We got up early in the morning and packed a lunch. Loading into the van, our kids were sleepy and dazed. We began driving and the day began slowly and still. Three hours on the road, and our adventures would begin. With a tight budget, our family could not plan long weeks away together. However, putting together a day trip was well within our means. Lasting summer memories are a precious gift for kids, so off we were headed to someplace new! This day trip would incorporate historical sites, a picnic lunch, and a couple of hours at our state fair. While all of it happened in one whirl-wind day, the memories we made are rich. Day trips rescued our summer from boredom and complaints by adding some adventure throughout those months.
When we remember that trip together, our children tell tales that make us smile. They have held tight to the lessons learned in locations rich with history. They remember each thing we saw and what we discussed together. They tell about the park we stumbled upon that not only gave us a relaxing place to rest and eat but helped us to learn more about what has happened in our state in decades past. Our kids still talk about the state fair with enthusiasm and joy. We rode carnival rides and saw a life-size cow made of butter and discovered many things about farming and animals that are not a part of our daily lives. To hear them describe our trip, you would think we had enjoyed an easy week away. This is the wonderful thing about kids; it is not so much the hours they count as the life you lived within them. We lived a lot of life on that day together. And the memory of it all remains a part of our journey together.
As we drove home, we read devotions together and listened to some Christian music and our children relaxed until they fell asleep. We carried them inside and put them to bed and while we did not sleep even one night away, it felt like we experienced so much. We found time to be together and time to discover more about God’s world. We found time to learn and share and create a memory that was affordable and accessible to us.
Mark 6:30-32 says, "The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.' For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves." Time away is important to revive our spirits. God gave us our families as a gift to treasure and care for. What might be ways for your family to spend time away enjoying each other?
The important thing is not where you go or what activity you pursue, but taking the time to invest in God and in one another. And as we walk together through the summer, I want to remember that planning a day away with our family can help make the most of the time and resources we have. It can help to save the summer from long, still days when our kids complain about having little to do. Planning an excursion to some place new--a nature preserve, a historical location, a state park or fair--can offer a shared experience that builds lasting memories that we and our children can share.
And it only takes a day, though the memories last far longer.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra