Jenny Howell and I met because one fall we had two set of boys playing on two different basketball teams together. Somehow we had lived in the same town for years and had never crossed paths. We had friends in common and still never met. We lived only a few miles apart and never knew each other. Jackson is not a metropolis...how does that happen?
That season was a gift from God. When we met we were instant friends. We laughed and said that we must have been living parallel lives...that didn't intercept. Thank goodness our lives finally did, even if it was only for one year before she moved to Seattle.
But honestly, it has been super fun connecting--even over the miles. Learning our trades and being stretched to try new thing after new thing...it has been such a blessing to have someone who understands.
If you don't know Jen yet take this time to connect with her! Now in Seattle she has been super active as a MOPS speaker. She has been blogging for a while but just stepped out and launched a brand new website Jennyhowell.com and you can follow her on Instagram as well.
Jen is so transparent and authentic that you will surely be blessed by following her and her family's journey. She has so much wisdom and is such a blessing!
Be sure to check out the rest of the Summer Series. It is sure to give you some great ideas for your summer.
How Summer Road Trips Harvest Family Friendship
By Jenny Howell
The years have come and gone but the summer memories of our family filling every seat in the mini van and taking road trips all over the United States, have not.
Posters and photo books reveal our journeys together filled with new places to explore, new reasons to laugh out loud with and at each other, and the commitment to time that can not be erased.
I love the anticipation that comes with the closing of the school year and the beginning of a slower schedule just begging us to linger a little longer.
One where the kitchen looks more like camp, the yard is littered with the signs of a really epic water balloon fight, and friends end up in cold-de-sacs just in time for the sun to set.
Where flip flops can be found in every room of the house and the plan for dinner is watermelon and chicken on the grill, with a side of sweet tea - lemonade.
The season where jumping in the car and taking long drives out country roads, spending the day at the pool, and making runs to Sonic are always good ideas.
Here we are again friends, stepping into the deep breath
months of summer that invite us to embrace new memories
and celebrate some major milestones!
Maybe you have a graduate, a brand new driver, or a baby finally sleeping through the night (GLORY), but we can all say that no matter what our summer plans hold – we want them to be full of moments that stay with our kids long after they leave our nest.
As a Momma to five kiddos and the wife to my one favorite Family Pastor, summer was the place where we could all get away as a family for a long stretch of time – and we anticipated the adventure ahead for months upon months.
Sometimes the actual planning of a family adventure
creates a renewed closeness before our wheels ever leave the driveway.
My husband would begin gathering our older three sons around the table where they poured over the paper kind of National Park maps, road atlas (my personal favorite), and books coaching us on all the sights to see along our journey.
The road trip notes were taken, campsite reservations - mixed in with a few hotel stays for showers and sanity were made and then the packing began. Otherwise known as “How on earth are we going to fit all of us AND gear in this mini van for ten days”.
My job was to ensure that our kids, back when they were younger – had plenty of busy activities to do along the drive.
I took great pride in putting together travel journals with weather reports,
cool sightings, and places to glue in brochures or
keepsakes from along the way.
I guess you could say we are a bit of collection junkies. You name it we have a jar or a book for it. Shells, feathers, rocks, coral, acorns, pressed plants, and even a jar full of ski passes from winter coats.
Yes, I’m the Mom who doesn’t have baby books or printed pics of my last two children – but you better believe I have a jar of the best skipping rocks from both coasts.
To add to the excitement of driving cross country every summer, we make sure to land in a great city just in time for July 4th.
I know. Such a treat.
We have seen the boats come up the river in Savannah, Georgia celebrating freedom.
We have stood on the steps of Washington D.C. watching fireworks light up the history all around us.
We have made our way through historic Boston and parked on a bridge to view the fireworks exploding over the harbor.
We have taken on Chicago by foot and bus and train and joined the city in their celebrations.
Thanks to my man who loves a good road trip adventure, he also made sure we were at the right places just in time for a beautiful experience – something this momma could not pull off!
One of my favorite traditions of summer road tripping is
viewing home videos from summer’s past. You guys…you have to try this.
Since we always do WAY too much video on vacation, we would use all the hours in the car heading on a new journey – to watch videos from long ago.
Are you crying yet?
Those tiny voices coming through the van speakers and at the same time I hear teenage men voices just in the seat behind me. It really is a simple effort with sweet rewards. Try it.
I have to tell you that it was both hysterical and precious to see our kids laughing at their little selves and talking about memories from trips that were coming back to life.
All of the sudden all of the cramped hours become full of deep worth and gratitude for the years past.
And get this…On the way home, we would watch footage from the trip we just took, keeping the moments fresh on the hearts of everyone.
Maybe your summer looks like staying close to home – GREAT! There are so many inexpensive and free ways to create a summer full of moments spent together. Whatever your warmer days hold – pull out the home videos, make some easy but intentional plans and find your summer.
Let’s be the ones who chase after the simple fun. The kind where we still love each other at the end of the day and that takes captive the opportunity for family friendship to thrive.