Take the time to participate in your kids' lives

I can't believe I almost let work take me away from experiencing one of the most special weeks of my
son's life. Parents, this goes out to you. Be present with your kid, even if you feel like you don't have time.

I pastor a small local church, and there's always more work to do than time to do it. So when I got the chance to go on a four-day field trip with my son's 5th-grade to a camp in the redwood forest in Northern California, I had mixed feelings. I have gone on a field trip every year except one since 1998. It's one of those things I wanted to do so I could participate in special events in my kids' lives. I have loved doing this. I get to see how my kids interact with their schoolmates and teachers. You learn a lot on field trips.

This particular trip was the last elementary school trip for our kids. I didn't want to miss it. On the other hand, I was thinking about four whole days away from work. That also means three nights of insufficient sleep. And it wasn't a good week to be gone. Sanctuary Church had a special event for the community planned for two days after we got back from the field trip. I knew I would need to expend more energy than I had.

I almost backed out. I was on the fence. I thought it might be better to stay home and concentrate on my work activities.

Was I ever wrong! I was on duty 23 hours a day with the boys in our cabin. But that meant I got to hang out with them during nature hikes, zip lines, teamwork challenges, meals, and settling down for bed. And the highlight of the trip happened on our final night, when the boys of our cabin snuck up on another cabin, broke in through the door, and screamed at the top of their lungs like a bunch of crazed banshees. We got in trouble for making too much noise, so another memory is talking the boys down from their dread about what consequences they might face afterward. (They did not receive any consequences, by the way.)

I'm so tired today I can barely think straight, and I have a pile of work to catch up on. But I'll take it. My heart is full, and so is my son's.


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