Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rest is not Idleness

Like I said in my last post, I have been feeling fantastic since my February 12th surgery.  However, today, my energy has dipped, and I'm back in bed.  It's okay.  Like I told my best friend on the phone this morning, even when I'm having a bad day post-surgery, it's better than my best day before the surgery.  So, my mind is not despairing.  I'm just trying to listen to my body, to honor it as a way of thanking God for His good gifts, and to treat it gently as I continue to be restored.

A large part of that restoration process is REST (rest-oration).  A few weeks ago, while I was trying to find the balance between activity and rest, I googled something like "how to rest" or "the science of rest" (I can't remember the exact word search).  I came upon this article:

Being the nerd that I am, I ate it up.  My favorite line? 

"In recent years, researchers have explored the idea of rest by looking at the so-called ‘default mode’ network of the brain, a network that is noticeably active when we are resting and focused inward."
(Association for Psychological Science, July 2, 2012)

According to the article, this area of the brain, researchers believe, is the area associated with learning, memory, and socio-emotional functioning (like moral judgment and self-awareness).

In other words, while we rest, this part of ourselves is growing, developing, maturing!  That's pretty amazing.

And it became even more amazing to me when, as I lay here this morning, my mind drifted to what's happening inside my body.  I asked God, "Lord, what are you doing in there?  What's happening inside me while I rest today?"  His response?  "I am healing you."

The staff at my son's school is currently reading a book called Margin by Richard Swenson.  As I read this article and thought about that book (which I have yet to read) and acknowledged God's word to me today, a thought began to form: rest isn't just about sleeping or laying in bed. 

I know that sounds obvious, but you have to remember, I had major surgery six weeks ago.  Up until last week, a lot of my recovery was about sleeping and laying in bed.  But now, as my body gets stronger and my mind can think more clearly, rest needs to look different.  Now, rest is about giving myself margin for reflection, about creating space for Him to work both inside my physical and mental selves.

So, on a day like today when I don't have the energy to drive my daughter to gymnastics, when my husband is, once again, coming to the rescue and struggling to keep all of the balls in the air, when I am doing well to sit up and lift my arms, I am writing.  Why?  Because writing in this space helps bring my mind to a place of rest.  Here, I am reflecting.  Here, there is margin.

Someone else might look at me right now and think, "why aren't you resting?"  But I need to get all those 'someones' out of my head and let my rest take shape as it will, perfectly formed to my needs in this time.  I will make mistakes.  I will do an activity that I think will leave me feeling restored, only to come out on the other side completely depleted.  Conversely, I will choose something I call 'rest' and it will take from me, rather than give back (I think of laying in bed - this is decidedly not restorative at this stage).

Perhaps the answer to "what is rest?" or "what should rest look like?" is "it depends."  It depends on what you need at the time, on where you are in your life, your day, your hour, your minute.  Maybe it is silence in one moment and singing in the next.  Maybe it is walking through the neighborhood one afternoon and taking a nap the next.  The salient point is this: it's about what restores you, what gives you life, what leaves you feeling full and not empty.  And that, ultimately, is about God at work in your life.

For me, no matter what that looks like, it must involve margin, it must include space for reflection.

And for you?  What does rest look like for you?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Time Flies

Wow, how time flies.  I came back here today FULL of things to write, insights to share, pictures to ponder, but then I noticed that my last post was FOUR MONTHS AGO.


In my mind, I have visited you many times since then, waxed poetic about all manner of things, and wowed you with my wisdom.

Ha!  How reality pales in comparison with my vivid imagination.  So, being true to form, I told you I was leaving, came back with a random post, and now sit here regretting my own absence.  I know, I'm a strange one. 

And consistency is hard for me.  I'm just being honest.  My reasoning for coming back is three-fold::

1.  I need you.  I need a place to write because I, dear friends, am an external processer.  I need to be able to get my thoughts out in order to make sense of them.  If I'm lucky enough to have you read me, and even reflect back what you here in the comments, then bonus for me.

2.  I want to encourage you. 

3.  My creative writing projects need the help and discipline blog writing provides.  In other words, this is a place to get my juices flowing.

So, I'm baaaaaaaack.  :) 

And where have I been in the meantime?  Parenting two precious children, wife-ing an amazing husband, working full-time at an awesome company, and walking the road to health.  In short, here are some bullet points to try to catch you up:
  • The novel.  I've written and rewritten three times now.  I'm currently on version 4.0.  Feel free to pray for me as I attempt - again - to respond to two agents generous offers to read a revision and FINISH THIS WORK.
  • The husband.  Last October he launched his own business!  I'm so proud of him.  He loves what he does and I love it too!  It's a great fit.  For more, check it out on his website - - or on Facebook.
  • The body.  I got really, really sick last year.  Worse than ever.  My chronic adrenal fatigue combined with crazy hormones combined with all sorts of wackiness led me into the Land of Deterioration.  I took matters into my own hands, fired some incompetent doctors, found some amazing ones, and started over.  I recently had major surgery (mid-February), and now feel better than I have in years, PRAISE GOD!  I still have a long way to go, but things are looking up.
  • The job.  Last fall I started back full-time at Austin's best jewelry and high-end gift store: The Menagerie (  I manage the website and some marketing and buying.  It's super fun, and I'm very thankful.
Post-surgery I feel like I have my life back.  I feel like I'm a new person.  I have been carried through hell and back by amazing friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am thankful.  I will write more on that later, but, for now, that's a wrap.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Day

If my children don't talk to me for one day, all h--- breaks loose.

They may act like they're fine.  They may even ignore me when I return from a three-day absence (I was at the annual Soli Deo Gloria retreat - wish you had been there!).

But then it's nap time.

And Mommy has to run an errand.

And Little Bit realizes I'm leaving again.

And...forget about it.  No amount of negotiation could get my four-year-old to calm down.  I had to get my five-year-old to Tae Kwon Do, but I couldn't leave her empty-handed, sobbing in her bed (these were genuine sobs, not the "I'm trying to manipulate you" kind).  I gently lifted her body, racked with hiccupy breaths, and carried her into my husband and 14-week-old puppy, Willie "Bill" Nelson.  I told her I loved her, and, eventually, this is what ensued:

I know...adorable!  The little girl needed to sleep.  Not only did she nap for two hours, but she also fell asleep without one peep when we put her down at 6:30!  I'm not kidding!

Why am I sharing this on my blog?  Great question.  I think, for two reasons:

First, I confess that I had some of my friends' voices in my head as my daughter sobbed.  Those voices say mommies should never leave their babies, homeschooling is best, and attachment is the only way.  (This isn't meant to be a political post on your mothering choices.  I ask you to quiet any urge to go there and, instead, bear with me as I use this struggle to illustrate a larger point.)

I felt guilty.

How many of you can relate?  How many of you feel not good enough as a Mom, no matter what choice you make?

Those voices were combated with the only thing that could silence them - and here's my point, peeps.  The voice of God (as I hear Him, which is, no doubt, unique from how you hear Him...and you, and you, and, yes, you) told me something during my time away.  He said, "Retreat is a Discipline."

To me, that one little phrase reminded me of what it means to put my trust in Him.  When I can't be all things to all people (there for my husband, present for my kids, and the list goes on).  When I make a choice that has consequences I don't want.  When I have to choose and can't do all.

Choosing to step away from my life - myself - and let it all go is an act of trusting that He'll take care of everything, especially of my kids, even if the re-entry is challenging.

Making Him the center of my life - rather than myself - is my spiritual act of worship.

Second, I'm sharing this story because I had a sort-of profound thought surrounding my kids and their need to talk to me every day.  (I'm not naive, folks.  I have a feeling this will change as they get older; though, I hope it doesn't.)

"It's like God," I thought.

I know, profound.

Here's what I mean: if I go a day - even just one day - without checking in with Him, without leaning into His comfort, hearing His voice, looking to Him for direction, telling Him how I feel about my life, then I, too, am a basketcase.  The smallest thing will set me off.  I will lose self control and break down in a tantrum of "me, me, me" until all I can do is sleep.  Or sleep walk, making it through my days in an unconscious state in which nothing can touch me.

My point?  I hope I remember what it felt like to hold Lily as she sobbed.  While it absolutely broke my heart, it also drove home the thought I had had the day before: I need Him even more than she needs me.  I can numb myself to the need.  I can (sometimes) stretch the time between my meltdowns to longer than a day.  But in the end, I fall apart without the daily, consistent time with God we were all designed to experience.

So let's hear it for retreats!  The annual kind and the daily ones.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

For everything there is a time....

Dear Blogging Friends,

I've decided to shut down this blog indefinitely.  I haven't been able to keep up with it consistently for a while now because I feel the Lord tugging me in a different direction.  Every time I sit down to write in this space, I have to heed His call and move in a different direction.

Rather than string you along, dear readers, I am going to take my exit with a gracious bow and many thanks.

I have so enjoyed meeting you here over the last few years.  Your comments and encouragement and feedback have Filled My Bucket many times over.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
in Him,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Stairs

Today, I was defeated by a flight of stairs.

Some days, stairs - while challenging - are manageable.  Today, I just couldn't do it.  I walked around, found the elevator, and rode up to the second floor.  Today, there simply wasn't enough energy.

I started to get down about this, to feel embarrassed that a thirty-six year-old woman can't climb a single flight of stairs without needing to have a lie-down.  All day.

I started to berate myself with voices - old voices - that, when taken all together, say one thing alone:

You are not _____ enough.

Fill in the blank with what you will...not good enough, not trying hard enough, not skinny enough, not in-shape enough, not strong enough.  The list goes on.

I'm being real with you today, dear reader.  I hope I do not depress too much.  Is my writing satisfactory enough?  Will you comment?  Will you come back, even though I am not consistent enough?

These are the thoughts that always stand nearby, ready to exploit any weakness in my armor.  These are the thoughts I must defend against, no matter how strong a connection they have to my heritage.

I believe this is what God meant when He led me to Psalm 79 yesterday, especially verse 8.  I believe this is what God meant when He called me to ponder the words about enemies ravaging, neighbors mocking, and ungodly kingdoms dooming.

I believe this is what He was trying to show me when He had me camp on Psalm 79:8:

"Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!  Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair."

For me, this is a battle in my body and my mind.  My disease and disorder (the doctors tell me it is both) is genetic.  Something passed down against my will.  My thought-patterns share that trait.  I was taught many of the lies; through word and deed they became part of me.  Now I must unravel them and learn truth.

The lies and disease are enemies, mocking neighbors, ungodly kingdoms.  They attack ceaselessly, and I must stand firm.

But what happens when I am too weak to sit, much less stand?  What happens when I am defeated by a flight of stairs, when there's simply not enough energy to defend?


Those are the best days.  Because, even though I might wrestle with accusations and shame briefly, I have learned a certain lesson very well.  I have learned that weakness is my friend.

In the end, after all, it is not mine to defend but His.  In the end, I can't, I don't, I won't be able to.  In the end, all I can do is rest in His shadow while He does the work.

So I choose that thought.  I camp in that place.  I let the swirling words fall to the ground like dead leaves in winter.  I lie down.  I rest.

And in so doing, I find His strength in my weakness.

Linking up with sweet friends at Soli Deo Gloria today.  Be sure to hop over and check it out.