Friday Favourites

My first Friday favourite is today's weather! Actually, no. Scrap that. My first favourite is this guy

- specifically, this guy having a day off today. That fact, combined with 

this weather (isn't it ah-ma-zing!) has made for a pretty perfect day so far.

We went to the Harris and Lewis Smokehouse Restaurant for lunch (in the photo, he's examining some of the joinery work in the building. Those of you who are married to tradesmen - you'll know what I mean, right? In Every. single. Building, he subconsciously examines the woodwork!)

We both had Seafood Morney Crepe, and it was absolutely delicious.

We then 'pottered'.

The MV Seabourn Ovation was in the harbour. The passengers were certainly seeing Lewis at its best.

Our own ferry seemed so small as she passed by, on her way across to Minch on the lunchtime sail to Ullapool. 

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This is my second Friday Favourite. She had a shower this morning and is now the sweetest-smelling, fluffiest, softest, most adorable cockapoo this side of the Mississippi.

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My next Friday Favourite is a recommendation of a series of sermons preached fairly recently by Mr Ian MacLeod, who is Scottish but lives in Michigan. It's a series on Joseph, and the first is called Joseph: A Bird's Eye View.

There are eighteen sermons in the series, and I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed with one of them. The webpage for the whole series can be found here.

Let me know if you listen.

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Final Friday Favourite:

Listen, enjoy, and feel your heart being lifted up in praise to the King of Kings!

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Psalms and Old Rings

I wear these rings now on my right hand. The tiny ring was the wedding ring my Granny wore, but only after she lost her own ring and so wore her mother's. This, then, originally belonged to my Great-granny, and I'd reckon she married in the 1880s (or the 1870s) and its worn-ness and thin-ness show its age.

The other ring belonged to my Grandpa, spoken of in this blog post. He and my Granny married in 1932, and the ring dates either to that year or possibly even earlier. This signet ring has my Grandpa's initials etched into the gold, but age has faded the lettering, and it's barely visible now. 

To look at, it's not much of a ring. Neither of them are. Yet, both rings are so precious to me because I absolutely adored my Grandpa, and I am named after my Granny who had gone Home to be with the Lord before I was born.

In more recent times, my Mum wore these rings on her right hand until she went Home. And now they are mine.

I often look at them and 'see' my Mum's hand. My hands are so like hers - they ain't the prettiest! - and honestly, my hand wearing these rings is like an image of Mum's hand over the years. On a recent evening, as I sat in church at the Midweek meeting, I happened to look down and see my hand. I saw my hand and my rings, but my mind saw my Mum's hand; I saw my Grandpa's ring, my Granny's ring.... and just for a moment, my mind zoomed through the years, and I was connected with them all. It was for the tiniest of moments but just then I didn't see a chubby, lined, unelegant finger and two inexpensive rings. Rather I caught a glimpse of where these rings had previously been: on the fingers of people I loved more than I can say. 

I saw the rings in a new light.

As always, these things are 'better felt than tell't', so I'll refrain from attempting to describe the feeling any more than that.

The feeling I had reminded me somewhat of how I feel so often when I read the Psalms. The Psalms (unlike the rings) are truly and actually precious, but along with their inherent preciousness, I often feel an overwhelming connection with my Saviour whilst reading them. 

Not only are so many of the Psalms directly speaking of Christ, but I also imagine Him reading and singing the Psalms whilst He lived a pilgrim on this earth. There is barely a Psalm that doesn't make me think of how He would have felt reading it. I wonder how often our Lord went off on His own to read a Psalm that would comfort Him, encourage Him, and strengthen Him.

Think of Christ reading these words during His time on earth:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
from whence cometh my help?
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore."

What encouragement and strengthening for the Saviour! Little wonder He could sleep in a stormy boat, when He knew that the One who kept Him neither slumbered nor slept. We would do well to mirror Christ's trust and sleep easy, knowing that our Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Or what about these words from Psalm 3:

4" I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. 

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me."

What faith Christ could have! And what faith we can have, when we are in Christ! 

What about these words from Psalm 119:151

"I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word."

No wonder our Lord was 'a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. How we are grieved when we see the wickedness of our culture - but how much more Christ was, when He is of purer eye than to behold sin.

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Of course, there are the well known Messianic Psalms, which speak in such depth and detail of the sufferings of Christ. Psalm 22 and Psalm 69 are painful to read - the agonies and humiliation of our Beloved..... we are given such insight into His sufferings - more than in the Gospels because in the Psalms, we hear his heart and His thoughts.

His own words in these Psalms give us a taste of His unspeakable agony and suffering. Surely we never love Him more than when we read of His suffering for us.

And then we imagine Him reading and singing these words as a boy. As He got older, He would have understood more and more of the reality of what these words meant. 

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And then, we have Psalms that almost burst our hearts - not with agony, but with joyous praise! 

Like here, in Psalm 24:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
Doesn't your heart burst!

Have a listen.... and worship!

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For the past year or so, I've been reading one Psalm each morning, and writing down a portion of that Psalm. Sometimes, I write one verse; and other times, I write a few verses, or a whole section. But before I write anything, I tend to read the Psalm three times.

1. I read the Psalm. 

2. I read the Psalm, imagining Jesus reading the words. What do I think when I imagine Jesus reading these words? When can I imagine the words comforting Him? Encouraging Him? Teaching Him? Opening His own understanding?

3. I read the Psalm from my own perspective. What encouragement is there for me? What lessons are there here for me? What do I learn of Christ in this Psalm? What do the words teach me about my own Christian life?

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Again and again, when prayer is hard, I 'pray the Psalm'. Countless of them are wonderful to simply pray back to God. He is the Author, and He loves to hear His own Word being spoken back to Him. Our old minister used to say: 'God loves to hear you say, 'Thou hast said.....'!

Truly, the Psalms speak about Christ, they speak to Christ, and they were read and sung by Christ.

We can't hope for more connection with our Saviour than that! It's no wonder we love them so much.


The Best Laid Plans .... an' all that

Last Saturday evening, I posted this photo

on my Homeschool on the Croft Facebook page, and on Instagram, with the following caption:

This is my Sunday morning. So many people want to misunderstand what it means to 'keep the Lord's Day holy'. Some seem to think it's a list of do-and-don't rules, but to those of us who love the Lord and, by extension, love His day, this is not remotely how we think. Rather, we have the privilege and gift of being able to set aside our week's duties, and switch off from the chores of the week. For this reason, I love to have the house tidy on a Saturday night, as much of tomorrow's dinner prepared, and be able to settle immediately after I get up in the morning with my cuppa and God's Word. I am going slowly through this book too - The Heart of Christ, by Thomas Goodwin. The book was a gift from DR last Christmas, and I'm only now getting into it, and loving the precious thoughts between the covers.

As I posted it, I wanted to add a few words to mothers of young children who are likely to read the caption above and, with a frustrated sigh, moan: "If only!"

'If only,' they'd say. 

'If only I could have the freedom on Saturday to get my whole house clean, but instead of a clean house on Saturday evening, mine looks like a bomb site!'

'If only I'd been able to peel all tomorrow's vegetables on Saturday, ready in their pans to be cooked after church on Sunday.'

'If only I'd have a full night's sleep, and waken fresh and ready to read God's Word and a good book.'

'If only when I get up on Sunday morning, I'd have time alone to read and meditate on the precious truths in this book.'

To them, I'd say:

'Mums, this is a season in your life where a tidy-house-Saturday is not only impossible, it's actually not desirable. Your house is your home, your children's home, and because it is, their stuff is going to be here, there, and everywhere. One more word: don't wish these days away. I can assure you, they'll pass quickly enough.

'And mums, I know that normally it's easy for me to have plenty time in peace and quiet on a Sunday morning to read, but it was not always like this. Far from it! This is my stage of life. And just remember - time and peace come at the cost of an emptying house. Let me tell you, it ain't all it's cracked up to be! 

'And one more thing, Mums: your vocation right now, being mum to your children, being chief cleaner-clearer-nappy-changer-food-maker-tidy-upper-listening-ear and everything in between - this is your God-given privileged vocation right now. I love this quote:

Truly, Mums, you are NOT failing if being at home with your children is your lot instead of being able to take them all to church. You are NOT failing if you're not able to be at midweek meetings because your children's routine bedtime comes before the meeting begins, far less, ends! Honestly, your 'job' is one of inestimable privilege.'

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And so, having said all that, I want to now tell you last Sunday panned out in reality. Read on...

At 2am, Calum had to get up with Niseach to let her out. She was desperate for the toilet, and let's just say her poo was not, erm, 'normal'. 

At 7 am, I woke with Niseach crying, again needing out. Things were bad. I shall leave it at that. I can assure you, you don't want the details.

I showered her rear end.

She then needed out again.

I had to shower her again.

I was concerned that she was going to be left on her own for an hour-and-a-half if we left her to go to church, but I was convinced that 'she'll be fine, Mum'.

She wasn't. 

I can't describe (and wouldn't, even if I could) the smell that met us when we returned from church. Calum escaped and took Niseach out, and I began cleaning. Cleaning, and lighting candles, and spraying. I was so desperate to sort the smell out that I took my duster and sprayed Pledge on all the living room furniture. Lemon Flash for all the floors.... And so it went on. 

I eventually began making dinner, didn't get out in the evening because I couldn't risk leaving Niseach on her own again, and all this time .....

....these lay almost untouched. 

So you see - the best laid plans of mice and men ....an' all that. It happens to us all! 


July's Trip to Lewis II

Before the photos, I want to have another wee look at Psalm 105. This is what I posted in yesterday's post:

1.O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people.
Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.
Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.
Remember His marvellous works that He hath done; His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;
O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen.
He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the earth.

He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

What I noticed was the number of times the psalmist mentions 'Him', 'His', and 'He'.

You see it? It's all about HIM! And when we take our eyes off ourselves, and look firmly to Him, then we see with the proper perspective. Instead of seeing all of life through the lense of our trials - as we're prone to do, rather we see the whole of life through Him. And when we do that, our blessings are easy to find, and a joy to behold.

Our trip home to Lewis had another blessing other than the beaches, the weather, and time with Caleb. We also got to spend time with DR and his fiance, Diana. Soon, it'll be their own wedding, but last week, they were attending the wedding of friends, so I took the opportunity to grab some photos in Marina's garden between the marriage service and the reception.

Because her future mother-in-law was right there, Diana did the decent thing and told DR he was holding her much too close.

Yeah, she looks like she really doesn't like that, DR. 


Decorum was restored ....

And I couldn't but think how lovely it is that DR chose someone just like his Mum to be his wife. You know, tall and slender and elegant. Yup, just like me.

Just what you all were thinking too, right?

Yes, thought so.

It wasn't long before their attention was taken elsewhere. What on earth could be more worthy of their attention than me??

Ah, it's the wee fella. I can easily live with coming second to him...

It really is such a joy to me to see DR at this stage of life. The first stage of his studying is complete, and the second part is beginning; he has employment, as well as his 'other job' with the Fire Service; he has a home; and he has Christ above everything. These are wonderful blessings and enough for a lifetime of praise and thanksgiving, but it truly makes this Mum's heart glad to see him engaged and soon to be married to a girl who so clearly loves him, and is adored in return. 

Marriage is such a wonderful gift, and the most beautiful picture of Christ and His church. We will see so much more fully its meaning in Eternity, but even what we do see here - through a glass darkly, admittedly - makes our heart soar in thanksgiving to God for such a blessing. 

And so, in the sentiments of the Psalm (above), I will give thanks to the Lord, I will speak of His wonderful deeds; I will remember His marvellous works, and my heart will rejoice in seeking Him.

He is worth talking about! In fact, I'm going to copy out the Psalm again, and highlight these divine pronouns, just to draw our attention, once again, to Him!

1.O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people.
Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.
Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.
Remember His marvellous works that He hath done; His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;
O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen.
He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the earth.

He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.


July's Trip to Lewis

You know, sometimes when we go through a time of trial, our trial becomes so all-consuming that all our blessings are seen through the light - or darkness, rather - of that trial. And so, instead of counting our many blessings, which are greater than we can articulate and more numerous than we can count, we mope and weigh down our heart with our woes and our afflictions.

I was reading Psalm 105 yesterday, and these words sprung off the page and into (I hope) my heart:

1.O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people.
Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.
Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.
Remember His marvellous works that He hath done; His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;
O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob His chosen.
He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the earth.
He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

With this in mind, I am going to write a couple of blog posts about our recent trip home. 

Home is the Isle of Lewis. Obviously.

The posts will be weighed in favour of photos rather than of words, and when you see the photos, you'll understand why:

Catherine, Caleb, and I took a trip to Harris along with my sister, Marina, and my niece, Iona.

To say we were almost bowled over by the beauty of God's creation around us is an understatement. Here, Catherine and Caleb and looking out on Loch Seaforth, enjoying the peace and tranquility it affords.

Erm, hang on. Did I say peace and tranquility? And did you actually believe me, considering I'd already told you my sister was with us.

Really, shame on your naivety.

I call it 'youngest child syndrome', and many of you not-youngest-siblings will agree that the condition is widespread and is utterly non-treatable.

This wee fella. What can I say? Other than that I love him so very, very much.

Honestly, almost around every corner, we ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the beauty before us. The weather was gorgeous - about 25C (77F), with a gentle breeze to keep away midges and, as you see, stunningly blue skies. In other words: perfection.

There is no doubt that our wonderful Creator, who showered such delights on us, is a God of design and beauty and kindness. What therapy for mind and soul these views are!

We stopped off at Horgabost, had our picnic lunch on the machair, and then enjoyed a couple of hours on the sands.

As you see, even on the most perfect of days, our island beaches have plenty space for all visitors. Crowded beaches are not something we know anything of in Lewis or Harris!

Caleb was flying high, enjoying the attention, undoubtedly, more than the scenery. 

And surrounded by all of us, attention was most certainly not in short supply.

How could it be, when he is such an adorable bundle of utter joy?!

Did I mention joy? Yes, I have so many blessings to bring joy to my heart, and of temporal blessings, this wee guy is most certainly a big part of that.

"And no matter what kind of face you put on, young man, Granny is still going to smother you in love and hugs and kisses."

Aye, probably even when you're a teenager. Now, wont that be fun!

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