What the Rocky Mountains Have Taught Me

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 11: Rest.

Can you believe we only have one chapter left to go?

But onto today’s topic for now….REST! Having attended seminary “self-care” is something that was ingrained into every fiber of  my being. Professors continually reminded us of the high percentage of burn out rates for clergy and individuals who work in the church because they don’t care for themselves. They don’t take time to rest! So, self-care is something that I think I am pretty okay at, but I would say it is also something that I could work on too. (Does that make any sense at all?)

I am pretty good at noticing when others need time to rest, but I am not always so good at recognizing it in my self. However I have been blessed by a continuing education experience the last five summers. Every June, I head to the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just outside of Estes Park Colorado to learn but also to spend time in Sabbath and rest. Every morning, we have class but then we have the remainder of the day to simply play or rest or whatever one feels like doing. Every evening, there is a fun event since it is a very family oriented event. One night they even have a square dance caller come in and teach us how to square dance.

There are lots of things that I love about this event, but truly the reason I have come to LOVE it is because it forces me to put down the phone, the computer, etc and simply take in God’s amazing awesome creation. Where we stay, there is no Internet, no computers, no television (unless you count the one in the main lodge—which to be honest, most of us forget about!). I find myself spending my time reading on the porch with the gorgeous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in front of me. I also find myself listening and taking in the creatures around us. I find myself taking in every sight and sound of God’s creation. I simply find myself taking the time to rest!

I’m telling you it doesn’t get much better than this! 

Yes, sometimes I will drive into town to go to a coffee shop or the grocery store. But what I have found is a lot of times, I will throw my phone in my purse and completely forget about it. It is so healthy and healing for me to take the time to simply be…to be still and know that God is God! And in the magnificent Rockies of Colorado, I cannot help but know that!

When I return home, I immediately find myself turning on the tv or scanning Facebook or whatever. I need to be better about taking what I experience in the Rockies and bringing it home especially in relationship to my writing. I am going to be better about taking time to simply just be..whether that means going for a walk on a cool crisp Fall day or sitting in my backyard listening to the creatures scurrying about or enjoying my beloved prairies where I always feel at peace and like I am standing on holy ground.

I think, Ann and Charity are right….not only do we need to take time away from our words, we need to take time just resting and remembering that even God rested. In Genesis, we read “And on the seventh day, God finished the work he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done (Genesis 2:2).”

It is important for us to take time away and to rest; to live out Sabbath in our lives. I have come to realize that society isn’t very good at living out Sabbath in our technology fast-paced world! Let’s be examples of living out Sabbath in our lives! And also let’s not forget to play a little too! (Children sure have a lot to teach us when it comes to taking the time to play, don’t they?!?!)

Because when we take the time to rest, I believe God can use our words even more fully. God can take our time away to help us see where our words need work or if our words are exactly what God wants us to share.

Seeking Peace

Seeking peace….my friends…can be such a difficult thing to do in this crazy busy hustling world. But the truth is that even when we take five minutes with him, God has a way of showing up and showing us peace..of reminding us of the importance of Sabbath in our every day lives.

Just tonight, I found myself at a picnic. In the midst of the picnic, I found myself simply sitting taking in the cool air and was reminded of the beauty of creation as I watched the kids with smiles on their faces playing. Then I came to church to check on our community garden where they were busy building garden boxes. My colleague, her husband, another colleague and another friend were busy working on the boxes when I arrived. My colleagues two year old son was watching and playing outdoors. While my colleague was working with them on the boxes, I was hanging out with Mr. E. As I sat in the box of the pickup and listened to this sweet little boy chat with me. I couldn’t help but think about how being with him was bringing me peace…because it was causing me to pause and just simply sit with him.

Isn’t it funny how God has this way of reminding us of the importance of Sabbath and helping us to seek peace. Some of my favorite places have become places where I truly experience God’s peace. My favorite place in the world…the Bible camp I worked at for approximately seven summers helps me to exhale and take in the beauty of God’s creation. As my car turns onto the gravel road to that holy place, I find myself feeling much lighter. It is a place where I always am at peace.

On Sunday, I will be heading to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains for a continuing education class. This is the fifth summer that I have participated in this event. It is hard to explain but the minute I come around the bends and see the Rocky Mountains staring back at me, my whole body is at peace. It is as if my whole body exhales and peace immediately enters in. Sitting around Lily Lake or on the front porch at Meeker Park Lodge or wherever I might find myself, I don’t have to look far at all to find God’s peace because it is already there staring right back at me.

And as I think about how it is there along, I am reminded that it is in my every day too. I just have to stop and take the time to see it, to feel it and to hear it. God offers an everlasting peace that only God can provide. But we must take the time to seek it, to find it, and to let it enter in. Because when we do, God is right there painting  this beautiful masterpiece…like a golden sunset, or the golden wheat blowing in the fields of the prairies of North Dakota, or right in my own back yard.

And as God paints that beautiful masterpiece, we begin to see the beauty in the midst of the brokenness, the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary and experience the everlasting peace that only God can provide us.

I am linking up with Holly for Testimony Tuesday, Kelly for the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer for Tell His Story and Holley for Coffee for your Heart:

Remembering Sabbath

Earlier this year some friends and I decided to do a book study together. The book we chose was “Sabbath” by Wayne Mueller. I’m loving this book and what it is teaching me. Sabbath is more than Sunday. Sabbath is whenever we stop. So how do we truly take time for Sabbath? And why is Sabbath so important?

In this fast-paced high tech world, it is so easy to be pulled in by the world around us. We can’t seem to leave home without our cell phones. We have the worlds good and bad news at the tips of our fingers. And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

But as I’ve read this book, I’ve realized how it important it is to not be connected all the time. God wants us to take in his creation. The last four summers, in the heart of Rocky Mountain National park, I have not had a problem marveling at Gods amazing creation. The continuing education event I attend reminds me of not being connected and simply truly taking in this “Sabbath” place. I even wrote a poem this year reflecting on this exact sentiment. (If I think of it, I’ll post it in another blog post)

This week I am on vacation and I haven’t gone far. But I am thankful for friends who understand the importance of “sabbath” and how hard that is to experience when you live three doors down from your place of work. I am blessed that they have offered me a place of sanctuary.

This week I have found myself watching the birds and taking in all of Gods creation. I have found myself realizing it’s ok to just be! I am spending time with God. I am praying and reading and listening to the world around me. I’m slowing down and remembering how important this Sabbath time is for me (is for each of us)! I am breathing in and exhaling knowing that God wants and needs me to take this time so I can fully be who God created me to be.

This week has been full of sitting outside, reading, listening to the crackle of the campfire and so much more. Where do you experience Sabbath? How do you spend time in Sabbath?

Some of my fave places of Sabbath from June 2014 in Colorado

Sprague Lake

Outside our meeting room at Meeker Park Lodge

Sunset at Lily Lake

Post-Easter Sabbath

Can you believe Lent is over and that we began the season of Easter yesterday? Holy Week was crazy! I don’t know if it was the full moon or what. We survived! My colleague suggested I run away and/or take a few days of Sabbath. I took him up on it. I didn’t run very far but it has been glorious. Sleeping in, watching tv, napping, napping and more napping. I even booked a facial tomorrow at a local spa. I have never done one but am looking forward to it.

It’s amazing how a little Sabbath can truly make a difference. Thank you to my dear colleague for the suggestion and encouragement. I hope my friends who work in the church have found some post-Easter Sabbath too! How do you like to spend extended days of Sabbath? What do you do for yourself?