Featured Friday: What Everybody Ought to Know About Vacation

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Vacation is coming up for me and hubs soon. So, this post by Emily Freeman was much needed. Thought it may encourage you fellow vacationers, too. Originally posted here
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You’ve had the dates marked on the calendar for months by now. Maybe you’ve put down a deposit, bought plane tickets, or simply reserved a shelter at a campsite. No matter how fancy or regular your vacation is, chances are you intend to take one over the next few months.

While you google your way through Disney tips and take notes on how best to pack your suitcase, here are a few good reminders for your soul as you prepare for your vacation.

1. Vacation is more mindset than destination.

You know it’s true because you’ve heard moms yell at their kids on the beach. And also you’vebeen the mom yelling at your kids on the beach.

You’ve had a grumpy old man tell you off for taking his chair on the deck of a cruise ship in the middle of a Caribbean paradise. 

Vacation

If all we needed was a great destination in order to take a real vacation, then everyone on vacation would be happy, peaceful, and good.

But you’ve felt the deep sadness in the sunshine. You know the worries that follow you to the shore. No matter where you go, the list-making, future-looking, failure-rehearsing whir can follow you.

It isn’t the place that brings peace. Only Jesus can do that.

This can be a relief rather than a burden, because it means we don’t need fancy to take a real rest.

2. Vacation starts on Tuesday.

We tend to think vacation is like a week-long Saturday. And it kind of is. But the best vacations start on the regular Tuesday before you leave, the one you spend at home doing laundry, the one where you are packing your bag and preparing your heart for what’s to come.

Walk outside your front door and let the sun highlight your hair today.

Let the minutes pass as you sit and watch the little ones play.

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Stand with your feet in the grass and your face to the wind, close your eyes and breathe in deep. The gifts are waiting quiet in small places. Pause to see them. Pick them up and turn them over. Discover the beauty of slow right where you are.

Because if you can’t settle in to your real life, you won’t be able to settle in on vacation.

3. Maybe stop trying to take a vacation and instead, let your vacation take you.

In other words, let your vacation be what it wants to be rather than you forcing it to be something it isn’t.

Before I leave for vacation I tend to make big plans in my mind: we’ll see this, we’ll eat that, we’ll explore there. I even go beyond events and move into experience: the kids will love this, that meal will be romantic, this night we’ll connect. I will feel rested, lovely, and free!

And then I wonder why two days into vacation I’m grumpy, overly sensitive, and just want to be alone.

All vacations are not created equal. A weekend with girlfriends is different from a weekend with my extended family and all of our kids. It helps to hold all plans with an open hand and move to the relational rhythm of the group I’m with.

Low on expectations, high on love.

4. Your vacation wants you to know that rest takes courage.

Whether you are headed to the coast or if the only vacation you get this year is Saturday and Sunday at home, it’s good to remember that rest doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it only comes after a fight. The fight isn’t against a person, but an idea — the idea you have in your head that to rest is lazy, useless, or a waste of your time.

You have to fight for rest, and sometimes the fight looks like sitting on the rug with a deck of cards or starting at the ocean for no good reason or sitting by the window without a to-do list in your hand.

Spend a little time letting the sea smooth out the jagged edges that have formed within and around you. Let the salt burn the wounds, let the sand rub off the dead skin, let the nighttime hold you still and quiet until the first light of morning shows up with all her promises.

Let your vacation be a gift, not an expectation. Open hands, light touch, kind heart.

Stranger Danger

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We pulled up to the drive thru and hubs ordered.

“First window please.”

We pull up and hubs begins the conversation:

“Hey man you enjoy working here?”
“Ya.”
“Sure sounds like it.”
“To be honest with you it’s pretty boring back here. Everyone else is over there and I’m here alone.”
“Aw man, can you listen to music?”
“Naw they’re strict about that stuff around here…I listen to rap.”
“You should write raps.”
“Oh really?”
“Ya dude. They can call you DJ Logue.”
“Oh really?”

And then we drove away.

During this conversation I was looking out the passenger window trying to keep myself from exploding in laughter.

My husband does this a lot, bringing up random conversations with strangers. Most of them are completely confused by what he is saying because his sense of humor is hard to understand (but totally hilarious once you do).

I’ve seen many blank faces respond to questions he will ask or sentences he blurts out. There have been some tough crowds out there and many times I’ve been the one to explain “he’s only kidding.”

But here’s the thing he’s taught me: talk to strangers. You never know, you might be the only person who took time to do that today.

We live rushed lives. Hurrying through the check out lanes and drive thrus, focused on our purchases and the next thing on our agendas, that we forget there is another human who is serving us on the other side of the check out. Their jobs are usually very routine and repetitive, and they probably deal with more complaints than praises. They have a life beyond work, just like you, and you never know what difficult season they could be facing.

So today, as you come across strangers, whether they are your cashier or your waiter, your bank teller or a telemarketer, I challenge you to talk to strangers. You just might make their day, they may teach you something, or it may make for a great story.

We may have been told growing up that we aren’t allowed to, that it isn’t safe, but think of it this way…if you never talked to strangers, how would you have any friends?

#TrendingTuesday|#EncourageEveryoneIn4Words

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Our world spins on changing trends.

A trend: a general tendency or course of events, current style, the general direction of something. A season: a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature. Trends and seasons sound synonymous to some extent, mirroring each others characteristics.

So as we go through the changing trends and seasons of life here on the blog, Tuesdays have been dubbed #TrendingTuesday, focusing on trends in society.

The internet and its byproducts, especially social media, have exploded the spread and effect of trends in our world. My mom tells me I should watch the news so I know what is going on in the world (because I’ll admit, I don’t have a wide knowledge of world news and as a Christian I do believe it is important to be relevant in our world. If we don’t know the issues, how can we take a stand on them?). But most of the time I follow Facebook, Google, and Twitter for news coverage.

So join me today, and for Tuesdays to come, as some of the trending hashtags take center stage.

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(Photo cred: thebarnabascenter.org)

#EncourageEveryoneIn4Words

This hash tag has its roots on Twitter, a campaign which took off recently with the purpose of blowing up the Twitter world with encouragement. The internet (namely social media) constantly gets a bad rap for being a place of bullying, malice, competition, complaining, and negativity. And studies have shown that the façade social media puts on has caused deeper depression in our world. But, this hash tag gave the world a glimpse of the positive ways social media can be used.

Of course, the encouragement given by varying users was as different as snowflakes. The spectrum ranged from inspirational to simply for laughs.

“Help each other heal.”

“Never fear starting over.”

“This too shall pass.”

“It will be okay.”

“God’s love never fails.”

“Jesus died for you.”

“Be weird; be awesome.”

“Today is the day.”

“You’re not dead yet.”

“You’re not Justin Bieber.”

“Do it for pizza.”

“No more dress tweets.”

As I read through multiple tweets, I was overjoyed with all the encouragement! But at the same time, I realized there is a danger in encouragement.A lot of times we encourage each other with nice sayings that are not always true.

“Happiness is the key.” “You deserve something great.” “Listen to your heart.” These are a few examples of encouragement gone wrong. Happiness is not key, because happiness is based on our circumstances. We don’t deserve anything, we are blessed by grace to have anything. And our hearts are sinful and can lead us astray.

So as much as I am an advocate for encouragement, we must proceed with caution when we encourage others. We must make sure we are not just rattling off fluffy sayings, but that our tongues are seasoned with truth filled exhortation.

False encouragement is dangerous, even more destructive than no encouragement. Words intended for encouragement can be twisted, a masked lie. When the “encouragement” is taken to heart, when the lie is believed, it results in the building of a false mindset, hard to break. The false mindset becomes the functional reality, the thing walked in and lived out, no longer walking in truth but dangerous deception.

We become false prophets.

The most encouraging words are truthful, even when the truth is a hard truth that hurts, but in the end will heal. Encouragement can come in the form of Godly discouragement, seeing our need for and leading us to Jesus.

And where can we find the most encouraging words? In God’s Word, the Bible.

So world, I applaud you for encouraging one another! And I pray you continue to do so. Yet even more, I pray that as we seek to encourage others, we will lean on God’s help to discern how to do so truthfully. Lord, sift us, until only truth remains. Father, if  any of my words written here today do not line up with Your truth, please shield them from sinking into any hearts.

If I still tweeted, today my tweet would read:

Keep encouraging with truth. #EncourageEveryoneIn4Words

What about yours?