5 ways to manage your summer expectations for vacation and rest

July 13, 2022

The hot summer sun and end of the school year makes everyone look forward to vacation. Finally, a time to rest, relax, and unwind after a crazy year. But for those of us traveling to see relatives, or heading to the beach on a vacation with extended family, rest and relaxation can be elusive. My friend, Brittany, a mom of two boys ages 2 and under, just posted a picture of her family at the beach with the caption, “’I feel so refreshed after my beach vacation with my young kids!’ said no one ever.” 

I remember those days of chasing my toddlers by the water, trying to keep them from ingesting a shovel full of sand. Depending on the ages of our kids, and the sheer number of other family members involved, vacations aren’t usually the oasis of calm we hope them to be. 

A few years ago our family joined my in-laws and sister-in-law’s family for a Christmas/retirement celebration in California. What better place to enjoy a break from our crazy schedule than in warm and sunny San Diego? We had hardly arrived before we realized there was trouble in paradise. My sister-in-law’s family was battling the stomach flu with three young kids. Add to the mix our four kids and sharing bathrooms, and you can imagine the result. 

My generous in-laws, who made the trip possible, were looking forward to non-stop family time together—family dinners, family bike rides, family games. They even thoughtfully volunteered to watch the grandkids one night so the parents could have a dinner out without cutting up someone else’s meat. But my husband and I were hoping for a little more space, and some time for our family to be able to explore the city without the entire crew of 13. 

All of us had expectations of what this trip should look like. The problem was, none of us communicated our expectations to each other. As I look back, I realize how much frustration could have been avoided if I had checked my own heart and been willing to communicate more openly. 

Here are a few simple things I’ve learned to help navigate expectations with summer vacations.

1. Be honest. Talk openly and honestly with other family members about your vacation hopes. So often each of us has an ideal vacation plan that we never fully communicate with anyone else. When our expectations are dashed, we can feel disappointed or embittered. Long before you’re all piling into the rental house with suitcase in hand, talk about how much time you’ll spend together. Can there be certain meals with the whole extended family and other meals on your own? Will there be a rotation of cooks to ensure the same people aren’t always in the kitchen? Talk about how much whole group time you’ll have together versus time as individual families. The more things you work out beforehand, the smoother things will go. 

2. Be flexible. Flexibility is defined as bending easily without breaking. The only constant in our life is God. Everything else will change. How can you be flexible with your hopes and expectations for vacation? How can you bend to accommodate your in-law’s menu preference, or the naptime schedule of your niece? We all come with a set of plans in mind, but hold them loosely, and remember the relationship is more important than the ideal plan. 

3. Be a peacemaker. When we enter a vacation holding our expectations loosely, it will help us to maintain peace. When we’re willing to give up our ideal plan of a quiet afternoon by the pool (without complaining) for your father-in-law’s plan of a family boating expedition, we are sacrificing for the good of someone else. We’re following the pattern of Christ, the ultimate peacemaker. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:13-14). 

4. Be loving (respectful, sacrificial, considerate). We can love those we are with by accommodating their preferences with joy. This may mean you are eating Aunt Milly’s famous chili (again) when you’d rather have grilled fish. But we look for ways to lay down our rights in order to bridge the gap with the other person. We take the apostle Paul’s advice in Philippians 2:3-4, that we, “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but to the interests of others.” We’re following the way of Christ. 

5. Be servant-minded. Vacation conjures up pictures in my mind of laying in poolside chairs with food that’s magically prepared and delivered. But few of our family vacations actually look like this. Most of us still need to cook, keep an eye on children, and even do laundry. It would do us good to prepare our hearts to serve during vacation. Think of Jesus’ words and example, the perfect King who came to serve, not to be served  (Matt. 20:28). How can you practically love and serve those you are with? Can you unload the dishwasher in the morning? Make coffee for the group? Offer to keep an eye on a new mom’s baby so she can take a nap? Sometimes we forget that joy comes through serving. Ask God to help you keep a tender heart to those you are with, and for grace to serve them with love. 

Family vacations have the potential to be one of the best, most memorable times of the year. But they also have the potential to create division over petty squabbles and unmet expectations. As you load your minivan this summer, keep in mind that our call to love and serve applies during vacation as well. Christians are not exempt from loving and serving their family just because we’re on a special getaway. Hold your plans with an open hand, and ask God to give you unexpected joy and grace as you make lasting memories with those you love.

Stacy Reaoch

Stacy Reaoch is a pastor’s wife, mother of four and co-author of Making Room for Her- Biblical Wisdom for Healthier Relationship with Your Mother-In-Law or Daughter-In-Law. She’s passionate about studying the Bible and helping women apply God’s life-changing truths to their daily lives. Stacy lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24