I love a vacation. It’s a highlight of our year and an expense as a family we try to afford ourselves on a yearly basis. We don’t really do anything spectacular but we do enjoy seeing the ocean and taking a break from everyday, normal life. This year, as the holidays ended and the calendar turned, the talks began . . . Where are we going? When are we going? How much do we need to save? We typically have all the questions answered, plans in place, and reservations made by late March, early April at the latest.
To say the year of 2016 has not gone as been planned would be an understatement. It’s not been a bad year, but life has certainly handed us some interesting twists and bends.
- In February, Shannon injured her shoulder which required surgery in March and kept her out of work until May. Vacation planning was delayed.
- Geoffrey is beginning high school this year as a freshman and is planning to be a part of marching band. Being march band alumni ourselves, we were aware of the required band camp attendance and waited, waited, and waited for information on the camp dates. Vacation planning was delayed, but when it was finally booked we received an information packet from another source that he finally admitted he had been given four weeks prior to school ending and was in his backpack. Guess who is missing the first week of band camp. Let me assure you, as someone who participated in band from elementary school to high school graduation it’s a tough pill to swallow knowing your kid is the one missing a week of camp!!
- In June, we walked through a situation which could have severely affected our income as a family that we had no choice but to handle on a daily basis and just trust that God was in control.
- With reservations secured and no hope of a full refund, our final payment for our reservation was made two weeks later than the property management company requested.
None of these factors are huge world crashing issues, but each one was an obstacle we had to overcome and the mental part of overcoming them was possibly the worst part of it. All the time, the much longed for vacation just seemed like the carrot being dangled in front of us!
Once it was finally clear we had overcome all the obstacles and all was set, the final tasks of planning and packing were all that remained. As I drove to work the final morning before we left, realizing we had essentially packed nothing, needed to run to the store to buy last-minute items, and still had a couple of loads of laundry to complete, I could feel the anxiety, stress, and uneasiness building up. Normally, my mind has already fast forwarded to the process of unloading and unpacking once the destination is reached before we’ve even left town and that’s what was beginning to happen once again. It was at that time, I felt the still small voice whisper, “Let’s do it different this time. Let’s enjoy the process.” I had made up my mind to enjoy the journey and have a good attitude during the packing and preparation process and the drive as well. All was well and good until I left work that day. On my way to pick up the kids that afternoon, the stomach cramps began. You guessed it! What better way to pack and prepare than fighting a stomach virus. About four hours later, the prayers to the great porcelain god began! Irony is sitting in front of toilet attempting to hold food down thinking, “I’m going to enjoy this journey!!” There’s not much joy to be found there!! On top of the stomach issues I was fighting, the clothes dryer decided it wanted to stop drying. Guess who is now carrying extra laundry to the beach condo, some wet and some dirty, just to have clean clothes. With the symptoms of a stomach virus in full effect, Shannon took charge and bore the full burden of packing all food, kitchen gadgetry, and clothes needed for the entire family. Of course, the illness also sought to rob us of sleep for the night. I couldn’t rest and sleep and, though she tried her best to rest, she was fairly unsuccessful as well suffering from complete exhaustion, worrying about me, and thinking of being behind the steering wheel for the duration of the trip when I’m usually the one at the helm. Finally, around 3 AM, sleep came for each of us and we were awake and alert around four hours later . . . our original planned departure time!
We finally left town three hours later than normal with the GPS stating we would arrive at the rental office about an hour and a half prior to them closing. Of course, that was if we drove with absolutely no restroom stops, no time to eat lunch, and no accounting for the one hour traffic back up we were yet to experience!! With all those factored in, we arrived at the rental office three minutes prior to closing! Whew!!
Upon receiving our condo keys, nothing could stop us. We were finally here. Our condo was on the third floor, and we simply had to grab a luggage cart, unload the van, and then go grab some dinners. The only issue with this is there are no luggage carts because there are no elevators!! I don’t know how many trips I made up the three flight of stairs that evening but I do know this overweight, out of shape, forty-year old man will ensure the next condo rental has an elevator prior to making the reservation!! Once we were all settled, the final wonderful discovery of the night was to realize there was no Wi-Fi signal for the kids to utilize for the week although I was certain I would have never booked this spot without it. This also meant Shannon would have to either utilize the mobile hot-spot on her phone or travel to a free Wi-Fi location to submit her school assignments for the week. Neither of us had ever utilized a phone hot-spot before and a learning curve was in place but we accomplished it!!
Despite all of the above and everything we’ve overcome to get here, this has been a great week. When I read online of some the things our friends are currently contending with sick loved ones, unemployment, serious illnesses they are fighting, all of these things pale in comparison. I simply share with you to hopefully put a smile on your face. The entire journey to get here this year has not been joyful, but these last few small battles have simply just made us smile and laugh. We are extremely blessed to be here and very grateful to be in a place where we can get away and just enjoy time the four of us even though the kids remind me on daily basis of the two things needed for it to be better: an elavator and Wi-Fi!
My beloved friend and former employer, Tom, reminded me constantly, “Rock, life is a journey, not a contest.” It’s easy sometimes to get caught up thinking of this in terms of lifelong application and neglect to see the practical application of that statement. I pray to continue to be mindful of the practical application not only during this vacation experience but on a daily basis. Psalm 37:23 tells us that God delights in the details of our lives. If He delights in them, then we should as well.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.