Helen & I wish you a very happy Christmas and blessed 2022
Here’s a Christmas reflection Mark made for a local radio station this year:
Here’s a Christmas reflection Mark made for a local radio station this year:
Clearing up our Christmas decorations this morning and getting to clear up the needles and dust that gathers during the festive period… I noticed how dirty my windows were!
The sun was lovely, shining outside, but made the splodges and dust and smears seem very, very prominent. I couldn’t see clearly into the garden and I found myself concentrating on the dirt and not seeing beyond.
I’d received a wonderful pair of binoculars for Christmas and even looking through them into the distance didn’t help- I really couldn’t see beyond the dirt!
As I do, I was pondering this over a cup of tea and realised how easy it is for us to do this with our lives. We either don’t notice the mucky windows, and peer through trying to see more clearly and into something better, or we focus on the dirty windows!
How easy is this! When God shines His love and grace on us, we can become so caught up with the “grimy” stuff in our lives… stuff that keeps us from seeing the days ahead more clearly, with hope and the knowledge that God is in our Future… that we beat ourselves up with guilt, trying to strive to do better. Or, we don’t even see the dirt and therefore don’t deal with the things that God wants to shine His light on in our lives.
What a difference when I’d cleaned the windows… I saw colours on the bird’s wings, buds beginning to appear on the shrubs and trees, and my heart really leapt for the promise of spring!
How are your soul windows today? Ready for a clean? Then get the vinegar mix out and give them a polish… let the Holy Spirit shed His cleansing light on you…and take heart … you’ll see so much better!
So it’s the government’s fault … or Minister-for-whatever’s fault!
I’ve got to admit, I’m very frustrated with how many things are popping up on news feeds and other social media streams that are full of criticism for … well pretty much anything and everything that isn’t right at the moment.
It’s as if blaming a political party, a politician, or a senior “official” makes things better or makes it ok!
Why do we find it so essential to apportion blame?
I’m not saying that we don’t ever hold people responsible for things that need to be accounted for, it’s more the way so many people seem to take an almost sadistic pleasure in making others squirm, that I feel is so inappropriate and damaging.
Most of us are not making the absolutely huge decisions that have to be made at a time of crisis, as well as getting on with all the other issues that have very little, if anything, to do with CV-19!
Surely we can find it in our heart to give some grace and understanding to those under extreme pressure to fix everything!
I’m sure after this Crisis is long past there will be more criticism of the way things were handled and a post-mortem on who said what, when, why and what they should have done.
Can I ask for some kindness toward our leaders and decision-makers? There’s kindness going around for people in need and isolated people… let’s have bigger hearts and extend the same kindness to those in jobs and positions that most of us will never be in or have to cope with the things they need to decide! 🙂
1 Timothy 2: 1-4 TPT “Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. 2 And pray for every political leader and representative so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. 3 It is pleasing to our Saviour-God to pray for them. 4 He longs for everyone to embrace his life and return to the full knowledge of the truth.”
Today, I went out to garden… pretty much the first time this year as the weather has been poor and if I’m absolutely honest… I’m rather a fair-weather gardener! I don’t mind weeding and sorting, clipping and sowing seeds, planting veg and enjoying the garden we have as long as it’s warm (and preferably sunny!)
It was really nice to be out there… I have some raised beds and they were very much in need of weeding and getting ready for the seeds I’d sown indoors a couple of days ago. They need some compost applying and digging in but I really enjoyed the preparing and anticipation of what was going to be planted and raised there.
It was a very hopeful moment… knowing that these were being made ready for months ahead when crops would be harvested and enjoyed.
I felt that winter was over and the hope of spring and new things were hovering in the air. What a beautiful thing to hold onto in this time of Isolation and enforced being at home. When the news bulletins and social media streams are often filled with bad news and fearful stories, it’s good to find glimpses of normal and hope in the surroundings.
I do have the blessing of living in the country and see wide-open spaces… but I thought too… we have window sills, and maybe planting some seeds… herbs, salad or some nasturtium in tubs there will help to plan for better days ahead. It’s so worth sowing hope in other ways too … shouting over the fence to neighbours or out of the window to someone across the street to encourage them and let them know we are not alone… we’re in it together… and then, when the seeds have grown and the veg and flowers appear… maybe then we can sit around a table and share the fruit of our hopeful sowing!
Today, whilst spring cleaning my kitchen and some cupboards, I had this beautiful scent float past me! Not sure of where it was coming, from I went on a wee hunt! Mostly when I clean my kitchen its unpleasant smells I’m getting rid of, but not this time … I opened one of my infrequently used cupboards and there was the scent! A full blown pale blue hyacinth pot… looking a little droopy and it had rather pale leaves having been locked in my cupboard for at least six or seven weeks!
I brought it out onto the kitchen table and found a couple of twigs to help it stand tall, watered it and just sat there admiring it!
Almost as strong as the fragrance this amazing flower was giving was the sense of God saying “See! Even in the dark places, the hidden places, the forgotten places, I bring to blossom those that are planted in the good soil of my Word. The aroma of my Grace in their lives draws people and causes them to stand in awe!”
Such a lesson of how God is at work in us in the hidden, and even the darkest seasons of our lives! I hadn’t watered those hyacinths bulbs since the initial watering of the soil they were planted in… and yes, they were ready for more water, but they had sprouted, grown, blossomed and allowed the aroma of their presence in the cupboard give off such a heady, “hope-of-spring” balm, rather than a bitter, rotting scent.
I thought how much we need to allow God’s Word to permeate our lives so that even in the dark dry seasons of hidden forgotteness we draw from Him and allow our growing to be a sweet aroma of worship and honour to the Lord who gives Grace and sustenance!
Now this delightful flower is gracing my kitchen table and is exposed to the light and air… growing tall and strong and green.
Be encouraged… you are not forgotten and your day is coming, when who you became in the dark will be seen in the light!
So – I got sick!
Regular mammogram picked it up … so important to go for your checks! But, you know the medical team were fantastic… quickly got me through an operation to remove offending tumour and onto the programme of preventing it reoccurring!
Which, let’s be honest, was not pleasant… Chemo sucks – but if it works – I can do it!!
Radiotherapy was great… no issues there … and a “holiday “ in Edinburgh to boot!!
To be fair the accommodation was basic – but free on the NHS .
Forget the food – buy your own as it was pretty bad!
So grateful for all that I’ve been through… The staff were lovely – so kind and thoughtful and the people I met… a-mazing! Encouraging, strong and when they had a wobble – I could be strong … because my wobble was just around the corner!
I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone… but, you know, I’m so glad to have travelled this road… I’ve grown, learned loads, met people who have encouraged and inspired me… and I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Oh yes! There’s joy in the tough times, and God has been so faithful and present with me.
I‘ve laughed at my wig, come through the baldness and lack of eybrows and eyelashes etc! and seen that I am me… no matter what I look like, what I suffer or what I go through… I am blessed to live!
Maybe not what I would have chosen… but so blessed to have travelled this path!
So – let me encourage you … the best IS yet to come and the most Faithful, kind God is in my way…and yours!
I am Blessed… and getting better!
Over the morning I watched one guy, loudly and very nimbly, climb the huge tree next door and begin to lop off the high branches. Down below others guided him with ropes and shouts of directions and encouragement as to where and how to take this tree down!
The HUGE larch gradually fell down in great thuds as massive logs of the tree plummeted to the ground! I have to admit I was rather sad to see this lovely tree come down … it must have been there for over 80 years or so! What a history of comings and goings it must have observed.
But down it came – and then they started on another!
What a life lesson!
How many times are there things in our lives that have been standing there for years and become part of the scenery… to the point where they are part of us and too familiar.
Sadly this tree that was coming down was rotten and part of a cull of potentially diseased trees.
If it was left to stand much longer then, it could cause so much damage if winds and stormy weather brought it down.
I wonder what things in our life have been in us – attitudes, reactions, sin, habits, even relationships or things that we take for granted that are “part of us” and “always been there”?
Because we look okay and seem to be standing strong, doesn’t always mean that things on the inside of us are strong and good. Maybe there’s some stuff in our lives that really needs dealing with before the storm brings a disaster!
The guys next door doing this job had been consulted about the trees, they were professional tree surgeons and knew, not only what needed to be done, but also how to do it… safely and securely. And so our neighbour was happy to leave the execution of this operation to them, knowing they would be wise in their handling of the tree.
When we come to God with our lives, with our outward appearances and our inner turmoils … He is the Master tree surgeon who knows exactly when, where and how to deal with the rotten or potentially rotten stuff lurking around us. He doesn’t fell the tree in one “fell – swoop” but takes it down gently and compassionately, and with great care!
So as I come to Him- I can confidently ask Him to see my innermost being (Psalm 139) and let Him be the tree surgeon of my heart… knowing He will take great care to take out that which is not good and wholesome and that He will leave the garden of my life better and more fruitful. (John 15)
The tree will be a miss – initially! But I must say the view is amazing and the light that comes into my house now… worth all the noise, shouting and early morning wake! And, what is more, my greenhouse now gets more sun! Good fruit, all in all!
Beautiful landscapes which are quite awe-inspiring! From the black volcanic beaches to the mountain views and the barren, almost moon-like expanses.
One day we drove up the winding mountain roads (passing so many incredibly fit cyclists!), stopping now and again to admire the views and stretch our legs… amazing! We loved the trip!
A couple of days later, we decided to go back up the mountainous roads to see the views again!
This time the sun didn’t seem to shine, the mist was heavy and shrouded everything to the point we could only see a few yards ahead of us. We crawled, slowly up the roads and came across a few cars who had pulled into the side of the road and were turning round to go back down to the beaches.
As we crept up these roads with our headlights and fog lights on, I was so aware of the God’s still nudge of His voice saying, “The road is the same as it was yesterday. The views are still there – just because you can’t see it all – it hasn’t changed… stay the path!”
So we kept going and sure enough a while later, after driving carefully and slowly the clouds began to swirl dramatically around us and we came out into clear blue skies and amazing views once again.
What a life lesson!
How many times do we feel like giving up and turning back because we can’t see the way ahead, or because the view is not much fun!
On those tough stretches of life’s journey, it’s easy to feel hopeless and want to go back down to what is known and comfortable.
Yet to those who would, maybe slowly, but steadily keep going, remember – the path hasn’t changed! The familiar points are still there, even if they are shrouded in mist. Step by step and mile by mile… you will come through into the light and sunshine once again.
Don’t give up on what you have known to be True, right and what you have learnt of the Love of God… the clouds will lift and the dawn will break and your trek will be worth the long haul!.
Stay the path!
Stay faithful to the Faithful One! Take His hand and lean in to hear His voice saying “Keep on, dear one, keep on! I’m still as true in the mist as I was in the sunshine.”
Be encouraged today to keep on!