I was raised on a small family farm in southern Missouri. I was raised very simple, which has taught me so much and I will forever be grateful. As a kid, our “vacation” would consist of all the family and extended family packing up and carpooling to Six Flags St. Louis, 100 miles away and spending the day on the Screaming Eagle, Ninja, Bumper Cars, and the Log Flume. The kids excitedly planned the day and un-patiently would wait in lines all for the 30 seconds of adrenaline rush from the rides. The dads, would ride with us, and we kids loved seeing our fathers resign their normal “we are farmers” attitude and enjoy the same rides that we kids did. All the mothers of the family packed lunches in coolers for each of us, and at lunchtime, we would excuse ourselves from the amusement park to the coolers in the trunks of the cars. I LOVED IT. I looked forward to that day all year long. It was easily one of the most highly anticipated days of “my” year. As I look back as an adult, it is a vivid memory, one that will never be forgotten and one that I have shared with Lexi many times. I remember longing for a Disney Land vacation or beach vacation but those days never seemed to happen. We were farmers, those vacations were for “rich people” and the “lazy people who only THOUGHT they worked hard”. Lets be honest, we went to Six Flags because we kids had earned free tickets for reading in school and we could keep the cost down by taking our lunch for our day vacation. We couldn’t afford those luxury vacations that many of my friends were taking, but me… I never knew any different. I loved our vacation just the same. I think back to those days and the waiting in lines and making lunches and wonder how those days were ever relaxing for our parents? Getting away from life’s hustle and bustle and not cooking are just two of the daily norms that I seek to get away from when I even begin to think about a vacation. Maybe it was just a simpler time then? Maybe it was just another example of the simple life we live where the kids and adults alike were just glad to “get away from the farm”, or maybe, it was another example of the selflessness of our parents who once again, put their kids needs and wants before their own. Whatever the reason, that vacation rejuvenated all of us, and us kids on the way home would excitingly chat about the funnies of the day until we would all fall asleep, no doubt, dreaming about the next year.
Rejuvenation. Such a powerful word that we all need in our lives. The need to hit the reset button. This is something we all need and we all find that in different places. I am a lucky girl. I just got back last night from the Bahamas. How lucky am I to escape cold, snowy, Missouri in March and come home 5 days later with arguably the best tan of my life? Some may say, how can they do that? I thought they were farmers? Others my say, wow… those vacations are for rich people, or just like when I was a kid, thought, well, they don’t work as hard as we do, we cannot do anything like that, there is just TOO MUCH TO DO. Let me tell you, “Yes” we are lucky, “Yes” we are farmers, just with great friends that come stay at our house for the duration of our trip to keep things rolling, “No” we are not rich, and “Yes.” I promise you, we will work just as hard as the next guy. Which is why we needed to hit the reset button. It seemed that this last year was awesome, and we were blessed, but the work flow never seemed to let up. You farmers out there know, it was a record harvest year, and on the cattle side, well, we have more hay than we have had as well. We enjoyed the warm sunny summer, but it was while working. Not hitting the river or lake that many of our friends were able to enjoy.
We escaped the winter for the sunny beach of the Sandals Royal Bahamian. We spent our days working out, walking the beach, playing some tennis and volleyball, and catching some rays. The best part? No cell reception, no expectations, no cooking, yet awesome food whenever we were hungry or thought we were hungry, and we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. The only real contact with home was checking in with Gregg and Brian to make sure all was good on the farm and FaceTiming Lexi. I cannot tell a lie, it took a few days for us to completely hit the reset button. It is habit to grab the phone, check the email, send a quick text “just to make sure they remembered __________.” However, after a few days in, were were present in Bahamian life. Swim suits, sun, and enjoying our time together were our priorities.
For me, the true benefit of a vacation is the after affect. Kind of like the after burn when you work out. Its the ability to handle life’s challenges without killing someone! It helps to clear your head and regroup your thoughts. There is something about watching and listening to the waves coming to the shore that helps hit that reset button. Its an amazing way to spend your morning or while catching an afternoon nap on the beach. This last week, as I lay there and watched the waves, I began to think. The ocean waves are much like life’s ups and downs. Sometimes, there are strong waves or challenges that can flat knock you down. Those waves can be underestimated and cause you to take a big gulp of salt water that probably won’t taste the best. But you get up and face the next wave. Some waves are small and calm… peaceful. Regardless of the size of the wave, have you ever looked at the sand after the water regresses away? It is smooth and perfect. A reminder that everything in life is all in God’s plan and meant to shape and form you into the person you are intended to become.
Just like my simple childhood taught me to appreciate God’s blessings both large and small, I am blessed to live a life that allows me to take a break and appreciate the world. My world has grown larger than simply driving to St. Louis to Six Flags, but those annual Six Flags trips helped shape me into me. I am blessed to have had those few days together with Brock. Not only was it rejuvenating for our minds, but also for our relationship. We were able to just enjoy being together without the stresses of daily life weighing us down.
We were welcomed home to 20 degree weather, snow, and lost a baby calf. The ability to hit the reset button allowed us to take life’s challenges as it come and accept that we will never save every calf. We are prepared for a busy spring with a new sense of purpose and energy. For those who still think vacations are for lazy people or people that don’t work as hard, I promise once you take your own break and truly ‘feel’ the benefits, I promise your perspective may change. The reset button works on all our electronic devices, why wouldn’t it work on us too?