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Season of Sabbatical
So I realize that I have now been in the States nearly six months and I have shared very little about this sabbatical season and what it’s been for me. This season has been so beneficial and surprising in more ways than I can count.
I didn’t really begin to process the fact that I was on sabbatical until I moved down to Gainesville, GA in mid-August. My first five weeks in the States I was in West Virginia with my family running around doing all the summer family events. This felt so normal and like every other visit I’ve made to the States from Nicaragua. But as once as I woke up in Gainesville I became painfully aware that this season was different.
Sabbatical is designed to be a season of rest, but at first it was just overwhelming to me. I didn’t know what to do with my days. I would wake up each morning completely unsure about what I “should” be doing. I didn’t have many friends here. I had no job and no ministry. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t know what to do without those things.
Thankfully, I had a debrief scheduled for the end of August. This week of solitude and processing helped me to understand this new season and how to navigate it. During this time I learned an important truth about sabbatical that it is a time where “we disengage from our regular work, as an act of faith, for the purpose of worship, rest, renewal, and repair.” I also learned that sabbatical can be divided into 5 steps:
1. Release & Relinquish
2. Rest & Recovery
3. Reflect & Refocus
5. Re-entry or Re-engagement
I realized that sabbatical honestly began for me before ever setting foot in the States as I had to begin to release and relinquish my ministry roles at New Song. As I raised up leaders for Sunday school and let go of my beloved roles with my children and teens. Now that I was purposefully disconnected and was living in a new place in the States, it was time to focus on rest and recovery. The realization that rest was my focus in the first part of this season freed my heart to enjoy the time rather than stress that I wasn’t doing the right things, or that I was missing the fullness of this season. And rest looked like a lot of different things. Rest was sleeping 10-13 hours a night for two months because I was physically exhausted (even though I had no idea leaving Nicaragua in July that I was this tired!). But rest was also slow moving mornings drinking coffee and worshipping at the feet of Jesus. It was reading for fun, drinking in fall beauty, listening to podcasts, spontaneous adventure days, reconnecting with friends and family, diving into Bible study, joining the Y to take spin and yoga classes, becoming part of a local church, and building new relationships.
I did not realize how much my body, heart and spirit needed this season of rest. As I gave myself permission to enter into a time of rest, I began to rejuvenate. After nearly two months of just rest and recovery, I was finally at a place where the Lord could really begin to speak to me.
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.” -Jeremiah 6:16
It was around the middle of October when my body and spirit finally felt rested and I could really begin to hear the Lord speak. He has been speaking in surprising and beautiful ways (more to come on that later) and I am so thankful for this time!
When I left Nicaragua in July, six months seemed like a painfully long time to be away from my home and my loves there. However, as I dive into this beautiful, challenging time of sabbatical, I have realized that six months just isn’t enough. In the last two months, I have been able to start the process of reflection and refocusing. This part of the journey has honestly been emotionally intense for me. I have cried more tears than I can count. There have been so many desires, fears, questions, and longings that have surfaced in my heart and mind. I have spent a lot of time sitting before Jesus with my emotions and allowing Him to speak as well as talking and processing with some lovely people who know my heart best.
I know that I’m not ready for this season to end. I will not be headed back to Nicaragua in January. This does not mean, however, that I am not moving forward with Abide or that I’m done with Nicaragua. It does mean that there is still a lot to do for Abide that needs to be done here in the States. It also means that I need to figure out how to integrate all the new things that the Lord has been speaking and how to carry them forth into Abide. This is the part of sabbatical for realignment. To realign my vision and dream for ministry with Abide taking into account all of the new things that Jesus has been speaking to me during sabbatical. I’m ready to figure out how to dive into all that He has in a way that feels peaceful and wholehearted.
In January, I will still be in the States but I will be working towards everything that needs to be done for the Abide Home. I will be waking up in the mornings and treating Abide prep like my job whether that means a coffee shop office or just setting regular work hours, but I will be working to update the website, create a board of directors, find all the people needed to fill positions in the Home, and create a timeline for Abide. Please continue to pray for me and for the Abide Home. This season of sabbatical has been both challenging and beautiful. But above all it has been so needed. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support me during this time, for those who have asked about my sabbatical, and for all those who have processed with me through the tears. I appreciate you all.
Ah, well said Lisa. It is not the doing of works, it is who we are. We are God’s children, and He loves us. He knows what we need and when. Sabbatical Is rest and full of surprises. I’ve been there. Be blessed in what God is showing you. Our precious Nicaraguans don’t forget the people who love them. Love you????
Lisa, your blog moved me to reflect on my own condition. I love your honesty and your open heart to share. I thank God for your willingness to sit before Him and glean all that He has for you now and in your future. I look forward to hearing more from you about God’s plan for your life. You truly are a precious child! Much love……
Thank you so much for this! My husband and I minister in Panama, and the Lord has been whispering for us to do exactly what you described. We are hosting a World Race team here currently (our 6th team) and they are amazing as always. Blessings for you Sabbatical, as an act of faith. Your beloveds back in NIca will benefit ultimately as well, as you know. Blessings Chica! ! I faithfully read your words whenever you blog, and they are always an encouragement.
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