Summer Series

How To Vacation Well

Okay, I need to be honest with you. My dream family vacation isn't Disney World (or Land). I grew up an hour away from D-Land in SoCal and never drank the Kool-Aid. I have lived an hour away from D-World in Tampa these past 8 years and haven't gone one time. Not once! I know, I know... This is appalling and I need to immediately repent for my gross indiscretion towards my 3 kids by robbing them of experiencing the "happiest place on earth."


I can continue to not sweat (literally) braving the long lines, encountering creepy grown men in halloween costumes (still my daughter's greatest fear in life), or losing my entire life's savings on ONE DAY of sort-of fun. 

If Disney is how you and your family love to vacation, great (it just isn't our cup of tea)! But odds are, even if it is, you probably need some other options (because too much of a good thing makes it an awful thing, and I could see Disney easily falling into that category...I kid;).

After 10 years of vacationing trial and error, our family has learned a lot about what works and what doesn't so I thought I'd share a few thoughts to help you and your family as you continue to navigate how to vacation well. 

Allow me to keep it simple and straightforward through these 5 steps:

  1. Figure out the purpose and overall aim behind the vacation. No need to overcomplicate this but ask the question "Why?" Is this vacation for rest, adventure, casual sight-seeing, crazy fast-paced fun, visiting family, etc...? It's hard to accomplish all of those things in one fail swoop so narrow the focus and lower the expectations. 
  2. Understand that vacationing is an opportunity for normal life rhythms to be interrupted so that we can be reminded of God's glory. Breaking the cycle of normal rhythms and routines is always good (if even for a day or two). We can view vacationing as a way to Sabbath. The Sabbath Day wasn't necessarily about not working (although that was a bi-product). It was an opportunity to take a break from the norm in order to remember who is in charge of the universe and to behold God's glory and to be attentive to him.
  3. Figure out what your family enjoys doing the most together. So many of us fall into the trap of doing what everyone around us is doing. We think that if the masses love Disney or cruises or theme parks, that our families will likewise love those things. What is life-giving to YOUR family? Road trips, the beach, the mountains, theme parks, stay-cations, resorts, etc...? Figure this out and you've won 99% of the battle.
  4. Realize that vacationing well doesn't have to involve spending a ton of money. With current low gas prices, a road trip to a fun new destination (a few hours away from home) is a great option. Your family can find a great, cheap place to stay using sites like AirBNB. Typically there are a myriad of free things to do at any travel destination and you can use your family's normal monthly budget to pay for expenses on the trip (groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment etc.). Some of my family's greatest vacationing moments happened for example in the back yard of our Air BNB home over a game of Jenga, or in the car on a road trip, or on a porch swing in a cabin in the woods, or on a hike in the Rocky mountains, or over a game of corn hole on the beach. The best moments aren't necessarily the most expensive moments. They are the priceless moments that no money could ever buy.
  5. Realize that vacationing isn't necessarily about your comfort, conveniences, and desires. Our default is to glamorize vacations and place them in a tidy box with a nifty bow on top. We view them as self-serving opportunities. Honestly, vacations aren't about us. Heck, they aren't even for us. They are ABOUT God's glory and FOR our families and the more we understand this, the more we will begin to get the most out of them (and God is so gracious to give us moments of rest, solace, and convenience because He's good like that).

So much more could be said from the practical side of things, but in order for us to serve you and your particular needs, we need your feedback. Would you mind commenting below about things that you've learned over the years, as well as any questions you might have at this point. We would love to serve you by helping you navigate through your questions, thoughts, and concerns on how to redeem vacationing. Thanks!

Summer: An Opportunity To Love Your Neighbor

There is something very striking about the thought that loving our neighbor is interwoven all throughout the Bible. Moses mentions it in Leviticus 19. Jesus called it the second greatest commandment after loving God. The Apostle Paul even connects three of the ten commandments to neighbor love in Romans 13:9:

"For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” 


Here's a fact: God is almost just as much about us loving our neighbors as he is about us loving him.

This is massive!

In fact, at the very heart of the gospel is neighbor love. Jesus became humanity's neighbor by invading our world (uninvited - but after all, he did create it, so...), took on flesh, and then committed the most ultimate act of neighbor love on the cross. The way the world saw Jesus (their new neighbor) was the way we see the worst neighbor we've ever had (and we've all had some bad neighbors; okay, maybe we were the bad neighbors but I've digressed). We hated Jesus. His response? He loved us first before ever demanding we love him in return. Essentially, humanity was the worst neighbor ever. And Jesus, He was the ultimate neighbor!


So what are the implications of Jesus' neighbor-loving ways?

1. Jesus died for our inability to be good neighbors (holy, just, righteous, pure, perfect). That takes off all the pressure.

2. Jesus gave us a standard by which to live. Where our neighbor love tends to be extended towards those around us who are just like us, Jesus set a precedent for loving the unloveable, the marginalized, the outcasts - you know, all the people that make us feel super uncomfortable (which is everyone if you are an introvert like me:). Consider this quote by Tim Keller:

"We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need - regardless of race, politics, class, and religion - is your neighbor. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbor, and you must love your neighbor."

3. Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to not only teach us about neighbor love (John 14:26) but also to empower us to obey Jesus' teaching (Acts 1:8), or what I like to call dominating Jesus' teaching (by his grace of course!).


The point is pretty clear: This whole neighbor loving thing is a big deal!


The New City Catechism (which I highly recommend) focuses on neighbor love from a heart level while presenting and teaching those tricky final six of THE Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20). By the way, this is such a refreshing approach to something that cultural Christianity for decades has flannel-graphed (if you were born in the 70's or 80's) us into believing that God is about better morals and behavior modification. 

Those tricky six commandments (honor mom and dad, don't kill, don't sleep with someone else's spouse, don't steal, don't lie, and don't want something that isn't yours) have so much more to do with your neighbor than they do you. As God has loved us, we in turn WILL love him AND love others...more than ourselves. It really is that simple.


That said, let me get to the real point of this post... 

Summer provides yet another grand opportunity for us to love our neighbors well. With all of the activity that we have going on this summer, one of the greatest gifts we can give to our kids especially is to provide them with opportunities that remind them this life isn't about them, but rather God's glory and other's good.

If Jesus has cornered the market on our hearts, and we truly believe he is the hope of the world, then we will take our families on a constant neighbor-loving adventure with the goal that those around us, in our spheres of life and influence will see, know, and experience his great love for them, through our love towards them.


With the help of my friend Kristin Postlethwait, here is a list of ideas for you to love your neighbors well this summer:

  • Go on a prayer walk. Be out in the neighborhood and pray for your neighbors as you pass their houses. Pray for God to use your family to make Him famous in your neighborhood.
  • Play outside as a family and invite neighborhood kids to join you—keep bottled waters on hand to offer them or maybe even some popsicles.
  • Have a few neighbors over for dessert and games—invite them to bring some of their favorite games.
  • Host a neighborhood potluck—this is fairly easy because you don’t even have to clean your house! Just set up tables outside and ask everyone to bring a dish to share. You can provide paper products and drinks.
  • Host a driveway happy hour and tell people to "BYOB."
  • Take meals to neighbors who are sick or have had a new baby, etc.
  • Deliver cookies, muffins, or other baked goodies to new neighbors.
  • Water plants, watch pets, get mail, and mow the lawn when neighbors go on vacation.
  • Invite neighbors to do things you are interested in (organize a fishing derby, a 3-on-3 drive way basketball tournament, or a little girl's tea party).
  • Organize a book club for the neighborhood kids that are your kid's age.
  • Visit Shriner’s Hospital each month to do crafts with the kids at the outpatient center.
  • Help with local a food pantry.
  • Visit a nursing home.

Those are a few ideas! Would love to hear your ideas so please comment below.

Summer Bucket List: Yes Or No?

If your family is anything like my family then you’ve probably come to the realization by now that not everything in life goes as planned. In fact, typically things never seem to go as anticipated no matter how good your best laid plans are.

So how is your summer going so far? Is it meeting expectations? Are you crushing all of the goals you set? Are you and the kids firing on all cylinders? Do you feel like you’re dominating? If the answer to those questions is “yes!” then let me be the first to congratulate you. 

If the answer is no, then click here to be reminded about what a family that flourishes looks like. Also, click here if you are still trying to figure out how to even get off the starting blocks.


You see, it’s rather rudimentary, but summer comes down to one thing for the Christian family: God’s glory! 


With this as your aim, all of the pressure is off and everything else can be viewed not as an end, but as a means to THE end (ahem, God’s glory!). You can now hold anything you do this summer in an open hand.

Subsequently, this open-handed mindset really sets you up to find freedom for example in having a summer bucket list. Now, I realize that bucket lists get sort of a bad wrap. They tend to make people feel enslaved and are potentially yet another thing in people’s lives to make them feel inadequate. And for those of us that aren’t naturally creative, attempting to make this happen is akin to potty training (okay, maybe not that bad!). 

But what if this summer, with your newfound vision that summer isn’t about you or your kids (see the linked posts above), you were able to come up with a bucket list in which you felt total freedom and in which you felt was totally doable - with tons of items you could incorporate into your daily rhythms as a family that are cost-effective and loads of fun? Would you be into that sort of thing?

Years ago, our family decided that at the beginning of each summer, we would come up with a list of fun things we wanted to accomplish as a family. This would only work if everyone gave their input (a family affair through and through) and if the ideas were cheap and not too labor intensive. 

We would come up with a list of ideas, write the best ones down on colored note cards, and pin them on a board in our kitchen. The planning sessions are always fun. And over the years we’ve learned to lower the expectations on the results, feeling great if we only get to 5 of the fifty ideas we have because hey, there’s grace for that!  


Making a good bucket list doesn't have to be too complicated:

  1. Sit your family down and begin working through the things you love the most as a family.
  2. Begin to come up with a list of your favorite pastimes, activities, experiences, or dreams.
  3. Try to come up with ideas that involve serving others as well (family, neighbors, church family).
  4. If you struggle to come up with ideas, there are tons of resources out there, like the one we’re going to provide you. (There are even resources that show you how to display your bucket lists if you are looking to get a bit more creative. Check this out!).
  5. Remember to think super simple, super cheap, and super easy - surprisingly there are an infinite number of ideas!


As a quick reference, here are our summer bucket list items:

(caveat: This list will work well especially for children ages 4-11. We realize that the lists for children ages 0-2 or 12-17 will look completely different.).

  1. Go on a hike
  2. Go for a late night ice cream run
  3. Have a pirate dinner
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt
  5. Make a lemonade stand
  6. Go to the zoo
  7. Play tag in the back yard
  8. Have a water balloon fight
  9. Go canoeing
  10. Go to the beach
  11. Learn how to ride a bike
  12. Make s’mores
  13. Build a fort
  14. Make a tree swing
  15. Go to the library
  16. Go for frozen yogurt
  17. Have a neighborhood cookout
  18. Have dinner with close friends
  19. Tie-dye shirts
  20. Make banana splits
  21. Kids fun/fitness bootcamp
  22. Make chocolate covered frozen bananas
  23. Go to a matinee movie
  24. Have a sand castle building competition
  25. Paint a mural on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
  26. Go to a baseball game
  27. Blow bubbles
  28. Go to a late night movie
  29. Have a tea party with scones
  30. Go for a family bike ride
  31. Have a family work day
  32. Go for a neighborhood prayer walk
  33. Make a shaving or whipped cream slip-n-slide
  34. Do a family 5k
  35. Go to a local splash park
  36. Throw a neighborhood driveway 3-on-3 basketball tournament
  37. Go swimming (a lot)
  38. Build Legos (grab a handful and see what comes of it)
  39. Play pie smash
  40. Visit the local children’s hospital
  41. Ride go-karts
  42. Take a mini-road trip
  43. Have a water gun fight
  44. Throw a neighborhood pot luck
  45. Have a driveway happy hour with neighbors
  46. Watch fireworks
  47. Make ice cream (yeah, we love ice cream)
  48. Go bowling
  49. Watch a sunset at the beach
  50. Have a movie marathon

How Dads Can Redeem Summer

Growing up, summer was always my favorite time of the year, mostly because I didn’t have to go to school! But also, I knew that I was going to be spending more time with my dad. 

And now that I am a dad, I want to maximize these moments as much as I can with my children because these opportunities are fleeting and I really love any chance I get to spend a little extra time with my kids.


Here are a few thoughts for you dads who desire to care for your kids well this summer:

  • Have a (loose) plan but have a plan. This would involve moments you have carved out of your schedule each week to spend with the kids. Before the beginning of each week, think through what these moments are going to look like. Here are a few ideas:
  1. One morning a week, take your kids out for breakfast. Breakfast is cheap (i.e. donuts). Mom gets a break. And you get some quality time with the kiddos. Always a win-win!
  2. One afternoon a week, try to get off work a bit early and take your kids to the park, pool, or beach. If neither are accessible, break out the hose and sprinkler.
  3. Push bed time back a bit a couple nights out of the week and do something fun (game night, late night swim, dress-up, tea party, watching a movie, building Legos or playing with dolls).
  4. Make sure you are doing the bed time routine every night (if you are able). Mom has  potentially been chasing the kids all day long. She will need a break and this will give you a great opportunity to spiritually invest in the kiddos with Bible story and prayer time. 
  • Make sure whatever you do, you do it intentionally. Your plan doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be intentional. Otherwise you will not stick to it, or you will but not fully, and therefore not be engaged.
  • Prepare to make extra sacrifices. Since summer brings about a new routine for the family, you may need to pick up the slack a little bit more in areas that you didn’t have to during the school year. The less you make these moments about you, the more your wife will feel loved and cared for.
  • Look for opportunities to chop it up with your kids. My kids love to talk my ear off. Use these opportunities as teaching moments. I am convinced that I have become a better communicator because I’ve had to learn how to really explain things to my kids. If you can explain things to a 3 year old where they can understand what it is you’re explaining, you can explain anything to anyone.
  • Bring your kids to work with you every once in a while (if your job permits this – Right now, I’m thinking of my buddy who works in a machine shop). Even though your kids may not particularly enjoy this the way you want them to (because it’s not part of their rhythm), they will always remember it. Sometimes I will bring all three of my kids into the office and they read or draw. It’s a way to continue to teach them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and it gives them a perspective for what their dad does on a daily basis.

The added bonus of this again is that mom gets a break 😉

  • Find out what they really love doing and do a lot of that with them over the summer. On any given day, I can be found playing with baby dolls or stuffed animals, building Legos, engaging in Nerf gun wars, having a tea party, or having epic driveway basketball battles.
  • Take More Breaks From the Work Rut Than Normal (if possible). Listen, you need to work. Because you need to provide for your family. But your kids will only be kids for so long. You will always be working, well into their adult years. Sadly, work is not going anywhere haha. But when possible, go into work a little late (early on another day to make it up) and come home early (and, again, stay late another day).
  • Pray for the grace of Jesus to sustain you; to give you a love for your children (especially when they are unlovable), to grant you strength to be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, sensitive to their feelings, not harsh, present, life-giving, passionate, energized, and most of all, the greatest bridge in your children’s lives between them and Jesus. Pray for that. God will answer it.


Summer Rhythms: Doing The Daily Dance


Listen, for parents with children in school summertime is always a season of change. The normal yearly rhythm comes to a screeching halt and we are forced to embrace a new reality. Even if we’ve gone through it before, we always tend to feel caught off guard by it. 

Summertime can potentially be a good gift, but we are really good at turning good gifts into gods and whenever that happens, these good gifts end up becoming curses. What tends to happen is that we put so much extra pressure on ourselves to create a perfect summer experience, with perfect activities, and perfectly crafted and curated memories… in an imperfect and fallen world with imperfect children and you guessed it, imperfect parents!


Here’s the reminder that you need to hear again and again:

Summertime isn’t about you, it isn’t about your kids, and it certainly isn’t about having perfect days, perfect rhythms, nor perfect fun-filled activities.

Summer is about God and HIS glory.

But summer is also a good gift (given by God) from which we can benefit greatly; a break (for the most part) from the fast-paced American/Western rat race. It is a built-in 10-12 week sabbath for many families, meant to be received, enjoyed, and experienced. 

Yet we enslave ourselves to the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ pressure to seize the day, fill it full of fun activity, get as much done as we can, and make it as non boring as we can for our kids so that they are always happy and so that we don’t have to feel an ounce of guilt.

But you could fill every moment of your summer days and still not make your kids one hundred percent happy. Why? Because fun and busy-ness will not ultimately satisfy your children. They will find a way to be unhappy. 

So please don’t succumb to the pressure. Instead, walk into this summer free from the burden of creating a perfect summer for your kids. Embrace the margin for rest, and come up with a loose plan that you hold with an open-hand, that is subject to change, and that incorporates some important elements that will help you enjoy summer as God intends - as a gift! Or don’t come up with a loose plan and watch God still be good!


Just In Case You Feel Like Having A Plan

If you do happen to come up with a loose plan for your daily summer rhythms, the following five elements tend to set you up well as you do the daily dance with your kids:

[A caveat: I realize that this is potentially only helpful for a segment of our readership - those families with one or both spouses at home. For the rest of you, these five elements can still be incorporated, just on a much smaller and different scale. If you have questions, please contact us and we will be glad to help you think through how to make this work in your context.]

  1. Jesus Time
  2. Fun Time
  3. Learning Time
  4. Rest Time
  5. Exercise Time


  • Jesus Time:
    • Spend a few minutes a day with your kids in the Bible (or a storybook Bible).
    • Ask these two questions: 1. What does this say about God? 2. What does this have to do with me?
    • Take your kids through a catechism. This is a great option.
    • Pray with and over your kids.
    • Ask your kids each day how God showed them that He loved them.
    • For older kids, give them a reading plan to work through. This is a great resource.
    • Memorize Scripture with your kids. Let Kid Theology help you out on this one.


  • Fun Time:
    • Come up with a bucket list (a forthcoming resource is headed your way so please be patient).
    • Remember to give your kids the gift of boredom (encourage them to find ways to have fun).
    • Fun tends to be self-serving so teach your kids that they can have fun by serving their family (chores - Can I get an amen!?), neighbors, or church.
    • Fun family activities don’t usually have to involve spending a lot of money (i.e. Family fun Friday movie and homemade pizza night).


  • Learning Time:
    • Just because your kids aren’t in school doesn’t mean you need to shut the learning down.
    • Even if your kids don’t particularly love learning (and there are tons of these types), there are age appropriate, semi-fun (haha), inexpensive workbooks for all ages to help better prepare them for the next school year. And, they are relatively plug and play so you won’t have to feel like a tutor.
    • You can also take advantage of summer reading lists, provided by schools and local libraries, or just create your own.


  • Rest Time:
    • Summer provides a ton of margin for rest and hopefully you will feel the freedom to take advantage.
    • Even if your children are past the napping stage, have a quiet time in your house for an hour each day.
    • If your kids struggle with boundaries, remember that you are the parent, not them. Rest time can be a great teaching moment to help your kids understand the value of shutting it down.
    • You need rest (probably more than your kids) so please make this a priority.


  • Exercise Time:
    • One of the best ways to relieve some of the tension of all that pent up energy is to give your kids the gift of exercise.
    • A walk, a jog, a bike ride, a scooter ride, or an in-home boot camp are a few ideas.
    • This app is amazing, providing various workout routines to be done at home where you set the time and difficulty boundaries. It also gives you visual instructions on how to do each exercise. My kids love this!


One More Reminder (Because We All Know We Need It)

Remember, you don’t have to have a plan at all in order for this summer to be the best summer. If your goal is Jesus and His glory, your summer will be a success no matter how you spend your days. This post was to just guide you in case you felt like putting some meat on the daily bones. 

We are praying for you, that you will aim for God’s glory, be freed from the pressure to make this summer perfect, and have the grace to receive this summer as a gift.

Have fun!

Summer Goals: Family Flourishing

There isn’t much else that strikes more fear into the hearts of moms and dads everywhere than summer being right around the corner and them not having a plan. Okay, not really, but all jokes aside summer IS in fact here and we at Kid Theology believe summer can be a wonderful gift to you and your children where tons of fun is had by all, proper rhythms of rest are implemented, and intentional discipleship is happening daily. 

This is all possible with a little thoughtfulness, a lot of love, a simple plan of action (that we are going to take care of for you), and daily reminders that summer isn’t about you but rather God’s glory and the good of your family. 


You need to have vision AND you need to give vision.

There is no doubt that parents need to have a vision for summer time just like we do for every other time of year. Vision is important and as the parent, you are the main vision setter for your family. In fact, vision is so important that the Bible says without it, “the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). 

This statement is to be viewed through a metaphorical lens and when we evaluate it as such, we can say that when vision does happen, human flourishing happens; people come alive! When vision doesn’t happen, people struggle to find purpose and value and we tend to become lesser versions of who God intends for us to be.

Do we want our families to flourish this summer or do we want to squander yet another marvelous opportunity to redeem something that we otherwise receive as culture sometimes deems we receive it (as a lazy, boring, unexciting, run-of-the-mill summer)?

But what is our vision supposed to be? Better yet, WHO is our vision supposed to be? Well, it’s really quite simple. Step number one to flourishing this summer as a family is to make Jesus your vision. He is the bullseye. If you don’t accomplish one of the many fun things you want to accomplish this summer, but make Jesus your aim, you have been successful. But I happen to also know that if Jesus is your vision, your family will experience more joy than you could ever imagine, no matter what you end up doing this summer.

If Jesus is your vision, the implementation of that vision likewise becomes a little less complicated. If everything is viewed through this lens, then your family isn’t working towards a selfish aim but one that is God-glorifying.

When this happens, all the pressure to have a perfect summer is taken off. 

What if you walked into this summer with a simple plan of action that would do the work of taking the pressure off, freeing you up to truly do the things you desire to do with your kids, and enjoying so many moments of fun while at the same time taking advantage of the natural rhythms of rest? 

This is all possible and it won’t take much effort from you. In fact, with a little extra effort and intentionality on the top end, your summer could end up feeling more effortless than ever with some easy plug and play action steps. Remember, a plan is most helpful if it is held in an open hand. Many people are scared of plans because of the pressure they put themselves under to stick to them perfectly. So have a plan, but be flexible in understanding that your plan may need to change.


Since knowing where to begin is sometimes the hardest part, we have broken it down into 4 categories:

  1. Daily Rhythms (Incorporating Jesus time, Fun time, Rest time, Learning time, and Exercise time)
  2. Bucket List (A list of 25-50 fun things you can accomplish with your family over the summer)
  3. Serving The Church, Neighborhood, And Community (Ways to keep the focus off of you and your family)
  4. Redeeming Family Vacations (Taking advantage of those potentially difficult family vacations)


If you can get your mind wrapped around these four big categories heading into the summer, the potential for a fruitful, fun, and God-glorifying summer is within your reach.

Be on the lookout over the next couple weeks as we throw some helpful posts your way, unpacking these four categories more, as well as possibly providing some free resources to help you get the most out of your summer.