It’s not Where but Who

Dear Lindsey,

After Nate (12) looked at my photos on my iPad from last year’s trip to Bora Bora, he said, (conniving a trip for himself) “I think Dad’s next book should be: A week of Bora Bora“!

Being the children of a father with severe wanderlust, they have been blessed to have been to the Bahamas, Hawaii, Ireland, England, Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and now Norway and of course Italy…for a month, before subsequent return trips.  A few years ago, I asked them, “Where is your favorite place you have been?”

They unanimously said, “Yogi Bear Campground!” (Silver Lake, Michigan).


“What are you looking forward to when we get home?” I asked the kids last night as we get ready to transition back to North Carolina tomorrow.

“Delilah!” (the dog) Christine immediately responded.

“Clean clothes!” Casey joked, but I saw the truth in that! We left our washer at the Tuscan villa over a week ago, while we jaunted to Norway, then to Capri and back to Rome.

“Soccer!” was Nate’s standard answer.

“I’m not ready to go back,” 7-yr-old J.R. surprised me, since my heart is longing for home…and my washing machine.

“Really?” I continued to the positive, “What do you like about it here?”

“Our family is all together,” he said.

“Yeah, like we sit around and play Euchre or Settlers of Catan and we never have time to do that at home when everyone is so busy,” Christine added.

“We never even knew how to play Euchre at home,” Casey joined.

“We probably didn’t have time to learn it there,” Nate agreed.

As we skipped Yogi Bear, and headed to Italy this year, I reflected how different the two vacations would be, and yet they are so much the same! Here, we traipse around ancient cities, twisting our ankles on the ancient Roman stones that have a 2-inch dip between cobbles. As campers, we would twist our ankles walking through wooded trails among the forests that God created in the beginning of time. In Italy, we wake to singing Cuckoos; as campers, we would wake to singing robins. As temporary Italians, we celebrate the end of the day with a gelato; as campers, we would finish the day with roasted marshmallows. Here, we enjoy the sunsets across the Mediterranean; there, we would watch the same sun from the shores of Lake Michigan. In both, we would sweat in 95-degree heat and dirty laundry.

And I bet if I had asked the children what they enjoyed about the vacation at the campground, they would have replied, “The time we had together as a family.” OK, they may not have said it that way. They would say: “Swimming with Dad in the lake” or “Sleeping cozily in one camper!” or “Playing cards by the lantern light!” Just as in Italy, it would have been: “Eating together outside!”, “Singing spontaneously in the car!” or “Having a Euchre tournament!”  I think the results are the same. We enjoy the family time.

My heart pleads with Father Time, “Slow down!” as I see the empty nest around the corner, and I want more time with my family.  I see families torn apart by illness, divorce and “early” death, and I think the call for family time is more urgent and important than ever.

Last week, in Norway, Chris spoke from stage about his book, A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation. As he encouraged people to take time “off,” he listed reasons that people give for not going on family vacation. There were the normals: time, money, etc., but one really got my attention: the fear of intimacy. The person next to me leaned over and said, “Yeah, that is tearing apart marriages.”

Chris and Christine sharing journals

It’s sad, but people ARE afraid to be alone with their spouse…and/or family. I’d have to look in his eyes again? We’d have to have a conversation about something other than work, the house, or finances? How would we be as a family without tons of other families to distract our children from each other?

I had my own fears that my kids’ fighting would tear apart our vacation.  And it tried. Family vacations always expose family relations.  About 7 days into this trip, we cracked down on selfishness. Anyone who said, “I call that seat!” (or bed, or last cookie, or whatever thing which always led to bickering) had a consequence of an earlier bed time. I was mad at my own selfishness, because I too had had a funny thought: “The best part of being an adult is that I always get to ride shotgun!” (hee!) Selfishness runs deep, and I tried to suppress my own.  With the sin curbed, siblings trusted siblings and peace (almost) came to our villa.

As this vacation comes to a close, the very thing they are going to miss isn’t the history lessons from Dad (which were phenomenal!) or the amazing Italian cuisine (which I LOVE!).  If we had gone to the campground, it wouldn’t have been the fishing, hiking, or swimming they talked about. Rather, when we are back into our busy lives, what they will miss most is what many families are missing altogether:  intimacy.

I thank God for family vacation. May He bless you with family intimacy at home and away. As my husband says, I hope you can “get away, so you can get a way” to have more family intimacy. I guess it’s not where but who that matters most.

with love from Italy,


25 thoughts on “It’s not Where but Who

  1. Thank you for sharing. It is always refreshing to read your posts, they give great perspective and always remind me it is the “kid of it”. God Bless and safe travels.

  2. Terri, I believe you hit the nail on the head! It has become very sad when two people could be sitting in the same room and not talk to each other, but rather they text each other. This new trend has heightened this fear of intimacy. It is truly a lost “art” if you will. As my mother-in-law’s passing a couple days ago has brought this regret front and center, we know all to well the pain of forsaking taking time out to continually build our relationships. I say we all should become more deliberate and intentional about overcoming these fears, so that we can live a life of “no regrets”! Thank you for taking the time to humbly share your life lessons so that others may learn. Take Care & God Bless!

    • Jeanette, I am so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. Your family will be in my prayers.

      You are right about texting – and the unknown future that it creates for relationships. I love it for shooting “some love” to far away friends when maybe I don’t have time for a whole call, but I don’t like how it takes me away from people in the room with me. I know I am guilty when my kids ask me to put my phone away–and I’m glad they ask! Thank you for sharing that point.

      • Thank you Terri, that means a lot! Have a safe trip back home. Love ya!

      • Thank you for sharing this, too, Terri! Technology definitely contributes to the “business” that keeps families from connecting! I do not want my children to remember me as the Mom constantly looking at my phone, computer, etc. I especially detest technology when I reflect on the day and think, “I spent more time looking at the computer screen than I did my children’s/husband’s eyes!” At the same time, I know my integrity is on the line when I do or don’t get back to people. Such a fine line and hard to find the right balance! Kristine awhile back mentioned on a CD having a certain time slot allocated for communication. I like this — when I stick to it! :o)

  3. What a powerful message! I remember a time when I asked my eldest daughter, who was 12 at that time (she’s 20 now) what was one experience she cherished most, and she answered, “The time when we were sitting on the basement floor building a farm scene with miniature people, animals, barns, fences and playing together”. I was really touched by her comment. How little it takes to create lasting memories for our children, and time spent with them is a big factor. Thank you Terri for underlining the importance of taking time to spend with the family which is what many children are lacking of today. It doesn’t matter where but with who, I love that :)! Have a great day!

    • Maribel, thank you so much for sharing that! It really encouraged ME!! I remember the time my mother let us have marshmallows and raisins for a “picnic” in the driveway. It was my FAVORITE day, but she says she doesn’t remember it. Thank you for bringing back a wonderful memory! God bless! Terri

  4. Terri, thanks. Family time is precious and not really expensive. Teaching and loving our kids should be a priority but sadly reality gets in the way.

  5. Wow… I’m at a loss for words. Thank you for the dream that you have watered in my heart.

    Thank you. Terri

    God bless.

  6. As always, when reading your words, (or hearing you speak) or it’s a challenge to focus on the joy and not the ache of the feelings you excavate from deep in my heart. You should have your own brand of ‘Terri Tissues’! 😉 Pain coming from those times being for the most part in the past, joy coming from the knowledge that the connections made then are anything but gone, just stronger. Though the ‘nest’ is not quite empty, everyone running here and there to the summer jobs, friends, etc, makes it feel almost like I am just the innkeeper, in charge of stocked fridge and clean towels. It’s great to see a family know right while in the midst of it how valuable the experiences together (where ever it may be) are. The bright side is that because of those bonds, the circle will just be bigger and one day before we know it we’ll be on those vacations with son and daughter in laws, grand…. no, I just can’t quite say it yet, but you get the point.
    thanks for sharing and safe travels home!
    Love, Leslie

  7. Terri, Chris made a comment on one of his CD’s about how a “Friendship” section, is not usually found in the book store. You could make a similar comment toward this post. We have lots of books on WHERE to go on vacation. But none on WHY to go on vacation…although…lol I don’t think need to be convinced.

    Great artical you “Writing Brady’s”.

  8. Terri,
    Thank you for a wonderful post! I have thought of you many times over the past week as I have become a new mom to 4 foster children (ages 11-16). I see their need for family time which has been so neglected and I ponder “what would Terri (or Laurie or Jackie or Vi) do? I have been blessed by amazing example of mothers that are influencing my own mothering now. We have been starting family game or movie nights, time to just be together in this busy world. Thank you for sharing, yet again, a timeless principle with us!
    Mary Anne

  9. Terri, you are truly an instrument in our Redeemer’s hands. You have a gift of story telling and I always enjoy either reading what you write, or better yet, in person! Miss you and love you lots.

  10. Terri, I love your post, reminds me of the trips I have taken with my family growing up and the trips I take with my husband and girls now. The busyness of today distracts us from the best parts quality time with our family. That is what I loved most about the power outage in March in northern Michigan, rustic camping indoors, and best of all time with my family. Making a vacation a true vacation is not being obligated by timed activities, but making everything optional and what the feel of the moment is. Less stressful as well. Thank you for defining this as intimacy. Because it that is the most important part to any successful relationship.

  11. Wow Terri Brady, you did it again! Another fantastic article. It’s funny how we as parents plan vacations with so much too do. We recently took our family and Raymond’s mom to Disney and boy did everyone have an awesome and jam packed time. A year and a half ago we spent sometime at the VanBuskirk camp ground doing much of what you described in the article and my children said that they time we spent in that little cabin(approx 12*12) was the best. It was the use of the time not the amount of time that was so precious. There war no cell phones, no TV but lots and lots of cards, board games, singing etc; priceless and cheap compared to Disney.

    Man does it sadden me to read about the lack of intimacy in our families and the comments made above, which is why we have become intentional about NO TECHNOLOGY days in our home i.e…..cell phones, computers, iPod etc. I truly believe if more of us did these sort of things there would be an immediate “connection” in our families.

    Thanks for keeping the main thing….the main thing!


  12. Terri, every time I read your blogs my subconscious starts to imagine what it will be like to have my own family someday. Because of divorce and other circumstances beyond my control I don’t have vivid memories of these types of moments from my childhood. By reading your stories it brings a huge smile to my face because I know what’s possible in my future. You are such a bright light for so many people and I am blessed to have examples to learn from like you and Chris and all the PC. P.S. I bet you would have a best selling parenting and marriage book some day 😉

  13. Wow Terri, that really sums it up! I am so grateful for the family intimacy that we now get because of the LIFE opportunity. Over the next 5 months we will be able to spend 26 days spread over 6 different trips including our free trip to Maui! Thanks for creating such an incredible opportunity and setting a fabulous example!!

  14. You are so right, Ms. Terri. I like your blog, and Im glad that you share truth with people. It takes courage to share truth, because sometimes it hurts! I’m also homeschooled.

    Love a 5 percenter 14-yr.old,

  15. Thank you Terri for a great reminder. Fortunately I was able to come home to my girls a year ago, and we homeschool now. But I have realized that over the last few months, things just haven’t felt like “home”. And it is because we are all “here” physically, but we are always doing something separate from everyone else. I am going to set it my goal now to get back that “family time” together. Thanks !

  16. Hello Terri,
    This post reminded me of what I’m missing right now. My youngest brother moved across the country only a few days ago so he could play on a football team there. My Mom and Dad drove him there, and are there right now. When they were leaving, we all stood by the door and cried. We have had so much fantastic family time and are so close. Even with them gone we’ve enjoyed Facetime conversations. It hurts to have our family spread apart like this, but it indicates how much we enjoy being together.

  17. Wow, Terri,
    How did I miss this when you first posted it? I sure need it now. We are living family time, or as my extended family called it, “forced family fun.” (It was tongue in cheek, poking fun at ourselves.)
    Our daughter and her family are currently (temporarily) living with us while they transition from one home to their next one. It started almost two weeks ago. Our quiet home of 3 adults (our son still lives at home) and 3 cats became 5 adults, 3 kids under 6 and 4 cats (and theirs does NOT get along with ours!). It has been a time of laughter, tears, frustration and being driven to our knees because we had nowhere else to go for any more help.
    It got even crazier in the night after Mother’s Day (small hours of Monday morning, of course!) when our daughter, due that Saturday, went into labor and gave birth to child #4!!! Leaving my poor husband as a solo act to take care of the children while their mother is in the hospital, their father fixes up the apartment, and our son & I are at work.
    Thank you for some additional perspective to appreciate the time with everyone, and enjoy this time in all our lives.

  18. Thank you Terri!! Great perspective and reminder as we prepare for our 9 day family time in Florida. It’s the intimacy that I look forward to mist and secretly I know my current do as well.
    A while ago I asked my children what was their favorite family vacation and unanimously they talked about out time at the Vanbuskirks camp Ground as O e of the favorite because we all slept in a 10*12 cabin with no running water etc…. Loved it and try to always keep in mind what created the special memory….

    Tina Abernathy

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