FIRST-PERSON: Intentional vacation

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) -- It's summertime and you know what that means: family vacation! It's a great opportunity to make memories together and get away from the routines -- or the chaos -- of everyday life.

The danger in vacation, however, is that we tend to want to check out of every part of life -- and that's not helpful for any of us. Here are some ways to keep Christ at the center of your vacation and find true rest this summer while you spend time together:

1. Build time with Jesus into your day every morning -- and lead your family to do the same. Read through a book of the Bible as a family or have a discussion about what you're each individually studying. If your children are little, read to them, take along some Bible videos or watch some that you've screened on YouTube.

2. Take time to really pray together (not just over your food). Ask each person to share one thing they are struggling with in their relationship with God and one way they feel they may be doing well in their walk with Him. Don't critique or lecture, just pray with them for what's on their hearts. And don't forget to share yours too. Kids need to hear that mom and dad struggle too, but that they know how to take that struggle to Jesus.

3. If you're gone over a Sunday, visit a church. Do research ahead of time and find a Bible-teaching church in the area where you are vacationing and plan to take your family there for worship. This is a great way to teach your children that gathering with the people of God is not something we do because we know and love the people in your church; it's a thing we do because we know and love Jesus.

4. Over the course of a weeklong vacation, plan a one-hour outreach together. Go somewhere to serve others, find someone on the beach you can share Jesus with, take a homeless person to lunch with your family, have your kids draw pictures and write encouragements to hand out to waiters, convenience store attendants or hotel hosts.

5. When you're out to eat (or in a drive-through while traveling), secretly pay for someone else's dinner. Be sure to leave a note for them that says, "Enjoy your lunch today on us! We are praying for you." Be sure to follow up by gathering your family to pray specifically for the person you just blessed.

6. Find a faith-based book to read, audio to listen to, or video to watch as you drive. Mom and dad, be sure you have read/watched it beforehand and be ready with some age-appropriate questions to help your family think through what they've just heard.

This year, don't take a vacation from God with your family, take a vacation with God. Use the opportunity to intentionally lead your family to rest well together while growing in your faith.

Autumn Wall, online at www.autumnwall.com, is an author, speaker, worship leader, pastor's wife and mom of three in Indianapolis. She is the co-author of "Across the Street and Around the World" (New Hope Publishers).
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