10 lessons from vacation — part 1

Last week, we loaded up our car to the hilt (seriously, the hatchback trunk was so packed we couldn’t see out the rearview mirror) and headed south to Tennessee for a long overdue and much-needed vacation.  The last time we’d been there was in November of 2010 and I was itching to be back.  My husband and I were looking forward to a week of downtime, fun as a family and good southern food.  My daughter was just excited to be going somewhere and had hopes of seeing the peacock that lives down the road from my brother’s vacation home where we stay.  Our dog was excited to be on a car ride.  He’s learned that when the suitcases come out and he’s in the car, then he’s going with us on adventure.

And adventure we did have.  It was a great week with minimal snafus.  Our vacation taught me a few of things and reminded me of others.  I had so much, in fact, that I’m breaking up my 10 lessons over two blog posts.

1. My toddler trusts us completely. We’d been telling her for days that we were going on vacation to Tennessee.  We explained that she’d been there before even though she didn’t remember.  We told her some of the things we’d do.  She was excited.  But, according to Google Maps, the trip takes six hours from our house.  If you add in stops for food, bathrooms and Bass Pro Shops, it takes us about eight hours to make the trip.  That’s a long time for anyone, especially a toddler stuck in a car seat.  Near the end, she got a bit impatient (but overall did surprisingly much better than either my husband or I expected!).  She asked when we’d be to Tennessee.  She was excited.  We told her it’d take a while.  In the end, she trusted us completely.  She might not have been overly pleased to be in the car that long, but she was contented enough to just wait and trust us that though the journey might be long and sometimes rough, we’d get her where she needed to go.  She could just sit back and relax.  It’s the exact same kind of trust I need in God.

The kiddo all ready to start out on our adventure in Tennessee.

2. Adventure is everywhere. One of our very first stops was at Bass Pro Shops.  It’s about halfway between our house and Tennessee.  It’s a nice stopover because dogs are allowed in the store and there’s lots for little eyes to look at with animals (both real and fake) all over the place.  Both on the way down and the way back, Lexiana and Buckles had a great time wandering through Bass Pro Shops finding adventure.  And of all the animals around, the kiddo most loved the water wheel.  But, that wasn’t the only adventure.  She was equally excited when we stopped at a gas station in Kentucky miles down the road and saw a pasture of cows right next to it.  She was disappointed the cows didn’t moo for her, but she was super excited to see them.  Even in small things, she can find adventure.

3. My husband and I are her world. I think in some way I pretty much knew this, but as I listened to her talk, especially through the monitor as she was waking up or going to sleep, I really took notice of what she was talking about.  And 80 percent of it had to do with her mommy and/or daddy.  I hear these same sort of things in the monitor at home, but I’m often too busy to really listen to what she is saying.  I’m usually more focused on what I need to get finished before I get her up for the day.  She thinks about us all the time.  While I think about her all the time, I have other things in my head, too.  She doesn’t have as much going on in her little life and we really are her world.  I’m humbled by that and a bit overwhelmed by it as well.  What pressure that is!

4. The small pleasures in life make it grand. Having a toddler who is learning about and discovering the world around her helps me to see it through new eyes once again.  For example, when we took her to the dock to feed the ducks and fish and try out her new Mickey Mouse fishing rod, she enjoyed those things but her favorite thing was throwing rocks into the water.  I had done this as a kid and had totally forgotten about doing so.  Once I showed Lexiana, she was hooked and wanted to do that more than anything.  Even better, she realized she could stomp around in the water’s edge as well.  It was her favorite activity of our whole vacation.  We spent no money on it, it was simple and it was perfect.

My kiddo rocking on the dock. She loved being near the water, too. (For a great photo of the lake, check out the cover photo on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/writtencreations.)

5. The lake is soothing to my soul. I love bodies of water.  They calm me and soothe me in general, but nowhere on this earth makes me feel calmer, more contented and closer to God than Dale Hollow.  I’ve been going there for as long as I can remember (and even before I can remember).  I have a sort of deep-seeded longing in my soul for that place.  Sometimes I can literally ache with wanting to be there.  My husband long ago realized the pull this area has on me when we had dinner with my parents years ago before they left the next day for a trip south.  I was in tears as we pulled away from the restaurant.  He had me pack my bags and head out with them the next day.  Even now, I still get teary when I say good-bye to the lake for the final time each visit and when we pull out of the driveway.  No matter what stress may be happening in the real world of my life, being out on the lake or beside the lake eases that stress away.  I feel and have felt God speak to me many times while on that water.

Be sure to check back Friday for the remaining five lessons learned on vacation!

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