a new rhythm of rest–a choice to leave the desert place (with book giveaway!)

We are upstairs in my father-in-law’s house, in the bedroom quarters our family shares during our little house’s remodel.

We have the laptop set up on a cardboard box on top of the bedside table so we can easily see the screen. We sit side by side on chairs borrowed from the kitchen table, watching this couple’s faces over Skype. They are kind, wise, gentle. But strong. They nudge us forward intentionally, inviting us to listen carefully for Jesus’ words to our hearts.

Rhythms of rest

When Justin and I gather with our mentors over Skype, they invite the four of us to listen together, asking what Jesus wants to say. For me, I hear silence. Nothing. Not a mental picture. Not a thought–no sentence or idea. But I am not distressed about this. I am not anxious.

But I must be depleted of energy, or distracted. And I tell them this. For I hesitate to ask Holy Spirit to use my imagination, like I usually do. I struggle for energy, desire, to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be in the presence of the Father. I am not sure I want to listen to any invitation Jesus might have to make.

But I sit. Seemingly empty. In quiet.

But it is not dark here.

And I am not alone.

I wait. I let the openness of my heart be enough. It is all I have, right now, to give.

But I have a feeling my soul knows what it is Jesus is saying. So I wait. And I become aware of the barrenness surrounding me. For I am seeing now–I see myself in a gray, depleted, washed out place of no water, no green, no life.

I look up.

“I am in a desert place,” I say aloud.

I tell them I see myself depleted. Tired. I recognize that my soul is hungry for God, but I sit here, blind to resources, deaf to life singing loud and long–life I can claim if I only stand up, let Him restore my heart, receive.

It feels impossible to receive God’s goodness when we are more intent on jumping through hoops and pleasing the world rather than slowing and taking action to let God care for our hearts.

A new rhythm of rest

This message has been coming at me from all sides this past week. Through podcasts, in books, in articles, in talks with friends. My Father is trying to tell me, over and over, how He is here, wanting to care for my heart. If I do not let His love cover me, restore me to Himself, then I remain hollow, my heart not healthy and whole. I need to make space for my Father to speak to me, over and over.

When our mentors use the word “rhythm” to explain how it is the seemingly small, daily choices we make to create room in our hearts to be with God, I am reminded of my friend Shelly Miller’s book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. I needed Shelly’s wisdom during the whirlwind of my book launch, staying up late to read chapters that spoke right to my heart. Shelly’s book invites the reader into a new way of life with God, a life of being intentional with how we spend our time, a life of slowing to specifically spend time with God, in the unique and beautiful way we are each made to do. This is the way to receive the gift God has made for us to receive: rest, restoration, peace, joy, fulfillment in Him and in nothing else.

Oh, how I needed the wisdom of this book. And oh, how my heart rebelled against it.

When I read Shelly’s book, I was reading her words but not letting the meaning penetrate my heart. I am just now hearing it. I am just now ready to receive the wisdom and new life she offers in this beautiful way to live: a life of being open to God’s presence in each moment, open to interruptions, open to intentionally changing the rhythm of one’s life to make space to hear and be in the presence of God.

For He is here. He is all around. He is in you. He is in me. There is so much, this moment, I want to see.

This depleted, desert place where I saw myself? I am not staying here. I am trying to listen to my soul. And new rhythms–daily choices of intentionally turning my heart, my soul, my mind, to the heart of the Father restores me to Him. And I am becoming myself.

What can be better than that?

When you are quiet before Jesus, where do you see yourself? Are you depleted, energized, at peace? What specific things do you do to intentionally choose to spend time with God and be restored?

Three-Book Giveaway!

Shelly and her publisher, Bethany House, are giving away three copies of Shelly’s beautiful book, Rhythms of RestRhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Entering is easy. All you need to do is share a comment to this question, “What specific thing do you do–or do you hope to do–to intentionally choose to spend time with God and be restored?” Each share on social media will count as an additional entry in the giveaway. (So let me know when you share.) I will draw three random winners on Friday! (I am afraid the publisher can only send to addresses within the U.S.)


[clickToTweet tweet=”Let us let God care for our hearts. #RhythmsofRest” quote=”Let us let God care for our hearts. #RhythmsofRest”]


Update: the three winners of the giveaway are Mary, Jeannie, and Susan!

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  • Jennifer, this so spoke to me! I am guilty of letting the world get in the way of my thought patterns and I don’t always have God right at the forefront where He should be. This put things in perspective for me and I’m going to get a copy of Shelly’s book. My mind will sometimes go 100 mph or 1000 mph as I like to say, and I just can’t shut it off. I needed a new perspective to put God to the forefront of my thoughts and actions and stop letting outside influences get in the way. Thank you for this my sister!

    • Hi Cathy, I am trying to develop habits of turning to God, rhythms so I can seek His restoration throughout the day. Yes, I too get so distracted! I think you will be encouraged by Shelly’s stories and practical suggestions. I pray for His kindness to settle on you this day, sister.

    • This spoke to me too – I am also in a desert at the moment. I just sit and say “here I am Lord. I don’t know what to say – I just want to feel You and know that all will be ok”

        • Hello Almarie, I am also in a desert right now. My focus is Jesus and His promises; however, there are times I cannot find the words to pray. My tears fall and I just repeat His name over and over. I’m here Lord is a phrase I utter, as well. I pray you will find Him and that I will, too.

  • Hi Jennifer, Getting up last night to replenish water for 5 ducklings in our room ? and as I got up out of bed I looked out our window and was deeply touched peace and the way God so provides rest and care for the earth. I decided to leave the heat lamp off as it was still warm and let the ducklings enjoy the peace of night time darkness. It was their first night with out the lamp!?
    Love and blessings ?

    • Dear April, I love your gentle, open heart. Oh, that image of you in the night with the ducklings! So beautiful and sweet! Praying you are well–that are filled with His love for you this day, sweet April.

  • Oh how I needed to hear this today! The thing I need to do most is sit at His feet…sit with my Bible and my journal and just spend unhurried time with Him. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Amanda, yes, being at His feet quiets me like nothing else. And that quietness, that knowing Him more from being with Him, energizes and restores me. I pray we both spend time right there today!

  • I make time every morning to read a devotional and His Word but not quite there yet to be still enough to allow His Holy Spirit to talk to me. I use to be, even had visions at night. After trying to help to many people and getting burned I’m trying to get moved so I can be at peace.

    • Hi Sheila, Yes, why is it that that slowing is such a tremendous challenge? We like to do it on our own terms. I forget He loves me so much that He wants to be with me–and communicating, in whatever unique and awesome way He wants to, is something my heart craves. (I pray we seek Him today–run to Him with our whole hearts!)

  • Jennifer ~Thank you for being honest and open. I find myself in a desert place ,completely depleted from a rough year. Today, I was praying and talking to Abba about how I want to be filled with Him completely and fully! I am not a high energy person and have 2 young boys. But have decided to get up earlier every morn. ..I want to be in tune with Abba God and filled with His presence . Learning to find rhythms of rest! Thank you for the encouragement and confirmation I needed❤️

    • Hi Kristina, I pray He continues to fill you up completely as you turn to Him and trust in His nearness and love for you! Yes, those extra-early hours, especially when the children are young at up so early, feel so sacred. Bless you as you spend time with the One who gives you energy and love and strength, in abundance!

  • Jennifer,

    What an amazing blog post! I understand the busyness of life, and how hard it is sometimes to find or make time to spend with God intentionally. I live in a 3 bedroom apartment, with my husband, youngest son, my brother, and my mother-in-law. With 5 people in a cramped space, there really is no privacy. My husband and I have to go out somewhere in order to talk without someone overhearing what we are saying. It is wearing on me.

    We are trying to get disability/SSI so that we can get out of here and find a house, which would give us more room and freedom. Right now, we are helping each other survive, by sharing costs so that we all have a place to live and food in our stomachs. Some days are easier than others.

    How do I get refreshed and rejuvenated? I am a psalmist, so when I sing and worship, I gain strength from the Lord. It is my deepest connection with the Lord, and where I can get lost in the Spirit, and everything falls away. You can imagine how difficult it is to find a way to do this right now. I’m praying for wisdom on ways to spend time with Father, so that He can renew me.

    The greatest freedom I have right now is every Sunday morning, when we go to church and worship. Our church is very free, and we have many people who go up front and wave their banners, dance, etc. Whatever works for them is welcome. I enjoy that time immensely, and find myself not wanting it to end. God is so good to provide this place for this time in my life.

    Last Sunday, I actually went up front and shared one of my songs with everyone. It was very well received, and touched several hearts with the message God gave through it. That was an answer to prayer. I know my Father loves me, and knows the desires of my heart. He gives me an oasis in the midst of the desert. He is ever faithful.

    Be blessed!

    • Dear Priscilla,

      I am so grateful for your words, your wide-open heart. I pray for His provision–that He clears a path to inspire you toward even more time with Him, that He continues to fill you and energize you and guide you deeper into His heart. I pray for His blessing upon you, your marriage, and your family–that His presence fills your home together, and that He provides the perfect home for you and your husband!

  • I love communing with God while walking outdoors. Nature is a big part of my heart for Him. After all, He ceated the beauty of this world. In addition I crave quiet time with Him – time in the Bible to get to know His character better. This builds my trust in Him. I want to learn better commitments to this process. I long for daily devotionals to be my connection to the Vineyard of Life. I shared on Facebook. Thanks for the opportunity.

    • Hi Karen, these are some of my very favorite things to do, too! I pray we do both of these things somehow today–that we look for Him and see Him in our surroundings, the beauty He has made.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I use several methods of spending time with God. One is reading and collecting and meditating of pins on Pinterest. One is setting my alarm to remind me to pray on my app, PrayerMate nightly, and another is listening to praise and worship music.

  • Hi Jennifer, I posted on all 4 sites Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest & Google.
    I love having my quiet time to just sit and talk to God, I try hard to block all other things out and just focus on him and hoping I hear the Holy Spirit speak to me and there are times that I think I actually know he is speaking thru me when things happen and it’s like Oh hey… now I get it and it’s like we say an Ah Ha! moment. It’s pretty awesome when it happens and you realize to yourself Wow he really is in there 🙂 What a wonderful feeling. God Bless.

  • I’ve been reading a lot about Sabbath rest. This looks like a great book. I also shared on Facebook.

    • Thanks, Lynn! I am so enjoying soaking up this wisdom about Sabbath! Sabbath: The Ancient Practices, by Dan Allender, is another book I have loved on Sabbath. I pray you have a beautiful weekend with Him!

  • Hey Jennifer! It’s so funny that you said that you have had this message coming to you from different places — me too! I’ve been feeling tired, a little empty and needing to spend more time with God, just being with him and soaking in all he has to share with me. I need to soak in his word and have been listening to podcasts that have strengthened my faith to help me know that it’s ok to not pray all day, read the Bible all day, but to love the way that God and Jesusi want us to live by being kind and helping others and also spending time with God – either in the Bible, with Christian music or praying. Thanks again for driving this home to me.

  • Hi, Jennifer – Thank you for this. Confirmation that I am on the right track – rest, surrendering to God. I’m reading an old, out of print book “Extreme Faith” by George Barna. God is calling us ALL deeper in our walk with him – it’s our choice if we go or not. It’s so easy to let “life” keep us distracted from that calling. May we all tune our ears to hear his clarion call.

    • Kari, I bet that is an amazing book! I so appreciate your encouragement now. Yes, it is beautiful how we get to choose. I pray our hearts are open and turned toward Him today–ready for all He has for us.

  • This is so beautiful, Jennifer! I intentionally spend time with God each day by thanking Him first thing each morning. I spend time reading my Bible, doing online Bible Studies, as well as subscribe to inspirational blogs, devotions, (of which Loop is my absolute favorite! ❤) and trying to keep an open line of prayer throughout each day. This book looks amazing as well! I have shared this today on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Blessings to you today! ❤

  • I have found myself in desert places more often in the last couple of years and everything will just sort of come to a stop in my life. I will feel stuck with no forward action going on in my work or ministry or life itself. I would often hear God asking me to stop what I was doing and “come apart for awhile” with Him but more times then I care to say I would actually ask God to wait a minute, I just had to finish what I was doing at the time! Wow, what was I thinking? Long story short, I began to immediately heed His call and stop what ever I was doing and intentionally get on my knees (when ever possible) and see myself enter the throne room and shut the door with the world, work, stress, frustration, etc. all out side that door, the door was sound proof and solid so I could not see out of it. There I would be in the bright, warm and loving presence of the Father and Jesus. I would stay there until I felt at peace and not rushed anymore. My breathing would slow down and become deeper and fuller, my heart rate would drop and His peace would wash over me and wrap me in His arms with a secure and loving hug. I no longer ask Him to wait a minute, I have learned to be instant to obey and oh what a blessing I recieve in doing so! 🙂 I would love to have and read Shelly’s book, it sounds amazing!

    • Jeannie, your words here are stunning! I am so grateful for your sharing the beauty–the reward to our hearts–in saying yes to the presence of God! Thank you! I needed to hear this today!

  • Sorry Jennifer, I am not sure how we are to contact you to let you know that we have shared this wonderful post on Social Media. I have shared it on my own timeline, a friend’s timeline and in a private FB group as well as on my twitter account. 🙂 Whether I win a book or not, I was happy to repost this, I hope many sisters will read it and be encouraged!

    • Hi Jeannie, Thank you so much for sharing. I very much enjoyed Shelly’s wisdom and her encouragement to pursue Sabbath. Yes, may we regularly seek the heart of our Father and be restored!

  • What I need most is to stop and be quiet with The Lord. Sometimes it’s hard to slow down my brain even while reading Scriptures or spiritual blog posts. I want to read this book! I also tweeted this post!

    • Hi Sophia, yes, it is so hard to slow down and not be distracted. I pray our Father quiets our heart today, that we may be drawn deeper into Him, longing and able to hear Him and be present with Him more than anything else. In Jesus’ name.

  • Jennifer my whole live is about Jesus.then on the 6 of october2016 i lost my husbund in a traumatic way.i could not cope and sad to say the dr gave me a pills to cope so i could not feel because i was drugged.but the Lord showed me yesterday He is Here all around me and He will help me cope.All the Glory to the Lord .and you be more blessed becsuse you are special

    • Magrietha, I am so sorry for the terrible loss of your husband. I am so thankful for your kindness in responding here. I am praying now for our Lord’s kindness and love for you to continue to uplift you, holding you close and giving you strength, each moment. In Jesus’ name.