Just be Still

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.” Exodus 14:14

These words, from the kid’s church verse from last week, are a powerful reminder to me in this season of business.  Ryan and I have gone from place to place, speaking engagement to speaking engagement and this is just the beginning of our busy summer.  We swing from low, exhausted lows to energized, determined highs and back again.  Yes, this is our job but we have to be careful that we don’t start relying too much on our own abilities and forget the underlying foundation of our work.ExodusI’m not good at being still.  I’m not good at resting.  Case in point: As I type these words, I’m actually feeling a little guilty because it’s Sunday afternoon and I should be napping or otherwise really resting but instead I’ve convinced myself that writing a blog entry to maintain my blogging schedule is more important.  And although I am going to finish this,  I’m reminded that I need to remember the words of this verse even more.

“The Lord will fight for you.  Just be still.”  The deeper we get in this process, the more convinced I am that my own words and abilities are severely inadequate.  It’s only by God’s grace, through the Lord fighting for us that we will see everything fall into place, raise the support we need, finish the training we have to complete and make it to Australia.

We have a loving heavenly father engaged in this battle, we have his son Jesus who is also in on this fight and the Holy Spirit is constantly doing battle on our behalf.  We have a whole army fighting for us…now to just be still.

Unrestful Rest

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I’m terrible at resting.  Our work doesn’t fit into nice 9-5 weekday only time slots, therefore it is often difficult for my very full mind to allow me to rest.  So on days set aside for rest, it is not uncommon that I sabotage myself with thoughts of things undone or things still needing to be done.20160213_145615Today Ryan and I did our best to rest although I confess that there was a bit of self-sabotage mixed in.  However, Ryan is an amazing help when it comes to stepping outside of the never-ending work, taking a break and spending time together.  We enjoyed the beautiful day, toured the Sacramento Capitol, walked around downtown and across the tower bridge (pictured above), explored Old Sac, tested some yummy fudge and ended the day with a lovely dinner with friends.

I’m still learning to truly rest but I’m thankful for a patient husband and for days like today that at least provided a little bit of rest even if I couldn’t get away from myself.

The Jet Lag Fog

October 30th was an extremely long day.  We left Perth at 2am on the 30th.  Arrived in Singapore at 7am on the 30th.  Left Japan at 7pm on the 30th.  And finally arrived back at LAX at 1pm on the 30th (that’s 6 hours earlier than when we left Japan).  By the time 7pm on the 30th rolled around again, Ryan and I were fighting to stay awake and so after some failed attempts we gave in and were sound asleep by 8pm.

Although Ryan was awake from about 2am to 7am before sleeping again, I slept 14 hours before finally rousing myself after 10am.  Ryan was up about an hour later.  And despite the sleep, yesterday was still quite foggy.  We didn’t accomplish much other than staying awake.  But that in itself seemed like quite a feat.

Last night we each slept for about 10 hours again.  Much needed sleep as our bodies continue to adjust back to California time.  And much needed sleep because tomorrow begins real life once again.  And that includes waking up at 4 for both of us.  Since China doesn’t participate in daylight savings, my students will be ready for me an hour earlier and Ryan begins at the radio station once again.

Please pray for us as we unpack, adjust and navigate our new reality living in California but taking the necessary steps to get us back to Perth.

Our Beach View

IMG_0424The beach was lovely despite a few raindrops:-)  And the company was wonderful.  My only complaint is that one full day wasn’t enough.  It was great to have a break but still be close to home.  One of the perks of living in southern California is the beach so we were happy to enjoy it when we can.  The water was even warm enough for a swim!

Screen Free Saturdays

I’m doing my best to implement Screen Free Saturdays. Before I was married I had gotten good at taking one day a week off from work and my computer.  I often even turned off my phone.  The day was completely random depending on the week.  But I usually had at least one day when I found myself appointments free.  I definitely had to work to keep those days open but it certainly helped my sanity.  Weekends, especially Sundays were not restful or work-free for me and so I had to find that time elsewhere.  I don’t just turn off for a few hours, I need to step away completely and I got pretty good at actually making that happen.

However, this habit went out the window once I got married.  With the change and upheaval of my life in general, I just kept going week after week.  This isn’t healthy for me or my husband.  But now that I settled into a new sort of schedule, a healthier pattern is finally emerging.  And that is why it is now Screen Free Saturday.  This should be good for me, my time with God, my time with my husband and hopefully this will encourage others to step away from the things that bind us and prohibit us from real rest.

What Screen Free Saturdays are:

1. No email.

2. No blog.

3. No Facebook.

4. No Instagram.

5. No computer, kind of.  Some exceptions might be looking up directions, a recipe or watching a movie.  But if at all possible I avoid opening my computer because of the ritualized habit of checking Facebook, multiple emails and other sites regularly.

What Screen Free Saturdays are NOT:

1. Actually screen free.  TV, movies and my cell phone are all fair game.  But I have to be careful, especially with my phone, because it’s super easy to just open the Facebook app or look and see that I have emails waiting for me.  TV and movies don’t really have a strong draw but it’s nice to have the option of curling up and watching something on our rare (and so far nonexistent) lazy Saturday at home.

2. Set in stone.  The point of this is not to get all legalistic but instead to have a healthier relationships with technology, social media and other people.

So I will leave you with two more thoughts.  I find that being productive during the week actually allows my mind to accept and enjoy the rest.  There will always be a to-do list but if there are too many things left undone, I won’t be able to fully rest or unplug.  If rest and/or productivity are things you struggle with, here is a great sermon from Kyle Wells at Christ Presbyterian in SB.  We are indeed Set Free to Rest.

And finally this blog post was written on Friday and scheduled to post today:-)  Happy Saturday everyone!

Rest and Relaxation with Jenny

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I’m so thankful for my friend Jenny.  She and her husband had already planned on coming to visit California before I was diagnosed with mono.  Instead of cancelling the trip, they adapted and worked around my limitations.  We just enjoyed lots of conversations, lots of sun and organized our activities around rest and nap time.  Or I would rest while Jenny and her husband went on hikes and enjoyed the outdoorseyness of Santa Barbara.  It was great to catch up in person and now back to my regularly scheduled convalescence.

Wise Words on Waiting from Mr. Magorium

I’ve been resting which means a lot of book reading, couch snoozing and movie watching.  One of the movies I could watch over and over again is Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.  Every time I watch this movie, I learn something new or hear another little nugget of truth.    This time I watched the movie I heard loud and clear Mr. Magorium’s outlook on waiting.

3550886428_442cee46dcIn a clock shop Molly Mahoney and Mr. Magorium have just finished setting all the clocks to chime at the same time.  Mr. Magorium announces that they have 37 seconds left before the chiming begins.  And so Mahoney says, “Great.  Well done.  Now we wait.”  To which Mr. Magorium replies, “No. We breathe.  We pulse.  We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create.  Our souls ingest.  37 seconds well used is a lifetime.”

37 seconds is a lot shorter than the weeks that I feel I have been waiting but the principle is the same.  We should never accept waiting as just something to get through.  Waiting is part of life and when we live, we breathe, we pulse and we regenerate.  Our hearts continue beating, our minds are capable of creating and our souls are active.  Waiting is an action.  Thanks for the reminder Mr. Magorium.

 

Mononucleosis aka Mono

Say, “ahhhhhhhhh”  Because I know you all wanted to see what an infected, painful throat looks like.  Too bad my camera and my self portrait skills aren’t better equipped to show you the white spots and swollen everything else.  Or maybe not too bad because some things are better kept to yourself.

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So the good news is that despite the white spots and other symptoms, it is not strep throat.  But the bad news is that mono isn’t a better diagnosis.  Strep throat is nasty but nothing antibiotics can’t fix.  Mono on the other hand has no magic pills, my body just needs rest and time.  Lucky me.  I don’t sit still very well and so this recovery thing is going to take a lot of will power.  I’m also disappointed because August was suppose to be filled with friends, fun, weddings and travel.  Instead I will be resting, hoping and praying that this is just a two week instead of a two month ordeal.  Please pray for health.  Please pray for strength.  Please pray for direction and wisdom because I still have a job to do.  But most of all please pray for the grace to listen to and accept whatever God is teaching me during this time of forced stillness.

The Difference Between Rest and Sleep

Sleep is good.  Most people probably don’t get enough of it.  I am fortunate enough to be a good sleeper and to have a schedule that allows me sleep but this weekend I realized that I was exhausted.  I was getting enough sleep and I was still exhausted.  This didn’t really make sense to me until I started contemplating the difference between sleep and rest.

We’ve probably all experienced the nights where you know that you’ve slept but wake up feeling more tired that when you first lay down.  Sleep is good but it doesn’t guarantee rest.  And with everything going on in my life currently, I have been sleeping but definitely not resting.  Even the time that I have taken with friends and family is not restful because my mind is keeping track of all the things that have to be done, all the tasks that have yet to be completed and all the time it is going to take.  I don’t have any days where I don’t check my email, respond to work requests, organize, plan, etc.  Keeping up with paperwork is a part-time job in itself.  Add to that my moving schedule, packing, settling in and driving.  Mix in relationships with friends and family that sometimes blur the lines between work and recreation.  Then of course there are the speaking engagements which require forethought and planning.  I’m continually writing about Australia, researching Australia and praying for Australia.  Sprinkle in the expectations that come from my support raising deadlines and the pressure of asking for money from family, friends and strangers.  And all this jumbled together makes overwhelming seem like an understatement.

So I give up.  Just kidding.  I’m not throwing in the towel because despite everything, I LOVE what I do.  I love that my job is people, no matter where I happen to be or what part of the process I am currently wading through, it is about people.  There are of course aspects of the job that I don’t enjoy as much but there is so much good variety that I really have nothing to complain about.  I get to learn, live and love, all for the sake of the kingdom.

But I need rest in order to do this well.  I know that my to-do list will never be completed, just constantly changing.  There is always something else that should, could and probably eventually will get done.  However, I have to prioritize and stop beating myself up over artificial deadlines.  And so for the sake of rest I am now taking one day a week off.

Sundays are suppose to be a day of rest but unfortunately if you are in ministry, even when you have no direct responsibilities, Sundays are not restful.  They can be enjoyable and worship can be inspiring but not restful.  And during the rest of the week, I know that sometimes even when I didn’t focus for a day on work, I was still beating myself up for all the things I could do, and I would sneak any time I had to check email or update something or just respond to one last request.  That’s not restful either.

So the new plan is sanctioned by my boss.   And each week, I will find in my schedule one day to do no work and to rest.  Rest can have many different faces so I’m not sure what I will do but I know some things I will not do.  I will not check email.  I will not make a ‘quick’ work-related phone call.  And I will have the freedom to say to anyone, “This is my day off, could we meet/we talk about this/I get back to you tomorrow/another day.”  This also means that if my day off falls on my blogging day and I don’t set one up to post the day before, it will just have to wait.

I realize that as lovely as this sounds, I am not sure how easy this will actually be.  But for the sake of rest and my sanity, I will try.  Sleep is good but rest is so much sweeter.  This is going to be totally worth it!