Driving Home for Christmas!

Last minute shopping in Oban, for me and youngest daughter today. We slept through the alarm and made the bus by the skin of our teeth.

There was snow on the hills as we climbed up through them and pouring rain in Town. Everyone had the same idea and Tesco was packed to the gunnels and people seemed to be shopping as if disaster was  about to strike and the shops would never be open again. To be fair they could have been “islanders” over on the ferry  stocking up for New Year.

We tried the perfumes in Boots , but one had a faulty spray and I managed to spray D in the eye. She yelled “I’m blinded!” and we rushed to the pharmacy counter to see if someone could help,.A silly young woman said “Don’t worry I used to do that to my little brother all the time.” Not helpful, so we bought some Optrex and went outside in the rain to wash it out. It was the day for unhelpful assistants, no trolleys were available at Tesco apart from enormous ones to accommodate twins and as I had none with me I didn’t need one that big. I asked a couple of staff members if I could have the one that they were standing next to whilst gossiping, “No” they said ,they needed it! Then they proceeded to leave it and wandered off to tidy coat hangers, so I took it anyway. Great customer service?

The bus driver taking us home had a bad day too, after dropping us that morning his next bus had broken down and the one he drove us home in ,had no “Stop” bells and the ticket machine didn’t work. Most of us had returns and everyone else he let on free, “Well” he said “It is Christmas.” Actually we traveled home back in time , I was aged 33, as the Ticket gadget would only register for 1980. That made my daughter minus 19 years.

As he had been trying to fix equipment, the driver had not had a break so ate his take away first. When asked by a passenger which type of fish it was (and Oban has some of the best Fish’n’chip suppers in the world),  He said the ype that had shorter legs on oneside than the other:

The Wild Haggis is a small, rough-haired quadruped creature, native to the Scottish Highlands.  A notable feature is that the legs on one side of the animal’s body are both significantly longer than those on the other, this being a local long-term evolutionary adaptation to living on the steep sides of Scottish mountains.

Haggis*  thus adapted can only travel with any ease or speed in one direction – clock-wise (Haggis Scottii dexterous), or anti-clockwise (Haggis Scotti sinistrous), depending on whether the legs are longer on the left or the right side of the animal. If the shorter legs do not remain on the up-slope side of the hapless beastie it is in severe danger of falling over sideways and rolling to the bottom of the hillside.

Anyway that made us late, so he careered the bus around hairpin bends to catch up. The lady sitting opposite us threw up ,and we all scrabbled in our bags for tissues and sprays. My daughter smirked as she identified her as a supply teacher who had threatened to make her stand all lesson if she didn’t get writing in  some subject at school.

It was great to get off at the bottom of the Glen and walk in the fresh air to the Manse.

Now we have to wrap all our purchases, but it seems the Rev. has used all the tape and paper, and forgot to get any potatoes for tomorrows supper when we have 6 guests plus the 4 of us. That’s about half a spud each at the moment.

We wish a  Merry Christmas to all my readers, may you enjoy yourselves  this Christmastide and have a peaceful and healthy New Year!

From the Rev’s Mrs, the Rev. and the motley crew in The Manse. x


I am so angry, I have had a horrible response to my post about the pram service. Perhaps the person who read it and spread rumours that children were desecrating grave stones by using them as a toilet would like to rethink what they are saying. I have just received a phone call from a foul mouthed woman phoning on behalf of her mother. Yes, the children did need to wee on the grass at the back of the church yard as we have no toilets, but they certainly did not use graves!

I am more concerned with children actually using the church and feeling at home there.  I cannot even repeat here the language used by the complainant.

I can quite understand that a deceased person’s grave is very important to their family and we have no wish to upset anyone. I would also like to say that if a person has committed their life to Jesus Christ they have eternal life with him. Only the remains are in the ground, rather like a butterfly leaving behind it’s chrysalis.

I think we must concentrate on bringing children and young people into our churches, or in these rural communities they will die and the Church will no longer be there .

All the sheep went Baaa!

They say never work with children or animals. I took my first “Pram/buggy” service last week, and it was far more nerve wracking than a Sunday morning.

You know at a regular service your congregation stay in one place and when you say “pray”, they bow their heads and when you say “sing” , they stand and join in.

Under 5’s know no such rules, and in a way this is refreshing! The children and their Mums and a couple of grans turned up. We had put rugs over the stone floor and put out Leggo and Books. The center piece was a lovely wooden crib made by my friends husband. I loaded it with straw and found a doll that my daughter bought on Tighnabruaich pier, years ago, wrapped in a pillow slip with swaddling bands of crepe bandage. Said Husband K put up lots of fairy lights and we were set.

We had some “cat in the hat” type poems with a song sung to “Twinkle Twinkle little star”, told them the Christmas Story using puppets and masks and sung a couple of carols for the adults.

We stopped twice for toilet breaks, and I tried to keep up with the wandering congregation, baby Jesus was fetched out of the crib and stripped, then covered up with straw, and tractors were built with the Leggo. Afterwards their was juice, sweeties and a Bible story book wrapped up in nice paper and a glass of mulled wine and mince pies, for the adults, a couple had been poked by small fingers to see what they tasted like but nobody minded.

The highlight was a tiny chap who charmed us as he told us about his Pappa’s (grandad in scotland) dogs called Cap and Glen and how Cap was so called because he fetched his Pappas cap when he was going out on the farm. He then giggled as he told us that Cap had taken his cap thinking it was Pappas. He loved his book ran about in the church and enjoyed his juice and “Celebrations”. It made my Christmas just to see small children enjoying being in church.

There was lots of clearing up and straw was everywhere, but it was all worth it.

On Sunday morning, we got late for the service in the next Parish, and as the Rev. had been away we couldn’t remember which church we were going too. As we wound around the bends with the crib in the back for the following days repeat service, Jesus tipped out at “Roger’s Corner” and straw went all over the boot.Despite offering the same experience in this Parish no one took us up on the offer, but it didn’t matter.

Based on what we experienced we might try another at Easter as these families don’t come to Messy Church and are new contacts. I think all  of us involved were encouraged, and I shall chuckle over the little boys story, not because it was all that funny but his enthusiasm when telling it was charming!

The Big Bang Theory

 Are you a fan of the Big Bang Theory? I love it, though I don’t get as much time to watch as I would like. At a family wedding my nephew’s wife told me that I am nicknamed “Sheldon’s Mother”.  Mary Cooper played by Laurie Metcalf, is Sheldon ‘s devout christian Mother. I take this as a compliment. I also love Sheldon.

I am often thought of in the family as the “religious one”. It doesn’t bother me at all, my mother always hoped that I would grow out of it, but she’s still waiting and at 58 I still haven’t grown up ,let alone grown out of it.

What I would like to share may cause you to think “religious freak ” or as I am hoping, will increase your faith. Many years ago I went to school with a chap called Paul Bennison, in fact I dated his best friend for about 3 years. We have kept in touch over the past 40 odd years mostly on line.  We belonged to a tiny church which had a thriving Youth Fellowship, and to help us share our faith in a small way with our peers, our Church invited Clive Calver ( of Evangelical Alliance fame). He worked with us for some time, only being a few years older than us and most of what he taught me I still use.

Paul went on to train for Ministry and God has given him a peripatetic Healing Ministry all over the world. I never cease to be amazed at the things that happen around Paul and his team, although I had always been a little skeptical about healing. Recently on a visit to Cali, the things he recorded on his blog (Paulbennison.com)really began to excite me, as God revealed his awesome power to me in a way I had not understood before. I began to ponder on my own healing, did I really have to face more surgery or could God possibly be interested in healing me? I started to claim healing.

As I had a bout of Atrial Fibrillation in September, my appointment with my consultant was brought forward. My G.P. was sure that during my last op. to burn away the nerves affecting my heart, they had probably missed a bit and I might need a repeat procedure. Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I certainly didn’t want to go through that a third time if I could avoid it. The day before I was due to go up to Glasgow, a 200 mile round trip, I was talking to Paul on line . When he heard about my intended travel he wrote this ,

‘ll pray for you, Jenn… you’ve done more than your fair share of hospitals and surgeries, and it’s time for them to stop, huh…? So, be healed, Jennifer! – in the name of Jesus, from your highest hair to longest toe nail…all points south of your hair, no more infirmity, sickness, pain, fear, time away from Cliff and the family…. I command healing to you, Jenn, and HEALTH, in Jesus’ Name, for the rest of your days… Lotsa love for tomorrow, tell ’em where to go if they want to book you in again… if it’d ever help (not that I personally can heal anyone!) I’d love to pray for you over the phone!… Meantime, BE HEALED, IN THE NAME OF JESUS.”

As simple as that, but it felt so right, a feeling that I could never explain to anyone. Just that I could not stop smiling.  I shared what had happened with a friend at choir practice who looked at me as if I had gone a little crazy.

I caught the bus into Glasgow and got there at lunch time, it was over a 2 1/2 hour journey, so I nipped into Buchanan Galleries eatery for a bowl of Chinese fare. It was so over cooked it tasted like chicken paste. I noticed with amusement that the Chinese people on the table next to me had opted for Burger King.

I had Googled directions for the walk from the City Center to the Hospital so I  headed up the road. The first direction said “Go north.” I had no compass ,so which way was North? I wandered vaguely in the right direction and asked a couple of students who didn’t really have a clue. So with a quick message directly north, upwards,I asked for a bit of help.Hundreds of folk were lining the footpaths but I felt drawn to stop a woman who looked like a walker, boots ,rucksack and a good stride.  She not only knew where the hospital was she said , but she was going to the same building as me for an appointment. As we walked we talked, she had traveled down from  Oban, about 40 miles north of where I live, and worked a little way from where I do my weekly shop. She originated from Kent and a village about 30 miles from where I grew up. We had a lot in common and chatted like old friends. All her family were in the South of England (as are most of mine) but there seemed to be no one who was around to listen to her fears about her impending appointment.

We went our separate ways and I waited in the stifling Cardiology Outpatients for almost an hour. I eventually got to see my Consultant and was ready to tell her that under no circumstances was I going for any more surgery. I sat down and she looked at the information supplied by my G.P. and looked at me.” I’m going to discharge you from hospital care”, she said. “I don’t think we need to see you again, and you can stop taking anticoagulants.” I had hardly opened my mouth, she hadn’t even taken my blood pressure. I just agreed and left. I was lost for words.

I found my back to the City easily and practically skipped all the way. I celebrated with a coffee and expensive carrot cake in Princes Square, marveled at the beautiful Christmas lights and made my way back to the bus station. I was waiting in the concourse when my walking friend turned up. I was able to sit with her and listen to her “not very good news” and hopefully gave her some comfort.She is a catholic but not practising as far as I could tell. I assured her that we both have the same Father and that she will be in my thoughts and prayers, and she will. Her name escaped me after she left for her bus, but I believe that we were meant to meet and I know that I can reach her at her workplace to give her support.

What a day, I had plenty of time to consider it all on the way home. I related it to my choir singing friend whose skin was covered in “goose bumps” by the time I had finished. We are fickle human beings, I  cannot  begin to describe the feeling that God would do this for me! I feel free and it is wonderful.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.”

If he can do this for an old sceptic like me, what can he do for you, or my walking friend? We didn’t meet by accident.