UK Tour? I don’t think I heard you right…?


At the Scottish border. They say that piper has been there for 50 years! Eccentric or smart? You decide.

Great Scotland Yard! That’s a phrase my kids are familiar with around here. I usually say it when a shelf crashes down or my car has rolled out of the driveway. But it resonated off the walls in May of 2107 when my parents invited me to “help” them on their journey with 2 grandchildren on a “Kilts and Castles” tour of the United Kingdom. Uh, what? In .25 seconds I was in line at the passport office.

Have you ever heard heaven chuckle? I have. The summer of 2017 was supposed to be vacation-less. I had given up on trying to corral my young adults, teenagers, and devoted businessman into the same location at the same time on a trip they all would feel enthusiastic about. You would need the intelligence and ferocity of a border collie for that job and I only have a cockapoo. Oliver

So irony of ironies, this summer I would travel farther and longer from home than I ever had before.

I did a little research, ordered pre-loaded Oyster cards, downloaded CityMapper, and watched a YouTube video on packing a suitcase. (Yes, I did.) Ok. I did a little more prep than that. But I’ll sprinkle all the things I discovered about what worked and what didn’t throughout this little travelogue. On July 31st, I packed my suitcase for real and headed to my parents’ home. 20170730_154929

For a girl whose biggest drive is usually up and down the 99, navigating the trip to San Fransisco was an adventure in itself. But we made it.  Dad opted to pay for long-term parking at Anzac. They are cheerful and helpful folks. We were shuttled over to the airport with fabulous efficiency.

Everything worked smoothly…until security. The instant we were in the line, tensions ratcheted up. Maybe it is part of the plan. After all, if personnel look angry and serious, a terrorist might just change their minds. Right? Anyhow, the homeland security dog was amusing. Nothing seemed to arouse suspicion although I felt sorry for the poor man whose derriere the dog decided he must investigate.

At the scanning stations, I was surprised that my nieces and I passed right through. We had to wait a little while my parents were patted down, scanned, and wanded. Eventually, we were all reunited. Come to think of it, airport security is probably the only time you will ever see a line of ladies waiting for their men to finish dressing. I should have snapped a picture.


Dad looks like HE’S the one who got the accidental kale salad.

When we were all through, we could relax again. We found our gate and then the nearest spot to grab a late lunch. My food was delicious. Mom got more greens than she bargained for with a kale-infused Caesar salad. But it was good for her.

The next adventure would be the flight.


The Bethlehem Candle

On the second Sunday of Advent the second candle of five is lit. In many churches, this is considered the Bethlehem candle. We remember that long before Jesus Christ was born, the humble town of Bethlehem was promised to be the birthplace of a great king–in fact, the King of Kings.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

All you need to start your own family’s celebration is five candles (some people do four). It’s really that simple. How you arrange the candles or decorate them is entirely up to you. Our family’s advent “wreath” has changed over the years but has always been some kind of grouping of the five candles, usually in a circle. Before kids, we used tapers but later with toddlers around votive candles seemed a MUCH better idea.

After years of having the candles in circle formation, I found a darling candle holder at a shop which has five votive holders in line formation which takes up less table space. This year I have flameless candles, which I like because I can “burn” them all evening.

So the basic idea is to light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. On the first Sunday you would have one candle burning. The second Sunday two of the five would be burning and so forth. The fifth candle is for Christmas Eve, which we like to light after Christmas Eve service. In the days after Christmas, it is fun to have all five burning at the same time.

You may notice that many candles especially marketed for Advent are purple and pink. Those colors originated in order to match the vestments of Roman Catholic priests during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Don’t stress about the color, though. The main thing is to remember different parts of the Christmas story as the day approaches.

Hopefully, your church will have a list of Advent Scripture readings that you can refer to as the days go by.

Did you miss a week? Or even more? Don’t worry. Just grab some candles and go!


In All Things….We Can Be Thankful

“The way to be thankful in all circumstances is to be thankful for what God is doing ABOVE all circumstances….

…..sanctifying us, bringing us to Himself blameless and with great joy.”

Sermon Quote, Wil Owens

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

“A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it.”
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22.