Reviving my Painting hobby!

imageimage

imageIn the summer months I dug out my easel, and paint brushes as I had a bit more time on my hands! Today I varnished these water colours which I painted from photographs I had taken of flowers in the garden. The first one I tried varnishing by brush, but that proved a bit of a disaster, but spray varnishing the other two was a lot easier.

Not quite ready to set up a gallery yet! 😊 but I found it was a nice relaxing hobby.

 

 

For my Poetry loving Friends

IMG_1532

Robert Burns – Scotland’s National Bard

We visited the Robert Burns Museum and Memorial at Alloway recently, and also enjoyed looking around the cottage where he was born. Not surprisingly, later that week I started reading some of his poems again; what an amazing talent this man had!

One of my favourite poems is ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’, which gives such an amazing glimpse into life in rural Scotland in the second half of the eighteenth century. I decided to record a video of it, and you can see it here :-

The Cotter’s Saturday Night

The scene where the Cotter ‘Aitken’ gathers his family around to read from the Bible I relate to well. My parents you see, were born 100 years later at the end of the 19th century into families where alcohol was greatly abused. But both of them were to become followers of Jesus Christ at a young age, and after their marriage were keen to share their new found faith with their children. So I can look back to many nights when my father gathered us around the fire to read the Bible to us during the war years and beyond. His favourite psalm was 121, and his favourite verses Proverbs 3.5-6.

It’s a tradition we also taught our children as we believe that God speaks to us through this text, but now that they have all ‘flown the nest’ Muriel and I still carry it on. We read through the Bible at night and are currently in the book of Jeremiah, and in the morning we use Scripture Union notes. This morning’s reading was from John 15:12-14 where Jesus says ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.’

If you don’t read the Bible you should try it, and before you start ask God to speak to you from its pages. I suggest you start with the Gospel of Mark or of John.

 

My New Glasses cost twice as much as my First House!

I went for an eye test yesterday and was impressed with the new technology used to test my eyes. They were photographed, computer analysed and pressure checked, all before my long and short vision was checked in detail on screen, and then my eyes examined in close up by the optician.

The price however was not so impressive as the bill came to a whopping £450.00 but I guess someone must pay for all that new equipment. As I sat there, this price reminded me that I’m ‘getting on a bit’, as the first flat we bought in Pollokshaws, Glasgow, cost exactly half this price! Yes that’s right, £225.00!

My wife Muriel was also getting new glasses yesterday; they were a bit cheaper at £430.00, giving a total of £880.00! Almost 15 x the price of my first car!

The good news however was that our age qualified us for a 25% discount, and with a little bit more negotiation we ended up paying £622.50!

Do you think it would be cheaper flying to Hong Kong? 🙂

Garden – End of Summer Report 2017

As we near the end of the summer season, we see the heather is in bloom,  the apples are on the tree and the plant and tree colours are changing. It hasn’t been a great summer for weather, but overall it has been a good year in the garden, with a few disappointments and surprises as earlier reports suggest.

We are still eating tomatoes from the greenhouse, and the small plum tomatoes that I tried this year for the first time have been cropping away above my expectations. Muriel is preparing to make chutney with the green tomatoes, which will be left, and  the apples on the tree will be harvested shortly for the making of apple and bramble jelly, and stewed apples, which are stored for use throughout the winter.

This week we cut the garden side of our very tall hedge, and next week we plan to cut the other side, which is in the park area behind the house. My son Cameron is coming to help with that. I hope to get the deck painted, if only we could get a few dry days, and soon it will be time to plant up the Spring bulbs again and to take cuttings for over wintering in the greenhouse. How the seasons fly! The garden reminds me of the faithfulness of God, not only throughout the earthly seasons, but reminds me of His faithfulness to us throughout the changing seasons of our life.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Well every season has its beauty and challenges and we look forward now to the autumn and to getting the greenhouse heating system up and running. I hope you have enjoyed the garden as much as I have this year and that you get tidied up for the winter in the coming weeks. I’d like to hear how you got on.

 

Curry in a Hurry

Last Saturday (19 August) our house group organised a ‘Curry in a Hurry’ event, to raise funds in support of two charities working with the persecuted church and Syrian refugees – ‘Release International’ and ‘Operation Mobilisation’.

There were two sessions with a first sitting at 5.30pm and the second sitting at 6.30pm. All together 80+ people turned up for the meal, they had a choice of three different curries with ‘poppadums’ and ‘nan’ bread, all washed down with a fruit drink, followed by a chocolate ice cream. The food was excellent, very tasty, and well prepared and received, and there was even an offer of extras! Both organisations distributed literature and we were able to see some of the work first hand on the screen. Those who attended gave generously to the work and the evening raised £2300 for the heart-breaking plight of refugees and persecuted Christians caught up in the middle-east crisis.

 

A Small Glimpse at a Huge Problem

In Syria alone 11 million people have been displaced and 4.5 million have fled for safety to the surrounding countries – the task is huge! The world statistics are even more staggering and are at their highest level ever! According to UNHCR ‘an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.’

 

Open Doors Watch says, ‘50 Millions of Christians around the world now live their lives against varying levels of discrimination, discovery, violence and arrest.’

 

Did we make a difference?

So what difference did our ‘Curry in a Hurry’ efforts make in the face of such overwhelming suffering? Humanly speaking it would seem not a lot, but as individuals, whilst it seems impossible to change the world, we can change the world for one person, one family or one community. And when you read the Release and OM literature you start to meet people just like you and me, whose lives have been ripped apart by these terrible events, and you weep and empathise with them in their distress, and realise yes we can, by the Grace of God, help some of the poor and suffering find peace and rest.

 

How can we continue to make a difference?

  • If you are a Christian PRAY – So many people testify to the fact that they felt truly helped to keep going on and cope in their dire situation, because others were praying
  • We can give what we can, for  ‘every little helps’ – remember the story of the widow’s mite? Perhaps you could try a fund raising event?
  • If we have the proper credentials, training, skills, and stamina, we could become personally involved
  • We can write to our political leaders

 

All this against a background of ‘superpowers’ still vying for world supremacy, whilst supplying munitions and weapons in a seemingly never ending arms race. And in the USA and Europe we see the rise of the ugly face of right wing fanaticism, which so many young men and women gave their lives to defeat in the last world war. I’m reminded of a hymn we sing in Church:

 

Great is the darkness that covers the earth

Oppression injustice and pain

Nations are slipping in hopeless despair

Though many have come in Your name

Watching while sanity dies

Touched by the madness and lies

Come Lord Jesus

 

May now your church rise, this glorious gospel proclaim

In every nation salvation will come

To those who believe on your name,

help us bring light to the world

That we might speed your return

Come Lord Jesus

I’m sure RELEASE or OM would be delighted to hear from you!

Garden Update – end of July ’17

The garden and greenhouse always bring me pleasure and helps keep my old bones moving! Of course there is the constant need to keep vigilant against the threat of slugs and greenfly, and the fast growing weeds!

The sweet peas, which I grew in the greenhouse over the winter have been outstanding this year, with a proliferation of multicoloured and beautifully scented flowers. They are well past their best now, but other plants are now taking their place, coleus, begonia, geraniums, cornflower, night scented stock and hydrangea cuttings from last year, which are flowering well.

The tomatoes have been not too bad and we have been harvesting some now for the past few weeks, and we have had enough to share with others. They should keep us going until the end of summer, all being well. Strawberries grown in a bag in the greenhouse have done fairly well and the apple tree looks as if it will provide enough for Muriel to make her apple and bramble jelly in September, and also to stew and store in the freezer.

The heather is looking good and we look forward to it flowering in a few weeks time.

The last few days have been wet and blustery so everything looks a bit ‘droochit’ this morning but here are a few pics taken  between the rain showers!

 

It seemed a crazy idea, but it turned out to be a fantastic morning!

Last week we spent a few days through in Pittenweem, a fishing village in the ‘Royal Kingdom of Fife’ in Scotland.

It’s very near to mid-summer here in Scotland, and I took the notion to rise early to watch the sunrise. The idea may have been sparked by the fact that some of my friends were on a mission to Tanzania, and were planning a few days holiday on the east coast of Africa, prior to returning home. When we lived in Africa and spent holidays at the east coast I often rose around 6am to watch the sunrise over the Indian Ocean, which was always spectacular, but that, was many moons ago!

 

I suggested to my wife that we could go to St Andrews together to watch the sunrise, but when she heard that sunrise was at 4.47am, she quickly gave me a look that said ‘are you kidding’? That may have finished the matter, but before going to bed I checked the weather forecast and it was saying the following day was going to be ‘blue skies from morning to night’ which is not a regular feature of the weather here. Still I went to bed with no firm intention, but my mind had obviously set an alarm in my head, as I woke at 3am feeling fresh and ready to go! So I ‘quietly’ (still managed to wake the wife!) slipped out of bed, got dressed and took the 30 minute drive over the hill to St Andrews.

 

I arrived 5 minutes before sunrise, discovered the streets of this busy town deserted and drove to the beach just in time. It was a beautiful morning, the sea was as calm as a millpond, and as the sun arose all the seagulls and other birds burst into a chorus. I had forgotten how beautiful a spectacle this was, the sight and sound of the sea, the smell of the seaweed and the call of the birds and the rising sun reflecting on the water, all combined to touch my heart and soul, and I found myself involuntarily raising a prayer of thanksgiving to the awesome God of creation. I remembered the opening verses of John’s Gospel which speak about Jesus and say, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.’

 

It was one of these special moments that many people experience on life’s journey!

 

As a bonus I found it funny to drive around St Andrews, park in all the tourist spots to take pictures, with no other cars around, and no one to bother me, which must be a ‘first’ for St Andrews. Mind you I did see a few other souls here and there enjoying the glorious experience.

 

As I reflected on the morning I thought, why don’t I do this more often, but I haven’t shared that with Muriel yet 🙂 Later on I thought on a Psalm that speaks of the sunrise and on a sermon I preached on it some years ago – Psalm 19 – take a look!

Sunrise St Andrews