How Vacations Build Sticky Faith

Kara Powell | Aug 11, 2014

Photo by .fulvio.

In celebration of the release of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Fuller Youth Institute is hosting a “Blog Tour” to share some of the book’s research highlights and practical ideas. This story about my family and research that emerged from our interviews with 50 amazing parents is from chapter nine: “Vacation! Downtime Ways to Build Sticky Faith.”

I’ve lived with two different men for sixteen years each.

One is my husband. We have been married for sixteen years and are still going strong.

The other is my brother.

Matt is eighteen months younger than me, and we have always been close. We grew up sharing not only the same last name and parents but also the same sense of humor and commitment to our faith.

The week before Matt’s wedding, I handwrote a four-page letter listing highlights of our relationship.

Like when we played hours of Go Fish at a picnic table and I kept winning. My secret? His mirrored sunglasses allowed me to see his cards.

Or the “rap” (quotation marks definitely warranted), which we adapted from a TV show, that repeated over and over again, “We have some fun but we get the job done.” Even though we made up the song while we were in elementary school, almost every time we are together, we hum a few bars and chuckle.

Or sharing the back seat of the car, sometimes bickering with each other but more often playing games and serving as map readers (generally me) and sign readers (generally Matt) to help our mom as she was driving.

All three of these memories happened on family vacations. In fact, about 50 percent of the memories I included in Matt’s prewedding letter were from trips together.

Matt and I went to the same schools, were on the same swim team, were part of the same church, and had adjoining bedrooms fifty weeks per year. But half of my fondest memories are from the two weeks each year when we were on a family vacation.

Placing Priority on Time Away Together

By far, the most common theme in Sticky Faith parents’ descriptions of their vacations is that they simply did them. They made them a priority. Despite all that parents were juggling, they didn’t drop that ball.

In the midst of this nearly universal priority placed on family travel, there was great variety in what these trips were like. Some families drove to the next state; others flew to the next continent.

Some loved camping and sleeping under the stars; others loved resorts and sleeping under a down comforter.

Some enjoyed returning to the same location annually; others determined to head to a new destination every year.

Some wanted as much adventure and excitement as possible; others preferred decompressing by the pool, doing as little as possible.

Regardless of the size of the vacation budget, these Sticky Faith families invested days each year to be together, away from the normal hassles and pressures felt by adults and kids alike. As one dad described, “Whether we stay close or go far, our trips together build trust. This might sound strange, but it is almost like we buy back family intimacy on every vacation. The bonding that happens is worth every penny.”

How do vacations contribute to your family relationships and faith?

Spread the Word.

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Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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