Camping makes me a happy girl.
December 31, 2020
The year 2020 brought so many challenges, changes, and concerns. Problems do not stop amidst a pandemic; do they? This past year, my family has had periods of serious turmoil, yet there have been seasons of rest and restoration of our hearts and spirits. Each January, I attempt to schedule camping trips for our family. I used to tentatively plan one per month, and we would probably end up successfully having four or five a year.
When Chris began searching for a fifth wheel, I had no clue what it would take to actually plan and pack for family trips. Chris’ biggest contribution to our camping hobby was the purchase of a used 2005 Sprinter Fifth Wheel, and he also had to find the best hitch and truck to pull it. Chris spends more money for this hobby than his time.
The consuming of time comes from me and the children. First, I schedule places and times on the calendar, then I search for campsites, next I put down deposits or pay for our campsite in full for each trip. When the time comes to leave, I have purchased groceries and staples needed to survive a week or a weekend in a campground that may or may not have stores nearby.
Then, I must act as manager of my help aka the girls. Each girl has chores in preparation to leave, and each girl has to load the camper before we depart. The morning before we leave often looks very chaotic at our house. I feel stressed, the girls are bickering, and Liam is running around demanding for us to cater to the whims of his four-year-old mind. Chris usually goes to work, and he conveniently arrives just minutes before he needs to hook up and pull the camper out of the driveway.
He uses the guise of “I have a business to run,” but I have figured out that these escapes are strategically planned to limit his time with us girls and our drama. Whether or not he runs away for the packing, he cannot get away from us once we get to the campground.
Our stay, most of the time, strengthens are bond as a family. This trip, we arrived at Elijah Clark State Park in Lincolnton, Georgia. It has rained each day but one. We also had a few wayward co-campers. We were supposed to camp with a group of special people, yet they chose to camp with others instead. Both of these set backs did not deter us from our trip.
Our goal for our trips has not changed: we use camping as a mode to spend quality time together as a family. During our pre-martial counseling, Chris and I learned that “Quality Time” is our dominant love language. So, it makes perfect sense that we would enjoy camping with our children because we get to express our love to them by camping with them.
In my mind’s eye, I envision each trip as a “love bubble” that we encapsulates our children. All our struggles pause for a moment in time so that we actually enjoy each other and show love towards each other. Our first evening at Elijah Clark State Park, Sophia created our only campfire. Each one of us pulled our chairs around the fire pit, and we laughed and talked.
We came inside just in time to get our pajamas and turn out the lights for bed. A night like this provides the time and attention needed to heal a multitude of hurt. Our camper has a queen size bed in the master bedroom, so Chris and I have to sleep closer to each other than we do at home. It may just be me, but I always go home feeling closer and more in love with my husband than I did before we arrived.
Ultimately, my dominant love language speaks to his dominant love language because we both have spent quality time together whether for a weekend or a week of time. The Lord uses our hobby as an opportunity to strengthen our relationship as a couple while healing our bonds with our children. The week of Thanksgiving we drove to Chattanooga, Tennessee to spend time with Chris’ Dad and Stepmom.
Spending time with them both does my heart so much good. However, just as soon as we returned home, Sophia had two incidents that set us back yet again as a family. Her choices had negative repercussions for each of us. Her ICD (Impulse Control Disorder) often rears its ugly head just as I become comfortable in my job as mother or protector of my children because I am delusional to think that I am actually in control of what teenagers may or may not do.
The fall out from her impulse decisions have forced Chris and I back into therapy, made me find her a new psychiatrist, and increased our dependency on the LORD. I laugh at my previous comment: I am always dependent on the Lord. He doesn’t check my schedule or my need for quality time.
He will reset my schedule whenever He pleases. Just as the verse below states: “…at the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out.” (Numbers 9:22). However, He will use anything or any circumstance for His purpose. While we stop and spend time together during our camping trip, He prepares us for what is yet to be, or He heals us from what has already happened.
22 “Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.” Numbers 9: 22-23