the sunroom

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As I write, I am sitting in the most glorious sunroom looking out on the fields of Washington, Indiana. The adults are resting and the children went on an excursion with their grandma. The house is quiet and I am enjoying the Lord’s rest.

The last several days have been quite an adventure. The Lord arranged for me to fly to Indiana to stay with my cousin, whom I had only met in person one time, and to speak to some of the ladies in her homeschool community and her faith community. I really didn’t know what to expect.

I spent a lot of time preparing to speak to the homeschool group, coming up with three different topics. However, I was not able to put much of anything on paper when it came to preparing for the women’s group I’d be speaking to. While on my Sunday flight, I tried to focus and do more preparation, but the Lord kept urging me to just rest and relax.

When I woke up the first morning in southern Indiana, I started to feel anxious about my speaking and the lack of preparation that I felt was necessary. Again, the Lord asked me to rest and trust Him, leading me to Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (v.1-3)

He made it clear that my purpose on this trip was not to speak, share, encourage… but to rest. He promised green pastures, quiet waters, and He promised to refresh my soul. He wanted me to rest in Him and let HIM speak, let HIM encourage, let HIM show me what to share moment by moment. I came 2,000 miles to strive, to perform, to live up to my own expectations. Clearly, we had different agendas, and I have been struggling to lay mine down and embrace His.

The homeschool event went well, though I didn’t begin to rest in Him until nearly the end. I got there eventually, but I admit that it’s hard to let go and let Him carry me along.

This morning, I woke up with no more than a couple of thoughts scribbled in my journal in preparation for speaking to the group of Christian ladies. I immediately became anxious, but His word to me again was to rest. Trust Him. I did better today, and was greatly blessed in the process of letting go. But I have to ask: Why is my heart so resistant to rest? The Lord answered this question for me:

Resting requires a release of control.

No wonder I am always so tired! I’m often very reluctant to let go! I am learning to let God have control over situations in my life and also to let Him lead where He wants, but I still have not figured out this rest business.

Many of us try resting with one eye open, so to speak. We think we are letting go and letting the Lord take care of everything, but we’ve got one eye on the circumstances and one foot on the floor in case we need to get up and take charge again.

However, sitting here in this sunroom, I think my heart is ready to start resting. I think I’m ready to start letting go, closing my eyes to circumstances, and just spending time resting in the fact that God is in control. I think I might even be ready to rejoice in my rest… not doing it because that’s what I’m supposed to, but enjoying the release of responsibility and control because God is always better at the helm than I am.

As the clouds float by at a snail’s pace out the window, I am reminded that I was not created for hustle and bustle. I was not created for racing, competing, and performing. I was created to rest in my Father’s hands at the potter’s wheel and to let Him do with me what pleases Him. How can He shape me if I am not still? Resting is not about recuperating for the next big thing I want to do for Him. Resting is about being in His presence, soaking up His love and truth, and letting Him mold me into something beautiful and (eventually) flawless.

So I sit here resting, not thinking about the next big thing I’ll do. Nope. I am just relishing the lavish gifts He gave me this week: The privilege of being His voice of encouragement. The joy of being not only His daughter, but a daughter of the Ryan clan. Bonds with a family that I have only recently met. Moments to connect with sisters in Christ whom I may not see again until heaven. Glimpses into what a slower, simpler life might look like for my family. I am resting in all that He’s shown me and provided for me.

And I’ll let Him take care of whatever is next.

today

“Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts…”

(but open them instead.)  Psalm 95:6-8a  NIV

“And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.”  Heb. 4:8-11 MSG

No matter what happened  yesterday, last week, or over the last 6 months, today is the day that you can enter His rest. Stop struggling, stop worrying, stop beating yourself up. If you hear, “You’re a mess”, “You don’t deserve it”, or “You’ve gone too far”… these are lies from the enemy. God’s voice is saying to you today, “Come to Me. I am overcome with love for you. I forgive all of your mistakes. I am ready to move forward with you today.”

Today is the day!

knots

Recently, I posted a status update on facebook that read:

The human race would be extinct if women had any idea how demanding motherhood would be.

My job as a mother is serious business. Not for the faint-hearted, for sure!  I wouldn’t trade it for anything… except maybe for a week in a tropical paradise… then I would want my demanding life right back again.

I’ve shared that the Lord has been teaching me how to rest in the midst of my demanding life. Clearly, sleep is helpful. I try to get 7 hours each night. Time alone with Him is necessary too… so my soul can rest. Then there’s my current fling with Amish fiction. My mind needs the rest from homeschool pre-algebra and the mental gymnastics required to outwit my 16 month old.

Recently, the Lord showed me that I need more help to rest my body. I’ve had two massages in the past few weeks. Amazing. Also enlightening.

I have major kinks and knots in my neck and shoulders! The stress of life and motherhood have taken their toll on me. I am carrying around tension in my body, and I have decided that this tension is no longer welcome. Of course, these knots will not budge without skilled hands… and not without pressure.

Now, there’s a word that keeps resurfacing in my life. Pressure. I am ever-aware that God allows pressure to build in my life so that I will keep running to Him.  So that, one day, I might never leave His side!

While laying on the massage table today, I gladly welcomed the painful pressure necessary to work the knots out of my shoulder muscles.  Welcoming pain… did I really say that?

Suddenly, I became aware that the pressure God permits in my life is also working out some of the knots in my heart. He is loosening up my heart muscles so that I can relax and trust Him more. The knots of fear, bitterness, and desire for control are kneaded out as I allow His pressure to work in my life.

Maybe I can learn to welcome the pressure and pain He permits… as easily as I welcomed the heavy hands of massage today. Hmmmm…. I am definitely moving in that direction. Lead me, Lord.