Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Longing for Rest. . . and Finding it

Life is busy and crazy and full of life and joy and opportunity.  I have two young kids that I love to spend time with.  I work full time as a nurse in a busy NICU.  I love to fill my days ministering to those in my circle of friends and family.  Every opportunity I have to spend with others that have a need of friendship or support or encouragement, I take.  I love these people and they fill me with purpose and I am blessed when I am with them.

But lately it seems that the chronic business isn't allowing time for me to rest. . . to draw near to God and be still.  I go, go, go and am there for all who need me.  But I rarely just have time to really sit and allow God to speak to me and work in my heart.  Little by little I have been recognizing that something was missing.  

It started at our churches family camp.  We look forward each year to several days to just get away up in the mountains.  There we are surrounded by trees and sky and little ones laughing and playing.  This place has always been my place of peace and rest in a life filled with too much living.  It allows me a place where I can steal away for a quiet walk alone or just a hammock to read in.  Gone are the lists that fill my hands and my head.  There are no closets to organize or things to build or menus to create.  Just time with family and friends.  It is a place of rest and time with God.  I love that time with my heavenly Father where I can sit at His feet and study the letter He gave us.  

This year, we heard about an opening for a family to minister at Hartstone.  As I prayed about this position,  God opened my heart and mind to consider moving our family there.  After much prayer and discussion, we decided as a family to step out in faith and apply for the job.  My head filled with dreams of being able to walk out onto the beautiful campus and find quiet places every where to be still before God.  I knew that if I lived at Hartstone, I would take the time to walk the wooded paths and take time to rest and be still and find peace.  I was also excited about being able to serve others and minister to all who came to camp.  But overall, my heart was longing to be in a place that had brought me so much rest.  We waited for many long weeks to find out if this was where we were to live and serve for the next couple of years.  I spent so much time with God asking Him to place us exactly where He wanted us, and to bring me joy where ever He put us.  This was a time of dreaming and longing and closeness to Gods heart.  Then God closed the door to this opportunity.  

I was sad.  I won't lie.  For a few days I cried and slowly let go of my dreams for living in this beautiful place of rest and tranquility.  I accepted God's decision and was not upset or angry.  I knew He was keeping us right where He wanted us to be.  But the longing in my heart did not cease.  I continued to have this desperate longing for rest and a place to find it.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog post on A Holy Experience entitled When Wasting Your Time is the Most Productive Thing You Can Do.   As I read through this blog post I was convicted and inspired all at the same time.
I ordered the book Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World.  It seemed like something that might help me slow down and help me to rest.  As I started reading it, God started to speak to my heart and show me that this is what He wants for me. . . for all of us.  I'm going to share a bit about what I have been learning and what God has been teaching me.  Her book describes it so much better than I ever could, but I'm going to share anyway.  

The author, Shelly Miller, was convicted about not resting on the Sabbath.  Every day was busy and life was taking over.  God created a whole day of rest every week.  He practiced it to show us that it was important.  "Sabbath reminds us that we belong because we are already accepted.  Rest requires that we be who we are and nothing else.  A life built upon Sabbath is contented because in rhythms of rest we discover our time is full of the holiness of God."  pg26  

I am always busy.  But "business can be avoidance instead of preparation.  Everything might be ready, but emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, we are not.  Ironically, busyness in the wrong things ultimately leaves us completely unprepared fro what is most important.  Choosing to leave practical things undone is a brave act of trust and relinquishment.  And relinquishment often precedes the miracle." "Sabbath is weekly preparation and anticipation for making space in our lives for Christ to come.  Sabbath rhythms are generous gifts: they are not about guilt.  Busyness can also be a sign that trust is faltering and the fear of scarcity is taking over.  Fear that there won't be enough time to get everything done if we take a day off to rest."  As I read this, I was convicted that I struggle with rest because I think I have to do it all now.  Am I trusting that God will provide and allow the necessary things to get done?  Nope.  I haven't been.  But that is going to change.

I work every other weekend.  Often my Sundays are spent in a busy intensive care unit and I come home exhausted, barely even recognizing that it was the Sabbath.  But I loved what Shelly said, "Perhaps Sunday obligations make rest difficult.  Find a window of time on another day of the week.  You may not have time for a whole day to rest, but a a small window of time here and there cultivates a Sabbath heart.  Pausing for prayerful listening, even for a few minutes, brings everything that is important back into focus."  She described taking time to go on a quiet walk or have lunch alone in a secluded spot at work.  Starting with baby steps is ok.  Finding what brings me joy and peace and closer to the heart of God.  I can do that!  I may not have a whole day to set aside, but surely I can cancel plans and set aside a few hours every week to spend before God.  I can't remember the last time I really took time for me.  Time to stop and rest.  Time to stop making lists and cleaning and planning and just rest.   So today, I blocked out time to do that.  I dropped the kids off at school, a book off at my friends house and then I went to Starbucks with my Bible and study book.  It was amazing to spend a few hours reading and praying in a quiet place.  No housework to distract me.  Just time for God to fill me with His presence and peace.  Then off home to sit in front of my fire, in my favorite chair, listen to the rain pouring down and take time to figure out what God wants to show me.  This is good!   

Shelly said, "Rest is ill-defined when we value time and our worth based on productivity.  If we are created with intention by God for a specific purpose, an the way of discovering that purpose is through relationship with Him, then the way of discovering what we are missing in life is through abiding with him on Sabbath.  Wasting time is actually the most productive action you may take this week."  I had never though about rest like this before.  It's true though.  I have a very difficult time resting because I do value my time and how much I can get done.  I kept thinking that  this is what makes who I am and what makes me valuable.  But it isn't.  He wants us to trust Him to provide for our needs and to take care of all that isn't being done when we rest.  Choosing Sabbath requires faith and trust that we can rest and abide in Him and that all will be taken care of.  "He longs for us to trust Him with rest as much as the other parts of Life."  I trust that He will take care of my family and all that I worry about.  But will I trust Him enough to allow me to fully rest?  I am going  to start choosing to do so.  I want rest and time to allow God to fill me up.  "Sabbath provides space from our problems and allows us to see from God's perspective"  "Sabbath is an awakening-a space of time containing reminders about what is most valuable."  He wants to speak to us and in our busyness of life we can't listen.  I want to choose to take this time to rest and sit at His feet and listen.  

God desires a closeness with each of us.  He created us for a relationship with Him.  He invites us to come and rest and deepen our knowledge of who He is and what He has done.  He is always there, waiting for us to put aside our busyness and hurried thoughts and lives.  We have to make the choice to stop and rest and to be with Him.  As I am on this journey to discovering what it means to find my Sabbath, God opened my heart to the thought that I can find Him and find rest no matter where I am.  My heart was longing for Hartstone, but mainly because I longed for the peace and rest I thought I could find there.  But God is here, in Santa Rosa, in my home, in my heart.  I don't have to live surrounded by woods and streams and quiet places for me to find my rest in God.  I can create a Sabbath here in my home, at Starbucks, in a local park.  I just need to make the choice to stop the business and set aside that time to listen to my creator and rest.  I hope and pray that maybe you will join me in finding the joy and peace in rest.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

DIY Wood Blocks

I love doing projects.  I really enjoy being busy and building stuff out of wood!  So when my daughters teacher asked if anyone would make blocks for the classroom, I jumped at the chance.  She just wanted simple blocks so the builders in her class would have fun.  I had a bunch of scrap wood, so I invited my husband to spend sometime in our wood shop/garage with me.  We cut big and small blocks.  Then I had fun with the miter saw doing triangles.  We sanded the corners and sides with the belt sander and that was it.  Pretty simple to make and only took about two hours or so to make a whole box of them.

 This is how I relax after a long day in the NICU.

Some of my scrap wood I used.

Chris working away at sanding the blocks.

After making a box for my eldest, my little one wanted blocks for her class to play with.  So we made another box of blocks.  These would be fun to have the kids paint them too!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Facing Food Allergies with JOY

I choose joy.  That is my motto, my mantra, my decision.  I choose joy!  Every day, in good times and in bad times, I choose joy.
It is not always easy.  Some days it is downright hard.  But it is my choice.  I want to seek the gifts that are all around me: the gifts God gives me in each moment throughout the day.  It is the smile of a child, a dinner cooked by my husband, time to read a book, flowers blooming all around my lemon tree, a chance to catch up with a friend.  They are the moments that surround me every day.  When I look and find a gift and name it, it becomes mine.  It is now a gift for me.  But sometimes this is hard and I have to work with all my might to find the good.

Last night was a hard night for me.   I have been having many, many migraines lately.  I have suffered from these since I was a child so it is no new thing for me.  But my migraines are mostly triggered by food allergies (and lack of sleep and stress).  I thought it might be corn that I was reacting too, so I cut that out of my diet.  But then got a migraine after eating chicken, rice, tomatoes and nectarines.  I'm pretty sure that the chicken is what is causing these migraines.  Chicken?  Really?  We eat this all the time (which may be why I am getting so many of them).  Chicken is delicious and amazing and wonderful. This made me so sad.

Every since I was a child I have been sick.  No one knew why.  Migraines that started when I was in elementary school and continued on into adulthood.  After 10 years of daily migraines I was diagnosed with Celiac disease at 30 years old.  That was devastating at first since I LOVE BREAD!  But my 20 plus symptoms disappeared after eliminating wheat from my diet.   I discovered how to eat yummy food and work my life around being gluten free.  Then a year later, I found out I had an allergy to peanuts.  They cause migraine, brain fog and fatigue. 6 months later I discovered that garlic makes me very ill.  Garlic makes me so sick I can barely drive within 10 minutes-migraine, brain fog, fatigue and dizziness.  Then I was reacting to lactose, not too badly but enough to bother me.  This year I have had to stop eating eggs and tapioca flour since they were causing me to feel like I had the flu.  Almost all things gluten free are made with tapioca flour.  Again and again I have had to change all my recipes and figure out what to eat and how to prepare it.  Pretty much everything I eat I have to prepare myself or I run the risk of being sick in bed for the next 24 hours.

I have tried so hard to find joy through out this process.  There have been things that I have had to mourn the loss of: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Garlic bread, All bread, Cheese puffs, ect.  I am sad for a bit and then just have to let that go.  So many amazing and delicious foods that I can never eat again.  So many restaurants that I can't eat at.  All of this has changed my life and how I live.  Going on vacation is a bit harder when you have to bring all your own food.  

But I find joy in the fact that I can still go on vacation or hang out with friends.  I can still build relationships and make deep friendships.  It is worth the risk of going home sick or just bringing my own food to be able to fellowship with my friends and family.  I can still eat most ice creams and chocolate so that is a big thing for me.
But last night I was sitting there with a migraine and realized that every time I have eaten chicken for awhile I have ended up sick.  It was too much!  I sat there with tears pouring down my face.  I didn't ask for this.  I don't want to be sick every time I eat.  I don't want to eliminate one more thing from my diet.  I already can't buy any food in 2/3 of any store that I walk into.  For what ever reason, this really affected me. But again, I realize that I have a choice.  I can choose joy again or walk down the self pity road.  

I will not choose self pity and tears.  I will again CHOOSE JOY!  God has given me so much and has been my strength through this every step of the way.  I don't know why it is happening to me and I don't need to.  Go
d loves me and cares for me so much.  He is allowing me to find the joy He intended for each of us to have.  I will smile and laugh and find more recipes that I can make.  Food allergies will not define who I am and they will not hold me back.  

It doesn't matter what you are facing.  We all face trials and hard times.  Some much bigger than others.  But God will be with you with every trial.  He longs for you to find joy in Him and be able to trust in Him even when it feels like your life is falling apart.  Happiness is based upon how your life is going and if good things are happening.  Joy is different.  It comes from knowing that God is good and He is your salvation and mighty rock.  In all that you are encountering today, I challenge you to choose joy.  Cry and grieve and then find the gifts that God has given you.   Actively look for the gifts.  They are there.

Choose Joy!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Being a Blessing to our Police Officers

We have been discussing the current events going on in our country with the girls.  They were very saddened when hearing about some of the peoples reactions to our police force.  We talked about how some officers have lost their lives.  Bekah wanted to do something. . . to make a difference in our world.  After lots of talking she decided she wanted to show support and care for the police officers of Sonoma County.  For weeks she has been working on posters for the men in blue.  

We had fun shopping for yummy treats to fill the boxes we created for the police men and women.

Jessie, Bekah and Hannah went to the Santa Rosa Police Department to drop off the goodies for the officers, toys for hurting children and posters to encourage them.

Lieutenant John Cregan was so kind.  He took us into the briefing room and we got to say hi to all the  officers.  The girls were so nervous but had the courage to say thank-you for all they do for us.  It was a special time!  The girls got lots of hugs and thanks.  Then we all get a tour of the station.

Then our family drove to Sebastopol to show honor and respect to the officers there.

A very sweet police woman gave us a tour of their station.  The girls got to say thanks to the sergeant and another officer.  The Sergeant said that their words was the best thing he had heard all week.

They got to try out the cells and the cement beds.  They are sure they would not like to spend any permanent time there.

This was such a great experience for my kids and my niece.  Bekah was able to make a difference today and saw how much it meant to others.  I pray that my girls will keep trying to be a blessing to others as they grow up.

We support all those that serve our communities, risk their lives and protect us. 

Thursday, August 04, 2016

DIY Bunk Beds

My little girls have just started sharing a room after having their own all their life.  I knew the room wasn't that big, but it looked so crowded with the bed and a mattress on the floor.  SO I decided to just build one.  I spent hours looking at beds on pinterest for a design I liked.  Most were designer beds and I don't have the time or the desire to build that.  I found one bed I kind of liked, but it needed more.  So I designed it myself.

I made the top loft bed 6 inches wider than the standard bed size that we used on the bottom.  This way there was an area on the bunk for all the stuffed animals.  Why no one else has come up with this idea is beyond me.  It also was made this way so that I could easily fit the free standing lower bunk under neath.   Since I was a little girl I have enjoyed moving my furniture around and wanted the freedom to move the beds what ever way I fancied.   Then I made the beds both 6 inches longer than the mattress (ok, I made them 12 inches longer, but that was an accident and I like it now).  My husband build them each a bookshelf to act as a headboard and storage.  Once completely build I saw that each bed was 6 inches longer than the mattress once the bookshelf was added.  But then I saw that this was perfect for the kids stuffed animals on the bottom bunk.  On the top, it works as a step to climb down.  

  This is me with my game face on!  I really do love my power tools!!!

Pre bed-just boards here.

Loving the way my bench holds the wood I'm cutting on my miter saw.  This just makes me happy!

Chris and I spent 12 hours one day cutting all the pieces, sanding them 
and adding pocket holds to the frames. 

I am such a visual person so I laid both beds out as we cut and sanded them.

This is the kids room before we put the bunk beds in.  Not a lot of space to walk and not very much storage.  Plus they left the room a mess.

We started to assemble the top bunk first.  It's not easy getting it all lined up right and square.  We did have to redo a bit once we got the level out.  We got the wood cut and sanded the first day and built the top bunk bed.

The next day we put together the bottom bunk.  I made sure the bed was high enough for a bunch of cute boxes to go underneath.  There was not much storage in the room and this is their "toy box".  See all the animals lined up at the foot of the bed?

I wanted to create a very special place for my girls to hang out together and read or play.  I got two beanbag chairs on line plus a soft carpet from Target.  The lights I hung under the bed are one of my favorite features.  It brightens up the space and makes it really special.

I loved the book shelves that we built in.  Since the mattress is right next to the bottom shelf, the girls use that as a "secret" shelf.

The ladder to the bed is at the end of the bed.  You have to stand on the bottom bunk to get to the ladder.  We ended up creating another little tiny step to make it easier to get to the main ones.

I found these really cute Elephant lights on Amazon from Thailand.  They have become the girls nightlight.