Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tuesday's Time To (6th March)

Oh my goodness it has been soooo cold here the last few days! On Sunday for a while we even had snow, but it didn't last (thankfully). Yesterday it rained all day long. Not for a moment did it stop - it poured and poured, from dawn to past dusk. Today at last the sun came out, and it was such a pleasure to see it bravely shining between the clouds! In the trees outside our apartment it was so lovely to hear the birds singing joyfully, as if they too were thankful that the rain had finally beaten a retreat! I've been feeling as if I'm getting a cold the last few days, and the sunshine certainly helped to cheer me as I went about my chores today. I've been busy, but just recently I've still had time to ...

A time to plant ... after our last trip to the supermarket on Saturday just gone, Papa Bear was very inspired by seeing all the potted herbs on sale there! On the way home we talked about whether or not it would be cheating to have some pots of herbs that we had not actually planted ourselves, to try growing in our small home, rather than starting off the hard way with packets of seed and some pots of compost. We came to the conclusion that although it wouldn't be as exciting or rewarding as growing the herbs from seeds, it would be a lot less wasteful as we were guaranteed healthy plants right from the start - and it would also be a less disappointing experience, if the plants didn't do very well! So with that in mind, we are not so much planting, as purchasing, our herbs this weekend! Hopefully they'll be lending some nice new flavours to our food - and making the kitchen look pretty, too!

A time to heal ... I really do need to find a way to heal the chronic sinusitis I suffer with. The rest of the family don't seem to be bothered with this problem but whenever I catch a cold, I am troubled with terrible pain and discomfort from my sinuses being blocked. I've tried steam treatments, various inhalants, and, much as we dislike them, even antibiotics, but nothing seems to do more than lessen the problem. I'm yet to find a cure - and at the moment I've got the beginnings of yet another cold - so once again, I'm ready and waiting with all my medications!

A time to laugh ... once more, we've been laughing at the antics of the animals on the TV programmes that we watch. We don't watch a lot of TV. When the cubs were wee it was strictly monitored, and we've never watched it at all during the day (apart from whenever Papa Bear's football team is playing a live game - which is only occasionally). The radio we do enjoy during the day, but even then only when we actually want to listen to something - not just as background noise. In the evenings sometimes, Papa Bear likes to relax with a DVD or an interesting programme on the TV, and we especially like programmes about wildlife and nature. We have several DVD sets that are about animals (pandas in particular - well, we are bears!) but the other night we were watching a documentary about sloths. What incredibly strange creatures they are! Not only do they really truely move just as their name suggests, extremely slowly, but they also look very odd too - a bit like a monkey, but with even longer arms and a flatter, squarer head, with big eyes that are almost hidden under a long fringe of fur, and a wide mouth that turns up at the corners, so that they look as if they are smiling. It was fascinating watching their behaviour - and so funny too, as they crept languidly about, still managing to outwit their keepers despite their very slow and purposeful movements! We adored the sloth cubs that were being treated for mange, and had to wear special custom-made suits to protect their delicate skin during the treatment - they were very cute. Papa Bear suggested I make something similar for one of our birds, that has a feather-plucking problem (his mate passed away last year, and he has been a bit unhappy ever since then, although he seems better than he has been in the past few weeks). We really enjoy watching programmes like this, which can inspire so many emotions - and laughing together is so healthy.

A time to embrace ... did you know that it takes 3 weeks to embrace a new habit? It can be difficult to adopt lifestyle changes, even if they are ones that you know will be beneficial - and even if they're only small ones, too. It's just so much easier just to carry on doing things the way you always have, because you don't have to think about it. Making a change involves a conscious decision, and then a commitment to stick to the new way of doing things. But it does work! When Papa Bear and I decided that the best time of day to do our Bible study and devotions was first thing in the morning, it was very difficult to adjust to having to wake up so much earlier. But do you know now, I could not honestly tell you how long we have been doing things this way! It seems as if we have always woken at 5 or 5.15 to do our Bible study. Papa Bear doesn't always do Bible study at that time (he has dyslexia so reading even when he's wide awake is a challenge for him) but he joins me in our devotional and that is truely one of the most precious times of the whole day for us. I'm glad we've embraced that change! But it's good to keep on refining and adjusting and making changes, so that we're able to keep ourselves challenged - and therefore growing.

A time to keep ... I use to keep recipes that I'd clipped from magazines. I have a real passion for cooking - and therefore a passion for discovering new recipes, and over the years, it hadgot so I had so many that I had to keep them all in a huge ring binder. And yet in all truth, I could probably count only 5 recipes out of that whole big binder, that I ever actually use regularly. They weren't organised very well either because whenever I clipped a new recipe I would simply add it to the back of the binder, which meant that whenever I wanted to actually find one I intended to use, I'd have to flip through the whole binder trying to locate it. I'd planned to file them according to type, but since some were double sided with different types of recipe on each side, it was impossible to categorise them sensibly. One day last week I decided enough was enough. Since I've been using the Taste Of Home website (which has a wonderful online customisable recipe box feature), I have found I've relied less and less on printed recipes. And almost all the ones I'd clipped, I could find versions of online (and add them to my Taste Of Home recipe box). So, the recipe binder got culled! It now has about 20 recipes in that I can't find online, and that is all. Most of them are ones that friends or family have shared with me, so they're unique and I'm happy to hang on to them. But the rest? No more keeping things I don't use! They went the way of the recycling bin, and now, my recipes are stored nicely online - so I don't have to flip through hundreds of pages, to find the right one (the online recipe box has a handy search facility too). This is definitely how I'll be keeping them in the future!

A time to sew ... I hope to post about my cross-stitch project tomorrow. It's nearly finished - only 2 years later than I'd intended! I find cross-stitch very absorbing and enjoyable, but I can only do it during the hours of natural daylight. In England that means in the winter months, not very many hours! I don't indulge in hobbies during the day - I may be at home, but I'm working - I always say I'm not a stay-at-home wife, but a wife who works from home - and enjoying myself with sewing or knitting or other crafts that I'm doing just for the pleasure of it, isn't work. Lovely though my hobbies are, I feel it would be a terrible insult to Papa Bear, and a poor example to my children, to while away my working day, enjoying myself with sweet pleasantries such as these whilse they are busy laboring at their own work rather than enjoying their own chosen passtimes. Like them, my work during the day time is industrious labour - not always fun, or pleasant, but very worthwhile. That's one reason why this blog is usually updated in the evening - blogging isn't work (well, not for me, anyway) either. Another reason of course is that Papa Bear likes to read over what I've written before it goes public - so I wait for the evenings so that he can share in the input of each post. I have lots of hobbies to enjoy but not so much time to enjoy them - and that's what makes them special! I'm very much looking forwards to the clocks changing to BST, in 3 weeks' or so - because that will mean there's time to sew!

A time to speak ... a particularly special time for us to speak to each other, is at mealtimes. We may not see each other very much during the day now that the cubs are at college, but we do all come together every evening (and most mornings, though the cubs aren't usually very talkative then!) around our dining table. We actually have 2 - a bigger one, for main meals, and a smaller one in the kitchen, which we can just all squeeze around, where breakfast is eaten. And that's where a lot of important things get said! It's where events of the day are shared and discussed, observations and ideas are debated, and everyone enjoys the fellowship and togetherness of being blessed with beautiful food and a loving family. I always like to make an effort to ensure that our dining table - whichever one it is, or even if it is just a lap tray - is nicely set, with a pretty centrepiece, themed in some way to the season or occasion or type of food we're eating. I have some nice dinner services (in our culture, it is common to own several full dinner services to use for different occasions, the first one usually being given as part of a little girl's gifts at baptism, in preparation for the future, when she becomes a wife and mother with a home of her own) and really enjoy taking the time to make the table look lovely, even if it is just a simple occasion. When we have friends to dine with us as well, we often eat sitting around the living room and I'll serve a buffet style meal, as even our big our table really isn't large enough for more than 4 with all the plates and dishes as well. But I make it feel just as special, and the sense of sharing and companionship is still there! Some of our happiest memories have been forged around the dinner table with our loved ones. It's a very valuable time indeed and one where we always feel the presence of our Father God, who provides us with our daily bread, in our lives.

A time to love ... I do love my cubs! Just yesterday, they were telling me, of things they personally thought were valuable, to share with other parents about how to protect your children's hearts and foster a wholesome, loving environment for them to grow up in (I wrote about this on Sunday). Cubby said he thought that having no TV was a good idea. And Little Bear shared that she thought a home where there was an all-out ban on shouting, made for a more caring environment where children would more respectful to their parents, because the example they saw, was of adults behaving responsibly and respectfully to each other. What insightful comments I felt these were - and so true, too. Both constant TV and the sound of raised voices are sure ways to turn your children's hearts from the hearth to the colder world outside. Thinking about this made me realise how easy it is too - almost without realising it, we can sever the bonds we've made with our children. But for their sakes, we need to foster the self control and temperance that form the foundation of true, solid love - a love that will nurture and guide, and fortify our children with the character qualities they need to be able to leave our nests and become strong, independent and Godly adults.

A time of peace ... well, in our home, it is almost always a time of peace! While our birds can be quite vocal sometimes, the humans are fairly peaceful! In fact I'm pleased to report that we are a non-shouting household, and, as I've already said, we don't have a lot of TV either. But we do have a lot of laughter! And a LOT of "I love you"s too! Of course, sometimes peace doesn't have to be quiet - it can be the contentment of a tranquil heart - even when the world around you is bubbling with busyness. And that comes from knowing that all is well - with us and our homes, our families, and most importantly, our Father God.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". (John 14, 27).