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,