Writing Reflections

This past weekend, I went to my first writers conference. The conference was held in St. Paul, MN, which is about 4 hours from Fargo. I arrived on Friday afternoon for the Saturday conference, then spent another night before returning home Sunday afternoon.

In order to attend the conference, however, I needed help with Lydia. Childcare is perhaps my biggest challenge as a single mom. Often, I have to make up my mind to do something, and then figure out how I am going to make it work with Lydia.

This is true for conferences, parties, appointments, concerts, certain church meetings, etc. Many times, I just decide the event is not worth the hassle of figuring out child care. But, if I do choose to attend, I trust the Lord to help me make it work.

This weekend, my family came to the rescue! They trekked several hours to meet us in the Twin Cities. Then, they took Lydia to explore the Cities while I was at the all-day conference. Lydia was glad to have grandparents, aunts, and uncles all to herself!

I was grateful for their help…Lydia was grateful to go to Mall of America!

At the conference, I saw several agents, acquisition editors, and publishers. I heard them speak at workshops and at a panel luncheon. I have followed some of them over the years, so it was a really cool experience to see them in the hallway, like any other person!

While I’m not currently ready to publish anything specific, the conference itself was a good confirmation that I am on the right track with meeting my goals. Thank You, Jesus!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the conference was that I didn’t have to explain that I am a writer. You might be thinking, “Well duh, you were at a writers conference!” But it’s common for writers to deal with self-doubt.

In the past, seeing myself as a writer was a challenge. So, I prayerfully invested in a couple online programs and learned to see myself in a new way. Consistent blogging has been helpful, too. Just putting myself “out there” has boosted my confidence in writing.

I’ve come to see writing as a means to document my journey and reflections on life, what God is doing, and how I interact with others. Writing helps me learn more about myself and the world around me.

This past weekend, it was great to ask people what they are writing or answer questions about my own projects. Just having taking people take me at ‘face value’ was refreshing. Even if I didn’t have anything to “show” that day.

In the past, I might have gotten stuck or discouraged. But to my great relief, I was able to see just how much I’ve grown! Praise God!

Our Heavenly Father is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He knows how our stories end, because He sees the end from the beginning of time. In fact, our own stories are wrapped up in His larger story. So, we can trust Him as He leads us!

As we read His word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God shows us who He is…and who we are, too. We just have to read it and embrace what He says.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we understand about ourselves. It’s a great investment of our time, and by His grace, He calls us like He sees us!

We are saved. We are forgiven. We are free. We are chosen. We are loved. We are redeemed. We have new purpose. We are called. We are empowered. We are His.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy writing… Maybe God wants you to do something different…like stay home with your kids, go back to school, volunteer, change your diet, forgive someone, or introduce yourself to a neighbor. It can be scary to put yourself “out there.” I know.

But ultimately, we have to make a choice to trust. Jesus is faithful and more than able to get us where we need to be. We just have to take the first step.

With His unfailing love and support, how can we fail? Let’s see ourselves like He does and cooperate with Him. We can’t go wrong! And who knows, maybe soon, you will be doing something you never thought was possible!

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God, thank You for putting Your dreams within our hearts. Thanks for walking with us along the way, giving us guidance. Help us see ourselves as You do. Help us be brave! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a dream that seems impossible? How can you trust God and take the first step?

Tasks: Write down all the reasons your dream seems unachievable. Then, write a Bible verse next to each reason, such as Philippians 1:6 or Philippians 4:13. As you pray through each verse, redirect your focus on Jesus and trust Him to help you!

Finding Grace #71

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

 Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

When I reflect back on this week, I am so grateful. I am in awe of how the Lord meets my needs, but also helps me bless others. When I think of all that He has done for me, I am reminded of how small I am. Yet, He cares for each of us and orchestrates our lives as they intersect. Only God could take care of so many details and make good out of chaos!

I have been enjoying my new bike, and have even gotten in some longer rides. A friend stayed with Lydia one afternoon so I could go explore for an hour. It’s cool to see how much more “involved” I become when pedaling around my local area. I feel like I have more freedom and can get closer to things I otherwise wouldn’t even notice. Thanks, Lord!

I convinced a dear friend to buy a workout pass at a local fitness center so we could go together. I don’t belong to a gym, but it was a really good deal. To maximize our experience, we decided to try new classes we wouldn’t normally do. (We purchased ten sessions.) It helps going with a friend to try new things. This week, we tried a Barre class. It was a little sore the next day but had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to go again!

A few months ago, I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first writing conference. Well, that was what I did today! It was such a good day. Really, it was something I didn’t know I needed…but was so encouraged by all I heard and learned. It’s great to feel like I am on the right track! We worshipped the Lord, met other writers, and attended breakout sessions and panel discussions. I saw some ladies from my church and we might meet up again to encourage each other in our goals. God is so good!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #65

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

 Where did I find God’s love and favor–His abundant grace–this week?

This week was a lot of fun! We had the usual the usual work and daycare routine, of course, and I also had a deadline to meet. But all that went well, praise God. (By His grace, I not only met the deadline, but went above and beyond!) Thank You, Jesus!

Best of all, this week we squeezed in a lot of play time. We watched a few movies in the cool basement and enjoyed long afternoons outside in the sun with friends. I mowed yesterday, so have the whole weekend to relax. I am loving summer already!

It’s been hot this week, in the mid-eighties or so. But, we’ve been enjoying the heat anyway with popsicles and water games. Lydia could practically live outside!

Today, Lydia and I were invited to a nearby lake with our neighbors. We drove to Osage, MN, to Big Toad Lake and spent most of the day outside at their family home and restaurant. It was a great way to beat the heat. We were graciously fed and treated like family. The breeze on the lake was just right. We went wading and saw lots of wildlife, including a bald eagle, baby snapping turtle, fish, and a couple leeches! We even helped save a baby bird… I hope to go back again!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Road Trip Reflections

I love a good road trip! I always enjoy seeing new places and finding new routes to travel. This past week, Lydia and I went on our first over-the-road adventure of 2017.

We drove to Frisco, CO, for a family funeral/memorial service for my aunt who lived out there. I broke up the trip into several legs and built our nightly stops around other activities. Overall, it a was a great trip.

We had a few ‘speed bumps’ along the way, and everything didn’t go quite as planned. I always pray while making plans and God brought us through. All things considered, we still had fun. God is so good!

Originally, I planned to drive two days both ways. But at the wise suggestion of my neighbor, we started out one night early. I’m glad we did because it made the initial drive a little more manageable.

We left Wednesday night straight from Lydia’s school. We drove three hours or so to Sioux Falls, SD, to break up the first leg of the trip. We stayed in a hotel with a water park, much to Lydia’s delight. She fell in love with the water slide and wanted to ride it half a dozen times! Her smiles made the impromptu decision (and extra cost) worth it.

The next morning, we drove three more hours to Omaha, NE. (We briefly went through Iowa too!!) That day, we decided to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo. It had been on my list of things to do for a couple summers, and we finally had a reason to go.

I got my recommended 10,000 steps that day at the zoo; I was also impressed Lydia walked all the way (minus a three-minute piggy back ride). Thursday night, we also swam at the next hotel. The hotel was fairly blah, though the pool was nice. I should have known by the cheaper price. The old adage is often true: You get what you pay for.

On Friday, we drove around eight hours to Frisco, CO, into the mountains west of Denver. My sister and several others flew instead of drove. I happily beat them into town, thanks to a delayed flight. 🙂 I do like having more flexibility over my schedule when driving.

We had beautiful weather the entire weekend while we celebrated my dear aunt’s life. Ski season in Colorado is over, but there was still some snow on the ground. But, it was not cold. It was so good to be together with family from several states besides North Dakota and Colorado: Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

My aunt who lives in Greece also came, as well as her daughter currently living in Ireland! It was wonderful to see them! I felt the God’s peace as we laughed and cried, sharing funny stories and encouraging one another. I pray the strong showing brings my uncle comfort and courage like it did for me four years ago when Dave died. I’m glad so many people came… There is strength in numbers!

On Sunday, Lydia and I set out for our next stop. We drove about seven hours to Custer, SD, in the Black Hills region. (We also spent a fair amount of time driving through Wyoming!!) We arrived later than I had planned—thanks to a long goodbye over brunch, Lydia puking in the car, and more pit stops overall. We finally made it, but it was too late to do any activities. Thankfully, Lydia was pleased to go swimming…again!

Monday came early, and I realized we didn’t have much time for activities. Despite extensive map reading and GPS, navigating was difficult because nothing seemed to scale. I have been to a different part of the Black Hills, but on this drive, the miles seemed longer. We saw a few bison, wild turkeys, and deer. We took the Needles Highway, but at nearly 40 miles in length, it took much longer than I thought it would. That beautiful scenic road also took awhile because you have to go slow—it has lots of twists, turns, and tunnels!

Eventually, we made it to Sylvan Lake. By the time we arrived, I felt pressed for time given that we still had at least eight hours on the road back to Fargo. We walked around a bit but unfortunately didn’t do any major hiking. (We’ll certainly have to stay longer next time.) Nonetheless, we enjoyed the gorgeous morning!

As I plugged in our home address, I prepared for the long drive. I had forgotten about the time difference between mountain time and central time. So, that meant we would be home after 7pm. The thought of sitting in my car for nearly eleven hours that day (Needles Highway included) was daunting. But, I decided to make the best of it anyway!

Lydia’s a trooper and travels well. I gave her a paper scavenger hunt with objects to find on our way. We looked for cows, horses, tractors, cars of certain colors, and water towers. We also saw a rainbow, windmills, and many items not on the list. It kept both of us alert!

Along the way, I took Lydia to Wall Drug for a pit stop. I’ve been by there many times, but had never stopped. We probably only spent fifteen minutes there, but it was a fun diversion. Now I can cross that off my list too! 😉

We had brought snacks with us for the trip, and I usually grab coffee on the road. We were set! When we travel, I like to listen to the radio, sermons, or audio books. I also like to watch the scenery pass by. Mostly, it was a beautiful drive!

On long road trips, I also enjoy spending a fair amount of time just thinking. Sometimes I think about God’s goodness and how far He has brought us. Sometimes I reflect on changes I should make. Sometimes I think about upcoming plans.

On Monday, I also considered various aspects of our trip. A couple of the hotels were not as I expected. I didn’t sleep well while we were gone. Some of the routes I planned were longer than I thought. I also over-packed, once again… 😉

Throughout the trip, traffic was a little heavy at times, though road construction wasn’t too bad at this point in the season. The wind was really strong on Monday making driving a challenge. With all the driving, I didn’t get to relax much!

But, in the end, everything turned out well. God watched out for us while we drove over thirty hours in along weekend, traveled through six states, and put 2,177 miles on my awesome Subaru. I’m really thankful for a reliable car!

The best part of the trip was seeing family. I am also thankful God protected us and provided for us. It may not have gone exactly as planned, but it was still good. Probably even better, knowing the Lord was in control.

Yes, it’s always an adventure with Jesus!

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God, thanks for leading us on our journey. Thanks for protecting and providing so well for us. Help us listen and trust in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have any road trips planned for this year? If so, where?

Tasks: On your next trip, pray for wisdom and guidance before making plans.

 

Finding Grace #61

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favorHis abundant gracethis week?

This week was jam-packed getting ready for our first road trip of 2017. It’s always hectic trying to pack, clean and prepare the car. I also needed to finish planning our route, make reservations, and make sure everything is good in our absence. Thanks, God, for Your grace, provision, and protection!

We have been spending time with family this weekend, as we mourn the loss of my aunt. She passed away in late January, but her services were delayed until better weather. Our large family needed to have time to make traveling plans. I am so glad many of us were able to get together, comfort and encourage each other, and share good memories.

I am praising God for good weather this week! With road trips, there’s no telling how the roads will be. Rain, snow, or fog can make navigation difficult. Thankfully, we’ve had gorgeous weather every leg of the journey.

Finally, I am thankful for good friends and neighbors who helped watch Lydia this week. With so much going on, I needed to focus. They were instrumental in giving me space and time to think and plan!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Finding Grace #33

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

boxed-goods

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • Lydia and I were in Illinois early in the week, and we enjoyed hanging out with my family. Once again, it was the break I didn’t know I needed! When we flew back to Fargo on Wednesday, a friend picked us up at the airport. Then, I worked on Thursday and Friday, while Lydia went to daycare to see friends. Our travels were well-timed because her preschool had a few days off. (It was an added blessing because I didn’t know that when I booked our trip to Illinois!)
  • At my mom’s 60th birthday party, she asked for donations for the local food pantry in lieu of gifts. The table we set aside to receive the items was not big enough! Boxes and bags lined the floor as well. Later, everything was sorted and re-boxed for delivery. (See the picture above!) The monetary donations will also be used to provide for those most in need. These boxes and donations represent God’s abundant grace in the generosity of people in my hometown (and surrounding areas). Many thanks!
  • As I talked with my mom on the phone today, she explained how God protected her (and my dad) yesterday! My parents were almost hit by an out-of-control black SUV, careening over a bridge. Mom said at the very last instant it veered away from them. My dad estimated the vehicle was going around 90 mph; it had also blown a tire. As my parents continued down the road, they saw tire tracks four different times where the SUV crossed the median. Thanks, Lord, for watching over us and sending Your Angels to protect us (see Psalm 91:11)! I’m so glad they were alright, and that God still has work for them to do here on Earth! 

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

A Birthday Bash Rehash!

This past weekend, Lydia and I flew to Illinois for my mom’s 60th birthday. My sister and I threw her a party, but since I live twelve hours away, planning was a team effort!

My mom worked over thirty years as a florist, arranging flowers for weddings, holidays, and funerals. She was always saddened by the fact people typically only send flowers after someone has died. So, Mom wanted this party to be a celebration of her life while she’s still here to enjoy it.

Why wait until someone dies to show your love?

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It seemed fitting that people came to honor my mom this weekend! She loves to encourage others, and gives accordingly. Many people have benefited from Mom’s kindness and generosity over the years. Indeed, she inspires me to use my own gifts to serve others!

The party was an open house, and Mom requested no gifts. Instead, she asked for donations of canned items to the local food bank. (See the last picture below!)

Even on her birthday, my mom was thinking of others!

fc-country-club

I knew we would have a good time, because my family knows how to have fun! But, the party was even better than I could have expected. Everything turned out perfectly.

It was a good reminder for me to just let God take care of our ‘plans.’ He always does an excellent job of providing just what we need!

As I looked around the party room, I could see evidence of God’s grace. The food was plentiful and delicious. But really, the atmosphere was key. The mood was warm and welcoming, inviting everyone to sit and stay awhile.

The relationships were what made the party special!

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In our small farming community, we knew some people wouldn’t make it because of the Harvest. Even so, we were so glad a few farmers left their fields early to come to the party. (That rarely happens because time is so precious!)

It’s a busy time of year, and some people couldn’t make it due to previously scheduled trips or other events. That’s understandable! Still, we still had a steady stream of people throughout the night. In fact, one couple postponed their special anniversary trip because they “wouldn’t miss it for anything.” 😀

I enjoyed seeing people at the party that I haven’t seen in quite awhile. It was exciting to catch up with dear family and friends. (Since I moved away six years ago, I don’t always stay in the loop.) I also loved meeting newer friends and introducing them to Lydia!

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On Saturday night, we had a wide variety of backgrounds present. It was another instance of God’s grace bringing so many people together for a common purpose. Praise God!

I even saw people sitting together that never would have done so previously. People were laughing to the point of tears, overflowing with gratitude. Only God could have restored those relationships—and what an awesome job He has done!

Throughout the evening, I heard comments, such as, “We haven’t been to a party in forever!” or “What a great reason to get together and celebrate!” Sometimes, we can focus on surviving the daily grind or acquiring more stuff, instead of what’s really important.

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It’s also tempting to focus on what is ‘wrong’ in our lives…what is not going well, who slighted us, or how we will make ends meet. But none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

My mom’s birthday party was so much fun! She has spent years encouraging others, and so many people showed up in her honor. It was amazing to see!

As the evening came to a close, my very wise mother said, “People are our treasures—the only gifts that will last. We can always get more stuff, but people cannot be replaced.”

Let’s remember to celebrate one another more often!

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God, thanks for the relationships You have given us. Please help us to be an encouragement to others and use our gifts as a blessing to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: How can you use your gifts and talents to be an encourager?

Task: Write a thank you note to someoneor call them just to catch up!

 

Finding Grace #32

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

sunset-sky

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • This week was another restful week. Actually, it was quite busy…but I just took each thing as it came instead of spinning my wheels to get ahead. That really helped me not feel overwhelmed. By God’s grace, I decided if something didn’t get done, it was not a big deal. Thankfully, the most important tasks got finished!
  • I had many things to do because…Lydia and I flew to see family and friends in Illinois! We went to celebrate my mom’s birthday and host a party for her. My mom loves a good party (she’s an excellent host!), but it has been years since we had one in her honor! Perhaps I will write more on this later!
  • Lydia’s nearly a pro at flying, having been on approximately 25 flights in the last few years. No, we have NOT traveled to that many places…but rather we have at least two connecting flights each time we fly! It’s fun, and for this trip, the time-savings quickly outweighed the cost-savings of driving twelve hours. And, Lydia loves all the sight-seeing and people watching in each airport!
  • Depending on the day, the weather might be similar in Fargo and my hometown in Illinois. Fargo is often cooler, of course! But I have grown used to Fargo’s weather and actually enjoy it. Heading South is a warm welcome, but it can still be difficult to know what to pack. Still, I’m proud of myself for fitting all of my clothes and toiletries with Lydia’s in one suitcase!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Tires, Target, and Thankfulness

Last week was an expensive week in the car repair department. Before you think I am complaining, let me explain why I am so grateful!

On our most recent road trip back to Fargo, a warning light came on during a thunderstorm. It said my tire pressure was low, but I did not have a flat tire. We were still over two hours from home. I checked all my tires each time we stopped; they looked fine.

I’ve had plenty of flats on other cars over the years, and am pretty good at changing tires! Thanks, Dad! But changing tires far from home and with a child is different.

pile of tires

After we returned home from our trip, I noticed a nail in the rear driver-side tire. Great. This was the third time in less than one year that I have run over a nail. But by God’s grace, I’ve never had a flat tire on this car! Soon, I had made an appointment to fix my tire.

Back in May, I was getting an oil change and was told that I would need new tires by this fall. I was surprised because I didn’t think they would wear down that quickly. We’ve taken several road trips over the last few years, but I didn’t expect to need new tires so soon. But yes, apparently putting over 35,000 miles on your car will do that!

That day I received a quote for new tires, but thought I would wait. It was a lot of money!

Before this most recent appointment, however, I reviewed the quote for new tires. As I researched tire options, I realized the cost was average for tires and the labor seemed very fair. Still not convinced that I really needed new tires, I did the penny trick. This is where you see how much of Lincoln’s head is seen, which translates to how much tread is left. Guess what. ALL of Lincoln’s head was showing!

Yep, I had not noticed it before, but my tire tread was almost bare!

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While I certainly needed to get the one tire fixed, I knew I’d probably be back in a couple months anyway. I asked several questions and asked about all the options. In the end, I decided to buy four new tires and avoid the time crunch later.

I wasn’t planning this expenditure for July, but value my time and the safety of my family. And, even though it was a good chunk of money, I was grateful Dave had always set aside money for car repairs. So, it was already in the budget!

I discovered Target was only about a block away, so Lydia and I walked there. I needed to buy a small gift for a friend that day. I was glad to take care of that while we waited because it saved me ‘daycare time’ later on.

Then, we walked back to the shop, thankful for the exercise. My car was almost done. It was getting an alignment, which I learned was very needed. Two tires were pulling off-kilter, but I had grown used to it. I didn’t realize how far off it had been!

After the technician explained to me all they had done, I was grateful to get it fixed! As I drove off, I felt like I had a new car. It drove so smoothly and quietly!

wheel on car

You likely have had different challenges lately! But we can all appreciate God’s protection and wisdom to make good decisions. We can have peace when making decisions knowing He covers us with His grace.

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Heavenly Father, thanks for taking such good care of me! Thanks for showing me the right path to take. Give me wisdom for life’s decisions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Question: Have you had an unexpected expense that turned out to be a blessing?

5 Benefits of Taking a Break

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe how fast the summer is going! It’s probably been the best summer yet, since Dave went to heaven three years ago. Lydia and I are doing well, praise God!

sunflower

With August just around the corner, our month is already filling up. Lydia has a little camp to attend with a friend; we have a visitor coming for a few days; and we have a host of other fun activities.

However, I’ve been somewhat relaxed most of July, having spent 2+ weeks traveling. So, I purposely postponed a few tasks and projects in favor of keeping things simple. I’m not really procrastinating, just focusing on different things for a change. It feels good!

Clearly, God has done a good work in me! In years past, I would have stressed about it. Now, instead of worrying, I’ve just decided to go with it! That’s grace! (And a lot more fun!)

I’ll get back to my normal routine in the coming days.

Meanwhile, here are five benefits of taking a break (or road trip, whatever). 😉

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More Rest: This may seem obvious, but we all need rest physically. On my last trip, I slept for 8 hours five days in a row. That’s the longest 8-hour streak I have had in…years! Also, my exercise routine is usually different when I travel. But even if I stay home on a rest day, my activity patterns are still laid-back.

More Relaxation: For me, this is mental. My best thinking and problem-solving comes when I am relaxed. Enjoying a different mental pace frees me up to think about other important things. My body may be hiking, canoeing or swimming, but my mind is on its own adventure! I love when my imagination kicks in and I can explore creative solutions. In fact, it’s a necessity to have a little time (traveling or not) each week to just chill and think clearly.

Less Stress: Cue the release of emotional burdens! We don’t need to carry the weight of our emotional stress. Yet, sometimes we fail to recognize the load on our shoulders. By taking time away, we can leave behind overwhelm, fear, worry, anger, etc. Sometimes, a little distance is all we need to realize we need to make different choices or move on. Stepping away for a little break may bring temporary relief or permanent changes.

Clear Perspective: When we take a break, we can also gain spiritual clarity. We can see the bigger picture, instead of focusing on our present circumstances. During a vacation from our problems, we can see what is really important. Perhaps God wants to provide direction or show us something new. He longs to answer our prayers, but we risk missing Him altogether when we don’t take time to listen. When we slow down, we can hear His Voice in the peace and quiet.

Increased Growth: In addition to new ideas and perspectives, taking time to explore can lead to growth in skills, knowledge, and even relationships. Find what inspires you to live a full life. Make memories with those you love, and meet new friends. Seek new challenges and put away your should-do list.

fishing and rest

I made a confession last week. Here’s another: Often, I don’t realize how much I need a break until I am actually taking one! It is becoming clear to me that I cannot afford to neglect breaks. When I regularly schedule rest, my overall outlook improves.

Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Yes, it may be challenging to take time away. But it is so important! Life is short…let God have your worries and take a break! 

Or, as I wrote earlier this year, take the trip you have been putting off.

If you are feeling tired and worn out…relax! Consider options for a daily break, a weekly escape, a monthly getaway, and/or a yearly retreat. Even if you stay home, explore your local surroundings. Try new foods, new parks, new entertainment. Be creative!

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Father God, thank You for blessing us with rest. Thank You for restoring us in the peace and quiet. Help us seek Your grace and Your pace each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Have you taken any trips lately? How can you build more rest and relaxation into your life?