This season was the busiest in recent memory. Our church just began building an addition to our facility. Though excited about breaking ground, I sensed the construction was adding bricks to a growing wall between my family and me.
My wife, Cheryl, and I lamented how detached our family had become. The kids filled their days in the isolated world of television. And the growing numbers of people at church were tyrannizing my calendar. A new youth pastor, youth camps, additions to buildings, new member classes, Bible studies, discipleship, visits … aaaahh!
I decided we needed to get away—to rescue our ministry from burnout and to retrieve our marriage from strain. We took our Sunday evening through Monday evening "day off" and journeyed to Willow Creek—the one in Beaverhead National Forest, not the one in Illinois. A day and a half to find our sense of family again. No phones, no computers, no people, and no TV.
S'more family time
The first indication of the Lord's blessing on our trip was our cell phone's "no service" message flashing at us. The drive through a narrow canyon back to Hollow Top Mountain not only separated us from 21st century communications, it took us to South Willow Creek, where the water is so clear you can read the date off a dime five feet deep.
We set up a tent for Cheryl and me, and one for our daughters, Madison and Baylee, and our son, Hayden, whom we affectionately call "Spartacus." With tents pitched, we started a fire that would keep us company into the wee hours of the morning.
After the last s'more was consumed (defined as the one that makes you sick), it was bedtime. We wedged the kids into sleeping bags, prayed with them, left them a flashlight, and assured them that bears slept at night (and that ...