What if we stopped celebrating being busy?

The weather report called for intermittent rain over Memorial Day weekend. Of course. It’s Oregon.

But rain has never deterred this Johnson bunch. They’ve been camping together for the past fifty-some years (minus COVID 2020).

Photo by Alice Davies on Unsplash

Back in the day, I had good reasons for staying single. And one of them had to do with these in-laws. A new man in my life wouldn’t understand why I’d want to attend the annual family reunion of my deceased husband. That would be too weird, right?

Turns out, Dan understood. And he’s been welcomed into the Johnson family as if he were the new brother-in-law.

The highlights of this year’s campout, in between rain drops, included a pile-up on the slide (good thing there was a sheriff present) …

… an older dude who shouldn’t have been popping wheelies …

… plenty of grandmas toting munchkins around …

… a rather dubious bicycle gang …

… and a crew of boys who rushed out of a cold, cold river as quickly as they ran in.

Oh, and cousins. Lots and lots of cousins.

This thought from Greg McKeown:

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening … and enjoying … the most important people in our lives?

Since marrying Dan, I’ve become better at putting away to-do lists and being still.

Better at accomplishing absolutely nothing on a lazy afternoon, if the afternoon calls for such activity.

Better at sitting around a campfire and listening well and enjoying the gift of this time together. Because as Dan and I well know, there are no guarantees that these people will be with us at next year’s reunion.

During church-at-camp on Sunday morning, there was a call for any who wanted to share their stories about God’s faithfulness.

Dan and I stood up together. I mentioned my love of repurposing old items into cool new stuff, and how I think God is in the business of giving us new purpose when we lose something of value and how we can love that new purpose just as much as the old one we didn’t want to lose.

And then it was Dan’s turn. He began by saying, “I need to thank Gary [my deceased husband] for doing such a good job training Marlys.” (Insert laughter here.) He commented on how the family had made him feel welcome. And with a catch in his voice at the mention of his first wife, he told how God had restored his joy.

Sharing our hearts openly and vulnerably. This isn’t a natural thing. We tend toward exhibiting who we want others to think we are.

Instead of celebrating our not-real selves, our crazy busy schedules, our accomplishments, what if we celebrate vulnerability – the ability to be courageously open and honest with the most important people in our lives?

What would that look like?

I think it would look like all the most important things of life: joy and laughter and enjoying God’s great outdoorness. I think it would look like love and belonging.


What does editing our stories look like?


What are you doing with all those rocks?


  1. Allison

    Marlys, So beautifully stated. God does the best job making new out of old – transforming all that we are into what He planned for us to be. And I am so thankful that Dan was a part of your repurposing journey. It baffles my mind to think that your union was in God’s grand design all along. We serve a loving, compassionate, exceptional God!

  2. Nasus

    Thank you, Marlys! Loved your pictures and your family! What priceless insights God has given you – and Dan, too. A precious family like yours is such a gift. May God richly bless each of you! Love!

  3. Fawn

    The Johnson Reunion, makes me smile at the thought of you all together celebrating family.

  4. Rita

    Using the words repurposing and transformation interchangeably struck me. They add meaning to each by other and help reframe difficult times. Thank you for the insight, Marlys. And I enjoyed all the family photos. Fun bunch!

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