Promises of God: Rest

He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name. Psalm 23:2-3

Anyone else need a long winter’s nap? I don’t mean the kind you need after losing an hour. I mean a few days of nothing but napping?

I can’t be the only one. We are a people who are busy, busy, busy. We move from place to place. Here and there. The next big thing without pause, and as a result we are exhausted-physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.

We need some rest.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

In today’s verses, we read of the importance of rest. How it is provided by God. We also often take these verses quite literally. We often think they give us permission to just take a nap. And they do, rest for the soul requires physical rest. Even Jesus napped. But it requires more than just laying in our beds. It requires we rest in Him.

See, Jesus was clear in Matthew 11:28 about those burdens. He instructed us to lay them down. We, however, often carry them around like a badge of honor. Until we become weary with the load. The burdens were never intended for us to carry, so what do we do?

Our sins. The expectations of this world. The acts of others. Our search for purpose. We surrender that to Him, and we let Him carry it. We get rest from carrying our load. A load too heavy for us to manage alone.

We do this, and then we remain still. Still in the presence of God. Waiting for His timing, and not rushing to make things happen in our time. We surrender, and He gives us peace. And as the Psalmist says, He will lead us to the “green meadows and peaceful streams” intended to restore us.

He will give strength for the journey if we just let Him lead, and rest a while.

Yes. I need a nap today. Hours of them to be exact. I am burdened from toiling. Traveling. And the busy, busy, busy. But today as I wearily embark on another day I will thank Him for it. Surrender whatever occurs in it to Him, and know He will give me the strength to get me through to those “green meadows” He has waiting for me.

Today, I will rest in Him.

You are making your comeback

Ever fallen? I have. I do. All.the.time. I’m clumsy, and manage to trip over my own two feet on surfaces most can easily glide over. My last tumble? Broke my wrist, required surgery with hardware, and months of physical therapy to use that much needed wrist and hand again.

I’m not 100 percent. According to docs, I may never be. But I came back from it.

Ever been knocked down? I don’t mean by something or someone physically…though I have been. Even knocked out cold before by a neighborhood boy in middle school. What I mean is knocked down emotionally. Mentally. Like someone is taking hits at you day in and day out, and it’s just wearing you out. Maybe it’s even just life doing the hitting.

After a season of night falls and push backs. After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks. Just when they think they’ve got you game set match, Here comes the comeback -Danny Gokey

Comebacks. We all love the comeback story. The athlete whose career was good as gone, but gets back out on the field. The boy who is sick, but miraculously recovers. The one who loses everything from some natural disaster, but rebuilds.

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. Luke 15:20-24

Comebacks are inspiring.

But they require some things.

What are the elements of a comeback? Money? Resources? Insurmountable wisdom?

No…it’s realizing that perfection is a myth. A standard that’s unachievable in our human strength.

It’s cutting yourself a break for making a wrong turn. Realizing that falls are inevitable when you are growing and learning. Think about it-babies learning to walk fall down all the time. They get back up and walk all over again, and we applaud. We can do the same. Get back up. Applaud our willingness and perseverance to keep going.

Oh, yes. Keep going. Even on the worst days. With a positive attitude. Knowing He has gotten you through the worst before.

You were knocked down (even out) but not defeated. He made sure of it.

It’s offering yourself some forgiveness, because we all take turns we shouldn’t. Paths that looked enticing and inviting, until we got too far into the trees.

Offering it to others, too. Because we can’t move forward without it.

Getting back up on your horse, and learning to ride all over again.

And knowing that if you fall…it’s OK. He will catch you, and give you the opportunity to get it right…all over again.

Those are the makings of a comeback.

I do not own the rights to music, lyrics, or compilation of this video.

His Kind of Rest

FullSizeRender-6

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

For weeks now I have been yearning for some type of rest. For time to just be still and be with God. In His presence. Life has been busy, and at times it has been hard to snag a few minutes to catch up with my own thoughts, let alone focus on His.

So, it was with great excitement that today I realized during a long and trying day at work that my afternoon was wide open. No plans after work. No kids at home courtesy of a sleepover. A husband who had a prior obligation of his own. God had just granted me a gift. He had given me what I had been asking for: a little alone time. A time to enjoy His presence. His creation. The day He had made.

Initially, I seized the gift. I planned to carve out two whole hours for some solitude. Some peace. Some relaxation. Time to do absolutely nothing else but be still.

Until guilt and the reality of all the stuff I had to do began to nag at me. I need to go here, and pick up this. I should really put away that laundry. And there are dishes in the sink that really need to be washed. I have a work deadline, and I just don’t have two hours to spare. I should just go on home. 

God had given me a gift. Yet, I was hesitant to receive it. Dead set on spending my time doing a bunch of other stuff but spend time with Him.

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16

How many times have I let my worldly obligations take the place of the rest he tried to give me?

Because I happen to equate rest with the ability to take an uninterrupted nap?

Or, because I think it requires a trip to some far off place?

Because I can’t sit still long enough to forget about the laundry?

Because I fill those hours given to me with stuff that can wait?

When God says if I want rest all I have to do is spend time with Him. When I need a peaceful place, I can surround myself with all the beautiful space around me that He has made. When he says: “Be still. Rest with me. Stop toiling, and let all that stuff wait.”

When He wants to be first on my to-do list.

But, for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:28

In truth, my blessed time at the lake wasn’t all that quiet. There was splashing from children, and fighting of siblings around me. And, later my son joined me for some rest of his own.

But, the time with God, and my oldest was precious. A gift, that if left unopened, may have never been given again.

No agenda. No plans. Just rest

In His peace. In His solitude.

Where Have You Been?

Goodwill Tent

I have a bit of an addiction. I love thrift shopping. I have been known to plan shopping trips around the closest Goodwill (and Starbucks), and I frequent the one down the road from me quite a bit. It was on a rare occasion that I recently managed to drag my kids with me. Usually, what I hear as I scour the many hangers looking for someone’s cast-offs for a hidden treasure is groan after groan from the Marshall Monsters. But on this day, I heard squeals of delight as my daughter happened upon the above tent. For my little girl, it was a must-have. A place to hide from her brother. Camp out with a book. Hide her most precious of toys.

For me….well, it was a reminder of all the tents in which I have hidden in the last few months.

The tent of a demanding internship that had me consumed with work day and night.

The tent of schoolwork that had me plugged into my computer into the wee hours of the morning.

The tent of “busy-ness” that had me grasping for any ounce of alone time!

Tents of impatience. Tents of hurriedness. Tents of to-do lists. Appointments.

Tents of despair. Loneliness. Criticism. Self-doubt. Disappointments.

Tents that had me wondering-where in the world was I going? Where had I been?

Tents I tried to pitch all by myself. Without any help from Him. Placing Him at the bottom of the to-do list. Until He was wondering where I had been.

Yes, I was busy. I was overwhelmed. Depleted. Wordless. Exhausted. Lost.

Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. 1 Chronicles 16:11

But, not once did I remember this? Did I call to Him in my weakness to ask for His strength? Did I call on Him for rest when I was tired and weary? Did I call on Him for wisdom when I needed His words?

No, I pitched my own tent. Like an 8 year old girl. Camped out with my will, while God desperately yearned for me to let Him in.

And, while it took a heart wrenching wake-up call, and some grief…I finally came out of hiding. I got out of my tent and I called on Him.

And, finally the words came again. The ones locked inside all those tents I pitched. The ones that had covered my weary heart. The ones I desperately needed to cry out to God. The ones for strength, guidance, wisdom, and grace.

So, what tents are you pitching today? Where have you been hiding? Come out. Call to Him. Tell Him what you need. He will give you the words. He will give you the strength you need. He will give you rest. All you have to do is ditch your tent.

Try Something Different…Just Let It Go

IMG_0611

Think about the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8,9

It’s that time of year again. Lenten season. The time of year when for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday we focus on the meaning of Easter. That focus is not on the Cadbury Eggs that fill the aisles of the local drugstores, or the Easter egg hunts that are already being planned. Rather, it is on the one who promised us new life by shedding His blood.

For many it also means giving up present day luxuries to slow down and spend time preparing and celebrating this gift He has given.

God amazes me over and over, and the season of Lent is no exception. He also seems to find funny ways of teaching me to slow down. So, just as the season of Lent begins, He sends the snowstorm I had been seeking. One that forced me to finally relax. To slow down and think about His promises. In particular, the promise of peace.

See, I am not a peaceful person. In fact, I consider myself to be somewhat of a control freak. A little OCD. And, I can get agitated…easily. Easily frustrated. I worry too much about the opinions of others, and I let it bother me. Until this agitation, frustration, and resentment starts to overwhelm my soul. Starts to steal my peace.

Until I take it out on the ones who mean the most to me.

Until I find myself in the midst of an impending snowstorm pleading for peace. Because, I am aware that my control freak tendencies, my impatience, my frustrations will implode when stuck in the house with three bored and overactive kids.

And, because He knows just how much I adore these three. How much I yearn to be more patient. How much I desire to be a beacon of peace in this place, He did what He promised. He gave me peace this week. Peace so comforting that in some moments I didn’t even recognize the woman who was at home with her “monsters.” I didn’t recognize the woman who let the dishes sit. Who didn’t care about the snow boots strewn across the living room floor. The goldfish on the couch. The screams. The bickering. The two and a half hours playing in snow I don’t much enjoy.

Right in the middle of a week that began the season of Lent. A season when we start to contemplate the things we want to give up to draw closer to God.

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. Hebrews 12:1

While I have picked to give up that thing, or things rather, that trip me up, I see now that He is really asking me to let go of some other things as well.

Let it go.

Of the need to please people. To make them like me. To worry about or beat myself up over worldly opinions.

Let it go.

Of the dishes in the sink. The clothes on the floor. The shoes and backpacks on the couch. The need to have everything neat, in its place, and put away.

Let it go.

Of the “busy-ness” that consumes my life. The need to go, go, go…and do, do, do. All. The. Time.

Let it go.

Of the need to say “yes,” when all I really want to say is “no.”

Let it go.

Of the housework. Of the homework. Of the demands of work that keep me from enjoying those at home.

Let it go.

Of my guilt. Of my shame. Of my past. My insecurities. My fears.

Let it go.

Of all that causes this heart frustration and agitation.

Let it go.

Of toxic relationships. One-sided relationships. Those that only tear me apart or beat me down.

Let it go.

Of the need to do for everyone but me. To take care of everyone. To fix all the problems of the world.

Let it go.

Of perfection. Because I am a mess. I stumble. I fall. I fail. But, God loves this mess, and he does not demand I be perfect.

So, let it go.

Because, in the end, when I let go of all the things which in the grand scheme do not in any way define me, are not a part of His plan, and only cause me frustration and agitation, I gain so much more.

I gain peace. A peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27).

So, what do you need to let go of today?

Seek God. Ask Him for his peace. His promises, and just let the rest go.

Crushed by the Bread of Life

I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for Lord; you hear my every sigh. Psalm 38: 8-9

Image

 

The picture above happens to be one of my biggest supermarket pet peeves. No, it isn’t the fact that the hair dye was bagged with the eggs-that is another tangent all together. It is that somewhere underneath all of that stuff lies a loaf of bread-one that is now crushed. Bread I had to reshape and rebag in the parking lot of my local Harris Teeter.

Since I am human, and too often driven by my emotions, for a split second I thought about marching back in the store to share my opinion and disdain at my new lumpy loaf of bread, but then I began to think about all the other times my bread has been crushed. Every shopping trip to be exact! “Why does this happen to me each time I grocery shop? Why do I always end up with the crushed bread?”

“He was oppressed and treated harshly yet he never said a word.” Isaiah 53:7

You are probably wondering what a crushed loaf of bread has to do with God, or how I could see a connection between my propensity to leave the store with bread buried under a stack of groceries and God, but we also know He speaks to us through the simplest of circumstances. So, on this day…yes, He happened to speak to me through a loaf of bread-a loaf of bread that had been crushed in the same way many of us have been.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven by despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

How many times in my own life have I resembled that loaf of bread? Crushed under the pressure and burden of all the things, situations and circumstances that were mounting on top of me? Yet, even though I was crushed under the weight of life’s storms and trials, God has never left me. Although He may have allowed me to endure the burden for a while, He never failed to deliver me from the bottom of the mounting pile of stuff weighing me down and crushing my spirit. Each time he has picked me up, reshaped me, and “re-bagged” me with a renewed heart, kneading this crushed loaf of despair into a new one of fresh hope and faith.

Leaves of Change


They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3

Image

I absolutely love fall. It is my favorite time of year. The colors, the smells of cinnamon, and pumpkin EVERYTHING, the crisp, cool air, and who can get through fall without football!

Recently, my youngest son has become fascinated with the trees in our front yard. A young boy driven by rituals, has now created a new one we must adhere to, which consists of walking to said trees each day to observe their new colors and to see how many more leaves have fallen. Yesterday as we were examining the mounting pile of leaves in our front yard, Hunter asked me, “Why do all the leaves change colors and fall to the ground?” Without giving the question a whole lot of thought, I simply answered, “Well, because in the spring, God will give these trees shiny new leaves!”

“For I am about to do something new. I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Our walks with God are not much different than a tree shedding its leaves in the fall. When we choose to live our lives for Him, and to reflect His presence in our lives, He gives us shiny new leaves. However, sometimes, just as evidenced in the change from fall to winter, our old leaves are shed only to be buried in a season of darkness and dreary, cold storms-much like the days of winter. This doesn’t mean that God has left us. Instead, it means that in time, and with Him, all our dark days, all our cold days of loneliness and despair will make way for new days. Like the promise of spring, our pain and our struggles will cease, and we will be shiny and new, just like the trees in our front yard, which will soon be covered in new, green leaves.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

The changing seasons in our lives are scary, and sometimes they don’t make sense, but if we keep our eyes on Him while He is shedding our old leaves, and pruning our branches so that we may bear fruit (John 15), we will have a renewed spirit once God brings us through the winter days of our lives, and brings us the promise of spring time bliss.

“Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.” Hosea 10:12

And, if we just like a small child, stop and examine all the leaves that have fallen, we can see and remember just how God has made all of those old leaves new, and how he has used those dark days for good, making beautiful things out of the dust.