"This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: "My child, treat yourself well, according to your means...Do not deprive yourself of the day's enjoyment." (Sir 14:11-14) ~Pope Francis
I am notorious for having unreasonable expectations for my colleagues, myself, my children, or my weekends. If it exists, I've got a standard for it that probably won't be met. So, you could imagine that the moment we accepted a friend's invitation to spend a week at a lake in the middle of Oklahoma, a little voice in my head began to tally all the things that might fall short on this family excursion. Four airplane rides with four kids, triple-digit heat, and mosquito bites were a few things that quickly came to mind. I began a long mental preparation process for Oklahomaggeddon. As we marched through the airport to leave, I saw an ad that said, "Don't miss the surprises." That mantra stuck with me through, what turned out to be, one of the best family experiences we have ever had. Whether it was the serene beauty of Grand Lake, never having seen my Katie's smile get so wide, or how surprisingly adept I was at riding a mule for the first time, instead of looking for disappointing gaps, I went looking for inspiring gaps, and I had more than I could imagine. It made me wonder, while high standards are important, am I also looking to be surprised? In working hard to fulfill my vocation, how might I be "depriving myself of the day's enjoyment" and the ways God is trying to reach me through the unexpected? As we watched a beautiful sunset on our last night at the lake, my oldest daughter Annie turned to me and said, "Dad, is this one of those 'once in a lifetime' moments"? I responded that it probably was and said a silent prayer of thanks that I didn't miss it looking for something else.