Category Archive: Slowing Down

The Value of Rest

Tension knotted my neck as I drove out of town. It had been a couple of busy weeks (when haven’t they been lately!) and Don and I had planned a brief getaway. I had a low-grade headache and Don felt anxious. We needed this break after a year of lockdowns.

As we drove, the muscle ache in my neck began to diminish. My headache eased. Don felt more relaxed. We drove to Napa, a lovely small town in Northern California’s wine country, wandered about and ate lunch beside the river. Then we left Napa for Sonoma on beautiful, windy country roads banded by a variety of vineyards, green trees, shrubs and grasses.

We slept about eleven hours that night. No alarm, no schedule, just rest. What a treat! We rested, walked, ate well, and were renewed together.

Wandering around Sonoma the next day we found candles, some kitchen utensils, and cute, adjustable masks. Hey, if we have to wear them for another few months they might as well be cute–and fit! These have adjustable ear straps so fit my face better than many. And they’re sparkly!

That evening we dined with our good friend, Sue and her new husband, Steve. Lovely to spend time together, enjoying a wonderful visit and opportunity to learn to know Steve.

Sometimes we just need to get away. To rest. It’s not always possible to take an overnight trip; but think of places you can go for a day. Perhaps you can walk around a nearby park. Drive into some nearby countryside. Meet with a friend, now that pandemic restrictions are slowing being lifted. Work in the garden. Lie on the couch and listen to glorious music that lifts your soul.

I heard last night that 81% of working people feel more stressed than before the pandemic. Instead of work from home giving people more time, it’s tied them into working longer hours and more days–without a break. We weren’t made to keep going and going and going. I’m not, nor are you, the Eveready Bunny!

God designed and told us to take a Sabbath, a day of REST. And if we do anything continually, without a break, we burn out. There’s a reason to change our routines–to refresh our minds, hearts and souls to follow the unique and individual purpose God has given to each of us. That’s whether we’re working full-time, writing a novel as I’m doing, or raising children. God’s wisdom is clear on this.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich …

Proverbs 23:4

I confess I’m not good at this–not for riches, but for the standard I set myself. I can get caught up in front of my computer for hours at a time, then am tired when I stop to be with my beloved husband in the evening. That’s not wise stewardship of my time or talent.

Let’s remember who we are working for. When I get bogged down in a scene I’m writing, or procrastinate because there’s so much else on my plate, I need to remember that my work is for the Lord, and he will direct my use of time and resources if I allow him to do so.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23, 24

So I’m going to work at this. At taking more breaks during the day where I get up and move, or sitting outside with Don enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. At taking down time regularly so my spirit can be renewed and my worship and creativity increased.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

Psalm 23:1-3a

Question: What do you do to keep balance in the various ‘slices’ of your life–work, family, home, worship, caregiving, whatever else God has entrusted to you?

Me, right now? I’m heading for a nap with Don and Paigey!

A Different Kind of Week

I felt a bit dizzy during the night Monday. When I wakened Tuesday I was quite nauseous. I stayed in bed until about 11, then Don prepared me a very light breakfast of fresh fruit.

Back to bed to sleep – for hours! It’s years since I’ve done that. At 4 o’clock I wakened, feeling like I was going to upchuck. I got up as slowly as I could and headed toward the restroom. I hit two walls on my way and barely made it before losing everything I’d eaten (or so I thought).

I called my doctor’s office at 4:50 to ask for advice. A nurse called back shortly. “You’re too late for office hours and urgent care won’t see you if you’ve thrown up today. You need to go to the ER and get checked out.”

I knew throwing up was one possible symptom of COVID-19, but I had no others.

“You don’t sound good, and I think it’s important you be seen tonight.”

“Do you really think that’s necessary?” I asked.

“OK. I’ll go.”

I dressed and told Don what the office had said. On the way I said “I really don’t want to throw up in your car, love.”

Don pulled into the ER driveway. I opened the door, and wallah – you guessed it! A kind man pushed me inside in a wheelchair while Don went home to wait (no visitors allowed).

Over the next five hours I was poked for blood tests (great job, hardly felt it), given an EKG, gave a urine sample, and was put into a bed and given two warmed blankets to cover me (later, a third was added). The nurses and aides were gracious.

At one point I overheard the woman next to me say “Thank you for being so kind to me,” and I prayed God’s blessing on her. I heard several “Code Blues” and felt it a privilege to pray for those individuals and the medical personnel caring for them. Of course I prayed for Don, at home waiting for news. I’ve recently been anxious over fires and riots and yet, in the ER I was truly at peace the whole time and so grateful for God’s presence with me.

From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive. Kind words are like honey–-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Proverbs 16:23-24 

I told one of my nurses I was praying for them, and he thanked me. “I really appreciate that,” he said. “I think this is the first year that people are really thanking us–oh, here and there people have, but as a whole.”

We were very thankful with the report that all my vitals looked good, no COVID, just vertigo. I left late that night with medication and exercises to help.

I’ve been very thankful for our medical personnel before, particularly when Mom needed care over the past year plus. But somehow when it’s you in that bed and waiting for results it really sinks in how much these men and women are on the front lines – doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, aides, registrars, cleaning staff.

Thank you, each of you, for treating me with kindness and respect, and ensuring you did all possible to check whether or not I had an infection or virus. God be with you, each and every one!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Toilet Paper

In an interview with YAHOO MONEY, Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist and professor emerita at Golden Gate University said “The antidote to anxiety really is control, and what people can control right now is buying things.”

We feel we’ve lost control, and so we turn to those things we can control … and toilet paper appears to be the ‘poster child’ for panic buying. And yet, no matter how hard we try, there are things over which we have no control.

  • The car that runs a red light and hits and kills the cautious driver.
  • The school and children’s care center closures which require parents to find alternative ways to care for their children.
  • Illness, like the coronavirus, which can be hosted in someone’s system for five days before the person knows he is sick.

But can we also find benefits in this time? I can think of three.

Slowing Down:

In last week’s sermon, Rene Schlaepfer told us that in 1870 people slept an average of 11 hours a night. Today the average is less than seven hours. People work on average four weeks more in 2020 than they did in 1979.

We can re-focus during this time on those things that are most important. Don and I cancelled all non-essential appointments this week (that was all of them) and are enjoying a slower pace, more time at home and with each other. We’re listening to messages online, enjoying some quality TV shows (like the “Man from Snowy River” series on Hallmark Movies Now). We’re emailing and phoning and texting and writing notes, finding different ways of communicating with those we love.

Solitude:

We’ve experienced Church and our small group meeting online, which may continue for awhile. In this time of social distancing, Don and I enjoyed seeing the faces of some with whom we regularly worship on a video feed service. Although we miss being face to face, we are thankful for the blessing of technology that allows us some visibility to each other. Many in countries hostile to the Christian faith, or lacking the access to technology which we enjoy, cannot experience this benefit.

Jesus went out alone to pray. We can walk in nature and talk to God and each other.

Silence:

Our over-55 community is usually quiet. However, it’s more still than usual. Few cars are on the streets. People are walking and talking to each other, but from a distance. The quiet is lovely, renewing, especially if I sit, relaxed and quiet, focusing on God and allowing Him to renew my spirit.

As Rene said, “stop checking for coronavirus updates all the time … that makes you more vulnerable to getting the virus … don’t go for updates on the virus but check for upgrades on your intake.” What is my intake? Where is my focus?

The apostle Paul was imprisoned under a death sentence and Christians were being persecuted by Nero when Paul wrote these words to remind us to be intentional about how we direct our thoughts.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 NIV

Instead of our ‘control’ being in how many rolls of toilet paper we can buy, let’s focus on the good things of God–our intake–and trust Him to hold the key to our days. Bless you, wash your hands, be well.