Mr & Mrs

How many of you remember the game show that was on the TV a couple of (or a few) decades ago called Mr & Mrs? It really was such a fun programme, and as far as I can remember, it was the only thing my Mum every watched on TV. Couples would appear on the show and would answer questions about each other whilst one, and then the other, spouse was sent out of the room. This spouse then returned and hoped to give the same answer as the first spouse had given.  I remember some hilarious incidents where, for example, the wife would be asked a question ... let's say something like this:

TV host:  'What is your husband's favourite vegetable?'. 
Wife: 'Carrots. Definitely carrots.' 

But when husband would return and be asked, 'What did your wife say your favourite vegetable is?', he might say, 'Oh that's easy: I love peas'!

Then she might turn and say, 'Oh that's rubbish! You much prefer carrots!' ... and so a heated discussion would ensue over the husband's favourite vegetable. 

The older couples were always the funniest, and the sweetest. It was definitely a 'fun' show to watch!

So, why am I blethering about a 1970s TV game show right now? Well, over the holidays, John's parents - Mr and Mrs K - and Catherine's parents - erm, that'll be the Builder and me - were placed in the hot seat for our very own Mr and Mrs. The kids had made up a list of questions and they asked the husbands first, whilst us ladies were chucked out of the room so that we wouldn't hear any of their answers. 

From the next room, we couldn't hear any of the answers, but we could certainly hear some of the hilarity ... they were having fun in there, and the pressure was on for us ladies to echo the answers our husbands had given. Of course, the real pressure was for us Nisich to beat the Ks-from-the-Province. In the end it was a close run thing, but the Ulster pair beat us by one point.... ONE point! 

One of the questions the kids asked us ladies first was:

"What were you wearing on your first date together?".

Amazingly, both Diane and myself remembered exactly what we'd been wearing, but were convinced that our menfolks would have no idea.

How wrong we were!! Yup, twenty-five years on from that First Date, the Builder remembered that I was wearing a flowery dress. Even more impressive was Mr K, who remembered in detail the colour of Mrs K's skirt, the colour of her blouse, and - wait for it - the type of shoes she was wearing.

You could have blown me over with a feather duster! Thirty-five years on, and every detail was clear in his memory. 

I. was. impressed.

And all this from a man who remembers nothing unless it is a fact or date from over two-hundred years ago. John, his brother, and Mrs K were stunned into silence. Aye, even Matthew ... well, for all of a couple of seconds. (For those of you who know Matthew, you will appreciate how amazing these seconds were ... :) )

We were also asked what our favourite movie was. Both husbands were able to give the same answers we'd given. (I shan't tell you mine, but if you can guess in the Comments, I'll give you a prize. Erm, I won't really, but I will give you a shout-out in my next post. Go on - have a guess!)

I'll give you one more question we had, and you can try some of these at home yourselves!

The menfolk were asked what they thought our favourite meal was. The Builder answered that he thought mine was Sea Bass. Mr K reckoned Mrs K would choose a Steak.

Were they correct? They sure were! Sea Bass is indeed what I will almost always choose if it's on a menu, and Mrs K will always choose a Steak. Full marks on that one ...

Fortunately, Mr & Mrs were able to venture outside whilst they were here. Just a couple of days before they left, the winds died down and we were able to have a wee wander around town on a lovely mid-winter's day. Here they are with the harbour in the background. See how calm the sea is! 

And here,with the lovely Lews Castle in the background. The Castle grounds are so lovely in each of the seasons.

Oh, and in case you're all wondering: the question the Builder and I lost on was, 'What Christmas present did you give her on your first Christmas together?'. The K's remembered, but I did not. That's right ... the Builder had answered (although after some more thought, we realised that was actually the present I gave him!), but I had - and have - no recollection whatsoever.


Happy New Year ... while it's still January :)

Happy New Year, y'all! New Year's Day is, of course, so long in the past that nobody thinks of wishing anyone a Happy New Year now. But, as I've been AWOL, and silent on my without-leave-absence, I shall take this opportunity to say it. And to mean it.

We had such a lovely time over the Christmas and New Year holiday. I absolutely love this time of year! I love that the Builder has two weeks off work, and there is so little outside work to be done. I love that Katie had two whole weeks off, and Catherine had about ten days off. All this time off, all these short days and long nights, all this cold, dreich weather ... all these mean a whole lot of time spent in the house, with no need to go anywhere, and with the whole family.

Bliss, I tell ya. Bliss.

What I especially loved about these holidays was that, in addition to me going nowhere, others came to our house. 

My Mum and Dad were with us for a couple of days of Christmas. There is nothing - nothing! - they love more than to be surrounded by their children and grandchildren. For these few days, they were especially privileged to have time with us, and not their other children.

After all, would you choose to spend time with Marina or with Neil, when you could spend it with ME?

Yeah, well.... whatever. By the way, 'Whatever' has become one of our favourite words, since the Builder - yes, you read that correctly - the BUILDER - began doing his hilarious version of "Whatevah". He is, of course, far too dignified to ever been seen or heard doing the whole Whatevah-thing ... except within these walls.

Sometimes I think the guy ought to be on stage.

Back to Granny and Grandpa

Granny gave me a row for taking photos and not reminding her that her glasses were around her neck. And also that I took a photo of her talking.

Erm .... it's either that, Mum, or I take a photo of you asleep!

As we were opening our presents on Christmas Eve, I was struck by just how much I had to be thankful for. All of the gifts, beautifully wrapped and kindly given, were a cause of thanksgiving. Yes, even stuff is important, when it's been given in love. But giving my heart much more joy were some of the blessings that surrounded me that couldn't be wrapped up in paper. The blessing of love, of health, of joy, of being surrounded by family, of security.

How full my cup is of measurable blessings and of immeasurable ones.

But even those - the very best of temporal blessings - are surpassed by the gift of Christ Jesus Himself. To have been given this gift is beyond words. That He came and lived and died so that sinners such as I could be saved ... What love. What mercy. What a gift!

Yes, we really did have a lovely time over Christmas.

Others then came for an evening of fun and food, of laughter and blethering:

This is the Builder's side of the family, and we normally get together on Boxing Day for a chilled-out, fun time. This year all the siblings, all the spouses, and all the kids were there. 


The Builder's family: what a fine looking bunch they are. If they all gave me just a centimetre of their height, I could be almost normal. But no, they keep it all to themselves.

When the next generation (our kids and their cousins) are reaching the stages of life at which they are, us parents become more and more aware of how precious these opportunities are when all the family can get together. It's likely that very soon, some of the young 'uns will be living their own lives, and may not be able to join us for our Boxing Day get-together.

But for now, we will savour every happy minute of it.

We do love having some of the younger folks around too. These guys went for a couple of hours of Ten-pin Bowling at our local Sports Centre, and then came back here for some food, some blethering, and some Articulate.

Do y'all play Articulate? It is so much fun!

And finally, talking of people who came to visit, we had some very special visitors during the holiday.

Do y'all remember this fella?

No, not the Wee Guy. I know y'all remember him!

John is from Northern Ireland, and when he came to visit with us in summer, and be here for DR's 21st, we were pretty sure it wasn't DR's birthday, or the view, or even the Builder's winsome personality that had taken him to the wilds of Ness. We reckoned even the Wee Guy wasn't the reason he'd come. Nope, it would seem like someone had his heart. And that someone was is Catherine.

This past holiday, he came back to see us all Catherine. This time he brought his brother - we love you, Matthew!, and his parents. He also had a question to ask.....

A question to which the Builder said 'yes', and a question to which Catherine said YES!

Yes, our beloved daughter, Catherine, is now engaged to her beloved John.

The Builder is taking it, erm ... well, as fathers-of-brides do. 

He is thankful, but it's his daughter!

He is glad John chose her, and that she chose John, but this is his daughter!

He sees the whole thing as being from the Lord ... but even then, this. is. his. daughter.

And daddies and daughters  - well, what can I say.

No doubt, y'all will be hearing a fair bit more about an upcoming wedding in the weeks and months ahead.

And so, that was my Christmas and New Year holiday. I hope y'all had a great time too.


Sunsets, Spanish, and Spending

Yeah, we're doing alliteration .... why do y'all ask? 

*      *      *

The sunsets are now happening earlier in the evenings, and the sun is setting further to the west. It's amazing how quickly the seasons come and then move on, giving way to the next season.

It's always good to be assured that, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22)

This was what I called the kids to see last evening. As always, the photo simply does not do the beauty justice, but as it's not possible for y'all to land on my doorstep evening after evening, then a photo must suffice.

Just a few minutes later, the sky looked quite different. I was glad I caught it, because the colours didn't last long at all.

You see, it always pays to be close to a window at the time of the sun's daily Adios!

*      *      *

Can you tell the Wee Guy - who is no longer the Wee Guy, but is Calum Stewart - and I are learning Spanish? Si. We spend an hour every morning with Rosetta Stone's Spanish, and then we spend a shorter time in the afternoon doing some revision.

I am having to make myself keep up. It ain't easy when you're forty-seven ... that is why I'm doing a language with CS now. Young brains an' all that.

For example, the other day, when Jackson was doing what he's doing in this photo, I said:

"Un perro esta come."

"No!" corrected Calum, "He is not eating."

"Un perro esta corre?"

"Noooooooo, mum! El esta durmiendo!"

Okay, okay, mate. I'll get it right sometime ...

*      *      *

Now, talking of Jackson and eating. While we were away in summer, the Builder came back to the house in which we were saying with the announcement that he'd bought Jackson some new bowls.

Fine, I thought. Good thinking, I thought. 

Later, when I went into the car, THESE were the bowls I saw.


For the DOG!!! (no offence, Jackson).

"Honey.... do you know how often I've looked at Mason Cash bowls for the kitchen, but convinced myself that the cakes will taste just the same when made in a plain old £3.99 bowl and resisted the temptation to buy them???"

For. the. dog....

*      *      *

Clearly, the Wee Guy's reading habits are a good deal more useful than the Builder's have ever been.

This is what I 'caught' him engrossed in today. He is loving it! I reckon he needs to sit his father down some day soon and give him some of Dave's and Rachel's (yes, he's on first-name terms with them) advice. 


Today's Referendum ...

Traditionally, people have kept their voting decisions to themselves. When I was growing up, and since I've grown up, asking a person how they voted in a General Election was somewhat akin to asking what their bank balance was.

It simply wasn't the done thing, dear.

This referendum campaign has been very different. I'm not sure why this is the case. It could be the new social-media world in which we now live, where hearts are worn on sleeves - or at least on screens. If we don't keep what we're having for dinner private, why should we keep our voting intention? We tell the world when our baby shows his first tooth, takes his first step, and throws his first tantrum, so why not tell the world what our political allegiances are.

And so, instead of sticking with a good, Scottish attitude of keeping one's own business private, social media has been filled with thoughts, feelings, and arguments.  Some of these have been fun; some have been well-mannered and polite; but some have been less-than-pleasant, sadly. Let's hope, post-referendum, those who were rather more vociferous than was necessary, and those who were on the receiving end of such comments will all be able to live and work together.

Here was our day, in photos ...

Here's Katie, heading out with her polling card to vote for the first time. This referendum gave the opportunity to 16 and 17 year olds to vote. In the UK, the normal voting age is 18.

This was an interesting development. Many people reckoned this concession to Alex Salmond and the Independence campaign was not wise, and may have ended up making the difference between an eventual Yes vote or No. It was thought the younger voters might lean more heavily towards a Yes.

We'll have to wait for the statistical break-down of the results to be clear on how this age group voted. The days ahead will, no doubt, be filled with the analysis of every jot and tittle of the statistics.

Catherine was the first in the family to vote. She was heading to Glasgow after work, so she voted before she left for Stornoway in the morning. 

The fog you see in the photo led to the cancellation of her plane, so she ended up not heading south after all.

As I write this (in the middle of the night!), some of the results have become to come in. The same fog that kept Catherine's feet firmly on the ground earlier in the evening is rumoured to be keeping the planes that were to be taking ballot papers to counting centres around the Western Isles grounded too. That will probably delay the declaration of our local results.

 DR and I headed down to our local sports hall, where the polling station was situated, in the afternoon. As we were driving down there, we were talking about how privileged we are that we are the future of our nation is being decided with a referendum and not by guns and bombs. Having spent our lives in peacetime, we tend to take this for granted.

As I said yesterday on my Facebook page:

Twenty-four hours from now our polls will close. Scotland will have decided.

In the past, I would have lost sleep over this referendum. Not now ... I am persuaded what to vote, and I pray my vote will be cast for the right reasons. I am applying what I believe to be sanctified common sense, and praying that our land would (to steal Glasgow's motto) 'flourish by the preaching of God's Word and the praising of His name'. These hopes would appear to be crazy hopes, given the political, religious, and moral climate of our land. But God ... God is able.

Whatever happens tomorrow, God is on the Throne. The outcome has been in His plan from all eternity. Nations come and nations go, but His kingdom *will* come. Our desires may, or may not, come to fruition, but His will *will* be done. The Gospel may leave the shores of our dear land, like many here would wish for, but one day, the earth *will* be filled with His glory.

And so, as I lay the matter before the Lord, I do so knowing that He rules and over-rules in all things.

Our nation needs God more than it needs independence. 

It needs the riches of Christ more than it needs the pound sterling. 

It needs the Spirit poured out more than it needs oil.

Please pray for Scotland, and for the UK, for our leaders and politicians. For the most part they 'do what is right in their own eyes', and God is in none of their thoughts.


Our Morning 'Family' Worship

(This post, too, was written at the beginning of the summer, but never posted.)

A number of years ago, I began reading through the Bible at our morning worship, a chapter each morning.

Today, we read this chapter ...

I really am not sure how long it took us. My morning worships with the children only happen on 'school days'. At weekends, the Builder is here, and he takes worship, so at five chapters per week, with the Builder's annual holidays taken out (because obviously, he's here with us then, too!), I reckon it probably took us around six years. Yes, you read that correctly - SIX years! 

I also have to say that it's been my favourite reading of the Bible ever. I've been a Christian for almost thirty years, and I've never got so much out of reading whole books of the Bible.

Each morning, our format was this (mostly, anyway. There were occasional changes):

- we read a chapter every day (very occasionally, if it was very long, we'd 'halve' the chapter). Then we'd talk about what we'd read.

- we sang some verses of a Psalm (normally the Psalm the Wee Guy was learning at the time)

- we read one - yes ONE - verse each from the book of Proverbs. The Book of Proverbs is the only book of the Bible we didn't read chapter by chapter. Instead, we read the bulk of it verse by verse - as I said, one verse each per day (so normally five verses, decreasing to three, depending on which children were present and which kids had moved onto working/studying outside of the home). By the way, we got so much out of the Book of Proverbs by reading it in this way. Again, we'd speak about some of the lessons from that day's verses.

- we'd conclude our time of worship with prayer.

I'm not sure how the children will remember these years of morning worship times, but I remember them - and I think I always will - as a very, very special time in my life. I loved having a non-rushed time of reading and talking and singing and praying with my children every morning. I loved seeing things in Scripture like I was seeing them for the very first time. I loved being able to talk with my children about sermons I'd heard over the years on certain verses or chapters, and how what I'd learned all these years ago had never left me. Time - unrushed time - spent with my kids whilst reading and learning from the Word, is one of the most precious gifts I could have been given in this life.

So ... what were my favourite sections?

Genesis: this is always a favourite of mine. There is so much of Christ in Genesis, and I will always be grateful to the first pastor I had when I became a Christian for preaching Christ to us from every corner of the Bible. Genesis became a favourite of mine back then. One of my favourite verses in Scripture - it could actually be my very favourite - is found in chapter 3.

"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make 
coats of skins, and clothed them." (v.21)

Adam and Eve were naked before God, ashamed and frightened. How precious that God came to seek them out, called them, and then He covered them with a covering that came from a blood sacrifice, surely.

I love that it was GOD who made the covering, and who then covered them. What a wonderful picture of Christ's robe of righteousness which God places on those He has sought out and called! 

 Also found in this chapter are these words:  

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its heel."  (v.15)

I once heard a minister say that this was the key verse in all of Scripture - that everything in the Word that precedes this verse is leading up to it; and everything else in Scripture follows from it. 

For more of Christ in Genesis, you have Noah's ark, a wonderful picture of the security found in Christ; Melchizedek, King of Salem; Abraham and the sacrificing of his most beloved son; the wonderful type of Christ found in Joseph, the feeder of all who came to him ... I could go on and on.

But my favourite readings were yet to come, and they came from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. I was completely blown away by these books. Yeah, I know, not what you'd normally think of as blowing-away-books-of-the-Bible.

Some of the chapters in Exodus dealing with God's precise direction were such a blessing to me. The minute detail given in some of the later chapters in Exodus concerning the building and furnishing of the Tabernacle made me realise like never before the care God takes with His own worship. I've never quite appreciated before this just how definite God was with all aspects of His worship, and the way in which he left nothing to our own imagination ... not even to the sanctified imagination of Godly men. I loved - really loved - reading this section of the Bible.

I've always loved reading Leviticus, and this time was no different. Seeing different aspects of Christ's Person and His work in the sacrifices was such a joy. It was a great joy to read of them with our children, and be able to speak to them of things I'd heard taught before they were even born.

And so, we reached the very last chapter of the Bible. Having read the beautiful promises of Isaiah, and his oh-so-clear record of the anguish of our Lord's sufferings that would come; having ploughed - yes ploughed - through parts of Daniel and Ezekiel; having grown to love Boaz, Daniel and Nehemiah all the more; having wept through parts of the Gospels when I had to read what 'wicked hands' had done to my Saviour; having seen, like never before, Christ's care for the whole man - soul (of course), but also body; having delighted in Paul's letters, especially to the Romans and to the Ephesians (read Ephesians 1.... oh, what joy!); and having had the delight of reading through the letter to the Hebrews - one of my favourite books of the Bible (yes, I have a few!) .... actually, this was my favourite reading of Hebrews ever, because the Old Testament was still so new in our minds, and it all made so much sense! We could hear it through Jewish ears .... I digress!

So, having read all these wonderful words, yes, I still say that the first books of the Bible were my absolute favourite.

(We are now reading from the beginning again. Now, I only have D.R and Calum Stewart in the mornings. I miss the girls :(  ...but am loving our morning discussions with my boys. Right now, we're at Exodus 13.)


I am Home

(Written about a month ago; posted today. It's how I work...)

I'm home. Let me repeat that so y'all will get a flavour of what these words mean to me.

I. am. home.

In the past, we've been away from home for longer spells: the first time we went to the U.S of A, we were away a whole month! So what was the difference this time? Why were we so relieved to get home? Oh, that's easy - all our kids weren't with us. My parents were with us, Calum Stewart was with us for the first half of the trip, and DR came for a long weekend, but we missed being together as a family.

Big style.

Having said that, we were in such a beautiful place. It was just on the outskirts of Inverness, and I was able from time to time to come and sit on this bench ... on my own; with a book; listening to the sound of flowing water; in the sunshine.

In anyone's book, that is bliss.

The weather was gorgeous. For us Scots, it was HOT! 

That is just the way I like it.

What is it about the sound of running water that allows all your troubles to flow downstream with the current? 

On some occasions, I was joined down by the river by this fella, whose company is never unwelcome.

Despite the fact that he'd left his cache of weapons at home, 

I was reassured that I was still being well protected.

Inverness is not like Ness. Here you're able to find broken branches, which will suffice when no other weapons are at ones disposal.

Yup, I was safe from all enemy attacks, and so could read in peace.

What would I do without my Personal Protector? :)


Ice Bucket Challenge ... with a Difference

We had a stunning sunset tonight again, so Katie, Calum Stewart, and I headed down to the beach just as the sun was sitting above the horizon.

However, our main reason wasn't to admire the beauty of the beach and sunset...

Katie had been nominated for the Ice Bucket challenge, and instead of having a bucket of iced water poured over her, she chose to dunk herself in the chilly North Atlantic instead.

I have no idea where these kids came from. Did I really breed them??

Her bravery knew no bounds ...

Erm ... hang on. Maybe it did, because despite running bravely into the water, 

she couldn't seem to find the courage to get her head fully submerged.

Go on, Katie! Head under!

I know my photos aren't proof - simply because I wasn't quick enough with my clicking, 

but the photo above is actually Katie coming up out of the water, having completely dunked herself!

Phew! Well done, Katie. 

The Alliance of Pro-life Students got your donation.

The Ness Fire Brigade got your choice of nomination.

I got a good laugh.

And you probably got a cold.

C'est la vie.

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