A Summer Drive to Count My Blessings

Several weeks ago I decided that I would drive Owen, my 16 year old, to Florida. Days later Seth (13), announced he’d like to come as well. I welcomed the idea to spend time together with two teenagers! Owen had planned on staying with a friend for a couple weeks. I wanted to make this trip for several reasons, none of which are very important, but I’ll list them anyways.:

  • To spend time with one of my young men. He’s growing up, some days too fast, and I don’t get to connect with him as much as I’d like to anymore. This trip offered an opportunity to connect.
  • I like road trips. This fell during some planned time off from work, so the opportunity was there.
  • I’ve got much on my mind, and this offered an opportunity to think through some of those things.

I’m not much of a planner, or rather, I decided to not do a lot of planning, and sort of go with the flow. This allowed me the flexibility I desired to sort through at least those things above. However, while I got to do things above to some degree, what I learned on this road trip goes far beyond that. I am blessed in unimaginable ways, surrounded by people who love and care for me. No, this isn’t a surprise to me at all, but it’s good to genuinely see the blessings, often which go unseen during the course of my day-to-day.

When driving, I wanted the trip to be easy. My plan was to avoid the interstate as much as possible. We left Ashland and didn’t hit an interstate until Bowling Green, Kentucky. In Bowling Green, we stopped at the National Corvette Museum. I’m not into cars or corvettes, but this was an opportunity to stop and see what it was all about.

After that brief stop, we drove about an hour south of Nashville and stayed with my brother (Hi Steve!) and his family overnight. It’s always good to see my family, and I’m grateful for them, their generosity, in allowing us to stay the night.

The next day we hit the road and stopped at Priester’s Pecans in Alabama for some ice cream. I had the butter pecan. Delicious.

When we arrived in Florida, we dropped Owen off at his friends house. From here, we were able to stay with work friends. Thank you Mark for being a gracious host and for opening up your home to Seth and I.

After an amazing nights rest, we went and checked on our rental house there. This was mainly in mental preparation to sell our beloved home this winter. I wanted to see what repairs might be needed, and get a sense of how much it may cost. This was a tough visit for me.

Afterward, we headed to the beach. Much like when Seth was a 1 year old, he sprinted to the ocean – he’s a site to behold sometimes. I pulled him facedown out of the ocean more times than I can recall as a toddler. Often arriving at the beach with little ones in tow, carrying all the accoutrements required for a day at the beach, he would outrun us all straight into the water. I’m glad he loves the ocean as much as dad does.

After several hours enjoying the beach, I wanted to get on the road. But not before one last stop which really broke my heart. Pictured below, you see Seth standing on bleachers. Moments before I took this picture, he was just sitting there, looking at this field. This field is at Navarre Youth Sports Association. We’ve spent countless hours on the football field (and other fields!) here. After some time he returned to the truck, and he looked really somber. I asked him what he was thinking, and he said “I was just thinking I’ll never get to play on this field again”.

His football journey started here, and he always loved The Raiders. As a dad who has lived a long time, I know that every journey starts some place and ends another. This is where his football journey started.

After hitting the road in the early afternoon, we made it to Huntsville, Alabama. I thought this would be a good stopping point to get some rest. The next day, we continued our journey north, taking a brief stop in Adams, Tennessee to tour The Bell Witch Cave and Cabin. I admittedly liked this more than Seth,

What’s a trip without a selfie by your teen? I didn’t know he took this, and when I first saw it, I thought it was Owen. Love my boys!

Come Sunday Morning

Sunday is a special day to me, and the message at church tied this trip altogether for me. The topic was “generosity”. I was hit with how generous the people in my life are; Rachel, Steve, Teresa, Ben, Mark, Owen’s friend and his family and more! When people give freely of their time, their home, it’s an amazing gift – and those folks on this trip, they gave generously and with a welcoming and loving spirit. I’m thankful for those around who love me, who love my family, who opened up their home and gave their time. I’m thankful for Owen and Seth allowing me this time with them, as time is fleeting.

The sermon has made me think about giving and generosity more. It’s made me think about investing, and what I’m investing my money and time in. What I think is it’s most important to investing into people you love and care for, plant a seed of love and experience it bloom. And, sometimes it does not bloom. Sometimes a storm comes and washes your crops away, or something along those lines. And, generosity is a full time job – there are seasons to sow, reap, repair your tools, fertilize – but the work never stops.

Whatever I plan to invest in in the next portion of my life, it’s going to be a lot of work. I realize that I get to choose the type of work that I do, and so – I get to think on that a bit.

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