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Put Faith into Your Family Vacation

By Connie Neal
Guest Writer -- Every vacation should be memorable; bringing in FUN Bible experiences related to your vacation locale and activities can make your next vacation and the associated Bible stories unforgettable.

If you like the idea, but don't think you can do this for your family by yourself, consider joining Connie Neal for a vacation where she will do the planning and teach you how to do it in the future.

Here's why and how to create your own Family, Faith, and Fun Vacation:

1. Kids - even teens - long for recreational time with their parents.

T. Suzanne Eller recently discovered that 99% of teens would choose a weekend with their parents over a $200 gift certificate at their favorite store (see her book Real Issues, Real Teens). Kids deeply desire their parent's attention and shared fun experiences. In my decade as a youth pastor, I found that it was much easier praying with kids if I'd spent the day playing with them.

2. We remember experiences far more than what we only see or hear.

So, make the most of family vacations by using any exciting activities to reinforce Bible lessons. We miss a huge opportunity if we keep vacation fun separate from Bible teaching. You could just read a devotional at day's end, but integrating Bible teaching with exciting activities makes the teaching unforgettable.

3. Connect your vacation with biblical faith:

a.) Identify a theme related to your vacation locale or activity.

b.) Make a connection between that theme and a Bible story. Engage your children's imagination with what it might have been like to have had experiences described in the Bible. Play related games, take photos of a dramatic moment in the Bible using your locale as a backdrop, read Bible stories tied into the kind of place you visit. Here are some examples:

Ocean/beach = Bible beach scenes. Imagine an army coming to enslave or kill you unless the entire ocean opens before you to let you escape. Read Exodus chapter 14. Explore tide pools and count all the different kinds of sea creature God created: Genesis 1:21. Surprise them with a picnic of 2 small fish and five barley rolls. Have your kids try to count up to 5,000 men, imagine trying to feed them all, and then read Matthew 14:15-21.

Nature/animal life/ zoo = Read Genesis 1:1-2:20. Imagine God asked you to make up names for all the animals and take turns making up new names for each animal you see - the funnier the better. Read reflections on nature in Psalm 19:1-6 and Psalm 8.

Battlefields = battles of the Bible. Read stories of great Bible battles in Joshua chapters 2-6 (Joshua at Jericho), 1 Samuel 17 (David vs. Goliath), Judges Chapters 2-8 (Gideon vs. Midianites).

Monuments = Bible monument moments. 1 Samuel 7:12 (Ebenezer stone commemorates victory over the enemy and God turning favor toward his people), Joshua chapter 4 (twelve stones commemorating the twelve tribes that crossed the Jordan River).

Vineyards = Bible stories and metaphors about vineyards. Genesis 9:20-28 (Noah's drunkenness and bad results), Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24: 19-22 (God's care for the poor by requiring vineyard owners to leave some grapes for them), 1 Kings 21 (King Ahab stealing Naboth's vineyard after Jezebel has him murdered and God's justice). Discovery of great grapes in the Promised Land Numbers 13:23-24.

Castles - even at Disneyland = Bible stories about God being the king and us as his children, therefore royalty. Read or memorize 1 Peter 2:9-10, Read Psalm 45, The book of Esther or Daniel where God's people were in the royal court, the coronation of King Solomon in 1 Kings 1, how God sees his people like the crown jewels, Zechariah 9:16-17.

Water skiing = Jesus and Peter walking on water, Matthew 14:22-32. If you have life vests, you might imagine what it was like for Peter to step out of the boat at Jesus' command as each of you try to walk on water by stepping out of a boat.

Parasailing, ballooning or other up-in-the-air activities = Bible stories of people going up in the air miraculously. Read about Jesus' ascension in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:1-11, 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Elijah taken up in 2 Kings 2; the mysterious disappearance of Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24, Hebrews 11:5-6.

4. Create games or a party experience to reinforce the learning themes (even within your hotel room or in the tent) if you have the time, imagination, and energy. For example: if you're on a battlefield or camping in a tent you could pretend you're among the soldiers in King Saul's army who are afraid to go out to fight the giant. You could make up the Top Ten excuses for not going out to fight. Compare scars and tell stories of your worst injuries, maybe spin yarns about how you got the scar in battle - maybe with the fierce puppy. Make a safe sling shot; practice using it against lions and bears (preferably stuffed) as David did to prepare for his victory over Goliath.

5. Use media and photography to reinforce memories & understanding. Find age-appropriate videos related to the activities. If you're at a battlefield you could show Veggie Tales Dave and the Giant Pickle or Josh and the Big Wall for younger kids. Have kids dress up to reenact a dramatic moment from the story. Take pictures at an apt location. The vacation photos will forever commemorate the related Bible story. (Learn to recreate the "dress-up" scenes mentioned here by seeing Christian Parenting Today's summer issue in the article "Picture This!")

Order your copy of Connie Neal's new book Walking Tall in Babylon

Send Connie an e-mail with your comments.

More from Connie Neal

For upcoming family, faith, and fun vacations see Beyond Boundaries Travel or go to .

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