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Yesterday I did not go to work. No, I wasn’t playing hooky. And I wasn’t sick. Instead, I’m incredibly grateful and excited to say that yesterday marked the first day of my four-week sabbatical.

This month is dedicated to kick-starting my book writing process – something I’ve been so enjoying sharing with you. Throughout this journey, I will continue to invite you in to give you sneak peeks at what’s coming and to receive your feedback. To get early access and updates I only send over email, sign up here. No spam. Just love.

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I first started talking about this sabbatical a year ago. My company, One Medical Group, has this crazy awesome perk of offering a sabbatical after five years at the organization. I’m a year behind in taking mine as April marked the start of my seventh year at One Medical – time is flying! But I know the Lord’s timing was perfect.

He’s rarely on our timeframe, but he’s never late.

My friends listened to me hem and haw over whether I should travel abroad or stay local. I wavered between the desire to do something incredible and memorable with my time and the desire to rest and find refreshment.

What I didn’t realize then was I could have both.

One of the obstacles that kept me locked in indecision was my lack of a travel partner. I wanted to go somewhere amazing, but I didn’t want to go alone. I longed to swim in the ocean in Croatia, eat croissants in Paris, learn to make fresh pasta in Italy, and hike up to the mountain-top monasteries in Greece. But the idea of doing all that alone didn’t appeal to me. Some people find joy, renewal, and excitement in solo-travel. My friends’ stories of their adventures almost had me convinced I should do it. I should see knew things, be brave, try something outside my comfort zone.

So many “should’s.”

But I knew traveling alone wouldn’t suit me. I wanted to experience these things with a partner. It didn’t necessarily have to be a romantic partner. In fact, a friend or family member would have been ideal. No pressure to perform, no concerns about the future of our relationship – just the enjoyment of a new and beautiful place with someone I love and who knows me well. I wanted to watch the sun go down over the ocean and say to each other, “Wow, look at that. Isn’t God incredible?” Or, not even talk at all and simply appreciate the beauty together.

I wanted someone to witness life alongside me.

Life is meant to be enjoyed together, and we’re here to bear witness to each other’s lives. To say, “You matter. This matters. This place we’re in together is real and beautiful, and I’m so glad I’m experiencing it with you.”

While that’s what I hoped for, that kind of a trip didn’t appear to be possible anytime soon, and I didn’t want to push off my sabbatical in perpetuity. Even though I knew I didn’t want to make that kind of trip alone, I still struggled with self-doubt: Was I just not brave enough? Why couldn’t I simply enjoy the trip with God, knowing that he’s the ultimate travel partner since all that is good and beautiful belongs to him?

And that’s when I realized: I didn’t have to go anywhere special to meet with God, and at the same time, I could go anywhere and find him there.

Freed from other people’s expectations and my own self-doubt, I began praying about my sabbatical: when to take it, what to do with it, where to go. And God began to plant seeds in my heart. He watered them with truth from his word and encouragement from friends and family who know me deeply. He whispered to me about how he loves me and has great plans for my life. I told him I wanted this time to be his – that I was open and willing to go where he would lead me.

So, where does he have me?

At the time of writing this post, he had me sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco’s Financial District – ironically, just a couple doors down from my office. It was a perfect beginning to my month off. I enjoyed things I love – like a giant kale salad with beautiful slices of avocado and crunchy sunflower seeds – in a place I’d never been to but that was still somehow familiar.kale salad

More importantly, I was looking at my day through fresh eyes. My routine yesterday certainly wasn’t the usual Monday hustle. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, a workout class in my neighborhood, and a supremely relaxing facial. I’m so grateful for this time (and I promise I’m not trying to make you jealous).

My point is simply that I’m trying to be slower, more intentional, more open to the blessings and challenges God has for me in this day.

I want to be open to conversations with strangers people I haven’t met yet, instead of being hyper-focused on the task at hand. So far, I’ve met a man from New York who chatted me up about my purse and asked whether he should invest in Kate Spade (I love the purse, but no clue on the stock question, sorry!). I’ve talked longer with servers and other patrons than I might have if it were just a typical manic Monday.

I also had the joy of meeting up with a familiar face: a colleague who also happens to be an extremely talented editor and has graciously agreed to help make my book the best it can be. As I’ve been learning the past few months, writing a book is a team effort. And I’m so grateful for the people who are coming alongside me in this time to hold me accountable and support me through this process, offering words of encouragement, helpful feedback, and an objective perspective that is so very needed. Like a painter working on a mural, I’m so close to my work that I need someone who is able to step back and point out the incongruences or the pieces that need more color, depth, or detail.

This process is hard, but so rewarding. I’m learning so much about myself and God in this time – the naturally reflective process of writing continually reveals new truths that God wants to speak to my heart and, I hope, to yours. I’m so grateful to have this month to truly dig into the grueling work of writing a book.

My job is to excavate the words that I believe God wants me to share with you, and I want to be faithful to that call.

This month will take me to new places – both literally and figuratively – as I write this book I’ll be traveling through Colorado and Oregon, resting with family and friends, and taking some time for personal retreat. I’d love to keep you posted on what God’s teaching me as I travel and write. And I also have some fun announcements in store about the book concept!

If you’d like to be the first to get updates, then subscribe here for early access and sneak peeks at the content.

I promise not to spam, and I want to thank everyone who’s already helped influence my direction. Like I said, writing is a team sport, and I’m so glad I’m playing alongside you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Laura Nell

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