Sheep, Me, and a Good Shepherd

The week before last, many of my Bible readings were from parts of the Bible relating to our Lord as the Shepherd of His people.

You know, like many of you, Psalm 23 was the first part of Scripture I ever learnt, and the words are more familiar to me than any other words in the Bible - indeed from any piece of literature. But when I read and meditated on the Psalm last week, it was as though I was reading parts of it for the very first time. After 45 years of knowing the Psalm, and after 30 years of knowing the Shepherd, His Word is still new and living! In fact, I was thinking that if I have a 'death bed', I suspect this Psalm may be my meditations even then :)

One thing that struck me was the One who is my Shepherd. The LORD! The One who is my Shepherd is Mighty to save; He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; He is Altogether Wonderful. He is all these things, and He is my Shepherd.

Mine! He is mine, and I am His! 

This is beyond-words amazing. Truly, it would never have entered into the heart of man what God had prepared for His people.... to belong to such a Shepherd. Don't our hearts just want to sing aloud! 

The following day's reading was from Isaiah 40 (and by the way, please go and read this chapter. If you read no other words today, read Isaiah 40, and tell me if you're not moved by it.). Verse 11 says this: 

"He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."

This blew me away. The mighty arms that 'hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand' (v13); the One who cannot be likened to any other, for He is 'the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth'... He 'faints not neither is weary, there is no searching of His understanding' (v.28). He is ALL this, and yet, these very arms gathers His lambs and carries them in His bosom. He gently leads ....'.

Who would want a god who was ALL mighty, but who had no care for His lambs? Or who would want a god who cared for his lambs, but didn't have the power to actually do anything for them?!

Our Lord cares and leads and holds and guides. No wonder Isaiah wrote, "He is altogether Wonderful"!

When I took a wee wander outside the other day, I was reminded of this again. There were some sheep in the field just in front of the cottage, and I casually and quietly wandered over to them, as unobtrusively and as unthreateningly as possible.

They looked anxiously, 

waited ...

and then, almost inevitably, turned their backs and ran off.

I meant them no harm. But the point is they do not know me. I am a total stranger to them; they have no relationship with me; and I have never been anything more to them than a passer-by with no real care for their well-being.

This used to happen to me at home too, with Big Brother's sheep.

On the other hand, the Builder's youngest sister had a totally different reaction from them.

See how they follow her.

And look at them here! The follow her and want her to stay!

In the photo below, they turn off the road and head into the field following Big Brother.

See them? They need no persuasion. They follow their shepherd.

Big Brother, and my sister-in-law in the previous photos were trusted by the sheep. The flock knew them, and because they knew them, they followed them, they surrounded them, they ate out of their hands.

Before I knew the Shepherd, before I was one of His flock, I ran too. Like Adam, I would have hidden myself, if only I could. But now, I know His voice. He is mine, and I am His, and it is my delight to follow Him, to feed from Him, and to hear His voice. How could it not be my delight? He is, after all, the most delight-FUL Shepherd.


Snow and Sunshine

I promised you I'd give you even more of a glimpse of the area around where we live. Remember last week's rain? Well, even as the waters were barely receding in Inverurie and some of the surrounding villages, this is what we woke up to on Friday morning.

Tell me I'm not the only fully grown adult who gets this excited with snow. 

Oh, and I use 'fully grown' in the most basic sense of adulthood. Obviously I wasn't referring to physical stature, eh? Well, adult I may be, but the sight of crisp snow makes me act like the age my height would normally be.

Around 11. Ish.

Not only does it incite a childlike excitement, but it also gives me energy - the kind of energy that takes me outside. And because I was outside, and because I'm a blogger (just), and because the Builder gave me a new camera for Christmas, I took some photos of the estate and the surrounding area just for y'all.

Can you see the hotel in between the trees in the photo above? One day, I shall tell y'all all about the hotel. This building began life in the 1400s. Yes, you read that correctly! Most of it was destroyed by fire in the 16th century, but a fair bit of what's now this hotel was built in the 1560s.

How amazing is that?!

Americans, you folks are just babies!

*      *      *

The estate on which the Builder now works, and on which we live is nestled on the northern side of Bennachie. This gives us a fair bit of snow when the surrounding area may have none, and it also affords great shelter from any winds that may have come as far as the eastern side of the country. Normally the West keeps all the gales to itself. I know this, because I lived through them. Often.

After my walk around parts of the estate, Katie and I took a wee spin. We went to Inverurie, and the photos of some of the flooding are in my previous post. But en route to Inverurie - a drive of about 5 miles - I asked Katie to stop the car once or twice, so I could capture some of the beauty around us.

Here's Bennachie's Mither Tap with a covering of snow. We haven't walked to the top yet, but all being well, it's certainly close to the top of our Things-to-Do list for this year. Remember in this post, Calum, Katie, and I walked up to one of the Bennachie ridges, and the views of the surrounding countryside were stunning. I can only imagine what it'll be like when we climb the Mither Tap.

Around another corner, and Katie was ordered to stop the car again. It's just as well she's as patient as she is, but how could I not capture some of these scenes!

Is this not perfect winter's scenery?

Can you find the house on the far left of the photo below?  

Can you imagine the sheer beauty that the views from this house give all year round! Were I to live there, I can't imagine any work being done. I can picture, and hear, the scene:

Me: Oh, guys, come and see this!
Kids: Mum, we've seen it. It's the same as it was when you called us to the window  yesterday.
Me: Oh, but it's not. It's different today. The colours. Oh come and have a look.
Kids: Yes, mum .... Yep, I see it. Yes, it's different. Whatever you say, Mum....


Weather Update

Since moving to Aberdeenshire, my mum and I tend to text each other daily with a local weather report. I have to be honest, most of the conversations go something like this:

Mum: What's your weather like today? Very windy here, and wet.

Me: Lovely here. No rain, and we never have wind!

Mum: I don't think I believe you. You still live in Scotland, don't you? 

Me: Not sure. They claim it's Scotland, but feels like a million miles away ;)

And so goes our daily weather-related chat. But in the past week or so, the weather around Aberdeenshire has been wet. Exceptionally wet. We are very, very fortunate to live high up, close to Bennachie, but some folks in the nearby Inverurie and Kintore have had a really rough time, with flooded houses and businesses.

The road leading up to the cottage in which we're living had fast-flowing streams rushing down it. The water washed away the surface (small) stones, and most of it now is down to the hard rock. It's like the surface of the moon in parts! 

Fortunately, the Builder was able to make drains and flow water away from the hotel. Yes, there was a lot of surface water in the surrounding area, but at least the buildings were safe.

I took this on the drive in to Inverurie, which is about five miles from where we are. This was Thursday, and the rain was still lashing down at this point. The water you see in these fields isn't a river or a loch - it's simply flooded fields! Thankfully, all the farmer's homes and their livestock were, as far as I could tell, safe from the flooding.

And this was when I was driving home. It was 3:10pm, but was dark enough to make it seem like early evening.

I know we get dark early here in the North of Scotland, but on that day last week, it really did feel like it stayed at early dawn light until it was time for dusk light.

BUT ... what a difference a day makes! 

Katie and I nipped in to Inverurie on the following day. The waters were still high, but the sky was blue and there was hope that the waters would keep receding.

The River Don has burst its banks, hence this riverside bench looking rather lonely and forlorn. And wet.

Hopefully, it will not be too long until it's once again being used by sitters, enjoying the peace that comes from sitting by a gently flowing river.

On the other bank, I noticed this sign:

Not being familiar with this part of Inverurie, I asked a man standing alongside me if this was indeed a playing field. 'Yes', he answered. 'It's our football park!'

As I headed back to the car, in which sat the ever-patient Katie (ahem), I snapped this scene. It's funny how water draws us, even when the water is where it shouldn't be.

Thankfully, despite the rainfall and the flooding in places, there was no loss of life. That is the most important thing of all.

Just before I close this post, I'm going to show you a couple of photos of the estate, just so you can see the difference between 'us and them'. These photos were taken on the same day as the last ones (above).

It's so beautiful around here, and we seem to get the best of all the weather. Less rain than others. Definitely less flooding. Barely any wind. Snow, when no one else has it! 

I'll tell y'all what: I'll make another blog post tomorrow, showing y'all some of the photos I took around the estate last Friday. Some things are too lovely to keep hidden, eh?

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