Things are changing around here.
It’s a highlight of every year for me, the writing conference I attended a few weeks ago. I love the drive into the Blue Ridge Mountains. I love the conference center’s picturesque setting. I love connecting with old friends and making new ones. I love learning tools of the trade that help me grow as a writer. Most of all, I love retreating from the noise of daily life and tuning my heart to the still, small voice of God.
This year was particularly good.
After three years of blogging here and a few years contributing to various ministries around the web (Just18Summers, ChristianDevotions, BrokenButPriceless), I’ve decided to write a book. I met with several industry professionals at the conference and pitched my idea. Two agents and a publishing house invited me to send them more information, something they called a proposal.
That sounded like no big deal. Something I could put together in a few days and send off within the week. (Yes, all my seasoned writer friends – I have much to learn!)
Then I looked at a sample proposal from one of those agents.
Turns out, it’s a pretty big deal.
Like 20+ pages talking about the book yet in progress, with lots of research needed ahead of time. I was a bit overwhelmed, but got right to work.
One of the main areas I needed to research was my target audience – those for whom I am writing. As my book is a devotional for mothers, the main readers are moms of babies to preteens, as well as others who spend significant time with kids in that age range – specifically teachers and grandparents.
I posted a survey to Facebook, with 20 getting-to-know-you questions. (If you missed it, you can still take the survey here.) I was thrilled to receive a large response, giving tremendous insight into the hearts and lives of over 80 moms, teachers and grandparents.
Guess what I learned?
We who love little ones have a whole lot in common.
While many described themselves as happy, they also said they’re overwhelmed, anxious, discouraged and exhausted. I totally get that. Nearly every word chosen to “describe your emotions within the last six months” could be used of me, too.
For many of us, though, our weariness goes beyond the physical.
Sometimes I feel my soul is tired.
Maybe it’s our busy schedule. Maybe it’s our constant connectedness on social media. Maybe it’s a lack of true rest during “down time.” Whatever the cause, whatever the life season, it seems we all experience it.
As I’ve pondered this common problem, Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 once again stand out. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Can I be honest here? I used to doubt Jesus’ words in that passage. They seemed almost to mock me. My Christian life was anything but restful. And Jesus’ burden light? That wasn’t my experience.
Ironically, when I hit a proverbial wall and my good girl life crumbled, that’s when I found rest. (For the full story, check out Confessions of a Good Girl.) In my broken, burned-out state Jesus pulled me close and showed me His dazzlingly beautiful, gentle and humble heart.
I found rest in the nearness of God. In better understanding His heart of grace. In seeing myself through His eyes and finding acceptance through Christ.
He taught me that all of life is to be lived from that place of soul rest.
Like two oxen sharing the same yoke, Christianity’s essence is connectedness to Christ. We are participators, but the good works are His. He initiates what He wants done. He empowers us to do it. He produces His fruit in and through us.
What a relief to find it’s not up to me!
Yes, life is exhausting. There are people to serve, families to love, schedules to keep. Our hearts get battered and bruised and sometimes we feel like giving up. Cultivating endurance is no easy task.
But in all our toil, God offers us rest through ever-deepening closeness with Him.
This has become a new theme in my life.
The look here at Dazzled By The Son now spotlights that life change. I’m also going to try a new format for my regular blog posts. Since Jesus is the Source of rest, let’s get to know Him better – together. Let’s take single attributes of God, mull them over, ask questions and share thoughts gleaned from our own study of His Word.
Will you join me?
Comment below if there’s a particular quality of God you’d like to discuss, or if you want to explore how God’s character affects a specific problem or situation. I can’t wait to go deeper with Him – and you!