Were you ever made to do that trust exercise at in drama lessons at school or perhaps at a youth group or for team building at work? You know the one – where you stand in front of someone and have to fall back and they catch you? I’m sure I’ve done the exercise before but I can’t remember a specific time. I guess I was always caught, otherwise I probably would have remembered falling to the floor, along with my feelings, pride and trust.
I do remember though, a time where my trusting brother had his head cracked open after a boy at primary school pulled his chair out from beneath him when he went to sit. A cruel trick that ended with a bloodied head, a trip to A&E and stitches. I expect my brother remembers it more than I do.
I remember the times when trust was broken more than when it wasn’t. Maybe because I have been lucky to grow and live among trustworthy people. I’ve been realising how it takes trust to rest. When we go to sleep we trust that no one will break into the house. (A little extreme, I know, because you probably don’t think about that before you fall to sleep.) A more mundane example perhaps; when I sit down with a cup of tea and a magazine, I trust that there is nothing that needs to be done right now in that moment. When I take a bath with a book to read, I have to trust that no one will berate me for leaving the washing up till later or even until the next morning.
Learning to trust
I have to trust that the lounger at the pool side will not break when I sit on it. (Maybe even more so when I’ve eaten nothing but croissants for breakfast all week!) Leaving things undone, taking time to sit and not do means trusting that it is ok to rest. That I myself, and others will give me grace. This is in both small things like when taking time to put my feet up, but also when it comes to big life things.
In big life things like when I believe I can figure it all out and that my ways of work, parenting, paying the bills etc, depend solely on me and what I can do. I am not resting in my trust that God is who he says he is. When I rest in God’s presence, when I listen to what he is calling me to step into next, I am trusting that he will provide, that He knows best and that He is good.
Rest requires trust
When things go wrong I have to trust that he will make all things right. I have to surrender control in order to rest. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, there is huge freedom in that trust. There is ultimate rest. It’s no longer up to me. I can do the next thing, take the next step knowing that God is right there with me as he prompts and leads.
As rest requires trust, trust equals rest. Easy to write but a life time to learn. I’m learning to trust by practicing an exercise in rest.
Abi delights in creating places of peace & beauty for others. She loves encouraging women in their creativity. She is a creative at heart, designer by trade and lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with her three children. She writes, designs, and publishes iola and loves it!
After studying English and Publishing in Oxford (UK), she has worked in the publishing arena as a book and communications designer. She writes on creativity and design and has self-published a creative tutorial book and a creative devotional guide; Making for Living and Giving, and Re-create – restore your creative soul.
She drinks coffee in the morning but earl grey tea in the afternoon and takes photos of flowers like they are going out of fashion. abipartridge.co.uk IG @abilouise_harvey.
When the word “rest” comes up among a group of mothers I can guarantee I will hear some snarky comments, see a few eye rolls and even sense some animosity among friends if one lucky momma in the group mentions she may have gotten some rare and coveted rest. Many moms just hear the word “rest” and quickly change the topic as they take a swig of coffee to wash down the reality that their heart, soul, mind and body are weary beyond words. There is little understanding of how a woman called to care for the lives of children who depend on her every waking and sleeping minute can even think about caring for herself.
We mamas make time to laugh. Play. Cook. Drive. Prepare. Listen. Schedule. Order. Clean. Organize. Fold. Hug. Wipe. Communicate. We are intentional and serious about this role of motherhood that demands us to be present and delights us with joy. But where is there time for rest?
We schedule nap time and quiet time and time outs for our children because we know without them they are not as healthy and whole as they could be. We know the value of rest for our children, but do we know the value of rest for ourselves? We would love to sit and read a magazine in the sunshine of a breezy afternoon with a cup of coffee; but we find that as soon as we stop the intense movement of motherhood we fall fast asleep and awaken to “Mooooooooooom I NEEEEEEED you” and we are behind schedule, in a puddle of our own drool, with no dinner made and a feeling of guilt for falling asleep.
Motherhood is intense. But rest is intentional.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
I read this scripture hundreds of times over my life, but as a mom I would read it (with dark circles and blurred vision from not sleeping in 15 years) and be, “YES! Jesus! I want rest! Give me this unattainable gift!” Motherhood reality however, kept this promise too far away from me. I was convinced God was mocking me or that this promise was for the “without children” demographic. How was God going to give me, a mom of six children ages 2-16, this ambiguous gift of REST? Would he miraculously insert an oasis in the middle of my mess (He knows I can’t go anywhere without a babysitter!). Would He remove the heavy load? (That didn’t make sense because I didn’t want him to remove my kids!) Send the merry maids so I can put my feet up? (Honestly, they didn’t even have to be merry….. even miserable maids would work!)”
At the age of 42 I gave birth to our sixth child. I felt like I was caught in a washing machine in a never ending spin cycle. I was in a state of delirium and dysfunction most days. My body hurt. My mind was numb. My spirit was empty. My emotions were fragile. Weary is different than tired. Tired can be fixed with a nap. Weary is an inside tired that manifests in other issues. Weary must be met with intentional rest. The literal meaning of rest as used in this verse our of Matthew is:
I. to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect her strength
II. to give rest, refresh, to give one’s self rest, to TAKE rest
III. to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation
God gives us rest and we must permit ourselves to make space in our motherhood to receive it.
Psalm 46:10 says to, “Be still and know that I am God.”
If we pause our internal posture amidst our crazy, messy and overwhelming lives and allow God to have the heavy load we are carrying daily; we will find Him in a refreshing new way. In that quiet calm we get new expectation and vision for what we have been called to care for as He quietly cares for our soul. He visits us in the stillness and when we are found we are refilled with hope and vision. Vision for motherhood restores us to continue valuing motherhood. We pause. He provides.
God Himself rested on the 7th day of creation. He looked around Him and saw that everything was very good and He paused. He set aside time to be still. I bet he looked around at all He had created and just delighted in it. In our pausing we can see the details and the destiny of all we get to be a part of. Life becomes a duty when don’t pause to look around at the delightful details God is creating in the hard work of motherhood. The Hebrew word for rest is Shabatt. It literally means rest. The Sabbath was given to us as an intentional way to create space to rest in our lives. If God values rest, so should we.
Motherhood is intense. Rest in intentional. In our family we choose to find ways to stop the regularly scheduled crazy of life and delight in each other. It’s intentional. It’s relational. It’s delightful.
We aren’t loosing anything by setting aside a day to rest. We are gaining peace, joy, calm in the chaos and restored vision and refilled relationships. Rest gives back what we give away. Rest is a practice that keeps us so we can keep on keeping on. Rest is not an event (like a manicure or an afternoon away with friends), it is a way of living. A rhythm. A cadence. Shabatt helps us remember the rhythm so we don’t get lost in the rigor.
Choosing to Shabatt gives us the opportunity to restore, refuel, reflect. Wonder and ponder, dream and remember. Setting aside a day to rest gives us the opportunity to know God, find God and recover our strength.
Another way I have learned what rest means to me as a mother of many is to learn how to trust the storm stopper and not look into the storm.
Did you ever read the story of Jesus in the storm found in Matthew 8:23-27? We find Jesus fast asleep in the midst of all the crazy whirring of wind and clatter of thunder while beating rain pounds against the boat. (This kind of noise reminds me of motherhood!)
The kind of rest that Jesus was experiencing was the kind of internal rest that trusted beyond the storm. He knew He had power over the storm and therefore could rest assured knowing the storm was temporary and would not harm him or the disciples with him. We can choose to be still and rest while life is whirling and twirling and clanging and banging around us. We can learn to abide.
Abiding is the active choice to live in God’s presence internally no matter what is happening externally. But, you say, I can’t stop the storms in my life. The chaos of children. The insanity of schedules gone out of control. The furious and crazy rhythm of life and all it brings…. I can’t stop it! How can I rest in it. We learn to trust the one who quiets the storms while we go through them.
In motherhood we must learn to rest in the hope of the storm stopper and not get shaken by the storm. When everything is threatening to sink our soul and flood our life boat with water we want to freak out and jump out! Jesus shows us that we can learn to be at peace in the stormy parts of motherhood because we trust Him to speak to the storm and cause it to stop. AND even if He doesn’t, we can learn to rest in His power and peace as we ride out the storm. Abiding allows our soul to stay connected to the source of peace even when the situation around us has threatened to disconnect us from peace. Abiding in our source of strength, hope and power gives us an internal peace that passes anything we can understand or see in our external chaos.
As mothers we see the storms of life but we stay connected to the power source of peace on the inside so we are not shaken by the power of the storm on the outside. Rest replenishes the soul of our inner girl so we can keep pouring out. Rest was given by God to us to give back what we have given away. Resting is meant to restore our empty places. Motherhood is intense. Resting is intentional. Motherhood is a calling. You are a gift. Rest is how we protect the calling and the gift God has given your family in your powerful role as mother.
Quiet your heart and ask God how you can learn to insert an intentional pause into your daily life. Practice being still and waiting to hear His voice whisper life back in to your weary heart. Intentionally begin to answer the questions below as you wait on the Lord to renew your strength as you rest in His power, presence and peace.
How can you set aside a day you and your family can practice Shabatt? What does that look like practically?
What stormy situations can you stop focusing on and start focusing on the power of the storm stopper?
Where can you intentionally insert a pause (even if it is just 5 minutes a day) so you can intentionally be still and know your God.
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
Laura Rizakallah is a freelance writer and speaker. Laura lives in upstate NY with her husband and their six children. Laura’s desire is to connect her audience with God. Laura’s speaking and writing has inspired and impacted others to connect with God over the last 15 years. Laura writes bold, beautiful & brave words that stir your heart. Every word, invites you to live the crazy amazing life of love, hope and faith you were born for. Laura believes that a girl and the gospel are a powerful force God uses every day to turn ordinary into extraordinary. Laura believes that every woman can live her purpose, pursue her passion and IGNITE the world with the power and love of Jesus Christ. www.readysetgogirl.com
I giggle even now as I picture myself, still in pajamas, skittering across the kitchen, through the glass-sliders, down the wooden steps, and across the dewy grass, eager to catch the day’s blooms unfurling in the morning light.
Our woven metal fence was a canvas of dappled green, splashed with pink and lavender that captured my imagination from the moment the first trumpet-shaped flower made its debut.
In my neck of the woods, morningglory is an annual vine, lasting for just a single growing season. Its journey from germination to summer’s end moves through a succession of daily bloom cycles that vary from sparse to profuse: with subdued interludes when blooming slows to a near standstill. Our lives move to a similar cadence—ebbing and flowing between vigor and repose. Circumstances are fleeting. Nothing blooms continuously.
MorningGlory’s appearance in my garden coincided with a significant lull in my life. I was living in a new state far from family and friends and acclimating to my newly-empty nest. Like being marooned in the doldrums, there was no perceptible movement in my life. I was desperate for direction and strained to hear the Lord’s voice in the overwhelming silence. Time spent tending her provided respite from the angst I battled in the waiting, but I never anticipated the lessons she would teach me.
Lesson 1: Surrender to rest
He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” Mark 6:31a CSB
A familiar pattern in nature is cycles of activity, punctuated by pauses—languid intervals that go by the names hibernation, estivation, dormancy, and cocooning. The essential attributes they share are decreased activity, conserved energy, and reduced output. In short, rest. Selah moments are woven into the fabric of creation by design.
Being a woman wired to achieve, I am accustomed to pouring myself into all sorts of undertakings, endeavoring to bring about a worthy outcome. I know how to strive. I am proficient at pushing harder. I know a thing or two about blooming.
MorningGlory knows something else. She is a master of the art of un-blooming.
Beginning around mid-day, her flowers gently collapse into tiny umbrellas, gracefully inviting the setting of the sun. In the light of day, the garden is a flurry, a wakeful world where plants are occupied with the task of energy production and growth. Day after day, I witnessed MorningGlory stretch each of her petals wide-open and strain to follow the arc of the sun. But in the space between dusk and dawn, she moves to a gentler tempo.
Under the serenity of the stars, MorningGlory is absolved from the demands of the day and tenderly turns her attention to nourishing herself. Her focus shifts from production, flowering, and seeding to restoration and renewal. She understands that even under cover of night, life is moving forward.
As I witnessed her instinctively embrace rest, MorningGlory softly whispered “surrender” to my anxious heart. I began to understand that the Lord was creating a purposeful hush in my life—sacred space to gently draw me into His refreshing presence. Without sweet Selah moments it is impossible to sustain blooming until summer’s end.
Lesson 2: Anticipate the dawn
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV
Morning Glory does not wait for sunrise to begin flowering. As though anticipating the dawn, she reaches toward the horizon. Her buds are poised to wake with first light. I marveled at the innate confidence reflected in such a brave step of faith. I found myself asking the Lord to teach me how to walk out this dichotomy with such beautiful harmony: to surrender to His rest while actively anticipating what He has in store as He works out His plan in my life.
If you find yourself in a lull, receive the Selah ordained for you—a gift that will not linger indefinitely. Relish the quiet as an opportunity to replenish your soul with the Living Water found only in abiding in Him. Draw close to His heart and soak up the light of His presence.
No portion of our journey is lifeless or wasted in the hands of the Redeemer. The God who “never sleeps nor slumbers” is faithfully working even in the pause. We can trust that new buds are forming in the ‘in-between’. By faith we can actively anticipate the dawn of a new season of blooming.
Lesson 3: Don’t cling
“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 ESV
Each morning glory flower blooms just once— blossoming in the morning and fading by day’s end. Its beauty is fleeting and must be savored in its time. Morning glories are encouraged to produce new buds by pinching off old-growth. As I walked the fence-row pulling withered flowers that were ablaze in vibrant color the day before, I pondered the newness of life promised to those who are followers of Jesus.
Could it be that spiritual growth comes as we allow the Lord to deadhead the past blooms of our life, according to His perfect wisdom?
Watching MorningGlory seize each new day without reservation caused me to consider how much time I squander glancing over my shoulder—lamenting mistakes or reliving past blooms. I began to purpose to walk in gratitude for every bloom I have been allowed to display in my life, as each is evidence of His grace. If I cling to what has passed, I risk missing the beauty in what is currently flowering.
New beginnings must be embraced, and endings bid adieu. We must release the past to the Lord and prepare to thrive in our next season.
Lesson 4: Bloom in the moment
Morning Glory lives out the essence of carpe diem. Leaving yesterday behind, she turns her full attention to today. Each of her flowers is ‘best effort’—a splash of splendor that magnifies the Lord.
A single bloom is as pleasing to the Lord as a vine laden with flowers. He is the Creator of both and delights in His handiwork. Each task He assigns, every ordained ministry moment, each door opened by His hand—single flowers or clusters—deserve my best for His glory.
Resting in Him means trusting the Lord to direct the seasons of our life. From bud to bloom, every step of our journey reflects His love and grace in our life. Whether we are currently blooming in bunches or sparsely, we can choose to embrace the season we are in by faith.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a ESV
The most important lesson I learned from her is this:
Our Father’s love for us is not dependent on how prolifically we bloom. He delights in us regardless of our achievements. We bring Him joy simply by being what He redeemed us to be— His beautiful Beloved.
Tabitha Meglich is known as mom, grandma, teacher, wife to a man with a heart of gold, and ocassionally writer. Her true identity is ‘daughter of the Most High God’. She is a lover of nature, chaser of dreams, and pilgrim on journey toward the heart of the Father. She is currently nesting in the vast plains of North Dakota, where she seeks to capture the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary of life. ajoyfulsparrow.com
From the window in my home office, I have a perfect view of the pasture closest to our house, where we feed our cows in the early spring. Every day, after I put the kids down for their afternoon nap, I stand at it for awhile. I’ve watched the snow melt and the sagebrush bud; observed the cows’ bellies widen and their udders expand as we draw closer to their due dates—signs of spring and new life.
Today, I lean against the warm glass and gently massage my lower back. I look for new calves and signs of labor in each expectant cow. In theory, that’s why I stand here every day: to make sure there isn’t a cow stalled in labor needing help to give birth. But more than that, I like watching the calm, quiet actions of our mama cows.
Our oldest cow, 1095, gave birth to her eighth calf last week. From this vantage point, I noticed her pacing circles around the pasture and knew it was time. An hour later, she licked her white-faced calf clean and then stood to feed him his first meal. I couldn’t help but grin, delighted by the miracle of life yet again.
I stretch to the side, then turn to face my desk. A stack of bills, an open day planner, two coffee cups, and a full email inbox await me. But as I start to sit, the washer chimes. I tiptoe down the hall and throw the clean clothes on our (still unmade) bed. On my way back to the laundry room, I catch sight of the kitchen, where dishes are piled in the sink and lunch remnants cover the island. I dash into the kitchen to clean up, telling myself it will only take a minute. With the dishwasher loaded and counters wiped, I head back toward the office, forgetting entirely about the clean clothes in the washer.
Glancing out the window on my way to my desk, I see 1095 and her calf making their way up the hill to the water trough. She nudges him gently with her nose, then steadies him when he stumbles on his still-new legs.
Observing other moms and babies makes me feel included. Part of. Because motherhood was created by God, and I’m filling a role he designed.
Ignoring the mountain of paperwork, I watch 1095 and her calf rejoin the rest of the herd. As her calf lays down, she touches noses with another, still expectant cow and swishes her tail at another cow’s calf, sending him back to his mom. Then she lowers to her knees and lays down beside her calf.
I pull myself away from the window and sit at my desk. Yawning, I take a sip of this morning’s (yesterday’s?) cold coffee, and read through my email. I respond to a few, delete others, and turn to tackle the paperwork on my left. I sort through it, tossing receipts and making notes in my planner of due dates and deadlines, but find nothing urgent. I should go fold that laundry, and make the bed. Maybe I’ll even have time to clean the bathrooms before the kids wake up.
Spinning around in my chair, I look out the window one last time. The whole herd is laying down now, all the new and expectant moms basking in the long-awaited warmth of spring after a longer-than-normal winter.
1095 tenderly licks her calf’s ear. I remember those early newborn days with both of my kids, but I’m struck by how little my mothering resembled hers. While she is completely present with her baby, I behaved much the way I do now and filled every moment with laundry and cleaning and work.
Trailing my fingers along the desk’s edge on my way out, I catch sight of the corner of my Bible, peeking out from under a power bill. It’s been a while since I’ve opened it—putting it off for a night I’m not so tired or during naptime after my chores are done. But that never happens, and every day my kids wake up from their naps to a clean house, clean clothes, and a tired, worn-out mom.
Why is it so hard for me to rest and let myself relax? If God created both 1095 and me for motherhood, why does her mothering look so easy and relaxed while mine looks so frenzied and exhausting? Did it take her eight babies to reach this point? Or does she just instinctively know something I struggle to accept: that God created us to work and rest?
The laundry can wait, I decide. I grab my Bible and tiptoe to the living room. Pulling a fleece throw from beneath the entertainment center, I sink into the corner of the couch and open its cover.
Thirty minutes later, I hear my son’s door open. His feet pitter-patter down the hall toward me, waking his sister, but I can’t help but smile. He rounds the couch with a “Hi, Mom!” and clambers into my lap. To my surprise, I’m not mad that he woke up my daughter. And for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long I’m ready, and delighted, for them to be awake; rejuvenated and refreshed by God’s word.
Cara Stolen is a ranch wife and work-at-home mama of two living in rural Washington state. She loves exceptionally early mornings, strong black coffee, and listening to her children giggle. You can find her hiding in her pantry sneaking chocolate chips by the handful, or on Instagram (@carastolen). She has been published previously by Coffee + Crumbs and Holl & Lane Magazine, and writes occasionally at www.carastolen.com.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV
When sharp words dart from my mouth before I’m even aware that they’ve formed on my tongue. When the muscles in my shoulders grow tense and ache as though I’ve just finished lifting with a heavy set of weights. When a thick fog fills my mind with a swelling effect that throbs and causes my thoughts to lose clarity. When I suddenly realized that it’s been awhile since I’d last taken a breath. I now see these moments as hazard lights flashing neon yellow to warn me about the dangerous territory I’m expecting my mind, body, and spirit to function in. I focus in on the issue at hand: an absence of rest.
I know I must get away and rest. Not only does my body demand attention to this that I can no longer ignore, but Scripture tells me. It appears in Mark 6:31 and in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus tells me to come to Him and He will give me rest. I know that rest is so important that God commands His people to carve out a ritual of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). But when is the last time I truly observed the Sabbath in my life?
Based on the neon yellow warning signs flashing around me, it’s been far too long.
I used to imagine the type of rest God talks about as a picturesque escape to a cabin in the words or at a vineyard in Italy on vacation.
Near impossible, right? How do I find rest in my real, everyday, ordinary life when the schedule is unforgiving and responsibilities pile up faster than the laundry?
I must find a rhythm of rest for my soul to be well. I’ve learned to think intentionally and creatively about rest.
Now rest might come as I deepen my inhalation and lengthen my exhalation wherever I am. Sometimes I close my eyes as I breathe and visualize my breath. I mentally watch as stress and angst leave my mouth slowly and controlled. As I inhale through my nose, I breathe in a prayer, sometimes even using this verse from Mark as a breath payer. In a matter of 60 seconds, I have found a moment of rest.
Some days I carve out 5 minutes from my schedule and find rest as I step outside. I plant my feet in the earth and lift my gaze to the vast sky above me. Maybe I’m not surrounded by the peaceful rolling hills in the Tuscan countryside. Maybe I’m standing in my driveway in middle Tennessee. But it doesn’t matter because I’m outdoors finding spiritual whitespace (as Christian author Bonnie Gray likes to call it) and breathing in the fresh crisp air. I’m away from screens and walls and all things confining and in the open expanse of creation, near nature, near God. Or maybe I walk around the block or sit on the concrete steps of my front porch or lay down on the lush green grass. Exactly how I spend my 5 minutes outside doesn’t matter, what matters is I’ve disconnected from all that pulls at me, and I’m communing with God in His creation. And here I find my rest.
Maybe I say no more in order to protect areas of rest in my schedule. Maybe I take a 15-minute power nap on the days I find myself home despite the to-do list knocking on the door. Maybe I set limits on my screen time (and there are plenty of apps to help me do that).
Whether it’s 60 seconds, 60 minutes, or 6 whole days, I find ways to tuck myself into God’s presence where I focus on His promises. And when I do, I am at rest wherever I am. It is well with my soul. I’m refreshed, refocused, restored, and renewed. I’m ready to serve and love and live well.
How can you establish a rhythm of rest in your life? Did any ideas come to your mind as you were reading? Grab a pen and spend a minute brainstorming what rest can look like in your life right now. If you’re unsure, maybe come return here after you’ve spent some time in prayer.
In the limitations and frailty of our humanity, we grow weary and long for relief from the busyness, the burdens, the demands, and all that pulls on us in our lives. You know this, which is why You Yourself provide the rest we long for and why You don’t just suggest we rest, You give it as a command for us to follow. Yet, we don’t always obey here. Forgive us. May You be with us now as we pause and still our minds and hearts before you. In this moment, as we quiet ourselves momentarily in prayer, let us be aware of You and rest in Your presence. [Pause here in the silence and stillness and take 5 or 6 deep breaths]. Lord, we come to You expectant for the rest You give. Guide us into establishing daily rhythms of rest with You. Thank You for replenishing us and strengthening us as we do. Amen.
Kristin Vanderlip is an Army wife, bereaved mom to her little girl in heaven, and mom to her two rainbow boys. A decade ago you could find Kristin teaching English in a middle school classroom, and now she is a freelance editor and writer. Kristin writes to help women seek the Lord and hold on to hope, especially when life is hard. She is the author of Life Worth Living: A Daily Growth Journal and Living Life Well: A Daily Growth Journal for Kids. You can find Kristin at www.kristinvanderlip.com.
We recently packed up the troops and headed to the Rocky Mountains for vacation. When life got a little too full and stressful here in the lowlands of humid Texas, we headed for the hills. I anticipated cool mountain air to bathe my sore soul. What I did not count on were grueling hikes in thin air where my lungs screamed their protest. However, our youngest son rocked the mountain. The altitude did not affect him in quite the same way as it affected my body.
Yet, I didn’t mind the work involved in hiking to the majestic views at 12,000 feet elevation. Instead, I was distracted from it by herding my young charge along the way, doling out snacks from my pack, or stopping for a great photo opportunity. A backpack is an amazing thing: water, snacks, camera, hand sanitizer, and a book to read. It sounds great, right?
Sort of. We ended up doing a lot of hiking in separate groups: the A group and the B group. The A group consisted of the adventurous, determined husbands and the bold, brave sons they produced. Their energy was boundless, their lungs amazingly resilient, the heights they achieved were mind-boggling. I believe they literally hiked circles around us one day. I was happy for them, truly, but hiking to the top of a mountain is not my goal. I like to bask and savor.
Those moments of basking were sweet. The warm sun on my face and a minute or two of quiet to read. Ahhhh. However, I discovered that some of my Texas-sized stress and weariness followed me on vacation. Maybe I had packed it. Here in this breathtakingly beautiful place, surrounded by people I love, how was I still so tired? So full of care?
It wasn’t until one of the last days that I discovered what plagued me. The destination was a quiet reservoir nestled in the mountains. We packed and drove up the mountain. My body was worn out from hiking. This time I simply expected lovely views and rest – except that isn’t what happened.
The mountains called. The distant sound of water called. My children dropped their fishing poles and scampered over rocks and boulders faster than a herd of mountain goats. Not wanting to be left behind again, I reluctantly followed. That’s when I hit a wall. Right there surrounded by beauty and love, I plunked myself down on a rock and cried. Everything that had followed me to the mountains flowed out. Weariness, the relentless striving, the expectations, the loneliness, the sadness, the cry of my heart to be held in the loving arms of my Savior.
As I shed my backpack and left it on the rocks to follow my family, it hit me. All week I had hauled this ridiculously heavy pack around on my back to make sure my children and I had everything that might be wanted or needed for the trip. Some of it I never used. It set me off balance sometimes as I jumped over rocks. At night, my shoulders ached. I hardly thought about it at all, I just accepted my burden as necessary.
My first step on the path unemcumbered freed me. I was light on my feet, balanced, hands-free. I reached my destination with little hindrance and in must less time. While I didn’t have any snacks to share when I got there or a camera to capture the moment, my soul felt lighter. I was left asking myself, what am I hauling around that no one asked me to carry? Ultimately, what is God asking me to carry on my journey?
These are questions I am still wrestling with God. This kind of unpacking of our lives requires prayer and discernment. The things I’ve been carrying in my daily life took a while to accumulate, and I’ve become accustomed to them. I have not been packing light.
I carry fear about the future. However, my fear must be unpacked because knowing the future is a burden He does not ask me to carry.
Like my overstuffed backpack, I carry all the needs of my family on my shoulders and in my heart. However, this can become burdensome when I do not carry this weight in Christ’s strength. Through prayer and faith in the One who knows the needs of my family, I can unpack my weariness.
What I need for the journey is far simpler than I make it. And so, slowly, I am unpacking my burdens and submitting to His loving hand as He instructs me in the way to go. Whether in Houston or in the mountains, I can walk with Him unencumbered.
Whatever I must leave behind on the rocks of the path will not be missed for He gives me Christ’s strength and comfort for the journey.
As I sat on the rocks that day and cried out to the Lord, He heard me. Are you burdened and heavy laden? Cry out to Him to put a new song in your mouth, to help you lose the burdens you carry, and to help you fix your eyes on Christ.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:1-3 ESV
Melissa Smith is living out her everyday adventures in the suburbs of Texas. She loves three things: God, beauty, and words. When she won her first camera in fourth grade, she began collecting beauty. Since then, she has captured snapshots of life: a quiet moment, a startled smile, simple joy. When she is not shuttling her teens to school or homeschooling her youngest, Melissa gathers beauty and writes on her blog framing suffering in the context of joy with Christ. She hopes to bring a slice of loveliness to her readers and point them to her wonderful, loving Savior. framedinjoy.com
There’s something about the salty air by the sea that has always caught my attention. It’s always been that one thing of mine – that happy place, where I feel at peace, most attuned to God.
A few years ago, we lived just blocks away from the Pacific Ocean, and I got so much joy in walking our dog the eight blocks there and back, walking past the morning smell of Kona Coffee, crossing over the Pacific Coast Highway, smelling the salt and sand as the blue horizon comes into view. If you listened close enough in the evenings, you could even hear the waves crash at our house, those eight blocks away.
It was a remarkable gift to live there in a tiny two bedroom house, in a place where we were surrounded by gifts that inspired me: the 365 day summer sun, the palm trees lining the streets, the coffee shop and quick grocery in walking distance from the house, the sound of the ocean waves.
It was a place where my creative juices were running free as I opened the windows to let the breeze in, played worship music loud on the tv, and let myself be free to paint… painting for friends, painting for our womens ministry, painting just because… And in feeling so comfortable there, I was also avidly writing… blogging about our trips, writing about my crafts, recording the details of our latest adventures.
I felt free to rest in these good gifts, comfortable in my place and work and school, and in return, those creative juices were running high.
Isn’t it remarkable how much more of ourselves we can be, when we are comfortable in our surroundings, when we are given the freedom to learn and be?
We are all created in the image of God, and as image bearers, we create because He creates. It’s wired in our DNA, to create. We would do well to learn from His example at the beginning of time – during the process of Creation.
On the seventh day, God rested. He saw that it was good – these gifts he spent six days creating… and He rested.
Create in the day, and rest. Do it again and again, then when you are done – rest, and take it in. Create, then rest.
And rest in the presence of God.
Creativity and rest go hand in hand. By taking God’s example for us, we honor Him and His design for us. We were never meant to hustle, or to do this life alone. We can create for the masses and hustle for our own image, or we can create for God and be obedient to His calling on our lives. We can follow the world and never stop until we are burned out, or we can follow God and rest in His presence, for He gives rest to the weary.
When we rest in God, we become a truer version of ourselves. For it is in the mirror of God’s word that we learn who we truly are. And when we are confident and empowered in this freedom He gives, we free ourselves to be creative as He designed us. We are no longer bound by the world and the hustle and the glitz. We look to God, we look to Christ. The created mirror the Creator.
He created us. We in turn create to glorify Him and share what He has gifted us with. He also calls us to rest in Him, and as we rest, he molds us into truer versions of ourselves, which fuels our creativity even more.
Isn’t it remarkable how intertwined this becomes? In all this, we learn an important truth: we are the best version of ourselves when we are given the freedom to rest in God’s truth, and create for His glory.
Katherine Newsom is a writer, podcast host, birth and postpartum doula, and childbirth educator, who lives in the gulf coast of Texas with her family. She writes on her website, Simple Natural Mama, for Christian moms who are simple and natural minded. You can find her website at simplenaturalmama.com or IG: @katherinelnewsom.
This article is just one from the rest issue, which also has creative prompts to inspire you to be creative yourself. Read more about it here.