Soul Detox with Lynne Themelaras

Mar 28, 2024

 

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Is your soul weary and in need of some rest? Do you feel weighed down by life and ministry? Are you in need of a reset?

Today Lynne Themelaras, pastor, counselor, and author of Soul Detox, looks at the types of debris that clutters up our souls and gives practical steps for us to begin our own soul detox.

 

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Ways to Connect With Lynne Themelaras

Transcript of the Episode:

Stephanie (00:02.158)
Welcome to this episode of the Modern Day Missionaries podcast. What a joy it is to have Lynne Themelaras with us today. Welcome, Lynn.

Lynne Themelaras (00:11.918)
Glad to be here, excited.

Stephanie (00:14.99)
Thanks for being so willing to share with our listeners today. I’ve got to tell you all a little bit about Lynne. You got to meet her. So Lynne is a teacher. She’s a speaker, a professor. She’s a pastor serving two congregations in the US. One as a founding pastor and one is a senior pastor. She holds a master’s in psychology and formerly taught at several colleges. And Lynne also oversees healing ministries at both of the churches she serves. She provides counseling, mentoring, and training.

And Lynne is the author of a new book called Soul Detox, a path to renewal and restoration, which is really a 40-day journal journey to reset your soul. I would say. And Lynne, you and your husband Bill have been supporters of Modern Day for many years. Bill’s on the Modern Day board and the two of you are just so passionate about missions and missionaries. And we are thankful for you and just delighted that you would come and share with us today.

Lynne Themelaras (01:05.006)
We love missionaries. One of the agreements that my husband and I had when we were dating and thinking about getting married was that I had no problem being at a church, being on US soil, but my love for going on short -term missions, he was not to put up with it because if I would have an opportunity to go somewhere, anywhere in the world, I wanted to do it. And so he’s been very gracious that at least once or twice a year I get to go somewhere and just be on the mission field and I love it.

Stephanie (01:38.478)
Well, and Lynne, you were just telling me a second ago when we were talking that you had a different plan for your life than how things have turned out. What was that original plan?

Lynne Themelaras (01:47.822)
For sure. So I grew up in a church where we had a missionary couple, the Seeleys, and they came every year to give an update about their missions in Brazil. And my plan, starting at like 12 years old, was I was going to graduate from high school and I was moving to Brazil and I was going to work with the Seeleys. And my parents, who are also in the ministry, love the Lord. They thought, hey, not a problem. You can do that, but you have to get your bachelor’s degree first. So I ended up going to college and putting off being with the Seeleys. And during that time, I started dating my husband, Bill. It kept me from being, living on the mission film, but I never lost my love for missions and I’m working on it. He’s spending a little bit more time doing missions work than he probably thought he would, but you know.

Stephanie (02:44.526)
Well, you’re even saying that the studies that you chose, the degrees that you chose were motivated by, what could I do on the mission field?

Lynne Themelaras (02:44.758)
Exactly. My first thought was medical missions, because you would always hear about that, doctors and nurses going on the mission field and bringing vaccines and medicines and whatnot. But I had this aversion to needles and blood that quickly told me that this was not the field for me. And so I thought, well, what else can I do? I have to go to college. I need something. So I thought counseling, I’ll be working with people.

I will be needing to counsel them through difficult situations. I will go into psychology. I will get my degree in that, learn how to counsel people, just so that I can be a good missionary.

Stephanie (03:35.662)
And look how God’s just shifted that and used it. I mean, it’s funny. So many missionaries I know never thought they’d be missionaries. And then some people who thought they would be wouldn’t. And then some people just know from the time they were born, I feel like, you know? But we all just have such a different path in life. And I love how God is using the two of you in your passion for missionaries. We always say, for one missionary to be on the field, it takes a huge amount of people behind them, supporting them, loving them, understanding them.

And so even just with what we’re talking about today with this soul detox, I really appreciate you because you have that love for missions, that understanding of missions from everything you were invested in when you were younger and through now. And you’ve got this experience with the counseling piece and the soul piece. So that’s what we’re really going to dig in today with you is the challenges that ministry workers and missionaries have in taking care of our souls. Because it’s hard. I think it’s hard for anybody, but in particular, people in ministry and missionaries.

And then you’ll be sharing some practical steps we can take to reset our soul care and have that detox. So starting with detox, I love that you used the analogy of a detox because I think sometimes in life we get so clogged with the mental and emotional and spiritual pollution that surrounds us that we just need a reset. And sometimes we need to detox because we’re the ones who’ve polluted our souls. Let’s be honest.

Lynne Themelaras (04:56.406)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Yeah. Yeah.

Stephanie (04:58.062)
Sometimes we just need to detox because we live in a world with a lot of pollutants. And I mean, I would say missionaries would probably agree. Oftentimes in the work we do, we’re exposed to more pollutants than the average person. So can you talk a little bit about what sole detox means?

Lynne Themelaras (05:16.782)
Well, just like you were saying, the Lord took me on a personal journey through all of this. So everything that’s in the book is not because I feel like I’m the wisest person and it’s all my education. Literally, I tell people all the time, if the Lord’s gonna take me to the woodshed, I’m taking everyone with me. So if I’ve gotta be disciplined, I’m disciplining them all. And so a lot of the topics from there came from the different moments in my life and some struggles.

And he gave me the analogy of the–now I am not a plumber–so what I’m gonna say is all I know about plumbing and that there’s a gutter system on our house. And the whole purpose of that gutter system is to take the water down the gutter and away from the house. But if just something is out of a line, just a little bit of conduit is not right, water drips into your basement and mold and cracking in the foundation, all that start. And so that was the analogy he started me with. And then, you know, detoxing is such a catchphrase and popular thing. Everyone’s talking about gut health, detox, get rid of this in your body. And so the Lord took me with that health analogy, gutter analogy, and me being one of those people always looking for the fad new way of getting a little healthier. And he said, why don’t you deal with your soul the same way you deal with your body?

Stephanie (06:47.566)
Mmm.

Lynne Themelaras (06:48.814)
God talks to me really like frankly, maybe because I’m hard-headed and I need it plain and clear and begin to show me all the different things in our life that we don’t realize are causing our souls to be backed up like that gutter system. Causing our alignment to shift when we’re supposed to be spirit, soul, and body, we’re led by our soul.

Stephanie (07:07.054)
That’s good.

Lynne Themelaras (07:15.726)
because it’s fed so frequently and by so many sources that we’re out of alignment and our spirit can’t lead us like it’s supposed to. And so the book is all about really getting deep into what’s going on in your soul. Why do I feel the way that I feel? And recognizing that our feelings are actually meant to help us, not hurt us.

And a lot of times I feel like the church has kind of demonized emotions. If you don’t feel joyful and happy, you must not have enough Jesus. You need to get to the altar and repent. There’s something wrong with you. There’s some demonic oppression. Something’s going on. But if I would cut my finger, a little paper cut, and I don’t have acute pain, and I don’t know that that paper cuts there, I’m in danger of infection all the way to gangrene like it’s bad. So our emotions, our negative feelings are actually supposed to be warning signs. Okay, something just happened that needs to be dealt with and gotten rid of so that you can be emotionally healthy and grow spiritually. And so that’s basically what the entire book is about. And it’s my journey through this little tidbits of information that the Lord kept giving me on. Okay, here’s another thing that’s still inside your soul that’s motivating you that needs to be dejected so that you can be healthy and whole and led by your spirit and your soul can be at rest so that your spirit can lead it.

Stephanie (09:01.428)
Yes. Okay. Let’s dig into that gutter analogy that you brought up. I love that. So as someone in ministry, when we think about people in ministry or missionaries, people serving abroad, what would you say are some of the most common pollutants or chunky leaves, whatever we want to call them, that are clogging up the gutters of our souls?

Lynne Themelaras (09:24.654)
Well, first of all, most people who go into any type of ministry are people who care about other people, right? I have a passion, a care that makes everyone feel better and know the Lord. And I could become easily what I term as a burden bearer. That means I hear your burden and my job is to pray for you and take that burden to the cross. But as a burden bearer, sometimes I can be quick to hold it and it becomes a burden to me. And so when you’re in the ministry and you have all these people that are looking to you and your heart’s in the right place, you just wanna see them free and whole and set. But if I don’t learn how to take those things, hear those things, work with those things, but not begin to carry them for myself, I’m gonna be weighed down. It’s gonna be one of those very common leaves that are gonna be stuck in your gutter.

Stephanie (10:35.15)
Ooh, that’s so good. So I’m picturing right now somebody with their burden, let’s say they’ve got a backpack full of burdens. And so we take that from them because the Bible says carry each other’s burdens. So we’re helping them out. But the idea, what you’re saying with that is to then take it to the cross. So we’re not taking it from them to wear it. We’re taking it as conduits, as you said, or people who are transporting that somewhere else. But if we hang on to that and own their burden, that’s one of those things that begins clogging us up.

Lynne Themelaras (11:03.63)
Yes. Yeah. So then you have your burden and their burden. Because we already have our own stuff that we’re dealing with, right? And so now I have my stuff and your stuff and your stuff. And we just weren’t meant to carry all of that.

Stephanie (11:04.782)
Okay, so let me just stop and dig into that a little bit more then. How, I think, for some people it’s difficult for them to let go of those burdens. So how can people realistically let go of somebody else’s burden when maybe they have a personality type that is wired to want to stay with that? How can I still love this person without taking their burden?

Lynne Themelaras (11:45.23)
So first of all, I tell people often that I am a recovering people pleaser. Okay, recovering people pleaser and perfectionist. So what I mean by that is my greatest strength is also one of my greatest weaknesses. My desire and strength to love on you and support you and help you be happy and whole and free can also be my greatest weakness because I’m so busy trying to make you happy that sometimes I can do that at my own expense, right? And so with that in mind, I have to remind myself all the time, first of all, and I would literally say this out loud, I am not their Holy Spirit. I’m not. I can’t have a savior complex in all of this. And my natural desire to want to make you happy and please you cannot be my motivation.

Stephanie (12:36.014)
Yeah.

Lynne Themelaras (12:45.582)
And so that’s on me, that’s not on them. That’s something that I am doing and they’re not, may not be requiring that of me. Sometimes there are people who do, they kind of think that that’s your role. But I had to learn that, okay, my role is to lead them to the one who has the answers, not be the one who has the answers. And when I was able to learn that, I was really able to grasp that, okay, I can take a step back and see it from this view versus my natural view to see it from this view.

Stephanie (13:27.726)
Yeah. Well, and what you’re describing, I think is such a common thing for so many missionaries. Why do we go on the field? Because we love people. We want to win them for Jesus. And we all have to some degree, I mean, I would hope, a servant’s heart or desire to take care of others. You know, I remember my husband once telling me there’s a difference between caregiving and caretaking. It was something that he had learned. And he’s like, I used to be a caretaker, which meant I would take your cares for you. Like, I’m going to take that. I got that. Just like you were saying, stay with the burdens. A caretaker says, I’m hungry. So you must need a sandwich. Whereas, you know, is trying to over -emphasize with people and think that everything you’re feeling is maybe what they’re feeling. But when you’re in a place of health, a caretaker is a caregiver, becomes a caregiver. I give and I give freely, but I also have boundaries. I’m not going to project my needs on you.

Lynne Themelaras (14:12.686)
Yeah. Mm -hmm.

Stephanie (14:27.054)
I’m just available. I don’t need to be needed. And all of that, I think, starts with, to your point, some self -awareness, some conversations with others. Like, how do you see me? How am I relating to you? Because I think sometimes when we’re in that space that you’re describing, we feel heavy and we feel burdened down, but it’s also our passion. So it can be difficult to even recognize we’re in that space. Like you’re talking about with the gutters. There are leaves in our gutters. We don’t even see them. We’re not aware. We’re not looking in there.

Lynne Themelaras (14:49.39)
Yeah. Mm -hmm. Yeah. What I learned is that a lot, I grew up in the church, right? My grandma was a pastor. My dad was a pastor. I became a pastor. I mean, church is the thing. I literally was born when my dad was in seminary. So I’ve never been outside of the church. I am a church girl. And so we can have some really good churchese, lingo, and language that sounds so spiritual. And I think sometimes,

Stephanie (15:12.366)
You are a church girl.

Lynne Themelaras (15:25.816)
when we deal with our own personal stuff that we’re going through. We can put such a spiritual information or way we say it that just sounds so holy. And one of the things that came out in my inner healing journey was that, here’s an example, something would happen to me and I would say to people who saw it or heard about it, oh, it’s okay.

You know what? She’s probably going through some things. God will handle it. I’m spiritually mature enough that it’s okay. Doesn’t that sound so holy and spiritual? It does. Yes. But when the Lord made me go deep and be self-aware of what was really happening in my heart, what I really believed was she is not going to care how I felt about that.

Stephanie (16:05.422)
Oh, so I’m just impressed right now listening to you.

Lynne Themelaras (16:22.766)
We’re just going to get into argument. It’s just going to be problem. It’s going to have the same way. She doesn’t really care about my feelings. My feelings don’t really matter. I’m just going to do what the Bible says as a obedient person, not because I’m not feeling some sort of way. So my words, what I’m really feeling, totally suppressed.

Stephanie (16:43.182)
So you were suppressing what you were feeling.

Lynne Themelaras (16:50.254)
And we do that and we do that and we don’t even realize that we’re doing it until we’re so clogged up that someone says that little thing and you blow up. People are like, where did that come from? Man, all I said was your shoe was untied and you freaked out over it, you know? Because we build up all these toxins, we build up all these negative emotions, all these negative feelings.

Stephanie (17:03.662)
right?

Lynne Themelaras (17:19.874)
about ourselves, our situation, and then it’s just that, the old saying, the straw that broke the camel’s back, right, that one last thing, and our reaction to that doesn’t really meet what actually happened, right? But it’s because we don’t face, this is how I’m feeling, being self -aware, being open. And I’m honest, the Lord gave me this phrase, that I was to be hot. Now that has nothing to do with physical appearance. I was hoping it did when the Lord gave me those words, right? That’s right, I’m gonna be hot. It was honest, open and transparent. That if I was gonna walk in the healing and the freedom and the restoration that he wanted me to walk in, I had to be honest, open and transparent with myself, with him, and the people around me, that I couldn’t keep wearing that mask of perfection. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. Didn’t bother me, I’m okay. And to start saying, you know what? Stephanie, when you said these words, I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it, but this is how it made me feel. Can you help me understand what you meant when you said that? And then have that conversation about it rather than taking that and just shoving it back in their pocket. So the next time someone says something similar, I’m just, that, those leaves are just getting deeper and deeper shoved into my gutters, right? We have to learn to be hot, honest, open, and transparent, and know that it’s okay. Know that it’s okay that you don’t have it all together. Know that it’s okay that you have these things.

Stephanie (19:12.628)
Yeah.

Lynne Themelaras (19:30.496)
Find the people that you can be open, honest, and transparent with and work through your stuff.

Stephanie (19:37.102)
That’s so good, Lynne. As I’m listening to you, I’m thinking about these, the fruits of the spirit and often emotions that we want to have as good Christians, like peace and joy. And what I hear you saying is that there is a true joy and there’s an artificial joy. There is a true peace and there’s an artificial peace. So there is a peace and joy that’s artificial that I can pretend that I have as I shove.

Lynne Themelaras (19:43.918)
Thank you. Mm -hmm.

Stephanie (20:06.542)
the leaves down into the gutter. And it looks great because artificial peace and artificial joy look really similar to the real thing until like you said, you have that moment and then you realize what is actually all going on down there. So when I’m choosing that true joy or that true peace, it’s when I’ve first dealt with what I’m actually feeling to your point that hot,

Lynne Themelaras (20:16.622)
They sure do! Yeah.

Stephanie (20:32.75)
that being honest and open and transparent. I’ve dealt with it. And then after I’ve dealt with that, I’m choosing the fruit of the spirit. I am choosing, but you have to deal with that first because that shoving down is what you’re saying creates that toxic environment in our hearts. And how do we live when we have that toxic environment? What would be some of the characteristics that you see? You mentioned kind of exploding.

Lynne Themelaras (20:41.614)
Yeah. So I say this phrase often compare and compete live in defeat When you have a toxic inside everything’s a competition and You’re constantly comparing Now it may not look like it on the outside because we know how to say it the right way, but we’re looking We’re saying things to ourselves. Why don’t I have that? I’ll never be as good as that?

Stephanie (21:18.638)
Yeah.

Lynne Themelaras (21:26.062)
And sometimes it’s our own, the way we’re talking to ourselves about it. We’ve never said anything or acted aggressively or angered someone else, but it’s, I’ll never be as good as that person. You know, when will I make it to them? Well, I’ve got to promote myself before they do, because I won’t have a piece of that pie if I don’t get there before they do. And we’re doing these things. That would be a strong symptom. If you’re constantly feeling like everyone’s better, getting more or you’re constantly feeling that you’re less than, you know, it’s the same side, two different sides of the same coin. You may not, I think most of us who are in ministry, we don’t deal with feeling we’re better than someone, but we do often feel like we’ll never be as good as someone. I’ll always find someone that can preach better than me.

Did you see what they got out? I’ve read that scripture a hundred times. I would have never saw that. Compare and compete, live and defeat. That’s a big one that I feel that people face in ministries particularly. The other one that I’ve noticed a lot, once again, I’m only saying these things because been there, done that, that was me is that striving peace. Just constantly feeling like I’ve got to be doing more, I’ve got to be doing more, I’ve got to be doing more. Forgetting that Genesis, back in Genesis, God gave us Sabbath. And Jesus even said Sabbath wasn’t made for God, it was made for man. It was God’s gift to us. And I remember when I was…we were preparing for some kind of an event and I was just like, going, going, going. And the Lord said, when are you going to take some time to rest? And I literally said this, I don’t got time to rest. I got things to do. I’ve got to get things done. And it felt like, um, do you remember the old cartoon movie, the Prince of Egypt? I loved it. I loved it. You know, and.

Stephanie (23:46.302)
Yes.

Lynne Themelaras (23:49.006)
God’s voice was this booming voice at the burning bush and it felt just like that. And God said, if I, the creator of the universe, took time to rest on the seventh day, who do you think that you are that you don’t need it? Yes, Lord, you’re right. You’re right. Our society, our world, most cultures, the busy you are, the more important you are. That’s the message that’s given to us. And it’s in ministry just the same. The busier I am, the more important I am, or the more needed I am all the different things, whether our shortcoming is the need to be needed, you know, all those things. And we never give ourselves the opportunity to truly rest. And then we wonder why we deal with so many mental blocks, depression and anxiety. I used to run, the half marathon used to be my race. It was my favorite race. I think I loved it because there was thousands of people and like, 10 of them actually thought they were going to win. Right. 10 out of thousands of people. It was like, you’re out there just with a bunch of new friends, you know, talking and carrying on and you’re just happy you finished, you know, but, um, but I trained regularly, right. For these races and I would follow a plan and when it say rest day, buddy, I took a rest day. My feet were up. I wasn’t doing anything physical. I was resting, but.

Stephanie (25:17.966)
Yeah.

Lynne Themelaras (25:37.378)
We don’t realize that our brain is just another muscle that needs rested. We don’t rest our brain. We don’t. We do our nine to five job. Most of us bring work home. We’re dealing with home things. We’re dealing with life things. And our brain is constantly going and working and, it’s really leading to emotional unrest because our cognitive center that is designed to take all of the senses and tell us what to do with it never gets the time to decompress so that it can be its best to deal with the next situation. And so the go, go, go isn’t just for our bodies, it’s for our mind.

And I think those are the two things. I don’t know which is more important, but those two things, the ultimate soul detox necessary.

Stephanie (26:39.374)
Yes, and well, and you talked about that in your book. I love that you brought up that marathon analogy because we would never think to run a marathon without of course training, but also without rest. Like that’s just a given. Everybody knows that who is an athlete. You wouldn’t do it unless you were crazy. And yet we somehow think that with our mind and emotions or the emotional side of us or the spiritual side of us that we can just go like crazy marathon runners and not rest. And somehow it won’t affect us.

And if we’re holistic beings, that’s so deeply illogical. But I think we’re going back to things that are visible and invisible. You were just talking about some of those a few minutes ago. There are symptoms that are obvious and visible, like someone who yells and screams. Clearly, you know that person has a problem. But what about the person who’s passive-aggressive or who’s just always smiling but hating themselves and people on the inside or comparing? That’s invisible stuff.

And so sometimes it’s actually a blessing when we have a visible thing. I’m thinking of my family and my family, we all are allergic to gluten, badly allergic to gluten. But half of us have rashes and outward manifestations. And then the other half of us get brain fog, which is a sneakier, more invisible one. You don’t even notice until all of a sudden you realize you’re feeling spacey that day that something’s going on. And so with our body, our body is kind of that more visible one. And with our emotional side, I feel like a lot of it is just more hidden. And so we don’t treat ourselves the way we need to, to be able to run the race, like you said. So I appreciate you bringing that up. So, and missionaries, we’re running marathons in our work all day long. So what do you think is keeping us primarily from taking that preparatory and recovery rest outside of, we just don’t think we need it.

Lynne Themelaras (28:14.742)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. I think one society norms causes that because we feel like, well, we should be able to do all the things, you know, we should. I also think, and this is the professor, you know, for my years of teaching college, I used to do the freshmen seminar. And so it was a one-hour like workshop for like just eight weeks of their first college experience. And one of the first things I would do is I’d give them this timesheet. And I say, you’re going to, it starts at 6 a .m. and it’s to midnight. And I need you to fill in like what you’re doing for every hour of that day. And it was amazing to see how they had no idea about time management. I think one of the things that we think that we know how to do, but we don’t is time management. And the other is, that’s what I’m looking for, delegation.

A lot of people that I know, especially missionaries, because you go to some place, you don’t necessarily, like when we plan a church, we had other people to plan with us, right? There was people to delegate to. But a lot of times with missionaries, it’s like you and your spouse and like, there’s nobody. And so you start out learning, or if you have a small church, you plant your church from scratch, all these different things, you’re doing everything.

And because you’re doing everything, you don’t even realize that you aren’t delegating. And because society says the more busy we are, the better we are, or the more, we don’t realize how bad we need to do that. And then we find when I would have leaders, when I do this for leaders on their time management and I’d ask questions. So why are you doing this?

Wouldn’t this be the youth leaders job? Why are you scheduling the bus for the trip to wherever? Where we don’t manage our time well, first of all, and then we don’t delegate well, and then we wonder why our plate is so full doing things that don’t fulfill our calling. And I had to learn to really think about that. If it doesn’t fulfill the calling on my life, is there someone who should be doing it rather than me?

Stephanie (31:47.692)
Hmm, it’s hard to do.

Lynne Themelaras (31:49.966)
It’s hard to do. And you know, being that people pleaser and perfectionist, I really had to have a come to Jesus moment with it’s okay if they don’t do it the same way I do it. It’s okay. My daughter works for a, one of my daughters works for a athletic shoe company and she’ll, there’s all these different cool ways to tie your shoes that go with different outfits.The purpose of the laces is just to keep my shoes on my feet. But there’s so many ways to do that purpose. And I had to come up grips with, okay, I may like things done this way, but there’s so many different ways to accomplish something. And I have to be okay with, Sally does it this way, and John does it that way. As long as it gets done, I have to be happy with that.

Stephanie (32:51.086)
it had never known there were so many different ways to tie your laces. So that’s just a bonus I learned right now.

Lynne Themelaras (32:55.96)
listen, my daughter has my shoes in all kinds of different cool, fashionable ways. I’m just like, okay, look at that.

Stephanie (33:03.662)
to say it’s great to have a young daughter who knows what’s going on, right? I’m thankful on a side note.

Lynne Themelaras (33:07.822)
Yes. Yes. People say, I just love the way you dress. I’m like, listen, it’s my kids. I come out and they say, mm -mm. Let’s redo that. Keep the pants, lose the shirt. You know?

Stephanie (33:20.206)
Oh my gosh, kids are the best.

Stephanie (33:50.126)
So, Lynne, with all we’re talking about today, where can missionaries begin? What is one small step they could put into practice today based on what we’ve talked about?

Lynne Themelaras (34:03.182)
I think because I have found that resting in Sabbath for me has been the biggest change in my life that has been needed because then all the other things were able to line up. I would say the first thing is take out your calendar. My husband and I literally, we had to schedule a business meeting for the two of us. Live in the same house, work in the same ministry, but we need to put a plan together. And I would say one of the first things I would really encourage you if you really want to detox, if you really, you’re hearing this and you’re just like, wow, I do have some things that are built up in me. I think the first thing you want to do is find a time that you can Sabbath. And traditional Sabbath actually has four parts. One we know stop from working We can do that. I’m not going to go to work today. The second one is resting learning how to rest effectively.

Third, delight. Find the things that bring you joy. You know, I think we die to the wrong things all the time When you were a kid you loved to paint but you haven’t painted for 30 years get that brush out get that that canvas out. Start painting again on your Sabbath, delight. That will actually bring your mind to rest because that’s not a, when we’re resting our mind, it’s not that you’re gonna stop thinking altogether. Try that for two minutes, you’ll have a hard time. It’s about not thinking about things that give you unrest or dis -ease. So find those things that you enjoy, place those into your Sabbath so that your mind can rest, at least for while you’re doing those things.

And the final is contemplate the goodness of the Lord. Take time to just, your prayer time on your Sabbath shouldn’t be about what God can do for you. It’s just about being with Him and enjoying His company, resting in Him. Maybe journaling about all the good things that have happened that week. So your mind’s focused on what? The good things that have happened that week, not all the negative things that have happened that week. Take baby steps. I actually do a whole workshop on this, as well as I do a retreat where I take people away to do a Sabbath. But I tell them, I say, even if you only can do a two-hour Sabbath this week, start somewhere. Pick out that two hours, then pick out, move to three hours, then four hours, until finally you’re actually doing what the Lord asked us to do, 24 hours of Sabbath. Because I do believe that all the other things can begin to work out in you when you finally can take a deep breath. And that’s what that will do for you.

Stephanie (37:30.414)
What a great challenge. And I think it’s one that’s so needed, not just for people in general, but specifically missionaries. Because I know I believed for years, Lynn, the lie that missionaries can’t take Sabbaths. Maybe other people can, but we can’t. People need us too much. There’s too much to do. There’s always mission teams coming down. There was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t. And I thought it was honestly impossible, honestly impossible. When, of course, it’s not going to be impossible. It’s in God’s word. He doesn’t ask us to do impossible things. I think COVID was a big eye -opener for a lot of people. It was like a forced Sabbath of the land. And for a lot of us, for our souls, as busy as things were, there were things that we couldn’t do. And I think sometimes now that life has picked back up, we can forget some of the lessons we learned in that particular year.

But… it is possible. Like you said, I mean, you just kind of used something that reminded me of James Clear from Atomic Habits. He says, you know, trying to build a new habit, just start with five minutes. Just start so ridiculously small. And I think even with the Sabbath, like you said, starting with two hours, starting with something really, really small, it’s something. And the perfectionist in me, I’m not a full-on perfectionist, but I have some of that. I’m an Enneagram nine wing one, which means that wing one is like, you’re not doing…

Lynne Themelaras (38:42.126)
Yeah. Yeah.

Stephanie (38:51.246)
And I would look at that and go, well, I’m not doing a real Sabbath. This isn’t a real Sabbath. And I don’t think God’s up looking down at us saying, oh my gosh, that’s not 24 hours. It doesn’t count. He just is calling us continually into it. And so starting, like you said, in a small place, it’s a step of hope and it’s a step of faith saying, God, I’m gonna give this to you believing that you’re gonna help me grow into this. And I was just interviewing another missionary recently, Denise Beck and we talked about this briefly on the episode.

But she was saying how her family became known as the family who Sabbaths and from Friday night till Saturday at dinnertime, they were just kind of like the weird people where they’re not really available unless of course there was an emergency. And she said, people did get used to us. So I love the old adage, you teach people how to treat you. And when you first make a switch, yeah, but when you first make that switch, people

Lynne Themelaras (39:35.234)
Mm -hmm. Yeah. Exactly.

Stephanie (39:47.182)
do not like when other people change, even when there’s good change, they kind of just get used to the way that you are. And so I think we have to prepare ourselves for resistance. So thinking that we’re gonna do a Sabbath, even a little one, and that everyone around us is gonna go, oh, of course, I will leave them alone there, Sabbath -ing. No, the enemy’s not gonna be happy with that. And when he sees you stepping into obedience, he’s gonna send you more distractions and more emergency calls than ever. So it’s a step of faith and determination, but I appreciate that you’re calling us into it.

Lynne Themelaras (40:17.39)
Yeah Yeah, yeah Yeah, like one of the things that I tell people because I’ll be okay that how you’re sending emergencies come and I’ll say you know what? You’re right emergency will come but just as if your Situation Constantly is happening Okay, if that person is constantly in an emergency The issue is not the issue and you running to their rescue is really not helping them on helping them, you know, and I learned the phrase, I don’t, a lot of these things, I don’t know where I heard them from. So pretend like I was the one that came up with it. I don’t know, but their emergency, their lack of, actually their lack of preparation is not my emergency. And I had to start telling myself that their lack of preparation is not my emergency, and the Lord was brilliant when he said when he set up Sabbath sundown to sundown because that actually if you for those of us who are so task oriented and people oriented who are struggling it’s sundown to sundown so if your Sabbath is Friday at 6 p .m. to Saturday at 6 p .m. people can get a hold of you before 6 o ‘clock

You get to answer your emails, you get to make your phone calls, you can do all your stuff. And if someone emails you or calls you after 6 p .m. on Friday, you actually can get back with them within 24 hours on that Saturday night. So there’s really no day that you’re not available. It’s just a time frame within it. And I remember telling someone, listen, do you call your dentist at nine o ‘clock at night?

Stephanie (42:01.706)
Exactly. Mm -hmm.

Lynne Themelaras (42:18.35)
Even your dentist has an emergency number. Right? Even your dentist has an emergency number. And how often, even though they have an emergency number, we still wait to the next business hour to call. No? And so people will learn. I remember when the Lord spoke to me, I said, okay, I need to have a, we brought the family together and said, this is what the Lord’s called me to do. I want you to join with me, because if you guys learn this now,

Stephanie (42:32.974)
Yep, it’s true.

Lynne Themelaras (42:48.334)
great, but this is what I’m going to be doing. And I explained it. I talked about it and they are, okay, we get this. I think sometimes it’s the ambiguity, not knowing what you’re doing that makes it hard as well. So be hot, be honest, open and transparent. This is what I’m going through. This is a recipe that the Lord has given me for my healing and restoration and so that I don’t burn out and I can’t be there for you. So this is what we’re doing. And people do eventually get it. They do.

Stephanie (43:27.31)
They do. They do. I love that you brought up the sundown to sundown. And I think the biggest thing that that kept me from doing Sabbath for so many years was that I thought it was a whole day and there just was never a whole day. And everybody too, you can figure out with God what that looks like for you. We aren’t called to live out the law in the sense that we have to look at the Old Testament and follow every single law, but there’s beautiful things that God calls us into. And I think he can show you.

Just say, God, I don’t know. Here’s my calendar. Like you said, look at your times, look at what you’re doing and just put it before him and ask him to show you. And he, he will, because it’s something that he wants for you. So what a great first step. Thank you for bringing that up. And I just want to thank you again for coming on today, Lynn. This was such a treat. I enjoyed you so much. I just appreciated your, uh, your practical perspective, your joyful persona, which true joy, I’m feeling true joy coming off of you and honesty. Thanks for being. Yeah.

Lynne Themelaras (44:03.694)
Yeah. Yeah. Mm -hmm. That wasn’t the old me. That wasn’t the old me. So, you get the new me.

Stephanie (44:28.686)
Well, I like this, new you! And just that honest, open, transparent, I think is such a great tool for people to be able to keep in mind as well. So, so many nuggets of gold in today. And I just, again, want to say thank you to you and Bill for all that you do in terms of your love for missionaries and the way that you take care of us all.

Lynne Themelaras (44:31.776)
Well, I appreciate, listen, I appreciate the missionaries because that’s not, it is not an easy job. Sometimes it is a thankless job and people have no idea what you’re going through and putting up with. And so what you’re doing matters. You may not see it right now, but you will see it in eternity. And so thank you for being on the front lines and doing what you’re doing. It’s awesome.

Stephanie (45:17.55)
Mm, I appreciate it. Well, everybody, thank you so much for joining us today and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode.

 

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Breaking Bonds & Finding Freedom with Grant Haynes

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