07 April, 2012

Rest and finding time to do it

Yesterday I wrote about how this is a stress of missionary life, in fact ministry life in general from what I've seen of my friends who are in full-time ministry in Australia. Today I wanted to put a positive spin on it and tell you what we do for rest and relaxation.
One of our favourite parks.

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll have noticed that we often go to parks, though a little less so in the midst of winter. With three active boys and no back or front yard to speak of (just enough for weeds and a few flowers, but not play), we're always looking for ways to get them out of the house. This includes going to large parks. We've found a few around the Tokyo and patronise them fairly regularly. If a park is too big a journey (most of the big parks are far enough away that they demand a whole day or close to that), then we tend to take the boys for a ride, or down to the flat spot near the river where they can run, and throw or kick a ball etc., without endangering themselves (or anyone else).

So, just being parents of active boys lends itself to taking time out to recreate. We look back on our time at language school and see that having one and then two sons helped us to have a more balanced life back then. Without kids it is easy to totally sell out to language study and take no time to relax. Our eldest son at that age needed to go outside every morning to play or he was climbing the walls, and us with him.

If you were reading here last year you'll know that we took up camping as a family recreational pursuit. That was a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. We're still getting used to it and felt quite physically exhausted from it, but mentally and spiritually it was great to get away into nature.

On a smaller note, we try not to work in the evenings after we've done Bible time with the boys in their beds. That creates about an hour of time which we usually spend together (and eat dessert together), although not so when David was studying part-time for his Masters last year, he's taking a break this year, thankfully. Often that time is spent in the lounge room with a DVD. I often cross-stitch at that time too. We've enjoyed several DVD series in recent years including M*A*S*H, CSI, NCIS, West Wing, and Grey's Anatomy. Of course this is possible because our ministry isn't "after hours" like so many ministries are. I'm thankful.

I've written about SQUIRT time before (scroll down a way in this post), this is a parental survival tool that we've built into our weekends and holidays, a time for all of us to rest quietly on our own, often with books. We have an especially long one on Sundays during term time. Because we're not running a church we can have a pretty leisurely Sunday afternoon.

I am a habitual before-sleep reader. It is how I relax to go to sleep and have done so since I was a child. I often read for half an hour or more before I switch the light out.

I sleep-in on Saturday mornings, when I can. David makes breakfast (he hardly ever sleeps in) and the boys usually eat without me Saturday morning. Love it!

What else? I get exercise, that refreshes me. I wrote about our active lifestyle here. When our youngest was about two I used to collapse on the lounge after dinner, before the bedtime routine. I then started going to the gym and gained a lot more energy. It keeps me mentally healthier too!

How's that sound? I think we do pretty well. We probably don't do as much "ministry" as some others manage, but I know that God has made each person and each family with varied abilities and varied demands. Different people require different amounts of sleep and recreation in order to remain healthy. The trick is in finding what is the right balance for you. Our boys are quite intense and take a lot out of us. we find that we need the above to stay productive and healthy.

Do you know what your pastor (and family) do to find time to rest?

1 comment:

-J said...

Great question to consider! Finding rest was a continual struggle during my years in Japan. You've hit the nail (a lot of nails) on the head in these past two posts. My grandma, as she got older, prayed more and more for balance. And I think that is a very necessary request for all of us, and especially for ministry families.