It was cold outside, rain drizzling randomly throughout the day with a seemingly permanent sheath of clouds covering the sky and camping was the last thing I wanted to do. It was November and our camping weekend had rolled around once again. We had put it off one week due to sickness, but it was inevitable and as I putted around the house packing things at random and trying to get myself in the mood I lamented the warm summer days we had spent camping so recently, but which seemed at the moment far off.
Still though, our family hadn't spent good quality time together in a while, and I knew we needed it. Staying around the house usually leads to both Seth and I working on projects from the never ending to do list. So as Seth and I went through the motions of getting ready and setting off (late in the afternoon, as I knew it would be) I tried to remind myself of this, and not think of being cold and miserable.
We had picked out a campground along the Alsea Highway, but did not see it, and with the daylight fading we continued on toward Waldport and down the 101. We ended up staying at Tillicum Campground, a place I had never been to before, but will definitely go again. Our campsite (#30) was surrounded on the outside by a thick hedge which literally had a 15 foot tunnel though it and then opened up to the private little campsite sitting 20 feet up off of the beach with a clear view of the Ocean. Simply fantastic! There was a trail down to the beach 100 yards away and though a little chilly, we had no rain. As we ran about quickly setting up camp before dark fell, my spirits were starting to lift.
The next day as I soaked in the little sun to be had and sat next to Mikaiah on the beach, looking on as she destroyed the lovely little sand castle I had made, I was so grateful we had come. As I continued to watch her throughout the weekend, digging in the dirt, laughing with Papa as we sat by the fire, or sneaking treats from the tub when she thought we weren't watching, I knew that was what she would remember about this trip. Maybe not all the details, but the feeling of being together, of exploring, playing in the sand and enjoying the outdoors as a family. She will not remember Mama being stressed about the weather, or not wanting to go. She won't sense the tension as Mama and Papa tried not to mention to one another the possibility of cancelling this one trip or see their tired faces as they went to heat water for a bottle for Sequoia at 4 am over the camp stove. And that's how it should be.
That day as I sat on the beach enjoying my little girl playing in the sand, it reminded me of my childhood and many happy days spent on the beach or camping in the woods, or visiting an aquarium or playing in the snow. I could not help but smile at these memories, and then I pondered to myself "How is it that my parents never got stressed on these trips? Why did everything go as planned for them?" And then I realized, it didn't. I am sure the were planned trips we never actually went on, and stressful things that they chose to just deal with and not let overcome the experience. I have memories of forgetting the poles to our tent and sleeping under a tarp, but not the feeling of frustration that must surely have come with the realization that there were no poles. Many people cannot say the same, but my hope is one day that my children can. That they can look back and think of all the good times we had, the lessons that were learned and the joy that was experienced and not see the sometimes frustrating and challenging obstacles we all face.
Maybe when they grow up, and even along the way they will be able roll with the punches and accept the challenges that come there way as an opportunity to grow instead of an invitation to give up. Hopefully they too will remember Romans 8:28 and bring it mind as often as necessary. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love the Lord, who have been called according to his purpose."