Vacation with Purpose

“Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” - Hebrews 13:17b

Dear Friends, What a fun, joy-filled, exhausting week we have just shared! In case you didn’t get a chance to see - visit our YouTube or Facebook channels for photos and videos of the week, including the Friday night celebration at Canonsburg Town Park, which is always my absolute favorite time - watching the kids lead us in singing & praising God! I want to extend a huge thank-you to Dick & Jane Hultman, Cathy Stewart, the Family Ministry Team and the nearly 100 volunteer leaders who gave of their time last week during VBS and many many hours over the past two years in preparation for this week - I hope you all take a nice, relaxing break - a vacation to enjoy the fruit of your labor! We were able to get away early in the summer, taking a vacation that had originally been planned as a 20th Anniversary trip that Covid nixed last year and morphed into a family vacation this year. It was an adventure and… joyful. You see, this vacation wasn’t just about kicking back and checking out. I’m a firm believer that rest is important - God took that sabbath rest on the 7th day and God’s been encouraging us to follow suit ever since - but rest isn’t the only thing that makes a vacation successful. Our vacation included significant travel, activity and a lot of interacting with people (safely) that we didn’t know and whose main job was to serve. Given that we were still experiencing a world of “not-normal,” I looked around and imagined that these people were probably under some stress, and receiving push-back and complaints on a regular basis. My heart went out to them, and I got to thinking… how can I best use this vacation of ours, to live out the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ? Complaining about the bumps in the road along the way didn’t seem like a good idea. “Checking out” isn’t as harmful but it doesn’t seem to be very helpful either. I’d need to be positive and I’d need to be proactive, but I thought it was possible to vacation in a way that blessed the people around me too! So, let me be so bold as to offer up five practical ways that you can vacation with a positive purpose this year - how you can live out the love of God, even when you’re away! 1) Smile. Now that most of our masks are off, your face can be fully seen. And a simple smile can convey so much, even when you’re not able to offer a word. Even if you’re not feeling like it, a smile can make someone else’s day, or turn yours around! 2) Thank you. Taking on the an attitude of gratitude while on vacation can change not only our experience, but the experience for everyone around you. Remember that you’re on vacation! You’re not at work, you’re away, you get to go away - whether it’s for a weekend, a week, a month, whatever it is. And the people around you - the wait staff, the tour guide, the concierge, the manager… showing your appreciation for them will help them do a good job too! One of the most common ways is giving a good tip. If you plan ahead of time, it can feel like a blessing instead of a burden. 3) Compliment. Beyond just a “thank you” is taking the time to show specific appreciation for something they said or did for you, or just how they are. Everyone appreciates a non-creepy compliment (if you’re not sure how, ask a friend) and it propels people to do an even better job than they already have! 4) Take Interest. I’ve had some of the best times getting to know wait staff at restaurants (when they’re not completely swamped) and have noticed that when I show genuine interest in them, the service that I get sky-rockets! Seeing them as people, not just robots to serve my needs, warms my heart and mine too. 5) Pray. Prayer changes everything. Begin your day, even your vacation day, with prayer. It helps to orient you in the right direction and open you up to the possibilities to bless other people. You can write a simple prayer on a receipt for someone, even “God Bless You!” is a prayer that is well received. Or take a risk and offer to pray with someone serving you - I’ve never been turned down and have had staff very encouraged when I’ve offered. Vacationing with the purpose of blessing other people is the kind of rest that I think God is honored by. I desperately hope you get the opportunity to find rest this summer, along with adventure and the excitement of God’s joy… and if you’re intentional about sharing it with the people around you, especially the people serving you, I think you’ll be more than halfway home! Welcoming you to Grow in Jesus, Pastor Don

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