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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Scotch Mist Disruptions

It may sound exotic and mysterious. But as the mist descends ever thicker on the saturated earth beneath, essential landmarks are lost and risks increase.

Awaiting the longed-for arrival of a plane bearing beloved mother and daughter, I am beginning to wonder if they will be able to land. The website for the airport shows many flights cancelled, but theirs, so far, still scheduled. That could mean they are en route, so the prayers now are that they are not diverted to another, less fogged-in, airport, and bussed up. That would not be funny.

The most straight-forward of journeys can so quickly go awry. You look at the timetable and it looks grand. Then the blizzard sweeps in, as it did when I struggled to get home when my dad died at Christmas, and ended up stuck in Newark for four days. Praying there is no major disruption as folks fly in for a wedding.

The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, as the Scots bard wrote. Proverbs 19:21 says ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’

I hope his purpose is to get Mhairi and Mom here today. Scotch mist or not.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Grand Central Station

Actually, I am in Britain so I guess it should be Waterloo or Victoria or Euston. Whatever the name of the Station, you probably get the picture.

My writing spot is in the kitchen/living room. The only room in the house where there is a fire lit – hence, on a day like today (misty and cold) folks keep popping in and staying to chat. Which is nice, unless you are really trying to concentrate.

Even the neighbour and her dog just came in by. True enough, I invited them in, and was delighted to have them here. 

I’ve sent off the email I was working on, which really required more thought than I gave it. I’ll just have to hope that the recipient understands that there is a lot going on here. 

Now it’s time to start thinking of dinner. And the wedding is in two days. Baking to be done for that. Fingernails polished. Cases packed. Labels removed from fascinator and jacket. Umbrella to be found. 

Never mind.

It’s all good.

I will not panic. I will hold steady while paddling frantically below the surface. 

Because at the end of the day, we are about to celebrate a wonderful wedding. Rain or shine, hot or cold, it is a glorious occasion, uniting two beautiful people together forever.

Grand Central Station is the place to be, not sequestered in some cubby hole of an office writing fantastic prose. 

That day will come – perhaps.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Charity shops are enjoying a boom time it would seem, judging from their proliferation in most towns. I heard that one of them in our town was pulling in £35K per week – unbelievable as that sounds. 

There are many wealthy folks in this vicinity, who easily tire of their clothes, it seems, and are quick to cast them down to the charity shop and replenish the wardrobe with the season’s latest fashions. The less affluent are able to snap up designer brands for bargain prices. And the charity benefits.

It’s great that the charity benefits financially, but in fact when you think about it, nobody in the chain has gone without, or sacrificed, anything in order to help someone in need. 

Someone said – is it in the Bible? I can’t remember – that it is terrible to give to the Lord something that cost him/her nothing. That a gift to God should represent a sacrifice of some sort.

Tithing – giving 10% off the top of earnings – is significant enough to pinch most peoples’ pockets. Many Christians tithe, giving to God the first fruits of their labour. 

But I suppose that for some tithing is still just like giving to a charity shop. It eases the conscience and pleases the person purchasing the item, and raises money enough to help the cause. 


God does say that the sacrifice he desires is a contrite heart, looking after the downtrodden and the poor, and fighting injustice.

But I still think a gift to God should cost me something. I should notice I don’t have it to spend on myself.

I think this needs some thought.

Monday, 25 June 2012


My life seems to be one of constant preparation.

We had eight overnight two nights running this weekend, and ten for dinner. I wanted to enjoy them, to be able to sit with them and get to know this team of theology students who are studying with our son. I wanted to hear what they are thinking and participate. 

But I also needed to feed them and have beds ready. So that required prep.

I wanted to be Mary, but I had to be Martha first. 

It worked, though. It was fabulous, fun and – exhausting in a good kind of way! 

And now I’m on to the next prep. My mother and daughter flying in together on Thursday. Eldest son getting married on Saturday. In an outdoor ceremony, and the forecast is for rain.

Prep. As long as we have prepared for all contingencies, we can enjoy the festivities.

So I will bustle off again to be Martha. But my plan is to have plenty of Mary time, soon.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Dry and Weary

Everyone needs a place. A place to rest and recover, to ponder and be refreshed. A layby along the way.

I have a prayer alcove. When my husband and sons were rebuilding our living room, with its very thick, old walls, one son suggested creating a prayer seat for me in one of the windows. 

It is my place of retreat. It is right in the living room, but when I sink onto that seat, I turn off from the jobs around me and slip into a more pensive and prayerful mood. One of my Bibles is there, and various notebooks and crosses and prayers. I’ve had a candle there sometimes, and just thought this morning I should keep my MP3 player there so that I can be refreshed sometimes with praise music.

Psalm 63 is one of my favourite pieces of Scripture.  It begins: ‘O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.’

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

It hasn’t stopped pouring rain here for weeks, maybe months. Don texted me this morning that the roads were flooded.

I am not in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

But it reminds me of a line from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. ‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.’

The water flooding our roads and fields does not offer the refreshment I get when I sink onto my seat in my prayer alcove. 

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  John 7:37.

Jesus is the source of life-giving, refreshing water. When I drink from him, I am renewed, and I can splash out into soggy Scotland with a singing heart.

Where do you go when you are dry and weary?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Too bright, too early

Too bright, too early

My father-in-law was right.

Not every time, but very often, when the sun is out bright at 7 am, by 11 am it will be hidden by clouds. 

Too bright, too early, he would say. 

To me, that throws a pall over the enjoyment of the early part of the day, as I look apprehensively towards the western skies, the direction from which our weather often comes. I’d rather enjoy the hours I have unclouded by ... well ... incipient clouds.

I prefer to live in hope and expect the best, than to cynically expect the worst. In spite of the fact that yes, my father-in-law, in this regard, was usually right.

This morning. Case in point. It dawned gloriously and full of promise. Now, at 11.30 am, there remain a couple of patches of blue sky only. 

But, so far, no rain! I am trying to keep my eyes on the bright side.

Why does this daily musing often reflect the British obsession with the weather, I wonder. I guess it’s because it changes so drastically, so frequently, and we’re all just desperate for it to settle down into a good long spell of hot, dry weather. 

A good long spell of hot, dry weather – rare as hen’s teeth here in Scotland. It can happen – but rarely.
My Bible reading this morning focused on Jesus’ words to the father of the girl who was dying. He encouraged him: ‘Don’t be afraid, only believe.’ 

I might believe with all my heart that the weather is going to hold, good and hot, but if the wind shifts no amount of believing will make that happen.

But if I can put all my faith in God, believing in Him with all my heart – well, anything is possible. Fear of what the day may hold (not meaning the frivolity of the weather but more serious matters) will be driven out by the faith that God’s plans are always good, and whatever the day may hold, he loves me and has me covered.

Jesus raised that dad's daughter from the dead.
It doesn’t get any brighter than that. And there are no clouds on that horizon.