Posted tagged ‘vacation’

The ‘Rest’ of the Story

June 29, 2016

By Dr. Steven J. Callis 

            It is mesmerizing, melodic in a way; almost hypnotic.  Continuously repetitious, invoking all five senses of the body, the ocean beach is a great way to relax.  If it has been a while since you were there, you may need to have your memory refreshed.

            The sight of the blue water capping to white as it rushes toward the shore partners with the crashing sound of the waves, one after another.  The feel of the ocean breeze is just enough to cool the body while the sun bears down on the sand, the sea, and the sun-screen-lathered beachcombers.  The subtle aroma of the salty air freshens the nasal passages and slightly informs the taste buds. 

            Being embraced by such an experience while lying on the sand, shaded beneath a large umbrella – well, no one is a match for the “sandman!”  Even the occasional flybys advertising Eagles Beach Store, and the faint screams of children running in and out of the ocean waves do not disturb the “music” of the beach.

            It is interesting to watch the various ways people choose to enjoy the beach.  For many of them, this is their one big week of the year away from time pressures and responsibilities back home.  Some are content to simply lie around and soak up the sun, while others romp and run and walk and play as though they are energized by that drumming pink bunny.

            Obvious beyond all of that is family.  The place we call “our” beach tends to attract families with young children, and often the grandparents are included in the fun.  To me, a real vacation is somewhat like a Sabbath.  It is not intended to be the norm of life, excessively taking us away from our commitments and responsibilities.   However, it is a prized opportunity that allows the body and mind to refresh, to rekindle, and then to re-enter life back home with a renewed sense of passion and purpose.

            It lifts my spirit to see families enjoying their time together, getting along and making the most of their week.  It seems that every year there is at least one large group of related families who have coordinated their schedules to be together.  Their planning and hard work to make it happen is well worth it as they enjoy their beach reunion.

            So here I am, back in the saddle, as some might say it.  Nothing has changed.  It is the same office, with the same schedule, the same challenges, and the same responsibilities.  Yet, there is a slight bounce in my step.  It felt good to get away, and it feels good to be home.  For you see, we are created with purpose; we are caretakers of our world and its inhabitants.  Our Sabbath rest serves to restore our being in order that we might effectively and efficiently serve our purpose.

            Whether we are talking about a one day rest to begin the week or a one week rest sometime in the year, our mind and body need that break.  When King Solomon declared that there is a time and purpose for everything under heaven, he understood that there is a time to rest, and a time to work.  The better we understand and embrace each, the greater will be our contentment as we fulfill our purpose.

A First Time for EVERYTHING?

July 1, 2014

Steven J. Callis

It was her first time. Emotions ranged from squeals of delight to shrieks of fear. The supervisors were filled with anticipation and excitement. I expect that several years from now her memory of it will be vague and intermingled with similar events. It was, however, fun to experience it with her.

Yes, it was our granddaughter’s first time to visit the beach. Not yet two years of age, the initial sight of the vast ocean and a seemingly endless sandbox did not leave her awestruck, but she realized this was something new. At that age, much of what she encounters is “new” to her, and a person cannot live in a constant state of amazement!

She enjoyed the feel of the sand, putting small scoops of it in the bucket. At low tide she found her own little pond on the beach where she could splash and play. Her mom took her for early morning strolls on the beach. Shells from the ocean were momentarily fascinating.

Then there were the waves. The sight and sound of the rushing water can seem ferocious to a small young girl. Even in daddy’s arms the fear did not quickly subside, but she did manage to sit with mommy close enough to allow the water to ease its way onto the toes. Overall, it was a great “first time” at the beach; she did well.

Do you realize that everything you have ever done or experienced in this life began with your first time? First step, first word, first solid food, first kiss, first clap of thunder, first paycheck, first car ride, first haircut – – even your first breath. Things that you do every day, almost instinctively, you once did for the very first time.

Can you imagine your life without a particular thing you truly enjoy because you were afraid to try it the first time? Almost every day our granddaughter experiences something new. Often it is accompanied by a level of skepticism or fear, but babies are risk takers. The level of trust eventually outweighs the hesitation, and the new thing all too soon becomes routine.

There is a two-fold lesson hidden there: step up to embrace new opportunities, and remember to enjoy those things that have become second nature to you. Wake up and smell the coffee; stop and smell the roses. However you choose to say it, life is too precious and exciting to let it pass as boredom or to take its blessings for granted.

It’s a Small World

August 1, 2013

It’s a Small, Small World

By Steven J. Callis


My family and I just wrapped up a one week vacation at the beach.  It is always good to get away, and equally good to be back home.  The forecast called for isolated thunder storms every day, but we were blessed with mostly good weather.

There was one afternoon when thunder and lightning sent most of the beachgoers running for cover with their chairs and towels and umbrellas and coolers – by the time I had showered, the sun was out, and the skies had returned to their beautiful blue with white fluffy clouds, and some of the more determined beach enthusiasts were lured back to their favorite spot by the ocean, only to be caught in a second downpour.  I heard one of the locals exclaim that weather forecasters in his town have a very difficult job!

On another day I had engaged a family of three in conversation when the wife mentioned that she liked my shirt.  It was a gray shirt with “Walk for Life” printed on it, along with reference to a biblical truth, “He knows my name,” and a cross.  I explained that Walk for Life is an annual fundraiser for the Pregnancy Resource Center and Clinic in Douglasville, and went on to explain the services and ministry of PRC which I wholehearted support, along with my church.

I noticed their facial expressions grow from normal to a slight grin that seemed to increase as I informed them about PRC, indicating their pleasure and approval.  She finally responded that their church supports The Gabriel Project near their home in Charleston, West Virginia.  The description of that ministry included the very same characteristics as our own PRC!

We marveled together at how ironic it was to cross paths 7 hours away from home and have something like that in common.  That simple link to another family, discovered because of a t-shirt, gave us a connection that lasted through the week.  And on a grander scale, I have come to realize, as have you, that simple common bonds can be found nearly anywhere, serving to break down walls of isolation to offer a sense of universal kinship.

The only time I have lived outside the southeast was during my years as a seminary student in the Midwest.  Being newlyweds, far from our friends and relatives, an older couple in the church we attended invited my wife and me to their home for Christmas dinner.  Not only did we enjoy a great meal and a fun afternoon together, but we discovered in the course of conversation that we were distantly related!

These are only two of many similar examples I could list where threads of commonality run wide and deep to connect us with other people.  In nearly every instance, the discovery of commonality was made because someone took the risk to step outside their own little world and reach out to another person, which led to the idea that, in some ways, it is a small world in which we live.

For the sake of our community and our world, let us choose to build on our commonalities towards connection and unity.  It usually does not take much; a smile, a handshake, a friendly greeting while waiting in line at the checkout register – are you curious to know what you have in common with the person seated across from you in the waiting room of the doctor’s office?  Differences are inevitable among members of the human race, but discovering and building on our commonalities increases the strength of our unity.

By the way, among the last of our shopping stops was a place called Crabby Jack’s General Store.  The forty-something man behind the counter asked where we were from, which quickly led to the fact that he is a native of Douglasville, graduate of Alexander High School, and resided here all of his life until he moved to the coast two years ago.  It really is a small world!

Christmas in July

July 5, 2012

Christmas in July

By Steven J. Callis

While some credit The Byrds in their 1965 recording, others will remember that Pete Seeger actually penned the lyrics in 1959 and recorded his version of Turn, Turn, Turn (to everything there is a season) in 1962.  Still others correctly understand that these lyrics were adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes, traditionally ascribed to King Solomon.

In one of our local stores last week I was taken by surprise as three aisles of Independence Day decorations and supplies were followed by several aisles and displays of Christmas decorations!  I checked my Daytimer to verify that it truly is July.  There were hundreds of ornaments, boxes of lights, candles, crafts, and other decorations to remind me that Christmas in only – – well, about 6 months away!  What happened to “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven?”

I thought in contrast to this store about another store owner who told his pastor, “On December 26 my job is to rid the store of Christmas in one day.”  The pastor replied, “My job is to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in the hearts of people all year long!”

Robert Mantzke composed a children’s musical titled, “365 Days of Christmas.”  As the songs take the audience through various holidays celebrated in America, the children find ways and reasons to demonstrate the love of Jesus no matter the occasion.  The children convince themselves that it is possible to have Christmas all year long.  Suddenly one of the children realizes a huge problem: will the adults go along with this idea?  The musical ends with a challenge to the adult audience who is asked to repeat a vow of promise that they will do their best to keep the spirit of Christmas alive 365 days each year.

Were the children expecting to wake up every day to wrapped gifts overflowing a decorated tree?  Were they expecting every day to be a holiday?  Of course not; they simply realized that the real gift of Christmas is demonstrating love and kindness to others as a reflection of Jesus’ love for us (John 3:16).

So as the fireworks were being beautifully displayed across the skies in honor and celebration of Independence Day for the United States of America, I wanted to break out in song: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.”