by Nicole | Jul 13, 2021 | Motherhood, Parenting, Priorities, Relationships, Rest, Stress
Recently I interviewed Kristen Howerton (visit rageagainsttheminivan.com to find out more about her). I read her book Rage Against the Minivan in 24 hours. It was that good.
I’m not a huge fan of parenting books, tbh. They usually end up making me feel even worse than I already do about my failing parenting skills. But Kristen met me right where I was with this book and I couldn’t put it down.
One thing she talks about in the book is “Opting In” and “Opting Out” of certain activities for you and your kids. Gosh, I loved the practicality of that idea. So, I’ve starting making my lists of what I am “Opting In” and “Out Of” so I don’t opt out of my every-loving-mind.
- At least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with Mom a day (when I can): Whether that is just talking, playing a game, watching a show, coloring, or baking. Just taking a few minutes out of my day to make sure my kids know they are a priority is important to me. It fills their tanks and mine.
- Family dinners: Most nights out of the week, we sit down around our farmhouse table for family meals. I love this time because we always ask the kids what their best part of the day was. I feel like the kids share, laugh hard, and get our undivided attention.
- Cleaning schedule: I have a cleaning schedule that I follow almost to the letter because it keeps me from spending several hours one day a week cleaning the whole house. Instead, I do about a room or two a day. It’s been amazing and leaves me feeling like the whole house is always clean!
- Cooking: We used to eat out all of the time and it was expensive, stressful, and unhealthy. Covid forced me to slow down and cook at home. It also helped me organize my day so that I was always sure we were home by a certain time for me to make a meal. I have found cooking is like working out for me: It keeps me focused on the task at hand and reduces my stress and anxiety.
- Music on: Alexa sits on my kitchen counter and is always playing some tunes in the background.
- Candles Lit: I love a cozy smelling house. So between my candles and my music, I feel like I’ve set a relaxing tone for my house. It helps my mind center and reminds me that I am safe and can create safety for my family.
- Working out: I don’t workout more than an hour a day. I take the kids for a run (25 minutes) and then do a 30 minute workout at home. It reduces stress and helps me maintain my health. It’s also a good example to the kids. But anymore than that and it begins to jeopardize the rest of my day. I also workout at home now using Beach Body on Demand. I used to go to the gym and enjoyed it, but I would stress wondering how much time I was taking away from being home.
- Living life: The past year has taught us that you don’t have to take every opportunity thrown at you, but like, why not? Why not go all in, balls to the wall, and really LIVE? So we don’t get bogged down by the “what if’s” because we don’t want to have any “if onlys” later. But, here are staples to living this way: A budget, communication, values. Those three things will put guardrails around each of your decisions so you don’t derail your life.
- Time with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. We will plan our weekends around parties and gatherings with/for family. They are our people.
- Sex night: This has revolutionized our marriage. Pick one night a week when YOU KNOW you are going to have sex. Ladies, this will help you know what is coming and how to prepare for it. Do you need to nap? Do you need to do less so you have energy? Is that sexy outfit ready? etc etc etc. This may sound lame, but our sex life has grown EXPONENTIALLY because we’ve invested in it. And, we now have sex WAY MORE than one time a week. But we also don’t pressure ourselves because we schedule sexcations where we get away without the kids to catch up if need be.
- Prayer: I have started making this a staple of my day and it has changed everything. I write in my prayer journal or pray while I run. I just list out my concerns, stressors, fears, and then spend some time thanking Jesus for stuff. It’s amazing how writing it down or talking it out releases the pressure and allows me to better focus on my family and the day at hand.
- An uncluttered house: I am trying to learn that allowing the kids to use their imaginations and play requires some mess. And noise. Both of these things tend to trigger me because I fear the clean up and the energy it will take to organize the chaos. Instead, I am choosing to let the kids be kids and embrace the mess, because, one day, I am going to miss this.
- Mowing the lawn: We hired a lawn service and a pool service a few years ago. I used to do those two things myself, but the time it took away from other stuff wasn’t worth it. Also, we didn’t want Bryant spending his time off on the lawn and pool and not the kids. So it is a staple in our budget now.
- Empty laundry baskets: Some weeks I’m better at this than others. But guess what? I now have five other people who can help with the laundry and I’m not afraid to employ them on the task!
- Perfect grades: My kids do their best. End of story.
- Extra curriculars: We just haven’t gotten started with these yet. Idk when we will. We value our week nights and weekends too much.
- Nights out: Bryant and I get one night a week to be out if we need it. Due to our jobs, we sometimes have to schedule things in the evenings. But we aren’t away more than once a week.
- A huge circle of friends: We honestly don’t have time for tons of friends. Or the energy. Our job requires a lot out of us emotionally, so we have to have very secure and confident friends. We have a few close friends who we invest in, and that’s it.
So there are a few of the things I’m opting in to and out of. What about you? What do you need to opt in to and out of? I’d love to hear in the comments.
by Nicole | Jun 20, 2021 | Abandonment, Identity, Mental Health, Priorities, Rest, Stress
So I can’t get past the life changing message in 2 Chronicles 20 (Who would have ever guessed there was such awesome stuff in Chronicles? Who even knows where Chronicles is in the Scriptures?).
Let’s Get Caught Up
To get caught up with this blog, read Juggling. Here’s a quick recap: We know that King Jehoshaphat is up against an army he cannot defeat. He cries out to God and says: “We are powerless against this great horde…we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
God responds: “The battle is not yours but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” Wow. I can’t get over God’s answer. He says in essence, “You can’t do it. You will fail. Watch me do my thing.”
God wanted to show off to His people. He knew that they could not do anything on their own; only He is self-sufficient. He wanted to prove this to them. So what were they to do during the battle if they weren’t going to fight?
2 Chronicles 20:21: “And Jehoshaphat appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise Him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
The army simply praised God! And God blessed them…He “gave rest all around”.
I love this story because it proves what I know intellectually, but need to be reminded of emotionally. I can do nothing. I am simply a branch. Do you remember in John 15 in the Scriptures when Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches”? Have you ever wondered what that actually meant?
It means realizing that the vine gives the nutrients. The vine causes the growth. The vine protects, sustains, and fortifies. I simply get to know who Jesus is and then let him come in and do all of the work. The more I get to know him, the more like him I become. I just am because I am a part of the Almighty I Am.
Who Am I?
I’ve said this before, but some of you don’t know who you are because you don’t know who Jesus is. Wait, what? You are trying to find your identity in anything and everything because you are too afraid to slow down and really ask the questions: Does Jesus love me? Does he accept me? The answer is a resounding YES! But some of you have been taught a Jesus that doesn’t exist. You’ve been taught a Jesus arrogant Christians made up to control you. It’s time to stop running from him and figure out who he actually is.
A great place to start is in the Gospels. When I was deconstructing my faith, I started reading in the Gospels. My views and relationship with Jesus were transformed as I read how he interacted with people and loved them unconditionally.
What Happened Next?
And would you know, I started slowing down. Saying no. Leaning into my identity as someone who is loved and accepted by Jesus and so no longer needed to prove herself. I started getting healthy in counselling and loving people with no strings attached. I started being thankful and praising Jesus for the good things in my life that I was finally able to slow down and enjoy. It was not overnight, but gosh was it life-changing.
So what about you? Are you brave enough to come to the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Scriptures) and see who Jesus actually is?
by Nicole | Jun 15, 2021 | Abandonment, Brokenness, Identity, Priorities, Relationships, Rest, Stress
Why is it so hard for me to accept that God does not need me?
I need to be needed. I need to feel like I matter. Like people’s well-being depends on me. Cause if people don’t need me, they will leave me. And then I will be alone with my thoughts and feelings and that scares me. I don’t want to have to face my past…I want to distract myself from my past with my busy present. And so I tend to run around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to get things done so I don’t have to think. To feel. And I exhaust myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
There is nothing wrong with being busy. Busyness is a part of life. But sometimes my “busyness” is self-inflicted to either distract myself or to find my identity in something else.
And so we always say yes and never say no and now we have so many things on our plate, we aren’t balancing anything, we are juggling everything. God never meant for us to “juggle” our lives. What is that verse in Matthew 11:28? “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” Nothing in there about Jesus’s work requiring juggling, or causing anxiety or exhaustion or overwhelmed feelings. It just says what Jesus asks us to do is “easy” and “light”. Gosh, how do I find that work? Must be nice.
The First Step
In 2 Chronicles 20 in the Scriptures, King Jehoshaphat (crazy name) is in a war that he knows he will not win. He is facing an overwhelming circumstance that he cannot avoid. See, that’s the first step in going from anxious and overwhelmed to easy and light: It’s setting down those things that don’t matter – those things that are just distractions. We will face enough in life that we have no choice but to confront. Why are you exhausting all of your mental, emotional and physical margin on things you don’t have to do? If you are having trouble saying “no” to certain things for fear of being replaced, rejected, or abandoned, that’s a tall-tale sign that you need to find a good counselor and get to work on yourself.
Back to our story: Jehoshaphat turns to God and cries out for help: “You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You…We are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” Wow. To have the courage that Jehoshaphat had to admit that he was nothing and could handle nothing apart from God…
Whether it’s your fear of your past, the intimidation of counselling, or just the looming circumstance in front of you that you cannot circumvent, you have to have the courage to invite God into your situation. You are not strong enough…big enough…brave enough…healthy enough…But God is.
Here is God’s response: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
God doesn’t need me
I tend to believe that God needs me…because I need to be needed. I have so many fears and insecurities that I try to temper by being needed, which in my mind is a sure way to evade rejection and abandonment. But if God did need me, then he isn’t God at all, is he? And that scares the sh%$ out of me.
A.W. Tozer says: “This truth [that God is self-sufficient and needs no-one], while a needed rebuke to human self-confidence [ouch], will when viewed in its Biblical perspective lift from our minds the exhausting load of mortality and encourage us to take the easy yoke of Christ and spend ourselves in Spirit-inspired toil for the honor of God and the good of mankind. For the blessed news is that the God who needs no one has in sovereign condescension stooped to work by and in and through His obedient children…In the meanwhile our inner fulfillment lies in loving obedience to the commandments of Christ and the inspired admonitions of His apostles. ‘It is God which worketh in you.’ He needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.”
I have to have faith that God is going to come through for me. That he’s not going to drop the ball. Unbelief, Tozer says, is deadly because I am believing in myself, not God, and I am only human. I will fail. Do I really believe God has got this…whatever the “this” may be in my life at any given time? If so, I will allow Him to dictate my day (“Spirit-inspired toil for the honor of God”) and I will be freed up to love and to serve other people (“the good of mankind”). I won’t be distracted by finding ways to make myself feel wanted and needed and irreplaceable. I will be able to focus on loving God and loving others, which is exactly who God created me to be. I will be living my divine purpose, and there is nothing more fulfilling.
Where to start?
Here’s where I’m starting: I am trying to find 10-12 minutes each day where I can pray uninterrupted. I like to write my prayers – it keeps me focused. When I can’t write them, I like to run and pray or walk and pray. In those 10-12 minutes, I am pouring out all of my anxieties, insecurities, fears, feelings of being overwhelmed, and confused. Then, I get up from that time fully surrendered to do what I know needs done next. Not what will necessarily distract me or make me feel better, but what actually needs done. My yoke actually does feel lighter because I’ve left all of my negative emotions with Jesus, trusting that He will take care of those things. And then I live in the moment.
Want to join me? How and where will you spend you 10-12 minutes in prayer today?
by Nicole | Dec 29, 2020 | Mental Health, Motherhood, Parenting, Priorities, Rest, Stress
We were up late last night dealing with a crisis AND a one year old that was extremely constipated and unhappy. On top of that, I haven’t been feeling well and have the looming stress of a busy weekend weighing on me. I’ve also been a bit discouraged by the fact that a few of our holiday traditions have been canceled. And I have a cold.
So. When our alarm went off this morning, I was like NOT TODAY SATAN. Bryant whispered, “Let’s just sleep in and take the kids to school later.” Amen and Amen.
Well, I wish I was that easy going. I had to have a come to Jesus moment where I reminded myself that no one was going to get behind. No deadline was going to go unmet. I wasn’t failing. The house may not be spotless and the laundry may not be caught up and my work may not get done as fast as I want it to, but what’s most important, my and my family’s mental health, was being taken care of. The kids got extra time together. We decided to get donuts for breakfast. It felt so nice to get ready for the day without the pressure of being on time (the only day where we don’t have to worry about time constraints is Saturday…that’s it…so an extra day here and there is so nice).
When I got home, I had to remind myself that I could let certain things slide. Yes, today is the day I usually clean my bathrooms. So what if they don’t get clean? The dishes may need to pile up in the sink and there may be a few extra crumbs for my already fat dog to find. But that is okay. Because by saying no or just not now to some of those things, I’m saying yes to what’s so important: The Right Now.
The past few weeks, I’ve just been stopping throughout my day to really soak in my kids. They are growing at such a rapid pace and I know if I’m not intentional, I’m going to miss it. So I have been disciplining myself to just slow down and take them in. I’ve tried to plan a few fun things for us to do together throughout the week and weekend: Watching Christmas movies, making Christmas cookies, reading Christmas books (see a theme haha), writing letters to great-grandparents, making ornaments, decorating. And yes, some things on my to-do list have to be readjusted so I can make time for these important moments. But what will I regret more…something on my to-do list that didn’t get done or a wasted opportunity with my kids? I think we all know the answer to that question.
I try (try being the key word) to cut off with all work (homework, ministry, housework) by the time the kids are in bed so I have several hours to unwind before I go to sleep. One of the things that helps me the most is to delete Socials in the evenings. Yes, it’s annoying cause i have to reinstall them in the morning. But I will tell you, removing the temptation to be sucked into the vortex of the social world is so refreshing. I honestly can sense a difference when I don’t. But you will need to replace that with something practical you can do to unwind: A book, a movie, music, whatever. For me right now, it’s Hallmark Christmas Movies. Here’s why getting rest at night is so important: I want to be fresh for my kids in the morning and send them off on their days in a good mood and not frustrated with them. It sets me up to be more present and productive.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is what every other blogger is saying during this season: Embrace the moment. Be present. Figure out what you can let slide. Remind yourself that everything doesn’t need to be perfect. Messy bedrooms, piles of laundry, dishes in the sink, dirty floors: They all mean you’ve made time in your day for what’s most important – people. You aren’t a failure for not getting everything done. But you will fail if you miss this season with your family. So decide now – What can go? What has to stay? And how are you going to invest in those people who are most important to you?
by Nicole | Dec 16, 2020 | Brokenness, Mental Health, Rest
Christmas. For some of us, this season fills us with childlike joy and excitement. The lights, parties, decorations, cookies, presents, family members…everything about Christmas energizes us and leaves us counting down the months until December. Maybe we don’t even wait until December…maybe we deck our halls in November. Heck, some of us wish we worked in Christmas Shops so we never had to go without the holiday!
And for the rest of us, this season is a stark reminder of all the ways we have failed and the fact that we are alone. Whether we have lost a family member, been harshly separated from one, or feel as though we have failed our families, we would rather close our eyes and fast-forward through this holiday that seems to be a vain attempt to mask the pain for a month. Reality sets in thirty days later reminding us of our failures and aloneness.
But maybe we have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, you’ve heard that before, haven’t you? “Let’s remember the reason for the season!” “Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas!” We put up the nativity scenes, we read through Luke 2, we tell our children this is Jesus’ birthday, we say “Merry CHRISTmas!” and not “Happy Holidays!”. But has it all become so rote that we truly miss out on one of the most fundamental crux’s to our faith? Have our traditions and catchy phrases numbed us to something more?
Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Go back in time with me…stand from afar and watch as Mary, who is full term now, tries to find a comfortable position on the donkey while she fights her contractions. You can see the pain written across her face. But this isn’t just the pain from the contractions…she has been ridiculed, doubted, and abandoned by her community due to this pregnancy. She’s young…under 20 years of age young. Get a glimpse of her thoughts…what kind of delivery will this be? What does a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit look like? Will Joseph be able to love this boy? Does he still love me because he wants to or because he has to now? Will we be good parents?
Watch Joseph’s face as he frantically looks for the smoothest part of the dusty dirt road while at the same time hopelessly searching for a suitable location for Mary to deliver. The past ten months have been nothing short of Hell for his reputation. But he loved Mary…he believed God…and he would love and raise this boy as well. He made his mind up months ago and he was determined to stay to the course.
Now, come with me into the stable, the most unlikely maternity ward. Listen to Mary scream as she starts to push. Hear Joseph console her. Watch as their son enters the world a takes his first breath. Joseph, an unfit midwife, runs to get water and whatever clean linens he can find. Mary, relieved the worse is over, takes a deep breath and clings to her son.
Do you see the look in her eyes as she stares at him for the first time? She knows that the baby she is holding was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She was told He was the Son of God, that He would save His people from their sins, that He, this tiny life whose fingers were wrapped around her one finger, whose very existence was dependent on her now, that He would be called “Immanuel, which means, God with us.”
Joseph runs back into stable with little pieces of cloth he got from the Inn next door…these linens were probably dish rags. No matter. He needed something with which to clean his son and make sure he was warm. His son. Funny how everything changes when you see that little person for the first time. This was his baby. Held by his wife. The ridicule and embarrassment seemed nothing to Joseph now.
He catches Mary’s eye and they both freeze. The enormity of what just happened is beginning to sink in. They can’t speak, because neither of them have the words. They don’t really know how this all happened, or what they are supposed to do now, or what their future is going to look like. All they know is that they have each other and this precious life, “Immanuel, God with us.” God with them.
Over the next 33 years, Mary would watch the most fascinating life that ever walked the face of the earth. She would see Him change water into wine, heal blind men, raise people from the dead, cast out demons, and feed thousands. She would watch as He graciously interacted with prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners, and lepers. She would hear Him condemn the righteous and religious. And then, she would see Him nailed to a cross. The same person she held in her arms that night in a stable, would have His arms outstretched on a Roman cross. Was this how it was supposed to end? This wasn’t what she signed up for. She thought the Messiah would come and establish His Kingdom. She thought she would be spared from heartache. What was God doing? Was she missing something? She had lost everything for Him. Her reputation, her family, her peace of mind…and now for what? How could God do this to her? How could He do this to her?
And then…three days later…everything changed.
Three days later, Mary saw her son. Oh, but He was no longer her son. No, now He was her Savior. And everything made sense. Her confusion, her pain, her aloneness, her isolation…all of it culminated in the moment she saw Him alive. She got it. She understood why her son, the Messiah, had to die.
So He could offer scandalous grace to those who do not deserve it. To those who truly believe they are too broken, too dirty, too wayward, too unreligious, too unworthy, too unacceptable.
To those who think God could never love them, Jesus Christ is God with Us and proved otherwise. Jesus Christ is the living proof that God desperately wants a relationship with you…with me.
But we fight Him. We fight the Savior of the world. We would rather try to convince Him that we aren’t worth it, while He holds open His outstretched, pierced hands and claims otherwise.
What are you waiting for? Why not give in to a love that has the power to heal you at your depths. Why not surrender to a peace that calms the raging storms within you. Why not?
What do you need this Christmas? I guess the better question is: Who do you need this Christmas? Do you need someone to guide you through a new season, someone to give you answers to the tough questions ahead, someone to tell you how to handle that difficult situation? Then you need a Wonderful Counselor.
Do you nee a miracle? Do you need strength to face another day? Are you not sure how to get around the obstacles in your path? You need a Mighty God.
Do you need to feel safe and secure again? Do you need a protector, a comforter, and encourager? Do you need to feel loved and unconditionally accepted? Then you need an Everlasting Father.
Maybe you need a Savior. Maybe you are at the end of your rope…you know there is a God, but you have no idea how to interact with Him or why He would even want to be with you. All you know is that this can’t be all there is to life. You are drowning in darkness and you see no escape. You need a Prince of Peace.
Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for YOU. He died because He wants a relationship with YOU and the only way to make that happen is to pay for your sins once and for all. He proved He was capable of that when He rose from the dead three days later. Call out to Him. Tell Him you believe! Tell Him He is your Savior. It is that easy! And rest in the presence of Immanuel, God with Us.
by Nicole | Nov 25, 2020 | Rest, Stress
We live in such a hurried culture. I think the Pandemic slowed us down a bit, but as the holidays approach, it is so easy to overbook and overextend. I just thought I would take a few minutes to share some practical things we do as a family to practice rest…and yes, it is a “practice”. We don’t come by rest naturally. We are constantly striving and proving, and trying. Hence our addiction to busyness and caffeine.
Disclaimer: I am not tooting my own horn here, nor are we perfect at this all of the time. It takes communication. Compromise. Tweaking. It also depends on the season of life you are in. So take a deep breath and realize your life does not need to look like my life. But your life does require rest…so here’s a few ideas:
- Bryant and I both remove social media from our phones in the evenings and on Fridays or Saturdays and anytime we are on an extended vacation. And wow. The difference that has made. You have to know yourself. And speaking for myself here, I know that I am much too nosy and too easily carry other people’s burdens that access to Facebook 24/7 just doesn’t work for me. Instagram makes me feel like I’m falling behind sometimes. Social media can consume my life. We have seriously noticed a difference in our own peaceful existences since we cut back and cut it off in the evenings. I hope this is a safe place cause I’ve also noticed I stay on budget when I cut back on Social Media (mind blown emoji here).
- We say no. A lot. We are a family of six. And we determined before we ever started having children that our marriage and our kids would be our two greatest investments. We do our best not to have any commitments in the evenings. If we have to, we limit it to two a week. Other than that, Bryant is home every evening by dinner time at the latest. We also made the commitment that I would be a stay-at-home mom. So, we have learned to live on less. And it works! Bryant keeps a tight budget where we give, save, and live off of the rest and I am so appreciative (and yes, believe it or not, a budget does contribute to rest)!!! Bryant and I do make time for friends, but we probably wouldn’t be considered social butterflies. We realize this season with our kids is one of the most crucial and so our social lives are mainly consumed with our family and a few close friends. That hasn’t always been the most popular decision, but it has paid off for our marriage and our family.
- We have designated “Rest Days”. Bryant decided a few years ago to start taking Friday off. He feels much more alive and relaxed come Friday than he did taking Monday off. So Friday we just hang. I turn my phone off. Bryant puts his on silent and keeps it in the bedroom the majority of the day. And it is awesome! I am going to tell you, for us, in the beginning, taking a day off was sometimes hard work and a major trust issue. But we know that God mandated this and we have so experienced the benefits of it that we make rest an HUGE priority. And now, it’s second nature! We know that God calls us to work hard and to do our best. Then He comes in and fills the gaps as we rest. It’s awesome! Our family, church, and personal lives benefit and are the proof of what God does when we follow in obedience to this command to rest. It is a chance for us to declare our dependence on God and to remind ourselves that He is ultimately in charge and responsible for whatever He has called us to. It is our way to surrender.\
- We go away together, just the two of us, at least four times a year. This practice has been INCREDIBLE for our marriage! It takes budgeting, saving, and planning. But it is one hundred percent worth it. I hear so many couples bemoan the fact that they have lost themselves and don’t even feel like they friends anymore. That’s because you can get so distracted with kids and busyness that you forget who you were before all of it. We make sure when we go away, we stay away long enough to unwind, have fun, and then miss the kids…so usually 4-5 days. The more often you go, the less amount of time you need to be away. But this has been so fun and healthy for us! We also try to have regular date nights. And if we don’t get out, we spend every evening together just relaxing after the kids go to bed. It is delightful!!! The kids go to bed early so that we can have to unwind and rest.
- Bryant has already scheduled time off for this year. He does this in advance so it happens on purpose and doesn’t get overlooked. He also makes sure he communicates with his assistants his openings for the week. He doesn’t counsel everyone (notice I didn’t say anyone). He doesn’t answer every phone call, text and email he gets at night after he gets home. In fact, he doesn’t even get work emails to his phone. He guards his days off. And that is why he is such a good husband, father, and Pastor. He is not a frazzled, drained mess. He is rested both physically and spiritually so he can care for the family and Church God has entrusted him with. And I know a couple thousand people who are extremely grateful. Something he does do that I just think is awesome is after he preaches on Sunday, he hangs in the worship center so he can meet and talk with people. He also sits in the back during worship before he preaches. I have seen so many grown men walk past him and give him the biggest bear hug ever.
- We make time to get spiritually refreshed. We both spend time reading and try to keep each other accountable with that. We also love attending conferences together and sharing podcasts. Yes, we are nerds. But we realize the importance of staying above the waters spiritually. And so we make that a priority. For me personally, it’s tricky finding the time and the energy, if I’m being honest. But I know my soul craves time with Jesus so whether that’s a prayer time while I’m running or a quick chapter read before bed, I am working on making this a priority.
- We limit our schedules. I am a wife and a mom. Whatever time I have left, I schedule wisely remembering my best has to go to my family. I have said no to other engagements, outings, and hobbies (I mean, that’s extreme – I workout, I write…I just mean I’m not out painting the town). It’s not always easy, but I know it’s best. And I know it’s just a season. I remember that my kids are my greatest contributions to Eternity. I realize that by caring for my husband and making home a safe place, I energize him to reach others with the Gospel. And that is enough for me.
So, those are just a few things. I could add more to the list: Like we both have certain routines at night to help us unplug and unwind, we make everyday errands an adventure, and we constantly try to stay thankful. But the biggest thing I think you need to come away with is this is a lifestyle that will enable you to worship God more consistently and effectively. By saying yes to the right things and no to the excess things, you are actually going to further your influence. So take some time to figure out what your priorities are. If you are a parent, remember your kids are watching. Their lives are being shaped by the decisions you are making. That’s sobering.
Remember, Rest is a trust issue. Are you brave enough to do something about it?