Monday, July 27, 2020

A Quiet Life series: places of rest...

Taking time to stop, rest and refresh is something many of us don't do often enough. For me, home is not just where I live, care for my family, work in the garden, prepare nutritious meals and tend to numerous and varied housekeeping chores - it's also my place of employment. This means it can be difficult much of the time to 'switch off' from the joint responsibilities and privileges of living and working in the same space as my eyes too easily fall upon what needs to be done, what can be done, and what I want to do. It took a long time (with many reminders from my husband) to finally comprehend living this way was keeping me exhausted and distracted both mentally and physically, and overall was robbing me of the rest my body and thoughts needed. 

This past year a lot has changed for hubby and I, but one major change which has made an enormous difference to our lives has been embracing the sabbath rest...resting from work, resting from chores, resting from all the overthinking, planning, and driving need to achieve everything on a to-do list by dinner time. And you know, we found it very hard to stop for a day - which is why it's taken so long for me to write about it. We needed a mind-shift, a heart shift. We had to discover for ourselves the difference it made to truly rest that one day a week and not feel guilty doing so. 

I can honestly tell you today that we achieve just as much in six days as we used to in seven, but we no longer rush, we no longer push our bodies beyond their limit, we stop regularly for a healthy snack, cup of tea, a chat about God or life or what we need to do next in the garden, and we even take a short nap if our bodies need it.

A couple of weekends ago we packed a picnic lunch and flasks of cool drinks before driving north to Mount Fox, a place we've long wanted to see. Situated in the Girringun National Park, to get there it's a long steep drive with far too many hairpin turns up a very dangerous single lane road that hugs the mountain on one side with a sheer cliff face drop on the other. But once you get there...aah, the serenity. 

Before the ascent we came across some relaxed cows who shared the road and weren't very keen to move to the side and allow our station wagon to pass so we slowed right down and gradually made our way through. To be honest this did not bother me at all for what I love almost as much as rolling mountain and fields in the country are the cows.

Jesus would often remove Himself from the crowds and His followers to be alone and soak in the presence of God, but He was also very aware that the disciples also needed down-time away from the day to day interactions with people and responsibilities.

...He said to them, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:32

I used to think it was better to be a very busy person and though I naturally have a lot of adrenaline and need to move my body in order to break it down and use it up (or I'd never sleep), that desire for busyness had within it an element of pride which I've also encountered in many other people throughout my life - they work, work, work, viewing their achievements as evidence of their value, forgetting or not realising that whilst the labour of our days is important it's not the most important thing. 

Time given to God, to relationships, to caring for our individual needs and being present in each moment whether that moment be with others, alone hanging up the washing, sweeping the kitchen, or quietly watching a sunset with my husband as we share a pot of tea out the back after dinner - these are the most important things. These define our character and are what others will fondly remember about us. 

I'd rather be remembered for loving hugs, the scones and tea we share in the garden, laughter with my grandchildren as we snuggle together reading books, really listening when loved ones or friends share their stories, and my blue eyes looking into theirs and that person knowing I was truly present in our conversation. Wouldn't you?

We're planning more picnics while the moderate tropical winter is still with us, more restful days of exploring and relishing nature. More cows and wallabies and kangaroos, more green fields, more winding roads, more places of rest.

Rest doesn't have to be away from home, though.
I'm discovering that just stopping from our labours one day a week, and on other days being mindful to take breaks as they are needed and truly interact with those around us, allows rest.
Alone at home most days of the week I now brew myself a cup of relaxing tea twice a day using fresh mint from our garden and I sit for twenty minutes or so, without distractions, to enjoy it. Often this time is spent on the comfy blue outdoor couch watching native birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees and our chickens going about their ways. Other times I'll play some quiet music and rock back and forth in my recliner.

It's wonderful to have discovered this lesson because it's changing my life for the better. 
Peace like a river flows through my thoughts now, and increased gentleness is filing away at the old sharpness in my character. It's easier to let go, easier to forgive, easier to accept disturbances or changes to routine...and it's given me more time in my Bible, more time to ponder what I read and study what it means. It's brought me closer to Jesus and to my husband. 

And I wonder is this one reason why Jesus called the disciples away for periods of quiet rest? To allow their minds to rest from the hustle and bustle thoughts of the day, that by quietness their understanding of what they saw and heard from Jesus would be magnified? So they could really hear His voice and look into His loving eyes and truly know Him? Maybe so.

We will each have our own version of what can be a place of rest, and I realise for some of you that Covid restrictions have for now closed or restricted any opportunity to get out in the country and enjoy a wider expanse of nature...but I'd like you to consider how you can take a time of quiet rest just where you are for now. 

Sitting quietly with a candle flickering and soft music; one chapter of a favourite book to read or perhaps listen to on audio; giving yourself a pedicure and painting those toenails in your favourite colour; scented hand cream massaged slowly into your tired fingers; sipping a drink whilst watching birds flitting to and fro outside; picking flowers from the garden and arranging them in a small vase or glass jar beside the bed or on the kitchen windowsill...can you think of other ways to take a time of quiet rest? Please share them in the comments below because you may have the perfect idea for someone who is far too weary or stretched to think right now. 

Bless you, dear ones.

Before closing today I'd like to remind anyone who has been interested in stitching patterns from my Faith In Hand Club that there's only a few days left this month to join. Memberships close on the 30th because the next set of patterns are emailed to all Faith In Hand stitchers on the 31st.

Here are the three designs you'll receive on Friday...

To find out more pop over HERE to the Club page.

Well, I must be away as this morning I was blessed to babysit Cully May and Rafaella and I'm rather tired now as they have a lot of energy and we played for hours, gathered tomatoes and capsicums, read books, chatted with the chickens and fed them spinach and porridge, gathered eggs and drank a lot of tiny cups of tea with jam roll and fresh strawberries. 

They were here because their mummy and daddy went off to have a middle-of-the-pregnancy ultrasound where they discovered bubby is a healthy and big baby (Rafaella was 9lb 6oz so we're wondering how big this baby will get) and also found out whether our little cherubs would be welcoming a baby sister or a baby brother.
We all know now but I shan't say anything on the blog until I check with Blossom first. 

We had the most wonderful time together and the girls went home at lunchtime with shining faces, red carnations and orange hibiscus flowers firmly grasped in their small hands. Their delight in the simplest things is a lesson we can all learn from....

Till next time, loving hugs and an armful of blessings to you,


Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
BBC is showing a series The Great Australian railway journeys...there waas one from Innisfail to Townsville ! I enjoyed seeing a bit of your area of Austalia. And today you shared great photo's of your area! Thanks!
Yes, you hit the nail on the head when it comes to working at home. I hope this blog post encourages people. You have to plan in coffee/tea breaks just as well as if you were " at work" . Grant yourself " time to play" .
looking forward to more local picnic posts :)

Ondrea said...

A beautiful post. It is lovely to visit open spaces with lots of refreshing greenery and clean air. No meandering happening here with lock down ( not that you would think so with all the holiday people coming and going). I felt relaxed just seeing your pics. Stitching brings me much contentment during this time. Enjoy your gorgeous girls.

Sherri said...

Jenny I try not to rush. I generally don't like rushing although sometimes I find that I do enjoy rushing, when I am particularly energised. I don't think God wants me to rush. When working in the garden I take as much time to look around me as I do working. I look at the sky, watch the neighbour's cows, wander away from the task at hand to look at other parts of the garden. I talk to God while I am pottering around the garden about whatever is on my mind at the time.
I like to take the time to sit and ponder. I remind myself if I start to feel guilty about the amount of time I spend studying the Bible that the Apostles thought it was important to study the word and spend time in prayer.
I try not to over-schedule my time away from home, and if I go into to town I try and do two or three things so that I can go out less frequently. I like to have several 'at home' days each week.

Enjoy your picnics. In fact just take the time to enjoy every single ordinary moment. They are precious.

gracie said...

This June marked 3 years since my husband of 48 years passed away. For a bit longer than 2 years I had to learn a lot of everyday things as he spoiled me. These last 9 months, my brother and his wife moved in with me. It finally is becoming easier to let go and allow my new family situation to help. I am enjoying me time, do nothing time and whatever comes our way. I have a way to go to live more simply, but you are very encouraging. Thank you.

Lani said...

Those are so beautiful. You do such beautiful work :)

terricheney said...

Years ago we began keeping a chosen Sabbath day. At first we didn't spend those days at home but were in church practicing worship music for Sunday or going to lengthy synagogue meetings in another season, but in the past 8 years we've spent the bulk of our Saturdays at home. I try to prep meals on Friday and I only make my bed, rinse and stack dishes and all else is leisurely and slow paced. I sleep surprisingly well at the end of a day of rest too, because I am naturally busy-ness oriented and typically work hard all week and still can't sleep some nights but frequently I sleep quite well on Sabbath nights. I do agree 1000% that I get more done in six days now than I ever did working hard all seven days. It's a lot like tithing...I live well off the 90% when I give that 10% unlike the days when I could never make ends meet on the 100%!

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Jenny, thank you for today's post it was totally inspiring and as usual you gave me something to think about. I want to keep a Sabbath day, it sounds so good. I love my Bible study times and I also listen to an hour of teaching on the tv every day. My brother-in-law has just given me a mobility scooter, he's getting some new batteries in the next week and then I'll be mobile again. The first place I'm going is back to Church. I really enjoyed your photos, they kind of reminded me of the scenery in South Africa, I often just miss it so much. England is very different and has benefits of it's own. Your projects for the club are lovely and so inspiring. I'll get there one day, at the moment I have so many projects to do. Much love, God bless Mandy xx

Susan said...

I completely agree about the Sabbath. That's one thing I've held to for years. I don't do anything to spend money, I rest, I study scriptures, listen to spiritual music or talks from Church authorities, investigate family history - only things that enhance my spiritual feelings. It is so good to stay off computers, work, everything, and just devote the time to the Lord and his works. =) Cows on the road are no strange thing in Arizona, though it's a completely different kind of ranch land, and probably cows, too. In some places, it's actually painted in huge letters right on the highway - Cows On Road. LOL But they don't pay any attention to that and go wherever they want to, even if there's no warning sign. =)

Karen said...

Ah Jenny beautiful post. You really are so awesome! And a beautiful picture of you in the last post. The best things in life grandchildren, strawberries, tea and flowers!

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny, I have never heard of the place you visited which isn't surprising I guess as I don't live up north. That road would have had me nervous 😀 I hope Blossom is doing well during her pregnancy especially as she has two little vegemites to look after this time who would keep her busy.

Angie in SoCal said...

So comforting, so appealing. Thank you. I'm working on it.

Lin said...

Lovely pictures Jenny and glad you enjoyed some special time with those lovely girls. You have it spot on - make special time to be with the person you love and even more importantly time for yourself to just be you and watch the world go by. Oh how I miss people watching at airports and train stations. Quality time for me to read with no distractions and to watch the world go by. xx

FlourishingPalms said...

A lovely post. I especially enjoyed the photos of your rural wanderings among the cows. I believe many of us are rethinking our priorities during this pandemic, and once (whenever) we come through this, lives will be lived differently than before. I know that I, for one, am rethinking my involvement in organizations. Maybe I'm becoming accustomed to the life of a hermit, for this is surely how these days make me feel. My desire to "do" is fading away.