Today I took the family to the lake. Glad I did. It was exactly what we all needed.
I had been busy working all week, working extra hours, anything to try to make an extra buck for our expenses (seems that gas took a good chunk of my pay ... that and the bills and the needs of my wife and kids). My wife, meanwhile, was busy taking care of the children and doing her wifely duties, trying to keep the house together.
By the end of the week, Sheryl and I were snapping at each other and the children and our youngest, Hayden, was not benefiting from the stress at all. Hayden, who is five, has significant special needs: He cannot walk or talk (cerebral palsy) and needs care 24 hours a day ... and that is in addition to our three other children: Hunter, Hogan, and Heather, who are seven, nine, and thirteen.
It was not a good way to end the week. That was when I suggested that we pile all the kids (plus Hayden's wheelchair and medical equipment) into the van and go to the lake. I wanted to do some fishing; I am sure Sheryl and the kids wanted to get out of the confines of the house; besides it had been raining the past few days and the weather had finally decided to clear. We wanted to take advantage of the approaching nice weather.
We got to the lake without incident. Within an hour, we were sitting at a nice, shady spot, well away from traffic or other people; we had this particular spot all to ourselves. The air was scented with pine and cedar; we could hear birds singing in the trees, and the winds whispering among the pines. A nice northerly breeze was blowing, making for perfect summertime conditions. The atmosphere caused the kids to take in the natural surroundings and they became quiet as church mice.
Sheryl laid back on the red-and-white checkered blanket and started reading a good book while I tended to the children for a while; after an hour, she took over while I got my fishing gear assembled and walked down to the edge of the lake, in the hopes of catching a good sized trout that I could fry up for dinner later on in the day.
As I sat there, fishing, I listened to the sounds of nature. I suddenly felt at peace; it was as if I could hear God himself speaking peace and tranquilty into my spirit. I felt calm, cool, relaxed, the first time in days, and it felt good. I had to smile as I realized just how blessed I truly was. I had a beautiful wife. Four beautiful children, including one who was born with special needs, but who was still a vibrant part of our family. A job to where I could take care of the bills and other needs. A good working vehicle (though the gas prices were way out of line, I thought). A good church to go to (though we didn't go today; we had overslept).
I had my freedoms, thanks to the brave sacrifices of my military family and all who served. I had the privilege to exercise my right to vote or do/say/think as I wished, thanks to being born in the United States of America. I had my parents who were in their sixties and who still enjoyed relatively good health. I had wonderful friends I could count on whenever things got stressful or difficult. Most of all, however, I had the peace of God inside of me; I had accepted His son, Jesus, when I was a boy and He was very important in my life.
If it were not for God or His blessings, I would not have all that I did in life. I suddenly felt tranquil, just like the conditions at the lake. I whispered several prayers of thanksgiving as I went about my fishing and enjoyed the surroundings of His beauty and my precious family. Yes, I was a very blessed, lucky man.