The girls and I recently returned from a two week visit to Idaho. Having gone four years without seeing my mom, my brothers, my sister-in-law, my niece, my nephew and just generally the great potato country I grew up in, I had frequent moments of reflection and observation during our trip.
Let me start by saying I’m grateful! It truly was a gift to be able to go “home” and see everyone. I couldn’t stop smiling at how easily my daughters bonded with their grandma - they were so affectionate, crawling into her lap, whispering secrets in her ear, giggling with her, hugging her. To have my children know my mother’s hugs is something I’ve longed for and have even written about here before. There is just nothing quite like my sweet mama’s hugs.
Watching the girls play with their cousins, getting to know their Uncles and their Aunt - all of it was simply awesome!
I did fly home with a few new life lessons in my heart though.
1. Time With Family is Precious.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had gone far too long without seeing the people we loved. This unfortunately opened the door for the enemy to steal our joy. No matter how long our stay would have been, it wouldn’t have been long enough. The first week was filled with a silent strife and underlying fear of going that long without seeing us again, as loved ones grasped for time alone with us. The second week was better, but still filled with emotion. Time with family is so so precious.
I pray God will make a way for a yearly visit - there, here, or both - going forward.
2. Sometimes it’s Good to Be Bored.
Rarely do I ever sit and do nothing at all. It’s just not my personality. I’m far too driven, motivated and excited about life to allow myself to sit around and get bored, yet for most of our visit I found myself literally doing nothing. No television, no radio, no internet. Just me, mom, and the kids hanging out. Talking. Laughing. Playing. And you know what? The quiet nothingness didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, it energized me! It’s good to allow ourselves to be bored every once in a while.
I pray that through the Holy Spirit, God will continually push me to set time aside to be still in His presence and in the presence of loved ones.
3. Childhood Wounds Heal Over Time.
My brothers used to pick on me ruthlessly when we were growing up. I always felt ganged up on. There were two of them and only one of me. I was the only girl, and I was the “baby.” We also had different dad’s which often seemed to be a troubling topic between us. Seeing my big brothers again as fellow parents and 40-somethings helped me realize we’re still family, I do indeed love them very much, and time has healed those childhood hurts - even if I haven’t forgotten about them. Now we just laugh with each other when we look back at who we were as kids.
I pray that over time, God will help me to actively nurture a stronger bond between me and my brothers, and that He will also ensure a close relationship (and friendship) between my daughters as they grow up together.
4. We Become a Product of Our Environment.
This was the most profound lesson realized during our visit. I felt like God was giving me eyes to see life from a different perspective, if that makes any sense. Like I was an outsider, looking in. What reflected back to me is how much I've changed over the years being away from that environment. It became obvious to me how easy it is for us to grasp onto the mentality of those around us - good or bad! It's an example of why I think it's important for us to always surround ourselves with a strong Christian community of positive, supportive, loving friends and family. I think it’s a natural human tendency to mirror the behaviors of those around us. So if those around us are only negative, judgmental, and non supportive than our thoughts and actions might follow the crowd and we don't even realize it's happening. OR we might start believing we aren't capable, good enough, strong enough, fill-in-the-blank. To clarify: This isn’t just an Idaho thing. I really believe it happens everywhere.
I pray God will continuously convict me to behave in ways that are productive, encouraging and fruitful. I pray also that He’ll remind me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and that He didn’t create me to live in fear, but to live boldly in faith - all for His glory.
5. Airport Food is Way Over-Priced!
Holy cow, have you bought a meal at your local airport recently? Airlines no longer offer meal service, so when you’re traveling with small children and have plane changes and four hour flights, they’re going to be due for a meal at some point during the day. There’s no way around it. You gotta feed your kids! Imagine my shock when I ordered two children’s size sub sandwiches, a 6-inch sub for myself, three bags of chips, and two bottles of water, and heard the total was $40!!
The girls and I will always have a fun memory of running the span of 20 gates in the Las Vegas airport to catch our connecting flight (and giggling the entire way as weaved in and out of the zoo of people), all with our $40 sub sandwich meal in hand.
I pray next time I travel with the kids, God will inspire me with some creative meal time solutions that aren’t so expensive.
Did you travel anywhere this summer? What life lessons did you gain from your experience? I’d love for you to share!
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