We sat on a bright teal blanket, spread over the grass at the park, while our boys played happily nearby.
We talked of rhythms as we both headed into the fall season and new year of homeschooling. Sports, Bible studies and homeschool co-ops were filling up our schedules, even as we talked of plans for refining our homemaking and incorporating new ideas into the management of our homes.
Our days ahead are always full of activity, and pouring out. And in all of it, more than ever, we know that we must incorporate rest.
How can we step into rhythms of rest, as our days become ever fuller? How can we open our eyes to see the spaces and opportunities for rest, both physical and spiritual?
After walking through the dark hard of healing from breast cancer a couple of years ago, I am sure of this extraordinary gift and truth: we have amazing capacity as women to order our days and to be intentional with the gift of 24 hours.
We women can embrace our capacity to be creative and imagine how to incorporate rest, in small and large ways – in pockets of minutes and in stretches of hours.
Life is full
I’m a homeschooling mama of two very active and incredible boys (ages five and seven). I’m a mama guide for my teen daughter who is facing adult transitions and decisions after recently graduating from high school. I’m a nurturing aunt to my 20-something nephew who just moved in. And I’m a loving wife to my work-from-home self-employed hubby.
My life and home are full to overflowing with noise and needs and demands.
Yet, I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that I can find rest for my body and rest for my spirit, throughout my everyday. It may not always look like complete physical stillness but instead like soul rest: small but significant choices that nourish me deep down and refresh.
Jesus said, “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 11:29-30 ESV)
Rest in Him
I began to identify some of these choices as I walked through healing from cancer treatment and that list – my daily protocol, I called it – became a curated and treasured collection of simple and clear ways that I could nourish my body, mind, and spirit in my actual everyday life.
The anchor to my days and the very sweetest rest that swept through my spirit came in my daily quiet, soaking in the presence of my Father. He met me then and He meets me now – known and loved, He whispers – and all of the world becomes quiet as I breathe in His love and truth.
Most days, this looks like stepping alone outside with my coffee, my Bible, and my journal … breathing deeply the morning air as I quiet myself and begin to read His Word. I may journal some scripture, or some prayers, or I may never pick up my pen but instead simply soak in His love.
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.
(Psalm 23:1-3 ESV)
This quiet is often soon interrupted shortly by the life and activity brimming just inside the door. But even the few moments I choose always, always provide me the gift of rest for my spirit.
When my eyes are open to the gifts and possibilities before me as I walk through my days, I see moments where I face small but meaningful choices. For instance:
Do I start my day standing in the kitchen as I drink my morning cup of lemon water, or do I step alone outside and feel my toes digging in the damp grass as my heart and ears are open wide to the birds singing and the fresh air of a new day?
Do I choose to scroll through social media during this 20-minute window of time that my child is building with Legos, or instead do I pick up the book that energizes and encourages my mind and heart?
Do I sit on the couch and consume tv shows that I’m not very interested in, or do I choose that hot bath with Epsom salts and candlelight once the kids are in bed?
Do I stay up late, ignoring my bedtime, or do I acknowledge my need for sufficient rest and choose an earlier bedtime?
Each day at our house, we have afternoon rest time and although my boys no longer nap, they are encouraged to bring something quiet (like a book) to their beds, where they spend an hour. This is rest time for mama as well, and if my body is calling for it, I will stretch out in the quiet and close my eyes for a guilt-free nap. Household tasks will beckon, and my phone will tempt me with the opportunity to mindlessly scroll, so again I face a decision about the kind of rest I will choose.
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
(Psalm 4:8 ESV)
These choices are not always easy ones, but it is possible to choose true rest, and that choice is always worth it.
I am seeing more clearly the value of choosing to work hard while I’m working, and to rest when I’m resting. When it is time to work – to scrub the floors or teach the lesson or plan and cook the meals – I engage with that fully.
And then, when it is time to rest, I can fully and truly rest … sinking in and exhaling deep, setting aside distractions and excuses and choosing to receive the fullness of the gift of rest.
Emily Green lives in Southern Oregon with her beloved hubby and three kids. Her days and heart are filled with homeschooling, good coffee, life-giving friendships, and plenty of time outdoors. As a breast cancer survivor, Emily is passionate about healing and hope, and living intentionally and with gratitude for the gift of each day and God’s grace. She writes at emilyrgreen.com and you can connect with her on Instagram as well as Facebook.