Golden Moments on Vacation
Q. When you go on family trips, how do you include God?
Charissa Kolar: One of the comforts of home is our familiar routine. We keep our faith growing by attending a local church, taking a bible study class and nurturing some key Christian friendships. But, vacation time brings unique opportunities for appreciating God as a family. Whenever we hit the road, we can’t help but admire the beauty in nature. Enjoying the great outdoors reminds us of God as our creator. I find myself expressing my grateful heart to God for creating our amazing world and for giving us a sense of adventure to explore it together.
At bedtime we will ask our boys to reflect on the activities of the day before we thank God in our prayers. It is always illuminating to us as parents what our kids will identify as the best part of their day. It is usually something simple. Making a friend at the beach, or collecting rocks, or finding a new favorite flavor of ice cream. Our children’s point of view reminds me of the variety of ways God loves each of us. I am grateful for how vacation brings me new appreciation for God and for the family he has blessed me with.
Audra Haney: For my family, there is no better time than vacation to reconnect with one another and God. A little pause and some breathing room always does wonders for our marriage, parenting, and ministry. It is a great time to reflect. Because of the spiritual value in taking a break, our church leadership even recommends for the staff depart quarterly!
But, if I were to share some practical tips–one would be to include spiritually rich entertainment during your trip. For my toddler, a few of my favorites are CBN’s Superbook animation series, The Slugs and Bugs CDs, and Scripture Lullabies CDs! (And OF COURSE, some Graham Blanchard board books and upcoming coloring/activity book for that long road trip!) There really are so many fun resources out there.
Our family has also found the Discovery Bible Study method to be a simple, yet powerful way to connect with the Word and one another each morning. It’s a great tool to take on the road. Also, my husband and I always make time on vacation to do a little spiritual vision casting for the upcoming months. And, the most powerful tip of all–before you pull out the driveway–pray that the Lord would be very evident in every detail of your trip. It’s a prayer I know He’ll be more than willing to answer. Bon Voyage!
Tiffany Malloy: I have a confession. While we totally love Jesus and very much desire our kids to grow in their knowledge of Scripture and relationship with God—we do not do family devotions (eek!). Images of kids gathered around as we read the Bible after dinner sounds SO FANTASTIC. But we’ve never quite been able to make that mental image a reality.
Instead, we’ve created (fallen into?) a sort of rhythm that we have integrated into the natural routine of our day. We pray around the dinner table every evening, we listen to worship music together in the car and in the kitchen. The kids come home with ideas or questions they’ve been thinking about at school, and we often talk about how Scripture speaks to the issue (or how it doesn’t!). My husband and I share about what we’re thinking about and learning, and they like to listen, ask questions, and give their own two cents!
All this to say, when we go on vacation, all these practices come along with us. We pray around food. We listen to music. And there is LOTS of car time to talk about life and God and all of our questions!
Susan Heim: Going on vacation with children is a prime opportunity to talk about God as
Creator. Genesis 1:21 tells us, “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.” Our vacations often spark an appreciation for the wonders that God has created, from the caverns we’ve explored, to the beaches we’ve walked, and the wild animals we’ve encountered. It is a time when we encourage our children to notice the beauty around them that could only have been created by our God. We also see God in the many people we meet who help us on our way and make the experience more joyful. In addition, we’ve explored historic churches, from Florida to Alaska, and imagined how people worshipped God many years ago, just as we do today. All of these experiences assure our family that God is everywhere we go – in the natural world, in the people we meet, and in church. Wherever our travels take us, He is always along for the ride.
Kona Brown: I’m a sucker for routine and one thing that challenges me is the lack of routine during the holidays. For the boys to see us engaging in daily times of personal worship both individually and as a family helps them understand that it’s a habit to be practiced daily and for that we rely on the set rhythms and routines of the day. The spiritual discipline of time in God’s word doesn’t find fruitful ground in a life that is unstructured. But when the long awaited holidays roll around and we embrace a season of less structure
with relief our time to engage with God becomes more fluid. So then, as much as we benefit from routine to help us engage with God in seasons of work/ school, we can benefit from experience to help us engage with God in seasons of rest/ play. Normally we might not have the time to wash each other’s feet as part of our bible study time, or learn to meditate or sit in awe of God while watching the waves crash, use expressions like drawing or rhymes to talk to God, holiday times or ideal for this sort of engagement.
Julie Kieras: It’s easy to let the excitement and bustle of family vacations “bump” our regular routines and devotions off schedule. We value gathering with other believers, so if we’re visiting friends or family, we always ask to attend church with them. When we go camping, we love to have a fireside service with our kids. Our family camp worship time is a great opportunity to remind the boys of our Great God’s power in Creation in a way we don’t usually get to experience inside a church building! I’m hoping these outdoor worship experiences become vivid reminders to our little guys that we can worship the Lord anytime and anywhere.
Chere Williams: Anya and I try to hit the road as often as we can when the warmer months roll around by either exploring a new city, visiting my parents or just simply going wherever the road leads. There is one item I never neglect to take with us and that is my Bible. It goes everywhere I go including trips. We will usually read a passage before bed and when we wake up in the morning. We also make prayer part of our daily routine and in the car I have Bible Cd’s that we listen to while we’re driving. When we go to my parent’s house we attend the church I grew up in which is such a treat. One of the other ways I try to incorporate God is simply by pointing Him out through His creation which is a great catalyst for some open and interesting dialogue about God. This summer my plan is to focus specifically on a section of the bible for us to study. We will independently study and come back together to discuss it as well. God doesn’t take a vacation from us so I try my best not to let us take a vacation from Him either!
Jill Williams: Vacations are some of our most memorable family times, especially when they come with long car rides, but flights count, too. Good conversations, good books on tape, good stories, good time, down time, together time. All we seem to have is time and we’ve always held that our vacation starts when we start to travel, not when we get to our destination. This way, we have come to enjoy the travel time together and often we really enjoy one another, too! I think enjoying one another, talking with one another and expecting to interact with one another is a start to not leaving God at home. God is relational and He enjoys me, not demanding for me to behave a certain way to be enjoyed. Do I enjoy my children, even when they’re perhaps not so enjoyable? Do I desire to enjoy them, even in tight travel quarters? Will I interact with them and not just hand them a device to keep them occupied and “happy”. As a parent, I set the tone for our children. I can bring God along when I intentionally engage my family in relationship with one another. After all, He made us a family. Vacations are great times for remembering this and bringing us closer together.
Thank you, Mom Mentors! Learn more about them here and connect with their blogs. We would love to hear about your experiences, too! Do you have a question for them? Please post it below. And share your answer with us. See children’s books for growing up in God at grahamblanchard.com.
Text Copyright © 2015 Graham Blanchard Inc.
Photo Copyright © 2015 iStockphoto