Soft sun rays fill the bedroom through cracks between my bedroom curtains on Sunday morning. Slipping quietly out of bed I try not to wake my peacefully sleeping husband.
The wonder of Jesus’ resurrection washes over me reminding me He lives. No barrier on earth could contain Him, and He emerged fully alive from the hardened grave. The markings on His hands and feet testifying to His wretched death. Jesus conquered the power of worldly finality to offer a gift of life.
I have life because He is alive.
Everything is still as I savor precious moments of solitude. Soaking in Jesus’ love alone transcends any heart struggle. He is alive and I know His power can overcome any fear, insecurity or pain rising in me. Is anything too difficult for God?
One by one each child awakens. They’re getting older, but they still come for a soft hug. Feeling loved and safe they press into my arms. They are a part of me.
It’s Sunday morning with breakfast together, and then preparing for church. The girls wear beautiful matching shirts with black skirts. The oldest is not afraid to identify with her younger sister. The younger beaming with unmistakable pride runs to find her purse with chapstick she calls makeup.
Sunday School, worship service and children’s church fill our morning with truth and warmth. Our Maker understands we can’t walk alone. He designed us perfectly with a need to journey together with other pilgrims.
Sunday lunch followed by rest time for everyone brings quiet in the house. Our children know thirty minutes in their rooms is part of our family life. Climbing the stairs they tell each other their secret plans. One will read, another plots battles with army men, and the other wants to play store.
My husband searches on the internet for an exciting family activity. It’s not easy making a new discovery since Sunday afternoons are filled with expeditions. He finds a great state park with scenic hiking trails seemingly perfect for an early fall afternoon.
“Is rest time over? I looked at my clock and it’s exactly thirty minutes.”
“Yes, it’s finished. Come down and hear what we’re going to do this afternoon.” Bounding down the steps three children run into the family room.
“Where are we going? Have we been there before? Is it ice skating?”
“We’re going to a state park we never seen, and it’s going to be great.” I dialogue with my children as my husband writes the directions in the other room.
“What are we going to do there?”
“They have some really beautiful hiking trails.”
“Hiking trails? I don’t want to go hiking. Hiking is so boring. All you do is walk on trails and see trees.”
“Yeah, why do we have to go hiking? Ice skating would be much more fun. You always say we can’t go ice skating on a beautiful day. It never rains on Sunday!”
“I get so tired when we go hiking. My legs always hurt. I just want to stay home.”
I can feel frustration seeping through my whole body. I’ve got to stay calm. “We’ll have a great time. You’ll love it once we get there. Now let’s get on our shoes. I’ll get the snacks.”
“I don’t want to go hiking! Why can’t we do something fun?”
Ignoring the comment I continue finding snacks for our small cooler.
“I’ll go, but I’m not going to be happy.”
With a silent prayer I turn around slowly. “You have a choice to make. Either you choose to have a good attitude or there will be consequences.”
Piling into the car there is silence except for loud sighing in the back seats.
“I don’t want to go.”
Suddenly I remember the program I saw this week on the public TV station about kids who never get to see nature because they live in a city and their parents don’t take them anywhere.
“Do you know I saw an interview with kids this week who said there one wish was to go hiking in the woods with their parents?”
“Did the kids really say that?”
“Yes. You have so much more than you realize. You have two parents who love you, want to spend time with you and take you to great places in nature.”
Silence covers the back seats. I whisper to our fearless leader. “They’ll love it when we get there. They always do. Thanks for planning everything.”
Barely after parking in the gravel lot the kids jump out of the car.
“Look, how cool. There’s a horse riding rink.”
“Let me see a map. I’ll find the trail for us. I’m always good with maps.”
“Look, Mom. There’s a horse over there. Can I pet it?
We know this journey, my husband and I; making our kids do something they don’t want is almost always painful, but the destination is amazing. If we can just push through the complaining, we can explore beautiful places as a family.
Finding the trail head our three children run down the path picking up sticks and looking for Indians. “Do you think Indians lived here? Maybe we can find a deer.”
“Here’s a Y. This stick looks like a Y. I’m going to see if I can find sticks to spell a word.”
“Look at that river. Can we wade in the river? Don’t walk so fast I’m looking for arrowheads.”
We walk behind our three exuberant children. “Why is it so hard getting here? They always love our hikes. The process is so exhausting!”
The distance isn’t long, but our family of five walk slowly taking in the magnificent creations of the One who made them.
We throw sticks in the river to see which one will win. We hunt for arrowheads and sticks that look like letters. We swing on vines hanging down in paths. We balance on fallen logs. We watch spiders crawl up magnificently spun webs. We watch for trail signs making sure we are on the right path.
It’s hours before we emerge from the woods. Laughing we walk back to the gravel parking lot.
“That was so much fun. I would love to ride a horse here. Wouldn’t it be great to ride a horse?”
Walking beside each other my husband takes my hand. His eyes need no words to convey his thoughts. We’re so glad we didn’t let three children with short-sighted bad attitudes determine our day.
Our children can’t see far enough in front of them. They think they know what’s best, and if they just complain enough we will give in.
It’s hard to journey forward when our three treasures don’t want to follow. It would be easier to just allow them to choose our direction because there wouldn’t be any protests. Making decisions isn’t easy when it’s not appreciated.
We tenaciously grasp the truth our Father has given us the responsibility to lead our children in His paths. He never promised the roads to His paths would always be easy and smooth. Day by day He provides us with His strength to press on.
God has given us His eyes to see beyond today. We are confident if we will lead our children past their complaining, He has unbelievable plans for their lives.
We pray every day for the Lord’s strength and wisdom what He has asked us to do. We cannot do it alone.
Copyright © words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein