Monday, January 30, 2006

China Plate

Cockney Rhyming slang for mate (as in bud, friend, joined at the hip, pal) is it dinner or China. One's best friend, like one's best plate, is China. Seonag (pronounced like Shawnack for the uninitiated) introduced me via video to a Glaswegian comedy team by the name of Francie and Josie. Though the accent was thick the humour was clear and classic. Though I have many dear friends in Glasgow, there is only one I call China, and that's her.

For those who don't know, one of the first of the many kind folk who welcomed me into their lives in Scotland was Seonag. She is woven in and out of nearly every memory I have of Scotland. I could fill a book with just our adventures, from the building my first peat fire in the Hebrides, to flat flits, to chickpeas on the stairs. (you just had to be there.) One of my most cherished one's is sitting atop black hill, being devoured by midges and singing Psalm 62 to the tune "Bay's of Harris".

Today I had to dash home from morning worship due to a tricky tum. I went straight to a heating pad on my bed, just wanting to feel better. Next thing I knew it was nearly 4pm our time. I'd wanted to call S. before she went to hospital for liver surgery but it was then 11pm her time and though she is always a night owl, the night before a hospitalization I had hopes she was away to her bed. my heart sank until I realized that being a nightowl myself , all was not lost.

I've been sitting up now waiting for nearly 2 am our time. If I call too early, the sleep she so needs to prepare for her surgery could be cut short, if I wait too long, I'll miss her. I'd said in past e-notes I'd call and pray with her before she went. Thankfully, I broke down and called at 1:45 am/8:45 am her time, and she was there, just biding her time to call the hospital to see if they have a bed for her. This is apparently standard procedure with NHS. (National health Service) Tomorrow some surgeon is scheduled to operate in order to reduce the tumor in her liver, what remains after weeks and weeks of chemo.

This past fortnight, She and her husband were able to go north and spend a couple lovely weeks with her delightful and large extended family, most of whom I have met, several of whom I have laughed till I cried with. I praise God she and they had health and vigour to visit with each other. Knowing the highlands and Islands rich heritage in piety, knowing the faith her father (age 90) and mother (on to Glory) have had, I don't doubt her family in heaven is also large in number. I pray that continues so for generations yet unborn.

She told me a plaque behind her toaster reminded her yet again that there is nothing in this day she cannot face with God. She sounded as confident of that as ever. Her spirits are settled I think and that was good to hear. It is an amazing thing to consider that those of us who are siblings in Christ, will never ever suffer loss, not of riches in Christ, not of eternity and not of each other. I rang off having every confidence that Seonag and I have a solid future together as China's, as "Charaid" (Gaelic for friend) as daughters of the King, girls in Glory and it matters only a little who gets there first, and when.

That said, I know that so many count on her love and care (she is the best living example of selfless Christian service that I know), and for their sakes, and my own selfish desires to have her fellowship in this life for years to come, if you think to pray for her, I know that they and I appreciate it. The world is richer with her in it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lucy at home...

This looks just like our cozy fireside. Ok, could look like it if she had pjs on, was fighting a wee migraine, and wasn't knitting at the mo. And no our house isn't that neat, nor our carpet that patterned.

We are all sort of in "watch and wait" mode here. Hubby has gotten lots of work done this week on sermons, I've faithfully hacked away at my lace knitting home work and ark boy, well he's what we're watching. For those of you who don't know, you really don't want to know. It looks like Arkboy has Rotavirus. Nuff said. Poor dear, no one really wants to hang with him, "Lucy" feels distressed and cruel to want to keep him off the plum Laura Ashley Sofa she brought back with her from Scotland, but stewardship is stewardship. He's generally feeling ok between bouts, which have no warning system, but for cautions sake we are not feeling too badly letting him veg on lots of old cowboy dvd's up in his room. Pray he's better soon if you will.

I've possibly OVeR-knitted, i.e if I keep up doing things I'm not so great at I could burn out. I've been trying to do little swatches of lace patterns and am having only moderate success. I find I often pray when I knit, (sometimes about the knitting itself...eek) so at least the time is fruitful even if the stitches are, well, not "quite right"...

On a knitting note, I have not been a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt for various reasons, but I'll watch a pbs show about just about any historical figure just for the sake of the historical setting and piecing together a more complete timeline of the past. I read once, (no idea where) that one should make a point of reading news about topics that one has no natural inclination toward, so I suppose the Eleanor thing could fall under that category. (I had written way more on this front but somehow lost it when putting pics in. When will I learn to write in Wordpad as the Blogging genius tells me?) Suffice it to say, Eleanor knitted a lot, perhaps it was mainly to back up her endorsement of knitting for the troops, perhaps she truly enjoyed it, no idea. The migraine has grown so I'm away...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

No Place like home?

Today I turned 44. Boom. I've been given this many years by a gracious God. His hand has been upon my every turn and his mercies have been truly new every morning.

So, what's this "no place like home business?" And who really wants to hear about where I am "at" anyway?

Well perhaps the way I feel today is something everyone feels at 44, or after a lot of life changes in a short space of time...perhaps it is as much part and parcel for the pastor's family as it is to those in the military.

Two of the nice ladies in our church (and we have many kind sisters there) came by for a visit with yummy food and cake. One regular visitor sent a lovely B-day card. (how'd she know?) One of my daughter's in law sent a fun/funky card which arrived today which touched my heart, I really love my second daughters!... my own daughter called from her in laws in Texas to wish her mum a happy day. my dear friend and former maid of honor from Northern Ireland sent her love and prayers...A Dear "old" friend in Crabtown called as well. I don't think I've had so many folk recall the day in years.

And yet I feel like Dorothy of "no place like home" fame. I don't feel homesick often because I don't really know what home is anymore
in the traditional sense of the word. I looked at a dictionary online and found it sterile. Their definitions were way too temporal dwelling based for me.

If home is where the heart is, then I am parceled out all over the world, like so many pieces of day old wedding cake, gone in every direction once the party is over. I've got a fair bit in heaven, (what my dense clay pot self can perceive of that reality beyond imagination) I've got a pretty sizeable chunk with my daughter, a very big and steady (and pleasantly comfy cozy too) chunk with "the man." I put her first in the list because she's had longer to grow her piece, but his is of course the hot house nursery of my current chunk. He's my hero and tries to guard my heart and fills it up in many ways with his kind affections, service and love. He is the cupbearer to my hand-maid.

I have a number fondly recollactions of sweet fellowship of the heart with those who feel to me like friends of the soul , those who share my passionate love of simple pure worship (or the closest as sinners will be able to have in this life), ornamented only with the faithful preaching, the sacraments and obedient offerings of the saints in worship. I have that sense of home with those folk, who yes, reside largely in the UK but also inthe states, scattered here and there like outposts on some underground railway of the saints, where the harps do not hang upon a tree and the songs of Zion are loved.

There is another friendship of the soul with the sisters and brothers in the saints who express such hunger and thirst for the Word of God, for godly living, for sharing the gospel with the world they inhabit, who long to exhibit compassion toward the lost, hungry and imprisoned, the hurting. I see people here, new friends, who without fanfair, take it upon themselves to visit the shut in, to lend practical aid, I see others who take on the causes of the wounded and less fortunate out of love for Christ. These souls I deeply desire to know better, to praise God together with, to approach his throne together for the causes around us.

Then there are the new slices of heart which are being cut and handed over, perhaps clumsily, like wedding cake in an undersized napkin, bits of crumb falling to the floor, icing sticking on the top, given to the people God has placed in our lives here, who seek the Lord beside us, who are like so many pilgrims trying to make their way back home, in fits and starts, glad to be a rag tag few, glad to have the word and each other. These parcels of heart, are definite, but not yet rooted, not yet given the entrenchment that I am now perhaps too painfully aware, takes time, years of time. As one who has always made friends and connections easily, today I don't think I ever appreciated how much time goes into the knitting of friendships. I felt teary when I hung up the phone with a friend who knows me as well as anyone in the world, and later with a daughter who knows me even better.

It takes time to build memories with folk, to have shared hours, stolen though they may feel from lives that seem all too urgent, where we grown in enjoyment and knowledge of each other. I bless God for the hearts that have been given to me here, those folk who have shared their concerns, their burdens, their disappointments and joy. I am pretty sure having prayer concerns for others knits us together extra fast . From our first visit out here when interviewing, the new folk felt like "ours," we went home with them in our hearts and on our lips before the throne of grace.We've had so many provisions here and kindnesses. God has done it, people have done it. I pray he enables this hermits heart, to be willing to have the amount of "people time"needed to build on these buds of grace. "Behold how they love one another"

(An aside here to those dear "friends" who have shared years of net/e- mail encouragement back and forth, you know who you are, you all have at times been the cake and the napkin holding it together when there were huge changes and no one nearby to call friend, you have been much used of God and instruments of mercy!)

New friends, Please don't mind the wee tear that longs for the "old familiar" it's not like I can go "home again." This is home, Dh is home, the warm bed, the favorite spot, the old bible, all the"home I's got" is right here....Back East, my parents are dead and gone, the family homestead sold,my daughter is wed and Bessie the cow is out to pasture.
The new friends have been unbelievably kind.

Each month here, has brought conversations, phone calls, cups of coffee with the saints in situ, and each one of those, has been a stone in the "new house, a potted herb on the sill, a throw for the sofa," the people feather our nest and give me hope that one day I'll be tearing up, for these sisters and brothers, if our days end in yet another place between here and glory.
So thanks folks, near and far, for being a refuge to the "homeless" wanderer...and forgive me for feeling my age...and rambling in my old familiar way.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Improved Outlook....

Well, not THIS improved, but measurably so.
Whilst I was Googling for an image showing improvement, I found this picture, and the website to go with it.

It is for a 4000 square foot rental property in British Anquilla. It is of course beyond my means to rent, even in the low season, even if I knew where it was and how long it would take to fly belief in the joy of armchair travel is slightly taxed with this one, but I console myself with the secure knowledge that

1. Heaven is better.

2. The God who created this scene has mercifully provided for my soul to be, at glorification more blissful than this spot looks, metaphorically speaking.

3. I just know that even if we traveled to this spot, it would have some type of impending typhoon, nasty insects, noisy neighbours or we'd ruin it (i.e wherever you go there you are?) That said, it could be Brilliant and enjoying such a spot, and graciously saying goodbye to such a spot (The Lord giveth; The Lord taketh away blessed be the name of the Lord!) would be an exercise in being able to abound.

For the Armchair traveler:
BlissVilla Be sure to visit the virtual tour and click on the master bedroom and bathroom pictures. (you click on the room layout if I recall correctly.)

Anyway, this is a long way to say, thanks for the notes and prayers. Lucy is recovered.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My Emotional Doppleganger

I thought it would take take a long while to find an image to capture how I feel as I sit down to write a long overdue line to my kind readers. To my surprise I came up with this one in short order. I find the wee thing does such a good job of expressing my mood that I wonder if I should have an artist do a rendering of him, he could stand in for me at social events.(Are Gargoyles gendered?)

Go figure that aside from the (see photo) way I feel right now, I also know
that I have blessings beyond counting and there is NO excuse for feeling like (see photo.) Bleak midwinter, anti-climax of a holiday I don't actually "celebrate," 44 being days away? a three day migraine (only a 4-7 on scale of 1-10,) having a houseguest? nothing feels right, not comfort food (my rendition of my mother's spaghetti with meat sauce), not retail therapy , not hot showers or good coffee. (Ok. I admit I have found about 20 seconds of bliss....twice this week I've ordered the smallest Starbucks hot cocoa with extra whipped and red sugar has to immediately remove lid and sip shallowly so as to redeem the cream before it dissolves, whilst not getting burned lips, but for what it is worth, if one has been out shopping in cold rainy weather, it's a mo of ahhhh.)

It is good, I suppose to have things not satisfy one. I have found that I pray more, or at least desire to pray more of late. Then again as I write this I think, how horrible that one has to be at out of pleasures before the soul's best longings kick in. Perhaps I have it backwards, perhaps the things are not satisfying because my soul is more keen and will "accept no substitutes?" I've long noticed that the best sign in my life for an improved spiritual apprehension, is to be desiring the sweet fellowship of prayer. I hope this is no exception.

This is the first time in my life I've had very little desire to write, I've loved writing and felt the words fighting to see the light of day for as long as I can remember, right now, I'm with the gargoyle. For the dear few who check this space, I shall try to do better, whatever that means. Thanks for staying with.