As a young naïve dad, while I was building and directing Kamps, I was also a local Young Life leader and had a huge broken heart for lost and hurting kids. I would often counsel and befriend broken teenagers while my daddy heart would want to adopt all of them! All this to say, I was way too busy for my family’s best interest. I regret it at times, while also being thankful that many more kids can now come to Kamp and grow in Christ while having fun just being kids!
As difficult as this virus is for all of us, I’m thankful for the unexpected way our circumstances have provided more family time to dig deeper into our most important relationships at home. Amidst the welcomed workload of getting Kamp ready to open, it’s been like “the old days” in my house. Now it is grandkid family time. We have had the best conversations ever! Every dinner time is family time at the supper table. I remember President Ronald Regan saying something like, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” For us the “great change” has been time to laugh a lot and get to know each other a whole lot better! We have been cooking together, playing card games, playing games in the yard, going on mystery trips to get a drive–thru ice cream sundae. We have had quality goal setting talks, playing guitars and ukuleles while humming, singing Kamp songs (out of tune! LOL) and studying scriptures together. Oh baby – the list goes on!
I hope you too are taking time each evening to take a breath and seize this opportunity to hold hands around the dinner table and thank God for family time. We will never get enough of it and will never regret our investment of time in our children.
Here’s a little touch of wisdom from my oldest daughter, Jamie Jo. She is the mother of 5 (2 adopted) and raises her kids admirably with a firm and loving hand.
This time has been so dreamy for me—it truly has been a “Coronacation.” I have loved this unexpected family time! Before I get any further into this, I want to make two disclaimers:
- This is not to shame anyone who has not had this same experience. I know this time has been difficult and I know that for many it has not been a vacation. So, please do not read about my time and feel any shame because your time hasn’t been dreamy.
- I do not have any toddlers or any children who take up all my time and energy. My kids are all older and self-sufficient and I haven’t had to be a full-time cruise director and chef and maid. (And I have been quarantined at Kanakuk so my kids haven’t been on top of me in the house 24 hours a day.)
All that being said, I am so thankful for this time I have gotten to have with my family! When Hays went to college three years ago, my heart broke because I knew that my extended time with him was over and I knew that I would never have the opportunity to get to know his wife-to-be as he fell in love living more than 500 miles away from me. And then my heart broke again, for the same reasons, when Maggie followed him to Texas A&M two years later. Forty percent of my children (my heart and my soul is what I called those two) were gone and I felt like my family was permanently changed (and not necessarily for the better). I love having my kids all together and I really couldn’t imagine life moving on with the hole they left behind.
Hays and Maggie both brought their significant others up to Tennessee to spend part of their Spring Break with us and I was on cloud nine! I thought, “it doesn’t get better than this!”
Enter Corona. Has the time been all wonderful? No. Have we stepped on one another’s toes (feelings) and gotten irritated with one another? Yes. Has “homeschooling” been fun and easy? No. Has homeschooling brought out my creativity and my kindness? Not even close. But I have had the best few weeks with my kids. I am cherishing time with them! They have mostly been doing their own thing, but I have loved having all my people under the same roof. I have loved hearing the laughter. I have loved watching the interactions. I have loved seeing the big two with their significant others. I have loved seeing the little ones look up to the big ones. I love watching them wrestle and rough house, I love watching them play cards and jump on the trampoline. I am so thankful to have us all together and I am soaking it all in because I know what a gift this time is, and I know that it will probably never happen again. Cherish is literally the word I am using every single day.
And I have been intentional of making memories with them. As I let them be individuals and as I let them do their own thing most of the time, I have intentionally made the most of the evenings and some “family fun” days. We went hiking before the parks were closed and we have played games almost every night. The TV has mostly stayed off and we have talked and laughed and told stories. One night we even sat around the table and sang old Kamp songs. (As I am typing this, Hays and Dax are seeing who can hit the hardest—so much laughter—and Maggie is having a dishtowel war with her boyfriend while Gabby plays cards and Tiki watches—the chaos is literally all around me!) Last night we did Family Face Mask night and it was classic! (And when I say, “face mask,” I mean what we used to think of when you heard “face mask”—the soothing, detoxifying kind with mud.) Three generations of us with mud masks on our faces. It was so funny and overall, everyone (including my dad) was a great sport!
Because I have had a few years without my kids together (because of college), I know that I must cherish my moments with them all together. Whether I am watching them study or watching them cook or watching them wrestle or hiking in the woods or playing Catch Phrase, I am so thankful for these moments with my kids and I know that not only will I hold on to these memories forever, but I know I will never have this opportunity again. I am soaking it all in!
I know some of you are exhausted! I know some of you are in the thick of it with little ones. I get it. Just know that you won’t get this time back and someday you are going to long for the days when you have your kids under your roof with nowhere to be and with nothing else to do except to take it all in.
- I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.
- I need to practice social distancing from the refrigerator.
- Homeschooling is going well. Two students suspended for fighting and one teacher fired for drinking on the job.
- This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog… we laughed a lot.
- Quarantine Day 5: Went to this restaurant called THE KITCHEN. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.
- I’m so excited — it’s time to take out the garbage. What should I wear?
- I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to Puerto Backyarda. I’m getting tired of Los Livingroom.
- Day 6 of Homeschooling: My child just said, “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year.” … I’m offended.