All set up? Routines and Values.

How do you start your day? A cup of coffee? A bowl of muesli? A gentle read of yesterday’s paper? A crossword? A puzzle? Whatever you do, does it really set you up for the day? To cope with all that comes your way? Probably not. For once you set foot outside the door, the world steps in.

That gentle ride to work becomes a road race. Traffic lights acting as starting guns. Ready, steady, go! The roundabout becomes can I go now….. no, now…. oh, now!! And you slot into the circling traffic. Bus routes full of decisions. Stand or sit? Upstairs or down? Quick exit? Get off the stop before and walk a bit? To be healthy or what!!! And then when you get there the daily round of emails, meetings, and telephone calls. People and children asking questions. Requiring answers and actions. But perhaps you are the cleaner. Wielding the mop in a slow rhythmic  way. First this way then that. Thoughts that are miles away. Perhaps puzzling out the crossword clue you couldn’t quite get. Whether your job is busy or methodical, each has a value. A value that you either like or not. A value that says something to you. Personally.

For me, a stay at home wife, and this week a mum (- yippee!), my mornings are of my own making. Yes I have certain things I have to do, but they are very much up to me. The how, and the when is up to me. I start the morning with a glass of water, followed by the breakfast Mr A gets ready. Orange juice, tea, muesli, and fresh fruit. Yes I’m in that lane. The lane that aims to be healthy. Healthy all day. I don’t often succeed, but I try! Then, once Mr A has gone off to his work, and I have washed up and tidied around for a bit, I make a cup of coffee and settle down to a quiet time. A precious time with my bible and my LORD. To reflect on His word. To find the thing He wants me to note today. Yes, there is always something to take with me into the day. Some little gem. Some phrase or verse. Something that needs to be worked on. In doing this time, I am usually set up for the day. If I miss it, I’m wrong. Not quite put together!

For the last three or four weeks I have been looking at and studying Numbers. I mentioned it here .  Some of the chapters, I have looked at, read, and then scratched my head. What can I take from that? So I read it again. I think again. And gradually the pencil I’m holding, begins to put my thoughts onto paper. What was once a blank sheet fills up with arrows, comments, references. Something of value. Eventually, something to take with me into the day. Well this morning was a bit like that. Numbers 28 and 29. Two chapters. Although I could quite see them easily as just one long one. All about the offerings the people were to give to the LORD, “a pleasing aroma.” A thought and a scratch of the head.

Daily offerings. Sabbath offerings. Monthly offerings. Offerings for Passover. The Festival of Weeks. The Festival of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement. Offerings for the Festival of Booths. Each carefully worded. Each with their own instructions. To work or rest. To be quiet or to “joyfully shout”! Each lasting a different length of time. Each having a different sacrifice. A burnt offering. A grain offering. A drink offering. All with that “pleasing aroma to the LORD”. A thought and a scratch of the head.

What should I take from it? Should it be left there? On the page? To read and then move on? Everything that is written in His Word is of value. It wouldn’t be there if there was nothing of value. So this had to have value.  And as I thought and studied. Read and re-read. Scratched my head and thought some more. My pencil filled in my page. A yearly calendar of offerings. The same offerings on each day of each year. The 10th day of the 7th month. Each morning and dusk. Day in, day out. Month in, month out. A rhythm. A shape. A shape that becomes a routine. A routine that became theirs. A routine that became theirs to share. With each other and with God. A link. A personal link.

But I don’t give offerings in the same way.  I have no reason to give this type of offering. I do have a need to share a link. A need to give thanks. A need to find a pathway. A need to build a relationship. A personal relationship. A special relationship with my LORD. To be His disciple means going beyond that quiet time. Beyond the Sunday service. Beyond the  mid week meeting. It means building into my life a rhythm. A shape. A routine to shape me. To shape me to love, honour, worship and obey my LORD. To build up a means to ensure that I remember him daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. To let it sink into my actions. My words. My whole being. To become the habit. The norm. The routine that I walk each and every day. The routine that is not lonely. The routine that takes along my Friend. The routine that walks with a purpose. An aim. His purpose. His aim. The one He has for me. The routine that has heaps of value.

In so doing, I want my life to have a meaning. One that He sets up every day. To cope with all that comes my way. And in turn may it be “a pleasing aroma to the LORD”.

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Service. Coffee. Quirkiness!

When we are on our travels a round this beautiful country of ours, I usually end up taking a few photos of the coffee cups we empty. Looking at the creamy foam on the top of my cappuccino. Or the art work on the top of my flat white. Yes, I like to take the time to compose the photo! To watch my sugar – shhhhh! I know! – to watch my sugar slowly sink through it all. Yes, I’m a geek! Not quite as much as a certain young man I know, but I know what I like in my cup of coffee. So this holiday was no different.

I only photo those cups which get the thumbs up. Those that make me smile. The ones which use the ‘proper’ coffee. The grind-y ones. The ones which have the milk steamed. Frothed. Gurgled. Blasted. The swooshhhhhh, shhhhhh, sissssss, noises, that tell you it is on its way. And this time I have two contenders. Two cups……

But wait. It is more than just the coffee cup. It is more than the barista who works hard behind the counter. It is the service that we receive. It is the biscuit that comes on the side of the saucer. Or the piece of cake. Or scone. Or tray bake. It is the ambience of the shop. The quirkiness. The general feel you get when you walk in. So I start by sneaking a quick photo when we arrive. Then as I chat to the person who comes to greet us, I get bolder. I ask  if they mind if I take a few photos. Just one or two. Maybe three or four. Maybe…. well I do get carried away when I have my camera in my hand! And as I said I have two coffee contenders.

First to the mark is ‘Java’ on Flowergate, Whitby. Thumbs up! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

The second is Dotty’s Tea room in Staithes. This one gained an extra mark. It’s quirky! No QUIRKY!!! And I like quirky! I’ll let you decide.

So if you are out and about in Yorkshire, pop into Java or Dotty’s and I know you won’t be disappointed.

But I called this post service. Service with a smile. Service with a spring in your step. Service where you gain, as well as the person who is on the receiving end. Service that comes naturally. Not forced. Not pinned on like a badge. These two coffee shops had lovely people who couldn’t do enough for you. They loved being able to help. Mr A likes his coffee black. Black equals hot. So the extra mile is a small jug of cold water. Mr A also likes his coffee decaf! These coffee shops had decaf coffee beans. Not the instant coffee jar in the cupboard. Made with as much love as mine. Nothing was too much effort. What an example. An example like the one we should follow.

 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbour as yourself.

Galatians 5 verse 13-14.

 

 

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Piece by piece. Bit by bit. Back on track.

I knew that I wouldn’t be doing a lot of crafting while we were away. I’ve not really been feeling that way inclined. Just a bit of machine stitching. My knitting has been sitting in the bag for a while. I have tipped it out a couple of times. Looked at the pattern. Picked up the needles. Sighed. And put it back. No it just wasn’t going to happen. So I ummed and errrred as to what to take on holiday and went for my box of paints, sketch book, and paper piecing. I find it hard just to sit! (Hold this thought).

Paper piecing is something that you immediately think of when you think patchwork. How many of you have started cutting out hexagons in card? Carefully tacking the fabric around the shapes? Building little piles of different coloured hexies? We all had a go when we were in our teens. Making little flowers. A plain hexie in the centre and pretty ones around it. Tiny little stitches holding them together. Getting so far, then bundling it in a bag, only to be brought out many years later. Been there, done that? So having got into patchwork, piecing together with my sewing machine, the urge came to try again!

Or did it? Yes I packed the things. Carefully stowing away a pack of pre-cut triangles, a bundle of Fat Quarters, scissors, needles, and cotton. I thought I was going to ‘go for it’! Three days in and they hadn’t emerged. Nope, they rested firmly at the bottom of my bag. Along with the paints and my sketch books. I was quite happy to just sit and stare through those swish roof windows. Watching the world of the seagull go by. I was quite happy to amble along the prom with my ice cream. Dodging the world of the seagull. I was quite happy sitting on the bench at the end of the pier. Contemplating the world of the seagull. So what reason was there to get the things out of the bag?

I have been a bit like that of late, well just over a year in fact. This blog used to be all about the crafts I was dabbling in. Look in the archives! But that has changed. With the breaking of my leg I was forced to sit for a while. Forced to sit and think. Forced to contemplate everything. With further disappointments, I became very introspective. I had a lot of brain sorting to do. This blog became the means of that sorting. I know other bloggers have done it too. Sorted. But it is time to move on now. So day three was THE day. THE day to move on. How? Well because I saw this… or these…..

And then I saw these in another window…

Lovely ladies of the Queen Bee Quilters had been very busy. Showing what they had been up to. Draping them around 60 windows. Sadly I only caught the ones above. We were a week too late! But they really looked the part and I liked the final sentence on the label…

Yes it was time to go. It was time to dig deep. Deep to the bottom of my bag. To sort and cut and sew with tiny stitches.

We were off! And gradually through the week the pile of triangles wobbled and toppled. Collected together in colour and texture.

What will it be? I’m not sure. Just a selection of triangles for a while. I’m not sure why I brought the pink with me to use! I’m not really a pink lady! But pink they are and I’m enjoying the playing! So, if you find you are at that stage where you need a push. A gentle prod. Be open to all the things around you. Somewhere there will be that something to get you going! We’ve only been back home a few days, but already my WIP basket has been raided!! (And for those of you who don’t craft – WIP stands for Work in Progress – and there is a lot of that!!)

 

 

 

 

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Bombers from above!

You’re at the seaside. You’re wandering along the prom. You’re licking the runs of ice cream racing down your cornet. You’re well into the moment of the lime and coconut hit. In your own little world, when……. thump! The jolt brings your head up! Two waggling legs are gradually gaining height. You have a stunned look on your face, and the racing runs, down your cornet are reaching the bottom and delicately dripping off your fingers.

“It didn’t?” says I! “Yep! It did!” says Mr A. “Really?” “Yep! Are you OK?” “Yes, stunned and sticky!”

Before we went away we were warned. Warned of the dive bombers that invade the airs above Whitby. You know, you smile and nod but wonder. Well wonder no more! Seagulls dive bomb. Yes my hat brim took the full force! Pushed it further onto my head. Made me jump. And eat my lime and coconut double quick!! How dare they, it, spoil my lime and coconut moment?! Lesson learned. Never eat your ice cream wandering down the prom!

There were in fact posters all a round – “Don’t feed the seagulls!” Well I wasn’t feeding the seagull but it had obviously learned from previous experiences. Bless it!

But the seagull is an elegant bird to watch swooping and gliding a round the sky.

Yes, big birds but elegant. Graceful. Noisy!! Oh yes, noisy! Being at the top in our sunbeam flat, we were often on a level with their swoops. Certainly on a level with their perches. And their nests. On a level to make eye contact. Sitting on the sofa we often stared each other out….

Funny things with their raucous cry “Is anyone down there?”

Sitting resting. Sitting caring. Sitting watching the world go by.

Well what do you do when you have a camera and you’re at seagull height!! OOPS!

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All a board! Chuff. Chuff.

We love steam trains. Chuffing around on branch lines. Lots of steam and that noise that builds. Chuff…….chuff…..chuff..chuff.chuff.chuff!!! I know – I’m a bit of a dafty!! Anyway, this time we treated ourselves to a return journey to Pickering, stopping off at Grosmont.

  

Spick and span Repton pulled in, so a quick run up and down snapping away.

  

Sadly the train had to cheat! A diesel – old – was at the back to do all the work. The risk of fire across the moor was too great, but lots of steam for effect meant we still felt as if we were chuffing! Also the windows had to stay up as there was quite a lot of soot around!

We pulled into Grosmont for a cuppa and a look round the engine sheds. A vintage experience in the tea room!

But hold tight we’re off again! Pickering!

   A pretty station – with pretty windows.

And clocks! The creative side is beginning to bubble……. Hmmm… paint? Pencil? Circles? But back to Grosmont and an ice cream before chuffing back to Whitby.

Wooohoooo!!!!!

 

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A Flat of Sunbeams. Choices. Pathways.

What is the best minute of the day for you? Early? Later? Or that time in the middle? In our little flat of ‘sunbeams’, it has to be the early morning. Each day I woke early. Being in the roof it was warm. Very warm! So each day I tip-toed out of the bedroom into the room that was kitchen, lounge and dining room. Each day I threw open those wonderful windows in the roof. (Shhh.. you know the ones I mean!) Each day I let the heat of those sunbeams flood in. Each day I stood and looked. Looked at the views. The Abbey one way.

The quay and river the other. And down below the quiet view of a balcony yet to be used.

Each day I ooo-ed and ahh-ed and gave thanks. Clutching my glass of water I gave thanks for the scenery. Thanks for the flat. Thanks for the water. Thanks for His Word as I lifted up my bible. And thanks for what He did for me on that cross. And then I sat. Bathed in those sunbeams!

I sat in the same seat for the whole week, at the start of each day. I picked up my bible and opened to the next chapter. To read. Think. Read. Pray. Write. Ponder. Then take what was there, with me into the day. It sounds so simple. A simple rhythm. A rhythm to follow. To follow based on His love and care.

Choices.

What did I read? Which chapter did I choose? Or rather, which book did I choose?

The week before we came away, a friend gave me a verse. A verse she felt God was telling her to give me, that might mean something to me. I had been going through a dip. A dip in my mental state. A dip in how I was feeling generally. A not good feeling. Friends and family always try to raise you. To rally you. To get you going again. Lots of encouragement, that you take on board. Some you smile and think about, but doesn’t quite hit the spot. Some you smile, frown and think, perhaps. And some you smile, frown and think deeply, and come to the conclusion, “Yes, OK.” All, I receive in the same way, because I never know which route the given encouragement will take. All, is given with a caring heart, and valued.

Numbers.

Now this particular verse was from a book of the bible I knew very little about. Oh yes I had read the book. Read it more than once. But it wasn’t a book you visit time and again. The book of Numbers. Yes, Numbers! And to have a verse from there, made me think long and hard. In a way it wasn’t a verse of encouragement. A verse that immediately uplifts. It was really a verse of discipline. A verse from a loving Father who wants what is best for His child. A verse to make me think. So to take it on board I needed to read round it. To think hard. To read again. To pray. And to write and ponder. To put it all into context. To put it into a foundation. A foundation that would speak and highlight the word that was meant for me. So last week that is what I did. Sitting in the sunbeams. In the quiet of the morning. Resting with my LORD. My Father.

With note book by my side I have studied. Studied His Word. Studied the background and taken on board all that He wants to teach me. Still a way to go. Still more to study and savor.  A slow kind of study. A study to match the sunbeams.

Pathways.

The sunbeams that make you linger. And gradually, things are beginning to make sense. My dip has lifted. The fog is lifting generally. And, out of the fog, the truth of the verse is coming on board. So at the end of my time of sitting in the sunbeams, I give thanks again. A smile. A change of perspective. And a move forward. Slowly, for if I have found out one thing, my LORD doesn’t do things quickly. He doesn’t always rush. It is in His timing. It is always the best timing, and He’s using every moment to the good.

And the verse? A verse that is a question. “Isn’t it enough…?” And the answer? Of course it is enough. Change perspective. Look again. And the positive is always there.

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Christian, inspiration, Pathways, Places | 1 Comment

Holidays. Goodbye to something special. Hello to something new.

For years – and I mean years!- Mr A. and I have hooked up ‘my little home on wheels’ and trundled our way around the UK. From Wales to Kent, and Dorset to Northumberland, and Cumbria to Norfolk. Yes we have been all over, with the exception of Scotland – not sure why? – and we even ventured onto a ferry to the Isle of White, albeit with a trailer tent. I loved our little home on wheels. We decked it out with all those little extras that you accumulate from place to place. An extra cushion here, a hot water bottle there. Making up beds in tent, trailer, and caravan. Until we said enough is enough! The knees couldn’t take it anymore! And we splashed out on a new caravan with a fixed bed!! Oh the height of luxury.

But that time has gone. Has disappeared for good. We have turned back the clock. Back to 1984 to 1990. Back to a time when we flicked through the cottages book. Searched every county and found the one. That perfect cottage for the week. Near a beach. In the hills. Even across the sea to Denmark. Yes, we have returned to the cottage. We tried it in Cornwall. Thumbs up! And this time we have tried it in Whitby!

Not a cottage. A little flat. High up in the clouds, or really the sunbeams! For like everywhere the sun shone and the temperature was just right, with that little breeze you get at the seaside. Yes, high up! In fact 44 steps up to the top of a building! Right in the middle of Flower Gate. Bang in the middle of Whitby. Next to the beach. Next to the quay. Next to shops. Coffee shops. Fish and chip shops. Stick of rock shops. You name it we were near it. And if we weren’t exactly near it we could see it. Views of the Abbey. Views of the boats. Hills in the distance. Bang in the middle of it all!

And at night when the sky was clear I played about with the zoom looking at the moon!

Now where does the man in the moon live? See you tomorrow!

 

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