Here in Michigan (we are in Flint hotel-sitting the Inn for one final week) people like to drive the back roads on autumn days and take in the color. During an excursion like that you want to keep your eyes open for apple orchards and cider mills. For the last three years or so we have made a family event of visiting the Parshallville Mill. http://www.parshallvillecidergristmill.com/
At the Parshallville Mill They have fresh apple cider and diet-wrecker cinnamon-sugar donuts. There is an old grist mill there and a dam and water running over rocks reflecting the bright colors of the leaves. There are a couple foot bridges and the proprietor has a nicely-restored old Ford 9-N that brings back sweet memories of my grandpa’s farm in Licking County, Ohio. If you catch them on a slow day they are always eager to talk about cider-making or the history of the mill or area. Its close enough to be convenient and far enough to be an event.
Sometimes our little family outings just don’t work. They get rained out, or the kids fuss, or the parents fuss, or schedule conflicts choke them out, or the budget gets in the way but they are important. They are effort but they are worth it.
I consider it a Dad’s duty to arrange family memories. That requires planning, sacrifice, investment, and selfless energy. Making memories is serious business, but it’s the kind of thing that makes kids want to hang around home and listen to mom and dad, and learn to love and value what mom and dad love and value. Sometimes truth just goes down a lot better with cider and donuts under a flaming Maple on a crisp autumn day beside a gurgling stream. I think that’s the way Jesus did it. When he Jesus re-recruited Peter he didn’t invite him to a lecture. He fixed him breakfast beside the lake at sunrise. He knew what he was doing.
I just think if our families aren’t fun they are not worthy of the name Christian. If there is no joy in our homes there is no evidence of the Spirit’s presence because the fruit of the Spirit of joy. Where families lack joy, they lack the magnetic power that draws children to the One who was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Jesus was a joyful happy man. (See the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews verse nine).
Recently I drove into Sugarcreek, Ohio. I stopped for a cup of coffee at a spot that overlooks the little hamlet. There is an old restored railroad there. Looking on it my mind traveled back about fifteen years to a snapshot I cherish of four little chubby-faced children on that train on that day. Before Christmas those children will be 25, 22, 21 and 19 years old. One is a married man now. I don’t know how long it will be before the others will make their way out into the world.
As the memories flooded back my heart was tender with happiness for the joy we had together and eager for the times we will have in the future. I was glad, so glad, that I took the time and spent the money and set aside televised sports and selfish hobbies to spend time with the children and with Lois. As I drove through Sugarcreek and Charm and Walnut Creek and Berlin and Farmerstown and the gentle hills between them, I was glad that I had indulged myself in family events.
I worshipped the Lord that afternoon and spent some tender, tearful moments with Him, talking out loud to the Lord, thanking him for the sweetness of family memories and family affection, pleading with him to never let my heart stray from my home, family, wife, and children into foolish, selfish things that won’t matter in a few years.
Riverfront Character Inn
September 11, 2006