Thursday, 25 September 2008

New Blog

Hi Everyone!

We've got a new blog, so check it out here.

Christina, Nathan and Z

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Old Has Passed Away, the New Is Coming

Friends and family,

As you might have suspected, we have concluded our commitment to blog for the year. Thanks for riding through the highs and lows with us. We hope that you got to experience vicariously just a little bit of Scotland.

Christina and I are talking about starting up a new family blog, mainly for posting pics of Lazarus. Once that is set up, we'll have a link from this page to the new one.

With love and respect,


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Homeward Bound

We're coming back to the States tomorrow (Friday, August 8). If you think about it, please pray that we have a safe and entirely boring trip!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Are the Hitchcocks Accented?

Brace yourselves, people. We've picked up a serious Scottish brogue since arriving on this verdant isle.

Okay, not really. Okay, not at all. Edinburgh is far too cosmopolitan to have any kind of standard accent. There are as many English-sounding accents as Scottish. But to commemorate the fine sound of the Scots, we're including a fabulous video from The Proclaimers called "Throw the R Away."

Monday, 28 July 2008

St. Andrews

Last week we took a short overnight trip to St. Andrews. What a beautiful little town! Unfortunately, our camera broke a couple of weeks ago, so the pictures below are from the internet, but they give you an idea of where we were.

We took the bus from Edinburgh and arrived in the center of town about 2 hours later. Here's a view of the town from above. Our hotel was about 2 miles outside of town, and from our room window, St. Andrews looked wonderfully medieval -- all spires and old stone buildings. I (Christina) imagined that was what Hogsmead would look like from Hogwarts.

After we arrived, we walked around a little and discovered this ruin at the north end of town. It's a cathedral and castle. We ate our picnic lunch in the cathedral cemetary, just in the bottom left corner of the picture below.

After lunch, we set off to find our hotel. We got a great deal on a beautiful hotel that sits about 2 miles outside of St. Andrews. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a bus that would take us there, so we decided to walk. The walk was very pretty, following a highway that went right along the coast. When the sidewalk ended, we decided to follow a path cutting across one of St. Andrews' famous golf courses. This worked fine until the path dead-ended in what seemed to be a private dairy farm. Fortunately, we ran into a man working there, and he very generously told us we could cut across his fields, which bordered the hotel's golf course. So we went off-roading with the stroller, cutting a path through some very thick grasses and making our way through an extremely rusty gate. But we made it! And the hotel was just as pretty as the pictures made it out to be. (In the picture below, you can see the tall grass just at the edge of the golf course. It was from there that we emerged. Nathan said we had 5 star accommodations and 0 star travel!)

When we arrived in the reception area (below) we were a little grungy and sweaty (the day was absolutely beautifu! The first real summer day since we've been here!), so we were looking forward to settling into our room and hitting the pool. Unfortunately, our room wasn't ready yet so the receptionist very kindly sent us into the lounge with free drinks until the room was ready. The free drinks helped make the hour go by nicely, and the room we eventually received was definitely worth the wait. The pool was wonderful, and as usual Z loved it. There was also a hot tub, sauna and steam room. Fortunately we had brought our own supper, because the hotel restaurants and room service were unbelievably expensive. A single bowl of cornflakes cost 4 pounds. That's 8 dollars. And that was pretty much the cheapest thing on the menu.
After Z went to bed, Nathan and I took turns going back down to the pool, or, more specifically, the hot tub for me and the steam room for him. The steam room was 80 degrees centigrade -- a little too hot for me!
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, as it was included in the cost of the room. Big spread of food, and we all ate our fill, including Z, who had a big bowl of porridge as well as some fruit and yogurt.
The hotel allowed us to have a late check-out, so we had time for another dip in the pool and then a quick nap for Z. After that, we took a hotel shuttle back to St. Andrews. We walked around a bit and discovered St. Mary's College, which houses the University of St. Andrews' divinity school. The buildings of the college formed a square with a pretty, grassy quad in the middle (picture below). There's a tree in the quad that was planted there by Mary, Queen of Scots! We daydreamed a little about what it would have been like if Nathan had enrolled in St. Mary's instead of New College, but decided we were happy with the way things are.

We ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant playing '80s dance music, because unfortunately we were walking along the wrong street and missed all the really good restaurants. The picture below is of the high street. We stopped at the shop just beside the blue shop and got an ice-cream cone.

After that we headed to the beach. Again, the day was beautiful -- sunny and warm. It was at this beach that the opening scene of Chariots of Fire was filmed. (If you watch the clip to the end, you'll see they actually run in to St. Andrews. We walked across that same field on our way from the beach to the bus station.) Z didn't know quite what to make of the sand, but he seemed to be enjoying it nonetheless.

Then back home to Edinburgh. What a nice little vacation!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Church Baby

Yesterday was Z's first birthday! Nathan and I are pretty proud of ourselves for getting through the first year successfully. (I realize many of you more veteran parents are smiling indulgently at that last sentence.) We celebrated with a spaghetti and meatballs lunch, which Z ate all on his own, followed up with chocolate cake, which he also ate on his own. We've discovered Z has a terrible liking for chocolate, and makes a funny chuckling noise whenever he's allowed to eat it. We had chocolate brownies a few days earlier when we celebrated his birthday with our good friends the Fishers. We took brownies and icecream over to their place and had a little birthday party in the back yard.

Here's Z eating his icecream.

Niamh (that's pronounced Neve -- it's Irish) gave Z a little star-spangled beanie-baby. He really loved the wrapping paper, which Niamh actually made herself at school.

Aoife (pronounced Eefa) gave Z a cute little stuffed bunny, which is in the red present waiting to be unwrapped. The girls, especially Niamh, love Z to death!

After the feast!

Several other people from church remembered Z's birthday, which was really nice. One older lady from church gave him a card which I thought was wonderful, as it was addressed simply to "The Church Baby". Z is usually the only baby at church, but I think he really is the church baby in a deeper way. I've found it very interesting this year attending a church which does not have a systematic program of "family friendliness," because I've actually found it to be more "friendly" to Z than some churches who make that their slogan. This friendliness to Z consists mostly in simply including him in the regular life of worship. There is a nursery (for which I am very grateful!), but the children come back to the service for the eucharist, which is received every Sunday. During the Eucharist (the entire liturgy), Z is included as a member of the church, one who has been baptized into the body of Christ. For example, when we pass the peace, nearly everyone who speaks with Nathan and I also gives Z's hand a little shake and tells him, most sincerely, "Peace be with you." When it is time for the supper itself, we take Z up to receive the bread and wine, and although he's not old enough to eat or drink yet, the priest always gives him a blessing, including him in the grace of the meal. It's a wonderful practice, and draws children, including infants, into the life of the church in a way that I believe is indicated in their baptism. "Family friendly" churches tend to hustle the children away to do their own thing, and allow the parents to concentrate on the service, and I definitely think this has its place and can be very appropriate. However, I have never approved of excluding baptized children from the Lord's Supper, whether it's an accidental exclusion (they're in the nursery when everyone is receiving the Supper) or an intentional exclusion (they're too young to understand so they shouldn't be allowed to participate. Good grief! I'm too young to understand!) So I believe that Z really is "the church baby," or, perhaps a better way to put it, the church's baby.

I am thankful for this since it is validation of our prayers at his baptism -- that he would belong to Christ and his body, the Church. Too often it seems infant baptism becomes a "family" event, rather than a church event. Infant baptism is not the family (i.e., parents, grandparents, etc) claiming their child for God; it is God claiming that child for himself, his kingdom and the Church. If anything, it is an event which marginalizes the family in the life of the child, for he too will be called to "leave houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields" for the sake of Christ (Matt. 19:29).

Several years ago I read Hudson Taylor's autobiography (which, by the way, is wonderful). As Taylor is getting ready to set sail for China, his mother comes on board the ship to say goodbye to him, probably forever. She tells Taylor that she and her husband had prayed, from the day that he was born, that he would be a missionary for the Lord. Even at his very birth, she prayed, essentially, that God would take him away from her in his service. That's someone who knows what it means to baptize a baby.

Nathan and I are trying to learn that same lesson, and at Z's baptism we had this song played, because it has that same theme. This child belongs to God, to do with as he will. All we can do is trust the holy God.

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death" (Heb. 11:17-19).

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Traveling for Homeschoolers

Okay, so I'm a little bitter that I (Nathan) wasn't homeschooled, considering that my own mother is a homeschooling specialist. But I can vouch for her that she knows what she's talking about when she writes about "The Nuts and Bolts of Homeschooling and Travel" in MAP Magazine.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Boy Is Mobile

Just shy of his first birthday, the Z-man is ambulatory. In celebration of the 4th of July he began crawling. Just as we were warned, this now means having to worry constantly about what he is going to get into. For instance, he has started incorporating dustbunnies into his daily diet.

It's amazing how fast it all changes. Z is also standing up in his crib, kneeling, and doing yoga moves reserved only for the most devoted athletes.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Scholarly News

We have very good news! Nathan had his boards about a week ago, and he was successfully upgraded to a full Ph.D. candidate. According to the system here, all Ph.D. students are technically considered masters students their first year. During that first year they are expected to produce a significant piece of writing, upon which basis they will then be upgraded for years two and three. Here at the University of Edinburgh, the upgrade process includes an oral defense in front of a board. Nathan wrote one of the chapters of his dissertation (here, thesis), and defended that before his board on June 17. I'm sure he'll have more information to post later, but the imporant news is that he was successfully upgraded. Yay!

Another piece of good news is that Nathan has just received word that he's going to have a full length article published in an academic journal called Literature and Theology. The issue goes to press this month, and will be out soon thereafter!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Case against Planned Parenthood

The Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case against Planned Parenthood yesterday (June 12). Anyone who is interested in the status of abortion issues in America at the moment, or anyone who is interested in how a state supreme court hears arguments, will be very interested in listening to the oral arguments here. This link will take you to my sister-in-law's blog (my brother, her husband, is the attorney for Phil Kline), and you can follow a link there to listen to the entire argument. It is extremely interesting, so I'd encourage you to have a listen. (For background to the oral argument, follow the links in our May 30 post).

Monday, 9 June 2008

Parental Visit

Taking a walk.

Dad the vandal.

Mom and Dad at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Waiting for the bus.

Z's first taste of lemon, courtesy of Yaya.

Z's funny face.

Fun times in the pool.

Future botanist in the Botanics.

Future botanist eating his subject.
Daddy and Z.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Planned Parenthood in Kansas

There is a large and extremely important case being argued before the Kansas Supreme Court this month. It's complicated, but what it comes down to is that Planned Parenthood has been performing illegal abortions in Kansas, doctoring the evidence, and suing the state attorney general when he started investigating them. For an overview of the case and all the relevant information, please check it out here and here. This is an incredibly important moment in the fight against abortion -- please read the articles and remember to pray about it. Please also pass these links on to others so that the light of truth can be brought to bear on the Kansas governor and Kansas courts.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Prince Caspian

Two nights ago Nathan and I saw Prince Caspian. I've been looking forward to seeing it because I genuinely enjoyed the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Sadly, I cannot say the same thing about Prince Caspian.

My first complaint is the same one I have of so many movies that are based on beloved books. The book is beloved for a reason! Why movie producers think it's prudent to change the plot so much as to make it almost unrecognizable is beyond me. This is exactly what has happened with Prince Caspian. Apparently the book is much too slow and boring, so to jazz it up a little, the movie adds battle scene after battle scene. The movie also adds in a little romance which, again, is nowhere to be found in the book. As a result of all the new battles, there is zero time for character or plot development. I'm pretty sure the movie doesn't even make sense. I found myself filling in the blanks and gaps from my knowledge of the book, but without that, the movie is very hard to follow because it wanders from one battle to the next without any clear direction except the constant need for action. In addition to the action and romance, the movie has also added a chip the size of Toledo onto Peter's shoulder. Why? I have no idea. But Peter is riddled with teenage insecurity and drama, all of which is apparently exacerbated by the fact that he "once was a grown up" and now everyone just treats him like a kid. Jerks.

However, my biggest complaint involves the treatment of Aslan. In the book, Aslan shows himself first only to Lucy, and she is called to follow him during a time when the children and Trumpkin are lost. Lucy makes a valiant effort to convince the others, but only Edmund believes her, so in the end Lucy goes with the others instead of following Aslan. Later, Aslan rebukes her for this and tells her she should have followed him even if no one else had. In the movie, Lucy also sees Aslan when no one else does, but the movie fails to indicate the call to obedience that is involved in her sighting of him. The movie therefore also fails to indicate her lack of obedience, and the lack of faith in the others. Instead, Lucy is treated as having some kind of special access to Aslan, and so when several battles have gone badly and things are looking grim, she is sent out into the woods to see if she can see him again and get him to help them. This seems to be the exact opposite of the what Lewis is intending from the Aslan/Lucy relationship. In the book, Aslan gives her sight of himself as both gift and call. Lucy must respond to him. In the movie, Lucy's sighting of Aslan is a sign of her special status, and leads the others to assume that she can find and call Aslan when needed. And, in fact, that's exactly what happens. In the movie, Aslan responds to her. This, in my opinion, is a serious misreading of the story. Aslan's presence is always seen as gift and calling in the books (see, for example, in The Silver Chair, when Jill says she and Eustace asked to come to Narnia, but Aslan corrects her by saying they only asked because he had already called them). The characters in the Narnia stories circle around Aslan; he does not circle around them. They either see his gift and respond to his call, or they don't. But he does not come and go at their beck and call. The movie essentially treats Aslan as a powerful weapon which Lucy can (usually) wield. Just as Susan is a regular Legolas with her bow and arrow, and Peter and Edmund are real aces with their swords, so Lucy always comes through in a pinch with her lion. I don't think Mr. Lewis would approve. I certainly do not.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Insan-o Stuff on the Way to Dalkeith

Claustrophobic as we are living in the cramped city of Edinburgh, we decided to do an overnight stay at Westen Cowden Farmhouse, a bed and breakfast in the neighboring town of Dalkeith. We're used to things going amiss, but a surprising number of odd events tranpired.

On the bus ride down, a dude fell asleep - I mean ASLEEP - and was flung out of his seat on a sharp turn. Fortunately, his face broke the fall. The bus driver stopped and I tried to help him up. He woke up, but I'm not sure he quite recovered. Was it alcohol? Heroin? Term papers?

A few minutes later a woman asked if we were from Minnesota. Yikes. I know were ostensibly American, but apparently, having only spent seven years in South Dakota, we're radiating the midwest.

Ah, then there was that little dog with a tree branch - five feet across, maybe 20 pounds - in its mouth while jumping over a three foot high fence, and its owner, swearing like a sailor, and the owner's friend reprimanding him for not being able to construct a sentence without the f-bomb.

So much for the sleepy little Scottish village idea. Get us back to Edinburgh.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Wrestling God

I (Nathan) have always been drawn to the story of Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord (Gen 32). He wrestles God. Who in his right mind wrestles GOD? But this is what Jacob does, there at the Jabbok River, there in the most anxious moment of his life, his estranged brother Esau probably about to kill him the next day and steal all his property. Jacob doesn't wrestle with his thoughts or his worries - he wrestles the Almighty.

There is something potentially sacrilegious in all of this. It would be easy for us to hear this passage and assume that the spiritual life is one of manipulation, cold and conniving interaction with God that effectively twists His heavenly arm until He forks over the goods. Just as easily we could imagine this passage baptizes the practice of religious litigation. As if pouting at God and hating Him made sense, as if any one of us could bring a law suit against God, take the money and run. More than once I've heard people say, "It's okay to be angry at God." There's something almost right about that sentiment, except it seems to leave the door open for the kind of seething and scorching demeanor totally unbefitting to the Christian life. Still, could it be that God invites us into the life of passionate engagement with Him?

With day breaking, the Angel disclocates Jacob's hip and tells him to let go. But Jacob won't: "Not until you bless me." Jacob has good reason to think God is in the business of blessing. Had God not given him many children, much cattle, and (by any standard of the Levant) the good life? Certainly God isn't going to change His mind at this point! It seems incredible that we, who have the promises of God in full - the new heavens and the new earth - don't do the same. This One has pledged His faithfulness to us in Jesus Christ, meaning however we grapple with Him, whether singing or shouting or calmly reasoning or swearing or crying, we mean to engage Him on His own invitation. "God, You said..." should be a stock phrase of ours, just like the psalmists': Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people (Psa 106:4)! Will You forget me forever (Psa 13:1)? Confirm your promise to your servant (Psa 119:38)! These cries are not the cries of whiners and prosecutors. These are the prayers of those who wrestle God.

Engage Him. Only the cold shoulder, only the practical atheism we all sometimes practice, is truly repugnant. Marriages and friendships can survive seasons of intensity and contention; they cannot survive apathy. For all its uniqueness, our relationship with God has the same component. Is this not the real reason we are told to "pray without ceasing" (1 Ths 5:17)? Not because we are good or eloquent or even goodspirited pray-ers, but because the God of Jesus Christ has hemmed us in on every side. He - He! - has hemmed us in, not guilt or credit card debt or ADHD or family strife or terminal cancer. Israel-like, we wrestle with the Living God, because only He is before us and only He has the blessing.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Water Baby

Yesterday we went to our local indoor swimming pool. It's actually a little more than a swimming pool. It has a waterslide and wave pool too. This was Z's first swim. He loves splashing in the bath, so we thought he might like the pool too. Did he ever! Once we got there we changed into our suits, and you'll have to take my word for it (since we didn't get any pictures) that Z looked super cute in his little green swimming suit. We found a little blow up toy for him to sit in and got in the water. For the first couple of minutes he didn't seem too sure what to make of the situation, but then he suddenly realized how much fun he could be having. The boat he was sitting in had a little seat which allowed him to be in the water from the chest down, so he started laying out flat (instead of sitting up straight with his feet down) and kicking his feet. He could really move in that thing! He's got a nice kick, very good form, and he scooted back and forth between me and Nathan with no problem. And he loved it. Even when he accidentally dropped his face in the water or splashed himself, it didn't phase him at all, he just took a deep breath and kept going.

After we'd been in the pool for about an hour, it became clear that Z was both very tired and very reluctant to give up the fun. He kept trying to lie forwards or backwards in his boat, or resting his head on the side, so he could still kick his feet and splash around, but get a little rest at the same time. He clearly needed a baby pool-recliner. So, we think Z will become quite the little swimmer!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

New Blog

Hey everyone, my (Christina's)brother has a blog for his short stories now and it's worth checking out. I've got it on the side in the favorites column (Red Leg Ramblings), or you can go to this address:

Monday, 28 April 2008

Thoughts for Ascension Day

[Granted, we started this blog to keep all of you, our friends and family, in the loop with our active little lives. But our day to day regimen is filled with thinking and talking about the things we find important, especially about the Christian faith. Here’s an important theme I (Nathan) have been chewing on lately.]

The Church celebrates Ascension Day this year on Thursday, May 1. Forty days after Easter Sunday, it marks the lifting up of the risen Jesus Christ into heaven. I’ve read that congregations used to consider it a major festival of the Christian year, but few people now (for various reasons) reckon it to be of much worth theologically or practically. Reading Douglas Farrow’s provocative book, Ascension and Ecclesia, has me rethinking the matter. May I share with you four earth-shaking implications of this event for Christians?

1) The ascension means the risen Christ has entered into His eternal ministry as our high priest. At the resurrection Jesus Christ was given eternal life, and with it all authority to judge. As the one who had taken humanity’s place, living and dying as our representative before God, He was at Easter bestowed with the special right to speak on behalf of humanity. Jesus’ ascension into heaven signaled His entrance into that very capacity. Even now, “He sits at the right hand of the Father,” meaning He has the highest authority. And He has God’s ear. The Father always listens to Him. If the Son says, “Forgive that woman who keeps nagging at her kids,” the Father does. If the Son says, “Sanctify that guy in Des Moines with the drinking problem,” the Father grants it. All us idiots need His intervening prayers. Indeed, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). He lives. And He lives to be on our side. How amazing that we don’t need to be terrified of God’s judgment anymore! Jesus – not just God’s Son, but one of our very own – has entered into heaven’s court to act as our eternal defender. We mistakenly think of salvation as being some kind of static idea which happened only at the cross. Not so. Jesus Christ saves us even now. Aren’t Jesus’ actions telling as He disappears into the clouds?: “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). He has been blessing us ever since.

2) The ascension means Jesus Christ is absent. I know this sounds terrible and impious, even untrue. Did not Jesus say He would be with us to the very end of the age (Mt 28:20)? Did not the disciples go away with great joy after the ascension (Lk 24:52)? Yes, but the fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ was not there anymore. He could not be seen or heard or touched like He had in the forty days after Easter. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God,” Paul writes (Rom 8:19). We have much weight to groan under in a world of schoolyard bullying, inescapable poverty, credit fraud, chemical warfare, shattered marriages, prostitution and crime, ADD and Down’s, miscarriage and abortion – all the moral and biological evils we experience in the continuum of suffering and dying and death. The truth is, Jesus could have stopped it all. As the resurrected King, He could have raised us all too that very moment – but He didn’t. What surprised sadness the disciples must have experienced when, asking if He would now restore the kingdom of Israel, Jesus effectively tells them No (Acts 1:6-7). Instead, He ascends into that other place, heaven, the place far from us. We live and wait in that absence.

3) The ascension means Jesus Christ has filled that absence with the witnessing Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, the word and sacraments. If the ascension leaves an absence, it is an absence pregant enough to include us: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Do you realize how incredible this is? That we should be His witnesses, His spokesmen, His heralds? That this is the reason He has delayed the final judgment, to permit others to repent and believe when they hear our testimony? This is the case. This Church, this pitiful group of disciples, will go out into the world with the good news that He is risen. If the Church does not speak, it is missing out on its very reason for being! Fortunately, Christ has not left us alone in this mission, for He has sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be with us (Jn 14:15-18, 16:7). We can therefore speak and live and minister with the authority of Christ. Now I must clarify something straight away: This does not mean that we are the new Jesus Christ or a continuation of His incarnation. Not by a long shot. We are not “Jesus with skin on” (as I heard someone say recently), for Jesus already has His own body thank you very much. And, to speak biblically, He primarily is the one testifying to Himself through the Spirit, calling people and awakening them to faith. But He still wants us, as His little brothers and sisters indwelt by the Spirit, in on the deal. He insists that His followers go out and testify to His resurrection, whispering and speaking and shouting out that He is Lord and Saviour of the world and that in Him is eternal life. Also as a priceless gift for this task is the Bible, the word of God in which we meet the Word of God. What’s more, we are nourished by the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist. With regard to the latter, Douglas Farrow makes the interesting point that the Lord’s supper ushers us into the eschatological presence of Christ, something made possible only after the ascension, for “[o]nly then did its eucharistic form become necessary, somehow anticipating a second and more profound ‘change in the darkness and matter’ that is yet to come” (Farrow, p. 10). The word and sacraments are indispensable tokens of Christ’s presence on the road between Christ’s resurrection and the general resurrection at His return, so that in this middle time, this “Church age,” we witness with confidence and joy in the Spirit.

4) The ascension means He is at work in heaven preparing our eternal abode. On one hand, we can reason on the ground of the ascension that if Christ is in heaven, we too are welcome there. The Heidelberg Catechism (Q49) declares that “we have our own flesh in heaven,” guaranteeing that Christ will welcome us other fleshy people there too. But the news gets better – or, I should say, more specific – than that. We’re not supposed to live in heaven, dead or alive. It’s not our home. It’s only the workshop. In a remarkable speech, Jesus tells His disciples, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:2-3). Jesus didn’t ascend to prepare heaven for our disembodied souls to find repose. He went to heaven to build a mansion, a whole new place, for us to live in once He returns at the end of time. Truly, the One who ascended will be the One who descends. Then, raising the dead and enacting the final judgment, He will give this new mansion, this new city, to His beloved people. He will raise them into everlasting bodies and give them an everlasting playground. Can any of us fathom what will it be like? “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). Heaven will come down to earth with Christ. So will the dead Christians (1 Ths 4:14). All who are given the gift of Christ’s resurrection body will live in that amazing, earthly place. A resplendent, bride-like people will live in their resplendent, bride-like home.

How can one not celebrate this festival? The ascended Christ is busy not only interceding for me in heaven and equipping me here on earth to live a Spirit-led life of witness - He is busy preparing my dream home for an endless day of joy. That, I think, is plenty reason to party it up on Ascension Day.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Top Ten Denmark Memories

Last week the three of us headed over to the land of my uncle and aunt. It's worth sharing.

10) Playing with solar mirrors. My uncle John will someday either rule the world or save the world or destroy the world through his inventions – we don’t know which. In any case, we had fun discussing his various ideas, including improvements in solar heating with mirrors. He showed me how overlapping ten “suns” would burn a hole through my chest. Okay, maybe not, but things got hot quick.

9) Walking the canals of Copenhagen. The city, we found, was laid out very nicely with plenty of shops, restaurants and museums to keep anyone busy. A nice touch was the canal system crossing through part of Copenhagen, on which people take boat rides or (for sinister kicks) throw in cheap bikes.

8) Watching and discussing Adam’s Aebler. Take one part Tarantino, one part existential Christianity, one part Medieval morality play, submerge it in Danish lager, and you have the movie “Adam’s Apples.” We really liked its quirky inversion of the Garden of Eden and the book of Job in order to explore the relationship of faith and reason, ethics and knowledge.

7) Deciphering all the imagery in Roskilde Cathedral. The churches in Denmark have a long history, and have been state sponsored for centuries now, creating a bizarre, well moneyed amalgamation of religious and civic imagery. The cathedral in Roskilde felt most overwhelming with its towering ceilings, ornate (largely Roman Catholic influenced) art, housing dozens of burial sites of powerful kings and clergymen. Christina and I had a fun time figuring out the wood carvings of the Christian history of salvation, Genesis to Revelation.

6) The ceiling art in Tuse Church. Even more impressive to us was the humble country church in Tuse. Dating back to the late medieval period, this building still bears ancient apocalyptic artwork on its ceilings. I (Nathan) couldn’t stop blathering on about the place of the resurrection of the body and the Last Judgment for the historical Christian consciousness. Eventually a woman with a group of bored-to-death confirmands kicked us out.

5) Wandering the dungeons of Elsinore Castle. Remember? The castle from Hamlet. The upper chambers are impressive, no doubt, but the underground barracks/storage/prison area made the mind run wild.

3T) Throwing A.J. around. I hadn’t met either of my cousins, each of whom were born in the last decade. The younger, A.J., decided I was prime material for a jungle gym. We had a blast monkeying about, and managed to get in trouble at Elsinore for playing tag in the ballroom.

3T) Watching Alex entertain Z. Alex, the elder, had not only a wonderful goofy side, but also a real brotherly affection for Lazarus. He whipped up all sorts of song and dance, and could be found pushing Z around, giving him tours of little parts of Denmark.

2) The Viking Ship Museum. All of us enjoyed going to a museum enshrining five authentic Viking ships dredged up from a local fjord. I wish we Americans had manly, pillaging ancestors like that.

1) Eating one of the most praiseworthy slabs of beef on Earth. I’m not sure who sold a soul for this beef loin, but we were served by my aunt and uncle one of the finest meals possible. With a red wine and garlic sauce drenching the whole thing we were falling over ourselves for more helpings. In fact, we ate like kings and queens from breakfast to dinner every day. Museums? Churches? Kirkegaard birthplace? Bah. Bring out the cuisine and catch up on old times. That tops all.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Half a Decade

Thanks to everyone who remembered our anniversary! Yes, we've been married for five years, as of April 12. Half a decade seems like a long time, but it's flown by with much fun, excitement and happiness. We had a great anniversary date when some good friends from church babysat Z and we went to a Josh Ritter concert. It was a small venue with a very enthusiastic audience. Ritter obviously was enjoying himself and was very appreciative of the crowd. We had a terrific time. Below you'll find one of our favorite songs from his new album. The song's called "The Temptation of Adam." By the way, for you Lawrence folks, Ritter will be playing at the Granada on May 11. It's a great show!

Monday, 14 April 2008

A Night at Barony Castle, Borders

South of Edinburgh, the land straddling Scotland and England, appropriately is called the Borders. We headed there last week to explore some of the area and stay a night at the Barony Castle (pictured above). Christina and I agreed that it was the first excursion we had had where we genuinely felt relaxed. The castle was impressive, but not so much as its setting, 25 acres of woodland surrounded by pastureland as far as the eye could see. It even had a waterfall and a ropes course! And Eddleston, the quaint town at the foot of the hill, looked like the perfect place to read books all day. If you're an Eddlestonian in Peeblesshire and need a house-sitter for a month or three this summer, and are reading this blog, PLEASE contact us.

The trip also proved revealing of Christina's inner girlygirl. Being early April, lambing season had commenced, and so dozens of baby sheep were busy playing in the meadows. Every thirty seconds - I kid you not - Dr Hitchcock squealed, "How cuuuuute!" "Oh! Look at the babies!" "Soooooo cuuuuuuute! Soooooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuute!" She couldn't stop herself from exclaiming - and I couldn't stop laughing.

(pic. 1a. These newborns had figured out the game King of the Hill)

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Craigmillar Castle

On Thursday we took the day off to go see Craigmillar Castle. We had tried to see this particular castle about a month ago, but got on the wrong bus and therefore ended up on the wrong side of town. Fortunately, we found the Pentlands that day, which is a great place for hiking. But this time we decided to find Craigmillar.

The castle was built in the 15th century and was a favorite residence of Mary Queen of Scots. This castle is quite different than Edinburgh Castle in that it is quite cosy and homey, as far as castles go. It's clear it was meant to be lived in, not just defended.

When we got to the castle, we roamed around the grounds first, and ended up in the middle of bushes, thorns and trees, with no way out except over a wall or back the way we came. Some of you may not know this, but Nathan always refuses to "go back the way we came" and so we always have to find a different way. This time, it meant scaling the wall. First, he helped me over and down, then handed me Z, then handed over the stroller, and then climbed over himself. Sigh . . . the attractions of a hunky husband! We ended up on the side of a fairly busy road with no sidewalk, but managed to get back to the castle without further mishap.

Here's a few pics from the day.

Monday, 24 March 2008

And the Winner is . . .

Our good friend Susannah! After several hints, Susannah correctly guessed the movie: Nell, starring Jodie Foster. Nell is a backwoods woman raised entirely alone except for her mother and twin sister. Her mother had a stroke and therefore speaks slurred English, and Nell and her sister developed some kind of twin-speak. As a result, Nell speaks a very odd version of English. One of her signature lines in the movie is "Tay in the win'!" (tree in the wind), which she says as she sways back and forth with her hands in the air.

For you Genevans out there, I (Christina) went to see this movie with a bunch of friends, including Brian Kelly. I just remember that for the rest of semester, whenever I'd see Brian across campus, he'd drop his books, wave his arms in the air, and wail at the top of his lungs, "Tay in the win'! Tay in the win'!" Very funny.

Nathan and I saw the movie a couple of years ago, and for the next several months Nathan would spontaneously wave his arms in the air and yell, "Tay in the win'!" It's still funny after all these years.

(By the way, the picture at the top is of Nell, not Susannah!)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A Getaway to Perth

With limited resources but flexible time, we've tried to keep an eye out for specials online, trying to snag cheap accommodation. It hasn't worked so well, but last week we found a very reasonable hotel which offered a big room, a four-course dinner and scottish breakfast for a low, low rate. But in Perth. Perth? Like Australia? We hadn't heard of the town, but as it turned out, the town was beautiful and a wonderful place to do some r+r. Aside from a very adequate range of restaurants and shops, Perth boasted some impressive castles and hiking trails near the River Tay, the largest river in Scotland. Below are some of the highlights of the excursion.

Alright movie buffs: What movie is Christina parodying in the last picture? The prize involves immortal fame on our blog, and maybe something Scottish if we remember to bring it home in August.