it’s nearly here 🍂

The sun is no longer rising at 4:30am. Sunset happens before 9pm. I stepped out of the office to grab a coffee and see the bright blue sky, but was greeted by the beginnings of a chill. Almost crisp.

It feels like meeting Scotland for the first time again. Autumn had only just begun when I stepped off the train in Glasgow Central Station.

🕷

Rowan trees are laden with berries that are begging to be turned into a jam, infused with rosemary.

In the evenings, we are starting to draw the curtains as we hear the radiators creaking.

And we occasionally go into a blind panic as the largest house spiders we’ve ever seen keep making their presence known. To be honest, it’s taking effort to keep the spiders from taking the shine off of the best time of year.

A year ago today, we arrived back in the U.K. I hope we are a year closer to making it our permanent home.

🧶It’s been a while, but I’ve finally finished a new knitting project! Will be needing this a lot during days in the classroom as it’s always freezing there.

working on park benches 🏞

My back is aching a bit right now because I sat with a notebook on my lap, studying for a sermon I’m preaching at another church in a couple of weeks. The whole working-in-a-beautiful-place thing is really good but I think I need to remember to bring a small towel with me to dry off picnic tables. As nice as it was to spend time with the above view, it’s possibly the least ergonomic setup that I willingly use.

Also, I do enjoy handwriting the passage to then mark up and make observations. Writing out a complete passage helps me start to internalise the passage and to think slowly about it.

As I walked out one midsummer morning - reflections

Finished reading: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Penguin Modern Classics)(https://micro.blog/books/9780241953280) by Laurie Lee 📚

What is there to say about this absolutely gorgeous book?

I first learned about it from watching Alistair Humphrey’s My Midsummer Morning. On that adventure, he followed in Laurie Lee’s footsteps by busking his way across Spain for a month. Mind you, Alistair had the added challenge of being unable to play the violin six months before his journey began.

Before this book, I found myself in a bit of a reading slump. Reading had become merely something that was done for work and study. It was a means of getting information. Part of this is because a novel I had been trying to read just proved to be an impossible slog that wasn’t worth it. Then, I learned about this book and also noticed that it’s quite short. It’s generally true but it’s written as a novel and I found myself swept away from the moment Laurie Lee left the village in the Cotswolds where he grew up.

For a book that is, primarily, about a journey across Spain, there is a lot of England here. The book covers about two years of life and half of that is actually in England.

As I read, it made me want to go on an adventure. Not one that is so grand, I have a family to look after whereas he was only 19 when he set off, but one nonetheless. It’s a book that makes you want to get outdoors. We are hoping to do a hiking holiday next summer. We’re even wondering if that is what we end up doing with our family holidays. Putting ourselves in situations where we’ll be able to go for a ramble, a wild swim in a cold loch. While the book was set in Spain, it has made me crave the landscape here in Britain. I can imagine only ever needing to explore around here on this small group of islands.

Friday Night Focaccia

Focaccia, with rosemary and grana padano

A constant for some time now has been baking bread. I go through phases of what I prefer to bake but it is generally some variety of bread.

When I finally got a Dutch oven, I got heavily back into sourdough. It’s a craft that I just cannot seem to get my brain wrapped around. Because of that, it’s a true necessity for me but one that I indulge in as an experiment rather than actually trying to do something for my family.

When it comes to baking for my family, it’s impossible to do better than making a focaccia. Not quite pizza but not an ordinary loaf of bread. A bubbly, airy and tender crumb that is almost dripping with the citrusy, Spanish olive oil I’ve come to prefer. A scattering of herbs, usually rosemary. Flaky salt. Occasionally cheese, occasionally cherry tomatoes.

It always does the job and it’s always amazing. Oh yeah, and it’s also barely any effort. Five minutes of kneading in the bowl because it’s almost equal parts water and plain flour. Leave it an hour. Put it in a pan and try to get it to stretch out a bit. Leave it 20 minutes. Make a bunch of dimples and add more olive oil. Sprinkle things on and throw it in the oven for 20 minutes and it’s job done.

It’s the perfect bread to start the weekend.

I love my local library

When we lived in Poland, one of my big struggles was being able to find books to read. I didn’t learn enough Polish to even read a children’s book, just enough to be able to have polite interactions in shops and to be able to lead sung worship in both English and Polish (po Angielsku i po Polsku). And, I didn’t want to buy a bunch of books because we would only be there a year. 1

One thing we were grateful for was that the local library did have a small selection of books for both kids and adults in English. And we made as much use of that place as we could.

Now that we’re back in the U.K. I’ve finally been able to take advantage of a library where I at least know the language that the books are in. Particularly as I try to be responsible with buying books (there are so many books to read and only so much money), being able to support an institution that is there to help people who have no access to buying books is a privilege.

What’s been so nice, though, is two things:

1. They learned who I was really quickly

I’ve popped into the library fairly regularly since finally getting my card. But I was only there for my second visit when they knew who I was. Life in a big city brings with it an anonymity similar to what you’d find online. But here, in a small town, everyone knows everyone.

For some, that’s considered a downside. As a newcomer to this place, it’s a welcome break from always being a stranger.

2. They always have what I need, sort of

Something that I always failed to take advantage of in the past was the simple fact that libraries tend to be a part of a network. A small, community library like this will only have so much space and so much budget. They have to cater to what people tend to look for when they are a certain age and want to read a book. That means the vast majority of the books are detective and crime dramas.

But, because ministry books are quite taxing to read, I’ve been trying to make an effort to keep some aspect of reading as a leisure activity. Something that is fun and relaxing. Lately, that’s meant reading people like Roger Deakin and Laurie Lee, Robert Macfarlane and Nan Shepherd. Those books are rarely available at my library, but they’re usually somewhere in the network.

That’s meant that I’ve been able to indulge in all these books, books that I can’t afford to buy right now, for free. Sure, I may have to wait a couple of days before I can read them but I’m reading other books in the meantime.

also…

Whenever I pop in, there’s a group of toddlers and their mums at a small playgroup singing songs. We used to help out with a group like that when we lived in Liverpool. It’s a nice little hit of nostalgia as I pack my books away into my backpack before cycling away.

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  1. I still did buy too many from the secondhand, English bookshop on Puławksa. [return]

a familiar shape, or what’s that doing here?

I spent my childhood running around the valleys of Arizona, able to see mountains in what felt like every direction. Along with mountains, though, were saguaro. Trees have a hard time with the desert there and so in memory, they were entirely replaced with the sight of these cacti that reached all the way up to the heavens.

Besides their height, however, what I remember most vividly was the way their arms grew up. There was no energy wasted on growing out before curving up. No, they started to reach for the sky as soon as you noticed there was an arm there at all.

So it was with a huge amount of surprise that I saw this tree in Ayrshire. It was such a familiar shape and yet, it is a wholly different thing altogether. My education in trees here in Great Britain is still in its early stages (I’m still reading Roger Deakin’s amazing book, Wildwood1). In recent weeks I’ve learned to confidently identify rowan, common lime, hawthorn.

But this tree, the one in the photo, brought on a strange nostalgia. It was like seeing an old acquaintance and wondering how both of us had got so old but knowing that beyond a memory, there just isn’t a true connection there anymore. It’s been over 20 years since a saguaro was a common sight for me. In that time, I’ve grown up. I got married, I had kids and we moved across an ocean to a place that feels more like home than anywhere I could imagine.

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  1. Not an affiliate link, this is just where I happened to buy my copy and Athena has a bunch of great resources to check out. [return]

the surprising usefulness of lacklustre tools

scheduleAugust 27, 2021

A bicycle, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the great troubles of becoming the kind of person who tinkers with things or tries to figure out what the best tool for the job is the resulting, endless search for the perfect tool for the job.

It’s something that makes perfect, logical sense. If there’s a job that needs doing, then it makes sense to use the best possible tool. The trouble, however, is that the perfect tool tends to be the one that you don’t have. It’s a bit lighter or it has slightly higher specs.

This sort of thing has really shown itself to me when it comes to cycling. The bike that I am currently riding is not set up well for the environment in which I ride it. There are rolling hills and long steady climbs. It’s got 26-inch wheels because it’s a repurposed mountain bike. The gearing doesn’t feel logical for the kind of riding that I do.

But it’s the only bike that I have and it’s a bike that took me to the ocean and back. I climbed over 1500 metres with it. I got to see the beautiful west of Scotland. I got to experience the joy of travelling in a magical landscape at a human pace.

And I did it with a second-hand bike that I bought for £100 last year. Nobody would choose to do that journey with that bike. But because there wasn’t an alternative, it was, absolutely, the perfect tool for the job.


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📹 cycling to Ayr 🚲

scheduleAugust 17, 2021

I’m back from a break now and life is full on between the kids being at school and me trying to sort out work/fundraising/taxes/visas and getting ready to start the next year of my training course.

So it was a very welcome reprieve made more welcome by the fact that I cycled it instead of us hiring a car (we’re a family of six but our car only seats five…).

Here’s a video of the trip!

The hills here, even in the lowlands of Scotland, are brutal but the views are worth it. There’s so much more to share which will hopefully come in a few blog posts as time allows.


To support these videos, consider buying me a coffee.

Music: Paradis by Wintergatan

This track can be downloaded for free at www.wintergatan.net

Free License to use this track in your video can be downloaded at www.wintergatan.net

scheduleAugust 14, 2021

🎶 Was just reminded that Blippy’s Excavator song is actually Every Breath You Take by The Police.

scheduleAugust 6, 2021

After a week of eating porridge oats for breakfast, this has been a really nice change. A sort of congee, made with vegetable broth, peas and spinach. A couple of fried eggs. Sriracha. It’s still technically porridge.

scheduleAugust 3, 2021

I’ve done one of the most grown-up things ever and can now say that I have an accountant. Turns out, immigration is really complicated and we haven’t even go to the next visa application stage yet!

scheduleAugust 1, 2021

There are quite a few equestrian centres within walking distance of our village.

scheduleJuly 30, 2021

Something I never expected to be the case was for my music of choice while writing to be funk. And yet, here I am listening to Cory Wong and The Fearless Flyers and Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and just loving working.

scheduleJuly 27, 2021

My youngest son learned to ride a bike in 3-4 days and I am so proud. He’s so excited to be able to race around with his big brother in the village green. 🚲

scheduleJuly 25, 2021

Currently have that feeling of desperately wanting to go for a bike ride but being unable to because the bike is at the mechanic’s for a service…

scheduleJuly 21, 2021

Hard to beat this sight when it’s bright, sunny and the work for the day is done.

Meditations on a small fire

scheduleJuly 16, 2021

A small fire pit. Fire burning.

It’s the smell of summer. That familiar whiff of smoke. The bursts of light. Flickering serpents’ tongues licking up the oxygen.

I remember reading survivalist books when I was a kid. We lived in rural Arizona and went camping a lot. There was always some actual risk of needing to know how to survive in the wild. So I learned all of the ways to build a fire. An easy task when you live in the Arizona desert. The scent of a campfire was as ever-present as the smell of DEET-rich insect repellent we covered our bodies in.

Now that I’ve got my own kids, it feels nice to finally have a fire pit of our own, here in Scotland. Nothing big, just enough for us to huddle around. To cook if we want to. To make it feel a bit like the summers I had as a kid.

Because summer just isn’t fun when you’re grown up.

scheduleJuly 10, 2021

Back from holiday. Working on some paintings from photos I took.

good enough

scheduleJuly 1, 2021

Some buttercups. They’re more than good enough.

I’ve had the task of recording a video for our support raising efforts looking over me for a couple of weeks. My hope had been to have a script memorised and to film it in 4K on my phone while outside with the countryside in the background.

But all that happened was procrastinating.

“Get the script right.”

“You need to have good weather.”

“You need to use your microphone…”

But then I finally ran out of time. The kids had needed wrangling and interrupted my ability to get anything done while my wife was at work. She got home and helped with child-wrangling and that gave me two hours to get the project done.

The video is not beautiful, but it’s far from bad. It doesn’t have bokeh, but the image is in focus. I recorded it using iMovie and the built-in camera on my MacBook Air. The 720p one.

There’s a bunch that I wish I could have done with it, but it’s actually done and it will be in our missions newsletter tomorrow.

scheduleJune 20, 2021

Just got back from my Father’s Day 5k and am so relieved that I’ve not lost too much fitness since recovering from my cycling accident a couple weeks ago. Managed to run faster than the midges tonight!

scheduleJune 16, 2021

Apparently this is nighttime in Scotland in the summer. I took this just before 11pm. 8486B6A5-4667-45B9-B17E-C867CD7398EF.jpg

scheduleJune 12, 2021

Doodling while the kids play in the park. 954038BC-6801-4D98-853B-30BD75B4CBD7.jpg

raising support

scheduleJune 11, 2021

As you may be aware, I work full-time as a missionary in the UK. My family left the States in 2018 and have had the opportunity to serve in Liverpool, Warsaw and now in rural Scotland.

We are now going into our final year with AT3 (2021-2022), our training scheme, and are trying to raise some additional support to cover my salary during our last year. Obviously, this past year has been difficult for many. If, however, you have not been hit as hard and would like to consider supporting our work, please visit our giving page at Converge. We only need an extra $3600 to cover the gap that’s been created through some of our ministry partners experiencing financial hardship this past year.

scheduleJune 7, 2021

My ride home from the train included a chance to stop and say hello to a Highland cow. CAE621B9-F94A-4584-80AC-702462E1405B.jpg

scheduleJune 2, 2021

Found a new route home on my bike today that had the added bonus of this view. F316C8D0-7996-4DB2-8621-F9AF4D9C13D3.jpg

how does one slow down?

scheduleMay 29, 2021

A frustrating part of life at the moment is knowing that it is good to move slowly. It’s a struggle because even when forced into a position where moving slowly is the only option, it feels like I’m at war with myself.

This time last year, we were in a season of waiting. We were waiting out our first lockdown while living in a flat in Warsaw. We were waiting for the window to a new visa to open for me. We were waiting to see what would be coming up next. We were waiting to move to Scotland.

And now we are here. We’ve had two more lockdowns. Christmas came and went. Then the new year. Spring has been spent slowly emerging from the cocoons that we had made.

Everything has been fits and starts for what feels like such a long time. And in that time, it is like a rubber band is being pulled tighter and tighter. Things are starting to get busier. We are still trying to get to know people here and it’s happening. But it’s happening slowly.

But this slowness… it makes time move slowly and suddenly. I’m nearly at the end of the first year of my training course. Soon, I will be done for the summer. And then I will have to fight the temptation to fill in the gap with all the activities . Because what am I even doing if I am not filling every single moment with some kind of work, work, work?

Does it boil down to simply saying “no” to myself? Or do I work now on how to use the summer to plan for the next year? To put systems in place.

There are still so many unknowns coming up. Perhaps it’s simply another opportunity to practice actively waiting for the Lord to move. Perhaps, it’s time to get better at simply being amazed at how God works in ordinary things.

Anyway, we’ve got some time away booked this summer. I’m looking forward to being actively unplugged to simply enjoy family and the sea.

scheduleMay 27, 2021

Finally got new glasses. Hoping the new prescription helps with the headaches I’ve been having. 48E1A303-40ED-47F8-9D1A-132C536A5BFD.jpg

scheduleMay 24, 2021

It’s been a rough day, but I managed to get this loaf of sourdough done. Oven spring was a bit wonky but this is the most successful loaf I’ve made so far. Probably helps that it’s less than 60% hydration for a change. 75FB89A0-BF0C-46AF-8199-F36A5E128787.jpg 5B416807-ED7B-46F7-884C-9CAC3606CA2E.jpg

scheduleMay 21, 2021

It is one of those days where writing a sermon feels like trying to mine for gold using a toothbrush and a piece of cotton wool.

scheduleMay 20, 2021

It’s been over a year but I’m finally knitting again. 🧶 E583E2ED-5FB4-484E-AA13-90E535A83401.jpg

a cup of tea and a conversation

scheduleMay 18, 2021

As I write this now, my wife and I just got home from visiting a couple from our church here in Scotland. It’s the first time that we’ve been able to sit in someone else’s house and spend a bit of time looking at the Bible over a cuppa.

Besides family, were the first people they’ve had over properly since Scotland went into lockdown over a year ago.

I thought we would just be an hour or so but we suddenly looked at the clock and it was nearly 11pm! A really big prayer of mine is that we get to have this experience more and more. We moved to this area in October and this is the first time we’ve been to someone’s home. To a degree, it’s the least isolated we’ve felt since we had to leave Liverpool.

The thing I’ve missed so much from our time in Liverpool was just spending time with people. That never properly happened in Poland. I really hope this evening is a sign of what’s to come as we continue to do ministry here.

scheduleMay 15, 2021

The nostalgia has been pretty intense playing this on  Arcade. It’s also been a nice way to take a break from work in the evenings! 67066B6B-BA05-43DA-84F9-706DF82D6017.jpg

a wondrous student discount

scheduleMay 8, 2021

I’m mainly writing this right now because I wanted to try publishing to my blog from Ulysses. I used it for a long time but then moved to IA Writer for a while. The main reason was that I couldn’t justify the cost of the subscription at the time.

I’m incredibly grateful for the fact that my ministry training course qualified me for a student discount. As ever, there’s the expectation that using this will help me out of this bit of a writing dry spell.

scheduleMay 6, 2021

I really cannot recommend drinking a big SodaStream bottle right before turning on a race (Tour of Algarve). The real question is whether they’ll make it to today’s finish before I have to run to the loo!

scheduleMay 5, 2021

We’ve managed to book a holiday here in Scotland for July. Really looking forward to seeing a part of the U.K. that I’ve been curious about for years now.

scheduleMay 4, 2021

With each sticker, this old MacBook Air becomes more and more valuable as a scrapbook of the last two years.

scheduleMay 1, 2021

First drawing in a long time. Been wanting to do this one since we moved here. 0A100A43-3A87-44E4-856B-53815BBD8012.jpg

scheduleApril 17, 2021

My long run for the week complete! Didn’t expect sunglasses to be a useful purchase for life in Scotland but it’s so sunny today! 437595A3-D2CA-48CD-B35A-8879E6D37991.jpg

scheduleApril 16, 2021

Earlier in the week was sermon prep for school. Now it’s time to start studying this to preach on the 25th! ED796A59-797B-43B5-B8A6-1152890C02AE.jpg

scheduleApril 16, 2021

It shouldn’t give me as much joy as it does to be able to make my kids roll their eyes by being a total dork.

scheduleApril 14, 2021

Today I learned that 10 handwritten A4 pages is about 20 minutes of preaching time for me, at least with the line spacing in Europa Clairfontaine notebooks.

scheduleApril 12, 2021

Sermon-writing today. Actually trying to write it out by hand. It will need to be typed up still, but it is a joy to use my stationery for it.

scheduleApril 11, 2021

Just a bit of early-mid April snow after a bright, sunny day. Honestly, it feels right. ❄️

scheduleApril 10, 2021

The finished dish. It’s a bit much during the week but perfect on a Saturday after a good run.

scheduleApril 10, 2021

Making the River Cottage adaptation of Jansson’s Temptation for lunch.

scheduleApril 6, 2021

I love this meditation on 1 Corinthians 8 from Tabletalk Magazine:

“True knowledge that there is only one God involves knowing that he is love and acting accordingly.”

scheduleApril 5, 2021

Made Hokkaido for the first time. Looking forward to them cooling enough to try!

scheduleApril 3, 2021

Some evenings are just better with a strong coffee.

run for my life

scheduleApril 3, 2021

A year ago, I started a couch to 5k program. It wasn’t the first time I’d started one but being in lockdown in Warsaw meant it was the first one I finished. After another month of running I was able to achieve a 35-minute 5k. That felt like a really big accomplishment.

Eight weeks ago, I started a training plan to increase my speed. It shaved about 4 minutes off my total time. Finishing something for the first time is a big deal. Learning to keep improving seems like it is the actual work.

scheduleApril 2, 2021

The newsletter is going to have to wait for the new week as I only just got the email that my account is back up again. In the meantime, I’ve ruined pizza by putting broccoli on it before getting ready to head to church to lead worship for Good Friday.

scheduleApril 2, 2021

Ran into a small snag with my Buttondown newsletter (importing our email list for our ministry partners to a new newsletter triggered a need for a manual review) so it will be late in getting sent out.

With spring comes a new system

scheduleMarch 31, 2021

For the past year, I've been keeping track of all the things using a combination of Todoist, Bear and several notebooks. This, clearly, is too much overhead to keep track of. So with spring being fully here and the fact that I'm on a break from my training course for a Easter holidays, I decided it was time to put in the work to get things organised in a way that makes more sense.

Leaving Todoist

By far, the biggest source of frustration lately has been Todoist. While it is perfectly fine on my phone or on my iPad, working from home has meant spending a lot more time at my desk using my MacBook Air. The desktop app for Todoist is pure and utter rubbish based on the fact that it never wants to sync.

Todoist is the app that I've used the longest in this system thanks to the recommendation of Tim Challies in Do More Better. While I still like the principals of the book, my work has shifted so that I don't have such clean cut categories. I prepare sermons for my training course and for the church. Besides due dates, there isn't really a difference in what doing that work looks like.

I needed something a bit more fluid to get this whole thing going.

Revisiting Notion

For now, the tool that I'm using to replace Todoist, most of Bear and a couple of my notebooks is Notion. It finally makes sense to have something that is this flexible.

Why? Well... Notion is the tool that my wife and I used to organise an international move during a global pandemic. During that whole process, everything in it just worked and that was a huge source of confidence during such an unstable time in our lives.

So the money that would have been going to renewing Todoist premium has instead gone to Notion. I probably could have gotten the free plan to work but the ability to invite unlimited guests, when I’ll be doing a lot of work with church ministry teams, was worth the cost.

As I spend more time working in it, I’ll try to share templates so that others can find potential value.

scheduleMarch 31, 2021

We bought a Dutch oven and I finally got around to baking a loaf of bread in it!

scheduleMarch 30, 2021

My wife has started painting trees and I get to have the first one on the wall by my desk.

scheduleMarch 29, 2021

Sometimes, you get taken in by colour. Sometimes by the shape of words. Sometimes by the words themselves. But sometimes, all three.

scheduleMarch 28, 2021

If there is a tech lesson I’ve learned over the last year, it is probably that you need a more powerful computer than you think you need right now. My poor, non-Retina MacBook Air (the 2017 model that had the really good keyboard) is struggling under the weight of iMovie exporting a 5-minute video at 720p…

scheduleMarch 26, 2021

Nothing like a bit of snow the week before Easter.

scheduleMarch 24, 2021

Apparently I’m running my entire life in Notion again so that’s fun.

scheduleMarch 23, 2021

It is Tuesday which means this is the second time this week that my morning routine has fallen to pieces.

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

My parents gave me some birthday money and one of the things I ordered finally arrived!

scheduleMarch 21, 2021

We had a visitor this evening. Looks like we’ll need to make sure we keep the back door closed. 124217DA-AC09-4CE6-9989-2FC8B5E3417E.jpg F43BAA1E-5067-45F7-8010-A3BCE6C2F58B.jpg

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

My wife took this amazing photo of our nearby town. 3B741FBE-CA3F-4189-8C38-9076AE1417AC.jpg

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

Writing around 500 words to send to people’s inboxes each week shouldn’t be as challenging as it is, but trying to make sure those words are good words… to make sure that it’s worth reading is the actual work. And it’s one of the reasons why I don’t share on social anymore.

scheduleMarch 18, 2021

Happy to know that the year that I spent working at Chipotle is still paying off as I can still make really good guacamole. It’s been nearly five years since I left but that muscle memory is still there.

scheduleMarch 14, 2021

For the last few months, my wife has selflessly given up her Sunday afternoons to prepare the kids’ folders with school work and times tables and everything they needed to accomplish home learning in lockdown. Tomorrow, the kids are going back into the classroom. So it’s fitting that her first Sunday off from needing to get all of this ready is also Mother’s Day here in 🇬🇧. Instead, I’m trying to give her space to watch Skillshare classes and to get better at her art. I wish there was more that we could do but most everything is still closed.

scheduleMarch 13, 2021

Ran 9.7km today, which felt really good at the time. Then I sat down for about five minutes before getting up again and now my lower half wants to cease existence.

scheduleMarch 11, 2021

After having some time not using Notion, I’m back to it to begin planning new youth work for our church. Grateful for the fact that I spent so much time keeping it overcomplicated before so that now I know how to keep it simple.

scheduleMarch 10, 2021

We’re approaching a week of having only bread that I’ve baked. It’s been a little bit of work but it’s also been really good.

scheduleMarch 9, 2021

I seem to have created this awkward scenario where I prefer running in the morning but ran yesterday evening and now my energy in the morning is completely gone. So I have to run this evening. Hoping I get back on track tomorrow.

scheduleMarch 8, 2021

Apparently I’ve written over 4500 non-work/school related words this month. It’s always fascinating how doing something bit-by-bit builds up without realising it.

scheduleMarch 7, 2021

Sunday morning commute to church for the service live-stream. Looking forward to when this commute is for live, in person, gathered congregation worship.

scheduleMarch 6, 2021

I’m so impressed with the cake my wife made for me. She does not like baking, but she did an amazing job.

scheduleMarch 6, 2021

So this is 32. Running 8km seems like a good way to celebrate.

scheduleMarch 4, 2021

While my day has already not gone entirely to plan, I tried to make sure that I got some writing done before starting on my regular tasks and that seems to have helped me begin to get in the flow. Even with needing to parent while in the middle of getting the words down.

scheduleMarch 3, 2021

Pretty happy with how this loaf turned out. 🍞 👨‍🍳 9A1097FF-79A3-4078-B570-0F941BD4E302.jpg 41CB192E-688E-4422-A387-14C2BE52A146.jpg

scheduleMarch 3, 2021

I feel like I’m starting to finally get into the rhythm of waking up early (by my definition, 6am is early). That doesn’t mean I’m enjoying the rhythm itself, but I am enjoying the way that it has helped ensure my mornings aren’t pure chaos.

scheduleMarch 2, 2021

Since starting my training course back in September, I have had the weekly privilege of finding that my brain no longer functions after 4pm on a Tuesday (class days for year 1 are Monday and Tuesday).

Today was a day where I actually felt kind of… free? I’ve had to be dependent on folks to drive me places because my driving license from the States is expired and I can’t get a UK one yet. But I was able to cycle into town to help at the church and it was glories. 🚴

February 2021 officially marks the first time I’ve managed to run 100km in one month.

Just finished writing tomorrow’s newsletter. I don’t know why it feels so different to writing a blog entry or even a social media update, but it does.

Considering that my average pace lately has been closer to 8 minutes per kilometre, this is a huge encouragement. Especially since this is post-injury recovery on top of the hills around here! 4320EE5B-6265-4D68-A091-458720DFA71B.jpg

Looking forward to tomorrow for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s a study day so I get to focus on one task rather than grinding through a list.
  • Tomorrow is the day I pull the plug on our ministry Facebook presence. It’s become a truly useless place to try and share anything so it’s time to be done.

I’m really late to the Phoebe Bridgers party but the engineering and mixing on this performance are the most stunning thing I’ve heard in a while. Headphones or high quality speakers required.

The slow emerging that seems to be marking our days

One of the reasons why we’re in Scotland at the moment is for me to be mentored by the pastor of the church we’re working with. Because of lockdowns, that’s mainly been happening on Zoom but we made the effort to meet in person at the church building (socially distanced, working at separate tables).

Being able to pray with someone who is sitting across from you does something for the soul that cannot be over-emphasised.

I’ve been spending time praying for the persecuted church and realised that I have many brothers and sisters for whom isolation in their faith is an ordinary, everyday reality. My heart goes out to them as I consider that the pandemic isn’t the thing that prevents them from experiencing the fellowship of the saints. The obstacle for them is the fact that they might be the only Christian for miles and miles in a country where they are not free to practice their faith.

Yesterday was bright, sunny and breezy. Today? Well, it’s not freezing but we do have rain and winds gusting over 50mph at the moment so I’m going to have to wait until after a full day on Zoom to even attempt going for a run.

Daily bread

What is there to say about baking?

I wrote on my newsletter about how running helps to keep me sane. Baking is something that soothes my heart. When I’m baking bread, it’s like I get to do magic. To take four or five ingredients and have the potential to turn them into so many different things is a kind of alchemy. Fight me, you won’t change my mind.

To get a little bit nerdy, I can confirm that adding a pre-ferment or poolish to the process means you can get really good flavour and texture while making the bread work around your schedule.

This was a bread that I made for our dinner today. I made it between finishing up my sermon for Sunday, going for a run and completing my weekly review. Normally, a poolish has to be done the night before. Except I forgot to make it last night. Thankfully, two hours will get the job done.

Yes, you sacrifice some of the sour notes that you’d get from an overnight fermentation but when it’s bread that’s going to be paired with something like a chorizo stew, you won’t miss the sour notes.

The other thing is that I did not knead this. I did some stretch-and-pulls after the first half hour of bulk fermentation and that was it. Then I got on with things.

The result? A bread that I feel like I could make just about every day. It’s just a matter of learning enough about how bread works to make it work with your schedule, to say nothing of what you can do if you add in the ability to use the fridge.

It’s been a day of not getting as much sermon prep done as I want so I’m baking a cake at 8:30pm.

It is possible/probable that I am wrong but I am completely failing to see why news being removed from Facebook in Australia is a bad thing.

I should have kept going

Obviously, life comes with regrets. I try not to dwell on them too much, but sometimes they are so clear and present that it becomes worth the practice of observing them and figuring out how to avoid them in the future.

At the moment, the big one for me is letting certain aspects of improving and maintaining my physical health fall by the wayside.

There are a variety of reasons why this happened and they run the gamut from:

  • Moving out of our apartment into the unstable world of kind of being digital nomads for 6 weeks at the end of the summer
  • Organising and executing an international move in the middle of a pandemic while simultaneously starting Bible college as a part of the continuing of my apprenticeship
  • Moving again from England up to temporary accommodation in Scotland
  • Moving from that temporary accommodation into the house where I am currently writing this and locked down with my family

Now, all of that isn’t to say that I’ve done nothing. In the bulk of that time, I continued my new hobby of running. And it was great. We live in the countryside and these country lanes are surrounded by sheep farms and wind farms. It’s a sweeping landscape where all of the trees lean toward the east. It also comes with a built in means of making running more challenging, and consequently more effective, because it’s ever so hilly here.

But I ended up spraining my ankle in early December and suddenly everything came to a grinding halt. Pain was present on every single day and it was intense.

And so I stopped.

The other day, I shared about how I started up doing the 100 pushups plan. And right now, the thing that I am wishing I had done while I was waiting for my ankle to heal is start the plan then. Or to have started anything at all. At least then I would be slightly more ahead than I am now. I would be stronger than I am now.

So if you’re wanting to start, just start with one thing that you can definitely do. If it’s trying to write, just write for 5 or 10 minutes. If it’s exercise, just go for a walk or try doing a few pushups everyday.

Now that I am in this stage of things and struggling under the weight of lifting my own body, literally, I can really see that anything is better than nothing.

James Clear was really on to something when he explained about trying to improve by 1%. 1% is infinitely more progress than 0%.

I meant to take pictures of pancakes yesterday but they didn’t last long enough! 🥞

In case you’ve missed it, I started a new newsletter. The focus of this one is a bit more general than my previous newsletter (r.i.p. Fake Suede). You can sign up for it here!

Yesterday, I decided it would be a good idea to start the 100 Push-ups plan alongside my running training. Present me is not very happy with past me. 🏃‍♂️ 💪 🤕

A few weeks ago, I showed my kids CGP Grey’s video Hexagons Are The Bestagons. Ever since, our youngest has been pointing out every hexagon he sees and saying “Look! It’s a hexagon-the-bestagon!” 😍

Somehow, half our kids are in double digits now. It’s my younger daughter’s 10th birthday! Feeling well old now.

The COVID-19 news is personal now

scheduleMarch 12, 2020

COVID-19 has officially affected my life, and that of many American ex-pats. Some of you may know about my dad’s health emergency earlier this year. President Trump has banned travel to 🇺🇸 from the EU for 30 days. Now, if a new emergency happens in the next 30 days, I won’t be able to go home to be with family.

While my dad is doing a lot better, he is still waiting for one more surgery and that could happen within that timeframe.

I was not prepared for this to be a thing. Museums, libraries and cinemas here in Poland have also been closed down until the 25th. Fortunately, there seems to be a much more balanced response to the news here. There’s still toilet paper in the shops.

A few of the resources that I’ve found helpful have been:

scheduleMarch 9, 2020

Nothing like having the real honour and privilege of introducing my eldest to Kraftwerk.

scheduleMarch 8, 2020

We got back from a trip to Kraków yesterday. Managed to do some painting while we were there.

scheduleMarch 5, 2020

Fake Suede 002 comes out tomorrow! If you’re interested, sign up here!

a huge LEGO exhibition

scheduleMarch 3, 2020

Yesterday, we decided that it was worth braving the cold and the rain to make the bus journey to the PGE Narodowy. It’s Poland’s national stadium and for the last couple of months, it has been home to a huge LEGO exhibition. 

A record-setting model of Notre Dame

Some of the events that we’ve tried to go to here in Warsaw have been… well, let’s just say that they were talked  up a bit more than they could really make happen. This event, however, was crazy. I mostly took little videos of the event, but my wife took a bunch of photos.

7m high model of the World Trade Center

This was one of the few things that had something for everyone in our family. My wife is a new convert to the wonders of LEGO while the kids and I have always been obsessed.

St Mark’s Square
The Lion King

a lesson learned from pulling back

scheduleMarch 2, 2020

I’ve been in the process of pulling back from the public social internet over the last couple of years because, to be completely honest, I’ve found it to be almost universally useless. This isn’t simply something along the lines of what Cal Newport talks about, it’s actually as a result of spending time with people who have no use for it.

During our time in Liverpool, we were living and working in one of the most economically deprived parts of the U.K. and that extends to levels of computer literacy. It’s not uncommon to meet people there who don’t have a computer in their home. The only reason why they would have needed one was to check applications with the Job Centre. A good friend of mine doesn’t even have a mobile phone. He has a landline and an answering machine. If he’s not home, you can’t get ahold of him.

We see so much importance placed on things that are said on the social internet that we confuse it with a public forum. So when people complain about their posts being banned on Facebook or getting kicked off Twitter, they cry about their right to free speech being infringed upon. You see this mostly from a particular side of the political divide. What I think they have forgotten, though, is that Twitter isn’t yours. Facebook isn’t yours. When you sign up for your accounts, you grant them the right to remove your content or your profile for whatever reason they see fit.

And it is perfectly within the rights of the organisation to do that because it’s theirs, not yours. You don’t get to say whatever you want when you visit someone’s house. Facebook and Twitter are other people’s houses. Free speech doesn’t really apply when it isn’t the public domain.

Today, my friend Nate took me out for his favourite pizza. Ham, bananas, curry. It was surprisingly… good.

Decided to do a quick sketch for PANCAKE DAY. I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

The Tools I Use

While listening to the Unmade Podcast, Brady opened with the idea of a podcast about the tools that people use in their work. This isn’t everything that I use, but it’s the bulk of it. I think…

Organising

One of the biggest changes to my way of working is that I finally found a system for keeping an external brain that has stuck. In the past, I tried Evernote and Microsoft OneNote but found both of them lacking a certain… something. It’s possible that it was purely an aesthetic issue before, but enjoying how something looks goes a long way toward helping a person stick with it. To that end, I’ve been using an enjoying Notion(affiliate link) for the last couple of months.

My family has a lot of travel that will be coming up this year and it’s the best way for me to have all of the necessary information organised outside of my brain so that I don’t go completely crazy. If you use my affiliate link, you’ll get $10 credit toward it and I get $5.

Journaling & Art

I’ve been trying to maintain a Bullet Journal practice, mostly because I’ve stopped enjoying apps like Todoist and Reminders.app. I’ve also been trying to use up the notebooks and sketchbooks that I’ve been hoarding.

At the moment, I’m using a Seawhite Artists Travel Journal as both a sketchbook and journal. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s filling up fast. I started it on New Years Day 2020 and I’ve already filled 85 of the 128 pages.

In about a week or two, I’ll be moving back into a Traveler’s Notebook.

For writing, I use a variety of wood-cased pencils, mechanical pencils and clutch pencils as well as a Kaweco AL Sport (that I won in a giveaway!) and a Lamy Safari. For painting and sketching, I use the aforementioned variety of pencils, a Pentel Brush Pen and The Sketching Tin loaded with the Earthy watercolour set plus the Van Dyke Brown and French Grey from the Neutral set.

Music

Part of my work as a missionary is leading musical worship for the church we are working with in Warsaw. I use a now-10-year-old Crafter acoustic that I’ve forgotten the name of loaded with D’Addario EJ16 strings. I switch between a Kyser capo and a Shubb capo. My guitar picks are probably the most… fancy part of my setup. Scaling for how much most people pay for equipment, they’re also kind of the most expensive part of my setup. I use Purple Plectrums picks, two primary and then a few that they sent me for free with an order. Due to RSI from jobs working in warehouses, factories and kitchens, I have trouble playing for long with a traditional pick. These are a lot more ergonomic and they have the added benefit of being able to say (in a really posh voice), “I only use handcrafted guitar picks.”

I have some recording equipment built specifically for recording on iOS and I kind of wish I had opted to make it more universal.

Reading

There are three kinds of reading that I do.

  1. Entertainment reading
  2. Work reading
  3. Bible reading

The entertainment reading is normally done on my Kindle Paperwhite. Were it not for that device, I would probably barely ever read. I also try to make use of the local library wherever I am living.

Work reading happens on paper because theology books and commentaries feel better on paper. At the moment, my main work reading book is Calvin’s Institutes (the Banner of Truth edition which is more concise than the Battles translation). These books are the ones that make it hardest to move around.

Bible reading happens in three different Bibles. I have a small 2011 NIV that I got while I was in Liverpool. This is where I do my regular reading plan. Bible study happens in the ESV Single-Column Journaling Bible that my wife bought me for our anniversary. Extended reading time (and possibly reading through the whole thing over Lent) happens in my ESV Readers Bible. It’s the single-volume version because, again, big heavy books makes it difficult to move.

In case you missed it, here’s the archived copy of the first issue of Fake Suede. It’s kind of about wrestling with landscapes and patriotism and how the miners in a tiny city in Arizona may have felt.

Finishing up the very first issue of Fake Suede, my new email newsletter! Writing about feeling pulled between two landscapes. It goes out tomorrow so sign up today!

expat politics

There is a certain amount of freedom that is afforded to people who don’t live where they are from. For the last couple of years I have found myself a part of neither society. I’m an American but I’ve been in a long process of disassociating myself with that particular part of my identity. I wasn’t British when I lived in Liverpool. Even now, living in Poland, I am not Polish. I am here, but I am not of here.

Which leaves me living between cultures. I am guilty of completely ignoring the local news here in Poland. Part of that is because we’re kind of just passing through and part of it is that I barely know enough Polish to figure out what I’m buying at the grocery store.

That aside, what am I to do with the politics of my birth country?

It’s an election year in America and the overwhelming thing that I see is that both sides are having two different conversations. While I have my sympathies with one particular side, it’s clear that neither side is talking about the same thing. There is no defining of terms. There is a refusal to acknowledge anything but the worst example of either argument.

And being on the outside, being an ocean away affords me this privilege to look and see that neither side is worth following. I can see that if I want to stay true to what I believe in, I have no choice but to withhold my vote because there’s nobody there worth supporting.

I have friends who would disagree vehemently, who would say that it’s better to choose the lesser of two evils. And I get it because I am a bit of a pragmatist. I want things to work. The trouble here is that the system is completely broken so until the voting system changes, there’s just no way that I can take part.


For more writing about being an expat and figuring out what home is, be sure to sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter Fake Suede, which launches Friday, 21 February!

I think I’m getting a little bit better at this? One of my favourite things about watercolour is that it doesn’t have to be perfect and it really helps me fight perfectionism. Speaking of which, I’ll probably be exploring perfectionism in an issue of Fake Suede in the coming weeks.

Got another really good gradient. Sunsets here in Poland do not disappoint. They’re no Arizona sunset, but still really nice.

Announcing: Fake Suede

When we moved to Warsaw, I started to wonder what this life is that my family is living now. I don’t live where I’m from and neither does my wife. This is kind of a third place for us.

Fake Suede is a bi-weekly newsletter where I will be writing about what it’s like to live where you don’t expect to be and how to be curious when something as simple as grocery shopping is mentally exhausting. It’s also going to be about raising a big family in cultures where they’re kind of… unusual.

The plan for the moment is to keep the length of the newsletter between 500-750 words. I thought about posting them here to the blog, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it fits here. It feels more like letters written to someone. And so it’s a newsletter.

As readership increases, I will be introducing a paid option but the base newsletter will always be free. When I start to charge, it will be for something on top of the regular newsletter, not for the regular newsletter.

All of that to say, the first one goes out in a couple of weeks. If any of this sounds remotely interesting to you, I hope you’ll join me as I write about this. Oh, and it’s called Fake Suede because my surname is the same as a certain luxury textile used in the automotive industry and on some computer keyboards.

You can subscribe by visiting the sunset below.

The Palomino Golden Bear is better than the 602 in basically every way. ✏️

My eldest daughter is 10 today. She wanted me to make a galette instead of a cake. Thanks to Josh Weissman, the face is now a required step in the pastry process.

Just finished reading the Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. The guy really knows how to create magic systems. 📚

Been listening to David Tennant reading War of the Worlds.

And if what we believe is based on God’s revelation, we cannot avoid referring to it in our answers…

-Voddie Baucham

scheduleJanuary 6, 2020

Today’s bread. Trying to get my head around working with rye, this one is only about 23% rye but it was still a bear to try and shape.

What we don’t expect

scheduleJanuary 4, 2020

When we enter a new year, we go into it full of hopes and dreams. We have all of these plans for the new and for the better.

Midnight had struck in Warszawa. The new year. My wife and I could hear the fireworks booming in the distance so we went out onto our terrace. Our flat is at the top of the building and we have a 250 degree view of the city. Our view is north, toward the city centre.

And the entire skyline was lit up like magic. We stood out on the terrace, watching in silence. Nobody had told us that the city looked like this on New Year’s. In our hearts we thanked them because not knowing that this would happen made the night perfect.

Except things aren’t perfect. The previous day, my dad was airlifted to Lutheran General hospital in Chicago. Subdural haematoma. Our American family a huddled close, as we all pray that he recovers. We know not to pray for a swift healing because this is going to be a long journey. For now, we pray for safety. We pray that I don’t need to get a last minute flight to Chicago.

I’ve had to learn to hold fast to small graces over the last couple of years. The transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is as slow as it is sudden. So when we are discouraged, when we are lost, when we can’t find hope, we must look at the little things.

Every small grace is minuscule on its own, but they add up. They grow and they act as breadcrumbs that lead us back to our only real Hope in life and death.

A surprise, panoramic fireworks show is a small grace in the shadow of the burden of my hospitalised father. But it’s just one of a million reasons why I believe that God has been good to me.

First sketch of 2020

scheduleJanuary 3, 2020

First quick sketch of the year. My wife and I are doing Cal Newport’s Analog January challenge. My make part of the challenge is to complete four paintings this month. They have to be done on paper, no digital painting allowed. For me, that means sketches like this count.

Learned the hard way that Stabilo fineliners are not water-proof so the index in my bullet journal is a bit of a mess now. I also learned some of the limits of Seawhite’s cartridge paper.

2019 has been a crazy year. I’m grateful to have been able to document it in this notebook. It’s a Leuchtturm1917 B5 composition notebook. 2020 will be starting with a Seawhite Travel Journal. No lines because 2020 is looking like it will be a crazy year.

One of the best things I’ve learned about reading the Bible is that what’s more important than being consistent with your Bible reading plan is being consistent with picking it up again when you miss a day.

My wife managed to get a photo of my kids’ hands in the mittens that I knit them for Christmas this year. Note to self: next time you’re knitting for all of the kids, choose something that doesn’t come in pairs!

My first time making baguettes. They turned out so much better than I thought they would!

Fave8 2019

2019 was a year full of highs and lows. The first seven months were spent in Liverpool doing ministry in a hard place. I studied biblical counselling and how to see the smallest positives as examples of God working in big ways.

Taking my son, Liam, to his first ⚽️ match was a huge joy and won me over to the beautiful game.

I had a surprise day off and the weather was beautiful. Tracy, Owen and I took the opportunity to spend the day in Liverpool One while the big kids were in school.

At the last minute, we were able to book a holiday home in Cornwall for the May holiday. It ended with Owen being very unwell and a 10-hour drive but it was an amazing time in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

One of our favourite things to do in Liverpool was walk down the road to Stanley Park so the kids could burn some of their energy.

It was also a year where I found myself unexpectedly separated from my wife and kids. August and September were the hardest time of my life. I had no way of going to see them and had to spend my days reading the Bible and praying about ministry opportunities in Europe while we wait the 12 months that are required before I apply for a new visa to the UK.

My first week back in 🇺🇸 was actually kind of nice. Tracy and I got to travel without the kids. It was a joy to have uninterrupted conversations.

I left 🇺🇸 and landed in 🇵🇱 in mid-September. Since arriving, I’ve learned a lot about working with different church cultures and a lot about how to sing in a foreign language. Benny the Irish Polyglot talks a big game about how Polish isn’t that difficult to learn but he is so very wrong.

Tracy and the kids joined me at the start of October. Since then, we’ve been homeschooling and trying to see as much of Warsaw as we can by public transport.

In November Tracy and I celebrated 11 years of being married. We called this year the Spinal Tap year because we’ve gone to 11.

It’s a strange thing to be missing Christmas traditions from two different countries while we live and serve in a third. It was a quiet day and the kids played with their toys all day long.

This was not the year I thought it was going to be. Not by a long shot. But, in the end, it was a good year.

Here’s to 2020.

The trouble with retention and removal

I read an article that was written in response to this one from Christianity Today.

It is no secret to those close to me that I have disapproved of Trump’s election since the beginning. I found it entirely laughable that he was even running. It made as much sense as Kanye West proclaiming that he was also going to run for president.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have left Twitter behind a while ago so I have only seen the president’s tweets within the context of quotes. While admitting that his excessive use of caps lock is consistent with people who don’t actually understand technology, I think that the greatest act of patriotism right now would be for an aid somewhere to disable caps lock in that phone. (It’s right there in keyboard settings, it’s really easy to do).

But that isn’t why I find myself compelled to write this. The main issue that I see happening with regards to the current discourse on this subject is that Christians in support of Trump are assuming that the ends justify the means.

We don’t laud a father who is completely absent from his children’s lives because he is addicted to his job and providing a nice lifestyle for them. At least that father’s children don’t laud him.

If you’re in the same camp as me, theologically, you don’t speak well of churches that are only filled because there’s a great show with no content. You speak against the pragmatism that says “but so many people are hearing the gospel!” You speak against it because you know, in reality, those people aren’t hearing the gospel.

If it is true that the President of the USA has abused his power, he needs to be removed from office. This is only a partisan issue because we live in a time where facts and truth have no place in the public conversation. What we have here isn’t simply two sides arguing over who gets to be king of the castle.

Incidentally, the most childish statement that I have read so far about this whole thing comes from Peter Leithart for First Things:

There are times when you have to oppose something just because you shouldn’t give the satisfaction of victory to its supporters.

This isn’t an appeal to Christian morals. This isn’t even trying to ignore the facts of the case. This is, pure and simple, stupidity. This is a child who destroys their toys because if they can’t have it, nobody can.

It is true that there will be a huge amount of public unrest if Trump is removed from office. But if we are only keeping him in to keep the peace, we are admitting that the truth doesn’t actually matter.

What I want to know is what we will be willing to let slide next.

I own and heavily use a single-column ESV journaling Bible. My wife got it for my for our anniversary (all my other Bibles are either in storage in Liverpool or in my parents’ basement in America. I also just bought the ESV Digital Scripture Journal set and I have zero regrets.

Our church had a Wigilia(Christmas Eve) party this past Sunday. 🎄

I don’t believe I can overstate the fact that Pinterest has made a significant chunk of online search completely useless.

Homemade eggnog, courtesy of Serious Eats, chilling in the fridge. I swapped out the rum for bourbon and decided to do the cocktail shaker version instead of the meringue version because I do not have the time to whip egg whites by hand. 🎄

If I time things just right, my commute home (a journey which takes 30 minutes in the other direction) takes about two hours. 🤦‍♂️

I got the first draft of my sermon on Ephesians 2:1-10 done today. It’s my first time preaching Paul and my first time preaching with a translator.

Sermon prep for the first time for our church in Warsaw. It’s still so crazy to me that I was absolutely horrified by the idea of speaking in public a year ago and now I’m preparing my fourth sermon this year.

I learned that I have a built in table for a cup of coffee.

One day I’ll get the hang of this watercolour thing…

I have to say, I don’t think I’m a fan of sunset being at 15:30.

One of the best parts of being an adult is no longer needing permission or justification for eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 🥣

I lost a battle with a cheese grater for the first time since I was a kid. 🤦‍♂️

I desperately miss Christmastime in the UK, but this was a nice surprise to see when I went grocery shopping today.

First and only shawl/kerchief of 2019, modelled by my 8yo daughter. This was also my first time making it up as I went rather than starting with a pattern. Hoping to knit some more in 2020.

It’s been a couple of months since my last drawing. Was a nice way to spend a bit of the evening.

It is no small thing that, although many centuries have passed since the Scriptures were made known, there has been continuing agreement regarding the obedience which is owed them.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

It’s been a very rough few days, complete with a couple of days where I just didn’t write anything. Hoping to try and make up some ground this evening while my wife reads the Mistborn Trilogy.

It’s been a really stressful week that’s resulted in only managing to get a total of a thousand words over the last three days. What happened???

Somehow, I’ve actually managed to write over 10k words so far this month. I’ve never made it this far in NaNoWriMo before.

Wednesdays are my days for studying. I really miss working through the BCUK course and I hope to start the second year of it next year. In the meantime, I’m finally getting a chance to work through Calvin’s Institutes as well as a book on leadership that I was meant to be going through with a couple of the pastors at Trinity Church Everton.

Something I was expecting to happen so early in writing for NaNoWriMo this year was to actually experience the characters taking control of things. I actually put work into the plot and an outline and then my characters decided that it needed to happen differently.

It feels pretty good to have reached this point in my word count.

I hadn’t anticipated the affect that helping someone move today would have on bring able to reach my word count for NaNoWriMo. To be completely honest, getting more than a thousand words feels like a win.

This is from a week ago and I’m posting it as form of procrastination from getting further with the novel I am supposed to be writing right now.

scheduleOctober 7, 2019

As someone who has now experienced multiple international moves, I really feel like using an e-reader of some sort is just a better way to consume books. Especially if you’re in a similar situation.

I try not to post pictures of food because my blog isn’t Instagram, but I just had an amazing vegan pastrami (I’m not vegan or vegetarian) sandwich from Krowarzywa, a vegan burger place near where I’ve been staying in Mokotów, Warsaw.

It took coming to a country I had never considered moving to before to finally try tonic espresso. The upshot is that I can actually afford it here. This one is from MOKO kawiarnia.

My parting gift from my mom was a Savage Industries EDC One that she has been working on for the last six months. It’s a beautiful bag made more so by the knowledge that she made it with her hands and that the cloth it’s made from used to be a sail out at sea.

My time in 🇺🇸 is almost done so it was a race against the clock to get these done. These are both for my wife who I miss so much and can’t wait to see when she and the kids get to 🇵🇱 from 🇬🇧.

I’m moving to Warsaw

We finally have a way forward for my to join my family again. Over the course of this next year, I will be serving with a church plant in Wilanów, a district of Warsaw. I leave Saturday and arrive there Sunday afternoon. I’m really excited about this upcoming year but I’m still so sad to not have the chance to say goodbye to our church family in Liverpool. If you’re interested in following along or supporting our work to help reach the 30k people in Wilanów, visit our missions website.

Went for an evening ride that took me through old suburbs, river front, protected wetland and farmland all in under an hour.

I went to my nephew’s first ⚽️match this morning. The sun was very bright and I forgot to bring a hat.

Another sewing project today. I really like making these little project bags. 🧵

make the most of it while you can

I’ve officially been away from my family for over a month now. It’s been really tough but I’m trying to make the most of the time that I do have on my own. I went for a 13-mile bike ride today and I just got done helping my mom sort some beans for an upcoming meal. Because I don’t actually know when I will be back in 🇺🇸 after I leave, it makes small things like this with my parents especially special.

scheduleAugust 31, 2019

My first sewing project in ages. Wanted to make some knitting project bags while I had access to sales at the fabric store and my mom’s sewing machine. 🧵 🧶

scheduleAugust 27, 2019

I miss these faces so much. We’re working on missions opportunities on the Continent so that hopefully we’ll be all together again in a couple of weeks.

scheduleAugust 26, 2019

I’m supposed to be recovering from jet lag right now, but I’m still in the States. I’ve tried to stay productive in a sense, even though the things I was working on are all in Liverpool. I did a quick illustration on my iPad today, though.

An update on ministry in Liverpool and the UK

scheduleAugust 22, 2019

I’ve been in the 🇺🇸 trying to renew my visa application. Today, I received the news that my visa application was refused.

In the spring, a new law went into affect in the UK that states that those working in the UK on a Tier 5 Charity or Religious Worker Visa (the type of visa that I was on) must have a 12-month cooling-off period before being able to apply again. This is a crushing blow to our goal of doing ministry in the UK but more so for our family as I have been away from Tracy for coming up on 3 weeks and the kids for nearly a month.

In my cohort, there are 5 apprentices and their families. 2 out of the 5 have been successful in their applications but the rest of us have been refused. For the immediate future, this means that I’m not allowed in the UK for a minimum of 12 months.

We are still exploring what this means in terms of ministry. For now, we’re working to figure out what we need to do to be reunited as a family again. Our goal for now is still to do ministry in the UK but we may need to spend some time in Europe for now, particularly while Tracy and the kids are still entitled to live and work there without a visa.

So please be praying for these things:

  1. Pray that we are reunited soon, as we have already been apart for too long.
  2. A path to continuing ministry would be made clear.
  3. Pray that there would be a way for the other apprentices to continue in ministry as well.
scheduleAugust 14, 2019

Jesus knows what it’s like to be you.

Tim Chester, Enjoying God

scheduleAugust 11, 2019

This quick painting was a race against the fading sunlight.

scheduleAugust 9, 2019

First pair of socks are officially off the needles. 🧶

scheduleAugust 7, 2019

Making socks for the first time while I continue to wait for my visa and inbetween booking meetings with people.

scheduleAugust 7, 2019

Little Daisy is keeping me company while I miss my wife and kids (they’re all back in the UK while I await my visa).

scheduleAugust 5, 2019

I did not adequately prepare for how expensive my use of Uber while here in 🇺🇸 was going to get. Good thing I only need to do this a couple times or I would be going home completely broke.

scheduleAugust 3, 2019

The day before I arrived back in 🇺🇸 to renew my visa, there was a shooting at a food festival in California. Less than a week into my stay and there’s been a mass shooting in Texas. I really hope my visa comes back in time so I can leave again.

scheduleAugust 3, 2019

I went to a Blick Art store and got immediate and completely crippling decision fatigue.

scheduleJuly 28, 2019

Visa Renewal Mission, stage one has commenced with a 🚞 from Liverpool to Manchester Airport!

scheduleJuly 27, 2019

I’m getting on a plane on Monday morning and in the last two days, a new Hello Internet and a new Bonanza dropped. Not dreading the travel as much now.

scheduleJuly 26, 2019

Been trying to practice boats. Slowly getting there. Need to work on how the boards are placed still, but I’m pleased with how the overall sketch turned out.

scheduleJuly 22, 2019

As I get ready to spend nearly a month away from my family to renew my visa, days like today do a lot to give me good photos to look at while I’ll be missing them. Mike Skinner was right when he said memories are times we borrow for spending tomorrow.

scheduleJuly 19, 2019

The kids have their last day of school today and I cannot believe how much they’ve grown up since their first day.

scheduleJuly 17, 2019

Memories are time we borrow. For spending tomorrow

The Streets, Everything is Borrowed

scheduleJuly 16, 2019

The weather has been gorgeous which means we’ve been at Stanley Park two evenings in a row! This evening we had a picnic before letting the kids play on the playground. Then it was a walk by the lakes to see the duck families. These flowers are all over the place.

scheduleJuly 15, 2019

As far as education goes, particularly regarding independent study, we live in such amazing times. Looking at this as a Christian, the sheer number of good books and lecture series on Bible teaching that are available to me for free is just mind-boggling.

scheduleJuly 15, 2019

Have started to prepare my tech stuff for travelling. I’ve never done the short-term international travel before (I seem to prefer moving instead) so it’s interesting trying to find the balance between I need this for this trip and I would use this daily.

scheduleJuly 10, 2019

It hasn’t been a thing for that long but I’m already so tired of the Enneagram.

playing ⚽️

scheduleJuly 8, 2019

The pain that I’m going to experience over the next 48 hours is completely worth the fun I had playing ⚽️ with the guys from Trinity this evening. I learned a few lessons:

  1. The shoes are the way they are so that you don’t spend most of your time slipping on the grass
  2. Playing at the park with our bags as goal posts is more fun than playing on proper pitches
  3. It really is a heck of a game
scheduleJuly 8, 2019

The big kids and I were in Southport with our church for a day-away a couple weeks ago. The youngest was at home recovering from pneumonia with my wife.

scheduleJuly 1, 2019

I’ve been back in the office today. It’s been nice, but it’s also been one of those days where my brain just feels like it’s in a fog.

scheduleJune 27, 2019

It’s been a rough few days, but this with a coffee is a welcome reprieve before getting back to things.

Preaching on Luke 11:14-32

scheduleJune 25, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I got to preach at Trinity Church Everton again. The text that I was given was incredibly difficult to get a handle on because there’s enough material there for a minimum of 2 sermons. If I was the one to divide things up, then I would have made it more like 4.

But I digress… Here’s my sermon on Luke 11:14-32.

scheduleJune 23, 2019

I don’t know if this is my favourite album of 2019 yet because of the Middle Kids one that was released, but it’s got a shot.

scheduleJune 22, 2019

It’s 23 and sunny at Stanley Park! ☀️

scheduleJune 19, 2019

Sometimes, even though you planned your journey home around the fact that Bon Jovi is playing the stadium at the top of your street, it still takes 40 minutes to complete a 2-mile journey.

scheduleJune 19, 2019

One heck of a view for my study day today.

scheduleJune 18, 2019

Every Christian community must realise that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

scheduleJune 17, 2019

🎶 Come on, grab your friends… we’ll go to very distant lands… 🎶

scheduleJune 17, 2019

I spent about ten minutes doing some drawing and noticed three things.

  1. I prefer mechanical pencil to wood-cases
  2. I really like sketching with a blue lead
  3. I need to spend more time drawing.
scheduleJune 14, 2019

When we grow weary, God does his work.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

scheduleJune 13, 2019

Getting ready to look through the next part of Christianity Explored with a guy today. It’s both comforting and frustrating to know that the Word of God is what does the work of convincing.

scheduleJune 11, 2019

The office tonight is this slab of hot metal while I help out with the launch BBQ for a new program our addictions ministry is running. Haven’t manned a grill like this for a few years now.

scheduleJune 11, 2019

Mercy is so engaged by the beauty of the big things God is doing that it doesn’t have time to focus on things that are of no consequence.

Tim Lane & Paul Tripp, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

scheduleJune 11, 2019

Casio (and a couple of Youtubers) have the audacity to call this a timepiece.

scheduleJune 4, 2019

Without a doubt, this is my favourite music release of 2019. I adored Lost Friends and this is such a great little follow up!

scheduleJune 4, 2019

There are few blessings like having a wife who welcomes you home after a long day and tells you to lay down watching YouTube for a bit because you’re brain is completely fried.

Need not last forever

scheduleJune 2, 2019

Something that has kept me from opting to use ordinary fountain pen ink is a worry about something disastrous happening to my notebooks. In this instance, that catastrophe is usually water-based and being a dad makes me think about these things. I started keeping my journals with the intention of them actually being read. Jamie Todd Rubin wrote a great article on journaling and one thing I identified with was his desire to pass his journals on to his kids.

While I would like to ensure that I do everything I can to have them available for them if they want them, I have started to feel a bit less precious about how to ensure that. I could scan my notebooks if I wanted to so that they were searchable, but I barely have the time to write in them in the first place. I guess what I’m beginning to adopt is a more fatalist approach to things that aren’t entirely in my control, at least material things. It will be really nice to have them to hand down. It won’t be the end of the world if something happens to them.

It's not what we had hoped

scheduleMay 20, 2019

We had hoped that more people would show up.

Right now, we are primarily holding to the truth that it’s worth doing even for just one person. And that is what is now happening. When we launched the group, there was the potential for seven or eight people to turn up. But there ended up only being the one.

The following week, when we were getting ready to meet again, my wife became ill and so we had to cancel for a week. After that, when we got ready for it again, we ended up having nobody show up.

I had cooked for a crowd so we’ve been eating the leftovers for the last few days.

The one guy that had turned up ended up not being well and also not having enough credit on his phone to send me a text to say he wouldn’t be able to come. He’s a guy that I have been meeting with one-to-one for a while now and it’s been quite a task, trying to move the conversation toward the gospel.

Anyway, my pastor and I decided the best course of action for now is to continue meeting with just this one guy to go through the material. My sincere hope is that his eyes would be opened to the truth that he still cannot see. He keeps asking for evidence but doesn’t seem sure what that evidence would be. My prayer is that I can be patient and remember that I too was once blind and unable to believe.

scheduleMay 15, 2019

Christ cried to a Father who was silent as he let him die, so that you could cry to a Father who will hear you and give you what you need to live. - How People Change by Tim Lane & Paul Tripp 📚

scheduleMay 12, 2019

Really enjoying getting to read a book that I don’t have to read. 📚

scheduleMay 11, 2019

Catching up on some reading for my Biblical counselling course in a nearly-empty Caffé Nero. Seeing how sitting in the sunniest seat upstairs does for me after a very long, stressful week.

scheduleMay 9, 2019

Just took the recycling out and found these guys (and a few more on the side of the wall) enjoying the light rain.

scheduleMay 8, 2019

Sometimes, you just need a bit of avocado toast in the morning.

Preaching on Luke 9:43-62

scheduleMay 7, 2019

On Sunday, I did something that I have been terrified of doing for a very long time. Over the course of 15 years of working toward being in full time ministry the one thing that I never really considered being something that I would do was preach.

But this past Sunday, that is exactly what I did. Even two years ago, speaking in public was something that still felt beyond me. I would do it every other week as part of leading worship at Redeemer Fellowship but it was only in 30-second chunks. And I had my guitar to hide behind. This time, the only thing I had in front of my was a music stand holding my iPad. And I didn’t even die!

Anyway, here is a link to the audio from the sermon that I preached at Trinity Church Everton.

scheduleMay 6, 2019

A Day Out

I’ve got thoughts still brewing on how things went on the first night of Christianity Explored, but before I share thoughts, this…

It’s the Early May bank holiday and it was my eldest daughter’s turn to go into town with me. We had a great day in spite of the rain.

We took the bus to Queen’s Square instead of our normal bus to Liverpool One.

Our first stop was the World Museum. We checked out dinosaurs, ancient Egypt and the new exhibit from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

It was very rainy for most of the day. The sun didn’t come out until we were on the bus home!

We finished up with afternoon tea at 60 Hope Street! It was a really nice way to spend a day off and it was especially nice to spend some time with my daughter.

scheduleMay 1, 2019

Doing some more studying while I roast a chicken. We’re starting this group up tomorrow and I’m really excited and more than a little bit nervous. This on top of sermon prep this week has made it a very Scripture-filled week. I am both overwhelmed and overjoyed.

scheduleMay 1, 2019

“Your speech reveals your heart.” - Dr. Tim Lane

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7:15, ESV)

Evangelism in our home

scheduleApril 26, 2019

I’m really excited about starting this group up at our house this Thursday. It, like participating in the inter-faith dialogues, feels like the reason why we moved to 🇬🇧. If you’ve been following along as I’ve shared a bit about this, do be praying for the people that join us as we look at Mark’s gospel and learn about why it is such good news.

scheduleApril 24, 2019

One of those dark and stormy night when the bus decides it doesn’t need to show up on time.

scheduleApril 24, 2019

This book I’m reading for my biblical counselling course is really making my brain hurt, but on the plus side, I’m marking it up with a Muji pen. My first time using one and they’re amazing.

scheduleApril 22, 2019

The Bank Holiday

Something that I have really, really appreciated since we have moved back to Britain is the existence of bank holidays and the fact that I am fortunate enough to be doing a job that allows me to take advantage of them. We had originally planned on making a trip to the Wirral today but have instead decided to just spend it near home in Stanley Park walking around and playing football.

scheduleApril 21, 2019

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve painted. I always forget how nice it is to spend half an hour making something from start to finish. 6035DF3D-706E-49FA-8D50-1CC863C604A5.jpg

scheduleApril 20, 2019

Day off in town! Just after paying £2.50 for a 99p Flake! 9F3BF1A4-3BED-4EDB-B63F-FA754FC793BA.jpg

scheduleApril 18, 2019

Current status: starting to kind of get into opera and Bowie at the same time.

A brief reflection on making videos

scheduleApril 15, 2019

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on videos for our church’s Good Friday event. My thoughts as I look back on it are:

  • Making videos is fun
  • I want to get my own camera to keep doing this
  • iMovie is quite a lot more capable today than it was when I first used it

It’s funny how some if the hobbies I’ve had in the past are proving to be really useful in my current ministry context.

scheduleApril 13, 2019

I’ve got the party machine setup for our church Easter Quiz! 28C4080D-4CE6-4B1C-92FD-50022150A5B4.jpg

scheduleApril 11, 2019

Today, ministry included doing some very basic stop-motion animation for a promo video our church will be sharing soon. 90AE6CAD-EF2F-4BF5-A4EB-4712ABFCC639.jpg

scheduleApril 8, 2019

I’ve been in 🇬🇧 for a while now but have only just today been to Nando’s and I wish I had been sooner.

The Anglican Cathedral

scheduleApril 7, 2019

I was in town for a meet-up of other AT3 apprentices on Thursday and Friday and we were taken on a Liverpool church history tour by our director and founder, Ken.

Fun facts are:

The Anglican cathedral in Liverpool was only completed in 1979 in spite of the fact that it looks centuries old.

JC Ryle, Liverpool’s first Bishop is buried there even though he was against building a cathedral in favour of planting churches instead.

Lord Derby, who was also Lord Stanley (as in the Stanley Cup) is also buried there.

It was a really good time getting to hang out with other Americans who are here for the same reason and hearing from Mark Pickles, director of the Northwest Partnership, and Michael Reeves, the president of Union School of Theology.

scheduleApril 4, 2019

Considering I’ve been interrupted by my 2-year-old son, a grocery delivery, some friends picking up some stuff we stored for another friend and my wife getting home after helping out with a craft for Trinity Tots, I would say I have had a good writing day so far.

scheduleApril 4, 2019

Normally, Thursday is a study day. For a couple of weeks it’s a dedicated writing day as I think through cultural adjustment and how to help prepare new AT3 apprentices for how it will affect their time in 🇬🇧.

scheduleApril 1, 2019

That fact that I’ve stopped dreading Mondays still astounds me.

scheduleMarch 30, 2019

We did some furniture rearranging and now I’ve got a desk in our lounge. Now I can take advantage of the sunlight during the day.

scheduleMarch 28, 2019

You can have all the text editing tools in the world but sometimes the words just don’t want to be written.

scheduleMarch 26, 2019

Doing a bit of sermon prep today for Bible-teaching training that will be happening on Saturday. Really enjoying writing out the text over a spread in my Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim. Working with the equivalent of an A3 sheet of paper is super-nice.

scheduleMarch 23, 2019

Got to take one of my boys to the LFC Legends charity match today with our pastor and his son. I get football now.

scheduleMarch 23, 2019

Today is the day my 6-year-old and I get to see our first ⚽️ match.

scheduleMarch 20, 2019

There’s a bingo night every week in the community centre where our church’s offices are kept. I’ve somehow been trusted to be left alone in a room with all of this.

scheduleMarch 20, 2019

”What feeds us as we journey is the word of Christ. Good pasture can be found today in the Scriptures, for it’s in the Scriptures that we hear the voice of the Shepherd.”

From The Glory of the Cross by Tim Chester.

Some thoughts on the interfaith event

scheduleMarch 19, 2019

I’m a day or two removed from the interfaith event that was held at the local Ahmadiyya mosque. It was a really interesting time, particularly the addresses from respected scholars, a group which I somehow found myself in as a representative of Christianity. We heard from the local imam as well as the regional imam. There were representatives from the local Jewish community, city councillors, a vicar as well as people sharing about the charity work that they do.

I really do believe that there is something to be said for dialogue between people of different faiths. What is essential, however, is that an actual dialogue is happening. With this event, it was primarily a series of monologues. Everyone was given an opportunity to speak but there wasn’t anything meaningful happening during that time.

The real heart of the experience was actually spent before and after the event. Spending time talking with people and sharing a meal is where dialogue happens. I was able to have a conversation with a veterinary surgeon while we ate. Under any other circumstances, a conversation like that isn’t going to happen.

Above all, what this experience helped cement in my mind is the very same thing that I have spent the last 12 weeks studying, relationships. Real, gospel ministry primarily happens in the context of conversations with people, not during keynote addresses. The ministry of the preached Word is absolutely essential to the life of the church but so is the ministry of Word being spoken of around the table. If we want to have a real, effective method of evangelism then I think that is going to happen in the context of personal ministry. Outside of that, we move too quickly to shouting for our voice to be heard above the din.

scheduleMarch 18, 2019

Nothing quite as nerve-wracking as trying to finish up a difficult paper the day before it’s due and being unsatisfied with how the paper actually turned out.

scheduleMarch 13, 2019

”The quality of my faith or repentance is not what counts. What counts is the one to whom we come. And I’ve come to Jesus.” - Tim Chester

scheduleMarch 12, 2019

I’m really enjoying this devotion book from Tim Chester right now. Also featured here is my beloved Kaweco AL Sport that I won in a Jet Pens giveaway a few years ago.

scheduleMarch 10, 2019

It’s been a very rough week and weekend, but finally getting a chance to do a bit of painting has helped a bit. 🎨 DF69B3D0-0829-4831-867B-8C579D340286.jpg

scheduleMarch 8, 2019

Sometimes you only need another 15 words for a paper, but sometimes those words just don’t seem to be there…

scheduleMarch 7, 2019

Page one in my new Maruman Croquis S163. I think if the paper was 20-30g heavier, it would work really well for on-the-go watercolour. Not that that’s going to stop me. 29E033A2-CD1C-4F8A-902C-B2E781C2F5BB.jpg

scheduleMarch 7, 2019

Time to play around and hope that I don’t end up completely sick with whatever my kids have.

scheduleMarch 6, 2019

Getting ready to begin this with my family tonight. Really looking forward to it.

scheduleMarch 6, 2019

It’s a heck of a day when a friend gives you a book for your birthday. And then, finding out that it’s a book like this is just something else. D2B1F0AE-3DD4-4CC0-9E36-60C418E0DA2F.jpg

scheduleMarch 6, 2019

I’ve never really done anything with Lent before, but this year I’ll be reading through this and meeting weekly with one of the guys from church. I’m really looking forward to it. F92C30C1-83B1-468D-B633-8D5FA2863075.jpg

scheduleMarch 4, 2019

There’s nothing quite like being in an office that smells of both burgers and Christmas.

scheduleMarch 2, 2019

Drawing again. Decided to signup for Skillshare after being beat over the head by ads for them. Turns out, it really is worth it.

scheduleMarch 2, 2019

If I had to use one word to describe the new Cactus Blossoms record, it would be:

flawless

I’ve been listening to it while walking around this morning and I really can’t find anything wrong with it. Some people were a bit unsure about the new sound, but I think it’s a really good evolution from You’re Dreaming.

scheduleMarch 2, 2019

Today was one of those days where you get to the end and you know something happened between the start of the day and now, but you can’t figure out what it was.

¾ of my kids four years ago today. Our youngest was still a couple years away at this point.

How to avoid lazy praying

I just read through this article and find it really helpful and practical, especially as it says a lot of what I am finding through my counselling course. The biggest idea of which is that the more specific you get in working through an issue, the more intense and lively your prayers will be.

One of my favourite things about Micro.blog being my main place on the internet is that people link to original content rather than publish it with attribution.

On evangelism across multiple cultures

I’ve spent most of the day doing research on how to approach the topic of Serving Humanity. In a couple of weeks I will have the privilege of speaking during an interfaith event at a local mosque. Right now, the biggest challenges seem to be:

  1. Remembering that I am in a culture not entirely my own
  2. The same goes for those who will be attending
  3. The topic is way too broad

This is all still really exciting because it’s exactly what my family and I came to Liverpool to do.

Nothing takes me back to the first year of being married to my wife like this song. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist came out the same year and quickly became one of the first films we both loved as a couple.

Quick little drawing based on a tutorial by Christopher Hart. My Master Slim notebook again; the initial sketch was done with a Blackwing 602, line art with an 03 Micron and then the Staedtler Noris coloured pencils that my kids say they use at school. This is fun!

no market, so bookstore

The Friday market was woefully disappointing so I walked back into town and picked this up from the used bookstore, A Reader’s Dream. They haven’t got a website or anything, I don’t even think they have a phone number available. In any case, I really enjoyed the first book in Lawhead’s Pendragon cycle so I’m looking forward to this one too.

A lesson from the internet: 1. it is impossible to exaggerate just how dramatically any statement can be taken the wrong way and 2. sometimes the misunderstanding is wilful rather than incidental.

Just graphite this time. Cheap Ryman 2B lead in a Rotring 600. Using my Leuchtturm1917 Master Slim. It’s been a good way to spend the evening.

Analog art is hard, but I don’t hate this and it was a good way to spend 45 minutes this evening.

The Country Park

Today was a day with nothing planned so I took my 6-year-old to the park so he could burn some energy. I love Liverpool but it is nice to be spending some time this close to these views.

Making some more progress on the The Isla Wrap. I forgot how much I enjoy knitting.

the rural capital of food

It’s our first family holiday since we’ve arrived in the UK and we are back in our old stomping grounds, Melton Mowbray. We lived here from 2010-2011 and it’s nice to be back.

It was strange how little the town seems to have changed in the eight years since we were last here, but that’s kind of the way rural market towns are. A few shops have changed but we watched changes like that happen during the year that we spent here.

Today, besides the kids going to the cinema with their grandparents, was about visiting the cattle and farmers market.

The kids really enjoyed seeing the sheep and cows as well as buying toys from the market stalls. My highlight, besides picking up a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s massive book on raising and cooking meat (at the end of this post), was this sandwich.

The pork was raised in nearby Rutland by Farmer Lou and came complete with stuffing and apple sauce. It was a very heavy brunch indeed.

There’s something special about writing while listening to sad piano music and seeing the British countryside from my seat on this train.

February is a big birthday month for us. This time, it’s Chloe’s turn to be 8!

a farm, a firehose and a broken dream

The more time I spend away from traditional social media, the more I realise that these places are just the absolute worst at accomplishing what they originally set out to be. It’s one thing to exist as a farm/firehose for data. It’s another to be the sort of place that actually encourages the kind of thoughtful communication we seem to have completely lost.

I see this the most when I look at what is happening right now in the battle between the pro-life and pro-choice movements. There is this endless stream of vitriol spewing forth and it’s just exhausting to see now.

Personally, I am pro-life. I don’t talk about it much online because that’s the worst possible place to try and have a reasonable discussion about the issue. I keep seeing friends posting link after link after link to all of these horrible statistics and I keep wondering what the point is. For the most part, they are only connected with people who believe the same things.

So all that happens is another shout into the echo chamber. If you want to do something like change someone’s mind, you’re going to have to do it in meatspace. The internet isn’t where change is ever going to happen.

And just like that, everyone at Casa De Alcantara is battling the same cold.

I cannot believe my eldest daughter is 9 years old now!

I’m not yet 30 years old but I still bought a shopping trolley today.

I really want to start a TinyLetter but I have no idea what I would even write about in it. I can barely come up with stuff to write here and the only reason I seem to be able to continue doing so is that it’s a place to put things.

“The soul is a complicated thing. The soul is a wormhole, multidimensional, polyhedral. We have outer space inside of us. And we think we can manage this? Give this thing a religious pep talk here and there?” - Jared C Wilson

I’m giving time tracking a try but my biggest issue right now is that I just worked an entire day and completely forgot to track the time. 🤦‍♂️

One of my biggest challenges with all the drawing that I have been doing lately is remembering that photo-realism isn’t the goal.

The community centre where our church offices are located is starting a Tuesday afternoon social club and I get to work on making marketing materials for it!

I took the big kids into town so that my wife could have some quiet and a chance to rest while she’s not feeling well. It was a 5 miles of walking kind of day spent making holograms at FACT and looking at modern art at Tate Liverpool. Today was a good day. 5E01D036-4CBA-4480-A004-937ECFDC6C8A.jpg

Nothing like having a bunch of people over for a prayer meeting on a Friday night. Now it’s time to unwind with the new season of The Grand Tour and then maybe a few more chapters of Bird Box.

Having one of those days where I seem to only get a third of anything done.

Regarding the reading plan again, it is really helping me to be familiar with books of the Bible that I otherwise would only read once or twice each year. Constant rereading is proving to be very helpful.

The early morning belongs to the Church of the risen Christ. At the break of light it remembers the morning on which death and sin lay prostrate in defeat and new life and salvation were given to mankind. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It’s a very grey day and it’s been perfect for working through reading the second half of a book for my counselling course.

The reading plan - a week in

scheduleJanuary 8, 2019

I’m about a week into the new reading plan and so far my favourite aspects of it are:

  • My wife is following along with the same plan so we get to talk about what we’re reading and help each other grow in understanding.
  • This really accelerates becoming familiar with a text. If I was to go with a standard, in-a-year reading plan it would take me 20 years to read through Philemon or 3 John as many times as I have in the last week.
  • My kids are seeing my wife and I read the Bible more often. We keep the Bibles that we are using for this plan in our living room and are often reading while the kids play.

I hope this continues as we start to make our way into the longer books. Right now we’re sort of going from shortest to longest but as the next couple of years progress, I may decide to jump into a particular book that is interesting me the most.

scheduleJanuary 8, 2019

“The very reason we pray is because of God’s sovereignty, because we believe that God has it within His power to order things according to His purpose.” - R.C. Sproul. Does Prayer Change Things?

scheduleJanuary 8, 2019

It’s been a couple of years but I’m actually installing some stuff via the Terminal.

scheduleJanuary 4, 2019

Your Friday isn’t funky enough until you’ve had this in your life.

truth in love

scheduleJanuary 4, 2019

When communicating in person, one of the things that I have always struggled with is the love part of speaking the truth in love.

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. - Philemon 8-10

As I go through my reading plan for 2019/2020, this passage has stuck with me. It kind of feels like the first time I’ve been able to see how to speak the truth in love.

scheduleJanuary 2, 2019

If we respond (to hardships) with, “I don’t understand all this, but I know that my Father loves me, and I trust him,” we will live with purpose, hope and perseverance. - Ed Welch, Side By Side

scheduleJanuary 1, 2019

Happy New Year, Micro.bloggers! It’s 2019 in Britain!

Roasted off some sweet potatoes, celeriac and beetroot for a vegan pie I’m making tomorrow. We’re not doing hashtag-Veganuary, but we are going to be having meat-free dinners for a month.

My favourite music (2018 edition)

One thing that sort of passed me by this year was music. We were so busy with the process of moving to Liverpool that I didn’t listen to anything when it actually came out. Some stuff made it through the mess, though.

My favourite song of the year

This year seemed to be the year that singles were released instead of albums and the one that ended up becoming a sort of theme for us as we went through the moving and downsizing process was none other than New Light by John Mayer. We made a point of listening to it every time we got into the car and it never got old.

My favourite albums

Three albums that were released this year ended up staying in rotation and basically not leaving.

Middle Kids - Lost Friends

While sitting in a Starbucks one morning waiting for a support raising meeting to begin, I heard a song that was so good I had to ask Siri to tell me who it was. On the drive to work, I ended up listening through Lost Friends all the way through over and over again.

There was something about the fact that it was new, guitar-based music in the era of the synthesiser. And we don’t even need to get started on Hannah Joy’s voice.

Tracyanne & Danny - self-titled

I was fortunate enough to see Camera Obscura before Carey Lander passed away in 2015. While the band has been quiet since then, Tracyanne managed to write some songs with Danny Coughlan and the pair released them on a self-titled album that became my summer soundtrack.

Natalie Evans - Better At Night

I first learned about Natalie Evans a few years ago when I was trying to make a go at music blogging. In the time since, she’s released a self-titled EP as 1/3 of the band YOU COULD BE A COP and a couple of short EPs on her own. This year, however, she finally released her full-length album Better At Night. While some of the tracks are tunes from earlier releases, the album’s strongest points for me were the opening title track and closing Postscript tracks. I’ve probably ended up listening to this album more than the other two combined because it has been a perfect writing companion.

Runners up

  • Gwenno - Le Kov (especially the single Tir Ha Mor)
  • The Innocence Mission - Sun On The Square
  • David Bazan - Yellow Bike (This is technically not a 2018 release but the single was released in 2018 so I’m counting it.)

Another shot from our walk in Stanley Park the other day.

Reading through the Bible again

Thanks to the Christmas gift of the ESV Reader’s Bible (the single-volume one), it looks like I will be embarking on a new reading plan in 2019.

For 2017, I used the 5 Day plan and really enjoyed it. My favourite aspects of this were: - starting each quarter by reading through one of the Gospels - Reading through the Psalms, Proverbs and prophets within their contexts within the historical books - The flexibility of being able to catch up on weekends when the week was crazy (like the week I spent in Orlando going through a missions assessment)

For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to try a different reading plan in 2018 so this past year I have used the classic plan that was put together by Robert Murray M’Cheyne. After completing it (sort of, I still have 3 days left), I have a lot of thoughts on it. I did enjoy reading through the New Testament twice in one year. Having the Old Testament stretched across the whole year has also been helpful.

My one complaint is that because the prophets are all read straight through, I found that I had to rely on previous times reading through them in order to get an idea of context. I much preferred reading Isaiah in chunks alongside 2 Kings and Chronicles.

Now that I’ve got this new Bible, I considered trying the reading plan for readers but the amount of reading that I have to do for the next module in my counselling course has made it a practical impossibility. I hope to make use of the plan after my course is complete, but for 2019, I’ll be trying Joe Carter’s plan to change my mind.

I’ve got some more reading stuff that will be happening next year and I’ll be sharing about it soon, but for today, I am glad that I have the most important part of my reading life in 2019 planned out.

A shot from the lake at Stanley Park this morning. It’s been a good day.

That feeling when you’re drinking a glass of white wine, reading (for fun!) while you’re poorly daughter watches one of her favourite movies.

Having the opportunity to read a novel for an hour or so feels like such a luxury now that I can’t help but feel a bit of guilt.

2 Chronicles 21:20 is probably the harshest summary of a persons life that I have ever read.

Thanks to the Lego Batman Movie, I get to occasionally hear my 6-year-old son singing (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight and it’s even more hilarious than I ever thought it could be.

I’m going through one of those phases where I try to make all of my stuff platform agnostic-ish. It’s not that I’m unhappy with having all of my stuff be Apple specific, I’m just feeling like it may be time for a change and so much of how I do things has been built around this idea that I want to be able to also record and produce music on my devices in spite of the fact that I don’t really have the time or desire to do that anymore.

I’m even considering trying a Chromebook in 2019…

One interesting part of the experience of trying to do ministry in the UK is finding out just how different it is from what my brothers and sisters back in America are dealing with.

This nativity play just got kind of intense. I haven’t been behind a set up like this in a long time.

Britain really needs to rethink this colour scheme for weather warnings.

Sewing together 14 metres of fabric today. Pursuing ministry for 15 years didn’t prepare me for this.

6 hours, 4 drafts, 1 cup of coffee, 1 cup of tea and my final assignment for this counselling module is complete!

I’ve only baked a couple of loaves of bread since we’ve been in 🇬🇧. Hopefully this changes that trend a bit.

Right now the wind is going at 52 mph. Guess we’re definitely staying inside today.

It’s a study day again, but this headache is threatening to send me back home and straight to bed.

Today, I learned that having a good umbrella doesn’t mean your trouser pockets won’t get soaked through. Thankfully, my phone and wallet and everything were ok.

that feeling when you decide to just let a word count shrink

My word count has gone way down over the last couple of days. I have a feeling this project is going to be a slow-going one where I just try and focus on writing a good story rather than meeting a word count. The most important aspect of it for me right now is that I keep writing it because it’s a project that is completely unrelated to any of the work that I’m currently doing in ministry and in my studies.

I shouldn’t be scrolling through my feed here because I should really be writing. I’ve only managed to write around 300 words or so and I’m already flagging.

Hitting the streets to hang posters for Trinity’s upcoming Nativity. Enjoying the sun after a long, grey week.

I missed NaNoWriMo but that’s not stopping me from trying to make it happen in December since I’ll be between counselling courses. Wrote just about 2000 words today!

Channeling my inner-Doc&Devo today with a couple 602s, Golden Bears, a regular Blackwing and a Staedtler Noris which seems to be the cultural equivalent of the Dixon Ticonderoga over here.

Today, my office is the nearest Costa Coffee while I try and get this last paper revised, rewritten and submitted. Going to be a long one.

Lesson learned today: cold, rainy days in the awkward time between autumn and winter are definitely not the kind of days where it’s a good idea to go out doing door-to-door ministry. 🌧💨❄️

Death, when its sting is drawn and it’s powerful fears are rendered harmless, is but the means of our awakening on the morning of a new day in the presence of God. - Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life pg. 173

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has long been my favourite holiday. So as I sit in the living room of our house in Liverpool doing things that one doesn’t generally associate with the day (like studying and alternating between tea and coffee to stay awake while reading), there cannot help but be a slight air of melancholy around me. We’ve missed this day before, like when we lived further south in England a few years ago, but it has always been special to me because it was the antithesis of what passes for the Christmas season in western culture.

It was a breath and pause before the impending onslaught of empty consumerism. It’s a day spent in the kitchen preparing to be with family for the sake of simply being grateful.

And, as I sit here, thought we are away from so many of our friends and family, I have so much to be thankful for.

A year ago, my body was slowly being broken by the work that I was doing in a warehouse. It was an endless stream of making up and packing boxes to send off the laboratories, hospitals and universities. Now, I have the privilege of reading through the Word with people and praying for the members of our new church family. Learning the rhythms and movings of the city in which we live from the people who live around us is actually a part of the work that I am doing now.

I have my family, this crazy, constantly running around screaming, laughing, tickling, crying, arguing, reconciling, mishmash of people living in close quarters all the time. I have the privilege of shepherding and raising them.

We have a team of ministry partners that has made all of this possible. We are able to actual do this work in an area that a lot people wouldn’t want to go to or wouldn’t think to go to. It is slow work, but we’ve been blessed with partners that understand what it takes to build trust in an area where trust is hard to come by.

We have God’s provision and protection. One day very soon after arriving, we were walking home from the bus stop after spending the day downtown. We came to a pedestrian crossing and had the green light to go. We were halfway across the road when a van rear-ended the car that was stopped at the light, causing it to jump forward and miss hitting us by about 2 feet. Had that car not been there, we would have been hit by a driver that wasn’t paying attention to the road. The work that we were meant to do would have gone undone. But we were protected and everyone made it home safe after that.

We have the message we are here to preach. If we didn’t have everything that I wrote above, we would still have reason for gratitude beyond words because we have the knowledge and experience of the gospel. That singular fact which causes all things to pale in comparison, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.

There is never a point where we have the opportunity for grumbling or complaining because, if we have Christ, we have absolutely everything that we need.

grace that’s taking us somewhere

One of the great joys of being a Christian is knowing that the life of a Christian isn’t a life that is stationary, but one that is actually moving toward something.

This becomes most apparent to me when, even in ministry, I feel the days blurring together and everything starting to seem very same-y. It’s so easy to get caught up in just cranking through the normal routine of the day. This frame of mind is in complete opposition to what we have been saved from, for and to. We have not been saved so that we can go through each day with the vague thought that it seemed to be much the same as the previous day. Each day is a new day that the Lord has made for us to rejoice and be glad in.

This brings to mind the word that we are working toward glory. In our daily lives, here before the second Advent, we are called to work six days in seven. This isn’t an arbitrary pattern thought up by a deist’s impression of what a god must be like, it is the pattern set out for creation because God knows that His creation needs to remember rest. And this to the extent that, besides being for the glory of God, the purpose of work is to prepare for rest.

So as we go about our vocations, we are working toward our great sabbath rest when we will be with our God and will have everything we need directly from the source and without any blemish because we will no longer be in a fallen world.

Nights that have to be spent studying rather than relaxing are worth it when you get to read stuff like this by Sinclair Ferguson.

Paul was not more justified than you are as a Christian! - Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life

Today’s office for study day is the library’s reading room.

So very thankful for getting the hang of using Procreate.

This week, I have done more drawing than I have in the last decade.

As I work on drawings and lettering for upcoming Christmas events at Trinity Church Everton, I mostly have the overwhelming feeling of really needing to spend more time drawing because I am so very rusty.

We had an amazing time in Chester, but it is good to be back home in Liverpool with the kids.

Early afternoon tea at the Booth Mansion. It sounds like an Audrey Hepburn film in here.

We’ve been married for ten years today and it still feels like day one.

The sweet taste of success when you get second place in the pub quiz that you attended by accident! Those flasks aren’t empty either, they gave them to us full!

I’m really looking forward to the coming week. Tracy and I get to go away without the kids to celebrate our 10th anniversary!

Nothing can destroy brutal relationships faster than the Gospel rightly applied. - DA Carson

I’m typing this so I don’t break my streak so I can get a pin.

More reading in my attic office with a pale, grey sky to keep me company.

It was great getting to join the leaders from churches all over Liverpool for their monthly joint staff meeting. I’m really excited to see how God uses this partnership of churches in this city.

We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. - Martin Luther

Well, that was a short-loved attempt at it but the amount of reading I have to complete this month for ministry and training just isn’t going to allow me the privilege of writing 50k words…

Study day means that I get to stay home and read and hang out with my youngest kid while the older kids are in school. Study days are good days.

Halloween in Britain. I’m going to feel a lack of Reese’s peanut butter cups tomorrow…

Unfair

Forgiveness is a courageous, clear-minded choice to be mercifully unfair. - David Powlison

One of the things that continues to strike me as I go through the process of studying to become a biblical counselor and pastor is the way that everything that I believes rests on a blessed twisting of the phrase, ”Life isn’t fair.”

If life for the Christian was fair, than Christianity wouldn’t be a thing because everyone would get what they deserved, regardless. And in the end, we all deserve punishment. There isn’t a way around that. If you assume there is a Creator and that Creator is just (which you do, whether you want to admit it or not), than we should all be deeply afraid for what comes on the other side of death.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve. Psalm 103:10

But the fact of the matter is that God is not only just, He is loving and forgiving. This means that those who are in Christ can rejoice at the fact that life is not fair. We can rejoice knowing that the debt we owed has been paid in full and we are free to live without fear of condemnation.

I shouldn’t be, but I’m thinking of attempting NaNoWriMo this year…

I got to do the most missionaryesque thing I’ve done so far, going door to door to let people know about what’s on at the church each week. Thankfully, it was nice and sunny and not too cold!

The biggest downside to having a lovely, old house is the cost of heating it when you didn’t have a hand in refurbishing it.

Concerning anger, David Powlison very wisely says this, ”momentary complaint, vocal argument, brooding resentment, and murderous frenzy share DNA.

Walking to and from the grocery store really makes you appreciate being able to get the bulk of your weekly stuff delivered.

When we have strength only to resist, we may know Christ’s government in us will be victorious - Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed pg.99-100

Because of the Lego Batman Movie, my 5-year-old son has asked me to make him Lobster Thermidor someday. I’m nearly 30 and barely know what Lobster Thermidor is!

the least likely to

While going through my Bible reading for the day, I was struck again by the way God chooses to use the people we would never want on our teams as the means by which he accomplishes his plans. Particularly in this passage from 2 Kings 7, we see four men who are banished from society because they have leprosy.

To add to their disgrace, they were also at the end of their rope. There was a famine happening, they would have been weak and tired. They had nothing left to lose, so they decided to surrender themselves to the Arameans with the hope that they might be given some mercy. They ended up finding the military camp empty because of God’s intervention and brought back news of what they saw.

This account points to the shepherds hearing the good news of Jesus’ birth in a really cool way. In much the same way that lepers were not permitted to be a part of normal society, shepherds were also isolated. They lived where their sheep could pasture. While important to the local economies and food supplies, they were not esteemed like the religious elite.

And yet, that is who God chose to proclaim his good news to.

Big Bird is doing the bedtime story on CBeebies. My and my kids’ childhoods have officially merged.

Thursdays are generally my day for studying for my biblical counselling course. I usually try to study at a cafe downtown but today, I’ve set myself up on a couch in the guest bedroom/study in our attic.

Had to run a couple of errands in town, which always leads to photos. 📷

“A simple and time-tested formula for building a big audience: 1) Call yourself a Christian. 2) Criticize traditional Christianity. 3) Side with the culture on contested issues. It’s worked for centuries. They will love you.” - Jonathan Leeman

Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or not. - Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, pg. 84

It is one main fruit of Christ’s exaltation that he may turn every one of us from our wickedness. - Richard Sibbes 📚

Currently reading: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes 📚

Young and (car) free

Young couples ‘trapped in car dependency’

I feel really fortunate to be able to live outside of the city centre while managing to be in an area that is almost entirely walkable. If we had needed to budget for a car in our fundraising to be on mission in Liverpool, we might not have made it.

When we were still in America, particularly in the suburbs of Chicago, having a car was synonymous with existing. We needed the car to get just about everywhere, our church was the only exception.

Now it feels like we’re actually living in the modern age. We are able to have our groceries delivered. There aren’t many restaurants around us, but there are loads that are easily accessible by public transport. And to be fair, the lack of restaurants that aren’t chippies or takeaways has only been a help for our budget.

Plus, having walking as our only form of transport mostly helps ease the soreness that comes from going to play football with the guys from church.

It’s so crazy that we live so close to a spot as beautiful as this.

It’s autumn so I guess that means I’m going to give blogging another go.

It’s great to hear some of our ministry partners talking about the persecuted church. Speaking briefly at a mosque over the weekend really opened my eyes to how much work is needed to begin reaching them with the gospel. www.doctrineanddevotion.com