Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gone fishing (figuratively speaking)

1 Samuel 12:23-24 (NIV)

"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. …"
It's time to take some time away.
One of my good newspaper friends has a fun ritual. Each time he is set for vacation, he changes his Facebook picture to an icon of a “Gone Fishing” sign, implying quite clearly he’ll be off the social network grid for a few days. And for the first time since I started this project more than 14 months ago, I think I’m ready for a similar approach.

After a hopefully quiet Independence Day, we have plans to meet up with family for a long weekend. It will take several hours of driving, though not as long as our two-day journey of Thanksgiving 2010. But Kristie is pregnant this time around, too — at least we’ll be avoiding mountains.

As a wonderful coincidence, over this weekend we’ll be celebrating my mother’s 60th birthday. I probably will write at length about that at some point, but so far it is enough to mention it’s going to be fun to really honor someone who has spent more than three decades sacrificing for the good of her family. I love her more than I can ever explain in words or actions, and I am ever thankful for her presence in my life.

During my run this afternoon, I was going over mentally all the preparations for the time away. There are clothes to pack (after they’re laundered tonight), groceries to buy, newspaper commitments to fulfill and so on. Getting ready for vacation is quite a bit of work, as any parents of young children especially will report, and usually once it’s over there’s a sense of needing a vacation to unwind from vacation.

But as I ran, that word — vacation —kept running through my mind. And I came to the realization that perhaps it’s not a vacation unless I actually step back from my commitments and relax, enjoying the experience. So I’m freeing myself from the daily obligation of writing. I have written during business trips, when staying up late with sick kids, the days of graduations, weddings and funerals. It has been incredibly fulfilling. But it also gets to feel like work, too, and I grow worried I’m just keeping up appearances for the wrong reasons.

So a mini-break it is. Hopefully the 30 or so people who read faithfully each day will still be around when I get back in the swing. The personal challenge is to not stop thinking about my responsibility, to keep examining scripture, to keep praying for myself and my family. I need to prove my discipline here is legitimately about my parenting and not just stroking my writer’s ego. So I’m going to enjoy this trip, enjoy my children and some extended family and thank God for the blessing of it all. Nothing else seems more right.

A prayer for July 3:

Lord, thank you for this coming opportunity to really relax and connect more deeply with some of the most important people in my life. Guide us all safely along our journeys, and help us to be kind and patient with one another when inevitable stress arises. Even as we travel, may we remember we never leave your watchful eye and loving care. May we continue to be a blessing to each other and those we encounter, and may all our lives be better for the experience. Amen.

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