Folks talk about the lazy days of summer, but this year, I’m experiencing the lazy days of fall. Well, maybe not exactly lazy, but quiet and slow. Usually fall feels like the start of something new to me—school, a new season, anticipating winter and Christmas, getting into a new groove of a new schedule. But in the spirit of pursuing rest, I’ve had a reset this year.
This year, my baby started kindergarten. In our district, kinder is all day, so all of a sudden, I found myself with 6 ½ hours alone every day for the first time since having my babies. At summer’s end, I was overwhelmed by how much time that seemed to be. Now I know that by the time I get home from dropoff, exercise, shower, read my Bible, and do household tasks before needing to leave for pickup, 6 ½ hours isn’t very long at all! Plus, I volunteer at the school three afternoons a week, which takes up a big chunk of time. And as you can imagine, those hours at home get taken up with babysitting, coffee dates, errands, Bible study, making meals for others, making dinner for us, reading, etc. [Side note: I’ve done a LOT of reading lately, and some of the books have rocked my world! I plan to share them with you soon.]
All that to say, as I pondered the responsibility of several hours to myself a week, I wondered what it would look like to steward that time well and use it to love my family even though they weren’t home. One of the things the Lord brought to my mind was continuing my pursuit of rest. I have come to understand that if my heart and mind are rested, I am: kinder, more patient, gentler, calmer, quicker to smile, more self-controlled. And then some! I knew that my babies would come home from school tired and needing to process their experiences. How could I be ready for them?
Self-admittedly, I’m not one of those mamas who has unending patience and who is always a soft place for others to land. I fight abrasiveness and selfishness, and I have to actually tell myself to be kind to my children. While motherhood has been my life’s biggest joy, it’s also been my life’s biggest source of sanctification! But learning how to rest has helped with all of that. Seeking Sabbath for myself enables me to extend it to my family, to experience it together in joy and gratitude.
So I decided that I would get my chores done while the kids are at school so that I wouldn’t be distracted when they come home. I decided to pursue rest and Jesus so I could extend rest and Jesus’ love to my littles when their own hearts are tired. The Lord has been so gracious in leading me in this little journey, and one way He’s done it has been so ridiculous, I have to laugh even as I thank Him.
You see, this summer, some friends of ours were going on vacation and needed someone to take care of their chickens while they were gone for a couple of weeks. I volunteered, and they brought these silly birds over to a temporary pen I set up. I can’t tell you the delight we found in these hens! They are full of personality, and we would sit outside for hours watching them do their chicken thing.
I dreaded the day our friends were set to return. Unexpectedly, I had fallen in love with these chickens and was so sad thinking about their departure. Finally, the day came, and my friend and I were texting to make arrangements for them to pick up the hens. In a fun twist, our friend told me she had been offered a full-time job, didn’t feel like she had the capacity to care for the chickens like she wanted to, and would we be interested in keeping them?
Keeping them?! Holy guacamole, I said yes before even talking to Aaron. We built a coop and settled the hens in permanently. While I had been surprised at how much I loved them, I was even more surprised at how much I’ve appreciated their company now that my babies are in school all day! When I get home from dropoff, the chickens starting clucking and talking to me as I walk across the yard from the garage. I get a treat for them (mealworms, anyone?!), grab my Bible, and sit down in the shade next to their pen.
There I sit for at least an hour a day, enjoying God’s creation, His Word, and His gift of hens to my mama’s heart. How can I not be full of gratitude to see how God has provided for my loneliness this fall?
So I continue in this pursuit of rest, remembering that it is an active pursuit, that rest has to be intentional, that it requires sacrifice, and that it is totally worth it.
How has God blessed you this fall? What gifts of provision have you noticed? Has this fall been busy or restful? How are you intentionally pursuing rest in your life and in your heart? What is your biggest struggle with pursuing rest?