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Entries in Rest (11)


Finish Summer with a Flourish

Talk about getaways, and Letitia Suk's your resource! In this Rest and relaxation UPGRADE, she suggests ways to not regret one summer day. Finish this season with a flourish!

"Summer’s not over yet but in a few short weeks, the kitchen calendar will rapidly fill up again," Letitia says. "How can you still check off at least a few items from your seasonal bucket list before the leaves begin to fall?"

I (Dawn) don't want to end up on Auguest 31st with adventures left undone. I'm glad Letitia reminds us to be proactive about each special day.

Letitia continues . . .

Throughout what feels like the endless Midwest winter, I entertain myself with thoughts of summer.

None of the other 266 days of the year seem to hold as much possibility as the 99 days of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The words of Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NIV) seem especially apt for this luscious season: So, I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.”

So often, though, half way through the summer, I realize most of my "looked-forward" items are in the “yet to do” category.

Without some intentional planning, they'll never happen.

How about you?

  • Read your summer novel yet?
  • Flagged down the ice cream truck?
  • Had a glass of iced tea on the patio with a new magazine?
  • Visited an al fresco café for lunch?

Maybe you’ve got that all covered. But in case you need some ideas, here are ten ways to SAVOR the last half of summer.

1. Take yourself out for breakfast and fantasize how you would like to spend the rest of the summer.

Don’t worry about it being realistic! That part comes after the brainstorm.

2. Grab your calendar and set up a couple play dates just for you. 

Lunch with a friend? Art gallery or flea market? Get the invites out now.

3. Plan to prepare easy meals and eat outdoors as often as you can.

Everything tastes better when dining outside in your back yard, front steps or wherever you can find a spot.

4. Change up your usual reading to something lighter.

Try a new-to-you devo or Bible reading plan for early summer mornings.

5. Plan an enjoyable adventure like a long bike ride, an afternoon of hiking, paddling a canoe.  

It's OK to invite the family to join you!

6. Find an outdoor concert and pack or pick up a picnic to bring along.

Live music seems to show up everywhere in the summer. It’s fun to bring your husband or friend but going alone works too.

7. Watch a favorite movie outside at a park district venue or on your laptop in your own backyard after the kids are down for the night.

8. Take an excursion to a local farmer’s market and try a new recipe with the vegetables you bring home.

Salsa anyone?

9. Play in the water with or without a child at the beach or local pool and just enjoy the sensation of the water, sights and sounds.

10. Plan something to look forward to in the fall just for you.

The anticipation will help sustain you when the fall frenzy is about to begin.

When we are filled from life giving pursuits, we can draw on that reserve for the mayhem and meltdowns down the road.

What starts off looking like self-care ends up as other-care as the spillover from time well spent easily fills into those around us.

How do you savor summer? What summer-only event or activity can you add this week?

Letitia (Tish) Suk, invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat and Rhythms of Renewal. Tish is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. For more information about Letitia Suk, visit her webpage.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Jill 111 at Pixabay.


Upgrade Your 'Hope Rope'

My friend Pam Farrel always inspires me, because I know her responses to life are sifted through the grid of biblical truth. In this UPLIFT post, she speaks of the kind of hope only the Lord can give.  The ripple of my husband’s compassionate care of his parents impacted me as I tried my best to hold up our life and ministry as Bill held up his parents," Pam said. "We were both at the end of our proverbial rope."

As I (Dawn) have observed several friends and family members dealing with cargiving issues in recent months, I can attest to the kinds of stresses the Farrels are going through these days. But Pam's faith and hope point "true north" spiritually, as you will see in her story.

Pam continues . . .             

I was weary—tired to the bone, drop-dead fatigued, completely exhausted, “can’t take even one more step”, “leave it all on the field” beat.

It seemed we were caught in the perfect storm, and the ship of our life was being tossed about on a tumultuous sea of unending responsibilities.It was a year of up and down swells.

The positive included constant travel for our speaking, including large chunks of time spent internationally—which we love; but travel takes a physical and mental toll.

We also had multiple book projects in various stages, which are all wonderful blessings of opportunity—but these highs were also mixed with Bill having long absences from our ministry office as he drove back and forth through grueling Southern California gridlock traffic for months on end. He was commuting to care for his aging parents, one frail of mind, the other frail of body. 

His folks were fiercely desiring to maintain the independence of living in their own home—which put an ever-growing weight on the shoulders of my compassionate husband.

The Lord’s Life Line

I know that the Word has some prescriptions for handling weariness.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him (Psalms 62:5).

…“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest(Mark 6:31).

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest(Ex 33:14).

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work (Ex 23:12).

I knew I needed a day off for rest, renewal, revival, rejuvenation—and recovery!

I am a part of a wonderful networking group called Professional Women’s Fellowship, and they were hosting a one-day retreat at a lovely private estate. I knew that I needed to get myself there (despite a looming book deadline).

I went begging God to speak to me and give me some HOPE!

I love this getaway because they minister to a person body, soul, mind and spirit. During the hour-long quiet time, I stretched out under the shade of a large tree near the pond. As I laid down on my stomach, spreading my journaling Bible open before me, I couldn’t help but notice that I was already seeing God be the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.

He was making me lie down in a green “pasture” that was “beside still waters.” So, I continued to pray through Psalm 23:2-3:

Lord,  “refresh my soul….guide me along the right paths  for [Your] name’s sake.”  

Riggings of Rest and Recovery

I flipped opened my Bible to the Psalms, as I nearly always gain a measure of refreshing hope there. My Bible landed at Psalms 55:22:

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken....”

Immediately, I thought,

“Wow Lord, that was fast! This seems the perfect verse for me, but exactly what does it mean to “cast my cares” on You? How can I get better at doing it? And what does it mean that you will “sustain” me? —because I REALLY need some sustaining power! I know that my heart’s desire is to be “righteous”, and right now living “unshaken” is what I need, because I can’t see the circumstances changing all that quickly. Lord, I am open to Your message to me from Your Word.”

I had a smartphone with me, so I connect to my Logos Bible software to help me dig a little deeper into the context, the word meaning and historical frame around this verse.

I prayed out my weariness, then looked up what it meant to “cast” my burden. I was to hurl my net out like a fisherman. God was inviting me to catapult my burdens on to his net. (And I was happy to hurl them!)

As I continued to study, what surprised me is the word used for "burden" can also be translated “assignment” or “gift”.

I remember thinking, “A gift? Really?” (It was interesting that this word “gift” can also be translated “lot” or “allotment”, and is the same word as many of us pray from The Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10: “…Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border…”  which means to pray the equivalent of “God bless me by giving me the full allotment You have planned for me”).

I was beginning to see how the “burden” was how I was seeing the “blessing” of the responsibility, or allotment God had for me.

It seemed to survive, I needed a paradigm shift to a more heavenly viewpoint.

But as I surveyed my “gift” (my assignment) from God, it seemed too big for one to ever carry alone, so I kept digging, doing more word studies through the verse.

I read that God would “sustain” me—He would nourish, strengthen, and support me—and make me sufficient enough to handle this assigned “gift.” 

To me, God was whispering hope to my soul. Whatever my assignment was depleting, God would pour back into me—and more!

I was washed over with peace, relief and rejuvenating hope.

As a praise response, and to lock this refreshing word picture securely and vividly in my mind, I sketched out two hands, representing God’s caring hands. In one palm was my “gift” of cares and I placed myself in the other palm.

Both me and my assignment—both you and your calling—are held up by the Good Shepherd. We are in His sustaining, caring hands. God’s got us!

As the strong hands of a lifeguard are a welcome sight to someone caught in a tempest at sea, so Psalm 55:22 is a snapshot of the rescue God’s hands can give YOU!

Boats need their riggings and lifelines repaired or replaced on a regular basis to keep a sailor safe. You can tell a line is losing strength if it shows signs of wear and tear, fraying at edges, or corrosion.

Is your life showing any signs of needing to take time away to let God renew, refresh, repair or rebuild your lifelines of God’s reviving Word?

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, living on a boat in Southern California. When she is not kayaking to get her mail, she loves writing and teaching so others can find hope from God. Her newest book is Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience (by Pam Farrel, Jean E Jones, and Karla Dornacher, from Harvest House.) Learn more about Pam and her ministry at Love-Wise


Six Must-have Elements for a Successful Retreat

Freelance writer Sally Ferguson has written devotionals and for magazines, but her specialty is supplying tools to equip women. In this Ministry UPGRADE, she shares how to plan a successful women's retreat.

"In the midst of busy ministry tasks, Jesus called the disciples to time away with Him," Sally says. "Why would the CEO of a budding company take His associates away at their most crucial season? It all had to do with what’s called the bottom line."

Having planned retreats, I (Dawn) know the tremendous time and effort required, but I love Sally's biblical approach to the whole process.

Sally continues . . .

Look at Mark 6:30-46 for six essentials for a getaway.

1. The Invitation - Mark 6:31

The apostles were frazzled. They traveled, taught and tended to the needy. Jesus invited them to step away from the tyranny of the urgent and regroup.

How about the women in your sphere of influence? Are they carpooling moms, trying to make ends meet, or a part of the sandwich generation caring for aging parents and young children?

How would they respond to a weekend of R&R? How about a chance to recharge their batteries!

Invite them on facebook. Ask them in person.

Print flyers and posters. Get the word out that you are planning something special with each one in mind. Advertizing your event in multiple venues, repeatedly, spreads the message.

2. The Challenge - Mark 6:37

Jesus issued a challenge to His followers to be the vessel through which God could display His glory.

Could you cast a vision for a getaway, too?

Casting a vision helps a leadership team to plan and implement your retreat. It also refers to the challenge you set before attendees.

Will you call them to discipleship or dedication to unity? Will you challenge them to a deeper prayer life or a broader scope of servanthood?

The vision of the retreat provides a foundation on which all else can be built.

3. Organization - Mark 6:38-40

This passage illustrates that God is a God of order! (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40)

First, Jesus sent the disciples on a fact-finding mission (vs. 38). Planning women’s retreats is no different…

  • How many rooms will we need?
  • How many can the location handle?
  • What amenities are available?
  • What will it cost?
  • How much time do we want to schedule away?

Second, Jesus organized the massive group (vs. 39-40). What will you need to organize?

Food for thought, food for the body and food for festivities are all important elements to a retreat.

Break down each task into smaller chunks.

  • Who will be in charge of meal planning?
  • Who will plan activities?
  • Who will arrange transportation?
  • Who will handle registration?
  • Who will bring the chocolate? (Yes!)

Take it a step further.

How will you foster a sense of belonging?

Groups of seven to nine people add intimacy to a retreat; a place where everyone learns your name. It’s a place to listen to what others think about faith and to be heard in the questioning places of our hearts.

Small groups meet several times during the retreat to cultivate relationships and to pray for one another.

4. Gratitude - Mark 6:41

Jesus gave thanks for what had been given.

What happens when we show gratitude? Not only does an attitude adjustment happen, but it shifts the focus to the One who wants us to “come away” with Him.

  • Include opportunities for worship in your retreat.
  • Schedule outings to experience the wonderful world He created.
  • Affirm each woman for the contributions she makes to your small group.
  • And recognize ways others have made the experience better for all.

5. The Meat - Mark 6:41-44

After Jesus had given thanks, He broke the loaves and fed the crowd abundantly.

How will you break the Bread of Life for your women? Will it be through video, speakers or study material?

When women tell their stories, camaraderie is developed through shared struggles.

Did you notice that Jesus didn’t distribute the loaves and fish to the people? He let His disciples experience the joy of the miracle.

When you spread out responsibilities to your leadership team, more people take ownership of the event, and more people receive the blessing!

6. Prayer - Mark 6:46

And so, we come full circle and end at prayer. From the invitation to the benediction, Jesus modeled a lifestyle of prayer.

He knew it all came back to the bottom line... relying on the One who would supply all their needs.

Bathe your retreat in prayer. From conception to birth, let it be the Lord’s baby. He will show you how to nurture and raise it up to be an event that takes on a life of its own and brings praise to Him! 

Could a retreat enhance the way your group connects?

Sally Ferguson loves planning women’s retreats. Her coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? (Warner Press) and ebook, How to Plan a Women’s Retreat are both available on Amazon. Visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of StockSnap at Pixabay.


How to Encourage Your Friends in Dark Times

Elizabeth Van Tassel cares about people who’ve faced loss, and wants to help individuals and families who are walking in the midst of turbulent times. And she has a big soft spot for teens and tweens. In this Spiritual Lifestyle UPGRADE, she focuses on helping ourselves or friends in the midst of a season of change.

“Living with intentionality after a loss is really critical for finding a successful path that not only leaves your family secure, but really gives you a sense of strength that exists despite our circumstances,” Elizabeth says.

“Whether you’re a writer, a busy mom, or a caring friend, it often takes time to really give yourself room to heal and find lasting joy again.”

It’s been a few months since some of the recent natural disasters, and I (Dawn) agree that it’s important we remain sensitive to what our friends—or we and our relationships—may need as time moves on. Perhaps we’re proceeding at a slower rate of healing.

Elizabeth continues . . .

This week I was at a writer’s conference in San Francisco, California, and met a lot of interesting people. I spoke with some survivors of the wildfires in Santa Rosa, Napa and Sonoma, and my heart was tender to where they are in their recovery process.

This year marked our own ten-year anniversary for losing our home in a wildfire in Southern California.   

It was almost like I could finish their sentences while we visited.

Me: Where are you in the process?

Them: Inventory purgatory. (Picture high stacks of paper around a desk.) Tears at having to relive losses so often, researching what’s gone.

Me: I know it’s more about memories than stuff.

Them: Yes, things that belonged to generations are now dust in the wind.

Me: What are you struggling with the most?

Them: Staying encouraged and realizing there is life beyond the constant insurance paperwork.

Me: What does your community need?

Them: Hope beyond circumstances.

Since there are so many areas of the country that were affected by devastating situations like floods and hurricanes as well as fires, I thought the UPGRADE we may all benefit from is how to find that encouragement in dark times.

The Psalmist is very intentional about focus during trials:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber (Psalm 121:1-4, NASB).

Where we focus, or what we focus on, we give power to.

I can choose to focus on little things in the midst of my challenge or trial to keep a flicker of hope alive.

The Psalmist continues:

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever (Psalm 121:5-8).

Although we wish the Lord would rescue us from adversity, sometimes in the midst of that weariness we can glimpse special moments of the depths of His love.

We may not be able to explain why something is happening, but just knowing He loves us, and focusing on that, is a balm and leads us deeper into relationship somehow.

Here are some practical points to apply if you—or a friend—is recovering:

1. Be sure to take time out of your surroundings, giving yourself a visual break from damaged areas.

Staring at loss constantly is very draining, so make times for a picnic or something RESTFUL to focus on.

2. Dwell on beauty.

It could be a pretty flower arrangement or driving by spring blooms in an area, but get a watchful mindset for something that brings BEAUTY to the forefront for a while.

It will give you a vision beyond yourself and your current set of challenges.

3. Play games with kids.

This may sound silly, but getting in touch with your child-heart is so dear and can REGENERATE your sense of wellbeing.

4. Offer to help with practical things like getting groceries, childcare or planning an outing.

People in recovery have been haunted by many levels of decision making and often just run out of “gas” for planning things.

Just the gift of planning something pretty or taking them out is really a RELIEF.

5. Sit with them while they make their inventory.

There’s nothing more lonely than dwelling all day on things that are gone.

A FRIEND helped type into a spreadsheet while I imagined each room. There was much coffee and tissues involved, but we’d laugh and take a break now and then.

It was super helpful to have her organizing while I recalled the details my insurance company required.

6. Plan a birthday outing, or other kind of celebration.

It will seem like every holiday should just stop and slink away, but what you’ll regret later is not taking each day’s joy and making the most of it.

One of the biggest losses is time—time away from kids if you’re writing for insurance, time from projects and dreams washed away, time from growing relationships and being thoughtful is spent on just surviving and getting by.

MAKE TIME for important things and relationships, too.

Which of these areas would help your friends or even yourself today?

Elizabeth Van Tassel writes compelling middle-grade fantasy and nonfiction to spark hope after loss. She brings her knowledge and expertise in the field of gemology to the page and infuses her love of folklore into modern adventures filled with mystery. A wildfire survivor who lost every possession and her home in the 2007 Witch Creek Wildfire, Elizabeth understands both the power of loss and the power of hope. She shares her story of resilience, and provides tools for rebuilding at public speaking events and on her blog. Learn more at Live a Resilient Life.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.


The Big Break

Wendy Hamilton is an inspirational, everyday life writer who loves to tackle the daily tough stuff with truth and grace. In this UPLIFT encouragement, she encourages us to give ourselves a break in more ways than one.

"I sat across from my new friend aware that this was the first time in a long time that I was on this side of the table," Wendy said. "Usually it was me telling other women to take a break, rest, create fun in their lives or for their families, and not overdo." 

Wendy made me (Dawn) sit up immediately when I read that. Resting has been one of my big issues, one of the reasons my body fell apart and my ministry suffered. As Wendy points out here, sometimes we're our own worst enemy when it comes to rest.

Wendy continues . . .

That day it was me weary and undone. Everyday life felt like an overwhelming burden. I managed my day on autopilot, living that day much like I had lived the day before with little hope that tomorrow would be different.

“You can’t continue at this pace. You are headed for burnout. You need to rest,” my friend cautioned. “Take the rest of today and rest. You will be better for it.”

Her advice seemed counter-intuitive. I had so much to do.

Deadlines loomed. My house looked in many ways to be one more pile of clutter or laundry way from perfect for an episode of "Hoarders." Yet, I knew her advice was the truth.

“You are right," I confessed. "I’m not going to get anything done in the way and at the level I want to when I feel this tired.”

I thought back to scriptures I studied earlier that week. 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Both of those verses reflected an attitude and posture much different than what was reflected in my current pace and to-do list.

God’s good for me was a quieter pace.

His expectations for me did not require that my house look ready for a magazine feature or even “company ready.”  His expectations for me were to walk with Him, be with Him and rest with Him.

What God models reveals a way of life that keeps us ready to love Him and others, and allow us to be rested and not fatigued. God never is a tough taskmaster with an impossible to-do list. That method is you and I at work, not honoring who God created us to be the way God designed. 

The way of life God models is designed for us to know that we do not walk life alone. God promises:  “Never will He leave me and never will He forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5).

When I create the impossible pace in my day and in my life, I forget that I do life with God. 

I make myself and my talents, abilities and strengths an idol, and I place "me at work" above God at work in my life. I live life focused on what I should do instead of living in the victory of what God has already done.

The result of such heavy self-imposed burdens is weariness.

God knows our tendencies to rely more or ourselves than on Him. That is why He calls us to receive His comfort, love, faithfulness and presence.

God draws us to Himself through scripture and stillness so we can take a break and have a break. 

What He asks of us leads to more life and more freedom. We don’t get tired of what God gives us when we function in everyday stillness and get to know Him more. What God has for us as we listen to Him speak in scripture and in our everyday lives is “immeasurably more than all we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

What God designed is our big break and rest.

Where is God calling you to rest and take a break? What areas of your life does God want you to surrender to Him so He can give you more than you could ask or think?

Wendy M. Hamilton is a writer and songwriter from Dallas, Texas. When she is not ministering with her church family at Valley Creek Church, a multi-site mega church, she is volunteering at The Salvation Army or teaching and encouraging others to minister and lead with their art and bring inspired ideas to life. Wendy and her husband, Mike, are the founders of Inspired Life Ministries, and they love living a messy, busy and fun life with their 4+1 kids. Her most recent published song compilation, "Here We Go," is included on Compass, the new Valley Creek Kids Worship CD released May 2017 from Valley Creek Worship.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Lightstock (free download).