Monday, January 30, 2017

There is Rest, and Then There is R E S T

January is a time for a fresh start, a time for new beginnings. Madison Avenue discovered how to market advertising many years ago, with the weight loss industry leading the way in January.

I am no different. As Christmas decorations are stored for another year, I want all clutter removed. A new year begs for closets to be rid of unwanted clothing, and all junk hauled to the thrift store. While I write about rest, it's the last thing on my agenda. My brain won't slow long enough for thinking of all the projects I'd love to do, places I'd love to go, books I'd love to read.

And then I silently scream...S.T.O.P.

I rush through two devotional books, read my Bible, sip tea, and wonder what I just read, all before 6:00 a.m. My mind is so hurried I'm already leaning into 10:00 a.m. and it's still dark outside.

How do I change the inner working of my brain? How do I slow my life to an unhurried pace and really listen to the words on the page I'm reading? Shouldn't I be reading less and applying what I read, rather than trying to zip through more and more books?

Looking out my window, winter is still on the ground, yet my gardener's heart beats at a faster rate. It yearns to work in the soil. Summer temps during most of the winter haven't helped either. The month of January is supposed to give a welcome reprieve from summers' toil, yet the warm weather beckons me outdoors. And my stress level rises.

Jesus tells me to find rest in Him. He says to bring my burdens to Him. My soul, the core of who I am, the innermost being of all my genetic makeup where God speaks to me through His Spirit, needs to slow to a pace where she can rest. In this rest is where His still, small voice is clearly heard.

In this place of rest the trees become a place of refuge from the storm. Birds become the symphony for one. Nothing and no one stand in the way of communion with the One who knows me best. He has the power to soothe my troubled soul and lift the burdens from my shoulders. Through His gentle words of love and comfort, I'm reminded of my worth in His kingdom. He refreshes me with words of encouragement for the tasks He's gifted me with, and prepared me for.

As He leads me to the water for a time of reflection, I'm reminded of His blessings. Every good and perfect gift is from Him and my heart is thankful. As a child who feels safe in the lap of its parent, I feel loved and cherished in the strong arms of my Savior. His promises are true and give me strength and hope to face the challenges of life.

This, is the kind of rest my soul longs for.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to rest? How do you slow your mind for the kind of rest needed for the body and soul? We were not made to live as robots in this fast paced world of ours. Please share how you find rest for the dailyness of your life.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rest, Renewal, and Reduction for 2017

I don’t know about you but I’m glad to see 2016 fade into the distance. I’m facing the coming year with a renewed sense of God’s presence and I’m at peace with much in my life, though a work in progress for sure. He has been faithful to bring healing to broken places I’ve carried since childhood.

I don’t normally make resolutions, but sometimes pick a word for the year. As I was looking at the books I received for Christmas, a theme emerged, one of rest, renewal, and reduction. My reading journal for the past year reflected books centered around these topics as well.

When I speak of rest, I’m not only referring to the Sunday afternoon kind of rest. I want to live an unhurried kind of lifestyle that allows me to find rest in God for my every need. I want to know complete peace when I lay my head on the pillow, no tossing and turning from carrying my own burdens. Jesus offers rest down by the water and I plan to take Him up on His offer.

I love pretty things. I love decorating my home, making it cozy and comfortable. Going through counseling over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I have a difficult time letting go of things. It’s deeply rooted in childhood trauma. I’m not a hoarder, but I could be. My family of origin was too neat and practical. My solution is I don’t buy much. I’m learning how to reduce clutter so I can live a more productive life. More things equals more time to manage all those things and less for real living...reading a good book out on your back porch, or taking a walk. Going out to dinner with family or friends, or strolling through an antique store at your leisure. 

Every turn of the calendar on December 31st gives an opportunity for renewal, that day we begin again, reset goals, thought processes, inner voices, however you choose to name it. If you’re blessed and breathing, you get a do-over.

Scripture speaks a lot of renewal. It begins in the mind. Aligning my thoughts with His thoughts will begin the renewal process. I’m asking God to renew my mind through His Spirit. He says if I ask and seek Him, I will find Him. In His presence I find peace, because He is Peace, and He will never lead me in the wrong direction. 

There’s a fourth “R” after Rest, Reduce, Renewal…well kind of…Writing. I want to write about my progress in each of these areas. Writing helps keep me on track. I don’t know how I’m doing until I’ve processed it through the written word. My thoughts are a swirly mess in my brain until I journal what I'm thinking. When I write, it either sounds silly and I discard the thought, or it makes perfect sense and I explore how I can weave it into the fabric of my everyday life.

What are your plans for 2017? Do you choose a word, make resolutions, or set goals for yourself?

How do you sort through your dreams and goals for your life? Do you journal like me, or do you need to talk it out with another person?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.