My wife and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary this past Wednesday. There are a vast number of great ideas on the internet as to how a couple could spend such a monumental event. I considered several. One popular option is to go on a second honey moon…you know…back to those first days of the first year…for us that would have meant a trip to New Hampshire…on Lake Winnipesauke…looking for Dr. Leo Marvin. But…Covid ended that.
I considered taking her on a cruise, after all, that is really what she wanted to do for our honey moon, but I was too cheap to take her. But…Covid again put a stop to that.
Perhaps, a nice bed and breakfast up the coast of the North Shore of Lake Superior might be nice? Nope…Covid.
I even debated for a while about heading up to Lutsen, Minnesota to enjoy the many lodging amenities while I entered the Lutsen 99er bike race…yep…you guessed it…Covid.
So…we ended up going camping for a few days. Nice you say??? Well…we brought the four children. Who does that? Who brings their 4 children with them on their 20th anniversary getaway? Short answer…we do.
We arrived to the site on Tuesday. The weather forecast was perfect…bright and sunny everyday and each day becoming warmer. I lit a fire to cook our supper and just as the fire hit peak cooking potential our beautiful forecasted weather turned sour with an unexpected torrential down pour. There is an equation that the Olson family has come to live by and trust. Olson + Camping = Rain. Try it sometime…it appears to be a certainty.
On Wednesday, our official anniversary day, Sarah and I exchanged gifts. We had agreed ahead of time to not exchange any gifts and both broke the rules. She gave me a nice package of Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles. I gave to her…an inflatable rubber duck pool floatie…hey after 20 years, a guy runs out of ideas. Next year, I think I will get her an electric air pump…my lungs and lips can’t take another inflating episode.
The children spent much of the three days fighting, attacking and criticizing each other. Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to endure the never ending bickering? I think I would have been less exhausted with a 99 mile bike race.
Just when I think that I can’t take another minute of it…our children pulled out a small envelope. The outside said “To: Mom and Dad, Happy Anniversary.” Upon opening the envelope, I pulled out the blue card that simply said “Just a little note,” with a single musical note near the writing; I opened the card and found a $20 bill and sweet words of encouragement from our children.
It nearly brought my wife and I to tears. I barely managed to squeak out the words, “But the campsite costs $28 per night,” before my wife of 20 years swiftly backhanded the wind out of me and prevented me from asking them for more money…after 20 years, she really knows me well.
Despite continually falling into my own lack of encouragement, I have become convinced, that a single word of encouragement can melt away countless burdens. Having children is great…but it is not easy…it is, astoundingly exhausting. Yet, in that one encouraging act…where my 4 children each contribute $5 for their mother and I to go out to eat…was one of the most uplifting and encouraging moments in my recent years. We all need encouragement. Sometimes we are really good at giving it…sometimes not. Sometimes we are really good at receiving it…sometimes not. God created us to need encouragement. Indeed, I believe that he created us to thrive on it. I would go so far as to say, that when we encourage one another…it points back to Him…because encouragement is in His nature.
Our world needs encouragement. We see the need all around us. People need to be encouraged. You need encouragement…I need encouragement. Acts 13:13-52, Paul and Barnabas enter a new city on their missionary journey. When they arrive in the Synagogue the religious leaders ask them to “Share any words of encouragement” that they have for them. Paul shares the message of the Gospel. The Gospel is THE and should be THE most singularly encouraging truth that this world has ever known or encountered.
Let me encourage you with this. Jesus is love and He loves you deeply and He has all of this stress that lies before us…already figured out. That…is encouraging!