Category Archives: Random Family Fun

The fullness of Joy <3

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Yesterday we took an impromptu visit to the zoo with the Band of Brothers and Miss Thing. 

It wasn’t a particularly beautiful day…overcast…a little on the muggy cool side, and it worked out that their neighbors were interested in going and so that mom connected with us for a meet up. 

She thought it would be fun to treat all of them to a ride on the ancient carousel that is kind of the grand finale of a trip through the zoo and so as we waited for our turn to board, Caroline speculated on which animal she wanted to ride on as she held tightly to her little token like it was made of pure gold. 

Eyes dancing, she weighed in on various options and then set her heart on the “chocolate bunny.” As I looked at the paint-chipped animals creaking by, I had to laugh when I saw one that did indeed look like one of those Easter confections with the weird pink eyes. 

I pointed out to her that there were children ahead of us and our host that would have first pick, but God smiled on her little blonde head and she was able to clamor up on to the bunny of her dreams. 

We thought it a good idea that one of us ride with an arm between her and the open concrete to her left, since the child seems to have a penchant for scrapes and bruises. 

Since I was trying to keep my balance on the rickety ride whilst holding one hand out to her side…so as not to let her know I was actually going to catch her if she fell because she is one free spirit, I have only one blurry photo of her before we got going. 

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But I have a highlight reel in my heart that is a treasure moth and rust cannot destroy. 

As she started going up and down and around and around, I could hear her laughing and squealing. No expensive ride in the grandest theme park of any of the greatest of engineering feats by Walt Disney could have evoked any more joy. 

Several times she looked back at me and called out, “Dis is sooooo much fun!!! I never rode on da carousel before! Dis is my first time!!!!!”

Now it is entirely possible that she has indeed ridden on this icon of the local zoo, but with Covid entering our world and taking us all out of anything public for so long, she may not remember. 

But for her yesterday, this was her first time that someone said yes to the ride and put a coin in her hand and she got the animal she wanted and life for Caroline was good and full in that moment. 

And for me…oh my…I am reminded of a truth I have learned in my later years. 

Joy hurts. 

The fullness of people that God has blessed me to love and be loved by literally fills my heart so full at times that it feels it might burst wide open in a beautiful but almost painful way.

It is one of the parts of getting older that I had not heard of, but I can tell you that every year stretches this heart of mine wider to make room for more love and I can almost physically feel it expanding. 

And every time I gasp for breath as I feel my entire heart is growing like the old Grinch movie and will bust right out of my chest, I pray that God is pushing out the very last remnants of self-centeredness and pride so we can make room for more of His kind of love.

An old hymn speaks of the concept that at the Cross, joy and sorrow meet.

I feel certain that as we allow the pure love of Christ to rule in our hearts, we experience this mysterious mingling more and more.

The simple and ordinary moments become sacred and what may have just been a fun and happy memory becomes an offering of praise to God that we were given the chance to participate in as something precious and untainted in this broken world. 

I pray for you moments that are so filled with joy, they make your heart threaten to burst…not all the time…that would be too much…but just when you need them the most.

Journey onward my friends…we are not just getting older, God is making us better <3

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Teamwork makes the dream work (to quote our Papi) <3

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Since I went on long winded yesterday, I thought I would just share a quick little nugget from our time with the Band of Brothers and Miss Thing yesterday. 

First off let me state that I am deeply grateful for both Zach and Rachel to entrust the care of their most precious possessions to us and that they back us up as we, hopefully, back them up in all things. 

They also are gracious to let me share glimpses of their sweet kiddos here on the Journey, which hopefully makes you all smile, or feel understood, or encouraged, or whatever you come here for on a given day. 

So thank you for understanding that we are 100% human and not writing any books on how to raise perfect kids or be a flawless parent or grandparent…we are just all works in progress and I am thankful for this family that we get to be a part of on the weekly. 

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We had a full kid-centered summer day with them on Monday, and by the end of it, we had ourselves the plot line of a Berenstein Bear book….one in which the children forget that the adults in their lives were not put in place to cater to every whim of childhood. 

As a result, we told Rachel that we wanted Tuesday to be a “how can we serve our family” day for the kids. 

She complied with a clear list of chores and some summer school work. We suggested we would take them to the grocery after naps and reading time to have them complete a short shopping list to help their parents out instead of seeking friends to play with, as per usual when we are there.

Well, they worked and studied and read and napped and then piled in the car. We managed to find all the items on our grocery list and get back to the van without anyone getting in trouble or lost. 

As we were driving home, in a break in all the making up of silly songs going on in the back, I asked what it felt like to know they had spent the day serving their family.

There was a little silence and I heard…in unison…”It was kind of boring”.

This was not said in an unkind or disrespectful way. Just pure honest assessment of the day. 

I am laughing as I type it and I laughed in the car. 

I had to respond with 100 percent agreement. It had not been exciting or anything that would merit a highlight reel from a day in the life of a child.

I told them…yep…doing laundry, planning meals, cleaning the house, filling water jugs, making sure the calendar is posted and followed, gathering library books and loading bags for the ball park, making beds, wiping up tables…is boring….but also the stuff of life. 

And they don’t realize it, but in the daily “boring” work that has to be done, this is the love and deep soul investment that is the richest soil of a family. It is in this place that the memories most treasured will be mined down the road.

 We had conversation and laughter throughout the day as we worked together. We were together and the moments were special even if the activities were not.

So as you all go about your tasks today, it’s okay if they seem a bit mundane.

They are necessary and they are the great work of life on planet earth.

May the Lord bless you, whatever you put your hand to do today. 

It all matters <3 

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Three cheers for forty years and a little touching of base with you all to start the week <3

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Haha!

I was looking back through all the photos posted over the years here on the Journey for something that summed us up…and this seemed as good as any.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary this weekend and like many of the others over the years, we spent it at the ball park.

These two had their end of season tournament…

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PC/Rachel Maxwell

They also turned a year older in the past week and I think this growing up so fast nonsense needs to stop.

We sat in yard chairs and sweated and laughed remembering many an anniversary dinner from the concession stand when our three were all playing ball around the area back in the day.

Now we get to see our girl cheer her kids on…

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and we bow low to thank God for the gift of years He has given us.

We do not take it for granted that we have been given much and marvel at the gift of time we have been given.

Rachel arranged for a secret notice to go out on Facebook and surprised us with cards from around the country..

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Please note the letter opener/saber in Emmett’s hands…he is being a pirate…because…well…why not?

So sweet and touching to read all these kind words from friends and family. I may have cried. A lot.

It made me realize how much a card can mean to people and inspired me to do better at sending notes again!!

We ended it all with a little dinner at a small place nearby and then sitting out on the patio with a fire and s’mores…

all and all…

best. forty years. ever <3

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