5 Reasons Why We Need to Rest

Today I am a guest blogger at (en)Courage – a blog started earlier this year as “Gospel-Centered Hope to Fulfill Your God-Given Design.” Christina Fox, author of the upcoming A Heart Set Free (which you’ll be hearing more about from me soon), asked me to be a contributor, so I will be be writing semi-regularly there, along with a team of gifted women writers who also call the PCA  (Presbyterian Church in America) their denominational home.

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rest

I’ve long viewed rest as a luxury that I couldn’t afford. I was too busy. I’m a part-time counselor/writer/speaker, pastor’s wife, and a mom of young children. When was there time to rest? Rest seemed indulgent, until it became a necessity when I hit burnout in the fall of 2015.

God stopped me in my busy performance-driven tracks, and forced me to be still. Psalm 46:10 has long been a favorite verse of mine – “Be still and know that I am God.” I know that being still is a precedent for part b of this verse, “I [God] will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I have counseled many others about the value of solitude, going away and being with God the Father as Jesus did throughout his ministry. The practice of Sabbath rest one day out of seven has long been a spiritual discipline which I’ve championed for others, while practicing it inconsistently throughout my life. Isaiah 30:15 is also a favorite verse for me – that in quietness and trust is strength; and salvation comes through repentance and rest. Yet for all my head knowledge, without the regular practice of holistic rest, I grew exhausted and weary as my heart and soul lost sight of rest.

What is Rest?

Before I give you five reasons we need to rest (especially as women), let me first define rest. Rest is the regular rhythm of taking a break from the usual demands and stresses of life and ministry. Rest includes all of these components: mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical. … [Read the rest of the article at (en)Courage here.]

9 things I learned in January: from Buffer to Freedom Firm

I am linking up with a favorite blogger and author, Emily P. Freeman (Grace for the Good GirlA Million Little Ways, and Simply Tuesday), for her monthly series “what I learned.” It’s a fun way to summarize each month and take stock of it, and to share things that are a mixture of serious and silly/fun.

1 – To rest takes a lot of work. As my husband starts a 3-month pastoral sabbatical, and I get the privilege of joining him on this break, it’s been surprisingly hard to slow down as I need to and have been longing to do. I think it’s akin to stepping off a moving sidewalk (like at the airport) – there’s a bit of a jolt as your gait has to readjust to “normal.” Cue the metaphor for going from crazy busy to rest.

michael hyatt

2 – Michael Hyatt = amazing virtual “platform-building” coach. Thanks to my friend and fellow writer/blogger/speaker, Leigh Ellen, for encouraging me to check out his podcasts.

3 – Buffer is an easy way to regularly schedule updates to Twitter and Facebook. (Consistency can be difficult for me in every area of life, so I appreciate any and all tools that help me stay on track.)

4 – I have “donated” $135.35 to our public library since 2010. My donations have been in the form of library fines. Oh, yeah. At least it’s for a good cause? (I tell myself.)

anna quindlenannie dillard

5 – Anna Quindlen and Annie Dillard are two different authors. For some reason I thought they were one and the same. They’re not. I’ve greatly enjoyed both of their writings, two books which made it to my favorite books of 2015 list.

6 – Making the right choice for your family and yourself doesn’t necessarily feel easy or good all the time. As I’m choosing a 9-month sabbatical from counseling to devote more time to parenting my twin 5-year-old daughters (among other factors), I have to dig deep to stay motivated for the shift in pace/focus/energy. I love my daughters, and I am convinced this is what’s right – but it doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle with this decision. It’s a good place for me to be – reminding me of how dependent I am on God’s love and strength and sufficient grace for the new challenges that are ever-present.

path

7 – Visioning energizes me, whether it’s my own personal vision, talking with someone else about theirs, or creating a vision with my husband for our family during this season of sabbatical. Speaking of vision – I’d love to introduce you to my friend Dan who’s a life coach and a former colleague of mine from my days working as a recruiter at Serge. Check out his blog here that talks about his new venture of life coaching. And while I’m talking about life coaches, I had the great experience of a visioning seminar with local coach Melissa. I highly recommend her seminars!

8 – Looking at kindergarten for our daughters has been unexpectedly emotional for me. I’ve felt on the verge of tears after each school tour we’ve taken. This milestone for our girls in the fall of 2016 feels huge and momentous. (Even though they’ve been in preschool for three years already!)

light at the end of a tunnel

9 – The biggest impact Freedom Firm (based in India) has seen for rescuing victims of human trafficking comes through prosecuting brothel-keepers. Oh, that there would be more justice and more rescues in this crucial arena of fighting darkness with light! 

 

 

a few of my favorites

It’s been awhile since I last shared a few favorite links with you. So on this Sunday morning, there’s no better place than here and now to invite you to read along with me.

For all of my fellow write-in-the-margins readers, this poem by Billy Collins speaks right to us.

grocery list notepadThis grocery list by BrimPapery. (I *heart* all things organizing and all kinds of paper. Love her design and I just found this: a gorgeous 2016 calendar).

When you feel mom guilt (and what mom doesn’t?), Sara Hagerty (author of Every Bitter Things is Sweet about finding God when life stops working for you) offers these words to encourage our hearts in The Best (and Most Resisted) Words A Mama Can Say: Help. I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.

On those who share my feeling of weariness, this is hope-filled and honest: Lay Your Tired Stories to Rest by Charlie Howell, a student at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

Enjoy your Sunday, friends. May it bring you rest as you step away from the busy, frenetic pace of life for a few moments or hours. And may you find that a God who is there in these still moments.

 

 

 

 

 

what I learned in April: Uber, Rifle Paper Co, and Coloring Books for adults

It was a busy month, but then again I think every month lately has been. April was busy in a different way because my husband and I were out of town for 5 days at a conference/getaway. Which made the rest of the month … well … a bit exhausting, between getting ready to go out of town and then coming back from being away and having to catch up on life. It caught me off guard – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here are a few things I learned in April (linking up with Emily Freeman):

what we learned in april

1 – Koala bears are not bears, but marsupials. We learned this from a new favorite book recently checked out from the library: Xander’s Panda Party.

IMG_86722 –  Rifle Paper Co. and its designer/founder are pretty amazing. My husband grew up with the owner/designer, Anna Bond, and so we were able to get a personal tour of their company/storefront in Winter Garden. I was in awe of the remarkable growth in five years, and of Anna’s creativity and unassuming spirit. She graciously autographed a few items that I bought, and put up with my starry-eyed admiration when I asked to take a picture with her.

photo from nytimes.com

photo from nytimes.com

3 – Uber is the best way to get around Orlando, Florida. We tried this alternative-taxi service available through a phone app and loved it. I mean, within minutes of requesting a ride, a personal driver showed up at the very corner of Winter Garden where we were waiting.

4 – Crossway publishing company is a great fit for me as I write my first book with them. It’s on the topic of shame, and I’m unashamedly happy to be part of such a team. I was able to meet many of them in person for the first time at the conference we attended in Orlando (The Gospel Coalition).

5 – Jen Wilkin, Christina Fox, Jen Pollock Michel, and Bethany Jenkins are my newest favorite writing-friends. They have each written extensively for several sites including TGC blog, Her.meneutics, and/or Desiring God, and I wish we all lived closer and could hang out and talk about the highs and lows of writing and finding God in the midst of the process together.

6 – I can feel tremendous (self-imposed) pressure to go to all the scheduled events of a conference, when what I may need more is space to rest. This was the double-edged sword for me of the conference we attended: I didn’t want to miss anything, but it was a fairly packed schedule and so I also didn’t want to miss out on anything great either. Added to this was the fact that Seth and I needed/wanted a getaway just the two of us – and instead were part of a conference attended by 6,000. Next time: two separate trips for two different purposes!

7 – Doing too much without breaks leads to a break-down. The week after returning was rough for me. I felt tired yet needed to be “on” as a parent, counselor, and moving assistant for my in-laws. Note to self: working for days on end without rest/good breaks is not good for the soul or body.

coloring page8 – Best new trend worth trying: coloring books for adults. Seriously. Read this article, and then purchase your own here.

day 12: rest

photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

Rest restores the soul and refreshes the body. How good of our Creator to build a rhythm for rest into our days! Six days of work; one Sabbath rest. Without it, we suffer. Burnout is epidemic in our culture – some of it obviously so, much more silently suffered. We are all tired. Crazy busy. Unfulfilled. Stressed out.

Rest requires that we step off the throne of our universe and admit that we are not in control, indispensable, or unlimited in our resources and strength. 

When was the last time you rested?

What’s keeping you from it now – today – the next five minutes?

Rest as a holy pause makes work more fruitful and reminds me that when I am still, God is still God. Fruitful work leads to rest, and rest leads to fruitful work.

Rest is communion with the holy. What’s holy in your life? It’s your people and God’s Word and His world. Sabbath is a time to reconnect with each. To get outside and soak up creation’s beauty; to stop the busy-ness and talk to the people with whom you share a dwelling; to say no to all the other constant demands and say yes to drinking deep of the fountain of life.

You’ll find invitations like this one with your name on it:

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

frenchpressmornings.com

frenchpressmornings.com

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Day 12 of the 31-day writing challenge. Find more here.

when less is more

less-is-more

photo credit: vanseodesign.com

“More, more, more!” is the mantra of our American materialistic culture. It’s quite too easy to get sucked into this vortex of spending, consuming, acquiring, building, adding. This message of “more is better” spills into the crevices of my attitudes about time, too. So I find myself over-scheduling our summer days out of fear of boredom; and I find myself researching the next best activities in which to enroll my preschool-age daughters; and then while I’m at it, I might as well think about community classes I want to participate in as well. Plus I should actually be using my gym membership on a regular basis, and the memberships we have to a few local attractions. And before I know it, we are all spinning, spinning, spinning like the hamster in her crystal clear ball who thinks she may be running her way to freedom. Nothing has changed though – she is just as trapped as 15 minutes earlier when her owners placed her there for “exercise.”

For a while now, I’ve been challenged to consider “less is more.” Hatmaker’s book Seven is the best cultural expose [don’t know how to add an accent there] I’ve read so far – it will jolt you out of comfortable materialism in the best of ways. Slowly I’ve sought to purge our home of the unnecessary “stuff” and certainly to think twice before buying more. My friends Katherine, Mary, and Maria have inspired me to think about what this could mean for our kids, and I’ve done a few toy purges as a result. It turns out when my kids have fewer options to play with, they really are more focused and contented in their play. (Not to mention that there is less mess to clean up!) Simplicity Parenting is on my summer/fall reading shelf because I want to consider this further.

And then there’s time. Yesterday I trimmed a couple activities in favor of a more leisurely start to our day, and we were all happier. We need fallow hours in a day. I need them, and my three-year-old daughters certainly do. Less schedule means more quality time spent together in the ordinary, and less rushing. When I say quality time, this doesn’t usually mean that we are all blissfully enjoying one another’s company. It often means I am refereeing the screaming girls as they fight over the most-popular-toy-of-the-minute – but I am doing so without trying to also rush them out the door, to get dressed, to put on those darn ever-wandering shoes, to eat their breakfast NOW. Quality time with preschoolers looks like floor time doing a puzzle or playing a game. Or sipping my coffee while I enjoy their “show” (usually dancing to Frozen’s ever-popular “Let It Go”). And then some more coaching in how to get along with one another, and how not to have a mean face when you’re not getting what you want, and how to listen respectfully to me, and how to enjoy the slow unscheduled time.

Less is quite certainly more. It’s a trade I hope to continue to learn and practice and discover – that when I trade the “more is better” for “less is more” mantra, we all end up with what I wanted more of in the first place. More joy, more quality of life, more tuning in to the important and tuning out the apparently urgent, more of stepping out of the ever-exhausting cycle of acquiring stress and stuff in favor of learning contentment with what I have and appreciating what I’ve been given.

Thursday free write

I sit in a quiet, secluded room of the Y, looking out at the Norfolk skyline on the fourth rainy day (or so) we have had this week. A welcome respite for the dry ground, which has not received actual rainfall that counted since August 10.

And here is a picture of my soul this past month. There have been waterings occasionally, but nothing substantial. It’s been busy, busy with good and beautiful things like one last vacation at the beach and the twins’ third birthday and retreat speaking and community group and women’s Bible study and preschool. So I took a soul time out this morning, and I did a yoga class followed by this space. This space of breathing. Of noticing life rather than letting it rush me by. Yoga felt slow to my fast-paced world of efficiency. And isn’t that illuminating?

On a date with Seth last week, I realized a few things – that writing helps my soul to breathe and I haven’t been doing that enough this fall; that when exercise is pushed off my plate it means the plate is too full; and that weekends need to be empty when the weekday rhythm of a pastor and counselor’s family leaves us all coming up for breath at its end.

What am I doing about it? Well … this. Starting to get in the habit of writing again. Saying no to external demands to say yes to Christ’s whispered invitation to my soul to “Come … all who labor … and R E S T.” What helps you to rest? What keeps you from it? Do share. We all need reminders and ideas of how to pursue the rest for which we have been redeemed.

links to savor on your Sunday

Good morning, friends! This Sunday morning, I am lighter than I’ve been in awhile because of completing yesterday’s retreat speaking on wisdom (and being reminded of the beautiful gospel truth I had the privilege of telling to these 70+ ladies yesterday, that I told first to myself – wisdom comes in a Person … more posts to come, I’m sure); and coming back home from our last week at the beach with family. A last week to soak up sunshine, the unmatched glory of an ocean-meeting-sky horizon, the break from go-go-go to simply be free from schedule and appointments and work, to focus on what (who) is most important: the sun-kissed faces of daughters; my tanned face husband; parents-in-law who shower us with love; my Creator-God as the giver of the gifts of this week.

And now, here comes the week out of its double-barreled shotgun. Church is up and running and in full fall swing for our pastor and counselor family. A little voice urgently summons me next door a full HOUR before normal wake-up time (really?!), and there are words I wanted to write and a week I wanted to pray through. And it’s easy to feel like vacation has evaporated like a morning mist. Oh my.

Then I read these words as another wife and mom anticipates her week, and I smile in recognition and I know I’m not alone, and that there will be grace for each challenge.

And a thought-provoking post on what I really need this September, which exposes my own similar struggles.

Finally, another pastor’s wife talks about finding Sabbath rest when Sunday’s the biggest work day of your week and your kids are young.

Enjoy, friends … now on to step 1 of this week: get some caffeine and try to love all the people in my house on my way to the coffee pot …

Sabbath rest for a mother’s heart

If you find yourself in need of rest, true heart rest, these links will help you follow the voice of Jesus as he leads us there (Matthew 11:28-30).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A poem by Sarah Dunning Park – http://simplemom.net/poem-book-learning/

“Chatting at the Sky” – When the days are long and the minutes are longer

Christina Fox at “The Gospel Coalition blog” – Motherhood for the rest of us

(in)courage blog  – How gentleness makes our children great

Jen Hatmaker – More grace: on not being mean, hateful, and horrible

 

 

Jesus Encounters the Woman at the Well – or should I say, Target …

As our community group studies the book of John together, using the fabulous “good book series” by Tim Chester, we come to this week’s encounter about Jesus meeting “A Desperate Woman” (the Samaritan woman at the well, story found in John 4). Raise your hand if you qualify. Yes, I see those hands. One of the questions prompted me to reflect on how Jesus would address me. If Jesus encountered me, probably in the aisles of Target, and talked of living water, what would he point to as patterns where I seek satisfaction elsewhere? What’s my “if only” that I’m living out of? I share this hoping you will relate to this desperate woman and the Jesus who offers her true Life.

“Heather, look at what’s in your cart. You think that once you and your daughters are dressed well and once your home looks like the pages of Pottery Barn, you will be satisfied. You also think once your life is so-called ‘balanced’ (meaning you feel in control most of the time and have enough time to yourself), you’ll feel satisfied. You’ll be able to exhale when your relationships are conflict-free. Not so, my daughter. I watch you run yourself ragged and overspend trying to be satisfied and feel secure. Stop running. Rest in me, in the midst of the chaos of your days. Let me direct you. Live out of the inner satisfaction you’ve tasted before through my Spirit who dwells within you. Live out of the identity you have in me – you are mine; you’re beautiful; you’re more than ‘good enough.’ You’re righteous. Perfect. Complete. The Spirit is there to help you experience these realities, to believe I am true and deeply satisfying, to free you from places you run for temporary, fleeting satisfaction. Drink deeply of my living water. That’s right. You can start putting back most of what you’ve filled your cart with today. And I promise you’re not trading in joy – you will know it more deeply in me, as you always have.”