Source for this image here.
Today has turned out to be quite a different day from the one that I expected, in so many ways! Firstly the weather - we had expected it to be dull, cold and rainy, however we have been blessed with a second day of beautiful crisp sunshine which is only now starting to recede into grey clouds and the expected drizzle. It was such a lovely surprise to wake up this morning and open the curtains to a hoary, frosty scene that really made me feel as if we have reached winter already. I would not have been surprised to see snow. Instead, the mist lifted and the sun shone through, so much so that the menfolk were convinced to take their gear down to the lake we visited yesterday and do a spot of fishing! They are still there as I write, though Papa Bear has rung to say they will be packing up shortly, and coming home to hot mugs of tea and warm slices of this delicious cranberry cake, that has just come out of the oven.
This of course was the second unexpected thing - I had been planning a busy day with my family, however as the menfolk have been out, Little Bear and I have had a very quiet time at home instead with just the birds for company! They have been very sweet and well behaved during this busy time, and despite having to remain in their cage all day on Thursday (it just seemed safer with so many people, and us dining in "their" room instead of the kitchen where we normally eat) they have been very placid and happy. We cleaned the house from top to bottom (it always seems to get dirty faster when we have extra bodies in it) and I even managed to get the ironing up to date despite all the other chores. That was a good feeling! Last week we did a lot of decluttering and it is lovely to see the extra spaces that our hard work created. We have now 3 shelves of books in our living room instead of 4, and Papa Bear is creating a separate special set of shelves to hold all my Gooseberry Patch books. I am so excited! He says he thinks I shall probably need a wall shelf to display my Precious Moments figurines too - I have quite a few now, and don't display all of them at once, partly because I think I enjoy them better that way! But a special shelf for them would be so pretty!
I have been feeling very nauseous today too - I wish I could say it was because of morning sickness but sadly it is not, instead it is a side effect from medication that I have to take for a long term condition I have. This sickness is nothing new, but it is quite bad just now and it is affecting my appetite and ability to eat. I have lost a bit of weight recently because of it and Papa Bear has been worried for me as I really don't need to get any smaller - I am already very petite - so when we went to the supermarket this week (which was during the week, instead of today, as we have guests with us this weekend) we got some special drinks which you mix with water that have lots of nutrients and goodness in them. They are quite pleasant tasting, so I am sipping them (they are nicer hot, I have discovered, than cold like milkshakes) and not too strongly flavoured, so they do make me feel a little better as I think an empty stomach doesn't help. I am also eating lots of ice cubes - just as I did when I was pregnant! And just like then, Papa Bear has been making me rest more, when I can, which has been rather nice, because while I have been doing so I have been catching up on some reading. The book you can see pictured above is one I have just started on, that Papa Bear bought me a few months ago and I have only just got around to reading now!
I really like Elizabeth George's books and have several of them. She has a very easy, friendly writing style that is not at all patronising or didactic and as you read, you feel as if you are reading a letter from a friend, or older sister, who is advising you and sharing her wisdom and experience with you because she cares about you and wants to help you grow as a Christian. This particular book I have found to be very inspiring so far. I have not got through many chapters yet, but what I have read focuses on reasons why we don't pray. And thinking back over the last few busy days and where my attention , I know why I don't pray as often and as deeply as I could - I am often too occupied with my work at home! Of course, it's possible to pray while I work, but Elizabeth George is talking about proper, concentrated, meditative prayer, the sort that we set aside time for, when we are quiet and alone, and focus all our attention on God, and not on our external world.
Every morning Papa Bear and I have a quiet time while we are still in bed when we pray, read scripture and share devotionals. We love this special time, which has developed and evolved over the years to be perhaps the most important part of our day and the time when we feel especially close - to each other, and to God. But this is not the same as setting aside time particularly to pray. Of course, prayer time doesn't necessarily need to be when we are alone, nor does it need to be when we are indoors. But it does need to be time that we can set aside, uninterrupted, to talk to our Father God, with no distractions or other concerns.
It's easy to think "but how on earth will I find time to do that, in my busy day? I'm already chasing my tail to get everything done!" And it is certainly true that it isn't always easy - I know that myself! But perhaps we've got our priorities wrong. Perhaps we are putting the things of the world first instead -
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2: 15 - 17).
- I know I do this. Reading, listening to the radio, spending time on the birds, or even housework - perhaps looking at the internet. These things can steal our time, and before we know it, we have got our priorities wrong. We only have a limited time here on earth, and if we waste it focussing on things that aren't important, not only have we lost that time forever but we are weakening our relationship with God.
And how easy it is to mend that relationship and make it strong again! That is what I am hoping this book will help to do - to inspire and encourage me to spend more time alone with God, and less focussed on the things of the world. I'm hoping it will help me to get my priorities straightened out, and also to learn how to pray more ardently, and to think harder about how I talk to God. Isn't it odd - I can spend all this time writing on the blog - but I have I spent this long today talking to God?
I am off to make a big pot of tea for my hungry fishermen, and then to whisper a few words of thanks to God, for a beautiful week and a precious weekend - and for making me feel a little better than I did, an hour ago!