Our previous week could only be described by one word: chaos. My husband and I both had hectic weeks at work and just when we thought we had time to rest, something unexpected would arise that required immediate attention like an overflowing toilet or a broken door jamb. It was just one of those weeks.
Our Most Important Job
However, our day jobs are not our most important jobs. We are chest deep in the murky waters of parenting tweens and about to have (gasp) a teenager.
If you have ever been in our shoes or if you are in the same stage in your parenting journey, you know how much this phase resembles a roller coaster ride in the dark with unexpected twists, turns, slow climbs, and sudden drops.
Where would our time be best spent?
As soon as I realized we all had the upcoming Monday off, I felt prompted to do something out of the norm. I started looking up inexpensive get away locations and envisioned an overnight excursion of family games, conversation, and togetherness.
Togetherness. What does that mean in our stage of parenting? We typically have one child clamoring for attention and another hiding away in her room to escape the demand hoping to remain unseen. This would not be an easy problem to solve…. Or would it?
I knew we couldn’t accomplish such an evening at home. Sure, we have had family game night, movie night, or other variations. But the distractions of home are always present. Phones ring, text alerts sound, dirty dishes present themselves, and the laundry pile calls my name from afar. There is always something else to do. Nope, too many distractions at home. We needed a night completely unplugged from the distractions of every day.
As the list of things we could accomplish with my husband and I both off on the same day began scrolling through my mind, I quickly shut it off. Although there were many things to be done, there was something more important that needed our immediate attention.
I felt the Spirit prompting me to disconnect from our normal world and routine. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide us to the right place for my vision. I also prayed my husband would be open to the idea. After prayerful consideration, I mentioned it to him and he was immediately interested. We started searching the Airbnb site for ideas within a two-hour radius and my husband took it from there.
Unplug to Reconnect
We informed the girls we would be having a family get away and they were both excited. They packed their bags and several games they liked. Off we went to Pennsylvania with nothing but clothes for the night, Monopoly, Jenga, Old Maid, and Uno cards. We ended up at the Hidden Gem ninety minutes away in Pennsylvania. It was perfect!
When we arrived, the girls immediately wanted to start playing together and did not even wait for my husband and I to get our belongings settled before they were at the kitchen table playing Uno. Togetherness. They were not arguing, there were no insults, and they were both smiling.
We spent the rest of the evening playing games together, took a quick trip out for pizza, then I had the opportunity to annihilate all three of them in Monopoly. No one stomped off to their room and there were no exclamations of “I’m bored”.
The next day, we enjoyed breakfast at a local diner then made our way to the Sports Emporium where we enjoyed a galactic battle of laser tag and arcade games before driving home. Both girls mentioned how much they enjoyed the get away on the car ride home and we planned to make it a semi-annual event.
Some might say we could accomplish the same thing in our home with boundaries set. Sure we could, and we certainly do. But the memories and newness of our get away night will stand out far more. I am so thankful we obeyed the call to get away. It was just what our family needed.
The enemy will use our to-do lists to distract us.
Friends, I encourage you to take some time to step away from the demands of everyday life. Whether you and your husband both work or you are a stay at home mom, the demands of our to-do list at home are never-ending and are often used by the enemy to distract us from togetherness.
“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV
What would we really accomplish with our hands that would last for several years to come? Would we toil to re-organize our basement only to find ourselves doing it again six months from now, a chasing after the wind? Or would we take advantage of the opportunity to make memories that would last a lifetime and perhaps, start a tradition to be passed down for generations to come? The choice was clear.
The place we stayed was called The Hidden Gem. Although it was beautiful inside and very cozy, the real hidden gem was what happened there that night. Togetherness. There were no distractions of cell phones, dirty dishes, laundry piles, or anything else the enemy uses to take up our time and distract us from one another.
When we feel we are too busy to spend quiet time with God or to disconnect from our to-do list in order to spend time with loved ones that is exactly where we are bound.
“A person being too busy is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them!”Mandy Hale
If we take our anxious thoughts regarding to-do lists, priorities, and other burdens to God He will lighten our load. That is exactly what He did for our family when He guided us to The Hidden Gem.
Seek His Rest
Your hidden gem could be your family room, your dining room table, or the local coffee shop. I encourage you to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance the next time you find yourself tempted to sacrifice family time to run on the hamster wheel of your to-do list. I promise you won’t regret it. Satan’s yoke of business is no match for our Savior’s yoke of rest. I believe that is exactly what we received: rest for our souls.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 29-30 ESV
To our amazement, we returned to find the laundry had not taken over the house. All walls were still standing and it seemed nothing noticed we had been gone. The moral of the story: all that we thought was so pressing was still there and the world had not ended in spite of it.
If you are someone who thrives on efficiency, you know this was not an easy choice to make. However, there will always be things to do. There will not always be children to do them with. Take the time to do the things you will later wish you had done. You won’t regret it.
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. – Psalms 127:3 NLT