Scottish Granny

In 2003, I had the opportunity to spend several months on a business assignment in Edinburgh, Scotland. My wife Amy went with me (this was before kids) and since we were going to be settling in for several months, Amy went looking for some activities to engage in. To everyone’s surprise, and perhaps due to limited options, Amy signed up for a sewing class. In that class, Amy’s sewing partner was a woman named Isabel Burns who was 70+ years young.

Today’s reading: Exodus 36; John 15; Proverbs 12; Ephesians 5

This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:17)

Isabel and Amy became fast friends, I think merely for the reason that they are both so sweet, loving, kind, and giving. It isn’t typical in today’s society for a youngster (at the time, Amy was 27) to gain new close friends who are 40+ years older than us. A more typical response might be some initial kindness to the elderly but then go on our way to do our own thing, never looking back.

Amy didn’t have John 15:17 in mind when she met Isabel, but I believe no matter where we stand as far as our beliefs or closeness to God at the time, His truth and commands always stand firm and provide meaning in our lives. Meaning, when we are truly, selflessly loving each other we are obeying what we are called by Jesus to do; we are in some way connecting to him whether we know it or not. We were made to love people, and when we do that, beautiful things happen; we become light in the darkness, we find purpose and true joy.

When it was time to say goodbye (or see you later), these ladies knew they had a special friendship so they decided to stay in touch. They traded hand-written letters and made several phone calls over the years like good old dear friends do.

Fast forward to 2010. Amy knew in her heart that it was time to see Isabel again so she pooled some money together with her mom, and offered to help fund an American adventure for Isabel. Isabel delightfully accepted to fly across the pond, even though she had never flown or even left Scotland in her life.

Isabel stayed with us for a few weeks and became part of the family. The boys weren’t sure how to refer to her so we all agreed that Scottish Granny sounded like a perfect name. The boys had so much fun with her, except we couldn’t get her to stop playing the Wii!


Isabel opened up to us through our time together, sharing that when she was only 27 years old, her beloved husband Frank passed away suddenly, which left her to raise three young boys on her own. I cannot imagine the heartache and what that devastating loss must have been like. Isabel is this smiling, grateful, joyful spirited woman, and I’ve seen no bitterness in her. She further shared that even after all these years, she has never taken off her wedding ring as there would be no other man for her.

As part of this trip we brought her to Michigan to meet some of our friends and family members. Of course, everyone who met Isabel instantly fell in love with her. Don’t worry, they didn’t make her work too hard…


Soon it was time to say our teary goodbyes and again part with Scottish Granny as she made her journey back to Scotland.


We’ve been able to keep in touch with Isabel over the years, and while far away she has remained close in our hearts. During a phone call around Christmas 2015, Amy felt prompted that it was time to see Isabel again. Isabel’s vision was on the decline and she’s had trouble walking, so it was best for Amy to make plans to visit her in Scotland. Amy announced the journey through a video call, and Isabel went from somewhat lethargic to thrilled beyond belief; both ladies having tears of joy to know that they would soon be reunited. Young Peyton, a lifelong map-lover and world-travel-dreamer somehow worked his way onto the itinerary, and the plans were set. Amy and Peyton would arrive into Edinburgh on Thursday, March 24th 2016.

Then some concerning news came. Five days prior to their departure, we were made aware that Isabel had finally been scheduled to have some much needed surgery the day that Amy was to arrive. The surgery date could not be moved so Amy shifted her plans from an apartment visit to a hospital visit.

As I finalize this journal post on the day of Isabel’s surgery and Amy and Peyton’s arrival in Edinburgh, I have this faith that God is very much at work in this situation, and I have no idea as to what is to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Isabel as we eagerly anticipate the results of her surgery. I am missing Amy and Peyton, but I know they are having a fantastic time and in good hands.

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, (Proverbs 12:4a)

If you know Amy at all, you know she loves to travel, but she is on this trip giving her time and resources to give love to a friend. I learn so much from her in the way she selflessly loves, gives, and listens; she is a crown for her husband, and I’m so thankful to call her my wife. She is doing what she was designed to do, and prayerfully seeking God’s will to continue to be a witness to this woman Isabel.

Today we are observing Good Friday, reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He did this because he loves us. He performed the ultimate act of love by offering his life for those who will call him friend.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)