Tomorrow we leave for Scotland! After two years of planning, it seems strange that this trip is actually going to take place!
I began describing our connection to Scotland in The Scotland Connection Part 1. I thought I would finish up that story briefly here before we leave.
After our first trip to Scotland on a history tour we went back to our regular lives. However, a tiny spark of romance had been growing ever so slowly between Michael and me while in Scotland and before a year was up we were engaged to be married.
After our marriage we headed to Pittsburgh for seminary and once Michael graduated we were looking for the best place for him to go for his Ph.D. That place turned out to be Scotland!
Here is the picture of us in the airport on our moving to Scotland day, September 16, 2001, just a few days after 9/11.
For over four years we made our home in Airdrie in this wee little house:
We made some amazing memories. We lived without a car and learned to walk everywhere and take public transport. We met wonderful friends and learned all about Scottish culture.
Rachel met friends her age immediately and each year on her birthday we would take a picture of these three girls together. This year they all turn 13. We can't wait to take a picture of them together while we are over!
Scotland is a land of immense natural beauty:
Scotland is also where Andrew and James were born, at home, with Scottish midwives as part of the National Health Service. The midwives were amazing!
Our church started a Mothers and Toddlers group and we made more friends this way.
Lots of friends came to see us and this gave us a chance to visit beautiful places:
Taking tea at the Willow Tearoom in Glasgow:
Our years in Scotland hold some of the sweetest memories we have and yet they also contained some of the hardest years of our lives. My health was so poor while we were there and almost an entire year spent on the couch, pregnant, with two tiny children and no family nearby was difficult. Oh how I rejoice that my health has improved!
My sister, Emily, managed to visit three times and you can imagine what a relief to pick her up at the airport and have her help us for the summer! We also got to travel a bit and see more beautiful things.
Meeting "Auntie Helen" was one of the highlights of our life in Scotland. Our visits to her home where she played with the children and served us tea and shared food magazines and love for the royal family helped to make Scotland a home away from home for us. The hardest thing about our visit to Scotland will be not having Helen there to welcome us. However, I have kept in touch with her sister all these years and we have plans to meet in person!
We all can't wait to drink tea with Scottish water. It will be so good!
And of course there are a million other friends who made our time in Scotland so special. We can't wait to see them!!!
Many friends, like Jimmy, are no longer with us, but we will think of them and remember.
And we can't wait to see Sam and May. Sam made a point to take us out in his car and make sure we got to enjoy the Scottish countryside and the lovely stately homes and castles. May made sure I had easy recipes to cook, hand-knitted sweaters for the children, and a welcome cup of tea or lunch whenever I wanted. We can't wait for James Samuel to meet his namesake and have his own memories of these dear friends.
I had every blackberry bush in Airdrie written on a map in my mind and each fall we went to gather all that we could. Everyone loves blackberries. In fact, it was James' first outing as a baby. I'm so glad we are going back during blackberry season!
And I can't wait to visit my friends at the local shops, and to eat the delicious Scottish food!
And so, thanks to an amazing grant for pastors by the Lilly Endowment Fund, we are headed back for another chapter in the "Scottish Connection". Every time I think of the miracle that this is for our family I feel like crying. This is a long-time dream come true!
I'm afraid I'm going to take a blog break while we are gone. I will post some pictures to Facebook and it is my intention to share everything with you on the blog when we return. If we aren't friends on Facebook, you can "like" my Felted Flower Shop page and I will make sure photos are accessible through that.
See you in October!