Lisa and I spent the weekend in Dearborn, Michigan for the annual Brail family reunion. Over a month ago we looked online and found some airline tickets that were only about $30 more than what we estimated it would cost to drive to the Detroit area and back. Since that time the cost of gas has gone up quite a bit and the cost between the two was either basically equal or cheaper to fly. Flying up and back saved us an estimated 18 hours of drive time, which allowed us to spend almost an entire extra day with family, which was great. So we flew out Friday morning with a brief stop in Chicago and arrived at the house by 10:30am.
Friday was spent talking, playing games and basically hanging out with each other and getting reaquainted. Later in the evening, the fmaily threw Lisa and I a baby shower. We were overwhelmed by the amount of gifts that our family presented to us and fully understand and recognize that their love for us and our unborn child were only slighty reflected through their generosity. We received numerous onesies and tops, toys and books, a swing and our stroller. By the time the day was over, Lisa and I were exhausted, yet really happy when we crawled into bed at around midnight. (I suppose that getting up at 4am the day after going to bed at 10:30pm the night before might have had something to do with it.)
Saturday morning had people going all sorts of different places. There was quite a large group that was headed out for 9 holes of golf, but since I have never played golf and have no real desire to start such an expensive hobby anytime soon, I opted out of that adventure. Lisa's aunt had visited the Henry Ford Estate the day before and we had talked about going with Lisa's mother on Saturday and by the time this group was preparing to leave, there was a handful of women going.
While they were all getting ready to go, Lisa's father and I were sitting in the living room together. Originally, a large group of the family had planned on going to Greenfield Village on Friday, but that had evidently fallen apart. Lisa's parents had planned on going by themselves on Saturday, but Lisa's mother wanted to go with the ladies to the estate instead. Faced with the prospect of sitting at the nearly deserted house all morning and not necessarily wanting to go to the estate with all the ladies, I was more than willing to go with Lisa's father to the village. I was interested in seeing it before we went on the trip, so this proved an easy decision to make after I consulted with Lisa about it.
Lisa's father and I arrived at Greenfield Village with impending rain clouds overhead and entered for free thanks to her aunt and uncle who have season passes that can get two people in for free on each visit. After perusing the pamphlet and map that we received upon entrance, we made our way toward the Thomas Edison Menlo Park complex. As we stopped in at the Wright brother's cycle shop it started to drizzle. We arrived at the first building of the complex just in time, as it started to rain heavily. We took our time investigating the many different aspects of this electric production facility and discussed the hazards and hardship of working in that environment at that time. We dodged raindrops from one building to the next as we made our way through the complex. While most of these buildings are actually reproductions of the originals, there has been great attention paid to room layout, accessories and building location to ensure that it accurately reflects the original location.
After the Menlo complex, we made our way to some of the historic homes that have been moved to the village. Our first stop on the house tour was the home of writer and famous dictionary creator Noah Webster. Right next door to the Webster house was that of Robert Frost. It was interesting to see where these people lived and how they lived and makes me appreciate the life that I live. All of the comforts of my modern home easily put to shame any of the adornments and plush items that any of these people had in their houses. It makes me appreciate what God has blessed me with and makes me thankful for the time I live in.
We made our way back to the hotel relatively dry, having experienced small places of history and the company of one another. Saturday afternoon the entire family went to Tiger Stadium, where we watched the Tigers lose to the Twins, but had an enjoyable time none-the-less. The stadium reminded me a lot of the new Busch stadium, just without the upper deck overlooking some of the outfield and fewer seats behind the outfield wall. It seems like all the "newer" ballparks that try to look "older" all look a lot alike, which is kind of ironic. I mean, the "newer" parks don't have the weird angles and different configurations of the older stadiums that give them some of their charm and the "newer" stadiums have the same aesthetic feeling to them and similar playing fields.
Sundayw e had a service in the backyard for church, where our host family led the music and presented our message. Lisa's uncle spoke about leadership and how everybody in the family has a leadership role of some form or another. Whether that role be within just our family, out in the community or in the business world, we are all called to live our lives so that they reflect Christ. This is extremely important when we consider our leadership roles and understand how our decisions, actions and words can impact and change people; either they will be drawn closer to God or repelled farther away from Him.
As we returned on our flight back to St. Louis I reflected on the trip and thanked God for the family He has blessed me with. He has allowed me to become part of a family that loves and respects each other and is striving to follow God's will in their lives. I am blessed because I enjoy their company and do not dread family reunions but actually look forward to them. Through the many conversations I have had over the past 3 years I have been challenged, encouraged and taught many things from the Word of God through these wonderful people. I understand that not everyone gets along with their in-laws and I know that a lot of people cannot stand their extended family. I am blessed to be able to say that neither of those statements is true in my case.
God has given me a family to grow up in that loves Him and each other and then, in His perfect time, He allowed me to meet my wife and become part of her family that does the same. I look forward to the day when I can introduce our child to both sides of our family, where I know that members are already praying for and loving the three of us as a family and where we will be able to learn more about God together in their presence.