Inspire me. Inspire me. Inspire me. Pleading with God has become our most common form of communication lately. I’m the content manager for our office’s blog and all forms of social media. Brainstorming is generally a strong suit of mine, but lately it’s just been like, God, what can I do to inspire myself? I’m seeking it in photography and articles and books and even sunk so low to even try and find it in Pinterest boards (I love Pinterest, but that isn’t generally where I go when seeking inspiration). I think that productivity and my inspiration go hand in hand, and productivity hasn’t been as much of a thing lately.
So, back to this whole learning intentional rest thing.
This is the kind of thing that needs its own welcome sign, like “Welcome! We’re Glad Georgia’s On Your Mind,” or “Tennessee, The Volunteer State, Welcomes You!” Welcome! To Jenna’s Brain Where Rest is a Foreign Concept But We’re Working On Her!
“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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” // MATTHEW 11:28-30 ESV
But I guess I could backtrack and tell you what started all of these intentional rest thoughts:
A couple Fridays ago, I was sitting in a hair salon with one of my friends on her off night from camp when I called my mom. I had forgotten they were leaving for a road trip to Ohio the following day, but within hours, I had taken off of work, put plans on hold, and made my way into that crammed minivan to embark on one of the best family vacations I’ve had in a long time. The trip involved surprising my brothers, 6 hours to Lexington, a night in a hotel where the 1-year-old thought we were supposed to party from 2 AM – 4 AM, 6 more hours to our lake resort in Ashtabula, pizza with family Covered Bridge Pizza (mom’s favorite), a morning spent at my 94-year-old great grandmother’s farm (where my mom spent her childhood summers with her cousins), lots of meeting 2nd cousins and their children and a ton of family I’ve never met or hadn’t seen in a really long time, lunch on the huge porch of their house, chocolate ice cream, chats with my great grandmother, adventures in junk food places and many arcades at Geneva on the Lake, lunch at Lakeshore park, swinging, visiting my mom’s brother and sister and their kids, long talks on front porches, KFC dinners in the hotel room, a straight-shot 11ish hour drive back to Berry, lots of ice cream cones with crunch coat, lots of pictures taken, lots of love, and an entire Harry Potter book. It was the best best best spontaneous thing I’ve ever done.
And then the next day, I proceeded to get back in the car and go on another 3-hour road trip with my boyfriend to spend the weekend with his family in Knoxville (this involved a lot of shopping and a lot of lying around the house and a lot of Lifetime movies, and a date night downtown for our 3 months). And it was perfect. And it was supposed to be restful, so I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Monday morning I was already drained and exhausted and needing more than 2 cups of coffee to pull me back to my productive, to-do-list-making self.
I’ve come to understand that rest doesn’t mean binge-watching Netflix or haphazardly doing little chores around the dorm and lying around. I’m still learning what exactly intentional rest means, but I know it doesn’t include those things. I’ll try to put my ideas of rest into adequate words:
For me, intentional rest includes sleep and processing time. Some people might get riled up by processing things or are led to over-thinking, but for me, to write everything out and process is to begin to let go and calm down. Writing pages and pages at a time is rest for me. I have to force myself to do it sometimes, but it means rest. Or simply reading Scripture. Not studying it or reading commentaries, but reading or writing out Scripture, that’s got a sweet spot for me. Also, intentionally not spending time in front of a computer screen is extremely restful. Don’t even open it up. No scanning new photography or editing pictures or looking at Facebook or any other form of social media.
Running. Running is restful to me. It wears me out in the best way possible and helps me put my mind back together in healthy ways. Writing and running.
We are told to rest. Rest is good.
“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 2:2-3 ESV
I also do really well in silence & solitude. Those are my resting places. That’s where I’ve noticed a pattern of finding and hearing and listening to my Father. “We had this 2 & a half hour period for solitude & silence. Those are 2 of my most favorite things, right under coffee, quality time, and letters. I sat in the freezing cold on the back porch of Cottage #6 in silence. No worship music in my ears. No warm bodies around me. Silence, except for the sound of snow melting off the roof, which was oddly soothing. I looked out at this expanse of bare trees and white white white snow. Pure white. And I was immediately overwhelmed. I journaled about 10 pages in this time & sometimes it was me rambling, but mostly it was conversation with the Lord. Back & forth Truth. And the Lord spoke. Endlessly. I look back at these words & I know they are not my own. Why are you afraid to come into My presence?…Do not be afraid, it is I…I will take you as you are, but I will not leave you that way…I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE MINE…Come home. Come home. Come home. I love you. I accept you. I want you. And I can honestly say those are the MOST intimate moments I have had with Jesus to date. And I loved every single minute of it. That is what my heart longs for: to know Jesus more intimately & deeper every single day of my life & until He calls me Home.” These were previously written thoughts in a post I wrote/journaled out when we went on a Spiritual Disciplines Retreat back in February.
I have no no no idea why I forget these moments that make me feel on top of the world. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to just pull away from people and technology and responsibilities for at least an hour every now and then. I just like to keep go go going.
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” // HEBREWS 4:9-11 ESV
Rest is restoring. Rest is refreshing. Rest is renewing. Rest is required of us so that we can work up to the full potential of which God has called us to.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” // PSALM 23 ESV
So sometimes I just have to stop myself and instead of relying on my own knowledge, I pause and ask God, “Hey, could you help a daughter out? Help me rest, please!” And I think I’m getting better at leaning into Him and asking Him for things and relying on Him instead of my own strength and knowledge, and I think that’s step one. (Stay tuned because this is probably only “How the heck do I intentionally rest? Part 1.)
Currently I’m… #3
Loving: Hazelnut coffee. World Market. Espresso + ice cream together (insert praise hands here). Keeping Up With the Kardashians (no. judgment.). To-do lists (some things never change).
Learning: What intentional rest looks like and how I’ve been getting it wrong for so long. Still how to love myself well in order to love others well.
Reading: All about Matthew. After 2 years, I finally decided to check out the commentary on it. World-rocking. And I’ll continue to make my way through the New Testament this coming semester.
Eating: Bananas. Coconut yogurt. Texas Turtle coffee (from World Market…sooo good).
Excited about: LifeCast. It’s a discipleship program kicking off this Saturday & it’s all about identity in Christ. Basically, all the good things.
Needing: Sleep. Much more sleep.
Thinking about: To-do lists. LifeCast. Photography. Rain. Coffee. Loving well. Focusing on people and making them feel like my center of attention in conversation (trying to weed out distractions to love people well and let them feel loved). Basically nothing too mind-boggling at the moment, which is new for me.
Thankful for: People loving me well. Coffee. Sleep. To-do lists. Spontaneity.
Listening to: This. Is. Golden. You’re welcome.
Enjoy that because it is rockin’. Happy Wednesday, friends (we’re halfway there).