Summer vacations have always created lasting memories for me. The months after school and before the beginning of the next academic year have been a refuge for my whole family. My husband loves to vacation because it’s a chance for him to unwind after tax season. My children look forward to visiting new and exotic places and enjoy a time of rest after working hard in school. I, however, love summer because it offers a chance for the whole family to connect. This year, the Roats converged on the Bahamas. It was fun in the sun from beginning to end. As you can imagine we swam, ate way too much food, walked a lot, and of course, went snorkeling.
This year, the trip felt different than in years past. Maybe it was the scenery, but as I've reflected on our vacation activities last week, I've realized that my kids are growing up. Now that they are older, they’re a lot more mature and agreeable. Strange. Christian has graduated from college, Amy just completed her freshman year in college, and Jessica will be a junior in high school. When the children were young, the focus was all about making them happy. There was more conflict, a lot of opinions, and vacations were more work. Now, it’s a thrill to just be together and share a few precious moments with each other. They get along and don’t complain as much. Like us, they seem to understand what a blessing it is to be together. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Leon and I were reflecting on the feeling of togetherness and blessing one morning during our devotional time. We were discussing Ephesians 1:3, where it says. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Believe me, it’s not hard to feel blessed when you’re looking out at the ocean in a tropical place, but our focus had more to do with the state of our hearts and our family unit and not the vacation location. God spoke to us about comprehending his blessings. In a real way, God said that, “Every blessing comes from Him.” I believe it! Sometimes, we can become comfortable in a place of temporary satisfaction and take God’s goodness for granted. When we are exposed to those who are less fortunate or people who have faced tragedy, the Lord reminds us of how blessed we really are. Those moments can become great opportunities to reach out and bless others. We had a few opportunities during our trip to do this. In one case, we were able to speak a blessing over a man who was going to spend Father’s Day away from his wife and his four-year old son because he was waiting for his visa. We did what Ephesians 1 tells us and blessed him with our prayers and shared the name of Jesus with him. On another occasion, we went to visit the Straw Market in Nassau, which is a place in the Bahamas where vendors sell their handmade goods. What a great way to get acquainted with so many nice people. Bahamians have such a happy nature and many have a strong faith in God. As we shopped for a few souvenirs, we had the opportunity to share our faith and listen to their stories of triumph and struggle. What a blessing that was! Perhaps, the most memorable moments came, while talking with my children and hearing them share about their lives. It was wonderful to allow relationships to deepen and see how they have matured. I truly felt blessed in those moments as God, in His great love and faithfulness, keeps showing me the true meaning of spiritual blessings.