The vacation started off as most for our family. I pushed hard to organize and plan, make sure the boys packed the necessary items in their suitcases. I chose not to cringe at the pile of clean, crumpled clothing bunched into their pullmans.
I organized for our stay at a rustic cabin in Yellowstone National Park. And planned “on-the-road” surprises for the boys—activity books, Star Wars books and Legos. Lots of Legos.
Our first morning there, we drove the southern loop. The sulfuric odor of the geysers told us when we were nearing one. Old Faithful, with it’s water and steam spewing into blue skies, filled the boys with wonder.
Our cameras snapped dozens of photos, creating memory souvenirs of the beauty, and bison everywhere. Every gift shop and general store lured the boys to hunt for the perfect memento and fun toy.
Horseback riding on a trail ride gave Peter and Edmund their first adventure on four legs. We loved watching their uncertainty transform to delight as they learned how to control their horses with reins. A bison wallowing in the dirt near our path created stress for one boy. And his mama.
It’s one thing to drive near a bison in a car, completely another to ride close to one while on horseback.
On a hike near our cabin that mid-vacation afternoon, I stepped wrong, felt my ankle twist and give way beneath me. I collapsed into the uneven dirt. All banter ceased as two little men and one full-grown hero rushed to my aid. Worried eyes studied me, compassion etched in them. I limped the half-mile to our cabin, holding onto smaller hands or leaning on one strong arm. Seeing my boys’ hearts written all over their faces strengthened me for the walk.
The nearby clinic verified the sprain I already suspected. The smallest movement of my foot shot pain throughout my body. This was one souvenir I never anticipated.
My boys’ concern, my husband’s tender arm around my waist, wrapped me in their care. Sometimes dependency opens my heart to resting in others’ love. Tucked back in our cabin after supper, the boys insisted I decide what board game we played.
While hubby and the boys visited other sites, I considered the timing of this sprain. Forced stillness helped my heart to meditate on all the souvenirs God had given us on our vacation. We’d seen most of the park, taken horseback rides, viewed animals and geysers aplenty.
I was thankful for the way my family met me at my point of need—selflessly, tenderly. Thankful God allowed it to be a minor sprain and not a major break. Thankful for the beauty He allowed me to see in the hearts and actions of my guys.
This unexpected souvenir forced me to slow down, to ponder God’s tender care for His children. He gave me the opportunity to choose gratitude instead of complaining. To rest in His love, lived out through the hands and words of my family.
I would have never asked for this souvenir, but seeing His fingerprints in my life was the true gift.
What about you? What is the most unexpected souvenir you’ve brought home from a vacation? What about the most surprising?