Monday, April 30, 2012

Dress Drama

When you're 17 and a size 4, you can wear a flour sack and still look cute.  I swear you would think my high school junior was picking out a prom dress because Zac Efron had asked her, figuring it would be posted on You Tube and go viral so that millions of folks around the planet will see her.  Based on all of the dress rigamarole, that's what you'd think.  Seriously.  

I didn't put this much thought into my wedding dress, but of course, my wedding dress didn't cost too much more than her prom dress.  She's what my mother calls "fixey" and a real perfectionist about her appearance.  Obviously she didn't inherit this from me.  As long as I don't smell, then I'm good to go.  

The teen has been shopping online for a dress on and off for weeks because she didn't snag a dress in the US over Christmas and hasn't been back since then.  So, she scoured all of the big prom dress websites looking for "the one".  I'm a very decisive person, but the teen takes after other folks in the family who browse and look and narrow it down and still can't make a decision and leave the store (website) to think about it and come back a couple days later to see how it looks again.  And then asks everyone she knows what they think about her choice. GAH! Just make a decision already.

After hours spent looking at dresses, calling me (and her dad and little sister) in to take a gander at the latest frocks on the short list, a list that changed about a zillion times, she finally decided on this one.  White, blingy, short, fun and flirty!

Praise Jesus, the search was over.  We found a store in Long Island, NY, that had this dress in stock in her size and paid the extra for speedy shipping plus import tax to get it to our home in England in about five business days.  

You know what's coming, right?  She tried it on and didn't like it.  She's at least a size smaller in the bust than her waist/hips and the dress needed to be altered.  But she couldn't see beyond the current way it fit with her immature teenage brain.  Plus "everybody else" was wearing a long dress and she wants to blend in with the herd.  Sooo, we shipped it back to NY Friday.  Now we just have to wait for it to arrive there so we can receive credit (minus the pricey restocking fee) and get a second dress sent across the pond.

Instead of getting her homework done on Saturday, the teen spent all afternoon checking out prom dress websites.  She narrowed it down to three, but forgot to check about immediate availability (doh! Homer Simpson headslap to forehead) and they were all special order.  So it was back to the drawing board yet again for another round of dress decision making. 

Finally, FINALLY, she decided on the one below.  She thought the blue was fine, but many members of the herd are wearing varying shades of blue and so the teen is opting for it in red.  And honestly, I think red will be a very flattering color on her with her dark hair.

I had already agreed to book the teen a mani/pedi plus waxing appointment and spray tan as part of her prom necessities... along with shoes and earrings.  I put my foot down about getting salon makeup and hair because she's a perfectionist and has always done a really good job with those things on her own.  But now that she has this fabulous bling on the back of the dress, she thinks she needs a loose/messy bun instead of the low side pony with waves she was planning for the white dress.  I don't know if I'm skilled enough with the bobby pins to get it to stay, especially since the prom takes place on a boat that sails the Thames River in London and they're bound to go on deck for at least a few photo opps that evening.  

If this is what I've got to look forward to when she selects a wedding gown, I may have to send the grandmothers with her.  Or use a bit of reverse psychology since the one I like the best is always the one she likes the least.  And definitely pack a flask of booze in my purse so I can wash down a Prozac just for good measure.  Come to think of it, maybe I need to see if I can locate an old scrip for some in the medicine drawer until she heads out the door for prom next month.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brugge - Part 2, still raining

We only had a few days in Brugge, so we couldn't let the intermittent rain keep us from touring.  A couple claps of thunder put a speedy little spring in my step and hurried us along as we tromped around getting wet.  Temps were in the mid 50s, so it was a bit chilly.

It has become our own little family ritual to visit a local grocery store when we travel.  Trinkets and souvenirs are fine, but we enjoy checking out the local chips and sweets and breads.  I bought a snack size bag of Paprika flavored chips for .63 euros and a Pepsi Max for .65 euros, so it was definitely a great deal.  Plus I enjoy the writing in a foreign language found on the packaging.

By the time we arrived at Church of Our Lady after lunch, we were looking a bit like drowned rats after walking through the old city center streets.  The main reason I wanted to tour this sanctuary was to see the Michelangelo sculpture of Madonna and Child that was created around the time the church was finished in the early 1500s.  

And what were the girls doing while the husband and I were admiring this amazing piece of art?  They were parked on a bench warming themselves at a space heater for the docents that had been vacated until the next tour.  I'm so glad they're appreciating all of the art and culture we're exposing them to while taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to live in Europe for a few years.  Don't they look grateful?

Upon exiting the church, we discovered that the rain had stopped.  We zipped just across from the church to the canal boat company recommended by our trusty tour writer Rick.  Cute, right, with the painted wooden shoes across the top.

About 2 minutes after we hopped on the boat, it started to rain again.  See the pink with green polka dots umbrella below?  The youngest daughter stayed huddled under that thing the entire time, even after it stopped raining near the end of our ride.  The boat driver had large almost golf-sized umbrellas he passed out to us when it started raining, so the teen and I shared one.  The younger daughter's umbrella was only partially exposed since she stayed crouched down in-between me and the husband's big bumbershoots.  The area of my jeans just above the knee were soaked clear through by the time we disembarked since her umbrella dripped on me the entire time.  Obviously we should have just left her at the dock underneath the covered area since she saw absolutely nothing.

I think maybe she did peer out from under her umbrella when we passed the little island with swans on it.  Maybe.

What I enjoyed were the facades with building dates on them.  Below you'll see a few I snapped from the canals - 1675, 1720 and 1608.  

We snooped around the city a bit more (fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar, anyone?) and then returned to the hotel in the late afternoon for a break.  And it's a good thing we did because about 15 minutes later some pea-sized hail started falling with the rain.  

Before we left Brugge, I just had to visit this shop.

Kathe Wohlfahrt (the youngest daughter giggles when I say the last name) is a German company based in Bavaria that sells Christmas decorations and ornaments.  I would have loved to get my hands on one of those tall pyramid candle spinning thingies in the window.  

And then I checked the price - sticker shock!  A three tiered rather plain one costs the equivalent of $250, so I can only imagine how much damage that tallest one would do to a checking account.  Therefore, I opted for the smaller one seen below.  I knew I would have to wrestle the very square and ungainly box on three separate trains in two different countries to get it home.  I chose this one because I collect Santas and this was the most colorful one on display.  I may have to splurge on a larger one when I visit the German Christmas markets with my mother in late November because they're just so darned precious.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brugge - A Rainy Spring Break, part 1

We had never made the short leap across the channel to see Belgium, so we decided to give it a whirl for the final long weekend of spring break.  It was the younger daughter's first experience on the Eurostar and she decided it's no grander than the local commuter train that hauls us into London.  I found a good deal on the Eurostar website a couple months ago and we were booked into two very spacious connecting rooms at the Crown Plaza.  Seriously - the only way we could have been closer to Burg Square was to pitch a tent right outside the revolving door of our hotel and camp there on the cobbled walkway in the shadow of the building below.

Eurostar dropped us in Brussels, where we caught an Inner City train for an hour long ride to Brugge.  The pics above show some of the rare blue skies we saw on this trip.  I guess we should just be glad we had a bit of nice touring weather that first afternoon.  

On our way to the frites (french fry) stand below that Rick Steves recommended...

my husband pointed out a group of retirement age folks on the street between Burg and Markt Squares wearing LU Cardinal baseball caps.  It just so happens that I graduated from Lamar University.  The teen told me I should say something to them and since I seem to be morphing into my chatty granny Doris in my old age, I did just that.  

It turns out that this group of LU alums were on a river cruise and touring Brugge for the day.  What a hoot - our family running into a bunch of LU folks from Southeast Texas on an historic square in Belgium.  As luck would have it, the LU president and his wife were in attendance and came over to introduce themselves.  I recalled enough from my LU days to remember that the president was a musician.  When I mentioned the name of my high school band director, the president's mouth formed an "O" and he told me that he was HER high school band director.  Yet more proof that it is, indeed, a small world.

Here are the husband and teen getting ready to enjoy their frites, hers with ketchup and his with mayo.  After all three of them hoovered up a basket full of fried taters, we headed over to the chocolate shop Rick Steves recommended.  I swear, y'all, we need to have an altar to this man in the house because he is our travel god.  And after using quite a few of his travel guides, I'm a convert.  The man sometimes hits the lower end, bargain basement, no frills sort of establishments, but has never steered me wrong in terms of what to see (in order of importance, because who can really see every little thing anyway), where to stay and which restaurants to frequent.

Mmm, chocolate!

See that marzipan strawberry?  It was delicious!  The kind young woman behind the chocolate counter with a fabulous command of the English language happily pointed out EVERY SINGLE sort of chocolate so the girls could give it a yea or nay.  Since I'm not a big hazelnut fan, it seemed as if every other piece involved some sort of hazelnut filling or flavoring.  Once I had a couple pieces, the little hogzillas snuffled up everything else.  The husband did get several pieces, but only after the girls had a nibble and deemed it unfit for their consumption.  Half-eaten chocolates with bite marks... so appetizing.

The husband and I ended our first day at De Vlaamsche Pot (The Flemish Pot) without the children in tow... the advantages of having kids age 16 and 11.  You guessed it - good ol' Rick Steves recommended it and it was a quaint little place for a reasonable meal.  We toasted a night out sans the little tax deductions with a glass of sweet German wine while the husband opted for a Chimay, one of the famous Trappist beers brewed in Belgium by the Trappist monks.  

I started with a goat cheese and honey salad while the husband had shrimp croquettes.  His main was a huge pot of mussels in white wine while I dined on a really unique dish of endive wrapped in bacon then topped with a thin layer of rough mashed potatoes, a white cream sauce with fresh black pepper and cheese, all baked in a mini cast iron skillet.  It didn't sound that heavy a meal when I ordered it.  I ate roughly a third and was about to explode carbs all over the place because it was so incredibly rich.  After waddling back to our hotel, we took the youngest daughter up to the 8th floor to enjoy a dip in the indoor pool.  

The following day brought intermittent rain, but that didn't slow us down.  We hoofed it south from the medieval city square to walk along the canals...

on our way to the De Halve Maan Brewery for a tour.  This is the view we had when we walked out onto the roof of the brewery, a rare blue sky peeking through the rain clouds that scuttled across the sky all day.

At the end of the tour, we all got a sample of the finished product.  

That tall, skinny glass of darker liquid is the Coke our youngest ordered in place of the beer.  I got a glass of the beer and promptly turned it over to the hubby since he's a connoisseur whereas I never developed a taste for it.  Since the drinking age on the continent is 16, the teen got her own glass of beer.  In the spirit of things, she took a sip or two, announced that it tasted like stale saltine crackers and gave her glass to her daddy.  Needless to say, the husband got a healthy sampling of the wares and left the place with a case of beer breath for our afternoon touring.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Belly Up to the Bar

At our house, you have to belly up to the island.  That's where the younger daughter likes to host beer tastings for her father.  

She and her dad enjoy selecting interesting individual cans or bottles of beer at our local grocery stores.  At home, the daughter pours samples into glasses and numbers them so that it's a blind taste testing.  The husband has no clue which is which.  His personal favorite is London Pride.  It has a rather nondescript name as well as can.  See the notepad - that's for the husband to jot down his thoughts on each brew.  He obviously takes this stuff seriously.  

Below is a closer look at the latest beer tasting.

You've gotta love some of the names these Brits have given their beers... Fursty Ferrett and Bishop's Finger.  I don't see the requisite palate cleanser in these pics, but I know he had a bag of plain tortilla chips nearby so he could munch on those in-between tastings.  Here in our household we appreciate only the finer things.  

And speaking of refined tastes... here is the teen taking a swig of beer after our tour of the De Halve Maan brewery in Brugge, Belgium, this past weekend for the last hurrah of spring break.  At the end of our 45 minute tour, with the smell of hops in our noses since they were in production mode, we were given a sample of the final product.  The younger daughter opted for Coke, but the older daughter turns 17 next week and was automatically given her own glass.  Since the legal drinking age on the continent is 16, we decided to let her have a sip of the sample.  She wrinkled her nose with foam on her upper lip and pronounced that it tasted like stale saltine crackers.  

Her dad was happy to finish it off for her.  And mine since I've never been a beer drinker.  He would have also polished off a glass meant for the little one if we had consented to let her sample it instead of allowing her to substitute a soda.  After another glass of beer with lunch in the restaurant adjacent to the brewery, he was well fortified for an afternoon of touring in the intermittent rain with one child who wanted to go back to the hotel and swim (indoor pool on 8th floor was a hit) while the other one wanted to shop for an after prom dress in the local boutiques.  It was at this point when I began to wonder why I didn't get a beer IV to make it through the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hailish Weather

Last week we had some freaky weather.  This was only the second time I've heard thunder in England since we moved here 16 months ago.  It seems Texas doesn't have a monopoly on changeable weather.  One minute it was sunny, then the next it was cloudy punctuated by claps of thunder.  All of a sudden, this frozen stuff started falling from the sky.

At first it looked like your average pea to marble sized hail.  But then it began to resemble Sonic ice.  Mmm, Sonic - I'd love to get my hands on a large cherry limeade.

It was falling so quickly that it accumulated on the grass.  However, the hail didn't last more than a minute or so on the flagstones of the back patio which had been warmed up by weak sunbeams earlier in the day.

The beast had a fabulous time snuffling through the hail strewn grass in our back yard.  

But alas, it didn't take long for the frozen bits to melt and the spring sun to reappear, even while a bit of errant rain was still falling.  It reminded me of that silly little southern saying we always applied to the combination of rain with the sunshine... the devil beating his wife.  Here in the UK this same phenomenon is called a monkey's birthday.  Call me prejudiced, but I don't think the local version is quite as catchy as the one we have in the US.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Status Quo

Things are back to normal around here.  Both of the chicks have returned to the nest after their respective trips to Greece and Texas.  I had a milestone Sunday morning when I drove the husband to terminal 4 at Heathrow so we could retrieve the youngest daughter from her return trip.  It was easy peasy, which makes perfect sense since it was 6:00 am and I was all alone on virtually every roundabout.  I don't know that I'll be tackling terminals 1-3 anytime soon, but I can confidently say that from here on out I'll be able to pick up visiting relatives or friends from terminal 4 since it's on the south side of the airport in the direction of our house.

The teen had some camera issues on the trip, so we're relying on the Young Life leaders to post photos we can steal for personal use.  The teen took one of our oldest cameras, but there were some technical difficulties with the memory card.  

In the pic below, you see the playground area where the students were doing their service project.

This pic shows the teen doing some painting.  We had purchased that rainproof jacket she is wearing at the Costco in Reading because it cost £12 and thus made it more or less disposable since I knew it would return home in pitiful shape... and it did.  She'll travel several thousand miles from home to give up half of her spring break to help Greek children, but she won't spend 15 minutes picking up her bedroom.  <sigh>

Next are Annie and some other Young Life teens playing volleyball with a few of the local Greek kids.  What a great location here along the coast, with the blue water and sandy beach as your backdrop.

The teen said there were several resident dogs at the camp where they were staying.  During the day it was fun to pet Balto (seen below taking a snooze next to her) and his four footed, furry buddies.  However, at night it was nerve wracking because the dogs would bark and howl and prowl around, making noises fit to wake the dead.  

And speaking of slumber - I've let the girls sleep late the past couple days, but that all changes tomorrow since we have to get packed up again for our little trip to Belgium.  Yummy yummers - frites and waffles and chocolates as far as the eye can see in Bruges.  The diet starts Monday, April 23. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


So what have I been doing since the girls left last weekend?  As little as possible. I made a supply run to the nearest grocery store on Saturday morning once the teen headed for the airport.  The only time I left the house for the next two days was when I took the dog out for potty breaks in the back yard.  I stayed in my loungy pants or stretchy shorts topped with some ancient t-shirt and my yellow chenille bathrobe over the top of my little ensemble.  No makeup, day old hair pulled back into a ponytail, ill-fitting glasses instead of contact lens... though I did brush my teeth because you just can't be too careful about gum disease at my age.  I did take a walk on the wild side and omit flossing because I'm just that kinda rebel.  But the toothbrushing... I don't know that recessed gums can kill you, but why risk it.  

Of course, my little kid-free break wasn't totally free of responsibility.  Ollie, my furry little son, had to be fed and taken out to potty and entertained with some ball fetching.  He was the model child pooch until Monday when he snarfled up a slug on his first-thing-in-the-morning potty run.  The inevitable dew on the grass and damp back patio are a magnet for the slimey little critters and Mr. Intelligent got it swallowed before I could wrestle it out of his mouth.  

About 5 minutes later, once he got back into the house, he did his best imitation of a cat hacking up a hairball, only it was the slug.  Plus some foamy looking saliva.  And of course he didn't just do it in one place, but had to yack in three different spots in the family room.  Wouldn't you know, the edge of the couch was one of them.  Oh well - that's why God invented those handy antibacterial cleaning wipes I buy in bulk at Costco.  

The beast went to doggie daycare today and was in desperate need of a bath once he returned.  With his double layered coat, I find that he needs to be cleaned up every 7-10 days.  Once I bathed him, he acted like a maniac.  He's not a big fan of brushing, so I kind of have to wrestle him to get the job done.  Below is a short video of Ollie hanging out on the couch with me after his bath this evening, wrestling the brush into submission.  Must. get. life.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I hear you knocking, but you can't come in

On this first weekend of spring break, I've been kid-free for more than four hours.  I've already put gas in the car, gone grocery shopping and taken the beast with me to the UK version of Petsmart.  His favorite thing to do is put his paws on the front dash, thus forcing me to attach him to the doggie seatbelt harness.  Maybe one of these days he'll be disciplined enough to sit politely in the passenger seat for the entire trip without any sort of restraint.  

I arranged for the teen to ride to Gatwick airport with one of her friends also going on the Young Life service trip to Greece.  I though it was funny that the very sweet mom told me in advance they run late... and they did indeed get here at 6:55 instead of 6:30, which I guess was just a sort of wishful thinking time for them.  We tossed her bag into the trunk, hugged and she was off for a week in Thessaloniki.

I watched them drive off and turned around to go back into the house.  The only problem with going back into the house was our locked door.  I came out before the teen and she closed the door completely to keep the beast from running out onto the front drive.  And our door automatically locks when it is closed.  

No amount of pushing or cursing or kicking would gain me entrance into the house.  I was having a screaming, freak out conniption fit in my head for a couple seconds and then it dawned on me.  I had already taken the beast out for his morning backyard stroll to sprinkle the grass and provide fertilizer for it.  I all but skipped around through the side gate to let myself into the house via the french doors on the back patio.  

The husband is always chastising me about keeping the french doors locked at all times... cause yo, yo man it's pretty dangerous all up here in da hood with gangs of private school kids running 'round loose on their high dollar mountain bikes on the mean streets of our gated community.  But for real, I'm so glad my inability to keep the house secure at all times allowed me to avoid walking over to a friend's house about a mile away (at 7 in the morning dressed in my ratty sweats with unbrushed teeth - gah) to ring up a locksmith who will charge me time and a half for a holiday weekend service call. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fast Food

Ollie is serving time in jail, aka his kennel.  He's on my s#*t list right now.

I got the little one off on her flight to Texas this morning.  Then I came home to collect the teen so we could run some last minute errands for her Young Life service trip to Greece that leaves tomorrow morning.  At our last stop in the grocery store, I bought myself a sandwich for lunch.  

Once I got home, I sat down on the couch with my glass of diet soda and chicken sandwich.  Ollie was sitting at my feet waiting for his reward for being a patient and well-behaved boy.  I always tear off the crust and toss him little bits of it when I have a sandwich.  He's getting pretty good at catching little goodies like this in mid-air before it hits the floor.

After a couple bites, my cell phone rang and I rushed over to dig it out of my purse before the call went to voice mail.  I had sent the husband an email message this morning to call me once he woke up in Texas before heading out with his parents to pick up the little one at the airport.  He and I chatted for a bit when I glanced over into the family room and saw red.

Ollie had jumped up onto the sofa and then hopped across to the coffee table that I had pulled up conveniently close since I was leaning over a napkin to keep from scattering crumbs everywhere.  How convenient of me to facilitate his thievery.  About the time I shouted his name, he turned and I realized it was too late.  The sneak had eaten my entire sandwich.  

Because he had wolfed down his ill-gotten meal with such haste, I put him in his kennel to make sure his stomach wouldn't get upset.  At least he didn't have time to gobble up the discarded crust and wash it all down with a drink from my glass.  What a little stinker!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

They're leaving on a jet plane

Today is the last day of classes before the girls kick off two weeks of spring break.  They could definitely get spoiled to this extra time.  Once we return to the states, they'll be back to just a single week of fun.

The youngest daughter is flying unaccompanied to Texas to spend a week with the grandparents and cousins.  We've known all along the teen would be going to northern Greece on a Young Life service trip, so we had to figure out what to do with the first week of the break.  As always, the younger one wants to go to Texas.  It's irrelevant that we've lived in England for over a year and she has visited much of Europe.  Given the opportunity to voice an opinion, she always spouts off TEXAS as her go-to answer when we ask where she would like to spend her next holiday.  

I asked her if she wanted to go skiing for winter break - maybe France or Switzerland.  Sure enough, she was interested in skiing... at the cousin's ski condo in Red River, NM.  Don't get me wrong - it's a very nice place.  That wasn't really what I had in mind, but it made perfect sense to her.  She sure is one flag waving American.  In the meantime, the teen is begging for exotic locales like Africa (to pet and have her pic taken with the meerkats), China (to pet and have her pic taken with the pandas), Morocco (to pet and have her pic taken with the monkeys)... a bit of a running theme with her.  

So anyhoo, I was fine with the younger one flying to Texas and I offered to go with her but she was all, nah, I'll be fine and I'm not scared.  Well alrighty then, because I can throw the money for my ticket at our Danube river cruise in July.  I booked her ticket and was surprised that I had to pay $99 each way on top of the cost of airfare for the folks at the airlines to kinda keep some sort of eye on her.  Hello - it's not like you've gotta change her nappy or warm up a bottle for her.  That sounds like pretty pricey babysitting to me.  And I'm the one who has the pleasure of sitting with her at the gate at Heathrow until her plane gets off the ground.  Doesn't that sound like fun - just hanging out at one of the busiest airports on the planet for a couple hours entertaining her without the payoff of going somewhere new and exciting.  I'll try not to shed a tear as I wave goodbye... and say hello to a week of FREE-DOM!  I guess it's too late to arrange for the dog to fly with her because then I would have been completely footloose and fancy free.

Oh well - my consolation prize is that I shuffle the teen off to Greece the next day and have no kid responsibilities for a week.  The dog and I will hold down the fort until the husband returns from his two week trip.  I can clean house and not worry about some kid coming along right behind me to mess it up.  I can grocery shop without having to purchase the requisite kid stuff I definitely don't need to be eating.  I may see if I can go all week without turning on the cooktop burners or oven, he-he-he.  Once all of the chicks return to the nest next weekend, we'll be prom dress shopping in London before heading to Belgium for a short visit.  Happy Spring Break to me and Happy Easter to the rest of y'all!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Remembering my Baptist roots

All around us there are signs of spring - warmer temps, with plants budding out and flowering.  Our property management company's yard service even had to mow the grass last weekend.  The daffodils below were lined up like pretty maids all in a row in our backyard.

Hope springs eternal on many fronts.  The teen had excellent grades in the nine weeks that just ended, and we are so pleased she has become adjusted to the demands of her third high school in three years.  This is welcome news as she prepares for the SAT in May and ACT in June.  She has already started looking at colleges... and sororities.  Before we know it, she'll be starting a new chapter in her life.  

In the past five days, I've toured two of the must-see cathedrals listed in a typical English travel guide.  On Friday, I drove with a friend to Winchester for a tour.  The guides weren't terribly informative, but the cathedral was beautiful.  

The vaulting in the ceiling was breathtaking.  And we were surprised to discover that author Jane Austen is buried in the floor of a side aisle.  

Yesterday we took the train to St. Albans to see the cathedral.  It wasn't as pretty as most of the other cathedrals I've toured, but it was interesting.

The exterior shot of the south side of the cathedral, seen below, shows you why it's so different.  The wall's materials and windows are just a hodge podge.  After initial construction in the 11th century, the nave was extended.  Then part of the south wall fell and thus had to be rebuilt.  You expect everything in cathedrals to be very symmetrical, but this one just doesn't fit the bill.  However, I think all of the differences and seeming flaws make it a noteworthy cathedral to visit.  It's not knock-your-socks-off beautiful, but it certainly is intriguing.  And the Lord doesn't care whether we're worshiping in a crystal cathedral, one covered in marble and gold leaf, or a humble little pine sanctuary in the middle of the woods.

I love the picture below that I took of the exterior of Winchester cathedral.  Families are gathered on the lawns around it, soaking up the springtime sun.  If you look carefully, you can see a raised tomb just to the right of the tree.  Everywhere you look at this time of year, you see the hand of God in the eternal circle of life, death and rebirth.  In this week leading up to Easter Sunday, I can't help but recall the final words in the chorus of one of my favorite old Baptist hymns.  He arose, He arose, hallelujah Christ arose.