My affectionately named ‘little family’ is the sum total of Jeff, myself and our only child Heather. We love to travel. We hurdle all the usual traveling adventures very well together whipping out our main weapon when things get tough – Humor.

Heather is very extroverted, passionate, creative, intelligent, and witty. And chatty. When she walks in a room it is mouth first. I walk into a room feelings first. Jeff walks into a room…hmm, I am not sure how. He is a complex man with lots of varying people skills. But he does not walk in with his mouth. Some how our genes partied and we gave birth to a delightfully expressive daughter.

We would drive a very long way for a very long time with her either asleep, daydreaming, or occupied by her phone when we would have loved for some engaging dialogue or for her to amuse us with her verbal wit. Timing was a continual challenge. Right when we needed some reflective silence, wonderment, or a nap, she would instead emote and aim for a world record of words per second reminding us that she was not one to walk in a room or exist in a space on mute.

One of our adventurous little family trips was to the shore of Lake Superior. We love the Great Lakes and their raw expansive beauty of sand, shorelines of rugged boulders, and restless water formed as if a glimpse of heaven especially crafted for water lovers. The rich shipping and marine history, freshwater fish, water attractions and sports is a big lure for us.

On one such trip we toured a famous lighthouse and it’s adjacent park. There were a few miles of primitive beach to freely roam while absorbing the great expanse of it all. It was the perfect time to have some peace and quiet contemplating God and His beautiful world, the love of humanity and nature, etcetera, etcetera…and what do I hear the whole time? Yep. That lovely child of ours yammering away. Dear readers, I swear it was almost too much. But we are on vacation and this is supposed to be a time of fun and familial bonding. I nodded sagely responding in motherly, monosyllabic style praying that this beautiful child of mine would just shut up. Nope. As she is pouring out her little heart words flowing at autobahn speed, I spot a dead goat. Yes. A huge bloated dead goat.

I couldn’t wrap my head around why it was there. Did it fall off a ship or a scientific research boat and wash ashore? (Why did I think there would be a goat on a marine life research boat?) Did it roam from a nearby farm? I saw nothing but lake and park. No clusters of homes. Did somebody have a pet goat, walk it one moonlit beach night and it keeled over? As my reverie morphed from reflective musings to bewildered dead goat scenarios, I hear in the background the passionate babble of Heather. We are by now about five feet from the goat. I try to listen like a good mother. I have no idea anymore what the hell she is talking about. I walk around it. She trips and falls over it.

I was stunned. I saw it coming, but thought she would do some kid acrobatics or something. No. The only acrobatics were from her mouth. Readers, we laughed so hard we couldn’t walk anymore. Jeff was way ahead of us having his own moment of creation-awe, missing the whole event. Jeff sauntered back and we recapped the whole affair.

To this day, twenty-five years later, as Heather and I are on the phone connecting across the miles, both taking our turns yammering away, every now and then we interject “Dead Goat” as a memory launch and we hardily laugh all over again.

I could get all philosophical about what the Dead Goat could symbolize in our continual walk with God and our stumbling moments as we live each day listening and living for Him. But quite honestly, it is more to me about encouraging and keeping watch for those humorous, unplanned, unexpected moments that build a lifetime of bonding through humble laughter as we enjoy summer vacations with friends and family.

You can’t beat that for Holy in any family because being able to laugh at yourself is a marker of humility.

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