Where to Vacation

Okay Pastors, we’ve talked about your need for a vacation and I’ve mentioned where to look for airfare and that only leaves the question of where to go on vacation.

If you have children, your first instinct might be to make sure you’re going to a spot that they will enjoy – often at the cost of your sanity or your relaxation. I’m talking amusement parks, Disney world, or even big cities.

Instead of making that your focus, why not make that an “add on”? A place were you visit while on vacation, but not the focus. You’re the one that your family and church are worried about burning out yet your tendency is to take a vacation that is an experience for your family.

Instead of an experience for your family, simply experience your family.

There are retreat locations throughout the country that are set up just for you, the church staff member. They’re away from the hustle and bustle, the people running them understand pastoral issues, and, perhaps best of all, they are free or very low costs.

Last year Christianity Today ran an article highlighting some of these locations, but a quick google search can give you similar information.

I’ll be honest, it’s not always easy to figure out the retreat center’s website…how to apply, the actual cost, what is involved…but I can tell you it will be worth the work you put into it. Some of these places really are no cost – there is no hidden fee and no sales call.

Now, what is standing in the way of your vacation?

Dream and shop

A couple of months ago I was playing Cinque Terre with my family. When we finished I began talking to my 8 year old about the real life location of the 5 villages (Cinque Terre) on the coast of Italy. I pulled up pictures showing him the cities, the coast and the beauty of Italy.

That ignited a dream.

Life is simple when you are young, so he asked the obvious question. Can we go? For my birthday next month?

I immediately assumed that it would be $12 – $1500 each for a ticket, far out of our reach. But it would also be a good learning opportunity for him to see how planning a trip worked so I pulled up expedia and began to plan.

We looked at flights, at rooms, at the need for passports, meals, spending money…and on and on. At first, I was right. $1200 each for a ticket to somewhere in Italy and a train to the villages. Wow.
I was wrong about the cost »

Who needs a vacation?

Last year enlisted military was ranked as the most stressful job in the US. This year it’s number 3.

I was an enlisted soldier and I was deployed.

I think being a pastor is more stressful.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful calling. But, pastors are high profile positions that have nearly impossible expectations placed on them by others and by themselves. It one of the few jobs where a simple trip to the grocery store or a phone call can turn into an hour long counseling sessions.

Family time gets interrupted, your week is almost never routine, and there is a good chance you are depressed – statistics are that 1 in 4 pastors are depressed and 2 out of 3 of those won’t seek help.

Pastors, that’s just the tip of the iceberg on why you should make sure you take your vacation.
Vacation time »

A Secret Weapon

My boys have climbed in to bed and they lay waiting for their blessing. I lean in close to them and place my hand on their head, chest or shoulder and begin to speak into their lives. A message of what I pray that God will grant them, what my hopes are for them, and how special they are. But my message is stronger than just my words – a bond is being formed because I’ve learned how to return to my first language.

Touch is first sense we acquire and is a powerful tool when we communicate. When we hug or place our hand on our children while affirming them it creates an important physical connection and communicates warmth, acceptance and relational health in a way that words cannot fill.
The Power of Touch »

Did I get my blessing?

Blessings are an incredibly powerful tool that you can use to speak into your child’s life. They let them know that you care for them, that you see the positives in their lives and that you are asking God to give them something special.

But at the same time, if, like me, you grew up in a home where this didn’t happen, giving a blessing can feel weird. What do you say? How does it work? Will my kids think I am weird? Are my children too old? Do they really want me to do this?

Those are all good questions and ones that I wrestled with…but over time I realized I didn’t need to answer those questions, I just needed to see the deep need that my children have to be affirmed.

Still not sure, maybe our story might give you answers for some of your questions.

A few years ago, even though it felt weird, my wife and I made a commitment to bless our children at bedtime every night. We didn’t know what to say so we began using the verse from Numbers 6:24-26 and from there started to add things that we wanted to see our kids blessed with: wisdom, courage, patience with one another and so on.

Within the first few nights of this new ritual, one of them fell asleep before our nightly routine. When I tucked them in, I thought about skipping the blessing – after all, they wouldn’t hear it and I didn’t know if they cared.

I’m glad I didn’t. The next morning I woke to find them beside my bed asking, “Did I get my blessing last night?” In a matter of days the blessing became so important to them that they wanted to make sure they were blessed…even if they didn’t hear it.

Parents, our words often have more power than we know.

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