by Gail Johnson
As a young mom, I planned awesome vacations and field trips for my kids. I wanted them to learn not just from books but by visiting places and experiencing life. However, after several outings, I gave up. It wasn’t about bickering and fighting in the car. My kids never fought. They still don’t. Maybe it’s the four-year age difference.
Neither was it the usual crazy things that can go wrong on field trips or vacations. No. The reason I quit was my kids, like hobbits, preferred (prefer) to stay in the shire. Because if they left, they had to wear shoes or had to stop playing in the sandbox.
Another reason was riding wore them out. To this day, they will sleep while traveling and most of the next day.
Once, I planned a trip to a state park famous for wildlife. While wandering around the park, I pointed to an animal crossing the grass in front of us. My son’s reaction? “I can see that at home. Can we go, now?”
It took some time, but I finally understood while I wanted my children to experience the world my way, they were experiencing the world in their own way at home. That year, I embraced the simple life and decided to transform our backyard into a never-ending field trip.
My first project was to create a beach. I had a sandbox (prior the endless grass-planting days) and the sun. All I needed to do was to buy a pool. Soon we were enjoying the laid-back beach life. Best decision ever! It’s still my favorite getaway.
Next, I constructed a zoo by planting grass and tasty plant life. After my yard make-over, rabbits, squirrels, deer, gopher turtles, snakes, and birds of the south, including wild turkeys, moved in to destroy taste my delectable yard. (I hope you’re catching the dry humor here.)
Later, I opened a get-away for family and friends. For Christmas, we bought four-wheelers for the kids and created mazes and trails to ride. Our house was filled with the laughter of all ages throughout the holiday season and for years to come.
Now, in their twenties, the kids love traveling with us. We may have gotten off to a late start, but we’re making up for lost time.
Looking back, I can see what I would’ve missed if I hadn’t listened to my kids because God used the backyard as an instrument to reveal His purpose for our lives.
The pool became a place for sharing problems, hopes, prayers, and dreams. The four-wheeler trails became the paths my children walked as they prayed for guidance, and the animals taught us His faithfulness to supply our every need. It is for these blessings that I celebrate this simple life!
Now it’s your turn. How do you pass your summer? Do you go on vacations, or do you prefer to stay at home?
Mary was happy with her morning progress. She had weeded the garden and gathered tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. It was time to call it a day. Reaching for her basket, she froze at the sight of a snake making its way around…