“At least you didn’t get rained on, like that one camping trip!”
I occasionally get comments like this from people who read something I posted on Facebook last summer. It was August, 2015, and we were camping at Bullards Beach State Park. It went like this:
Christi and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Raccoons stole our dog food. Yep. A sealed Tupperware container. They took it. Carried it off. Which I didn't completely realize until I searched for the dog food for an hour last night.
Here's how it began: Ivy and I get back from the beach about 7 PM last night, I'm trying to get her off to the showers, Seth is making dinner, and the dog is hungry. And I'm hungry. But I start searching for the dog food. Can't find it. I pull everything out of the van into a huge messy pile. Seth mentions the raccoons, so I even check through the bushes wondering if they dragged it off a ways. Nothing. Seth says he'll go to town and buy some dog food after dinner. Ugh. I'm so annoyed.
For dinner Seth cooked fresh crab that he caught. Awesome! When I finally stop to eat some, a crab shell stabs me right under my thumbnail. Ouch! And the butter has gotten cold. Sighhhhh. I. Am. Grumpy.
It's 9:00 PM, and I am trying to heat water on the camp stove to do dishes, attempt to reload the van in an organized fashion, rinse out sandy swimsuits and hang them to dry, help Isaiah and Seth get packed up to go crabbing, and then?…
IT STARTS TO RAIN. You heard me. We are tent camping. Not even a canopy to hide under. I did not expect this. Grrrr.
I notice our smarter neighbors scurry into their cozy motor homes, and we start trying to put things into the van that need to stay dry: paper towels, paper plates, newspapers, shoes, jackets, books, duffel bags, blankets, etc. Ivy and I climb into the van with our wet dog. We resign ourselves to read books by flashlight as Seth and Isaiah leave for crabbing.
Shortly, around 10 PM, the rain stops! Ivy and I decide to go make s'mores. I sit down in the camp chair. My pajama pants get soaked. Nice.
We make a couple s'mores. I'm feeling more cheerful! But then, IT STARTS TO RAIN. Ivy and I decide to call it a day and just go to bed. But first we walk to the bathroom IN THE RAIN to brush our teeth. No catastrophe is great enough to neglect your teeth, people.
We fall asleep pretty easily. Later Seth and Isaiah arrive back at our campsite and come to bed. But right then Ivy wakes up and says she's thirsty. I ask her if she can get up and get her water bottle from the table herself. She does. Thank God.
It rains off and on all night. I keep waking up. Too hot. Too cold. Too worried about the rain. In the morning, there is a puddle of muddy water inside the tent because Ivy didn't zip it all the way after getting her water during the night. Great.
Everything in our campsite is wet. Seth is attempting to make a campfire out of very wet wood. I have nowhere to set my phone, so I set it on the hood of the van. I start trying to dry things with paper towels, like camp chairs and the camp stove. I rinse muddy flip-flops. All the towels and clothes on the clothesline are soaked. I'm making a little progress, but I feel discouraged about such a soggy day ahead. And then?…
IT STARTS TO RAIN. Seth points out that my phone is getting rained on. Of course. I grab it and dry it off. We move all the towels and blankets and other things out of the passenger seats in the car so that we can climb in and sit in the van. And just watch it rain.
Dude. I'm ready to go home. Throw all the wet, muddy junk in the car and just quit. I do not want to just sit in the car all day with a wet dog, damp clothes, muddy feet, and nothing to do.
My husband is not dismayed. I don't know how he does this. He says, "Should I find a Walmart and buy a canopy? Then at least we could stay dry under it."
I say, "Or we could go home."
Ivy says, "NO!"
I remind myself to be an example for my children about what to do when things don't go your way. Seth goes out to tend the fire, and I tell the kids we should say a prayer. I say I'm sad about the rain, and I'm worried it's going to ruin the rest of our day, so we should pray. And we say a prayer that God would help me be cheerful even if it rains all day, and that if possible the rain would stop.
I ask Seth WHY he's stoking the campfire. IT'S RAINING. He says maybe the rain will clear and then I can sit by the fire. He's such an optimist. I'm in awe.
In the van, Ivy reaches for a bag of chips and starts eating them. For breakfast. I don't have the strength to object. I am a terrible mother.
I tell Seth I'm sad. Our day is ruined. Everything is wet. He smiles, hugs me, and says, "I know. But you're my favorite. There's no one I'd rather be soggy camping with." See why I love him??
Seth and Ivy leave for Walmart to buy a canopy. And I sit in the van feeling sorry for myself. Who invented tent camping anyway?? I'd like to PUNCH HIM IN THE FACE.
But guess what? Within 30 minutes, the rain stops. The sky is blue. I go sit by the fire drinking coffee and feeling grateful. I tell God, "Thank You! I really was going to TRY and have a good attitude in spite of the rain....but this is much better! Thank You!"
The day becomes warm and lovely. Isaiah and I walk the dog. We cook hot dogs over the fire for lunch. All our wet things dry out.
I tell Seth thank you for being cheerful in spite of a miserable situation. I say I wish I were better at that. He jokingly says, "Yeah, me too!" I laugh.
Then I take Ivy to the beach. It's gorgeous.
And my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day turns out to be Beautiful.
Looking back on this, I realized something: the storm always passes.
Right? No matter how bad things are during that storm, we shouldn’t give up hope, because the storm always passes. The goal is to rejoice in spite of the storm. Maybe even try to laugh a little at how awful things are.
In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We’re going camping at the beach next week. And a little rain is on the forecast. Hmmm…I’m going to do my best to keep my chin up and not dissolve into a pity party.