A mosaic made out of jagged pieces.


When I was in Berlin, I visited a beautiful church, where the themes of forgiveness healing and reconciliation were reflected in the fabric of the building itself. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church was bombed on 23rd November 1943, and lay in ruins.

In the 1950’s there was much debate as to what to do, and in the end they decided to incorporate the ruins into a new church ensemble. In the new building, the walls are made out of mosaics, broken pieces of glass formed into stunningly beautiful panels. The pieces are different shapes, often jagged in form, but come together to create something gorgeous.

This feels like a relevant and profound theme for our day. It feels that post pandemic, so much is shattered, the comfort of old ways of doing things, economic stability, familiar patterns, securites we used to take for granted. And for our lives, we often feel broken, health less strong, mourning lost loved ones, full of worries and anxieties, exhausted from constant change and challenge.

I have just come back from the General Asembly of the Church of Scotland, where they are navigating change and loss. Many ministers nearing retirement, difficult decisions re buildings, lamentation and loss, confusion as to how to make these almost impossible decisions. There is much pain and bewilderment and sadness.

I remember the words from psalm 34′ the Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit’. God sees all the pain and heartbreak people are going through, personally and institutionally, all the jagged edges and tear stained pillows.

Today is Pentecost, when we welcome the holy spirit, and we ask that He cleanse us, and shape us, and we are reminded that He makes all things new. On our knees, we pray that somehow out of the fragments of our lives, our mistakes and regrets, He would fashion something new and beautiful, something edifying and inspirational. Meanwhile we wait, we sit among the ashes and dust, and we trust that the holy spirit can touch and transform even our lives and situations.

Father God, there is so much heartache and sadness, and the broken fragments of our lives are pointed and sore. As they said on the Emmaus road, we had hoped…….. Lord Jesus, You know what discouragement and pain look like, yet Your love never falters. Today, may your Holy spirit come into our lives, and do a new thing. You tenderly pick up the pieces of our lives, and craft them into something of value and meaning. You remind us of the truth and freedom that only Your spirit can bring. Today, this Pentecost weekend, speak to our souls, heal us, pour out Your love, energise us to love, whatever the cost. May Your light shine though our lives, bringing a rainbow of grace and compassion for all. Bring renewal to your people, in Jesus name, Amen.

The story of a dog and a sofa!

Not so much left!

Before I start my story, I want to tell you that I have a marvellous dog. He has been rehomed, and he is a character! In recent months, he has been experimenting with his claws on my sofa. He doesn’t mean anything by it, but the duct tape to repair it has become less effective. And then one day, it looked like this!

It was a very old sofa, over 20 years, and past its best. I decided it was not salvageable, and that I need to let it and the two chairs go………

What happened next was a surprise however, for the room seemed much bigger. With a little help, I moved the furniture about, and repositioned things, got two lighter chairs, and actually the room is so much better- less cluttered and heavy, and more spacious! It has been transformed.

My dog has taught me the gift of letting go. By taking the sofa and matching chairs to the dump, I made space for something new, which feels like a lighter and more flexible space.

I always love Ecclesiastes chapter three, that there is a time for everything under the sun, and in verse 6 it says ‘ there is a time to keep, and a time to throw away.’ As our lives go on, there is a time to hold on to stuff from the past, but also a time to let go of some things, to make space for the new. It is a difficult discernment, and is always evolving, but the symbolism seems potent. May we all recognise what needs to be put to one side, to make space for God to do a new thing.

Gracious God, there is a rhythm to life, and so many different seasons. There is eternity in each one, yet paradoxically they go by so fast. Childhood, adulthood, perhaps parenting, and then dependency once more. Lord Jesus, you are the same yesterday, today and forever, and you accompany us in every stage, and bring meaning and significance. Sometimes we want to tarry where we are comfortable, but your spirit stirs us up, and leads us forward, enabling us to let go, and making space for something new, like eagles out of a nest. Thank you, that You speak to our hearts in so many ways, and gently lead us, so we might learn to fly. Give us courage to see new possibilities, and to embrace them, Amen.

Tears falling from the sky

The familiar sound of rain

My goodness, it is 5 years since my late husband’s death. I naively thought at the time because he had been ill for such a long period, I had done a lot of grieving already. Boy was I wrong, as there was so much more to come.

It has taken me 5 years to work things though, with the help of God and a loving community around me. I think I was numb the first year, just trying to settle paper work, to do practical things, and get back into a rhythm of work. Year two I focused on honouring Colin’s life by telling a bit of our story, and publishing some of his poems and writings- ‘Love song for a wounded warrior’ – I felt he was smiling from heaven. A great sadness was that his parents both died before the book was published, and our grief as a family was so complex and so deep.

In the years following, the covid virus and restrictions caused everyone to be so isolated from one another, that it has meant grief and loss has often been locked away, unexpressed, just weighing people down, a silent burden of pain. We all need to talk.

God has been so gracious. He has helped me find ways to work though the trauma of painful menories and grief, to help me find a deeper healing. I wrote ‘ Love songs for Healing and Hope’ also available on Amazon, to share a bit of my grief journey, to offer devotional material, and to share the story of friends.

I have learned what a roller coaster ride complex grief is. In the rain, I think of tears falling, pathetic fallacy, as I learned at school, where the eniroment seems to mirror your emotions. One of the songs I go back to in my darkest days is Andrew Peterson’ s ‘ After the last tear falls’. Even when life is bleak and we are bereft, somewhere there is still love. We can be sad at death, the cruelty of suffering, of the loss of dreams and a future.

Jesus understands our lamentation- he wept over the death of Lazarus, he shared the pain and sorrow of his family. He understands our deep despair and loss. But Jesus also called Lazarus out of the cold tomb, his grave clothes are unbound, and he restored his life. And in due time, Jesus calls us out of places of musty darkness and stench of death, into the brightness of morning. We are changed forever by our experiences, but gradually we learn to live with our loss, and there can be hope and new beginnings. Everyone’s journey is different, but I want to encourage people who are in a dark place, that there is help, that your story is important, and that God never gives up on You, but carries you each day.

I am deeply thankful for all that God has taught me, for those who have supported and prayed for me, for the healing power of nature and of community. It has been a more difficult journey that I would have ever imagined, and today the pain is more raw than I expected, still after all these years, but Jesus has brought me a slow and steady healing process, and God’s spirit breaths new life into me each day. What more can I ask?

Gracious God, how often must tears fall from the sky, and life be so cruel, and loss be so devastating. There is so much darkness. Lord Jesus, thank you for your healing light, bringing forgiveness, settling us free from our chains, helping us find peace. We cry to You, and You answer, although at times we are so lost in our pain, we don’t even notice. Bless all who mourn this day, and may they find comfort. Carry us each day, even through the years, until we are ready for your holy spirit to breath new life into us. Through our tears, may we attentive to your voice, and find the healing we need, so we can then share this grace and hope with others, Amen

Bagpipes and banter!

An Easter table

You know that way where you are invited to a house, and they welcome you, and it feels amazing.

After getting off a transatlantic flight, I was welcomed by my beautiful friends, they met me, and made food for me, set a fun table, and even played ‘ bagpipe’ music. The fun and the banter ( and even the music)  expressed a deep feeling of acceptance and love.  It is such a meaningful thing to be welcomed and loved.

I think of people who feel lonely or invisible, and how hard life can be. We can all begin to doubt ourselves, and to question our value. People’s stories are often full of misunderstanding and rejection, which can spiral into depression.

Everyone wants to be heard, understood and valued, to be seen. I wonder how we can do this better, in families, in society. There are always people that we find difficult, but even if we prayed more for each other, if we recognised the positive, and were kinder, that would be a start. It can take a while to get to forgiveness, but even civility can be a starting place.

When we are welcomed and shown hospitality, especially that space to be, that is so healing in itself, for when we relax, then we have more insight, we see things more clearly, and we are more open to learning. And we need to learn, to grow in our understanding and our faith.

I love the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15, where the young man has tried to go it alone, to be independent, but he falls into bad company, squanders his money, and he has nothing left. He decides to go  back to his father’s house and beg for mercy. He must have felt so ashamed, at letting everyone down, and being such a failure. It was a very public humiliation, as he walked back along that path to his family home.

Despite the fact that the son had been away for a long time, the Father is looking out for him. He welcomes him, gives him the best robes, and kills the fatted calf for him. He has to welcome him because once he was lost, but now he is found. He is welcomed, accepted and there is a place for him.

I wonder if we are craving acceptance, a place where we are known and loved. By the grace of God, this is what the Christian faith offers us, a God who reaches out to us in love and grace, who longs for us to know his saving love. We are all so loved, if only we can receive it.

Gracious and hospitable God, You are so patient and loving with us, even though we do not deserve it. We stamp our feet, go off on the wrong path, whilst proudly thinking we know best. And then when it goes wrong, we are so ashamed and downhearted. Lord Jesus, thankyou that You don’t reject us, but look upon us with mercy. Thankyou for the story of the forgiving Father, and that You welcome Your prodigal sons and daughters home with such a tender love. When we feel far from You, lost in the darkness, may we know the prompting of your spirit, bringing us into your living presence here on earth, and to know your generous welcome of love and light, acceptance and care. For Jesus sake, Amen

Lent- lamentation in the night.

Reality kicks in….

My Lenten journey this year has been tough, both professionally and personally. I have had a number of challenging Lents, but this ranks high on the scale of difficulty, partly I guess because so many things have been so dispiriting on so many levels.

I suppose we all know that sense of an intersection of various sadnesses and hurts in our lives. Some years are just like this, when we face a bundle of difficulties simultaneously, and it takes everything from us, to be able to navigate them.

Sometimes I think God allows us to be in a cocoon for parts of our lives, where He protects us from noticing the darkness all around, and then when we are ready, He holds open just a corner of the curtain and reveals the horror and darkness of the world. It is a gruesome and overwhelming sight- so much pride and violence, sadness and evil.

And so we lament, we cry from the pit of our stomach, a raw wailing of pain and loss. It is a time of searching and questioning- why is there such evil in the world, so many conflicts, people exploited, corruption and cruelty. Why are so many still in such pain as we begin to come out of the pandemic, weighed down by grief and loss and trauma. At the beginning of the pandemic, we promised to build a brave new world, where we were kinder and focused on what mattered. Where has that vision gone?

In the midst of anguish and lament, again and again I go back to Job’s powerful words ‘ I know that my Redeemer lives’ from Job 19:25

In the midst of personal loss and tragedy, Job was sure of his God, that somehow God was still good, merciful and loving. That is the challenge for all of us. As a human race, God has let us live with the consequences of our actions, and these are so ugly- carnage, destruction, cruelty, darkness. But He never leaves us without hope. There are a myriad of opportunities for redemption through the cross, through us being willing to pray, to grow in our discipleship, to work for good, to choose love. God has equipped us for all we need, and has given us the gift of His spirit to strengthen us and encourage us.

In the desert, we are confronted with the starkness of our lives, and it is ugly, and we weep. But we are also reminded that every day we have a choice, to choose the light or the dark, to despair or to hope, to give up, or to have new resolve to go forward. May God speak to us today, whatever our circumstances, and help us always to choose life and love.

Father God, in the night, things seem so dismal, and we so easily become afraid and despondent. We see the evil in the world and the destruction it causes, and we wail and lament, even more so when we see more clearly our own part in it. Lord Jesus, on the cross, You said ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’. In your mercy, forgive us, as individuals and as a planet. Cleanse us, and give us hearts filled with love and hope, lives transformed to bring your love into this broken and hurting world. We plead with You, for we need You so badly. Holy spirit subdue the darkness in our hearts and do a new thing. Keep us from.the temptation of giving up, and give us courage. After weeping in the night, comes rejoicing in the dawn. May that assurance give us courage for all that lies ahead, Amen.

Lent- a profound silence

A time to hear?

On a planet where there can be a cacophony of voices, strident experiences of discord and noisy upset, times of quiet can seem appealing. The desert times in Lent, offer opportunities to come apart from the harsh discourses of our society, and to notice the quietness of the natural world. That can be appealing.

However as we are lead further into the wilderness, the quietness that seemed so soothing in the beginning, can become unsettling. In the silence, all the distractions fall away, and we are left alone with ourselves and with God. This can be a scary place, as we notice things about ourselves that we do not like, things we were trying to bury deep down, and to deny.

Mother Theresa is reported to have said: ‘in the silence of the heart, God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.’

In the quietness of the desert, we hear our own heartbeat, we reflect on our lives, and we see both ugliness and beauty. We celebrate the beauty, but we cry out to God with anguish about the selfishness, pain and sin we see within. We have to confront our inner demons, and cast them out in Jesus name. And then we ask for the holy spirit to cleanse us and fill us with light, goodness, love and hope.

The profound silence of the desert is both welcoming and then disturbing. It is a time of disarming honesty, when we need to confess our sin, and then journey on to find forgiveness and peace. There can be moments when we fear we are stuck, and the darkness weighs heavily on our souls.

There are echoes too of that silence, when Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, when the whole world held its breath. God invites us into that eternal moment of silence and revelation, when we realise anew the vastness of love, and the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are drawn into a moment of revelation and reverence, which transforms the meaning of all things. In his trial and final days on earth, Jesus spoke so little, but his silence spoke eloquently and profoundly of his Father’s purpose and His mission of love.

‘ He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter’ Isaiah 53: 7

Eternal Father, we think we like silence, but we are also threatened by it, for in the silence we have to face our darkest fears, and release our deepest secrets. It can be an agonising time of realisation and pain. In the desert spaces of our lives, Lord Jesus have mercy on us, help us forgive ourselves as You have forgiven us. Help us weave times of silence into our daily lives, so we can hear Your voice. Holy spirit, when we see the brokenness of our own internal landscape, may your healing go deep, liberating us, and giving us insight, and strength to form new patterns. Guard and guide us, as we continue our journey, Amen

Lent- a howling in the night!

Scary noises reverberating in the dark.

I have been pondering much in recent days. I think that first steps in the desert is maybe one of the worst, most challenging part of the journey, because it is new and unfamiliar. Being in the desert at night, hearing the rustle of an ibex in the acacia trees, or the sound of hyenas in the distance and feeling vulnerable is a scary experience. That is when your imagination works overtime, and you can fear the worst.

Dealing with new situations generally can be like this. There is a deluge of new facts and information to deal with, and we have to reorient ourselves. It takes a lot of energy and focus. In times of transition in our lives, when things are changing on different fronts simultaneously, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

In the darkness in the desert, the most innocent of sounds can be built up in our imagination. We can become paralysed with fear, pumped full of adrenaline, hyper aroused, waiting for the next noise, working out if it is near or far, and what kind of threat it might pose.

In these times of disorientation and fear, we remember that God is with us. In psalm 3 verses 3 and 5, ( NLT translation) it says;  ‘But You O Lord,  are a Shield around me, you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. ……………                               I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.’

In the night, when we cannot sleep, and our thoughts run riot, we remember that God is our Shield and Protector, that he keeps us safe from the predators of darkness. And in the light of morning, we see things more clearly, our fears diminish, and our trust in our Faithful God is renewed. May we pray.

Gracious God, sometimes we fear the terrors of the night, and we need to be reminded that You shelter us under the protection of your wings, and that You keep us safe. Lord Jesus forgive us that we so quickly become worried and fearful. Help us to remember the words of psalm 91, that you will protect those who trust in You. Help us not to focus on the scary sounds of the night, but on Your faithful promises. In times of change and challenge, may your holy spirit help us to take a breath, to refocus on your love and truth, and then to confidently take the next step in our journey. For Jesus sake, Amen

Lent- hope in the wilderness

An early flowering……

Last week I was having a difficult day, and on a walk near a loch, I found this beautiful and early flower. Most of the tree was bare, with only a few buds, but this wee flower made me smile and brought me hope.

Lent is a desert time, when we remember that after Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, that the holy spirit then took him into the desert in Judea to be tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. After the purpose and blessing revealed and experienced in his baptism, Jesus was prepared for his ministry by a time of testing- Luke chapter 4:1-15.

There are times in our lives when we can really relate to that time of testing. Maybe we are despairing about something, or tempted to go down a path we know is wrong for us. Or it could be that we feel alone and vulnerable. Desert times test our love and our resolve.

My prayer for all of us in this period of Lent, is that we learn something that makes us stronger. Traditionally in Lent, we might think of goings to let go, excess chocolate or cakes or take away coffees! We can go deeper, to give up bad habits that take us away from God, too much social media scrolling, late night TV. We can ask God to help us let go of hurts, resentment and bitterness in our hearts.

Having let go, so we create space for God’s holy spirit to work. In the space, we might rededicate ourselves to prayer, or reading a gospel passage each day, or starting a prayer journal. We might commit to listening to praise music every day, or seeking to encourage and bless another person. We pray that somehow, even in the midst of the deepest struggles, God brings transformation to our lives. Then perhaps, there can be a flowering, even in the most unexpected of places.

‘The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands’ Isaiah 35:1

Gracious God, we confess that being in the desert is not something we enjoy. We hear the cry of wild beasts, and we are tempted and distracted and we get scared. Yet You, Lord Jesus, are with us, and you model how to stay close to God, by prayer and meditating on Your Word.

Whatever our struggles are, may we cry to You for help, and wait for your reply. May our eyes be fixed on You. Calm our overthinking and terrified imagining. May we know that You are near Lird Jesus, and find solace in the presence of your holy spirit, still guiding our path. And somewhere in the darkness of suffering, may there be new buds of faith, and flowerings of love, in Jesus name, Amen.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back……

Too much going on…

Sometimes when you go on holiday, and then come back, things have accumulated in your in-tray, in your email, in fact everywhere. There is a list of things to do, that can seem unending.

When we feel overwhelmed, we can often work out a coping strategy, and work out a plan. But then one additional thing comes in- it can just be small, can look very insignificant, but it is just one thing too many. It could be a plea for toilet rolls, a reminder of something undone, or a ‘ I know you’re busy but…….’ kind of request. And then it feels unmanageable, just like the mountain of stuff to do has become too great, and that it’s about to collapse on your head!

Life these days is so much more complicated than it was pre covid. People have changed- they are exhausted from continual adaption, from illness and stress, anxiety and financial worries. So everytime we go to do something, there can be unexpected complications. It can weary the soul.

I remember some one said ‘how do you cut up an elephant?’ And the answer is ‘ one piece at a time’. Now to be clear, I don’t want to cut up elephants, or indeed any living creature! But I have found the principle to be invaluable, when you have lots to do, just start with a little tiny bit, and that in itself makes a difference. Just one step, takes you forward.

I love too that I can always come to God, and share my worries with Him, and that He never turns me away. It is such a privilege. I can come ranting about whatever has gone wrong, unable to see a constructive way forward, and He lets me pour out my heart to Him. He listens with loving kindness, and I find a new strength, and see different possibilities that might work. I am blessed, even in the most tumultuous of times.

In psalm 62 verse 8, the psalmist says ‘ o my people, trust in God at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is your refuge’

Gracious God, sometimes we try so hard to follow You, to persevere, to do all we can, but it doesn’t seem enough, and little things going wrong annoy us so badly. Lord Jesus, forgive us when we become grumpy and have a short fuse. In our time of need, may we turn to You. Take the cares of the world from our shoulders, and help us bring our worries to You in prayer. Set us free through your spirit. Help us to regain perspective, to find inspiration to find a new and better way forward, taking a deep breath, and trusting more fully in You. In your mercy, hear our prayer, Amen

Moments of Exquisite beauty!

View from former East German television tower

Travelling is good for my soul. It reminds me of the wider world, and puts things in perspective. It expands my horizons, and revives me as I learn and meet people, and have adventures. I feel so blessed.

Visiting Berlin has been an important thing to do for a number of reasons. I used to study post second world war international relations, and so actually being in Berlin, and visiting Check Point Charlie, and being able to picture the various sectors and seeing where the wall was built in 1961 has deepened my understanding of what took place. Reading the accounts of different individuals has brought everything to life.

The second reason that this visit has been so important is that I had booked to visit Berlin five years ago, when my husband took unwell, so I had to cancel. Being able to visit just now, feels like some kind of sense of completion.

There has been so much more to Berlin than I had imagined. It feels like a city looking for redemption, trying to come to terms with its past. Everywhere you go, there is also building work, and there is a momentum towards building a better future. The architecture of the city is so diverse, old Prussian stone buildings, monolithic flats in the former East German sector, and incredible new modern glass domes and futuristic shapes and forms.

I have been doing a massive amount of walking in the last few days. At times it has poured with rain, buses have been late, I have got lost, and my few words of German have turned out to be massively inadequate.

Yet in the midst of this, there have been moments of exquisite beauty, when God has placed me in the right place at the right time, and blessed me beyond measure. I just happened to be at the TV tower, without a ticket, just at the right time when the queue wasn’t too long, and when the sun was setting over Berlin. It was a gorgeous sight, which moved my soul, and I prayed for continued healing and reconciliation for the city, and for inspiration and strength for the churches here. Just a small prayer, yet it felt divinely inspired. I hope every prayer makes a difference, not just for Berlin, but for all of us.

Gracious God, thankyou for the reminder that You love everyone in every nation, and that You show such infinite love and compassion. Lord Jesus, you see all that has taken place, all the cruelty and division in our world, and You weep, just as You wept over Jerusalem. Forgive us our sins we pray, for we are all guilty. By your holy spirit, grant us moments of inspiration and deep gratitude , so that we can pray for unity, for stories to be heard, and for the dignity of all to be respected. May tears even at the top of a television tower, bring healing grace for all who carry unspoken pain from the past. Help us to see our cities through your eyes, and to ask even yet for a river of healing and peace to flow, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.