During spring break, we spent five days in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The drive through the Smoky Mountains was a-mazing! We had a bit of in-car nature study as went along. I keep meaning to look up a certain type of tree we saw that I just kept calling a “Colorado tree” because it looks like the kind you’d see out there, rather than here in the deep South. We didn’t see much wildlife, but the trees were budding out beautifully, and we saw a wild turkey walking at the edge of the woods.
The reason we chose Pigeon Forge is because it’s where “Family Camp” was held this year. Each spring break, our church organizes a multi-family vacation. This year there were about sixteen families. We kicked things off on Monday evening with dinner and socializing, followed by The “Smoky Mountain Family Olympic Games”. Our team, the Pit Crew (complete with the theme song from the Smoky and the Bandit movies) won after a grueling competition involving trivia, a seed-spitting contest, creative Spam-carving, and speed-eating a few Southern delicacies like Moon Pies and Mountain Dew. Our prize was a stuffed squirrel — and bragging rights!
Besides some major silliness, though, we also enjoyed worship and Bible study together as a group in the evenings after dinner; after worship time each morning, we had break-out sessions for the parents, and separate Sunday-school type sessions for the kids. The majority of the day was ours do to whatever we liked. One day Ken played golf with a few of the guys, which was a very well-deserved treat for him. He works long hours to support our family, and since golf is an expensive hobby, it’s been years since he last played.
One evening, during the family discussion part of our Bible study time, we talked about how others have served us. One of the things Lindsey listed was, “What y’all did for me.” I asked if she meant adopting her, and she said “Yeah, but it seems weird to say that, because it feels like I’ve always been yours.” Being mom to a teen daughter is still a very new — and sometimes very trying — experience for me, but I try to savor moments like that and hold onto them to remember during those frustrating times.
On our last night there, we washed each others’ feet. Ken washed mine, we washed the girls, they washed his. I’m not sure it was as meaningful for us as it should’ve been because it was just so awkward (and the water was SO COLD!). But the point of it was to think about how we can better serve each other, as Christ did. Ken does a great job of modeling this; I have my moments, but could do much better.
Ken and I seldom have photos made together because one or the other of us is behind the camera, so we had Kathryn snap this one for us.
Overall, we did have a good time on vacation, but during our trip, light was shed on a few not-so-pretty aspects of our family. Ken and I talked about it, and decided we needed to have a family meeting — our first one — on Sunday afternoon. It was very much overdue. It didn’t magically solve all the issues we’re dealing with, but it cleared the air and established some clear guidelines of what we expect from the kids, and what our goals as a family should be. Our primary topics:
- Priorities should be in this order: God first, then family, then friends.
- Freedom and privileges are earned, never something anyone is entitled to.
- We all need to work at encouraging one another.
- Each one of us is in this family because God put us here.
- We all need to do a better job of communicating (respectfully) with each other.
Parenting is hard, and I sure can’t do it without Christ. I must have God’s perspective on what’s going on with my kids, and that is possible only when I have an intimate relationship with Him myself! The more intimate my own relationship with God, the more my children will desire that for themselves. Remembering this is so very humbling: my faith must permeate every aspect of my life if I’m to succeed in showing my children what it looks like to truly walk with Christ.