Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dust to Dust

On this the first day of Lent 2017, I am reminded through the beauty of the liturgical calendar of the importance of the seasons of life and more specifically the comfort in meaningful Christian ritual. In a world full of turmoil, disdain for the "other", and little patience for viewpoints out with our own, the concept of Lent, a season of reflection, repentance, renewal and preparation, somehow makes me feel very centered.

To know that we all began the same and will have the same end, keeps central the idea that we are actually not that different. Lent reminds me to step back and focus on what it means to value the sanctity of life, the love of God and the humanity of others. How can I sacrifice of myself to demonstrate this sense of self-renewal and connection with faith that the Lenten season carries with it?

This year, I've challenged myself to do something that seems quite foreign to me at this stage in life: to pray. To talk to God, to find meaning in that conversation again, to lift up creation, to offer love for others. Since mom and Michael's deaths, I have struggled with prayer- the point, the purpose, the how, the when- it all seems so strange. So, here I go. Forty days of opening myself up to the possibility of a dialogue of love and connection and of being changed.

May the God of grace and joy abide with us all through these forty days.
May we learn to release and let go.
May we walk in peace.

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial-
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

-Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Coming Home: Texas

Coming home again after a decade away is not easy. Exciting, overwhelming, joy-filled, but not necessarily soul soothing, especially in life after loss. Because in truth, no matter how fun holiday celebrations and game nights can be, the absence of your loved is profound. You’re home, but they’re not, so is it really home? It’s a new version of the life you once knew.

Navigating the uncharted waters of our sparkly new suburban Dallas existance has been a whirlwind thus far. We live the posh life with family, have bought a new-to-us car, have working mobile phones, Steven has a driver’s license again and I accepted a job offer doing what I love this week. Exciting times, no doubt.

The hard part, and yes amongst so much goodness there is gritty, hard, emotional baggage, is learning to love where you live once again. I will be working a mile from where my mom lived. I will pass her neighborhood every day on my way to work. I will shop where we shopped together. I will go to her favorite wine spots. I will live life where she did, where she thrived, and she isn’t here. It’s very strange. It’s very difficult.

I talk to her while I drive. I think about her while I work out. I dream about her.
“Mom, you’ll never believe this construction!”
“Guess what they’ve done to the old Albertsons?”
“Louie’s having bad allergies. What should I do?”
“I ran a mile today at the gym, Mom. Getting healthy again!”

Grief feels more real or perhaps as if I’ve hit a fresh wave as I swim the ever-changing waters of this life. I’m thrilled to be back to Texas- to be home- but I never expected the internal conflict and emotion that I’m experiencing. My mom is gone. I’ll celebrate my birthday without her. I’ll start work without her. We’ll buy a home without her. (Who will hang my pictures and organize the kitchen, by the way?) We’ll watch the Cowboys win (or lose) without her. We’ll find balance and refreshed perspective again without her.

And yet, she is here. She lives in me. She lives in my Aunt Sandy and Aunt Vicki. Her presence is felt in my heart and Steven’s, just as Michael boy’s spirit resonates, as well.

As I tread these new waters and face the excitement of 2017 head on, I look forward to what’s to come. Texas is fresh and exciting and I’ll continue to talk mom’s ear off as we face what’s to come: together.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Note on Hospitality this Thanksgiving

With only 13 days until our big move back to Texas, I'm walking a tightrope of emotions balancing between complete and utter excitement to be home with family and total sadness and loss that our time living abroad is almost over. I have loved life in Scotland, despite its quirks and challenges, but also yearn for something I haven’t felt in quite a long time: consistency.

It’s not that working four part-time jobs hasn’t been a blast, but I look forward to using the skill set I spent years developing, working one job that (hopefully) pays enough for us to live comfortably and also give generously. I look forward to the day that Steven submits his dissertation and also finds whatever is next- to the day that we are done with the student lifestyle.

To spend time with and be around family that we have lived away from for over ten years now. To know them, grow with them and learn from them. After facing the worst kind of loss square in the face, we are ready for time. Time with parents, adopt-a-parent aunts and uncles, time to get to know my really cool half-sister, to see Nathan perform, to nerd out with my cousin, to love on grandparents. We’ve missed so much.

More than anything, I feel the call to give. Give of myself, my resources, my time. I’m ready to get my hands dirty in my field of employment, wherever I find a job, and also in the Texas community in which we’ll reside. I’m ready to engage with agencies and advocacy groups working for change, to support those suffering and to advocate for those whose voices are not heard. I have the privilege to do that- to give- and the time is now.

Over the course of the past three and a half years of life in Aberdeen, Scotland, I have learned a lot of things, not least of which is the importance of hospitality. I know now in greater measure than I could have grasped in my former American life that in order to be hospitable, I must also receive and accept the hospitality of others. Every encounter, big or small, changes me and this Thanksgiving I am thankful for all the folks in Scotland who have opened their homes, hearts and lives to Steven and I, who have served as family. We are better because of your love toward us and your generosity will continue to pour out through us as we return home to Texas.

Someone asked me the other day what I have learned about faith during my time abroad. Of course, I am quite uncertain about faith right now, but after much thought and contemplation, here was my reply:
I’ve seen grace extended to me in ways that far exceed my understanding of God’s character and love in my “previous life”. I have grown and changed and wrestled and cried and been overjoyed and through it all my faith has shifted and wavered, yet love remains and I choose it every day. I can love and give of myself all-the-while learning to say no to the things that make my soul sore, rather than soar. And perhaps, most importantly, I’ve learned and continue to learn that it’s okay. It’s all okay. God abides and loves through it all and therefore, so can I.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope your tables are surrounded in love and generosity today.

Monday, October 10, 2016


The nurse walked in to check on me. I had just had a recent dose of meds to help with the pain. We chatted for a minute and then she asked if I felt ready to go home.
Home to cuddle my dogs. Home to lay down and recover in my own space with an autumn scented candle and some chai tea. Home to watch The Great British Bakeoff with the hubs.

I had been in the hospital for about 30 hours. Not long in the grand scheme of things, but about 26 hours longer than originally planned. It was supposed to be a routine surgery to go in and grab the 4mm kidney stone that had nestled itself in my bladder. That damn little stone had other plans.

Part of a larger stone that splintered in two in June, at which time I passed the first half, this little booger has literally been a pain in my side ever since. I’ve had a urine infection, thrown my back out twice, and been in constant pain for over three months. Those little calcium deposits are pure evil, and commonly strike at random. Beware, friends.

So, the docs went into get it and to examine my kidneys for further damage. As I came to from the anesthesia, I remember feeling the insane pain, wincing and asking the attending nurse what had happened. “The doctor will explain,” she said. Drugs. I need drugs.

Turns out, when they squirted the dye that the camera needs to look around my kidney, the sitting stone fragmented into lots of little terrible pieces. The trauma, which was pretty bad already from three months of dealing with the gosh darn stone, led the powers-that-be to decide to add a uretic stent, stretching from my left kidney (problem child) all the way down through my bladder.

To say that the next 48 hours were rough would be a mighty understatement.

I was checked in for the night and joined my four roommates in the ward for an evening meal as Steven returned with a few overnight items for me. The meds cart that came around regularly and my few visitors that evening made the time bearable. A long sleepless night led to a more hopeful morning.

Yes, I’d love to go home. Discharge me, please.

And just like that, the nurse handed me one piece of paper with doctor’s notes, my meds, and contact details listed on it, alongside my three different pain meds to take home. “That’s it,” she said. “Hang in there and get some rest.”

I didn’t wait for three hours to fill out exit paperwork.
I didn’t have to go to a separate location to fill my prescriptions.
I didn’t pay a dime. Not one.

Nationalized Health Care, like the UK’s NHS, may have its down sides, such as longer waiting times and shared rooms, but overall it is unbelievably amazing. We all pay taxes into the system so that everyone can have appropriate health care. EVERYONE. Money well spent, if you ask me.

Quality care for all. No questions asked.

Everyone deserves the type of discharge service I experienced. To go home and rest, not worried about how to pay the hospital bill, how to get the prescription filled or what’s coming next. To feel at peace, while dealing with pain and recovery, knowing that a plan is in place, knowing that you will get the care you need. May we find it in us to hold all lives worthy of this type of love and care, no matter their status, class, race, ethnicity, age or gender identification.

Thanks, NHS. I will miss you.
I’ve been discharged!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

God is a River

Today marks two years since my mom's stroke- the day my life changed forever. If there is one thing that I have learned beyond all measure over the course of the past two years, it's this: Life is messy and complicated and filled with wild uncertainty, ever changing and constantly moving, ebbing and flowing with doubt, joy, grief, excitement, anger, sadness and hope.

Loss changes you forever. Some cling to their faith and others, like me, question everything they once felt they knew. Things that seemed important no longer do. The frailty and fleetingness of life becomes tangible, bringing the realization that each day is a beautiful gift not to be wasted on the inconsequential. It's a balancing act of loving the world again while also learning to love life and yourself.

It is because of this constant change, growth, reflection and uncertainty that I love the imagery of life/faith/God as a river. Rolling, wild or smooth, we are constantly being molded by the rushing water. Ups and downs, tragedy and joy along the way, the river keeps flowing until it reaches it's final destination.

When we scattered my mom's ashes last summer, we chose one of her favorite spots- Dripping Springs in the Texas Wine Country. Full of happy memories and fabulous vino, my family and I cherished out time together, remembering mom fondly. We chose to spread her ashes in the quaint spring that flowed beside our Bed and Breakfast, acknowledging the symbolism of the flowing river that would carry her on. A time of love for mom and each other, we hugged, cried, prayed and listened as Steven read these Peter Mayer song lyrics to us:

In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life
I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
Where I might let the fretful water of this river 'round me pass

And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
And I prayed to it "protect me" and the rock replied

God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go

Still I clung to my rock tightly with conviction in my arms
Never looking at the stream to keep my mind from thoughts of harm
But the river kept on coming, kept on tugging at my legs
Till at last my fingers faltered, and I was swept away

So I'm going with the flow now, these relentless twists and bends
Acclimating to the motion, and a sense of being led
And this river's like my body now, it carries me along
Through the ever-changing scenes and by the rocks that sing this song

God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go

I choose to let go. I'll go along for the ride, aware of things passed that have shaped and molded me into who I am, and looking forward to the waves and ripples to come. I take the memory of mom with me, experiencing the journey with her love blooming in my heart and radiating in my life. As I look ahead to the exciting things to come this year- our world travels, move back to Texas, purchasing a car, finding employment, and Steven putting the final touches on his PhD- I am keenly aware that through the twists and bends, I am not alone. We are not alone.

God is the river, swimmer, so let go.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Death doesn't win. Only Love.

While society focuses their attention to the Brock Turners and Donald Trumps of this world, spreading darkness and hate with their words and actions, my mind is drawn elsewhere on this 9th day of June 2016. It was a year ago today that my dear brother-in-law lost his battle to cancer. You see, Michael is the type of person who should be garnering attention, not the bullies and hate mongers, but rather a man like Michael- full of love, boundless zest for life and desire to make the world better.

As I grieve the loss of Michael’s great light in my life, I can’t help but think of the day that Michael, Nathan and Steven sang at my mom’s funeral, singing a version of The River by Garth Brooks. It was the last time the three boys ever performed together and still brings a flood of emotion as I remember it. The words are so appropriate as I think about Michael, his life and his legacy.
“I will sail my vessel,
until the river runs dry.
Like a bird upon the wind,
these waters are my sky.
I’ll never reach my destination
if I never try,
so I will sail my vessel
until the river runs dry.”

Michael sailed on. He lived life to the fullest until the very end, loving and being loved, proving that even though troubles come, you can still live a life of integrity and worth. He proved through his strength of character and through his battle that cancer indeed does not have the last word. Death does not have the last word. Only love.

I asked Steven if I could share the eulogy he delivered at Michael’s funeral last year, as these words have brought me much comfort. I hope that as you think of Michael today, you remember the sacred gift of life and love, knowing that you too can keeping sailing on.

Michael Schafer Eulogy
Delivered by Reverend Steven Schafer on Saturday, June 13, 2015

Michael Shane Schafer was born August 1, 1991 at our family home in Hawkins, Texas. He passed away June 9, 2015 at the age of 23. He is survived by his wife Jillian, parents Eddie and Rochelle, his brothers Nathan and Steven and his wife Linsey, by his grandparents Patsy Schafer and Virl and Janice Ruth.

As I’ve thought about Michael over the last few days, my mind has been flooded with story after story. Each story brought with it a rush of images. It was almost like flipping through a photo album of his life. As a small group of family and friends met together on Thursday to talk about Michael, I quickly realized that there are too many stories to tell. But I’d like to share with you just a few snapshots of Michael’s life.

When we gathered on Thursday, I asked, “What one word best describes Michael?” The first word that came to mind was “STRONG”. He was a person who knew what he wanted out of life. If he set his mind to doing something, you could count on Michael getting it done. As Jed put it, “Michael could accomplish just about anything.” Now the flip side of that is that Michael could also be a little bit stubborn…a trait that runs in some of the men of the Schafer family…or so I’m told. If Michael thought he was right, it was hard to convince him otherwise. One childhood friend tells the story of how one day, Michael engaged in a heated debate with his teacher. Michael was certain that Albuquerque was the capital of New Mexico. The teacher informed him that the capital was Santa Fe. Even after 10 minutes of arguing, Michael remained unconvinced. Somehow, Michael had this uncanny ability to be right even when he was wrong.

Michael’s headstrong, determined personality made him a HARD WORKER. Whether he was working as a handyman, singing, or helping Grandmom with chores around the house, he gave it his all. He always strove for excellence and expected others to do the same. He didn’t have much time for those who didn’t want to give their best. When Michael was living in the dorms at Oklahoma City University, the air conditioning in his dorm room stopped working. Michael contacted the front desk and was told, “We’ll take care of it.” A day or so later the problem had not been fixed, so he called again and got a similar response. Then he called the maintenance department. After this went on for a while, Michael forcibly removed the air conditioning unit from his dorm room and carried it to the office. After slamming it down on the desk, he looked at the person in charge and said, “You’re gonna fix that.”

Oh, Michael was a CHARACTER. When he was at ensemble rehearsals, he would often select a character and a storyline, and play that part throughout the rehearsal. His flair for the dramatic began at an early age. Dad remembers the time that Michael went missing one Sunday afternoon. Dad searched the whole house and couldn’t find him. Dad was pretty sure that Mom would be upset if she came home and Michael wasn’t around, so he searched the house again, upstairs and down. Still no Michael. Dad started to panic and sent me to the neighbors’ houses to see if they had seen Michael. After the third time of going through the house, Dad was standing in the kitchen and a strange feeling rushed over him. He turned, opened the pantry door, and there was Michael…sitting on a barrel of popcorn, grinning from ear to ear.

Michael’s playful, larger-than-life personality was seen also in the way he dressed. He didn’t care if his clothes matched. He frequently wore plaid with stripes. He often wore different colored socks. And if this fashion faux pas was pointed out to him, he would look at his outfit, look back, and just smile. It was almost a badge of honor for him. One year, Michael was selected to sing in the Texas All-State Choir. The night of the performance, Michael wore a bright green shirt and a mismatched vest with his suit, while every other member of the 200+ person choir was in the traditional black-white attire. After that event, the Texas Music Educator’s Association made a rule regulating dress for performances. It is lovingly referred to as the Michael Rule.

You could tell by the way Michael lived his life, that faith was important to him. Often, when we talk about faith, we talk about believing something. Believing in Jesus. Believing in God. But the apostle James talked about faith a little differently. He said, “Faith is about the way you live. If you see someone in need, and you don't meet that need, you don't really have faith.” Jesus said, “If you want to be my follower, you must love each other.” Michael showed God's love to others in tangible ways.

One of the ways he lived his faith was through his music. He sang at a variety of churches over the last several years. But one of his favorite things to do was to sing at funerals. During his time in Oklahoma City, he was highly sought after to sing at memorial services. Michael loved ministering to people with his singing. After having cancer surgery on his tongue, one of his biggest concerns was that he didn’t want to lose the ability to touch other people through song.

Michael also lived his faith by being one of the most welcoming, caring people you'd ever meet. Mom tells the story of Mother’s Day 2014. She was sitting in church, and at some point during the service, she felt a tap on the shoulder…and there was Michael. He drove from Oklahoma City to Dallas to surprise her. He gave her a hug and went to the platform to sing a song in her honor. But Michael wasn’t just thoughtful when things were going well. Last fall, Michael was undergoing radiation treatment. During that process, you often see the same people each week. One day, Michael sat next to a young man that he had seen before. He struck up a conversation with the patient, and learned that the young man who was going through treatment alone…he didn’t have any support from friends or family. Michael’s first instinct was to pray with him and offer encouragement. That wasn’t an isolated event. He did that for a lot of people through the years.

Michael was creative. He enjoyed working with his hands, be it woodworking or doing handyman jobs. He also loved to cook big meals for family and friends. But they had to be meticulously planned. He would create menus, shopping lists, to do lists. He got so much joy from watching others enjoy his food.

Michael loved the outdoors. He enjoyed fishing…he might have been the luckiest fisherman I’ve ever seen. He excelled at water skiing and snow skiing. He was a good golfer. He played football from 5th grade through early high school. He was consistently the smallest kid on the team, but he was a little firecracker.

Perhaps Michael is best known for his musical talent. He started singing in choir during middle school. And to our great surprise, he ended up quitting football his sophomore year of high school in order to focus on singing. During high school, he sang in a barbershop group called the Chordsmen. He participated in multiple musicals. He became the student conductor of the Chorale, Denton High’s top choir. Michael also auditioned and was selected to the Texas Music Educator’s Association’s All State Choir in both his junior and senior years. He was first-chair baritone his senior year. In addition to his musical accomplishments in high school, Michael also sang with the world-renown choir, The Vocal Majority. Michael loved music and loved singing. He put everything he had into each performance. When you watched him on stage, it was easy to see that performing brought him so much joy. And he wanted to share that joy with people around him. Michael’s love of music led him to pursue a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Oklahoma City University.

It was at OCU that Michael encountered a woman who changed his life forever. Michael and Jillian met at casting callbacks for a production of Legally Blond. Unfortunately, Michael had a girlfriend at the time, so the future couple had to wait. Later that year, Jillian attended Michael’s Junior recital. Some say that Jillian was chasing Michael…she tells a different story. Regardless of which version is more true, it was obvious that they liked each other. After the recital, Michael said to Dad, “Dad, I think I like her. I think I’m gonna ask her out.” After they dated a few times, he called Dad and said, “Dad, I really like her.” It wasn’t long before Dad got the call, “Dad, she’s my girlfriend.”

Now, don’t think that Jillian was passive in the courting process. Not long after they met, Jillian found out that she and Michael were going to be in Oklahoma City during spring break. Jillian invited Michael to come over and watch Game of Thrones. During the first episode, they sat on opposite ends of the couch. With each week and each episode, they scooted a little closer. Apparently things weren’t progressing quickly enough for Jillian, so she meticulously orchestrated their next date. Jillian turned down the thermostat at her apartment to make the room freezing cold and placed a blanket between where she and Michael would be sitting on the couch. Apparently the set up worked, and the rest is history.

Their relationship was something special. They became partners who walked through life together. They supported each other, they dreamed together, they encouraged each other. They brought out the best in each other. Theirs was a love that was committed to facing whatever the future might bring.

Last summer, Michael and I were floating in the pool, and he started asking me questions about married life. It was at that point that I knew things were serious. But as he was making plans to propose, Michael was diagnosed with cancer. He called Dad and said, “Dad, I don’t know what to do. Should I get married or not?” Dad didn’t have an answer. So they continued to talk for the next couple of months. Then, during one of his doctor’s visits, Michael asked the advice of his surgeon, Dr. Meyers. “Dr. Meyers, I’ve got cancer. Should I even be considering marriage?” Dr. Meyer’s answer was similar to that line out of Shawshank Redemption: “You can get busy living or get busy dying.” Michael chose to live and proposed to Jillian soon after.

That’s how Michael lived his life. He always lived for the future. He faced countless setbacks and disappointments over the last year. And yet, every time, he would grieve and then move forward. He kept fighting. He was always finding hope. Always looking for what was next. Michael was one of the most resilient people you could ever meet. Even his doctors and nurses were amazed by Michael. They said he was the most steadfast, persevering, strong patient they had ever seen. He never gave up.

Michael saw the possibilities that exist in each new day. The chance to encourage a friend or family member. The chance to share that sly smile and a well-placed, lovingly sarcastic comment. The opportunity to transform someone’s day through a kind word. Michael was one of those folks that understood that life, the very breath in our lungs is a gift from God, a good and sacred gift. And he wasn't about to waste a moment of it.

On a day like today, we celebrate Michael's life, but this is also a difficult day for us. Some of us wonder, where is God on days like today? In these moments, we feel disconnected from God. Sometimes, these experiences cause us to doubt God's love. The Apostle Paul faced this issue and wrote some of the most moving words in all of Scripture. He writes, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Paul lists some difficult and tragic life experiences that can cause us to doubt God's love. Among these are disappointments and illness and death with its apparent finality. Yet Paul lays all of this aside. He affirms that pain and suffering do not have the last word. Cancer does not have the last word. Death does not have the last word. In all of these things, nothing can separate us from the love of God. The God who created us and brought us into being. The one who sustains us and nurtures us in so many ways. The one who walks with us day by day. God's love knows no limits. God's love abides with us forever.

In preparing for today, I’ve been thinking about how Michael would want to be remembered. I’ve spent a lot of time on Facebook. Looking at the various posts. Reading the kind words. But what has stood out to me the most is the pictures. I’m reminded that a person's life is a lot like a photo album. The images we have in our minds remind us of the story of Michael's life. When a life ends suddenly and tragically, often the only images that come to mind are the last couple of pictures in the album. For those of us who have been close to Michael these last few weeks and months, we have images of illness and hospitals. It’s true, Michael had cancer. But I’d like to encourage you: don’t remember Michael because he had cancer. I don’t say that to diminish the importance of the last several months. I also don’t want to take away from the incredible example he set as he battled illness for the last year. But at the same time, there was much more to his life. The truth is, you are not here because Michael had cancer. You are here because he impacted your life in a significant way by the way he lived. You experienced his caring and sensitive friendship. You saw the way he could light up a room just by walking in. You were touched by his gift of music. In your bones, you felt the fierce, steadfast loyalty he showed to those he loved. You witnessed his desire to live every moment to its fullest. Remember Michael for those things. As you grieve and as you remember, I want to encourage you to spend some time with family and friends flipping through your memories together. Michael has left a lasting impact on the people in this room. Perhaps Jim Clancey, the director of the Vocal Majority, summed him up best. Jim called Michael ‘Moses’, because Michael was a force to be reckoned with. His is a life well lived, and for that we say, “Thanks be to God.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Day by the Scottish Seashore

A few weeks ago, something very strange happened here in Scotland. The sun made an appearance. So, of course Steven and I took full advantage. We purchased last minute tickets to a wee seaside "resort" town called Broughty Ferry, which is just over an hour from Aberdeen by train, sitting four miles from the larger city of Dundee. Formerly a prosperous fishing and whaling village, in the 19th century Broughty Ferry became a haven for wealthy jute barons, who built their luxury villas in the suburb. As a result, Broughty Ferry was referred to at the time as the “richest square mile in Europe”.

It's a picturesque, quaint village- the kind that captures the imagination from the moment you step off the train.

Have I mentioned that I love the train? And isn't this station the cutest?

The village centre streets form a grid system and are lined with cute shops, farm to market grocers, charity shops, cafes and even a gluten free dessert shop! We walked the promenade, basking in the sunshine, and made a quick stop at Broughty Castle. We purchased new fabulous cuff-links for Steven and a beautiful sterling ring for my birthday. The gems you can find in the mom-and-pop shops are unique one-of-a-kind items- tokens that will contain memories to last a lifetime.

We walked out into a highly residential area for lunch, climbing up quite a ways to reach Jessie's Kitchen, a tea room and garden shop with delicious treats and hearty lunches. The panoramic view of the village and seashore are worth the walk, as was our delicious soups and sandwiches. There is a family room for those with small children, full of toys and games to entertain kids of all ages. If you are planning a trip to Broughty Ferry or Dundee, go to Jessie's. You won't be disappointed!

A day in the sun can do so much good for the soul, as can a play date in a quaint village with lots of personality. I hope that you'll plan your next adventure soon.