Advent, Christmas, Jesus, holidays, rest, busy, busyness, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Long to Return: Resting Our Hearts and Minds During the Holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness?



It’s December, y’all!

Are you relishing in the cooler weather, holiday traditions, and pretty lights? Maybe you’re more like me with a rush of adrenaline accompanying this month and the feeling that no matter how you try to prepare for the busyness you still always feel caught off guard by it.

Either way, it’s here along with the hustle and bustle, Christmas cookies and school plays, family visits and visiting family. This time of year is supposed to be one of peace and joy. Yet so often it’s easy to be short-tempered and on edge with places to go and deadlines to meet that leave us always going to the next thing.

We want to slow down and enjoy this season and remember our Savior, but the to-do list is daunting. It appears nothing can be cut from it. Let’s face it. December is just plain busy and exhausting!

December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #busyness

Return

You guys, I get it. December sneaks up on me every year. I know it’s coming, but somehow, I’m never ready. My husband works for a shipping company which means, of course, this is their busiest time of year. He’s always working, and we always miss him. Our daily schedule is at the mercy of his daily changing work schedule. The lack of consistency and family time wears on us all. Each year I think I’ll be better prepared, though each year I find myself blindsided, unable to breathe in the midst of the busy.

How do we balance keeping the obligations and traditions that are necessary and important while still finding rest in the middle of the business?

Speaking to Our Soul

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
When I was brought low, He saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 116:5-7, ESV

When I need to breathe again, I often go to this passage. Here, the psalmist speaks to himself. “Return, O my soul, to your rest.” As the psalmist did, I must also speak to my own soul. I must reach into my hurried heart and speak the reminder “return to your rest.”

Where does this rest come from? What provides rest to weary, busy souls?  The rest comes in remembering the Lord’s work.

Rest For the Restless Days

Before speaking to his own soul, the psalmist spoke to God’s work in his life. God is gracious and righteous. He is merciful and preserves the simple. When the psalmist sunk into the depths, God saved him. He reminds his soul of this. Yes, soul, “the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” That is where his soul finds rest…in the bountiful work of his God, his Savior.

Following the example in this passage, I speak to my own soul. “Soul, rest in His work. God has dealt bountifully with you. He is faithful. The Lord keeps His promises always. He saved you and called you Daughter. Return, O my worn and weary soul, to your rest. He will refresh you.”

This time of year, we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. When we see the images of our Savior in the manger, that God-man in infant form, let us speak to our souls. Let us remind our busy minds and distracted hearts of the ways this child King has dealt bountifully with us.

As we sing Christmas carols of infinitely precious truths, let them be reminders to our souls of His gracious care of us.

While we are out and about going from one place to another to attend to our family’s holiday schedules, let us keep with the example of the psalmist and breathe, speaking truth to our souls and find rest in the restless days of December.

Dear one, return, you precious soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #busyness

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
peacemaking, peace, salvation, light, busyness, stress, conflict, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Peacemaking: Spreading the Peace God has Given Us

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us.



I’ve always thought of peacemaking as kind of my thing. I like everyone to be happy, and I want things to go smoothly. My mom and I often say we prefer a boring life because we equate a boring, smooth life with peace. We often quip that it is much better than the alternative. It’s better to keep the peace, keep things steady in our lives.

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #stress #busyness #peace #peacemaking #conflict

Looking More Closely

If, however, you look up synonyms for the word boring, some results include dull, humdrum, stale, and lifeless. Lifeless. Synonyms for “full of life” include bold, courageous, resolute, and passionate. The latter sounds more appealing. I would like people to describe me as courageous and resolute, but dull and humdrum are easier to maintain. True, I would like to never experience joblessness again, lose another person I love, or fight with a friend. At the same time, I know how tremendously I grew through my unemployment, how the lives of those I’ve lost have impacted my life and character, and how rewarding it is to fight for a friendship that is important to me.

Still, it’s easier to shoot for boring. Stay silent. Keep the other person content while you bury your hurt or resentment. Just let the status quo remain.

Peacekeeping is an Illusion

This is the very picture of peacekeeping. You keep everything the same, even if growth needs to happen. You keep everyone happy at the expense of your own emotional well-being. Kept things, however, aren’t very useful. If you keep the new television you bought in its box, how will you watch it? If you keep a dog in a kennel, how will you enjoy playing with it?

As humans, peace seems like this ultimate ideal objective that is unfeasible. We joke about the stereotype that beauty pageant contestants answer questions about what our society needs most with “world peace.” The mom memes suggest that we can find some peace either locked behind a bathroom door or at the bottom of a glass of wine.

Peacemaking According to God

What if we examine what God says about peace and peacemaking? I think it’s safe to say we know that God doesn’t expect us to make peace on earth by isolating ourselves or finding a little relaxing “me-time.”

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, NLT

The world would have peace to be an idyllic beach vacation alone or with your husband, where there are no limits. Just take the famous slogan, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and apply it to your vacation locale of choice. There is nothing wrong with getting away from your everyday life once in a while, but you have to know that you will return to it at some point, and all the constraints, stressors, and responsibilities will be waiting for you. If that’s the case, if the peace is so temporary and passive, then it’s likely in opposition to the more kinetic idea of peacemaking.

His Gift to Us

In reality, we do not have to search for peace. Jesus told us in scripture that He has already given it to us, and it is actively ours whether our day is moving forward at a leisurely amble or at the full-speed pace of a hill sprint.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27, ESV

We are to find peace in Him amidst our circumstances, not find peace in the circumstances He gives us because it is already with us.

Daniel found peace in the lion’s den because the Father was with him. Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego found peace in the fiery furnace because God was with them. Stephen radiated peace as he was seized, and had the peace to ask God to not hold his very own brutal death against his perpetrators because God was beside him the entire time.

In each of these examples, the men in question could have easily kept the peace by quietly loving God, but outwardly following the desires and commands of others. They, however, chose peacemaking over their own comfort. At risk of their own peril, they knew that the gift of peace can only be provided by the one true God. It was more important to make peace in a volatile world than keep the illusion of peace to themselves. They knew peacekeeping would keep people from experiencing the infinite gift that faith in the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit gives us.

Authenticity of Peacemaking

Ultimately, to experience the peace that Jesus left us with, we have to stop searching for a peace defined by lack of conflict, busyness, and stress. These are all conditions of living among other people in a demanding world. Do not avoid conflict if you are also avoiding shining God’s light or spreading His Gospel. Embrace the peace He gives you. Make peace by drawing others closer to Him — show His light in your life through peacemaking.

Let us strive to be that light on a hill that shines outward and downward, driving the darkness away, making peace in a dissident and tumultuous world.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’

Isaiah 52:7, ESV
Embrace the peace He gives you. Make peace by drawing others closer to Him — show His light in your life through peacemaking. Click To Tweet

Jesus calls us to peacemaking, which we should not confuse with peacekeeping. Our actions should spread the peace that God has given us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #stress #busyness #peace #peacemaking #conflict

unsplash-logoLinus Nylund
busy, chaos, focus, busyness, peace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Scatterbrained: Focusing on God Amidst the Chaos

Where is God when we’re busy? Where is God when we cannot focus? Is He our focus? Well, personally I’ve lost focus in every sense of the term, but just received the sweetest reminder. I hope all who read this and need to hear it can learn to rest in it.  



Scatterbrained

Oh. My. Goodness. I seem to be all over the place. I have zero focus because there’s SO MUCH GOING ON AND I HAVE HORRIBLE TIME MANAGEMENT. So, scatterbrained.

Also, my priorities are playing hopscotch. I’d rather take a nap or eat than study for my finals or get in God’s Word. Y’all, I am so overwhelmed. Right now, I need to learn how to pull God into the midst of my lack of focus. I need to discover what it’s like to be busy, but still make time for the One which all things should be done for and through. 

It seems the norm is to be extremely busy. In our scatterbrained state, we can often miss God in the midst of the chaos but He is there. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #chaos #busy #busyness #peace

So Busy, Oh My Goodness

We all have busy seasons. This is by far my busiest. I’m finding myself being overwhelmed and scatterbrained instead of resting. During this season all I can focus on is what has to be done. I just applied for my very first job. This school year will be over soon, making me a senior in high school. I have GOT to get a license. And, eventually, I’m going to need to figure out what I’m doing with the rest of my life.

There are several other things making it hard to stop and take a breath. It has forced me to ask why God isn’t a part of this season. Have I pushed Him to the side because I’m simply “too busy”?

This morning, I met with a close brother of mine. He has helped me more than he knows the last couple of years of my life. He brought something so insightful to my attention. Here’s a little story time involving me, myself, and my day…

Storytime 

So, yesterday I had school. I went to photography and finished a project. Then I went to my geosystems class to work on another project. As my third class of the day came around, I started to feel bad.

Over the next half hour, the feeling in my stomach escalated until I was feeling so bad it hurt to function. I asked to go to the clinic and asked my mom if she’d be able to pick me up. I wasn’t sure what was up, but I was on the verge of throwing up and there was NO way I was going back to class.

Long story short, I ended up having one of the worst panic attacks I’ve had in months. Honestly, I was quite frustrated. I just celebrated a year since I was hospitalized and a year of no self-harm, but I’m still having unexplainable panic attacks?

Well, that’s no doubt God’s reminder that there’s going to be more than just a singular valley in our lives. But what my good friend Edward pointed out, in that debilitating state, God was giving my mind rest from the chaos I’ve been experiencing. 

God Makes The Right Choice

Like myself, Edward struggles with some physiological ailments that prohibit him from doing things. However, as we talked this morning, he was explaining to me how if we were at a crossroads between spending time with God or getting something done, we’d be faced with a question as to which route to take.

These debilitating moments are God taking that choice away and forcing us to run to Him. It’s so amazing to see the ways God reveals Himself, even in moments like severe panic attacks. It never fails to baffle me how God truly can take anything and make it good. We accuse God of being behind the good, but absent in the bad and that is simply not true. God is making good from that bad. I love being able to experience God like that. It’s amazing that we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to know Him and not just know of Him.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.’

Jeremiah 29:11-13, NLT

Rest In Peace; His Peace

I apologize for my thoughts being all over the place. My main point is to look for God in everything because He is there. I was so scatterbrained, but God stopped me and revealed Himself. That is so amazing!

If you find yourself in a busy season, I implore you to rest in God’s hands. But don’t just say that to say it; believe it! God has you and nothing can change that, no matter how busy you are. 

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, NLT
If you find yourself in a busy season, rest in God's hands. But don't just say that to say it; believe it! God has you and nothing can change that, no matter how busy you are. Click To Tweet

It seems the norm is to be extremely busy. In our scatterbrained state, we can often miss God in the midst of the chaos but He is there. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #chaos #busy #busyness #peace

unsplash-logoTim Mossholder
busyness, Christmas, Jesus, pressure, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Pressure: Overcoming the Lies and Expectations of the Holidays

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus, our Savior, and resting in His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. 



I can already feel the lies of the season…

Do all the things. Be all the things. Give all the things.

»Pressure«

Why in the world does this happen during the Christmas season? I know it’s all been said before, it’s all been penned, it’s all been discussed…

Busyness vs. Peace • Mantle vs. Manger • Presents vs. Presence.

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus our Savior and resting is His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Expecting Gifts

Christmas isn’t about the things… We all say this, but we fall prey to the trap every year. We allow it. It creeps in with every Christmas song, movie, and commercial. With every dollar-spot stop at Target. Every ‘SALE! SALE! SALE!’

GIVE all the things…

I’m seriously contemplating -deep breath in- little to no gifts this year. GASP! As everyone screams, ‘Look away! Look away!’ The horror. The nerve.

The freedom…

Imagine, for just a moment, if the pressure of buying the perfect gift, or anything at all, was lifted from our shoulders. Imagine if Christmas was about the conversations, the number of hearts beating in the same room, about being around, not the presents.

What if the gift of the season was about experiencing each other, hearing each other, breaking bread together, grieving together, laughing together, living life together…

Giving what we have…giving ourselves. Our Creator provided us unique gifts to pour out on those we love. Baking, making, hospitably serving, singing, reading, smiling. Giving love, listening ears, open doors… Giving Jesus. Jesus – the most perfect gift.

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

1 Peter 4:10, TLB

Christmas Busy

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones…Yet we still fill our time with events, parties, and programs that take us away from intimate moments with the ones we love. ‘Tis the season to be busy. Christmas parades, Christmas programs, Christmas events…

Christmas is stamped at the beginning of these words, adding a new level of pressure to attend. We run ourselves ragged making sure to show our faces, our kids’ faces, our spouses’ faces at it all.

Please understand I’m not trying to close everyone off from societal traditions. I’m simply trying to spark inspiration in finding rest, seeking the warmth of hospitality, and taking pleasure in the calm.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, NLT (ephasis added)

Yes, this verse refers to a time when governments practiced seasons of peace. However, through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus offers peace to us all, at any moment. He offers us calm in our spirits, though there’s strife all around. He provides quietness through the hustle and bustle. Falling into Jesus brings rest, comfort, and a stillness that is unmatched in this world.

Overcoming Pressure

Christmas is about Jesus… But we fill the season with so much that Jesus isn’t. From the moment of conception to the moment of ascension, every bit of Christ’s life is what we cherish at Christmas, and all the other 364 days. Well, it should be.

For what Jesus accomplished in our place, we should be filled with overwhelming joy. He came to earth as the Son of God, died on the cross for all our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and gave us hope for eternal life with our Father. From that joy should spring forth immense generosity… supernatural generosity.

Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others.

2 Corinthians 8:2, TLB

The load is lifted from my chest, and I take a huge sigh of relief. It’s beautiful. Warm. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. Rejoicing in His gift, being in His presence, and resting in His hope is what the days ahead are all about… it’s what life is about.

From the moment of conception to the moment of ascension, every bit of Christ's life is what we cherish at Christmas. We should be filled with such joy for what Jesus accomplished in our place that immense generosity flows from us. Click To Tweet

Sister, I pray we can join together in overcoming these lies of the holidays. That we can shift the ‘normal’ expectations and rest in Jesus. 

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus our Savior and resting is His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Mourad Saadi

still, quiet, listen, Oh Lord Help Us, women, Christian, ministry

Quiet: Intentionally Finding Space to Hear God’s Voice

Life is busy and noisy. It takes being intentional with our priorities to be still and quiet, finding space to hear God’s voice, and follow His guidance.



As you know, I’m a planner. I like to have everything laid out just so on my schedule and roll down my check lists like an advancing army. If I have anything left undone I have a hard time moving on or stopping.

For years now I have been “on go” until I am so exhausted that I can’t take another step. Then I am so lazy and lethargic that I can’t move for a week. By then the next thing is coming around and the whole cycle starts all over again.

But I am learning the art of rest.

When I am in a frantic season of life and everything is on “GO”, my time becomes so limited. I neglect myself, my husband, and unfortunately God.

I have been seeing this more clearly lately and know that I have some priority shifting to do. God is my father. He is the creator that gives me breath and life. Clearly he should come first.

Life is busy and noisy. It takes being intentional with our priorities to be still and quiet, finding space to hear God's voice, and follow His guidance.

Priorities: Finding Space

In reflecting on this I can see that God is asking me to re-evaluate my priorities and give Him the ability to work in my life. It is in the quiet peaceful moments of life that I can experience God most. Therefore, I need to create these times (or leave time for these moments) more often. I try to start my day off with God and end my day with Him as well. Often I get distracted and start thinking about other things or worse – fall asleep. I totally get the disciples falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him.

Mark 14:40, GNT

I recently was reading a new bible study called “Whisper: How to Hear the Voices of God” by Mark Batterson. He asks a question that stopped me in my tracks “Are we human doings or human beings?” I think I am often a human doing and then a human exhausted.

I am often a human doing and then a human exhausted...It is time to be a human being. Click To Tweet

As a teacher in a year round school I work for nine weeks then take three weeks off. My son has after school activities three days a week after school. On those days we often don’t get home till seven o’clock. I try to cook dinner at least 4 days a week. Our daughter plays college soccer and we go to all of her home games. That means we are on the road about two days a week from August through November. We are so busy that our house does not get cleaned like it should, our clothes can sometimes get piled up before I do laundry and the dishes occasionally spend the night in the sink.

I’m not trying to impress you with craziness, but show you I am just an ordinary wife, mother and teacher trying to “fit it all in”. What I am beginning to see as well is that I am a daughter of God and I need to give him a proper space in my life. It is time to be a human being.

Life is busy and noisy. It takes being intentional with our priorities to be still and quiet, finding space to hear God's voice, and follow His guidance.

Guidance: Hearing God’s Voice

The Lord says, “I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise you. Don’t be stupid like a horse or a mule, which must be controlled with a bit and bridle to make it submit.” (Psalms 32: 8-9, GNT) This struck me in the same way as the question. Maybe I have been stupid for quite a while now. I have so much noise from the world: do this, go here, be this, achieve that, see this, hear that, think about this… I need to realize it is within my power to control this. It is time to be more thoughtful about the time and place I speak with my father daily. I can ask him for guidance and discernment in choosing my priorities.

So I’m making this pronouncement now to all of you in the hopes that I will be more faithful about my prayer time/quiet time. I will put God first in my day. Instead of trying to pray while I am getting ready in the morning, I will start my day with my bible and my prayer journal. I will find a quiet space in my house or as the weather warms up, out on my back deck. As I’m writing down my prayers I will focus on Your will.

Dear Father,

Thank you for answering my prayers faithfully. I know that you have been telling my for a while to stop and listen more carefully. Help me stay faithful to my promise to focus on You and less on the world.

Love,

me


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Life is busy and noisy. It takes being intentional with our priorities to be still and quiet, finding space to hear God's voice, and follow His guidance.

Daria Nepriakhina