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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Minutiae of the Mundane

The sky is blue and the wind is blustery. Fiercely blustery. We headed off for a quick walk, neither of us fond of strong winds but eager to pursue our new discipline. 

Half way down the road to the fort, Don wondered aloud if we would come across any deer, surmising they wouldn’t hear us coming in this noisy gale. I realised then that the unpleasantness of the wind caused me to almost curl up  physically, with my face to the ground. If a deer had risen out of the undergrowth I’d have missed it.

When the wild winds blow it is tempting to shut down, close eyes and draw the mental curtains. I raised my head and saw the beauty of the day, though there were no disturbed deer leaping through the reeds and long grass. 

Sometimes it takes a deliberate effort, and someone to remind us, to look up and see the beauty all around. We can so easily focus on the minutiae of the mundane or the anxiety or sorrow of the moment, thereby missing the panorama prepared for us by God.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Celebration of Hope

Had the honour and privilege of sharing a message about 'walking each other home' at a fundraiser yesterday for Celebration of Hope North East Scotland. To find out more of their work of spreading the gospel especially in the far North East of Scotland, head to their website: www.celebrationofhope.co.uk

Transatlantic Phone Calls

Transatlantic phone calls used to cost about £1/minute, so they were rare. We would call California at birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving ... and not many other times. I often missed the sound of loved-ones’ voices and longed to hear them. 

I remember a few times when family life was full here, during a conversation with ‘home’ my Dad would say, ‘You’re tired, aren’t you? I can hear it.’ I never thought I sounded any different, but to a Father whose daughter’s voice he knew well, he heard the sag in my voice. And he no doubt felt so far away, unable to give me a bear hug of encouragement.

I’ve just skyped my Mom, and I heard the sag in her voice. Usually she is upbeat and perky, embracing her more restricted life at 92 and making the best of it. Today I could hear a flatness and I felt bad for her difficulty in downshifting into this season. And I felt so far away, unable to give her a bear hug of encouragement.

Our Father in heaven loves us, and can hear the sag in our voices when life is heavy or challenging. He is not constrained by geographic distance, though, and if I draw in close to him, I can sense his nearness and ‘feel’ his hug – through his Words, through praise music, through the presence of others. 

In the shadow of his wings is my security. In the embrace of his love is my life. And in faith I trust that he is able to give Mom that bear hug of encouragement today, lift her spirits and strengthen her core. So grateful to Jesus.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Good for your heart

Just back from a walk with my neighbour. We meet a couple times a week and are pushing on to increase the distance gradually. Sometimes we chat about the cows and their calves, or the gardens or the fields as we pass. Other times we engage with bigger subjects that engross us and before we know it, we have arrived at our turning-around place. 

Companions on life’s road add joy and interest. The conversation is a side-effect of the walking, which we are doing to try to regain fitness, but in fact, the conversation deepens our relationship, probably boosts our endorphins and often leads to laughter. 

I also like a quiet walk on my own, but there is something special about a shared walk. I heard of an acquaintance yesterday, diagnosed with dementia in his late sixties, who has been taken off on a hill walk with an old friend. He can no longer go on his own as words and map-reading fail him now. A blessing to have such a friend.

Walking is good for your heart, in lots of ways.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Tectonic Plates

A glorious sunny morning with that autumn chill in the air. The farmer is down the field, closing a gate: perhaps our bovine neighbours are trudging back to bring joy and pleasure to wee Flick when she visits next.

Seasons. Seasons of life. Tomorrow we celebrate the second birthday of our precious granddaughter Felicity. She is a joy and a treasure whom we love so much and in whom we delight. 

We give thanks to God for life. It is a priceless gift and in some ways is robust, and in some ways fragile. We are living through a poignant time of joy and a time of grief. I am thinking seasons but I am also thinking contrasts, the jarring nature of having two such seasons so closely juxtaposed. It’s a bit like tectonic plates meeting, causing earthquakes and pushing up volcanoes. Does that make sense?

We navigate these days tentatively, filled with joy and love at the birth of our new grandson wee Callan, almost three weeks old now. He is another treasure and a precious one in the family and a reason to celebrate and give thanks. At the same time we mourn the loss of wee Elias, who we will know when we all see Jesus face to face. We had hoped to hold him and love him too, watch him grow and enjoy him. It is hard, even when our hope is in Christ and we know that in him, all is well. 

So on we go, through the seasons, battle-scarred and weary and yet also rejoicing and giving thanks. 

May we all be blessed as we continue to put our hope in God and even though we don’t understand, we know he is always good, and that he loves us.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


Remember those round-abouts/merry-go-rounds they used to have in the parks? Kids, or their parents, would grasp the iron handles and push it faster and faster and eventually join the other kids by jumping on and riding round and round and round? I don’t think I’ve seen one of those for awhile...

Sometimes those things would get to going so fast that they ceased being merry at all, and could just make you sick. Know what I mean?

My life at the moment feels a bit like I’m on one of those merry-go-rounds. Not quite sure who’s pushing it but it could just be life. Circumstances. Duties. Challenges. Desires. 

So many things propelling me: no wonder it’s whizzing round and I feel I’m getting nowhere fast!
Time to step back; think it over; identify the things that can be omitted. Time to spend time with God and hear what he’s calling me to do, rather than responding to all those things propelling me.

I don’t think I’m the only one on this merry-go-round. Maybe if we all just shout STOP, we’ll have time to catch our breath, listen to God, and think. And become human beings again, rather than human doings.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Be prepared

It’s all about the preparation, our guest said in describing the weaving course she is doing. If the prep is done right, the end product will be sound and not skewed or squint in any way. 

Into my head popped the old hymn, ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?’ It’s all about preparation. 

Storms hit us all, and if we have planted our anchors in Jesus they will hold, though we may be tossed and turned. How do we plant our anchors in Jesus? Nurturing that relationship with him through Bible reading, prayer and hanging around with other believers. 

It’s all about preparation.