Bucy Family Band

Belfast Blitz.

BELFAST BLITZNo sooner had we arrived back in Liverpool than we turned around and headed to Belfast for our friends Matt and Catherine’s wedding. Thankfully with all these flights, we’ve become travel pros when it comes to managing bags, babies and guitars. And we were excited to go because this would be the first time in over a month we had seen lots of our friends and family from Cornerstone Wirral who were also in town for the wedding. It was a quick trip, landing Tuesday evening, the wedding was Wednesday afternoon, then we left bright and early Thursday morning. And as we’ve already mentioned, weddings in the UK are all day parties – so the majority of our site-seeing was from the windows of the van as we traveled to the different venues.

Matt and Catherine’s wedding was beautiful, Merritt was a champ, and we loved getting to catch up with so many of our friends.

One of the other things we’ve noticed from all of the Northern Irish people that we’ve gotten to know is that their culture seems to parallel the ‘Bible-belt’ culture of the South; in that it tends to be highly religious, conservative, upper-middle class, and rooted in tradition. So interestingly enough, Northern Irish culture has appeared to be an environment we more naturally understand because of our own experience of growing up down South. And therefore does not seem to take as much time and intentionality to grasp like we have to work to understand Scouse culture in Liverpool.

We got home from Matt and Catherine’s wedding long enough to wash our clothes and head back to Belfast the following weekend for our friends Ian and Leah’s wedding [see first paragraph about being traveling pros]. But this time we had more time on both sides of the wedding to hang out with the families and enjoy down time before and after the service. Besides flying into the wrong airport in Belfast (whoops, sorry guys!) it was another beautiful day with a service that perfectly represented the personalities and taste of the newlyweds.

I never take for granted being asked to sing and play in someone’s wedding. It really is a huge honor, a day that has been planned, thought through and will be remembered forever… With the music holding such a significant portion of the service time [again see this post about wedding differences]. And as a musician in a wedding you really do get the best seat in the house – seeing the bride walk in, the grooms face, the exchanging of vows and all of the facial expressions up close, it is a blessing. And getting to serve couples that I know and love, and who know and love us just adds that much more of a desire to love them well by playing and leading well.

IMG_5434BELFAST ONEBELFAST TWOIMG_5508Although it was short, we’ve loved our time in Northern Ireland and desperately want to go back and visit and get to see more the sites both city and country – hopefully some day, but if we have to wait a few months, that’ll be okay too :).

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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Friend Time.

As I’m sure you’ve realized, we spent lots and lots of time with family while back in the States. But we did make it a priority to visit a few close friends and relationships that have been impactful to us as individuals and as a couple.

The Stamlers, Olsens, Teals, Akwaris, Bakers, Boatmans, and Mehaffies – just to name a few. These people have spoken truth over our lives, and into our hearts, prayed for us and with us. And those are the kind of relationships you’re lucky to have a handful in a lifetime, but God has richly given us in every stage and season of life.

Whether we’re in daily communication or only seeing one another every few years, we have the ‘pick up where you left off’ kind of kindred among these families.

They are relationships that will have ripple effects which will be felt even by our children.  Because of the prayer, faith, support, challenge, encouragement and influence of these type of relationships our family for generations will be the benefactor. We’re so grateful for those friendships, and hope to be those kind of friends – the ripples for generations kind of friends.

Thanks for being those friends.  We are who we are in large part because of your influence.

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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Nashville Again.

There will always be a special affinity Kelly and I carry for Nashville – it was our first home together. And the last time we visited in July 2014 it was amazing and heart-wrenching all at once.

For me, it was grieving what could have been – in relationships, in career, in ministry – but never was. Like most people that move to that creative city, I had such detailed and specific desires of what I wanted our time there to look like, but God had other plans (Proverbs 16:9 anyone?!) And that was very clear to both of us early on. Nashville was not the final destination, but the beginning of a training ground for our marriage, gifting, hearts and relationship for what was to come next.

And over the last year and a half we’ve spent in Liverpool God has continued to reveal that, as painful as it has sometimes felt, Nashville was a necessary part of our journey but not the end.

As we’ve talked about that, cried over it, remembered and reflected on those three years we had in Nashville, it has brought such overwhelming gratitude that God would see fit to weave our story in that city, with specific relationships.

That being said, returning in July 2015 was a different story for us altogether than the previous year. For me there was finally enough distance and clarity to see the city for what it was for us, not merely what I had hoped it would be. And I think because of that change in perspective we were able to arrive from a very long travel day (turns out, Merritt: not a big fan of being in the car for extended periods of time) for a very short visit with thankful hearts.

We spent Saturday evening with Pastor Kevin and Jenn from Awaken Church in Clarksville (we love them), and all day Sunday with the Awaken family, then Sunday evening with our former community group. From morning until evening on Monday we spent time eating out, exploring and catching up with friends. An obligatory breakfast at The Pancake Pantry on Tuesday, coffee for the road and back to Charlotte we went. Like I said: very short trip.

But at every turn, corner and conversation I kept saying ‘God, I am so grateful, I am so grateful for what You’ve done, I am so grateful for what You’ve allowed us to be a part of.’ Whether it was over the silly, or through tears I had this unique sense in all of our conversations those few short days we weren’t just sitting with friends, but we were sitting with God. Like we were able to experience His presence in a tangible way through the love, care, support and encouragement of the handful of people in Tennessee. And it’s in those unique moments that heaven almost feels as though it touches earth – if only for that: a moment.

IMG_5040 IMG_5047 IMG_5091And in that moment, we are grateful.
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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Back In The USA.

BACK IN THE USAA whole year had passed since our last visit to the States. In some ways that felt like forever, and in other ways it did not feel long at all.

What was perhaps the most bizarre feeling was the reality that the last time we boarded a plane from the States back to Liverpool there were only two of us. We did not have a baby, Kelly was not pregnant and only in the not so distance past had we been having the ‘maybe we should try’ conversations.

This time was different, we were returning as a family of three. Crazily, out of all our family members, only my parents had even seen Kelly pregnant in the flesh. And now we were arriving as parents holding a two month old. So surreal!  Although for about a week before we had arrived we were not sure we would be able to go.

The promises made at the US Embassy about when we were going to receive Merritt’s passport had not materialized by the date mentioned.  So I called to follow up, they said a computer issue had caused them to not be able to issue any passports or visas over the last several weeks but were ‘hoping Merritt’s would be in a shipment expected that afternoon or the next day.  Keeping in mind I called on Wednesday and our flights were booked for the following Tuesday.

It did not arrive that day, and the Embassy made an arrangements for an emergency passport appointment which would mean ANOTHER trip to London – not to mention trying to find a way down – last minute train rides are astronomically expensive, and we have yet to drive a car on the other side of the road.  Thankfully, God answered our prayer because the passport was in the Friday shipment which meant we would have it in hand by Monday morning.  Kelly sat by the window all day and took pictures and video of the deliveryman dropping off all of the documentation we were so happy and relieved!  We finished packing, and braced ourselves for a full day of travel.

I was worried after such a long travel day I’d be too exhausted to really enjoy any time with family, but their reaction and excitement to see us (okay lets be honest: Merritt) gave a strong second wind. All of our friends in Liverpool have been amazing, so loving, excited and kind, but there is something about the way family greets a new member that is unique to any other reaction. We felt the love, and Merritt loved the hugs, tears, kisses, cuddles and attention.

Obviously the biggest reasons for our state side visit was to introduce Merritt to her myriad of grandparents, great-grandparents (my grandparents came down from Seattle, and we got to spend lots of time with my Grammy) aunts, uncles and an ever-increasing number of cousins. But it was also for rest. For a pause. To be refreshed.

I took a social media break, spent lots of time writing, reading, and processing through this upcoming year. Kelly got lots of quality time with her sisters doing things they all enjoy, and Merritt turned into a chunky baby no longer a newborn and was never without adoring fans close by.

To be honest it was nice to be back without anything being required or expected of us – say if we came back for a holiday or a wedding – we were just back to relax and spend time with family, and that we did! We played games, hung around the house, went to church, ate out, grilled out, talked, laughed, cried a decent amount, wondered through Target, went on many coffee runs, and slept – oh boy did we sleep!

There is something different about being with family.
You don’t have to explain yourself because they know.
They’ve seen you grow up, and have been instrumental in the shaping.
And therefore being around them was again a reminder of who we are. Not in a cultural, nationality, last name, heritage sort of sense, but in the why.

Being with family is like seeing yourself reflected back in a mirror: there’s a level of understanding about yourself and your decisions that becomes clear when you are immersed back into that world.

Suddenly you can see how every choice, conversation, and relationship has built you into the person who five years prior could not have dreamed of your current life. For us it was returning to spend time with family that we were able to see who we were, who we are, and what we have and are becoming.

And on both sides of our family there are these constant threads of hard-work, hospitality, and lives poured out selflessly in service and ministry running through each individual and their own family unit in unique and humbling ways. And hopefully, prayerfully, that will be what our parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews and our own children will see reflected back to them in us.

Before we left, I was reading Psalm 116 and verse seven stood out to me:

‘Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.’

It is in recognizing those many ‘bountiful’ dealings of the Lord to us and towards us that we cannot only rest, but return to a rightful posture and position of rest. No matter the current circumstance, He has been exceedingly gracious, because what we all deserve is death (Romans 6:23)… And instead we receive grace upon grace upon grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Our time back in the States was marked with recognizing, experiencing, and speaking with many of those gifts of grace (family and beyond), and it was in that realization that we could stop striving and simply return to refreshment, return to ourselves, return to rest.

family four family one family one one family twoGrateful and from rest,
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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Family Visits

A week after Merritt was born my Mom came to visit. And two months later Kelly’s sister Katie and her husband Jeremy came through Liverpool while on their European babymoon (like a honeymoon for those about to have a baby).

When you don’t live in the same city or country, family get togethers take lots of planning and organizing… Not to mention expenses! But we have been so grateful when family has come to visit.

We love getting to show people our normal, daily life here in Liverpool – where we shop, how we spend our time, come to our church, meet our friends. It’s a chance for them to visualize more clearly the stories we’ve shared over our year and a half in this city. But the other thing that is great about family is that you don’t have to entertain them… Sure, you plan and make arrangements, but if you only hang out and get caught up on life that’s really okay. The biggest responsibility we have for family when they visit is reminding them to look the other way before crossing the street.

We’re secretly (well not so secret anymore) hoping that having Merritt will encourage more trips across the pond for our family and friends. Come one come all!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.49.15 AM

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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Road Worn

ROAD WORNAt four months Merritt has traveled by bus, car, train, subway and plane. Been to three different countries, three states, and ten different cities. Our first excursion was a trip to London. Because Kelly and I are both American citizens Merritt also has American citizenship despite being born in the UK, which meant we had to register her birth, secure her passport and apply for her social security card at the US Embassy in London.

We made the appointment, booked the train tickets and headed off. We were a little bit nervous about the amount of preparation and the number of accoutrement required when traveling with a baby, so an overnight in London was the perfect way to figure out what was needed and what could stay behind.

It was pretty impressive to see our embassy from the outside – surrounded by barbed wire, armed soldiers patrolling, countless check points and security gates, with a massive eagle perched atop the whole building. But once you got inside, it was a little less grand… In fact, it just looked like a governmental building – like visiting the DMV. The only difference? All of the workers were surprisingly friendly, gracious and helpful.

You drop off your forms at one window, wait for your number to be called, walk to another pay for your services, move to another window to swear that all of the information is correct to the best of your knowledge, then are given a receipt and led to the exit and that is all.

It was surprisingly uneventful. Upon leaving they guaranteed the passport would be mailed to our apartment by a specific date and promised it would be safe to book flights back to the States by the time we arrived back in Liverpool… But that is another story for another blog.

The train ride down was simple, and Merritt slept almost the entire time. The train ride back was another story… When we reached the halfway point she was inconsolable, crying and upset – which was not a good sign of things to come for the rest of our day. We got back to our flat exhausted from a whirlwind trip, without much time to rest and relax the day before with a baby that refused to do anything besides scream. Thankfully the attitude was nothing a bath and a good feed couldn’t remedy for our road warrior.TO LONDON

As much as it was a hassle to have to go all the way to London to get done everything we needed for Merritt, it was a nice way to see a glimpse of what it would take to travel with a baby in tow.

Read on,
Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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backIt’s more than slightly embarrassing how long it’s been since our most recent update. I’d blame it on having a baby, but as you’ve probably surmised, Merritt is pretty active on her social media and does a great job with the regular updates (follow her on Twitter here, and Instagram here).  Hopefully all of these new posts will more than make up for time lost.

The structure and routine that allowed for scheduled time to write and keep everyone updated never really got put back together after Merritt was born. And now that we all seem to be hitting our stride with what it’s like to be a family of three, it’s time to make the time to keep everyone updated once more.

We have been learning, growing and experiencing quite a lot over the past four months, and we’re excited to share stories we’ve uncovered along the way. Shall we begin?

‘The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.’ – Psalm 126:3

Aaron + Kelly + Merritt
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The Significant Mundane

One of the conversations Kelly and I have had regularly over the last couple of years goes like this…

Life more often feels like the normal, small, day-to-day, seemingly insignificant decisions than history-making, world-altering, decisions that leave life-changing impact. I’m sure we can’t be the only people that have thought that.

Certainly having a child has magnified those feelings. Suddenly your whole life and routine change, but it becomes the same day after day. Just when you feel like you can’t handle anymore, the day is over to wake up and start the exact same pattern over again.

BUT what is mundane, difficult and even boring as we work to care for Merritt has significant impact. Because we’re working to care and love her and provide a safe environment for her to become who God has created her to be… And there is the significant in the midst of the mundane.

That perspective has given more insight into the rest of life as well. As CS Lewis reminds us, ‘There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

The history-making, world-altering, life-changing impact comes when we love God and love others. When we intentionally invest our time, energy and efforts into relationships – not for the purpose of creating someone into our own image, or what we think they should be, but pointing them to Jesus, helping them become the people He desires them to be.

Wherever we are, whoever surrounds us, in whatever role we find ourselves – this is our opportunity to make a difference. It’s not about being in full-time ministry, or quitting your job to do overseas missions, or building a platform for the sake of ‘impacting people.’ Our moment for history making is small, but not insignificant. And I don’t want to miss my chance in the mundane because I’m too busy looking for the big moment. I hope you won’t either.

Kelly + Aaron + Baby B
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Names have meaning and significance.
But can I make a confession? When we named our daughter, we did not look into the meaning of her names, rather picked what we liked!

MJ NAMEFor us, we picked the name Merritt in part because it was a reminder that as believers we do not merit God’s favor, or righteousness it’s only because He first chose us and and through Jesus. Children are a blessing, and like any blessing it is a undeserved gift. And we have been very aware of that as we begin this new adventure being Merritt’s Mom and Dad that it is a weighty responsibility, but also a true blessing!

Merritt is of British origin (how fitting!) and means ‘little famous one.’   We can spend our lives trying to build our name, platform, influence, or we can pour ourselves out in an effort to make Christ known and proclaimed. And that would be our prayer that our ‘little famous one’ would be someone who grows up to echo the Psalmist ‘not to us oh Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory! (115:1)’

Jane means ‘God is gracious.’
Perhaps it’s the constant changes in lifestyle that we’ve experienced over the last two years or so – but this continues to be a consistent theme through our lives. And having a baby that has slept through the night since we’ve brought her home I think is enough proof to anyone that God is indeed gracious!

Naming is so significant and it happens at momentous occasions: Abram becomes Abraham receiving the promise of God that from him would come a great nation that would bless the world. Saul a hater and persecutor of Christians becomes Paul as he meets the real Jesus and becomes arguably the greatest missionary, evangelist, pastor and church planter the world has even known!

Even within marriage when two individuals become one family they share a name.

Naming is significant and we pray that the meaning behind the names we’ve chosen will be something true and defining of Merritt Jane for her whole life.
Kelly + Aaron + Baby B
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Social Baby

We have loved the fact that the internet and social media has allowed us to stay connected with friends, supporters and family during our time in Liverpool.  But we also know that you can have social media exhaustion when people overshare or overpost.  And to be honest, we always said we were never going to be those people who post only and always about their children on their social sites… And then you have a kid and think that they along with everything they do is amazingly cute and want to share everything!  So for those who want to follow updates and see pictures and posts of our Merritt, we’ve created an Instagram and Twitter account for her!  You can follow them here… for being a month old, she’s already mastered the sharing basics!  Kids these days…

Follow here…