Year of Rest in Review

My year of writing on rest, hoping to learn to rest is coming to an end. How did it go? Have I learned anything?
I certainly haven’t come as far as I hoped. That really is no surprise. Realistic goals and expectations are not my strong suit.  I think that is an area I get to focus on next year because I am getting the sense that my One Word for 2013 is Dream. Just the word brings up issues in my heart, so I guess it’s time to get working on them. Back to this year though, rest.
I have become more aware of my thinking, obsessing. I have created a few habits to help me rest. I take 15 minutes in the morning to make an agenda for the day. This involves consulting God and my task list. I need to add a time in the early afternoon to asses where I’m at and make any needed adjustments. I turn more thoughts to prayers.
I am aware of the need to continue to rest, to learn more of Him so I rest more easily.  I feel an urgency to be very firmly grounded in Him, able to rest no matter what happens around me. The darkness grows darker, so the light must shine brighter to overcome it. His light can only shine through me if I am resting in Him.
Did you learn anything about rest this year?
Did you have One Word of your own?
Will you have one for 2013?

Resting in Celebrating

It’s the week before Christmas and all is at rest. 
Wouldn’t that be lovely? To rest in this beautiful time of year? 
I really enjoy sitting on the couch with only the Christmas tree lights on, preferably white. This year they set up the tree so we can plug in colored, white or both! Mostly only the white get plugged in. I think I have won my children over from colored. This seems so peaceful to me. How often do I take the time to rest and enjoy my tree? Not often enough, the list of things to do is too long. Who still needs gifts? What will the gifts be? What about the annual Christmas letter? Gifts to send to family far away should be gone already and they’re not done either.
It is a struggle to rest in the midst of all these extra demands. I’m getting better about not caring if I meet expected timelines. It would be nice to be one time, but I may have to be okay with being late. It’s better than being stressed. Every year I let go of a little more. Next year we’ve been talking about simplifying even more. Rest has to be important enough to make time and room for.  That means other things have to be adjusted, reduced or even eliminated.  
I also realized this morning I have not been taking time to meditate on the richness of God’s gifts to me. We often say God’s greatest gift was Jesus being born. That is really only the beginning of the story. All the wonderful gifts God has for us are only possible because Jesus followed the plan through death to be resurrected and glorified.
How lost do His great gifts to us become in the midst of all the holiday traditions and demands? In trying to prepare gifts and treats I am missing out on rest, not just because I’m busy, my mind is not at rest. I am missing out on the reason I say we are celebrating. I struggle not to lose Jesus in the holiday preparations.
Jesus came and that changed everything. 
It’s worth celebrating.
It is worth so much more than celebrating.
It’s worth changing for, living for, dying for.
He did. 
Will I? 
Will you?

Faith to Rest

Faith, true faith really is rest.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.”
 Hebrews  11:1 NET
Believing what God said is true when we can’t see it is rest. Really believing, not just wishing or hoping, believing – fully persuaded.
I am fully persuaded my husband is committed to me for the rest of our lives. This gives me great rest. I save a great deal of energy having faith in his promise and commitment to me. I can’t see his every move and I can’t see the future but I can believe his promise and his faithful record in the past.
My faith in God provides an even greater rest. He can see the future. Sometimes the things I see in my life don’t make sense and I really don’t like them. However I can look back through centuries and see that indeed He is faithful and really can work all things to His plan. He has made many great promises and He will keep them all. I can rest.
There is no fear in love. If I believe He loves me as He loved the world, as He chose be before the founding of the world, I can rest in His love. I may have to believe by faith. I can’t always see or feel God’s love. He promises it, so by faith I rest.

Schedule and Plan for Rest

Are your holiday plans well under way or running away?
To have rest at any time of the year we have to plan and prioritize. Even more so at Christmas. Make sure to plan in some rest. Also be sure to make a full inventory of all you intend to do. What preparation is involved? How many resources – not only money – time & emotions, too.  List EVERYTHING involved, every step in it’s entirety.
Now the reality check. Can you actually do everything on your list? Do you have enough of every kind of resource to pull it off? Another question, do you want to use all those resources? Do you have any reserves?
In the past I have failed in many steps of this planning. Every year I continue to simplify and learn to be more realistic in my planning, in understanding what it will really take to pull off my plans. As an example for many years it was a tradition to make gingerbread houses with two other families. A great day for everyone involved. For the planning though it was not just the day on the calendar. There had to be the rearranging of school plans. How long does it take to get snow gear for three children? What about lunch? A special trip to the store for candy we do not keep around the house but need for our project. This is a great tradition and worth all the effort, I just sometimes forget to plan all the parts I need to plan. It goes better when I remember.
It may be that when you really look at what goes in to some of your holiday plans you will decide you either do not have or do not want to use your resources that way. You may want some time to rest so you can have a better attitude toward your family in this “holly, jolly” season.
Question: How is your planning going?
Challenge: Do your holiday plans include rest? Do they focus on Jesus? 
An invitation: During December I’m posting Countdown to Christmas. Focus on Jesus. At myFocus on Jesus blog. I hope you’ll stop by for a quick note of encouragement.
Christmas Blessing: You can still enter for the $320 prize money until December 11, 2012. There are many great blogs sharing in the blessing. Read and enter on them all!

Finding Rest in the Battle

We are in a battle. I often forget. I often fail to prepare like it’s real. 
It is real. So real it’s exhausting. The enemy never forgets. He is relentless. He loves that I forget. 
If I am in battle from a spiritual source how am I to rest?
“The battle is mine” says the Lord.
This has often tripped me up. I’m in a battle, but it’s His. I need to fight, but I’m supposed to rest.
What I am beginning to see is my fight is within myself. I must come into agreement with the victory Jesus has already won. Satan is defeated, sentenced to eternal destruction. The sentence is waiting on the patient love of God to be carried out. The waiting is for us who have been found to help find more who are still lost. Satan is using it to his advantage. Since he’s not dead he’s not acting like it, though too often I am.
The fight within me is to control my thoughts, bringing them captive to Jesus. To think good, true, pure, lovely, honest, and praiseworthy thoughts. To pray without ceasing. To always rejoice and give thanks in all things.
In fighting this internal fight I rest. I rest in the Father’s love and protection. As I submit to Him he takes care of the battle around me. As I draw near to His heart I can better hear His voice and better recognize the enemy. I rest, fixed and firm on Jesus’s work finished on the cross. Satan nor any person can truly hurt me because for me even death is gain.
The rest is in remembering who He is, what He has done, and what He has promised to do.
An invitation: During December I’m posting Countdown to Christmas. Focus on Jesus. At myFocus on Jesus blog. I hope you’ll stop by for a quick note of encouragement.
Christmas Blessing: You can still enter for the $320 prize money until December 11, 2012. There are many great blogs sharing in the blessing. Read and enter on them all!

Thanksgiving Prepares for Rest

I don’t feel this is my best writing, not even sure it’s coherent, but I want to share these thoughts anyway.
Fear is unsettling. Fear keeps me from rest. Fear keeps me from being thankful because I am focused on what has or may go wrong.
Thanksgiving, actually giving thanks, speaking it out, displaces fear. Giving thanks brings rest. Expressing gratitude refocuses my heart where it should always be, my God. There are no circumstances, however catastrophic or dark, that can keep me from Him. Even death itself only brings me to His presence.
Looking around there are things that common sense would say to fear, worry, fret. God says, “Fear not”. The economy is unstable, people are afraid. God says, “Put me first and I will supply all your needs.” People are sick and suffering, afraid. God says, “Come to me and I will give you rest. I will wipe every tear from your eye.” People are inconsiderate, forgetful, even mean. God says, “I will never leave you”.
I will practice thanksgiving for all the good He is, all the blessings He bestows.
Question: How do you practice giving thanks?
Challenge: Go beyond being thankful and practice expressing attitude to God and others.

Learning to Rest

Preparing for the first show of the season I had huge lists of things to be done. I was trying very hard to figure out the ideal, display, advertising and the like. And I did not like myself. I did not feeling like I was failing because I could not in good conscience get it all done. To come near accomplishing it all I would have needed to neglect my homeschooling, house and husband, more than I maybe was.

I decided to practice what I was preaching, Rest. I didn’t even bother to try whittling down my list. I started over completely. This time only what HAD to be done went on the list. I needed a display with updated prices. I did not need to completely recreate everything because it would possibly be better. I wanted to have a brochure to hand out. I didn’t need it. I had materials already.
It was another lesson of the same sort. Rest. I can’t do it all. More over God doesn’t expect me to. Thankfully neither does my husband. It’s only me that thinks I can or at least should be able to do it all, and maybe more. The voice of my Savior saying “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” was drowned by my expectations. Many of these expectations I had projected on myself from others opinions – most of who I don’t even know. See instead of going to my Savior to pick up the yoke and burden he held for me I was going to the “experts” with their lists of things one “must do” to be successful, to sell books. That’s only one area of my life. Then there all the opinions about what a good Christian homeschooling mom is to be about, not to mention house keeper, cook, blogger, mom, Christian and wife. My lists are long in all these areas.
I’m trying to rest. Each day this week I have taken 15 minutes to sit with God and ask for his yoke for my day. I saw from preparing for the show that I have way more ideas than I can pursue. I’ve seen this before, too. I have decided to record my ideas, but I don’t get to act on them unless God puts it on my to-do list. The list is much shorter and less demanding when I write it with him.
I’m still behind. Things neglected while I chased other ideas. I’m working on how to corral my thoughts, prioritize my time and tasks. I am learning to rest.
Question: Do you take on others expectations as your own?
Challenge: Ask God for his expectations. He is so loving and gracious they will always stretch you enough to depend on him but never enough to break you in two.

Exercise and Feed to Rest

Why is something I want so much so hard to do?
My neighbor who left Alaska not knowing Jesus is suffering through cancer treatments. The treatments are awful – stopping is a death sentence without miracles.
A friend lost her perfectly healthy baby in delivery this week.  More friends are on bed rest to keep their babies safe.
A friend much too young has died and left behind two young children.
A boy from our church family had a horrible accident and will lose his foot unless Jesus gives him a new one.
Things are wrong and I found myself worrying or obsessing instead of praying. No rest.
I’m starting school next week. I’m filled with excitement and dread. I love schedules and learning. Not all of my children share that love. Questions –will it go well? Have I chosen the right materials? Have I planned enough? Right?
I guess I’m was trusting in my choices and plans instead of the One to whom I asked wisdom when I made those plans. Faith in Him is easier, safer, and more sure than faith in me – always. Faith in me is stressful. Faith in Him is rest.
I think my faith needs exercise. It needs food, too. I must exercise my faith so I can rest. To exercise my faith I must choose to trust Him. He has promised to work all things for my good because I love Him, because He has called me.
To feed my faith I must read and meditate on His Word, His blessings.
Exercise and feed to rest.

Rest – Not in Feelings

Rest – v. 13. To continue fixed.
16. To abide; to remain with.
17. To be calm or composed in mind. (from Webster’s Dictionary 1828)
I’ve been feeling far from these meanings of rest lately. Especially the calm, composed mind!
When I look more clearly though I can see I am fixed. I know my only hope of answers and lasting reset is God himself. One day last week when I felt miles from rest I found myself singing that song:
Lord I look to You.
I won’t be overwhelmed.
Give me vision, to see things like You do.
Lord, I look to You.
You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do.
So I was resting, just didn’t feel rested, until I listened to my own prayer and refocused on God instead of my trouble. I abide and remain in Him because He alone is faithful, of calm and composed mind for sure!
I have the mind of Christ so I too have a calm and composed mind. I rest in this promise instead of my roller coaster of emotions.

 For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Cor 2:16 
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Phil. 2:5

 Question: Do your emotions determine your outlook instead of the other way around?

Challenge: Take time to fix yourself to God’s promises, abide with them and enjoy peace of mind.

Intimacy in Rest

I have an image I often see, but can never draw, of me sitting on God’s arm, leaning against His chest.I am very much stretching my longing to have everything “just so” posting this sketch! I only let myself erase once. It’s about the message – not my artistic talent – or lack there of.

This image used to make me think I was close to the Father. Most certainly it is my favorite place of rest.  Awhile ago though he showed me that while I was close we were not all that intimate. In my position of rest on His arm I do not look at His face. I do not gaze into His eyes. Why?
Intimacy requires trust. Closeness does, too but it’s different. I avoid the eyes because eyes reveal so much, expressions speak so strong. What if those eyes are hurt? Disappointed? Judging? What if He doesn’t like what He sees in my eyes? What if He doesn’t like me anymore than I do? Those are questions I tend to stay away from, but because I have I have also stayed away from His gaze.
Looking in the eyes of my husband over our anniversary weekend made me realize in a new way what I was missing out on by avoiding God’s eyes. I am blessed to start every day in my husband’s arms. We sit together and drink our first cup of coffee. The way we sit I lean against him as my back rest and don’t see his face. On our weekend we had more face to face time than normal. It was amazing to me how powerful the love in his eyes was. Instead of just resting in his arms knowing how much he loves me I could see the love he has for me. Yes sometimes those eyes are showing how I have hurt or disappointed him, but that weekend it was love, acceptance, pride, respect, and honor. It was overwhelming.
I now know I am missing that in my Father’s gaze. Yes, I risk seeing hurt or disappointment, but I am missing the empowering love that flows from His eyes, the expressions of love on His face.
I’m pondering too many thoughts to get sorted out for this post so I went looking for verses on His face. I’m simply listing the ones that spoke to me. I pray they will speak to you as well.
Numbers 6:24-26 The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Psalms 11:7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Psalms 27:8 You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Isaiah 54:8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.
1Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.
Question: Do you seek His face? Do you look into the Father’s face? Do you allow His gaze to search your eyes?
Challenge: Make Psalms 27:8 your prayer today. 
~ You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”~