Monday, 30 November 2009

St Andrew's Day

To celebrate St Andrew's Day today, Learning from Sophie has encouraged a few of us to write a post describing our experiences of Scotland. So, here's mine...

I first visited Scotland in my early twenties for work. I remember driving round the streets of Edinburgh and thinking to myself, ‘hmm, it would be quite nice to live here’.

Fast forward a few years and I’m now living in Edinburgh, right near to where I first visited. My life has gone through many changes and transitions over the last few years and I truly believe that God’s hand has been on it. Moving to Edinburgh has been a real journey of faith, but I can clearly see that God has brought us here for a purpose and I’m excited for what the future holds for us here.

During the few weeks before we moved here I ended up spending several days in Edinburgh on my own interviewing for a new job. I really don’t like being on my own and usually struggle during these times. But I remember finding the people so welcoming, and the service in shops and cafes so nice. I never felt that I was inconveniencing anyone when asking for directions or other random questions. I never felt that I was a hassle to someone when buying something in a shop. The buses were so cheap and easy to understand (I must’ve looked like a tourist!). And I loved walking through the streets and imagining I was in some period drama (I still do that sometimes!). The buildings and architecture are so amazing!

I think I was blessed to have visited during the spring and a few days of good weather. But I feel the same when I have visited other places in Scotland. The landscape has a real beauty and peace about it (except maybe the gale force winds, hail and torrential rain on Arran!) and I love exploring it!

I love beaches and being by the sea too. So I thought I’d finish with a picture of one of my favourite places, Elie in Fife. This place has a very special place in my heart for many reasons.


Monday, 23 November 2009


Yesterday was hard. Yesterday was really hard.
Yesterday my insecurities were played out on a large screen for all to see…literally.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would mind being filmed discussing my reasons for joining a particular ‘Missional Expression’ at church. And although I hate being filmed (or photographed) I said ‘sure, why not’. I am excited about the potential of these ‘Missional Expressions’ and I’m excited about the particular area I want to get involved in. And I hoped that I might encourage others to be excited about them too.

So, I did the filming and it all seemed to go well. Or that’s what everyone told me.

I knew that it was going to be shown at church yesterday so I got there early enough to get a seat on the very back row. I already wanted to hide.

Then came the film. I knew it wasn’t going to be amazing, but I was at least hoping I would look and sound interesting, excited, passionate…normal. Instead I looked terrified, embarrassed, blotchy and I sounded slightly boring. I hated it.

All the things I had hoped and prayed it wouldn’t be it was. And all the feelings and insecurities I had about myself, the ones I thought I was over, came flooding back. Literally. Tears welled up and began pouring out of my eyes.

I cried because I felt humiliated, vulnerable, exposed.
I cried because I wasn’t what I wanted to be.
I cried because it reminded me of all the times I’ve felt ugly and unattractive before.
I cried because I felt like the girl who got things thrown at her on the school bus (yep, I was that girl!).
I cried because I knew I was living under my insecurities.
I cried because I felt it wasn’t something I could be proud of. Ever.

And that is why I was crying. That’s where my tears were coming from. My pride.
It was hurt. And it was hurt bad!

Then Karl preached on James 3 & 4 and spoke about wisdom, our insecurities and humility and I cried some more. (This is why I sit at the back at church!)

I felt so crushed and vulnerable (and slightly silly for being so emotional) that I didn’t even stay to the end of the service. I couldn’t face seeing anyone and breaking down into more tears. So I went home. And I cried it all out with God, and my amazing husband. (I’m even crying writing this – flippin’ pregnancy hormones!)

I am nothing without God and I can do nothing without Him.
And although I may not look beautiful on the big screen, or have a video I am happy to watch and share with others, I can be beautiful in the way I live my life. And in the love I share with others.

Recently I have felt that God is doing some real work in me. Stretching me, pulling me, revealing things in me, restoring me. It’s hard, and it’s not nice. And it usually induces lots of tears and snot! But I know that it is because God is calling me and is going to use me. And so although it is hard, I long to be challenged because I long to be used by God and see amazing things happen because of Him. I long to share His beauty and His love with others.

I follow a few blogs of photographers and I love this line that Jamie Delaine wrote a few days ago. It has really meant something to me recently.
“Life doesn’t have to be glamorous to be beautiful”

So true!

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Guilt Trip

Her cushions were beautiful. And they lay perfectly, symmetrically, on her beautiful sofas. In her beautiful living room. In her beautiful flat.

My friend had just had a baby about one week before, but her home still looked immaculate. Like a brochure or a magazine. Just with baby clothes and congratulations cards here and there.

I love my friend’s home. It’s beautiful, tasteful, warm and welcoming. But I sit in it wishing my home was like that too. In fact, I sit there and begin to dislike my home, even though I know I don’t really dislike it!

I sit there and I compare my home to hers. And I judge my home against hers.

Why are we so quick to judge ourselves against others? Why do we jump to conclusions about ourselves based on our comparisons? Why do we assess our value and worth from these judgements?

And why do I fall so easily when it comes to comparing myself?

Thank you Lord that you create each of us to be unique, as an individual. Thank you that you love us as we are and that you lift us up when we fall down. Help us to look to you when we are tempted to compare ourselves to others.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!
Psalm 139:1-3,14,17

Thursday, 19 November 2009

My Prayer...

...for me, for my family, for our church...

Open our eyes
To see the things that make Your heart cry
To be the church that You would desire
Your light to be seen

Break down our pride
And all the walls we’ve built up inside
Our earthly crowns and all our desires
We lay at Your feet

Let hope rise
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light
That every eye will see
Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised

God of all days
Glorious in all of Your ways
Oh the majesty the wonder and grace
In the light of Your Name

With everything
With everything
We will shout for Your glory
With everything
With everythingWe will shout forth Your praise

Our hearts they cry
Be glorified
Be lifted high above all names
For You our King
With everything
We will shout forth Your praise

'With Everything - Hillsong'

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tummy Tuesday - 19 weeks

Don't worry, I'm not going to reveal my actual tummy. That would be far too much information! But for those who requested it (Alison, that's you!) here is a fully clothed picture of my gradually expanding waistline!
I think it looks kinda pointy at the moment! I'm sure it will round out soon.

This week has been very exciting in the baby department. I have felt it kick and move much more and we even got to see it kick at the weekend. I'm starting to feel a little like a human punch bag...but in a good way! I'm sure this is nothing compared to the kicks and punches I'll get over the next few weeks and months!

Happy Tuesdays xxx

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Decaff skinny mocha choca latte, please!

"ooh, and yes to the whipped cream"

I nearly had a coffee first today. I say nearly because we ended up not going to the coffee shop. But had we made it there I'd have ordered a decaff hazelnut latte.

I love hazelnut lattes. I love the sweetness. And it stops me putting extra sugar in! I'm a sweet coffee drinker! But I have never drunk decaff coffee. In fact since being pregnant I've gone off tea and coffee altogether (I'm still mourning my cups of tea)! But I really wanted a hazelnut latte today. And to avoid giving my unborn child a caffeine high, I was going to order decaff.

You see, I'm a full flavour, full fat kinda girl. I don't drink diet coke/pepsi/pop in general because it doesn't taste as good. I love real butter because it tastes so good. And I love full fat desserts because they taste so good. (I know that decaff coffee tastes just the same as full-caff coffee but its just a personal mental thing)

But when ordering a coffee, we can have it however we like. Full fat, no fat, full caff, no caff, lots of sugar, no sugar, extra shot, extra syrup, a bit of chocolate. Whatever takes our fancy, however we want to take it.
(And sometimes we do random things like have fat free milk, caffeine free coffee but then keep the whipped cream on top - sometimes people are weird!)
And if we order a burger we can 'have it our way'. One burger, two burgers, cheese, no cheese, onions, no onions, relish, no relish. Whatever takes out fancy, however we want to take it.

Today, the world revolves around us and our likes or dislikes. Today, the customer is always right. And we are entitled to decide and dictate exactly what we want. Sweet, savoury, food or drink. However we want to take it.

But have we applied this principle to how we ingest and digest the word of God. Do we read the verses we know and like because they taste nice, because they are sweet, because they give us a warm and fuzzy feeling? Do we leave out the parts that taste bitter or are hard to swallow or difficult to digest?

Do we experience the fullness, the full flavour of God?
Or do we only allow ourselves to experience the parts we like?

Sometimes being a Christian is hard and not very tasty or attractive. Sometimes reading and understanding God's word is hard and not very tasty or attractive. But maybe it's just that our palate isn't used to it and we need to learn to understand the taste.

I don't know...just some thoughts for the weekend!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Skye - Nov 2009

We've just taken a short trip to the Isle of Skye. It's a beautiful place and has a real peacefulness about it - even when its raining!
I thought I'd share a few photos from the trip...I didn't take many!

This is not actually in Skye but a dam we passed on the way at Loch Laggan.


The view from the cottage we were staying in.




A local cow!

Happy Thursdays!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Big Word(s) Wednesday #8

Yay for the return of Big Word Wednesday!
It’s only been four months…terrible I know! Anyhow, onto the important bit…

Missional Expressions

1. assigned task – a special task given to a person or group to carry out
2. calling – an aim or task that somebody believes it is his or her duty to carry out or to which he or she attaches special importance and devotes special care
3. group of representatives – a group of people sent to a place to represent their government, business or organisation

1. word or phase that communicates an idea
2. the communication of thoughts or feelings

Ok so I cheated a bit this week. I didn’t come up with the words totally by myself. In fact these are a couple of words that are being used at our church at the moment.

As we look to become a church that truly serves our community and doesn’t just fill the pews on a Sunday we have been looking at ways we can get out into the city and meet people’s needs where they are.

So far, this process and the resulting groups/actions/ministries have been called missional expressions. At first I struggled with the name – it is a bit of a mouthful to start. But also I had a very short term view of the term mission or missional. Like, when we go abroad for two weeks on mission. Or when we hold local missions for a week or so. But in looking at the meaning of the words further I like what they describe.

I like the thought that we are a group of people representing God, representing the Kingdom of God on earth, going out to communicate God’s great love for all people. It is our task. It is our calling. And not just for a couple of weeks.

As the groups develop I think they will all begin to form their own names to better describe what they are doing. But at the moment I am excited for the potential of these missional expressions. I am excited about the potential in the church, in the people, to live by faith and see amazing things happen across our city. I am excited to join with others and represent God, to fulfil our calling and communicate God’s love and peace to a generation of people who need to hear/see/feel/know that love.

A couple of other thoughts around the same theme:

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James 2:26 (NIV)