Sometimes you just need a break

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Good evening, lovely blog readers. First off, let me just thank you all for continuing to read my ridiculous compilation of random thoughts. I’m so blessed to have so many people who like to read my writing, and I’m thankful to be able to share my point of view with so many different people.

You may have noticed in the last few days there haven’t been as many posts as normal. Before anyone started worrying, I wanted to just let everyone know that I missed a few days due to some unplanned things that happened. And I just haven’t been able to get that momentum back (hey, I’m being honest here).

So I’ve decided for the next few weeks to take a bit of a hiatus. I’ll do my best to get some blog posts out, but taking a break is sometimes good for us. And, frankly, I could really use the next few weeks to work solely on New Name: The Destiny Trilogy Part Three. I’ve got 75,000 words left to write on it, and I really want it done before the end of the month. I managed to crank out 11,000 words today, so if I can get to similar daily word counts in the next week or so, I can definitely make it. But that means I need to devote all my brain power to getting that done.

I’m hoping you all will forgive the absence. There’s tons of stuff to read on here, and I just put in a search feature. So search for your favorite Bible verse or topic, and I bet I have a blog post about it. And I’ll be back regularly in a few weeks, and I’ll probably be in a much less stressed frame of mind.

Blessings to you all. Thanks again for all your love and support and encouragement. 

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Never overlook a small blessing

I am easily distracted by shiny things. Or by cute things. It’s like my attention is full and focused, and I’m running at 110% capacity. And I’m stressed out because things aren’t going my way. Or I’m worrying myself into a nervous breakdown because I have too much to do. And without intervention, I send myself tumbling down that dark, isolated tunnel of anxiety.

But if someone comes along and shows me a cute puppy (like what happened yesterday), all of a sudden, life gets better. Or at least, life seems to get better. Because, hey, I’ve got a cute little puppy to cuddle. How bad can life be?

I was kind of upset at myself later. I mean, what kind of goofball gets in a better mood just because of a puppy? It didn’t change my day. It didn’t change the amount of work I have to do or extend the deadlines on my late projects. Does that make me superficial? To change moods so rapidly for such a silly reason? Or is there more to it?

My coworker's adorable little Yorkie/Cocker Spaniel puppy

My coworker’s adorable little Yorkie/Cocker Spaniel puppy

Today’s verse is Zechariah 4:10.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.

Something God is teaching me more and more every day is that He is just as present in the small things as He is in the big things. Granted, I know that. But as I’ve said before, there’s a big difference between knowing God is there and living like it.

When I get stressed out and anxious about the stuff going on in my life, I’m not looking at God. He’s not my focus when I’m worrying. My focus is myself when I’m worrying.

I’m only thinking about what I can accomplish. I’m only thinking about what I can do in the time I have or with the resources I have available. I’m focusing solely on myself and what I can do in my own strength. And that’s the not the way I’m supposed to live.

I have access to the greatest wealth in the universe. I have an all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-knowing Father who wants me to ask Him for help. And I’m foolish to forget it so often.

I’m completely convinced that God sends small things to stop us in our tracks in those moments when we’re stressing out about something. On those days when the anxiety is overwhelming, have there ever been moments when something funny has happened? Or something cute has come into view? If you think about it, I bet there has been. Maybe it was something that just made you stop. Maybe it was something that took your eyes off yourself and your own issues for a fraction of a second.

In those times when you’re drowning in stress and sorrow, when you get the chance to think about something else for a little while, don’t push it away. Don’t assume it’s not worth your time. Don’t see it as a waste of time. Look at it like a gift.

I got to hold a cute little puppy for a few minutes on a frustrating Thursday afternoon, and once I gave her back (reluctantly), I was in a much better mood. Why? Because I’m a terrible person? Or because I’m not dedicated enough to my job?

No. For a few minutes, my job didn’t matter. My deadlines didn’t matter. My performance didn’t matter. And I just got to stand and hold a beautiful, sweet little creature that my God made. And it helped me put the rest of my day in perspective because I stopped making my day the center of my world.

Give yourself a break. That pile of paperwork will still be sitting on your desk when you come back. But what I’ve learned about being a workaholic is that the longer you work, the less effective you are. People weren’t created to work 24/7. Some of us try because we’re gluttons for punishment or because we have this weird idea in our silly brains that running ourselves into the ground will please God (that’s a lie, by the way).

Stop pushing so hard. When a little thing comes around that makes you happy, take a few minutes and enjoy it. Then go back to what you were doing, and you might find that your focus is vastly improved.

Don’t overlook the small things. Sometimes small things bring us the greatest joy in life.

And if you’re stressed out at work, let me just say that getting a puppy is the best thing you could do. Because, seriously, who could be stressed out when you look at that face?

The old house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Everybody needs a safe haven

I don’t like admitting that I need help. Admitting that I need help is showing weakness, and I never want people to think I’m weak. Similarly, I don’t like admitting when I need to rest. I’d rather live in denial and push forward until I collapse instead of being proactive and planning for the need to slow down every so often.

That’s probably my pride and my stubbornness showing through.

But realizing that you need to rest doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. No one has super powers. None of us can push forward through life without needing rest or at least a quiet place to recharge. If we try it, we’ll burn out. And once you burn out, lighting the fire again is ten times as difficult.

I’m just coming off one of the busiest weeks of my year, and as I lay awake in bed this morning, my brain was buzzing with everything else I have to do. April is so full, part of me is scared to even look at my calendar. And May is worse. It’s all great, wonderful things. Tremendous opportunities. Fun challenges. Exciting events. But it does take time and energy and emotion, and at the moment, not yet recovered from National Sales Meeting, I can’t imagine being ready for any of it.

The old house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The old house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude

A river brings joy to the city of our God,
    the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
    From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos,
    and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
    and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
    See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
    He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.

 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress.

I need to read this Psalm every day. I need to remember everything in this Psalm every moment of every day and maybe twice a day in the stressful times.

Needing a refuge isn’t weak. Everyone needs a refuge, a safe place to go when life gets too crazy.

I’d been away from home since very early Sunday morning, and I walked through my door last night where my roomie was waiting for me. She made dinner, and we watched The Desolation of Smaug and ate pasta. I could relax and not worry about tomorrow and just be.

I’m so fortunate to have a safe place I can go, but not everyone has that. So where do you go when you don’t have a comfortable couch with an awesome roomie?

Maybe it sounds clichéd to talk about resting in God, but that’s what we need to learn to do. That’s what I need to learn to do, especially in those moments when I’ve overworked myself and I don’t have time (or the ability) to run home and hide in my basement with a movie and a cup of tea.

Finding rest in God can be difficult because it requires a change of perspective, and when you’re exhausted anyway, expending the effort to change the way you see the world seems like too much trouble. But the truth is, my safe haven isn’t safe because of my movies and my hot tea and my comfy chair and my awesome roomie. My safe haven is a refuge because it helps me slow down and remember who God is.

That’s the key to resting. It’s not being lazy. It’s not being weak. It’s slowing down enough to regain the right perspective on God, and when you do that, you’ll get the right perspective on everything else.  Remember who God is. Recognize what He’s done for you. Realign your thinking to match His. And you’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel afterward.

So where is your safe place? Where can you go to slow down and remember who God is? If you don’t have a place like that, you really need to find one. Life won’t slow down, so you have to.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Rest doesn’t equal indolence

I believe in putting my whole heart and soul into everything I do. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well; that’s what I believe. Life is too short to do things half heartedly. So whether I’m working at my job or doing ministry of some kind, I am always doing it 110%.

But I’ll be the first to tell you that people weren’t designed to run at that kind of pace for an extended period of time with no rest. And that’s where I have been for the last six weeks. Maybe even longer than that. Probably since January.

I’m exhausted. And run down. And worn out. But even though I recognize that I need rest, there’s still some part of me that feels guilty for doing it.

The Pink House - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

The Pink House – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Mark 6:31.

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

It’s difficult to remember sometimes that Jesus rested too. And no one believed in ministry more than Jesus did.

Resting is necessary. It’s not being lazy.

That’s what I have to convince myself more often than anything else: that taking a break doesn’t make me lazy. It just makes me human.

In any case, it’s important to remember that you can’t make it through life with your nose to the grindstone constantly. I mean, you can try. But if you deny yourself the rest you need on a regular basis, you’ll lose your perspective.

If you bury yourself in your work, whether it’s job or ministry, pretty soon you’ll be so buried that you can’t dig yourself out. And by then, your work or your ministry will be all that matters to you anyway.

And, yes, it’s important to care about your job. And it’s important to care about your ministry. But not at the expense of your relationship with God.

Even Jesus recognized that He needed a break to reset His relationship with His Father. And He knew that His disciples needed a chance to breathe, where He could spend time with them and encourage them.

So that’s what I’m doing this weekend. I’m resting. I have my camera. I have three of my favorite people in the world in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I have my netbook with a novel I’m working on (which I may or may not work on).

But beyond all of those wonderful things, I’m being quiet. I’m slowing down. And I’m listening. Because I have been so busy for so long that I’ve not taken the time to listen to the things that God is trying to tell me. And I’m excited for what He has to say.

If you are like me and are so overwhelmed with life and work and ministry, do yourself a favor. Take a break. Step back. Do something else for a weekend, and listen to what God is telling you.

You might be surprised at what you hear.