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Friday, 20 October 2017


Anticipation. Preparation.

Some of the fun of having visitors is anticipating their arrival. Preparing their rooms. Planning and fixing food. Lighting the fire, and warming or chilling the wine.

As I chopped onions this morning and peeled a pile of shallots, I sensed myself tensing up and wishing the work were all finished. I stopped myself and put on a praise CD, reflecting on a half-heard story which suggested that the taste of the finished food reflects the attitude of the chef: if it is prepared in love, it will be delicious. If it is prepared in haste and impatience, perhaps there might be a bitter aftertaste.

I don’t honestly believe that: I’ve seen Gordon Ramsey’s fiery temper in the kitchen and am sure his food doesn’t leave a bitter after-taste! But perhaps as I try to create the perfect ambience, I might spoil it if there is an air of exhaustion hanging over the kitchen!
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it as if you’re doing it for the Lord. One of Solomon’s wise proverbs. When I think of who I’m making soup and fish pie for, my heart sings, and whether or not the food tastes better, I know that I will have a cheerful face to greet the guests rather than a strained and tired one.

I’m really looking forward to sharing food with much loved family. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Paka Paka

The fragrance of friends lingers long after they have gone. The echo of laughter. The beauty of joyful smiles. The vibrancy of a toddler, always on the move, discovering a world which is daily revealing more of its magic detail to him.

Hospitality is a foretaste of heaven – both giving it, and receiving it. Discussing and debating ideas and issues: sharing memories which invite a glimpse into each other’s past: revealing hopes and ambitions for the future: over food as special as coq au vin and as basic as porage. 

Friendship across the generations may be rare, especially when coupled with friendship across eastern and western cultures. We have made these friends in our autumn, in their summer, and share Russian, Scottish and American experiences, memories, and approaches to life. Encircling us all I sense the everlasting arms embracing us in a divine hug of love.

We are grateful to God for the ‘chance’ that brought us together, having had our lives enriched and our vision broadened as a result. As we have parted with smiles and promises to meet again soon, I sense the heartbeat of our loving Father, a gentle smile and a sigh of satisfaction.

Paka paka.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Some change is anticipated

We noticed the darkening sky as we ate lunch with special friends in a restaurant with picture windows. We expect increasing darkness at this time of year; we don’t expect it, though, in early afternoon. 

Some change is anticipated. Other change takes us by surprise. 

We expect life to ebb and flow, and as we stand in prayer beside those whose lives are on the wane, we know the end of this life will, indeed, come. Still, its arrival, if not a surprise exactly, bruises our hearts. We will miss those who have gone before us. 

We noticed the darkening sky. Keep watch, Jesus advises. Be alert. Pray.

Some change is anticipated. Other change takes us by surprise.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Brace yourselves!

Brace yourselves! Hurricane’s coming...

I peer from the windows on a shrinking landscape, swaddled in deep mist. Autumn trees flare into the thickening grey. Larch twigs droop, waving limply in the breath of wind, which is forecast to increase to gale force and possibly even hurricane strength before the day is through. The outlook is bleak and the light appears to waver.

Brexit; Trump; North Korea; Iran; Syria; Ukraine; Myanmar; Venezuela. Wildfires; hurricanes; floods; earthquakes; drought. 

I peer at a global landscape, swaddled in deep mist. Truth flares into the thickening darkness of fake news and alternative facts. Hope swirls forlornly in the tornadoes of doubt and confusion. 

Through it all, though, shines a beacon of light, the light of the world, burning brighter as the darkness deepens. I lift my eyes to the hills, (which at the moment, I cannot see, so lost are they in the mist).Where is the help we need?

Our help remains in the name of the Lord who has made heaven and earth. It’s time to see with the inner eye, through Holy Spirit specs, and focus on Jesus. 

Brace yourselves!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Shoulders back!

Tendonitis in the shoulder. Maybe some damage to the rotator cuff. Maybe the beginnings of a frozen shoulder. The physio’s diagnosis was clear.

But why? (the question always on Flick’s lips...) Maybe this, maybe that; nobody really knows. As I lay on my stomach, though, she remarked that she could see from muscles in my upper back that I was beginning to get into a habit of slumping. Posture! 

It horrified me. When I was growing up, my mother drilled it into me. Stand up straight. Shoulders back. Tummy in. The gym teacher repeated the mantra. The instruction took root within me and I thought that is what I do. But it seems I’m beginning to slacken. 

So now I’ve got some exercises, and the instruction that whatever I do, from lifting shopping to lifting children, I need to remind myself to keep those shoulders back. 

We easily become frozen in our stances towards issues, towards people. Why? Big reasons and small and no reasons at all. Some valid and many prejudiced. As we freeze up, our vision narrows and becomes myopic. 

Perhaps because of the shoulder pain, the muscles on my upper back are hard, locked in spasm and as painful as the tendonitis. I’m sitting here with heat on the muscle, hoping to encourage it to relax.
So with stiffened attitudes: they are accompanied by stiff necks. God often called the Israelites a stiff-necked people, and he wasn’t pleased. 

Sitting with God’s Word warming my thinking is the best way to relax and let my eyes be opened, my vision expanded, my love deepened. 

Shoulders back. Eyes up.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

So Ananias Went

So Ananias went. Challenging. Ananias was a human just like me. His hearing from the Lord was by faith, just like mine is. He heard God tell him to go see a man who was on the rampage against Christians, having come to Damascus to drag them back to Jerusalem to their deaths. He put up a fight. What? You must be kidding! 

You heard me right, Ananias. Go. So Ananias went.

I am very challenged by this exchange. It would be hard enough if the Lord or his Messenger were standing in front of me telling me to go to such a violent persecutor. But to hear by faith and respond in faith is another step. 

Ananias was a person just like me. May I hear with the same degree of conviction and clarity and respond with the same degree of trust and obedience.