Required to Rest

“Action, then passivity;

Striving, then letting go

Doing all one can do, and then being carried…

only in this rhythm is the spirit realized.”  

“The essence of being in God’s image is our ability, like God, to stop. We imitate God by stopping our work and resting. If we can stop for one day a week, or for a mini-Sabbath each day, we touch something deep within us as an image bearer of God. Our human brain, our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions become wired by God for the rhythm of work and rest in him.” -Robert Barron, And Now I See

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been convicted and encouraged to take inventory of my busyness and life rhythms. I’ve been prompted to conduct a self evaluation of the state of my heart and the observance of Sabbath in my life. 

The result of these things have brought a new awareness and perspective I haven’t found before. It has sparked a journey into learning new spiritual disciplines and figuring out how to wire these new practices into my life. I believe I’m stepping into a new, sacred place of life.  

The first and most important step in all of this was to do something I find incredibly difficult to do- to stop. Honestly, stopping wasn’t my choice. I was forced to stop. A class requirement of a day long Soul Sabbath at a spiritual retreat center run by the Sisters of Notre Dame required me to so.

Funny how a requirement produced a desire to seek out more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in my life. How “having to” turned into “wanting to.” How stopping started new dialogue, reconditioned my heart, and expanded my vision and goals. The whole time I was thinking I was checking off a work box, but God was checking in on my heart and drawing me in closer to Him through rest. 

“Stop, rest, delight and contemplate” are four principals of Sabbath that Peter Scazzero writes about in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I’ve been focusing on these things and soaking up silence and solitude (as much as a mom of three can find). I’ve been discovering new rhythms, paying closer attention, hearing better, and sampling the “something greater that awaits.” It doesn’t look perfect and holy, it looks more like stumbling and tumbling, but it is a forward moving, in a more peaceful process with intention to be in God’s presence and be present for others.  

Our Lady Queen Chapel
Notre Dame Spirituality Center
Ipswich, MA

I don’t know what the current condition and the state of your heart and life is. I don’t know if busyness and striving is stealing joy, peace and contentment away from your life and relationships. Maybe you feel like you’ve become lost in a storm of choices you’ve made (including the good ones that have become time consuming restrictions.) Maybe you feel like you are what you do, and have lost sight of who you truly are. Many people struggle with busyness, balance, work addiction, and high, unhealthy expectations. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Finding time to be alone, more specifically alone to be with God, can help.

I invite you to do the incredibly difficult work to stop. It doesn’t need to be a whole day of silence and solitude, but at least an hour of time, preferably more, of intentional rest and no work. 

Ignore the lies that it cannot be done. Make it happen. You may need to force yourself to this. You may need to say no to something or someone. You may need to ask someone to watch the kids. Shut off your phone, silence social media, get outside, go for a walk, or take a nap. It may not feel “productive,” but it will be more productive in the long run. And maybe, just maybe, stopping to rest will start something new- a plan of action for more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in your life too.

Cheering you on, friend!

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

Psalm 37:7


Keeping It All Together-Part 3- How Full Is Your Jar?

howfulls your jar3

A professor stood in front of his class and walked behind a table that displayed several items. One of those items was an empty glass jar.  He held up the empty jar, thoughtfully paused, and then placed it back down in the center of the table.

Smiling up at his students, the professor reached over to a second item on the table. He took several medium sized rocks and began to fill the jar. When the rocks reached the top he stopped. The professor asked the class if the jar was full.  They all agreed it was.

Smiling again, the professor looked to a second item on the table. He took several handfuls of pebbles and added them to the jar. Then shook the jar gently. The students watched as the pebbles clinked and trickled down the sides of the jar. The pebbles filled in spaces and crevices left around the rocks. The professor lifted his head and asked the class again if the jar was full.  Again, his students agreed it was.

One last time, the professor reached over to the last item left on the table. He took a cup of sand and began pouring it into the glass jar. The sand slid around the rocks and pebbles, filling up every last bit of space in the jar.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the important things, such as family and relationships. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work and your interests. The sand signifies the remaining small stuff-maybe TV shows or Facebook.

If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles.  Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.”*

What are the rocks, pebbles and sand in your life? How are those things reflected in the way that you spend your time? 

I wanted to share a worksheet that I made to help me visualize my priorities and time. Your rocks, pebbles, and sand will be different than mine. My rocks/pebbles have changed over the years and in different seasons of my life.  You may see the same thing in your life.

I printed the worksheet on card stock, cut out the jar, and pinned it to the cork board near my desk. When I see my “jar,” it helps me remember how full my jar is and where my time is or should be placed. It is especially helpful when I have been asked to take on a new task or asked to pray about a new commitment. When the request does not line up with the my priorities, it makes it a little easier to say no and be at peace with that response.

   masonjartime3

You can download the worksheet here.

Mason Jar

*My version of the story was adapted from many other versions found on the web.


Keeping It All Together-Part 1

 

timemanagement

People sometimes say to me, “I do not know how you do it all.” Or ask me, “How do you keep it all together?”  Here’s the honest answer, “I don’t.” 

Homeschooling, church ministries, MOPS, and life bring a gigantic set of tasks to complete in a 24 hours time period. As my kids get older and ministry opportunities increase, there seems to be more to do and less time to do it in. I find myself in a constant struggle to find the right balance of “work” and life.  I frequently reevaluate our schedule to make sure that it reflects the values and priorities we hold as a family.

About a year ago, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and way over-scheduled. Since then, I have had to do a lot of soul searching, praying and reading focused around the importance of using time wisely. Through much prayer, trial and error, work and determination, I have made some important changes to our schedule and have seen the positive impacts those changes have made in our life and in our relationships with others.

I am not saying I am perfect at this. Some days, I still feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, I sneak a glimpse at another mom and think, “Boy, she has it all put together.” But rather than being hard on myself, those moments usually inspire me to do another load of laundry  or take another look at our schedule and how we are using our time. No judgments or comparisons here. It is sometimes hard to remember that every mom has a struggle of her own. But we all do!

Working on time management is important because:

  1. Our time is limited.
  2. We can learn to accomplish more by setting simple, realistic goals.
  3. We can improve our decision making ability.
  4.  We can reduce stress.
  5.  We can find more time for things that we enjoy (even if that means only a few minutes at first.)
  6. We can rediscover joy within our day!

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing what I have learned that has helped me manage my time and responsibilities in a more productive way. These ideas and tips have allowed me to feel less overwhelmed and more joyful in my every day routine. I hope that you will be inspired to think differently or discover something new that may be helpful in your own schedules and bring more joy into your life. Please join me.