Friday, August 23, 2013

Back from the Beach

"…love one another" -2 John 5 We just returned from a wonderful trip to the Gulf Coast with all the family. It was a tremendous time of fun, fellowship and rest. It's a trip we've been taking for 25 plus years with Jeanie's best friend and sister, Holly, and her family. Our families have grown so much that we rented a beach house for the first time this year. It had 7 bedrooms and slept 23 people. The house and beach were great but the best part about the trip was the time with family. Many times, families celebrate the end of a vacation so they can get away from family and back to their routine. For all of us, we're still in the middle of P.V.D. (post vacation depression- I made that one up) from genuinely missing each other. Our vacations work because of some important ingredients. Respect. Someone said, "The highest expression of love is to respect." When we respect someone, we honor them even though we may not understand them. Counting kids, we had seventeen people between our families. There are a variety of personalities and temperaments in our group. It would be easy for the leaders and decision-makers to battle it out over who has control. But because of the respect level, this group always decides to take it easy and let the week flow. Laughter. Milton Berle said, "Laughter is an instant vacation." So, when laughter is coupled with a real vacation, it's a powerful combination. We laughed at each other all the time! The three grandkids were hilarious with their mannerisms and faces and, when our power went off during a storm, someone asked (and I won't name names), "Will the toilet still work with the electricity off?" We all had fun with that one. There were so many situations where we chose to find humor in each other rather than frustration. Flexibility. The other day, as I was telling someone about the trip, they responded, "How can you stand to be with family for a whole week? Don't you drive each other crazy?" My answer was "We could have spent a month together!" There are simply no huge expectations. And guess who struggles with that one more than anyone else? ME! But being flexible means not holding onto preconceived plans. It means, "letting go." It means relaxing and trusting God's plans. Love. Love is simply a choice. It's not about waiting until someone has earned the right to be loved, but about applying grace anyway. Are our two families perfect? Of course not. We do things to irritate each other and have our disagreements. But as Paul said at the end of Ephesians Chapter four, "Be kind to one another, forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven you." Love is the trump card that overrules any disagreement or misunderstanding. Yep, we loved our vacation. And the time of reflection and rest was so needed. Though we're back to the realities of school, work, and house chores, I think of our trip to the beach and I smile. Be sure you have vacation times with your family. You don't have to go to the beach. Maybe it's just a night out to eat and a movie or just grilling hot dogs on the back porch. The point is, you're together as a family respecting, laughing, flexing and loving those who mean the most to you. That's why God invented the family- that we might be filled with meaning and love. Families simply work… …whether the electricity goes off or not. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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