What started off as an impromptu family vacation turned out to be one of the most touching and moving experiences I’ve had in a long time. In the span of just a day or two, we made the decision to take the family for a three-day retreat to The Lodge at Woodloch over in Hawley, PA. It’s just over a two-hour drive and so when we left Friday evening, with some traffic, we arrived on empty stomachs and ready to rest.
Thankfully, the food at Woodloch is always spectacular and we enjoyed a nice hearty American-style dinner with some huge steaks, a nice selection of wines, and some burgers for the kids. Many times, we get so caught up in life and we miss family meals here and there until it becomes an unfortunate habit. I had a good feeling that this retreat would be more than just restful from the first meal we shared together that evening.
Woodloch is not over-the-top extravagant, nor is that what I wanted out of this trip. I think I just needed a change of pace and some time away from work. Thankfully, Woodloch was just the place.
The next morning, when the kids were still sleeping, Stella and I took a walk by the lakeside and while it was chilly, the sharp biting wind was a poignant reminder of all that I had to be grateful for as I walked, chatted, and took photos. I managed to capture the morning sun just rising onto the opposing bank of the lake and it was just beautiful to see the warm orange glow bringing the tree line to life.
While coming back towards the lodge, I noticed some snowmakers preparing a snow-tubing slope and after making a mental note to see if the nearby ski resort was open, wondered just how much it costs to operate those machines enough to cover the mountain side. As I was thinking that, I had to catch myself, because in many ways, those idle wandering thoughts were something I haven’t had in a long time. Usually my days are so packed from morning to night with my children, beautiful wife, and work that I quite literally don’t have time for anything else. What a nice change!
After a great diner-style breakfast, which for me consisted of an artery-clogging 3 eggs over easy with bacon and sausage on the side, we went for a quick swim to start the day with some exercise and I got to spend some time reading! Talk about relaxing, I can’t remember the last time I got to plop down and just read a nice book. As I sat there, those wandering thoughts poked inside again and I found myself wondering about my future, the future for my career, my family, and what I wanted to do next. Instead of the usual anxiety causing worry, it was a calm and meditative time of reflection.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Stella also enjoying some personal time and boy does anything make a man happier than to see his wonderful wife being able to spend some time relaxing and enjoying herself! It always puts the best smile on my face to see her happy. So, I left her alone, and took the kids paintballing. Snow just began to start falling all over the field and it was magical, sort of like a Disney paradise.
We got back in time for a lovely seafood buffet with just about anything you could want, all you can eat! I swear, the oysters must have been fresh cause they were absolutely delicious!
The rest of the day and night was spent with us all just spending some free time, the kids watched some TV and lounged around, I got to spend some more time with Stella and after dinner we enjoyed a wonderful show with Rodney Laney (link).
On the last day, my kids got to try snowboarding for the first time! Apparently, this was the last day of the season that they were opening the ski lifts so we managed to enjoy a mostly empty ski resort which was great for my kids to learn on. I must say, I’m quite proud that in just a few hours they were both soaring down the slope!
As evening set, we made our way back home and the car ride back was filled with a deep discussion about some of the inconsistencies that we noticed in the Bible. I was really surprised at first, to see my kids really diving deep into their faiths and bringing up their concerns with me, but I soon found myself moved as we shared about our personal faith lives and the God that we call our Savior. I really hope that this experience is just one in a long list of times to come and that my family which comes second only to God himself would continue to thrive and grow. This retreat was more than just some time away from home and work, but a time of healing, restoration, and even growth!