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Posts Tagged ‘Rest’

Summer Blessing

As the regular of the year fades into summer break, we look ahead

to sunshine, long days, lazy mornings
to BBQs, campfires, cold ice cream
to airports, ferries and sunny road trips.

May this summer

Bring great times of fun and refreshment
joy with loved ones, laughter late at night
a cleansing breath, rest for the weary.

May each day provide

Fresh food to fill your tummy.
Time for creating and love.
Memories to fill your soul.

But also,

Resolution to whats hard.
Protection for each new day.
And return at summer’s end.

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As Sunday dawns so does Sabbath … a day of rest, renewal. In our North American culture, in this time, Sunday is no different from any other day of the week. Yet our bodies, out minds, our spirits and souls cry out for all that Sabbath can and should be … rest, renewal.

However one might interpret the actual turn of events, Genesis says that:

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3)

God, the Creator of the heavens and Earth, rested from his work.

I was speaking to my mom, a few days ago, about our recent move to a new home. I was tired, bone tired. We had been unpacking and organizing for six days straight (after packing for weeks prior). My mom, in mom fashion, reminded me that it’s okay, even good, to just sit and relax and enjoy our new place. I balked that there was too much to be done, and that I couldn’t possibly enjoy anything until we were unpacked.

Then, while chatting with one of our kids, I found myself offering the same advice … that it’s okay, even good, to just sit and relax …

When advice is good and beneficial, it can even come from those of us who do not practise what we preach. It is as though our souls know what is best, even if we are deaf and blind to it’s truth in our practise.

In reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Genesis passage about God resting, I found this:

“The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.”

Sabbath is not limited to a certain day, but we all need a day of rest in our seven days. It does not have to be about an afternoon nap, it can simply be taking satisfaction in what we have accomplished, created in the six days prior, giving appreciation and homage to work well done.

If we were to regularly take time each week to honour what we have been part of, what we have worked to accomplish, what we have created, perhaps we would experience less stress, anxiety and depression.

Perhaps there is something to this day of rest.

 

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My post today is not one that I wrote, and I do not even know who wrote it, so I cannot give them the credit. What I do know is that I recently heard it, just when I needed the reminder of the message within. So, today, with back to school approaching, I am sharing this post with you, praying that you receive it just when and where you need it.

THE DEVIL’S CONVENTION
Are You Too Busy For Christ?
Keep The Christians Busy
Satan called a worldwide convention.
In his opening address to his assembled demons he said:
“We cannot keep the Christians from going to church. We cannot keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We cannot even keep them from conservative values.

Nevertheless, we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship with Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

So, let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyle, but steal their time, so they cannot gain that relationship.
This is what I want you to do. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection!”
“How shall we do this?” shouted the demons.
“Keep them busy with the non-essentials of life. Invent schemes to occupy their time.” he answered. “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 – 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with
their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.

Also:
*Super-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice.
*Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, and to keep the TV, VCR, CD players and PCs
going constantly in their homes.
*See to it that every store and restaurant in the world blares secular music constantly. This will jam their minds and break
that union with Christ.
*Fill their coffee tables with secular magazines and newspapers.
*Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.
*Invade their driving moments with billboards.
*Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogs, and every kind of newsletter and promotional
offering, free products, services, and false hopes.
*In their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and
unprepared for the coming week.
*Do not let them go out in nature to reflect on God’ s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events,
concerts, and movies instead.
*When they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled
consciences and unsettled emotion.
*Let them be involved in soul-winning, but crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power
from Christ in prayer.

Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”
Convention Aftermath
It was quite a convention. The demons went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.
Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge.
How about this definition of BUSY: Being Under Satan’s Yoke.
Author Unknown

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My son and I were discussing last evening, summer break is about to reach it’s midsection. With that realization, we both started expressing what still needed to be done, enjoyed and experienced so as to squeeze everything out of this summer. I could feel my heart quicken as my mental ‘to do’ list was growing. Then I remembered that summer was not just about recreation but relaxation as well.

Last summer was a bust for me. The moment I began to rest, my body decided to stop. It was as though all the energy reserves dried up and I was physically lifeless. So I vowed that this summer would be different. I had check-ups and blood tests. I have been eating well, getting ample sleep, and taking my vitamins. I also have been staying busy with home renovations, painting furniture, working in the garden. I have not really sat still yet, with little TV or movie watching, a book barely started, and only a handful of walks out in nature. This summer has been delightfully productive … but, not restful.

Then twice last week I said, out loud that we would not be going to our favorite west coast beach this summer, and twice I sobbed. You see for years our return to that beach meant stepping onto the sand, facing the horizon, and an immediate exhaling of all of the stresses of the year. Our week there was rest and refreshment for our dry and weary souls.

This year, we will need to find a new source of refreshment and rest. This will not be easy for me, as I struggle to stop when I can see work that needs to be done … I struggle with not being productive. I struggle with a fear that being still will cause my energy to dry up and leave me lifeless.

The following guest post, by Anna Rendell, at (in)courage, called On Blinking Cursors and New Pathways, spoke to the need to be still, and what might be found in the desert places of our lives.

“My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down. My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.My tea is hot, steaming in the cup set on an old apple crate beside my armchair. Soft piano music drifts out of my sons room, where he’s cozy asleep in bed. Crickets are chirping outside, and the birch trees across the pond rustle in a breeze. The setting perfect, I open the laptop and stare at the screen, blank and bright. The cursor blinks as if it’s expecting a next move and I know I’m letting it down.

I have no next move. I’m totally empty, utterly spent, not a word to be found in my brain or heart or fingers.

But the cursor doesn’t know that, and demands to march on. I half-heartedly clack away at the keys, flailing wildly for any thought that might make sense outside of my own head. I am sure none of them do. This heart that has always penned its feelings is dry, chalkboard dust all that remains of words. There’s been no great catastrophe, nothing life-altering to make my heart shrivel. I’m simply weary with the daily, the diapers and too-fast days and spilled juice, meetings and deadlines and full squares on the calendar.

There’s no room to just be and I am drying up.

Feeling dried up scares me. How am I supposed to teach my children, write blog posts, lead a devotion in my MOPS group, if I am running on fumes myself? A re-fueling of my heart seems impossible because there’s no time to go sit in a quiet sanctuary, on a dock at a lake, in a field of wildflowers. The perfect setting is fleeting. This is real life, people, and real life is messy and full of blinking cursors. Real life is loud, and I think I’m afraid that if I stop and be still, underneath the chatter, there won’t be anything worth saying. I forget that He calls us to stillness, to a deep sense of calm. That He speaks most clearly when I am most quiet. That even in my dryness, He shines clear.

When we are most dried up, He is able to do some of His finest work.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
– Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

Those verses make me shiver with anticipation. Real life forces us to be still and know despite the dryness we feel. Our hearts may be covered in a thick coating of dust. We may be scared – to speak, to write, to be still. We may not see the new works, the new pathways, the rivers flowing. We may see nothing but wasteland from the horizon to horizon of our lives.

Even then, He is at work creating. In us and for us, He is working. And in spite of the blinking cursor and volume of our real life noise, we can be still and know that to be truth.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer is officially here!

The schedules of the school year, of sports and other recreational activities, of work and all that is part of the rest of the year have been put on hold for rest, relaxation and recreation.

One of the best parts of summer is looking at the calendar of July and August in comparison to the rest of the months … there are so many clean blocks, with no writing on many of the days of the week. The calendar in FULL of whitespace!

Whitespace is the part of paper that is not written on.

According to Bonnie Gray, who writes at incourage.me, and faith Barista,

“just as beautiful art needs whitespace,

our souls need spiritual whitespace.”

Enjoy this guest post from Bonnie Gray.

I didn’t want to get out.

But Daddy swung the car door open.

My parents had just divorced and Daddy took me and little sister to the toy store one Saturday morning.

He wanted to buy us something to “Remember Daddy loves you,” as he placed the plastic bag in my hand at checkout. But, all I could think about was Momma. What she told me that morning. That I better not take anything from him.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that visit was going to be the last time I ever saw him again. I was a little girl, seven years tall.

Daddy kept telling me, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” But I didn’t want to walk up to the porch. My legs drilled down into the ground like roots to a thicket of thorns at the bottom of concrete steps.

My Daddy put one hand on my back, pressing me forward, as he grabbed my little sister’s hand in the other. He rapped on the screen door while I blinked and sucked my breath in.

As I held myself there for a million years, the door flew open.

There she stood. Over me.

Even behind the screen, I could see Momma clearly. Her ragged jawline, her teeth clenched and face flushed. Her chest heaving. She took one look at me, at the plastic bag I was holding. I could see it in her eyes.

Anger.

And I broke apart in a thousand pieces right then and there. I knew I shouldn’t do what I did next, because it would make everything worse. But, I couldn’t help it.

I started shaking. Tears began to erupt and my mouth pulled down into a trembling sob. I couldn’t swallow them down. So I began to cry.

Things didn’t go well for me that day, as I stood there at the screen door out on the porch.

There was no space for me.

I was split between who to please and what to do.

I could not find rest.

Longing

Even though I’m all grown up now – mom to two adorable boys, married to a loving husband — deep inside, I’m still that little girl looking for rest.

Longing for space to breathe.

To feed my soul.

To feel and dream dreams.

To just be me.

I need rest.

But, stress seems to always be one step ahead of me.

I’ve wondered if I could ever really stop.

Then, God allowed my life to come to a big stop.

A Beautiful Discovery

Two years ago, at the cusp of a childhood dream coming true – writing my first book – I was launched into a debilitating season of panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety.

Writing triggered memories to come alive. I began reliving them.

I’ve done much harder things in my life, free of panic attacks. I grew up as the oldest child in a single parent family, put myself through college, and launched first-to-market technologies in the high-tech world. I’ve even traveled halfway around the world as an overseas missionary.

But, now overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, I was no longer able to cope the way I always have:

by problem solving,

taking care of others,

planning and doing.

God was allowing my exhausted, weary self to surface, so that I could go on a new beautiful discovery: the journey of rest.

A New Journey

When we come into contact with stress, our natural response is to push through.

We don’t want to be in need or fail to meet others’ expectations, especially our own. We beat ourselves up for not trusting God.

But, God offers us a different response.

Rest. Kindness. Comfort.

Instead of being harder on us, Jesus whispers –

“Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy-laden
and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

When Jesus was surrounded by pressing needs, Scripture tell us –

“Jesus would often slip away
to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16

Jesus took time to rest because nurturing his soul with his Father was more important than what He could do.

Putting our hearts firstletting Jesus love us—is a new journey of resting with Him.

As people of faith, our response to stress is not to avoid it.

What we need is rest.

What we need is spiritual whitespace.

Spiritual Whitespace

Whitespace. It’s the space left on a page left unmarked.

Whitespace is not blank. It breathes beauty.

Just as beautiful art needs whitespace, our souls need spiritual whitespace. We need rest.

We are not project plans for God. We are not God’s stock investments, where our value rises and falls with performance.

God after all is an artist. And we are His works of art.

“For we are God’s poeima (the Greek word for workmanship, from which we derive the word “poem”)…
which God prepared beforehand…”
Ephesians 2:10

I ended writing a different book than I started.  I wrote a memoir-driven guide about my search to find rest and the answers as I found them.

To find the things I somehow lost along the way –

Quiet.

Stillness.

Beauty.

Intimacy with God.

Rest is a journey we don’t have to take alone. We need each other.

Let’s live a better story. Move beyond surviving.

Take the journey to rest. Find your spiritual whitespace.  

Listen to Jesus’ gentle whispers –

You’re loved.

You’re cherished.

Just rest.”

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As of today, the countdown really ends!

Hubby joins our younger two and myself on Spring Break (the oldest already had her reading week).

I LOVE Spring Break! It is such a productive two weeks off.

So far I have :

  • accumulated three bags of ‘stuff’ to go to the thrift store
  • purchased crack filler, and filled all holes in the room to be painted, as well as one to do touch-ups
  • had a neighbor over for dinner
  • experimented with two dinner recipes, granola bars and an apple cake
  • eliminated clothes that our son has outgrown
  • signed one kid up for summer camp and work camp
  • raked, trimmed and tidied our back garden, accumulating five garbage cans of yard waste
  • had lunch with our son
  • had lunch with our daughter, a friend and her daughter
  • had two ‘play dates’ (are they still called that when they are teens?)
  • tidied my bathroom vanity
  • and got a head cold

Every break from school results in the same scenario. I am so excited each night to have the next day off, that I struggle to get to sleep. Then, when I awaken at ungodly morning hours (like 5am), I am too excited about the clean-slate day to be able to get back to sleep. The result is that I get sick.

But, a swirly headache, and sandpaper throat are not going to keep me down …

I have a to do list to finish.

And that is how I approach each break … as a to do list.

Not that it is a bad thing to clear the cobwebs in our minds of all the things we never seem to have time for, as accomplishing so many of these things provides head space so that we can then do more of what is really important.

But,

maybe, just maybe, part of the reason we have such breaks is so that we actually slow down, and refresh?

Hum, I need to consider that …

after I give Hubby his To Do list 😉 .

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It was a Saturday evening, after a day of laundry and housework, after a long week of out-of-the-house work. I was tired, hormonal and had simply been just surviving for far too many days in a row.

So, out of the house (where more housework awaited) to my friend’s house for a coffee. Originally it was to be a cute and trendy coffee shop, but we both decided it was only right to save our pennies (even if they no longer exist in Canada) and have our coffee at her house … which would be emptied of her hubby, her Littles, and their homestay student.

Once there and our cups warmed, I mentioned a new TV channel I had heard about … the karaoke channel. Since my friend is a kindergarten teacher, I thought it might be a fun way to help kids in their learning to read, as the song lyrics are on the screen as the song plays.

Well, in seconds she had sought, and found, the channel … and an hour and a half later, when her two kids and hubby returned, one would think that they had entered an eighties dance club. We were singing from the songs we had saved in our queue, at the top of our lungs, complete with air guitar (it was the eighties, after all).

What a reprieve from the mundane routine of life … sleep, work, housework … Best of all was the laughter, from the pit of our beings, it burst from our insides out, removing the fatigue that sometimes resides within our beings.

We females, we people, need laughter, we need fun! There is a reason that recess is scheduled in for students in elementary schools … it provides a reprieve from all that is expected for a little while, so that, when recess is over, students are better able to do what is expected of them … the hard work. So too we adults need periodic recess breaks, to let loose. It might not be karaoke for you (nor did I ever think it would be for me), but instead a sport, a comic movie, a walk in the park, a visit to a new town or an episode of your favorite show, with a good friend or family member. The thing that we need to remember is that we need recess … it makes us better able to do what is expected.

And just so you can try this out for yourselves :

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