Rest in the Middle of Life

“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly. There’s just too much to do.
Work first, pleasure later.
I can rest when I’m done with everything.”

Do these statements sound familiar to you?
These battles inside of you between what your soul longs for and what your busy mind tells you to do?

I had this battle going on this weekend. The first week back at work after Christmas Break was very stressful, and I’m not really looking forward to the next with all the things I have to do.
I really don’t have time to rest.
I never really seem to have time.

I don’t have time.

That’s probably one of the most overused excuse in our society today, and unfortunately we often feel good using it because it makes us sound productive, active and useful.
So we give in to this lie that we can’t possibly rest now.

So how can we get the rest our souls need so desperately?

We make time for it.
And we’ll discover that there is actually more time than we think.

Time to do things for us, not for anyone else’s benefit.
Time to savor and waste on something that replenished our souls.
Time to listen to our breath and that soft voice of the father reminding us of his perfect love and rest.

So, in the middle of life and its busyness I decided to rest today.
I wasted time on the couch with a good book.
I made time to spend with  friends. I savored my breakfast.
I stretched out my empty hands and allowed the father to refill them.

I wasted time and found abundance instead.


Even though I’m two days late, I’m still joining my writing peeps
over at Five Minute Friday.

Listen to the Little Things

It starts with the little things.
When I get up in the morning, but my body is still weary from the day before – I know it’s time to rest.
When my hair starts falling out and my wrists starts itching – I know it’s time to rest.
When I snap at people for no obvious reason – I know it’s time to rest.
When I forget about people because I am so focused on the product – I know it’s time to stop. Continue reading “Listen to the Little Things”

The Wonderful Exhausting Pilgrimage of Life

I got off at the airport and picked up my rental car.
And then I started driving.
It had been four years since I had driven on the left side and I was surprised how quickly I got back into the rhythm. It was dark, but with a GPS and a sort of sense of direction I found my friends’ cottage I would be staying at for the next few days.

‘Pilgrims Rest’ said the sign on the door.
How appropriate. Continue reading “The Wonderful Exhausting Pilgrimage of Life”

[#write31days] Day 29 Make Rest a Habit

Welcome to Day 29 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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The last two years I had a really hard time setting boundaries. I worked too much and was involved in xyz projects. When I wasn’t working I was thinking about what to do next. When I wasn’t thinking I worried about all the things I hadn’t done yet and how everything would work out. Before I opened my eyes in the morning my mind was already wide awake and spinning at a hundred kilometers an hour.
It made no difference what day of the week it was, each day I was equally busy, working, worried. Restless. Never at ease or fully relaxed. I just couldn’t.

The constant state of restlessness – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – is detrimental to our entire being. If we want to avoid total collapse we need to set boundaries for ourselves. The next step is equally as important: we need to practice rest, make it a habit.

Sleep Because He Will Take Care
I am so glad for the invention of sleep, it is a physically forced form of rest. Yet, we are not automatically at peace when we close our eyes at night.
Our minds don’t easily go to sleep, they keep us busy with thoughts of the just passed by or the one ahead of us.
We just keep on worrying because we don’t trust.
We don’t trust that we’ll have enough time to finish the work in the morning.
We don’t trust that things will work out even though we don’t worry about it all night.
We don’t trust that the work we do is enough.
We don’t trust that tasks will be completed or perfect unless we slave for it at unusual hours.
We don’t trust the world will continue spinning if we don’t push it forward.

Trust me, these thoughts are real. I’ve entertained them all in my many sleepless nights.

Not only are these thoughts presumptuous in regard to your own status and abilities; they’re also a spit in the face of the One who says of Himself:
I will never sleep.
There’s nothing that happens (or doesn’t happen) that I don’t see.
My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.
I have good intentions for you.
You may rest and I’ll take care of you.

Mark Buchanan writes:

Sleep is a necessity. But it is also a relinquishment. It is self-abandonment: of control, of power, of consciousness, of identity. We direct nothing in our sleep. We master nothing. We lose ourselves and are carried like children. […]
Sleep is also an act of faith. […] We give ourselves, regardless of our unfinished business, into God’s care. We sleep simply because we believe God will look after us. […] If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wreckage, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it, then you can take a day off.
Mark Buchanan. The Rest of God.

400ac-dscn1892Lying down and allowing our minds to really rest is an act of trust. Committing our spinning thoughts to the One who holds the universe is like saying, ‘Okay Dad. Here’s my mess, take care of it please. I’ll take a nap in the meantime.’ And you know what? God will gladly do that. No, he won’t solve all our problems all at once. But if we force ourselves to keep quiet for a while we’ll actually hear Him whisper, ‘Don’t you worry, child, I got this’ as we drift off into sleep.

Honor Sabbath
Even though I was so incredibly busy my life got a little better immediately when I returned to a seemingly normal, and yet often neglected, tradition: honor Sabbath.

At the very beginning of the bible we can read about the invention of Sabbath:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.                                                                                                              Genesis 2:1-3

God himself rested and he made us this great gift of a full day off. Why don’t we take it more often?

I know it’s very tempting to just keep going with life even though it’s Sunday. Luckily in Germany stores are closed on Sundays, so you can’t just go shopping or working. But there’s still so much else you can do at home. Long awaited laundry or cleaning or paperwork or writing emails. It takes way more courage saying no to the work at home and turning your eyes from the piles in front of you and rather towards rest.

The excuse ‘I’ll rest later when everything’s done’ doesn’t make any sense because guess what? Work will never stop, you’ll always find something to do.
Shelley Miller writes:

I have learned that preparation is the key for successful rest. I have conquered organizing my week TOWARDS Sabbath instead of away from it.

If we buy into the lie of resting later, we actually cheat ourselves of a lot of strength. Saying YES to rest does not mean to neglect any important duties. It actually means saying NO to annoying nuisances. It means saying YES to gathering our energy for the really important things.
Living and honoring Sabbath well will make an incredible difference in the rest of your week, this I have learned in the last year!

Explore
So how can we make Sabbath more about God and rest?
Often when we’re tired of life we can also grow tired of God and making an effort in our faith life. So why not explore new ways to find and worship God?
Listen to an audio bible if you’re tired of reading it.
Meet with other Christians when you can’t seem to pray alone.
Write things down when you feel your words are shallow.
Speak plain language instead of ‘Christianese’ for once when you pray.
Leave the church and find God in nature or other people instead. 13bTake a walk and rediscover the physical energy inside of you.
Read fiction and relax your mind while doing it.
Listen to some music and take in the melodies, power of instruments or unsual words.

Often it doesn’t take much to shift your perspective or sharpen your receptive canals. Wherever you are, whatever you do – God is already there and ready to meet you. Right. Where. You. Are.

Active Rest 
We often think that Sabbath is about doing nothing. And yes, sometimes it’s time to stop completely and just sleep.
But rest is far more than just closing our eyes. It’s about finding true peace for our entire being and this can’t be found in one single day once in a while.
Sabbath is an attitude and lifestyle we need to cultivate and nurture carefully throughout the week. 
It’s about getting to know ourselves and what we really need.
It’s about being fully aware of our purpose.
It’s about doing things intentionally and finding joy in it.

15aSabbath as a day is a good start to practice these habits which will then hopefully overflow into the rest of the week.
Take time to cook. Make things yourself and enjoy experimenting with different spices, ingredients, produce.
Take even more time to eat. Don’t just stuff yourself, maybe invite people over and enjoy different tastes and the blessing of community.
Find out what restores you inside, no matter how mundane or strange it may be. And then do it.
Create something. Speak life into something seemingly dead, bring new beauty into this world. Discover the power inside of you, in your mind, your soul, your hands.
Make your life beautiful. Take time to decorate, to take care of your house. Bring in colors or flowers, a bit of life into the workspace.
Give yourself room to breathe. Whatever hinders you from that has to leave.
Turn down the decibles of your problems. While it is often really difficult shutting off our thoughts, we can still quieten them for Sabbath. Write them down so you’ll deal with them tomorrow, but they’re not allowed to bother you today.
Shut off your computer or phone that keep distracting you from quality time with God and friends.

How do you spend Sabbath? Do you live towards it, do you find time to rest during the week? What do you want to change about the way you rest?

[#write31days] Day 25 Sabbath

Welcome to Day 25 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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Setting healthy boundaries also means taking care of yourself. This also includes taking time off, making time for the things you enjoy. Things that restore your soul.
Luckily, God has set an entire day aside just for us. A whole day with lots of time to spend with Him, refresh our spirits in His presence, relax and restore. Restoration looks different for everyone; it’s just important that you find something that gives you energy, joy, and peace.
One thing that restores me is cooking. During the week it’s mostly just quick and simple, but on Sabbath I actually take time to find a cool recipe (or tweek with an old one), invest time in the kitchen, and have people around me to enjoy it with. So the Sundays of October will be filled with recipes – and if you enjoy cooking, too you might want to cook along! And if not, just give it a try, you might actually like it!

Lemon Ginger Syrup
It’s October and slowly it’s getting colder. Fall and winter also mean cold season; not the most pleasant thing to wake up with a sore throat, right? Last year I stumbled upon this recipe and this syrup has become my secret weapon against a cold. Why not try it some time?

Ingredients for 2 bottles
25a1 cup of freshly cut ginger

1 cup of sugar (or more, depends on your sweet tooth 🙂 )
2 cups of water
4 lemons
2 limes

Cut the ginger into small pieces and the lemons and limes into slices
add sugar and water and bring everything to boil in a pot
25blet it simmer until it thickens
let it cool over night
fill syrup into bottles, squeeze the fruits for some extra juice

25d25c

 

serve either cold with sparkling water or add to hot water

[#write31days] Day 18 Sabbath

Welcome to Day 18 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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Setting healthy boundaries also means taking care of yourself. This also includes taking time off, making time for the things you enjoy. Things that restore your soul.
Luckily, God has set an entire day aside just for us. A whole day with lots of time to spend with Him, refresh our spirits in His presence, relax and restore. Restoration looks different for everyone; it’s just important that you find something that gives you energy, joy, and peace.
One thing that restores me is cooking. During the week it’s mostly just quick and simple, but on Sabbath I actually take time to find a cool recipe (or tweek with an old one), invest time in the kitchen, and have people around me to enjoy it with. So the Sundays of October will be filled with recipes – and if you enjoy cooking, too you might want to cook along! And if not, just give it a try, you might actually like it!

Salmon Avocado Pasta

Ingredients for four people
18a4 salmons, washed

500 g Spaghetti
2 avocados
1 tomato
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp white yoghurt
parmesan
salt, pepper, chili

boil the spaghetti in lightly salted water
season the salmon with salt, pepper, and chili (you can always add herbs if you feel like it)
fry the salmon pieces with butter/oil in a pan until soft and well-done

18bcarve out the avocados, mash them
cut tomato and onion into tiny chunks and add them to the avocado
crush garlic and add to the mixture
add yoghurt and season with salt and pepper

18carrange everything on a plate and sprinkle it with parmesan
serve with white wine

18d

[#write31days] Day 11 Sabbath

Welcome to Day 11 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page
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Setting healthy boundaries also means taking care of yourself. This also includes taking time off, making time for the things you enjoy. Things that restore your soul.
Luckily, God has set an entire day aside just for us. A whole day with lots of time to spend with Him, refresh our spirits in His presence, relax and restore. Restoration looks different for everyone; it’s just important that you find something that gives you energy, joy, and peace.
One thing that restores me is cooking. During the week it’s mostly just quick and simple, but on Sabbath I actually take time to find a cool recipe (or tweek with an old one), invest time in the kitchen, and have people around me to enjoy it with. So the Sundays of October will be filled with recipes – and if you enjoy cooking, too you might want to cook along! And if not, just give it a try, you might actually like it!

10cStuffed Aubergine

Ingredients for four people
11atwo medium/large aubergines
150g parmesan cheese, shredded
250g shredded cheese
one pack of ricotta cheese (you can also use white yoghurt)
3-4 tomatoes (or canned tomatoes)
salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, oregano
olive oil 

Wash the aubergines and cut them into thin slices, put some salt on them
Spread some olive oil onto a baking pan
Put them in the oven at 160°C for about 12 minutes until they’re soft

11c

11d

 

 

 

 

Mix the ricotta cheese/yoghurt with the parmesan cheese, garlic, and spices
When the aubergines have cooled off a little, fill them with the mixture

Dice the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and oregano (or simply use the canned tomatoes)

11eFill the baking pan with the tomato mixture

place the filled aubergines into the pan and cover it with the shredded cheese 11f

Bake in the oven at 160°C for another 12 minutes until cheese and stuffing is melted

Serve with baguette or potatoe wedges and a bottle of good wine

11g11h