How to Rest + Be Still

Life is busy and bustling and very rarely is there time to sit and rest. Are you in this same season?

Every night I sing to the girls after our prayers. They make their minds known while shouting out their favorite end-of-day songs: Jesus Loves the Little Children, Twinkle Twinkle, the Rainbow song...and one I made up when Anton was an infant called Be Still.

Based on the hymn we sang in church as a child, it goes like this:

Be still (insert child's name), and know He is God...that Jesus loves you, Mom and Daddy too. So close your eyes...and go to sleep. Every time I sing it, it's like God's murmuring it right on back to me because I'm tired and have a hard time settling down to rest.

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This has been an extra busy season, with Ben still settling into his new job and me trying to figure out what life as an author looks like: completing my manuscript, getting gigs on my speaking calendar, coming up with good content both for my own blog and for articles I'm collaborating with on other peoples sites and magazines.

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What's funny though is that I work so hard to ensure our extra business doesn't affect the kids that I end up just creating a whirlwind of exhaustion. I want our kids to know that my ministry won't disturb our family-memory-making that when I am with them, I just have nothing left.

Instead of allowing our family time to fill my bucket back up so I can pour out...

I'm left dry and parched.

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During church last week, a friend filled in for our sick pastor and spoke about this very subject. Our family intentionally hunkers down during the winter months, when cold weather sweeps through our Colorado mountains, but fall is just a busy one with six kids in activities, clubs, friends, homework, and all that fills the outside school hours.

I needed this reminder on rest.

Why do I look at Sabbath as something unattainable, though?

Are you the same? Our friend Eric (who preached last week) talked about how the Sabbath isn't supposed to be a 24-hour span of time full of what we cannot do...but isn't that often what we think?

When I hear the word Sabbath, I feel I need to somehow figure out how to just be still and relaxed and quiet for the entire Sunday hours. Like I need to do literally nothing.

But as a mom that just doesn't seem possible!

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We live in a neighborhood full of Jewish families because we're so close to the Synagogue. It's amazing to watch their diligence walking to and from service on Saturday: pelting rain, blistering sun, and deep snow, it doesn't matter.

A few summers ago, a someone's dog got out and was running around the street. A knock on our door brought me face to face with a smiling woman who said she heard we "take people in" (hah!) and would we be willing to take in this lost dog because since it was Sabbath, they couldn't use their phone and locate its owners.

Huh. Is this what Sabbath looks like?

Am I supposed to rest in a way that I cannot even help a lost pet?

How are we supposed to rake the leaves and go to Costco though, if this is the only free day we have? What about those of us with kids that need to be run around town for sports and birthday parties?

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What about the toilet that keeps plugging up and the necessary trip to Home Depot? Sunday is the only day we have to get all this done and prepare ourselves for the week ahead. Sunday is when we do meal-prep and change the sheets and make sure all the laundry is put away.

So someone...

please tell me how we're supposed to keep this Sabbath?

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Our sermon on Sunday reminded us it's more of a heart issue.

Sure we can go to Costco...but when we do, let's not get riled up with the crowds and our children touching things and making the trip take longer. Let us instead take a step back...walk a bit slower.

Stop for the samples. Let them play with the karaoke machine and the keyboard piano or drum set. What if we actually made Costco...or Home Depot...or raking the leaves...or whatever it is we're needing to do, into an experience.

What if we did our week's meal prep with the kids instead of ushering them out of the kitchen? What if we slowed down enough that we enjoyed our tasks, rather than simply rushing through them?

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We may not get as much done on whatever day we choose to rest on, but isn't that the point?

We don't need to literally do nothing.

We can still go on a hike, bike ride, or fishing with the family. But if chores need to be done and errandss need to be run, we can do it with a different viewpoint.

Our tasks can still be done... but with our hearts positioned differently, it could become more restful.

More rest-filled.

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What do you think? How could you honor the Sabbath and put rest in its rightful place in your life?

Take Joy,

Teresa

When God reveals only a portion of your calling

I remember the moment so clearly. I was in Bible Study, my back was toward the screen (because per usual, I arrived late and the good seats at the round-table were taken). As I swiveled back and forth between looking at the screen and taking notes in my workbook, I felt the word Titus jump out at me from the pages of my Bible.

We had just recently moved to Denver. We didn't yet know of Abreham or Elsabet, we did not know they would be joining our family.

I felt like God was saying to me, "Titus is your future. Titus will come."

Since we'd already brought home two kids from Ethiopia, I took this to mean we would be adopting a sweet little boy named Titus.

I remember as Beth Moore's video ended and our group went into a time of prayer requests, I told the group about this Titus revelation. We were all excited about the idea that God would be bringing more children into our family and we lifted this request of protection and discernment before the Throne in prayer.

A year or two later, as we were in the process of adopting Abreham, I remember wondering why his name wasn't Titus. I remember wondering if our new son would want to change his name like Ezekiel did (his Ethiopian name is Temesgen) and if he'd randomly choose Titus as his new "American name."

But no.

And when the Lord revealed that Elsabet was ours, my heart asked Him, "But where is Titus?"

I heard no answer in response.

Until today.

I realized Titus isn't a child...it's a calling.

I was posting and commenting in the Bible Nerd Facebook page. Several ladies were asking to join, so as I clicked "yes", I also clicked on their profile pages to learn more about each of these new women to our community. One stated they were part of a Titus 2 Ministry at their church.

What's a Titus 2 ministry?? I thought.

Opening my Bible to that book in the New Testament, I realized at some point I had heavily underlined sections of the chapter and gasped.

My heart skipped a beat as I realized the Lord had told me that day not that I would have a child named Titus...but He was calling me to teach.

After reading the passage several times, I headed to Google and typed in "What is a Titus 2 Woman?"

Here is what I learned:

The whole goal of a Titus 2 woman is to train younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living.

Paul did not call for Titus as the pastor to train all the women in these qualities God wanted them to cultivate; rather he called upon the godly older women of Christ's church. He singles out the women of faith, those who had already learned to love their husbands, learned to love their children, and learned to be reverent, godly, modest and wise—and charged them with seeking out and meeting with every younger woman in the church.

Woah.

You can read more about a Titus 2 Woman here, but I have chills reading the above description, having already felt like the Lord was leading me to something.

Do you or have you felt like God was placing you into something? Preparing you? But you weren't sure what for?

David (the shepherd boy who defeated Goliath and later became king of Israel) went through the same thing. 1 Samuel 16 tells the story of when he was anointed by the prophet Samuel.

The Lord set Him apart, chose him, and appointed him to be king one day...but guess what? When his head was anointed with oil, he had no idea what he was being set apart for. He wasn't given a timeframe or a schedule of events. He wasn't given an end game or plan.

All David knew is the Lord was writing his story to include something other than simply being a shepherd.

And He has something for you, too.

It would be nearly a decade from the day David was anointed, until he was crowned king.

In the in-between time, his life looked abundantly different than someone who would one day rule the nation. Even though he had no idea (yet) that this was where God was bringing him, David went from a shepherd to a helper of the king.

David was known to be a great musician and was asked to come play the harp for King Saul in order to help him relax and relieve his troubled spirit. Through this, the Lord allowed David to see what life was like in the home of the king (whose place he would eventually take). David could see the interaction between family members and staff. He could see the reality of the king's day-to-day.

When we do good work and gain trust from those around us, we often gain more access or responsibility and this was the same for David. Saul respected and had confidence in young David and because of this, he was also given the title of Armor Bearer.

As you can imagine, an Armor Bearer does just that...handles the armor. Because of his new role, David was required to be a fly on the wall when Saul was in battle, awaiting the moment the king needed help putting on his protective covering.

I'm sure there were times when David thought, "Why am I here, Father?? This is not where I thought You'd take me. What's the purpose in this??"

But there WAS purpose in it...because can you think of a better opportunity for David to learn? Not only did the Lord allow David to see into a king's life at home, he also got to listen in as strategy was discussed with the king's generals. He saw how the king acted and reacted when things went poorly in battle, or when they went well. He was basically in king-school, though he had no idea.

What are you in "school" for?

What is God training you for that seems completely unrelated to what you're currently doing...when in reality, it's the perfect precursor??

Even when King Saul turned on David (due mostly to jealousy) and set out to kill him, the situation was used by God in preparation for him becoming king. I'm in no way saying that God was pulling strings to make Saul hunt down David...what I am saying though is even our really REALLY hard times can end up being used for good.

There can be purpose in our pain.

1 Samuel 20-31 shares David's life of fleeing and hiding from the king. Within the pages of these chapters, we see how a young man who is scared spitless and who will do whatever needed to survive...becomes a man of great wisdom and discernment as he learns to talk first with God before acting.

He needed this time of hardship to become the man of character God needed him to be to lead a nation.

He wasn't perfect, of course. As we read about his reign in 2 Samuel, we know he made mistakes over and over. But each time he did, he fell on his face before the Lord in remorse. His relationship with God was so strong that our Heavenly Father even referred to him as "a man after God's own heart" (read more about that here).

Perhaps you're not where you want to be.

Maybe you feel the Lord whispering the words, "more" and "bigger" but you don't know what that means or looks like.

We all hate the waiting period, so what do we do when we're in it??

We all just want to be there...we want the fulfillment of a calling, yet hate the preparation period it takes to get there. But we can't just sit on our hands and literally just wait. We need to actively wait...and the best way to do that is to grow in our relationship with Him.

Read the Bible. Pray throughout the day. Serve. Grow. Learn.

Like David, seek His face as you make decisions and in how you act in situations.

Maybe He will open your eyes to the fact that He wants you to be a woman in Titus 2 like He is showing me. Perhaps it's something completely different.

But whatever it is, it's going to be exciting. Especially as we know we're doing it to magnify His name and the kingdom of heaven.


Are you in a time of wait?

If so, how are you actively waiting?

Are you in a time of fulfillment?

If so, can you see how even little things helped prepare for this time of completion?

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 . NIV

Take Joy,

Teresa

When a Friend Thinks Poorly of You

Friends breathe life into my soul, just as I'm sure they do yours. But like romantic relationships, true friendships sometimes have growing pains. There will be moments when there is conflict and we need to figure out what to do in the midst of it, right? How to grow deeper as friends through it, rather than allowing it to break the closeness.

This week, a friend accused me of something that made my heart incredibly heavy. I didn't see it coming and didn't understand how she thought that of me. I literally felt sick all day and went to bed early with a migraine.

My thoughts and prayers swirled through the afternoon and evening hours as I went to first God, and then my husband and dearest friends, placing this person's accusation at their feet to examine.

"Here's the evidence, look at it. Sift through it, dig deeply," I told them. "Did I do this? Am I doing this?"

I asked the Lord and my friends who know me best to share honestly with me so I could grow and ask forgiveness if indeed this thing I was being accused of was true. Because if so, I had some serious heart-searching to do. What I was being accused of was not the type of person I want to be.

I called my best friend to tearfully vent and toward the end of our phone conversation, she said something like this:

"You need to stop and seriously ask God to show you the insides of your heart. Lean into it, even if it's hard and yucky. Who are you at the core, really? Ask Him in a way that You're able to hear His voice. Take time in silence with the Lord and go through everything in your mind like you're unpacking a suitcase...taking items out, one by one."

She finished by saying, "Let Him show you if there is sin here."

Gosh, what wise advice. I just love having friends that are deeper and wiser than I.

I am still devastated. And truthfully, I am really embarrassed that someone would think this thing of me. But I don't believe I did what she has said. I don't pretend to be anyone I'm not. I don't even think I did that very often in high school, let alone now. I'm ok with me. Not that I don't need to grow in areas, of course. We all need to grow, right?

I woke up this morning though, still with a nauseous stomach and a pounding head and prayed that the Lord would release it. I need to be ok with the opinion of other people, even if I don't agree with it.

This person wasn't spewing venom, she was speaking out of her own hurt.

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She was wanting to get to the root of things, too. I still do not believe in my heart of hearts that I did what she believes I have...but that's ok.

I cannot own her feelings, I can only own mine.

How have you worked through a similar situation of hurt with a friend? Did it allow you to get bitter or better??

Take Joy,

Teresa

Struggling with fear + I'd LOVE your help with MY BOOK!

Do you now...or have you ever struggled with fear? Perhaps you're paralyzed, feeling shame and insecurity that someone will discover the "real you" so you live within the grasp of false identity, pretending to be someone you're not.

Perhaps you have experienced horrific things like a car accident and are now fearful of driving. Or have run from an abusive spouse and are fearful he'll find you or are scared to enter into another relationship. Perhaps you've been deeply wounded and are afraid of putting yourself out there again, and therefore a huge tangible fear follows you around.

Others live in a "what if" kind of fear.

For example, "What if my son slipped beneath the bar on the ski lift and fell to his death?!"

"What if I traveled to a third world country and got kidnapped or killed for my faith?!"

Or even "What if I got cancer? What if I died? Who would mother my children? What would happen to my family?!"

Since I was young, I've struggled with fear. There are times I feel a fear of being left out, unloved or rejected.

But most often the fear that seems to hold me the most tightly is is the BIG Capitolized "what if" kind where worst-case-scenarios hit my mind's eye like a lightning bolt, causing me to panic and forget about being brave in anything.

If this is you...whether you've struggled with it today, last month, or decades ago...I'd LOVE your help.

One of the chapters in my upcoming book is about this very issue and I'm wanting to go deeper.

I want to know how ya'll get out from under it. I want to know what verses you turn to in your Bible or wisdom and advise you cling to. I'd love to know how you pray and just honestly anything else you'd like to share.

Feel free and be anonymous if you'd like, but if you're comfortable with it, I'd love to just open up the Comments below as raw, vulnerable, and honest struggles and successes of life in spite of fear.

Thank you, sweet friends. And by commenting, know that a portion (or all) of what you say may be included within the pages of my book. Unless I have your permission though, I will change any and all names. Your identity will be secure and I won't plaster your life all over the place. Promise.

Thanks again for your willingness to share here. I promise...NO judgement. We're all likely struggling with similar things, whether we'll admit it or not. Thanks for being authentic...I have no doubt it'll speak to and help others in like-seasons.

Take Joy,

Teresa

1 Samuel 19-20 (Week 10) Being a good friend though loss + hard times

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 45678, and 9.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

We learned last week that everything David did turned to gold. 18:21 says, In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. He did all he was asked, and then some. He went from shepherd boy who delivered food to his brothers in battle, to being the hero of it all. He was taken into the palace, became the king’s number one musician, his most successful warrior, his son’s best friend, and his daughter’s husband.

David went from zero to hero with one swing of a stone, and was forced to run for his life from the king himself who couldn’t control his envy, seeking to kill him.

Today I want to focus on two themes: loss from jealousy, and friendship through hard times.

I heard once that jealousy is something that has two victims, and that is certainly true here. Once again Saul attempts to pin David to the wall with his spear while playing the harp, barely escaping with his life (19:9) just as he had in the previous chapter (18:10-11).

The morning after this second attempt, Saul sent men to David’s house to spy and ultimately kill the young warrior. Michal, his wife, must have been observant enough to see her father’s plans unfolding outside her front door and warned, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” Letting David down through a window, the brave Michal saved her husband, allowing him to escape.

Stuffing the household teraphim (a clay figuring which represented household spirit guardians), beneath bed coverings and placing goat’s hair at the head, the dim light of a flickering candle or oil lamp would be enough to convince the soldiers David was too weak and ill to move.

Michael’s plan was nearly a success, though in the end, the ruse was realized as the soldiers returned with an attempt to kill him in bed. Switching gears, Michal instead convinced the men she was afraid for her life and allowed her husband to get away because he threatened her.

She had no idea of course, but the moment Michal let David down that window, she lost the man she loved dearly. Eventually her father would remarry her to someone else and it wouldn’t be ‘till years later (after David had several more wives), that he would seek to reclaim her. Michal never had children with either husband.

Saul’s jealousy ruined a marriage. He forced a young man to run for his life. He turned his greatest warrior into a fugitive who ran for his life, living in caves, and even fleeing to Gath (the enemy land where Goliath was from). All this because Saul simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that David was not out for his throne. The young man who brought joy and support to the king suddenly became a source of anger and resentment. The king’s jealousy went unchecked and boiled over to a point that he simply couldn’t reign it in himself.

Fleeing to Ramah, David first seeks solace in Samuel’s home and then joins the aging priest to Naioth, which means dwelling or tents. Not only is David able to conceal himself through security in numbers, but has the opportunity to live within a body of men who have committed their lives to worshiping God.

I love that the former shepherd hid himself here, of all places. It’s so important that when we’re struggling with something, we run into the arms of a body who will love and support us in Jesus’ name. David’s situation is likely nothing we’ve ever experienced, but even so…our strife and wounds are still best supported within a body of Jesus-loving people who will empathize and fall to their knees in prayer over us. People who will encourage, inspire, and embolden us as we grow closer with Him through it.

David seemed to understand the need of this, escaping to a place he knew his thirst for wisdom, discernment, and protection would be quenched as he was poured into by Samuel and the rest of the God-fearing men in this tented community.

It didn’t take long however for word to get back to Saul, who immediately sent men to capture David. Whether Samuel led a group of prophets on a daily basis, or this was some sort of special assemblage, we don’t know. But just as the king’s soldiers saw the group of holy men prophesying, the spirit of God came upon them and they also started prophesying. Saul was told about what happened and sent several more groups of men out to bring back David as prisoner but each time, they too were overcome by the Spirit, forgetting the king’s errand and remained in Ramah prophesying.

Finally, Saul had enough, traveling to Ramah himself. But “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all day and night.” (1 Samuel 19:22-24)

This scene is just so hilarious to me and is a fantastic reminder that if God wants to block something from happening, He most certainly will. Saul was on an unworthy mission and God didn’t allow it to come to fruition. The Lord protects David, giving him the chance to journey back to his best friend Jonathan, seeking advice about Saul’s intentions.

Jonathan simply couldn’t comprehend his father acting in such a way and clung tightly (albeit naively) to his father’s proclamation on oath that David would not die (19:6). Because he and David’s friendship was one built with a firm foundation however, Jonathan couldn’t ignore his friend’s insistence and decided devise a plan to pursue King Saul’s true intent.

Read chapter 20 to understand exactly how their plan unfolded…and how Saul’s jealousy and anger once again reared its ridiculously ugly head. Jonathan was aghast at his father’s posture toward David was forced to pick a side, something that I’m sure it pained him to have to do. Having his eyes opened to Saul’s intent, the prince continued with the plan, sending word to David that he was indeed correct that his life was in danger.

The two had a tear-filled goodbye (20:41b says David wept the most) as an era ended. David was no longer the harpist and prized warrior for the king. His former life was lost, for no reason other than unwarranted envy and resentment.

As David turned to leave, Jonathan said “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’” (1 Samuel 20:42)

They parted, though their friendship remained. So much so in fact that they promised one another to take care of their offspring if death came too early. In those days, if someone (like David) was to strip a king of his throne, every family member would also be put to death to ensure the safety of the new royal line. The thought was, if they were all gone…there would be no one in a line of succession to try and reclaim the crown.

Believing David will one day rule and he will not, Jonathan implores his dear friend to go against custom and instead care for his family. And David did just that. We learn in 2 Samuel that after Saul (and Jonathan) had died and the kingdom was officially David’s, he sought out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.

Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always. (2 Samuel 9:7)

Are we willing to go against cultural stigma and invite others in like this? Would we take in our friend’s children because of the deep love and care we have for our deceased friend? What about simply going against cultural norm in how we open our door…who have you invited in lately that made you feel out of your comfort zone?

One of our girls has a friend whose family recently moved here from Japan. The mom doesn’t know much English and every time I saw her at school pick up and drop off, I could sense loneliness and a desire to connect in her eyes. One day I decided to get over my own comfort and invited her over for coffee. It wasn’t easy, conversation was forced and strained at times during our time together as we searched for a topic that was easily conversed through limited English. But you know what? We laughed at our struggle, we tried our best to understand one another and desired to dive in deeper than simply the weather.

As my new friend shrugged into her jacket and we said goodbyes, she hugged me and looked me right in the eyes, a smile no longer on her lips as seriousness took hold. “Thank you”, she said. “Thank you for this.”

Friendship...true friendship isn't talking about the weather and keeping it all at the surface. Making new friends is sometimes awkward (head here for another post on that topic). Even friendship that has been a constant for decades goes through seasons and struggle.

Struggle is sometimes good. It reminds us we're fighting for one another.

Choosing a friend over a parent who is doing wrong is difficult. Supporting a friend who will receive the blessing that you’re technically supposed to receive, takes selflessness. Bringing your friend’s disabled child into your home is challenging.

David and Jonathan went through each of these (and gosh, so much more)!

We often need to press through the hard to be a good friend.

We need to get to the place where we’re ready to connect through discomfort. Through hard times. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you want to be?


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S all these gorgeous photos are courtesy of the lovely Sarah Johns + Something Styled. Follow her on IG and FB!