My Learning Curve: Restorative Sabbatical Part 3

This is part three of a four part series on a Restorative Sabbatical.  Please read the series – and be encouraged.

If you are wondering why it is taking me so long to tell this story, it is because this Restorative Sabbatical has had such a profound impact on Russ, on our marriage, and ultimately on our family.  The kids may not realize it yet…but their Dad is being renewed.  The Daddy they’ve known and loved forever, the one who teases, and hugs, and reads stories, is no longer a grumpy shadow of himself.  God is restoring him to us, and I am a very happy wife.

One night, in the midst of this healing journey, Russ was holding me tight and I started crying big, gulping sobs out of pure relief.  He asked me what was wrong, and like a four year old, all I could answer was, “I was so scared.”  I was looking toward our future with fear in my heart.  What would I do if the man who held us all together was never going to be happy again?

So, stick with me a little longer and maybe there will be something here that will be helpful to you.

After Russ’ first attempt at a “Sabbatical Day”, we knew what didn’t work – namely attempting to combine work and rest – but we had some ideas of what might be helpful.

First, Russ decided to take a complete 24 hour break. Because he loves me and knows I’m not even close to being superwoman, he opted to start his break after tucking the little kids in on Wednesday night.  We did not tell them he was leaving, since that could invoke chaos, and when the kids woke up the next morning, I just told them he was already gone for the day.

Second, he chose complete solitude.

Third, he found a place to go that cost us nothing.  Russ’ parents have a summer home an hour north of us.  Each fall, when they head to Mexico, the water and power are turned off, but that didn’t deter Russ.  It was less rustic than camping, and he had a wood stove to sleep near.

Fourth, He packed good food, warm clothes,  a down sleeping bag, Bible, an iPod loaded with music and sermons, his laptop (not for work), and a book.

He began his “Restorative Sabbatical” with a good night of sleep.  It had been a very long time since he had slept with no responsibility for anyone but himself.  You know what I mean by that!  It is hard to rest deeply when any moment a child may fall out of bed, cry, or need to be comforted from a bad dream.

The next day he spent in prayer, at rest, reading, thinking, and contemplating the life God has given us.  He needed to grieve the loss of the life and family we once had and embrace this new life.  It is not what we imagined, but it is beautiful in its own way.

At times he went outside to work on a project for his father or take a walk by the river.

Sometime in the morning he watched John Piper’s message from the Orphan Summit, the message that was extremely meaningful to me.  It was so powerful for him that he watched it again that afternoon.  (He has now watched or listened to it six times.)  I urge anybody who is involved in orphan care, and/or adopting children from the “hard places”, to watch it – it will be 32 min. of your life well spent.

What Does it Mean to Live by Faith in the Service of the Fatherless?

He came home late Thursday evening.  After my disappointment the previous week, I anxiously watched to see his expression as he came through the door.  He came in with a smile and eyes that were filled with love for me.  I saw a glimpse of my husband, the man I’ve loved since I was seventeen, and he was more fully himself than he had been in a long time.

The following week he repeated this same pattern with more benefit to both of us.  He filled his mind with God’s word, and with reading that encouraged him. He spent time outdoors enjoying the solitude.  He watched John Piper again and listened to a sermon on adoption. That Thursday when he returned he seemed energized.  His hope was being renewed and I could literally see it.

Many things in this life are utterly opposite from the way they seem. And here is one of them. When the children of God—the followers of Jesus—are permitted to suffer in the path of love, the path of orphan care, God is giving a gift to the world. John Piper

[Read part 4 here.]


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Jennifer
    July 1, 2010

    I just sent this on to Greg and asked if he would try this a few times during the summer (after we get home with Jaso). He, too, loves to get into the mountains and these days it's never really relaxing – it's more dealing with whichever child has decided they don't want to be in the mountains. 🙂 Praying that he will be refreshed by this as Russ has been – thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. @mk_q
    July 1, 2010

    Wow, this post made me cry. I need to go find a tissue. I had no idea Daddy was doing this, but I'm so glad. So unfathomably grateful that he started taking sabbaticals.


  3. Dana
    July 1, 2010

    Mike and I have been reading this series of posts together. Our little boy should come home from China this fall, and while we are excited, we are also scared. Because we are adopting off a waiting child list, our adoption is moving along fairly quickly. II feel like ready your blog is one of the best things we are doing to get ready.

    1. OneThankfulmom
      July 2, 2010

      Dana, I would encourage you to be proactive! Get your support team together and simplify your life as much as possible. Be ruthless and make your life as calm as possible.

  4. Julie
    July 2, 2010

    Oh, Lisa. I laughed and cried at the first blunder. But this, this may be exactly what we need to hear. I can't wait to read part 4.

    May the Lord bless you,

  5. Mary Andrews
    July 7, 2010

    Lisa, you write with such heartbreaking beauty. Grammie would be very proud of you, as am I. Love you, Mom

    1. OneThankfulmom
      July 8, 2010

      Thank you, Mom. I love you too.

  6. Debi
    April 25, 2012

    I just found your blog and as I've been reading, this sentence above really struck me:
    "he needed to grieve the loss of the life and family we once had and embrace this new life. It is not what we imagined, but it is beautiful in its own way."
    I realized that's a part I've missed on this journey….the giving myself permission to 'grieve' the loss of the family we knew before this adoption world. While it's been beautiful in many ways, it's been one of the most difficult things we've ever done. This 'rest' series has been so good for us and this sentence in particular gave permission to my heart to spend time with Jesus and grieve the old and embrace th enew. Thank you for sharing!


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