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Jake and Melissa were married on August 27, 2005 and currently live in Norwalk, CT. They have one foster son who loves to bang on the drums and another baby coming sometime late May/early June. Jake and Melissa write regularly for Relevant Magazine (www.relevantmagazine.com) and Simply Youth Ministry (www.youthministry.com). They also just finished their first book, 99 Thoughts on Marriage and Ministry, with Group Publishing/Simply Youth Ministry.

It’s summer—the time of year when most of us ministry workaholics finally take a vacation. And while vacations are supposed to be times of relaxation, rest, and rejuvenation, they can often become just the opposite. Especially if you have kids! During our nine years of marriage we’ve experienced some awesome vacations, and plenty of hellish ones, too. (Once, we spent an entire week in Florida with another couple, all puking our guts out together. There was a trip to the hospital…it was kind of epic.)

So what can you do to make sure your time away is as enjoyable and restful as possible?

Compromise, compromise, compromise. It’s crucial to make sure you, your spouse and family are all on the same page about the site of your vacation, living arrangements, time spent away, budget, and activities. Easier said than done when everyone has their own opinion, right? But this doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make each other happy.

On vacation, I ( Jake) like to plan, schedule and move. I want to be active every moment. Melissa, on the other hand, could spend all day lying on the beach, reading and then wandering around to find a place for dinner. I’m pretty relaxed about money and Melissa sticks to a budget. So now we know to have a lengthy discussion, before leaving, about exactly when there will be activities and when there will be time to chill. We make a budget, but then build in some wiggle room so I don’t feel stifled. The main objective of all of this is to compromise so that both of us get what we need to relax.

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Be honest about your assessment after vacation. Just as it’s important to be honest before a vacation starts, honesty is also important after it ends. Many couples take the same vacation year after year. Some like to change things up. When you come home, share with each other what you honestly felt about your time away, being careful to take the feelings and emotions of your spouse into consideration. You don’t want to ruin someone else’s fond memory, but if you truly didn’t enjoy something, it’s better for that fact to be shared.

Our last two vacations—our first experiences with kids in tow—were both kind of bombs. Last year we actually left half way through the week and spent the rest of the time at home! It sucked in the moment, but after some time and processing, we realized we learned some good lessons about what not to do next time.

Make vacation one of your top financial priorities. Not everyone will agree with this last point, however, we’ve found that ministry demands so much of us over the course of the year, that is absolutely crucial we take time away. We save and splurge for the sake of guaranteeing our relaxation (within reason). We’re not talking about being irresponsible or going into debt for vacation, but we’ve tried to set up our budget in a way that prioritizes affording the best vacation possible. Ministry takes so much out of youth workers, you really owe it to yourself, your family AND your church to make sure you get away and find rest. For one week out of the year it is okay to spoil yourself!

– Jake and Melissa Kircher

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