Rest

Just Tired

weary I have the only child in the world who can go to bed uninjured and wake up injured. My older daughter walked into the kitchen this morning and said, "My shoulder hurts really bad."

I almost lost it right then. After some discussion, we decided she probably slept on it wrong and pinched a nerve. Hopefully, it will feel better as the day goes on.

After that discussion, I went to take my shower. I stood in the shower and cried. It wasn't even 8:30, but it had been a morning. The injured shoulder was the last straw. And I was already tired. Truth be told, I've been tired for a while. Just tired.

And that's what I cried out to God, standing there in the shower with tears running down my face. "God, I'm just so tired."

Tired of refereeing bickering children.

Tired of trying to make everyone happy and succeeding in making no one happy.

Tired of fighting with knees that have decided they don't want to work all that well.

Tired of the mental battle to believe that I'm beautiful when the image I see in the mirror doesn't match the ones on the magazine covers.

Tired of trying to juggle work, family, summer schedules and entitled attitudes.

Just tired.

As I stood there, I was reminded of Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

I looked up and said, "So does that mean I get a nap?"

While I wish that verse meant I get about a 3-day nap, it doesn't. But it does mean that all those burdens weighing down our shoulders, the things making us so tired -- the stressed-out husband, the bickering kids, the struggling self-image -- don't have to be ours to carry alone. Jesus said He would carry them for us if we lay them at His feet.

Too often, I want to carry those things alone. I think I can handle it all and do it all myself. But I can't because it all just makes me tired. And a tired, soul-weary mom and wife doesn't do anyone any good. It's only when I lay all of those burdens at the foot of the cross and accept the rest for my soul that Jesus offers that I have any hope of being enough for anyone -- enough for my kids, enough for my husband, enough for me.

So, won't you join me today. Take advantage of Jesus' promise to give you rest. You might not get a 3-day nap, but when your soul is at rest, you'll find the peace and joy you need to make it through the day.

A Time of Rest

resting I'm sure you've noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately. We've been on vacation, and yesterday was my birthday, so I took a little blogging break.

The truth is I haven't been super consistent about blogging for over a month now. With the daily grind of working, homeschooling, serving in ministry, raising a family, being a wife and blogging, I need a break. I needed to not have to get up at 5:30 every morning. I needed to not have to write every morning. I needed time to recharge and refresh.

You see, there are moments in our lives where we need rest. We need to lay down the things that we're doing -- even the good ones -- and take a break. We need to take some moments to refresh our bodies and our souls. We need time to remember why we were doing those things to start with.

There are busy seasons in our lives, seasons when we're called to do a lot of different things, seasons when our plates are so full we think we'll never get everything done. But those seasons always have an end. And when they do, it's time for a season of rest. It's time for a season of refreshment.

When we finished the school year, I was worn out mentally, physically and spiritually. I needed a break -- from everything. It felt like I was simply putting one foot in front of the other to make it through the day. I had very little to give my kids and even less to give my husband.

So, I gave myself permission to ignore a lot of things for the past month. I blogged only when I wanted to. I didn't do a whole lot of cleaning around the house. Dinner was whatever I managed to get on the table. The kids have watched a lot of TV and played a whole bunch of video games. And all of that is OK -- because after some vacation and some rest, I feel refreshed. I feel like I can dive into summer. I can work and blog and make my kids read and learn something new. I'm ready for summer adventures and late summer nights.

But I couldn't get there without some rest, without some time for refreshing both body and soul. God never designed us to run non-stop. He gave us an example to follow when He created the world and rested on the seventh day. He knew that we need rest because it refreshes us both physically and mentally.

Don't let your need for moments or longer periods of rest go unnoticed. Don't think that you can be an effective parent, spouse or leader without periods of sustained rest. Give yourself time to rest so that you can be the person that God has called you to be.

Rest and Relationship

R&R As I sit here this morning, I have to tell you, I'm tired. I'm looking at the calendar for the next two weeks, searching for rest, and I'm not seeing any. Somewhere, the margin in our lives has disappeared -- at least for the next two weeks.

Most of it is beyond my control. My husband has some work events coming up that leaving me flying solo on nights when the girls have practice. We have company coming one weekend. Winter soccer and hockey are in full swing, and I manage both girls' teams. It seems there simply aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done.

We all have moments, weeks, and seasons where life just takes over, where the calendar squares are so full, we can't get another thing in. I've been trying to get together with a friend for the past two weeks, but our schedules just don't match up. My husband and I have been trying to get away for a date for a couple of weeks, but we can't find a couple of hours to make it happen.

Short seasons where our schedules are full aren't ideal, but they do happen. What we have to guard against is letting those short seasons turn into a lifestyle. We have to make it a point to recapture the margin in our lives at some point. We have to find a way to refocus on our families, on our marriages, and on our rest.

You see, God didn't design us or our kids to be on the go 24/7 without time for Him or for relationships. He didn't make us so that we could run forever without recharging. God made us to need rest. He made us to need relationship.

When we fill our schedules to the brim, when we run constantly for long periods of time, we find ourselves missing out on what's important. Suddenly, we don't know our kids because the only time we see them is in the car. We don't know our spouses because the only time we see them is when we cross paths on our way to bed. We don't know our friends because we can't find time to get together.

That's not healthy, and it's not the way God designed us. At the very beginning of the world, God took a break. He rested -- not because He needed the rest, but because we do. God also chose to give Adam companionship in the form of Eve because He knew we needed relationships. Both of those things fall by the wayside when the schedule is so full we can't even remember everything we need to do.

My younger daughter and I didn't get yesterday off. I had to teach and she had to attend a homeschool enrichment program because they didn't take the holiday off. So, Friday, we're taking the day off. We're going to spend some time doing something fun together. We're going to get some rest and some relationship time.

I'm looking toward February as a time to get some rest and relationship with the rest of my family as my girls are out of school for a few days. And my husband and I are going to carve out some time for a date sometime in the very near future.

If your calendar is too full, make sure it's just for a season. Make sure that you can see time for rest and relationship. Because if you can't, it's time to let some things go. It's time to make some choices that put rest and relationship back in the schedule. Because we weren't designed to live without either one.

First Friday: Worn

The last few weeks have kicked this old girl squarely in the pants.

I have gone from a pull-myself-up-from-the-bootstraps mama to a consistent blubbering mountain of mess. It is no one thing in particular that has me sniffling.  Just a whole lot of life coming at me all at once.

But something remarkable has also happened in these same few weeks.

Every morning as I have placed my feet on the floor, I’ve heard these opening words to the 10th Avenue North song, Worn play clearly in my exhausted mind:

“I’m tired, I’m worn.  My heart is heavy.  From the work it takes to just keep breathing...”

Even more remarkable, different strains, different lines followed on different mornings:

Exhaustion met with “I’m worn even before the day begins.”

Sadness met with “I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I’m too weak, life just won’t let up.”

Anger met with “I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail.”

Ending always with, “So heaven come and flood my eyes.”

In retrospect, it has, no doubt, been a gift from Jesus.  Designed perfectly for my tired brain.  A brain that often struggles to read words on a page.

I imagine it is for this very reason that He has so lovingly brought the words to my mind.  Fixing them in my heart every morning.  For a moment when the truth of the melody would become absolutely real to me.

And real, it has become.

The day it happened was rough one.  Lots of tears.  Lots of time in my pulling-it-together corner.

The particular moment happened right after I surveyed the great room to see if anyone was there to hear or see my blubbering.  Coast was clear.  Blubbering began.

But I had forgotten something very important.  A little girl who is just short enough not to be seen over the height of the kitchen counter.  I realized my mistake when I felt a little hand gently tug on my shirt.

“What’s is wrong, Mommy?”

Immediately, I tried to put on a brave face and bent down to assure her I was fine.

But then something incredible happened:

My baby girl took her hand and held my chin firmly in place as she looked into my eyes.  I tried to look down and keep from crying harder but she was relentless in keeping my gaze.  Finally, she took my face in both hands, pressed her forehead to mine and said with a maturity beyond her two-year-old years,

“I.  Love.  You.”

Sob. Sob. Sob.

Face back to hers.  “I said, “I.  Love. You.”

She kissed my cheek ever so softly, wiped the tears away with her hands and hugged me tightly.

Then, just as quickly as she came, she was gone.

The next morning, I woke up with the same words running through my mind that had come to me the morning before.

But this time, I saw a little face filled with concern.  I felt little hands lifting my eyes to a place of purpose. And I heard a little voice speak of a Father’s love.

For the first time in weeks, it didn’t matter that I was worn.  Or tired.  Or done.

What mattered is that I knew when I cried out, He would respond.  He would come.  He  would care.

And greater still, He would bring heaven down to fill my teary eyes.  Just as He had done on a day that the world was kicking me squarely in the pants.  When He used a little girl’s hands and heart to finally make me hear Him say:

“I.  Love. You.”

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie. When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers. But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful.

Lessons from a Concussion

My older daughter took a soccer ball to the head on Saturday night. After a day of headaches, we decided to take her to the doctor yesterday. Diagnosis: concussion.

In all the years my girls have played sports, we've never had a serious injury. Oh, we've sprained ankles and hurt fingers. We've applied our share of ice and ace bandages, but we've never had an injury that required them to miss more than a game or a practice. My daughter is out for at least two weeks with this concussion.

The prescription for a concussion is rest -- total rest. She's not supposed to do anything. No TV. No reading. No video games. No texting. Nothing that requires physical activity or higher-level thinking. Her brain has been hurt, and now it needs to rest.

It's really hard for my daughter to rest like that. She's an active kid who doesn't even really like to sit and watch TV for very long. She likes to be out doing things. Keeping her in a state of rest is difficult. She's bored and wants to push the limits. I want her to heal.

The truth is that it doesn't matter what our ailment is, rest is always a healer. Whether we're physically sick or simply heartsick, resting our weary bodies and souls always improves the situation. A good night's sleep can shed new light on a sticky situation. Rest can help us recuperate from illness.

God knew that. That's why He stuck a day of rest into the week. God didn't need to rest after He created the world. He doesn't get tired. Yet, He chose to set an example for us because He knew that we would need rest. God offers us rest for our bodies and for our souls. He offers peace and healing if we only take the time to stop moving and rest in His arms.

Isaiah 40:30-31 promises "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Our children learn to how to rest by watching us. If they never see us taking a break to renew our bodies and our souls, they will never learn to do so themselves. The priority you place on rest is the priority you are teaching your children to place on rest. If your schedule is packed so full that you have no time to spend with God, no time to rest your body, no time for your family to just relax, then you're teaching your kids to value busyness more than God, more than health and more than family -- and that's probably not the message you're intending to send.

Spend some time today thinking about the priority you place on rest and what you're teaching your kids about resting their bodies and their souls. Then decide if that's really what you want to be teaching them.

Setting the Schedule

My calendar looks like someone threw up a rainbow of dry erase markers on it. We switched the month from July to August and all of a sudden the squares on my calendar aren't big enough to hold all the events of the day.

Schedules during the school year can be tricky. We have some days where getting everyone where they need to be requires a degree in traffic management. Just figuring out the carpool this year with two kids at different schools is proving to be more difficult than I thought.

Yet, managing the schedule can be easier. If we've prioritized our activities, then we should be able to make our calendars fit our priorities instead of letting our calendars dictate our priorities.

So, it's time to take that priority list and match it up against your current calendar. Look at what dominates your calendar and decide if those things match up with your priorities. If not, then it's time to rearrange the schedule -- not your priorities.

For example, this school year, I've decided I want to work with each of my girls on a different issue. My older daughter and I are going to be attending a Bible study on modesty and purity once a month called Becoming. It's a great opportunity for some mom/daughter time, and it hits on an area that I think is really important right now. You can find out more about Becoming Ministry here.

My younger daughter and I are also going to spend some time together this fall talking about the qualities of a good leader. We're going to take advantage of some of the time my older daughter spends at soccer practice to study what God has to say about leadership.

These two things are at the top of my priority list, so they are making their way onto my calendar first. We'll work them around practice schedules when we need to, but these are items that I don't want to skip each month.

For some of us, our calendars are simply too full. If that's the case, it's time to take a few steps to lighten the load. God doesn't intend for us to run from the minute we get up until the minute we go to bed. He expects us to rest. We need it, and our kids need it. God chose to rest: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work" (Genesis 2:2). If it's important enough for God to do it, then it should be important enough to us to make time for it. If your schedule never allows for any downtime for you or your kids, then it's time to reevaluate.

If you need to clear some things off your schedule, try these steps:

1. Learn to say no. No is not a four letter word. It's in our vocabulary for a reason. As much as we would like to, we can't say yes to everything. Just because something is a worthy idea doesn't mean we have to take it on. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn't mean you have to say yes. Pray about each activity that goes on your calendar. If God says no, then it's time to be done with that activity. Don't make the assumption that no one else will do it. If God is telling you no, then He'll find someone to fill that slot.

2. Set limits. Your kids can't do everything nor should they even try. Set up limits on how much stuff your kids can cram onto the calendar. In our house, we have a one sport at a time rule. This means that the girls can each choose one sport per season. We allow a little overlapping, but in general, we're only dealing with one sport's practices at a time. You may need to set limits on activities or sleepovers or even study time in order to ensure your kids get the rest and downtime they need.

3. Make family time a priority. Schedule family nights on the calendar just like you would any other activity. Choose something to do each month -- movie night, family read-aloud, game night. Put it on the calendar and make sure everyone knows it's just as important as a game or other activity.

4. Be flexible. Flexibility is key to making a busy family's schedule work. It may mean that dinner is at a different time every night or that your family meal is breakfast. It may mean that devotional time is done in the car because that's when you're all together. It may mean that every week looks different as you work to make the schedule meet your priorities. Being flexible makes days when things don't come together right much easier to deal with.

As you figure out your schedule for the school year, don't let your calendar become a mish-mash of unplanned activities. Learn to say no, set limits, make family time a priority and be flexible, and you'll be on your way to the best school year ever.

Linking up today with Denise in Bloom.

Even Moms Need a Break Sometimes

My girls left last night for five days of GrandCamp. Every summer, my parents take the girls for a few days of grandparent/grandchild fun. This year, they're off to Mount Rushmore. They hit the road at four this morning.

While I love my kids and enjoy the summer with them, I won't lie and tell you that I don't look forward to the four or five days each summer that I get to myself. And I don't feel guilty about it. Because even moms need a break sometimes.

Motherhood is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job. My younger daughter has had a cold that has kept her up at night for the past week coughing. And the nights that she has slept through the night, my older daughter has been up with a bloody nose. (I have no idea why her nose only bleeds in the middle of the night.) Last night was the first night I've slept all night in more than a week.

So, I'm looking forward to a few days of rest, catching up on my sleep, getting some work done, doing some projects around the house and having conversations with my husband that last more than three sentences without someone interrupting us. And there's nothing wrong with that.

There's this supermom myth floating around out there that in order to be a good mom, we have to be super involved in our kids' lives all the time. It says As a mom, our entire focus should be on our kids. But that's not true, and it's not healthy -- for you or your kids.

I don't know about you, but I sometimes get so caught up in my role of mom that I forget to take time for myself. Between sports practices, church activities, school and homework, I forget that I'm supposed to be taking care of me, too. Motherhood is a selfless profession. It requires us to put the needs of the little people in our homes above our own most of the time. It requires compassion, love and energy in spades.

But motherhood shouldn't mean that our kids always take center stage. To be good moms, we must take some time for ourselves -- whether it's a 15 minute break behind a closed bedroom door or a few days when the grandparents take the kids. Without taking time to refresh ourselves, we'll run out of the endless compassion, love and energy that we need to be a mom.

Even Jesus didn't minister to others all the time. He took every opportunity he had to be alone and spend tiem with God. He refreshed His soul so He could minister to others. Mark 1:35 tells us: "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Now, our time alone doesn't have to be in the morning while it's still dark, but we do need to find time to withdraw for a few minutes to refresh ourselves, to spend time with God and to have a few minutes of rest.

And we shouldn't feel guilty about it when we do.

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows and Denise in Bloom.

Even Kids Get Tired

 

My older daughter went to soccer camp last week. Camp was all day, and it's been unseasonably hot. She also had soccer tryouts for her competive team in the evenings.

She left the house at 7 in the morning and not returned home until 6 at night or later every night last week. She fought through dehydration and an ankle that someone kicked hard enough to leave a mark.

One night after camp and tryouts, she walked in the door, looking like a raccoon. The deep purple circles under her eyes were the first thing you saw. She looked like she hadn't slept in days. A good night's sleep rejuvenated her, but I'm she made up for lost sleep on Saturday morning.

The other morning, I read Isaiah 40:30 and had to pause. It says, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall," and I thought of my daughter.

I think we have a tendency to look at our kids and think, they're young, they'll bounce back. We pack their schedules full and think nothing of letting them run hard from dawn to dusk. The truth is found, though, in Isaiah 40:30. Youth doesn't protect you from getting tired. Youth may help you bounce back from a late night or two, but a perpetually tired child is one who is not at his or her best.

When our kids are tired, small things become big crises, words become weapons and the tear quotient rises exponentially. Our kids need rest, and they need us to be advocates for that rest.

Rested children learn better. They think better. They react to circumstances better. Rest is something worth fighting for. And in this go, go, go world, we may have to fight for our kids to get rest.

To get the needed rest, we may have to stand up against the crowd and say no to activities that start too late. We may need to insist our four-year-olds take a nap even though none of their friends do. We may need to tell the neighborhood kids that our kids can't come out to play after 8 p.m.

And we definitely need to teach our kids that God is the ultimate source of rest. He can provide rest not just for weary bodies but for weary souls. When our kids are tired of mean girls and bullying boys, when their souls have been crushed by an unkind word, when they don't think they can conquer another math concept, God offers them rest. Isaiah 40:31 says "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Rest is important to God, and it should be important to us. Even though our kids are young, they still need rest. Youth doesn't protect them from being tired, and we, as their parents, must fight to protect their rest and guide them to the source of true rest.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.