Three weeks ago, when I was knee deep reading sophomore essays and writing comments on students’ report card, just the thought of those two words made my heart flutter in whitsful anticipation. The ending of the quarter was a particularly stressful period, what with grading, planning, parenting, and adulting taking its’ toll. My stress level got so high that I resorted to finding solace and peace by doing what came naturally to me: distracting myself with unnecessary things so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the real issue, or issues, at hand. Obviously, as evidenced by the fact that by the time October 5th rolled around, I still had knots of tension throughout my body, and I felt like I wanted to just sit in a room and do nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was at that moment that I knew I needed something, a miraculous God intervention.
Thankfully at just that moment our Fall Break began. I was ready to kick my feet up and veg out watching reruns of “Entourage”, but of course, the kids kept me occupied. Spending days running around the park or traversing the Honolulu Zoo with a six and two year old are not the most calming and restful activities to engage in. So when my husband suggested we go to Kauai for the weekend to visit my cousin and his family, I was excited but also apprehensive. Traveling with two kids under the age of 10? Packing for all of us? Making sure we brought the toy cars for the little guy and enough snacks for the little girl? It was a stress just thinking about all the preparations. But I agreed to the trip, knowing that I missed seeing my long-lost Kauai relatives and getting the opportunity to just slow down. Eventually the big travel day rolled around, and just like that we were off on a forty minute plane ride to the Garden Isle.
And what a vacation it was. We just returned from a three day stay, and I’ll detail more about the great activities we did at the exquisite Marriott Waiohai (Create your own cupcake! Temporary tattoo fun!) and the adventures we had with my cousin, his wife, and their two kids (Visiting Kamalani Park! Eating at all the hot local spots!) in another post. One highlight of this three day jaunt that I must share about now, however, was attending Breath of Life Ministries for church service the day before our departure.
Normally when we are on vacation we don’t attend church (I know, I know) as it’s too much hustle to get everyone ready for a service before noon. But on this trip, we wanted to check out Pastor Tom’s service, so we made the quick drive over to Rice Street and listened to an impassioned teaching on the book of Revelations on a very humid Sunday morning. The worship got my feet tapping, as there was a mix of original songs and a Van Morrison classic being played, but what really spoke to me was a conversation I had with the D’Lissa, the pastor’s wife. After service was over I approached her to talk about an upcoming small group she was going to run. It is going to be centered around psychology, and how when the mind is fractured and unhealthy, this spiritual and emotional illness leaks into the body and spirit.
So. Me. Right. Now.
Hearing D’Lissa speak about the different components of the study and how the basis of it will be focused around meditating on God’s word throughout the day, I felt the Holy Spirit opening my heart, saying, “THIS. THIS is what I want you to hear.”
During moments of stress, I’m akin to resort to my own means of finding peace, whether it’s engaging in another activity to get my mind off what’s really bothering me or yelling and crying in frustration at the challenging situation. Either way, I never really feel like those actions are things God wants me to do. I know that I should stop and seek Him in prayer during those trying times, but it’s hard to do so when I’m instead tempted to clean the house or go on social media (distraction, anyone???). Or even worse, I just curl into the fetal position on my bed and bawl and swear and cry. Letting the pent up emotions out isn’t necessarily bad, but after my moaning and crying, I never actually resolve the feelings of frustration that I feel. So when D’Lissa started talking about prayer and meditation being like medicine–a person takes it when she is not feeling well–I felt a pull in my heart that yes, in fact, I need God’s medicine in my life. If I were depressed and the psychiatrist gave me Zoloft to combat my illness, I’d take it everyday at a certain prescribed time. Why not do the same with my prayer life?
And so from that morning, I resolved to focus on a certain passage of scripture every day for one week, and like my medicine or food, I would seek the Holy Spirit to show me what He wants me to find from His word. I started looking at Psalm 23 on Monday, and just from carving out instances throughout the day when I am stopping, reading, praying, and focusing on the Lord as my shepherd, I already am feeling my heart more calm and steady and my tense shoulders releasing.
As the week progresses, I will certainly keep you updated on what God is showing me through His word. Fall Break. It is certainly shaping up to be one of greatest and most renewing vacations to date.