Skip to content

Posts from the ‘The Transition’ Category

Where are we going from here?

clouds countryside daylight environment

This summer has been full of twists, turns, and lots of waiting. Waiting for the next step. For a better vision of the road ahead. For some sort of plan for the future.

And let me tell you, I hate waiting.

But after a summer of waiting, of maybes, of “well we think…”, we finally have some sort of answer to give to the question, “So what are your plans?”

Where are we going from here?

In May, Zach completed his MPhil from Cambridge. (Woohoo!) Up until this past week, we thought we were heading to Durham, England, for him to begin a PhD. I had even typed out a blog post to update you with that exact information. But remember all that waiting we’ve been doing? It’s not an activity conducive to getting visa applications in on time. For over a month now we’ve been waiting for one small piece of information that we needed to continue the visa application process. We came to the conclusion this past week that due to forces outside our control, we would not be making the trek to Durham this fall, after all.

Then, because this is how our lives work, we threw a new twist in the path. Zach emailed a colleague and would-be supervisor at another school he had considered for his PhD, the University of Glasgow. Throughout the process of looking for PhD programs, this was the supervisor under whom Zach most wanted to study. He wanted to make sure he understood all of his options for the coming year before committing to remain with Durham and pushing his PhD start date to Fall 2019. He asked the supervisor if there was an option to begin a PhD at Glasgow from the U.S. and to come to Scotland to be on campus after the first year. Unexpectedly, the answer was yes!

To sum up, we thought we were going to Durham. Then we thought we would have to stay in the U.S. and wait a year for Zach’s PhD to begin. Now, we will stay here for one year and go to Scotland in the fall of 2019. When we leave next fall Zach will have completed one year of the PhD program and I will be completely finished with my own master’s requirements, which will (hopefully) make it easier for me to find work after the move. I’m excited to finish up my master’s degree and enjoy some more time with family and friends on this side of the Atlantic. Zach is excited to start his PhD, work with a great supervisor, and still have continued access to sweet tea, Southern comfort food, and the ability to go deer hunting this fall!

Because of all of these topsy-turvy transitions, I needed to revamp my blog. The Durham/Gallatin/Glasgow Wife didn’t quite have the same ring to it as my previous moniker, and I wanted a name that would resonate with each chapter of my life, even the ones to come. In thinking through this name change, my mind went to one of my favorite hymns from childhood – All the Way My Savior Leads Me. In the second verse, the hymn writer reminds us that God “cheers each winding path I tread”. If there is one adjective that describes the path Zach and I have been on for the past two plus years of marriage, winding would be it. Knowing the lives my family members tend to lead, and considering how God often moves in the lives of His children, I’d wager the paths to come will remain winding, as well.

But that’s how we grow, isn’t it? When we can’t give detailed answers to the “Where are we going from here?” questions, we have to trust that God still cheers each winding path, even when we can’t see the end (or middle, or next five feet) of those paths. We learn to lean on Him and His understanding because we can’t trust our own. We try to enjoy the scenery at each bend in the road, knowing He leads us all the way, and He’s much better at navigating than we are.

Advertisements

Just Keep Pedaling

Zach and I have been in England for over a week now. Long enough to get over jet lag. Long enough to explore the area, get lost a few times, learn our way home, make friends, try fish and chips, go to church. And long enough to buy bicycles.

In Cambridge, cycling is one of the most common modes of transportation. Bikes are a very important purchase, because in a large part of the city centre, roads are restricted to cycles, taxis, and buses. We’re also temporarily staying with some new friends who live about three miles from the city centre. So cycling is a necessity. Thankfully, the cycling path is so picturesque, with most of the journey taking you by the River Cam and through some lovely fields. Although yesterday Zach had to cycle off the path to avoid being plowed over by a cow, so the scenery is not without its dangers.

All this to say, I have probably cycled more in the past week than I have in my entire life. The first day of cycling into town, I thought I would just keel over and die, right there on the bike path. When I got off my bike after FINALLY reaching the city centre, my legs almost gave out from under me. I told Zach a few days ago that muscles in my waist were sore. Who knew you even had muscles in your waist?! Well, now I do. Because mine are all angry at me.

Then, Sunday afternoon on our way home from church, I was trying to catch up with Zach and Mark, our host for these in-between weeks before we can move into our apartment. We were over half-way home, and I was completely done. But then we hit a part of the path that had a slight downward slope, and I thought, “Here’s my chance! Now I can catch up!” So I pedaled with everything I had. I was doing okay until it was time to make a hard right turn at the bottom of the hill.

With some sort of odd screeching sound – that couldn’t have possibly been me? – I toppled over onto the pavement, scraping up my arms and dirtying my dress. This kind older gentleman walking behind me ran over to help me up, but I really just wanted to keep lying face first on the pavement where I’d come to a stop. Zach and Mark were there, too, grabbing my (now slightly scuffed up) purse and righting my bike so I could get back on. But now my elbow hurt as well as my thighs, and I was very concerned that I’d ripped a hole in my brand-new leggings (good news! They’re fine!).

So I took a breath, thanked random-stranger-man and assured him I did, in fact, know these people who were holding my purse, and got back on my bike to finish the trip home. I was convinced my elbow was broken – I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic – but just kept repeating to myself what had become over the weekend my cycling mantra, “Just keep pedaling, Emily. If you stop, you won’t be able to start again. Just keep pedaling.”

Thankfully, I did not break my elbow. And, after many more miles on the cycling path, my legs don’t start screaming at me now until at least mile 2.75 of 3. I’m even beginning to pedal faster. But when I do get a bit behind Zach, or when every part of my body aches from cycling all over creation, I just remind myself, “Just keep pedaling, Em. Just keep pedaling.”

This transition will not always be easy for us. I am sure there will be moments where everything within us screams for us to just stop, turn around, and go home. Try again some other time. Or never. But then we will remember that this journey is all part of the Lord’s purposes for us. And we know that through His strength, we can find it within ourselves to just keep pedaling.

A Face to Call Home

A few weeks ago, Zach and I attended a John Mayer concert. Since Zach has been a John Mayer fan a lot longer than I have, he made a playlist of all of John Mayer’s albums and put it on Spotify, since I am the type of person who feels the need to “study up” on an artist and their work before attending his or her concert.

During my attempt to learn all the lyrics to all the songs, I stumbled upon one that had me in tears on the ride home. The song shares its name with this blog post. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I’ve grown used to understanding home as a group of people rather than a location. During this transition to England, I have had to once again rethink my concept of “home” as something set apart from a specific location.

As I type this, I’m sitting in an airport, preparing to board a flight that will send my husband and me across the world. We’ve packed up some of our belongings, but sold and stored a lot more. We’ve said goodbye to the first house we shared as a married couple, spent time with family in three different states, weighed our suitcases more times than is probably normal, and said our “see you laters” to family and friends. But although we are going to a place where we know no one but each other, and even though our lives have more questions than answers as the moment, we’ll still be home.

Because for me, Zachary Adam is my face to call home. He keeps me sane in the craziness of this transition, he ensures that we have as many answers as we can, and he even carries my (too heavy) carry-ons all over the airport. I know I am sheltered and loved here, both because of the man he is and the One he reflects to me.

So, welcome home to me.

Childhood Dreams, Adult Responsibilities

I was apparently no good at geography as a child.

I distinctly remember watching A Little Princess (not the Shirley Temple version, mind you, the other one) and crying big, fat, elementary-school-girl tears at the plight of poor Sarah Crewe as she was forced to work in the streets outside her orphanage. I cried for Sarah, but also for all the poor children who were faced to live and work and beg on the streets – the streets I thought were in England. In fact, I was so moved that I began to tell others that one day, I would grow up and be a missionary to England and save those poor street children.

Imagine my surprise when, while watching the movie a few months ago, I realized that Sarah Crewe lived in New York City! In case you’re no good at geography either, New York City is not in England, dear reader.

The “missionary call” to England did not last into adulthood, but perhaps this childhood dream of moving there, of immersing myself in the culture, of becoming personally acquainted with their griefs, hurts, and joys never quite left me.

So when Zach began to realize that the best schools for his area of study were in the U.K., I had to work hard to contain my budding excitement at the possibility. To squash the hope threatening to well up inside at the very thought of this childhood dream becoming a reality. There were so many steps to take before a life abroad could even be considered. Even as I type this post, only a little over a month before the date that our plane tickets tell us we’ll leave, there are still so. many. steps. Bureaucracy is no joke, y’all.

Through this whole process, though, I have been reminded over and over again of God’s faithfulness. He is faithful in all things, big and small. He is gracious enough to turn our childhood dreams into adulthood responsibilities; what we may see as the silliest of whims, He can use for His purposes and glory. He has been and will be with Zach and me every step of this journey.

He was already working in my geographically-confused, overly-emotional, childhood heart to mold me into the woman I am today, the woman who is about to become a Cambridge wife.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21