It's been a good while since my entire family ( all 7 of us) went on a family vacation away. Just a little over a month ago we took a week off to go to our oldest daughters college graduation and to move her home, but that did not have the feeling of a vacation even though it took a week off to go and return. But this week is different. It's been a plan in the making for many months to celebrate my moms 94th birthday off the coast of Maine. Had it not been for being an elected delegate for our General Church we would have been able to stay even longer in Maine then the 5 days planned before we need to leave to General Assembly.
So here i am in a hotel room at 5 a.m. not able to sleep reflecting on family life vacations as a pastor while the rest of my family sleeps all around me. When we first did these kinds of trips they were all little ones, but now 4 of them are adult size with one of them flying home early to go back to work. The days, months and years certainly do whisk by fast. Im so grateful we have unity and joy in our family. We have already laughed a lot on this trip and had one stop along the way of this 3500 hundred plus mile adventure.
In order to get away this time we had to have someone cover preaching in two different churches for me and for someone to do a funeral on my behalf in a few days while we are still in Maine. It takes a lot of preparation for us to leave town for this long and the Joy of serving The Lord helps us do that.
Every time we prepare to leave we have to prepare the house and arrange for the feeding, caring of loving of 4 pets. This time it was 3 pets as our sons turtle winkie died the day before we left. We had to have a funeral in the back yard before we could leave. The Joy of The Lord helped us through those moments.
Before we could leave ALL the laundry has to be washed and dried before we can pack and go and like most trips the drier could not keep up and Becky asked me to take a few loads downtown to dry so we could leave on time. So at 6:30 am I am driving around looking for a Laundromat that is open. Again the Joy of The Lord is my strength.
Early that morning just two mornings ago I was sitting in the truck waiting on the laundry while preparing to read a devotional when a young girl at about 6:45 am rides up on a bicycle to ask me to borrow my phone to call her dad. A little hesitant to do such, but i agree and listen to the voice message left of a daughter asking her dad for help with money for her and her mom.
After she shared a little of her story she rides away on her bike and crosses the road when The Lord said help her. So I yell the girls name from across the street just before she goes out of sight down the road. She returns and I offer her a job watching and doing my laundry while i take off for a few minutes. When I return with a spiritual booklet and some money for her she helps me fold laundry as we talk about her life and challenges. I sense her need for a Savior and share the Gospel with her. By the time I need to leave she had prayed with me to trust In Jesus as her savior and was handed info on where she could go to follow up with her new found faith along with some cash for her short seasoned job of laundry girl. The Joy of The Lord is my strength and as well this now this 21 year old young women has the Joy of the Lord as she was looking for answers in a broken world of circumstances.
Vacations for me/us are never void of opportunity and challenges. But in the midst of it is all from the untimely death of a young turtle to the demands of the life and season of a local congregation and preparing to leave town, the Joy of The Lord is our strength.
I am blessed to have a great and fun family to love and do life with as we trust The Lord in the great adventure of the unexpected along the vacation journey to Maine and back.