Going Away

It's a beautiful day on the croft and the Builder and I are preparing to head off to the mainland to attend the funeral of our friends' son.

I feel a guilty pleasure in the fact that we are going to have some time together. 

I feel there ought to be no pleasure in our having to go to such an event. And yet, the Builder and I are able to spend so little time together, that there is some pleasure in preparing for our couple of days away.

I hope you all understand.


Family Kindness

When I wrote in yesterday's post on Kindness, I wrote some thoughts from one of the chapters of the book, Ruth: Her Story for Today. I also said that I'd note down some thoughts that I'd picked up from Mrs Mary Beeke's talk on Family Kindness. Obviously, there is much more that could be said about the kindness we can show outwith the tight family circle, but this talk concentrates only on kindness within our family bonds. 

Mrs Beeke begins by speaking of some of the reasons we can be unkind to those within our family. Briefly, they included:

- Familiarity: It goes without saying that our family members are those with whom we are most familiar, and sometimes, the old adage, 'Familiarity breeds contempt' can be true in terms of our lack of kindness to each other in the home.

- Home is where we 'let our hair down'... and so it should be! But we must not allow being relaxed to slide into slobbiness. 

- Tiredness: when we reach a certain time of the day, our lack of energy can result in us dealing very unkindly with those whom we love.

- Boredom: the 'sameness' of the routine (especially of Mums who are at home all the time) can lead to grumpiness if we allow it.

- Hormones: the queen of all reasons! (Some of us think we are not affected.... just ask other family members!)

So, these are some of the causes of us speaking and dealing unkindly with our families. Remember, they may be causes; they are not excuses.

So, having looked (above) at some of the stumblingblocks to achieving kindness, what are some of the ways in which we can achieve it?

Mrs Beeke has quite a list of areas we ought to look at. Here are some of them:

1. Prayer: we need God's strength. Sometimes our prayers will be 'emergency' prayers - 'God, help me here', but we ought also to make our desire to be kind a matter of consistent prayer.

2. Patience: we become impatient when we have to repeat the same thing again and again to children. But maybe we ought to think of these times as individual 'teaching moments'. After all, how patient is our Heavenly Father with us?

3. Prevent extreme tiredness: if possible, sleep well, eat well and exercise well. Our bodily health can have a great impact on our mental and emotional health and strength.

4. Pardon: we must wipe the slate clean. The truth is that sometimes we are wronged by others. It's also true that we do the wrong sometimes. We must seek to be forgiven, and we must forgive. This is imperative.

5. Ponder and meditate on God's Word: this makes us humble. Sometimes our pride minimises our weaknesses but accentuates the weaknesses of others. If we ponder on God's Word, and think of what our hearts are really like before a holy God, it humbles us and makes us more likely to think highly of others.

6. Appreciate: we ought to count our blessings. If we're fed up or bored with our daily routine, what about 'counting our blessings and naming them one by one'. Go on - try it! We have so very, very much - and when we look at our blessings individually, it's very difficult not to appreciate what we have. (If we don't, we at least feel ashamed at how ungrateful we are.)

7. Praise and encourage: make a conscience effort to show appreciation to each family member for who they are and what they do. Build them up with love and encouragement.

8. Be positive: we ought to look at circumstances 'sunny side up'. We ought to laugh with each other, and at ourselves.... laughter is such good medicine.

9. Pass kindness on: talk of it, insist on it, demonstrate it. We do have to find a balance with our children between allowing them to sort out their own differences (we ought not interfere every time there is the slightest disagreement between them) and not allowing them to treat each other unkindly. We ought to teach them how to get to the bottom of problems and to solve them.

10. Protection: we do our children a great kindness if we protect them as much as is possible for us from pain, from danger and from sin.

11. Pamper yourself: this is related to preventing some of the issues in the first section - we ought not to 'let ourselves go', nor to become so tired and stressed that we put ourselves in danger of blowing a fuse! Prevention is better than cure...

12. Aim for peace: try not to get ruffled at little things. The juice that poured can be wiped; the dish that broke can be replaced; the cereal that spilled can be brushed up.... but unkind words can never be undone. 

In practice then, what are some of the things we can do to make sure that kindness is penetrating each area of home-life:

 - show affection: we ought to express our love in words and with actions

- watch your tone: the tone of our voice can speak volumes - for good or ill.

- greetings: say them out loud! 'Good morning', 'Hiya', 'Good bye', 'See you later'. They don't take too much effort...use them!

- make special times: know your children and your husband; know what makes them tick, and make the effort to do something special for them occasionally.

- be considerate: be in tune with the feelings of others.

- be thoughtful and kind to extended family - remember aunts and uncles. If you are an aunt - especially a single aunt - be kind to nieces and nephews (remember Ruth and Orpah with Naomi in yesterday's post - it seems like it was so easy for Ruth and Orpah to be kind to their mother-in-law, because of how kind she was to them).

- be consistent: we ought to behave at home as we would in public

- we ought also to look at our list of temptations to be unkind: 

do we tend to speak in an unkind tone when we are tired? Maybe we ought to look at changing evening routines: could the children be in bed earlier? are there things we could get done through the day that are too often left until it's too late? 

are we particularly grumpy if we haven't eaten properly (or if we've had no chocolate?!)? 

or if we haven't been outside for a couple of days? Have a reality check. Eat regularly (don't let your sugars get low - just ask me or my family members whether this affects a person's mood). Make sure you see the outside world every so often - the effort of getting out the door is worth it. And when young children are able to burn off steam in a park or on a long walk, the results will be worth every ounce of effort it took to get out in the first place.

Well, these are some of the points Mrs Beeke raised. 

How many of them made you cringe? I don't want to admit how many times I said an 'Ouch!' to myself as she spoke.

Being kind seems so easy. In practice, we are met with many stumbling blocks - the greatest of which is the sin in our own hearts.



Our latest chapter in the book, Ruth: Her Story for Today, centered on the verse in Ruth 1 which says:

"And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the 
Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me." (Ruth 1:8)

The main theme of the chapter is Kindness.

Kindness. Don't you love the sound of that word. I feel a warmth in that word, reflecting, obviously, my understanding of its meaning. Say it slowly. Ki-n-d-n-e-s-s. Ahhhh.

Here in Ruth 1:8, Naomi seems to be wishing for her two daughters-in-law to return to Moab. Of course, this is not what she wanted, but she wished to test them, to see whether they were following her back to Bethlehem, or following the Lord. We know, of course, that Ruth's heart was full of love to the Lord, and this was the love reflected onto her mother-in-law. Sadly, Orpah's heart was still in Moab, and with the idols of this land.

But - back to kindness.

Naomi is giving the young women the opportunity to return home, but even if they do need to part from each other, she wishes their parting to be amicable, and with kind words. She wishes the best for them: "The Lord deal kindly with you". Even when she was going to be far from them, she wished for God's blessing on them.

And so, one of the kindest things we can do for others is to pray for them; to pray for their salvation; to pray for their good; to pray for God's blessing to be poured out on them.

Naomi then acknowledges that they had been kind wives to her sons: "...kindly, ... as ye have dealt with the dead". How glad Ruth and Orpah must have been when their husbands were no longer with them that they had dealt kindly with them whilst they lived.

Surely we must deal kindly with people too. How awful to live with an uneasy conscience after a person has passed away, when it's too late for us to make amends.

Ruth and Orpah had also dealt kindly with Naomi herself. 
It's not always easy to deal kindly with our in-laws, but Naomi acknowledges their kindness to her. Of course, Naomi's dealings with her daughters-in-law may have made it easy for them to be kind to her. If we feel that others are dealing unkindly with us, maybe we should examine ourselves and our dealings with them. 
If we are kind to others, they are much more likely to be kind in return.

I was struck with how powerful an attribute kindness is, and wish I lived more of it out in may daily life. How often an unkind word is spoken, when patience and kindness would be so much more appropriate.

"And be ye kind one to another, ternderhearted, forgiving one another, even as 
God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" Eph 4: 32

Mrs Mary Beeke, wife of Rev Joel Beeke, gave a talk some time back on Family Kindness. You can listen to it here. For those of you unable to have a listen, tomorrow I'll post on some of her thoughts. (Mrs Beeke has also written a book, The Law of Kindness.)


Just Because...

I have work just now. Lots of it. (By 'work' I mean paid work.)

And so, this afternoon...

Just because I was inundated with work;

And just because my ironing pile was almost at the ceiling;

And just because I went on the scales last night and had my suspected weight increase confirmed...

I decided to make a Chocolate sheet cake. And to try this frosting.

I have to be honest, I saw the recipe for this frosting ages ago on the Pioneer Woman's site, but couldn't quite get my head around frosting with flour. Flour in frosting. Just wasn't meant to be, I thought.

Find the recipe for this here.

And seeing as you're looking at the photo, have a little glimpse in the top-right corner. Cloves of garlic. Catherine was making Chicken Parmigiana

Please don't comment on:

1. the fact that my chocolate cake is sitting right beside the garlic cloves

2. the fact that everything that was going on in the kitchen tonight came 

I'm sure there was life before blogging: I just don't remember it.

Instead of just milk, I used half milk and half single cream

I forgot about the weight issue.

I then had to do some testing, but only because I care for my family so much.

I forgot about the weight issue. Again. And again.

And again.

(For those of us on the side of the Pond, 1 stick of butter is 4 oz. These Americans need to get their terms sorted.)

Just so y'all know - the Boys loved the cake and l-o-v-e-d the frosting.

I guess flour and frosting were made to go together after all. Shows you how much I know.

Wedding Photos

The girls found our Wedding Album the other day.

Yes, of course I knew exactly where it was all these years.

Why, yes, I look at it often and remember that day.... 

What day? ... oh yes, that day. I remember. Vaguely. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I do believe we had a wedding day.

And I've got the photos to prove it!

I can't believe I'm doing this to myself.

Why?? Why am I showing these photos?!

I have to admit that I like this one. My mum-in-law, who passed away a few years ago is on the left and my own Mum (who's height genes were clearly passed down in my direction) is in the blue.

I really can't believe I'm showing this. But I reckon someone out there is in need of a laugh.

Could someone tell me what on earth possessed the woman who doesn't 'do' pink to choose pink-ish bridesmaid dresses? 

And the gypsophila! ... "And the hair, Louisa?! Why, she looked positively wild!" Sorry, a Pride and Prejudice moment. My mind is clearly trying to drag me away from what it's seeing!

I'm only showing this because it shows what I'm still doing:

looking up to him


The Wee Guy's Challenge

I've asked the Wee Guy to give me three interesting facts about various people.

There's a catch: he's not to find the information online. Only in books. 

Books? You remember them - made of paper, with a cover on the outside - pages with typed print on them - you remember, they often sat on shelves...

... or on the arm of a chair

... or on the floor

... or on the bottom of the bed

Anyway. His first find-three-interesting-facts-about-this-person is...

Photo: Wikipedia
Napoleon Bonaparte

These were the facts he caught onto in his reading:

1. He sent a million soldiers into Russia, but the Russians were clever and allowed them to march all the way to Moscow. There the Russians waited until the winter killed most of Napoleon's soldiers. Only 40,000 survived to return to Paris.

2. He was exiled to the island of Elba, but escaped and gathered an army again. He was soon defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, where the Duke of Wellington lead the British army. Wellington boots are named after the Duke of Wellington.

3. He died on the island of St Helena, way out in the Atlantic. He had asked to be buried by the River Seine in France, but he was actually buried on the island. The gravestone had the words, 'Here Lies', but they did not write Napoleon's name on it.

I now fear I may have unleashed a monster.

"Mum, did you know...."

"Oh, mum, wait til I tell you ..."


These were the two books he got most of his info from.

The Story of the World series is fantastic. We have them on CD too, and I'd thoroughly recommend them.


Some More Photos

I'm trying to sort out some photos on this laptop and here are some I came across whilst 'tidying'.

Springtime in Stornoway's Castle Grounds
(taken by Catherine on her mobile)

Looking south-west from Swainbost beach

A contemplative moment. Big Brother surrounded by a flock of his Blackface sheep

Katie, Catherine and cousin Emma

(taken by Emma's dad)

I am Thankful

I am thankful...
- that my security in Christ is because I am kept by nothing less than the omnipotent power of God.

"...who are kept by the power of God through faith" (1 Peter 1:5)

and that my keeping is 'through faith' which is, in itself, the 'gift of God' (Eph 2:8).

I am thankful...
- that the angels were given charge over me, even in the days before I was saved.

"Are they [angels] not ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who 
shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb 1:14)

How little we know of God's means of protecting us from harm.

I am thankful...
- that, wonderful as the angels are, it was not fallen angels that Christ came into the world to save, but fallen man; and that this salvation, completed in Christ, is so amazing, so wonderful, so unfathomable, that even 

'the angels desire to look into' it (1 Peter 1:12)

Over the weekend, I've been in Stornoway at special communion services. I am so thankful, and felt privileged, to have heard a man preach who has been unwell in the past couple of years, but who set before me Christ's work of salvation in a way that warmed my heart, and made my Saviour even more precious to me. I am thankful to have heard him preach to the unsaved with passion and love, stoking up the embers of longing in my own heart to see those whom I love in this world saved.

So much to be thankful for.




... the sun is shining, and I cannot but be in awe at the beauty of God's creation - again;

... my boy, DR, left on the morning ferry to go to a Church Conference in Arbroath;

Missing you already, pal

... my heart is heavy because I have just been speaking to our dear friends who lost their son last week;

... my washing line looks like this;

 ... we were talking about our holidays in America, and wondering if, or when, we'll be able to visit again;

We loved PA. Actually, we didn't find a patch we didn't love, although we have only been in around seven states. 

... I am glad this guy is my husband.  

... I reckon Katie should make her Victoria Sponge;

... (not just because Katie may make me a Victoria Sponge) I am glad that we were blessed with these two girls.

(Did you know that both our daughters were born on Mother's Day? ... Two years apart, these were my Mother's Day gifts. How amazing is that?!)

 ... I ought to pay this machine a visit;

... I am comforted by the words of Psalm 116: 5-7: 

"Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and He helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."


Living Well; Dying Well

"Most men today live their lives as though they were never going to die; 

and die with regrets because they haven't really lived."

Geoff Botkin


Oi, you never smile like that at me! You hear me?

See, it wasn't so painful!


Yesterday's Walk

The title makes it sound like I go for a walk every day. 

Er, I'd like to kid on, but I can assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. If it's windy, I don't go out; if it's raining, I don't go out. 

That means I stay in a lot.

But I decided yesterday to go for a walk along the beach to which I went when I was growing up. It's the 'next-door' village to my married village, but I hadn't been for some time.

It's quite different to 'our' beach. 
 It has a mixture of rocks and sandy areas. Perfect for children's playtime and picnics. 

 The Butt is visible in the background, so you can see it's not far from where we live ourselves.

 I wished I had a zoom lense to take photos of the oyster catchers.

 But they fly off once I came closer...
 Their call is shrill - the only sound on the beach apart from the breaking waves.

 Yep, I wore my wellies, and I was glad I did!

 Nobody on the whole beach but myself...

Glorious solitude

 This area will have rock pools in summer, which are lovely and warm (warm being a relative term here).

When we'd come down to this beach as kids, we'd have our picnic sitting on a warm rock and Mum would spread out a cloth (yes, we'd have a 'tablecloth' for our picnics.... This was my Mum!). Then we'd eat relatively sand-free. Always a bonus where food is involved.

And back home.

I was supposed to have been doing Pudewa. I felt like a naughty schoolchild skiving off a class, but it was bliss.

Nobody to talk to. Or to listen to.

The crashing of the waves, the call of the birds - the only sounds. It was therapy. And it was free.


Katie-ism 1

Today, the Wee Guy was asking me some questions. 

Nothing new there. 

He went on and on, probing more and more deeply. 

Nothing new there either.

Eventually the conversation went like this:

Me (a bit exasperated): "Calum, you don't need to go into all the minutiae of it."

Katie (from the other side of the room): "Oh.... Is that some kind of Japanese food?"

Sometimes, there are no words. Only explanations: she's blonde. What can I say?!

This incident made us remember another Katie-ism (there are many, but our minds, with no reluctance on their parts, went to our first holiday to the USA).

We were actually still in Canada, and were getting ready to leave the hotel in which we'd stayed the two previous nights. As we all bundled down the hallway with bags and cases, Katie ran on (obviously someone else had her luggage in hand!). She soon came running back, panting. The conversation went something like this:

Katie (panting): 'We can't use the lift' (elevator to those on the 'other side')

Us: 'Why not?'

Katie: 'In case of a fire'


Dad: 'Er, what fire?'

Katie (becoming slightly exasperated): 'We can't use the lift in case of a fire. Go to the stairs.'

Me: 'Katie, there is no fire, though'

Katie: 'No, but the sign says we can't use the lift in case there is one.'


The sound of our brains ticking: they're all saying, 'Is she for real? Is she related to me?' 

When we went back to the same place two years later, we took a photo of the infamous sign.

Yep, its wording is weird. So don't blame Katie.

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