Having previously lived in Australia for 17 years, and during a prolonged season of drought, I am accustomed to the brittle, brown grasses of summer, but I never thought I'd see it here in the UK! I have a picnic photo from last year's Mum Heart picnic (see below) where we reclined on blankets atop a carpet of lush green. Contrast that with this year where all the saturation seems to have drained away with exhaustion. But it was so fun to meet with these sweet women for our 3rd annual Mum Heart picnic. Rain or 31˚ sunshine, we made it! These ladies are troopers, bringing their buggies and kiddos, picnics and even wading into the stream barefoot for a refreshing albeit painful adventure to find fish. (Those stones were sharp!)
I introduced the kids to the game of 'Poohsticks' which takes it's name from founder, Winnie-the-Pooh. Poohsticks is a game first mentioned in 'The House at Pooh Corner', a Winnie-the-Pooh book by A. A. Milne. It is a simple game which may be played on any bridge over running water; each player drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner. The annual World Poohsticks Championships have been held at Day's Lock on the River Thames in the UK since 1984. Isn't that fun! I don't think we'll be entering any championships soon though...
Like the parched landscape in my back garden right now, I know my heart can grow thirsty like this. Seasons of motherhood, work, life pressures, can be so demanding, drawing on the resources of our mind, soul and strength. Just the repetitious routines can leave me feeling drained and weary. With so much being continually asked of our lives, we need to cultivate the habit of resting in the refreshment of God's word.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The psalmist wrote this of the one who chooses to 'meditate on God's word day and night, who delights in his word'. This is the one who flourishes and prospers.
A few nights ago, I stood in our back garden looking up at the stars and heard a 'psht, psht, psht' sound coming from next door. I realised my neighbours had their sprinkler system on. Aha! No wonder their plants are doing so well, looking so flourishing even in this scorching heat and their grass so green! In the cooler, quieter, stillness of the night, when all are sleeping or at ease, they are sneaking the water in! We can learn to water ourselves. Whether in the longer down times which allows us to drink deeply, or slipping in that 5 minute moment, we can cultivate the habit of watering our needy souls.
We can train ourselves to be like the tree described in Psalm 1, firmly planted by the streams of living water. Jesus Himself is that Living Water and He promises to share His life with us as we go to Him.
Another area that waters us are relationships; gathering together, reaching out to others. I love when women meet together. We laugh at the shared mishaps of life and home, the joys, a sympathetic touch, pray for one another, swap recipes, book recommendations, bargains on sale, scriptures which sustain us. God's word says that 'The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters shall himself be watered' (Prov 11:25). As we stretch beyond our own walls and home to show kindness to another, we gain so much back in return.
For a long time I wished someone would come take me under their wing. I was shocked when God's reply was 'Be what you need'. If I want a friend like that, be a friend like that...to someone else. I confess, it's not always easy initiating, oftentimes it can feel lonely, but as I've pressed through over the years I have come to see the truth of those words, reflected in the harvest of deep, Christ following friendships I now journey with.