Enjoying a staycation with sweat, stars, and smiles

Posted By | September 26, 2019 2:13 pm

By Topher Wiles

Last week, I looked up to thank God for our family’s unexpected blessings when a shooting star flitted across the northern sky.  My gratitude and my smile grew bigger.

As a dad with four kids, I have plenty of opportunities to be proud and an abundance of moments for correction.  Many of them come when, like many of you, I’m coaching my kids in their sports teams.  Pride wells up in me when my son drives the lane and finds the elusive layup to take the lead.  My chest puffs up when my kid rockets that red seamed missile at a short stop who tags out the offending runner at second base.  My ego swells when my progeny rips a backhand crosscourt for a winner in a tight match.  Yet that moment of gratitude was a different kind of pride from the normal kid achievements.  It was one filled with joy and thankfulness; I believe you can enjoy it, too.

Allow me a moment to share how the gloriously gracious experience arrived.  It all started with a different kind of vacation, or rather a “stay-cation.”  For those who are unfamiliar with how one of these breaks works, you basically take a mental hiatus and stay home.  We were grateful to enjoy a week of rest, something our family had been looking forward to for months.  Yet this time, instead of the usual adventure camping, beach-bumming, or family visit trip, our car stayed in the driveway.  No, we didn’t stay in bed and sleep the week away; instead we picked a rather large project and worked together on it as a family at home for the entire week.

Cell phones were shut off and congregation members were in the dark as to our whereabouts, so very few people knew that we were still located in Sparta for the whole week.  We ordered a big pile of lumber and several buckets of screws/nails to be delivered by a local building supply company.  Then we began work on our pole-barn.  Yes, it was hot.  Yes, we were sweaty.  Yes, it was work.  And yet, my soul found peace as I traded counseling, organizing, and teaching for swinging hammers, cutting with saws, and lifting lumber for a full week.  I won’t stretch the truth:  the first couple days of sunrise to sunset work was tough for my kids and, more times than one, saw me correcting their work ethic, but it was worth it.

It was Friday night when the joyously grateful shooting star moment was gifted to me.   The day had seen many sights on the Wiles family property.  Gabriel at 12 years old was taking great pride in being the “chop saw” operator for the day.  Ten-year-old Ethan was proud of his steady hand and fast pace as he felt the automatic bounce of the roofing nailer in his hands.  Micah was happy as a lark as his 5-year-old hands grasped a hammer to pound nail heads, countersinking them into the soft Tennessee pine.  Even Clara broke into a smile as her three older brothers cheered her on while she swung the mini sledge hammer at the concrete that needed adjustment.  The day was made even sweeter as my lovely bride brought out the fizzy root beer floats for our afternoon siesta in the shade.  As I stood alone on top of the pole barn at the end of the night with a splinter in my thumb and a stiffness in my back, I had a deep sense of joyful pride in my heart as I reflected on the memories of the week.  When the shooting star passed, I simply thanked God again.

Families need regular time to work together, to cooperate, to encourage each other, and to cheer each other on as they complete a goal.  It is essential that children and adults alike find time to look back over a project and be grateful for what they were able to achieve together.   Fathers find contentment when they know they’ve passed down a skill to their sons.  Mothers find fulfillment when they’ve invested time working side by side with their daughters.  For my family and me, much of our focus in the last couple years has been on my professional work, our hectic sports schedules, or our busy destination-style vacations that often left me needing a rest when we returned.  It was a surprise at the end of the week to feel so rested and joyful, even though our family had worked so hard on our stay-cation.

I wish someone had told me about the benefits of family projects years ago when we started our family.  Just Google the words “family project ideas,” and you’ll be amazed at the variety of websites packed with ideas to enjoy together as parents invest time with their children.  You can rebuild a lawnmower engine together, build a treehouse, lay a brick sidewalk, make a family tree, paint a mural on a bedsheet, plant a flower garden for the nursing home, paint the bedrooms a new color, and so much more.  Your idea may be a challenge, but, with a little patience and caring correction, your kids and you will look back on your time invested, your goals achieved, and your cooperative success with a joyful and grateful smile, too.  May you be blessed in all your family adventures as you train up your children in the way they should go.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

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