"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
- John Bowring
I stepped out of the minivan this morning into a field of parsley. Sweet fall parsley under my feet. I have often felt how privileged it is to be a parent because our sons take me places I wouldn't normally go. This weekend it was the tiny town of Elmer in rural Salem County, New Jersey. The occasion was an event called the Hillbilly Hustle, a Cyclocross race in which our oldest son, now 15, participated. The parking lot was the parsley field; the course itself was open field and forest.
Nothing is better for talking to a teenager than spending hours in a car together. It took us more than two hours last night to get to our hotel near the race site. Our conversations reminded me of what a fine man our son is becoming; he has a good heart and a wicked sense of humor.
At the race itself, I was moved to meet the young men with whom he has been training at our local university with. To a man they truly are wonderful. They cheered him on with wild enthusiasm and cow bells. After his race, when he commented he was disappointed with his performance, they talked to him with sincerity and encouragement. I told my husband later they treat him like a beloved younger brother.
For lots of reasons, I never truly believed I would be blessed with marriage and children. This weekend was a time to thank God. When I consider all the people He puts in front of my family, folks who cheer us on and nudge us toward greater things as we journey, I am humbled. Who knew that angels use cow bells?