When I was a kid, my favorite column in the Buffalo News sports page would be when one of the writers would start our their column with “Random thoughts while wondering whatever happened to” and then he would name some athlete that was on the scene for a bit & then faded away. So, while that’s where the idea of a Friday Data Dump came from, the fact is, I’ve found it to be a pretty cathartic exercise. It’s been helpful to take a few minutes before Sabbath, empty out all of the stuff bouncing around in my head.

Well, this past Friday I was up at Casawasco for our leadership team retreat, and didn’t get a chance to write it up.  On Sunday, we drove to my parents house after church to pick up the kids, & then got back to Ithaca, yesterday afternoon. And as I’m in the office working through this pile on my desk, it is hitting me how close we are to taking off & being gone for 7 weeks.  And every so often something flashes in my head to remind me of another project I need to work on before we take off.  So, although it isn’t Friday, I hope you don’t mind if I take a few minutes & empty out all the stuff in my brain.  Here we go…

• Probably the biggest thing we are getting ready for, is the transition that will take place while I am gone.  Moses Ong, who has served as our Director of Operations for the past 2+ years will be moving to the mid-west.  He’ll be doing an internship at a camp for one year, and then heading back to graduate school.  Moses oversaw a lot of stuff here at the Vineyard (building, finances, web site, etc) and he will definitely be missed.

• With Moses leaving we are bringing 3 interns on staff.  During the months of July & August, the interns will be filling in for a lot of what Moses now does, as well as taking on some of my responsibilities.  Please be praying for each of the interns as the start, and jump right in with both feet!

• As you might remember me mentioning, we are heading to Europe (mostly Ireland, but with stops in Iceland (just the airport), London, Paris, & Cardiff).  The week before our trip is the Vineyard’s Eastern region’s conference in the Poconos.  This year I’m leading a workshop on church systems, so I’m trying to pull all of that together as well.  Since we’re talking about systems, I think I’ll even bring some “Rule of Life,” ideas in.  Personally, I’ve found the whole Rule of Life concept really helpful.

• Since I’m going to miss much of the summer, which is generally when we make all of our plans for the fall, I’m also trying to get a lot of that done over these next 2 weeks as well.  From securing all of our kinship leaders to determining specific messages we’ll be working through.

• One of the events this fall I’m excited about is a 4-week series we’ll be doing in September which we are calling Margins. On week 2 of the conference, (Sept 10-12), David Nixon is the director of  Sustainable Faith and founding pastor of Vineyard Central, in Norwood OH.  David will be coming out for a two day conference (Friday Night & Saturday), and then speaking on Sunday Morning as well.  We are still working out a lot of the details, but David was one of the Spiritual Directors working at the Pastor’s Sabbath Retreat when Liz & I went in April, and we are both excited about having him out here. I first heard David speak during a Vineyard Leadership Institute class, and it was by far my favorite class.  I’ve talked to a few other Vineyard pastors who also loved that class, so we are planning to open up the conference to churches throughout the region.  Should be a great weekend.

• At this point I’m not sure how it all gets done before I leave on my sabbatical…there is a part of my that is tempted to say, I’ll catch up on Sabbath while I’m in Ireland…but I’m not going to do that.  In fact, early in the month, I scheduled our pastor staff, “day with God,” for tomorrow, and we’ve made a commitment, that no matter how crazy things get, this is an appointment we are going to keep.

• And if all of that weren’t crazy enough…we still don’t have our housing for the fall taken care of.  There is someone interested in our house…but interested and made a purchase offer, sadly are not the same thing.  We had considered renting out our place, but that seems to be a bit more complicated than we had anticipated (and we wouldn’t even be able to start the process until we get back from Ireland.  We are hoping to have the kids in Trumansburg for the start of the school year…and while not impossible, if it doesn’t happen in the next few weeks, it is hard to see it happening.  Prayers would be greatly appreciated.