On Patrice's Porch for Sunshine and Warmth

Patrice, you always think up fabulous questions!

1. Do you enjoy grocery shopping?

That question is almost on a par with 'Which exercise do you most enjoy doing?', Patrice. I say almost, because it's not quite as ridiculous, but ... almost!

I am longing for the day when our local supermarket begins online shopping. I am willing to pay the extra few pounds to have the bags delivered to my door. Of course, were they to begin offering to actually put the shopping into the appropriate cupboards, I'd happily pay yet another few pounds.

Until the stores begin this service, I shall continue relying on Catherine, who conveniently passed her test, and began working in Stornoway. The combination of both these means she can do most of the shopping for me.

At this stage of life, going shopping after work is still something of a novelty. As long as she's happy to do ... I'm happy to ask.

2. Are you following any particular news story?

Yes, I'm following the Edward Snowden story.

The tennis at Wimbledon doesn't count as news, I guess, but I am following it. Very closely.

3. How do you feel about all the technology we have today? Is it too much, just right, or not enough?

Dr David Murray recently blogged on his HeadHandHeart site on technology with How Technology Made me a Better Christian. I agreed wholeheartedly with what he said, and in the comments section, I wrote:

AMEN!! I can *not* imagine living my life without technology … Picture the scene: homeschooling mum, 25 miles from the next homeschooling family, and NO homeschooled kids AT ALL around the ages of our older kids within hundreds of miles, living on an island in a nation where homeschooling is still a peculiarity, and where the homeschooling materials I want are simply not found.
Now add the internet: all the homeschooling resources I could ever want – at my fingertips. All the encouragement I could ever hope for from other mums who’ve ‘been there and done that’ on a screen in my living room. All the sermons, lectures, talks corresponding to my different needs as a mum, wife, homeschooler, Christian in the 21st century, right there, at the press of a button. Daily communication with others who have needs/desires/hopes/difficulties like my own is now possible because I can talk/type with others who are like-minded and in similar life situations to my own.
This has been my *lifeline*! I have met folks online and these ‘meetings’ have led in some instances to face-to-face meetings. others I’ve spoken with on the phone and built up real and precious friendships. And others, I will only meet in heaven, but for now, our daily or weekly keyboard chats adds much to my life.
And most of what is added is very, very good.

And this only skims the surface of the benefits technology has brought into my life.

You can see from that comment how I feel about technology!

4. On a scale of 1 - 10 (1 being the least) how much do you worry?

I'm probably around 3 on any normal day. I have spells where I shoot up to around 8, but my default position is not to be a worrier.

I don't tend to worry about health issues - maybe because I saw in my own life how completely and utterly in God's hands we are.

I don't worry about crime affecting me personally, but that's probably because of where we live.

And, as I say, from day to day, I'm not a worrier.

There are a few things that ping me up that scale, mind you.

Most of them concern my kids and my nation.

5. Without any of your responsibilities or concern with how you would accomplish this, what would your three dream jobs be?

To perform surgery must be amazing! I do love most things medical, though I could never be a nurse. I can do blood and the inside of the body, but oh dear me! having to clean up pukey stuff..... *bleugh*. Even writing it is turning my stomach.

I really think surgeons do an amazing job. We watched some programmes recently about brain surgery.

Wow. These gifts these guys have been given.... Incredible!

Author. Reader.
I wrote author first because I was thinking books. But when I began to analyse what I would love about being an author, I realised that it was the reading-before-writing that excited me. Were there such a profession as Reader, what a job that would be! Imagine being paid to read (ahem, I'm assuming my own choices of books here).

Political leader
Am I allowed to say this. Well, this is fun, and it's dreamland, so I reckon I can.

I would begin with my two main policies (I can actually see my sister's face at this point. Hiya, Marina!)

Policy #1: Without a doubt, it would be to legislate for the protection of life, both inside the womb and outside. I could not do any other thing in a nation if I was responsible for the deaths of unborn children.

Policy #2: I would take every school out of government control, and allow groups of parents, or community groups to come together and have their choice of system for their kids.

There you go! Who is gonna vote for me?

See you next week, Patrice... 


Photos of Port of Ness

Katie, Catherine and Calum went for a wander to Port Beach the other day. Katie took my camera and did some clicking ...

Port Beach and Harbour are a couple of miles from us.

None of us has any idea what Catherine is doing here, but Calum definitely seems to have his dad's dancing feet.

The harbour is cute to visit, and because Port is on the east coast, 

albeit very close to the northernmost part of the island, 

nevertheless, it's much calmer and more sheltered than 'our beach'.

Regardless of its calmness, I do not like seeing Catherine on this wall.

The beach is lovely to visit, and the sea is much warmer too.

Lovin' the colours on the pair of you!

I love this photo of this wee fella.

And I kinda like this photo is this lady too ...


David and Joseph: Types of Christ

Those of you on my Facebook page will know that, on Thursday morning, I got my week's exercise by mopping the kitchen floor. At the time, I was listening to a sermon called Come Near to Me - the words Joseph spoke to his brothers as he was about to reveal himself to them.  It speaks so beautifully of Christ's call to sinner, Joseph being such a wonderful type of the Saviour.

Later that day, I was reading in 1 Samuel. In chapter 22, David is escaping from Saul, who is trying to kill him. David is in the cave of Adullam, and have a listen to what we're told:

"And everyone who was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered themselves unto him: and he became a captain over them."

What a beautiful type of Christ David is too! After all, to David came the low-lifes, the weak, the distressed, the unpopular. Those that would have been rejected by the proud fled to David. And David received each one of them. Not once do we read that David said, 'No, I'm not keen on what you did in the past, so I'd rather not have you with me'. 

When they came to David, it's said that He became their captain. And doesn't Christ become our Captain? He is our Lord as well as our Saviour. 

Wasn't it the weak, the poor, those in distress who came to Christ, when those who were religious and who thought they were good enough stayed away? Isn't it true that 'He received publicans and sinners'? 

If we are out of Christ, aren't we in distress? Aren't we in debt? - And what debt! We have no hope of paying our debts to an all-holy God. Our only hope is the Captain of our Salvation, who paid the penalty for all who come to Him, seeking mercy.

It's amazing ... the Old Testament is full of Christ! The New Testament is too:

"Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Why would anyone wish to stay away from this Saviour? He is our Lord of all, our Captain, the payer of our debts, the Comforter of our Souls. Our everything.

Is He yours?


Chatting When Everyone Else Has Gone

I know I am renowned for being late, Patrice, but this week's visit is extreme even by my very low standards.  I do have some excuses.

My baby sister was forty this week - yes FORTY! She's still my baby sister, so I'm not sure how she can possibly have hit the big 4-0, but it would seem that she has. I would show you some photos but my camera card has gone AWOL. 

Yep, it's gone missing, and even in my immaculately pristine home, it cannot be found.

Excuse me, why all the choking on your coffees?? 

Anyway, we had our church outing on Saturday too. Do you know what we did first? We had a cup of wonderfully hot vegetable soup.

Yes, at our summer outing, we had hot soup.

Only in Lewis ....

The day stayed dry, we enjoyed ourselves, but it was so cold.

Now, after all that blethering, Patrice, I'll begin on your questions.

1. How many times a week do you have a green or veggie salad?

Well, Patrice, we have greens or veggies every day, but salad...? Do you mean a side salad? Or a salad-type-meal? I've just told you what our weather is like most of the summer, so full blown salads tend to get a back seat. Having said that, a salad is one of my favourite meals over the summer so in answer to your questions (see, I do answer you eventually) we probably have salad once a week.

2. Do you pray?

I wish I spent more time in sweet communion with my Lord, but I do most certainly pray. I do set aside a time of specific prayer at least once a day, but I'm sure I probably pray a hundred times a day. These prayers are often simply, 'Lord, help me', or 'Oh thank You, Lord', or, 'What a Saviour You are!', or, 'Please guide me', but I seldom do anything without having some prayer in my heart. If I see a photo of someone I love, I may pray, 'Lord, I pray that you would bless them, even this moment, whatever they are doing.'. If I read of war or famine in another land, I may pray, 'Oh Lord, thank You for where you have placed me in this world. Please bring peace to these poor people. And bring them the Gospel of the Prince of Peace.'.

Our prayers could be never-ending.

And our Father hears them all! Isn't that amazing! No wonder we want to praise Him more and more.

3. What season is your birthday. You don't need to give us the date.

My birthday is in November, which is rather a grey month, don't you think. My last birthday was my forty-sixth, but because my birthday month is so late in the year, I often get confused with what age I am.

Since last January, I have been able to say, 'I'm forty-seven this year'. Well, I say that so often, that I assume I already am forty-seven. Then I struggle to remember whether the forty-seven has been, or is yet to come.

4. Do you have dinner guests often, every now and then, or not at all? Wendell says he can be there for dinner as quick as a wink!

Wendell, you would be most welcome! We thought we were going to have one of your family here recently, but things didn't quite work out, so if you decide to come, make sure Patrice and others from your family come too.



We have dinner guests every now and then, I guess. I'd love to have guests round more often, but life seems to pass by in a blur. I'd love to know what others cook when they have folks round. Let me know in the comments.... My meals get so boring: I could do with some inspiration.

5. Could you describe yourself as a DIY - Do It Yourselfer?

Are you serious? (Think John MacEnroe's 'You can NOT be serious'!)

Do you think I married this man ...

(okay, so this isn't his normal look. In fact it was so ABnormal, I had to run for the camera.)

yes, this guy ...

erm, I didn't marry them both. Honest.

See, I married This Fella, and then birthed This Fella Mark II, 

and then birthed This Fella Mark III 
(Hey - look busy. I'm trying to create an impression here...)

That's better.

See, Patrice? I didn't marry the Builder, and birth these fellas just so I could be a DIYer myself.

Nope. Naw. Non. Gu dearbha fhèin, NO.

I did the birthing; I make the food; I do the laundry.

Builders I, II and II can do the DIY.

See you next week later this week for some more chatting!


Cuddy Point ...

As the Facebook followers of Homeschool on the Croft know, the Wee Guy and I took a run over to town the other day. We were actually chasing the sun - it was cloudy in Ness, but having seen blue sky to the south-east of us we decided to head in that direction.

Okay, so that wasn't the only reason: the Wee Guy loves the Castle Grounds and wanted to take me too see some of his favourite spots.

We had chucked some sandwiches into a bag before heading over, so we ate these at Cuddy Point once we arrived.

This photo looks out to Arnish Point - see the lighthouse?

The lunchtime ferry has just left Stornoway, beginning its three-hour journey to the mainland.

Now, it may have been the warmest day so far this year. And it may have been just a wee picnic, miles away from my kitchen. But there are two necessities in life: a flask of hot tea, and a china mug.

The place matters not: these are still essential.

After our lunch, we took a walk up to the monument to Sir James Matheson and his wife Mary. Sir James Matheson owned the Isle of Lewis for some time: it was he who built the castle and who planted the beautiful grounds surrounding it.

Cuddy Point from the memorial

The Wee Guy then acted as my guide and was there to fight off any dangers that could come our way.

Y'all will be glad to know that none did.

After our walk, I sat at Cuddy Point with my book. Calum was fighting with his 'weapon' (a large twig he'd found on the ground. The Castle Grounds are good, apparently, for supplying an endless supply of weapons, small and great). At one point I saw him firing an arrow from his 'bow', so I commented,

'Cowboys attacking?'

I got The Look. (Mothers, y'all know The Look, don't you?)

'No,' he replied with some incredulity. 'I'm Bo Duke'.

And he was off again.

Give. me. strength.

And to brighten the rest of your day, I'll leave you with some more photos of the harbour, all taken from Cuddy Point.


God's Amazing Love to His Children

I was reading in 1 Samuel the other day: remember when the Israelites wanted a king to be like the other nations and Samuel knew they were wrong to ask for such a thing ... after all, they had GOD as their king. But the people persisted and God did, indeed, give them Saul to be a king over them. (1 Samuel 8, 9, 10)

After Saul was confirmed as king, Samuel addressed the people (1 Samuel 12) and towards the end of his address, the Lord sends great thunder and rain - this was during the Spring harvest and the people would take it as a sure sign of God's condemnation. The people then turn to Samuel and confess that they were wrong to have asked for a king, and they ask Samuel to pray for them. They know they have sinned against God.

They plead with Samuel to pray for them because 'we have added unto all our sins this wickedness, to ask us a king'.

Samuel's answer to this blew me away. Bear in mind how wrong God's own people had been; how far they were from where they were supposed to be; how determined they were to get what they wanted; how much they had rejected their one true God. And yet ... listen to Samuel's answer:

"Fear not: ye have done this wickedness 

no sweeping it under the carpet with Samuel. He tells it like it is.

"yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart 

Is there anything like the Gospel for giving 'second chances'?

"Turn not aside to go after vain things, which cannot profit.

And wait for it ...

"For the Lord will not forsake His people for His great name's sake; because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people."

Wow. Can there be any greater blessing in this whole world than to be one of the Lord's people? Knowing that in all our failings, all our sin, all our shortcomings, 'He will not forsake His people'.


Never! He can not forsake His people because it has 'pleased the Lord to make you His people'. This is mind-blowingly reassuring. This is infinite, sovereign, gracious, holy, unchangeable love.

This is not, by the way, some licence to wake up in the morning thinking, 'Oh well, God loves me, His love will not change, so I can do as I please today' ... If I were to think like that, I could be sure I wasn't in God's family.

Rather, knowing this makes God's children wake up in the morning thinking, 'I have the most amazing, loving Heavenly Father. I pray I would do nothing this day to dishonour His precious name.'.

Have a look at what Samuel says at the end of his address:

"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He has done for you."

And so, after our times of sinning, our times of lukewarmness, our times of distance from God, we take Samuel's words - Fear the Lord. Serve Him. Consider what great things He has done for me ... and love Him anew for His amazing love.

Samuel finishes with this warning: 

"But if you shall still do wickedly, you shall be consumed, both you and your king."

Ohhh, boy. This God is not to be trifled with.

There is no greater place of danger than to be outside of the family of God.

And there is no better place to be than inside the family of God: His love and care and protection are unchanging and unspeakably great.

It is the greatest wonder in the world to me that God 'for His great name's sake' took me into this family. 

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sin, has quickened us together with Christ. By grace you are saved."

On Patrice's Porch, with a Couple of Detours

Good day, Patrice. We are having some lovely weather here right now. It really does feel like summer, and everyone seems to smile more. 

The Wee Guy and I went over to town today, and spent some time in the Castle Grounds. He loves it there, and normally leads some army through the forested areas, and waits to ambush the enemy. Today at one stage, he was fighting with a bow and arrow, so I said (thinking he was a Native American), 'Cowboys?'

'What?', he replied, with that look that made me realize I was way off the mark. 'I'm the Duke boys'.

Oh, give me strength.

Normal service was, however, resumed later when he informed me he was fighting the Romans: charging down the beach to prevent them from coming ashore.

I had taken a wee lunch with me, and we had a lovely time eating our snack at Cuddy Point, watching the ferry leaving Stornoway.

Even though it was our warmest day this year, and even though I was eating far away from my kitchen, there were two things that were still necessary:

Hot tea (supplied in the flask), and a china mug.

No, these are not preferences. These are necessities

Here was my guide: another necessity, because at this time we were heading for deep jungle.

I'll post more of the photos from the Castle Grounds tomorrow. For now, Patrice, I think we'll get on with our porch chat ...

1. When it comes to vegetables, which do you use more often - canned, frozen, or fresh?

At times, I use frozen brocolli or cauliflower, but no other frozen veg. I've never used canned veg, I don't think... Oh, hang on - yes, I do! I use tinned peas! Most of our vegetables, though, are fresh. Of course the best of veg are the ones that have come out of The Plot.

Oh, the difference in taste!

2. Do you sew?

Nope. I did make some of the curtains for this house, and for the home we had in Glasgow, but apart from that, sewing buttons onto clothes that have lost them is about my limit.

3. Do you have a common fear, such as the fear of heights, spiders, snakes, small spaces, flying, etc?

Erm, yes, I do. My fear is none of the above. It's an animal that some people choose even to have as a pet. HOW CAN THEY????

I just can't understand why anyone .... bleugh! I must move onto the next question, Patrice.

4. Is there anything you recommend for cutting your grocery bill?

Oh, well, I'm not sure about the costings, but I have one thing to say: Grow your own vegetables! Without a doubt, that is a fabulous way to:

a) eat more healthily
b) eat the tastiest food you've ever had
c) cut your costs. A bit. I think. Maybe.

Yes, it is a lot of work, but the benefits are immense. As most of you know, I had never grown anything green in my whole life until we began growing our own veg about four years ago. I was sure everything would die - after all, every house plant that had ever dared cross the threshold of my home had paid the ultimate price. But growing stuff outside is a different kettle of fish altogether. 

And once you taste home-grown carrots, you'll never want to go back to store-bought ones. We eat many store bought carrots - at best, our crop will last only part of the year - but having had our own, the shop bought ones are so incredibly bland and tasteless ...

Did you even ask about my veg, Patrice? Oh, I remember - you asked about cutting the grocery bill. Well, to be honest, I've never really found a way of cutting that very much. I think you Americans would be shocked to know what we spend, on average, each week on our groceries. It really is expensive to live here! But having our own veg has given me endless supplies of thick vegetable soups over our winter.

That is priceless.

5. Tell me something that made you happy over the past week?

You know, Patrice, I could probably give a long list here, but I'll stick to one thing.

On Saturday, seeing the potatoes being planted made me happy.

The Wee Guy took my bucket and began planting.

It looks as though he's the only one working!

See the tatties lying in their row. This furrow will be covered in soil as the tractor moves down making the next furrow.

Almost there. Seeing ploughed ground always makes me smile.

Have a great week, Patrice! And thank you once again for hosting us ladies on your porch for our weekly chat.

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