Finding Joy in NOTHING

by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family

Last week was my wife, Ann’s, 40th birthday.

I wanted to make this milestone as memorable and special for her as possible, so I invited her to choose whatever she would like to do, and I’d make it happen. Ann decided she wanted to go to Destin, Florida, rent a place, and have no special plans whatsoever.

Here’s the thing:  none of that computes with me.

I’m not a beach guy, and I always have a lot of plans… but you only turn 40 once, so I said, “You’ve got it! Let’s do it!”

As it turned out, our kids had their fall break the same week, so it was actually perfect timing for a family getaway.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for us, six kids in the car together for 12+ hours is not the most relaxing way to start a vacation. I expected it to be brutal, and I was pretty much dreading the drive, hoping to just get it out of the way with the least amount of stress possible.

But I had forgotten one small fact that turned out to make a huge difference: for the first time ever, we had five people in the car that could drive, so we were able to break the drive up into shifts. I took the early morning shift, then Ann drove, then two of our sons — by the time we arrived it literally was the smoothest trip I think we’ve ever taken!

We settled into our rental, ready to start the week with… absolutely no plans.  What?  A family vacation with nothing planned?  Who does that?

Us, apparently… and like I said, it definitely goes against my nature! But this was Ann’s birthday trip, so what Momma wants, Momma gets.

Let me just give you a snapshot of what Ann’s birthday looked like:

We started the day off on the beach with a pretty spectacular sunrise. Then the family cooked and ate breakfast together, relaxed together, laughed together, sang together, built sandcastles together, and were silly together. We enjoyed homemade desserts, and had a little bit of fun teasing Mom about being so “old” now.  Ok…. we actually had a lot of fun teasing Mom!

In fact, the rest of the week looked pretty much the same:

We hung out, just enjoying each other, spending time at the beach alternately relaxing, boogie-boarding, and building more sandcastles. On our last night there, all six kids were outside for the beautiful sunset, the best way to end our time there.

So, why am I sharing this with you?  It’s not to give you a “what I did on my family vacation” report, but more to invite you to consider this:

Sometimes those things that we expect the least from are the things that give us the most joy, and if we don’t open ourselves to those opportunities… well, what a loss!

We’ve done a lot of vacations as a family, gone a lot of places, done a lot of things, and I will be the first to admit that I really did not see this trip working, with us traveling to the beach and just doing nothing.

I was wrong.

It was one of the best family vacations we’ve ever had. I think I speak for the entire family when I say that nobody wanted to leave.

If I have any regret in my life, it’s that when days like these happen, I forget to stop and just capture them.

It’s not that we don’t have good days — we certainly do — but sometimes there are just those extra-special days where everybody gets along, everybody enjoys each other, everybody loves each other as a family, and we go to bed just feeling so blessed and so satisfied to be on this Earth, and to be the parents of crazy, chaotic teenagers, or kids, or whatever the circumstance may be.

That’s the true sign that something was done right, even if it wasn’t — or maybe especially because it wasn’t — planned.

Lesson learned.


Have you had the experience of making lasting memories or finding joy with your family where you least expected it? Share your story below!



  1. Coppelia Acevedo October 28, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Ha! I’m like you, my dream vacations are PACKED with stuff to do! And I just had my 40th last year. It was one month before my hubby had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor at MD Anderson. Praise God, he’s in perfect health!!! It was an uneventful 40th in some ways, but I’m thankful I got to celebrate 40 with my hubby and our two kids, (and prayerfully we’ll celebrate many more!)

  2. Robyn Smith October 28, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Tim! This story really hits home as I am just beginning to feel myself again after a month-long illness which left me… doing nothing. It is amazing how God can reach us in special times like these. It makes it hard to “go back” even from being ill. And yes, our family (also six children 😉 has also experienced a recent family vacation – also to Florida – where we planned nothing and had one of the best vacations on record. The majority of our time was spent just visiting, cooking together, and playing board games. The laughter was priceless! The best part is that, unlike other “busy” vacations, where we couldn’t tell you a week later how we’d spent our time, this one was so simple and pleasant, we have savored it for over a year now – all of us! Maybe that’s what was meant by God when He blessed the Sabbath Day and called it Holy. It certainly was!

  3. Suzanne Humpleby October 28, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    I have found that having one day a week where you plan on doing absolutely nothing (as when the Sabbath is observed as a day of rest) can be so rejuvenating. It gives you time to rejuvenate, and be ready for the rest of the week. It can be randomly spent enjoying a stroll or visiting a friend or family member. You find more enjoyment in the little things, learn new things about each other, and find God’s peace. Also, I love setting aside an hour a day to just sit and meditate – the most convenient time for me is 1 hour before bed. I start with, “Lord, what would You like for me to meditate on?” And then I just let my thoughts roll like waves, rising and falling at whatever pace that they want to, not trying to control them because then you get uptight, and then the waves quietly recede. Sometimes, I feel so peaceful that I drift off to sleep for a few minutes! Then, it’s so much easier to go to bed and peacefully fall asleep.

  4. Dave October 28, 2017 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    I like that, Suzanne!
    Thanks and aloha from Hawaii.

  5. Jessica October 29, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Happy is the man whose quiver is full. Glad you all had a great time! God bless you All and keep you strong and together. For each other always. How He wants it to be. Let no man (or woman) tear apart what God has put together.

  6. Kristin Downer October 29, 2017 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    Ooohhhh… how I relate! As the busy mother of 13 blessings, I rarely slow down. And as productive American Christians I think it’s particularly easy to let a certain amount of pride in our “relentless pursuit to accomplish” creep in…
    Doing nothing is hard work for me. VERY hard work. After all, I’m the toddler who ran before she walked.

    Relaxing without the self-satisfying busy-ness of lists or cell phones or objectives is a “delight” I find nearly painful! On the other hand, my very practical, methodical husband (who truly accomplishes way more than I do!) is able to just “shut down,” relax, rest or engage as the occasion affords… like when he goes fishing.

    Sometimes he even takes me fishing too. Sooooo painful! Holding still that long!?! It takes me three days on the boat just to unwind!!!
    But as I do, relationships rekindle. Layers of restlessness fall away. And “the busy one” finds better focus.
    Perhaps that is why Christ himself took his disciples away to a quiet place, apart from the press of the crowd often. Hmmmmm…. there’s a lot to be learned from people with restful hearts. “Still water runs deep,” the old saying goes.

    Perhaps this little drop of “still water” from a poet’s pen will bless you all, as you, Ziglar Family, have blessed us-
    I call it:

    Doin’ Nothin’

    Doin’ nothin’… Ain’t that somethin’?
    Danglin’ a line out over a boat,
    Snaking a dry fly; watching it float.

    “Catchin’ anything?”
    “Yea – lots.”

    Catching rest – catching thoughts…
    Catching a line and letting it drop
    In fertile waters where it twirls ’round
    And ’round in my mind
    Til’ the sun goes down,
    And the cormorant screeches her goodnight call,
    And a red doe slips from the brush
    with her fawn…

    “Catchin’ anything?”
    “Nah – nothin’ at all…”

    I’m just danglin’ my line out over the side,
    Fishin’ the lake on an evening ride;
    Trolling for riches deep in my soul –

    Just doin’ nothin’ with a fishin’ pole…

    K. Downer 2002

    Kristin Downer
    Big Sky, MT

    • Jen October 30, 2017 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      This is great, Kristin! Thanks for sharing your poetic talent!

    • Greta Jurcikoniene November 26, 2017 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      Loved it…relating 100 % to your poem

  7. Mary October 31, 2017 at 1:23 am - Reply


Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.