Thrifty and Practical

Rhythm series: rest

Ever since I can remember I have been a planner. Sometimes to a fault. You know those kids in school who write everything down in their agenda? The adults who buy all the stationary goods?  Love or despise planning, natural skill or not, paper or phone, figuring out a way to set rhythms for our lives is essential to living an intentional and purposeful life. Annie Dillard said it best: “How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives.”

There are certain seasons when it feels like the things we spend our days on are not important. Seasons when everything feels mundane and unimportant. And then there are seasons when it feels like the train is barreling down the tracks so fast that it won’t stop and you can’t get off. Seasons when everything feels urgent and important.

In this rhythm series, I hope to pass along some keys I’ve learned that establish rhythms that work for your life. Before diving into the nitty gritty details of schedules and planning, this post’s focus is rest.

It really is senseless to work so hard from early morning till late at night, toiling to make a living for fear of not having enough. God can provide for His lovers, even while they sleep. (Psalm 127:2, The Passion Translation)

In our lives there will always be a time to work and a time to rest. If we don’t give ourselves permission to rest, the fear of lack and scarcity will rule our choices and decisions and our actions become frantic and aimless. It could be fear of lack in any area of life that prevents rest; scarcity in finance, relationships, time, opportunities, and a hundred and one other things that can keep you up at night.

Things in life produce and grow when given periods of rest. Bread dough bubbles up and rises with rest. Soil is most nutritious when given a break every few years. The muscles in our bodies heal and grow with recovery time. I’ve been guilty of striving and toiling and things get ugly quickly – small stresses and annoyances suddenly become a huge deal.

Rest is a space cushion, that safe distance between your car and the cars around you, in our lives keeping us safe and giving us room for movement. It’s the margin that allows for flexibility and overflow.

Here are some keys to establishing rhythms of rest:

  • Figure out what brings you rest
  • Find ways to gracefully say “no”
  • Disconnect: turn the phone on airplane mode or off
  • Do one thing restful everyday (even if it’s only 15 minutes)
  • Plan one extended restful activity once a week (could be half a day or a whole day depending on your season in life

Figuring out what brings you rest can be tricky. Resting is different than crashing; it’s intentional not mindless. Maybe it’s taking a walk, reading a book for pleasure, listening to music without doing anything else, going to an art gallery, running, journaling, browsing the aisles of your favorite store, road tripping, taking a bath.

Regardless of everything else going on in your life, set time aside each day and once a week that is sacred and immovable to rest. In the beginning of creation the need for rest was established – we are at our best in every other area of life when this is a rhythm in our lives.

If you want to dive deeper into this topic here are some good resources:

Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung

Deep Work by Cal Newport

In Praise of Slowness TED talk 

The Art of Stillness TED talk 



Fresh and Inspired

Called to rest not crash

When we rest, we’re able to take a snapshot of life as it is and see more clearly the forest from the trees.

After a week long holiday in the UK and then a week of settling back into the everyday rhythms of life, I’ve been thinking a lot about rest. For a long time I found myself crashing at the end of the day scrolling through my phone with the TV on in the background. I used to think this was a form of rest.

Traveling is an important and fun aspect of life. It’s healthy to remove oneself from work and everyday routines to rest and gain a fresh perspective. It’s equally important to include times of rest in the midst of our own schedules at home.

As our good shepherd, God gives us power and ability to lie down in green pastures, pause, be still, and rest. He also gives us everything we need in life to sustain us; he prepares a table of natural and spiritual sustenance and we don’t have to strive to survive. In fact, we get to enjoy God’s provision in the midst of and in spite of all the stresses and, sometimes, terrible situations happening around us.

The temptation in life is to wait to rest until a vacation or to replace rest with crashing on the couch in front of the TV. Neither of these are wrong; they just aren’t sustainable forms of rest in our lives. And I’m as guilty as anyone for doing both of these in place of rest!

Josh and I had numerous discussions about what our individual formula for rest is. We are all energized and refreshed by different activities. Figuring out what brings us rest and renews our souls takes some self reflection. What actions inspire you and provide you with time to reflect and fill you up with energy and fresh perspective? I’m talking about practical habits that restore our mind, will, and emotions.

My formula for rest is: reading novels + nature + time to organize

Josh’s formula for rest is: nature + art museums + creating for fun

Depending on personality, individual interests, and season in life, everyone has a different formula for rest. Maybe it’s gardening, painting, reading, walking, listening to uplifting music, cooking, the list could go on and on. The actions that produce peace and perspective are key to your formula for rest. Balance is so important. It’s easy to become extreme in one area, but we’re not called to be so reclusive we become isolated from others nor are we called to become so social we become isolated from ourselves.

While in Bristol, England, we climbed to the top of a tower and saw a 360 degree view of the city. It was amazing. When we rest and allow our souls to be restored, we see our lives from a new and better perspective. Rather than continually being caught up in the hustle and bustle of work and routines, we see the bigger picture and can give better meaning to the everyday busyness and mundane.

Everything we do in life should come from a place of rest. It should and must be an intentional part of our lives. It’s so important to figure out a formula for rest and replace some of that time crashing on the couch with intentional times of rest.

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He provides a resting place for me in His luxury-love. (Psalm 23:2)