Since returning from our four-week sabbatical this summer I’ve felt a new sense of passion and urgency for life and ministry. (It seems that taking God at his word and developing rhythms of rest make a real difference in our life.)

I recall sitting in our hotel room in Athens writing out the details for a life group I felt passionate to teach this fall. Too afraid I would talk myself out of it, I made the commitment right then and there.

While the natural rhythms of day-to-day life returned to normal, I’m not the same. And I’ve tried hard to stay that way. I want those feelings I felt coming off of our sabbatical to stay with me in this next season. I want it to fuel everything I do. Can it carry me the next seven years until our next sabbatical? I don’t know, but I’m arranging my life believing it can.

The things that came alive in me during our sabbatical feel personal. I can’t expect anyone else to feel it or act on it. I feel a responsibility to keep that passion alive, intentional to fan the flames.

Here are a few things that are helping me:

1. Reducing Unnecessary Stress

Life has a way of piling up. School schedules, dinner menus, and doctor’s appointments seem to rule our lives while the things we are most passionate about end up taking a back seat. I evaluated the areas that stress me out the most and looked for ways to reduce/minimize them.

  • Grocery shopping stresses me out, but it’s mindless (& necessary). I found a time when the rest of the people in my house hardly know I’m gone and I don’t have a whole lot of mental energy. Our family is at a point where consistency (even in our food choices) makes us all happier.
  • Prepping school lunches on Sunday night has changed my life. Taking away those fifteen minutes of unnecessary stress every morning before school has been huge. I start my day with less decision-making and can save precious mental energy on more important things.
  • The coffee timer set on the coffee pot helps me get up in the morning. Sure, washing it out the night before isn’t fun (esp. if you only remember at 10:30pm), but neither is doing it at 6am. Having it ready when I get up makes my morning a time I look forward to, not a time I dread.
  • Simple weeknight meals are my norm. I’m saving complex recipes for holiday times and dinner parties. It’s just not worth it and I’m the only one in the house who notices and is impacted by the stress of it.

2. Books

My book list is growing by the week, and sometimes overwhelming because I want to read five at once. But it inspires me so much. Reading about the passions of others keeps me passionate. It also keeps me focused.

3. Teaching

That group I committed to lead this semester has been one of the most life-giving parts of my week. I’m not worried about vacuuming and setting out brie, I’m able to focus solely on the content and word I feel like the Holy Spirit wants spoken that night. It’s brought me to my knees each week. Watching God show up every week makes me even more passionate about the next.

4. Sabbath

After our sabbatical, I’m even more convinced of the necessity of down time and rest. I allow my mind to be active and engaged five days a week, but not much more. I disconnect social media and all writing at least one day a week.  Using times of rest to replenish my mind and soul gives me the mental clarity and focus for the next week. I think better. I write better because I rest.

What are you passionate about these days? Whatever it is make sure you’re fueling it to keep the passion alive. What would you add to this list?

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