Packing for Summer Adventures

The peace of God carries us into and through all adventures – big or small, planned or unexpected.

By Amy Sparkman

Categories: Family

Be it a day or overnight camp, local excursions or long-distance journeys with friends or grandparents, a bike ride to the ice cream shop or a swim in the neighbor's pool, a campout in the backyard or a fishing expedition with Mom or Dad – whatever the activity, our children will head off on innumerable adventures as the weather and the daily schedule settle into summer-mode.

There's nothing more exhilarating and enticing than the prospect of an adventure! As parents, we want to be sure of our children's wellbeing while they're off and doing. And, we want our children to feel the same assurance and confidence wherever they are and whatever they're doing. Packing our children off for any adventure means double-checking that every item on our packing list is clearly labeled and in good working order.

Not to worry – the primary items on the list are easy to find and not hard to pack! Simply put, they are the everyday tools we use to remind ourselves that we live in the kingdom of heaven – in the presence of God. As we understand what it means to "live and move and have our being" in God, we gain and retain a deep-settled peace. And that peace carries us into and through all adventures – big or small, planned or unexpected.

Below are several of the tools on our family's priority packing list for any adventure. All of them are familiar Bible verses, ones we've read a zillion times. That's exactly what makes them the best tools: they're time-honored and timeless – they work in any circumstance.

Tool #1: Psalm 139:7-8
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me.

Think of it: our Father-Mother God is always with us. We can't get into any trouble – physical or mental – that's too difficult for God to guide us, protect us, reassure us, bail us out and bring us home. As I sent my boys off to camp each summer, these words assured me that all would be well with each of them, no matter what adventures they encountered. These same words were emblazoned in their own consciousness because we referred to them so often at home. Often, we sing them as grace before dinner. Many times, they stop one or the other of us in the midst of a rant of doubt, dismay or discouragement. They are arresting words – first halting and then utterly dismissing fear of every sort. What better protection and guidance is there than God, who is ever-present and omnipotent?

Tool #2: Psalms 19:14
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

How's that for a gentle yet pointed admonition to watch what we say and think, think and say? What's more, this verse infers that if we're watching, we'll have exactly the right words and actions in the instant we need them. "Be good, be kind, be respectful, behave, say please and thank you, share… The list of do's and don'ts is long. To our kids, it's positively endless. Yet, this verse is a promise that if we are listening to the "still, small voice" within our consciousness, we will always be directed to say and do the right thing at the right time. Speaking of that "still, small voice…"

Tool #3: I Kings 19:11-12
"And after the wind,…the earthquake,…and the fire, a still, small voice."

Why is the voice "still" and "small," instead of loud and hammering so that we're sure not to miss it? Because if it were obnoxious, it would simply blend in with all the rest of the noise in the world – we would not be able to hear it. Not in the whirlwind, or the earthquake or the fire, but in the quietude of our deepest thoughts, we hear and feel the presence, the fullness, the Allness, of Love, Life, and Truth.

Tool #4: Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matt 5:8

The more pure our thoughts are – about ourselves, about others – the more harmonious our experience is. It's a simple mathematical equation. Purity is not surface niceness or trying to be noticed for doing something good. Purity is straight from the heart. How are we thinking about others? What are our motives? Purity is the keystone of knowing who we really are.

Tool #5: Psalms 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

How is it possible not to want, not to feel that something is lacking, missing, needed? God is supplying our needs and fulfilling our heart's pure desires – always and in all ways. Through humility and trust in God's tender, merciful love, we can feel and have no wants – not a single one. In that moment, we are utterly content, completely satisfied, and perfectly happy.

Tool #6: Isaiah 55:12
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Head off with a light heart. Keep a light heart. Laugh a lot. Notice the little things as well as the big stuff. See the beauty, the majesty, the spontaneity, the grace and the wonder in the world right in front of you and around you. Just BE. .

Tool #7: Isaiah 30:15
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

This is a promise from God to man. It brings to mind another favorite tool: "be still, and know that I am God." We can trust God to lovingly, knowingly, quietly and confidently govern our lives. We can also trust that our inner stillness and confidence in God's care is the strongest foundation we can possibly have on which to build our lives – full of adventures.

Tool #8: Exodus 20:12
Honor thy father and thy mother.

Write home! Call or text!! Stay in touch!!!

Make it a family activity to create a packing list for your summer adventures – in fact, for adventures throughout the year. Invite each family member to offer his or her favorite tool, and then to explain why it's meaningful and why it's useful for anyone. In short order, you'll have packed the most important item for your children's summer – guaranteed assurance that God is with them – that, in fact, they can't take even a single breath without Him. Summer officially arrives this month, so let's get packing!