Christian Living

Taking Breaks Isn’t For Wusses

I love when something happens that highlights how far I’ve come. It doesn’t happen super often, but every once in a while, I’ll realize what a 180 I’ve done. Every time I watch the Descendants movies, it reminds me how hard it is to move from one world into another.

Growing up, I learned that taking breaks is for wusses. Successful people push themselves until they’re running on empty, and if you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Think that’s enough metaphors? But seriously, until I got sick seven and a half years ago, I lived that. And it meant I had loads of shame once I got sick and couldn’t be a “contributing member of society.” To me, contributing meant giving 110% to every task in front of me.

This week we did a podcast on how taking breaks isn’t for wusses. Taking breaks is a tangible way to surrender to God. He’s the one who proscribed weekly Sabbaths and daily sleeping enough (Ps. 127:2) and yearly festivals. It’s not easy to stop doing–it forces us to trust instead, to believe that God can pick up the slack in our families, our jobs, our goals, etc., etc. I’m far more likely to want to keep at it day and night. As I said on our show, I have to re-surrender about every 20 minutes on my Sabbath because I keep thinking of things that need done.

Taking breaks gives us mental and emotional room to be more effective the rest of the time. For example, sleep-deprivation acts like alcohol–it slows our reflexes, lowers our critical thinking, and impairs judgment. As a society, we often tout our lack of sleep as some kind of badge of honor, but all we’re really saying is that we’re careless with our lives. We’re trading staying up late for being effective and efficient for the next day.

We’re also giving up change in our lives for the pleasure of having a wall-to-wall schedule. I think that fact more than any other has prompted me to prioritize margin in my schedule. It’s like with plants–if you don’t give them enough room to grow, they don’t thrive. We need room in our schedules in order to thrive. Without it, we’ll be miserable and we’ll stay the same miserable people as long as our schedule continues. Without room to process what we’ve learned, to learn new things, to have conversations and relationships, to sit with Jesus, to read, and to think, we can’t grow. One of my worst fears is that I will be the same person 20 years from now as I am today. I can’t imagine carrying the same amount of baggage for decades. It makes me tired just thinking about it!

So! Challenge: Surrendering your time takes actually doing something. It’s not a faith without works deal. For me, surrendering my time means kneeling in the morning and praying over my schedule, taking a Sabbath, and I’m working on going to bed on time. If you already do all those, way to go! If not, pick one and start adding it to your schedule. If you’d like a little public accountability, write which one you’re going to do in a comment.

Taking Breaks Is Not For Wusses-2



Christian Living

Following the Plan

Getting back into a routine has been rough. My darling children are tired and fussy post-camp so school has been a stretch this week. I have to admit that weeks like this make me feel like I’m on a hamster wheel–I have a hard time seeing progress. I’m tired of being sick and having chronic fatigue. I feel like my fantasy novel won’t ever be done (despite the fact that I hit 200,000 words last week–woohoo!). Evan and I have been working on a podcast which I will definitely be telling you guys all about once we start posting it. But progress is slow. Some days it feels so slow as to be nonexistent.

I was encouraged though that God has a plan. A plan to me involves a timeline or a path traveled–in other words, it’s progress.

2 Timothy 1:9 says that God gave us His grace before creation because of his purpose and grace. Check out this super awesome definition from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament for the Greek word for “purpose”–prosthesis: “a setting forth, presentation, an exposition, determination, plan, or will. It involves purpose, resolve, and design. A placing in view or openly displaying something” (Spiros Zodhiates, 1219).

Purpose, resolve, and design. God’s grace isn’t on accident. It isn’t about staying in one place. And it has design–which to me means that it’s beautiful. Maybe not easy. Life is rarely easy. Although, as Jerzy Gregorek says, “easy choices, hard life; hard choices, easy life.” So life can definitely be easier. And it’s not worthless.

1 Cor. 15:58 is one of those verses I cling to. It says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (NIV). How fabulous is that?! Whenever we’re giving ourselves to God’s labor, when we’re building where He’s building, it’s never a waste of time. We’re never actually on a hamster wheel.

And I love the resolve because that reminds me that God never gives up on us. He’s working His plan and He’ll do it until the day Jesus returns (Phil 1:6).

So if you’re in a place where you’re feeling a little stuck or maybe frustrated with how little progress there is, let me encourage you: God has a plan even when we can’t see it. He is the God who changes hearts, who drags us along when we ask Him to. No matter what you’re going through, God can transform it into something amazing–He’s the God of full redemption (Ps. 130:7), not partial redemption. There are no hamster wheels in His economy.

If you’re stuck because you’re not surrendering to Him, well, maybe you should check out this video by Tim Ferriss about Fear Setting. In my life, a lack of surrender has always come back to some fear–whether it’s fear of what God’s asking me to do or fear of what He might ask me to do or fear of losing myself, etc., etc., etc. But, when you do the last step of Tim Ferriss’ Fear Setting–which is to write down where you’ll be in 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years, I can guarantee the results of not surrendering are way worse than the results of surrendering. It’s just nice to see it in black and white, or whatever color ink you use.

Christian Living

How to Get More

Who doesn’t want more, right? More peace? More joy? Steadier finances? It sounds like a marketing pitch, doesn’t it? 😉

I’m perpetually reminded how good we’ve got it as Christians. There’s a podcast I listen to regularly where the caster talks about seeking peace. He’s already ruled out Christianity so he spends a fair amount of time looking.

So why don’t we have it? That actually was a question that consumed a good portion of my college years. God says He wants to give us joy and peace, but I felt like I just had stress and survival all the time.

I’ve come to believe what moves us along that spectrum of joy/peace to stress/survival is surrender. See, on our own, we can’t redeem ourselves and we live in a broken world. The results of sin are always miserable–whether it’s our sin or someone else’s. Lifestyle diseases are rampant in our society. People are so busy they don’t have time for relationships with God or with others. But we’re told that we need to do it all on our own. We’re like messy rooms trying to clean ourselves–we don’t even know what clean looks like or feels like, so how are we supposed to get ourselves there?

This morning I was reading back through my journal–the one where I write down what God says to me. I’ve been reading through it daily for almost two years now, reminding myself over and over of what God’s taught me. This quote re-struck me: “The primary reason [God] asks us to surrender everything to Him is to make room to receive what He wants to give. Try as we may, we will never bring anything to God and leave empty-handed unless we forget to take His gifts home. God’s nature is to give.” ~ Beth Moore, Stepping Up: Psalms of Ascent, 169.

God is a God who gives good gifts (James 1:17).

I can’t give myself good gifts, just like I can’t make myself a millionaire. I mean, obviously, I could work hard and do my best to earn that much money, but so many things are outside of my control. The market could crash tomorrow and leave me bankrupt. A war could come to our country and destroy my finances. There are loads of things that could happen that I can’t predict or prepare for.

When we surrender, we leave room for God to give us His best–the best that He says is “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20, NIV). I want that. I want more than whatever my mind can come up with. I know I have limits inherent in my thinking, limits I don’t even know are there. But God doesn’t have those limits.

I’m firmly convinced that the solution to getting more is to give God more. Mindset has so much more to do with reality than we realize. Any area of my life can be transformed simply by surrendering it to God and then letting Him give me more. Any area in your life can be transformed simply by surrendering it to God and then letting Him give you more.

So where are you lacking peace or joy or enough-ness? Have you surrendered it to God? Are you content to stay in that place for the next twenty years or do you want more?

Christian Living

Planting a Seed

Yay! It’s been warm around here lately! Winter and I are not friends. Well, I guess I should say the lack of sun and I are not friends. The days when it’s sunny or snowy, I’m good. All the endless days of gray around here I’m not so good with.

Spring = planting in my brain. I’m always so amazed by seeds. They look so small and usually unattractive. But plant them in the ground and they become something beautiful. In John 12, Jesus talks about how seeds die. You plant them and the seed goes away and turns into something else–a plant.

I’ve talked before about being a good receiver. I love Beth Moore’s story about how she realized the difference between eating the seed and planting it. An aid worker in a third-world country talked to her about how hard it is to keep people from eating their seeds instead of planting them. Planting the seed involves a death, a loss, a surrender of something.

A few months ago, I was reminded that that’s how things are in our lives too. Sometimes we have to give up something–sometimes it’s something we really love–but it’s not a true loss. God takes our sacrifice and turns it into something else: a plant. Something that’s more beautiful and larger and amazing than we can imagine when we look at the seed.

I know there are things that I hang onto that I don’t want to let go. It’s hard to let go of something precious on the promise of something better to come later, isn’t it? Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush, as they say. But I’ve realized that God’s best is always better than anything I can imagine and so worth the loss of my seed.

What do you need to let go of and plant?


Surrendering the Good

So, how’s everyone’s week been? Par usual, mine has been busy. Sadly, that seems to be the norm lately. It’s not bad–in fact, I’ve been really thankful for how things have been going. I think I’ve told y’all that I’m in the middle of reading The Sacred Six by J.B. Glossing and I’ve been applying some of those principles. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I just have six things on my to do list at a time.

As I’ve said before, I’m working my way through the companion study my husband and I wrote that goes with my new book To Push on the Rock (hopefully getting published some time this year!) as a way to just see how it works on a practical level. One of the things I’m doing is reading through the verses in the footnotes. I came across this verse last week: Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said (NIV).

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story of Moses and the plagues. This verse fits in after the frogs and before the gnats. The same scenario is repeated over and over throughout the plague chapters–Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go, God sends a plague, Pharaoh relents, God relents, Pharaoh refuses to obey. I’ve heard and read the story dozens of times. The thing that hit me this time was that Pharaoh doesn’t obey when things are good.

I don’t know about you, but I have less trouble relying on God when things are going badly. There’s no chance that I can manage the situation on my own. I’m far less prone to ask God for empowerment in the middle of something that’s going well. But that’s not how life with Jesus is supposed to work. We’re supposed to live by the Spirit when things are going badly and when they’re going well (Gal. 5:16-24). It’s just as vital for us to be trusting, surrendered, centered, connected to God, and engaged with all of ourself and what’s going on around us when things are going well.

I have a friend who was recently talking about how if we gave God our best, we could do/live incredible things. God does incredible things with our falling apart, worst moments, but how awesome would it be to see what He does with our best? What could we accomplish when we’re surrendered and living out of the essence of who we are when thing aren’t falling apart?