As many have commented to me, it has been a long time since my last blog post. Trust me, I have had many topics half written and every intention to post over the past couple months, but the blur of November and December really caught me off guard.
In late October, we found a great “field trip” too good to not take advantage of for Samuel. After discussing the logistics of how this would work, as my husband and I decided that our little guy was too young for this particular trip, I booked a ten-day tour to China for the first week of December with Sam to see the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, Summer Palace and many other gems in the surrounding Beijing and Shanghai area. We paused from our Social Studies unit and spent November preparing for our trip as we studied Ancient China, the history, and took out many books from the library on Chinese culture. That sounds smooth and lovely, but in reality, the panic set in as I rushed to finish certain curriculum so we could enjoy an extended break in December, while trying to keep pace in all the other subjects or get ahead.
Once November hit, my life was a blur. Between applying for visas, planning, preparing, researching, planning and executing Caleb’s 5th birthday, making arrangements for my husband and youngest son during my absence, staying on top of ministry, still teaching, and mentally preparing for the Christmas “away” (we rented a house with my brother and his family, just a 4 hour drive from our city to spend Christmas this year) just 5 days after Sam and I would come back home, I barely kept my head above water. I literally found myself faking having to go poop, just so I could stay in the bathroom longer to read an email and reply, without the children needing something from me. I was constantly behind on laundry, only remembering to do it when my youngest son would be eating breakfast in his underwear because he was out of pants. My brain was so full, that it got to the brink of breakdown; amidst completing a task, I would have the most random thoughts like, “I wonder if I could contract pinkeye if the boys shot me in the eyeball with their Nerf gun? That would be terrible…I really should throw away the darts….and the guns….geez! Do I have pinkeye?? Oh! I need more hand soap!…and toilet paper…did I feed them lunch yet?”
By the time that we came back home, jet lagged with the 13 hour time difference, I unpacked and started packing my whole family for the Christmas week away all at the same time. In my dazed and blur of five days of chaos, I realized upon arriving at the vacation house we rented that I did not pack any underwear for my children or husband. I was disgusted for seven days. They were all in their glory for seven days.
It was a little odd to me, that while I had a great getaway with my family and my brother’s family, not having to host anyone or any events this Christmas, I still couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I felt that I had held my breath for so long that I couldn’t exhale. You know when an infant gets so upset and crying so hard, that their mouth is open and they have exhaled all the air in their lungs, but can’t seem to catch the next breath? My boys did that once or twice when they were infants. Well, we quickly blow in their face for them to get that shock and they take a deep breath and breathe again. I just couldn’t find that burst of air to help me gasp for another breath. Even though my body and mind were rested, and I enjoyed our week away, I still felt like I was holding my breath.
I’m sure I will be blogging about our “field trip” in a future post, as there were many nuggets of wisdom and revelation that I gleaned from that trip with my son. However, just as we have come home now, unpacked, put away all our Christmas decorations and tree, got settled again, I am finally able to review where we are at with home school, prepping for Monday’s first day back. While doing so, a verse was dropped in my spirit and I quickly stopped everything (quite literally…my classroom looks like a hurricane hit), and looked up the verse.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. I have heard, read, and memorized this verse many times throughout the years. This time reading it through, it really stuck in my spirit. I paused and sat quietly, as I entered into silent prayer and invited the Lord to speak to me. The thing that stood out to me this time when I read it was, “Come to me…”. In my quiet, the Lord said to me, “I will always invite you, but never force you. My Word comes with promise and My plans and thoughts for you are good. I desire a relationship with you, where you understand My compassion and great love for you, that invites you to come…and partake in all that I have prepared for you.”
In the incredibly busy and endless tasks for the past couple months, I realized that I had not made time to “come to [Jesus].” I am a fairly organized person, make checklists, to dos, and plug things into my calendar on my phone. I mentally check off people I need to visit, people I need to call up, family that needs attention, and prioritize the holiday invitations set before us. In all of it, yes I prayed, and I would read my Bible out of habit, but even in all of it, I became aware today that in my most weary state, I went into survival mode…depending on my lists to keep me on track and focused, digging deep into my wells of determination and responsibility to check those items off, and praying for the first week of January where I could finally regroup and get organized for the new year.
Today when I read that verse, I was surprised at myself. God’s invitation is so simple and yet so profound. He knows we are wearied and burdened. He knows in comparison to what He has to offer, there really isn’t much that we bring to the table. Yet, in His amazing grace and compassion, His deep desire to be in relationship with us, He offers us rest. He doesn’t force His way into our lives as an omnipotent God who demands of us. He invites us as a gentleman so that He can bless us and replenish us in our season of exhaustion. I often think that I am waiting for God to meet me in different areas of my life, but I am constantly reminded that God is actually waiting for us. He says, “Come…”. His invitation is always open, because He has already accomplished and finished every good and perfect work on that Cross. We just need to “Come…”
Even now, as I stare at the mess that is my classroom, with subject materials scattered all over the place as I start reviewing what’s next starting on Monday, looking at my open notebook of 17 “to do” items, I am at rest. Just stopping for a few moments, letting go of everything that still needs to get done, and stepping into the throne of Grace, just to be with Jesus, to accept His invitation to extend rest to us, felt more refreshing and invigorating to me than my three-day spa getaway that my husband and children gifted to me this Christmas. For my husband, who is reading this at this moment, that is not to say that that retreat wasn’t necessary! It was glorious. But when your body, mind AND soul are refreshed, you feel at complete rest and ready to take on the next thing.
I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, as I find it as successful as fad diets. However, I do love goal setting. Ironically enough, last year, the Word from the Lord for me and my family was to enter into rest. The Lord had spoken to us over the past couple years about rest and working from a place of rest, not toiling. We have learned about setting healthy boundaries around our time, our home, our family, our activities and relationships. It has been amazing.
I do believe that we have made great strides in the right direction. Yet, when Matthew 11:28 dropped in my spirit, it was such a wonderful and important reminder to me that we can only enter into that rest, and into that peace if we FIRST, come to Him. It was a great reminder that while holidays are wonderful, days off are a great way to spend quality family time together, or get things done, that gust of air that we need blown in our face when we are holding our breaths, so our lungs can work again, only comes from the Lord. Everything else can bring temporary relief, but that deep calm, strength, endurance, victory, and power comes when we accept Jesus’ invitation to draw from His deep wells of grace, mercy, compassion, love, and finished work.
As we are all getting back into the groove of routines, jobs, new calendar year, and the day in and outs of life, I hope you are encouraged and reminded to rest in the open arms of your Heavenly Father for a refreshing that propels you towards every good and perfect work…as He gently invites you to “Come…”
“So Do Not Fear, For I Am With You; Do Not Be Dismayed, For I Am Your God. I Will Strengthen You And Help You; I Will Uphold You With My Righteous Right Hand”
– Isaiah 41:10
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