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Archive for the ‘Morning Cuppa (tea)’ Category

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I dig my heals into the mattress, feel the sheets wrinkle up beneath my feet like an elephant’s skin as I push myself up to sitting. My legs are cold, so I tug at the quilt my grandmother made me–all polyester and purple and pink, though I have it flipped round so I can only see the back–and the white, nobbly chenille bedspread we bought at a market in Portugal.

I’m tempted to lie still, bask in the white light that’s pouring into my bedroom, let myself drift in and out of dreams. After all, silence is a thing that a mother learns not to waste. Silence is not a thing to waste, I remind myself, and so I reach for it–my black leather Bible–breathe in the sweet smell of the leather. Run my thumb across the gold lettering, faded from those years I read it every day. Those days I underlined verses, scribbled margin notes, added stickers–a shiny pink heart and an ice cream cone. Those days when silence and aloneness were not a foreign thing. Not like now.

And then I flip to the index, search for a phrase our pastor said. And I find it.

for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.   – Romans 8:26

And I read it, and I read it again, and I’ve read those words three dozen times before, but somehow this time they strike me. Stay with me through the day.

The day of noise, and being anything but alone–though I can feel alone in a house with no one else over the age of eight. My day of being followed by Mr. Waddlesworth, his arms lifted, his curly head tilted back, big Charlie Brown mouth wide open as he cries crocodile tears because he’d love to be picked up and carried the day long.

My day of struggling through the times tables with the Professor, and the difference between “puppies” and “puppy’s” and reminding him to be a little ray of sunshine and not a little black rain cloud.

My day of helping the General in and out of his daily costumes–felt super hero masks, and pirate belts, and cowboy hats, and asking him if he needs the potty, and then adding his wet clothes to the laundry basket when he’s been too busy saving the world to take a trip to the bathroom.

My day of crumbs and stickiness–on the worktops, on the highchair, on the walls, on the floor. Crumbs and stickiness that never stay away for long.

My day . . . and yet I found, that during those rare seconds of quiet–or at least a quiet thought–that my mind drifted to those words I’d read that morning. Drifted like it never does, and I felt wonder. Peace. Strength.

Because I knew that every time I let myself become aware of the presence of God, that He was there, also thinking of me,

caring for me,

loving me,

as He always does,

though I cannot see Him

and I do not know.

Though I forget He’s there,

and how He cares,

and hardly think of Him in my busy, noisy day,

He is there

on His knees

lifting me.

Though it’s easier at certain times than others to see the miraculous, the eternal, in the everyday, today JUST KNOW that whenever you think of Jesus, He is already right there, thinking of, praying for, loving you.

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The movement leaves me dizzy, for fast was never a speed that I’ve done well. Though words can come fast (from my lips or from my fingers), my moving and living, I’ve always done slow.

And it’s caused me problems, a little more than once, all my ponderings and perhapses. For time is sovereign in this world of ours, and doesn’t often leave room for the extras. The smelling of roses,  the sighing over music, the browsing of books. And so while I start out ambling through my day like a Sunday driver, I end up racing half panic -stricken to make up for lost time and reach this or that place when I’m supposed to be there.

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No, life doesn’t give us time enough for wonder. No, not enough time at all. Not like I thought it would be, those days before my real children came, when I poured over Victorian homemaker’s guides, all those black and white photos of ringletted children sprawled out on quilts to watch the clouds pass by, or gathered round the fire while their mother darned their stockings and read from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

While we have our moments, our moments of creativity and laughter and peace, it seems to me that every day is more like a race. A mad rush to cross off my list, and get through the cycle I completed just the day before (with a few things extra, if I’m lucky).

It’s a mad rush, a frenzy, and the movement leaves me dizzy. For all day, every day, I move things. Move crumbs from tables and high chairs, from countertops and floors. Move clothes from hamper to washing machine, from washing machine to dryer, from dryer to drawer. Move dishes from dishwasher to cupboards, from cupboards to table, and back again. And the toys, oh the toys!

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I move people, too. In and out of cribs and high chairs, pajamas and nappies, car seats and prams. The boys, they move, too. Round me in circles at times, trailing behind them their tears, their bickering, their shouts, till I feel like they’ve bound me and I might just crash.

And I’m running and I’m rushing, taking glances at my list, hardly stopping it seems at times, to eat or drink, let alone to wonder. Ponder. Enjoy.

Through the blinding light of these last few days—the unhindered light of the winter sun glaring off mountains of snow—I’ve tried to stand back and look. To breathe deeply and untangle the movement, the activity, and the noise. To find beauty, find truth, and remind myself why I do what I do. Where we’re headed, and why I dared to bring these little lives into the world.

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For what is the point of making our home look peaceful and beautiful, if peace and beauty are not found in our hearts? And how can I ever find the strength to have patience in those moments of chaos, or have serenity, or joy, or wonder enough to pour out on my children, if I do not first take time to let myself be filled?

I don’t often have hours. For though I’d like it otherwise, busyness is the call of motherhood. But I’ve learned the importance of taking a few minutes—even five or ten—to feel God’s arms around me, listen to his voice, and ask his Spirit to fill me with his strength, his stillness, his truth.

Without him I so often end up on a merry-go-round of movement, my head spinning, and my day feeling as fractured as a mirror broken into a thousand colored shards, and I cannot think straight enough to put back the pieces.

And so that alarm gets set. A few moments to myself. I’m tired, yes, but those twenty minutes of quiet, just me and God, will make all the difference for the rest of my day.

I asked some friends to help me by sharing their favourite morning readings. Some are my favourites, too, and the others, I look forward to reading. A few are also available on CD, for drives in the car or mountains of laundry that need folded or ironed! As I said, I haven’t read them all, and so cannot comment on each one, but I’d SO love to hear your thoughts on ones you’ve read–or suggestions for more! Most can be purchased on christianbook.com

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  1. One Minute With God by Kathy Hardee

  2. The Book Lover’s Devotional from Barbour Publishing

  3. Running Into Water – by Angela Blycker

  4. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

  5. Jesus Today by Sarah Young

  6. Jesus Lives by Sarah Young

  7. One Thousand Gifts Devotional Journal by Ann Voskamp

  8. Near Unto God by Abraham Kuyper

  9. Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon

  10. Because He Loves Me by Elyse Kirkpatrick

  11. Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Kirkpatrick

  12. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

  13. Surrender: The Heart God Controls by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

  14. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

  15. Crazy Love – Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

  16. Forgotten God – Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan

  17. Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Ekland

  18. Expository Thoughts on the Gospels by J.C. Ryle

  19. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

  20. Pierced by the Word by John Piper

  21. Life as a Vapor by John Piper

  22. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper

  23. The Great Work of the Gospel by John Ensor

  24. Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

  25. The Precious Things of God by Octavius Winslow

  26. Spiritual Depression by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

  27. He is There and He is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer

  28. Reflections by Jim Branch

  29. Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson

  30. The Great House of God by Max Lucado

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Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossians 3:16-17

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Dark mornings don’t call good mothers from bed. Don’t call good daddies, either. Not like beds, which call real loud. Hold us in their warmth and stillness, blankets wrapped around like strong arms that could shield us from every last thing we dread about the day. Entice us with our dream adventures, numb our bodies like a drug.

Yeah, it’s hard to leave that on late winter mornings, hard to meet cold floors with warm balls of feet, trade stillness for the swirl of to-do’s and the demands of little voices that never stop the long day.

And it’s easy to want to stop it coming, stop the start of another day. And too often this winter I’ve done that. I’ve listened to that call, counting times I’d been up in the night to comfort little cries, let myself stay a little  longer, yanked the covers another inch higher, told myself that for today, whispered prayers, half-mixed with dreams and plans, would be enough. Enough to go on. To give me perspective. To put my thoughts just where they ought to be.

But creaking crib and cracking door always break the silence, and it all ends.

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And so I start the day running, running late before I’ve hit the floor. Little things to be done–today like everyday–and so it should be no surprise, and yet I find myself overwhelmed, feeling fragile, incapable, and just a little bit insane. And then it’s not just my feet running, not just my hands trying to get it all done. My mind’s running, too, over what I’ve done wrong to make things turn out this way, and what I must be missing to leave our life feeling so fractured, so unharmonious, so flat.

Grey skies and that blue snow, these thin walls and the bitter cold, they hem us in like prison on those days. It’s a prison, and I’m running so fast, feeling so stressed that I miss three dozen precious little moments of my little men’s lives. Can’t see the beauty all woven through my day. Can’t see those sparkles of light, though I know my little men see and feel all the greyness of my frustrated tears.

And on those days even the words won’t come, though I sit down to write. Words, which have always been with me, forming patterns, rolling round my mouth as I make sense of world. Because on those days there is no sense, and so the words, they just don’t come.

It’s a hard thing, too, in the evenings, dragging myself away from the dreams of Pinterest, the drama of television, the softness of the couch. It’s a hard thing when the wee ones are down and my tea’s not cold, and I can put two sane thoughts together without any little voice to interrupt. It’s hard to leave that stillness, brush my teeth, climb into bed. But it’s worth it. Worth the rest. Worth the energy I’ll have next morning to be the first one up, with time to find some stillness there in the almost light of a new day.

His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.

~ Lamentations 3:22-23

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Because though I’ve heard it, I still need it. I need it every day. Need to hear the voice of Him that made me, hear just whose I am, and what I am, and why. I need truth. Love. Strength. Light.

And so early to bed (and then to rise) is a worthy goal. Because good mothers need rest. Good daddies need it, too. And more than that we need to pause a minute (or a few), and reach out to take the hand of the One who walks right with us (though we sometimes forget it) through every hour of our day.

“I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day,” said Mr. Irwine.  “No dust has settled on one’s mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the rays of things.”

~ George Eliot

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Another week begins.

Outside, a change has come.

A bitter wind that those bare, black trees just can’t hold back.

My hands are raw like a nurse’s, from all that hot scrubbing.

Because though it’s Thanksgiving week here in America,  

for me it will be another seven days of much the same,

if I want to look at it that way.

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Loading and unloading

dishwashers,

washing machines,

wee ones in and out of beds.

Washing and scrubbing

walls,

floors,

toilets,

faces,

feet.

It’s sacred ground, you know, my home.

Sacred, with Jesus here.

Beside me as I labor, as I stoop.

Just as He did, right before He died.

Servant-like, He washed all the black off His disciples’ feet, just like He’d wash their hearts.

Just like He washed mine.

And so it’s sacred work, too, that I do.

Washing little hands, little feet.

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Not easy. Not easy not to pipe up about what’s fair, and who’s pulling their share of it, and what I need to be happy.

No, the work’s not easy, and it goes on and on.

But what’s easy, really easy, is to go looking for something to give a bit more meaning to it all

when the sacred is disguised as tedium.

I know it’s not there, yet how often I go looking

for something to fill that deep, deep hole.

And yet I know, when it comes down to it, where to be filled.

Filled up and overflowing.

Where I can find the strength to serve and keep on serving.

And I can’t afford not to take the time each day to be filled up,

filled up and floating on all that love, all that grace.

He’s here. Beside me.

But I need to turn and look Him in the eye.

And as I scrub, I need to look them in the eye—my little souls.

They won’t sleep under this roof forever.

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And while I’m kneeling, sometimes I’ve got to remember to keep them there, pull them to my lap.

Lean with our elbows on the windowsill to see what’s what.

With our eyes, trace the shape of those big, black trees,

the colours in the sky,

catch some geese in flight,

work together on our smile lines.

Acknowledge the sacred.

Because it’s right here.

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She rises up as morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake
And her heart is so full; it overflows
She waters us with love and the children grow

~ Andrew Peterson, “Planting Trees”

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“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”

~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables    

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You might also be inspired by “Sinking in Deep”https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/11/02/sinking-in-deep/

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A little cry breaks the breath,

the sound of the furnace as it warms the chill of these rooms,

makes the red living room curtains dance.

I rush to feed him, lay him back down, hoping for bit more time with my thoughts.

Any moment, another will call out.

And with the words, “Me ‘wake” our day will begin.

Breakfast, with toast crumbs, and sticky honey, and spilled milk (always there is spilled milk).

And sometimes giggles, and little voices lifted to sing our morning prayer.

Other times fights over who gets the blue bowl.

Or someone falling off his chair (twice) followed by hysterical tears.

And I try not to sigh. I try to remember.

The song I am writing

with this, my life.

The song they’ll be singing when they go.

What will they remember, when they go from me?

What are the notes that will dance, involuntarily, through their heads?

Notes of discord, notes of complaint?

A tune of sighs and “why”s?

Or those of grace?

Of overlooking others’ faults.

Sometimes with “I forgive you.”

Other times with silence. Ignoring that burning desire to point it out.

Lyrics of love?

Of my love, and God’s love, for them.

With myself I play it. I play my life’s song.

With my words and my hands and my feet.

With the way I do what needs to be done

(and there is a lot that needs to be done).

With the way I smile as I sweep it, wipe it, clean it up.

Put it back where it belongs. Again.

With the song of thanksgiving that I speak with my tongue

and in my heart

for all we have.

For these little ones, for their daddy.

Singing their own song that I help to write.

I can hear them now. Stirring. Scampering.

The day begins.

The song begins.

My life goes on, the song is endless.

And no part, no day, can be redone.

But each day, each moment, is new.

Each day, the song

it must be written.

And with all I have

all I’ve been given.

How can I keep

how can I keep from singing?

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The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.

~Psalm 42:8

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If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be  a merrier world.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

~ Casting Crowns

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My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

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You might also be inspired by Castle Stone, Cottage Moss https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/09/20/if-youre-scared-to-go-or-you-cant-bear-to-stay/

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A Dozen Cosies to Warm Your Heart  & Your Hands and  Bless Your Week . . .

  1. Spread a blanket and have a picnic lunch inside. Or a candlelit picnic at night when the children are abed?

  2. Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers and divide them up in jars around your house. Don’t forget your bathroom and your bedside table. And don’t forget to give them a smell.  

  3. Rake some leaves and jump in the pile. Go in and warm your hands and your soul with some tea.

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4. Bake something with cinnamon. Apple pie?

5. Go for a walk and pray until your nose and cheeks are red. Then go in and warm up with some tea.

6. Watch Anne of Green Gables and laugh and sigh when Anne is “in the depths of despair.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HZfQ7EqMUs

7. Make a cup of tea and cradle it in your hands while you read the Bible. Psalm 42?

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm%2042&version=NASB

8. Make a big pot of soup. Calcannon, an Irish favourite?

2 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced

Chicken or vegetable stock/broth

Herbs and salt to taste

200 grams kale or cabbage, shredded

300 ml cream

1. Heat butter on low. Add onion, garlic, potatoes, cook for 5 minutes without browning.

2. Pour over enough stock/broth to cover, season to taste.

3. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add the kale/cabbage, bring back to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Pour in the cream, ladle and serve.

9. Sprawl out on the carpet and listen to some favourite songs. Maybe this, by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins?

10. Invite some friends over without worrying about the house. Light some candles. Serve tea.

11. Stand under a tree, look up, and watch the leaves fall. Try to catch one.

12. As many times as you can remember, tell your spouse and your children how very much they’re loved. By God. By you.

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I always felt the shadows.

The chill of autumn always felt colder to my soul than to my bones.

But it wasn’t just the cold. It was the light.

At the first leaf I saw wave goodbye to summer, I felt an ache inside. A nauseated, physical ache that felt like a broken heart.

For I knew the darkness was coming. Those days when the sun wouldn’t shine, and the night would come sooner, and the bitter cold would bite.

Those unnatural months of rising in the dark, when the earth seems to say “Keep sleeping,” but the world is waiting for you to be somewhere by eight.

Ever since my teenage years, it was those days that most rumpled the pages of my Bible. Sent me searching for the face of real Light. Reminded me of the world’s empty promises—for in the end, no matter what we do, death will come. It will come to us all.

But I turned to my Bible. I knew its secret.

That Christian’s aren’t buried, they are planted, to one day spring forth with new life.  

Like bulbs. Like the red and white tulip bulbs I planted on Saturday.

In-between the hours of autumn rain there was a window. An hour or two of blue sky and warmth. And so I hunted out my gardening gloves and spent half an hour chatting with the earthworms. Digging holes and tucking those glossy white bulbs into the earth. Imagining the colour they will one day bring.

CAM022151And I don’t feel it as much this year.

The shadows, they don’t seem as dark.

Even though it’s getting on now—nearly November.

But there are days left ahead. Days of colour. Days of mild coolness and sun.

And I’m taking pictures.

Recording blessings.

Eating donuts and apple cider every chance I get.

And when I feel that little ache, that unsettled ripple in my soul that says, “You’re missing something. You’re not getting it quite right,” then I know. I know I have to rumple some pages again. I have to stop and listen to the voice that whispers through the trees, and through the breeze, and through the harvest, “Listen. Listen. I am the Light!”

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Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

~ James 1:17

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They’re a little bit special, these Piano Guys, and if you haven’t heard them, then you really must. Just wait for 0:48

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gosY-UrpHcA

And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.

O Light Invisible, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory!

~ T.S. Eliot

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