Olivia in Scotland: Autumn Leaves

You can feel it in the air. People are beginning to hunker down for winter. It’s already been chilly, but now I’m seeing the addition of hats and gloves to the ensembles of people I pass on the streets (scarves, of course, have been in since I got here). The days are getting shorter, the coats are getting thicker, and the urge to stay inside with a mug of hot tea and a warm blanket grows greater every day.

I had been warned a bit before coming here that it would get really dark and cold and windy as the semester went on and that this would take a toll on my psyche. It’s true; I’ve seen since coming here that I tend to get sadder as the sun goes down and the days get darker. It’s one of those strange sensations that I feel I should be able to control, but it’s almost impossible to do so. I can see why this has been the land of storytelling and ceilidhs for hundreds of years—when the night and the cold seemed as though they were going to blot out everything else, the people here gathered around their fires with the people they loved and found some way to push back the darkness.

I’ve found some of my own ways to do this. The best way is, just as Scots have done for generations, being around friends and family. This may sound odd because I don’t have any blood relatives over here, but I don’t think that means that I don’t have a family here. I mentioned in my first blog post from Scotland that faith makes a family. The truth of this has only increased in my mind over my time in Scotland. My church here has a lot to do with that. It’s called Bridge Family Church for a reason: it’s small, it’s very close, and the people in it treat you like you’re family. These people have been such a blessing to me. As I’ve gone through the extremes of good and bad times here, they have been there for me to listen, laugh, cry with me, pray with me, and show me the love of Christ. I cannot thank them enough or emphasize enough how helpful it has been to have their presence and support.

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Here’s a lot of my church family from our day trip to Cairnie Fruit Farm!

These same friends and family have helped me get out, do things, and see the beauty in the world around me, even when I felt more like isolating myself. This could be as simple as having a movie and sleepover night or going out for tea. I keep seeing over and over again that the simplest gestures let me know that other people care about me, and I should do the same for them.

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The ingredients for a perfect movie night with my friend Gianna #americaneedsjammiedodgers

These are the people who traveled with me to Linlithgow earlier this week to see Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle. I had so much fun exploring these beautiful places with such fun people. For me, the most stunning part of these places was the natural beauty of their surroundings. I don’t think anything will ever surpass Richmond fall, and I think all Spiders reading this will agree with me, but I did find some stunning fall foliage that day.

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When you find perfect fall leaves, you take a picture. It’s Instagram law. Then the dogs ran in and made it perfect!

As I see the leaves changing and feel the world around me following suit, I’m learning about letting myself feel what I feel. You may have seen some this struggle in my post about loneliness. I want so badly to be able to control all of the things that I’m feeling, but I see more and more that I can’t really do this and that that isn’t the answer. If I don’t first accept what I’m feeling, I can’t move on from that emotion, and then I end up isolating myself. This may sound rather Inside Out to the Disney lovers out there, but I’m learning firsthand that I have to let myself feel sad and angry before I can feel happy again. In the midst of all my emotions, though, I have felt how fully I can rely on God. He has not left me here for one second, no matter what I’m feeling. I’m so thankful for someone on whom I can completely rely in every situation and who cares how I feel. I’m so thankful for the love He has shown me through the people He has placed in my life.

This holds true for me through all the winds of change “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).

There’ll be one more post this week with my latest travel updates. 🙂 Till next time!

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