Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Tuesday's Time To (21st February)

It's Tuesday again already! How can it be that a whole week has gone past since St. Valentine's Day? Those days have just slipped past so quickly, I almost didn't notice them going! What have I done with my time?

Well ... I've had ...

A time to plant ... just now I'm taking especial care to plant more deeply a real, stirring passion for the Lord in my cubs' hearts. They've grown up in a Church going, Christian home, and I know that the seeds of love for our Saviour have been planted and blossomed many times over, but they're now on the threshold of adulthood, with so many worldly temptations all around, and it scares me that despite the solid ground in which those seeds of faith have been sown, it will be a difficult life for them as young adults living in a secular world. We cannot cushion our children from the fallen world around them - but we can teach them to be "in it, but not of it", and that means not just setting them an excellent example in all that we do, but in giving them plenty of scriptural reinforcements!

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints
." (Ephesians 6, 11 - 18).

A time to heal ... I've spoken often about humility, which I personally feel is a character quality that many of us don't find very easy to cultivate. I know myself that it is all too easy to build ourselves up, and become prideful, because we've been taught by the world to believe that we should delight in ourselves, and seek pleasure for our own ends, which, in the materialism which this drive for constant self-satisfaction feeds, can lead to greed, covetousness, and pride. Consequently this pride can easily lead to us saying, or doing things that can indirectly cause hurt or damage to our relationships, in our quest to ensure our own desires are satisfied before those of our fellows. When we think we're more deserving than everyone else, we develop a sense of entitlement which can make us insensitive to the needs of others, and to the effect our behaviour has on them. It's a negative, dangerous mindset, that quickly leads to self-destructive, sinful behaviour. I feel that humility is a noble, Christlike quality that takes a lot of courage to nurture and grow. We none of us want to be "shrinking violets" (though I adore violets - they are such sweet, shy little flowers, so pretty, and they smell wonderful), but do you know, being humble makes us much more admirable than being proud (the opposite of humility is pride). It takes even more courage, to admit when you are wrong, or when you have hurt or offended someone, and take that first step to mend and heal your relationship. But how blessed we are when we do!

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
". (Phillipians 2, 3 - 11).

A time to laugh ... our pets make us laugh every day! We only have caged pets - in our culture, animals like cats and dogs don't live with us in their homes but are kept outdoors, as they are considered unclean because of some of their natural behaviours and grooming habits. Small animals that do not engage in these are OK to have indoors, and birds are especially welcome. We have 4 cockatiels (parakeets) and they are delightful creatures. One of them loves to sit on my head! It is the funniest thing to see and everyone always laughs when he does it, which makes him "laugh" in return (he kind of nods his head up and down and sais "ack, ack, ack, ack" at the same time). They do make us smile! Pets are good entertainment and company, and a valuable way to teach young children simple husbandry responsibilities. Both Papa Bear and I grew up in rural, agricultural environments (me on a farm, him with horses) and we feel the lessons we learned in our lives seeing animals not as mere toys, but as resources to provide labour or a livelihood, helped to ground our emotions in dealing with our pets, and keep them in perspective. They are loved members of our family, but they are not as precious as humans. We care for them and treat them with compassion and respect, but we realise their place in our lives, and do not seek to elevate it inappropriately.

A time to embrace ... change! I need to make a few changes to the schedules in my "daily treasures" box. I've realised there are a few tweaks that I need to do to make the basic daily timetable run more smoothly. One change I need to make is to the timing of how I do the laundry. I've decided that it makes more sense, and is less intrusive to our morning routines as a family, if, at least in the winter when the laundry is hung indoors, for the time being, I do it in the evenings, rather than first thing in the morning. Another change I plan to make is to alter the timing when I do my week-ahead baking and food preparation. There are a few more changes too, all of which are minor adjustments, but which will hopefully make our home life run even more smoothly. I'll share the changes, and the new timetable, when it's up and running! I also want to create a simplified timetable that Little Bear can use, if I am ever ill and unable to carry out my homekeeping duties myself. She already does many chores herself and can run our home nicely all by herself, but has not previously had to do so, for more than a couple of days at a time. Not that I'm planning to be ill, but I like to be prepared for every eventuality and she's plenty old enough now to take over the reins, in an emergency.

A time to keep ... precious memories of the special times! In our home, we don't have a camera, so therefore, we do not have photographs. This is Papa Bear's personal choice and as head of our home, we honour this decision. But it does mean we have to look to other ways to keep memories alive. I've been thinking about this and wondering how I can do it in a way that is neither intrusive nor clutter creating. Scrapbooking is one idea, but I get the feeling that this could be a tempting project that steals time from my chores, and perhaps should be approached with caution. This blog does provide an opportunity to journal some of our special times, so maybe that is the way forward. I am giving this some thought and prayer, this week and will share what I come up with in a future post.

A time to sew ... after talking with Papa Bear some more about my dressmaking plans for the spring, he had yet another bright idea about how I can create some lovely, customised garments! We were looking online at fabric stores (there are some WONDERFUL ones out there, which I'll share in another post), and whilse we were looking, we came across an English website that sells patterns as well as fabric. Although they're more expensive than buying pattern paper and drawing the pattern yourself, they can be reused, so are still more economical than buying ready made clothes, though cost is not why I have avoided buying them in the past. It is more to do with the fact that certainly in England, even dress patterns it seems, are not quite as modest in design as we would prefer. Some are quite pretty, but many are as ugly and flesh revealing as ready made garments. But then Papa Bear suggested, why not look at the CHILDRENS patterns? I'm quite tiny (I fit a child's age 11-12), and generally if I do buy ready-made clothes, I get them from the children's department where they not only fit me better, but are cheaper, and also usually (but sadly not always) more modest too. I'd never thought to look for dress patterns in that department though! Well we were amazed! There were so many gorgeous dress and skirt patterns to choose from! We were both delighted. Papa Bear has picked out 3 or 4 that he especially likes, and some fabrics too (he prefers me best in pink!) and I can't wait to get started on some stitching now! I think the knitting will soon be taking second place (I tend to sew only in the summer months, as I can only do it in daylight, which means I don't get much time to do it in the winter, when it gets dark too early). We are going to order a couple of patterns first to see what they are like, and then see how it goes from there! I'm so excited!

A time to speak ... I'm still working on NOT speaking. I do believe this to be one of my greatest character faults. And I'm not just referring to the words that come from my mouth, but from my fingertips too! It's very easy to think that the rest of the worldwide web is eagerly hanging on to every word that issues from my small keyboard as I tap away. And it's lovely (and very humbling) to think that anyone beyond my immediate family is even slightly interested in what I have to say! But I need to learn to keep it concise. Time is precious to all of us - and if I'm spending it writing very long blog posts (like this one!) instead of with my family, then my "speaking" is getting in the way of what's important - and possibly intruding on my readers' time too. It's about priorities. I like blogging, but my family must come first.

A time to love ... What an over-used word LOVE is! We say we "love" a particular song or TV show, or a well used phrase. We "love" certain foods (especially the ones that aren't good for us!) and we "love" our pets, our daughter's cute dresses, the smell of roses, the feel of the fresh air against our faces, the pretty snowscene that greets us on a winter morning. But do we really truely LOVE these things? What matters most in our lives? If we say we love most anything that we find pleasurable, then it devalues that precious word. Let's resolve to say it only where it really carries value - to our husbands, our children, our close family - and most importantly of all - our Saviour, Father God. That way its true meaning is preserved, and it becomes a precious gift that we give to the ones that matter most in our lives.

A time of peace ... it's easy to focus on our imperfections and linger over what is wrong with us, our lives, our goals. But I think it helps to keep in perspective the fact that all of us ARE imperfect - only God is perfect! It's hard work constantly striving for perfection - not just for us, but for the people around us. Let's resolve to have peace in our hearts as we go about our daily duties, knowing that as long as we are doing so with willing, humble hearts, we are good enough for our Father. That's not to say we can afford to become complacent, but if we strive to always follow the teaching of the Bible, and to keep our priorities in order, all shall be well.

"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace
". (Numbers 6, 24 - 26).