Q: How can women find stillness and "soul rest" in a culture plagued by overscheduling and hurrysickness?

A: We need to first understand that we even need these things! Our culture values productivity and activity and the pace can leave us breathless, exhausted, and empty. Hurrysickness is the word sociologists have coined to describe the frantically paced lifestyle of many Americans. That has trickled down into our children's lives and many people are raising hurried, overscheduled kids.

Relationships, family time, unstructured time, and a sense of inner peace all often suffer when we don't make time for stillness in our lives. God has taught me the restorative power of stillness for body, mind, and soul. As A.W. Tozer said, rest isn't something we do; it's what comes to us when we cease to do. Even with a large family, ministry, work, and a home to run, I've found the gift of stillness in a rocker on my front porch-one of my favorite places on earth. It is important to me to regularly find moments to cease to do, to stop a swirling life and get centered. Whether on a front porch or a hotel lobby, in stressful or peaceful times, we can all take a few moments, even just five, to find rest in stillness.

When we can be still and know that He is God we find soul rest! I love Jesus' sweet promise in Matthew 11 when he says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest....rest for your souls." I know weary. I'm a mom. So in the margin of my Bible next to this verse I wrote "like a hug from my Father!" He calls my often weary and sometimes heavy-laden self to him like a daddy reaching to comfort his baby. Surrendering to His embrace, coming to Jesus, is where we find soul rest.

 

Q: Isn¹t it healthy for a busy woman to take a break from the demands of work and family and let herself go a little?

A: Yes to the first part and no to the second. It's extremely healthy for a busy woman to take breaks from her demands and rejuvenate herself so she can be a better woman, and if she has a family a better care-giver. But we don't have to let ourselves go. "Letting ourselves go," whether it's physically in our health or appearance or spiritually, mentally, or emotionally, implies apathy. It implies that we don't care. And not caring about our growth, about being who God made us for His glory, is a danger sign for the road south.

Q: How does prolonged stress on a mom adversely affect her children?

A: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that mothers go through that does not in some way affect our children. When we are stressed, especially for long periods, how we interact changes-- our tone of voice, our patience, our attention and focus, our perspective, our responses, our sense of humor, our emotional responses. Our children do not miss this! Our choices have consequences and our choices as mothers are magnified because we have the power to shape a life. We influence children physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. When we make the effort to keep from going south, whether from prolonged stress or other factors, we not only benefit, but so do our children. Like little goslings following a mother goose, our children take our lead.

Q: How can women increase their reservoir of physical and spiritual energy?

A: We must first understand the synergy and connectedness of our physical, spiritual, and emotional nature. They are intricately woven together with one area affecting the others. The most important thing I've ever done is wake up to the fact that caring for myself physically is the best gift I can give my family as well as myself. To increase the reservoir of physical energy start with rest.

Women are notorious for needing more sleep than we get. I've heard of women doing laundry at 1:00 a.m. or getting up at 4:00 in an effort to "get it all done." Yet understanding how much sleep we need to function at our personal best and then making it a priority to get that amount of rest will increase our productivity, our physical strength, and our emotional health.

Exercise is another key ingredient. Expending energy through exercise actually creates energy! While I used to enjoy jogging and health club memberships, now I simply walk 4-5 times a week.

And another key ingredient in increasing physical reserves is through a healthful diet. Food is fuel so when we give ourselves as much plant foods, whole grains, and fruits as veggies as possible, we provide the fuel our bodies need to run on. Some people actually can go very long periods of time without eating a vegetable. Replace diet and deprivation thinking with health and energy thinking about food. I'm all for an occasional piece of cheesecake; it's the overall lifestyle eating habits that matter.