Half-mast

Monday 11 th March. A bright and sunny day, well it was first thing in the morning around seven o’clock when I awoke. Soon the clouds appeared but later in the morning it turned bright and sunny once again. By evening it returned to being dull. The thing I noticed most of all was the fact the wind had subsided and I could hoist the flag again but I would do it later in the day. I had finished breakfast around eight-thirty but had to wait for E to come downstairs for hers. I say waiting because we had plans to go shopping but as on every occasion E won’t be hurried so we didn’t leave the house until well after eleven o’clock. Our first port of call was to the lawnmower store and repair shop . I wanted to check whether our lawn mower had been repaired and also to seek help in regard to the new ride-on mower we had purchased. We were finding it difficult to engage the cutting blades mechanism without the engine cutting out. The mower wasn’t ready for collection but someone would deliver it when it had been and see if anything what was wrong with the new mower. We moved on from there and drove into town and parked up. We visited a few stores, E had her glasses (spectacles) repaired, I purchased cosmetics and toiletries, E returned an unwanted article of clothing for her mom and I purchased a pair of flat-heeled shoes. By this time it was one-thirty and I told E I was taking her to a place of her choice for lunch. She chose a pub/restaurant a mile or so out of town where we often go. On our way back home we dropped off at Dobbies garden centre for a coffee and cake. We had chosen not to have a dessert with our lunch. Finally we arrived back home at five-thirty. As I was parking the van in the garage E called me over to the gate and told me she had just heard a loud crashing sound. One of our elderly neighbours had arrived at the main road and had collided with a vehicle entering our road. The old guy struggles to get about and should really have given up driving some years ago because of state of health. Our next-door neighbour (who happens to be a police inspector) went down to see if he could help. In the meantime E and I took our purchases indoors before returning outside to chat with our next-door neighbour and for me to hoist the flag as I had intended. After a minor repair I hoisted the flag to half-mast.

Earlier in the day our next-door neighbour had called by phone and spoke with E. He had some sad news regarding his mom who had again been taken to hospital as she had been very poorly. If you remember she had been suffering with COPD. and we had nearly lost her last year. He told E that she had died that morning about six o’clock. Out of respect therefore the flag was left at half=mast and would remain so until her funeral the following Monday.

Shirley Anne

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What is the point?

The Meaning of Life (Tankard album)
The Meaning of Life (Tankard album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever wonder what the meaning of life is? Are we here by accident, the result of eons of development through evolution or are we here by design? What is life after all? Throughout our lives we are always seeking after something. Stop and think about that for a moment. We seek peace, prosperity, good health, good relationships, happiness, a good time, financial security, physical security, acceptance in society and other individuals and these are only a few. Whenever we reach a goal we are often still not satisfied having achieved it, we want more, we strive for things that in the end are of no real benefit, in fact anything we gain in our lives doesn’t really benefit us at all and we have to give them up with our last breath. So what is the point?

Shirley Anne

Ecclesiastes 12:13–14
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon points out the futility of life. He walks down several paths as he looks for meaning in life—pleasure, wealth, wisdom, work. Not many of us will ever possess the time or the resources to do the kind of searching that Solomon did, so this book gives us the benefit of his experience and allows us to peek at the end of the story. His conclusion? No matter how hard we try to manufacture meaning in life, time passes and we all die.
But don’t despair! Solomon directs us to the ultimate source for finding meaning in life: knowing and living with God.
Think of unanswered questions as doors that slam in our faces. With gut-wrenching accuracy, Solomon forces us to look at our lives and recognize that these obstacles exist. But instead of trying to supply us with keys to open those doors by ourselves, Solomon points us to God, the Locksmith who promises to help us find a way. Ultimately, true meaning in life can be found only in a relationship with God—a relationship that is the “duty of all mankind” (verse 13).
Taken from NIV The Journey Bible

Shirley Anne

I’m dying ……..

A Lesson Before Dying (film)
A Lesson Before Dying (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…..and so are you. No matter who you are, where you are, how healthy you are, how old you are, none of that matters, one day it will be your day to die. Will anyone remember? Will anyone care? Well someone does care. It is a sobering thought. Many make preparations for their departure arranging elaborate and expensive wakes for those who might attend their funerals but none of that matters. Favourite music being played at their funeral only benefits the mourners as does everything else so what is the point in that? In this country, as in many other countries too, mourners dress in black considering any other colour worn to be disrespectful to the deceased, as if that mattered or the deceased cared! Everything is done for those who are left. As a Christian I believe, as many of my brothers and sisters do, that death is something to be celebrated and accordingly bright colours are worn at the passing of other Christians. The celebration is because the deceased has gone to a better place for we have that hope in Jesus Christ. Those who die without that hope have no hope. In those cases it might be proper to wear a sombre colour like black. The real sad thing is that many who mourn the passing of their loves ones think they have that hope but maybe haven’t. Whenever I see a funeral cortége I wonder if the person in the coffin knew Christ as their personal Saviour and I feel sad to think that perhaps they didn’t. Life after death is a promise for those who believe in Jesus Christ and have him as their Saviour, death holds no fear for them. Others may die thinking they have that assurance and go through all the motions at their funerals with that in mind or those left behind think that way, but they fail to remember

Acts 4:11-13

11 Jesus is

‘“the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.”

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Think about where you might be going without the assurance of salvation, the salvation that only Jesus can provide for you. Die you will but don’t do it without Jesus. It isn’t enough to just know about Jesus, we have to accept the gift of life and ask him to come into our hearts and be our saviour,

Shirley Anne

Death? What’s that?

Poster for It's a Wonderful Afterlife
Poster for It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in an afterlife or do you believe this life is all there is? No doubt if you believe in only this life you will not be afraid of death. Is that true of yourself? Are you frightened of dying? Many will be unsure about what happens after death and may be too frightened to even think about it. There are some who just don’t give it a thought. There are many religious beliefs in the world and probably all of them have a take on the subject of an afterlife and more especially how to get there, what you have to do yourself to get there. It may be that you believe in re-incarnation and that when you die you come back as a different person or even a different creature! Only the Christian faith tells us that we cannot earn a place in Heaven and that we don’t have to do much either to get into hell! Our afterlife as a Christian is determined by whether we accept the gift that our Creator God offers to us. Of course if one is a Christian that gift has already been accepted. The Bible tells us that we cannot earn the right no matter how ‘good’ we are in this life for if we could get to Heaven under our own steam I suppose there wouldn’t be a person living who would not make the effort. The truth is none of us have the ability for the gift is only by God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus who died that we may live, live in His presence for all eternity. Death has lost its sting for those who are in Christ Jesus, our debts have all been paid and we have been set free as prisoners who have served their time for their wrongdoing. Jesus took upon himself the punishment we ought to pay for our wrongdoing , if we believe and repent of them. What could be easier, what could be simpler? We may think we deserve a life hereafter in Heaven but unless our sins, our wrongdoings are paid for beforehand we will pay the price for them in hell. Jesus is the answer, He alone is our salvation, He alone can cleanse us from our wrongdoing and present us clean and holy before God. If you believe otherwise then ask yourself this question, ‘Can I really know that what I believe will be enough? When I die, what really happens to me and will it be too late once I am dead’? It would be a horrible thing not to have accepted Jesus then find out you were wrong. If believers are wrong they have lost nothing but if unbelievers are wrong they have lost an eternity in Paradise. Death, where is thy sting?

Shirley Anne

They’re dropping like flies!

Death Valley
Death Valley 

When I was much younger I took little notice of my mortality and far less about those around me or those whom I knew as celebrities for instance. As time went by I would learn of the death of a famous person but still it only registered for a short while before the concerns in my own life took over my thoughts. Further still along the timeline I learned more and more of people I knew as celebrities and some I knew personally going the way of all flesh. As I grew older I became more and more aware that one day I too would pass away just as everyone else will do. I don’t remember much about my grandmother’s death which happened in 1968, that is my maternal grandmother and I never knew my paternal grandmother, who died before I was born. I never knew either of my grandfathers but only one who I would call a step-grandfather and whose death passed by with hardly any notice on my part. It is only in more recent times that the reality of death and mortality became more personal to me when my mother and father died in 1997 and 1999 respectively. E’s father passed away only seven years ago so I remember these times quite vividly. Her mother is still with us. My four siblings, all younger than I, the youngest being ten years my junior, are alive and well. I am presently in my 68th year but I know that one day it will be my turn to hang up my keys and leave the building but whereas at one time the thought terrified me, it no longer does. For some people death is a horrifying prospect, for others it is nothing to worry about. However I don’t treat death as the end of my existence, it isn’t, it is the beginning of an eternity elsewhere. My spirit, that part of me not in any way part of my flesh, will live forever. My flesh will rot away but my spirit cannot. I know my spirit will live on in the hearts of those I knew in life but when they’ve gone there will be no-one on earth to remember me and it won’t matter, that is unimportant. What matters is where my spirit will be after my death and I have the confidence and the promise of that location by the one who created me, God my heavenly Father for He made that possible through His Son, my Saviour Jesus. I wonder how many of those I see falling away around me were filled with the same confidence and assurance or will they have not cared, thinking all ended with their last breath? If they did, they will have been in for a surprise and it is now too late to do anything about it. I say to people don’t leave this world without Jesus as your Saviour, do something about it while there is still time.

Shirley Anne

Monday blues?

Stormy Monday Blues
Stormy Monday Blues

Well Monday began as many of my Mondays seem to be doing lately, with nothing to do. Nobody had called for my services on Sunday, the day I receive most of the work I get for Monday and so there was no real reason to get up early if I didn’t wish to. As it happened I woke up around 8.20 and got up anyway. I got dressed ready for work should there be any but nobody had called by noon and I began to think I might get changed and go to the pub for lunch, a late lunch that is. I wasn’t particularly hungry when I got up so I just had a banana, a pear and a drink. By 2 o’clock I was feeling peckish so I changed into more decent attire and arrived at the pub around 3 o’clock. There were few people in at that time so I was served immediately I got to the bar. I ordered a meal and took some soft drinks to the table. Jill, the landlady, asked if I wanted to open a tab so I accepted as it saves having to pay at each visit to the bar. I hadn’t been sitting down very long when my meal arrived. Evidently somebody had ordered the same but either they were not ready to eat that course else it was made in error. In any event it was delicious even though I’d have preferred it to arrive a little later. Normally the waiting time is twenty minutes or thereabouts as everything is cooked to order. After I’d finished eating a regular customer arrived with her mum and a friend of the family and they occupied a table in the corner. Soon they were surrounded by others until the whole area was filled. It seems they had all been to a funeral. Why do people only get to see each other when there is a death in the family? One lady, probably around 70 years of age, came in with a man friend and was soon making her presence known. She was very lively and out-going, the kind of person who is the life and soul of any gathering, it was simply who she was. She kept glancing in my direction as I was sitting alone. I knew that inevitably she would come over for a chat, I just had that feeling. Sure enough she came over and explained who she was, which was the sister of the elder of the two women who had first arrived, the aunt of the other woman and she invited me over but I declined. She even offered to buy me a drink but again I declined. Whilst she was talking with me she took hold of my hand and was caressing it as though I was an old friend she hadn’t seen for a long time and she kept hugging and kissing me, apologising in case I was offended by her presence. Far from it! I wish there were more people like her around. They all seemed to be enjoying each other’s company whilst even more guests arrived. One of these guests kept running here and there moving chairs and tables trying to accommodate everyone. It was obvious to me there was something special about her, a feeling I had which was verified when she and I spoke. She was the one who told me that they were all there because of the funeral earlier and she told me who had died. Naturally, for me that is, I asked if the deceased had been a Christian to which she replied that he hadn’t but that his wife was. We chatted together about our faith before she returned to the others. It’s funny that Christians always seem to know when they are talking with their brothers and sisters in Christ but not really surprising I suppose. About an half-hour after she had arrived, the life-and-soul of the party, the older lady, came over to speak with me again and gave me more hugs and kisses. She then bade me farewell but sang it! The whole pub went quiet whist she sang. What a voice she had and so surprising for someone her age but as I learned later, she had been a professional singer all her life. After she had finished singing I led the folk in the pub in applause. When she finally left the building her absence was very noticeable…..for all the right reasons. My Monday afternoon had been pleasantly changed by the appearance of one person. Maybe I was guided to the pub just to meet her for she certainly seemed to convey a message of love to me that she hadn’t expressed even to those around her. Wouldn’t the world be a better place with more people like her in it? For a while longer I sat alone until more people came in and chatted with me but I didn’t stay too long and was back home just after 6 o’clock.

Shirley Anne

Why?

Loch Scavaig and Gars Bheinn, Isle of Skye. Ta...
Image via Wikipedia

I was watching a program on television about someone walking forgotten paths around the countryside. This particular walk was in the Highlands of Scotland on a no longer existing railway route through the hills and valleys around the Lochs in the area. The walk was being done by a woman and for part of the way she was being accompanied by a local older man. He was dressed in a kilt and was explaining his interest in the area, his family connections and where his ancestors had been buried. He mentioned that he intended to be buried in the same place and pointed to his chosen spot. The woman remarked that it was a nice place to be buried with all that wonderful scenery about. Now this is where it gets a bit silly. What difference does it make to a dead person where they are buried? They will not be able to enjoy the place. They will not be able to see it, smell it or touch it, they will be dead! They will know nothing, they will be no more. I cannot understand why people think this way, especially as most people are quite intelligent. It is illogical to think that wherever you are buried when dead makes any difference at all. A similar thing happens when people insist on visiting the remains of deceased loved ones to ‘chat’ with them! They mutter words into thin air over a grave or place where ashes are buried and leave wreaths or some flowers as a token gesture. Some go to great lengths to tidy up the grave as if it makes any difference to the bones lying beneath the sods! Some will say that it makes them feel better when they do these things and they are acting out of respect for the deceased. The shame is that the deceased doesn’t even know what is going on and anything they do has no affect on them. What part of ‘deceased’ don’t people understand? In reality it is far better to love the person whilst they are alive, pay them respect whilst they live because when they are dead it is too late! If you love someone, show them. Don’t wait until they are dead before letting them know for they will not be able to hear you.

Shirley Anne

He never ceases to amaze me!

Those of you who by your own admission are unbelievers will not understand what I am writing about here. It will seem meaningless but you might suggest that it ‘works for me’ and leave it at that. It isn’t however something ‘that works for me’ as though it was dependent on my belief. It is outside of that. It does not depend on what I think or say or do. I just want to say that God works in so many differeent ways and He does so in my life, often. I have reached that point in my life whereby I can rest in the assurance of Gods love and provision. If all the world around me falls apart I know that God loves me and provides for me. It is often in the small things that He operates, things we may overlook at the time but are revealed to us after the event, if we are open to His voice. I look back over the day and see where He has been involved. I look back over the week and know what He has done for me. I look back over my life and wonder how I managed without Him. The fact is, I didn’t. If God is on my side, who can be against me? Read this………

Romans 8 (New International Version)

Life through the Spirit
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Can you cry ‘Abba, Father’ and know He listens? He will if you are a child of His…………………

Shirley Anne