Photo by bortecristian

Last year, I took a six week maternity leave when my youngest, Finn, was born. I returned to my writing renewed, refreshed, and much more excited about the platform God has given me. This year, we’re moving at the beginning of the summer, so logistically, it only makes sense to take a bit of time away. After all, I might not have Internet access for a while.

But even if we weren’t moving, I’d still take a break. There’s something magically refreshing about intentional down time, about stepping back, seeing the world from different angles, and getting enough space to reflect on the portion God has blessed you with.

This is the second year in a row where I’ll take a month off of my online work. Even though I earn a sizable portion of my family’s income through my writing and blog network, I’ve seen the benefits of closing the laptop, unplugging, and taking intentional time away.

I’ve learned, first-hand, the results from working too hard and not taking regular time for rest. When we lived overseas, we were “on call” 24-7, because when you live cross-culturally, your radar is up and your learning curve is on overdrive all. the. time. It’s exhausting, but we never realized just how much until we left the country, took a break from the language and cultural differences, and took a few deep breaths.

Those in ministry are often required to take sabbaticals — an extended period of leave to rest and to possibly acquire new skills. My family is all about this — we provide guest houses for those in full-time ministry to take breaks. We’ve been in ministry, and we know all too well what happens when you don’t take a break. We’re passionate, in fact, about how important rest is. You’ll burn out. And what good is a burned-out servant?

If those in full-time ministry are asked to take sabbaticals, shouldn’t that be the case for everyone? Maybe not formal sabbaticals, where we leave our homes and retreat in a log cabin for months on end, but some form of rest, retreat, and renewal?


Photo by Ana Cotta

This is exactly what I’ll be doing when I take an offline break from mid-June to mid-July. Sure, I’ll pop on to blog every couple days to make sure things are running smoothly (it is a business, after all), but my brain cells won’t be consumed with post ideas, and I won’t be looking at everything with the angle of “I could write a post about this,” or, “That would make a great photo for a post.” I’ll be taking a mental sabbatical, where I focus my energies on rest, reflection, and renewal.

Lisa-Jo recently reaped the benefits of a maternity leave, and as she said, “Was there initial withdrawal? Yes. Did the world survive without me? Shockingly, yes… In a nutshell: there’s way more time for actual talking and the whole world doesn’t, in fact, revolve around me.”

This is what I discovered last year. The Interwebz survived just fine without me, and quite surprisingly, I survived just fine and dandy without it. I started missing my work at around week 4, so when week 6 rolled around, I was eager and psyched to roll up my sleeves and get back at the work I love. My writing was much better, I had a much better attitude, and in turn, my business flourished even more. I recently wrote about the power of regular breaks when you’re an entrepreneur.

Even if you don’t run a business, and even if you don’t blog, sabbaticals should still play a part of your life. In all our lives. What do we need a break from? How could God be honored in our lives by stepping back from one activity to recharge our batteries?

• The school year is over for many of our kids. Could you use a break from running out the door every morning to get somewhere on time?

• Perhaps you volunteer within your community or in your ministry. Are you aching for a short break from this service that you love?

• Are you busy remodeling your house, homeschooling your kids, or otherwise running around town for playdates, ballet lessons, and Costco runs? Sounds like you could use a breather from the rat race.

Schedule in a few weeks off this summer to do… nothing.
To sleep in. To go on vacation. To actually read a book (remember those?). To putz around in your garden, or finish the quilt that’s been on your to-do list for a year (that’s one thing I hope to finally finish!). Your mind, body, and spirit will be rested, refreshed, and renewed, and you’ll return to “real life” much more excited about what God has on your plate.

So… What’s your plan for rest this summer?

By: Tsh, Simple Mom

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  1. 1

    Hi. Great post! I’m actually commenting because I’d love to get more information about what you mentioned about your family and guest houses. I serve in Hungary and I’m trying to launch a vision that I’m calling Sabbath House. It’s all about a place here (on field) in Europe where people serving in Europe and beyond can come and get away, rest, seek the Lord, look for a new perspective, etc without the cost of taking a trip “home.” I’m looking for any connections I can make that could help me in the process and if you would be so kind as to forward my e-mail to anyone who you think might engage with me in this process I would be grateful. Thanks for your ministry of writing and I hope that your time unplugged is a huge blessing!

    • 2

      Rachelle,
      My comment post (#8) is along a similar line. I would love to connect. God is calling for the same thing in various places–how exciting. Not sure how we can find each other without posting e-mail addresses. Not sure that’s a great idea. I’ll pray for your pursuit of Sabbath House as we pursue Missionary Support Network.

      • 3

        I’ll email you two after we move out (today!) with a few more details. :)

        • 4

          Tsh,
          Seriously, mid-July would be a great time to hear from you. Don’t put a response on your to do list right after your move. Take the rest you have planned and then e-mail me in a month or so. That will be a gift and blessing!

        • 5

          Tsh, Thanks, I’d appreciate it. Like Diane said, no hurry. Whenever you get to it will be a blessing.

      • 6

        Diane – If you go to my blog (www.landofmysojourn.net/blog) you can leave a comment with your e-mail. My comments are locked for approval so I’ll get your e-mail but I promise I won’t publish the comment. I’d love to connect with you!

  2. 7

    Tish, Thank you for this great post! It was perfect timing for me as we are actually moving as well, in two weeks to be exact! We are so very excited to move and one of the reasons why is we are looking forward to a time of relaxing, refreshing and renewal for ourselves and our family. My husband and I both serve in ministry outside of his full time job and it’s been a long time since we’ve had a break. We did take a small sabbatical when our 4th child was born which did help but we can tell we are in need of a break again. Thank you for posting this, it was great to read and encouraging to me! God Bless you during your move and enjoy your time of refreshing!

  3. 8

    It’s a theme I’m Seeing, and I’m wondering if it’s an Invitation-For-Me.

    My garden seems to grow faster than I can get to it.
    My heart seems to call with ideas of a different kind of writing, and still I do the *easier*.

    Stepping back, drinking in *Renewal*, it seems so necessary. And I think it’s a must-do. It’s time to make a deliberate choice and clear the calendar – to block out the regular-living and celebrate the time for relaxed-living.

    Rich blessings to you, Tish, as you discover the Purpose for the *nothing-ness* in your coming days…

  4. 9

    Methinks I needed to read this ;-) African war zone, 100+ kids, full-time speaking/writing schedule, admin to my eyeballs- I knew there was something I was forgetting- yes a BREAK!!! For me the struggle has been learning what actually refreshes me (beach + solitude is a hint) and turning off my spinning wheels. Even all of my intended respites have turned into ministry for the most part. Last time I remember having an extended break that was just for rest, hmm well I actually don’t remember having one. Years. I probably should look into that! Thank you for the reminder, truly. Blessings on the move!

    • 10

      Hello Michelle, from Zimpeto! How funny to see your comment here! We know working with Iris rarely involves down time. I’m quite sure I have more of it than you do though as we have a lot of established routines here in Zimpeto. Bless you as you serve! Laura

      • 11

        Hahaha, Laura, I occasionally drop in here… routine! What a concept. Great to see YOU here! Down time is another novelty I might have to explore. Since starting in Sudan 5 years ago I barely have had any truly down time except when recovering from about 15 bouts of varying intensities of cerebral malaria and not even so much then! We are still plowing major ground– once it is plowed though I am going to find me a porch and a swing and an ocean somewhere for a few days at least. LOL

  5. 12

    Tsh, what I love about this is a) you’re speaking from experience, and b) God spoke from experience. He rested post creation, and because He knows its importance, He’s wants us to have it, too.

    Why don’t we believe it?

    Regarding our onlives, so often we’re scared we’ll be forgotten if we disappear for a while. There are certainly plenty of voices to fill the void; and I imagine if we’re forgotten online, there are plenty of people under our roof who matter exponentially more who will ALWAYS remember :) .

    Thanks for modeling by example.

    • 13

      I could not have articulated my feelings any better Robin. Tsh, I love the encouragement and push in your voice to rest, renew and reflect. Been doing exactly that as I’ve been experiencing lots of “lasts” and “firsts” and new seasons. In order to be and do exactly as He has called us to, we must experience life and soak it in. To do lists and rushing from one activity to the next does not create an environment of hearing and going in His time. A very hard lesson but one I am grateful to surrender to. Enjoy your break and be blessed.

    • 14

      Last year I was pleasantly surprised to see that I honestly didn’t miss that much on Twitter or Facebook. And I actually had more time to just read blogs, which I honestly don’t do anymore.

      That said, I do specifically pick the summer because things online slow down anyway. This being my work, I couldn’t take a month off during the holidays or the fall. It’s just too busy online. It’s a seasonal work.

  6. 15

    Recently I realized that over the last year I’ve piled more responsibilities on myself than anyone could do in a lifetime. They were all good things, accumulated slowly over a year, but I was waking up dreading every day and all the things I wanted to do.

    In her book Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist talks about making two lists: Things I Do and Things I Do Not Do. I followed her example, and oh, the freedom! My blog is too new to take a full break, but this exercise made me realize all the other things I was trying to give equal importance with my family, my home, and my blog. By pulling up the weeds of good activities, I can finally see to focus on the great ones. And I’m waking up more renewed than ever!

  7. 16

    Tsh, my husband and I are on the brink of a new season and a new calling. We feel God calling us in this post-child raising phase to move to a new home and set up a missionary support network (as well as open our own home) to missionaries home on furlough. ANY thoughts, organizations, or links you might have for us to learn more would be a gift! Thank you for this post–to consider this for ourselves, as well as, to set out to create it for others.

  8. 19

    This is a great post! I’ve always argued that time away makes us more productive when we return to our work. Kudos to you for making your writing and blogging such
    a success! How do you do that anyway? Maybe that could be a series when you return!

    Enjoy!

  9. 21

    Great insight. It’s so easy to lose this truth in the busyness of life. It’s also easy for me, as a SAHM, to enjoy this spiritual stimulation while at home, that I can become overly distracted. It does help to take a break. Thank you.

    Christina

  10. 22
    Kristi says:

    I got your book in the mail yesterday and BOY AM I EXCITED to read it. I’ll be going part-time for the first time in the fall and I’m excited to take on the new responsibilities of getting my home in order. Have a lovely day!

  11. 23
    Jen CD says:

    Thank you for this post. I am currently mothering my three children overseas in Colombia, and I appreciate your perspective that the work here is 24-7. I feel tired from the navigation of another language, culture, the lack of family and friends close by, and the hard work it takes just for getting by. I am curious about your ideas for “taking a break” in this kind of situation? I will admit, it is just too easy for our family to turn to the TV or internet, which only provides a false sense of relief.

    • 24

      I’ll write about that soon on Simple Mom, so you can watch for it there, but my short answer is always to think about the things that refresh and encourage me. TV almost never makes that list, but I do go ahead and watch a show or movie a bit, just for fun. Laid-back downtime like that is okay from time to time.

      Things that refresh me are reading, sewing, exercising, and yes, even writing (but different than the blog). So I’d say it just depends on what you enjoy.

  12. 25

    Thank you for this, Tsh. I have passed it on to my husband, too. It is something we really need to reflect on right now in a time of overwhelm.

  13. 26

    Wow! Now I’m really motivated to try and find some babysitters this summer so I can take a rest.

    We are taking a two- month trip to the US with our three small kids to do some fundraising for our church in the Middle East.

    For so long I’ve just tried to “survive” life with a husband with physical disabilities, three kids under four, and being a pastor’s wife.

    Where do you start if you’ve forgotten how to rest, but managed to book a babysitter?

  14. 27

    Tsh,
    Such wisdom, to take some time off. A home-based business can become overwhelming especially. To take time off has to be intentional. It won’t just happen as we have to plan for it. Even if one was just implement actually taking a Sabbath day of rest, that is an awesome thing. Look for ways to rest and recharge your batteries, as it is so important!
    Bernice
    Is it time to sharpen your saw?

  15. 28

    I am new to your site, but I will miss you. Your post really helped me connect alot of dots.. Thank you, enjoy every minute of your time off!
    Take care,
    Lisa

    • 29

      Well, you won’t really miss me, because there will still be new content on the blog! I’ve pre-written it, so it just means I won’t have to frantically write just before hitting publish. :)

  16. 30

    Oh, Tsh, the Lord has been dealing with me about this lately. I’m glad you wrote about it! I may be following His prompting and your advice soon.

    Question: Do you find you lose readers/subscribers/pageviews during your time off? That is one of my concerns, especially as a newer blog. I’m not certain yet about the commitment level of my readers; will they stay around for when I return? I’ve worked hard to get them and I’d hate to see them go!

    I’d love to hear about your experience with this.

    Jaime

    • 31

      Not really, because I still have new content. I’m sure it would if I literally didn’t publish anything at all, but I do (and I do this because I have advertisers that count on my regular readership).

      I do know from experience, however, that readership is naturally down during the summer, mostly across the entire blogosphere. That’s one of the reasons I use summertime for my break. Every blog and niche is different, however.

  17. 32

    Single mothers really get zero downtime. I don’t know the solutions for this except to grab those couple hours when you can…but the mental work does not stop. ever.

    • 33

      Agreed! I haven’t had a moment of down-time in 7 years. I had lunch with my sister last week and could not stop the mental gymnastics enough to enjoy 2 hours of “freedom”. I just spent the time feeling guilty about everything else I should have been doing and the money I was spending on my lunch!

      • 34

        That must be so hard for both of you! I am not in the same situation, however my hubby is not home a lot so I don’t usually get breaks from the kiddos. We have a 1, 3 and 6 year old. We homeschool. I have been struggling with feeling pretty stressed and tired. Mid-afternoon is the worst part of the day for me. There is usually so much more to be done and I am getting tired so it feels very discouraging. Lately, I have instituted quiet time. Each older child is sent to a room to quietly rest/play/spend time with the Lord. Hopefully the baby is napping, but if not she stays with me. If she is up I lay on the living room floor. (If I am on the floor next to her she is more content to play. Sometimes she crawls all over me, but I find it sweet and just enjoy the moments with her.) Otherwise I do nothing except pray for a recharge and the grace to get through AND enjoy the rest of the day. I sometimes read a few scriptures. too! I am finding the 20-30 minutes makes a big difference in the rest of the day for me. I do not feel guilty doing this. It helps calm my mental gymnasts and I feel it is mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. It helps me feel better and be a better mom. I have had to use discipline to not check my email or anything like that. If I do, then I don’t feel rested or recharged. Just wanted to share in case this idea may be helpful to you ladies!

        • 35

          PS I realize especially being a single parent you may not be home during the day like I am, however perhaps you could find another time (when arriving home from work?) to set up a similar session. And I make sure to NOT think about the to do list or that I only have 20 minutes. I try to just sit and enjoy the moment for itself, moment by moment, and count my blessings. (Otherwise, I lay there stressed and there isn’t much point.) ;)

  18. 36

    Have safe travels on your move and enjoy the time with your family in beautiful Oregon! I lived in Portland for 10 years, and still go back from time-to-time (I own rental properties there).
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your new house, and hopefully a few posts about your “nothingness”.

  19. 37

    Oh, so true!! This summer, my kids and I will be going to Texas to visit my family for 18 days. They’ll love on my kids (6.5, almost 2, and 7 weeks) and usually while that happens I get a bit of a breather b/c there’s at least 5 extra pairs of hands at all times, eager to do something. a week later, we’ll be going to Cape May with my husband’s family. Busy summer, but a break from the norm.

  20. 38

    Your post along with some other posts about taking a break encouraged my post today about being a not fun mom. I think I need to take the break but as some of the ladies spoke already about, the fears I have about being left out if I take a break scream louder than they should. Great and important topic.
    jan

  21. 39

    Thanks for this encouragement, Tsh. I’m a mama of a 16-month-old and am 24 weeks pregnant. I live in Florida and am due at the end of September, so it’s going to be a long, hot summer. I’m really focusing on productivity over these next 4 weeks, until the official beginning of the third trimester, so I can slow down and breathe during the uncomfortable season that’s ahead of me. I also want to use the summer months to rest and sleep in preparation for mothering two littles under the age of 2!

  22. 40

    great reminders. thank you. Being in full-time ministry, our family has been really blessed by the Makahiki organization – a ministry that coordinates vacation homes or rooms for pastors and their families to be able to use for a very minimal cost.

    enjoy your time away :)

  23. 41

    Thanks for the interesting perspective. I’m taking the summer off from a volunteer position I’ve been doing with 2 of my kids. I never thought of it in this light. I just felt like I was needing a break and expecting #5 anytime now, just gave me the excuse to say that I needed some time off.

  24. 42

    Rest and relaxation is something I desperately need! I kept thinking of how eerily similar your mind sounded to my own when you talked about always being on the alert for a good idea or post photo. Everything I see, read, and hear are filtered through my brain as a possible idea for my blog. It does get exhausting!

    Thank you for the reminder to take a step back and breathe.

  25. 43

    New reader here. This is something I think even new bloggers like me need to hear. There will come a time I will need to step back and refresh and your post really drove that home. I’m really fascinated that you provide guest houses for those in ministry. Our family dream is to buy a small farm in the near future and this is something I could see us integrating wonderfully into that plan! I’d love to know more about that too. I’m so glad I found your post today! Thank you.

  26. 44

    I so agree with you. I’ve realized that planning not to plan things is huge … for me, and for my kids {a 4-year-old and 18-month-old}. There are days we stay in our PJs or don’t leave the house. It’s a great chance for us to catch our breath and be together without the ordinary chaos.

  27. 45
    crystal says:

    I really would like to have that kind of time to relax…however…I can’t afford to….

  28. 46

    Trish you are so very correct. My husband and I learned it the hard way. Why is it that we feel that when we spend ourselves to the max in ministry that we are honoring God?

    Two years ago we were both let go from a large church. My husband lead a vibrant and thriving ministry and I was his assistant. Yes, it was a terrible and totally unexpected blow. (And we’re still ‘on the hunt’ for our next ministry assignment. ) God in his goodness always is at work…working all things for our good. And in the months following our firing…we became acutely aware that our overwork was sin. Churches are notorious for promoting unbalanced lifestyles among their leaders. And it’s easy to slip into that mold. Even the sabbatical scheduled previously scheduled was not going to be restful…but busy traveling and writing. Our eyes are now open and we don’t hesitate, when given the opportunity, to nudge people toward balanced, godly work and rest.

    May your rest be beautiful and rejuvenating!

  29. 47

    Thanks for these wise words. We all need to be reminded of this. Somehow we feel guilty for taking a break or resting. Nine months ago my husband and I launched on a new ministry project where we live in the Middle East. We’ve been here 9 years, but this is a much higher learning curve! I have realized recently how much I need regular breaks. I’ve waken up to the fact that my working harder won’t make it happen.

    Thanks for this reminder. God’s blessing on your move and sabbatical. Hope you have enough time for rest!

  30. 48

    I cannot agree more with this post!! I feel that a mental/emotional/physical break is so necessary & important for everyone (no matter what their role/profession, etc). It is so easy to keep up the go – go – go mentality 24/7 (feeling like this is what God wants & expects us to do) and all the while the areas in which we are serving are suffering b/c we are wearing ourselves too thin. I am a social worker and have come to realize that while it is so easy for me to go NON STOP ALL the time, it is vital (for my mental health and my effectiveness with my clients) for me to take regular scheduled breaks. Some times this is just taking a random day off work to relax at home and other times it means planning a real (get away )vacation. Enjoy your time off!!! Awesome post…

  31. 49
    Abigail says:

    I’ve recently been encouraged by thinking about rest and work like a musician. BOTH the notes and the “rests” must be at the appropriate times and of the appropriate length for the music to be what the Composer intended. : )

  32. 52

    Great thoughts Tsh. Having time that is “free” and spontaneous is incredibly restful and relaxing for me. I thrive off spontaneity and after having our first child, I have begun to realize that in order to still have the type of spontaneity that I thrive off, I have to schedule it in! Ironic to have to “budget” spontaneous time. So I’m learning how to be more efficient with my work time and my rest/spontaneous time. I hope your time off is truly refreshing and revitalizing despite moving in the process!

  33. 53

    Thank you for this article! It is coming at just the right time. My husband and I have had a lot of change over the past year and a half (husband’s father passed away, husband is a bi-vocational pastor, my parents in and out of hospital, two daughters graduate from college, one moves away to another state and the other just got married…and we homeschool and I have a small Etsy shop) and we have just started talking about getting away for a day, to talk, pray and plan…I really like what Abigail shared in her comment about “rest” coming at the appropriate times as the Composer intended. :)

  34. 54

    Yeah. We’re in a scramble to find ways of making more money, so it seems like we can’t afford to take a break, but I have a feeling a brief camping trip might renew our spirits and make us more productive.

    Also, I’m just starting to work from home, and to counteract my tendency to map ambitious schedules and then feel defeated, I’ve started a daily practice of listening to my heart to determine what is most important to do each day. If my heart says rest or play, then that is my priority for that day, and work comes second, or the next day.

  35. 55

    I am definitely in need of some down time … just one more week of crazy … and then aaahhh. Looking forward to it! I hope I don’t feel the need to fill it up!

  36. 56

    I’m actually getting into a routine again after months of moving chaos. We’ll take afternoons to go to the beach and certain weeks off for vacation but our “on” weeks include school and other regular life stuff.

  37. 57

    One reason it can be difficult to rest is that we listen to the voices telling us that our work is not enough or is not significant. Comparison to others leaves us feeling like we have to “catch up”, but the treadmill never stops. I appreciate how you gave recognition to the fact that being in ministry is hard work. Sometimes it seems like people view it as an easy job or not a real job at all. That can make me feel like I need to constantly be working to “prove” that I have a job.

    Thanks for a great post.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] more on the imporatance of sabbatical, I encourage you to read Rest, Reflection, and Renewal at (in)courage. Whether you are in ministry or not, when was the last time you truly rested in [...]

  2. [...] Head here to read the rest and leave a comment. { top image credit } About TshTsh is the creator of this blog and a recent convert to kombucha. She's mom to three kids, likes her coffee black, and thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe. She's written a few books, and her next is due for release with Thomas Nelson in early 2014. She and her family will travel around the world soon after—hopefully everyone will be potty-trained by then. Similar Posts Some things are better left unsaid [...]

  3. [...] this time, I took my annual summer writing break. As much as I love writing, I’ve found that my body and mind need a respite from the regular [...]

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