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“We’re all so busy. We race and race. Life is a sprint. We want to get ‘there’ so badly. But I wonder if we even know what to do when we actually get ‘there’.” – Billy Graham

All great leadership and spiritual gurus remind us that to be most awake, most alive and most effective we must slow down, celebrate the moment and enjoy the gifts in our life.  I had the opportunity to do exactly that over the past 10 days and learned four critical lessons from four expert teachers.

The last few years have been a sprint for me with a hectic travel schedule, growing family and busy life. So it was with great excitement that I put down the smart phone, left my laptop at home and took ten days off to vacation with my family. We had an absolute blast – and the following lessons were taught to me by my kids in their own words.

 1. “I sure like having you around.”   

As the owner of my small business, Rising Above, I often feel it’s critical not only to be fully aware of what’s going on in current affairs, but to respond promptly to the barrage of texts, emails and voicemails. Well, after more than a week with no television, no daily paper and no communication, I am able to report that somehow the world continued to turn even without my usual efforts. While playing, my oldest, Jack, in a fierce War card game, looked up from his cards and shared, “I sure like having you around.”  He meant for the time on vacation, but I’m also convinced he really meant my undivided attention.

2. “Do you see it, Dad?”

Walking back up to the beach near sunset, I found myself sitting next to our curious, high-energy, four-year-old, Henry.  Everyday is a vacation for this young man!  Between scooping at the sand with his hands, dancing into the waves and racing back to jump on my lap, he looked up at the setting sun and said, “Dad, sometimes when I really look at the sun I see God. Do you see it, too?” My answer that day was “yes.”  Too frequently, though, I don’t even see the sun, let alone the gift with in it.

My friends, how vital it is to pause, to reflect and to really see what is, what’s really important, and what really defines a successful life. [Tweet this.]

3. “I went poopie, Dad. Daddy, I went poopie!”

We dressed the kids and headed for church on Sunday. The church was packed, full of sunburned families and retirees. Beth took our two-year-old, Grace, to the restroom midway through the service. Coming back five minutes later at a very reflective, quiet moment, Grace announced where she’d been and what she’d accomplished not only to her family, but to the entire community by singing out “I went poopie Dad. Daddy, I went poopie!”  When you are two, you can get away with that, but in truth, shouldn’t we all be more free to celebrate the good in life?

Share your good news, not to brag on yourself, but to ignite others toward the great possibility in their lives.

4. “It’s good to be home.”

Tucking in my 6-year-old Patrick last night and I asked him his favorite part of the vacation.  He talked about the ocean, the waves and sand castles. He shared how much fun it was being away. And then he added, “But Dad, it sure is good to be home.” My friends, vacations are great. But the finest vacation we can ever journey to is not away from the realities of our life, but to embrace the absolute grandness of those realities. [Tweet this.]

My friends, don’t wait for your next day off to begin your vacation.  Take yours today. Simply follow the roadmap of my four little guides: unplug the phone, look for the possibility, celebrate the gift of life, and realize that it sure is good to be home.

The best is yet to come,

John O’Leary

What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned from your vacations? Please share in the comments below.

John’s Blog | www.risingabove.com

0 replies on “What Do You See?”

Had probably THE BEST family vacation yet, a few weeks ago in St. Louis (and what a blessing to meet you!). We loved the city, our entire family had a blast, it was so great to have that focused, quality time together away from our everyday lives to explore and experience new things and create lifelong memories. I also felt great when I returned to work because I felt so refreshed! My husband and I don’t usually take much time off of work, yet coming home so refreshed made me realize just how important it is to take vacations, and take breaks! Will definitely make sure we take one at least once a year now! 🙂

You’re so right-on about unplugging and the world continuing on. In the recent months, I’ve vowed to unplug much more, and it’s so liberating!! I thought I’d feel like I was “missing out”, but in fact, I’ve gained so much more! I’ve been happier, more productive, more rested, and more present in the lives and passions of the most important people and things around me! 🙂
Blessings to you and your family!
Agena Hurrle

I wasn’t at any family vacation for 18 years-for luck of money, sadly, my husband is disabled and we live on very low income with our 4 children. I long for a good break, but so far it didn’t happen despite my best efforts, but I have no family on this continent and no support. It is hard for people to imagine my situation, mainly those that travel often. I have no solution only that somebody will walk with me together on this road – but people are quite indifferent and busy. I did not see my old Mom for 15 years and that breaks my heart. Inside of you John is compassion and kindness and you see the important, but I do not have people around me that are ready to give me a hand, solution or moral support. My husband suffers from mental disease and people including his own family do not want to be around- so it is very lonely life for me as his own caregiver, for him and our children too. Sometomes it takes so little to change someones life- like becoming a friend for the abandoned- but people are no willing here .

John, just wrapping up our family’s vacation and beginning to reconnect to “the world” via the long list of accumulated emails. Yours was the most important one that I’ve read — it brought more than a few tears to my eyes.

I think I’ll go join the last game of “bubble hockey” already in progress.

Peace to you and yours,
Corey Quinn

My husband and I recently took our 4 girls on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate the 50th Birth Day of our youngest. We sat back, relaxed and enjoyed watching the “Abel Sisters” having a blast, charming the entire ship, and being a blessing to all…..including the crew and staff. We quickly became near and dear to quite a few of these amazing young folks from all around the world. Sharing Christ with several was the high light of our week on board the Norweigen (sp?) Jewel. It’s so wonderful to enjoy God’s blessings with our own!

Thank you for sharing — what an awesome experience! I hope it keeps you fired up as you coast back into your “daily vacation” at home. Continue boldly. J

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