Finding Rest and Peace?

I keep thinking things will slow down.

Don’t laugh. We all need peace and quiet. God told us so in Genesis, and during his time on earth, Jesus demonstrated this need.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Mark 6:32-33

Unfortunately, it’s hard. Even in this passage from Mark, the crowds followed them. Their reprieve was short-lived. Yet, we have his example here and in other parts of the gospels.

We live in, and participate in, a world that craves activity. People run back and forth taking care of things. They’re so busy they can’t put their phones down during the times they should rest. No, this is not a diatribe about overusing cell phones. I’m only acknowledging how we live.

When you add raising grandchildren to this busy mix, it gets really messy. I was busy before the grands moved in. I’ve let things go to have more time for them. I’m still busier than I was before. My body is complaining, too. I celebrated a birthday this week, and I’m beginning to feel the pains of growing old.

Somehow in the next few weeks, I have to fit Thanksgiving and Christmas into my schedule. All I really want to do is stop. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop. Children have needs. We must work to pay the bills. Others count on us. My body is reacting to the constant go, go, go of our lives. It isn’t happy.

Jesus knew slowing down and resting would be hard.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As we enter the season of joy, I’m determined to find time for that joy. I’m not in control of my schedule as much as I’d like to be, but how many of us really are? I’ve made choices. Choices to raise two more children who need the love of family. That led to choices about work. I accept contracts I might not have taken five years ago. Choices about activities. I’ve committed to the children’s extracurricular activity schedules (although I’ve tried to keep these minimal). I’ve said no to a lot of opportunities that really don’t matter.

As I move forward, I try to weigh each choice with what it does for us and what it does for our family. I should be asking if it interferes with our need to be present before God. I’ll admit that is not always forefront in my mind. I guess that’s a great reason to enter this season of joy. We need to remember our true purpose on this earth: to glorify God.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not fulfilling that purpose as well as I could.

Thank goodness for grace!

Finding Our Little Guy’s Smile Again

It’s been a crazy ride over the last few weeks. We finally convinced the doctor that our grandson’s constant whining was a reaction to medication, not a behavior-based situation. Many of you probably wonder why I stuck with it so long. When you’ve tried several treatments to help a child focus, and that child is focusing and doing well at school, you begin to question your own ability to recognize what’s happening. Still, in the end, I decided, “Enough is enough.”  I warned his teacher that he was not taking the medicine and sent him to school. Then I contacted the doctor and told him what I did.

Nothing really had changed from my previous message to the doctor except for this statement:  This is not the child I know. I want my happy, sweet boy back.

I know I said something like that previously, but the doctor kept claiming it was a counseling issue. It wasn’t. My sweet little guy came right back. Yes, he was very unfocused at school, so we had to do something about that, but his smiling and laughing spirit returned. What a relief.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10

He and I accidentally got to have an adventure on the day I took him back to see the doctor. I had planned to take him straight to school after the appointment but when we arrived at the school, they couldn’t let us in. They were on Lock Out.  This is a new term for our school district. It means that something is happening in the area, not within the school. They lock the doors for safety and don’t let anyone in until law enforcement gives them the all clear. We were told to return to our car and wait. I did that for 15-20 minutes, wondering if I should leave or stay. When people came out, but others still couldn’t go in, I told him, “Looks like you’re getting the whole day off.”

I took him to lunch, to get a haircut, and to choose a Halloween costume. Needless to say, he was ecstatic!  The school remained in Lock Out all day, so I made the right decision to leave. Before you panic or blast me for waiting to see if they’d open the doors, I learned the circumstances of the Lock Out soon after we arrived. The children were safe inside the school.

This week, the kids brought home their report cards. Both grands received all A’s!  I’m so proud of them.  Those A’s are part of the reason I hesitated to stop Amari’s medication, but I’m glad we did. We’re still working on a solution, but I’m definitely glad to get my sweet guy back.

Now if we can just figure out how to make adolescent girls sweet…

Forced to Slow Down

My forced slow down continues, but I’m on the recovery path with my broken foot. I hit a much-needed milestone this week. I can now drive. Short distances, mind you, but it’s a step in the right direction. Of course, I pushed my limits early in the week and had to slow back down as my foot complained. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

One thing I’ve noticed as I spent the last month (!) as an observer instead of major participant in the running of our household is how much the kids have been affected by the shifts in our routine. I already knew they needed routine to feel safe, but it’s different when you observe it happening. At a time when we needed cooperation most, they became more difficult. This week, I’ve seen occasional improvements, but in small doses.

Amari seems to be pushing back against the changes by whining. A. LOT. We’re talking multiple meltdowns in the hour between getting up and going to school, and then a repeat of this in the hours after school until bedtime. Luckily, this isn’t happening at school. I wish I knew what was going on in his head.  I’m sure there’s some worry that he can’t express to us driving him to these actions.

When he keeps whining, we get frustrated, and our patience runs thin. And that brings Victoria into the picture. She starts yelling at everyone. We’re already dealing with the adolescent onset of negative attitudes and tones from her, but she’s taking it to a whole new level. The weird thing is she sounds like she’s mad at us, and we’re just trying to get everyone moving and on track toward school or bedtime. She told me this morning, she’s not mad at us, she’s mad at her brother. Great. We’ve asked her to stay out of things because it makes it worst, but I feel like we’re talking to a wall.

Since I’m stuck working from home, I often spend some time after they leave sitting quietly. I need to get my heart and mind in a good place before I tackle anything else. First, I pray for their day, the safety of our schools, and any other issues I want to discuss with God. I’ve been better at really focusing on this in the past month. Then, most mornings, I listen to my Bible app while I sip on my tea. If a particular scripture intrigues me, I listen to different Bible versions of it while I get ready for the day. It does help, and I eventually come back down to earth.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105


Before I dive into my paid work, I create images like the lantern one above and post them on social media. These seem to be a result of the time I’m spending in prayer and scripture. The response to my posts tells me people need these inspirations during their day, too. I’m doing them for me, but it’s nice to know they’re impacting others.

There’s a lot I’m seeing and trying to understand these days. The situation has forced me to observe. Even though I can’t act on most of what I’m observing, my gut is telling me that I need to pay attention to the clues. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find some answers or gain some insight during this time. I’m frustrated, but I’m trying to make good use of my enforced rest.

What about you? Have you ever been forced to slow down? What did you learn?