Family Time and Dirty Feet

They went to bed with dirty feet. With heads that smelled of sunshine and bodies slow with sleep, they climbed into their sleeping bags and nothing more was heard. I love camping, but at times I wish the budget allowed more indoor accommodations.

Find contentment

Sometimes it feels like the whole wide world is headed off for a week with Walt Disney. I easily become discouraged when our bank account will not allow for such a splurge. Somewhere along the way, it became the norm that all children would experience a resort trip away with the goal of frolicking, fun, and frivolity. On social media I see everyone's adventures and wish at times that those things were within our grasp, but I am choosing to content myself with the blessings that God has provided for my family. Contentment will not be found in longing for what we don't have. I am still learning Paul's truth of finding contentment in every situation (Philippians 4:11).

Embrace God's gifts

For our family, an expensive trip will not work. With a recession that crushed us, job insecurity, educational expenses, and a tight monthly budget, dropping thousands of dollars for a family trip is just not our reality. But packing our bags to spend a long weekend surrounded by God's creation and loved ones is totally within our reach. Instead of focusing on what we are not given, we are leaning in to embrace the blessings God has provided. Time together spent delighting in God's creation. We have chosen to receive and celebrate this gift that God has given to us.

Seize the opportunities

Wandering through woods and lounging by the lake leads to wondrous moments between parents and children. Resting in the grandeur of creation guides us back into God's presence and quiets the busyness of our lives. And yes, we may miss the amusement park rides. We rarely board a plane or spend big bucks on family entertainment. It’s okay that our budget is tight because all of my children are fast asleep with smiles on their faces and sand on their toes. God has instead blessed us with both a gorgeous local landscape and time to be apart. We make a time to draw close, both to him and to one another.

Rest from Technology

Our family wakes up together for another day in God's grand sanctuary. Our technology was left at home so we would not be distracted from God's workmanship--we chose a time of electronic rest, away from our devices. All we have is what we brought, and the things we find most important are really not things at all. Setting aside the toys for a time invites us to see the God of creation and enjoy his good gifts together. It is vacation enough for us because it brings us right to what we are seeking: space and time to delight together.

Delight in Sabbath

Yes, I love camping. The dirt and the weather and the slow-paced days--I love the whole of it. In part because somewhere along the way, we find that we go away to find something else.

We go away to find time. Time to sit and to relax. Time to unwind from the schedule that drives us.

We go away to find space. Space to spread out and space to draw close and space that renews our spirits. And the truth is that there is no better way to end a summer day than by relaxing fireside with a pie-iron warming, bodies calm from a day outdoors.

God's goodness in creation is plain to see. The very heavens declare the glory of God and we are invited to find rest in his presence.

We may not have been blessed with a big budget for a fancy vacation, but we delighted in what we were given, and in embracing the gift we found exactly what we needed.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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