Yesterday I learned about perseverance.
As per Zane's birthday request, we took a family trip to Niagara Falls. Last year, we did this right before my husband left for his conference. Our kids loved the family time and enjoyed the trip immensely. Zane wanted to do it again, the same as last year. As I'm not the biggest fan of Marineland(it's great, we don't need to go every year), Steve and I chose to add new attractions to our trip.
As a couple, Steve and I went to Niagara, New York last year. In all our years of living this close to the Falls, visiting it at least annually(for me) and crossing the border there often, we had never been to the American side of the falls. Last year we gave it a try and fell in love. It's beautiful! The Canadian side tends to be more of a Canadian Vegas, while the American side is a beautiful state park. Our favourite was the Cave of the winds. ( I thought I blogged about this last year, but I can't find it anywhere. Did blogger eat my work or am I losing my mind?) After much thought, we decided to share this special place with our children.
Our children weren't so enthusiastic about our decision. How dare we drag them away from the hotel with two pools and a tv? They were hot after a long drive and wanting to relax. Instead their mean parents were dragging them away from their comforts, out into the hot sun. We walked them long, the total walk over 7km. The first 2kms were spent mostly whining. They whined about the heat, their longing for the pool and their fears about the trip. My oldest was scared of the border crossing, scared of falling, scared of everything. We encouraged and hugged her, but still she whined. Over children's heads, our eyes met. We gritted our teeth, prayed the desperate little prayers one prays when their children are driving them around the bend and continued on. At one point, I began to meditate on one of my memory verses. Colossians 1:11 says " and being strengthened with all power according to His glorious Might so that you might have great endurance and patience". It's a good verse for parents, especially this mother with an occasional short fuse.
Finally we arrived. The oldest was still grumpy. We stopped for a snack and then, in an in-between moment, the magic happened. She began to share her chips with a cloud of sparrows. They grew bolder and soon crowded around her feet. She laughed in delight at the little birds and then offered them food from her hand. It took some tries, but soon one was bold enough to eat from her hand. Then another. Not all of them were courageous enough, but she took pity and shared with the more nervous birds too. All the while she continued to talk gently with them.
Her happy mood continued until we entered the line-up to the attraction. Earlier I had mentioned that there were some signs about the birds of the area. However, there wasn't a line, so we were flying past the signs. She became upset, wanting to read them. Even after I took her back to read the signs, she persisted in crying, worrying that she was making us late. We reassured her over and over that we didn't have a schedule and that the attraction would be open for hours. It didn't help. Her crying lasted down the elevator, through the tunnel and all the way out to the other side. It lasted all the way until she saw this:
Her earlier anxieties melted away. As others hurried past us to stand beneath the spray of the falls, our family lingered near the gull colony. Thanks to reading the signs, I know that approximately 7, 000 breeding pairs of ring-beaked gulls make their homes there. The top picture is a yearling gull, while the bottom is baby gull. We watched them play, practice flying, be groomed and fed by their parents and sleep. Eventually we moved on to the boardwalk, all the while keeping our eyes open for more gulls hiding around us. We found them tucked into rocks and crannies around us, but we found rainbows too.
We also found a wild iris.
The walk back was much better. Aris and Zane tied plastic bags to their beltloops pretending to be flying squirrels. They ran, hiding between trees and then running some more. We laughed, enjoying their fun and the chance to hold hands. (*gasp* We HELD HANDS on a family outing. Is that allowed? Aren't hands only for children to hold? ) As we walked, the word perseverance kept running through my mind. The first hour or so had been very rough. It's hard to stay consistently positive in the face of that much whining, complaint and fear. The pay-off was definitely worth it. Those beautiful moments would have been fun, but not merely as memorable if packaged as part of a perfect day. I may have lumped it into a beautiful memory category, enjoyed but forgotten. Instead I am chewing on these happenings and how I need to apply perseverance to my life. I will not soon forget this.
Today I learned about abundance.