We were introduced to Family Fest Ministries three years ago and invited to attend their January family camp, Winter Weekend, at a resort in northern Minnesota. It was -35 F that weekend, but it was a spiritual and emotional thaw for me as I emerged from a dark fall/winter with my 10-week-old baby. We were delighted, our spirits were lifted, and we returned home raving about Family Fest!
The next year, I was pregnant with Grace and we planned to use Christmas money to replace our (very old, nearly dead) home computer. But after being challenged to build into our lives set-apart time for God, we registered for camp instead! Again, it was a wonderful experience. Jack, just over a year, had so much fun singing, dancing, playing, swimming, and dog sledding!
This year, I started talking about Family Fest in October! The camp is an investment for a family of our size (plus we just got a minivan) so Jon said we needed Christmas money again in order to go. On Christmas morning, I was giddy as I opened all the generous gifts from various family members; “We can go, we can go!” I exclaimed. And so we went.
Several families from church were there, including two of Jack’s buddies from daycare, and it was so fun to watch Jack explore new surroundings and be adventurous (“Walk! Lake! Fwozen!”). He was terrified of the water slide I took him down, but was captivated by the horses that pulled our wagon ride. Our cabin shared an adjoining door with my coworker’s family, so after getting all the kids to bed, we played games together by the fireplace! Such a good time of “forced rest” – letting go of feeling the need to be productive!
Jon and I got some great teaching by a speaker on relationships, raising kids, being vulnerable with them as they grow, and the many ways life comes full circle. We were encouraged to look for the spiritual gifts we see in our children – and to tell them! Jack may not understand fully how we see the gift of encouragement in him, nor can Gracie yet appreciate her gift of longsuffering, but even at their ages, our children reflect to us characteristics of our good God – and we are blessed by them.