One resource I have had--or at least made use of--is time for others. There has been time for prayer, time for patients in my nursing days, time for my children and time for colleagues in other areas of work. Now in retirement, there is time for community work, catching up with family, "old" friends, unwell folk and--of course--grandchildren! This investment of time has often come in the form of telephoning, letters, emails--especially when distance is a problem--as well as personal visits.

It could be encouraging someone who feels down or is facing a difficult time ahead, giving comfort after loss and, most importantly, listening. In more practical ways, it could mean helping with housework, shopping, reading, helping someone with their English or helping children at school.

Not having been blessed with constant good health and having been hospitalised a few times, I have been surprised to find I could use this time of recuperation to encourage other patients in their road to recovery, or comfort them when recovery is probably not an possibility. What impressed me most is that almost every fellow patient I've met has a situation that seems worse than mine, so there is always an opportunity to sympathise and listen.

But the stewardship of time is not always just a passing conversation. It is a continuing commitment--a follow-up.

Recently, during my volunteer work, I went to the assistance of a woman who was quite distressed. While providing her with a meal, she opened up and told me some of her life, and--very modestly--her artistic skills and qualifications. But she also talked about more recent, unhappy events and family pressures she was under, resulting in ill health.

With continued contact, prayer, encouragement and some (hopefully) helpful advice, her attitude toward life has become much more positive over the months. Her health and family situation have improved, and her daughter is now happily married and living back in Australia. It has been so rewarding to see these changes, to be able to play a small part and feel the gratitude for friendship shown.

I just continue to pray that she and her loved ones will see God's hand in their lives and walk closely with Him. I also pray for many more opportunities to use my time in helping others in this way. There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1. Barbara Wood is retired and lives in Hornsby, New South Wales.