We just returned from our annual family beach trip. To call it anything less than wonderful would be wrong. The Grahams have enjoyed Gulf Shores white sandy beaches for over 30 years now. I’ve been privileged to participate in this tradition for the last 13. At this point we can’t all fit in the cozy beach house, so my father in law, Randy, puts us up in roomier accommodations. We’ve tried splitting up before and it just wasn’t the same. Randy has always been big on being together for this week and I have to say I am thrilled that he can afford this luxury for us. It’s a real treat waking up and being greeted by Jason’s sweet mother as she cooks bacon and serves up her delicious lemon pound cake. I love this woman. 🙂 Not only are my in laws lavish with their children but they also include my parents on this vacation. I find myself at a loss for words to express the delight this brings me. I’m very grateful that he is so generous with my family. I am so incredibly thankful for the grace of God and our parent’s friendship. While I know Randy’s intentions for inviting them have much to do with being a gift to me, it also helps that they all like each other’s company. 🙂
This year seemed to be extra exciting and fun. I don’t know if it’s the ages of our kids but I feel like I enjoyed playing with them more than ever. We snorkeled, kayaked, played ball, biked, fished and found many sea creatures and shells. I was definitely a lot more tired by the end of the week!
Look at these sweet cousins. Isn’t baby Michael getting so big and handsome?
So what it’s like coming off this magnificent vacation? I have to say I am happy to be home. It is awesome getting away and I love being with family. I am grateful for the opportunity to rest, relax and have fun. However each year I am reminded that all the pleasure and luxuries this world offers are truly not as fulfilling as the sweet simplicity of daily life and consistently being with Jesus.
I strive to meet with Him each morning even when we are away from home. Unfortunately my social nature kicks in and by day 4 my quiet time takes a backseat to chatting with family. I know this is not sinful and my faith is much more than a formal devotional. God wants us to partake in the enjoyments of life. We can glorify him in everything we do. What I find happens is when I don’t begin my day centered on Christ the rest of my day follows suit. Just like any day, vacation can quickly become self-centered and I cease to intertwine my Creator with what He has afforded me. It’s easy to become distracted by pleasure and get caught up in over indulging not only my flesh but my kids too. And oh how rotten we become!
One thing that goes out the window for us is diet. I learned many years back that it truly is better to let it go rather than be the only one moderating everything tasty and sweet. Before I decided to embrace this laid back approach I struggled with resenting the ones who kept offering all the goods to my kids. So yeah in a case like this,…. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! 😉 The only problem with this line of defense…. You can’t be surprised when your kids whine about the size of their ice-cream even when IT IS THEIR 3rd serving for the day! (Because yes, popsicles are an acceptable breakfast item this week) Not to mention it’s 10pm, we’ve just finished a few rounds of putt putt golf and mommy risked her life (and yours!) riding the oldest most rickety wooden roller coaster known to man. All for you precious children. 🙂 By the time we were making the drive home I was practically throwing dunkin donuts at my kids and telling myself “Just a few more hours and it’ll alllll be back to normal.” You better believe our first dinner back was plain shredded chicken, smashed cauliflower and a salad! Time to retrain those pallets kiddos. And our manners!
But I won’t mislead you. They aren’t the only ones who need the grace of reality to set back in. I experience all sorts of BIG thoughts and emotions mixed with guilt and angst. One minute I feel bad for having such an awesome vacation. “Am I even allowed to have that much fun?” The next minute I feel convicted for feeling bad. Because I do believe we should enjoy what God provides us and be grateful. Sunday evening I sat on the front porch and pondered over why I felt so unsatisfied. For a whole week I didn’t have to think about anything other than being happy and having fun. Dreamy right? Yet ultimately I felt rather empty and needing something else. (eh hem, Jesus.) On one hand I am reminded of Paul. Who would tell me “I have learned to be content WHATEVER the circumstances.” Though I am certain Paul learned contentment not in the “what” or “where” but in WHOM. We were created to be satisfied by nothing less than the Holy Almighty God. And though I truly AM THANKFUL for our luxurious vacation it was a great reminder that my contentment and satisfaction will only and always be found in Christ Jesus. 🙂 Worldly pleasures really are “a chasing after the wind.” I’m not saying it’s sinful to have wealth and pleasures. Just when we over indulge and leave God on the back burner. Which by the end of the week I believe is what I was starting to sense.
Since I know we can learn from any and all experiences in life, here are some of my takeaways. 🙂 God does want us to enjoy those fun and rejuvenating moments with family, friends and HIM. So enJOY! 😉
Jesus IS better than all the money, food, drink, shopping, tans, youth and beauty you’ll be exposed to. Don’t get sucked in. Stay centered on Him! Pray without ceasing and always give thanks.
My kids are sinners just like me. Be gracious with them as God is with me.
Vacations are sweet but ultimately, wherever I am, what I need/want most is DEFINITELY Jesus. *Fades in theme song* “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus.”