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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Strangled by Weeds

Late August sunshine and heat draw me out into the garden, where I confront the overgrowth and undergrowth and weed infestations! Yesterday I made a start on the raspberry disaster. 

Usually we have an abundance of sweet berries through July/August, but this year many of the canes were bare. Some were new-plants, but others just didn’t seem to bear the fruit they usually do.
Having slipped a disk in my back a couple of years ago, I have been very careful with my gardening since then, and have rather slacked off on the weeding side. Yesterday I confronted the results. 

Neglect gave rise to a tangle of buttercups and clover which has carpeted the ground beneath the rasp canes and no doubt leached out the nutrients. Perhaps I can blame them for the lack of raspberry jam in the cupboards: maybe I could try making buttercup or cloverleaf spread.

Neglect of negative seedlings in our own lives can lead to carpets of weeds which rob us of the fruits of the Spirit God longs to give us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are attributes which are tender and need nurturing in order to flourish in our lives. But we don’t seek patience, for instance; we seek God and ask him to grow this fruit in us. He is the one who grows all the good fruit in our lives. 

The real culprit in lack of fruitfulness in our lives is neglect of God. Just spending time in his presence nurtures these good traits. I know myself the impact of busyness: if I allow it to marginalise my God-time, the colourful, juicy fruits of the Spirit are missing from my day.

So the sun is out again: back to the raspberry patch!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Cold Feet and Goose Bumps

Don’t you just love it when you draw back the bedroom curtains when you get up and see a faultless blue sky with the sun blazing in the middle of it? A California girl still at heart, to me that invites t-shirt and cropped trousers: even after forty years in this lovely northern country I have not learned that the sun and blue sky do not always signify heat.

I need to look at the other signs out there. The foliage draining of its vibrant green and transforming into a palette of fall colours. The rowan berries clustering thick and beginning to darken. The rhubarb shrivelling and the unplucked spinach shooting to flower. 

Some signs are easily seen and subconsciously obeyed. STOP. GIVE WAY. NO ENTRY.

Others are more subtle, more easily overlooked or ignored. 

Often we see what we want to see, but that leads only to cold feet and goosebumps.

Jesus counselled us to be alert to the signs of the times.
Today I pray that my eyes will engage with my brain and I will get the full story in every situation I encounter.

Monday, 29 August 2016


Yesterday afternoon, the skies opened and shot bullets of torrential rain at us. Monsoon-style. Shortly afterwards, the sun shone again and the ground began to steam. It steamed and steamed until there was an eerie fogginess shrouding the world in mist as darkness fell around 9 pm. 

An hour later, a mighty army of (sorry to mention this Chrisie) snails and slugs had slithered out of their green bunkers and moved en masse across the path and on up the wall of the house. 

This morning, dewdrops (or left-over raindrops?) clung beautifully to the spider webs whose numbers always amaze me. Stretched between prickly gorse branches, filling spaces between the ripening brambles, reaching between rowan leaves showing the faintest hint of autumn colours: I love the webs but you can keep the spiders.

The skies have cleared, the sun is shining bright and warm and we are enjoying another summer day – though the drenched lawn tells a story of yesterday’s deluge.

Whatever hits us in life, has consequences. Some are exquisite, some are curious, some are out of a horror movie. When you’ve built your life on a rock, though, you can be assured that whatever problems assail you, Jesus never leaves you. He is always there, loving you, whispering words of guidance or condolence or encouragement or laughing with you.

A crutch? Never. A friend and a powerful Lord worthy of love and praise.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Where are you?

The saddest words in the Bible come in chapter 3 of Genesis. After they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve ‘heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God ... But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”’

Where are you?

Many people have been hiding from God for so long, they no longer recognise the sound of him walking near them. The loving Father’s voice falls on deaf ears.

Tonight I had the joy of listening to the testimonies of five young people who have decided to stop hiding. Each one shared the reason for his or her decision to be baptised and make a public declaration of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. At least one had been baptised as a baby but felt compelled to share his adult faith. 

Gathered round the baptismal tank were the children, eager to watch the proceedings. Praying they all know Jesus as their Saviour and respond to the Father’s call, ‘Where are you?’ when the time is right.
Praying for friends and family, that they will hear the Father’s call and step out of the bushes.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Another magical afternoon

Another magical afternoon with my favourite nearly-two-year-old. Oh what a joy to be Gramma!

Today the sun shone as only a summer sun can, warm and inviting, so off we wandered towards the community play park. It’s a couple of weeks since I’ve taken Flick there and I was amazed to see her confidence as she headed up the ladder unaided, and also tried out the short climbing wall. 

We strolled home through the housing complex, where anything might demand closer inspection – a playhouse in a neighbour’s garden, or a gurning baby in the next garden. 

How much detail we miss when we press on through our days, driven by deadlines and rushed by agendas. My dad used to counsel me to take time to smell the roses. I’d add to that, take time to see things through the eyes of a child. 

We live in a breathtaking world, the gift of God. Let’s take better care of it.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Walk in the Park

Flick and I took a walk to the park today. It took us nearly two hours from start to finish. If I’d put her in the pushchair, we’d have been at the swings in ten minutes, had some fun there and returned home in another ten minutes. We left the pushchair in the closet, though, and walked.

We never made it to the swings today. Oh, there were too many other wonders! Children on scooters to stop and watch. Children throwing sticks into puddles to be mimicked, with great glee. Baby doll in the stroller to be pushed forward with a joyful cry of ‘GO!’ followed by hilarity as she chased after the stroller. (Don’t want to encourage that when the real baby arrives!)

There was a loquacious old man to linger with. Brick edgings to be balanced on and iron railings to be used as baby gymnastic apparatus. Colourful flowers to be smelled. Long grass with which to tickle others. There were old ladies with dogs on leads to be marvelled at, from the safety of Gramma’s arms. There were planes and helicopters in the sky, pigeons and seagulls and crows in the trees, ducks in the water. 

The weather wasn’t summery but that drew no complaints from Flick. She only had eyes for the amazing surroundings.

The world through the eyes of a child is a marvellous place, full of beauty and fun. What a blessing to have the opportunity to refocus my eyes yet again, and give all the glory to our gracious Lord. I am full of gratitude for the opportunities to spend time with this beautiful wee soul.