How to travel with a LARGE family and not kill each other…… and How to travel this thing called “life” and finish well — they are one and the same!

So we took a trip to Colorado…. 10 of us.  The criteria was:  having the root system of either BEING Little or having married a Little (bless).  That link created a dynamic which spanned from age 2+ (who was post potty-training) to age 68!  Sprinkled within that range was one teenager, one middle-schooler, one elementary age….. all boys!  So off we went, flying the skies to the Colorado Rockies!

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Prior to leaving, our family had a little Marco Polo video link going, whereby we could periodically chat and discuss the upcoming trip.  Our daughter-in-law Melanie, who has been to Colorado several times, gave us helpful hints about packing and the weather and such…. continually telling us we must plan to wear things more than once, pack light, but pack layers because Colorado has significant weather swings!  We duly noted!  And because we were flying cheap, we were basically a group of 10 with only 4 checked pieces of luggage amongst us, but each was allowed a personal item (not a carry-on, mind ya, and there IS a difference! A personal item would be considered your tote bag with your pocketbook inside of said bag, not in addition to!) All this to say…..  packing alone, had the potential of being challenging!  Our one suitcase could not weigh more than 40 lbs. And since jeans, and hoodies, and coats and hiking shoes weigh more than tank tops, shorts, and swim suits, we definitely needed Melanie’s guidance!

In our pre-planning stages, I think there was almost an expectation of “this could break down at any point”.  Jennifer even used the verbiage “possible melt-downs”!  I mean, look at us — 10 personalities, all with thoughts and perceptions and experiences and lack-thereof! Matter-of-fact, in our Marco Polo videos prior to the trip, our daughter Jennifer shared one day about the devotional concept of “adventure” versus “expectation”!  She said that you can feel stressed out when you go on vacations when you have expectations.  But instead… we should consider it an “adventure”!  This takes the pressure off!  Because when you have an adventure…. you realize that things can happen!  And when you realize “things can happen”, you aren’t thrown off your game when they do!

So….. armed with a mindset of “adventure”, the day arrived, and we took off for the Asheville airport!  I’m proud to say that I weighed in at 39.9!  Talk about cutting it close!  Our McMurrays were all following suit from the Raleigh-Durham airport! And thus we 10 converged upon Denver!

 

Our week in Colorado proved to be an absolute fascination!  The things we did, the sights we saw, the roads we traveled, the mountains we climbed, the fears we squelched (i.e. that would be mine!), the foods we delighted in, the people we talked to, laughter that never ceased, the heroes we became (well, Matthew and Wes DID save the Rocky Mountains one day!  TRUTHFULLY.     …. and we’re still laughing over THAT adventure!)

The story goes:  We had stopped at a particular waterfall while enroute from Nederland to Idaho Springs. 

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The boys did their usual…. rock climbing and maneuvering across the water, stepping on the stones.  We soaked in the beauty, took pictures, laughed, explored.  Matthew did minor surgery on Walker who had gotten 3 thorns in his palm ….. it was touch and go there for a minute, but thankfully I had brought my Lavender oil!  Anyway, we had loaded up the big 15-passenger van and were fixing to head out when a man frantically stopped us, telling us to COME… there was a campfire that somebody must’ve thought they’d put out, but it had reignited!!! FLAMES!!  And no phone signal in this remote area.  Immediately the chatter in the van was “yeah, I had smelled smoke!” “Yeah, I saw all that smoke!” But Matthew had seen his share of 20/20 and/or news documentaries about crazed mountain people that “fake” an emergency and then haul you off into the woods, and THUS he grabbed his empty Topo—Chico glass bottle….

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…..ready at any moment to break it over a rock and do battle with it’s shards of glass, protecting his brother-in-law Wes who had accompanied him into the woods, carrying our plastic bottles of water to fight the blaze!  They knew it was “up to them to save the Rockies”!  Long story short….. THEY DID!  They doused  water and beat flames and made an extended firewall out of rocks ……and the Rockies were saved that day!  (or so the story was told!)  We drove on toward Idaho Springs just a little prouder, knowing that our 2 guys had saved the forrest for future generations!

Carl and I have talked extensively since being home, about what an absolutely perfect trip it was.  And THAT in itself, was a great fascination.  How in the world can 10 people be crammed in a van for 8 days and there be no squabbles, no misunderstandings, no confusion, no aggravation, no hurt feelings, no nothing…… just love and fun, adventure and exploration, joy and delight, observation and discovery!  As Carl and I debriefed about it all, we wanted to know how it was even possible…. because we wanted it to be our prototype for any and all future trips!  And we think we’ve figured it out.  It’s simple really….. We had a leader.  And we followed.

Matthew planned everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  We never once discussed what we should do or where we should go or what time would be good or where would be best, etc.  We didn’t have to!  EVERYTHING was planned…. and planned PERFECTLY!  From the time that plane landed, the plan was in place.  And yet it wasn’t a regimented plan…… it flowed with ease and seeming freedom.  It was as though there was a master mind that knew best and we knew that.  And we knew that we didn’t know what was best, and thus we didn’t question or doubt or interject……  we merely followed.  And the thing is, he thought of EVERYTHING. From the coolest stores, to the cutest coffee shops, to the most amazing eateries, to the best ice cream ever, to hands-down the best french toast ever, to the biggest biscuits and cinnamon buns this side of the Rockies.  He knew the best times to come and go and leave and start in order to avoid the crowds.  He knew to go to Walmart and get a cooler and have it totally stocked with snacks and drinks for our days in the Rockies… because there really isn’t much food available in the park!  Who knew?  He did.  I kinda felt like we were a youth group of sorts that was clueless!  But somehow, every day exactly what we needed was there — and what we’d want was there (even when we hadn’t known we would want it!)  We had a strong, capable, knowledgeable, loving leader — what fool would do anything but follow?

This morning, as I was reading in Psalms 25:8-14, the Lord connected the dots between what I was reading and my trip ponderments!  I love it when He does that!  As I journaled these verses, it seemed like they were a bit of an explanation on “How to receive from the Lord His direction”. And who wouldn’t want that?  I read v.8-9 and it seems that the criteria for being led in the right way is being a humble sinner.  Sometimes we can be so “confidant” in our “doing life”…our “we got this” mindset… that it actually can become our downfall!  We’ve NEVER “got it”.  We’re a mess. Always!

Lord, I pray for a humility that knows only YOU have GOT anything.  It is YOU who is good and upright.  I lean in to receive Your instruction.  All Your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness.  But as I read on in v.10, I notice the last part says, “Your paths are steadfast love and faithfulness to those who keep Your covenant and Your testimonies”.  I realize not everybody cares what You want — what You have decreed.  But therein is that lack of humility.  I would suppose that they have a confidence in their own paths and their own ways.  Lord, draw us to see what a mess we really are.  And (v.11) for Your name’s sake, pardon my guilt, for it is great!

David goes on in v.12-14 to pose the question of who will be instructed in the way that You would choose?  Whose soul will abide in well-being?  Whose offspring will inherit the land?  Who will have the friendship of You?  Who will have Your covenant made known to them?  And the answer? —— The one who fears You!

Lord, I think about that word and what it means to “fear” You.  To me, “fearing You” means that I see You for who You are — the Creator of all that exists.  You are past, present, and future.  Nothing is…..apart from You.  I know that You are in charge.  You are in control.  You are my authority.  You are my life.  May I never be impressed with self.  Only YOU!  And within this mindset, I bow down…. with humility and fear!  May it ever be so!

Psalm 25:8-14

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.  He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.  For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.  Who is the man who fears the Lord?  Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose.  His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.  The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant.

As all this was stirring around in my heart and mind, the Lord brought me to ponder our trip to Colorado.  What a clear picture that became to me of the principles within Psalm 25.  There is one who knows best, and we do well to follow that one!  And when we do…. when we trust that one with our lives, our time, and our energy, we are blessed… we receive a blessing.  The way is not laborious or tedious, but rather joyous and exciting.  What is disaster is when I think I know what’s best.  I cannot even fathom what our Colorado trip would’ve looked like had we yay-whos of the “youth group” insisted on our “better idea”, our agenda, our opinions.  We knew nothing.  And I think about my life, in general.  What in the world makes me think that I should try to improve upon the plan in place, given by the Creator of the universe and all it contains.  HE is the One who leads….. how foolish of me to do anything BUT FOLLOW!!

 

9 thoughts on “How to travel with a LARGE family and not kill each other…… and How to travel this thing called “life” and finish well — they are one and the same!

  1. I loved seeing the photos of your trip as you all were out there. I want to be part of your (earthly) family!! Haha! I love your analogies of this whole adventure as a family of 10 and us going through life. Being a type A, it has been hard but (for the most part) I have learned about adventure versus expectations. Wade and I stayed in a tiny house through Airbnb this past weekend for a getaway in Weaverville. When we pulled into the drive and were looking for our place, I saw it but thought, “Is that our tiny house or a chicken coop???” We realized it was indeed our *humble* abode for the night. I said, “Oh, Wade, what did I get us into?” But it was clean and everything was fine. We now know we do NOT want to own a tiny house but it was fun. 😂 lol

    Also, having planned many vacations one analogy I thought of while reading how when you’ve tried to do it on your own then you welcome someone else being in charge and taking care of it for you. You know the stress and “trying to make it perfect” that comes with being in charge. So when we surrender to the Lord and let Him guide us in life, we have much more peace knowing He knows what is best!! I just finished a book last night, Humility by Andrew Murray. Dare I say it? It was so humbling but just what I needed to read and meditate on as I strive to grow closer to the Lord. I have lots of thoughts on it all that I hope to blog soon. 😉

    I loved reading about your trip and what the Lord showed you through your Bible reading! 💕

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    1. Carl and I stayed in Weaverville area about a year ago…… and we stayed UP IN A TREE!!! Talk about a tiny house! It was crazy! It was literally a treehouse! So your place almost sounds spacious to me. Can’t wait to hear your reflections on the Andrew Murray book….. That’s a subject that is forever a challenge. I’ve heard that it’s opposite — pride — is pretty much the root of most all sins, and I can certainly see how that would be so!

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  2. Your last line says it all ……“How foolish for me to do anything but follow.” It sounds so simple and we see it so clearly in yourtravel story but something (or someone named Satan) clouds our thinking when it comes to the spiritual principle of following God’s leadership. We let emotions and desires to do our own thing in our own way get in the way. I’ve noticed I am always looking for the easy way but God’s way is not usually the easy way or the quick way. It requires time, sacrifice and the hard work of stepping out of our comfort zone. I am so proud of Mathew for being the one willing to do all those things for his beloved family. He has now set the bar high for the next time. He could have a new business venture or better yet ministry. !!!

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    1. “God’s way is not usually the easy way or the quick way. It requires time, sacrifice, and the hard work of stepping out of our comfort zone.” WOW! That’s a thought provoker! You need to write one of your stories and elaborate on that!

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    1. Thank you, Marsha, for stopping by and sharing in a bit of our journey! And if it encouraged you in your own paths, well…what can I say but “ahhhh — the FAITHFULNESS OF GOD! I marvel myself at how every day He gives us exactly what we need — and in His abundant mercy and kindness, He also gives what we want (even when we don’t yet know we want it!) What a fascination! HE truly is a strong, capable, knowledgeable, loving leader! And thus we follow….. ❤️

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  3. I so enjoyed following your trip and the pictures. Most of all reading the story of your trip. You have a fine family, especially Raleigh. Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

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  4. Thank you, Pamela! What an encourager you are! And oh my YES… our little RaRa is such a blessing!! So much personality in that tiny little body!❤️Praying for God to grow him and our other 3 grands up to be MIGHTY WARRIORS OF GOD!

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