By: Steve Lowe, Executive Director

Six thousand miles logged across 12+ states pulling a renovated pop-up camper that had never been more than 70 miles from home. That’s what the Lowes did this summer and I’m so glad we did! A trip out west is something Wendy and I had talked about for our family for at least a couple of years and we seized the opportunity this past summer. We visited Yellowstone and Glacier National parks, viewed the Tetons and enjoyed time in Jackson Hole. We explored other parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho then capped it off traveling through the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota before camping on the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. Our own children Tucker (15) and Isabella (12) are teens and Wendy and I are walking the journey of parenting teens ourselves. This was a great opportunity for our family to invest relationally in one another. In hopes that some of you would be encouraged to take an opportunity such as this with your family let me share some of the benefits.

This trip gave us undistracted time together. For three weeks we were together outside our normal friends/families and our normal schedules.  We intentionally limited some of our online activities through our phones and there were many places we didn’t have service. I really believe that quality time is a myth. Quality time only happens as we have quantities of time together. We can’t create those special moments, but rather they happen as we have time together. 6000 miles in our extended cab pick-up gave us lots of opportunities for great conversation that we would never have had. There were also moments like the crazy lady who made a spectacle of herself saving a parking space in Glacier and using words inappropriate to mention. While we laughed and shook our heads it gave us a great opportunity to process how that could have been handled differently. We marveled at people who couldn’t follow simple rules and treated Yellowstone like Disney World with one guy trying to call a 2000-pound bison like a puppy dog. Rules about treating these as “true wildlife” and keeping your distance have a purpose to protect everyone. Shared experiences like these gave us great opportunities to discuss life lessons and what Christ desires for us.

An important part of relationships is shared memories. Maybe the greatest thing we got to experience on this trip is the memories we built that will last for a lifetime and that builds a connection between us. There was Wendy’s ongoing fear of the bears at Yellowstone and Glacier, which shifted to rattlesnakes when we visited the Battlefield of the Little Bighorn. The kids and I had a lot of fun with this. There is the memory I will share with Tucker as he caught the biggest rainbow trout he’s ever caught and fought 10 minutes to land it. He also had some good laughs as I tried to provide boat navigation while he fished. Isabella and Wendy got to build a great memory riding horses under the big sky of Montana. As a competitive family we enjoyed some putt-putt golf with a lot of fun ribbing one another (please note dad won both games). We also raced go-carts, something we’d never done together that we really enjoyed. There were nights playing Skip-Bo around the picnic table using rocks to hold our cards down so the wind didn’t take them away. There was the time I had the whole family praying we didn’t run out of gas on a long stretch of highway somewhere in the middle of Montana. Then there were the experiences of God’s beautiful creation and natural wonders we experienced together. All of these memories built together will serve as anchoring pegs in our relationship for years to come.

As part of this trip we also celebrated the majesty and faithfulness of God. The majesty, beauty, and uniqueness of the sites we saw such as The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful, the bison herds in Lamar Valley, the majestic peaks of the Tetons, the crystal clear waters and snow-capped peaks of Glacier, were all echoes pointing to the greatness of our God who created and sustains all of this. We rejoiced in the faithfulness of God. My truck had a mechanical issue just before we left that we got repaired on Friday before leaving on Sunday. We pulled our pop-up camper we had been renovating for a couple of years that had never been more than 70 miles from home. We traveled more than 6000 miles camping 17 of the 22 nights we were gone. Once we left the south it never rained in the 21 days we were out west.  We celebrated God’s faithfulness and protection on our adventure and have hearts full of gratitude for allowing us this incredible opportunity.

This trip was a great relational building time for our family. We must be intentional and continue pursuing strong relationships with our teens. This trip gave Wendy and me an opportunity to invest into our own teens’ lives and enjoy spending time together. As we face the challenge of the teen years and the natural growth of our kids towards independence, our relationship needs to remain strong. A trip like this allowed us to invest in our relationship and I am trusting in God that it will pay great dividends. For all of our friends out there with kids, let me encourage you to consider a family adventure. You may not be able to take a 3 week trip, but set aside some intentional time to get away from the normal daily grind and social media and plan a big or small adventure with your family. The money and time it costs is well worth the investment in the shared memories and relationship building that your family will experience. Carpe diem, seize the day and begin planning your own family adventure!

Please enjoy these photo’s from our trip.