Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

I must admit, after writing yesterday’s blog post in the middle of last week, I’ve struggled to get any inspiration for today’s or the rest of this week’s blog posts…that is until yesterday!

Yesterday morning at church, we were treated to a beautiful vocal solo by Olwyn Mathie which reminded us that even when it seems to constantly raining in our lives, God is with us, and will soon turn our rain to sunshine.

Last week was not only a week of very wet and rainy weather for us, but also one where I felt that the rain in my life was never going to end. So Olwyn’s solo was the reminder I needed, that even when life is tough, the sunshine is not far away when we trust God.

I pray that whatever difficulties you may be facing just now, you too will be reminded that God is always with us and so the sunshine is not far away when we trust Him.

Let the Holy Spirit come over you now
As the healing rain falls from the clouds
There is nothing you can do to deserve it
You don’t have to earn His love
Let the rain fall from above
Merciful rain falls over the children
Merciful rain falls over the children
Merciful rain falls over the children of God
Over the children of God
Merciful rain falls
See the Holy Dove descending over you now
Feel the Living Water cleansing your soul
In the name of Jesus you have been forgiven
You have been redeemed forever
Fix your eyes on Heaven

I’ve done a few Word Associations with you, and today, as the title of this post suggests, this word association is all about New Year and what it means to each of us. So as usual I’m going to throw some words at you and I want you to note down the first word that comes into your mind when you read each word.

So here goes…

  1. Hogmanay
  2. Resolution
  3. End
  4. January
  5. Holidays
  6. Shortbread
  7. Ceilidh
  8. Christmas tree
  9. Food
  10. Work

So how did you get on with those words? Did you find it easy? Did your answers surprise you or were they just as you expected?

Well here’s my responses to my questions:

  1. 31 December
  2. Broken
  3. New start
  4. Winter
  5. Over
  6. Scotland
  7. Social
  8. Away
  9. Fat
  10. Sad

Were any of your answers the same as mine? Did any of my answers confuse you? Did any of your own answers confuse you?

I’ve said in previous word association posts that I find I get a bit stressed when I’m doing them as I put a lot of pressure on myself not to over think my answers! Are you relaxed when you do them or do you find it stressful too?

I still believe that when we respond with the first words that come into our minds, our answers tell us a lot about our emotional state, and what’s important to us at that particular point in time.

Bearing all this in mind, review your answers, does my theory hold true?

I chose some words we probably all associate with New Year as well as some that I suspect if you’re not Scottish, you won’t understand (including some of my answers), maybe it’s time to find out a bit more about our Scottish New Year traditions!

Within the space of a week, there have been three significant fires in or around Glasgow (there may have been others, but these are the ones I’m aware of).

The most recent was at a Land Rover car dealership in Motherwell. This fire was thought to have been started deliberately, and has been estimated to have cause about £850,000 of damage.

Just the day before that there was a fire in Hamilton in a disused hotel, the Hamilton Town Hotel. This building was due to be demolished to make way for a new £7m hotel.

And final, last Friday night, the fire which I’m sure you are all aware of, the second fire in the space of four years at the internationally renowned Glasgow School of Art (GSA). The fire this time was much worse, and in fact spread to nearby buildings, including the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC music venue.

At the time of the fire last week, the Mackintosh library (an A-listed building), was being restored in a project estimated to be costing £35m, was due to reopen next year.

Thankfully in each of these recent fires, no-one has been injured. However when it comes to the impact of the fire on the surrounding area and community, the fire at GSA has by far had the greatest impact. Many have expressed deep sadness, and used words such as ‘devastating’ and ‘shocking’, to describe this latest fire.

We still don’t know what caused this latest fire at GSA, and it’s also unclear whether any of the building will need to be demolished, or whether it’s going to be possible to save it.

GSA has been an iconic part of Glasgow for so many years, that for those of us who consider Glasgow to be home, it seems hard to contemplate our city without those beautiful buildings anymore. So let’s hope that once again, GSA can be rebuilt from the embers, and come back restored to its former beauty once again.

Man seems to have been fascinated by the future for a long time, we just need to look back at the numerous movies that have been made over the years, all set in a world imagined to be ‘the future’.

  • 1984
  • 2001: A space odyssey
  • Alien
  • Avatar
  • Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure
  • I, Robot
  • Intersellar
  • Lost in space
  • Planet of the apes
  • Etc…

Some of those films were set in a time that is actually now in the past. E.g. 1984. I think it’s fair to say the film version of the future has never really turned out to be particularly accurate, has it!

I know a few people who visit psychics to find out a little of what their future holds for them. I don’t know about you, but I know I wouldn’t want to know what lies ahead for me.

At a member of the Salvation Army, a Salvationist, I made promises to God to serve him not just today and tomorrow, but in our future days. I always seem to end up with the words of a particular song going through my mind when I think about the promises I’ve made to God.

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

This song doesn’t just remind me my promises, but as it was a special song to some of my family, it remind me that they made those same promises to God, and they did keep them in their future, right ‘to the end’.

Our future is not just about us keep our promises to God, but Him also keeping his promises to us, as that’s where we get our reassurance that no matter what we face God is with us:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Isaiah 41:10 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

As you’ve probably gathered I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, and have prayed  that I will stay true to God no matter what the future holds for me. There will be times of great joy ahead, but also some challenging times too, but I know I can face them with confidence if I remember these words:

There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages
He is Jesus, Jesus
—JESUS—

We all have things which annoy us, some trivial, some quite serious. So today I want to share with you some of the trivial things that annoy me…they’re listed in no particular order:

  1. People who treat you like a child just because you’re younger than them.
  2. Those who park on double-yellow lines just to save themselves have to walk a few extra meters to the nearest parking space.
  3. When less qualified or experienced individuals thinks they know better than you, even although you’ve been there and done something many times before.
  4. When the weather forecasters say we’re going to have fantastic dry warm weather, but then discover they’re actually talking about the south of England, and our weather is actually going to be the complete opposite!
  5. Individuals who drop litter rather than put it in a litter bin that’s only a few meters away.

Do any of these annoyances sound familiar to you?

Yes, all the above things annoy me, but most of time I manage to stay quiet when they happen and just observe and say or do nothing as I know it’s just me being me!

 

Severe weather warning.

Snow, snow, and then some more snow.

Strong winds, and more snow.

Staying indoors where it’s warm and cosy until we need more food.

Shops have run out of bread, milk and most other fresh products. So glad that we bought bread the previous day.

So when’s all this snow going to stop, so we can get back to normal.

Snow has stopped falling now, but it’s still white out.

Stalactites hanging from the windows and roof. Suddenly falling to the ground making us jump at the noise.

Still it’s cold outside, and still white.

Snow’s nice to look out on when in the house but not so nice when you’re stuck somewhere in traffic.

So stay safe out there on the roads and hopefully the snow will be gone soon.

Then many of the Jewish leaders who heard him say these things began believing him to be the Messiah. Jesus said to them, “You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32 TLB

This was the bible verses listed as ‘Verse of the day’ on BibleGateway.com on Monday of this week. So why am I telling you this? On Sunday at our corps (church) it was our Vision and Commitment Sunday. During which we were asked to make a new commitment to be God’s disciple, and Monday’s verse of the day fitted perfectly with the discipleship promise we made on Sunday:

N.B. Although the photo above shows I’ve not signed my commitment, I have signed a copy of this commitment.

I made a public commitment to serve God all life a number of years ago, when I was commissioned as a senior soldier at Rutherglen Salvation Army. During that service, the singing company (junior choir) sang a song which I choose as it was special to me, Lord, Thou Art Questioning.

I’ve committed to be God’s disciple every day and in all I do, have you?

Here’s a beautiful band arrangement of that song. I’ve listed the words of the song below also so you can follow them.

Lord, thou art questioning: Lovest thou me?

Yea, Lord, thou knowest, my answer must be;

But since love’s value is proved by love’s test,

Jesus, I’ll give thee the dearest and best.

Chorus

All in my heart, Lord, thou canst read;

Master, thou knowest I love thee indeed.

Ask what thou wilt my devotion to test,

I will surrender the dearest and best.

How couldst thou smile on me if, in my heart,

I were unwilling from treasures to part?

Since my redemption cost thee such a price,

Utmost surrender alone will suffice.

Down at thy feet all my fears I let go,

Back on thy strength all my weakness I throw;

Lord, in my life thou shalt have thine own way,

Speak but the word, and thy child will obey.

I’ve done a few Word Associations with you, and today, as the title of this post suggests, this word association is all about New Year and what it means to each of us. So as usual I’m going to throw some words at you  and I want you to note down the first word that comes into your mind when you read each word.

So here goes…

  1. Midnight
  2. Door bell
  3. Countdown
  4. January
  5. Annual leave
  6. Steak pie
  7. Scotland
  8. Snow
  9. Decorations
  10. Over-eating

So how did you get on with those words? Did you find it easy? Did your answers surprise you or were they just as you expected?

Well here’s my responses to my questions:

  1. Bells
  2. First footing
  3. …to Christmas!
  4. Sales
  5. End of January
  6. Dinner
  7. Shortbread
  8. Sledge
  9. Boxes
  10. Stuffed

Were any of your answers the same as mine? Did any of my answers confuse you? Did any of your own answers confuse you?

I’ve said in previous word association posts that I find I get a bit stressed when I’m doing them as I put a lot of pressure on myself not to over think my answers! Are you relaxed when you do them or do you find it stressful too?

I still believe that when we respond with the first words that come into our minds, our answers tell us a lot about our emotional state, and what’s important to us at that particular point in time.

Bearing all this in mind, review your answers, does my theory hold true?

I chose some words we probably all associate with New Year as well as some that I suspect if you’re not Scottish, you won’t understand (including some of my answers), maybe it’s time to find out a bit more about our Scottish New Year traditions!

If I were to ask you if in your family you have any Christmas traditions you uphold each year, what would your answers be?

  • Spending a day Christmas shopping with your friends or family
  • Putting up the Christmas tree
  • Decorating the house
  • Giving gifts to family and friends
  • Spending quality time with family on Christmas Day
  • Eating turkey and generally  over-eating!
  • Attending a carol service

In our house, we have a tradition of starting our Christmas season by sitting down and watching one of our favourite Christmas films. For the last few years it’s been the same film watched, as it has become my husband’s favourite, and that is the film Elf!

I’m sure if we went round the room we’d find we all consider a lot of different films to be our favourites and that shouldn’t surprise us as there are hundreds to choose from with new films being release each year. Never mind all the classic Christmas films which I’m sure we’ve all watched a few times.

When I was considering about what I’d share with you tonight, I got thinking about what Christmas would have been like if that very first Christmas never happened. And this turned my thoughts to my Mum’s favourite Christmas film, the classic, It’s A Wonderful Life.

James Stewart plays George Bailey who along with his uncle, has inherited the Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan, saving it from takeover by the banker. He builds affordable housing for local residents, again annoying his local business rival. Then a few years later on Christmas Eve, George’s uncle misplaces the $8000 that was due to be paid to the bank for the building and loan, meaning George knows he will probably go to jail. So on that snowy night he heads out in desperation, uncertain what to do, and gets drunk and into a fight. Wishing he had never been born, he  comes to a bridge and considers committing suicide.

But then, instead of committing suicide he finds himself ‘rescuing’ Clarence Oddbody from the water. We discover Clarence is an angel, and so when George tells him he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence grants his wish to see what the world would have looked like if he never been born.

Through the rest of the film we discover that George’s life has had a significant impact on his family, friends and community, and had he never been born, other people’s lives would have been worse.

So what would life be like if Jesus had never been born? What if the first Christmas never happened? No baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; No shepherds being told by an angel that Christ had been born; No wise men following a star to a stable to give their gifts to baby Jesus.

I found this quote from Frederick Buechner which describes the impact the birth of Jesus has had on this world:

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

Have you considered the impact Jesus has had on your life? Would your life have been different is Jesus had not been born?

John 1:1-2 (Living Bible)

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

At this time of year it can be so easy to get caught up in our Christmas traditions, and forget why we actually celebrate Christmas. But we need to remember who Christmas is about:

Who is he in yonder stall at whose feet the shepherds fall?

I pray that this year as you celebrate Christmas, you not only continue your Christmas traditions, but you remember the impact Jesus has had on your life, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus:

‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!

‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory;

at his feet, we humbly fall,

crown him, crown him Lord of all!

I recently read this article on the bbc news site and found it a hard read – It was quite upsetting and it really challenged me to consider how I treat homeless people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-42003888

Yes, I’ve stopped and given a few coins to some homeless people sometimes; Yes, I’ve also bought a sandwich and a drink for a few as well; But have I ever really taken time to speak to them? My honest answer is, no I haven’t – Just like two-thirds of other Scots, I haven’t taken the time to stop and engage in conversation with a homeless person.

I was recently in Glasgow city centre during the day for the first time in a while, and must admit to being quite shocked and saddened by the number of people sitting/lying out in the streets homeless, on what was a chilly morning.

Who am I to judge these people, as just like me they are human beings! The difference been them and me is they have lost everything, including all hope. What can be worse than losing all hope and having no-one to talk to?

Why do we feel afraid to speak to homeless people? What reasons do we have to feel afraid of them? Personally I think it’s probably just another sad indictment of how society is these days – The fact that the article on the bbc website states that younger people are less likely to stop and help homeless people does seem to confirm this.

What has our world become, that we aren’t willing to try to help those at their lowest?

Let’s take time to help anyone who needs help, regardless of whether they are our friend, a neighbour, a colleague, someone we meet in the street or a homeless person.