Every time I start to get overwhelmed, I am reminded to rest. And yet, my initial response is that I have too much to do to rest. You know the drill. The kids, the job, the house, the family, the friends, the church, the place you volunteer down the road, or even the shelter downtown - they ALL need you!
Guess what? They do need you! Without you, there will be no one to fold the laundry, help with homework, kiss the boo-boos, build friendships, give to the church, or volunteer in the community. But, here is the big news flash! You don't have to do it all at once and you aren't expected to do it all when you are exhausted.
We need rest. God designed us to rest. He even rested. He tells us that he will give us rest! So, why do we think that we are special and we do not need to rest? If you are guilty of forgetting to rest and take care of yourself, you are not alone. This has been a skill set I have been working on for quite some time. What is interesting is that many of us simply don't know where to start. Most of us have not been modeled rest or taught well how to rest by our society.
So, I'm sharing some small changes I've made to incorporate rest in my life and hope that by sharing my list it may help you to expand your list. Read it through, get some ideas and get some rest!
You may think that it is impossible to get away with God and find rest in today's society with all that is resting on your shoulders. But, it really is possible. And, in the long run, you may just find you are more productive. Or, you may find that the less important things in life just fall right off your list. What gives you rest?
I'm signing off to go stretch and then sleep while the dishes await! Happy rest!
An area of my life that I’ve been working on in the last few years is simplicity. I need more simplicity, from my closet to my daily bible study routine and even those nifty tools in the kitchen. I struggle with falling victim to gadgets and gizmos that claim to make my life easier. However, when I realize that a new gizmo only requires another washing and space to be stored, I’ve learned that I have fallen prey to missing out on the benefits of simplicity.
There really is a lot to be said for simplicity. I still struggle with the concept of simplicity, but I see the benefits and am beginning to understand them more clearly. One thing that really struck me during my trips to these historic churches was the beautiful simplicity of St. George’s Church. The wooden floors, the simple paned windows and the practicality of the wine-glass pulpit remind me that over the years, the efforts toward simplicity have remained a priority in this building.
My first impression of the pulpit was that it seemed of great importance in the sanctuary. It appeared to be overwhelming and I had no desire to preach my assignments from that location! But, as I settled into the space and heard sermon after sermon sitting in this simply beautiful room I began to see the pulpit in a different way. Not until I ascended the stairs and began to speak did I realize that this pulpit was indeed a humbling place. I was surprised that my voice carried throughout the room without too much effort. And, to see the names behind me on the wall of the pastors who preached God’s word hundreds of years before in this same space was very humbling. Yes, there have been changes and renovations. But, Freeborn Garrettson and other founding fathers of our Methodist movement spoke in that very room. And, while I do not know the complete details of the life of Freeborn Garrettson, I understand he was a radical in his day. I wish we could hear the words of wisdom that may have been shared in that very room hundreds of years ago. I can only imagine words were spoken in that room that encouraged a life of piety that Garrison is known for encouraging and supporting. And, while a life of piety may seem far from simple, I’m thinking it may be a little deceiving like the wine-glass pulpit.
A life of piety may seem overwhelming and larger than life. But, once you step into living a life of piety, it too is humbling and your voice carries louder than ever before. I think that piety may have a negative connotation because if you think of becoming pious, that is often defined as devoutly religious. Instead, I view a life of piety as John Wesley did by living life through the means of grace. A life of piety is the attitude that your entire life takes on. A life of piety is heart religion.
Is your life a prayer? Are you striving for constant communion with him or simply looking to fill up on Sundays? As we open up our lives to constant communion with God, our relationships often deepen as we become more aware of his constant communion with us. A pious life is a whole life committed to following God and I believe that the less distractions we have in our life, the more simply we can see God’s work and call on our lives. And, when you begin to see God’s work in your life, you are often humbled.
There have been many aspects on my journey toward finding personal health. But, a large part of strengthening my physical health has included adding lots more fresh produce. I have only recently gained a great appreciation for the healing properties of food. God made delicious and glorious foods for us to enjoy. He did not make the processed foods that our brains beg us to crave on a regular basis (me too!).
Last year, my family made the commitment to sign up for a local CSA (community supported agriculture). My Dad always had a wonderful garden growing up and there were summers in my teen years that I think I survived off his homemade salsa. And, while I know tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and herbs. That is where my gardening knowledge ceases. Plus, we like to camp and I'm still traveling some for school. So, it makes it hard to commit to caring for a "big garden". In our little "square foot garden", my 8-year old son and I have planted cherry and roma tomatoes, red and orange bell peppers, chives, cilantro, basil, rosemary, stevia, spearmint and parsley. I'm finding that the herbs really are a plus. They require very little upkeep and are a wonderful addition to our home cooking (I am not a chef, but I am learning to love "good for me" food and herbs help simple recipes taste great). Our garden requires little maintenance and should produce a decent harvest.
However, I wanted more variety out of my produce and the grocery store chains just don't compare with fresh, local food (I promise). So, back to the CSA...my first reaction to considering purchasing a CSA was that it was "too expensive". Secondly, I was afraid we wouldn't "like it all". Third, I wasn't sure I would know "what to do with some of the things".
Interestingly enough, none of those objections were fair. We have learned so much in this process. First of all, we spend less at the grocery store than we used to (even with the upfront cost of the CSA). We eat what we have and it is usually delicious (there was once a blue hubbard squash recipe that was not our favorite, but the dog did not let it go to waste!). This simplicity of eating what we have helps menu planning and grocery store anxiety and gets us back to basics and closer to simplicity. We eat what we have. And, it is good good good for you. I find that I do like vegetables that I had previously "turned my nose up at" and my husband and son are finding they like a lot of new things too. Because local, organic and fresh produce tastes really good! Kale chips rock! You can do a LOT with sweet potatoes. And, good greens could change your world! The CSA we are a part of provides recipes and the internet is a gold mine when I'm unsure of what to create with what we have on hand. Plus, the CSA that we are a part of provides us with yummy recipes. All of my excuses were unfair and proved to be untrue.
So, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this season's first box. We have signed up for a half share and so we get a box every other week from Delvin Farms. Our box yesterday included some amazing strawberries (those are almost gone and won't last 24 hours), squash, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, green onions and broccoli. I can't get our son to eat strawberries from the grocery store but he was eating these straight out of the box before we ever got home and washed them. We had a salad last night. I plan to make kale chips and a broccoli salad today. We'll grill squash this weekend. Yes, it takes time to prepare these foods and I do not always love being in the kitchen. But, I realize this is a vital aspect to my family's overall health. And, I've been reminded recently by illness that when I do not put forth the time to fuel my body and stay well, I have to find the time to recover from being sick.
Consider the goodness that gardening, visiting your farmer's market or joining a CSA could do for your body, mind and spirit. I am working to compile a list of local resources for CSAs, Farmer's Markets and other community opportunities for local vegetables in middle Tennessee. If you have links, post them here or feel free to send them directly to me via email. You will find the resources I've already compiled on this site under the local resources tab. Also, my friend, Jen, plans to blog regularly with photos and recipes from her CSA share. So, get inspired and take the chance to enjoy the goodness that God's gift of fruits and vegetables can bring to your body, mind and spirit. It really is a miracle that I crave kale chips these days over potato chips! Give it a try and your body, mind and spirit may just thank you!
Then God said, "I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food."
- Genesis 1:29 (CEB)
I enjoy traveling. I also like to be prepared. So, when it comes to packing my bag(s), I have a reputation for taking along much more than is necessary. Hey, you never know when you might need three extra pair of socks, some Vitamin C, a 12 pack of LARABARs, a travel candle, a carabiner with flashlight/compass, and plenty of tea bags! However, I'm learning to lighten the load when I travel. I've learned that the less I pack, the less I have to carry and keep up with (and eat before my return). And, I really do just fine without all the excess.
It seems that lightening the load is something that I'm having success with in many areas of my life and this comes without regret. By simplifying my home space, my schedule, my quiet time, my diet and even my suitcase I have been able to see and hear God's activity more clearly because there is less distraction. However, this takes commitment and determination as it is very easy to slip back into thinking I need more stuff or less space on my calendar. I know I'm not even close to mastering my load but I am encouraged to strive to eat, live, travel and pack more simply.
As I was traveling this week from Nashville to Chicago I loaded my one suitcase onto the plane and a woman in front of me said she was so envious that I had such a light load. She admired my packing skills with her compliments and said she could never slim down her bags to just one (she had three on her shoulder and who knows how many were checked, so I'm not sure I should have considered this a huge compliment). However, I was pretty proud of my growth and recalled the same trip just a year ago when I had nearly twice as much stuff to lug on the plane.
Once in the city, I arrived at the train station and a gentleman offered to carry my bag down a rather long flight of stairs. I could have carried it and refused his offer, but he genuinely acted as if he wanted to help, so I let him. After lifting my small but mighty bag (yes, it was a little heavy, I still had at least six LARABARs and two extra pair of socks for the next 72 hours) down the very long flight of steps, I made a not very humble comment about how much I'd slimmed down my packing over the last couple of years and may have said something about how impressed he should have been with my packing skills. But as he sat my bag down at the bottom of the steps, he looked at me and stated that I clearly still had room for improvement. Yes, strange man, I surely do. And, at the next flight of stairs, he walked down those steps right in front of me without even a glimpse. I think we both know there is more work to be done in regards to my suitcase and my life.
What about you? Is your load lighter or heavier than it was a year ago? If it is lighter, what areas have you begun simplifying and what benefits have you seen because of your efforts? If your load is heavier, where could you start to clear some clutter for the benefit of clarity and simplicity? You may just find that the results are well worth a good purge. If you need some inspiration, you may want to check out a book I just recently finished and would highly recommend by Jen Hatmaker, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".
Whitney R. Simpson
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