I, my friend, have officially just returned from vacation.
The word alone makes you want to find the nearest hammock, grab a book
notsomuch and lose yourself in the soothing sound of waves crashing against the shoreline.
This, however, was not that type of vacay.
My darling hubs and I took the kids
as in all three of the ones we made who are all still under ten years old and we went on our first annual Big Family Road Trip. (Dun, dun, duuuuuun!)
Since we spent most of our ‘extra’
ha! money the past five to seven years at the Hotel De Blue Cross Blue Shield, the concept of vacation hadn’t ever entered into our vocabulary. Until now. Because, friend, to God be the glory, I have been sealed and healed for two and a half years now! Wahoooo!!!
So. We’ve been planning this puppy for almost a year. We knew we wanted to see as many professional baseball stadiums (we are BIG baseball fans! Go Rangers!!) and National parks as we could, before these sweet non-babies leave our little nest. Thus, our planning commenced.
We chose one route, then another, finalizing a third time around- and we were done. The itinerary would be as follows:
Atlanta Braves game – Atlanta, GA
Myrtle Beach area – SC
Congaree National Park – SC
Great Smokies National Park – TN
Cincinnati Reds Game – Cincinnati, OH
(BEST impromptu side trip ever- Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, KY)
Mammoth Cave National Park – KY
Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, AR
We allotted ourselves three hotel nights during our planned twelve day trip.
“Well, Caroline, where in the world will you be sleeping the other days?”
In a tent, people. In. a. tent.
And while I know some of my friends may begin to hyperventilate at the thought of sleeping in a tent, ever, much less for nine nights…on your vacation. But, with Team Holzberger…that’s how we roll.
Needless to say, the trip was amazing. Truly, it was. The kids were overall a blast to be around. They did well in the car, thanks to the strategic planning of their brilliant mother, who plotted our course with no day of travel ever exceeding 5 hours in the car. And, with her sneaky hiding of all new books, games, etc. for weeks prior to the trip, so that when the highway came and the Box o’ Fun was opened, I heard a plethora of “Oh WOW, I thought I lost that game!” and “Ohhh I always wanted to read this book!”
Well, played, Mom. Well played.
We saw beaches, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, oceans, forests, waterfalls, natural springs, caves, swamps, and everything in between. My kids held baby crabs. Touched a live starfish. Caught lightning bugs. Hunted for millipedes. Hiked up mountains. Waded in frigid natural springs. Traveled to underground caves. Lept for home run balls. Touched pieces of baseball history. Played in the rain. Peed in the woods. And so much more.
So many memories I will treasure forever.
But, as you know, my sweet friend.
None of it was real.
I don’t mean it was a dream, of course. I mean, it wasn’t real life. It was vacation.
And, not to be Debbie Downer, but vacay is always fake-ay.
The events do occur. The memories are real. You aren’t dreaming. But, it isn’t real life.
There are no bills on vacation. No deadlines. No chores. No work. No diets. No budget. No competing schedules.
Only fun. Only dessert. Only “Yes!” said all the time.
And while vacations are enjoyable, and vacations are often deserved…at some point, you must go back to real life.
Mortgages are due. Kids deserve time-out.
Although some kids find ways to get put in time out in all twelve states you travel through. Just sayin’. Traffic jams happen. Diets resume.
Real life hits us hard in the face and sometimes even knocks us flat on our back. The reality that our vacay was fake-ay and that real life has returned, is sometimes more that we can handle.
And, sadly, many of us go on ‘vacay’ every single day. As soon as our feet hit the floor, we enter vacation land. Not literally, but in some way or another. You are fake with your co-workers. Your spouse doesn’t really know you anymore. You put on your ‘smiley-happy people’ face when you pull into the church parking lot.
One day you wake up and realize, you’ve created an entire vacay life. All around you.
Friend, please don’t let that be your truth.
Jesus didn’t die so that you could wear a mask of perfection.
He didn’t suffer so that we could all act happy and peaceful all the time.
He knows we live in a sinful world. He knows every fiber of deceptive weaving the enemy is constantly doing all around us. He cares about our hearts cry, that often only He hears.
It’s time to come home from vacation, my sweet friend. Let your guard down. Be vulnerable. Let someone in. Show your scars, your flaws, your quirks. And let the chips fall where they may.
Ya know, it’s amazing how lying down on the carpet of a doctor’s waiting room will humble you. I still vividly remember the scratchy feeling under my arms as I stared at the all too familiar tile ceiling, silently begging for people to stop staring…to stop questioning…to stop judging.
I was stripped of so much pretense during the flat years on my couch. It’s tough to be prideful when you’re in your pajamas every day and can’t sit up and look people in the face. I was sort of always a ‘who cares’ kind of person when I thought about wanting to impress people or hoping they liked me. But, then, my couch time solidified it. God stripped me; and sweet friend, I wish you would allow God to strip you too. I pray it doesn’t take the medical drama I had to go through to get you there. But…if that’s what it takes to get you home from vacation.
So be it.
You, beloved, are God’s workmanship – and as I’ve heard said many times –
“God don’t make no junk.”
You are valued. You are valuable. You are worthy. You are worth it. You are chosen. You are His.
I believe so strongly that it is way past time for people – especially those of us in the church – to STOP pretending. STOP clinging to our pride and our egocentricity. STOP acting like we have it all together. Brothers and sisters, can we please just be real? Be broken. Be authentic. Be true. This disgusted, dying, desolate world is desperate for something real. And, friend, it NEEDS to be us! Real doesn’t get more real than the love Jesus has for His people.
If we are His Church; if we are His followers; if we claim His Name – then we’d better be the real deal. With all our sins, with all our failures, with all our baggage, let’s just get out there and love people. Love their past. Love their story. Love them enough to not judge any of it.
It’s time to come home from vacation, church.
And yes, I got your postcard in the mail.