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Family.

After church today, we decided to head on up to Lake Michigan for a couple of hours.  Sylas drove, Andre sat in the passenger seat and Joelle, Charles and I were in the back of our Subaru WRX.  Cozy, but that was all part of the adventure.  Whenever we do something out of the normal patterns of our life, we get a fair amount of opposition from one, or sometimes all, of the kids.  Supposedly, they had things to "do" and places to "be".  I know them well enough that that means hanging around watching TV, playing video games, or just doing nothing really.  Today was no exception... plenty of opposition to the idea. At first.

However, as usually happens, once they knew the decision was firm and wasn't open to discussion anymore, it was all good. Once there, we walked along the water, skipped stones, threw a frisbee, knocked around a volleyball and climbed the sand dunes.  The weather was nice and the best part was that there weren't the hordes of people that warmer weather and water usually brings.

At one point in the day, I began to think about how a few years ago we weren't really doing much together as a family.  We did  more when the kids were little, but somehow we began to slip out of that pattern of going to parks, beaches, or little outings to various places.  The reasons for the decline in quality family time were complex and multi-faceted at that point in our journey.  All of us being together in the same room or car was just plain hard.  In some ways, it was easier not to be together. Just as individuals, teams, and corporations can have slumps, families experience slumps. We did.  But we determined not to stay there because I know that God had, and has, more for us.

It's been a process and it didn't happen overnight, but today represented to me so much growth, hard work and maturing as a family.  We had fun together.  We laughed, we enjoyed the day and the experience.  We did life together. Yes, the kids made their verbal jabs at each other occasionally, but if that didn't happen at all it would probably be because we were all dead.

Desmond Tutu said, "You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."  The gift is that in the midst of being family, we learn how to love, to forgive, to not always have to have our way or be right, and much more.  It takes hard work, great effort and an unwillingness to settle for status quo, but in the end its worth every ounce of effort we put into being a family.

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