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Saturday, June 13, 2009

sabbatical fruit - week 6 - halfway jitters

As of today the sabbatical is halfway over. This past week was an interesting one in which I wrestled with discouragement, doubt, and a lot of questions.

Six weeks into what one neighbor keeps calling my "vacation" shouldn't I be as loose and relaxed as a well-cooked spaghetti noodle? Apparently not. Actually, I was not expecting the sabbatical to run smoothly from start to finish. It is a huge change of location and pace (my Dad saw some parallels to retirement) and, of course, nothing in life is smooth and easy.

What happened? Well, mid-week I found myself way behind related to the goals I had set for the sabbatical... every one of them. In fact, in some ways I felt like I hadn't accomplished anything. Now that's not true... just how I felt. I haven't managed my time as well as I should and have been frustrating myself and my family. What was probably most frustrating was the feeling that if I can't figure out how to pursue these life-long dreams (music, writing, health, etc...) with all this time on my hands, how will I ever manage it when I start back to the full-time+ schedule of ministry? (Did I mention that changing strings on an electric guitar with a Floyd-Rose floating tremolo is slightly more complicated than brain surgery?!)

But, something in my wiring always urges me to wait-and-see... if things get better, if my perspective will change, or something like that. And, indeed, the day after I was pondering whether to use eBay or Craig's List to sell all the music gear, I tried a new approach to organizing the day.

I realized, for one, that I really need about a four-hour block to be productive musically, particularly if I'm recording. It takes a good 30 minutes to get everything fired up, plugged in, and tuned. Then a good 30-60 minutes to create a part, particularly if it's from scratch. Then, I have to rehearse and play it to perfection. I might be 2-3 hours in and, if interrupted for a significant length of time, have to basically start over later. In four hours, I can do all that, wrap it up, and make plans for how to use the next block. And that is a time-block I can conceivably re-create once I start back... on a Friday morning or Friday late-night. That brings me great hope and joy for future creativity!

Not only did that four-hour approach work, it also allowed me to get a LOT done toward two of the sabbatical projects AND spend some good quality time with my family. Rather than an hour on and off all day between music and family and no one being completely satisfied, I had two great days all around.

Now the even more important point comes from reflection on this. I was charging ahead with worthy goals in mind but ending in obstacles and frustration. How often do we do this in many areas of life? We neglect family, health, and friends to get a few steps closer to a goal at work. Or we put God off because there's too much going on in our life. Sometimes we can't see around the situation to see a better way. And sometimes it takes coming full-on to a roadblock (and even banging our head against it a few or more times) to start looking for alternative routes.

No doubt it is God's providence that family vacation would fall in week 7. It gives me an opportunity to reflect a bit more on the whole sabbatical (even if it feels like more time is passing without moving toward my goals). And I have the two days of a new approach to appreciate... so I know it IS possible.

I do hope to make the most of the remaining five weeks when I get back. Hopefully, the combination of work, rest, and reflection will not only help me accomplish at least some of what I hoped to accomplish, but also help me experience exactly what the Lord wants to accomplish in me during this time.

What do you think the Lord is working to accomplish in you right now?

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