Cultivating Peace –
My mother has this obsession for succulent plants. It started with a trip to the Amish country and she saw all of the tiny plants in cut pots. When she came home from her trip, she set up a succulent garden in the back room of her house. It gets the most light during the day. If you were to walk back to the narrow hallway, you will see them on the windowsill. She rarely waters them, but they still grow. They are designed to not need a lot of water. I love their tiny leaves, sweet flowers, and unique roots poking out from the dry soil.
When we moved into our old house, the previous owners had left a cactus in the windowsill above the sink. I started watering it and because it didn’t need a lot of water, it has survived several years. Normally, I’m not the best at plants. Succulents are different. They don’t need as much tender care, so I asked my mom to replant some and give them to me. That was about six months ago. I’m looking at the one above my sink, on the windowsill. Sadly, it is withering. Seems I can’t even keep succulents alive.
Keeping my prayer life alive seemed like just as difficult. Every year, around January, I would make promises, resolutions, and goals of increasing my prayer life. Instead, I found around March I was back to neglecting this particular spiritual discipline. Last year I decided to ask for God’s help in changing. I wanted a different kind of prayer life.
Over the course of the year I saw God’s Holy Spirit work in my life a new thing! Peace began to find its way into my heart. I wanted to be more faithful in my prayer life, but instead, God’s peace was the added blessing. One of the main habits I’ve developed is praying and reading the Psalms right before I go to bed.
One night I was lying in bed and it was late. Past midnight. I was wide awake, thinking about my life. I mean ALL OF THE THINGS in my life were swirling around in my brain. Moving to the mission field, our daughter’s special needs, our newest son’s inability to regulate himself, my other children, the fact I need to fold like 3 loads of laundry, and the dream to become a published author swirled in a mess around my mind.
I tossed. I turned. I ate a Tums.
The next thing I knew it was 2 am.
I went downstairs to eat a cookie and drink some milk. It didn’t help. I was up until 3 am, just thinking about the most random things……
Do you ever have a night like this? Where you can’t get to sleep because so many thoughts are going around and around inside your mind?
It happened the next night and I was beyond exhausted.
On the third night of the SAME THING, I decided to recite Scripture in the dark. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t remember a lot of passages. But the ones I did remember were the Psalms. So I just repeated the verses I knew over and over in my brain.
It worked. I could feel my pulse slow, and my brain knew to slow down and relax. I asked God to help my heart and help me sleep.
One of the great reasons I love the Psalms is the ability to help calm my spirit. His Word is the key to help me fall asleep at night. I’ve decided to write down the Psalms that help me find rest when life is overwhelming, or when I can’t shut off my brain, or just when I need some extra peace. I’ve been using these Psalms for the past few weeks. I try to pick one of the week and put the card beside my bed at night. I look over it a couple of times, reciting it while the light is turned on and my husband is brushing his teeth. I then use it through the day as well. One verse a week is more doable for me to memorize.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
When I have a hard time resting, I pull up my Bible app on my phone and read. Almost every time I read a psalm I can feel my heart slow down, I close my eyes and pray to my Lord, who doesn’t sleep. The power of God’s word is not a mystical, magical wand. It is alive and real.
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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27