Rest

Slowing Down in a Speed of Light World

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

I will be the first to admit that our generation (the ones just coming into adulthood or just barely there) is a group that wants quick fixes. I recently wrote about how that doesn’t work for our relationship with God, but almost every facet of life could benefit if we took our time.

Gone are the days of having to wait for “snail mail” in order to hear from someone, the days of working for years on a project before releasing it to the world. Now, we use all the fast technology that we can get our hands on and complain when the internet’s a little slow.

I don’t want to point fingers or cast blame today though. Instead, I want to look at the benefits of slowing down in many areas of our lives.

Experience

They say it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become a professional. 10,000 hours. That’s 416.67 days of working around the clock. 1.14 years. However, if you can’t constantly stay awake and don’t want to skip dinner on a regular basis, it would take 27.4 years to reach that level of expertise at just one hour a day, every day, holidays and weekends included.

That is a lot of time. That is almost 10 more years than I have been alive. And yet, we often want the results of those 10,000 hours in the space of a few weeks at most. Think of someone who is a star in your field. Do you like music? How much time did Mozart spend practicing? Writing? What about C. S. Lewis?

Slowing down and taking the time that gaining a skill requires gives you the experience needed to be good at that skill. There’s nothing wrong with latching on to a hobby or something interesting for a few weeks and then moving on, but if you really want to be good at something, you have to put in the time.

Quality

Experience in an area naturally leads to a higher quality product, whatever that may be. Do you know of any famous football players? Me neither, but we can imagine. When they first touched a football, they were likely not getting a lot of touchdowns. They couldn’t do very many pushups. They didn’t know how to tackle the other team. (Please forgive me for where the analogy falls apart and reimagine it in a more accurate way)

They spent years all through grade school, college, and now on a professional team honing their skills and getting better at their game. The quality of their skills has grown with them because they put forth so much time. They were patient as they went to the gym every day. I don’t know of any pro football players who were regular 25 year olds who decided one day that they wanted to join the Patriots and were good enough to make the team.

Spending time on something not only gives us experience in that area, it also increases our ability to perform well day after day and year after year.

Joy

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always liked the slow pace of the idyllic southern summer. Sitting on the porch with ice tea, going to the creek, making pancakes in the morning. Slow is nice. Slow lets us enjoy what we do.

Almost none of us live at that pace though. We’re up before dawn, drinking coffee and off to work or class. We’re meeting friends or doing homework all day long. We catch an hour of Netflix at the end of the day before falling into bed, setting our alarms to do it all again the next day.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz describes it perfectly. Go listen to it, but here are a few lines from the beginning of the song:

Alarm clock screaming, bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races, everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life

Ninety miles an hour, going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder, trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
(“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz)

But what if we slowed down? Would the world come crumbling down around our ears if we took our time to do things well? I don’t think so. We’re all incredibly busy – I’m not trying to say otherwise. There is a lot to do in a day. But I know there are also ways to slow down, take our time, and enjoy it more, no matter how busy we are.

It doesn’t have to be world-changing. How about an hour a week to talk with someone you haven’t seen in a while? Twenty minutes to read a book for fun? Doesn’t that sound nice? If we don’t have to have everything instantly, we can have the fun of getting there. Even taking some extra time to learn while working on a project can be more fun that rushing through it last minute. As the popular saying goes, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.

Slow down

It doesn’t take much to fight against the impatience that we’ve nurtured inside of ourselves. The benefits of not rushing through life far outweigh any costs. If we are patient, we can be among the best at what we do, we can create better things, and we can enjoy what’s around us a lot more. So, slow down. Take your time. I promise you’ll be fine.

Kira

It’s Okay to Enjoy Life

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Photo by Eneida Nieves from Pexels

Did you know that God created this world for His children? If you believe in Him, it was all made specially for you.

I made this discovery whilst putting together a Bible study on the first few verses of 1 Timothy 4. Paul is telling Timothy about false teachers who require “abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:3b, ESV)

By those who believe and know the truth…

Isn’t it incredible to think that all the good things in this world were made especially for us? That God had us in mind when He formed trees and stars and whales?

But, awesome as that is, it’s not my main point for today.

It’s amazing to think that God made all of this for us – but it doesn’t matter if we don’t enjoy it. God created good things with the intention that we would look at them and experience them and think of Him. The next couple verses of 1 Timothy emphasize that.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

Why would we even think of rejecting the good that God has given us? And yet, we do it without thinking all too often.

How many times are we too busy to take a walk? Or too concerned with fitness to enjoy our run? How often do we pull out our phones to take pictures rather than enjoying the beauty in the moment?

I choose the busyness and pressure of this world far too often. But every time I choose to stop and enjoy the good things God has given me, I am thankful and happy.

A lot of times, it feels like cheating to take a break. How could we waste time looking at the stars when that paper is due next week? And yes, we must do our work. God has given us that as well. But He didn’t intend for us to drown in it. There is no reason to feel guilty for enjoying what we have been given to enjoy. It is healthy and it is good.

God loves us and He has blessed us with so much. Let us receive it with thanksgiving.

Kira

What has God given you to enjoy? What are some things you like to do to enjoy them?

What Are You Going To Do With Your Summer?

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What are you doing with your summer?

Most of us are already a few weeks into the blissful time of the year known as “summer.” It is a magical time, a time of no school (sorry homeschoolers – I’m right there with you), a time of hot weather, a time of consuming far more watermelon than should be consumed by a single person in such a short space of time.

Summer is also usually a time that is seen as a chance to “relax.” We go go go all school year and then get two months off. Two months to do whatever we want and not think about work or stress or any of the other craziness that bogs us down the rest of the year.

The problem with that mentality is that it tends to turn us into lazy and selfish people during our vacation. Rest is good. Rest is healthy. But rarely do we need two full months of it. And often it can be accomplished by simply changing what we’re doing – not just laying in a hammock drinking iced coffees all day.

And a chance to do things that we enjoy is also excellent. Hobbies and passions are great and they turn us into well rounded and interesting human beings. It’s nice to go for a walk by yourself or read a good book or sing along to every single Disney song ever written in all of history. Ahem. Moving on.

But what can we do to serve other people this summer? What can we do to grow spiritually (or mentally) this summer? What goals could we reach over the next months with the extra time we have?

This summer, I want to tighten my relationship with one of my sisters and be friends with her.

This summer, I want to finish memorizing 1 Timothy.

This summer, I want to finish the third draft of my novel and revise it one time after that.

This summer, I want to train for and run a half marathon.

Those are some of my goals for the summer. Let’s not waste this summer. It is an amazing opportunity and it holds so much life. Let’s live it.

Kira

What are your goals/plans for the summer?

The Upside of Gutting it Out

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“You seem to be disenchanted with life this morning.”

My mother’s words before church on Sunday perfectly captured what I had been feeling for the past week or so (and am still feeling as I write). Disenchanted with life… I don’t want to get up in the morning because it’s just another day of school and work until falling into bed. I’m exhausted from the minute I wake up to the minute I fall asleep. Social interactions and books don’t hold my interest. There’s not much time or energy for writing. And don’t even mention working out – that hasn’t happened in weeks.

Living like this is frustrating. It feels like nothing’s working even though I’m trying so hard. I just don’t love life.

I don’t know what the cause of this is. Maybe it’s just a phase or season. Maybe I’m not getting enough vitamin C (though I know it’s not that – gotta ward off those germs). But I do know something that has helped me. Habits.

A couple years ago, I formed the solid habit of doing devotions (Bible reading, prayer, verse memorization) every day. I don’t often miss it. When I got a job and suddenly became busy, I formed the habit of praying constantly. Through years of siblings waking up bright and early, I formed the habit of getting out of bed by 7:30am at the latest (and considering that sleeping in).

I’m in the shower by 7:10 every morning. I work on school with most of my spare time. I get my chores done (mostly) in between various things. These things help me mechanically move through time, even when I’d rather not move at all. I can still get work done, I can still move forward, even though I feel terrible.

I don’t say any of this to brag. I say it rather to urge you to form solid habits. Decide when you need to get up in the morning and work on it until you wake up before the alarm rings. Pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter every day, at the same time every day, and pray afterward. When do you need to work out? Do it (and I say this one as much to myself as to anyone else).

We have so many feelings and they’re not always good. Bad moods, frustration, “disenchantment with life” will sometimes overstay their welcome. But life can’t stop for a week of disenchantment – or two or three.

Use the good times to form habits. They won’t fix the bad, but they’ll help.

Kira

What habits help you keep moving when life’s got you down?

Any new ones that you need to form?

God is Not an Afterthought

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I’m back! A month and a half later, and here I am, finally writing again. Nothing in particular has kept me from it, other than my busy schedule.

Life’s been crazy lately. I’ve never worked this much and there are an awful lot of projects soon to be due for different classes. Thanksgiving was, of course, wonderful, but also hectic. Random little things are in abundance: birthday celebrations, driving siblings to school, and getting the flu shot. It all adds up and, before you know it, you’re out of time.

We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, the same seven days in a week. How we choose to spend it speaks volumes about who we are and what we value. The fact that I take books for school with me in case I have a few minutes shows that I value getting that done. Showing up for work on time and doing your best while you’re there shows a work ethic to be admired. There are a lot of good things to value, but there is only one best thing.

Often, God gets pushed to the backseat in the middle of busyness. Yes, I can make it to practice, but no, I don’t have time to read my Bible. This has become a problem for me. I was blessed enough to be able to pour a lot of time into my spiritual health and relationship with God over the summer, so that now I have that desire to spend time with Him. What I’m lacking at the moment is the time.

It is prideful and foolish to fill your life so much that there is no room for God every day. That is a sure way for things to fall apart. But I know what it feels like to be drowning in so much that it seems reading the Bible won’t fit anywhere and praying is a thing of the past. So here are some things I’ve taken to doing to make sure I’m still spending time with my Lord, Creator, and Father every day.

Create a habit for devotions.

This one’s tough, but it’s essential. Look at your average week and see what time of day is usually free. And give yourself some time. Make sure you’ve got at least half an hour to start, even if it won’t take you that long. Then do devotions every day that you can. Don’t beat yourself up over the days you can’t, but don’t let yourself skip the days you can, even if the time must be abbreviated.

It’s okay to be busy, but if you are unable to set aside time to spend in full devotion to God most days of the week, there’s a problem.

That being said, here’s what I do when devotions are not a possibility (and often when they are):

Pray EVERYWHERE.

Pray in the car on your way to work and class. Pray in bed before you fall asleep. Pray in the shower. Pray in class (maybe not all the time, but if you can pull it off…). Any time you find yourself with nothing in particular to think about, pray.

And vary your prayers. You can pray for your family at a traffic light. You can thank God for your blessings while you wash your hair. Just take a deep breath and talk to God.

Make meal times count.

I know that meals often get lost in the mayhem and tend to turn into “what can I grab from the fridge in two seconds flat so I won’t be late for fill-in-the-blank” sessions. But I would encourage you to take a minute to pray before meals. Yes, every time, and yes, in public.

You might only have thirty seconds or maybe you can take five minutes, but that’s time well spent. Besides, it’s good for you to stop to eat a proper meal every once in a while (or so the “experts” say).

Read your Bible whenever you get the chance.

Block out other thoughts while you read, even if it’s only for a few verses. Take notes and underline. Pray while you read. (I know – I won’t stop talking about prayer, but it is the one and only reason I have survived this past month and a half.)

Don’t confine yourself to the plan you’re doing if you only have five minutes and you want to read somewhere else. God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17) and gives us rest.

Go to church.

I don’t care how busy you are. If you are not dying of the plague, go to church. I understand that some people must work on Sundays, but do your best to avoid it. Church is specifically designed to be a place of fellowship with God’s people while we worship Him together. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. Church is an excellent way to rest. Don’t give up the opportunity to be spiritually fed and in turn praise the Lord because you’re too tired or don’t have time. Church is essential.

 

I hope some of these will be helpful to you in staying close to God through the chaos. Busyness isn’t a reason to push God aside; it’s a reason to draw even closer.

Have a blessed and fruitful day!

Kira

What do you do to stay “in-touch” with God? Are there any particularly weird places you like to pray?

Find What’s Best

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Let your weary spirit rest.

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

And be. Just be.

“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

This world is crazy. We don’t need to go over that again. We are all guilty of getting caught up in all of it, of placing mountains of importance on temporary things and forgetting the eternal for a while. That’s been especially true for me this week as I’m once again trying to balance school, work, social life, and all the rest, just like you are, I’m sure.

The song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz is incredible. If you are so inclined, I highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing. The piece that has especially been on my mind lately is the chorus though. He says, “Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”

That’s an easy concept, but a hard thing to do. I know that I (as a Type-A personality) want to do everything that is good. And there are a lot of good things in the world. So many of them are available and easy, but they add up. They fill up your time before you realize it. They become overwhelming and “what’s good” turns into “what’s draining.”

We must lay down the good in order to pursue what is best. So how do we discern what falls into these categories? How do we figure out what’s only good and what’s really best?

The answer is prayer. To give an example, I’ve been planning to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November all year. I’ve done it for the last two years and once a few years before. I love NaNoWriMo and everyone’s talking about it amongst the writerly communities.

I’m also in the middle of editing a manuscript which I sincerely hope to have published and maintaining and growing this blog. Not to mention the rest of life. NaNoWriMo looks so appealing and it is definitely a good thing. But I don’t think it’s the best for me right now.

I pray before I write every day and pray about my writing at other times too. As I prayed about NaNoWriMo, it became clear that, while it would be good, it would take away from school, relationships, and other projects (not to mention physical health during those midnight writing sessions). So I won’t do it this year.

Are you doing too much? Do you always feel hurried or exhausted or frazzled? Feelings are not generally reliable, but they can be helpful here, in figuring out if you’re trying to juggle too much. I feel busy most of the time, so I’m laying down the good of writing a novel in a month to pursue the best of being able to handle school, siblings, and editing.

Finding the right balance in life is not easy. It takes years of trial and error, prayer and evaluation. And it keeps changing, based on what stage of life you’re in. But it’s worth it for you and the people around you. Pray about everything. How you should do it, when you should do it, whether you should do it. That is always best.

So let your weary spirit rest. Lay down what’s good and find what’s best. And be. Just be.

Kira

Are you tring to do too much? What could you lay down in order to find what’s best?

From the Archives: The Little Things

So often, small happy things get lost in the whirlwind. It’s refreshing to come back to in the middle of everything right now.

Originally published: 6/2/17


Life is busy. Pretty much anyone who ever lived would agree. There’s work, school, family, sports, church events, and everything else that claims hours and days of our lives. Most of that stuff is really good. We were made to live full lives and glorify God with our work. But often, we let it overwhelm us and forget to enjoy it.

I’ve been noticing the little things lately. And by little things, I mean the stuff that I would usually ignore in favor of all the work (or made up work) that I have to do. Why would I watch my little blonde, blue eyed sister pick flowers on a hill when I have a book to read? Why would I listen to my brother whistle whatever song is stuck in his head when I have finals to study for? And why would I lay in the hammock with previously mentioned little sister when I could be writing a blog post?

Reading books, studying for finals, and writing blog posts are all excellent things to do. In fact, I partake of them quite regularly. But it’s also good to admire how your sister’s hair glows in the setting sun, to appreciate the cuteness of your brother’s off-key whistle, to let a four year old crawl all over you as you sway three feet off the ground.

A lot of times, I deny people my time and love, even in small increments, because I “have too much work to do.” It’s ultimately denying myself something good as well. There’s always more time to do that work, but my sister won’t be four forever. I won’t live with my siblings for much longer. Appreciating the little tiny things now is just as responsible a way to use time as is scribbling away at notes for a test.

Yes, sometimes we do have to ignore the little things in order to get our work done. But how often could we postpone the work for five minutes to trace a hand with a crayon, climb a tree, or walk down the street?

I’m not only talking about time with siblings – that’s just the biggest way little things are manifested in my life. Maybe a little thing for you would be reading a chapter of a book, actually tasting a few sips of morning coffee, or staring up at the clouds to think for a couple minutes.

The little things are good. They are refreshing. They stay in your memory and make you smile. People are often included in little things. A fifteen minute walk with my sister gives us time to talk. Sitting next to someone silently can be comfortable. The little things are what strengthen important relationships – the ones we don’t want to lose.

Little things are smelling the summer air, snuggling under a blanket at the end of the day, warming your hands by a bonfire in the middle of friends on a late July night.

What little things have crept into your life lately? Take a minute and enjoy them. You won’t regret it.

Kira

What are some of your favorite pockets of joy? Have you stopped for them lately?

Sickness and Schedules and Such

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Have you ever had a cold? You know, one of those energy-sucking, headache-inducing, voice-claiming ordeals which are never quite bad enough to warrant missing school? I got one this week and it was just as fun as I expected.

Something else you should know is that I am an extremely Type-A personality. I want 100s on all my assignments, my room to be in better order than a navy ship, and all of my goals accomplished neatly within the time frame I had in mind.

As we all know, colds tend to render us unable to complete all that we had planned for the week. Chores go undone, schoolwork is barely finished, and that extra writing project is certainly not going to happen right now.

That’s been my life this week – holding my eyes open to finish the reading for a class and then crashing on the couch to spend the rest of the afternoon moving as little as possible.

And let me tell you, I hate not being able to do anything.

I had to call into work sick for the first time (two days in a row) and cross off the school that didn’t absolutely have to happen. I barely published Tuesday’s blog post on time and my mother won’t let me anywhere near dinner while she’s cooking. All this has been extremely frustrating, made worse by almost losing my voice and trying to prevent sinus infections.

It has become evident that I struggle to rest.

Today, I’m talking as much to myself as to you. I’ve always known that I maybe don’t balance rest and work quite as I should, but I’ve shrugged it off. Who actually rests enough any way?

Recently, it was my mother who brought my inability to rest well to the forefront of my attention. In setting goals for me as part of a set of paperwork for a discipleship ministry, she wrote down, “Rest. God rested. It must be good.”

And you know, it is good. And God did rest. So now the question facing me (and all other hard working, Type-A personalities out there) is this:

If the Creator of the Universe rested after His work, what makes you think you can get by without resting?

Please, please sit for a minute and answer that honestly. What comes to mind when you ask yourself? I protest. “Well, sure I’ll rest – after I finish all this stuff.” “I rested yesterday.” “I don’t have time.”

None of those are legitimate reasons. Your body is a temple of the Lord and you must take care of it. That means resting. Even when you’re busy, even when you don’t want to. We must both learn to lay down our work and breathe for a while. It’s what we’re called to do as we imitate God.

Please stop living life like you’re going to miss out on something if you stop for even a second. You’re not going to miss out. Take care of yourself and thank God that He gives us rest.

Kira

Do you struggle to rest? What do you like to do in order to recharge?