What I Learned From Vacation

Hello, Friends!

I’ve missed seeing you, hearing your voices and stories, and I’ve missed the time spent worshipping the Lord with my home church.
If you didn’t know, our family spent some time away over the last two weeks touring the northwest. We stayed at a camp on the Oregon Coast owned by the Friends Churches, and made our way through Washington, North Idaho, Montana (Glacier Park!), and then back down home.

Vacations can be fun or stressful or disappointing or restful or all of the above!
Over the years we’ve adopted a saying that helps us. It’s simply “have low expectations”! Doesn’t sound glamorous and it intentionally isn’t. We’ve found over time that trying to predetermine how amazing/awesome/fun/wonderful/stupendous something is going to be is a dangerous thing to do. What often happens is, well, life! Things rarely live up to grand expectations. We find that if we go without expectations and just go and find out, it usually is way better than expected!
Thanks to those who prayed for us, especially for Ethan, because it was a good trip. I try to take in what I receive from such breaks so I can cherish and remember them down the road. Here are some things I found…

  1. Beauty is good for the soul:
    From the lush greenery of Oregon to the crashing waves of the ocean, through the forests of Washington and definitely to the majestic Glacier Park in Montana, we were able to take in so much beauty our world has to offer. Much of it was breathtaking, and Glacier specifically made me long to meet face to face the One who made all this. I found myself longing for the days when we walk in the new heaven and new Earth where all is made right again. Can you imagine the immensity of how wonderful and beautiful it will be (no need for low expectations there!)? The Biblical authors struggled to describe it and used the most valuable and precious things that we know of to try and explain. Pausing and taking our world’s beauty in is so important. Interestingly our tendency is to pull out the camera to try to “capture” it, which is ok, but beauty is not meant to be captured, it is meant to be embraced.
  2. Good friends are good for the soul:
    While I missed my “Melba Friends”, we were able to reconnect with a family we’ve known for many decades. It’s fun to pick up immediately where you left off even though it has been a year or more. Laughing, telling stories of life and God’s work, are immensely valuable for living well. Despite Covid-19 we shared meals, stories and hugs. Yeah, we took pictures, but a picture can’t tell the story of the connection and encouragement you receive.
  3. Family is good for the soul:
    We took lots of pictures, but most of them were of ourselves (seems kind of vain when I write it out!). We took pictures at the beach, in the van, in the hotel, at the mountains, at dinner, etc etc. A godly family is a tremendous gift, and unfortunately we often overlook that gift even though it is around us constantly. Spending so much time intentionally together enabled us the joy of appreciating what we have. I love you all deeply, but I love these three people the most. Our times of laughter, of stillness, of rest, and of experiencing life was rich and worth the effort. You guessed it, the pictures, though they were plentiful, fail to measure up to the value of the experience.

I want to pause and say please don’t hear this as bragging! This is not meant to put a spotlight on two weeks in our lives, but to broadcast the blessings God has placed around each and every one of us. Blessings we need to intentionally allow to fill our souls with God’s goodness towards us.
Every sunset, rugged plateau, mighty mountain, and creation in action around you is an opportunity for you to connect to the Maker of it all who knows you and loves you more than you can imagine.
Every friendship, conversation, prayer, or meal together with others is an opportunity for you to remember that God didn’t create us to be alone, but to love and be loved by others.
And though no family is perfect, the family of God that we belong in through Jesus Christ is one that is given to you to help carry you to the finish line where we walk into the fullness of what is to come!
We don’t need to have souls that are dry and parched. The opportunity to be filled is around us consistently. Worship services and small groups and daily devotionals are ways that we can find deeper waves of grace and transformation. Take time to pray over how the Lord wants to restore your soul today, this week, and this year.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Psalms 23:1‭-‬3 NIV