Resting in Peace

What a blessing it was to be the guest speaker at my church’s annual Mother’s Day Tea this weekend!

Although I usually shy away from public speaking, I decided to talk about a challenging area in my own life: finding peace. Specifically, I wanted to share ideas on how we can each find peace in our everyday lives, no matter where we are in that moment.

If you have been reading my blog posts regularly, you will know that peace and rest are important topics to me. Despite my busy schedule, I’ve learned to find peace through intentional rest. I say “intentional” because we must recognize our need for rest, and then be very deliberate in making it a priority.

Forced rest is no fun when you allow your pace in life to run you into the ground. Trust me . . . I know. Internalizing stress led to chest pains and an overnight stay in the hospital last year. Fortunately it was nothing serious, but that scare caused me to re-evaluate my priorities and I learned a valuable lesson in the process.

While God wants us to use our gifts to glorify Him, to care for our families, and serve others, we cannot do that if we are completely exhausted. God did not create us to live life with our foot on the gas pedal from morning to night, yet for many of us, that is the only pace we know. We have accepted this as normal and we feel powerless to apply the brakes.

Intentional rest doesn’t require taking a vacation day or spending an afternoon at the spa (although that does sound tempting 😉). Instead, I ask God to help me slow down as a reminder that my personal peace needs to be a priority. It does require loosening my grip and letting Him take control, but God always provides me with that much-needed time and space to re-charge, even on my busiest days.

Finding peace may look different for each of us, but for me, it’s as simple as taking a walk around the block, reading a devotional, or just lying down for a quick nap.

So the next time you feel yourself running on empty, slow down, take a deep breath, and seek peace in the Lord’s presence. Let Him be your resting place.

Hidden Talents

During my early high school years, I planned to go on to art school after graduation. My dad was an amazing artist, both a painter and a graphic artist, and really a Jack-of-all-trades. He was self-employed and I wanted to be just like him — except for the part where he was always struggling to find work.

An art project from my high school days

Money was always tight during my teen years, so I worked after school and on weekends, cleaning houses and babysitting to earn my own spending money. Sadly, it was the lack of funding that prevented me from going on to college and pursuing my dreams. It seemed way beyond my reach, even though my art teacher encouraged me to apply for the scholarship they presented to a promising art student each year. She was sure I would win the award. Reluctantly, I told her I was not going to college. It really broke my heart, and she was disappointed for me, but I told her I planned to work and perhaps go to art school in a year or two.

It was clear though that the Lord had other plans for me. I was married the following year, and five years later we started our family.  I have no regrets, and my pathway in life has taken me through a variety of jobs without any formal education. Each one taught me new skills and became a stepping stone to the next opportunity.

I learned newspaper layout and design and also had my first article published in The Christian Science Monitor where I worked for five years. Then my husband and I decided to open our first retail (resale) children’s clothing store, and later opened a second location before selling both when we moved to Virginia. Throughout that time I continued freelance writing and also took a correspondence course in writing for children and teens. I was surprised to discover that my love for art had been surpassed by my love for writing.

Over the next  20 years, I worked as a managing editor for a parenting magazine, edited children’s books, wrote for a marketing and PR company, worked in an optometry office, and now I am the Office Manager at my church, utilizing every skill I have accumulated since leaving high school.  All this without a single college credit!

Every now and then I wonder “what if . . . ” but then I realize how blessed I am to have experienced so many different jobs that have enriched my life and developed my skills. I have embraced each one with gratitude, joy and excitement, and God has rewarded me generously with new friendships and marketable skills. What more could I want?

Years ago I did take one watercolor class at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston just for fun, but I haven’t picked up a paintbrush since. Will there come a day when I pursue my art again? Perhaps. But if not, I will always feel blessed to have found so many other gifts I never knew I had.