The formula for successful stillness

Be still and know that I am God.

I have been giving a whole lot of thought to these eight words from Psalm 46 over the past few weeks – and I think I may have stumbled across something I likely should have always known! God gives us a formula for successful stillness in the words “Be Still and Know that I am God.”

Can you see it?

We can be still BECAUSE we know that GOD IS GOD.

We can rest because God is God.

We can find peace.

We can stop striving.

We can just be… 

Because God is God. 

Let’s look at Psalm 46 together for a minute (copied from Bible Gateway – click on the link to visit Bible Gateway directly).

Psalm 46[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Looking at the Psalm, we see that the people were called to be still despite the earth giving way, the mountains falling, or the nations going into an uproar and kingdoms falling. How on earth is anyone supposed to be still when the world is literally falling apart around them?

I haven’t personally lived through a significant natural disaster, but despite feeling distanced from physical realities, I have had lots of times in my life that felt like the ground had shifted under my feet and all my stability was gone. My dad’s death and my divorce come to mind immediately! But, even challenges on a much smaller scale can knock the wind out of me and leave me feeling shaken. Looking back, I’m curious, how often I personally have missed the blessing of God being my comfort and my strength because I forget in the midst of the chaos who God is.

Before the Psalmist tells us to “Be still and know that God is God” – he tells and reminds us about who God is:

God is our refuge (v. 1)

He is our strength (v. 1)

He is an ever present help in trouble (v. 1)

He is with us (v. 7 & 11)

He is the God of Jacob, and our fortress (v. 7 & 11)

He is exalted among the earth and the nations (v. 10)

My wandering and distractable heart sure needs reminding!

Are you Struggling to find stillness? Struggling to find real rest in God? Take a moment to remember who God is. He really is our refuge, our strength and our help. We can be still BECAUSE of who God is.

Let’s take a minute to remind ourselves and encourage one another about exactly who God is. Do you have a favourite verses that describes God’s character? One of my favourites is Psalm 68 – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Share your favourites in the comments or over in our Facebook group. Let’s be people who remember and people who encourage!

Smart and Simple Solution #4

I’ve just gotten back from a weekend long retreat with the women from my church. And, while I realize a full weekend break is a luxury that I can’t often afford, retreating is a smart and simple solution that I want to become more intentional about using to help navigate the reality and chaos of my busyness.

I don’t naturally stop well. In my house, my car and my office, I have trouble turning off my to-do list brain and focusing. I need to step out of my reality more often – literally and physically – I need to step out of my routine, my house, my work and my chaos

I’m trying a new solution, and I’m walking away.

Walking out my door, even just into my yard, my brain switches and I have a much greater probability of focusing my heart and mind.

Taking the whole weekend to retreat was amazing. The extended time away to focus and rest has been deeply rejuvenating. Going to a full weekend retreat isn’t a smart and simple solution that I can take into my “normal” life very easily though, but I’m going to aim to work a mini-retreat into my next few Sabbath times and see if physically stepping out of my house helps solve my focus problem. I’m going to try to include a mini-retreat like one of these:

·         Walking mini-retreat – I am going to walk for at least 20 minutes and look for prayer triggers in my community. I’m going to start by thanking God for my home as I exit and be intentional to engage my brain for prayer as I pass neighbours houses, the local school and park etc.

·         Coffee Date with Jesus – I am going to take my journal and Bible to a local coffee shop, buy a fancy coffee (which I rarely buy), and settle in to read and journal and enjoy the change in space and pace.

·         Find a friend – I realized this weekend just how important the relaxed fellowship aspect is to my relationships. I am going to connect with a friend outside of my house and ask good questions and be intentional and active in listening and praying.

I’d invite you to join me in stepping outside your normal space as a smart and simple solution to help you focus, either as part of a weekly Sabbath practice or as a daily habit. Join us over in our facebook group to chat about other ideas for stepping outside your normal and focusing better on Jesus.

Motherhood is Seasonal

When I asked my son to be sure to include a mother-son dance on his wedding agenda, he was skeptical. When I told him that I would need to explain it before we danced, he just complied and made it happen. Smart man.

See, when my boy was a baby, God gave me incredible clarity about one thing (and it felt like one thing only!) Motherhood is Seasonal – and seasons will change often and fast and sometimes with out notice.

Our family is in a huge season of transition. I’ve gone from a single mom with four kids at home, to only two kids at home seemingly overnight. But it wasn’t overnight! It was a long road. And I’m so glad that God has been putting rest, Sabbath and self-care higher and higher on my agenda. I think that’s what’s making this season change manageable.

I’m posting a link to the video of my mother-son dance explanation in hopes it blesses you. It’s just a video one of my daughters shot on a cell phone – quality isn’t stellar, but you can see and hear and get the message.

If I was a better organized blogger, I’d include an affiliate link for Kleenex. I’m told people need it!

(Oh, and the tie at the end is not explained, but is a tribute to my father who died when my son was 9…)

Click here for the video:

https://youtu.be/QmczYbD1id0

I pray you are able to embrace and enjoy today’s season! Whether it’s a hard season, or a great season, or a miserable one… it’s a season, and seasons change!

Supermom Does NOT Live Here

I had a paper due at midnight, and I handed it in with almost two hours to spare. That’s pretty much the story of my semester. I am 10 months away from becoming a teacher and it’s crunch time – loads of assignments, presentations, and starting to visit the classroom where I will gain my actual teaching experience. It’s exciting. And, it’s busy.

Plus, my son got married last week. My daughter came home for the wedding from out of province. My other two kids continue to go to school, come home, and expect to eat and have a relatively functional parent and normal life. Oh, and I was in a car accident AND spoke at a women’s retreat too.

Reality check – I am not super mom! There’s a stack of dishes on the counter, a pile of laundry knee deep in my bathroom, and Sabbath (in the full sense of the word) is not happening right now.

I told one of my professors that I blog about pace and rest and seeking sabbath in a chaotic life. She literally laughed. She suggested that I shouldn’t expect to be resting until July.

I don’t know how to tell her that I’m not planning on giving up on Sabbath. Logically, she’s right. But, spiritually, she is very, very wrong.

Someone prayed for me last week. I told them all the pieces I was juggling. They said that God had given them a picture as they prayed. They saw me eating a giant pie, one piece at a time. And, she said that when the pie was finished, I said that it was good. How amazing is that. It’s really a fabulous picture and a wonderful strategy.

All I can do is manage one piece of the pie at a time – slowly and intentionally. If I try to rush through the whole pie, I’ll make myself sick. But, if I stay slow and steady, I can enjoy each piece. I can finish. And, I can say that it was good.

So, my past few weeks have been unsuccessful when it comes to full Sabbath rest – but they have had moments of peace, quiet and rest. It’s been a matter of taking life one bite at a time, resting in between, and knowing that it’s good.

Super mom doesn’t live here, and that’s OK. I’ll get through what’s important and do what I can each day. And, I’ll be OK with the reality of the season. I won’t give up seeking Sabbath, but I’m not going to beat myself up over my Sabbath-fails along the way.

It’s always a good time to stop and seek God, and I will.

I will rest. I will stop. I will breathe deeply. And, I will manage just one piece of pie at a time.

Stop is a verb

I had mistaken the definition of stop. It’s clearly a verb. It’s an action word.

Stopping is not passive. It doesn’t just happen. So why do I expect it to?

In my world, stopping only happens with intention, planning and prioritizing.

The school year has hit our family in full force now. My kids are in big and busy years, but different this year is that I’m in school too. I’m in an intensive, full-time professional program. You should see the reading lists for my classes. Oh my word! So. Much. Reading.

It would take almost no effort at all to justify stopping any attempt to seek, find or practical Sabbath this school year. Everyone would understand. But, God has put it so strongly on my heart, that I can’t let it go.

Instead, I’m doing the opposite and have explained to my children that we are trying something different this year. We are calling a stop to all school work for Sundays. I want, no… I need one day a week where I’m not doing it, not thinking about it, and not nagging my children about it.

Let’s be honest, this isn’t going to be easy and we may not manage it perfectly. We are going to have to be diligent, intentional and focussed the balance of the week… and organized (which I am not). But, having the boundary in place is our best chance of actually keeping a day of rest.

Do you have boundaries around your Sabbath practice? Are there things you have to be intentional to stop or to start? I’d love to know how this works in your life. Join in the conversation. Comment below, or jump over to our Facebook group, where we can chat.

Smart and Simple Solution #3

Today, I made myself a Sabbath Basket. I’m calling these simple solutions for a reason… this might be something everyone BUT me already had figured out! It’s super simple, but I expect it to be a significant solution to my rather scattered approach!

I am a random (scattered) thinker – and as a result, I don’t have a lot of routines, structure, or systems that stay the same for very long. My house gets pretty scattered, my bookshelf is very scattered, and things often end up in very strange places. Let me be real and honest for a moment and confess that I lost the same cup of coffee four times today.

So as I was looking for solutions that might help me do better at keeping my Sabbath focussed, I decided to start by just gathering things up for easy access.

My basket is filled with things to pull out both for my Sabbath times, and for my daily devotion time. And, I also picked a spot in my house to keep it – our house is small and I haven’t had a designated quiet space for myself (I didn’t even have a bedroom of my own until July!). Today I picked a corner to try and use consistently so I have a space with everything I need ready to go.

I put a Bible and a notebook in there, and a pen for taking notes. (My Bible looks a little worse for wear… but, this isn’t about being pretty!)

I put a very simple short devotion book in, and also two of the next books that I’m hoping to finish reading.

And I put in a colouring book, and a few art supplies. I am not super artistic, but I feel like space for creativity is important for me when trying to get my brain into a place of stillness. Colouring seems to engage just enough of my brain that I can really settle.

It’s important to note, all of these items were in my house. I didn’t have to go buy anything, I just had to think intentionally and gather things up.

I’m curious, do you have a basket or zone in your house that you designate for quiet times? What helps you focus? I’d love to have you comment below, or come join the conversation in our Seeking Sabbath Facebook group.

Keep my Sabbath days holy…

Ezekiel 20:20 says “Keep my Sabbath days holy, for they are a sign to remind you that I am the Lord your God.”

I wish I was the kind of person who didn’t always need so much reminding! But honestly, I easily lose focus, get sidetracked, and am prone to wander off course.

As I am striving to find a consistent Sabbath practice in my life, I know I am at risk of creating the conditions of Sabbath, but losing the purpose. And, resting is part of the gift, but it isn’t the purpose unto itself.

Keep my Sabbath days holy…. this week, I want to head into my Sabbath time in prayer – dedicating my time to God, setting it aside as His.

For they are a sign to remind you… I am so thankful for a God who knows I need reminding! Another reason Sabbath is such an amazing gift.

That I am the Lord your God. I can rest because God is God. If I was in charge, there could be no rest! If everything in life really fell on my shoulders, there could be no rest. But, the Lord is my God. His promises are so good. He’s my provider, my defender and my father. Who He is, that is what allows me to rest.

I want to make sure I keep my focus without creating a whole new set of “rules” for myself. Anyone have favourite ways to keep their Sabbath holy and focussed on Christ? Add comments here, or head over to our Seeking Sabbath Facebook group to join in the conversation.

Smart and Simple Solution #2

I knew I was heading into a crazy weekend. A crazy, no window for rest kind of weekend. But, I got a little strategic in finding ways to simplify and managed to still make Sabbath a reality.

I decided this weekend needed to be as kitchen-hassle-free as possible. My smart and simple solution? Crock pot pulled pork for the win.

I have literally the easiest recipe EVER ever and knew I could easily make one crock pot cover multiple meals.

My pulled pork recipe involves covering a pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce and turning it on. That’s it. Prep time, maybe 90 seconds. 120 if the sauce pours slowly!

Which BBQ sauce? Really doesn’t matter, I go with whatever is on sale.

I put the pork in on Saturday morning. We did pulled pork sandwiches with salad on Saturday night.

I put the inside of the crock pot in the fridge over night, plugged it back in on the lowest setting on Sunday and we had pulled pork and rice Sunday night.

We ate well all weekend, and I really didn’t even cook.

Oh, and since my kid’s schedules didn’t all fit together, I also had take away containers packed and ready. So easy!

This smart and simple solution made my weekend so much calmer and helped create space for rest. I’d love to hear if you try this recipe, or if you have a go-to easy meal for busy weekends. Be sure to leave a comment with your ideas. We’re in this together!

Back to School, Busyness and Sabbath?

I work on call during the summer. My work can be quite predictable and fairly easy to gauge, and so I was pretty confident that I had this whole week off work to get organized, do housework and focus on back to school stuff. BUT, things didn’t go the way I planned.

I got called out to work for the whole balance of the summer. Financially, this is AWESOME. But, in every other way, it really isn’t! I will not have a week day off to get anything significant accomplished, or fit in some rest before we go back to school.

This year, my youngest child is entering her last year of elementary school. My third born is entering his last year of high school. And, I made the big decision to take a year long educational leave and go back to university myself. So there are some serious milestones attached to our back to school. Oh, and did I mention, child #1 is getting married in less than 6 weeks. And, child number 2 got engaged just this week! YAY!

When I talk about my life, and I talk about busyness, I feel a bit like Paul boasting about all the things in his resume in 2 Corinthians! Let me show you just how gifted at being busy I am…

Honestly, this is my reality. And each season seems to bring its own busyness. I don’t think its going to get naturally less busy any time soon. But, at least I can hold Paul’s perspective that my confident has to come from something other than what keeps me busy.

I had a lot of things I had hoped to get accomplished during my days at home this week – and that didn’t happen. If we are going to be honest, I’m further behind than when the week began. I’m heading into this weekend, and my windows for rest are small. I’m already questioning whether I’ve set myself up for a Sabbath fail!

But here’s what I know to be true:

1)      I need to choose to rest even in the middle of chaos

2)      There will ALWAYS be something that looks like it needs to get done “first”

3)      I don’t have to be legalistic, with a whole bunch of self-imposed rules to judge my Sabbath

4)      Sabbath rest is God’s gift to me. Appreciating it, and spending time honouring him is my gift back. And no stack of dishes, pile of laundry or shopping trip is worth missing it.

So, as I head into this weekend, already aware that I’ll be practicing Sabbath is a pretty imperfect way, I invite you to also find your time to stop. Rest. Breathe deeply. Don’t miss the gift in the midst of the mess or endless to-do list.

If you are serious about seeking Sabbath for yourself, or curious as to what that even might look like, head over to our Facebook group – where we can connect and chat and encourage each other. 

Smart and Simple Solution #1

To create space for Sabbath, I’m finding that I need to be intentional and intelligent in how I approach my “normal” six days – so when my window for rest comes, I’m not such a scattered or disorganized mess that I miss it!

My goal is to test and blog about one “Smart and Simple Solution” each week that makes my day-to-day life easier to manage – and makes seeking Sabbath just a little easier too.  

My #1 new favourite thing and the #1 Solution I’m sharing with you is… drum roll please… online grocery shopping.

This is seriously the best thing.

My closest grocery store has a Click & Collect service, where I can make my online grocery list, confirm a time slot, and hit click. I used to grocery shop on my way home from work – and typically finished tired, hungry and a little miserable… And, then I’d still have to get home and cook! URG!

Now, it’s like I have an assistant who will run to the store for me. And, while I can’t really afford a personal assistant, I can afford the $3 fee that the store charges for this luxury. (It’s $5 for a prime time or weekend time slot).

I am saving myself a whole lot of hassle. It’s giving me back well over an hour a week. My planning is better. I literally “stick to my list” in the store and don’t end up with impulse purchases. I love this service! It’s definitely a Smart and Simple Solution worth sharing!

If you want to try this, and you live near a Great Canadian Superstore, message me and I will send you a link for a code for $10 off your first order. If not, google and see which grocery stores in your area offer this service and try it.

Leave a comment and let me know how this solution works out for you, or share a Smart and Simple Solution of your own. We’re all seeking together and I’d love to hear what’s working for you!