Tuesday, May 29, 2007

hiking bliss

Yesterday (for the most beatiful Memorial Day weather ever!) our family went out to Sleepy Hollow State Park for a picnic and hike through the wilderness.

No, this is not the location of the "headless horseman". But it is an area not too far from Lansing with wonderful natural beauty, wildlife and some gorgeous hiking/biking trails that will surely get some attention from my mountain bike this summer (if I can get anyone who will go with me).

Up until a certain point in the hike (maybe about the 2nd mile) our 2 kids had been having a great time. But all of a sudden that began to change.

First Seth (7 years old) tripped as we tried to make our way around a muddy bog. It was no big deal. He got a little mud on his knee and that was all. But that little bit of mud changed his whole attitude. Up until that point, he had been our self-appointed hiking guide. Enthusiastically he would warn us of upcoming hills and roots to watch out for. He had been totally engaged in the role of "family leader". But immediately he decided that the fun was over. The smiles were gone. And he wanted to get back to the car.

About a half mile later Kate (10 years old) decided that she was also ready to get out of the forest and back into some air-conditioning. For her, it was because of the "mosquitos". In reality they were mostly gnats...and really not that many. And the mosquitos weren't really biting because we were covered in bug spray. But she got that creepy feeling, where you feel like you're getting eaten alive. Sure it's just in your head, but it is creepy nonetheless. And her smiles turned to frowns within a matter of minutes.

Fortunately, we soon found a pump from a well with cool water to rinse our hands and faces. And then we ended up at a beautiful lake, which lightened everyone's spirits. We began laughing and teasing and having lots of fun again, as a family.

But it is amazing how our attitude changes everything. It is true. Life is going to dump you in the mud. Pests are going to swarm. The trail won't always be joy and bliss.

Fortunately, Tracy and I kept our cool as parents. I really was having a great time, even considering that I had just completed a 46 mile cycle ride that morning. I admit that there have been plenty of times when I've gotten frustrated that everybody isn't having that great "family quality time" experience. But yesterday was one of those days when Tracy and I stayed positive, encouraging, patient and joyful. And sure enough, the whole thing turned around. The kids started having fun again.

So here's the point. Keep on hiking!

And I pray that the next time the kids don't "act happy for Daddy"... that I stay positive and encouraging. Fortunately my wife Tracy is a model of all that is good and perfect (well, MOST of the time)... because, "When Momma ain't happy, nobody's happy."