I know we look like dorks in our matching yellow shirts at our cabin last year. Thirty years ago, when we were young and cool, we never would have dressed this way. I like us better now. It’s funny how often Scott and I end up in the same color tops. Every once in awhile, on a Sunday morning before church, I change my blouse because Scott and I are twinning. We’re still raising kids, and I don’t want to embarrass the boys with how goofy we’ve become as we’ve grown older. Sometimes Scott and I just sit and laugh at ourselves and our boys gather round because they want to laugh too. When our daughters visit, about all we do is laugh. We tell silly family stories and our living room becomes a comedy show.
So, that was random about how we dress, but this post is about building a life, and I’ve learned some lessons along the way besides how we clothe ourselves, and I want to share these with you. Several times now in our marriage we’ve stopped, looked at each other, and said, “You know, maybe it’s time to do something else because we’ve stopped laughing. We need to be better parents. Or better Christians. Or better lovers. Not to embarrass anyone, but a stress-filled life will kill your love-making. You find yourself just getting life done, everything becomes a chore, and that’s no way to live.
So make a change. Do things that make you laugh again with your spouse. With your kids. With your big fat Greek family. Okay, we’re not Greek, but if you’ve seen the big, fat Greek wedding movies, you know what I’m talking about. We’re kind of like that. I’ve always been a bit of a dork. Fortunately, Scott finds that endearing. Even when I trip over his foot and about break his toe.
You can just go with the flow in this world, getting burnt out, letting life live you– and believe me it will– or you can be purposeful about how you live. How you laugh. And how you love. Because if you’re aren’t purposeful careers will command you, incomes and accolades will capture your heart, and pretty soon you’ll end up a zombie parent, an absentee spouse, and a shell of a human being. Sure, you’ll take nice vacations because money can buy you that, but you’ll also buy your kids a bunch of crap to make up for your lack of time with them, and years down the road, you’ll regret you ever lived this way.
Don’t live this way.
Don’t regret your life.
Look up and ask God to help you. Lately, Scott and I have been falling into bed too tired to really enjoy our life. Farming is hard work. Harvesting six days a week in the summertime is wearing us down. We miss camping with our kids. Runs to the lake. Beach walks. We’re making a living, but we also want to make a life. We may have to make some changes to re-find our balance.
Our family has been too busy to spend much time at our cabin. In 2015, we skipped the 4th of July at the cabin altogether. Partly because Anna wouldn’t be there, and that would be so painful for our family, and partly because we’re working so hard harvesting our fruit. The year before last, we spent one night at the cabin for the 4th of July, and then made a mad dash back to our fruit business to make money to pay off a mountain of medical bills. We said it was about paying our bills, but really, was it about the bills? Partly yes, and partly no. Everyone likes being successful at what they do. We feel very blessed people like our fruit, and it sells well. We started with one small orchard and have planted several more. Now we have to keep up with all those trees.
We don’t have much time for anything else in the summer besides farming. Camping at our family’s cabin takes precious time. We’ve been so busy making a living, who has precious time to go camping?
But how much does life really cost?
Let’s think about it… How much money do we really need to live?
If you are living a balanced life, not working too hard, not wanting to make more money, this blog post isn’t for you.
For me, between writing and farming and keeping up a household, most days, I’m working too hard.
Are you working too hard as well?
Are you too busy to take your kids camping this summer?
Be honest. Are you too busy making a living to really make a life?
Please make a life while you still can. While you’re kids are still under your roof. I may not be talking to you, but if I’m talking to you, please listen. Make a life before it’s too late.
Your kids will grow up. They may even outgrow you. Camp with them now.
Make a little less money and make a little more time for your children.
Time runs out for all kinds of reasons. Last year, we lost two amazing friends in the prime of their lives, strong, successful men who died unexpectedly, leaving behind a houseful of half-grown kids each. “I just want to go to my cabin one more time with my kids,” one of these friends, Billy, told me in our last phone conversation two weeks before he passed away.
Go to your cabin, my friend, while you still can.
Fish for trout in a lake that reflects you like a mirror. Look at yourself in the lake mirror and be truthful. What’s really more important? A bigger paycheck or a bigger smile on your child’s face when he lands that rainbow?
Fry your rainbow up for dinner. Eat that trout off a paper plate under whispering pines. Wear a sweatshirt because when the sun goes down at the cabin it gets a little chilly. Carve your kids up a willow stick to cook a hot dog or marshmallows over an open fire.
Teach your kids how to build a fire for themselves. Or catch a chipmunk. When I was a kid, we loved catching chipmunks in my dad’s homemade chipmunk trap. It didn’t hurt the chipmunk and when you let the little critter loose, you had to be careful. It might run up your leg on the way out of the trap. It happened one day. You should see a bunch of kids scatter and scream when a chipmunk runs up one kid’s leg and jumps onto another kid’s back. I’ve seen it happen. I fell on the ground crying with laughter because a chipmunk jumped on a kid’s back and we all lost our minds.
Now a days kids probably aren’t allowed to catch chipmunks. You could catch the plague or something. But we never caught the plague. Maybe because we bathed in the lake after catching chipmunks.
I shaved my legs on a stump at the edge of the water when I was 16 because every teenage girl needs smooth legs at the lake when she’s camping. Boys are at the lake and not all of these boys are your brothers.
Walk down to the dock to watch the sunset. Or the sunrise. I’ve sat on this dock at sunrise with my Bible, thanking God for this lake. Thanking God for my family. Thanking God for his love.
Don’t take life for granted. Don’t think you have a hundred summers ahead of you. Because you don’t. There’s so many things money can’t buy. Like time with your family. Children grow up far too fast. Three of our kids are adults now. They have jobs. Lives of their own. Babies on the way. I’m so glad we took the time to camp with these kids when they were younger. They aren’t young anymore, and neither are we, but we still have four kids to raise. Maybe you still have kids to raise too.
Now go camp with your kids before it’s too late.