Sabbatical Stirrings {10 Month Report}

Time flies when you’re having rest. And friends. And hope.

Just like that, two more months of our sabbatical have flown by! The fastest year of our lives just keeps going by. Yet, as quickly as time is passing, I feel more than ever that I am fully present in each moment. Time may be flying, but I’m not missing anything.

REST.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to convey through words the lessons that God has impressed- no, make that ingrained- on my heart during our sabbatical. These are life lessons that I will never forget. When we were about three months into our sabbatical, I told my husband, “I just feel so strongly that this time in our lives is going to be one of the most important. I think we’re going to look back someday and see how this sabbatical preserved and paved the way for the rest of our life.” As time goes by, I feel the good weight of this more and more. And my life is changed forever because of how I view rest now. Rest no longer gets in the way of my busy schedule. Rest is a vital part of my schedule. It is an act of worship to my God Who practically begs His children to return and rest, to be still, to stand still, to wait on Him. Have you noticed lately how many Scriptures indicate God’s wooing us to rest? It is staggering. It is the key that many believers miss. It is life giving and essential to a thriving relationship with God.

Another facet to the beauty of rest is that I stop doing.  It comes down to this- do I really believe that I am His workmanship {Ephesians 2:10}?  If so, it should affect my pace of life. If God is doing the work in and through my life, then I will not miss anything He has for me. It frees me up to actually rest, to wait, to be still.  Yes, we produce fruit and we are called to good works. Yet, that is still His work! It all goes back to Him.

Turns out, we really do have time to rest.

FRIENDS.

When we left Canada, we left many valuable relationships behind. Two women in particular were rare sisters of the heart. They didn’t treat me like “the pastor’s wife,” but like a normal human being. Our families were close and still are, thanks to Facetime. They were long prayed for and a precious gift from God. So when we came to the USA, I didn’t want friends. My husband kept saying, “You need to make some friends,” to which I replied, “I don’t want friends.”  I knew I was lonely, but I ignored it because I wanted to do life with my old friends again.  My heart did not have an ounce of energy left to pour into new relationships that weren’t online.

But God knows what we need and want long before we do. And just when I was realizing that my Canadian-thinking-self would never mesh with an American thinker, God gave another gift. I had been praying that God would give my husband some opportunities to use his pastoral gifts. I could see his heart sagging a little too because he has a true pastor’s heart and being in the business world just doesn’t cut it. Just in the last few months, God has answered that prayer by allowing us to mentor a family who is heading to the mission field. My husband has been helping his friend get ready for ordination, and that quickly blossomed into our families really wanting to be together. And just like that, God gave me a sister of the heart. Turns out, I did need a friend. And maybe I wanted one, too, but just didn’t know it. God gave me someone I can be myself with- no extra energy required. In life, people are part of our hurts, yes. But they are also part of our healing.

If we withdraw from people when we are hurting, we reject a vital part of our own healing.

HOPE.

I’ll be honest- I spent the first part of our sabbatical grasping for hope. When you are recovering from trauma, it gets worse before it gets better for those who actually stop to acknowledge and process their pain. Being in a new culture just made our footing even more unsure. But gradually God has been healing us in obvious ways, and getting us ready for what is next. Most of all, He has made Himself more precious than ever in our marriage, and to us individually.

In times of questioning and brokenness, God meets us in such a patient and tender way so that we know it is His voice speaking,  and His arms around us.

There seems to be something magical about the nine month mark when you are between ministries. My husband said the other day that it is almost like God births something new at the end of nine months. And so it is true again in our lives. God is turning our hearts toward ministry again, and we are praying and listening. We know we are called- that was settled over 10 years ago. We are just waiting on His revealing of the details. And in the last two months God has begun moving and shaking us through some obviously God-ordained and specific-to-us circumstances.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, we realized that the desire for ministry is stirring in us again. That can mean only one thing- God has been working a perfect healing in us in even the quietest and hardest of moments, and is preparing us for future service for Him. We are so humbled by this! Someone has said that God is doing 10,000 things in your life at once, and you are only aware of three of them. Yes. God is breaking the door of hope open, and I find that I am no longer feeling the crushing grief as deeply…no longer desiring to live as safely as possible emotionally…no longer so carefully counting the cost that comes with sacrifice.  Once again I am ready to give up everything and embrace ministry. I know it will hurt again, it will devastate again, it will betray again, it will falsely accuse again, it will ask for more than I can give again.

So maybe I’m crazy?

Crazy about loving and following my God Who Himself heals my heart from the inside out. Crazy about my God Who sees my brokenness as beautiful. Crazy about my God Who takes my pain and uses it to prepare a feast of hope for hundreds of pastors’ wives who are walking the same road after me, and even before me. Who wouldn’t be crazy about serving the God Who works such quiet, unseen miracles in the heart? Who wouldn’t be crazy about following the God Who takes what the enemy meant to turn me away from God, and uses it to woo my heart into a deeper place with Him than I’ve ever been before? Who wouldn’t be crazy about receiving such abundant grace?

I think I’ll be crazy. Ironically, it’s the safest place to be.

XOXO,

A Kindred Spirit

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!

5 thoughts on “Sabbatical Stirrings {10 Month Report}

  1. Hi Leah:
    I’ve continued reading your articles and have appreciated each one knowing they come to me personally from the heart of God. I’m thankful you have been an available vessel in this season of your life. That truly shows a heart to minister to others. I had to stop and respond to this one though 🙂 Coming from a pastor’s wife who’s experienced a lot of the same trials as you have (as do ALL pastor’s wives), I am glad you feel ready and willing to minister again. The Holy Spirit’s been consistently reminding me lately that, in living our life for His glory, we are to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings- 1 Peter chap 4. This is His will for our lives and so many times trials are the place where our joy, peace and growth begins/resides.
    I love Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” And as the sweet hymn goes, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free. No, there is a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me.” We must take up our cross and just follow, not fret. I love quotes so here are a few of my favs: “The more obstacles you have, the more opportunities there are for God to do something.” —– “The will of God-nothing less, nothing more, nothing else.” —- “To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” —- “I find that I keep offering God my service when what He wants is my fellowship.” —- “I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a child and trust.” Hudson Taylor
    I’m praying for our gentle Shepherd to guide His little lamb, Leah 🙂

    1. When I use the term rest now, I mean rest as in, how it affects your whole being. Not just physical, but mental, emotional, and spiritual. Physical rest is part of it, but not all. During the first 3 months of our sabbatical, we DID do a lot less physically when it comes to being busy. But life has picked up pace again, so now it is more a matter of creating an atmosphere of rest, which starts on the inside in our hearts. When our hearts are truly at rest, we feel less guilty about resting physically. I felt much like you mentioned {lazy} when we first began the year. I hated sitting down, and felt like I was wasting time if I wasn’t busy. But the longer I cultivate rest into my life, the more I crave it and embrace it with delight. Some practical examples:
      Instead of waiting for a long period of time to read, I now habitually grab my book and a pen at intermittent times throughout the day. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Maybe a luxurious half hour here. {interestingly, my children are starting to do exactly this same thing- I love it!}. It is a way for me to rest physically in between tasks, yet my mind is active. I tend to rush from one thing to another and have been known in the past to not sit down all day a single time.

      I should mention that many times rest means saying ‘no’ to internet and grabbing the book instead, or reading my Bible instead, or praying instead for those 5 or 10 or whatever amount of minutes. In this way, I’ve reduced the social burden that internet can become. When I have emails sitting unanswered or blog stuff undone, my soul does not rest. I’m learning, though, to free myself from the demands and prioritize. Do I feel unsettled? Then I likely need to do the opposite of what I feel led to do {more internet? tackle that project?}, and choose something quiet instead- read, play music, light a candle, etc. or something that soothes me, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. I’ve also made a practice of just sitting outside (in the sun) and enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. Sometimes I talk to God. Sometimes I just bask. It doesn’t have to be long- the point is, I’m giving myself permission to sit and not feel guilty. It really does get easier.

      I am still quite busy with homeschooling and housework, writing, my PW ministry, etc. Cultivating rest is not so much about inactivity as it is about being at peace with God and ourselves. It is an exercise of faith for sure, because none of that comes naturally to us. I recommend Bonnie Gray’s book “Spiritual Whitespace.” Her book got me thinking into every area of my life when it comes to rest. It is VERY good and has all kinds of practical exercises, even things like how we prepare and enjoy meals, etc. It opened my eyes. Hope that helps- I feel like it came out jumbled! Rest is so interconnected in every area of life, but we tend to compartmentalize…”now I’m going to rest.” It is so much broader and deeper than that.
      Leah {Embracing Grace} recently posted..Sabbatical Stirrings {10 Month Report}My Profile

  2. Not a pastor’s wife, but a pastor’s daughter for 58 years. These 20 things are so important. My Daddy is retiring in a few months and the new pastor and his wife are very young (early 20’s). Please help me pray for them and the church.

Comments are closed.