This is part four of a four part series on a Restorative Sabbatical. Please read the series – and be encouraged.
If your life is strained and parenting your children from the “hard places” is wearing you down, you may begin to think that hope is lost. Is there anything you can do to turn your life around? I hope that this series of posts is encouraging you to try something new. It is very difficult to carve out time, but it may be necessary for you or your spouse to go to whatever lengths you must to find your way again.
Russ’ two Sabbatical Days had a huge impact – honestly, two 24 hour breaks transformed him. In the quiet, Russ was able to hear God and to let his mind sort through the challenges of the last three years. His heart was able to engage again with what it means to love children who come to us with their hearts broken. He remembered why we had done this and God showed him that our efforts are not wasted. He was reminded that when we feel we have nothing to give, God’s love can flow through us. We can be ministers of His healing love to our children.
Before Russ could get away for a third Sabbatical Day, he had a week-long business trip to Boulder, Colorado. He did not have time for the trip, but he needed it, both personally and professionally, so I urged him to go. When Russ travels there is the potential for serious challenges, but the benefits can outweigh the trials, and I’m blessed with helpful big kids and friends. He left for Boulder with his Restorative Sabbatical in mind. While his days were filled with work, he spent most evenings alone, often hiking, sometimes poking around REI, eating Thai food, and reading. Although this was not nearly as powerful as his days of solitude, it continued to refresh and renew him.
Then God did something even more amazing. Russ was invited on a ministry trip to Kenya to visit programs for street children and, more particularly for him, to see agricultural projects that serve widows and orphans. The story of how it came about is a blog post of its own, but in terms of my theme of “Restorative Sabbatical”, this trip was a key factor.
Initially Russ needed rest and solitude to restore him, but now he was ready to be renewed and energized. Only God could have orchestrated the timing of this process. While in Kenya, Russ’ love for serving widows and orphans was revived. He met amazing people who are teaching bio-intensive farming techniques to women raising their grandchildren, orphans who inherited their parents’ land, pastors who are modeling how to produce food for their families, and others. He loved it. Every day was an adventure and his mind sought God’s purpose in his being there. How could he be most useful? How could he use the education and knowledge God had given him?
Then he saw the need for clean drinking water and water for irrigation. He saw hand dug wells filled with contaminated run-off, wells with broken pumps, and children walking long distances to gather water that wasn’t clean enough to drink. Have I ever mentioned that Russ’ PhD is in hydrology and he teaches hydraulics, irrigation design, hydrology and similar courses? You can imagine how excited he was to know that God had sent him to Kenya with the purpose of showing him this need. We don’t know yet how God is going to open the doors to allow Russ to pursue this ministry, but the friend (and church) that took him to Kenya has been working there for many years and is interested in pursuing this with us.
Being busier is not healing for Russ, but using his gifts is. We will be listening closely for God’s voice telling us how and in what ways He wants Russ to serve the people he met in Kenya. Our children need their Daddy to be fully present with them and I’m not exactly low-maintenance myself. But what we all need most if a man who is at peace with his life, in love with all of us, sold out entirely to God’s will, and serving in the ways God intends.
As I wrap up this series of posts, my conclusion about the Restorative Sabbatical is that rest produced restoration which produced hope.
There is joy in using our gifts to serve God and His children; we are ready for joy.
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