Rest For Your Soul

Rest For Your Soul

Sometimes I am so worn out that I just want to run away.  Run away from everything and everyone.  Find a little hole and climb into it with a big fluffy blanket and eat my face off…and hide.  I want to run away with my tail between my legs barking and whimpering at everyone as I look back…like a scared little puppy.  But I can’t.  And sometimes that just sucks… but it’s real life and sometimes rest seems so out of reach that we dream of far away places with warm breezes and sandy toes.

 

As women we have such a hard time “resting”.  Our daily lives are so full of “doing stuff” and the list never comes to an end!  Study the word, pray, go to church, worship, read books, stay up on what is happening in the world, work, deadlines, relationships, serve others, planning and preparing meals, laundry, kids, pets, wash the car, grocery shopping, clean the house, exercise, and just when thought you could relax you look down and realize that you desperately need your nails done!!!   AHHH!  Rest does not come easy ladies.

 

Did you know that when men are in their deepest state of sleep only 30% of their brain is shown as active?  Guess what ladies we are a bit different.  In our deepest state of sleep 90% of our brain is active!!!!  Gee’s, no wonder we have a hard time “resting”.  Even in our deepest state of physical rest, our brains are still aware, turning, WORKING!  Finding rest as women takes dedication, intentionality and self-discipline.

 

In order to know how to do it, we have to know what it really is.

Webster’s Dictionary defines it as freedom from labor or activity; peace of mind or spirit.  It sounds so easy to obtain, but due to the unique nature in which each of us was created “rest” looks different to each of us.  So in trying to define rest in our own lives there is no better place I can think of to dive into the meaning than the Bible.  In Genesis 2:1-3 God shows us what true rest is.

 

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

 

This simply explains that true rest is stopping what you “do”.  And God shows us the way to accomplish rest is by taking a full day out of the week to stop “doing”…it’s called a Sabbath.  Can you imagine?  One full day that you actually stop doing.  One full day that you stop and smell the flowers that you worked so hard to plant and grow!  One full day to enjoy the fruit of all your labor.  One full day of rest a week!

 

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Psalms 55:6, “And I say, Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”  You see, I am horrible at setting aside one full day!  And I find myself in desperate moments where I plead with the Lord to just let me fly away somewhere for a bit so I can be at rest.  Even when I stick to a Sabbath there seems to always be something thrown in the day… laundry, cooking, cleaning, STUFF!  And when I plan a full day to not “do” my stuff I still find myself striving to make it a great day, I “WORK” at it.  And then there are the constant moments of trying to turn my ever-running brain off of all the STUFF that will be waiting for me on the other side of the day.  When I am not intentional about enjoying the rest of a Sabbath each and every week I find myself drained, irritable, tired, mean and unhappy.  And of coarse I tend to blame all of these things on everything and everyone else!  The truth is, it is my fault.  If I followed God’s given design to rest once a week…. If I stopped “doing” and just took a day to laugh, enjoy what’s around me, have fun and REST I would be fueled to run the next 6 days with bold vigor!

 

Ladies, we have to pull away from it all.  We have to rest.  It will mean that we are the best version of ourselves the other 6 days of the week.  Give yourself permission to take A FULL DAY OFF!  Don’t feel guilty about it, no one in the world wants you “doing” so much that you drain yourself of all joy.  Your family, friends, relationship with God and even your job will benefit so much more from you resting and refueling than they will from you working yourself into a hot mess by staying busy 7 days a week.

 

Here are some very practical ways to PLAN your Sabbath and get the rest that God shows us we need.

  1. Set your Sabbath day. Mine is Saturday because I don’t work and I’m not bustling about to get my kids out the door to school.  If you can, pick a day that you have no “have to do” list.  No work, no church, no school, no nothing.
  2. Stick to your Sabbath day. Whatever day you pick, carve it out and protect it.  Don’t let anything invade the day!  Most of the time this will work, but you may have the occasional work related event, a wedding, etc… when that happens try to find another half day that week to not be busy.
  3. Be accountable. Find someone close to you that will hold you to your commitment to REST.  I have to have this!!!!  My husband is so good at reminding me on a Saturday morning when I break out my to do list to just simply put it away and save it for another day!
  4. Stay flexible. Rest will look very different for you depending on the season your in.  One day it might be hanging out at the beach, the next week it might be putting together a puzzle and staying in pj’s all day…. stay flexible based on what you need in the moment.  And don’t feel guilty for doing it.  If you’re a mom and/or a wife, you will try to keep everyone else happy by doing what you think they need or want that day….STOP IT.  What they really need or want is for you to be fueled and filled up so you can pour into their worlds the other 6 days.

 

Ladies, there is no one keeping you from rest other than yourself.  Lay down the expectations to be super woman 7 days a week and instead take one day to be free to rest.  Everyone, including yourself, will be thankful you did.

 

By Carrie Williams

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Stubborn Feet

Stubborn Feet

The rough journey to discovering how to work best within your personality.

 

I am, by nature, stubborn.

Stubborn- justifiably unyielding

 

This is my favorite definition of the word.  We live in a time when our ever-changing culture tries to cram all kinds of things down our throats.  From how we should parade our lives around on social media to how we should live every facet of our day…. The constant influence is trying to mold our minds how to think.  But I am stubborn.

 

I find myself wrestling with the status quo on so many levels.  I have never really “fit” into any box or the typical tags that are pinned on most people.  I often see things so differently than what I perceive the world around me seems to be seeing.  And guess what, so do you.

 

You are uniquely created…every bit of who you are was planned.  What makes you laugh, what moves you to tears….all of it was specifically designed?  Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”  Not one bit of who you are was a mistake or just by chance “happened”.  The way you see the world is your very own perspective, breathed upon you when you were created and continuously molded by the life you have walked.

 

I have a hard time with this fact sometimes.  You see my stubbornness is not always a good thing.  There are parts of my personality tucked inside me that can really hurt the people around me.  My stubbornness can steamroll right over people and leave wounds that I don’t even know I caused.  I am stubborn and more often than not it is justified and unyielding, just as the definition states.  In my justification of action, word or behavior I have to be extremely intentional to put people first.  This is not easy for a task driven, type A person.   And so, I lean back into my creator and have conversations with him about why in the world he decided to create me this way…..and how in the world do I walk it out in a way that highly values others while still being justifiably unyielding for the things God has caused my heart and life to leap for.

 

You too have facets of who you are that rub against the grain of every day life.  Those parts that sometimes lay dormant because it’s just easier for you to ignore them… but what if rather than putting part of who God made you to be on the shelf collecting dust, instead you learn how to master those areas in a way that brings God glory and allows you to be fully who he made you to be?

 

While the world says conform to the patterns of culture,

God says transform the culture by following Jesus

and being fully who he created you to be.

 

What parts of “you” do you wrestle with?  Struggle with?  Don’t like?  Are you loud?  Shy?  Bossy?  Cautious?  A people pleaser?  Flighty?  A thinker?  The list goes on and on….  We all have areas that one moment can be our biggest strength and then the next moment our biggest weakness.  God wants us to walk in the freedom of being ourselves, simply being who he created us to be.

 

I have not mastered this at all…but I have plenty of experience trying to figure it all out.  Below are some of the most helpful steps I have taken in my life on the road to self-discovery.

  1. Take a Personality Test (if you haven’t already). I have taken many tests and read lots of books about how I am wired.  It has been the single most helpful thing in realizing what makes me tic and how to interact with others!  A friend of mine, Dr. Charles Coker, has helped me walk through so many dimensions of who I am.  He has a free test on his website:

https://lifethrive.com/ (click on the “Free Assessment” link and take the Behavior and Value test).  This test will walk you through your wiring!  Be honest in your answers, the more honest you are the more you will learn about yourself.

  1. Learn more about how to better manage the areas the test lists to improve. Read books and articles on the areas.  Ask a few people closest to you to be honest about these areas of your personality and give you real feedback into your behaviors.  Just so you know, this one can hurt.  Hearing about your weaknesses is hard and painful, but it is also amazing motivation to improve how you walk out these parts of your make up.  Embrace it and don’t be defensive, listen and learn….
  2. Write out a plan of action to intentionally improve and grow in each area. For me, this was the hardest part…. Because it meant working at it constantly.  It meant growing pains.  It meant failing.  And fyi, I still don’t always get it right!  My default button is always just a click away and it is so easy to go there instead of having self-control!
  3. Now that you’re seeing yourself clearer, take the next step. Read “Next Generation Leader” by Andy Stanley and do all the steps it instructs you to do!  This is a fun one!!!!  Enjoy the process.
  4. Did you know that your passion defines your calling? So often I ask God the question “what am I supposed to do?”  While all along he has already instilled in me the answer.  The things that stir you are the things you’re supposed to spend your life on!   Write out what your passionate about.  Make a list and put everything that comes to mind that you love on that page!  Mine included simple things like camping, all the way to things like helping others discover their God given call on this earth.   Over the years my list has gotten clearer and more specific and I am fully walking out the call of God on my life…. And I love it.
  5. As you walk down the road of self-discovery be gracious with yourself. You are not perfect and God does not expect that of you.  You will screw up.  You will get it wrong from time to time….and in some seasons, it may feel like your getting it wrong all the time.  The point is not to be perfect and walk on egg shells, the point is to fully embrace who God made you to be and have the self-discipline to allow him to make each of those areas holy as he is holy.  And in the process of becoming more and more like him…. He will use you to draw others to himself.

 

Find the freedom to be “YOU”.  I am still on the journey myself… stubborn feet and all.  But I am one step ahead of where I once was every time I move toward Jesus.  And after all isn’t that the goal, to be close to him.

 

By Carrie Williams

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Influence

Influence

Matthew 5:13-16 tells us “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

We find more about who we are called to be in I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 

And one of my favorites, 2 Corinthians 5:20 that says “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Each of these scriptures shows us the potential influencer we can be.

Influence oozes into and out of every part of our lives, daily, minute by minute. I find so often I live most of my life in the mindset that I have nothing to offer those around me yet the truth is that I do. I can offer my influence.

Influence is that weird unseen power that every person has.

INFLUENCE – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone

Not one person on the face of the earth is exempt from being affected and affecting others through the power of influence, including you. Let’s do a fun little exercise. Think about the first few hours of your day today. Maybe you woke up, made your bed, drank coffee, showered, got dressed, spent time with Jesus, woke others up, prepared breakfast, walked a dog, scrolled Instagram….

What did you do this morning? Think through how you were influenced in making every one of those decisions. How did you pick your coffee, your creamer, even your mug? Did you read or hear about what coffee others say is good and so you tried it, which led you to buy it, brew it and enjoy it today? What about the products you used in the shower, your make-up, and your clothes? Even how you spend time with Jesus is influenced by what we have learned from others regarding “quiet times” and I am sure you were intentional in the tools you used based on someone influencing you to use those tools! We are SO influenced in everything we do!

Now, think about whom you influenced in the process of what you did this morning. Often women set the tone of environments. So what tone did you set in the places you were? Have you ever been with someone that was in a bad mood and it got all on you? Were you that person today? Or were you joyful, humming praise to God under your breath and smiling at every person you saw? And I bet you didn’t stop to think about the people who would look at your outfit today and either decide if they don’t like it or if they will try to find jeans just like the ones you wore (don’t tell me you have never looked at another woman and thought, “I wonder where she got that?”). If you walked your dog this morning you made his day amazing! The list is never-ending to the unseen power of influence.

So what does the Bible say about us as followers of Christ and our influence? It says that we are salt, light, a royal priesthood and ambassadors of Christ! So who are we supposed to be that influence to? There are 3 spheres, or groups of people, that each one of us has in our lives with potential to influence significantly.

  1. Our Family. Blood relatives and those friends that are family by choice.
  2. Our Neighbor. Co-workers, neighbors, and those we see often at church, the gym, the kids sports game, etc…
  3. Our World. The people we run into around our city that we don’t have a relationship with, those that live in other places that we only hear about in the news, a great sermon or a book we are reading.

Think about how many points of contact you have with others throughout your average day. As you ponder the numerous faces your path crosses in a 24 hours period, read the following words…

The slightest breeze that ever blew
Some slender grass has wavered,
The smallest life I ever knew
Some other life has flavored.

We cannot live our lives alone
For other lives we touch
Are either strengthened by our own,
Or weakened just as much. –Author Unknown

When you think of yourself do you see yourself as salt, light, a royal priesthood and ambassadors of Christ like the scriptures you read above call you?

 Ask God in your own words to see yourself and your role in the earth the way he created it to be. You are an INFLUENCER. 

 

By Carrie Williams

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Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

When it comes to influencing others there is one group that seems so complicated and uncomfortable, our neighbors. These are the people that surround our lives but aren’t necessarily in them unless we invite them in. As busy people who have full plates, it takes a ton of intentionality to create the kind of space needed for us to genuinely engage in the lives of those we casually come in contact with. I think we would all agree that loving our neighbor might not be a priority on our lists.

A typical top 5-priority list might look something like this:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Job
  5. House

 

What does your list look like? Pause and think this one through… don’t state the obvious things that you know “should” be in your top 5, but rather who/what you spend the most time caring for in your life daily. Be honest with yourself.

Does “neighbor” make your list?

Why should loving our neighbor be a priority? Because it happens to be part of God’s greatest commandment to us.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

LOVE GOD and LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR… that’s hard to do if they don’t even make our priority list! Here is a question! Did “YOU” even make your list? If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and taking care of “us” isn’t a priority no wonder they didn’t make the list either!

Luke 10 gives us a very clear picture of who our neighbor is and how intentional we need to be when it comes to influencing them by loving them well.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

The parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that even those we don’t think of as our neighbor we are to treat as though they are. This means all those people we overlook because they don’t fit into our list or the mold we have created for what our “neighbor” means.

Daily we are given the chance to interact with people buzzing around us and to influence them with our lives. Loving them well means at all times, not just when it is convenient and easy. Pause for a moment and think through your normal day, how many people scurry by you without you engaging with them or even noticing them? You never know what those people are going through, what their lives look like behind the curtain you see, or how God could use you to influence them to know him. What if they are in a moment of their lives when they have cried out to God “if you’re real, show me”? …And then there you are.

How differently would you approach your day if you knew that God was bringing one person across your path that had been crying out to know him? Why would you not approach every single day like this? After all, you are the salt of the earth, the light on a hill, an ambassador of Jesus, a royal priesthood, filled with the Holy Spirit… and the earth is full of people who need to know Jesus, even if they don’t realize it yet.

Together let’s ask God in our own words to make us AWARE of the neighbors around us and to give us the Holy Spirit nudge we need daily to make him known to them.

 

By Carrie Ann Williams

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