[#write31days] Day 29 Make Rest a Habit

Welcome to Day 29 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

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!

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 28 Set Yourself Boundaries

Welcome to Day 28 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

Okay people, it’s time to face our worst enemy. The one person we can’t get away from. Ourselves.
How do we take care of ourselves and set the needed boundaries?

Listen to Your Body
The reason why so many people suffer from burnouts and lacking boundaries is because these ‘illnesses’ are unseen for a long time.
We know we’ll be coming down with a flu when our throat starts itching and our nose running.
We know we’re seriously hurt when we feel pain or see blood.
How do we know that our soul is hurting? 
It often takes a long time for us to notice that something’s wrong, so we need to take our body serious. Our outside mirrors what is inside, the good and the bad.
So listen to what it has to tell you.
And then take action.

Whenever I get up in the morning (most of the time it’s way too early) I always look forward to going back to bed at night.
Sleep is one of the best inventions ever. 17d No better cure for heavy legs or a headache.
No better way to rest.
No better resource to restore the energy I need every day.
So don’t cheat yourself out of these precious hours of sleep. Don’t survive on five or six hours when you could really use eight. A rested body will get you through a busy day; it will be a good foundation for your restless soul and mind. 

A body can’t survive on nothing. We need sustenance to keep going, we need regular exercise to keep in shape.
When life gets stressful we cut things. Less appointments, less time for everything. And somehow we never have enough time to eat, so we either don’t eat at all or stuff ourselves with junk food because it’s available.
We’re not supposed to survive on junk. Eating is more than stuffing ourselves with food, it is taking care of ourselves and treating ourselves by picking and preparing what we eat.

Especially in the last two years I discovered how much I love cooking. Trying out new recipes with new spices or crazy looking ingredients. There are amazing flavors out there and it would be sad to just stay within the ordinary.
Most of all, though, I love cooking for and with people. Creating something new together and sharing more than a meal. We share life and a bit of ourselves. We’re all stuffed afterwards – with food, with joy, with hope, with beautiful friendship.

Fill Up Your Account

Taking care of yourself is more than food and sleep. Life and its challenges withdraws from our account day in and day out, so we need to make sure we fill up our account.
Even though our calendars might be full already, we need to make sure that not all of these appointments only withdraw from our account. Balance them out with appointments that deposit something in our account. 


Make appointments to have coffee with a friend once a week.
Some time when you can share what’s going on, what you struggle with, assure each other that you don’t walk alone.

Take an hour for a walk in the woods and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Go to the gym or for a run to get some stress relief in the midst of all the thinking you’ve got to do.
Make sure you book your vacation and don’t just let it go by.

Don’t be afraid to explore new things, get to know yourself a bit better. Find out what fills up your account, even if it’s unusual. Pick up a new hobby or revive an old one. Don’t settle until you find something that gives you rest. True rest for your mind, body, soul and spirit.

Don’t Fight Alone 
It’s never easy breaking out of old habits and establishing new ones. Some statistics say it takes three weeks of practice to do something new. These weeks can be tough and we often give up because we feel we’re all alone out there.
But we’re not.
If you decide to set boundaries and take better care of yourself, make sure to take people with you. Ask friends to walk with you, encourage you, pray for you.
Maybe you’ll even find some others who have gone through similar things, learn from their experiences. Meet others with the same challenges to exchange ideas and uplift each other.
Be accountable to others. Allow them to ask how things are going and challenge you to keep going. They are not there not control or punish you, but isn’t it nice to have cheerladers along the way as you start this new journey? 🙂

Take a look at your schedule. Do you have appointments in there that will deposit something into your account or only withdrawals? Is there anything you could do to find more rest for yourself? 
I dare you to explore something new this week, no matter how small it may be. Cook a new recipe, invite some friends over and experience the blessing of fellowship.