The Hanley family has talked for years about the fun memories made camping and how we want to carry that legacy on with our kids. After 14 years of marriage and several kids later, we finally said, “This is the year we vacation together.” Picking a spot somewhat in the middle, we scheduled our camping excursion and reserved camping spots at a state park.
In par for the season, the weather didn’t cooperate with our plans. When we arrived, we set up tents in the rain and had several more storms to face before the weekend was over. Our tents ended up underwater or up on concrete, and starting a fire proved challenging. In addition to combating the river through our site, we were assaulted by the smell of something that had decided to die in the woods nearby. Delightful.
In addition to camping, we were hoping to visit two natural landmarks: Johnson Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks. Choosing the only day that had a little less rain than the other days, we made our way to Elephant Rocks first and managed to hike for about an hour before the skies threatened to dump on us again. We ate lunch at a pavilion area under the downpour of rain, shivering and trying to stay dry.
Miraculously, on the walk to the “shut-ins” (waterfalls) of Johnson Shut-Ins, God parted the skies and poured warm sunshine down on us. For the afternoon (the only one that was sunny), we enjoyed the cold water and even managed to get sunburned. (And we didn’t lose a child off a rock cliff or in an underwater current). 🙂
Later Sunday evening–after a day saturated with rain and storms–we enjoyed a quiet (and dry) evening around the campfire. Going around the circle of parents, grandparents, and 8 grandkids, we shared attributes we admired about each other. Earlier that morning, unaware of what we’d end up doing that evening, I asked the LORD to provide some verbal affirmation for my youngest child (who loves and admires his family and friends, but often struggles with insecurities) from someone in our family. So, when the circle ended up on 6-year-old Benji and he said he admired his cousin Corbin and why, I nearly started crying. Not only did it warm Corbin’s tender heart, but it affirmed that God hears the deepest longings of our hearts and grants us sweet gifts that show He is in the details.
Gramps was right: we bonded through the struggle and persevered through the rain, and we made some significant memories our kids won’t soon forget. Was the weekend perfect? Hardly. But, we learned to look for the “sunshine” moments and appreciate the Plan A and Plan B experiences. And I am grateful for my family and that time together.