Today is a very important day on our vacation. The guys are sending the girls shopping. (The four sweetest husbands ever!) This is serious stuff. No kiddos allowed. (Pray for our husbands today if you think about it, they are gonna be slightly busy.)
Believe me, on a few crazy occasions we have gone shopping with the kids…it doesn’t work. We need to give each store our undivided attention. There are serious decisions to be made today, “do I buy the pink one or the red one, the big one or the small one?”. You get the picture. Each of us has to register our opinion to help the potential buyer make her choice. And as you can probably imagine, there are no lack of opinions to be expressed. Each purchase is a joint decision.
So, Pigeon Forge, here we come. (Despite the name, it is one of the top rated shopping spots in the south.) But really, it’s not the shopping that excites us the most, but just hanging out together. Lots of laughing and serious talks alike. Shopping is just another way for us to enjoy God’s gift of friendship with one another.
Vacation is great. I can get in a car and drive away from many of the responsibilities of everyday life. I can clean my house and not clean it again for two whole weeks. I can leave behind the errands and the meetings and the emails. But as much as vacation is an “escape,” there is one thing I can’t get away from: sin.
As my dad is in the habit of reminding people: indwelling sin doesn’t take a vacation. As long as we’re in this world, we can’t escape it. We can’t get in the car and leave it behind. We take it with us. Everywhere.
In fact, it seems to me as if new sins sneak into my luggage. Serving others sometimes seems like more of a sacrifice on vacation. I’m often more tempted to be impatient and self-centered. Worst of all, is the temptation to spiritual lethargy; the lure of pleasure and ease that seeks to pull my soul away from communion with God.
Because sin doesn’t take a vacation, I cannot—I must not—take a vacation from dependence upon God. I desperately need His help to fight the sins that surface on vacation. But, sadly, I must confess that all too often I have neglected the spiritual disciplines. I start off with good intentions, but by the end of vacation my soul is cold and lacks passion for God.
That’s why I need others on vacation. My husband challenges me and encourages me in my walk with God. My mom and sisters and I trade off watching the kids so each of us gets time with the Lord. They all provide an example that inspires me.
But even though sin travels with me, the good news is that I cannot escape the grace of God! And I don’t want to! The gospel tells me that God sent His Son to redeem vacationing sinners like me. And even better—one day I will truly escape from sin, and spend eternity worshipping Him!
In light of my temptation to neglect the spiritual disciplines on vacation, this prayer, entitled “Backsliding” encouraged me this morning:
“I bless thee that those who turn aside may return to thee immediately, and be welcomed without anything to commend them, notwithstanding all their former backslidings. I confess that this is suited to my case, for of late I have found great want, and lack of apprehension of divine grace; I have been greatly distressed of soul because I did not suitably come to the fountain that purges away all sin….Give me to believe that thou canst do for me more than I ask or think, and that, though I backslide, thy love will never let me go, but will draw me back to thee with everlasting cords….Keep me solemn, devout, faithful, resting on free grace for assistance, acceptance, and peace of conscience.”
(Arthur Bennett, ed., Valley of Vision (Carslile, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002) p. 156-157.
We are writing this post together today because we are together. (Yeah!) Thanks to the generosity of our friends Scott and Lesa, and their daughter Isabelle, we are enjoying our family vacation at their home in Dandridge, Tennessee. Ever heard of it?
Hey, Dandridge is a bigger deal than you think. Not only is it the second oldest town in Tennessee, but it also boasts of being the birthplace of our very own American hero, Davy Crockett. (If you ever pass this way, be sure to visit the Davy Crockett museum.)
But even if you don’t vacation in Dandridge, we must all have a biblical perspective of vacation. “Whether you eat or drink, [or go on vacation] or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Rest is a gift from God. So we glorify Him when we receive our vacation with gratefulness and thoroughly enjoy it. We also please Him when we focus on others: when we relate to one another and not just relax, serve each other instead of be selfish, and make memories together rather than do our own thing.
In the end, vacation for the Christian is not all that different from any other day. It is simply another opportunity to glorify God.
So whether you’re at the beach, the mountains, or the lake, or whether you’re in the office, the kitchen, or the classroom today, consider how you can live for His glory, whatever you do!
(And C.J./Dad - Thanks for many years of priceless vacation memories. But more importantly, thank you for leading our family in enjoying vacations to the glory of God! We love you!)
Last week, Mom, Nicole, and I decided to go blueberry picking at a local fruit farm. So we loaded Jack into the car seat and drove off. Upon arriving we waited for the little tractor which carries you to and from the blueberry field. As we waited, dark clouds began to creep up, but we chose to ignore them. You can figure out the rest. After our bumpy trip to the field we began picking, and almost immediately, it began pouring. But we weren’t going to let a little rain stop us. We picked two full buckets and returned home completely soaked.
This little story is simply to give you a very yummy blueberry muffin recipe that we have always enjoyed making…
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mashed blueberries
2 cups whole blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease both muffin cups and tops of muffin tins around cups. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to butter mixture. Stir in blueberries. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle tops with sugar and nutmeg mixture. Bake about 25 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before removing from tins.
You already know that I’m in the middle of motherhood. Well, I’m also in the middle of moving. Brian and I have been blessed with our first home—a townhouse—and we’ve been moving in stages, all week long.
I shouldn’t be surprised that moving has exposed sinful desires in my heart: specifically, the desire for the “perfect” house. This was revealed through my indecisiveness in making decorating decisions. My husband Brian asked me some helpful questions. I thought that I would share them with you.
1) Are you content and grateful for what God has provided, or are you thinking about the next or better thing you want?
2) What are you more aware of: God’s amazing provision of our current house and furniture, or the material possessions that you don’t have?
3) What purpose do you want your home to serve? Are you more desirous of impressing others with your decorating skill or serving them—and glorifying God—through hospitality?
Through Brian’s questions, God gave me grace to repent from the selfish desires in my heart. And I continue to repent on a daily basis.
God also used my sons to help tear down the idol of a “perfect” house, literally. Liam scratched up my newly painted walls. Owen came behind smearing the scratch with peanut butter and jelly. To top it off, my new laminate floor already has a lovely scratch from dining room to doorway.
I’m in the middle of motherhood, moving, and heart work. God has been good to me. The boundary lines have truly fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).
I thought you might enjoy this recipe for fresh-squeezed lemonade that I served at my luncheon.
Fresh Lemonade Syrup
3 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
3 c. lemon juce (about 16 lemons)
2 T. grated lemon peel
In a 1-1/2 quart heat-proof container, dissolve sugar in boiling water. Cool. Add lemon juice and peel; mix well. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Yields 5-1/2 cups syrup (number of batches varies depending on concentration of lemonade).
To prepare lemonade: For 1 serving, combine 1/4 to 1/3 cup syrup and 3/4 cup cold water in a glass; stir well. For 8 servings, combine 2-2/3 cups syrup and 5 cups cold water in a 2 quart pitcher; stir well.
(This recipe was given to me by my friend, Jenny Detwiler)