Summer Sabbatical

May 30, 2017

It is rest that revives the soul for real life. And it is often rest we neglect while trying to live.

As I mentioned in last week’s post—Finding Life in the FallowI refuse to sell my soul for the sake of distorted definition of success. For that reason, I’m completely unplugging for the months of June and July. I will not be on email, Facebook or Twitter, nor will I be blogging. I *might* post an occasional family picture on Instagram, and I’ve prescheduled a few recycled posts on social media.

Honestly, I hope you don’t read them.

The truth is, as a writer, speaker and consultant, withdrawing from the online realm has true implications for my business and ministry. Many of the internet applications I use every day “punish” those that don’t participate, meaning my stats will likely be impacted by my quietness.

Even so, I’m doing it anyway. Because I believe you and I are sprinting down a road toward self-destruction, one from which we won’t recover if we don’t learn a new way to live. And the only way to change the rules is for a few brave someones to do it first.

Want to join me?

I hope you say “yes.” If so, here are 10 ways to rest when the soul requires renewal:

  1. Shut down the computer. I mean SHUT. IT. DOWN. As in powered off, packed up in my laptop bag, changed password (that only a random stranger knows). Okay, maybe not that last part, but you get the idea. The world will continue to revolve even if you and I don’t check email. Set up an out-of-office email responder, and walk away.
  2. Remove email and social media icons from the phone. I promise, you will not die. It’s been about two months since I deleted the mail app from my phone, and I have not missed it. Social media is a little more difficult, but I did it last summer. For the first week, I caught myself checking my phone at least a dozen times a day, evidence of my addiction. By the end of two months, however, I didn’t want to get back on.
  3. Take a nap. Every day, if possible. It only takes 15 to 30 minutes. If you can’t sleep, take 30 minutes in a favorite chair to read a book, soak up the sunshine, listen to music.
  4. Watch less television (or none at all). Instead, read. Play a game. Sit on the front porch and talk with your neighbors.
  5. Go for a walk. Don’t try to burn a thousand calories. Just walk, meander, stroll. Breathe in and out. Take in the scenery. Watch nature do its thing, and marvel at the miracle.
  6. Listen to soul-filling podcasts and books. And by that I mean nothing that has anything to do with busyness and productivity. A few of my recent favorites include Gospel In Life podcast and Desiring God Podcast, as well as the books The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, The Road Back To You by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile, and Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey.
  7. Observe the Sabbath. I don’t care whether you choose Saturday or Sunday or some other day, but pick one day a week to literally do nothing but celebrate God’s gift of life. Go fishing. Plant a garden. Do a puzzle. Go for a picnic. Take a nap (did I mention that already?). But don’t even think about making a to-do list.
  8. Play. Smile. Laugh. Dance to your favorite music. Lay in the grass and watch the stars. Hike a mountain, dip your toes in a spring, pick flowers. Build a spaceship with Legos or a hope chest with wood. Do whatever feels the opposite of work for you.
  9. Fast and pray. I know, it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. But some of my richest times of spiritual renewal have involved diving deep into my relationship with God. Both fasting and prayer are a means to that kind of intimacy.
  10. Invest in community. Beyond our brief social media interactions, we need each other. We need face time, long conversations, mutual vulnerability, shared accountability. We need the rest and renewal that come from sharing our stories and listening in turn. Although solitude is part of soul rest, being in a safe and life-giving community is, too.

Have a wonderful summer, friends. Rest. Savor. Enjoy. One beautiful day at a time.

[callout]Tomorrow May 31st is the LAST DAY to get the e-book version of I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He is for only $1.99. I know I wrote it, so it’s borderline obnoxious to recommend it. But if you want a devotional that will dig into the soul, this is it. Need further evidence? Check out the reviews on Amazon (or leave one if you haven’t already! THANK YOU!).[/callout]

[reminder]Which one of these 10 ideas will you try this summer? [/reminder]


  1. Nancy

    I’m joining you, Michele! I plan to take the month of July off from ministry and social media. I choose to be brace with you!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Well done, Nancy! May each moment be rich with rest and His presence.

  2. Darla Haas

    Bravo for you for being a modern day pioneer Michelle! I fear that in praising productivity as a higher virtue we may have lost the art of rest and that we may have sacrificed true intimacy on the altar of technical connection. I pray your summer is memorable, life giving and spiritually refreshing. You’re a blessing! (And by the way, I loved your new book!)

    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Darla! I love thinking of this as a “pioneering” endeavor. But in today’s culture, IT IS. And so we press on!

  3. Allen Cunningham

    Well My comment was lost. Thank you for encouraging us to disconnect for a while. My best fiend in Dallas introduced you to me, via Internet. Shehas been battling cancer for 10 years. She lost her battle a few weeks ago. I went to Dallas and read at her service. I think this is one of the reasons I am so tired. Grief takes its toll on you. Thank you for being normal and realize. You can do it all either. Allen

  4. Pam Garton

    Your blog speaks life to me in this season. Your words are a healing balm.
    I love all that you said about resting. I have taken off two social media apps and bought some books. I plan to walk more, invest back into community and watch less television. I plan to look more to see God in all that I do. My life as been like a ‘Manchester by the Sea’ life this last year. I am hoping to live more than just get through. I am leaning into Jesus to that end. I know He will meet me there as He has this past year. I have found a new strength and endurance that I didn’t know I had. I wonder if in His plan, that is what this is all about?.
    I pray God richly blesses you this summer in ways you never imagined. Please know your words have done that for me. For that I deeply thank you.

    • Michele Cushatt

      And I pray the same for you, Pam. May God’s presence with and love for you fill you to overflowing.

  5. Kathleen

    I just order a book suggestion and plan on trying these all…you are courageous and wise to do this!!! Unplug and enjoy!!!! God’s blessings shall flow to you!!!!!!

  6. Jackie Hobbins

    I love that you do this every year and encourage the rest of us to take time off. My family and I endeavor to join you by having a screen free day, once a week this summer.

    • Michele Cushatt

      Well, it takes a great TEAM to even make it possible to do something like this. So thank you, J! xoxoxox

  7. Dianna Cline

    Good for you. Doing number 6. Reading more…especially The Word and finish g I Am..
    And the journaling I’m so g for it.

  8. Jerolyn

    Great ideas! I commend you for both suggesting and doing this. While planning our daughter’s wedding, will make this a bit tricky, it will no doubt be even more necessary. Just being still before God will be my biggest challenge.

    • Michele Cushatt

      (I still can’t believe your girl is getting married …)

  9. Mary Ashton

    I love the way God brings me messages in multiple ways that I reslly need. Just started reading a book by Shauna Nyquist called “Present over Perfect”, full of just what you are talking about in your blog. My life in a ministry feels like a treadmill, and I am often the operator of said treadmill. Today, I will sit in the sun and read, and swat away those annoying “shoulds” that keep flying at me. Thank you for the affirmation!

  10. Michelle Squier

    Visit Sacred Heart Silent Retreat Center in Sedalia. I LOVE it there. Great place to run away and spend time with God.

    • Michele Cushatt

      I’ve heard great things about it! Thanks for the recommend, Michelle.

  11. Karen

    I really need to unplug and re-evaluate my life & calling. Thank you for your inspiring post. I already have several commitments in June. But I only have one major speaking commitment in July. So, I’m taking some R & R with my husband during July. And that time of R & R will include practicing my own prayer strategy of REST: Remember. Exalt. Surrender. Trust. Why is it so hard to “practice what we preach”? Blessings back to you, Michelle!

  12. Abigail Hatch

    Just reading this post made me feel like my soul was taking a deep breath. 🙂 Wonderful suggestions. Wishing you a restful and rejuvenating summer!

  13. Michelle Carson

    Thank you for this my friend!! Just another shot of affirmation for me!! My last speaking engagement is July 22nd….after that I’m “out” until October!! It’s a little scary to exit this craziness we’ve come to think normal….but it’s a must!!
    Rest my friend and enjoy!! Happy Summer…talk to you in the Fall!?

  14. Linda

    Number 5. Since I had total knee replacement surgery in March I enjoy walking again. Plus it helps me to lose weight.

  15. Courtney Westlake

    I made the decision to do this as well. I have a couple more blog posts to publish (most of which are already done) and then I’m OUT from mid-June to mid-August! I felt SUCH freedom when I decided to do this! Like you said, there are implications for quiet accounts… but I DON’T CARE! 🙂
    I have only one summer when my kids are 5 and 7. After the absolute craziness of launching my book last August, I’m about-facing on this summer. Already I can feel the difference.
    Thanks for the great reminders of rest!

  16. Wendy Schoolmeester

    I love this post. We ALL need to unplug and rest. In the past year I’ve taken a July and January sabbatical from FB. Friends didn’t think I could do it, but I did. I had to remove the app from my phone though. I don’t watch TV so that will be easy. Now, the Sabbath day challenge. I MUST get better at that. Thanks for this post, Michele. You have a restful summer too!! Hugs…

  17. Cassie

    I love this and had already been thinking the same thing. Count me in! I’ll be checking out the podcast you mentioned as well!

    Cheers ?

  18. Crystal Alence

    Taking a nap and not checking my email seems like a likely path for me. I guess having the mono virus for weeks now, and more weeks to come, afforded me into a sabbatical! It was probably for the best, as well. I could feel myself getting frustrated and felt a lot of pressure from feeling the need to keep up with my social media ministry. You may not read this for a couple of months, but I really needed to hear that it’s okay to slow down and not feel guilty.
    Thank you for sharing your heart. You may have no idea how many of us needed to hear that.
    God bless and absolutely enjoy your peace!
    With love,
    Crystal Alence

  19. Vicki Marley

    Have a wonderful summer!


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