Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Christmas Tale

The media is calling this, Christmas Week - and for some I guess it is. But for me this is the fourth week of Advent - Christmas Week is next week beginning with Christmas Morning.
Pedantics I know!
This week I have watched with interest as the NATIVITY is played out on BBC1 every evening - the notion that this story could be 're-worked' by a writer of soap operas filled me with not a little dread - however! It has been a revelation, running threads of individual stories- not just Mary and Joseph; but a lone shepherd struggling with life; the three Magi, filled with hope, curiosity, and awe; and King Herod, paranoid, untrusting and quite vile!
But more than any it is the story of the relationship between Mary and Jospeh that has had me most enthralled. I have spent many years pondering exactly the issues that have been playing out - how she would cope; her fears and his feelings of betrayal and grief. I am very much looking forward to the final episode tonight - when all will be revealed and all of the players will come together...

In addition to all of this, as I have shared my own reflections with various folks this week - from elderly dementia sufferers to a huge crowd of carollers - I have felt a bubbling up of joy and excitement. I love Christmas! I love the sense of joy and hope that the season brings, and I have been blessed this year with the anticipation of all that the New Year will bring - preaching for a new charge; relocating and planning for a wedding - not someone else's this time, but my own!!
All of this and a first Christmas with my lovely fiance - life is truly blessed!!

My soul glorifies the Lord!
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

knuckling down...

Sometimes we just need to have a good ole moan!
Here in Scotland we seem to be a little more stoical than our neighbours - maybe we are just better prepared? Or actually we simply expect Winter will mean some delays and postponements.
But - oh-my-goodness!!!! The press seem to have gone moan mad - the weather it seems is everyone's fault - government, councils, emergency services.... let's face it - we are at the mercy of the weather; it's the attitue that makes all the difference.
The cold snap has lingered.
Pipes are freezing; shops are empty; roads are icy.
This is winter!
And maybe, we are going to have to get used to it - three winters in a row now we have had heavy snow, and each year it has come earlier than the last. It is not unprecedented - just not very common - yet!

I have enjoyed the weather - wrapped up properly, venturing out into the streets has been fun - meeting other folks and hearing their news has been a pleasure. Offering lifts and running errands - all part of life's rich tapestry.
I took a friend who is also a parishioner to hospital for her 20 week scan as her poor husband was stranded off-shore. What an honour! And how lovely to share in that precious moment looking at the wee one - who got very wriggly while s/he was being scanned!! I felt very privileged.

Life goes on - for it must.
We have to eat; we need to heat our homes; and work must go on - so we accept that this is winter - in all its glory. And we get our heads down and get on with it!!

There is a time for everything
and a season for every activity under heaven

Whatever is has already been
and what will be has been before

Monday, 29 November 2010

Snow Days

Snow days are for housekeeping and for taking stock
Snow days are for counting your blessings, helping neighbours and relishing the beauty of the brilliance of winter sun on crisp snow - enjoy!!

yes... it's cold
yes.... it's inconvenient
yes..... things grind to a halt

but these things pass

our lives are filled with busyness and hustle and speed
when things come to a gentle stop... as you slide across the slippery paths.. and trudge through the snow
just accept it
give thanks
make the most of it
accept help if it's offered
offer help if you are able
see the good in those whom you see along the way
and thank our Creator for all the seasons and all our variety of weather....
an act of God isn't necessarily bad!!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Work and Worship

Today I am back to full time work
this happened officially yesterday and this morning I have a full diary for the next 7 days (except Sunday!)
Returning to work means that many other things will change - no more freedom to start a day slowly and to simply do nothing if I so choose
No more wondering what to do either - for now I have a timetable to fulfil
and my working means that others will not - this also needs to be dealt with

The weeks ahead will bring many challenges and changes
There is much planning to do
...and much negotiating
I truly hope and pray that the lessons learnt and the reserves stored up will stand me in good stead; I will work hard to make it so, and I will always turn to Him who made us to strengthen and guide just as He has over the past months - listening in the quiet of a day by the sea makes it easy - holding onto that and taking it back to the town, to the church and to the meeting room is the real challenge!

Great is your faithfulness O God my Father
morning by morning your mercies I see
all I have needed your hand has provided
Great is your faithfulness Lord unto me

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Patience is a Virtue

Another road trip
Another week
Another answer
and many more questions

Such is life!
I was reminded this week of a verse from John's gospel. During his long final discourse Jesus spoke at length to comfort and prepare his disciples.
They may well have been under the impression that they had chosen for themselves to follow Jesus, to be his constant companions, but he reminded them, "you did not choose me, I chose you..."
This verse is one af a few which have followed me over the years; Jeremiah's "I know the plans..." Paul's "Press on towards the goal..." and Jesus, in John, "You did not choose me, I chose you..."
All have over many years touched me, as indeed I am sure they have touched many other people. Becoming relevant in particular circumstances and bringing strength and reassurance when needed.

I feel like I am sitting on the edge, watching, waiting for a signal to tell me the time is right to jump back into the game.
The past week has been both exhausting and exhilarating; visits made, conversations had, invitations offered and accepted. But the wheels are running very slowly... so slowly that I feel frustration. I am trying very hard to find other things to do... other distractions to keep my mind occupied.
Time will come for planning and specualting, but for now I need calm, patience... and to hold onto the thought...

You did not choose me, I chose you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last

Monday, 1 November 2010


November First!
How the heck did that happen?
Time as ever accelerates and decelerates in direct relation to our mood or schedule.
The past three months has been a maelstrom - and out of it has come much that is good and uplifting
Last week I made my regular visit to my Spiritual Director - we talked over the previous month's thought and reflection; one of the best things I like about our visits together is the deliberate-ness of the conversation
There is no pretence; no shambling around - she asks me direct questions and I try my best to answer them; one of these was what have you learned of God in all that has happened since August - I pondered this for a while because the answer is not a simple one, but here are some of the things that came to mind:
To let go
To look forward
To accept, learn, move on
To be happy in my own company
To listen to God
To be content with silence and solitude
To hand over the frustrations and the feelings of helplessness and anger
But most of all...
and this was a revelation in one of our silent interludes - POTENTIAL
What we do with the word potential is varied; but for me, in that moment, sat in autumn sunshine, in a window that overlooks the Moray Firth from the Black Isle the potential was tangible
The potential for a big move
The potential for a new life
The potential to go where God leads me
Realising my potential, taking hold of it, but always remembering that as a servant of God my control is limited; this is not to say I do not have power, of course I do, and will, and desires, but in all of my broken humanity it is good to remember that it is God who is leading me, God who is prompting me - my potential develops according to my willingness and ability to be still and listen to the small voice within:
Where is God?
God is in the gentle whisper of the breeze, God is in the inspirations and the insights; to know this, or that, is of God, all we need to do is be patient... wait... listen... respond

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Dreams and Visions

Just ruminating this morning on how strange life can be - and thanking God that we do not know the future
When I look back, a few weeks, months... then a couple of years, five, ten and twenty I ponder the girl I knew then and am stunned
If anyone had told her the things she'd do; the places she'd go; and the paths her life would take - she'd have laughed with incredulity; or been appalled; or terrified!
Waiting, waiting, for answers, for movement, for resolution, for something to happen
and in the waiting... lies a modicum of frustration
Needing targets and a sense of urgency to be truly productive means that when there is nothing specific in the immediate future I become very unfocussed
This in itself is not a new revelation, I have long known it about myself; what is new however, is the sense of dissatisfaction I have; instead of happily filling my hours with trivia I find I am drifting from one thing to another, never actually finishing things.
So today I ponder dreams and visions - trying to grasp the elusive vision that was once so clear; trying to get a stronger awareness of the things I dreamed and dream of for the future
I do not seek knowledge, or specifics, simply to regain the sense of walking a path that God has chosen and being led by Him towards my future - whatever that is...
and I pray that I may never fall into the trap of self-righteousness but wait patiently for the way to be lit before me

Monday, 11 October 2010

A Waiting Game

Back home to the seaside; though I'm not sure if this is home, home....
It is one home.
I am beginning to feel I should move back to the manse and stop hiding out here - lovely though it is!

The road trip was good.
I loved the new secret village.
I could see myself there - becoming part of that community.
I want to be excited and enthusiastic - but am terrified of being let down again.

Yesterday was a revelation - terrifying to be back in a pulpit - especially one so grand, high and magnificent
But also wonderful and right

To be leading worship once more; to be back doing that to which I am called was wonderful

I felt it went well; and I felt that people were responding to me... but it is not really for me to judge.
I was myself (all the liturgical stuff aside!)
I did what I did, and I gave of my best
I hope an pray that it reached out and gave them something to think about and reflect on

Now I must wait
Be patient
And move on forwards

Life is good
God is great
I am blessed

Be thankful
Praise God
Gratitude is Important... in all things, in all experiences - find things to be thankful for, every day, every moment
Give Him the thanks

Monday, 4 October 2010

face your fear - do it anyway!

Count your blessings one by one....
this is the week
travelling; visiting; chatting; discerning; seeking guidance and preaching!

Over the past couple of days the sense of change within me has begun to grow and ripen
I feel the time has come to stop hiding away
It is now time to face my fears and to reclaim who I am
Time to take that step - the one I have spoken of and thought about so many times in recent weeks

Preparing for this weekend; and also accepting an invite to do a little supply
all will help me to be ready for the return to life in the goldfish bowl

It is time to see and be seen
time to reclaim my life as it was before all the nonsense sent me into a spin

Suddenly I am ready - ready to be the minister again
ready to be back in my old place - however long that is for.
Timing for the next step is not in my hands
There is only so much I can do; for the rest I hand it over
I trust that God's plan is greater than mine; His vision perfect
So too His timing - all will fall into place and fit
and when we look back on this time we will see the beauty of the pattern He has created.

I am blessed - why?
Because although things did not work out how I had imagined they would, I have been given grace in abundance; I have been able to take time out and away and truly reflect on God's will for me and the people I care about; and I have had the luxury of time out to visit and to meet and to discern without the complications of my work responsibilities
Truly blessed
truly thankful

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. to him belongs eternal praise." Ps 111.10

Monday, 27 September 2010

Rising to the Challenge

It is "Put your money where your mouth is" time!

This is good.
Over the past few weeks I have experienced the whole range of emotional extremes from despair to elation and back again. And finally, I am going to get back on that Horse!
I will preach in a friend's church and be strengthened, empowered, renewed, emboldened and hopefully - affirmed.

Having the luxury of taking time out so that I can reflect and consider the future is a real bonus; rediscovering me, and my relationship with God; time to remember that I did not choose him, but he chose me to bear friut; remembering that He knows the plans he has for me; remembering that there is nowhere I can go that the love of God will not find me; and that there is nothing I can do that will separate me from the Love of God through Jesus Christ.

how blessed we are, when we remember
how blessed to put things back together again
how blessed to simply be

whether things come to fruition over the next few weeks or not I will follow where He leads; I will know that he guides me and blesses me. And the future is His

let go - let God

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


From despondency to hope
From weariness to energy
From darkness to light

Broadening the search has led to a surprise result - a profile which fits like a glove both ways!!
Their description of a minister is me; and my description of a parish is them.

Now to wait on the Lord... test this dawn of calling...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Today as I walked on the beach it seemed to speak to me - reflecting my life as it is just now

From the safety of the grassy bank
to large rocks - all tumbled together, no firm footing anywhere, but still beauty there

and then to larger rocks, firm, embedded and steady offering resilience and sanctity

and then more rocks, decreasing in size until they are just pebbles disappearing under my feet and pushing together provide thier own stability

Finally reaching the sand - sometimes obstructed by large clumps of weed; or the flotsam and jetsam that has washed up and will be washed again on the next high tide; if it is dry it takes effort to walk on it, when wet, it offers a firmer footing - but even if it looks firm, until you step onto it, you do not know... you need to take that step!!

Over the past two weeks, i have contacted numerous vacant charges from The List, only to discover that 6 had already found someone; 1 had problems and was not taking applications, 1 was just too big... another just wrong... 5 I have visited which put 4 of those out!!
I have 2 left one I've visited properly, the other is so far away I'll have to plan an overnight

Where am I?
Hiding in the driftwood?

Saturday, 18 September 2010


I used to be an impulse sort of girl
I'd see something and just go for it
But lately it seems that I am much more hesitant
I used to always have the answers - I'd know what I wanted and I would step on out and grab it with enthusiasm
But lately my confidence has been less sure, less certain, and so I find I cannot just go out there and grab life with both hands.

Is the recent past the only thing that is to blame?
Or is it that the years have taught me that hasty decisions are repented at leisure?
Is impetuousness always a bad idea?

Sometimes we will only know the answer after we take courage in hand and make that leap; for it is only then that we truly know.
Indiana Jones had to make his leap of faith, exhorted by his Father- beleive boy, beleive... for him the light dawned as he looked across a seemingly bottomless cavern - no logic, no science, no facts to back up the proposed action - just faith
A Leap of Faith
it's A Leap of Faith

am I brave enough to take the leap???

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday Morning

It is a blowy blustery Sunday morning - Autumn is on the air and Scotland is on my mind.

I was callenged this week to broaden my horizons - I was reminded that there are churches seeking ministers in every region and not just the North East. I was asked what I was afraid of - just because the North East is familiar and has been home for more than 20 years! So I have broadened my horizons and contacted 9 (yes- 9!) vacant charges.
There is great movement abroad just now. I suspect it is the time of year (shiny new probationers given leave to apply) and the general climate of change within our church.
If anyone was even pondering a move, now is the time to go - as Presbyteries up and down the country begin a period of adjustment to incorporate the swingeing cuts that are about to take place. So out of those nine, five are well on in thier process, two have 'issues' with the manse and must wait until they are sorted, and so two remain. Both have things which attract me, but one seems to appeal more than the other... time will tell!

This Sunday morning I am continuing my foray into visiting friends' churches. This is a definite bonus of being off; a chance to attend worship, to be led into worship, and not to lead others. Last time I was in this particular church was for an induction. Looking forward to going back - many friends there.

Autum blows in and the world changes its clothes - from the brilliant yellow of summer, to the glorious gold and red of Autumn - how wondrous is the artist who created such magnificence!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

banks - necessary evil

I am pondering our banking system
nowadays it is impossible to actually function without a bank - we are paid direct to the bank; our shopping is mostly cashless; our financial lives are centred not around coins and notes but small pieces of plastic which we trust and rely upon with impunity
I am pondering the banking system as I have just been witness to what on any other day woud appear to be robbery: an overdraft that is growing, not because of spending but because the account is overdrawn; the longer it stays overdrawn the bigger the overdraft will get and every day the bank charges the account another £20. This it can do 10 times per month, plus a monthly fee.
The account holder in question went to the bank to ask for help; the 'insurance' that he has been paying for the past three years whilst he was employed is supposed to offer unemployment protection, but because he chose to leave his last job the insurance will not cover his present unemployment. It is not his fault that the job he was supposed to go to did not materialise; when he was asked if he had any money to pay to them to rectify the situation, he said he had £20. They asked him for it - when he asked if it would make a difference they said not, but still would like his money. When he asked them how he was supposed to eat for the rest of the week...
How can it be, that when our banks make obscene amounts of money, and obscene losses, and are now partly owned by us the tax payers, that they are able to continue to charge vast amounts of money, making a bad situation ten times worse, and we are helpless to do anything about it

I am pondering banks... a necessary evil

Friday, 3 September 2010

thoughts from beside the sea...

I am taking time out
I did not plan to... indeed I had thought that right now I'd be settling into a new home and a new place.
This little blog was deleted, and today restored.
Last time I wrote here it was the end of June and I was full of hope and anticipation

This little blog was the source of the first tremor: too personal, too naive apparently - laying myself open to malicious gossip. Having now reread everything I had written (not much) I still do not understand why (and to be frank, no one seemed to pick up on its exisitence anyway!!) it is all fairly inocuous.
But, things did eventually move; I preached for the charge and all seemed to be well. Until it was discovered that to elect an Interim Moderator was to act Ultra Vires - outwith the law. Oh GOSH!!
A deal of legal wrangling followed (church legal of course!) and the upshot was no, she may not move.
I think the pain expereinced by people I have grown to love over this time is the biggest scandal in all of this. For me, my confidence has taken a knock; and my belief in the innate goodness of people has been rather shaken. But I am a silver-lining girl; my glass is nearly always half-full.

I have been extraordinarily stressed by it all; and I am off work for a while. Taking refuge at Ar Fasgadh - the newly christened house by the sea. Had been pondering giving it a name, and in the past 3 or 4 weeks it has been a haven- Ar Fasgadh means Our Haven.

Next week a whole series of metings will happen; for me and for others. And maybe, just maybe we will get some resolution in all of this mess.

Meantime, I take refuge in my home by the sea; watching the changing tides. Marvelling at beautiful sunrise and sunset and the most surreal moonrises.
Working when I feel like it (on the house)
resting as the mood takes me
and contemplating the future

there is nowhere we can go that is too far away from our Creator: He is as ever a constant presence in my life; inspiring, guiding, nurturing and when the time is right, prompting and inspiring the new direction.

Monday, 21 June 2010

moving on - ever upwards

several milestones in the past week; first introducing my man to my boys... #3 says he's kinda cool - praise indeed from a 19 yr old!
going public - attending a concert, walking through town holding hands - and waiting for a response
Telling my Dad... smiling when he sought the lowdown on who is courting his (very) grown up daughter - and then laughing when I told him it's my sons who need to approve nowadays!
Telling folks my plans and hopes for the next few weeks - plus the frustration of not yet being able to be completely open about it...
and the excitement this country girl feels at the prospect of a return to the country!!
Just a few more days and the country place will know and be known... just a couple of weeks and they will tell me if they want me!!
Happy Days!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful!!
for once I have all three of my boys home over the weekend- so feel very happy to be playing at mother hen for a while
Life is moving on a pace... and work is about to take on a whole new dimension... an invitation received and accepted. Not at all where I first imagined it would be either! But that just goes to show what we always knew - when God is in control we can only sit back and let Him do with us what He will.
So all is hopeful - though it will mean some sad goodbyes along the way

On a personal level things are looking up too... another surprise, and so much more than I ever hoped for; happy and content seems so inadequate to describe my current mood - but happy and content I am!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

where next?

things are moving... too soon to tell... but definitely moving - I am experiencing movement in two different spheres both work and personal life... all is good, exciting and hopeful.
Would really like to be able to shout it all from the rooftops - but must excercise discretion and paitence, neither of which are strong points but are necessary right now.
hope that one answer will come in the next 24 hours.
the other answer is a beautiful work in progress :)
suffice it to say I have a smile on my lips and music in my mind
update when appropriate

Monday, 31 May 2010

moving day

moved number two son back up the road today; he is currently trying to make the contents of his flat fit into his room in the masne. A tall, tall order!
it was a lovely day for a drive - sun shine, no clouds, and mercifully (for a bank holiday) not too much traffic either. My poor car was horribly over-burdened.. but we coped carfully! Stopped at Craggan Mill for a fabulous lunch, found that rare and wonderful thing, a chef who understands about gluten and dairy intolerance and had a menu where I was totally spoiled for choice - delicous!

not in the mood for anything more philosophical today... but looking forward to have the boy home for a brief while.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

wandering and wondering

today is another busy day
today is also a new day
a new adventure
and a new journey
I am going visiting... seeking.... searching.... reflecting... discerning
there will be much talk, and much prayer for today
where will it lead?
good question!
time to remember who is in charge
let go.... let God

Friday, 23 April 2010

seeking that je ne sais quoi....

So many folks seem to be blogging nowadays... and I used to do it some years ago; so in thinking I'd get going again I discover that my old one still lives! Nothing left on it - and last active in January 2006... oh how much has changed since then!
Here am I, a country girl at heart, living in a small city now for almost 5 years - who'd have thought it?
I get to wondering: what is it that drives us? Moves us forward? Pushes us to changing and making new things happen?
Last Saturday - 17th April was a strange, strange day. It was (technically) my 28th wedding anniversary. But since it was also the first anniversary of the decision to dissolve that union I'm not sure if it really was - or was it?
Yesterday I visited my dentist - a fairly uneventful appointment apart from one, earth shatteringly gut wrenching moment. My dear dentist - I married him a couple of years ago - on the same weekend as the said anniversary... so he, innocently making small talk whilst his hands were in my mouth asked: "Did you have a nice anniversary?" mercifully, my strangled "Arrgghhh!!!" did not include my clamping down with my molars on his poor hands!!I'm not sure who was more shocked; and I'm not sure how we proceeded, my nervous giggling became slightly hysterical, and he promised no more small talk... my teeth are nice and shiny now
Back to the topic in hand - how to decide or accept that something needs to change. Although I had known for some considerable time - running into years - that I was unhappy in my married state, it would never have occurred to me that I would change things; I believed in marriage, in fact I still believe in marriage; and I thought that I would simply carry on, muddling through, finding happiness where I could, and that to change things would simply be impossible.
Even now - some 16 months since I admitted my unhappiness, and we were forced to consider what the future would be, I do not know exactly what the trigger was... but, the change happened, and it is now a year on.
Now I seek newness; renewal; hope; now I seek that changed something - intangible still at present, which will move me onward again... to what I don't know.

But the journey is a blast!!