Life Goes On ...

And so the weeks pass, and life goes on. 

I have come to the conclusion that every one who is grieving, or lonely, or sad ought to have a Niseach in their lives.

I do realise not everyone can have a dog, but neither am I being facetious. I'm not sure there can be better therapy than having a loving dog as company, and Niseach is as sweet and loving and, erm, needy, as any canine friend could be.

I wuv her. She is the perfect therapy for sadness.

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Dad came out to Aberdeenshire for a few days last month with Marina (my sister) and the family. We visited Barra Berries and enjoyed some fun ...

....and some fruity ice-cream.

It was so good having Dad out and having Marina and the troops here. I miss having them nearby, and feel terribly being away, especially from Dad, these days. 

I keep telling myself that God has a reason for everything in our providence, and our being on the mainland at this time is in God's plan, and is for a reason. It's very possible that only Eternity will reveal the reasons. I leave it at that.

While the folks were here, we went in to Aberdeen - to the shops - one day. I was heading towards the lift in Debenhams, returning to the car and minding my own business, when I saw these ...

You like? Yes, I do too.

But that's not why I'm showing you this photo. These boots were for sale in Debenhams, and the photo below was taken that same minute and shows MY BOOTS.

Well, I'd like to see what Marina has to say about this, I thought! My boots, which are about ** years of age (I daren't let her know) are practically identical to the ones for sale in August 2017 in Debenhams.

Hah! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, I told her! Seems I'm the one ahead in the fashion game after all.

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While we were up in Lewis, Diana, DR's girlfriend, arrived at Marina's house with this...

Now, those of you who know me know that there aren't many ways into my heart, but the ways there are all involve food.

Or dogs.

But food is good, and Hummingbird's Cookies and Cream Layer Cake is a definite way into my heart.

Oh boy, it was good.

Overall, I've found Hummingbird cakes to be spot on every time I've made them. And this one most certainly didn't disappoint.

That same weekend, Diana and DR climbed the Clisham (remind me to tell you about the wellies story - in another post), and took some stunning photos. Here's one of them.

Harris landscape is so different to Lewis - Lewis is flat, Harris most certainly is not! 

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Almost all the time, Calum Stewart reminds me of DR. At other times, I actually think he is DR.  As I sat in DR's flat this particular Sunday afternoon, I kept having to remind myself that this was Calum and not his older brother! They are so alike in so  many different ways. I can assure you, this Mum is not complaining. Not one little bit.

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I've written almost a whole post and haven't mentioned the Builder yet. Thankfully, my blog post is not an indication of his importance in my life.... honestly.

A wee story: a year or so ago, we were in Northern Ireland, and the Builder met this fellow for the first time. This fellow - we'll call him Thomas (because that's his name) - hugged him as they were parting. 

Thomas was then mortified that he had hugged the Builder - a man he barely knew!

We've had such a laugh at Thomas's mortification, but the Builder assured him that there aren't too many guys by whom he'd be happy to be hugged, but Thomas was definitely one of the few!

Friends are such a blessing, and friends with whom we have precious fellowship in Christ is a special kind of blessing. The Builder loves these guys so much.

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Calum Stewart and I left the mainland last week to come to Northern Ireland, and I couldn't help but notice this on the side of our aeroplane.

"Faster than road or rail"

Erm ... I should smile and say so. 

This ve-hi-cle had better chug along more rapidly than any car or any train on road or track. 

Our reason, of course, for going to Northern Ireland was to see this lady. All being well, the Builder will join us when she finally pops, and our first grandchild is born.

Yes, I said grandchild.

Yes, I squealed. Frankly, I can not wait!

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And so, as you see, life goes on. We have so many good things in life - things to be enjoyed, but from now on, they will be lived without Mum. 

Mum will not enjoy cake with us any more (she loved food rather like I love food); she will not have fun times in ice-cream shops with the grandchildren any more; she will not be with us in the shops again (she loved shopping - like Marina. Unlike me.) But of course, Mum has enjoyment right now like she never, ever got to experience here on earth. As the catechism she quoted so frequently during her illness says:

'The souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.'

Her body rests in the grave - a place Christ sanctified by resting there Himself, but her soul is in the presence of Christ right now. I want to spend more time thinking about this, but I have to confess that these past weeks have seen me spend much more time in sadness that I can't tell her about what Calum said, or what Marina and I ate for lunch, or the new shoes I bought (that even Marina approved of...:) ), or the fact that I was able to get all three washings dry outside, or what I'm making for dinner that evening. You see, there wasn't an aspect of our lives that we didn't blether to Mum about (Marina will say the same thing), and so there's not one thing I do or say or see or eat or read or hear that I don't think, 'Oh, wait till I tell .... '. 

Soon, all being well, Dad's first great-granchild will be born. And so our lives go on. One generation passes away; another is born. Soon it will be myself, and my body will rest, awaiting Christ's return. Family will grieve, and life will go on. How true the little verse that says:

Only one life, 
't will soon be past
Only what's done 
for Christ will last.

We'd do well to live with this in mind.


Some of the Psalms Mum Loved

"The Lord will give His people strength,
and with peace bless them all."
                                                                           Psalm 29:11 (Scottish Metrical Psalms)

These words came with such force to Mum in December '16, when she was down in a Glasgow hospital having some tests done. Mum had had some rather unpleasant tests and was, without doubt, anxious about their results. Indeed, the result of these test was what gave us all the news in that first week of January this year that she had terminal cancer.

However, during that day or two in Glasgow, the Lord spoke these words into her heart. She wasn't even aware she knew a Psalm with these words, and to begin with, she had no idea where the words were to be found. 

But she soon found them....

...and circled them in her Bible.

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Mum read from this Bible every day, and the Psalms (as you can see!) were frequently visited.


See all the notations at the end of each Psalm? As she systematically read through the metrical Psalms, she drew a wee tick - or number, or line, or circle, or stroke! As you can see, Mum was pretty much running out of marks to use, so frequent was her readings of these wonderful words from God's Word.

Here were some of her favourites:

These words: 
"And by my God assisting me,
I overleap a wall"
                                                       (Psalm 18:29b)

were made very precious to Mum both before she first sat at the Lord's Table for the first time, and then before an operation she was having in 1987.

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Now, do you remember me posting in the past about my Mum's auntie Catriona? Read here to get a fuller story of her emigration, and her eventual passing in BC, Canada. Well, these verses were made very precious to Auntie Catriona in her loneliness and her heartache.

"Teirgidh iadsan 's thèid iad às
ach mairidh tusa, Dhè:
Seadh teirgidh iadsan 's gabhaidh seach
mar eudach sean gu lèir.
Feuch caochlaidh tu mar thrusgan iad,
is caochl'ear iad gun cheist'.
Tha thus' a mhàin gun chaochladh ort,
's do bhliadhnaidh buan am feast'.
                                                                                     (Psalm 102:2627, Gaelic)

Mum has these circled in her Bible too, with a reference to Auntie Catriona. It's quite a thought that they are now together.

Quite a thought, indeed.

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One more:

Since Mum became ill, these words at the beginning of Psalm 77 became a constant favourite too. She asked me to read them to her time and time again over these past months. She would say, 'Read them in Gaelic. They have so much more power'.

"Dh'èigh mi ri Dia gu h-àrd le 'm ghuth,
dh'èigh mi le m'ghuth gu h-àrd;
Is thug e, 'nuair a ghlaodh mi ris,
sàr-èisdeachd dhomh gun dàil."

She would say to me, 'Oh, Anne, 'dh'èigh mi ... dh'èigh mi gu h-àrd. Agus dh'èist e.....gun dàil'

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On the night Mum passed away, as we left Bethesda Hospice in the early hours of the morning, these were the words that hit me so strongly:

 The storm is changed into a calm
at His command and will;
So that the waves, which raged before,
now quiet are and still.
Then are they glad, because at rest
and quiet now they be:
So to the haven He them brings,
which they desired to see.
                                                                Psalm 107:29, 30

When I looked through Mum's bible, she had already circled these words. They'd obviously meant something to her (at different times - notice the different pens used), and now they'd spoken to me about Mum.

God's Word is so precious, and surely the Psalms are truly an 'anatomy of the soul', as John Calvin called them. How many souls - in times of great joy and in times of great sorrow; in times of thanksgiving, and in times of pleading  - resort to the Psalms and find comfort there?

We are still in times of sorrow, of grieving, of pleading, and yes of thanksgiving too. Whilst Mum has few of these emotions now, we still crave comfort and encouragement from the Psalms she knew and loved so well.

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