When there is a Cow in your Campsite…

The plan was set. A nice, week long, family vacation. A “glamping” trip designed by camping expert; Poppa (a.k.a: My dad).

With some unexpected hindrances the departure of our 6 hour drive (sans potty breaks) occurred way after we’d hoped to leave. But by 3 pm we were on our way! Dad called and let me know he wouldn’t be able to be at the site when we arrive, but gave very specific and detailed directions on where to go. And so we felt prepared for what was in store.

There was some pressure because a road closure was scheduled along our route- but we made it through no problem, despite the hourly potty stops… buuut minutes after our clear passage, David said “We’ll need to stop for gas soon”. As the last word left his lips we heard the puttering engine. Dave promptly pulled over. With the large load we were hauling- and the boat attached- apparently the gas sensor had been affected… So, here we were just outside of a canyon, no town in site, on the side of the road… without gas.

Hope was not lost as David didn’t skip a beat. He promptly grabbed the empty water bottle at my feet and said we had plenty of gas in the boat. And so, I handed the boys screens as I popped out of the car to watch (and even help) as my husband siphon gas from the boat into the water bottle and then it into the gas tank.

After about 8 trips with the liter water bottle we were on our way into the next town to grab some dinner (and fill the gas tank) before venturing to the campsite. And of course, just as you may have guessed, everything closes by 9pm in this little town. Luckily we had about a 30 minutes window though before the gas station closed up!

Which meant lunchables and bottled smoothies were on the menu for my kiddos. It was fine- this was exciting because it was not something I’d normally purchase for them. My spirits were still pretty good as my resiliency and optimism leaned into the adventure!

Yet as darkness enveloped the night and Dave messed with the GPS, we missed the turn to the dirt road leading to camp- things started tensing slightly.

The plan had been to have Dave boat over to the camp site across the reservoir and then I would drive the length around and meet him there…

At this point thought, I was not interested in back roading to the campsite on the opposite side of the lake without David and so Dave unhooked the boat and off we went to find the campsite.

My dad’s detailed directions had us overly reacive so we ended up taking an early sharp, left hand turn into some trees ,and past a creepy half opened gate… Thankfully we figured it out when we saw the bath was completely barred with downed trees and were able to reverse out. But I’m telling you I had both hand on my face exclaiming to Dave “No David, don’t!” more then once on this little 5 minute detour.

You guys. by the time we’d drove the long miles round the reservoir and down an even steeper dirtier pot hole and boulder ridden road finding the site it was midnight. And we still needed to unload some things and go back to get our bedding from the where it was stored in the boat!

Eventually we got the boys set in the tent that was already up on site, but we concluded that it’d be inappropriate to bust out the loud air pump for our air mattress at 1 am, so we took the back seats out of the SUV, I slept, well- rested there, at a katywompus angle, and Dave slept in the drivers seat.

Lucky for me, Aunt Flo, had decided to show up that day. So I was up several times awkwardly climbing out of the car into the black wilderness venturing to the portable toilet we’d set in the middle of the site throughout the early morning hours.

When daylight came Dave surveyed the land and visited a tree while I again popped a squat, this time without the dark covering. While light is helpful… it also leaves one quite exposed in such a situation.

Then the sound of a large animal filled the still morning air, he turned quickly and our wide eyes connected. “Is it an Elk?! Maybe a Moose!?” I anxiously wondered allowed from my vulnerable spot, pants down on the pot. Dave moved to the shoreline to look around.

He laughed and hollerd at me… “Cows.”

I then stepped over, what we could now confidently say, was a cow pie to join him at the muddy shoreline… and sure enough cows were headed our way. We glanced at at one another baffled, wondering what to do next.

The boys started stirring and clamoring, so we decided to go find some cell service to touch base with Poppa.

Before heading the 10 miles back to the main road we stopped by the boat launch. The dock wasn’t even in the water! The water levels were so low that chances of getting the car stuck in the mud in the midst off loading the boat would be high… there was no way we’d be able to launch the boat on this body of water.

So, while naming something as adventurous can make all the difference to lessen stressful situations, lack of sleep can be dangerous upon teetering hormones, disappointments and bickering boys, and a chronic illness. I was definitely being stretched as my attitude met the circumstances of the moment. We ventured to town to find a cell signal and a good cup of coffee.

And while we were unable to reach Poppa’s cell- we were able to locate a very cute and clean little cafe that provided this very weary woman (ME!) with the most delightful coconut milk latte with honey that she may have ever had.

I knew this find was a sweet gift from the Lord as my tired mind and body let the warmth of the creamy caffinated beverage fill my mouth with delight.

I’ll spare the details of the day as we drove to find other spots and broke the news to Poppa, broke camp and then set up elsewhere, about an hour away, with what may be just a temporary set up. It too wasn’t the best- but it hit a few of the critical criteria.

It wasn’t until two days later, halfway into the trip we decided that this was indeed the site we would stay at since allll the other options were filled. (Ya- we spent a good time looking at other options…) It was lakeside where we could squeeze our family and the boat would be able to be beached near us.

And I have to just spend a few words here to declare how fabulous my dad is. He had great plans to bless us with a relaxing time, went out of his way to really make something special… and his hopes were dashed and his investments seemed futile. Yet he met the circumstance with a hug and happy heart. Ready to improvise. There’s so much more to share about this- but that’s another story for another day.

That afternoon we established the campsite a bit more a wind storm hit. You guys, I decided that I just couldn’t.

I climbed into the small tent and onto our air mattress to rest but wasn’t able to sleep as the sounds of the vinyl tent was whipped about. Since there was a little cell service so I reached out to my dearest girlfriends expressing my misery, requesting prayer for a better attitude. Then promptly googled to see if there were any Air B&B, VRBO or hotel rooms available. No luck.

And so I laid there purposing to be present. And I listened. I allowed my body to put its full weight on the down comforter covering the air mattress. The boys laughter tickled my ears and the deep tones of David and my Dad harmonized on the whistling of the wind. My adopted 17 year old sister was participating and supervising the boys play as I allowed the warmth of the air inside the tent to encompass me. My Dad and Husband’s voices were filled with optimism as they applied themselves to the work of establishing camp.

And well, sweet feelings overcame me with the confident knowledge that they, both my husband and Dad, loved that I was resting. They had no expectations or resentment towards me as they did the work at hand. A peaceful gratitude ministered to my weary body in those moments and I celebrated how deeply blessed I am.

Throughout the trip I petitioned the Lord- asking Him to reveal Himself to me. The challenge I had with my attitude, the misery I experienced in the disappointment of dashed expectations… Throughout it all and in the aftermath, I have just been eager to hear how from the Lord. I’m so hoping to mature through that week long experience.

I’ve since scrubbed off most of the dirt that consumed my family and belongings and have made it a point to sit and write it all down, reflecting on our family vacation. This is just a few stories from the one week within the year of 2020 and the life of our family, and I sense that it represents the year in more ways than one. The year 2020 is more than halfway over and it seems as though a cow has showed up in the campsite of our earthly timeline. Right?!

We started off the year with high hopes- it’s a new decade! Fresh and new things are afoot!

Ah, yes. Fresh cow pies and new experiences for sure! Dashed hopes and expectations. When dad said “This will be better than a spa experience” and you ended up roughing it in the most dusty and dirty spot. When discomfort and conflict rose to climax and there was NO Vacancy anywhere- no place to escape too.

We were forced to improvise. We’ve been forced to compromise. We’ve done things we just didn’t want to do. And we’ve made it. We’ve made it this far. We’ve seen fabulous views of the moon and sunrise. We’ve listened to trees rustle in our own backyard, we’ve stood back up after a teary meltdowns as the conflict of family surrounded us in our quarantine homes… and we’re almost through summer.

God has been faithful with the latte moments in the midst of exhaustion and grief. He’s been faithful to provide love from people around us. Friend, I encourage you to take a beat and surrender to the gratitude that is available for you right now.

Listen, we don’t know what the future holds. But we know WHO holds the future. Will the mask requirement turn into a vaccine requirement? Will the right to bare arms and freedom of speech go away? Will fear about our neighbors and community members continue to rein in most areas of the world? Or, will the “old normal” be restored? Is Jesus coming soon, or is this an echo of the Y2K scare?

Well, the truth is: Our God is good. Jesus wins the day. We have no need to fear. Our future is secure and we have complete control over HOW we choose to respond. Let’s surrender to the experience of gratitude and joy in the midst of the discomfort and pain. We will remember this year and we have filled our year with great stories.

Adventure is afoot! Take the time you need to build up a healthy resiliency! May our God work out His power in the portal of our weaknesses. And… just be careful, think critically, creatively, and lean into the Lords leading, cause you never know when a cow may wander into camp and drop a cow pie or two!

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