How to create some Daily & Weekly Rest Rhythms (Chapter 2, part 2)

In regard to Sabbath-keeping, Kent says, “There are no rules, except this: just stop.” When God sentenced the Israelites to 40 years of wilderness wandering, He said, “they shall never enter my rest.” Doesn’t that sound awful? Perpetual wandering. We are invited into His rest.

Kent says, “rest is a gift, but we can’t receive it if we don’t stop to open it.” Sabbath-keeping is not about checking a list. It is a way of asking yourself and those closest to you, what does it look like to stop? How can we receive the gift of His rest?

today?

this week?

this month?

Daily

Our bodies are amazing in many ways and one of these I’ve lately been discovering is connected to our circadian rhythm. Light, time and hormones work together to cue us in to when it is day and when it is night. We have times that we are more or less alert throughout the day, times we are more ready to work, to eat or to relax.

While we sleep, our bodies also have rhythms or cycles that have different purposes. Scientists believe that one part of our sleep pattern helps to restore our bodies, while another helps to restore our minds. Isn’t that amazing?

Research shows that going to bed, and especially getting up at a consistent time can help you to feel more physically and mentally alert. There have also been countless magazine articles written to suggest routines before going to bed or upon waking. These are one way to rest regularly.

Are there also ways to integrate rest into your day? Maybe a 10-minute walk on your coffee break? Maybe turning the radio on while you are getting ready for the day?

Weekly

Sabbath, specifically, is about setting apart a day, a 24-hour period of rest. Which day and what “stopping” looks like may vary, but here is one example. We see in the Creation story and the Jewish tradition that the day actually began with sunset.

According to Kent, traditionally the Hebrew day was broken apart like this:

  • 6pm-10pm: 4 hours available for relationships
  • 10pm-6am: 8 hours available for sleep
  • 6am-6pm: 12 hours available for productivity and work

How does that compare with how we spend our time today?

Most of us are not farmers, use electricity and depend on technology for everything from entertainment to relational connection. I’m not suggesting we return to the past, but I challenge you to consider the rhythm of your week-to-week.

Do you have any rest built in? Is there one thing you could do to create some rest today? 

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 2 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 3!

Why we need Rest as a Rhythm (chapter 2, part 1)

I missed chapter 1! Read here

In chapter 2 of Rest, Keri shares how performance experts have noticed that tennis games between top performers are usually won based on how effectively players use their time in between points. So, rather than one player having more perfect strokes, the game is often determined based on routines that allow one player to recover better during the seconds between. Does that surprise you?

Similarly, Keri shares her husband’s perspective on what happens to muscles when they are at work and in rest: “When you work to failure, the muscle fibers actually break down… Then when you rest, blood flows into the muscles and they rebuild themselves.” Did you know that your muscles have to rest in order to grow?

Growing mental strength works similarly. By taking risks, you actually re-train your brain in the face of fear. So every time Jeremy and I climb we are exercising not only physically, but also engaging our mind in fear-fighting and problem-solving.

Keri suggests that soul rest is equally necessary for growth. She says many of us “are never fully engaged, and we never take time to disengage.” Keeping Sabbath is about living life to almost the point of “muscle failure” and then stopping to rest. Because we stop, we can go fully.

At first, stopping to rest seems like it will make us busier, but then we realize that it feels like a luxury and it is indeed a gift. It is “actually the secret to getting more done, to understanding and living our true priorities, to enjoying our lives, and to experiencing the presence of God.” What do you think? Would you be willing to rest in order to be more productive?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 2 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 2, part 2!

Washed in the Word

Get Washed

The insights from today’s post are taken from a chapter in John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted. They were an encouragement to me and something I’m constantly needing to remember so I hope this post will clarify some vocabulary and encourages your heart as well.

The phrase “washed in the word” always seemed vague and unclear to me until I read it in context in Ortberg’s book. The phrase comes from Ephesians 5 where it says husbands are to to imitate Christ who “cleansed” His bride, the church “by the washing of water with the word.” Weird.

I mean, I get the importance of the Word, but what does it have to do with washing? Ortberg boiled it down to the quite literal and it was a lightbulb moment. He asks why do we wash something and what happens if we don’t?

So often, we think we have to clean ourselves up so we can go to confession, attend church, read a Bible. Ortberg says the reason we come to God is the exact opposite – because we need Him to cleanse us! He says our minds our full of everything other than truth – dirt and darkness.

The effects of getting washed

When we read the Word, it cleanses our thoughts and our hearts. It reminds us to “seek his kingdom first.” A concept Ortberg describes as purity of heart or “a singleness of purpose and focus that gives consistency to [one’s] choices and commitments.”

In contrast to this, Ortberg references James’ description of “a life of divided loyalties” or double-mindedness. He contrasts single-mindedness as being connected to simplicity, while double-mindedness is connected to multiplicity and duplicity. He defines multiplicity as “ambivalence – pulled and pushed… we both desire intimacy with God and flee from it,” and he defines duplicity is “falseness… a discrepancy between the reasons we give… and the real reasons.”

These are the thoughts we all battle and he suggests the way to recalibrate, to re-orient is simpler than we think. It is not about what we do or don’t do, rather it is about bringing what needs to be washed to the only One who is completely Pure. As He washes us with His Word, we are slowly being transformed. Just like a plate with crumbs returns to its original shine when rinsed, the more regularly we dirty a plate, the more often we need to wash it!

Dallas Willard in his book The Divine Conspiracy says that people rarely think the God of the Bible has any relevance to our real lives. Either it is silly or incovenient or impractical or… there are few who consider the possibility that God’s words are what brings life to us and our world, and that therefore, it impacts every aspect of our daily lives. As a song by Tenth Avenue North says, “only you can make me new.”

Listen, Speak, Do

The title of this post brings to my mind an image of three monkeys. You’ve seen them – one covering their eyes, one their ears, one their mouth. The thoughts often associated with these monkeys roughly translates in my mind “ignore what you don’t want to deal with in the way you choose”… a sort of ignorance is bliss mentality or perhaps pious is better… and all those are the opposite of this post’s position.

Today, I ask these questions: what activities can we pursue to receive more grace? Are there certain ways that God always works? How do I train instead of try?

In response to these questions, I propose three categories of blog topics: Listen, Speak, Do that summarize posts that I have either already written about or plan to write about it over the next year. Some of these topics, I will not comment further on at this time, but others I will soon dig deeper into. For example, when it comes to listening, or paying attention, we have covered the topic a lot so here is some background for those you may have missed it. We’ve explored listening to our lives, to others and to God as three ways to notice and to grow. To this category then, I will only comment that three ways of listening to God are through His Word, prayer as dialogue and practicing gratitude as I will speak more on these things in upcoming posts.

When it comes to speaking, I’m reminded what I so often forget; words matter. They carry weight, power even. Therefore, what we say and hear, and when we speak matters too. In the category of speaking, I highlight confession, encouragement and silence, or knowing when to not speak as future blog posts.

When it comes to action, I would like to make a distinction between discipline, as the fruit of our training, and rhythms, as routines that we practice. Distinguishing between discipline as law and training that leds to a more self-controlled life is often subtle, so we will start with this reminder that we are all learners. Some rhythms I plan to highlight then are work, rest, and celebration.

Listen, Speak, Do. Which topic are you most curious about? Let us know!

Try not

There is this scene in Star Wars where Luke is feeling overwhelmed and says: “Ok, I’ll try.” Yoda quickly responds: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” What I love most about Yoda’s answer is his passion and conviction. He does not hesitate to correct Luke, when many would have responded “How wonderful that you are going to try!”

Training for what?

This scene came to mind in the context of thinking about discipleship. In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg dedicates a whole chapter to Training vs. Trying. In it, he explains “the single most helpful principle… regarding spiritual transformation” as “There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something.” He says “Learning to think, feel, and act like Jesus is at least as demanding as learning to run a marathon or play the piano.” 

Spiritual Calisthenics

Ortberg continues “Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit.” He sees spiritual disciplines as a way of training, not as a measure of successful discipline. They “are to life what calisthenics are to a game.” He says “a disciplined follower of Jesus – a disciple – is not someone who has ‘mastered the disciplines,’” but rather a person “who can do the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit.”

Thoughts?

Checklists are easier, except when they aren’t, and they lead to either a fluctuating and false sense or a lack of freedom. It is encouraging to me to hear that training is work, hard work, challenging work, but also that it is a choice with a bigger goal in mind. Remembering that frees me to desire to practice, as opposed to feeling guilty when I don’t. Your thoughts?

Five Decision-making Filters

Here are five filters I use to make decisions –
  1. More face time, less facetime – I would rather spend more time with people in person, and less time communicating via phone, email, or social media.

  2. Prioritize people – Based on number one, the people who are family and who are geographically closer to me are those that I will communicate with more often. I see this choice as practical and not as a measure of how much I love you! That said, different days call for different priorities!

  3. Fully present – Because I believe relationships are important, I want to spend time with people and be fully present when I am with others.

  4. Keep the big picture in mind – Like everyone, I have responsibilities & limits, so I am constantly prioritizing opportunities as they come up.
  5. Keep seeking the Spirit – I want to do as the Spirit leads, and sometimes that means saying no to things I want to do or that others want me to do, but it also means saying yes to His best!

Sample Schedules (or #10 answered)

I promised I’d answer Question #10 eventually! So, let me say up front – I do not think that I have it all together (in fact, I know I don’t!) or that there is a blanket to-do list that is right for everyone! I do believe that God has given us all unique strengths and weaknesses, and that His Spirit in you is the final authority on how you spend your days. Personally, I have also found that as I ask He delights in revealing even the details of how I can best participate in what He is up to in and around me.

For me, one way I actively practice allowing Him to guide me is to spend time planning our month, week, day. I pray, write down non-negotiables (like work), invitations and ideas I have… doing so visually helps me to see where our time is going and to make more informed choices as things come up. Sometimes things go pretty much as planned, sometimes we do more or less. The outcome is not as important to me as the motivation behind why we choose to do or not do something.

Motivation for Intentionality

I talk about intentionality a lot. I’m not the only one! Google intentional living (4,900,000 results) to see what I mean!

What is my motive for all this intentional talk?

I realized a few months ago that I jumped into sharing thoughts on intentionality without communicating my motivation for doing so. I think the reason is that much of my motivation is foundational for me personally, and so I made the assumption that others would know why intentionality is important to me. Today, I want to pause and share those reasons with you.

Personal Perspective

I believe that our thinking impacts our words and our actions. In the education world, schools claim to educate the whole child, and I have seen first-hand how things like not having a healthy diet impact learning. So I also believe that the way we answer spiritual questions, such as “Is there a God and what is He like?” will ultimately have an impact on how we view the rest of our life – everything from our view of ourselves and others to the daily choices we make.

  • Faith – For more on my personal faith, check out the Seeking to know Him series. I have a desire to please the Father, at least in theory!
  • Wiring – My motivation for wanting to be intentional is also connected to seeing time as a gift and wanting to use it well. I see this idea as a particular strength that Jeremy and I have both individually, and as a couple.
  • Learning – Sometimes I get tired of being intentional and of talking about it. Sometimes I don’t feel motivated to think about the hows and whys of life. However, I want to share what I am very much in the process of learning. I’m an educator remember! In my opinion, that means I am first, a learner.
Vision + Intentionality

A vision for a life well-lived starts with thinking about the details of our days. Do you want to live life well? Do you have a picture of what that looks like?

Maybe you haven’t taken the time to think about it. Maybe your picture is different than mine. I hope it is, actually, because the world would be boring if we all thought the same!

Intentionality, in my opinion, is about taking the time to think about how the little things will add up at the end of your life. It’s about valuing life and time and the amazing freedom we have to choose who we become.

So if you don’t want to read about intentionality, read another blog! I plan to keep asking real and specific questions it will take a lifetime to answer, if only for the reason that it makes us think! 🙂 If you want to continue on this journey with me, please know that anything I share is written in the context of wanting to learn and grow, personally and together!

P.S. Much of the content of this post was inspired by the teaching of the elders and body of Soma – thanks y’all!

Here’s to making a difference

I’m super excited to share today’s post with you. It is my understanding of “the secret” to making a difference. I know it sounds cheesy to say it that way, but I really feel like there ARE things we can tangibly do to make a difference, but often, we spend more time wondering whether we are doing the “right” things than trusting God will work His best through our worst. I know I spent a lot of time, especially in my early twenties, WONDERING AND WORRYING, instead of resting.

So, I’ll unpack this “formula” in the weeks to come, but for today, are you ready to make a difference?

Unique + Responsible + Free = Impact