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Amy M. Ink Slingers Parenting Vocations

Spring Break

Spring Break… Answering the Challenge

   Spring Break 1

 

   As Spring Break approached, it seems the talk of the school and even the city, centers around where everyone is going.  Florida, Mexico, cruises… they all seem to be popular answers. Those of us “stuck” at home feel caught up in still “making the most” of the week. When I asked the children what they wanted to do this year during spring break, two things won out.  

   The first was a major bedroom switch. Four bedrooms, seven kids in five days. It was no small task. Amazingly, it went well with even the attic being reorganized! Most of the kids are enjoying the new arrangement of rooms.  Our “Felix and Oscar” (think “Odd Couple”) no longer share a room, which will hopefully preserve their relationship in the long run! The only one who may have gotten the short end of the stick is our oldest who is now sharing a room with his much younger brother. He’s adapting though, so life lesson built in!

   The second request was a trip to the Dunes to go hiking. The plan was to go on Monday. It was cold and raining.  Tuesday, and more of the same. All week our plans to go to hiking were thwarted by cold, wet weather. It seemed maybe we would have to be satisfied with the room change as our only spring break adventure.

   Saturday dawned bright, chilly, and breezy. We decided to make a go of it, packed a cooler for lunch, and made our way to the beach. The balmy 45 degrees nearly deterred us when we arrived, but the horizon was bright. After a stopSpring Break 2 at the nature center introducing us to many different birds, we chose a trail. Our only criteria before choosing was that we wanted a moderate or easy trail. We figured relatively short was probably best given the low temperatures and short legs and wanted to end up on the beach to walk back to the parking lot..

   We chose a trail we’ve walked many times, climbing one dune and then heading straight to the lake. However, with the older kids running ahead of us, they wanted to try a “new” path. We veered off from our original plan to trail 8. We figured we would just climb the one extra dune and then meet up with our original trail back to the beach. Reaching the peak of the dune we enjoyed the beautiful view. The cold temperatures and the breeze were much more tolerable while moving. After a quick break, we headed back on the trail toward our original trail. It’d all be downhill from there, we thought.  Spring Break 3

   It was, for a while. Then, we started to climb again. Spring Break 4 Hmmm…. Reaching a second peak, one of our daughters pointed out that we had now completed two-thirds of a 3-Dune Challenge the Nature Center advertised. Not ones to back down from a challenge, what could we do but continue and complete the challenge of the dunes.  Spring Break 5

   The third dune was all stairs. Easier than sand? Um no. But we did it! From the top, we could see the waves breaking and the shoreline for miles. It was breathtaking. The challenge trail looped back to the Nature Center where started.  

   It wasn’t the adventure we planned. It wasn’t the easy trail or even a particularly short trail. In fact, it was the only rugged trail on the map we learned on our way home. We didn’t end up leisurely walking back along the beach to the parking lot. 

   As Lent comes to a close this week, I find myself reflecting on my plans on Ash Wednesday. The prayers, fasting, almsgiving all have helped me quietly reflect on Jesus’ Passion.  I feel myself resetting as I often do during Lent. The purposeful slowing down chips away at the barriers that grow during the year. Busyness, plans, commitments that seem harmless but in reality are walls building up between God and me, pulling me away from God’s plan for my life. Lent is the time each year where I refocus, which breaks down those walls.

   Getting off the merry-go-round of keeping up and doing more, I can see that the simple, the best, things come when we just let go and let God. 

   God has a plan for each of us. The plan tends to be so much bigger than we can comprehend. We can only see a little ahead of us so that we don’t become discouraged. If we had known what we were going to be climbing, it’s likely we would have chosen a different trail, afraid the one with all the dunes would be too much for our little ones to complete.  

   In the end we would have missed out by doing that though. We would have missed the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, not to mention the beautiful views. Asking the children if they had a good break was met with a unanimous “yes.”  God’s plan is bigger and better than any of us can imagine. We just have to take the first step in faith. He will do the rest.

   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm
   you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Spring Break 6

Categories
Allison Marriage Testimonials

Celebrating Twenty-four Years

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. Allow me to share some of that story with you, Sistas!

We met at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Riverside, RI when I was 19 and Ken was 21. We had both attended this church as teenagers, moved away due to college and military service, then returned. Since I was then commuting locally and Ken’s ship was in port, we were in church together.

005We jumped back into youth activities as helpers, which was a good excuse to continue to hang out with the youth group and our beloved youth pastor and wife. We double-dated (not each other; we each had other dates!) until all the other dates fizzled and it was just us. We poked all around southeastern New England together, from restaurants, beach grills, and concerts to hiking trails, rappelling mountains, and sledding hills. Motorcycle rides, too! For my twentieth birthday, he cooked dinner, complete with candles, music, and rooftop dancing. We had the Serious Relationship Talk. Six months later, he proposed–while we were canoeing, of course. It was tricky to properly cry and laugh and shriek YES! in a tipsy canoe but I somehow managed.

Our wedding was perfect and wholly a gift of our church. One lady made my gown; one gentleman took the photographs; one lady asked me what I wanted for the reception and it magically appeared in the church gymnasium. When we met with the music director and told him we wanted a congregational hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King, he told us that he’d previously written a bridal procession using Lasst uns erfreuen (the tune to that song) and were we were interested in hearing it? It was grand and beautiful and we did indeed use it.

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We were told that we were too young, too uneducated, too poor, t00 you-name-it to get married. That we should “see the world” before settling down. But we had no intention of settling down! After our honeymoon weekend on Cape Cod, we took off with $1,500 and our loaded-down Renault across the U.S. and Canada, all the way to Alaska just for fun. (We moved to and from the Last Frontier a few times but that’s another story.). We stopped to visit and hike such places as Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Grand Teton, Banff, and Liard Hot Springs. Niagara Falls’ spray completely ruined my makeup. We marveled at the spider web of traffic around Chicago and the endless wheat fields of Saskatchewan. I thought we were going to be poisoned and die from Yellowstone’s mosquitoes. On more than one occasion, Ken had to bungee my backpack onto his because my (whine, whine) shoulders hurt.

So we began our marriage seeing the world and adventuring–together. We continue to see the world and do things a little differently, but always adventurously, and sometimes rebelliously. But always together.

After we were pronounced husband and wife, our pastor of many years had us kneel while he raised his hands over us and prayed these words that I now sing to our children at night:

Ken and Allison,
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6: 24-26).

And He has. For 24 years and hopefully for 24 more and 24 more, according to His pleasure.