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Leap Year

Is it time for a radical sabbatical?

In every woman's life comes the moment when you realize you're DTM: Doing Too Much. Too much at work, too much at church, too much at school. Not enough at home.

Sometimes we resolve to "do better next year."

And sometimes God has a more radical plan in store.

I discovered I was DTM three years ago while taking a shower in a city far from home. (I often have "ahas" in odd places.) Preparing to be the guest speaker for an all-day event, yet desperately missing my family, I stood beneath the spray of hot water, drenched with tears.

My heart's desire of ministering to women at conferences had come true—but at a cost I no longer could ignore. Thirty weekends away from home each year. Dozens of forfeited special events with my husband and teens. Lonely hotel rooms and crowded airports. Exhaustion.

Standing there, naked not only in body but also in spirit, I had to face the ugly truth: My crazy life was my fault. Though I'd convinced myself it was ministry and therefore worth any sacrifice, the truth was there were other, less lovely reasons for my tendency to DTM—ego needs, financial wants, insecurity issues, and on and on.

Help, Lord!

I didn't have to wait long for an answer: Rest one year. Be still. Recharge. With that quiet assurance came an echo from Scripture: "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him" (Psalm 62:5).

Yes! My heart literally leaped for joy. So did the rest of me.

The very thought of spending a year at home—a year without traveling or speaking, a year of mothering and writing, a year of ministering privately instead of publicly, a year of seeking God's heart—sent me jumping out of the shower and reaching for the telephone.

"Honey, how does the idea of a sabbatical sound to you? A year at home?"

My Bill, who manages my ministry, is a practical man. This would mean a lot less money and a lot more Liz. A serious double whammy for a financially frugal husband who loves a quiet house.

"Great idea!" he said. Did I mention he's also wise and loving and a dozen other blessings?

We kept our plans under wraps for a couple of years, working out the logistics and saving our pennies. I began mentioning it to trusted friends, wanting to quell any concerns—"Is Liz ill?!"—and to let them know they'd be seeing more of me around the neighborhood. Finally we slipped a mention in my newsletter, posted it on my website, and breathed a sigh of relief. Our "radical sabbatical" for 2004 was official.

Funny how people respond when you announce you're taking a break from the action.

One well-meaning soul cautioned, "Once you get off that platform, you'll never get back on it." Now that's encouraging! I smiled and assured her God was in charge of my life and certainly could handle my speaking calendar. Others eyed me closely. "Are you sure you're OK?" Very OK. For the first time in a long time.

Mostly, though, I heard from seasoned mothers. "I did the same thing when my children were finishing high school. They need you at home, Liz. You're doing the right thing." Some women kindly offered to pray for us. Others confessed their own DTM challenges and pledged to join me in doing less, instead of doing more.

What about you, sis? Could you say "no" to something this year? Work fewer hours instead of working overtime? Unplug from one committee or organization? Reclaim a day or two each month for you and those you love?

After all, 2004 is a Leap Year. Why not take a leap of faith? Instead of making a to-do list for the new year, think about a not-do list. If you're DTM, maybe it's time for a change. As we say around the Higgs house, "Less is more in 2004!"

Liz Curtis Higgs, author of 20 books, including her latest novel, Thorn in My Heart (WaterBrook Press), lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Kentucky.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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