Archives For Vacation

My family and I went to Disney World on Monday and Wednesday experiencing the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom.  I loved the times but I have to share some lessons for all of us as my experience gave me insight on the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good…

  • The shows were amazing from the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom to the parade at Magic Kingdom.  They were all well done.
  • If you have small children you NEED to go get your picture made with Mickey and Minnie or the Princesses.  The look on my children’s faces is something that will be etched in my mind for a while.
  • Pack your lunch.  We saved an average of $15 per person by simply packing a lunch and eating it at the car.  Yes it was a hastle to go back and forth but it was well worth it.
  • Fast pass.  Seems a little unfair for those people waiting in line but it makes sense for people who don’t like to wait in line.
  • This time of year.  It was fairly busy but was nothing compared to how busy it was in the summer.  The most we waitied for a ride was 35 minutes.  Nice.
  • Disney does an excellent job catering to the needs of young families.

The Bad…

  • Expensive.  It was a nice time for me and my family but the price for it was a bit unnecessary.  The dichotomy between the rich and the poor is becoming more prevalent in our economy and it was evident by the people who were there.  I saw many expensive SUV’s, BMWs, and then there was this Chevrolet Venture.  Seriously…the amount of materialism here may be unacceptable.
  • Attitudes.  It’s hard to keep your cool at theme parks.  I have seen it across the board and I am certainly guilty of it as well.  The amount of people, the lines, and hunger often make you upset.  I saw many people yelling at their kids and their kids yelling at their parents.
  • Rudeness.  If I had a dollar for every time someone cut me off in line I could probably have paid for the expensive trip.  Seriously.  People cut us off to ride the tram, the monorail and even some of the rides.  People would walk in the middle of the crowd and just stop right in front of us to look at their map.  Come on people.

The Ugly…

  • I hate to sound like a broken record (not sure teenagers understand this analogy) but modesty continues to be an issue and with warmer temperatures come shorter clothes.  Not sure this will ever be solved but there is hope among parents.
  • The amount of money spent across the board.  I was blessed to have family to help me out but it is getting to the point where nobody is going to be able to afford the trip.  Gas prices, Florida Turnpike Tolls, food and everything else make for a nasty price tag.

These were my reflections.  Not normative but simply my thoughts.  I loved the experience overall and would recommend to parents who could afford it.  Maybe Disney could start a program for families who can’t afford it?  Not sure how they would regulate it but maybe they could provide some help.


And on the seventh day, God rested.  The Hebrew word for rest is where we get our English word sabbath.  It is “shabbat” and means to cease or to rest.  That’s what this week was all about for me.  To cease.  I did not text for the most part and I only made a few phone calls.  I avoided e-mails and facebook and I tried to be there for my family.  They deserve that.  Some people take their phone with them and answer every phone call from every person.  I have the right to not answer the phone especially on my vacation.  It was…fulfilling to say the least.

Today was a long day in that we drive back and it took 10 hours since my daughters have bladders the size of a pumpkin seed.  I felt great though as I looked on my GPS and it had a selection that says “GO HOME” which is pinpointed to my home address.  Vacation is nice but coming home is an indescribable, undefinable feeling.  I looked at my house and a smile came across my face.  It is not a big home and there is nothing special about it but it is where my family lives.  As I am writing this my three oldest are in bed with me and I can’t help but to think I am the most blessed man alive. 

I look forward to preaching and teaching tomorrow.  Most people get Sunday to recover…ministers do not and quite frankly I could care less because I am ready to hit the ground running.  The Spirit is at work and I am not sure what is happening but I feel more empowered than ever before. 

Get ready…

Last day at the beach and I am exhausted.  You can always tell when you get towards the end of a vacation because everybody developes an attitude.  Heather and I got to enjoy some alone time away from the kids and it was wonderful.  We rode a scooter together which the last time we did that we were on our honeymoon in the Bahamas.  Good times. 

I don’t have anything to add other than I am really exhausted.  I am preaching twice on Sunday and we also have a teen devotional.  Nothing like hitting the ground running.

Today was a good day and a lot happene in a little time.  I am probably the tannest I have been in a long time.  It reminds me of the summers when I was a kid and spent all summer with my shirt off and I looked almost like I was hispanic. 

Something happened tonight that was a mixture of stupidity and nostalgia.  We rented a go cart that seats 8 people and we went shopping at the mall.  On our way back we had our 3 oldest and our niece and nephew in the vehcile.  I was driving and we passed a car and I felt something hit my chest. They threw taco bell packets at me and the kids. 

I lost it.  I turned around and chased them down and met them at a light.  I got out of the go cart and went in front of their car…a stupid move.  I said, “Did you throw this at me?”  It was a couple of teenagers in their parents’ car and I can sense they were freaked out.  I got in front of the driver’s window and asked him again and he said, “You got the wrong car man.”  He was lying but he was scared out of his mind so I looked him in the eye then looked at my kids and thought that it was not worth it.  So I walked away with no altercation but I think  my point got across to him. 

Anger got the best of me and I should not have done that but I thought my kids needed some defense.  It is moments like these where we have to maintain our composure and I at least was able to stop when I needed.  What a vacation.

Today was a fun day in that we took the kids ti see a show which had dolphins, birds, reptiles and the like.  Then we spent time on the beach after eating at The Back Porch.  Yummmmm!!!!!!!  For the first time ever Kaleb arose from his nap and said he did not want to go to the beach.. “Dad,” he said, “it’s too hot.”  Madelyn is about the tannest little child I have ever seen.  She likes the beach ok but it is Amelia who seems to have the best time.  Between riding on the float over the ways to building a sand castle she seems to enjoy it the most.  My back is better but it still feels like someone is jamming a sword in my spinal column. 

I was at the table this morning when one of the family members said “‘Proof’ is a pretty tough word to uphold.”  I forget the context of how the word was used but I could not help but to think of its implications. 

When it comes to God it is hard to prove He exists. 

When it comes to our faith it is hard to give proof that we have it. 

When we tell someone we love them it is difficult to empirically prove it. 

Or even when we say something is fool-proof that seems to often come back to haunt us in the end. 

Question: Can you prove you love God? How would you/could you do it?  Prove it…

Another day of fun in the sun and once again I am exhausted.  I have 3 lessons to prepare  for this Sunday and I find myself having a nasty case of preacher’s block which is like writer’s block but worse.  I hurt my back today doing something and I am actually in a lot of pain.  I think it may be a combination of lifting my 4 kids and aleeping on the world’s worst mattress and pillow.

So there is something about summer that I do not like and it is the hot temperatures which leads to something else I do not like…less clothing.  It seems that the hotter the temperature gets the less women put on when it comes to clothing.  As a guy this is difficult spiritually because we are prone to physical beauty more than women are.  On the beach girls wear bikinis which is distracting for a guy.  Here is some wisdom…just because you have a two piece bathing suit does not mean you should wear it.  Yuck.  But even if you do have an amazing body and can pull it off should you?  Are you getting a thrill out of all of the guys staring at you?  Do you think that is right?  Btw…would you showcase your bra and panties for these guys too because that is essentially what you are wearing? 

I may be old-fashioned but some things people do not need to see.  I am not saying you have to come to the beach wearing a Muslim head-dress but I am saying that guys struggle immensly with our eyes and we do not need any encouragment. 

Sounds chauvanistic…I know.  But that is the way we were created.

Today was a day of rest and burning.  I felt like I was laying on the surface of the sun as every skin cell of my epidermis is either red or a hue similar to red.  We had fun sitting on the beach but I have observed that fun is to be had wherever as long as there is family there.  I have seen my children more this week than I have all summer…seriously.  This is good. 

I have been thinking a lot about church this week, specifically about the way we have done church the past few years.  I think the times are just about over where we can hold a gospel meeting and expect to convert many lost souls.  Gospel meetings are more about revivals now than they are about seeking lost souls.  Also many of our churches are busy doing compartmentalized ministry where our churches look more like marketing agencies than the living, breathing community of God.  Churches that succeed are those with strategic business plans lead not by God-fearing shepherds but by creative “executive ministers” who have MBAs but couldn’t exegete a passage if his or her life depended on it. 

The sad part is that I am not sure this is a bad thing. If people are converted and lives are changed.  The verdict is still out but the irony of it all is that I am not sure I have a better solution.  I can criticize, critique and remain cynical but I am not sure I can offer anything else and maybe nobody can.

But that is the beauty of it in that we continue to struggle and we continue to find unique ways to do kingdom.  I do know one thing in that what we are doing now is not working.  Maybe just initiating conversation or dialogue about new ways to be the church without the usual bantering or polemics that we so often see with these discussions. 

What do you think?  I did not know I was getting into this type of discussion but it has been on my heart lately as I have been fairly frustrated lately. 


Days 4-5 on Vacation

November 26, 2009 — Leave a comment

I am typing this on my phone as this is a new experience for me. It is Thanksgiving 2009 AND i am with my family and I wanted to take the time to share what I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I have a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids. In 2003 at Thanksgiving we told our parents we were pregnant and then one month later Heather had a miscarriage. ;ow, 6 years later, we have three kids and one on the way. I am thankful for a God who has blessed me with good health. I do not have cancer, nor terminal diseases, I can run if I want to and throw my daughter in the air if she wants to. I am healthy. The only issue I deal with is too much weight on my body which is my own fault. I am thankful for a great job. I get to work with teenagers and (hopefully) make a difference in their lives.  I have good people that love me in the church which is a blessing considering most youth ministers leave after 18 months. I am thankful for my parents who have provided me the resources to thrive in this world. I am thankful for those who have helped me get this far.

Most of all, I am thankful for God who has been faithful to me these 28 years.

Vacation – Day 4

November 24, 2009 — 1 Comment

So I need to tell you an experience I had at the BI-LO shopping mart on Saturday.  I mentioned to you yesterday that we had driven all day on Saturday but what I failed to tell you is the story of me and a security guard almost going at it.  Seriously.  So dad and I went to BI-LO to get the necessities that night to hold us over until we could do a full shopping on Sunday.  We got the necessities and I thought it would be a good idea to get a shopping card to save a few bucks at the check-out.  So I went to the customer service counter to get a shopping card and there was nobody there.  No big deal.  So I waited…and waited…and waited.  The lady working the self-checkout lanes paged the manager but she was slow getting there and meanwhile a security guard was there flirting with that same lady at the self-checkout lanes.  I was patient.  Finally an assistant manager came and by then others were waiting in line (I was 2nd in line) so she helped a person with lottery tickets.  That took a while to cash them out and then turn around and immediately buy more lottery tickets.  My disdain was growing.  Then the lady behind that person cut in front of me and proceeded to do the very same procedure of cashing in lottery tickets to only buy quadruple more with the winnings she received.  My hatred was boiling.  Finally it was my turn but then she proceeded to answer a phone call.  My time at the “customer service” counter (customer and service both used lightly) had turned into 20 minutes of frustration but I finally had her attention.  “Could I help you sir?”  I stated, “I would like to fill out an application for a BI-LO shopping card.”  She looked at me as if I had missed something obvious and answered, “Sir, to fill one of those out you have to go to the table in front of the entry doors.”  So I went over there as if I was the dumbest person on earth and had failed to see the obvious signs (which were not there) for the BI-LO shopping card.  I waited at this table that was by the lounge where some employees were on break.  I waited 2 more minutes when I noticed a touch screen on the table.  Since nobody was there and the employees who were on break looked at me like I was an idiot I decided to touch the touch-screen to get the ball rolling.  By then the security guard (I use those terms lightly as well) noticed, between his breaks of flirting with the self-checkout associate, I was doing this and he came over yield his aura of power and control and said, “Sir, are you an employee?”  Ok…I get it.  That set me off.  I knew what he was trying to do.  Clearly he was trying to get me to understand that this table was for employees only and I was clearly breaking company procedure by touching the screen.  But I did not like the way he said the question because it implied that I was an idiot and I did not know what I was doing.  I answered to him, “No sir I am not an employee but I do not see a sign here that says I have to be one to touch this screen.”  I could tell this did not sit well with him because he had his hand on his belt where ready to pull his imaginary gun out at me if I were to say one more sarcastic remark.  He said, “If you need a card please go to the customer service desk and they will be glad to assist you.”  I thought he would say that.  “Sir, I just came from that very same customer service desk where I waited 20 minutes only to have her tell me to come over here where nobody is willing to help me.”   He was clearly ready to engage me at this time.  “Then you will have to wait here for a few more minutes until someone comes and helps you.”  I looked at him with a world of exhaustion, frustration and anger, “I am tired of waiting.  I am done with you people.  Just forget about it!”  Dad was already checking out and I decided to join him.  The self-checkout lady then came over here and said that we could go ahead and get the discount that it would not take long to fill the application out for the card.  I looked at her and the security guard and told them directly that I refuse the discount.   If I could not get there help in the 20 minutes prior I did not want there help now when they knew I was upset.  I saw this as a moment they were saving face.  

Lessons learned a few days later. 

  1. Anger leads to resentment and that never heals the issue.  I was wrong for that. 
  2. We should not wait until people are mad to address their needs. 
  3. How many people in our churches go unnoticed because we are too busy focusing on our little cliques? 
  4. During periods of exhaustion and frustration we need to simply walk away and rest. 
  5. I have noticed that it is not huge issues that bother the Church rather it is the little things. 
  6. Flexing our muscles and wielding power does not accomplish anything but fear and scare tactics. 

Good lessons on a vacation.  Good confession…I have let it go…it is off my chest and I will not speak of it anymore.

By the way…we wnet back the next day and got our $11.34 back!!!  Who got the last laugh?  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Have a good day!

Vacation – Days 1-2

November 23, 2009 — Leave a comment

It has been a busy few days for the Mackenzie family in Hilton Head, SC.  The best way I have found to start a vacation is to go to a local congregation and worship God on the first day of the week.  We went to he Hilton Head church of Christ and it was a wonderful blessing to see other Christians worshipping the same God.  A lot of times there is the tendency to skip worship and it seems that the Saturday drive is too much to wake up and worship God on Sunday.  We dismiss it usually saying, “We can have our own service/devotional sometime during the day!  I mean we did drive over 500 miles and it was tough on the kids and it would be such a hassle to wake them up on Sunday morning.”  That statement is true.  It was a hassle to wake the kids up and it was difficult to find the church on an island that does not have signs over 5 feet tall.  But you know what?  What if God had that same attitude on us because he was too tired?  What if Christ decided in the garden of Gethsemane to say, “I do not want this to happen so I will not do it even though my Father wants me to”?  Our family chose to worship Sunday because it is the only way we can start our week off and center ourselves in what is most important. 

Today was a day of shopping at the Tanger Outlet Mall and what an event that was.  We found no presents to buy but only things we needed for the kids that were on sale.  Then we went back to the condo and relaxed and played cards.  I consider myself blessed because we are staying in a beautiful condo and I got to see my aunt and uncle.  Stay tuned tomorrow.  I am told I have to leave as I am typing.