The Secret of Creating Spaces for Rest when Life Exhausts a Mama


Ernest Ange Duez

Me, after a conference weekend! :)

Do you ever feel this way? What a silly question! Of course you do.

What an incredible weekend! I love the life, love and beauty that I always see at the mom’s conferences each year. With kindred spirit mamas and friendship and time together over ideals, inspiration and the Word, it is as though the Lord Himself is knitting hearts together and building strength amongst us.

Eternity will be changed forever. 

However, we return home and are reminded that all of mama-hood and life and marriage and home are filled with constant drain.

Sometimes, when we have piles of responsibility on our plate, we start to place a lot of energy, worry and fear into the “issues” of our lives, and we start to fret.  And then there are those weeks of illness or moving or company or, or, or

The last thing that seems productive when life is busy is to rest.

Yet, rest may very well be the most strategic thing to do if we have a busy, full and demanding life.

If we do not practice a habit of a restful life, we will end up with serious illness, exhaustion, bad attitudes and fist-shaking faith aimed heavenward.

 As I have said before, “Fretting leads only to evil doing.” (Reflection of Psalm 37:8!)

God put Sabbath rest into the weeks of our lives with a purpose. It is not just a Sunday thing–it is a principle of stopping when life has drained too much.

I have found that when I believe and engage my heart in the goodness of God’s character, and place into the file drawers of heaven all that I am carrying and worrying about, including the lists of all that I have to do,  I begin to find peace.

When I find myself depleted, I stop and take stock of what is going on in my life.  I place the worries and anxieties in heaven. I simplify my schedule. I plan a snack-style dinner, maybe crackers and cheese or fruit and toast, and break out the paper plates. I take a day off from regular commitments and plan to be still. The next day, I again put away normal commitments in order to attack the demanding tasks that are increasing my burden. But into my day I also plan simple pleasure–making time for several coffees or cups of tea, having a nap, watching a show or reading a magazine–which gives the little break I know I need.

When my children were little, on these burned-out days, I would do whatever would free me for just a time–bubbles would be brought out,  or a long bath with new bath toys, a Winnie the Pooh cartoon,  a trip to the frozen yogurt cafe, or a quick jaunt to the park or playground–I crafted a way I might have a break from the banter and demands.

Refueling just a little to find joy, create pleasure and celebrate life in the midst of all the demands helps fill my heart up just enough to begin seeing light at the end of my tunnel.

Slowly, I would begin see the miracles bubbling up … slowly, surely; He, my Father, delights to provide when I take time to breathe, listen, and rest from the daily grind.

 A Martha heart, frenetically busy, won’t see the miracles of God, as she is so busy living in the whirlwind of her own making and subsisting in her own meek provisions that she loses all hope and becomes a wretched nag.

The more exhausted I am with life, the more tense, grumpy and tight I become and it spills all over everyone else.

Finding myself at a juncture of exhaustion from giving all that I have (Thursday-Sunday) to the sweet, wonderful  mamas in my conferences has taught me to take a break, sleep, do something fun and distracting, and give margin to my weary body.

I find that somehow when I try to figure out all of the responsibilities and listen to the litany of the duties of next few months, which are huge, I am tempted to be overwhelmed.

Yet, from so many times like this in the past, I have learned a secret. My Prince Jesus comes to me at just the right time. Like the story of Sleeping Beauty, the prince comes not when she is searching the horizon, pounding her fists, running the floor,

But the prince comes when the princess is asleep, and doing nothing but resting.

Resting in Him, choosing peace and putting off responsibilities and recreating can be such grand medicine for my soul, that after choosing to rest and to invest in fun and love and ease of life, my strength is renewed and all life’s issues can be faced with grace.

I know duty is bound to come, but I will face it with courage tomorrow  if I rest today, when my body demands it.

And so today, my plan is to go back to bed, to pace leisurely through the pathway of Monday, to sip and really taste my coffee, to just sit and listen to my sweet girls and Joel  and really look into their hearts and eyes; to call Clay at the office just to say “hi”–and remember that both he and they are also tired; to focus on the beauty of their light-filled eyes; to stay in comfy clothes all day– listen to music, watch a fun movie, read and pray–and then maybe to rest again, because I know that while I am resting, my Prince is already coming to my rescue, because He has my back covered.

Peace, be still, the Lord is near.

Henry Maynell Rheam

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  1. Becca says

    It’s January 21st a I think this is going to be my 2013 New Year’s Resolution. Good thing I figured it out in January and not November. Thank you for modeling greatness Mrs. Sally.

  2. Rachel says

    The Daily Bread the other day talked about how rest is a gift from God! Goes right along with this. I need this reminder every day! Thanks :)

  3. says

    Enjoy Your Rest! Always a good reminder to “take a break” during these busy seasons. I notice that when I do take a small amount of time to “fill my cup”. I come back refreshed and ready to serve my family. It took me a while to learn this though! lol

  4. says

    I have been in a season of serious burn out. It’s been dark, I have 5 children, I’ve always been super passionate and zealous, but rejection, following formulas and failing, and a miscarriage in June (my third in 10 yrs) depleted me physically and emotionally. just purchased yours and Sarah Mae’s book desperate, and it’s the first time I’ve heard someone tell me what I knew deep down, formulas don’t work. I’m one of those moms who wore herself out with them…I’m entering freedom now but just when I felt the burdens lifting, I was told I’m not organized enough (at a time when my house has been cleaner than it has been in a year!). Then I felt the burdens again….struggling to lift my head above it, I know He is faithful. Thank you for your ‘real’ ministry, it is vital for me right now. I know I’m just about out of this tunnel.

  5. says

    The pictures of ladies on fainting couches makes me smile and I appreciate your message on the importance of rest. So many women I know feel guilty about resting, but it’s such an integral part of being human and putting ourselves in the position to be restored again by our Creator, our Prince. Beautiful. Thank you.

  6. Diane says

    I was reflecting on this concept of rest this morning. I had surgery for cancer a couple years ago and it was during my time of rest and healing after getting out of the hospital that I spent time meditating on God’s Word. He gave me a peace that passeth all understanding that I would have missed if I would have neglected that rest.

    Love your blog, Sarah! You inspire me to reach out to younger moms.

  7. says

    Thank you for this sweet reminder today to just enjoy and delight in the moments the Lord gives us. Resting in Him today along with you.
    Blessings to you today Sally :)
    Much love, Marci
    PS: You reach out to us older moms too :). It encourages and reminds me of my role to the younger moms the Lord has placed in my life. My daughter and grandchildren at the top of that list. Thanking Him for your faithfulness dear sister

  8. says

    Thank you for encouraging me to rest..something I struggle to do. Today I needed that..I’m a weary pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom to 6 kids..and it’s Monday..enough said :) We are days from vacation and while looking forward to that this is a much needed reminder that the lists can wait and my family needs me to be calm today. Thank you!

  9. Kharis says

    ** I am praying for refreshment for your body and your soul. **
    Thank you for giving so much this last weekend !

    Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” Psalm 87:7

  10. Lela says

    Thank you, Sally for mothering all of us! So many of your challenges sound like my own, but I get your wisdom and encouragement. I’m about to have a birthday and thinking of inviting some women friends over for an evening of food and relaxation and hopefully, it will start something we can carry on. I’m nervous about it, but also excited about what it could start….some endearing friendships.

  11. says

    wonderful, wonderful. thank you for the reminder that we all need to rest, be restored, even once little ones are out of the nest and we are in the mentoring stage of life. Mothering is a lifelong ministry, so the need to step back now and then, snuggle in a bit ourselves, is still a priority even once the house has emptied out.

  12. julie says

    I was shaking my fist this morning.I am so thankful He has laid these things on your heart and put them in my path just at this moment. My youngest is 8 my oldest 21 when everyone was little God was good and I seemed to understand and know all that you are saying here. Sitting at His feet was the most important thing to me. Over the years I have left Mary behind and found Martha to be the norm for me and so discouraged by this. Guiding my kids to adulthood overwhelms me. I am thankful for your daily reminder to rest and remember the joy.

  13. Julie W says

    I like the image of my Prince coming when I’m resting. Yesterday was one of those anxious, overwhelmed-with-my-to-do-list days, and I did find myself shaking my fist a few times too, wondering what needed to change so my attitude could improve. Your reminder to rest is timely. Sometimes I just have to snatch what I can when I find a down moment (I have 3 kids under 6), but planning a regular restful time (coffee out, foot massage, etc) would give me something to look forward to as well.

  14. Roxanne says

    No offense but this only works if you have no commitments. No art class, ballet/dance, and certainly no work outside the family requirements. This only works if you have no REAL requirements. Meaning your plans for the day are optional. And sure if you only have little kids – yea – options galore. I found this post unhelpful.

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