It’s Time to Plan Summer!


Everyone has their own idea of what makes a vacation a dream vacation. For some, that might be a week-long cruise. For others, the dream is to pack up the family and criss-cross the country on an epic road trip. And for those of us with hectic schedules, staycations sound like a little slice of heaven.

Whichever vacation you choose, there is planning involved. You’ve heard the expression, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This definitely applies to vacations! Chevy Chase’s Vacation movies are a prime example of what can happen if you don’t take the following “vacation truths” to heart.


Vacation Truth One:  Poor planning = no fun.

Marty Moose: Sorry, folks! We’re closed for two weeks to clean and repair America’s favorite family fun park.

photoAs you stare down at the family’s summer calendar, you see week after week of baseball camps, church camps, dance classes, theater productions… all really good things the kids really want to do. Then you try to merge your husband’s meetings, projects, and work schedules with your meetings, projects, and work schedules. There isn’t a single week left blank. Not one. Deep sigh.  You can’t make a week appear out of thin air, so you decide to put this off until later tonight.

Two weeks later, you see that calendar sitting on the counter right where you left it, shouting accusations at you every time you glance its way. You HAVE to get this done. You sit down once again, determined to complete the task, and decide which week you will sacrifice in the name of family fun. You fight through the myriad options to settle on an ideal location, then click “reserve now.” Of course, of course, of course that week is not available. Ugh! Back to the drawing board. You resolve to start the process six weeks earlier next year.

Vacation Truth Two:  God gave me this man.

Ellen:  I turned off the water, the stove, the heat and the air, locked the door, notified the police, stopped the papers. I called to get the grass cut. Did I put the timers on the living-room lights?

With all the tasks on the vacation to-do list, it would be easy to focus on the activities and the kids, but forget about the most important person…your husband. You’re just renting these kids for 18 years, but God gave you this man forever. In Genesis 2:24, God gives us a blueprint for marriage.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  (NIV)

Screen-Shot-2015-04-27-at-6.51.52-AMIt’s one thing to agree with the concept of one flesh, and another thing altogether to act on it, especially when it comes to vacations. This means you go to him with the calendar options and listen to his opinion. You won’t even blink when he cuts half of it out because you know he is wise. You also know he won’t let you overextend yourself, because like God, he is jealous for you. You might need to look into spending a little more on the two-bedroom condo so you can have time alone together.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

Fight back your natural tendency to give all your planning, energy, creativity, and time to your kids. Schedule time for just the two of you and make sure his needs are met during the family trip. Down time? Check! Sports on TV? Check! Hold back on extravagant spending? Check!

Vacation Truth Three:  Family is family.

Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?

Clark: Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.

Whether they show up unannounced, or you travel many miles to see them, spending time with extended family members is a roller coaster ride full of ups, downs, twists, turns, and surprises.  And you might just throw up when you’re finished. (No, really. It seems kids always catch something from their cousins!)

We love these people. We grew up with them. Why can visiting with family be such a tumultuous occasion? Here’s a guess. When we spend time with our families of origin, they see us as we were when we were kids. Making matters worse, we often live up to their expectations and fall back into those old roles… the same roles we’ve been fighting to overcome for years. One of us is the pot stirrer; one the peace maker; one the hothead. Then there’s good ole Aunt Bethany, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when she was supposed to be praying. Some family members are just plain crazy.

Vacation Truth Four:  You can’t please everybody.

Clark: Russ, we checked every bulb, didn’t we?

Rusty Griswold: Sure, Dad.

Clark: Hmm… Maybe we ought to just go up there and check…

Rusty Griswold: Oh, woo. Look at the time. I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car...

Screen-Shot-2015-04-27-at-6.52.25-AMYou might have children on every end of the age spectrum, or you may have family members who are all interested in very different things. Wanting to make sure everyone has the perfect vacation will more than likely result in the exact opposite. The truth is, family vacations are never going to be the picture of calm you see in your daydreams. Expectations are high, exhaustion is looming, and everyone wants what they want. We all need patience and grace every day, and vacation is an intense time that multiplies and magnifies our need to both give and receive grace.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

The only way we are all going to get the most out of our time together this summer is to remember this verse. We may need to repeat it over and over. You might even have a bracelet made to wear as a constant reminder. (Maybe it should glow with blinking lights.)

Goodnight, Clark!


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