Since we wait for it, save for it, take time off for it, stop mail for it, and pack for it ... we need not sabotage our rare chance for vacation. Whether you spend it with girlfriends, extended family, spouse & kids, club friends, or a church group, there are steps to take to make the most of the opportunity to get away and rest. Watch for the reoccurring theme ;)
Communication - A successful vacation starts with talking ... about what you need and what you hope. It means talking about what your resources are and what your options are. Talk about who should be part of the vacation. A good time of rest begins with talking together, so you're on the same "vacation team," not making assumptions or working with different goals. First talk.
Preparation - Gather adequate info about questions like lodging, transportation, calendar, cost, and activities. Some people love this, but others want to see the options once all the info is in. You should've cleared that up in step one. ;) Once you have your info, make reservations and put dates on calendars that apply: work, church, school, kennel, post office, etc.
Communication - Be sure everyone involved knows what you've done, when payments have to be made, what money needs to be saved, and what the plan is. This will save you some trouble in the next step ...
Expectation - Keep these in check. Don't be dreaming of a pre-beach pedicure/manicure and new wardrobe if that's not budgeted ... or if you're going to a fishing camp in Canada. ;) As you talk in anticipation, be realistic and truthful about what to expect. If cooking at the condo is part of the plan, don't surf the internet gathering ideas of restaurants to try out. Help children by talking about reality, not about the travel channel (unless that IS your reality, and then I would love to be your BFF).
Communication - Once you're ready to set out, be open and clear about what you have to spend and the needs you're setting out to meet. I've learned Jeff needs 3 days to "de-tox" from life at home. I need to communicate my understanding of this to the kids, but also let Jeff know we'll be ready to receive him when he mentally joins us. :) It helps me so much when he tells me he needs time to rest, before he can engage in the vacation fully. Otherwise, I can become frustrated or hurt. Communication prevents a lot of this.
Resolution - Once you're there, RESOLVE to "Count it all joy," sisters! :) (James 1:2) ... No matter what the accommodations are like, how cold the water is, how much rain comes, how loud your uncle snores, how crowded the amusement park is, how little "me" time you get, etc, etc, etc ... RESOLVE to accept it all as an opportunity to bond with your loved ones and see life from God's point of view. It's an adventure!
Communication - Don't stop communicating with fellow vacationers about your thoughts, needs, and concerns, and don't give in to temptation to stop communicating with the Lord. You are NOT on vacation from Him.
Appreciation - Certainly throughout your days of rest, but especially as you wrap it up and head back to regular life, give credit to the Lord in your conversations and praise to Him in your prayers for providing the time (no matter how long), the place (even if it's a tent), the resources (no matter how much), and the invitation to come away and rest. Acknowledge that every good gift came from Him, and tell Him so with joy!
When our Jo was little, she loved picking out a hermit crab at the beach and taking it home in a little carrier with sand and a pink painted rock. Matthew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"
My vacations have been peppered with trips to the ER, nauseated stomachs, bad accommodations, restaurant bloopers, and family conflicts ... have yours? Let's not let that stop us! Even in the midst of crazy circumstances, we can experience unique times of peace. God wants to give us times to rest, to reset our thinking, to refresh our bodies, to refill our spirits and recharge our minds. With a little planning, we CAN be successful in experiencing the value of vacation.