Heading to the beach? I won’t forget sunscreen. Staying in the mountains? I’ve got the bug spray. Taking a road trip? I have ideas and activities to entertain a family of five for hours. I know it sounds strange, but I think packing for the trip is half the fun of taking it.
I created my first pack list years ago. It was a one-page document in Microsoft Word with checkboxes for every item. As our family grew, so did my list. I added a page for each girl, including the essentials like diapers, wipes, bottles and strollers.
But through all my attempts to be totally prepared, sometimes we still found ourselves utterly unprepared.
I’ll never forget when we went to a family camp in Texas many years ago. We arrived on a Sunday night, excited for the week. On Monday morning I woke to the sound of Taylor, crying from across the cabin.
“Mommy, my tummy hurts.”
Before my feet hit the floor, Taylor threw up all over the bunk bed. But that was just the beginning.
On Wednesday, Madison got sick. Now I was in the middle of nowhere with a sick baby who refused to nurse – and I had no breast pump. Madison was miserable. I was miserable.
By Friday, Emily was sick. But just wait! It wasn’t over yet! About half-way through our 600-mile trek home, Curt got sick. It was literally the worst vacation ever.
I’m sure, like every other trip, I had packed meticulously and checked my list to be totally prepared. But here’s the thing. I wasn’t expecting the stomach flu. I never saw that coming.
Now that my girls are older, they can pack for themselves. Baby items have long been replaced by deodorant, razors and retainers.
But the lesson I learned from our “worst vacation ever” also applies to life today. You see, I’ve got a junior in high school. Next year she’ll be a senior. Before I know it, she’ll be heading off to college.
Sometimes I wonder if she’ll be ready. Will she be prepared for the challenges that come her way? Have I taught her things she can take with her? I only wish it were as simple as checking items off a list.
Is she ready to face tough situations with confidence and courage?
Is she responsible?
Is she able to trust God and defend her faith?
Is she self-disciplined?
Over the next two years I can plan and prepare. I can pack every bit of wisdom I’ve got into my daughter. But there’s bound to be situations we won't see coming. Even so, I won’t stop packing. After all, I really think packing is half the fun of taking the trip.