Momma, Jesus Invites you to Come and Rest

Resting around my house can be quite difficult. My two boys don’t take naps anymore, and the only time I feel like I can “get away” is through handheld devices and copious amounts of snacks. But of course I can’t do that for too long or I feel guilty. So, the work doesn’t end, and it feels like there is no true Sabbath for me. Resting on the seventh day just doesn’t seem possible. How can a busy mom find rest for herself? It’s ultimately through cultivating a place of rest that can never be taken away and isn’t restricted to one day of the week. It’s a place of rest in the heart, rooted in a particular person.

Read more at Risen Motherhood >>

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Book Review of Enjoy by Trillia Newbell

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I would never have thought I would need to be told to enjoy things in life. I have the opposite problem: possibly enjoying things so much that they replace God. (Also known as idolatry.) But in her recently released book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, Trillia Newbell doesn’t take us down the road of idolatry, but helps free those bound by the shackles of fear and guilt. This book is for those who are too busy to enjoy the things of earth and heaven now, for those who feel like enjoying the gifts of God in material objects and activities are not spiritual enough or below Christian status, and for those who feel guilty to engage in and fully enjoy the things God gives us here on earth. Trillia is doing the Braveheart war cry here; her pages cry, “Freedom!”

Trillia does an excellent job connecting our enjoyment of God’s gifts to the giver himself being the ultimate source of enjoyment. She makes these connections with the gifts of relationships, intimacy, work, rest, play, money and possessions, food, art, and creation. Every chapter ends with The Enjoy Project, which is an invitation to apply the concepts of each chapter and ultimately to practice enjoying the giver and his many gifts.

The book opens with Trillia talking about a special racing bike she purchased, but how she felt that simply enjoying the bike itself didn’t seem right to her. She felt that her cycling needed to have a greater purpose, so she legitimized her hobby by training for a triathlon. But then it turned out to be too much. Trillia says, “I began to ask myself why I felt I couldn’t have a hobby solely for the purpose of enjoyment.” She began to discover that leisure activities can be a legitimate and deeply meaningful way to glorify God. “And my prayer is that in learning to better enjoy, recognize, and appreciate these gifts, we’ll learn to more clearly see and more passionately worship the provider of all these good gifts.”

I started this book thinking I was already good at enjoying the pleasures of God’s own gifts, but Trillia helped me see my lack of enjoyment in my mothering. I love being a mom and I love my children, but there are many times I don’t enjoy them and instead view them as a bother. Trillia says, “What’s interesting about relationships is that in order to fully enjoy them, we must be focused on others.” Sometimes our enjoyment comes through sacrifice and self-denial. Enjoy helped me see my occasional lack of enjoyment in my children as a selfish act. Because typically when I’m not enjoying my children I am focused on myself. I do enjoy a lot in life, but I’ve learned there are some things I need to enjoy more and that can take discipline.

When Does Mommy Get to Rest?

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The words barely roll off my tongue as I bend down to hear my three-year-old son whisper in my ear, “Mama, I want a snack.”

My hands feel around diapers, wipes, and extra clothing items in my bag and then grab onto a small packet of crackers. I tear open the packet and hand it to my son as I resume singing.

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

I glance down to see my son huddled over his blue sneakers, tugging at the yellow laces that have come untied. As I continue to sing one of my favorite hymns, I plop my son down on a chair to retie his shoes.

This is a typical Sunday morning service for young moms — worship as a mother. We sing praise with our mouths to God, while worshiping by tearing open cracker packets and tying loose laces. It’s Sunday, a Sabbath day for many, a day to rest, take it easy, be refreshed, and prepare for another week of schedules, appointments, and work. And yet my hands are busy at work all day. How can I enjoy rest when caring and nurturing is a round-the-clock job?

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

Book Review of Humble Roots

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What if humility is the key to rest for our weary souls? Hannah Anderson proposes that it is in her new book Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your SoulI’ve already sang my praise for Hannah’s first book, so I was eager to be apart of the launch team for Humble Roots. I was able to help promote Hannah’s message through social media and receive an advance copy of the book, which already released October 4th from Moody Publishers.

I have to say I did not expect to be disappointed with this book, because I already love Hannah’s writing, thoughts, and ideas. And I’m glad to say that I was right. There is something unique about this book on humility. Instead of focusing on the sinfulness of pride alone, Hannah shows us how humility is expressed in acknowledging our human limitations; that we are dependent and created beings made from dust who will return to dust. And once we own this truth, and remember we are not God, we will find rest.

According to Hannah, we are all running around in our own strength trying to do it all and be it all (superwomen and supermen) and weighted down by the burden of stress. Although organization, minimalism, and staying up late to get everything done can help, Hannah offers another avenue that gets to the root of the cultural plague of stress and anxiety. The answer? Humble roots. Remembering who are and who God is. Her book is grounded in this one section of scripture from Matthew 11:28-29:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Hannah helps us make the connection Jesus is making here. When we come to him in our weariness and desire rest, Jesus tells us to learn from him – the one who is gentle and lowly of heart. Finding rest for our souls means going to Jesus and learning about his humility. We must get back to our roots, which is being made in the image of God from the dirt of the ground.

The book also addresses several micro-topics, prescribing humility as the remedy. Issues such as: body image, shame, the gender wars, emotions and feelings, the limits of human reason, wisdom, death, gratitude and privilege, stewardship, our dreams, desires, and plans, and brokenness and suffering. And Hannah takes all of this and ties everything together with the imagery of plants, flowers, and gardening, basically things that are earthy, to remind us of where we come from.  The rural agrarian feel of living off the land, man and nature, that which is simple and natural, is the beat of this book on humility. Replete with wonderfully told stories from her own life and a diverse and interesting use of quotes that support the larger message of the book, Hannah brings our knees to the ground as we dig our hands deep down into the soil of humility.

 

4 Ways to not be Busy

Part 4 of the Christian Thinking series. 

I am woman.

I am invincible. 

I am tired. 

A saying borrowed from a 1970’s song succinctly states a dilemma still facing today’s women. The feminist movement has always told us we are strong and powerful and can do anything we set our minds to do. Then why are we so exhausted? We throw around the phrase, “I’m busy,” like a boomerang. It feels like we are playing a broken record on repeat trying to get the same things done every day, but it doesn’t end; and does anything really get done?

This is the mentality of our western culture — a hurried frenzied mess. We pop stress like pain pills. If you aren’t running like mad through this labyrinth of busyness like everyone else then you are boring or lazy, right? This way of thinking is so wrong, but it’s such a strong cultural pressure pushing on us that it’s hard not to give in.

As women we think we can never do enough. If we choose to stay home with our kids then we feel like we should make up for not having another job title by staying super busy around the house. Whether a working mom, stay at home mom, or a single career woman, there is always pressure out there to do more than we are already doing. How should we think through this false cultural way of thinking and replace it with a Christian way of thinking?

1.) You can’t do it all

It’s hard to admit it. It’s humbling to realize we are actually weak people in desperate need of strength from God. I’ve been realizing this lately. I’ve always struggled with self-sufficiency and pride. When my husband goes out of town or works late a few nights in a row I think I can handle everything on my own. A toddler, a baby, and a house to take care of can’t be that hard, right? Then when I try to do too much with him gone I become burnt out, stressed, and exhausted. I realize I actually need a lot of help.

We aren’t mean’t to do everything on our own. God gave us a support system through his church body and our own family unit. Ask for help more often from your husband, friends, family, and most importantly God. Just admitting you can’t do it all is the starting line that frees you to run the race. God says he gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. So, humble yourself, ask God for help more often, and he will pour his grace on you.

2.) You can’t please everyone

The only one we need to please is God. Ask yourself, with the season I’m in right now what is God calling me to do? What would please him? It should be a very simple answer.

For example, with the season of life I’m in right now my calling is to serve my husband and children. Right now, for me this looks like staying home and taking care of our children, our house, and preparing food for us. It’s ok if I want to add a few other activities to my plate that I enjoy or need to do, but my top priority and main focus are my husband and children and taking care of our home. If anything else infringes on that priority then I need to evaluate my options and say no to some things.

Nancy Leigh Demoss says,

“Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God’s prioritites for each season of life.”

3.) Be intentional

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said,

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

Why is it barren? Because being busy just for the sake of being busy lacks purpose and focus.

God redeemed us to give us purpose. Our purpose on this earth is to know him more, make him known to others, and to bring him glory in whatever lot he gives us at the moment. This is the purpose of every true Christian man and woman. God’s Word gives us guidelines for other ways we have purpose in this life and how we can please him. His Word can help us be intentional, because it speaks to every season of life.

Jesus is a true example of intentionality. He came to this earth as a man with one purpose, one focus, one intent, and that was to bring salvation to mankind. He was always about doing his father’s will. Every miracle and every teaching in his earthly ministry had one focal point, and that was the fulfillment of the Gospel through himself. The miracles and teachings were just tools he used to achieve his one mission.

After 33 years of ministry, Jesus was able to say,

“I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.” John 17:4

His one purpose on earth was fulfilled. It was finished. What work has God given you to do right now? You can go to bed with an unfinished to do list if you finished the work God had for you for the day.

4.) Rest

Among the agenda of Jesus’ ministry he always went off alone to pray and think. We can’t do the work God has for us without rest. At the top of the list is spiritual rest. We have to make time to study and meditate on God’s Word and pray often.

Also, make time to exercise other forms of rest. Nap. Just sit, think, and read. Do something creative with your hands. Take a walk. Learn to be ok with being alone with yourself and with God. Learn to be still and quiet.

If the season you are in right now does not lend time for more specific areas of rest then just focus on spiritual rest.

Much of the barren busyness in our culture is an unconscious tactic to fill the empty void inside us. This is not how it should be for us as Christians. We are already fulfilled in Christ, we don’t need an endless amount of appointments and activities to make us feel important or worth something. We have only one life on this earth, let’s not waste it being busy.

Part 5 >>