Windsor & Oxford

I spent the last weekend visiting my Aunt Jeanne in Windsor, England. It was great to catch up with her, and visit the local area. We spent a very rainy Saturday in Oxford, touring the University and shops, and finished up the evening in a pub. On Sunday we visited the Windsor Castle, and then had tea in cute and crooked (yes, literally) cafe nearby. Here are a few shots of the weekend:

1. THE HALL IN CHRIST’S CHURCH COLLEGE. YES, THIS IS THE ROOM THAT THE HARRY POTTER DINING HALL WAS BASED AFTER.

2. ALBERT EINSTEIN’S CHALKBOARD IN OXFORD’S HISTORY OF SCIENCE MUSEUM.

3. THE QUEEN’S WEEKEND QUARTERS.

3. THE CATHEDRAL IN WINDSOR CASTLE.

4. HE WAS ACTUALLY TALKED TO ME AND WAS QUITE FRIENDLY. I FELT PRETTY VICTORIOUS.

5. STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING COVERED IN CUSTARD AND TEA, OF COURSE. IN A LITTLE TEAHOUSE IN WINDSOR.

6. FLAG SIGNIFYING THAT THE QUEEN IS PRESENT AT THE CASTLE.

Love,

Rachel

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Getting Back Up

 

 

 

“After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.  Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just the power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.”

–C.S. Lewis (AKA, the man)

Great Expectations

Well, with a wee bit of a sniffy nose (i’m amazed i’ve lasted this long without any sickness) I think i’ll settle down and blog this evening. I have had a thought that has been on the backburner of my mind for a few weeks new, so i’m going to have a go at it and see if it ends up being anything worth reading.

At the beginning of November I  began the Live Dead Journal, a 30-day challenge to pray for unreached people and to investigate my soul’s willingness to follow Jesus. I’m presently halfway in, at day 15, and let me tell you, some days it has been quite the kick in the teeth.  Day 6 in particular has been pestering me, and is a topic that I am still processing. The topic of day six was our expectations in following Jesus.  Honestly, i’ve always been game for following Jesus. Being stretched, and learning more about him. Potentially travelling to new parts of the globe and experiencing new culture. Doing something that is culturally upstream and counterintuitive. It sounds like an adventure, so i’m in. My rosy, unrealistic optimism thinks that following Jesus will be the grandest, most rewarding, fulfilling experience. And actually, it may be.  But what if it’s not? What if it is hard? What if I never see the fruit? What if I am rejected? What if i’m alone? What if I never feel the sense of reward? Will I still go?

The author of day 6, a missionary in Sudan, notes where she landed after her missionary experience didn’t play out picture perfectly: “I’d forgotten that it was my part just to obey, that Jesus is just my reward–that he can do as he sees fit with me, my family, and the work in Sudan…only Jesus makes it worth it.”

“What do you expect dying to self will feel like? Will it be pleasant? Painless? Problem free? What do you expect it to feel like when you live dead? Do you expect people to understand, support you, praise you, clap for you? Do you expect the devil to cheer and every demon in hell to yield to your noble aspirations?  Do you expect to be welcomed or affirmed by your peers and understood by your parents? Do you expect people to get in line to support you financially? Do you expect that your plans will be changed, your timing delayed, and your will continually crossed? Do you expect to surrender once in an air conditioned church, kneeling on a carpeted altar with a handy box of Kleenex perkily waiting to be plucked…and then from that point on to sail without contrary winds into God’s sheltered will? Or do you expect God to wring the self out of you in a painful and lengthy process, using circumstance and shattered expectations–then surprise you with how good it feels to have His image stamped deeply onto yours.”

The journal ended by compelling the reader to write out our expectations of what following Jesus will be like. So now, tucked in my Bible is a reminder that reads:

  1. I expect it to be a lonely journey, with many people not understanding or supporting.
  2. I expect to go through long seasons where I can’t see God, and have to follow and trust him anyways.
  3. I expect God to ever be involved in my life.
  4. I expect to be transformed.
  5. I expect God to be glorified.

I’m just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of what following Jesus is like. It goes beyond kissing orphans, and the accolades of others. It pushes past nice thoughts, and meaningful sentiments. It doesn’t stop where the road is flat and the sun in shining.

It’s going to be hard. But Jesus is our reward.

Love,

Rachel

Snapshots.

1. A rare sunny view from my window.

2. Delicious lunch in FlatPlanet.

3. London is beginning to show that Christmas is around the corner. And no Thanksgiving to hold them back from preparing!

4. SoHo, being cool.

Love,

Rachel

Creating Culture

Since school hasn’t been particularly pressing, I have had the luxury of reading for fun. I have started reading Andy Crouch’s book, “Culture Making.” I’ve wanted to read Culture Making for a while, and since I am currently living in a different culture, there is no time like the present! In his book, Crouch talks about the many ways that Christians can engage with their culture. The options that he discusses are critiquing, condemning, copying, consuming, and creating culture. Crouch contends that while there are many different responses to culture, the only way to truly change culture is to create it. It makes sense if you really think about it. I can talk about how much I hate raunchy movies, I can avoid watching them. I can critique their flaws, but unless a viable alternative is offered, that culture won’t change. (Unfortunately, there are no Rachel DeRoos films currently in the works 😉 ). This concept is true on the smaller scale as well. Rather than hiding from culture, and staying “holy” tucked away our homes, you and I have been blessed with the opportunity  to follow Jesus’ example, and engage in the culture God has placed us in.

The “Rachel DeRoos” culture is one that is weirdly obsessed with terrariums, easily geeks out about psychology, loves a good taco, and would be content to spend hours in a library. Unique, but nothing earthshaking. But there is another part of “Rachel DeRoos” culture: the part that finds her truth, worth, and rest in who Jesus is. The part that just wants to know Jesus. The part that tries to follow him regardless of the difficulties. The part  that won’t compromise, regardless of the setting. I genuinely hope that those aspects of my culture create culture.

I have been made much more aware of my culture since being here in England. I’m the only one in my flat who drinks coffee, or enjoys a good PB & J (so American!). But more deeply, I have chosen to spend my time, and live my life much differently than most college students. And that is just fine. We are called to live noticeably differently.

Andy Crouch puts it well when he says:

“God’s plan for history had never been to escape from history.”

But he wasn’t the first one to think of this:

“You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

-Matthew 5:14

Love,

Rachel

P.S. How are you creating culture today?