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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Gratitude and Expectation

Don’t worry. Pray, with gratitude and expectation. That advice may sound hackneyed but when Paul wrote it to the Philippians he was speaking from experience and he was speaking truth.

This week I have been reminded of the power of prayer. Awake in a night, I was reminded of a friend who is suffering with her eyes at the moment. I prayed specifically that she would get an appointment at the eye hospital, an appointment for which she was waiting. In the morning I emailed her to say I’d been praying in the night, and that was my prayer.

A couple of hours later she had a call from the eye hospital asking her if she could come in a couple of hours later. They’d had a cancellation.

We are called to be family, to hold each other before the throne of grace and expect our gracious and merciful Father to hear and act. Then we are encouraged to remember, so that the next time, our expectation is high and our vision is clear as we look for his answer.

I am increasing my prayers for others, praying with gratitude and expectation. How about you?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mud Puddle

Almost thirty years ago, I headed out one morning with my youngest, Doug, in a pushchair. He, the dog and I went down to the paint ball centre about a quarter mile away. Doug had just started walking, so when we turned down the rutted track I took him out of the pushchair so he could try out his legs. He toddled straight for a big mud puddle and pancaked straight into it, face first. 

Muddied and disappointed, he cried all the way home to be cleaned up.

This morning we were thinking about the human impact on God’s beautiful world: the way we humans are ruining the environment, rendering life unsustainable for one after another species of animal and plant, and the mess we make of relationships both intimate and global. Broken marriages, civil wars, terrorism and extremism, racism and misogyny: the list goes on. 

The human race has nosedived into a giant mud puddle and all we can do is cry out to God to pick us up and take us home and clean us off. When we look round our hurting world, ‘Lord, we don’t know what to do but, Lord, our eyes are on you.’ 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We’re here, Lord, in this big mud puddle.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Faithful One

Fresh paint, new curtains, and a computer desk centred at the bedroom window. Today I sat at my new work station for writing, and wrote. 

I tried not to be too distracted by the cows meandering past, though I confess that the one walking with a limp tugged at my heart and I wondered if I ought to run out into the field and get her number and call the farmer. I re-focused on my screen. Then there was the tractor in the field beyond, literally ploughing up and down, back and forth, with a very energetic collie racing alongside, back and forth, back and forth, and a swarm of seagulls enjoying the bounty of the broken field. 

There’s no internet up there, so I’m excited to see the difference it makes to my writing. No distractions of email, facebook, blogs!

Come away with me, Jesus said to his disciples a few times. I sense he’s been saying that to me lately, so I hope it’s up to that new writing room where I may be especially open to his inspiration. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Beauty for ashes

Regal plumage distinguishes the beautiful male pheasants which fatten themselves up at the foot of the bird table, picking up the crumbs dropped by the other birds. They may have ‘bird brains’, but during the cold winter months one of them isn’t daft: he has developed a habit of starting his day warming his feet on a pile of rotting manure at the side of the house. When I open the bedroom curtains, this is what I see.

Life can throw undesirables our way. My back has flared again, result of a badly-placed puppet curtain which required me to operate my two puppets at a very odd angle indeed. A moment’s lack of foresight resulting in weeks of discomfort. I might just think of the resulting back pain in the same terms as a pile of manure. 

And yet, the discomfort has led to a couple of massages which enable random chats with a physio friend I don’t see much of at the moment, and Don, chats facilitated by the fact that we can’t rush off and do something else because basically I need the comfort of that warm hand rubbing in the deep heat cream. 

Beauty and the beast. A crown of beauty for ashes. 

Sometimes suffering nourishes green shoots of compassion, nurtures relationships and encourages us to dig deeper into our faith. 

A bad back is a pile of manure, no doubt about it. But I’m open to the possibilities of what can come from it.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Call to Rest

Often I hear God in the natural world or in situations. This morning, though, he has been speaking loud and clear through his word. First, Don and I read Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary...and I will give you rest.’ We do daily readings from the Upper Room, but because we miss the odd day we are way out of synch and today’s reading was actually from the 28th of January.

Then I picked up the daily readings I follow on my own in Day by Day with God. And today’s reading was from Mark 6:31: ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

I think I’m spotting a trend here. Been really busy recently, but pleasantly so. Yesterday was a lovely day but I was going until about 11, and congratulated myself on not feeling very tired when I finally got into bed. This morning, though, I’m kind of dragging. 

I guess the Lord knows what we need before we acknowledge it ourselves. What I really love about both of these verses is not just the invitation to rest, but the promise that Jesus is in the resting. Jesus is there, and where Jesus is, there is peace and refreshment and renewal and strength. 

Tomorrow I plan to soar on wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Because as I put my hope in the Lord, I will renew my strength. 

Today, though, I hear a call to a Sabbath rest. Time set apart with my God, his gift.

Monday, 6 March 2017


So far, the only downside I can see to being a Gramma is that my energy levels, flexibility, and back are not what they used to be! Having spent a terrific two hours-ish in the park with Flick, stopping on the way back at Tesco and Costco, I’ve just poured myself a cup of some sort of organic tea I found in the cupboard called Revitalise. Yup, that’s for me.
What a privilege it is to have time to goof around in the park with a 2-year-old whose imagination is exploding. We role-played shops and then doctors and hospitals without the aid of any toys. Just our imaginations. When she wanted me to lift her high to come down the tube slide, though, I had to say, no, my back is too sore. I hate that limitation, but as it’s true I know it’s the only intelligent thing to do.

So, frustrated but grateful. I’m so aware that around the world millions of women don’t live long enough to be a gramma. Others have stepped in as surrogate parents as the in-between generation has been wiped out by the Aids epidemic, or conflict or some other catastrophe. Those saintly grammas won’t have the time or energy to play shops in the park. They’ll be grafting at something to bring enough food into the house to feed the orphans.

Feeling pretty pathetic at voicing any kind of complaint then. Full of gratitude that the boundaries for me have fallen in pleasant places, not because I deserve what I have but for some reason it is what I’ve been blessed with. Responsibility to make the most of all that I have, relationship wise and materially. 

Responsibility to grasp Life firmly and use what I have to leave this world somehow a bit better for something I may have said or done.

And now, when is that Revitalise tea going to live up to its name?