the longer I waited, Peace covered me like a blanket. Jesus was sitting next to me on the couch.

Eventually I was taken to a room surrounded by glass and seated across from the host, in front of a large microphone suspended from the ceiling. Lucinda wore earphones, spoke on air making introductions between playlists, flipped through handwritten notes and prepped me about the direction of the interview like girlfriends having a coffee chat.

A young man entered the room, threw a collection of keys on the table, sat down at a microphone between us and began voicing the top news stories. She was holding up fingers, alerting him to the number of seconds between pre-recorded clips. It all seemed so casual and effortless.

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When we make things a big deal, they become a big deal to everyone around us. No one is drawn to an anxious presence but confidence that exudes Peace is alluring.

Behind the scenes, during commercials, Lucinda and I shared authentic conversation about weariness of daily life with some hopeful solutions. Her genuine interest in what I was saying about Sabbath and the Sabbath Society made for a comfortable atmosphere that ultimately resonated with listeners.

Confidence in the message God gives you to communicate makes you a person of influence.

People pleasing, polling for opinions and comparison leads to a hurried up, distracted mind that communicates insecure leadership.

Fear and the fear of God are polar opposites. Which one we choose as we approach our firsts, middles and lasts makes all the difference in outcomes, for you and those you influence.

If you know who you are and where you are going, people will surely follow Christ in you. And don’t confuse perfectionism as the pathway to confidence.

Let go of fear when you look back and move forward with bold courage.

Confidence is curious to the watching world, whether you’re making out on a train oblivious to the opinions of people or speaking to an audience about faith. Your life speaks.

What is your life communicating to those who are watching?

I haven’t listened to the whole interview yet (now I understand why actors don’t want to watch their own movies) but if you want to hear my interview on Premier Christian Radio, click here. And see a photo of Lucinda and I here (and follow me on Instagram where I’m sharing daily snippets of life in London).

 

If You Are Lacking {and Longing for} Authentic Community

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On a sunny day in London, I met my neighbor for the first time standing at the fence separating our gardens. I wasn’t expecting the reception I received.

Holding a watering can under a spigot and leaning on the fence for balance, I notice, over a nest of passion fruit vines, her blond hair blowing through the slats. Intersecting in the same corner while cleaning up flower beds in an extravagance of warm weather in springtime, I decide to interrupt her sweeping and introduce myself.

A few minutes later, she invites all of us to dinner later that week.

But I don’t take her invitation seriously and there is a reason for that.

After a decade of living in the South, known as the leader in hospitality for the United States, I learned when someone says they want to have you over for dinner or meet for lunch, that doesn’t mean they are actually going to do anything about it.

As it turns out, wishful thinking is a common courtesy.

Initially, I was bit slow to catch on to that when we moved to the South from the West and I just got my heart broken a lot.

But eventually, I stopped equating intention with authenticity whenever people used phrases like, “I would love to get together this week for coffee” or “We really want to have you over for dinner,” or “Let’s have lunch soon.”

I believe they meant what they said as the words were spilling out but I didn’t believe conviction matched a will to follow-up. I made peace with that reality and then something horrible happened.

Join me at Grace Table for the rest of the story.