Thursday, August 10, 2017

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

It's been a crazy summer for me. I made the last second decision to head out to Indianapolis for the Church of the Nazarene General Assembly, an every-four-years meeting of my brothers and sisters from (literally) around the world. A lot of important stuff happened, but perhaps the most lasting impact were the workshops I attended, each informative and important for my future life and ministry. I learned a lot.

I found help for the adult Sunday School class I often teach at the local United Methodist Church; I got some seemingly obvious tips about children's spirituality that I never would've figured out on my own - things that I think will definitely help me be a better parent. I was challenged to think and grow beyond some of the hyper-focused and segmented places in which my mind tends to live. I'm not sure exactly what it will mean going forward, but I'm really glad I went - even if it was just for two days.

Getting back, there were just a few weeks until our marathon vacation. I accidentally scheduled myself to be away from home for 23 out of 25 consecutive days. We did a week with my in-laws that was relaxing and enjoyable - the kind of thing that probably should've come at the end of the trip. Not that the ten days spent with my own family wasn't good, but with three small children involved, I'm not entirely sure "relaxing" is the right word. My wife and I did get to take a quick anniversary trip to New Mexico where, in about 36 hours, we visited the Georgia O'Keefe Museum and climbed a very steep 13,000 foot mountain with an awesome night at Taos Ski Valley sandwiched in between.

Between those two trips, I spent a week at Mid-Atlantic District Teen Camp with the Church of the Nazarene. This is my third year here and it's always an awesome experience. The camp's run so well and the staff and kids are great to be around. I truly enjoyed it. There weren't any radically life-changing moments for me, but I did have some dedicated time away from my normal life and schedule to think and pray about the future. I've really felt a draw to be speaking or teaching or preaching more than I do right now.

Early in our time in Middletown, I was filling in preaching A LOT. The Nazarene congregations in the area all seemed to be transitioning between pastors about the same time and I probably preached 20 times a year. The last couple years, though, those congregations have been more settled and it's been more like four or five times. I really feel like preaching is what I "do." It's a strange thing, even for me, but the process of researching and compiling and preaching a sermon is my true art. I do a lot of writing - and those skills are heavily involved in sermon preparation - but it's really the preaching that feels most "true" to me. I wrote about it in my 6th ever blog post (one that's been read all of seven times, which is probably a good thing; I can't even bring myself to go back and read it).

We're also at a point this fall, where my daughter is starting Kindergarten and she'll be on the same campus where my wife teaches. What that means is that this stay-at-home Dad will not have pick-up or drop-off responsibilities for the first time in five years. My schedule's going to change. We're not entirely sure what that means, but I'm thinking perhaps travel is more of an option.

So, what I'm saying is that I guess the big revelation of the summer is that I feel like I should put myself out there a bit for speaking and teaching opportunities. I've done it a few times, been invited to various places, and it's always been a great experience. I'm not sure if there's a lot more opportunity out there or if anyone cares much to hear what I might have to say, but if you need someone to bring his typically unique perspective on God and life and such to your group or congregation, maybe I'm the guy?

Typically summer is a time for me to check out, relax, and avoid deep thoughts - this year, in the midst of fun and busyness, there's been a lot of time for reflection and growth. And that's what I learned on my summer vacation.

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