Wellness Tips

Rest Moments

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m trying to get out of the house to run errands when my phone buzzes with a new message. I’m tempted to ignore it because I don’t recognize the number but my curiosity goads me and this is what I read, I’m on my way and will be stopping by your house -Jesus

Unbelievable, right? Never say never but it’s highly unlikely that Jesus is going to text me, or you. But you better believe he’s speaking to us—straight through to the center of our hearts and He's calling us into His rest.

What are we missing when we fail to stop and rest in the

presence of our precious Savior and Friend?

Back in Jesus’ day, he would drop in or stop by and we find in Luke 10:38-42 that he does just that when he came to the town where Martha lived. Imagine with me this scene that you know so well. Jesus knocks on Martha’s door. As he’s invited in, Jesus finds a place to sit or recline and within moments Mary positions herself at Jesus’ feet. Mary’s so close, gazing at his face while listening with rapt attention. What is it that’s captured Mary’s focus? Is Jesus teaching, laughing, sharing a story of healing, or reminiscing?

Imagine this scene from Martha’s point of view. She sees Mary has intentionally chosen to be at His feet, oblivious to the preparations needed for their guests. Martha’s frustrated, jealous or both and she tells Jesus that Mary is ignoring the greater priority. Do you wonder if there was an awkward silence after her remark? Did Jesus let the words hang in the air? Jesus responds to Martha assuring her that He sees what she is doing, He sees what Mary is doing, and Mary’s not to do what Martha’s doing. Jesus simplifies Martha’s priority list with gentle instruction that she should have chosen as Mary did—resting in the Lord’s presence. Mary recognized the greater priority. She ceased activity, moved as close to the Lord as she was able, and was at rest with Him.

What could be more restorative than resting in the Lord’s presence who Himself is at rest?

 

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Stop    Cease    Be Still    Rest

Today, our culture underestimates the essential benefits of being at rest which is defined as freedom from activity or labor and a peace of mind and spirit.1 Here’s a few reasons why rest should move to the top of your to-do-list.

Rest is restorative, refreshing, healing, and renewing.

Rest is essential for your central nervous system allowing it power-down to return to balance. Physical rest assists in the recovery of hormonal, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems.2

Spiritual rest is found in God’s presence.

If you’ve forgotten, God is the first author of rest. He created with power and wisdom all things in six days and then declared a rest. God set the universe in motion but He ceased all activity. Jesus also intentionally ceased activity and withdrew to be alone in order to come into his Father’s presence. Our Father and His Son have set forth the example of rest while we often choose to do anything but that. There will always be something that needs your attention but you get to set the priority it has in your life.

 

Messy life

Jesus practiced what he commanded and the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John provide the examples.3 Why did Jesus choose to cease activity to draw near to God? Put yourself in his shoes and imagine the stressors Jesus experienced from sun up to sun down, day after day. When did He sleep? When did He eat? The people always present were seeking, demanding, following, and pursuing. There’s no doubt that Jesus experienced hunger and thirst as well as emotional and physical strain. Jesus felt the sadness that accompanies loss, exasperation with the disciples, anger with religious leaders, and an indescribable burden of anticipating his death. Because of the stress and demands, Jesus desired and needed to come into his Father’s presence to receive, replenish, and refresh. If the Son of God felt it necessary to draw near to his Father, how much more do we need to set ourselves apart and enter the Lord’s rest?

Jesus invites you to experience a rest like no other for this specific reason: The Lord promises His presence is the answer when your life causes you to be weary and burdened.  He will lead you to the spiritual rest your soul desperately needs.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

                                     –Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible

Jesus is giving an invitation so what do you think? Intrigued? Skeptical? Is there anything preventing you from accepting it? Letting yourself enter the Lord’s rest means you’re willing to immerse yourself into a profound sense of comfort, security, grace, and love. The Lord’s rest brings you near to Him and there is assurance, healing, and recovery from the onslaught of the world’s demands. There is so much to be gained by accepting His invitation to rest. There was something indescribable about Jesus’ presence that brought Mary to sit at His feet and you can experience it as well.

  REST -- Restoration, Equilibrium, Stillness, and Trust

Resting 2

So, what small steps do you need to take to establish a practice of withdrawing from the world? You might consider starting with small adjustments in your daily or weekly schedule. What time of day or night is best to set yourself apart to enter rest and nearness to the Lord? There are any number of ways to capture a rest minute or more with God. This week take a survey of how you prioritize the To Do’s in your life. Once you’ve identified all the things and people that need your attention, then you’ll want to do a review of your life hours. Capture what you do on at least two or three days including a Saturday or Sunday. You might be surprised at what you discover. You can even do this as a family but I would first start with yourself. In the example below I have created a generalized life hour review for a usual Monday.

Example of a Monday:   Get ready for work- 1 hr; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 45 min; Drive to work- 20 min; Work- 8.5 hr; Drive home- 25 min; Take Shyla to Therapy- 40 min; Exercise- 35 min; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 1 hr; Fix/eat Dinner- 45 min; Chores- 40 min; Get ready for bed- 45 min = 14.40 hours

The life hour review is meant to bring your awareness to where you invest your energy and time. What are you doing each day and how much time does it take? What have become the priorities in your day or week? Consider how has this changed over the last year, the last six months. If you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel or a roller-coaster, then this review may be very helpful  in identifying the issue. In my next post, I’ll give you how-to tips and suggest ways to insert Rest Moments throughout your day!

Thanks for reading!  I've made some changes to make it easier for you to email me at heartsencouragedministry.com directly from the post. Also, when you open your email and click the heartsencouraged.com link it will send you directly to the blog and you can see everything else that it has to offer. Your feedback and comments are precious to me as I want be your strongest encourager. I'm very interested in knowing any specific areas where you need encouragement. Fondly, Terri

References

1 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rest

2 Fernandez-Mendoza, J. & Vogntzas, A. N. (2013). Insomnia and it’s impact on physical and mental health. Current Psychiatry Rep, 15 (12) 1-14. Doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0418-8.

3 Matthew 11:28-30


What Happens in the Garden?

Hello and Welcome!

I can't wait to share this post because I love nature. I hope you'll discover something new as you read and use it to positively impact your life!

Do you know what happens to you when you sit, work, or play in your garden? Healing. Nature’s effect on your body is being recognized as an important component of the healing process. There is a response by your body to the exposure of fresh air, the sounds of nature, the colors and complexity of plants and trees, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the energy of the earth. How much exposure are you getting?

CyprusDeviation from nature is deviation from happiness –Samuel Johnson

There is a growing body of research that suggests the level of your exposure to nature, being connected to it, is directly related to your attitude, stress recovery, nervous system function, immune response, psychological wellness, and more. Studies have found that hospital patients can better envision the possibility of wellness when they have opportunities to visit a garden within the hospital and see the plants thriving, strong and alive. This powerful visual moves patients to believe that they, whether in part or in whole, are healing and can thrive in spite of the health issue they are experiencing. There is a new understanding that the longer we are separated from nature the more we are negatively impacted in nearly every dimension of health. You and I are connected to nature because we are an essential element of it. You and I are meant to experience nature as a healing gift by the One who created every intricate detail. It’s time to increase your exposure and experience the benefits!

Sacred Space 2Keep close to Nature’s heart. Break clear away, once in awhile, and

climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. 

Wash your spirit clean.  –John Muir

There is something significant about separating ourselves from the noise and the energy of the city, our household, and our work. Busyness encapsulates us. Stress entangles us. Pressures drive us. We allow ourselves to be enslaved to doing and forget to be. Nature doesn’t beckon us to come do—it invites us to be with it, in it, and part of it. I believe we forget that nature is a gift from God to us and for us. Nature is alive, it renews, it feeds us, it shelters us, and it teaches us. For these reasons and more, we begin the grasp the impact of nature on our health—physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

Consider the artist who creates a piece with the hope that it will reveal the artist’s soul and message. In the same way, God speaks to you and me through the magnificent elements of nature. And when you read the Bible you find example after example of God using nature to communicate a message to His people.

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. –Luke 5:16

When was the last time you withdrew from everything that demanded your attention? When was the last time you separated yourself from the busyness, the noise, and the stress? It's meaningful to me that Jesus chose often to withdraw to pray. Withdrawing had to have been necessary with so many needing him, pressuring him, insulting him, hunting him. There are times when you and I experience such things in varying degrees. Take a moment and think about who needs you, what pressures you, what or who stresses you, and what hurts you endure. It's these things that make it especially necessary to withdraw and be in the presence of Jesus who very much knows what you live through every day. It makes sense that placing yourself in a place of quiet, separated from everything that distracts, is how you will deeply connect with the Holy Spirit. Intentionally seeking a quietness of heart and mind in an environment such as a garden, meditative space, or a place of sacred space is an invitation from your soul to the Lord. When we seek to find God, we will find Him, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV). Where better to find God than in His creative playground—nature!

Garden BenchThe Meditative Garden

Have you ever considered creating a meditative garden? It can be a beautiful way to meet the needs of your soul, mind, and body and create a place of sacred space to meet with God. Your meditative garden is your space so it should reflect your personality and be creatively designed so it will draw you there. There are plenty of resources on the internet to guide you. The garden should impact at least one dominant sense whether its smell, vision, touch, taste, or hearing. By creating the garden around your dominant sense, it will be a place of calm and of peace. For those of us that don’t have the space, the time, the energy to an outdoor garden space, you can create a small indoor garden space in your home. Indoor houseplants, small table gardens, or fairy gardens are great examples of bringing the outdoor inside. By adding candles or essential oils, a meaningful piece of art, poems, scripture cards, photos, music of nature such as bird songs or soothing rhythms, a comfortable chair, or a table fountain you can create a special space to withdraw.

A meditative garden is one way to create a physical sacred space—a place to go, setting all other things aside in heart and mind to center your focus on the Lord. In my next post I will describe how we can create sacred space around us and within us. I hope this post encourages you to set aside time to place yourself in nature. If you have a meditative garden or have ideas for our readers on how to get one started, please share by posting a comment on this blog. You can email me directly at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for reading -- Terri

References:

Health, healing and recovery: Therapeutic landscapes and the everyday lives of breast cancer survivors. Social Science & Medicine (English, Wilson, Keller-Olaman, 2008)

How to Deeply Connect Your Body with Nature. www.spiritualityhealth.com/blog/bess-oconnor/how-deeply-connect-your-body-nature

Does Nature Make Us Happy? Connections with nature are linked to happiness and ecological sustainability. (Price-Mitchell, 2014). www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201403/does-nature-make-us-happy

Patient’s recovery experiences of indoor plants and views of nature in a rehabilitation center. Work. (Raanaas, Patil, Alve, 2016)

Nature is the Best Medicine. The Environmental Magazine: Green Living with the Earth in Mind. (Johnson, 2007)

 


A Child's Heart - It's In You

Hello and Welcome-

My heart earnestly thanks those of you who have subscribed to the blog. You are my encouragers! Quite a few of you have encouraged me right into creating this blog! When you post a comment, I'm encouraged. When you "Like" a post, I'm encouraged. Just like you, my goal is to honor God and share His message. In turn I hope to encourage you to stay strong in your faith. Now, let's get to the Soul Focus.

Soul Focus:  A Child’s Heart—It’s in You

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Wow! Christmas is here. Family, friends, programs, presents, food, and a lack of rest. How did it go? In all of that busyness I wonder if you stopped to play. You know, play, as a child would. Don’t tell me you’re too old, too grown-up, too inflexible, or too whatever else. It’s good for you to PLAY! Before you were anything else, you were a child. You still are in God’s eyes.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

One way to get in touch with your inner child is play. Think about your favorite activity as a child. What was your best toy? What did you do as a child that you loved but haven’t done for so many years? What fun activity did you do where time seemed to stand still? Here's an example from my childhood. I remember all the kids on my street playing tag in the late afternoon leading into sunset. We didn’t notice the waning light because we were just doing play and nothing else mattered. Not dinner, not the dim light, not the call of our parents. My plea to my mom was always" just 5 more minutes". 

If you're not yet swayed that play should move to the top of your To Do List, then how about I throw some science your way.

  • Play allows your brain to relax. Your mind needs to wander away from problem-solving tasks. By doing so, you increase your problem-solving potential when you go back at the task.
  • Play stimulates the five senses which is incredibly important for brain efficiency. It’s called neurobics. No kidding! Did you know that the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell) require continual and challenging stimulation? Our senses map to different areas of the brain and the sensory input helps us engage functions such as planning, problem solving and critical thinking.
  • The brain needs to be challenged in different ways. We get into habitual routines such as driving the same route to work, eating the same foods in the same eateries, using the same problem-solving technique over and over, and performing daily tasks in a similar routine. This makes for efficiency but it’s not that great for the brain.

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Clearly, I've established play is important for your brain. But, enough of the science. Here’s the practical reasons:

  • Play builds relationships. You are and always will be your child’s best first toy! Young or old you should be inviting your kids, family, and friends to play with you! Trips, activities, new experiences, games, art, sports, puzzles—play brings you together. It’s about the act of being together. Let go of the striving and competition.
  • Play reduces stress. Play stabilizes emotions. Researchers have found that coloring can reduce anxiety in adults and children.
  • Play is very good for our physical, emotional, and social health. And, it helps us spiritually as well.

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Play is probably one of most direct ways to getting in touch with your inner child. When I was a child I was amazed at the world, asked questions, and was in a continual state of wonder. My heart and mind were open. I received the world through a child’s heart. I met God with that heart.

One of the wonders of a relationship with God is how we can relate to Him. When I come before God as a child, I feel great comfort and security. I'm amazed how this shift in my thinking, in my approach toward Him, has changed the relationship. It has enriched my soul. But, this can happen only with an open heart. As for myself, I closed off my heart for specific reasons and that act has had consequences. It's taken a lot work to re-open my heart as it was when I was a child. With an open heart I'm more fully able to live as the woman God created me to be. How do I engage with the world through an open heart? For me, it starts with attending to the world with a child’s curiosity. I focus on the details of nature. I try to live with joy. I find ways to play. And, I make it a priority to connect with the child that lives within my heart. 

It's your turn. I would love to hear from you! Share your favorite childhood "play" memory. Share what you do today to keep the "play" in your life. Or, share how you relate to God as His child. You could inspire the rest of us to get our "play" on!!!  

Fondly, Terri

I Get To...

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There are plenty of things you get to do. With gratitude, take stock of everything that makes up your life.

What are three things you get to do today. Here's a few ideas: dream, play, create, and on and on. Be specific. Do one of your ideas today. Just for 5 minutes. Get lost in what you get to do!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome. Like this post or share it on Facebook. 

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In 2017, I'll be posting excerpts from my unpublished book, Now That's I've Found You, God: Being in an intentional and authentic relationship with God. Be looking for more information in the next post on January 6th.

Post References

http://www.nifplay.org/science/overview/

Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? Renee van der Vennet. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2012.680047

Brain games: using neurobics to keep sharp. M. Galea. Alive: Canada’s Natural Health & Wellness Magazine July 2007 (297): 76-77

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesn’t-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too

http://www.huffingtonpost/com/stevanne-auerbach-phd/playing-adults_b_2338894.html