The week after Christmas, my family made their way to the Bahamas so that the kids could join new classmates for the entirety of their second semester which begins (for Bahamians) on January 3. Schools in the Bahamas require uniforms. Indoor gymnasiums do not exist. My eldest will commute to school by boat. It promises to not just be a change of pace, but an experience that will transform their perspectives on the world.
My last Sunday before leaving for a three month time of sabbatical will be January 1. I will join my family the second week of January, not to return to Onalaska until April 5. Yes, that means I will miss parts of the winter. Hmmm. It’s almost like I planned it that way. ;)
For the last few months I have used these newsletter articles to share what I’m looking forward to, what I expect to do (and not do) and how I expect God may use this time with me. In September I said I look forward to a time when I will rest in God. In October I said I hope to seek out continued relevance in my ministry so that I may achieve longevity (and sustained sanity). In November I talked about unhealthy habits and how easily parents and pastors can fall into traps that lead to burnout. I pray this sabbatical helps me to not fall into those traps! And last month I thanked you for supporting a staff that leads many of First’s ministry as a unified team. No one expects any of us to do our work alone.
This month, I want to say thank you (again) for this gift of sabbatical. I know there may be some anxiety over some ‘what if’s’ as we look into the next few months, but our staff and leadership have everything covered from preaching and teaching to supervision and visitation. One of the conditions of this gift is that I promise to serve First Lutheran for at least a year upon my return. My family and I expect to remain at First far beyond one year. Of course, I don’t know what the future holds. But I do know this area and this church have—over the past nine years—become our home.
Not only do I want to thank you for supporting my time to “remember who I am, what I know and taste the gifts of the Spirit” (Wayne Mueller’s definition of “Sabbath” in his book of the same name) but I also want to INVITE YOU to follow my journey through my blog.
Go to pastorjasonstanton.blogspot.com where I will make weekly posts. I may even include pictures; but I won’t want to rub in the fact that my biggest problem is getting the sand out of my hair. There you’ll see what I’m reading, what I’m pondering and how I’m using “The Time of My Life”. I already have plans laid out for my days: wake up at 7:00. Devotions and journal til 7:30. Stretch and exercise until 8:30. Eat. Read. Organize family photos (from the past 12 years) online. Exercise session #2 (I’m hoping to get into real shape!) Lunch. Read, coffee break, pick up kids from school and have family time EVERY night. Of course, not every day will go according to plan, but it’s a start! And each week I plan to blog about the faithful use of time; that sleeping, praying, exercising and having fun are indeed faithful uses of time.
Each of us is called to do the most with the time we have. And yet none of us knows how much time that is. For me, that means I am motivated to use my time well going deeper into those relationships that matter the most to me: my relationship with Jesus, with Carla and my kids. Thank you again for this gift of time that promises to shape us as a family for the rest of our lives.
See you online!