The Reality of Rest

Merry (almost) Christmas! It feels so strange to me that 2022 is right around the corner!

If you’ve read some of my past blogs around January, you know that I try to reset and evaluate my lifestyle around this time of year. It has been super helpful for me to spend time intentionally reflecting on the past year so that I can make a “game plan” for the new year. I wanted to share a quick goal that has been on my mind since I went to Chick-fil-A this past week, and I hope it will encourage you to think about some beneficial lifestyle changes you might want to make too.

The other day, I stopped by Chick-fil-A to grab some breakfast before heading home. When I got home, I noticed the normal saying on the bag that says, “Served fresh Monday-Saturday”. Now, I am pretty positive that this saying has been on their bags for the past 2 years (maybe more), but it really stuck out to me that day.

For those of you that do not know, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. The reasoning is that the founder of the restaurant, Truett Cathy, was a Christian, and he felt that it was important for the employees to have a day of rest.

“Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to Him.” – Truett Cathy; Eat Mor Chikin, Inspire More People

Now, logically, we might be thinking that if a restaurant is closed on a particular day, it would be losing lots of income, and other restaurants would be at a better advantage on this day. While this is true, Chick-fil-A is not at an extreme loss for being closed on Sundays. It is still one of the most profitable fast-food chains in the United States. Almost every time that I visit a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the place is normally busy but quick to serve everyone. It is also helpful to its employees by preventing burnout in the workplace every week.

Within our own individual lives, I think it is super important to have a day of rest, also known as a Sabbath day. This can look different for everyone, but it is really easy to get caught up in the busyness and chaotic cycle of life if we do not plan our Sabbath day intentionally. Typically, my excuses for not setting aside a certain day for resting and recharging are because “I don’t have time” or “I have too much to do”. While these excuses are not always true, finding motivation and energy to rest can be difficult. Even to the point where I am attempting to rest, but not actually resting (we’ll talk about this in a minute). The truth is that we have to focus on our time management and self-control when it comes to intentionally resting.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. – Genesis 2:1-3

In the book of Genesis, the Bible tells us that God spent six days creating the earth. Each day He created certain aspects of the world. However, on the seventh day, He rested from His work. God wanted us to know that He rested so that we can rest too. He managed His time each day to create what He needed to for the week, and then, He had a day of rest from His work.

I think time management is a very challenging aspect of our lives to control and set a routine in. Sometimes, we do get caught up in the busyness and chaos of all that needs to be done. However, if we continuously pour ourselves out to the world, our jobs, our education, and our community, we eventually will run ourselves dry. We must set boundaries and prioritize our needs while managing the roles and responsibilities that we have daily.

So, how exactly do we do that?

  1. You need to know what helps YOU rest from your week and recharge yourself for the week to come. Everyone is different when it comes to rest. Some people can recharge themselves by watching tv and sitting on the couch for a whole day. Others might need to get out and go for a hike to fully reset their mindset for the week. Try different activities and hobbies out to see what truly works best for you.
  2. Setting boundaries with tasks that tend to wear your energy out is also important. For my day of rest, I try to not answer any work emails or spend hours of my time on social media. I try to put my phone down for most of the day if necessary. I also have set tasks that I want to do for the day to help me reset, such as going to the gym, reading a book, catching up with a friend, or taking a walk. Some of these tasks might not be recharging or beneficial to you, like going to the gym. That might wear you out even more. For me, exercising tends to help me feel better physically and mentally. It’s giving me time to work out my stress from the week, and it gives me a better mentality for the rest of my day.
  3. Plan it and commit to it. I am starting to make Saturdays my Sabbath day. You can do the same day every week or mix it up. BUT, I want to encourage you to intentionally set out a day to rest and recharge. Plan out your week to have a day of rest, or even a half-day if that is all you can do with your schedule. Plan out your month or plan it out week-by-week if that works better for you.
  4. Don’t focus so much on resting but be present in it. Occasionally, it can be difficult for me to actually rest. What I mean by this is I tend to think about all the things I need to do for the week while I am trying to rest my mind. OR I try to rest but feel that I need to be productive in my resting. I think our brains can get into the habit of constantly going all the time, to where it is uncomfortable for us to just be present and still. If this happens to you, try tasks that get your mind off work or chores you need to do around the house. Listen to a podcast, read a book, or meditate. Again, you have to find what works for you and your mindset for that particular day.

We serve a powerful God, who made it known to us that resting is important. We can intentionally prioritize our schedules and our times of rest in order to move forward and fulfill our purposes in the world around us. I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to a good break over the holidays. Since moving to a new city recently, I have felt stuck in a season of adjusting and transitioning, which can be exhausting some days. I truly hope that this holiday season, you can find joy and rest in the moments spent with friends and family as well as the peaceful and still moments too.

With love,

Claire

Finding Rest

Before I left in January to come to Ghana, I had a few things to check on regarding my health. First, I had to get a few of the required vaccinations done promptly. I also needed to get a physical done (more for my own peace of mind), as well as get medications and resources that were not going to be easily accessible in Ghana.

While I expected my body to have some difficulty adjusting the first few weeks in Ghana, I did not expect my body to still be having issues by week six.

This past Monday, I made it home after work and was very dehydrated. I drank three bottles of water, took a cool shower, and cooled off under the fan for a few hours. However, as time went on, I still didn’t feel great. I was very feverish, felt achy, had a horrible headache, and was super tired. I thought it was best to go get a malaria test done, so I went to a 24-hour pharmacy nearby my house. Sadly, they were not able to test me at the time, but I did get the medication needed if I started to feel worse later in the night.

The next morning, I went to get malaria tested and a full blood count done as well. I still didn’t feel great, but I also didn’t feel any worse. My symptoms in the morning were actually completely different.

Thankfully, the malaria test and the typhoid test both came back negative. My labs looked okay except my white blood cell count was lower than normal. This worried me a little because those bad boys are supposed to help you fight infections, like COVID. I decided to go home for the rest of the day and tried to get some rest.

Later that night, my host family and I decided that I should get COVID tested to make sure that was not the case either. I made plans to go to Accra on Wednesday and get a test done. I went the next morning, and thankfully, the COVID test came back negative as well. I took the rest of Wednesday and Thursday off from work so that I could try to get back to normal and not make anything worse.

With all the adjustments to the weather, food, transportation, walking, and sweating, I was not being mindful of the fact that my body might have difficulty adjusting to it all, especially all at once. I’m also the type of person that doesn’t know I have reached my limit until I have gone over my limit. And while I did not have anything too severe like malaria or COVID, I’m also not invincible either. It’s important to always take care of your health and take the necessary steps of getting well again before stretching yourself too thin.

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2

Our bodies are very significant. If they weren’t, God wouldn’t have created medications, doctors, vaccines, or health care facilities for us to stay healthy throughout our lives.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for me, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

While God wants us to trust Him always, He also wants us to use common sense and good judgment so that we take care of ourselves in the ways that we need to.

To be honest, on the days where I was just at home resting, I was a little disappointed. I felt like a wimp for not being able to go to work and for “needing” the days off. I thought that it didn’t do me any good to be at home.

Maybe, I wasn’t being very productive at home other than resting, but I was getting my body ready for what is to come. I was refueling and refreshing myself to serve God much more in the future. Those days of rest were important and much needed.

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

Even God needed a day of rest. He could have created the Earth in less than a week and not taken a day off at all. However, He purposely set aside a day of rest because He knew it was important. And, that day was considered holy. It was not any less or any greater than the other days.

Find rest when you need to. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

With love,

Claire

Scars and Healing

At the end of May, I got a pretty awful cut on my leg. I fell down on some concrete and from my knee to my ankle was badly beat up. I still have a scar on my knee that is still healing, but my leg looks a lot better than it did.

I remember over the summer though, I wanted my leg to heal quickly. Every time I went out wearing shorts (which is pretty much every day in Mississippi summer weather), you could tell something was wrong with my leg. You could tell I either failed or had gotten injured by some accident.

I think there are a lot of different aspects of scars and healing. Most often, we want the healing process to be quick, and we want the scar to not be noticeable after a while. We sometimes don’t want to remember the accident that even happened, and we want the pain to go away as well.

We all have scars whether they are physically noticeable or kept hidden internally. We’ve all been hurt either by a physical object or another person. And we’ve all hurt someone at some point in our life, with either our words or actions.

“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” – James 3:2

I think we get scars in life for many reasons. A major reason is to grow our character. Scars can shape us, teach us, and bring positive changes to our character. Another reason is to learn the process of healing. What that looks like, how we can heal with God by our side, and how we can move forward. But, I don’t think scars are supposed to be stared at for too long.

Sometimes, when we are hurt or we have sinned, we might think about it over and over again. We might relive the moment or relive the feelings attached to the event. We might also begin to feel guilt, shame, and grief over these scars or actions. I think it is important that we recognize when we have messed up or when we are hurt, but do not let these hurts or mistakes weigh us down too much to where we miss the grace, mercy, and goodness of God.

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:3-4

Jesus already paid the greatest debt that you owe Him with His death on the cross. Yes, we need to ask for His forgiveness of our sins, but we also need to forgive ourselves and forgive others. Maybe some of the scars you had, you caused on your own, either by not paying attention or doing something reckless. Maybe some of the scars came because of what other people did or said to you. Either way, forgiveness is key for healing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will forget what happened, but you are choosing to forgive the actions and to move forward with the wisdom you gained from the experience.

For my knee, I still remember what happened and how I got the scar. I just wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. But, I pay more attention now to where my feet are going and my surroundings.

If you are in the process of healing, either by an illness, a physical injury, or an internal scar, remember that the healing process may not be a quick one. Take it day by day. Get help if you need to from your family, close friends, or professionals who can help. We aren’t meant to live in pain, guilt, or shame forever. It’s only a temporary state, but remember what you learn through the healing process. And remember God’s goodness, mercy, and love towards you as well.     

With love,

Claire

Fruit of the Spirit: PEACE

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEACE THIS WEEK! I think we could all use a little peace in our lives right about now, don’t you think?

We live in such a chaotic and uncertain world. Because of this, it leads to us spending a lot of our time and energy on worrying and staying busy. But because of Jesus, we can have peace with us at all times, even when life feels shaky.

WHAT IS PEACE:

To be honest, I think we all have a different meaning of peace. Some might think peace is a sense of being calm or being content. Others might say it is silence, tranquility, or security.

I think when we hear the word “peace”, we also each picture something in our minds. Something that brings us peace, makes us feel calm and provides a sense of comfort. For you, it might be an object or a place. Maybe a memory where you felt at peace.

When I hear the word “peace”, I immediately think of the ocean. The sound of the waves and the view of the water always seems to calm me and gives me comfort. I think the reason I have always pictured the ocean as my “image of peace” is because I tend to reflect on when Jesus was able to calm the storm that appeared to Him and His disciples.

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:35-41

See, the disciples were not expecting a great storm to come and disrupt them. They were not prepared for the storm. They did not know what to do and they also did not know what was going to happen next. Would the storm sink their boat or would Jesus help them?

Fear and uncertainty can cause us to lose our peace quickly if we are not prepared for those things. It’s like when you get a test for a class and nothing you studied for is even on it. I don’t know about you but that can cause me to freak out real quick.

HOW DO WE FIND PEACE:

I think “finding peace” is something everyone wants to find. But I think we have to understand that peace is not something the world can give us. Not long-lasting peace.

The world can give us temporary happiness and temporary comfort, but the kind of peace you truly desire to find is only found in God alone.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

Because of Christ, Jesus has given us peace. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. The Spirit has great power, and because of that power, we can have peace with us at all times. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

However, I think in the world we live in, many things can cause us to lose peace in moments of our lives. Worry, fear, doubt, and frustration can come to the surface, and peace seems very far away in those moments.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

If we continue to keep our minds on who God is and what He wants for us, we can come back to that peace. Sometimes, you might have to ask God for peace. Other times, peace might seem very near to you. Either way, peace is a lot like the other fruits. It can be challenging to have it, but once you do, the Spirit can do incredible things, not only inside of you but also around you.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

LIVING WITH PEACE:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

Peace can restore relationships and bring loved ones together. Jesus calls us to live peacefully with one another. Sometimes, this can be difficult, but if we focus on how Jesus lived with the people around Him, it gives you a better sense of how to do so. Jesus also lived with His mindset on the Spirit. Because of that, He was able to not only have peace but become peace.

Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

By turning away from evil and focusing our attention back on God, we can continue to live a life full of peace. Maybe a realistic way to do this is by doing a self-reflection of your life at this very moment. What are the things or who are the people that are helping you grow more in your faith and become more at peace? What are the things or people who are affecting you negatively or turning you away from God and towards sin? Sometimes, those reflections can be painful and require work to change your lifestyle, but they are beneficial. Those self-reflections allow us to be more mindful of our relationship with the Lord and where we want that relationship to be.

This week, I am praying God will bring comfort and peace into whatever situations you might be facing. I pray that you can celebrate the good blessings that God has given you and remember His faithfulness during this season in your life. 

Stay safe,

Claire