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Building Bridges

We saw the sun yesterday.  It was glorious.

I feel like Arkansas has had rain for months on end and my family was in need of a break. Between a new baby coming, grandparents visiting, and endless days stuck inside, we all needed a re-set.  Cabin fever was bringing out bad attitudes, forgetfulness, distractions and bad habits. 

So, when the sun emerged, we loaded everybody up, including the twelve day old, and headed to the woods—without a plan. 

Typically, we always have a plan, but yesterday, we knew we needed time with just the family, a little room to run off some energy, and a lot of vitamin D, so we headed out seeking those things and without a specific goal in mind.  It was wonderful.  We took a picnic and found a place along with Ouachita Trail we like to explore and just let the kids roam.

No boundaries, no expectations, just enjoy the outdoors and God’s creation.  

After all the rain, even the small creeks are high right now and often have rapids or cascades along them.  First the kids had boat races, finding bark and leaves on the ground to create boats and watched them sail downstream to see whose vessel could get the farthest.  Initially they were individual boats, but I noticed after a few trials, they began to work together to create the steadiest boat as a team.

After that, they worked together to build a bridge over the second creek that had formed due to the Genesis style rains that had recently blessed us.  I was so content, just watching my oldest four kids work together hauling limbs and logs to create a path for us to cross the creek. 

They were having a great time, working together to solve a problem, and the bickering and nagging completely ceased.

Eventually they did make a bridge and we were able to hike up to the top of the ridge and find the nearby shelter (which immediately became their log cabin as another game was born).  

On the way home, while all five kids snoozed in the back seat, my husband and I reflected on what a good day it was.  So many days we feel too busy to slow down.  We have goals or plans that need to be finished before we make time to just be with each other.  “I have to get dinner ready,” or “let me finish this pile of laundry first,” or even in our leisure time—“we are going to hike to this specific waterfall.”

Rarely do we slow down and just enjoy being present with each other.  Yesterday was a gift for us.

The day was beautiful and the time spent with family, away from the distractions at home, was completely unstructured and so memorable.  And do you know what I noticed?  We got that “re-set” we all needed.  People slept well, and there was definitely less bickering and more attentiveness all around today.  And now I can’t wait for the next day when we can all just “do nothing” together.  I’m so thankful God gave me this gift, and He reminded me of how much He longs for us to spend time with Him, even when we feel too busy.

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Anna Ostrom

Anna is a Catholic wife and mother of five children. She is thankful to be married to a stay at home dad extraordinaire, who keeps the family ship righted while she is working as a pediatrician. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, read-alouds, and searching for the world’s greatest children’s book.

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