Popular Posts

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Seal Beach

Hot sun beaming out of a clear blue sky: finally, after a few days of overcast grey, the stereotypical California weather has returned. I headed for...what else?...the beach. Despite the many health warnings, there are still bronzed bodies lounging on the sand, faces turned to the sun. Children dig and build in the sand (whatever happened to school days on a Wednesday in March?) and surfers in wetsuits hang ten. Families munch their picnics and a lifeguard warned a lady with a dog on a leash that she was on the wrong beach. No animals permitted here.

A Navy vessel bobbed at anchor, and other grey ships rode the waves just offshore. I was just here for a walk, always grateful for a space to sense the vastness of creation in the midst of the sprawl and congestion that is LA. I headed west, towards the permanently docked Queen Mary, loving the feel of the sun on my arms and the wind in my face, savouring the beauty of the light reflected on the Pacific breakers.

Headed back towards the car, I noticed a forlorn kite caught in the spiky branches of a palm trees. Its tail waved languorously in the breeze. It made me think.

Once that kite rose on the winds, free to soar and dip, and go new places, but now it is spiked and stuck, permanently moored to a pretty palm tree, with a glorious view of the ocean, but never again to roam the skies.

Sometimes, maybe especially when our star seems to be on the rise, we can become caught, tethered to something beautiful perhaps, but nevertheless tethered.

It's important to ca' canny as they say in Scotland, aware of the snares. Or as Jesus advised, travel through life as innocent as doves but as wary as snakes.

Over and out from Seal Beach.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Gratitude and Expectation

Don’t worry. Pray, with gratitude and expectation. That advice may sound hackneyed but when Paul wrote it to the Philippians he was speaking from experience and he was speaking truth.

This week I have been reminded of the power of prayer. Awake in a night, I was reminded of a friend who is suffering with her eyes at the moment. I prayed specifically that she would get an appointment at the eye hospital, an appointment for which she was waiting. In the morning I emailed her to say I’d been praying in the night, and that was my prayer.

A couple of hours later she had a call from the eye hospital asking her if she could come in a couple of hours later. They’d had a cancellation.

We are called to be family, to hold each other before the throne of grace and expect our gracious and merciful Father to hear and act. Then we are encouraged to remember, so that the next time, our expectation is high and our vision is clear as we look for his answer.

I am increasing my prayers for others, praying with gratitude and expectation. How about you?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mud Puddle

Almost thirty years ago, I headed out one morning with my youngest, Doug, in a pushchair. He, the dog and I went down to the paint ball centre about a quarter mile away. Doug had just started walking, so when we turned down the rutted track I took him out of the pushchair so he could try out his legs. He toddled straight for a big mud puddle and pancaked straight into it, face first. 

Muddied and disappointed, he cried all the way home to be cleaned up.

This morning we were thinking about the human impact on God’s beautiful world: the way we humans are ruining the environment, rendering life unsustainable for one after another species of animal and plant, and the mess we make of relationships both intimate and global. Broken marriages, civil wars, terrorism and extremism, racism and misogyny: the list goes on. 

The human race has nosedived into a giant mud puddle and all we can do is cry out to God to pick us up and take us home and clean us off. When we look round our hurting world, ‘Lord, we don’t know what to do but, Lord, our eyes are on you.’ 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We’re here, Lord, in this big mud puddle.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Faithful One

Fresh paint, new curtains, and a computer desk centred at the bedroom window. Today I sat at my new work station for writing, and wrote. 

I tried not to be too distracted by the cows meandering past, though I confess that the one walking with a limp tugged at my heart and I wondered if I ought to run out into the field and get her number and call the farmer. I re-focused on my screen. Then there was the tractor in the field beyond, literally ploughing up and down, back and forth, with a very energetic collie racing alongside, back and forth, back and forth, and a swarm of seagulls enjoying the bounty of the broken field. 

There’s no internet up there, so I’m excited to see the difference it makes to my writing. No distractions of email, facebook, blogs!

Come away with me, Jesus said to his disciples a few times. I sense he’s been saying that to me lately, so I hope it’s up to that new writing room where I may be especially open to his inspiration. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Beauty for ashes

Regal plumage distinguishes the beautiful male pheasants which fatten themselves up at the foot of the bird table, picking up the crumbs dropped by the other birds. They may have ‘bird brains’, but during the cold winter months one of them isn’t daft: he has developed a habit of starting his day warming his feet on a pile of rotting manure at the side of the house. When I open the bedroom curtains, this is what I see.

Life can throw undesirables our way. My back has flared again, result of a badly-placed puppet curtain which required me to operate my two puppets at a very odd angle indeed. A moment’s lack of foresight resulting in weeks of discomfort. I might just think of the resulting back pain in the same terms as a pile of manure. 

And yet, the discomfort has led to a couple of massages which enable random chats with a physio friend I don’t see much of at the moment, and Don, chats facilitated by the fact that we can’t rush off and do something else because basically I need the comfort of that warm hand rubbing in the deep heat cream. 

Beauty and the beast. A crown of beauty for ashes. 

Sometimes suffering nourishes green shoots of compassion, nurtures relationships and encourages us to dig deeper into our faith. 

A bad back is a pile of manure, no doubt about it. But I’m open to the possibilities of what can come from it.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Call to Rest

Often I hear God in the natural world or in situations. This morning, though, he has been speaking loud and clear through his word. First, Don and I read Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary...and I will give you rest.’ We do daily readings from the Upper Room, but because we miss the odd day we are way out of synch and today’s reading was actually from the 28th of January.

Then I picked up the daily readings I follow on my own in Day by Day with God. And today’s reading was from Mark 6:31: ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

I think I’m spotting a trend here. Been really busy recently, but pleasantly so. Yesterday was a lovely day but I was going until about 11, and congratulated myself on not feeling very tired when I finally got into bed. This morning, though, I’m kind of dragging. 

I guess the Lord knows what we need before we acknowledge it ourselves. What I really love about both of these verses is not just the invitation to rest, but the promise that Jesus is in the resting. Jesus is there, and where Jesus is, there is peace and refreshment and renewal and strength. 

Tomorrow I plan to soar on wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Because as I put my hope in the Lord, I will renew my strength. 

Today, though, I hear a call to a Sabbath rest. Time set apart with my God, his gift.