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. 

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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.

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What About You Wednesday | Elizabeth

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Today we welcome Elizabeth to the blog.

Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

Life has been a blur, more specifically, these past two months. I had two part time jobs, three different church commitments, and friends and family to keep up with. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times, if ever, in these last two months that I’ve gotten on my knees before my Father. I spent all of my free time sleeping and still didn’t get enough. That’s what happens when you lose sight of how big God really is and become self righteous. It’s been about a week since I quit both part-time jobs and have became a teacher’s assistant at a small private school. I am hoping that this allows me to have healthier relationships with my family and grow my desire, longing, and need for my Savior. I currently feel very apathetic towards my faith, confused, on overload with life, and unsatisfied with everything in my path.

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

I have terrible self motivation – but God

I am a horrible friend – but God

I constantly fail myself and others around me – but God

I run to the lusts of my flesh for satisfaction – but God

I find joy in gossip – but God

I find my identity in the world’s view of me – but God

He is teaching me that, alone, I am a COMPLETE failure. NOTHING about me is good or capable….until Christ and ONLY because of Christ am I of any worth. I’m learning the joy and beauty of relying on a perfect God to lead and love me. Trying to walk in line with what He has made and adopted me to be.

How have you/are you changing during this season?

Since it’s really only been a week, my heart is very much still in overload. Honestly I haven’t really changed much. I have become more concerned with my apathy and more aware of my need for rest, but I’m still relying on my morals and good ethics. I have been honest with the people in my community with the hopes of good accountability and for affections to be stirred.

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

Plead with the Spirit to MAKE YOUR HEART BELIEVE. Sometimes when our mind knows it, but our hearts aren’t listening, it’s hard to put any of those truths we know into action.

“…be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:22-24). Plead with your Heavenly Father on a daily basis to grow your desire. Be specific, He can handle it. Remember that God doesn’t like you better because of the good things you do. He is just as pleased with you in this very moment as He would be if you were doing the complete opposite. His view of you cannot be swayed in either direction based on any of your actions. Rest in that, brother/sister.

A Prayer for Elizabeth

Heavenly Father,

We are a mess, but You make beauty of our mess. Thank You for Elizabeth. Thank You for the season You have her in. Thank You that You are aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You for her vulnerability and honesty. Thank You that You are using this season to bring her closer to You (even though she doesn’t feel like it), to remind her of her constant need for You. Thank You, Jehovah Jireh, for the job You have provided for Elizabeth. Thank You for her gifts, talents, and passions, some which she is getting to utilize in this season, and others You are saving for other seasons. Thank You for loving Elizabeth enough to convict her and reveal to her the sin in her life. Thank You for Your blood which covers her sin. Thank You for Your grace that has saved and sustains her. Father, restore to her the joy of Your salvation and grant her a willing spirit, to sustain her. May the gospel fall fresh upon her. Even when her situation does not change, change her. May she be satisfied in You alone. May her dissatisfaction with this world stir her longing for Home. May You lift her eyes from the mess of this world and fix her eyes upon things above. Teach her the difference between sleep and rest, and give her time for both. May she not try to remove herself from apathy on her own, but may she fall on You to lift her. Continue to surround her with community who will encourage, challenge, and spur her on during this season. May her heart not become bitter when she does not understand. May she choose You above understanding. Show her who You are, correct her view of You. May she rest in who You are. Amen.