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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Born to be a Gramma

Maybe I was born to be a Gramma.

Folding myself into the outdoor wendy house yesterday and playing shops with Flick sure beats digging the garden or hoovering. Building towers of bricks with her while helping wee Gregor balance in a sitting position between my knees is full of laughs. Watching her imagination explode with possibilities and ideas is such a privilege – and then, after helping a bit with the dinner-time ritual, being picked up and taken out to dinner and a theatre comedy by the Grampa is just the best.

Tomorrow I get to parachute into Callan’s house and play with him, too: endless games of peek-a-boo and explorations of the surrounding area as he begins to creep from one corner of the mat to the other, not crawling but definitely on the move. 

I am so privileged in my life to have choices. I have writing plans and even a deadline; I have travel plans and hopes; I have other responsibilities and activities, but I know enough about life to know that children grow like lightning bolts and if you miss a precious moment, you don’t get it back.

This is the day the Lord has made. I rejoice and am glad in it.

So grateful to God for this life he’s blessed me with: giving it all to Him so he can direct my every step. So aware that with privilege goes responsibility, and there burns within me still a deep desire to help those caught in turmoil and trouble and not knowing where to turn.

As Paul wrote, I can do everything through God who gives me strength. (Just not everything at once...)

Monday, 24 April 2017


On a day out with good friends, we hiked part of the Cairn walk, which is a jumble of spaghetti trails on the Balmoral estate leading to the eleven cairns Queen Victoria had erected to commemorate weddings of her children. They sit astride hills of varying heights but each gives panoramic views of the surrounding hills. Although our walk coincided with the annual Balmoral runs, which attract hundreds if not thousands of competitors, most of the time we were alone in the wilderness forests above Balmoral. 

The cairns are dry-stane creations, it seems, rough and unhewn stones without mortar to hold them together. It is a skilled job to construct a pyramid of such symmetry, and not end up with just a jumble of rocks. Above the rest, the ‘daddy’ of all the cairns is that which Victoria had raised to the memory of her dear husband Albert, who died young and left Victoria alone and bereft for decades. His cairn was fashioned from dressed stones, fitting snugly together as do the pyramids of Egypt, requiring even more skill from the artisans. 

As each cairn crowns a wooded summit, we thought of the craftsmen who had to find and choose the stones and then get them up the slopes.  No mean feat: I hope that Queen Victoria appreciated the task she set them.
The Israelites often used stones to commemorate miracles of God – the crossing of the Red Sea, for instance, or the Lord’s appearance to Jacob at Bethel. God instructed his people to remember events through ritual or construction – the annual Passover meal is a prime example when the older generation rehearsed again the detail of their forbears’ flight from slavery, using word and carefully-chosen food to remind them of the event. 

Jesus took the ordinariness of bread and wine and lifted them to the level of a memorial of the most incredible gift the world has ever received. Believers still use bread and wine to remember this divine sacrifice for our sakes.

I’ve been thinking about cairns in my own particular past, markers of significant events that dot through my life. Meeting and marrying Don: that beautiful cairn is built of a box containing 8 months of letters and a photo album of the wedding. The births of our children: albums of pictures. The deaths of my sister and dad: tear-stained and intangible, that cairn is. The marriages of our sons: more pictures. The births, and the death, of our grandchildren: pictures cemented with tears.

The daddy of my cairns, though, has to be the moment I first met Jesus through the power of his Holy Spirit. My eyes were opened to see that Jesus invited me to have a living relationship with him. That he died for me, so that I might live with him. That cairn, built of no less than the body and blood of our Saviour, still excites a thrill of gratitude and love, having eternal significance and towering right through time.

So I’ll say it again. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Bees and Endurance

An outsize, fuzzy bee buzzed round the gooseberry bush this morning, pausing at each bud. I say bud, but to our eyes, the ‘buds’ were still closed and didn’t appear to be offering any sweet nectar for this hungry bee. But perhaps it was there, as he persisted from one bud to the next. 

Psalm 118 repeats many times that we should give thanks to the Lord, because his love endures forever. This morning the word ‘endures’ popped out at me. We often think of love in sentimental, romantic ways, but God’s love is a tough love that ‘endures’ forever. It is enough to carry us through the bad times. 

When it seems like the buds of his love are shut, we should have the persistence of that bee, who perhaps sensed better than we did that there was sweetness within those green folds. There is always sweetness in the arms of Jesus, and his love endures forever. I love the strength that endurance reveals. I love the dedication. I love the will power and focus.

Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


When I realize that I have messed up in some way that might have hurt someone’s feelings or my relationship with someone, my every impulse is to go immediately and try to rectify the situation. I can’t just leave it.

Peter had messed up big time, denying his friendship with Jesus. The events of Easter rolled on and I can imagine Peter was in a daze, but with that underlying sick feeling that something is not right. I wonder if he blurted out an apology the first time he saw the risen Jesus – that would seem to fit his character as he often acted on impulse. 

Whether or not he did, Jesus knew his heart and today I’m thinking about the gentle, powerful way that Jesus restored Peter’s self-esteem as they breakfasted together on bbq’d fish. Three times he asked Peter if he loved him, and then he gave him a commission, a responsibility, showing that he hadn’t given up on Peter’s loyalty.

So good to know God never gives up on me, either.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

What's so great about Easter?

What is so great about Easter? Obviously Jesus being raised again to life, but also the restoration of hope for all of us. 

The tomb was so dark. No chinks of light. Unremitting blackness, death and decay. Jesus was dead and his body was wrapped for decomposition. 

Then the power of Almighty God knocked aside that huge stone. The light poured into the darkness, resurrecting life and the fragrance of hope.

Hope. World situations can lead us to despair; we can feel shut into a dark tomb where there is no light, no life. No stone is bigger than God’s wee finger or a puff of his breath to shift it aside.
Hope. Our own situation might be claustrophobically dark right now, devoid of light and life. No stone is bigger than God’s wee finger or a puff of his breath to shift it aside.

It’s with a shout of triumph that we greet Easter morn, whether we are still entombed or released. There is hope in our hearts because of Easter, because of Jesus. Our God is great and he is good; light and life are his gift to us today. 

He is risen indeed. Happy Easter.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Thank God for Easter

As yesterday’s early morning walk behind the cross drew near the church, those carrying the cross strode out of sight, followed by a few swift followers. The rest of us were ‘stuck’ behind a ‘bottle-neck’ formed by one old man with his cane, and his companions. 

Nobody overtook them. We knew where we were headed, so we kept company with those who were finding the way difficult.

Sometimes on our life’s journey we feel like we’ve lost sight of Jesus, lost sight of his cross. But he has left us map points by which to plot our course, guidelines in Scripture by which to live, and it’s as we continue to walk in faith that his cross comes back into view. It’s right that we adopt the pace of the slowest in our party, so that we can all arrive together. There are no prizes for the sprinter in the Kingdom but I think Jesus loves the marathon runners who slow their pace at times to accompany others who struggle along the way.

Jesus walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, as they struggled with Easter weekend events. He walks with each of us as we struggle to make sense of our circumstances, and the situations in the wider world.

Thank God for Easter.