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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Shame, President Trump

We’ve been setting out bedding plants. Marigolds, petunias, salvia. Unusually, until last night, we have had very little rain. Almost none, so that apart from our infrequent watering, the plants were withering in soil dry as dust. They are young, without resilience or robust root systems, and without nourishment they wither and die.

Children, toddlers, babies, separated from their parents. Placed in internment camps run by security firms who are raking in the money. These tender children are young, without resilience or robust survival mechanisms, taken to strange places with people they don’t know. They are withering in soil dry as dust.

This is beyond cruel. Shame, President Trump. Shame, Jeff Sessions. Shame, silent Republicans. Shame.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018



When we visited my Uncle Bill long years ago, he had one or two of those Magic Eye pictures on his wall. He delighted in watching our faces as we struggled and strained to discern the hidden picture. He offered a few tips. Let your eye relax. Imagine a point beyond the picture. Sheer relief when the hidden image emerged, as I think we felt a bit foolish until we could pick out the picture.

Being with young grandchildren a bit, I often wonder just who these precious souls will grow into. God has given some hints with some precious prayer times before their births, which makes it exciting to watch as what he whispered is beginning to come out.

Flick loves all sorts of tales of fairy princesses, so we have encountered the magic mirror of Snow White’s stepmother. Interesting that her biggest concern was her appearance, and she demanded of the mirror to tell the truth of who was the most beautiful in the kingdom.

Often, our own insecurity of our self-image is as shallow as that.

But I’m thinking about Jesus, as a baby, as a toddler, beginning to awaken to the truth of his identity. He didn’t look into a magic mirror. He didn’t look into a Magic Eye picture.

He looked at Scripture. And the longer he looked at Scripture, relaxing in his Father’s loving presence, the more clearly he saw himself and understood his true identity and calling.

When we look long enough into our Bibles, we, too, see ourselves and understand better our true identity. Children of the King. Loved.

Out of our understanding of our identity, our callings emerge. Some callings are universal: to worship and love God, to share him with others, to be filled with the Spirit and be transformed daily into the best version of ourselves. Some callings are peculiar to us: to write, to speak, to serve, to sing, to raise children.

May God help me to look long into Scripture, and then move out in faith and confidence.

Monday, 18 June 2018

No Toxic Wallop

A candle with the fragrance of Persian Rose squats on the sideboard. I thought it might aid concentration as I worked on some writing, so I lit it. Nice smell. I got to work, but as the hours ticked by I realised I had a throbbing tightness in my temples. I’d already taken a pain killer for that persistent back problem, so wondered why the headache. I blew out the candle and the headache eased.

Sometimes we choose artificial soothers, thinking they will give us peace, joy, or inspiration. In reality, though, they can carry a pernicious and even toxic wallop.

God invites us to lean in to him. The more we depend on him for our inspiration and guidance, the more we realise he really is the source of all peace and joy. And he never gives me a headache.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Bridge Building

Gales closed the bridge to high-sided vehicles. I was driving an ordinary car, but the buffeting it took as we crossed the Tay was slightly alarming. Ever since an accident in front of us nearly resulted in our car soaring off the San Francisco Bay Bridge, I’ve had misgivings about the safety of bridges.

I once explained to school kids that Jesus is a bridge, a bridge between us human beings and our holy Father. The Jesus Bridge is wholly reliable, though, and there is never any danger of anyone soaring off into the atmosphere.

The current Pope declared recently that Christians should be bridge-builders, not wall-builders. When we build bridges between people, we are part of Christ’s workforce.

May we all build bridges today, whether in action or in fervent prayer. Both are powerful. And we can trust that when Jesus is the foreman, the bridges we build will be safe.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Comforter

Hot water bottle on my back, still. I’m not sure it really helps but it does feel nice and hopefully is working away to loosen a muscle or two or unknot a tendon. It’s comforting, anyway.

I’m just back from a walk, where I was a hot water bottle for a friend. Sometimes there are no answers that can solve a situation, but a listening ear is like a hot water bottle on a problem, bringing some comfort, even if no solution.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. One of the sobriquets by which he is known is the Comforter. When things are hard, when pains don’t easily go away, having the Comforter beside and within is such a blessing.

Monday, 11 June 2018

An Inspiration

The southwest facing windows were spotted on the inside with fly residue and coal fire film; on the outside they were marked with many a winter rain. I grabbed the ladder and the window-washing equipment and headed out, but in my way were a few overgrown shrubs.

That sent me off for the hedge clippers. I couldn’t just clear a path for the ladder, but spent a bit of time stretching and reaching as I clipped the other shrubs in the line. Then washed the windows and can once again enjoy the sunsets.

Playing with lively grandkids over the next few days, however, strained already over-stretched old muscles and now I sit, hot water bottle and BenGay on my back, nursing frustrating aches and pains.

Limitations. It’s hard to accept them and learn to live within them. I encounter more of them as the years go by. Things I would never have hesitated doing, I sometimes think twice before doing them. Things I should hesitate doing, I pay the price for if I ignore caution.

My limitations, so far, are small potatoes compared to those suffered by others. An inspirational friend, a man of faith, has passed on into the glorious presence of God this past weekend, a man who could still manage a smile despite the ravages of motor neurone disease which froze every other muscle. By the grace of God, he and his family managed to live big and brave over these last few years as the horrible disease took its toll.

Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God walks with us. The darker the valley, perhaps, the greater the light shines in and through us, if we let it. Stephen did that.

Today I thank God for his example, and for the inspirational way his family supported him throughout. And I praise God that though we all walk through that dark valley, none of us walks to it – it is never our ultimate destination. Today Stephen is out of the valley. Hard as that is for those who loved him, it is also a deep consolation.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Wild Thing

We picked up some pretty bedding plants at the nursery. The few we’d planned to buy multiplied into a couple of dozen, so we set to in the garden when we got home. Ground needed clearing. Bulbs lifted and replanted. Weeds dispensed with.

Later, I realised I couldn’t see out of my fly-spotted kitchen window. Washed it, and the dining room ones, which then meant I needed to go outside to do them to get the full effect (which is wonderful!). But in order to reach the windows outside, I had to trim back dead branches, clear up more spring detritus.

My prayer window is dirty. It’s next on the list, but I notice the bush outside is sprouting in all directions and will need trimming before I can reach the window.

There is more to do than I have time or energy to do. Some of it will just remain wild.

God is working on my inner being. He’s not limited by anything, but he knows that I am, and in his mercy and love, he leaves some bits wild while he polishes up some others. My soul is a bit like my garden. Some of it is flowering and fragrant, and some of it is weedy and unproductive.
But praise God for his mercy and love, because he never gives up on me.