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Saturday, 31 January 2015


Bird feeders hung empty, swinging in the strong winds. Tree branches denuded of the feathered friends who usually flit and dance round the feeders and the fat balls. I’d forgotten to feed them.

The sleet sweeps across the fields and there isn’t much food in the frozen north for these wee birds to eat. I’ve now replenished the feeders and the first birds are back, trying to eat a third of their body weight in order to remain alive through these winter months.

Some of the birds cling to the wire feeder; some perch on the stick perches nibbling at seeds; some hop along the ground gathering up the seed which falls and others peck at the fat balls or the breadcrumbs on the earth.

(The cats are inside!!)

However much they eat in one day, by the next day these creatures need to fill up again.

Much like our spiritual stomachs, which we need to feed daily if we are to stay spiritually alive and able to hear and respond to our Lord’s voice when he guides and directs.

The one who feeds on Jesus will live because of him. Don’t let a day go by where you miss that meal.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Winter sunshine

Winter sunshine streams through rain-spotted windows, revealing the film of dust spread across mahogany furniture. Sigh. I didn’t see that coming. I was going to contrast the seductive sunshine drawing me outside with the bitingly chill wind which instantly negates any warmth there might be in those rays. Two different thoughts there. 

How welcome the sunshine is at any time of year, but especially in winter and when the rest of the British Isles are blanketed in snow. It whispers of spring; it hints at blossom and buds, nesting birds and longer days. 

But not yet, the wind shrieks. Not yet. Keep that warm hat and scarf on, gloves and thick coat.
Deceptive, and even after all these years I am still easily deceived by a big sun in a blue sky. In California that generally means it’s warm. Or hot. Not so in Scotland.

Put on the armour of God, Paul advised the Ephesians, to protect against deception and attack from the enemy. It’s easy to be drawn into things. To overlook dangers. To assume safety. 

Even after all these years as a Christian, I can still be deceived by appearances, suggestions, hints which appear good but in fact are not. Without the armour of God; without standing in the strength of Jesus, I am lost.

And the dust revealed on the furniture? Ach well, it’ll wait for another day.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Speak Jesus

All winter long, the dead stalks and flower heads have draped themselves across the flower beds and I’ve not even noticed them. I continued to nurse my back and shoulder and feared further damage if I did much of anything.

The incentive to throw caution to the wind came last weekend when we were needed to prepare the walls and woodwork in one son’s new flat. They’ve been under pressure. They needed a hand. I didn’t hesitate but stretched and bent, pushed and pulled, climbed up and down ladders and knelt on bended knee for four days.

Delighted then to find that neither back nor shoulder felt any the worse after the efforts. Perhaps the Pilates is paying off. 

So today, as most of the UK is buried to its knees in the white stuff, the northeast corner of Scotland has green fields and clear skies and the sun was out. So despite the temp being below freezing, I spent an hour making a start on clearing some of the autumn debris. 

I hadn’t noticed it, as I said. Or rather, I’d noticed it but it hadn’t bothered me because I felt helpless to do anything about it.

I suspect that’s a convenient excuse for spiritual laziness in me. That although I notice my spiritual antennae are dulled because of an overgrowth of dead attitudes, I ignore the mess because I just don’t feel up to it. I ask my heavenly father to help me to hear, help me to listen, when in fact I need to make a bit of effort myself. 

I need to immerse myself more in His Word so that I recognise his voice when he speaks. I need to spend quiet time just sitting and listening, meditating, so that when he does speak I am listening. 

I am struggling to learn Russian at the moment. A new alphabet, never mind a new vocabulary and words with awkward sounds. Poco a poco my dad used to advise. My goal is to spend some time each day studying so that it begins to become familiar and I can recognise the words and actually make the sounds.

My sheep know my voice, Jesus said. His followers recognise his voice. They did then; they do now. And then they speak his language. That’s my goal for 2015. To speak Russian. And to speak Jesus.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Bigger Picture

Remember those pictures with the hidden pictures inside of them? Can’t remember what they were called, (magic eye?), but I can remember staring at one in my uncle’s house, trying to relax my eye (as he instructed irritatingly) so as to see the second image concealed within the obvious picture. 

Thinking about life this morning, and how we can become so intent on seeing the detail, the smaller pictures in our lives, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. I know I’ve been writing about perspective recently but maybe it’s just a theme in my life at the moment. 

As a mother, I want my kids’ lives to run smoothly and if there is a problem, I want to fix what I can and then watch God fix what I can’t. I do my pathetic bit and pray increasingly fervent and frustrated prayers if the problem isn’t going away. I lose sight of the bigger picture and I lose sight of the generous God who has given us life. 

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. The first line of one of the first choruses I learned after being born again, and it comes back to me usually in the teeth of a storm. 

There is no physical storm today but in the lives of a couple I love the storm rages on. We all search the horizon for a break in the storm clouds but sometimes it seems all we see are yet more black clouds piling up. 

An Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, wrote, ‘Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour’. He wrote that not while lounging on a sun-drenched beach but when devastation and starvation loomed large. That is not easy. But today, I face neither devastation nor starvation, so how can I do any less? I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be joyful in God my Saviour. 

Jesus is the bigger picture. Today I will get lost in him. This is the day he has made. I will rejoice and be glad in him.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Engage your Core Some More

Zip it up. Engage your core. However you say it in pilates, those interior muscles which are hidden from view need to be tensing and strengthening so they can take the stress.

Tricky. Very tricky.

I am struggling to achieve some success in this elusive form of exercise, because I believe that if I can strengthen that inner core, I will be much better equipped to withstand any twists or jerks or turns which might otherwise result in slipped disks or other muscular injuries, especially to the back.

The back is so central to every move we make, and even to our resting positions. I have learned painfully over this last year how integral it is to every move I make, and every resting posture I choose. If the back is sore, pretty much everything hurts.

Spiritually I am also trying to engage my core. Exercising my faith through reading the Bible, praying, reading spiritual books and discussing them with friends. Identifying and recognising what my core values are as a Christian. Very tricky as well. Hard to see progress, just like with pilates. But also just like with pilates, if I don’t have a strong spiritual core I am in danger of serious injury. Emotional stress may result in spiritual pulled muscles or slipped disks.

Mentally I am trying to engage my core, by embarking on learning a new language. To learn Russian, I first need to learn a new alphabet, so I am still at that basic, infant position, trying hard to master the strange symbols and make the foreign guttural sounds. Keeping the brain active and challenged and learning new things is important, we are told, for future mental agility.

So, 2015 is the year of engagement of my core. Cores. Only by the grace of God can I strengthen all those muscles – physical, spiritual, and mental, but that is my goal. 

Watch this space...