As an interlude to the daily “travelogue” posts I am working on to cover a recent family vacation, I am writing this post to share some observations from the trip. Our family travels include my wife and I and our beautiful daughter who mostly lives at a six to eight year-old level even through chronologically she is very much an adult. Our daughter’s disabilities include mobility issues along with other things, so the nature of our trips can often be challenging.
For the longest times, we could carry her in a front carrier and then a backpack carrier for our long family hikes. Eventually she outgrew the backpack carrier and we had to get more creative in the hikes that were somewhat rugged. A few years ago we came across a wheelchair designed to handle terrain that a normal chair could not. With mountain bike tires on the rear wheels and six inch wide casters on the front, it has been down many trails that led to some incredible beauty of God’s creation.
On one particular adventure on this last trip, we were going down a particularly rugged path that included crossing a (currently) dry riverbed. The riverbed was various levels of shale and sandstone which made for a beautiful and rugged path. As we worked our way across, we could see an observation platform filled with people on the other side of the river where they could get a partial view of the falls . . . and a good view of this crazy family heading across the riverbed with a wheelchair. It caused my wife to wonder out loud, “how many photos will we be in with some sort of caption regarding ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way'”.
Pushing a wheelchair in some desolate areas, or pulling it up or down lengthy wooden staircases, or running it up the soft sands of towering dunes can create some great memories . . . and some great conversations. Usually the conversations lead to some form of amazement that we are out wherever we are . . . as well as an amazement at how old our daughter actually is. Our response varies to some degree as we’ve not really given thought to it. In fact, the response usually includes some way of conveying that we’ve not really thought of doing life any other way! You see, we are family! We don’t do it perfectly, but we continue to learn how to care for one another and accommodate the needs of each other to their benefit. Some of our daughter’s special needs are rather obvious, but the truth is we all have needs that are special and need to be treated as such because we are all unique creations of God. I hear the Marines have a saying, “No man left behind!”. That is the way of life we try to do family as . . . we do it together with God’s help to the best of our ability. We help those who are weak and pay attention to the weaknesses of those who appear strong. And so the memories I am able to share through photographs are memories we have been able to share in as a family.
If you’ve gotten this far in the story, I hope you can see lessons to apply throughout life. While it obviously applies to the family, I believe this way of life is the way God wants the church to operate as His family. If the family doesn’t travel together, some people may get to where they are going but many, including those who have rushed ahead, will miss out on the full beauty God has prepared for His family to enjoy.
You see, we are indeed family. And while we are each unique and have our own interests, desires, ways of doing things, and paths that we travel; we are also a family that grows best when we find ways to include everyone within the family in this journey of life. While I do enjoy times of solitude and silence with God alone, being able to enjoy life as a family, no matter what, is a great blessing that both comes from God and honors God.
So, yes, we are family! Now let’s keep living as family. 🙂
My dad was raised by his stepfather who insisted “If we all can’t go then nobody goes! ” He applied that same principle to his family.
I suppose my practice was heavily influenced by the farm life I grew up with. We worked, played, traveled, and simply did life together. And it isn’t that we settle for whatever the weakest one can handle, we simply work together to bring everyone into the same experience. Yes, we each have our own things at times, but those individual times are simply a part of our shared experiences.