What I Learned During My Summer Vacation

~Open mic nights actually can be quite close-knit communities. We went to one on Wednesday night where eight people performed all on acoustic stringed instruments (7 guitar, 1 dulcimer). This was a coffeehouse in a smaller town...not THAT small, but small in the sense that not that many people seem to be interested in open mic nights at coffeehouses. I don't know what that means. Anyway, most of the performers knew each other and it seems like they're pretty regular. Mrs. Jeff and I were two of the perhaps eight pure spectators there, not counting the girls working the counter. All in all, it was a fun night. Through it, we even discovered another coffeehouse nearby that hosts open mics on Wednesdays that alternate with this one, where a lot of the same people seem to go. Hurray for expanding knowledge of social hotspots.

~I got my second tattoo on Friday (Hi Mom!). Apparently I was the first pastor that my artist had ever worked on, which both surprised and delighted him. While he continually jabbed a needle in my shoulder, we got to talking about why a pastor would want to "get into 'toos" (his expression) and his unstable home life. By entering that tattoo parlor, I was able to make a connection that many would see as unconventional. During a lull in the conversation, I considered that there was something about this that could be considered "missional," but didn't want to fully form my thoughts because once I do that I'll lose it.

~The family reunion was on Saturday, which was good while I was able to be there. I knew/remembered more people than I thought I would. Even so, when it came time to eat something peculiar happened. This is a family descended from four siblings. When everyone sat down with their plates, they sat according to which sibling their family originated from, i.e., that part of the family with whom they were most comfortable. It wasn't unlike being at a church potluck, which one of my aunts pointed out during the meal.

~Sunday morning I attended the Lutheran church which is about to lose its pastor to the Chicago suburbs. Before, during, and after, it was interesting to catch myself while planning out my morning. I would ask things like, "Why do I want to wait a few more minutes before leaving for church? Why have I chosen to sit halfway back at the end of the pew nearest the wall? Will I want to stay for coffee hour or will I want to leave right away?" As a pastor, these were important questions for me to pay attention to because they would illustrate something about why my parishioners, in turn, make the decisions they make. And here are the answers, respectively: "Because I don't want to sit around too long beforehand, because I don't want to be the center of attention, and I will leave right away because my wife and I have lunch plans (and I want to see how full our church parking lot is on a Sunday when I'm not there...it wasn't very full)."

While this vacation week wasn't one of fancy trips and postcards, I did experience some mostly great social moments. And I learned a lot that I can bring to my ministry. So tomorrow it's back to office hours, visits, meetings, and...holy crap, it'll already be Tuesday. Better get crackin'.

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