A week from today begins our vacation - my husband and I will be traveling out east and will be gone for about ten days. I am really looking forward to this trip, to spending quality time with my husband, and to spending time in God's incredible creation enjoying the natural world. It is Monday today, another one of those days when I wish I took Monday's off! Yesterday was LONG - 15 hours away from home starting with worship in the morning, meetings in the afternoon, then a long drive for a hospital visit before getting home at about 10:30 p.m. These things can't be helped and there are always choices to be made. I planned for the long day and figured I'd be home by around 6 p.m. The hospital visit wasn't planned, as of course they cannot be. But, a parishoner with a stroke was air lifted to a major hospital and in intensive care - as pastor you can choose not to go and call on the hospital to provide a chaplain. I choose to go because it is my commitment to serving my congregation. It just makes those days very long indeed. And those times don't happen often, though depending on the size of the congregation and the ages of the members, it can happen more or less frequently. I find that ministry waxes and wanes, and that at times the flow is much too heavy and time demanding while at other times I get a little bit of a breather. I also notice lately that I need to be more intentional about nurturing myself. (I just turned on some soothing music and my lavendar diffuser in my office.) Just little things can make a big difference, and sometimes I just don't tend to the details that can be so helpful in calming and soothing my own soul. I find even writing this blog helps me because it focuses me to think about what I might want to say, what's happening in my life, and what I am grateful for. Our women of the ELCA group is beginning the Bible Study on the Beatitudes and the writer of the study encourages us all to focus on the blessings of our lives during this study. It's a good reminder to think about gratitude, and the reality that everything we are and everything we have comes from God.