Thursday, November 29, 2012

The art of (not) camping in the rain*

Two days before we were set to leave on our biannual family camping trip (way back in September, better late than never for blogging right?), with the weather forecast getting wetter and gloomier by the minute I received an email from my husband.  "Below are some links on tips for camping in the rain."  This is how we communicate more often than not, through emails, our dinner conversations are usually filled with highlights of school days, reminders to "put your knees down" and wondering out loud how our children could possibly be so loud and so messy, we have neither the memory or the energy to talk about grown up things.

I took his email as a sign of 1) we were going camping, even if it was raining and 2) he was preparing his argument against my protests, "see honey, look, people camp in the rain, they even write articles helping others to do it too!"  I was of the opinion that people (with three young children non the less) camped only in the rain by accident or by poverty, but then again I used to feel that way about camping all together.

I deleted his email and checked the forecast again, 100% chance of rain for all of Friday night and now Saturday morning.  I began to procrastinate, my most favorite coping technique and wasted some time on pinterest.  At some point, through email I'm sure, we discussed the idea of canceling our trip, decided we didn't want to and said that we would move it back instead camping Saturday through Monday instead of Friday through Sunday, and in an attempt to show me how much he loves me he said we would wait out the worst of the rain with a visit to a friend's house along the way.

I began to cook/prep food, pack up all the clothing/sleeping/cleaning items for four people, and check my list for the hundredth time (I have camped now a total of 12 times with kids and it never really gets easier to pack).  I also checked the weather every 10 minutes praying for a change, surely it wouldn't really rain as hard as they were forecasting, this is Texas afterall and it never really rains, even when they promise it will.

But it did.  It rained and it poured.  Kyle bought extra tarps and put down plastic on all the floors of our van (which is very Kyle), I packed an extra set of clothes/shoes for every member of the family and put it in a bag in the car, our "just in case everything we brought got soaked" bag.

We arrived at our friends' house, were blessed to watch the Aggies win and to be fed and loved well.  And continued to check the weather and pray.  Finally it was decided that it was going to be raining all night and hard so we would stay the night at our friends' and then leave Sunday morning for our trip.

Sunday morning we got up and were leaving by 8:30 in the morning when we backed into a car parked across the street.  By we I mean Kyle, not that I'm keeping score :).  Mercifully the owner was not mad, even though we awoke her with this news on a Sunday morning and was not interested in getting any insurances involved, you couldn't hit another car and have a better outcome.

Finally we were on our way and Kyle turned to me and said, I think we should just go home.  The look in his eyes broke my heart, you never met anyone who feels as passionate about camping as my husband.  I said, no way we're going to go to camp even if it's in the rain and we're going to have fun (I may also have considered that canceling our trip this weekend would require me to pack everything up again in another couple of weeks) and really what else could go wrong.

When we got to Dinosaur Vally state park, there was a light rain but it was warm outside and it was very apparent that this was the nicest park we had ever camped at.  And the kids were super excited to be greeted by giant dinosaurs.  We had the pick of the sites when we arrived and got an awesome one where the kids could explore around and enjoy a glorious adventure.

We hiked, we saw dinosaur tracks, we cooked, we slept, we saw God's beautiful creation, we only got the littlest bit wet.  It was the best camping trip yet, who knew, maybe's theres something to this camping in the rain.

*I totally stole this post title from this book, which I love and highly recommend!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The thank you tree is back!

This is back up in our house again, with much more leaves both on it and around it.  I love what this little (ghetto :) thankful tree does for our family this time of year.  How about you, do you have a a tradition of thanks this time of year?

Originally posted November 2011

My jaw hurts and I realize I've been clenching it tight, all day long.  The day was long, and everywhere I turn I see the piles of all I've left to do, my life so full of straw and hay it feels empty.  This is the month of Thanksgiving, of thanks giving, of giving thanks and so I am trying to learn, this being content in all things.

I open my copy of One Thousand Gifts and my view begins to change, my hearts understanding the importance of coming into his courts with thanksgiving.  I long to always in all circumstances see and believe that my God is good.  I take up my pen and I write them down, the gifts, "blue sky the color of my love's eyes", "shaking a tablecloth in the front yard, knowing I'm leaving food behind for the birds."

But it's hard to stop and pay attention and there are times where I can't possibly think what it is I am to be thankful for.  He screams in the aisle and I am overwhelmed and I feel like I'm failing at this shaping of the hearts who've have been entrusted to me.  "I was not alone" is the only thing I find to be thankful for in that moment, He was with me, always with me.  And all afternoon it seems small, scribbled in my notebook, "I was not alone", but really isn't that the biggest thing, the thing to be thankful for, that He is with us, always with us.  That He didn't leave us here alone.

And so, the day goes on and there seems to be few and far things in between I can grasp onto and return to Him in thanks.  So I take the one who has furrowed my brow all day long, we go outside and he happily gathers sticks for the "thank you tree."  We walk along together and as he gathers, my shoulders begin to relax.  I look at him and am reminded of the miracle that is my son, and suddenly the tension is gone and I feel the Spirit utters words I've never heard to praise the giver of this great gift.

I find a jar and wipe the cobwebs off the surface, and I feel Him doing the same to my heart.  Beginning to make me clean, using this thanks giving to change my heart, could it be?  We place the sticks in the jar, and they sit barren, empty.  I get the paper, the punch, the pen.  Find the notebook and turn to the page filled with words of thanksgiving.  I punch, and I write and I tie.  As my hands work, punch, write, tie, I feel the cleaning, the filling.  I am making a thank you tree, and with each leaf placed I am practicing over and again, thanksgiving.

Punch, write, tie.  You are a good God.  Punch, write, tie.  A God who gives life.  Punch, write, tie.  An abundant life.  Punch, write, tie.  Who takes us, so barren, and fills us up gift after good gift.  And in the giving thanks we are restored.