Evening, Father God.
I need an early night. I know this because my eyes feel like I'm squinting, I keep yawning, and most compellingly because I am grumpy. So here I am sitting up in bed with three pillows, a warm wheaty, (I know, thankyou Lord for a few beautiful days of sunny weather; but when it gets to teatime it's still a bit parky round here, it's only March remember), a decaf coffee (with a generous snifter of amaretto added for medicinal reasons), preparing to snuggle down and get a few hours in before midnight.
My Grandma always used to say that an hour's sleep before midnight is worth two after.
But I couldn't resist bringing my little computer and before I log off for the day I want to tell you how great you are.
What a day it's been. Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.
Today my best friend and I sneaked off for a guilty morning away from all the things we should be doing and just enjoyed ourselves. I know that there's no reason that we should have felt guilty, but we did. Or I did, anyway. It felt as if we were getting away with something. I think both of us are so used to days crammed with commitments, or small children to consider all the time that time actually free, to be grown ups, to choose what to do... we were quite breathless at the prospect.
And a bit bewildered. As you are aware, we nearly blew it. 'Shall we do this?' 'Shall we go there?' 'What about this?' 'No, you decide...' so we went where we first thought of quite quickly lest the morning disappear before we'd made our mind up where our coffee was coming from.
So we went to the first place we'd thought of. So beautiful there. I feel very fortunate to live ten minutes' drive away from a place so lovely. There was nobody there when we got there just after the school run and when we got to the highest point we stood and looked out at the hazy view and breathed you in.
There's so much I love about you, Lord. We talked about you, and I had tears in my eyes as I said that one of a dizzying number of things that I love about you is that you made our world so beautiful just because you could.
I know you are a God who is mighty, majestic, powerful, awesome... maybe I need to get my head around all those aspects of you, but I love the side of you that scoops me up in your arms and gestures around us, delighting in your creation.
You are excited, enthusiastic, saying, 'Look what I've done! Isn't it great? Share it with me. Let it lift your spirits. Stop a while and be part of it because I made it for you to enjoy!'
I hope it made you happy that two tired, hassled Mums struggled to get out from under for a few hours today and then spent it gazing at the scenery that you made with your hands. I could hear birds singing, I could see the sun burning away the mist, I could smell fresh air, I could feel the coolness of a Spring morning.
I stood there with a friend that I love and talked about our wonderful God and how we were learning, moving on in our lives, looking to the future, and it was lovely.
The odd car came around the bends in the roads down in the valley and I wondered who those people were in those cars. Whether they were seeing; whether they were seeing us at the top of the rocks, or whether they were seeing the beauty around them. Maybe they had their troubles, maybe they were thinking about their worries, their plans, their busy days. Maybe the radio was playing. Maybe a baby was crying in the back seat. They were going somewhere and we'd stopped for a little while. It was great.
My little world stopped for a time and I climbed off and I can't say that I was that bothered about getting on again.
What did it was the thought of coffee and perhaps a little something or other in a lovely cafe not a million miles away. Speaking of which...
(My coffee is going cold faster than usual. I suppose that must be because the amaretto was in the fridge. That's just by the way).
So a hot latte and a slice of apple pie and a morning spent talking with someone on my wavelength from whom I learn so much. It was very happy - a real treat. After that we picked up our youngest little ones and they played together while we talked some more (yes, we are very good at talking. Words never seem to dry up).
Sunday night in church the worship was Spirit filled and the atmosphere full of you. Once again you gently spoke to me in the songs that were sung, the words spoken and the people I met. You are the Everlasting God who won't grow weary; you are the Lord, the lifter of my head. The sermon had the power of your Spirit and people shared thoughts and readings and messages. For me, I sang and I praised and I marvelled at your love, and a calm, gentle voice in my head said to me, 'You don't have to do this alone' and straight away after that, 'You don't have to fight on your own'.
My life feels a bit like a fight at the moment. So much is happening and the pattern of events seems to be:
1. Good Thing happens. Conversation, experience, thoughts, ideas, prayers, encouragement, step forward... and then
2. Bad Things happen. Illness, injury, argument, anxiety, disappointment, fear, loss, confusion, weariness.
...and over again. I've been increasingly aware of the non-random nature of these little dances; I've spoken to wise people and I've read my Bible and I'm onto it, and I will not take a step back. I'm often tired, occasionally exhausted, often confused, sometimes daunted, occasionally choked and frequently frustrated but I am having the time of my life walking with you and I won't give up.
I won't be defeated despite the battles because you have won the war. And on Sunday you told me that I don't have to do it alone, and I don't have to fight on my own.
I have you. And I have friends.
Today I looked at all you have given me, and I opened my eyes and saw it properly. I stood side by side with a special companion alongside whom I can walk in my journey with you. I inhaled the fragrance of you on the breeze as we cleared our heads of the everyday fumes of busy lives. It was only a morning but it's going to stay with me for a while.
Blessings indeed. Friendship, beauty, exercise, fresh air, wildlife, coffee, apple pie, freedom, choice, company, silence, discussion, laughter, belonging, love.
One morning in Derbyshire and you showered us with blessings.