By Nathan Breland

Our son stepped out of the car to the sound of chickens clucking and goats bleating. From that moment to the end of our trip, he ran – exhilarated and non-stop – through White Lotus Farms of Port Ludlow, WA. It was a quaint little destination that took us on a ferry ride across Puget Sound and a 30-minute drive afterward was just enough to get us out of the business of city life.

It’s not often that our family gets to spend half a week immersed in the surprisingly intriguing conversation of farm animals. Yet seeing as how 2020 has been anything but ordinary, we wanted to take some special time as we entered December to reflect in the serenity of God’s Creation and make sure we closed this year well as a family.

When the world seemed to have turned upside down as it did this year, making intentional time and a conducive environment to focus on the most important things in life is vital. This family trip was to remind ourselves as a family where we really wanted to go and how we were going to get there.

Acknowledging that God is the source of all truth and goodness, we began each day reading and discussing scripture, finding at least one key point to inspire us and give us a higher perspective from which to approach the day. One morning after our discussion, I simply wrote in my journal: “The ideal family is the model for living together in peace.” My wife reflected that this was one of the most important aspects of our trip for her. She shared that in daily life, it was easy for her to get overwhelmed by her emotions with the various things that happen in life. Starting the day with scriptural readings helped ground her in unchanging truths, anchoring her in her relationship with God for more stability throughout each day. She found this stability to be incredibly important when relating to others, especially with our son and has been making effort to continue with this practice since our trip.

Besides this, we spent the majority of our time each day outside exploring every hill and chasing every sheep on the farm. These pursuits were also purposeful, as we were engaging and discovering the natural world to uncover and connect with aspects of our own inner nature. This was something we didn’t usually do as we live in a mostly urban setting. We took our son for his first mini-hike to see a waterfall, and I was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm with which he would race up every hill. His joy at being in nature propelled him through the half-mile hike and I could definitely see his inner character and strength being cultivated through that experience.

My wife and I made sure we ended each day with journal writing, reflection sharing, and prayer as a couple, which are things we don’t always do in our busy lives at home. Taking that time to understand each other more deeply and to make sincere determinations for the new year was immeasurably valuable to both of us. Especially since becoming young parents, having that time to ‘reset’ our mental and spiritual “processors” and beginning fresh on a solid foundation will prepare us for what will surely be even more hectic and tumultuous times ahead.

My wife and I now feel a new clarity in our goals and priorities for 2021 as a family that strives to realize God’s ideal. For even just this alone, I would gladly stomp around in goat manure again.

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