This Christmas: Rest

I don’t know about you, but Christmas is not a time when I usually think about rest. In fact, rest is usually very far from my mind as I plan for travel, visiting family and friends, gifts, church celebrations, and parties. Rest usually doesn’t register on my radar until after the first of the year, after the busyness and celebrating has ended.

This Christmas is different though. This Christmas, I am longing for rest.

This is the first Christmas with our daughter Kate. Kate is the newest apple of my eye. I adore and love this little girl in a way that words fail. Kate has only been home a few months, and our family is still adjusting, still learning her, still figuring out the new dynamic. Kate is still feeling us out too. She is still grieving and still processing everything. All this adjusting, learning, grieving, and processing has me saying “no” a lot and fighting a lot to find our new normal.

And, I’m tired of saying no. I’m tired of always feeling like the bad guy. I’m tired of fighting. I fight to keep the house clean. I fight to find time to work, time for family, time with God. I fight to keep everyone happy and well. I fight to have a routine and a schedule.

But, mostly, I fight with Kate…and for Kate…but mostly with Kate. I know that fighting is normal with a 2 year old. That doesn’t make it easier. I know that Kate is pushing harder than most, testing boundaries, seeing just how far she can go and doing it all to see if I will still be here, still love her, still want her. I know this. But, that doesn’t make it easier. It makes my reactions different but not easier.

And, right now, this very night, I long for easy. I long for a night where there are no tears, no screams, no trips back and forth from her room. I long for a morning where there are no screams or tears, no acting out, no aggression.

Tonight, I long for normal. I long for her to feel safe with the lights off. I long for her to feel included, loved, one of us. I long for her to love me back. I long for a conversation where both sides understand.

I long for a version of easy that is not necessarily easy, just familiar.

And all this longing has me praying and searching and thinking.

And, it has me thinking about how Kate, this very night, also longs for easy, how she longs for a night that is tearless, fearless, and peaceful, how she longs to understand the words I say, longs to understand this love.

Tonight, I think she longs for her normal, her easy that wasn’t so easy, her familiar.

And so, I go back to praying. I step away from the laundry, the tv, the computer; and I pray. Then, I am still. I am still in my house that is finally quiet, finally still itself, and listen, hoping that the Lord will have a word of encouragement for me. Something. Anything. A whisper that he hears me. That he understands me. That he understands Kate. That he is here too.

Some nights, all I hear is silence.

Some nights, like tonight, his loving, gentle, affirming voice speaks clearly to my soul telling me that he is here, he does understand and that he longs for it to be easy too. Then, he reminds me, in a way only a loving father can, what his word says about burdens, about discouragement, about worry, about the rest I seek.

Then, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

So, I come to him.

I come to him with my burdens as a mom. I come to him with my burdens as a wife. I come to him with all of my burdens as his child.

I come and sit and let him take care of me. Let him teach me. Let him love on me. Let him bring the rest that he promised.

And you know what? He does exactly as he promises.

This Christmas, he gives me rest. Rest for my heart. Rest for my soul. Rest for my mind.

As someone who needs rest and prays for it often, I wonder if there is anyone out there who is also searching for rest, anyone whose Christmas wish is rest. If so, I want to encourage you to pray for the rest that the Lord has promised. Tell him all about your burden. Swap yokes with him.

This Christmas, he longs to give you rest.

And, remember, he always keeps his promises.

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Ashley Milford

Ashley is a social worker turned stay-at-home mom who rarely stays at home. She has been married for 11 years to the man who makes her laugh until her side hurts and can fix anything with a hug. They have have 3 miracles girls, the youngest (by only 6 months) joined their family from China this summer. You can check out their adoption journey and musings on life as they know it on her blog.

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