Finding simple peace

It’s been my favourite street since we moved into this neighbourhood 2.5 years ago. The trees are mature, with just the right amount of cover and sway, but enough gap to let the morning light in. Since spring arrived, Elizabeth and I have been frequenting this neighbourhood on our post-breakfast morning walk. And I love it. If the sun is shining, you will find us there.

I oogle at some of the houses with front porches (a dream!). We watch the kids run to school just down the street as the teachers or kids in orange jackets direct them. The lilacs along the path beg for me to pick them with their breathtaking fragrance. And the robins sing their morning melody. It’s like peace floods my heart. If I’m intentional, I try and make it my grateful walk. A prayer walk. But a lot of times, it’s just a chance to breathe the beautiful air. I can have trouble focusing or praying in my morning quiet time (if I get it in before E wakes up!), but as soon as we hit the path walking it’s like the heart and mind kick in.

Yesterday I felt bad for our bichon shitzu, Pippa, as she needed a walk, so I brought her with us. It was like walking a squirrel, ya’ll! She near tripped me with her leash doing figure 8’s as we crossed the street. So I decided that THIS walk is my peace walk for Elizabeth and I alone, and Pippa will have to get her walk another time!

I know it seems simple and trite, but having this little thing that is free, full of God’s beauty, and right out my back door, is something I am so thankful for. Our winters are long, so I am soaking it up!

I think as a mamma you have to find little things, accessible things, that bring you peace and joy. Something you can sow into your day that fills your heart. For some it might be gardening with the kids, lounging in the sun at naptime, or talking on the phone with a friend – whatever it is – I encourage you to find that beautiful place that God has waiting for you. Just for you.

Here are a few pictures from our walk this morning…

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The most important reason we need rest

 

Busyness. It can be worn like a badge, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve readily and proudly admitted when my answer to “how have you been?” is “Busy!” It makes us feel productive. Like we are worthily accomplishing something.

Rest is not easily accomplished as a mother, so I am learning. 24/7 you are now caring for the needs of a little one(s), your hubby, and your home. Plus likely balancing volunteering, work, family and friendships. Rest is utterly important, at every stage of life, and I don’t think it’s impossible, or God wouldn’t urge us to do it. We just have to be creative. For me, right now, rest looks like my morning coffee with some time in the Word before Elizabeth wakes up (that length changes daily!). It looks like trying a new recipe and experimenting with food. It looks like reading something other than non-fiction – currently, the story of the little Swiss girl, Heidi, lent to me by a friend.

My husband, Troy, knows this about me – that I have an extremely hard time resting after Elizabeth goes down for bed until clutter is put away, and the kitchen is clean. I rest better without clutter and mess. So the word “rest” has been on my mind as I mull over what God wants me to focus on in this season.

Did you know the word “rest” occurs 308 times (ESV) in the Bible? For a frame of reference, “love” occurs 551 times. So clearly, rest is important. But as I looked up this word, rest, it seemed that sometimes it takes work to rest. Doesn’t that sound funny? But if you think about all the work you put into planning a holiday, it does take effort!

Hebrew 4:9-11 says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Other places where ‘rest’ is mentioned are when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Or in Exodus 33:14 where God says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” This is clearly a gift from His presence.

Psalm 16:8-9 also says, “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure (ESV).” Some versions say “shall rest in hope”. What is King David saying? Because he has set the Lord before him, he is able to find rest and dwell securely in knowing His Lord has things in hand.

What do I learn from looking up the word rest? Two things:

1) Rest is both a place of peace (noun) where we find relaxation and strength, but it is also a verb, where we intentionally choose to refrain from our own way, trust, and find confident hope in the Lord.

2) Rest comes directly from His presence, from putting the Lord before us, and it keeps us from living a disobedient (unbelieving) life.

So while rest sounds like a passive word, it is actually a very intentional word that we are to seek.

As a new mom, and someone who is learning to be a homemaker all in the same breath, the idea of rest can seem like something far off – like 18 years from now. But God urges us to find rest in Him, and this will keep His presence in our lives and keep us from walking in unbelief in our hearts. Whether this is while you cook with a toddler at your ankles (amen, I have tried to find rest in this new season in this very act!), or while finding a few moments in the bathroom before your little one finds you (amen and amen).

I know there are areas the Lord has wanted to heal me of unbelief, where I don’t fully trust Him, even after all of these years. And that can only be done by coming to Him with my labor, ceasing to do it on my own, and abiding confidently in Him.

As an exercise, I took these verses and paraphrased them into my own words. Perhaps this will help you grasp what is being said…

Psalm 16:8-9 – I continuously run to Him, in my mind and in my heart. I feel His presence throughout my day, and I know He is the one that will keep me anchored. So I can live joyfully and at peace in my whole being; even physically I feel a peace as I choose to confidently abide in Who He is and what He’s done.

Hebrews 4:9-11 – There is still a way of finding total rest when you walk with God, because when you are in relationship with Him, there is a new peace that comes because you cease from doing things your own way, on your own strength. God is our leader, our Father, and even He rested after creating all of this! But it takes intention. You must work hard at resting in Him, in what He has already accomplished, and find confidence in that. This will protect you from falling into deep unbelief.

Matthew 11:28 – Come spend time in my presence, and my presence will calm and quiet your heart, and give you the strength you need.

Why is rest so important? It keeps us in His presence. And that keeps us from unbelief in our hearts, keeps us resting securely in Him.

I can’t think of any more important reason than to find ways to abide and run to Him!

Monday Minute: He delights

 

Her little head lay on the pillow; cozy and just five-days-old, like an angel floating on a cloud. Our photographer graciously allowed us to hover and do what we needed to do as new parents. This was as foreign to us as it was to our little girl. How do we do this? Some parenting comes naturally, and the rest, I am learning, you figure out along the way. But the one thing that just comes without effort?

Love. It’s there in amounts beyond measure.

I’m generally an ‘exact’ person. I like to know what’s expected, what the recipe calls for so to speak. If it says “1 cup pressed flour” I know that I have to tamp it. But if it says “1 cup loose flour” say, that means scoop and throw it in.

But love, it can’t be measured – loose or tamped. It can’t be contained; doesn’t run out. It keeps growing, like a fig tree with roots that get deeper and deeper as the years pass.

That day? He could’ve popped a button he was so proud. Troy stood over the photographer as she tucked and propped our little girl into the perfect angelic position. I stood back, watching it all, capturing the moment. New Daddy or not, he was in love with his little girl.

As she grows, we both have commented on how much we are enamored and in love with our daughter. She doesn’t have to do anything special, she’s just ours and that’s enough. We look at pictures and videos of her after she has gone to bed. We delight in her because she is our daughter, before she does anything special or loves us back. In a heartbeat, we will do whatever it takes for her to grow and become all that God has destined for her.

Delight would be an appropriate word. We delight in her. And as the days and months pass, it makes me think how Father God feels about me. Yet it’s beyond the scope of what we feel for Elizabeth, a love that we can experience, but surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). And like friends told me, you can’t really grasp it until you have your own. I now understand the mama-bear, panic-gripped, tear-stinging, heart-jumping, joy-filled love that you only experience as a mommy or daddy.

We are there for her. Will there be days when we make decisions she doesn’t like? You betcha. Will there be discipline and ways we love her that don’t feel like love at the moment, but are for her good? Yep. Hard days, I’m sure. With love as the driving force, we will train her up in the way she should go (Proverbs 22:6). And cover her with our delight.

This picture of peace, of rest, as Daddy watches… let it be a reminder today of how much God is for you. How much He is there, loving, ready in a heartbeat to catch you if you fall. Ready to train you, delight in you; yes to challenge and cause you to grow. But, all in love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedtime letters and the One Who hung the moon

 

You’ve all gone to bed. All of you. Even you, Pippa. It was a night of breakfast for supper. Daddy bathing Baby. Baby peeing on Daddy. Mommy quickly shampooing carpet while it was okay to be noisy. Baby smiling her heart out for Daddy. And Mommy and Baby closing out the night with snuggles and a song.

And here I am, wanting to use the present quiet for something productive. Useful. Maybe write something New York Times worthy. Or dream of what to cook for my family tomorrow. Yet nothing comes. No great words. No three-step plan on how to accomplish the hidden things in my heart. Nothing beautiful. Nothing noteworthy or insta-happy. And it’s frustrating. I want to make the most of the moments I have on my own. Yet I am lost in the quiet of the night as the tick-tock of the clock overhead drifts the family into dreamland. All but me. I am not in dreamland. I am in the land of, “I want to use this quiet hour to myself to do something useful. Accomplished. Something I can be proud of.”

And then I remember that person I follow on Instagram who is about to be a mother after 10 years of waiting for their miracle. And how she is starting a journal of letters for her babe that he can have when he is 18. And I think, “Aw, I should do that.”

But in all honesty, baby girl, it is not because I want to dote on you with love letters, though I do. Oh how I do. I check my heart. In all honesty, I want to be the best. At everything. Even if it’s not my thing. Accomplish lots in a day so that I can lay my head on my pillow and feel proud. But darling, this mommy-ing thing takes all my time and thoughts. Meal planning. Meal trying. Laundry. Cleaning. Bathing. Dreaming of our next home. Shopping for us. Scheduling, oh the scheduling. I get lost in loving you. And there’s only the three of us! Baby girl, I love hearing your voice come alive. *wipe the tears* I love the way you kiss my face and gaze at me as though I hung the moon for you. Oh, don’t you worry, you’ll meet the One who hung the moon. I will do my best to show you Him.

So when the stillness comes and the day draws to a close, I almost don’t know what to do. Because I get lost in loving you. But the good kind of lost, sweetheart. The kind that takes you down a better road than you could pick for yourself. The kind that has sweet surprises and redemption written all over it. This kind of road is good. It’s called adventure.

This mommying thing is changing me. And I’m so thankful. But somedays, I need to remember, that the most productive thing I am to do is not to fill every waking moment (though that is sometimes necessary). But to let Jesus, the Moon-Hanger, love me, and love the gifts He has given me. You and Daddy are the best ones. xo

Love,

Mommy

Remain

 

Sit, remain, don’t rush off just yet.

Let me share with you.

Trust like a child. Get wet.

My hands are here to protect.

 

I am your Redeemer and Friend,

Remain, just wait a while.

In every situation, I will defend.

I delight.

 

For in remaining you will find,

All the things you strive for are found.

To cease and unwind,

Let me transform.

 

I am your Father, fiercely devoted to you.

Never leaving, always caring.

Stand, be still, in the moments that you need to.

I never give up.

 

{John 15:9 “…Remain in my love”}

 

Copyright Lani Lupul 2016