Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some Favorite London Photos (Part 1)

Being in London was fascinating not only because I had never been there, but because we were able to see first  hand where John had lived for the last two years.

The Gold State Coach at the Royal Mews.  The tour of the Royal Mews was fascinating.  This is where the royal coaches are kept.  The one pictured below is used for coronations.

Big Ben, needless to say. :-)

Had no desire to go up in the London Eye, but it was lovely to see at night.

Big Ben at night....very beautiful..

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Shard

One of the most amazing experiences I had while in London was visiting the View from the Shard.

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe at 87 stories.  800 feet all and designed by Renzo Piano, The Shard opened February 1, 2013 so it's a new London attraction.  You can see that it looks like an enormous shard of glass.  At the top there is a large viewing area-- all glass.

 It's a magnificent building.  Gorgeous, really.  But that is not what made my experience of it amazing.

As those of you who have read this blog for many years know, I have suffered from anxiety in the past.

While, for the most part, anxiety is no longer a problem in my life, there are still some areas where the feeling lingers.  One such area is my experience of heights.  I have been afraid of heights for many years.  I've been able to fly in spite of this fear, but in other areas I simply avoid the experience.  I don't need to be able to feel comfortable in high places so it's not something I've ever tried to overcome.

Well, imagine my reaction when my daughter announces that she and my husband have just purchased tickets for all of us to go up to the observation tower of this glass building-- The View from the Shard.

I said, "What?"  You bought a ticket for ME to go to the top of that thing?  Me?!??  How much were the tickets?"

Well, it turns out each ticket was about $50.00!!!!  My response:  "What!!!!???"

The Lord seems to be calling me to challenge my comfort zone.  I have done many things this summer that were very much a challenge.  So let me first acknowledge God's grace and His hand in this.

But on the surface it seemed that my desire to not waste all that money overcame my fear of the height, but not by much.  Frankly, I was terrified.

We took the elevator which felt like a rocket up to the first observation landing and got out.  It was a bright sunny day and the view was spectacular.  My entire body went cold.  Have you heard the expression that someone's blood has run cold?  Well, that's what it felt like.  Ice water running through my veins.  Then some wooziness and shortness of breath.  I reminded myself to just breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe slowly and mindfully.  That's as far as it went.  I enjoyed the views in spite of the sensations and in about ten minutes all those feelings left me.  This was a minor miracle.  I had never been to the top of a lighthouse, much less an 87 story building made of glass.  There was a bar up there selling champagne, a reminder to me that I am not the only one who has feelings like these.  Too bad I don't drink.  Champagne would have tasted great.  On the other hand, the victory was sweeter for having been unaided.

Me, with the "conquered" building in the background.

I actually enjoyed these views!!!

Looking up at the open sky here did make make me a little weak kneed, but not so much that I couldn't do it.

Tremendous views, tremendously empowering experience.

God is good.  All the time.