Saturday, December 25, 2010

Light not just for Christmas

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.
JESUS - "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."

Thursday, December 02, 2010


I hate horror films, hate watching anything with gratuitous or comedy violence but always seem drawn to reading/watching the most depressing, traumatic, horrible real-life stuff. I had a good cry yesterday watching this documentary telling this incident from the perspective of the victim's friends while I sorted and folded clothes.

Sometimes I wonder why I crave knowing about all this stuff, know about all the hurt in the world, I avidly read books about/written in Afghanistan. I don't exactly enjoy it. But I want to know it, I want to be aware of it, I want my heart to break for it and for those people.

I was also thinking - what's the difference between sympathy and empathy? I've looked up a lot of dictionary definitions and these are the common ideas which surface: Sympathy seems to be about being understanding, supportive and feeling pity for a person's situation. Empathy is also that, but then there's also this other side to it that is about being able to relate or co-experience the emotions related to that situation. I want to sympathise yes. But I want to empathise even more, that's what real love is isn't it? Sharing burdens, getting alongside people and grieving with them. I always find it easy to empathise with people when I've been through a similar situation myself, like when I meet lonely foreigners because I have been a lonely foreigner myself.

I know empathy is a God thing - thinking of advent Jesus didn't only do sympathy. He was moved with compassion yes, but then he came and became human - now that's empathy in every sense of the word. He came and co-experienced our human-ness. He lived in poverty, weakness, shame. He experienced all wealth and depth of emotions - delight to despair.

But then he went and suffered and died and took our punishment - that was more than just empathy. What Jesus did on the cross - that was a sacrifice of great mercy, great love and great power. It made a way for us to be reunited with a perfect, just, enormous God - that's no small feat! It wasn't sharing our suffering, sharing our experiences or our emotions, it was going much further than that - taking the punishment on our behalf so we don't have to. There's not way I can empathise with what Jesus went through on the cross, my mind stumbles and falls flat when I try to grasp it even just a little bit.

I always come back to Him - Jesus. I didn't even intend to just there. An important tangent though I think.

Because sympathy, empathy - they are both good, important, wholesome, meaningful and sincere expressions of love but if they're just feelings, they become stagnant and pointless. They have to be lived out and about giving - but then that can be costly and hard, and how does that have any impact anyway? I don't want to just be "nice".

Hmmm... this is going to have to be a two part-er.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the subject of food....

Humnomnom - my new over-used word.

Most memorable 5 foods/meals consumed in the last 5 months:

- In Portugal: bread made by housekeeper of the cottage we stayed in, and salad with avocado - mmmm with wine from the neighbouring vineyard - yummmm

- Tip top 4 course dinner with fantastic company: smmmashing crazy kebab with bread, rosemary, apricot jam, bacon, goats cheese starter, followed by full-on roast, followed by three desserts (trust Jamie to make 3 desserts including the infamous "gulrotkake" - look it up in a norwegian dictionary)

- Montellimar nougat - a gift from two lovely french lasses I met last week = impossible to stop munching.

- Flipping amazing "spicy canteloupe salad" - straight out of the recipe book made by these people which was a birthday gift from a lovely friend :)

- Hog roast at a yorkshire wedding, accompanied by the scrummiest salads, followed by a varied selection of yuuummm mini desserts, in a huge tent, on a beautiful summer's day, and there were open fires... need I say more.

Why do I feel so inspired to talk about food? Because I just took out a tray of brownies out of the oven and am trying very hard not to eat any :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a few small discoveries

This week I learnt/re-learnt that

- With 4 weeks of training it seems my husband is able to jump from barely scraping half an hour runs without near exhaustion-induced collapse to being able to run a half marathon in an hour and 58 minutes (proud wife moment).
- Meeting and making new friends is amazingly fun!
- But really really good friends are hard to part with.
- Nougat from Montelimar is far too good to just eat a small chunk of, humnumnum
- To my surprise (though it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise) my old flatmate with almost non-existent French and new French friends with very little English have proven that with a little bit of effort and one or two common interests, language barriers don't stand up for long.
- And even more mysteriously, mediocre Scottish fiddle music can sooth the souls of pensioners inclined to bouts of grumpiness.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grace - the beauty of love as it was made to be.

I love this song, especially the final building up bridge bit, everything about it, musically and lyrically strikes chords in my heart.

Love that will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love
as it was made to be.
Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons

Been losing sight of that recently - "the beauty of love as it was made to be":- undeserved, always forgiving, forever persevering, bearing with me in all things *, not giving up on me, giving up all for me *, giving abundantly, nurturing and changing me *. And this in spite of the state of my heart. I can't earn it, I can't buy it, I can't strive for it, because I already have it. Absolutely Mental.

And true!

Hmmm... blogging is definitely good for my soul, I should do this more often!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back when the weather was good...

There were barbecues....
Lots and lots of barbecues.

Bowls in the park. Outdoor busking.


We celebrated our recent nupitals with a couple of scrummy cupcakes (courtesy of the McCullochs) out in the sun.

We celebrated the graduations of me ol flatmates at the art school degree show party with some boogying in the warm night air...

Oh how I miss the sun!

Monday, April 12, 2010

On death, life and lifestyle changes

Life is moving too fast for me! A matter of days now and I have a great deal of moving and a little bit of wedding planning, a cello to get fixed, English lesson materials to photocopy, work shifts to do, relatives to see... And in amongst delighted excitement I've been feeling a little scared of the upcoming enormous lifestyle change - that's what they call it in Mark's work. He's allowed to change some his work benefits package this month because this counts as a "lifestyle change". I'm scared of being a rubbish wife, with all my stubborn silly tendencies. I want to be able to love selflessly, like Jesus does, to see others like he does. Easier said than done. That includes my husband-to-be (probably the toughest challenge of them all), people I know and love around me - my family, friends, students, work colleagues, acquaintances, strangers. It's a daunting task when I start to think about it.

Yet at the same, I'm feeling at peace. I've been trying to re-comprehend both in my head and my heart that I really am a new creation, born again, made again. That means I am able to do impossible things, I have Christ living in me! It's insane - and sometimes it blows me away. But it's been a hard thing to remember of late. I feel the old nature rearing up in me all too often. I know the key is dying to my old self - Sounds like quite an extreme thing to do I know! It's not as though I lose what was inherently "me" and because a strange do-gooding robot. If anything I have the opportunities to become more inherently "me" than I ever was before, when I was trapped by my nature and desire. More "me" as I was made to be.
Though dying can be a painful process. I guess on the one hand, Jesus died on the cross - once and for all, and now I am his. But dying to all that stuff i.e. those selfish desires and whims and pride that is contrary to my new nature which I have in Jesus, and yet has become so inherently part of me, habit almost - that's something I need to do everyday.

But following that death, there is always life!! His Spirit to fill the gaps those things leave behind. Easter always reminds me how amazing it is that Jesus rose from the dead. What would be the point in "dying to your old self" if there was no new birth, no new life, no hope. A life that is living in my true identity - a phoenix rising from the ashes. Now that's a lifestyle change!

One thing I have been feeling really grateful for of late, is for all our friends and family who have been so generous and kind in helping us out and being there for us! Really makes things so much easier and more enjoyable, so thankyou!

Friday, February 26, 2010

some documentaries

Am trying to stay off bbc iplayer right now. Cracked a couple of times though this week and watched 3 very interesting documentaries.

1. Syrian School - a series that the BBC have been doing following students and meeting their families, teachers etc. in a few different schools in different parts of the world. There was a similar series shown based in India and then China - both brilliant. This one is just as good. Very interesting insight on life in the Middle East, especially when it's from the point of view from teenage girls!

2. "The day the immigrants left" - a documentary experiment, swapping immigrant jobs which apparently they've been "stealing from us" with unemployed Brits with interesting results! Wasn't sure what I thought of the conclusion...

3. "Storyline - Letter to Zachary: Your Father's murderer" - an interesting watch, though very sad. Inspiring strength of character, saddening lack of forgiveness.

Hopefully that's the last bit of iplayer I'll be watching in quite a while!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I click my heels

Aah such an amazing song, and the coolest piano riff at the end... siiiigh!

Friday, February 19, 2010

shed the blinkers

It’s easy to walk around with blinkers on,
with shutters down,
Tunnelling through life.
Seeing no more, no less, than what’s in direct line-sight.
But the human visual field spans 180 degrees!

It’s as though I can’t open my eyes
It’s as though I were totally blind

But the price was paid a long time ago.
My blindness exchanged for brilliant light.
I should see the etch-marks about in bold type.
The sorrow and the beauty
At least in theory...

I forget how to open my eyes.
I forget that I’m no longer blind.

It doesn’t really take much to render things clear
A chat with a friend about something that’s real,
words from the Word awakening, fresh.
A pocket of quiet, a myriad-shade sky...
It doesn’t take much

But it always takes something.

I’m beginning to realise
that with every new morning as I wake up
I need to open my eyes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In snapshots

(thought I'd fill in the gaps since my blogging has been so infrequent this last year)

2009 began in the quiet English countryside near Worcester

I spent the best part of the first 3 months working on my maxi project

And celebrated in a sunny beer garden with Flat Stanley and others when I finished

I also came off commitee in February

Enjoyed the company of international students....

Finals were in April and May, and then I became a fiancée!

And then graduated in June!

The rest of the summer was spent attending balls, trying my hand at street charity fundraising, a trip to Jersey, applying for jobs, enjoying Glasgow in sunshine, attending several weddings, enjoying little second cousins

Leadered for the 4th time at SU Music Camp in July

Endured unemployment in August though this was made more bearable by the aid of a lovely temporary flatmate

Exchanged my female flatmates for a couple of boys, acquired a job, co-organised an international welcome team, started most of my volunteer work, moved church in September. Finished esol training, played with the band by the shores of Loch Ness in October

My mum was diagnosed with gall-bladder and secondary liver cancer (though the latter diagnosis was later revoked) in January and was completely recovered, cancer all gone and all, by November!

Party, party, snow, snow, work, work, celloing, conducting, seeing family, meeting the first of another generation in December

2009 ended in the quiet Worcester countryside with a rather terrifying (for me anyway) icy climb up the hills watching many fireworks down below

A crazy year with much in the way of happenings - and so much to be thankful for!r)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

As brief a summary as I can give...

My life is so random at the moment and I never blog about it... I thought I'd at least try to briefly sum up some of what I'm doing now I'm not a student. I think anecdotes will make more sense that way. So here's what I'm doing, bullet-pointed roughly in order of the number of hours they occupy each week.

- Working part-time as a front of house dude for 2 of the big concert halls in Glasgow. Not exactly what you'd call an exciting job and I'm not exactly use my degree but I like the fact that I have a licence to smile at strangers and that 95% of them smile back. I also like that I work with a really down-to-earth hotch-potch of people.

- Wedding planning has risen in the list. It would have been close to the bottom just before Christmas... but trying to get invites finished has turned out to be a job and a half. 3 months though :)

- Teaching and tutoring. I'd been helping a friend understand his HNC computing coursework because his English isn't good enough to cope with the programming module. I'd get lunch usually with lots of fresh chilli in it, mmmmm, and sometimes an arabic lesson in exchange. He's just back in Glasgow after a stint in Oxford so hopefully we'll be doing that again soon! I also spend a morning a week teaching English at a fairly basic level to 2 students of a class of 10. I also love this! The girls I teach, a Nepalese and Ugandan, are becoming more and more comfortable with me and with each other. And comfort seems to have a fairly linear relationship with laughter! Plus they love learning! Opportunities are popping up so hopefully will be getting to do more of that in the future...

- A day a week working here. I love it! I love the feeling of community, washing dishes, working for one of my best friends, meeting new people every week, the free soup :)

- Hanging out with international students. Can't get away from it even though I'm not one anymore. Currently in the middle of kinda co-leading a welcome team from the CU, out to love a new set of internationals arriving in Glasgow for a new semester.

- Cello-teaching once a fortnight. I've currently got 2 pupils on the books, but only one I regularly see. I also really enjoy this - especially as she actually practises!

I think that sums up my regular "activites"... I haven't mentioned the more sporadic happenings - there are plenty of those!

There we go... man it feels good to get that into bullet-points!