Rest and Recreation Rhythm

Lake District:

One can see why so many English writers and artists spent and continue to spend time in the English Lake District. The weather alone invites you to enjoy stunning verdant nature walks on the not so rainy days as well as cozy tea-drinking, Grasmere-Gingerbread-eating days when the weather looks better from the inside.

We have recently come back from a refreshing and restorative 9 days in the Lake District, staying in Ambleside near the largest lake in the UK – Lake Windemere. Our church friends own a holiday home called the Old Fisherbeck where their family enjoys time together and they bless others like us, sharing it with us too. What a gift – a place of rest nestled among beautiful hills and tranquil lake waters.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

Psalm 23:1-3

This passage describes perfectly this time of rest and relaxation for me. I will try to paint a picture of our days in Cumbria so that you can imagine with your minds eye the power of this place. These lakes in this summer season do not have loud motorboats and jet-skis marking up the calm waters… instead, visitors kayak, canoe, sail or ride the quiet tour boat that barely leaves a wake of water.

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If feels like everyone wears hiking boots in the towns as there are countless trails to explore and peaks to climb. These are not Disney-ride-queuing engineering, but often rugged map-reading-requ2016 093 SAM_0811ired routes following damp stream beds..

However, when you climb the lung-exhausting rocky trail…

 

…you end up with soft grass covered vistas to pause and reflect at the wonder of nature and creation.

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And when you return through Beatrix Potter’s Peter-Rabbit-inspired hollow at the end of this trail in the inviting town of Grasmere, you can enjoy the famous Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread as a treat with a good cup of tea.

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On sunny days canoeing is so delicious and tempting. We hit the hottest day of the year so far in the UK, so we rolled the Canadian canoe of our friends to the lake and enjoyed a day on or in the water, stopping for  a picnic with nearby munching sheep as we enjoyed watching elegantly-floating swans.

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Are you hearing the gentle lapping of the water and the refreshing breeze on your skin? Can you feel the draw to lay underneath a giant oak tree near the water’s edge after a delicious well-earned lunch after paddling up a river, then along the shore from Ambleside (barely visible behind swans in photo)? Are you mesmerized by the sparkling sun-kissed deep blue waters? Can you feel yourself breathing deeper, your heartbeat slowing to a calmer rhythm?

Is this what Jesus did after His busy ministry days? Usually it was in the night but those early mornings must have been glorious with His Abba Father in the quiet.

Here in England one enjoys the long summer days when the sun is shining to the utmost, as they are precious and not common like California summer days. On one of those days I enjoyed sitting on a nearby bench with a view of the lake only ten minutes from the Fisherbeck. I love beckoning benches, don’t you? After reading for a while, my spirit felt called into the cool trees where I happened upon a lovely fern-filled trail and a trickling stream – He leads me beside “trickling” water – He restores my soul. I sat on a rock and slipped off my sandals and dipped into the running water. 2016 136 IMG_20160718_174437820

 

 

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On days when the weather is less inviting, Old Fisherbeck offers a conservatory room where I enjoyed therapeutic coloring.

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After a hard rain we ventured forth on a trail that led us to powerfully gushing waterfalls just on the outskirts of Ambleside. The natural beauty of this place simply never ends, for even if one has seen something before, the weather, the clouds, the light and the shadows transform it.

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On our final day we explored Lake Ullswater and the mystifying Castlerigg Stone Circle. One could see why the ancient people thought this spot was special – it has a 360 panorama view of the mountains. Simply heavenly and so quiet as if an ancient hush covers the sheep-friendly collection.

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My soul was refreshed and deeply filled, enabling me to head back down the mountains, back to the south sea town of Worthing to carry on walking with a more steady step with My Good Shepherd. May you find those spaces and places to meet with God and allow Him to refresh your soul. It is time well worth taking. It is where we can discover His Shalom – His peace. His Rest.

Where do you experience green pastures and quiet waters?

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Sentimental Objects

My home is filled with sentimental objects. Is yours? What I mean by that is, objects that remind you of someone, a place, a time, an event that you want to remember or perhaps deeply miss. I have recently realized that my home is a type of museum of such artifacts.

Everything Is Illuminated PosterLiving overseas far from family, friends, and the familiar for almost two decades AND living in two different countries has only increased my propensity to collect. Now I am not as strange as the main character in Everything Is Illuminated, where he collected personal affects, like dentures, hair etc. from loved ones, placed them into a sealed clear bag and then posted them on his bedroom wall. Don’t let that description put you off from seeing this amazing film that mostly takes place in Ukraine with adorable big eyed, Elijah Wood trying to discover his Jewish family’s past.

This collecting has come to the forefront again as we have been once again sorting through the remaining items of colleagues/friends/missionaries that have left the field. I practically re-sort my whole household trying to weed out the old and bring in the newly left behind items that I like and remind me of times gone by. It is almost a part of the grieving process… the saying goodbye… the letting go. It is also a way for me to think of dear ones and pray for them and thank God for the chapter or season we shared.

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Let me give you a short tour. In the kitchen, we have visible to the eyes my mother’s copper canister set and bright red fondue pot, plus some collected salt shakers of my grandmother. There are numerous tea pots given to me from dear friends. On my fridge there are pictures of loved ones and pencil and colored drawings by my Kentucky grandchildren spilling over onto cabinets. Inside one cabinet is a cheery chalk drawing my daughter drew when she was in school – it is near all the colorful Starbucks mugs which began as a gift in our Black Forest Academy school days from Jen, who incidentally married my son’s best friend.

There are Polish pottery gift pieces and Germany pottery from where we used to live. Collections of dishes stem from shepherding Field Leaders, the Old Coastguard House where our mission office began and where we lived our first four months, former BFA staff and friends, my grandmother, and my husband’s family dishes that he grew up with in South Korea.They are reminders of the special memories of shared gatherings around a table of fellowship and conversation, both ordinary and special occasions. I even have carried my paternal grandmother’s blue mixing bowl and Golden Anniversary tea pot with me across the oceans and land. I have my maternal side of the family’s ancient Irish glass punch-bowl. All visible and eclectic.IMG_20160708_102138287

In the dining room I have decorated my Fourth of July table with bright blue and red handmade Nigerian placemats from pastor Joseph who lived with us in Colorado. There is a wooden shadowbox left by a missionary friend on the wall which displays shells from all over and handmade ceramic napkin holders made by Beccy B ( an art teacher who made our lives shine with her winning charisma); Steve’s dad’s silver baby spoon and a few other knick knacks given to me when a child. A redwood tree Burl clock ticks comfortingly next to the shadowbox that has moved with us from our wedding onward.

Moving into the lounge area there are bright importesque cushions on the couch that were in my relaxed office in Germany where I used to read children’s stories to the students feeling the pressuIMG_20160708_102422520re of leaving childhood. You are getting the gist… A single green plant sits on a bookshelf given to me by another student – thank you, Dan B. There is a German basket full of stuffed animals, puppets and books that I pull oIMG_20160708_102206940ut when Skyping with my grands. Two  of my  favorite tea set collections peep from atop shelves – antique Japanese and modern Uzbekistan.  A silent German cuckoo clock also hangs on the wall – purchased as a goodbye gift from our 12 years in Germany. A Turkish woven carpet from one of our dorm daughter’s sits under our coffee table. Even the gold cross cake topper from our wedding cake is hung on the wall.

Our hallway upstairs is the ancestor gallery of pictures – something I put together before heading overseas to give us a sense of history far from home. In the bathrooms there are artwork from loved ones and more pictures of beloveds. I even made curtains from the material my mom made our living room drapes from- another reminder of happy home days.

The bedrooms have old hats, sewing boxes, family furniture, including a rocking chair made for my mom to nurse me in by my Pampa. A favorite oil painting from Korea is over our bed and freshly washed sheets from the Old Coastguard remains covers our bed. Watercolors from scenes from Room with a View by my brother beautify the walls over the guestroom bed that belonged to my parents. My doll collection finally found a place to be displayed after 30 years of beinIMG_20160708_122044815_HDRg packed away. Framed cross stitch-work made by longtime friends celebrating my children’s births are on the wall and my mom’s old Jemima doll toaster cover sits invitingly on the corner book shelf filled
with children’s books and inspirational novels. My son’s last teddy-bear sits ready to be held again along with Pooh and Ollie the Otter.

So you see, I have surrounded myself with familiar sentimental objects that remind me who I am, where I have come from and with whom I have journeyed this half a century of life. They remind me to pray and give thanks. We read in the Bible about remembrance monuments. Do you have any sentimental objects? Please share. I will grab a cup of tea and enjoy your examples.