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Sunday, 19 November 2017

All my bags are packed

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go...

The Mamas and The Papas crooned this out in 1969 when I was in my first year of university, and it has been a sort of theme song for my life. I do like the song...and understand the sentiment. Belonging in two places at once. Hating to leave someone behind. Anticipating what I’m going to do with other loved ones. Conflicting emotions.

We’re at a time in life where our theme song could be written about de-cluttering. There will come a time when I won’t need to hover over an empty suitcase and debate what sorts of clothes the weather will require. I won’t need to remember my moisturiser and pack my Bible. Whatever I take with me, I’m packing now, deep into my spirit. 

I want to ensure that what’s in there is life-giving, God-exalting, Jesus-loving, Truth. My goal is to memorise more Scripture. Memorise, not moisturise. I know my brain won’t be required in the next life, but I think that as my brain feeds on the Word my spirit will grow. 

Not all my bags are packed yet, and I’m not ready to go. But one day I will be.

Friday, 17 November 2017


The heavy woodpecker clung to a bendy twig on the larch tree. He clung upside down, determined to get something good from the pine cone above his head. It was like watching someone do stomach crunches or sit-ups. Up, down, up, down.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one watching him. When he had eventually loosened the pine cone enough for it to come away in his beak, he flitted to the fence post top, laid it down and started to peck at it once again. But not for long. A bigger bird swooped at him, the cone fell to the ground, and both birds flitted to a neighbouring tree. 

Neither benefited from the breakfast one had worked so hard to get.

Paul wrote that we should each look out not just for ourselves, but for each other, too. We were made to help one another. Then we are all fed. Then we all prosper.

Kindness and generosity of spirit: aiming for those traits today.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


My swimsuit dripped a puddle as I waited. A young woman came out of the changing rooms, shifting impatiently and looking frequently towards the men’s changing room door. Finally she could wait no longer, knocked a warning and poked her head into the dressing room to check her dad’s progress.
She came back, explaining, ‘They’re all in there just chatting. One of the men says he went to school in Crieff sixty years ago.’

‘That’d be my husband,’ I nodded.

Waiting. Much of my life seems to be waiting. 

‘Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’

Living in an instant age, it can be hard to wait. But when we see the undeniable fingerprint of God on answered prayer, the wait is oh so worthwhile.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Exhilarated and expectant

The wind howls out of the north this morning, shaking trees, tearing off the last leaves of autumn, squealing through inadequate window sealant. I grimace – if not outwardly, certainly inwardly. This is not my favourite weather. I don’t like the wind.

And yet, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and God gave us a portion of rainbow an hour ago. As I watched the mayhem amongst the trees outside the prayer window, suddenly a bird of prey – a buzzard or a red kite or a hawk – surfed into view, riding the invisible waves of wind. And then he was gone.

On yesterday’s news, there were stunning pictures of a brave (or crazy) surfer in the seas off Portugal, catching a ride on a towering wave that he thought would either be the most exhilarating and incredible ride of his life, or it might kill him. In fact, he escaped with a broken spine. Interviewed from his hospital bed, he sounded cheerful and wistful that the perfect wave had eluded him, this time.

I thought of Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2, which showed dolphins clearly enjoying a stormy surf for the sheer fun of it. 

Stormy weather. Love it or loathe it. Your choice. You’re going to go through it, whether revelling in the adrenalin rush or gritting your teeth and bearing it.

In this world, Jesus said, you will have trouble. Storms and strife. But take heart, for I, Jesus, have overcome the world.

In the words of Hillsong’s ‘Still’, ‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm, Father you are king over the flood, I will be still and know you are God.’

Today, I choose to be exhilarated and expectant, inwardly still, knowing He is God. Rainbows. Colour. Life.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Slow Down

A couple of years ago, I bought a machine to wash my windows. I thought it would be more effective than the method I’d been using (basically a bucket and sponge with a scraper). A little disappointing: it does the job, but no easier and with streaks. 

I’d gotten it to clean the dirt and bugs off the windows. Recently I realised that without the attachment, it could be used to suck up condensation after showers, baths, and drying clothes indoors. It seems to be pretty effective at that so far.

The Bible is God’s perfect window-cleaner. It can leave streaks if I cherry-pick verses to support my prejudices, presenting a distortion of the truth. When used prayerfully, though, mindful of the character of God, reliant on his Holy Spirit, it can suck up the condensation of my assumptions and presumptions and transform my thinking.

To read it like that, I need to slow down, take time, and linger expectantly in the presence of the Almighty God. What a privilege and blessing. The Almighty God. Wow.

Note to self: Slow down.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Right on, Jenny

So, I understand it was pouring in the northeast this morning. I wasn’t here. I was in the dry west. Hmm. Something wrong with those statements: it’s usually the other way around.

I hammered up the motorway (within the speed limit...average speed cameras...) under dry, if cloudy skies. Tomorrow early I’ll be hammering back down the motorway. It’s what you do for children and grandchildren. All you can.

It’s a blessing to have family. It’s a blessing to be well enough to lend a hand when it’s needed. It’s a blessing to be invited to lend a hand. 

A lovely woman who has been a friend (not on FB but in real life) since we were 8 gave us an embroidered sampler for our wedding present, over forty years ago. ‘To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth.’

Right on, Jenny.

Life is a blessing. Please excuse me if these blog posts seem rather rare and short these days. A lot going on. In a good way.