It’s difficult to escape a very sombre national mood’, Queen Elizabeth II said yesterday, during her birthday celebration. In that statement she verbalised the feelings of so many as they consider recent national events.

In the past I have found that in the busyness of life it is too easy for us to watch a disaster being reported in a news bulletin, shake our head in anger or disbelief, and then soon the news moves on, and we too move on with our planned schedule. ‘Life must go on’, we say. This week I ‘pulled’ a muscle in my back, so all my plans were put ‘on hold’. This meant I had more time to watch, and listen to the recent tragedies that have unfolded in the UK, and then reflect on them and the uncertainties of life.

Twenty two victims, so many of them young people, killed in the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, and another eight at the London Westminster Bridge attack, with large numbers injured in both tragedies. Then with countless others I watched with horror and disbelief the speed with which fire devoured the Grenfell Tower in London, and felt in my heart the pain, as so many stories were told of those who escaped and those who were lost. For all who survived, their lives will be changed forever, not to mention grieving families, colleagues and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are for them.

You certainly don’t know what tomorrow holds! I thought of people looking forward to a night out at a music concert with friends, of others on holiday, celebrating, and sight-seeing on the streets of London, and other families going to bed as usual, no doubt thinking and planning for the morning and the future … then for all of them the unthinkable happens, for some in a moment, for others after an agonising wait, and they are gone from us!

I see one newspaper is calling for a day of mourning, which is maybe not a bad idea for the nation to stop and reflect and to come together in this time of grief. It’s a long-time since I remember such division and bitter recrimination within UK society. It seems the country is divided, and we all have someone to blame for the chaos and anxiety…. Government austerity, Government foreign policy, the EU, Immigration, The Brexit referendum, Scotland’s Indyref2, or whatever else annoys you.

Thinking on these things gives us a reality check. Have we got our priorities all wrong? Are we so taken up by our own self-interest? It was good to see communities coming together and a new neighbourliness making a comeback. I was reminded time and again of ‘The Good Samaritan’ story that Jesus told.

And of course these events remind us that none of us know when we too will be called to meet our Maker. The last few months have been sombre for us as a family, as we have laid to rest my brother, and shortly after that, his son who died suddenly, and tomorrow in Australia my nephew and family say farewell to the gentle and kind Les, one who was a loving wife, mother and friend, she will be sadly missed by many.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I am reminded of how often Jesus warns us not to spend all our time thinking about this life, but to make preparation for the next. He speaks about ‘laying up treasure in heaven’, and about a rich farmer who was planning early retirement to live off his wealth, only to hear God say ‘’You fool, this night your soul will be required of you, then who will these things belong to?’ Many of us have insurance policies to cover us against material loss and damage, but what cover do you have if you lose your soul? This is what Jesus is asking. He invites us to come to Him, for the forgiveness of our sin, and for new life through his saving work on the cross. Someone has put it like this. Salvation and Safety are found in three words spoken in a prayer: ‘SORRY’ for my sin; PLEASE cleanse and forgive me; THANK YOU Jesus for giving your life for me. I now give my life to you.

You see, the amazing Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’

 I love a hymn we sing often in Church, which says:

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.


In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe

This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save

‘Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live.


 There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me

For I am His and He is mine, Bought with the precious blood of Christ.


No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.


So whatever is happening in your life at this time, my prayer is that you may know God’s inner peace, and the assurance of Christ’s presence as you commit your life to Him.



Photography and Video, Then and Now!

I’ve been interested in photography since I was a teenager back in the 50’s. My first camera was a 35mm Voigtlander Vito 2a. It was a very compact wee camera with an excellent lens, and with it I produced a countless number of Kodak 35mm slides (transparencies). Later for my 21st birthday I  was  given the Aldis 303 projector, which is still in working order today after all these years! These items brought the family endless pleasure.

Now I use the Nikon P520 digital camera with its amazing 48x wide optical zoom lens, having tired of carrying bags with heavy cameras and lenses during the 35mm era. If you click on my Flickr page opposite you will see some of the results.

I was also once the proud owner of a super 8 cine camera with telephoto lens, and a Sanyo super 8 projector, which I also still have.    I smile now when I think of the number of three minute films we would shoot when on holiday or in our travels, and the time spent splicing them together when they came back after processing. The results I have to confess were less than spectacular. Thankfully technology has moved on at a remarkable pace.

Now I use the Sony HDR-CX625 Handicam with its 60x zoom steady/shot lens, and it also has the facility to plug in a microphone, which is a big plus when filming people in my ‘Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary People’ series!

I was fascinated a year or so ago to hear people talking about ‘green screen technology’, so after reading up about it I invested in a basic kit of screens, lights and stands, all for less than £100. The first time I got this to work on my computer I confess I was smiling from ear to ear, as for me this was a huge ‘wow’ factor. I still love the fun of putting a background of my choice onto my films! (see Julie’s film below) I’m using iMovie to do this.

I frequently upload my films to You Tube, mostly travel films and also films recording peoples stories as they speak about their encounters with God.  Here is a  link, you may like to take a look :

A Taste of Iceland and the Faroes

Julie McAddock – Encounter with God




My Garden and Greenhouse 2

The problem at this time of year, is that the greenhouse is full but the weather is still a bit cold, especially at nights, for putting plants out! Anyway, last week I took the plunge and put out some flowers in a sheltered part of the border! Today I put six more trays in the cold frame as I see the weather is getting a little milder, with a minimum 10 degrees C forecast for tonight.

My Coleus seeds are coming along nicely (one of my favourite plants for tubs) and the tomatoes seem to be growing well. I still have my 40 watt heater on at nights, but I notice two of the plants have curled leaves! I never seem to be able to avoid this! I thought is was due to over watering so have been trying to be careful, but perhaps that’s not the problem. Any advice on how to stop this would be appreciated.

We’ve already collected a handful of strawberries from the bag in the greenhouse, and have enjoyed a couple of lettuce. Now that I’ve got some space I’ll try and get some peppers and cucumber planted.

I wish all my fellow amateur  gardeners a good growing season.


Poetry that moves the heart!

I have always admired those who have a gift for writing poetry, and particEwanularly enjoy reading what friends have written. This past week has been a time for reflection following the sudden death of our nephew Ewan, and two poems and one hymn have particularly touched me. The first poem was written by a friend of Ewan who came with her husband from N. Ireland to live in the North East corner of Scotland. Ewan was a quiet man, but this poem written for his fiftieth birthday gives insight into his love for God and his love for others.

To Ewan

We came across the Irish sea, And up the road we drove

To a little place beside the coast,  To our exciting new abode.

We thought they spoke our lingo, But we got an awful fright

The “mannies”, “wivies”, “quines”, What was it all about?

There were “coos” and “chuckies”, And lots of “kens”,

How confusing it all was “ The back of ….” – what did that mean?

We were nearly up the walls! We settled down as well we might,

But lonely times we had, No family, friends, the first few weeks

We felt a little sad.

Then one night the doorbell rang, And this little man appeared

We thought he wanted lodgings, 

But there was no bed and breakfast here.

We told him it was now a home, And nearly sent him away

Then suddenly we recognised him, From the church, across the bay.

He came in for a cup of tea, And what a chat we had

He offered us his friendship, For which we were so glad.

You now are such a good, old friend, 

And we owe you many thanks

For all the love and care you showed, All the help and sound advice.

And now that you’re hitting fifty, We wish you all the best

For many years of joy ahead

God bless you Ewan – You Are the Best!

Winnie and Stephen

Then there was this poem from my friend Terri Kneipp in Vermont USA, which resonated with me, and co-incided with a visit of our lively great-grand children. It speaks about the beauty of life, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Life is Beautiful

Yesterday…the smell of beignets was wafting through the air

A jazz band was playing in the courtyard Continue reading Poetry that moves the heart!

Remember that first car?

I came across this old photo recently taken away back in July 1960. It shows our first car, a 1937 Ford 8 with side valve engine. It had rust holes in the door but was more highly polished than any car we have had since. It cost £60.00 and did 300 miles to the gallon of oil, and left a blue haze in its trail. It wasn’t great in petrol either but when you could buy four gallons for a pound including a tip to the petrol pump attendant, that was not too much of a problem. The windscreen wipers worked off the vacuum of the engine so they stopped when you went up a hill, but if you took your foot off the accelerator it would give you an emergency feeble wipe. 🙂 These were the days!

The picture shows a much more valuable first! Our first child – Allan, he’s lasting well, for which we are truly thankful to God!

Greenview Church Bookclub

I really enjoy Greenview’s bookclub, which meets once a month on a Saturday morning in the local Sainsbury’s cafe. We plan to meet for just one hour, but it inevitably runs over time as we enthusiastically get caught up in our discussions. We have just finished John Wenham’s book ‘The Easter Enigma’, which brought new light into the story of Jesus’ resurrection as the author seeks to carefully harmonise the four accounts of the resurrection contained in the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Today we started a new book entitled ‘Heaven’ by Randy Alcorn, which purports to be a good read. This morning we just looked at the introduction and the first four chapters. Before we get into the subject of heaven itself, the author wants to set out the choice that everyone has to make.

Here is an excerpt:

Jesus and Heaven are offered to us at no cost because he already paid the price for us. God invites you to come. The Church invites you to come. As a follower of Jesus I invite you to come. Why would you not come? What reason could be good enough to turn away from Jesus and from eternal life in the New Heaven and Earth?

In the words of C.S.Lewis “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”

You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. They are a package – you cannot get heaven without Jesus, or Jesus without heaven. (end excerpt)

Sobering words, but the author is keen to show at the beginning of the book that we all have a choice, eternal bliss with God or eternal regret without God. In the final analysis God always gives us what we choose.

The book is available on Amazon in hard copy or on ‘Kindle’. Even if you can’t come on a Saturday morning you might want to read the book, and if you wanted to comment here, I would be happy to introduce your thoughts at the bookclub.

My Garden and Greenhouse

My wife Muriel and I still enjoy our garden even although at this time of year there is a lot to be done just to keep the place tidy! It is a topic of conversation exchanging comments about our current aches and pains, hopefully we will get a bit fitter as the Spring turns to Summer

I also enjoy my greenhouse and have been growing various plants in it over the winter. Sweet peas, polyanthus, etc. Muriel gave permission to put my polyanthus seed trays in the fridge early on, so it was fun seeing then flower recently. I now have lots of plug plants growing on, and have also got  my tomatoes plants in. I still use a 40 watt heater at night just in case of frost. I also have lots of strawberry plants growing which I wintered in the greenhouse.  I hope this is a good year for the tomatoes, I’ll be able to let you see the results in due course.IMG_3545

Welcome to my blog!

Other people shape our lives and thinking, and it has been a privilege to meet a wide range of people in my world travels over the years, from different social, cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Those closest to us however perhaps shape us most, so I’m particularly thankfulI to my dear wife Muriel, brother Martin and sister Mary with whom I have shared many of life’s joys and sorrows. Also friends and leaders in my own Church with whom I have served for more years now than I care to remember. There is one book that has altered the course of my life more than anyone or anything else, and that is The Bible. My Father introduced me to it at a young age and encouraged me to heed the instruction given in Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5-6. This advice surpassed all other advice he gave me, and I have proved the veracity of it over many years. 

‘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 path straight’

Many of you will be familiar with my my engineering and ‘Christian relief and development’ activities throughout life, and also my hobbies and interests, but if not, you can read, if interested,  a synopsis on this blog in the ‘about’ section.

This is a picture of my wife Muriel and I at Pittenweem in Fife, where we got engaged in 1957