Saturday, December 19, 2009

It is my heart's deepest desire that I may truly understand the love my God has for me and communicate it to the world. May you also begin to understand who is this God of Love.


This will be my last post about our time in England. First, because London was the last place we visited! Second, because though I want to have a source of remembering the wonderful time we had there, I also want to direct my focus to more worthy subjects. Perhaps it's the time of year... perhaps my deep desire to do something worthwhile in life. I just want every moment of my life to count for something--and that includes this blog.

But for now, we'll finish remembering England...

We left Stevenage Friday morning for London. By the time we found our hotel, dropped off our luggage and decided a general direction to head, it was already after 11:00am. But we managed to fit quite a few things into that short time frame.

We first took a rather long train ride (like the metro in D.C.) to the Imperial War Museum. Most of the week was spent doing things I enjoyed... so I wanted Matthew to see something he would enjoy. Plus, it was free! ;) We spend quite some time there and it was amazing to see huge, ancient tanks, missiles and cannons, a replica of a WWI trench (it was dark and crowded; very realistic), the eagle that Hitler had placed above his headquarters (what a piece of history!), a display on spies throughout the years, and so much more. Of course, I think my dad and brother were much more interested than I was. But I still enjoyed seeing everything.

We really had no plans after that, so we started walking towards the Thames River, which was near many interesting sites. I was wanting to see the Churchill Museum and War Cabinets. I recently read a book called "The Spirit of Churchill" by Debbie Brezina that sparked my interest in the man who inspired a single nation to stand alone against Hitler and Nazi Germany. His strength, wisdom, insight and courage were astounding. The author emphasized many of the small events in his life... and how they eventually shaped him into the man he became. I hope that I allow the small events in my life to shape me into the person God wants me to be. Whether I become a player on the world stage or just in my own home, I want to be known as a person of strength and conviction--as Churchill was.

Anyway, all that to say, we did not see the Churchill Museum. :-) Though I wanted to, we did some other things instead. When we reached the Thames River, we saw the London Eye--the world's largest ferris wheel! I had heard of it from a friend and, of course, Matthew wanted to ride it from the moment he heard of it. I wasn't that interested (the height made me feel sick when I was still on the ground!) so while my dad and Matthew rode the Eye, I went to...

Westminster Abbey!

Of course, that was absolutely amazing. When I walked in, I literally took a step back. I had no idea where to even look first... a case of sensory overload, for sure. Many people think I am morbid because I enjoy walking through cemeteries and looking at graves. But the reason I like to do so is to see the history in such places and remember the significance of those men and women who shaped history.

Parts of the Abbey were built in the 13th century... that was amazing to see. I also was in awe of seeing where men such as John Newton, David Livingstone, George Friedrich Handel, Geoffrey Chaucer and others were buried. Unfortunately, the area where William Wilberforce is buried was closed by the time I reached that part of the church. But it was still a wonderful experience. I was especially moved by reading some of the engravings on various tombs. Some were merely monuments to power and prestige (mostly kings and queens). The ones that were most inspiring, though, were the epitaphs to unknown men or women who were honored for loving their Lord. There were a few that almost took my breathe away--things I want desperately to be said of me when my time comes. It was a wonderful reminder of how and why we should live our lives--for God and for others. Those are the lives that truly matter.

Once I was done with the Abbey, I met the guys in the gift shop (where they'd been waiting quite awhile). We bought a few gifts and souveneirs and then headed to Trafalger Square. I still do not quite understand the significance of that location... I'll have to look it up soon. We then saw the Royal Art Gallery was close by and... free! (We like free things). :-) So we went. That was an absolutely astounding experience. We saw original paintings by Rembrandt and da Vinci... paintings hundreds of years old that were still looked as bright as they must have looked when they were first painted. I couldn't fathom that they are truly that old; they have been wonderfully preserved. We also saw paintings by Monet, van Gogh, Picasso and so many more. I have a few new artists that I'm interested in as well. Next to Westminster Abbey, I think the Royal Gallery was the most excited part of London.

Well, by the time we finished touring the Gallery, we had been touring London for eight hours, with only PB&J to tide us over. Matthew was extremely bored looking at paintings, as well as hungry, so we headed out to find food.

We hopped back on the train and stopped at Piccadilly Circus (which seems to be London's equivalent to Times Square). It was very busy and high-end. We walked around for a little while, but didn't find much to eat in a reasonable price range. So we got back on the train to find something else.

We ended up eating cornish pasty's at a little restaurant in the train station. We had heard about them, but didn't eat one until our last night. I wish we had tried them earlier... I would have eaten one every day! I have been craving one ever since. :-) Cornish pasty's are basically like a hand held potpie. We learned the history of them--they originated in Cornwall, a mining town on the coast of England. The miners, who continually had dirty hands, ate them since they could hold the part where the pastry was folded over and eat the rest without getting it dirty. Anyway, I always love learning the history of things--though I feel certain Matthew only cared about the eating!

Well, there is the end of our trip to England! It was a fun and enjoyable trip... we learned a lot; it was certainly a new experience. But as much as I loved our trip, I was also glad to come home. The United States of America is a beautiful place to live and I'm so glad to be a citizen of this great country.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Windsor. Wow. What an experience!

Living in the U.S. my whole life, I had never seen a castle before (they’re rather scarce in the Midwest) and I was not prepared for its immense size! I always assumed, in theory, that castles would be big. But this castle went on and on and on… covering several acres of land; and we did not even see the whole of it!

To gaze at walls built 600-700 years ago by ancient kings and queens that I’ve read and studied over the years—well, it was quite amazing. In so many ways, pictures can speak so much better than I can. But I will try to give you an idea of my feelings as I walked through this historic castle that is still home to the Queen of England.

Matthew and I walked for quite a ways outside the castle, listening to a self-guided audio tour that came with our admission. We learned that Windsor was originally built to be a fortress, which seems obvious when you look around! It is situated on the highest point of land and provides breath-taking views of the entire landscape. In the middle, there is a great, round tower that rises much higher than rest of the castle. When you look at it, you can imagine ancient soldiers defending King and country from any forces that may have come against it.

Of course, I took millions of pictures (or close to it!) outside of the castle. However, once we went inside, pictures were not allowed, so I purchased a guide book to help me remember all I had seen. But for any who may read this and for my own memory’s sake, I will try to describe what we saw.

We started with Queen Mary’s Doll House, a beautiful house that was never intended to be used by children, but was given to Queen Mary in 1924 by a relative. The house was about twice as tall as Matthew and I and I immediately thought how Tiffany would love to play with something like that. The details were exact, with linen closets, an ‘electric vacuum,’ (apparently the latest and greatest in the ‘20s), sewing machines, and of course, furniture, people, and much more. The house also has working electricity and plumbing! Wouldn’t you love a dollhouse where you could actually turn lights on and off and give your dolls a bath in?

My favorite part of the entire castle came shortly after we saw the Doll House and entered the Grand Staircase. You walk up a flight of red carpeted stairs, flanked on either side by statues of knights on glorious horses. The ceiling stretches at least 30 feet up and is covered by ornate carvings in the wood and stone as well as arrangements of swords and armor for decoration. It is magnificent to see and perhaps just as thrilling was the thought that the Queen herself climbs those stairs during State occasions to receive visitors… and many other monarchs before her have done the same.

After that came room after room of ornate furniture, beautiful old paintings and highly decorated ceilings. We saw the Guard Chamber, where the walls were adorned with old pistols, swords and other weapons in decorative fashions. There were several cases of ‘display’ swords, including one with a handle covered entirely by sapphires. The room also featured statues of several of Britain’s defenders, including Admiral Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill.

Then I entered St. George’s Hall. I had a hard time at first determining whether I preferred it or the Grand Staircase. Though I decided on the staircase in the end, it does not diminish the beauty of St. George’s Hall. The Hall seems to stretch forever and is where the Queen holds banquets, seating hundreds of people at one very long table. The Hall is covered in red and gold, which gives it a majestic appearance. Its walls and the ceiling are covered in small shields featuring the coat of arms for each Knight of the Order of the Garter. (I did not quite understand the Order, but it was certainly interesting to see how many knights must have belonged to it over the years)!

I could go on and on and on, about the room full of china sets used by the Royal Family over the years, one huge room dedicated to gifts given the Royal Families (including a solid gold tiger’s head with crystal eyes and teeth), the magnificent paintings of all the kings and queens, their families, important political figures and such, the room of intricate centerpieces and chandeliers covered in gold, the throne room (decorated completely in blue) and so much more. But the things I have mentioned were the highlights (at least for me!) and I want to ensure I have accurate descriptions with which to remember the experience by.

There are two other things that I want to describe in great detail; the Drawings Gallery and St. George’s Chapel, but they will have to wait for the next post!

(And pictures may be added to this post at a later time).

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Well, determined as I was to keep my posts in chronological order, I have to skip the last few days (temporarily) and say it: WE ARE HOME!!! Not home to Colorado quite yet. We'll be flying out of Chicago to Denver later this afternoon. By home, I mean my beautiful country, the United States of America.

When we landed in Chicago last night, I immediately felt such contentment and happiness to belong to this wonderful country. Britain was outstanding and an amazing experience, but nothing can compare to the U.S. Even with all our problems, economic, political and otherwise... no place will ever come close to the glory of this land.

I hope I always remember my feelings when we landed back home--and always keep in my how blessed we are. God bless America!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


St. John's College in Cambridge

We were in Cambridge two days ago, on Tuesday. I would have posted then, but had no internet access. Now I do, so the posting may begin!

We started out when Mr. Barry Hack picked us up. He is working with my dad (or my dad is working with him... they keep arguing about which it is) while we're over here. He is a great person and so funny to listen to. He talks about many interesting topics... I may have to dedicate a post to all the fascinating and hilarious conversations I've listened to over the last few days.

Anyway, the reason I mention the beginning of our day was because it started with us running late. We were stuck in traffic when my dad and Mr. Hack were supposed to be in Cambridge for a meeting. So what do we do? Stop for coffee, of course! Not just a quick drive through McDonald's or Starbucks though... no, we go inside, order something to drink and sit for half an hour! It was my first experience with what is obviously a different attitude towards work over here!

Boats on the river!

Once we finally got to Cambridge, Matthew and I walked from the offices we arrived at to the downtown area of Cambridge. Once we found our way (it took awhile, what with detours to a shopping mall and a museum and such), we finally were able to see the beautiful, ancient colleges of Cambridge. Apparently there are 31 colleges that comprise Cambridge University. We only saw a few, but they were all remarkable.

St. John's College (again!)

I could talk (type?) forever about all saw and did, but here is a brief summary. We started at Corpus Christi College, where we were yelled at by a not-so-nice gentlemen for 'goofing off' (we weren't), took a million pictures of King's College Chapel, walked through the lesser known Clare's College and saw some of the best landscaping, climbed 123 stairs to the top of the Great St. Mary's Chapel, saw the Christopher Wren Library from a distance (SO sad I couldn't see it up close!), walked by many more beautiful colleges, visited the Christian Heritage Tours of Cambridge in the Round Church and saw and learned so much amazing history!

Matthew in the courtyard of Corpus Christi College.

Of all I learned, one of the most remarkable was discovering how old these building actually are. For example, Great St. Mary's steeple (that would be one of the LAST things to be built) was started in 1491. Henry VI started the building of King’s College Chapel which was eventually finished by Henry VIII. And the historic section of Cambridge was finished around 1600… around the time America was just getting started! Isn’t it amazing?

King's College Chapel from the top of Great St. Mary's

You have to look at this one sideways. These are the ropes to pull the bells in Great St. Mary's Cathedral. As we headed up the stairs, Matthew asked "Did they hang people in here?"

All of us on top of Great St. Mary's Church.

Heading down the stairs from the top of Great St. Mary's

Beautiful landscaping (for December) inside Clare's College.

Another view of St. John's College (and my dad!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK

Here we are in Stevenage, UK! So far we’ve only walked around Stevenage—and there isn’t a whole lot to see here. (In fact, when we went to the Stevenage Museum and asked what else we should see, the two ladies looked at each other and said “This is about it!”) We did see “Six Hills,” which is quite literally six mounds where ancient Romans and Britons are buried. It was rather strange to see them and think 1) there are people buried there and 2) they have been buried there for over a thousand years!

However, we are still having a great time, especially noting several (rather random)things that are just a little bit different than they are in the United States. Here are a few…

1. Moss grows everywhere! The roofs are covered with it.

2. Lights switches must be flipped the other way to turn on!

3. Of course, cars drive on the wrong side of the road. Which isn’t as odd as I thought it would be—unless you’re crossing a street! Then you have to make sure you’re looking for traffic coming from the right direction.

4. Matthew thinks it’s hilarious that you have to ask for the “toilets” instead of the restroom/bathroom. On that note… the bathrooms are horribly small here.

5. There are no traffic lights! Only very confusing round-a-bouts. That’s another thing to look out for when you cross the street. Instead of looking ‘both ways,’ you almost end up turning in a circle to check all the directions traffic is coming from!

6. Matthew also points out that they “talk weird” here. Which was to be expected. ;)

7. The electric outlets are different. I have to use my dad’s adaptor to charge all my electronics.

8. I saw sheep! In a field that is. Do you know, I realized upon seeing those sheep that I’ve never seen sheep outside of a zoo. Rather sad…

9. We passed a sign on the road that read “Motor Regulations End Here.” Which is rather scary to think about… there are also places with no speed limits.

10. Stevenage is a “new town,” meaning it was built after WWII. It also means that roads were designed with no traffic lights and cars, bicyclists and pedestrians all have their own road/path. And they are designed to never (or seldom) intersect. All the walking paths go under the road instead of crossing it.

11. Just about everyone looks SO proper here—even the little kids are dressed very nicely. I can’t imagine Tiffany (who is 10) ever dressing as nice as the little kids I saw at McDonalds! Of course, that might be more indicative of a laid back Midwestern life rather than an American trait… but still, it was interesting to see. :)

12. Apparently they don’t believe in ice here. At least, I have yet to get any in any of my drinks.

It’s funny… I remember thinking everything was a little different when we first got here, but they are all such small things that I can’t remember what they all are! I’m sure I will think of more eventually and when I do, I’ll be sure to make note of them!

Tomorrow we head to Cambridge for the day! We plan to follow a walking tour route we found online and see the sights listed on it. It also came with 18 pages of historical information, so we’ll learn as we go. (Just don’t tell Matthew!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Heading to London!!!

The day has finally arrived and Matthew (my 13 year old brother) and I are heading to the UK for a week! If possible, I intend to update my blog more frequently while I'm gone, both so my friends can keep up with me and so I may have a good account of our trip when we return!

I expected packing to be a rather bigger deal than previous trips I have made since we are going overseas. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I did not need much additional time. In fact, I began packing much too early and ended up sitting around wondering if I was forgetting something! Matthew took a little longer to get everything together (I'm still not sure if he has his toothbrush!) but we are almost ready to go!

Here is what our travel schedule looks like:

Leave Granby, CO no later than 10:00am.
Arrive in Denver around noon.
Get lunch with our family.
Fly out of Denver around 2:40pm.
Arrive in Chicago sometime after 6:00pm.
Meet my dad in Chicago and board a plane to London after 10:00pm tonight!

So that is the plan. It will be Matthew's first flight in years and the first Trans-Atlantic flight for both of us. We are mildly excited... ;) (Actually, Matthew said he didn't sleep much last night, he was so excited. I suppose that's a little more than 'mildly').

Well, I suppose I should finish getting ready to go! Next update will probably come from another country!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pajama School Interview!

I am excited to let you all know that I recently completed an interview with Pajama School Blog.

And while you are there, be sure to check out Natalie's book! It's an excellent read for anyone!

Amazingly, Generation Joshua (whom I mentioned a few times in the interview) already found it and posted a link on their website as well!

It's so neat to see how quickly word can spread!

Anyway, I hope you take time to stop by Natalie's blog and enjoy reading the interview!