Ever had not enough time? Too much time? Made time your enemy? I lived on a mountain in an A-frame log cabin for almost nine years. We had no electricity, and no running water. We lit our small space with a kerosene lamp and built a fire in a wood burning stove every day to cook meals and keep warm. We pumped our water from an artesian well two miles away and hauled it to our home in five gallon jugs. Our hot water came from a big blue enamel stock pot living on the top of the stove. We had no refrigerator, no microwave, no big screen tv, and no indoor plumbing. We had an outhouse I painted purple with simple yellow flowers on the lid. I even put a vase of lovely wildflowers in the corner.
For the first years, my kids slept on twin mattresses on the floor on the east side of the loft area. I slept on a waterbed that took up the entire other side. Yes, it may sound odd to sleep on a waterbed in a cabin which had no running water, but the seventies were barely over and waterbeds had been very popular at the time. My husband slept either in the dirt-floored basement on a cot or under the stars on a worn mattress perched upon a large wooden picnic table.
I needed to adjust to many things about this new and unconventional life. For example, each morning, I bounced across the waterbed (the A-frame ceiling was too short for me to stand) to go downstairs and load more wood to the fire in the stove. After this, I dashed out to the front porch to bring in a frozen gallon of milk so that it could unthaw enough to drink before the kids got up. I pulled on snow boots, beanie, and a coat to tromp along the snow-covered path to visit the chilly outhouse. Then as I headed back inside I stopped and searched through soggy food in the large Coleman cooler on our front porch to find sausage and eggs to fix for breakfast. After we ate, the kids washed up in a large steel restaurant sink that hid behind a thin wall on one side of the kitchen area.
For six or seven months of the year, depending on the depth of the snow, we traveled the 8,500 feet elevation on a snowmobile which towed a large sled with a school bus bench welded to the back of it. My son stood on a platform and help onto the back of the sled. Therefore each morning, after washing and getting dressed for school, my children went through the morning routine of donning hats, scarves, snow boots, and sometimes overalls to travel down the mountain to catch the school bus where they would leave it all in our car to put on again that evening for the ride home.
All of this took some getting used to; however, for me the biggest challenge to acclimating to our completely different life style happened when each morning that snowmobile rounded the corner with my family and for the rest of the day, I was left completely alone, facing nothing but time and my own thoughts. At first it was terrifying!
To say I was not accustom to being alone with time on my hands would be an enormous understatement. In my previous world, I existed in a whirlwind of activity and people. I worked long hours at a busy job running a restaurant surrounded by customers and employees. When I had off hours, I was visited by a klatch of friends at my kitchen table bemoaning the state of our existence as we watched our kids play. I had a telephone that rung so incessantly that I got into the habit of taking it off the hook and sticking it in the cupboard (yes, this was before cell or wireless phones) so I could get something done around the house. I always had the access and ability to go where I wanted or needed to go. The idea of having time to spare or not being engulfed by company was simply not a thought I had ever entertained.
Therefore, for those first long months, time took on a new relationship with me. It’s very unrelenting presence became my enemy. I spent the morning hauling water to the large sink to wash breakfast dishes, and then filling up the hot water bucket again, making the beds, tidying up the cabin, and sweeping dirt off the rough wood floor, and then…my chores were finished. I now faced seven or eight hours of “me time” glaring at me-ready for attack. I had no obvious and easy distractions, no silly tv shows, no friend’s problems to listen to, no-one to share my own troubles with. Just me entertaining my own thoughts. I was dismayed to hear what they had to say. I had never given much room to them before, never had the quiet or space to let them fully come in. I was appalled at their intensity, their random attacks on my being, the self doubts, the constant worries. Without anywhere to hide them, they boldly showed up one-by-one and I had no choice but to confront them. This was time’s fault and I decided (with the help of my new relationship with my Savior) to do battle.
The Lord slowly, gently, quietly began to teach me to approach this time beast with weapons I had never known before. I started reading scriptures and listening to songs of praise on an old battery-operated cassette player. I developed a strong hunger to learn- remember, I dropped out of school in the ninth grade- so studying was foreign and fascinating to me. I read every Jesus or Biblical book I could get my hands on. Time smiled.
I created a prayer list and found time to be receptive to praying for others and myself. I started writing in a journal pouring my thoughts and feelings out to the Lord and noticed that often in the writing I gleaned a new and better perspective about what I was experiencing. I began documenting answered prayers and writing at least three things a day I was grateful for (a habit that was created then and continues to this day). I learned to commune with my Savior. Instead of riding down the mountain to get to where we parked the car, I often walked the two and a half miles and used these precious minutes to talk to the Lord. I eventually made time my trusted friend fighting those loathsome thoughts (not always winning- not even to this day- but better) with heavenly words and praise. I even learned to relish my alone time- to love it most of the time! Those first few years on the mountain made me cherish the unique opportunity I had to spend plenty of time growing in the knowledge of my new found faith.
Nine years later, I moved back to “civilization” and time once again became a challenging foe with its hefty sword and a different battle cry. I no longer had hours to fill. I got a job that devoured time faster than a hungry hound dog devours his morning “Alpo” and I came home so tired I barely had enough energy to push the remote control button so I could relax and watch “Oprah”. Each and every day was bombarded with constant distractions (and this was even before I had a cell phone) trying to steal any time I wanted to share with the Lord.
I have at times succumbed to the seductions of these time-thieves. I have neglected dedicated moments because it just seemed like too much work. I even went through an “angry at God” period (more on this later) where I rebelliously refused to devote time. I sometimes chose (and still do) a silly tv show over devoting time to Jesus.
However, because of my mountain experiences, I have always found myself drawn back- remembering what it felt like for me to embrace time-to study, journal, pray, and commune with the Lord. I remember the joy and the growth that can happen in those precious hours. I don’t mean to imply that these activities turned me into a saint (far from it) or solved all problems with a few easy steps, however, I know they are habits worth cultivating. I have learned they are an investment in a relationship with amazing dividends. I will forever be grateful for my mountain time and want to honor the Lord with the time He has given me now. It is my desire to keep trying to find ways to come closer.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8 NIV
Next Thursday, I will continue my story in a blog called, “Climbing the Mountain of Trust”
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Thank you as always for your amazing support, understanding, and kindness! If you would like ideas of how to squeak time with God into your busy schedule, please see “A Mountain of Time-Study”. Have a wonderful week!