As I sit here at my keyboard, my hands cover my eyes as I try desperately to focus my thoughts. Have you been there? Maybe not at a computer to write, but in a conversation with someone and they ask you… so how are you doing? Or what have you been learning? What has God been teaching you? And your response, you honest response could literally take you a whole day to explain. That is where my mind is.

The past eight weeks I have taken a sabbatical from all things book, blog, and speaking related to rest and reflect on all the God has done in the past six-seven months… well really the past two years. This break was a long time planned sabbatical for me and I was really looking forward to it. Before I began writing Redeeming Childbirth, I had made a commitment to the Lord that once the book was released I would give it my best for six months and then re-evaluate the mission. Those six months were up the middle of June, right after my last scheduled conference.

So how was the break?

Not really what I expected at all. I had all these hopes for the past eight weeks. Hopes of relaxation, refreshment, and vacation with the family {which for a mom of six, really means work}. I was seriously looking forward to reading a few spiritually thought-provoking and nourishing books myself and with my children. And in addition to rest I was planning on working in the vineyard, purging the house, focusing on some fun out of the ordinary summer activities for the kids {like camps we had never done before, stuff like that}, choosing the next years curriculums for the kids, and really focusing on helping my husband build our start-up company Choose Growth.

The books I chose to spend my time investing in:
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We did get a lot done on the property considering it was mainly me and my four younger children, since my oldest two had accidents ending in a fractured wrist and a head on tractor fight with a rose bush stump {long story}.  All this to simply say… my plans were not His plans for the past eight weeks.

I am sparing you from a massive list of details {you’re welcome}, but the thing that disturbed me most during this “sabbatical” was that I couldn’t write and proclaim the glory of the Lord through all the trials. You see, a few weeks back, I spontaneously asked our small group to hold me accountable to taking a “break”… thinking this would honor the Lord. I was feeling really tired and could feel that if I didn’t take some sort of break, I might burn out. Earlier in the day a dear friend and mother’s helper, who is in our home often, said to me, “Angie, you do tend to sprint when you do something… and I don’t know how you keep going? I’m afraid you might crash.” The thing is, after that night at small group, my husband said to me, “Why did you do that? I don’t think you should have done that.” But it was already done. I was committed and I wasn’t going to let my small group down… so I didn’t return emails related to ministry, I didn’t post on the fb pages {others did some for the ministry}, I turned down radio shows and didn’t schedule anything for until the eight weeks was up.

You may be thinking, Angie, “On a sabbatical you need to rest… you had way too many things on your list.” A few have told me this… and I love them for it. :)   But what is interesting is what the definition of sabbatical is today… compared to what is was in early biblical days.

To read the full definition of Sabbatical go here. In the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, Sabbatical pertains to the sabbath, enjoying a break or intermission in rest. The word was actually inspired by the concept of taking a sabbath and in Jewish culture they would actually take a break every seven years from farming as well to allow the ground a season of rest. Today the word sabbatical is often in association with someone taking a break from regular work in order to accomplish something, like write a book or travel, soul search etc… The reality is that a mom, though she works hard years on end, can not simply take a “sabbatical” from her work. Nor would she really want to. Really. Maybe having a weekend or a week vacation from the typical duties around the home would be nice, but a “break” from her relationships, her ministry… no. For me, that was kind of how I felt about this sabbatical. Taking a break from this ministry that God was so providing the supernatural energy to serve in, felt unnatural.

So if it felt so unnatural, is a sabbatical for everyone? I am still pondering if it was right for me, at least right now.

What was the result of my sabbatical?

Fun times with the Family:
July FunAccidents:
OwiesJulyWork in the Vineyard & Property with enough time to smell the roses…
Work & Play

Celebrating Birthday & Having Fun!bdays

Seeking God to reveal to me what is the most productive use of my time in this season in my life.

Well, I am still processing it. I’m processing both the past year and a half and the past eight weeks. But I can share that there were elements of “taking a sabbatical” that I hadn’t prepared well enough for; like responding to the email prayer requests. I had some I was sending them to that would be prayerfully creating a list of prayer requests and giving the list to our prayer team. But I didn’t feel it was enough. Part of what God had been doing in my heart over this past year and a half was a deep desire to be interceding for You, my sisters and brothers in the Lord. Taking a “break” from that brought on a burden I wasn’t prepared for. Sure I would still pray for you, but my heart was to be responding with emailed prayers…

As I sought the Lord for clarity as to what my mission should be, my part  or role int he body of Christ. I now do have some clear objectives of assignments, if you will, that I feel would be the most effective way for me to use the gifts He has given me while still keeping my focus on the hearts in my home.

God has given us each different gifts for the advancement of His Kingdom. We are a team. I have been realizing more and more what makes me tick. What God has given me in my tool box for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ.

What gifts and talents are in your toolbox?

When I was coaching, this was part of my desire, to help people find and fulfill their callings and as my husband puts it, to give their best and highest contribution to the world. Of course as a mother, I saw this as my role as well. To prepare my children for going out into the world, ready to accomplish what they were designed to do, both as a follower of Christ and individually as a child of God.
Of course, since I spent years studying and taking assessments I really believed that I understood who I was at my core. I wasn’t finished growing yet and always had room for improvement, but I was on distinct missions, in my home, my marriage and for impacting the world. But what I realized is that just as a child grows into the person God has planned for them to fulfill their unique callings, so do we as adults, if we surrender and are willing to obey in the little things. Sometimes the “callings” in our life adapt, change, or are meant for a different season in one’s life.

I also learned through this all that~

When God has a job or a special role for you to play, like writing a book. If it is truly a calling He has on YOUR life alone? If it is something He has CHOSEN YOU for? It will be there waiting for you, even a decade later.

That is my testimony with the book and ministry of Redeeming Childbirth. You see, 13 years ago, I needed a book that would help me to grow in the Lord when I was doubting who I was and my ability to be mother or when I was on bed-rest as a mother of five and feeling like a failure. I needed to get perspective… God’s Perspective. But at the time, nothing I could find led me the way I needed and yearned for. I yearned to find some glorious purpose in my morning sickness, I searched for the courageous or inspiring stories of women gone before who gave the Lord glory and praise for what He had done in their birth testimonies, like Eve, crying out, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Genesis 4:1

I prayed for God to rise up another woman to write what I most needed. What I believed our culture needed. I never thought this would really be me. Never, did I want it to be me. But there were those moments when I thought, maybe. So I would continue doing what I always did… and journal.

Do you want to write a book someday or blog? A good starting point is to faithfully journal.

 

You see, ever since I was a little girl I loved to journal. It was how I processed my thoughts. It started out as writing in a diary. You know the ones with a little lock and key. But then one day my brother and the neighbor boy found my diary and read it, revealing a “crush” I had. Oh how I was devastated and embarrassed. I stopped journaling for a while… and honestly, looking back, I think those years were some of my toughest. I wasn’t processing what I was observing, learning and desiring. But then I began again when I was in fifth grade and faithfully journaled all these years. While on missions trips, in college, the early years of marriage, and pregnancy. I have journals for talks and conferences I’ve gone to, church sermons, books I’ve read, thoughts and dreams.

Do you journal? It can bring so much clarity, and it can be part of leaving your legacy. Years from now your children might enjoy reading your precious journals. Like love letters from you years after you have passed.

So while I have been on sabbatical, I have been reading, reflecting and journaling. And simply being quiet. I have been absent from the social media world for weeks on end. And still am from most of them. But I sit here, rubbing my forehead, because there is so much I deeply want to share. I am just uncertain of when it is God’s timing.

What do I want to do now?
I have been burdened by much over the last few months. God’s vision and mission with Redeeming Childbirth grew into something I never really anticipated. I dream of making an e-course for Childbirth Educator to use to aid in their ministry world-wide. I would love to have short video clips, 5-10 minutes long on each chapter for small groups and churches to utilize. I have many more visions or dreams for this ministry that far surpass a book, a guide and a website. The Lord opened my eyes last May, around Mother’s Day to the need for equipping Missional Midwives or OBs. The stats are shocking and the need is great. What a huge opportunity for service…. Oh how I could write for hours on this passion in my heart alone.
God has also been growing an even bigger fire in my heart and soul for this mission of Leaving a Legacy. This was originally the first book I felt God’s call to write, but He stopped me. I felt Him tell me that I am still Leaving my Legacy and that I needed to write Redeeming Childbirth first because it was part of that legacy and the concept of modeling obedience to Christ which needed to be a whole chapter in the book. I have wildly neglecting writing here, simply because of the season of life I am in, and the fact that I am human. God has given me the same amount of hours in a day he has given you.

My commitment to my family and marriage comes first always. And the truth is that, this ministry wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have anything worth writing about if I didn’t have the family God has blessed me with. I am the wife of the one and only, Isaac Tolpin, who is very focused building a few businesses right now… and for those of you who know my husband, you know that means this is the season where I am needed most in the home, focused more than ever at helping him to do what he needs to build what God has called him to build.

Life isn’t always easy being married to a man on a mission, but I am thankful for the new lessons I am learning through this season with him. And because of going through this season again, as we have multiple times in the past, my heart burdens greatly for the wives out there who are married to leaders, military wives, pastor’s wives, missionary wives, and entrepreneur’s wives. I deeply want to encourage them to stay strong in the Lord, to grow in leadership skills, and to embrace the role of leadership they have been given because of who God chose for them as a husband/team-mate in this life.

So after Re-evaluating, What now?

This is part of how God wired me, and taking a break from it was like taking a break from part of who I am.

I have a dear friend, a sister, who also blogs and she told me that Ann Voskamp has called her daily blogging a “spiritual discipline.” This struck me because this month as I was going through purging my attic, garage, and home, I found a bunch of my journals from high school and college. As I reread some of the pages, skimming through I found some notes from a class I took where a university professor of mine, Prof. Gutheridge, talked about creating spiritual disciplines in one’s life. He mentioned journaling as one of his. Like I mentioned before, I am still processing this month, the emotions, the experience, the reflection; but I wonder if taking a break from it ALL was right… for me? Could it be that journaling has been a spiritual discipline, that for those who are called to share some of their reflections, that they are breaking a pattern of discipline in their life which God had called them to?

In any ministry, we need to remember we are human and take time away to rest. I know that God has designed me to crave refreshment in Him, to need it in order to give Him my best… even in order for me to bear good fruit. Jesus stepped away for rest. What I realized is that, even though I saw Leaving a Legacy and Redeeming Childbirth as ministry, I wasn’t taking regular breaks for rest during the past six months. I was pouring myself out. What is interesting is that while I was pouring myself out, God was showing up! He was my all in all. He was more than enough for me. I was very aware of how tired I was and despite my exhaustion, He would make miracles happen to get the vision out. I loved experiencing God in this way. Don’t you?! Then once I began my official break… I guess you could say I began coming down off that “spiritual high” you hear people talk about while on a missions trip. I got physically ill, we all did actually. And it became a struggle for me to be productive. I felt the work piling up as I wasn’t answering emails and more, which made it all harder to be on “sabbatical.”

So I am still processing this all. Do you have a word of wisdom for me? The Lord has given me many visions of things to do… not for the ministry… but for Him. He still wakes me up in the middle of the night and prompts me to pray for his daughters, for your marriages, for the next generation. In those moments of serving Him in obedience to the Holy Spirit, I am nourished, I am fulfilled, not drained. The “draining” feeling came when I wasn’t serving.

I don’t believe God has wired us the same. When I read about the New Testament Disciples… I wonder, did they rest? They seemed to sprint too. Everyone talks about pacing yourself for the long race… and that is good. But what if God’s plan for you is to sprint? What if the body of Christ was like Track and Field team? And some are made to jump and leap in faith, others are called to run long distance, and yet others are on the team are created for sprinting? I’ve never been one to be a spectator and to spectators who like to simply watch the game, working hard seems silly. They don’t know of the feeling you get when you have poured all you have into something and then to run the race well… but then what? Is the race ever over? No. Not when the race of life, the calling we all have is to make disciples, encourage disciples, and BE a disciple.

As I journaled with a pencil rather than a keyboard, it didn’t feel complete. All those years I journaled before, not blogging, when I was done, it felt complete. It had served it’s purpose. And even when I am blogging, when I journal, it is refreshing. But these past eight weeks, there was this unrest in my soul. And as I look at the pages in the journals I see unfinished rough drafts. Not because my thoughts are great, or my life is so amazing, because I live an ordinary life; but because they are part of my legacy and more so… I am part of God’s legacy. The refinement He is doing in my heart, the sanctification He is molding in the broken pieces of my life will yield fruit for His glory if I have anything to say about it. And any wisdom, truth, or knowledge I am blessed to obtain comes from His Word and the Power of His Spirit moving in me.

What am I envisioning for blogging?

I will continue to be the most terrible blogger on earth. I am extremely unpredictable and “unprofessional” when it comes to a regular blogging schedule. I don’t write 300-500 word posts (obviously)!

This blog has no niche, because honestly, there are more deep passions to me than one. So sorry Search Engine Optimization {SEO}! I can’t physically compartmentalize my life well. I don’t believe we were created to be compartmentalizing life. My whole life is fully integrated. So while you may relate to something I post about motherhood or faith, you might not relate when I post on being married to an entrepreneur. And that is ok. God’s beauty is revealed in the uniqueness of our lives… not just the similarities.
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If you want weekly encouragement- thoughts- quotes and to ask for prayer? The best way is to connect with me on my facebook pages. I will be available for quick interaction there much more than writing here! So I invite you to connect with me and also the Redeeming Childbirth Team!
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How do you serve the church? {this question frustrates me to no end- I’ll share why in another post}

This isn’t a business, it never was… it has always been a ministry. An avenue for me to mentor sisters in the Lord who may need encouragement or inspiration. And to leave something behind. This is part of how I serve the church. It doesn’t make sense in this season of my families life for me to spend hours out of the home mentoring women, which I feel a call to… so writing here is the best opportunity to accomplish that call without sacrificing the first call I have to my family.

Part of my personal story is that in those few experiences where death was potentially staring at me in my face, I realized that if I was to die, I want my children to have letters from me. The truth is, there is nothing like health issues to snap someone into purposeful living. Life isn’t always peaches and ice cream. We have been blessed, but we have hard times like anyone. I simply, but deeply desire to praise Him in those hard times. The Lord wrote a personal letter and it is what we live and breathe by. I want to have letters, and memories recorded for my children, the eternal inheritance the Lord has given me, letters that bring HIM glory and draw their hearts to the most sustaining letter, the Holy Word of God.

I deeply desire to live each day intentionally working towards making impact and leaving a legacy. I believe that we, as God’s ambassadors, are all a part of God’s legacy and I deeply want to make my days count for something eternal while doing the most eternal work I could possibly invest my time in right now…relationships with those dearest to my heart.

Thanks for taking the time to read some of what has been on my heart. I am sorry it is so long. But maybe for some of you, you can relate or find something that speaks to you where you are at.

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All For His Glory,

Sister Angie

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