Vacation Reflections // M-Note 8.7.2020

August 7, 2020

Dear Gathering,

Last week, I took some time-off to spend with my family before we  take my oldest son, Caleb, off to college next week (pending COVID of course). Being away always gives me time to reflect – on life in general, parenting, faith, myself, and the course of my own life. I tend to get a little (too) philosophical on vacation, a side effect perhaps of having the ability to actually think instead of do! Of course, the past few weeks have given us plenty to think about.

My trip away didn’t give me any dramatic insights or great awakenings, but I thought I’d share a few things that rose to the top as I spent time with myself, my family, and God. In no particular order:

COVID has been a brutal reminder of something that has always been true – we aren’t as in control of life as we believe we are. Hold everything loosely. Travel light. Live in the present.

As I keep physical distance from others (a good thing), I am also growing emotionally, socially, and spiritually distanced (not such a great thing). The two go hand-in-hand for me. I am committed to the first but need to address the second more intentionally.

Online worship requires more work from me to stay engaged and connected. It just does. But, it is important for me not to give up on my spiritual life or stick it on the shelf until COVID is over. There are seasons where faith requires work. This is one of those seasons.
Being a parent is beautiful and hard. As I send my oldest off, I have regrets and celebrations. Parents, you never do enough, and you are doing plenty.
Kids are impacted more by how you show up day in and day out than the grand gestures or speeches you give.
Everyone you meet is battling more than you know. It is important to remember that.
I only have a limited amount of time, energy, focus, and passion. I can give it to what is wrong with the world and what I can’t control, or what is good in the world and what I can control. I need to make more consistent choices for the latter.
The biblical story of exile resonates with me. There were three stages to living in exile for the Israelites: Accept the longevity of the tragedy (avoid false hope), grow where planted (start living in the present circumstances instead of pining for old ones), and trust in the long term promises of God (true hope). Sermon series coming soon.  
Most people are doing the best they can. Most people. Give more grace. This includes for yourself (especially you parents out there).
Relationships are the most important things in life.
You are not alone. You are strong. You are doing it. God is by your side. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. This will not last forever.

Gathering, thank you for staying connected. Stay connected to worship, get in a CoreGroup, keep praying, give generously and serve others. The world needs the church. This weekend, I can’t wait to hear Pastor Charity finish our sermon series, The Basic Ingredients. Tune in, and I will see you online Sunday!

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