A Season of Rest


Last week I posted about resting in the Lord. This week I’ve read other posts on the same subject. I’m sensing a theme here!

One post was by author Laura Thomas. Her post was so helpful and practical, I received permission from her to re-post it here. I hope you will find it encouraging as you seek ways to REST.


It happens every year. We ease ever so gently from the long winter season into the glory of spring, but then summer seems to land in our laps overnight. Hot, lacking schedule, and waiting like a panting puppy for all the fun to happen. While summer evokes dreamy visions of relaxation and rejuvenation, if we’re not intentional about scheduling SOUL REST into our plans, we could fall into fall exhausted and dried up. So, let’s contemplate the beauty and benefits of a “soul rest summer”…

“Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” Charles Spurgeon

It’s true, REST revives the soul. Rest that reaches into our marrow and beyond, more than physical, mental, and emotional; that complete and utter rest for our battered, frazzled, hopelessly forgetful souls.

This summer, we may be caring for tiny tots or elderly loved ones or working a full-time job. We may be chomping at the bit to dive back into everything wonderful as pandemic restrictions loosen or we could be fearful to wade back out into the ocean of people and activities and unknowns. Anxious or antsy, here are SIX “S” words to help us savor summer soul rest:

  • SIMPLIFY: Let’s set hours, days, or even weeks aside this summer to unplug. Whether from work or social media or the bombardment of news or entertainment, summer is the perfect time to settle into the joy of being in the moment. Everything will still be happening as per usual when we return, refreshed and renewed. Avoiding constant phone notifications and social media posting pressure removes a whole layer of stress and makes life in the present so much sweeter and simpler.
  • SABBATH: Schedules might be skewed in this season but we can still set aside one special day each week to spend time with God, soak in His goodness, enjoy fellowship, eat amazing food, hang out with loved ones, get out into creation—less job and more joy, less hustle and more holy. Rich and rewarding nourishment for our souls.
  • SOCIALIZE: Even as an introvert, I know I need my people. We are made for connection, real connection with actual humans. We need laughter and deep meaningful conversations. We know our limits when it starts to be draining, but let’s fill our cups with life-giving relationships and allow it to be a true balm for our souls, especially after the year or so we’ve all just experienced!
  • SOLITUDE: Arrange some alone time. Pray with purpose. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Listen to music. Read a book. For my fellow booklovers, let’s make a list of books for summer reading that will stir our imaginations, challenge our intellects, make us swoon, grow our faith—whatever fills our souls.
  • SCRIBE: It doesn’t matter if you’re a “writer” or not, journaling our thoughts or prayers or devotions or dreams is a beautiful practice. It can help articulate or make sense of what’s on our hearts and in our heads. Making a gratitude list enables us to literally count our blessings and see all the good things minute and magnificent on the page in black and white. It can change our perspective and posture immeasurably.
  • SATURATE: Immerse our minds and saturate our souls with Scripture. This is time well spent, always. For we not only learn more about the heart of God, but we also find comfort, encouragement, love, acceptance, guidance, and refreshment beyond compare. We have the privilege of having copious versions at our disposal to read or even listen to. With so much out there vying to saturate our minds, only God’s Word can satisfy and give us the truth and peace we crave.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

In these comforting and familiar verses, Jesus offers soul rest to all who are yoked to Him, who follow Him as believers. It results in much-needed rhythms of grace in our day-to-day lives. Breathing room for our souls. Peace in the depths of our hearts.

Friend, as I write these words I know I need to heed them myself. This summer is shaping up to be a busy yet beautiful season for us and I want to go into it carving out time for God, for others, and for my weary soul to find rest. I hope you will, too. Feel free in the comments below to share other ways we can encourage one another in this…

Have a glorious summer!

P.S. I’d love to hop into your inbox once a month with “Laura’s Letters”—my newsletter complete with a book giveaway, book reviews, recipe, and a little soul encouragement. Sign up HERE! 

Do You Need REST?


During these last six months of illness, I’ve found the need to rest is much greater. Partially because I don’t sleep well at night, but also due to the fact that my body isn’t well. Fatigue is ongoing.

But recently, I’ve heard God speaking the word REST to me at every turn. In his word, in his whispers to me, and in songs, he keeps impressing this idea of rest on me. I finally realized that it had much more to do with my spirit than my physical body.

There are so many places in the Bible that indicate rest.

  • The Lord leads us beside still waters and makes us lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23)
  • In Genesis, God rested from creating the world. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t tired, but spoke from a place of completion.
  • The Bible refers to God’s people entering his rest. (Exodus and Hebrews)
  • David, the Psalmist, talks about sleeping in peace. (Psalm 4:8)
  • Jesus tells anyone who is weary and burdened to come to him and swap places. (Matthew 30)

Resting is actually about:

  • being in God’s presence
  • letting him hold us and everything in our lives
  • waiting on him
  • trusting that he’s “got this”
  • not stressing about the outcome of situations
  • believing that the God of the universe is holding onto me in love and he will not let go of me

It’s about being able to be still because we know that HE is God. (Psalm 46:10)

No matter what things look like. Despite the possible “what if’s.” In spite of the illness, or bank account, or silence from a loved one.

As I pondered this, I believe God gave me this acronym to encompass what he was trying to get me to embrace.

R – Refreshed. When I rest in Him, I will feel refreshed rather than weary.

E – Established. He is the one who establishes me and everything in my life.

S – Stay. If I want to find rest, I need to stay in his presence.

T – Trust. It all comes down to trusting him. When I know how much he loves me, I can trust that he has my back.

So if you find you are in need of REST, remember that while a nap might help our physical body, true rest comes from a spirit trusting in and leaning on God.

Four-Letter Words


My husband and I watched a Disney movie recently and noticed how often in this PG rated film four-letter words were spoken. I’m not surprised, just saddened by the way we’ve lowered our standards over the years and especially these past few months.

The Bible says,

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Using swear words is unwholesome.

Let’s be real, the world doesn’t care. And all of us are human. I’m sure we’ve all gone through a season of “unwholesome” or let a few words fly from our mouths that don’t benefit anyone. I know I have.

But maybe we could replace our thinking of four-letter words. There are plenty that would be more uplifting and would build people up. Here’s a few I’m learning to embrace.

REST – In this crazy, faster than the speed of light teched-out world, we’ve forgotten how to rest and what rest is for. God created rest. He worked to create the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Rest gives us time to process everything in our lives. It creates space for us to dream. We are refreshed when we take time to rest. What if that time of rest was not only for recuperation but for preparation? Beginning each week from a place of rest instead of thinking we need to catch up makes the dreaded Monday, a fun day. Snatches of rest during a day makes us more productive. According to Alex Pang, PhD., something he calls “deliberate rest” is a practice of highly successful people. Maybe God knew what he was talking about when he told us to rest on the Sabbath day and let the land rest every seven years.

LOVE – As the old song says, it’s what the world needs now. Hatred, violence, and fear run rampant in the absence of love. The Bible tells us that God’s perfect love casts out fear, and as followers of Jesus, we’ll be known by our love for others. Being truthful, kind, compassionate, and considerate in how we talk about and to each other as well as how we treat people shows love and changes our world. God IS love. Let’s embrace Him and show love.

MEEK – I’ll bet that’s not one you expected. Meek has gotten a bad rap as meaning weak, pathetic, or a doormat. But it’s true meaning is humble or gentle. Jesus chose humility when he came to earth. He didn’t answer accusations or defend himself when he faced betrayal and a mock trial. His meekness was actually him choosing to control the power he had, lay down his rights for something far more important (relationship with us – let your mind and heart grasp that), and treating people with kindness and gentleness when he had every right to mock or destroy them. If we choose meekness, we will be humble and gentle in our dealings with people.

HOLY – Set apart. Hallowed. Special. Everything of God is holy. He also calls us holy, because he created us in his image, and he calls us to hold holiness as something sacred. That means we honor God. Set him apart as the only God. There is none like him. He is to be praised. And we are to set ourselves apart from anything that doesn’t bring him glory and honor. We also need to honor ourselves and others in the way we speak and act.

HOPE – If one thing the world needs is love, the other is hope. I write and post about Jesus being our hope. He is our only hope, a living hope. No person, situation, government, money, circumstance, etc. can truly offer us hope. When we place our hope in things, we may be temporarily relieved, but eventually disappointed. People fail, things fall apart, circumstances change. God is faithful no matter what. Only Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

WAIT – We might feel like this could be a swear word. We’re used to everything from food to text replies happening in seconds. If our computer takes more than a few seconds to load, we fuss. Stop lights in my town are three to five minutes long (NOT exaggerating!) and people don’t want to wait. I’ve seen more people speed through red lights here than any other place I’ve lived. But learning to wait is good for us. It keeps us from making rash decisions, or saying something in a moment of anger. Waiting means we can let God secure better things for us in his timing than we could ever get for ourselves. We gain more patience as we wait and that makes us more pleasant to be around.

Those are just a few of my new four-letter words. Are there others you’ve been exploring lately?

Let’s change the narrative, as we say these days, and start using some new four-letter words that build up and benefit others as well as ourselves.

Doing vs Being


DSC_0141It’s easier to do something than it is to be honest.

Think on that for a second.

God puts it this way:

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there. Very well then…God will speak to this people, to whom he has said, ‘This is the resting place; let the weary rest,’ and ‘This is the place of repose,’ but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there – so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.” Isaiah 28:10- 13

Sometimes we just want to have something to do. To have a rule to follow. A formula for getting us were we want to go. A quick fix.

That’s what religion is, isn’t it?

Give us a list of rules. Let’s get caught up in the rituals. Then we don’t really have to face the truth about ourselves or the fact that God is speaking to us. Calling us into a relationship with him.

Because relationships require honesty. Vulnerability. Uncovering ourselves and baring our hearts with their scared, broken places and fears. With our weaknesses and selfish motives and pride. With our two-year-old “I want this” attitudes.

It’s easier to simply eek out an hour every other Sunday. Or throw a five dollar bill in the offering bucket. Displaying a Bible on the coffee table or bookshelf proves we’re religious, right? We certainly will celebrate Christmas and Easter–the important holidays about Jesus.

The crazy thing is, maintaining religion is exhausting. But God calls us to rest.

God never planned for us to get caught up in a religious facade. Proving ourselves better than our neighbor because of the fish sticker on our car or the way we vote. He didn’t give us a list of rules and rituals to keep in order to earn a place in heaven someday.

Maybe. If we’re “good” enough.

God loves and longs for us. The children he created. And he simple asks us to be with him in his presence, resting there, listening to him, enjoying him and who he made us to be. He asks us to be.

And he wants us free.

When we get stuck in doing and living by rules or formulas, we “fall backward” in life. We become captured and ensnared. Doing the same thing, in the same ways. The way we think is best. But it doesn’t ever pan out.

Ever feel like that? Like life just isn’t working?

I’ve been there before. Striving to figure out what to do next but never really getting ahead or feeling free. Exhausted, striving, empty.

“…for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”  (vs 15)

Sometimes we think we’re doing all the right things, but we’ve believed a lie. We’ve embraced a falsehood because it’s easier than being honest. It’s easier than letting go of our own understanding or pride. But the very place we’re hiding has become an exhausting trap.

God’s answer is simple.

He tells us to come to him in our weariness. He wants to exchange our way of thinking for his. His was is easy, light and comes with humility. He tells us to stop leaning on our way of thinking, but instead, acknowledge him–that he is God and knows best.

That is where we find a place of repose.

Peace. Rest. Freedom. Surrendering ourselves to Jesus. To simple be with him and be ourselves. Flaws, scars, weakness and broken places. He loves us no matter what and doesn’t require do and do, do and do.

Just an acceptance what he’s already done for us.

Rest. Reflect. Respond.


DSC_0251It’s been a busy week.

My boss is out of town so we’re holding down the fort as they say. Numerous family–shall we say “situations” including a sick child have kept us jumping. I’ve enjoyed some needed time with friends. And my new book, Rachel’s Son, released meaning extra time spent in marketing efforts.

Today was time to rest.

God gave us the example of resting on the seventh day after he created the world in six. He looked at all he’d done and proclaimed it good, and then rested. I believe when he commands us to do the same, it’s for our benefit.

We require time for our minds, hearts and bodies to rejuvenate and refocus on God and where we’re heading with him. That can only be accomplished if we take time to rest.

I think that God also wants us to reflect.

Today was Palm Sunday. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it was simply the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to celebrate Passover the week before he was crucified.

As Jesus came into the outskirts of town, he stopped and looked over the city. He reflected on the week to come and the people who would miss the act of love he was about to partake of on our behalf. And he wept.

Sometimes reflection can stir deep emotions within us. We may need to grieve, consider pain that needs healing or let joy well up in our hearts. I’ve experienced all those today. Reflection is a good thing. We grow when we examine our lives.

Finally, we need to respond.

Jesus’s response to us was to give himself up to be crucified for our sin and pain. He responded to our sin, our blindness, our brokenness by taking all of it on him so we could be free.

And rest. In his presence.

This week leading up to Easter, I want to take time to:

  1. Rest. (I went to see I Can Only Imagine with friends and took a nap today.)
  2. Reflect. God loves us so much he gave up his son, allowing him to suffer an awful death so we could wouldn’t have to die and be separated from him. That changes my world and causes me to
  3. Respond. How can I love God, myself and others today because of God’s love for me? My actions, even if they are small, can make a difference in someone else’s life.

I’m praying you have a refreshing week of rest, reflection and response. May God bless you with his love in special ways.

 

How to Enjoy Life More


I’m in Hebrews chapter 3 today with some simple steps to enjoy God’s restful presence.

View from my friends' lanai

I need that.

FIX our thoughts on Jesus. (vs.1)

HOLD onto our courage and hope in him. (vs.6)

Don’t HARDEN our hearts against what God whispers to us. His ways are good. (vs.8)

ENCOURAGE each other. (vs.13)

HOLD firm to the confidence we had in God at the beginning – when we first discovered or understood him. (vs.14)

It really is simple but sometimes with life pushing and pulling at us, we forget.

Hope this helps!

What I’m Learning From My Illness


I began getting sick more easily last November.

And it seemed to take longer than usual to shake it off. By January, I had been sick two more times and still felt under the weather. An unexplained rash began taking over my body with painful itching. At first, I didn’t make any connections. Stress governed my life due to family pressures, a beloved friend losing her baby, my grandmother passing and my push to sell myself to an agent. I assumed sleep would take care of my health issues. That is, if I could get any.

During the Mt Hermon Writers Conference, I silently itched and couldn’t sleep for the pain. But, after meeting with an agent who had some great ideas for me, I put my goals in place and plowed into my writing and marketing plans. Within a couple of weeks, the rash on my fingers had turned into painful, oozing blisters. My hand was so swollen I couldn’t type. Complete exhaustion prevented me from speaking a cohesive sentence let alone putting one in a book.

It was difficult to drag myself out of bed at all.

After numerous tests, the bottom line is a depressed immune and adrenal system – the result of a variety of issues. One of which is the driven, non-resting me that ties my worth to my productivity as a person, wife, mother, educator and writer. In the furthest recesses of my heart, what I do and how I perform dictate my value. Oh, my head knows this isn’t true. Jesus loves me based on who I am, not what I do or don’t do.  A recent read of Embracing Grace by Daniel Brown, PhD,  reminded me that God’s love is unconditional and complete. But sometimes my broken places scream otherwise. Especially when my defenses are down because of external or physical stress.

Here are a few things God’s been showing me:

  1. As I admired the amazing diversity of God’s creation on a recent trip to Florida, I was struck by a whisper of God to my heart.  “Just as my creation praises me by being what I created it to be, so are you my creation and praise me by your existence. I delight in you simply because you are.” Wow! DSC_0018Really? Still wrapping my mind around that one.
  2. Rest is more spiritual than physical. Yes, I need to get enough sleep. But on my vacation, during which I basically slept or lounged all day, every day, the Lord showed me that my soul wasn’t at rest which was just as exhausting as not sleeping enough. I’m trying to grasp that I can be still because God is God and has everything under control. He says “I have everything you need. Relax. I’ve got your back.” I am finding peace by spending time each day in his presence—simply sitting and listening for his voice. I’ve read Psalm 23 about 100 times. Really.
  3. I need to listen to what God says. Not agents or bloggers or other authors (no offense to all you wonderful, wise writers out there). I was crazily trying to learn everything and do it all even as it shifted from week to week. Knowledge is helpful. God tells us to “get knowledge.” But God will lead my steps. His direction may or may not fit with the “101 Steps to Getting Published.” Therefore, I need to be selective with what I read (I do not have time or energy for all of it, even if it’s good advice), and I need to submit it to God to see if it fits with his plans for me. He’s the one who can make his good plans for me happen. I got off track. It’s easy to do.
  4. Reacting to others or circumstances rather than seeking God first sends me into emotional overload and gives the enemy a place to attack. Instead, whenever I start freaking out inside, I’ve been trying to ask God, “What do you say about that?” Sometimes it takes some sorting out the truth from the lies that swirl through my mind. Today my husband reminded me that whenever the thought I hear accuses or belittles me, it isn’t my thoughts or God’s about me. Satan hates me and wants me to hate myself. He is the one who tells me lies.

I’ve been learning  so many great things. And while I’d rather have God heal me miraculously, I believe this has been the better way. Of course, God knew that.

And now I need to get to bed 🙂

Perhaps you can relate to feeling overwhelmed or exhausted because of an urgent driven place inside. Would you be willing to share your experiences?