After 18 years of full-time ministry, I finally did it! I took my first sabbatical… and I LOVED IT! If you want to talk about all the reasons for that or what I learned, you can call me. But, what I do want to share today, is what I did during my three months.

My first NextGen experience was I am sure, like many of yours… AMAZING. I showed up with very little information about the week, and walked away encouraged, refreshed, loved on and full. Over the NextGen years I have filled my ‘soul care’ bucket with so many new ways to worship, listen, pray, get creative and stretch myself. These are the exact things that I used in my sabbatical. I pulled out my notebooks and journals and began digging in.

I didn’t quite know where to start, so I began asking God to speak to my heart, soul, mind and body specifically about the next three months. I asked what they needed, I asked if or how they might be hurting, I asked for them to be renewed and I asked God to directly touch every area of me.

This past NextGen Jim said something that stood out very clearly to me. “Read the Bible for you, not just for resources for what you do.” (I paraphrased it.) So, that was my first task. Just read the Bible for me. Not for a partner I was working with, an upcoming event or training session, but just for me. After hearing Jim make that statement, I began wondering if I knew how to talk to God in a way that wasn’t missions related. (turns out, I did)

Most days I was outside on my back porch, so I began looking for God in his creation – his artwork. I wanted to feel wonder and awe in His beauty. I wanted to see Him in ways I was not expecting or had seen before. I wanted his creation to speak to me, like a piece of artwork. So, I took walks in the park, visited the beach and slowed down when I moved.

I tried to tap into the creative side and paint, bake, dance and try new activities that allowed me to move, to sweat, to use the part of my brain that is not utilized as much.

I reviewed many of the prayer practices we had been introduced to over the years. Like praying the scriptures; The Examen to identify where I saw God throughout my day. I dug into the Psalms to identify emotions and expressions that might be present in my life.

I turned up the music! Probably the one practice I did most, was listen to music. I found Shane & Shane’s works through the Psalms and spent hours reading the passages where their music derived.

The revelations and benefits are continuing to come each day. I am sad I have waited so long to even consider taking a Sabbatical, and slightly bummed that I have to wait for my next!