Intentional Rest

Sabbath. Rest. Time off. Solitude.

It has many names, many faces, many options.  Your rest will look differently than others.  Some may read, some run, some sleep, some climb, some hike…the choices are as far as the imagination can go.  One thing is certain though, rest is a vital part of life.  It’s a must, not an option, the only option you have how you are going to rest.

I know how difficult it is to rest, to make the choice to slow down.  Its hard, it goes against our societal practices that say that we must go, go, go.  But there is something sacred that happens when we choose to slow down, to connect with our creator, to take the time to be present, to be aware of the Spirit and listening to the still small voice that whispers to us “come and rest, take my yoke upon you”.

This past few days I have been away at the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec’s Annual general assembly.  It’s a time when representatives from Baptist Churches from all over Ontario and Quebec come together to vote and discuss the business of the coming year.  I know it doesn’t sound like rest, but here’s the thing, it’s 1 day, all the business then boom, it’s a conference, with options to go to workshops or to do something else.

This week was a time of Sabbath for me.  After the uncertainty of the last few weeks and the struggles with my kids, my time was well spent connecting with Steve, friends, learning from the speaker David Fitch. Then came rest: soaking in the hot tub, going to the gym, making time for me, for the things I enjoy doing.  It was time well spent.

I encourage you to move beyond your comfort zone and make time for rest. You will find that after you make time for it, you’ll need to make it part of your week, part of your day and your year.  My sabbath looks different, small amounts of time at the gym weekly, nights out with my husband or friends, and a vacation of sorts each year.  It is something that I’ve learned that I need in order to be the best person I can be, to connect with the Creator and creation.

 

 

Disappointment and a Call for Change

 

I am part of many communities, consisting of many different types of friends and acquaintances. We all connect on some level whether it is personal, professional or otherwise. Community is a wonderful asset. It is a gathering of people who have the desire to be connected by means of friendship and a space where you can be yourself and be at a lesser risk of being hurt. There is typically a genuine desire to have each other’s back.

 

One of my strongest communities is that of families who have been touched in one way or another by people with exceptionalities, kids with special needs and the need for us to surround each other is great. Families are typically left feeling isolated and alone, some by our own doing from unfounded fear and sometimes in the reality that there is fear that others have of our children and their unpredictability.

 

Can I explain something to you? As a mother of children with special needs and as a former pastors wife, I feel it is my obligation to explain to you some of the processes in which we go through before we ever enter into community with anyone as a family. There is a certain level of risk we take when we introduce our children to a new community, its uncomfortable and sometimes painful and scary. Many of us have been burned by other communities, when our children become the “oddball” at play groups, when early years centers aren’t appropriate anymore and you lose footing within the community of “new moms” because your experience is so different it’s hard to relate with each other.

 

We as families are broken, we have had dreams shattered and are grieving but have no time or energy to do it because our children have taken that time plus the time for the next 20 years in each year of their life. We sit on the edge and teeter back and forth. Our lives are complicated and difficult and we are skeptical on most fronts when we open up our lives to new people and new risk.

 

When we choose to walk through the doors of a church, we are making a bold statement. It’s not done willy nilly, we’ve likely obsessed over it all week, month or even year, and have had anxiety about how our children will behave and imagine things to be 1000x worse than what they are going to be. But despite all of our worry, we’re placing our trust that acceptance will be granted and that grace will be given.

 

Church should be a safe haven for us, a place of healing and restoration. A place where we can enter into community and know that no matter what our children may do, it’s a place where we know that we are all safe and loved. We should know intimately through reciprocated relationships, Gods sustaining mercy and grace.

 

Should is the resounding word. Should is the word that breaks down communities. I’m aware of many families who have experienced the exact opposite of love, grace, mercy and acceptance. Families who have been asked to leave the service with their children because their child’s behaviour “inhibits” Gods working in the lives of those who have come to worship that particular Sunday. Leaders who have not supported the education of the church on the exceptionalities that may be exhibited, who have not had the backs of parishioners for fear of upsetting the “perfection” apple cart.

 

Here is my concern. When did the needs of the “appropriately behaved” become more important than the “least of these”. When did life in the church become a show instead of a hospital for the broken in spirit? When did we give up community for the sake of pride and the need for everything to fit into a perfect place?

 

Church is a family, a community, a group of people who seek after Gods heart with the desire to reach to the ends of the earth for people to hear the Gospel, except those who are different, on the outskirts, socially awkward or inappropriate? I think if Jesus were to arrive in our churches today there would be disappointment. We’re missing the mark. Not just for families with kids with special needs, although that is my area of passion, but for those whom society has deemed worthless. Where are they represented?

 

Our God is a BIG God. Look around you? Do you see creation and the complexity by which our Earth is sustained? How can you limit God to reach someone in your church because one child may be making noise? Is your faith that small? God loves our children too, he died and rose again for our children too. They need to come to know God in whatever way they can. Their salvation is no less important than that of any one else on the Earth. We are all sinners who are in need of a Saviour, and His grace is available to all.

Peacefulness

I wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 AM for work most mornings.  Now that spring has arrived and the windows are open more, I get to hear the most peaceful sound of soft snores from my daughter Faith mixed with the birds chirping.  I never realized just how much I miss country living until something as simple as this happens.  That quiet peacefulness that rests on the house before the road gets busy with cars and life wakes within the house.  It’s a treasured time for sure.

We all need some peace in our lives.  Other things that I find peace in are the guinea pigs munching on their hay, children’s laughter, the sound of the wind in the trees as the leaves hit one another.  I love the peace that comes when I see dragonflies fluttering about.  You see, I have this one thing that it’s almost like God dropped in my heart, a love for dragonflies and every time I see one I’m reminded of Gods love for me. 

 

At a particularly difficult time in my life I experienced nothing like this before or ever since, I was at my lowest.  I felt unloved, alone and lost.  One night I was out on the deck and a swarm of dragonflies came, they must’ve all hatched at the same time because I’ve never seen so many dragonflies.  My backyard was full, so was the front yard. I literally needed that swarm to reach down into my heart and find the peace that I’d pushed away for far too long, choosing to hold the hurt instead.

I actively try to find the peaceful things in life.  My life is busy with family, friends and work.  I can forget to slow down if I don’t allow these quiet moments to smash into my day, they may be quiet moments but I need a loud clap of thunder sometimes to really see those moments.  I encourage you to find those peaceful moments, to bask in the serene peacefulness and allow yourself to feel loved by the Creator.

Friends

Life can be difficult.  Who am I kidding, it is difficult.  No matter your station, no matter your demographic, race, religion. We all need help, and help can be the most humiliating thing to ask for.  I’ve never understood why I find it so difficult to ask for help.  I’m proud and I know I like to present myself like I’ve got it all together.

But we all need a helping hand at some point or another.  Whether it is from an encouraging word, an act of kindness, a listening ear, a night out away from all the stress, or a coffee on a front porch.  Friendship is something that we all benefit from. We were created to be a part of community; not isolated and alone. 

It’s not only important to have friends, but also to BE a friend.  This may come easy or it may not.  We can be self-centered without realizing it, monopolizing conversations, never asking about the other persons life, being apathetic.  It’s important to give and take in a relationship.  Without reciprocated friendship, it’s an unhealthy relationship and ultimately becomes very destructive on both sides of the coin. 

Community and friendship are a blessing.  It enriches our life and expands our world view.  Don’t look for only people in your same circle of influence; expand your circle, go outside your comfort zone, take risks.  It can be uncomfortable at first, but it’s truly a blessing when you can sit down with someone new and learn about their life, their beliefs and traditions.  You enrich your life by reaching out.

When you fail to reach out and ask for help, you rob someone else of the opportunity to be a blessing in your life, you rob them of the opportunity to grow as a person. There is no point in being proud, it is ultimately to your demise, you were never meant to live alone.  We were created to be in community.  Allow this blessing in your life, you won’t regret it.

 

Quieting the Mind

Hey...  #Introvert

 

I am an insomniac, there I said it.  It’s out there for the world to see.  While some may say I talk a lot about life and often over share, I’ve learned the hard way that when I’m quiet, my brain is not.  Sleep often eludes me but when I’m silent about the struggles in my life, it gets worse, way worse.  I don’t sleep which makes me not a nice person to be around and then I attempt a nap and then this other being invades my body and turns me into this awful mess of a person.  I’m spewing ugliness and vileness, I’m not encouraging and I whine.  It’s not pretty, no matter what light you cast on it, no matter the excuse, it’s ugly and wrong.

I fail often at this thing called life.  I carry too much around, I don’t let go and let things be, I stew and chew over issues until they become blown so far out of proportion that I don’t know what the original issue is.  This can be in any area of my life: marriage, motherhood, relationally with my friend and co-workers.  It’s this horrible cycle of abuse that I put myself through.  I beat myself up, which causes me to become quiet and introverted and downright dangerous because I’m brooding under the surface.

I’ve shared this before.  I struggle with depression and likely will my whole life.  I do not see this as a sign of weakness nor as a sign that I am not a good Christian.  Chemically there is something altered in my brain and I need help to keep it in sync.  It’s not a lack of faith, I pray often about it, but it is a reality I deal with, my thorn in the flesh.  I go through periods when I’m ok and then there are times when I’m not, when my life and brain catch up with me.

I think I’m entering into a time when my life and brain are catching up with me.  The emotional relief of having all things settled for Logan has brought on the darkness that I was unable to deal with for the past 12 months.  When Steve got sick and life changed forever.  I’m off the high of adrenaline that brought me through that time: the fight has left me and I’m weary from it.  I need rest and a time to recharge. 

I’ve turned to blogging because I can’t be silent, I can’t pretend that life hasn’t changed. I’m believing that God and my faith will get me through this time.  That as I walk this path of loneliness and sometimes despair and joy and faith as well, that you will walk with me and reflect on the areas of your life that need attention and thankful for the blessings.  Your issues won’t be the same as mine, and no story should ever be compared.  I heard a TED talk that the message was “hard is hard”.  The issues are different but that doesn’t make them any less hard.

Let’s go for a walk and find rest in God and all that is in store for us.

 

 

 

Progress

So in November of 2013 I made the decision to get healthy.  While losing weight is important to me, more than that I want to be healthy.  I’ve been going to the gym fairly regularly and am making pretty good progress.  Scale wise not so much but I’m losing a lot of inches and building muscle…just how much muscle?

This much:

This is my 116 lb, 13 year old son Logan who is taller than me.  And see that smile?  That is the smile of a woman who six months ago wouldn’t even have dreamed of doing that.  But today I shocked myself and my husband when Logan decided to move from hug to a pick up…Who would have though that at 13 years old I’d still be able to hold him in my arms.

I’d like to thank my trainer, Carrie Brooks at World Gym who encourages me, pushes me and sees the me that I am and the me that I’m going to be.  She has become a good friend and I’m thankful for a cheerleader in my corner each time I’m at the gym.

 

Spring Cleaning

So today begins a weekend of yard clean up around our house.  We spent some time today cleaning up our side deck.  It had leaves from the winter, bikes and toys everywhere! It was a hill-billy hodge podge of mess.  It’s the kind of disorganization that causes me great stress and anxiety. 

When we moved from Meaford 2+ years ago, we downsized considerably, both indoors and outdoors, ie lots of big oversized toys and outdoor tables.  So we decided to move our table and chairs to the front of the house for some lucky person to come by and pick it up. *less than 20 minutes later*. It has been very freeing.  I’m a minimalist by nature.  I like things pretty sparse, not a lot of knick knacks, just the basics.  We kept our 3 seater swing and got a small bistro set to create a sitting area.  I’d love to get a gazebo or some sort of covering to go over it so we have some shade.  But it’s a great space and I’m beginning to love it more and more.

Spring cleaning got me thinking about my life and how disorganized and cluttered my head space is.  I need a good purge of destructive thought patterns, a cleaning of my mind and spirit, to feel lifted and whole.  I need a good pruning in my life.  The disorganization is causing me great anxiety and discomfort.  I’ve been collecting many hurts and holding onto resentment. 

I hope this year in my time of spring cleaning that I will indeed find my mind.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.