This is Timothy in one of his favourite spots at our campsite. We had neglected to bring lawn chairs, so when I saw four log sections this size in the woods, I asked the boys to roll them up to our site. We used one as a chopping block for cutting firewood and the other three we used as chairs. This one, however, had started to rot. One of the boys knocked out the center, and before long, Timothy had claimed it as his spot.
I learned some lessons while camping.
Lesson #1: Never go canoeing on a windy day when you have a light-weight child sitting in the front. This is especially important for people like me who are inexperienced with canoeing. Abby and I called the Lord's remembrance to the storm on the sea of Galilee and thanked Him sincerely when He brought us safely to shore, even though it was the opposite shore and we had quite a hike through the woods to get back to our campsite.
Lesson #2: A broken stroller with the wheels cut off does NOT make a good baby carrier when you want to back pack a toddler up a mountain. It is better to remember to bring the carrier designed for this purpose which we accidentally left at home. The experience that taught us this lesson is indescribable. Suffice it to say that one of the most important things you need for something like this is a shoulder strap for the toddler, something most strollers lack. It is also best to back pack a toddler in an area where you do NOT have to climb practically straight up a rocky slope where the only way to know where the trail is, is to search diligently for the trail markers fastened to the trees--little plastic yellow disks in this case.
Lesson #3: This lesson is very much related to Lesson #2, and was learned at the same time. NEVER trust the trail guides when they describe a certain trail as "easy."
Lesson #4: Learned by our four older, hardier children: ALWAYS trust the trail guides when they describe a certain trail as "difficult."
Lesson #5: Ducks, mice, squirrels and chipmunks which live at campsites are not just tame. They are pushy, and will not cease to demand their fair share of your food.
Lesson #6: Tent camping in northern mountains in late September/early October might not be the best idea, especially if some people forget their long sleeved shirts and/or jackets. In fact, coats would be even better. Also thick pajamas, long underwear and extra blankets. Three weeks later, we still have not fully recovered from colds caught during vacation.
Lesson #7: This is by far the most important lesson of all, and will bring a smile to any Christian who has learned to trust God for the teeniest of details in their lives. The lesson is, DELIGHT to trust God for the teeniest details of even the most insignificant events of your life, including your vacation.
We left our driveway at 3:00 p.m. on the Monday we started our vacation. This was about 4 hours later than we had intended, considering which campsite we had chosen. By leaving so late we guaranteed that it would be pitch black dark before we got to the Adirondacks, and our chosen campsite was another 2 hours farther south. Because it was dark, and because we were on a winding twisting mountain road, and because the campsite signs were not lighted, we chose the first site still open this late in the season. It providenced to be Eighth Lake Campground, six miles from the little touristy town of Inlet.
We pulled into the gate, looked at a campsite map, and chose our site. We drove almost half a mile before we got there, only to find that it providenced to be already occupied. So we chose the site just across the road and settled in.
Next morning after breakfast, we did what we always do every morning. We had family devotions. After that, we spent the day exploring and deciding what food we needed for the next few days. Tom did the shopping while the rest of us walked around, played in the woods, gathered dead wood for the fire, and otherwise entertained ourselves in the great outdoors.
The day after that, Elijah came back from fishing to tell of a family he had met. It seems that the occupants of our first choice in campsites had been watching us. They were friends of the family Elijah met and had this to say of us: "They have devotions every morning, and the children are quiet by 8:15 every night. I bet they're Christian home schoolers." The family Elijah met were also Christian home schoolers. I was rather sobered by this reminder that the world is watching, and wants to know if we Christians, home schoolers or not, really are different.
One day we decided to go hiking. We chose our trails, Tom and I taking the younger ones on an "easy" hike, and Josiah taking the older ones on a difficult hike. We had to drive to the trail heads, so we loaded up the van and the car and started out. I was waiting for Sarah to get in the front seat of the van when I noticed the drawer under her seat open. A metal hanger providenced to be sticking out of the drawer. Not wanting to be bothered putting the hanger away in a suitcase, I shoved the drawer shut, hanger and all.
We drove out, with me in the lead (since I had the map). Suddenly I providenced to think of Ben's feet. Ben spends as much of the summer as possible either barefoot or in rubber boots. Most of the time I don't care, but this time I didn't think either choice would be appropriate for mountain climbing. Ben was not in the van, so I stopped and radioed Tom, asking what Ben had on his feet. He glanced around, saw that Ben was not with him, and said, "I don't know, why don't you ask him?" Thus we discovered that Ben was not with either of us. He was back in the woods chopping firewood, and we almost left him behind.
With Ben in the van (with footwear appropriate for hiking), we started out again. We were halfway there when I noticed that Tom was no longer behind us. I pulled over to wait for him, but after five minutes I decided to turn around. We found him ready to pull over with car trouble. We both pulled into a parking area nearby, and the first thing Tom wanted to know was, did I have a metal hanger! He needed one to temporarily wire up the muffler that was coming down.
The week went on, and we began to discuss where we might attend church on Sunday. Eighth Lake was too far north for us to attend the church we had originally planned to attend, where a friend of ours is pastor. Tom said the only churches he saw in Inlet were a Catholic church and a Presbyterian church. (Later we found out that the Presbyterian church had a lesbian pastor.) We considered driving the distance to our friend's church, but really didn't like that idea.
On Friday morning we gathered around the fire as usual for family devotions. While discussing the parable of the sower, one of the camp workers drove up. He got out and walked up to us. Seeing what we were doing (and having noticed that we did so every morning), he asked us if we were Christians. Then he invited us to his church Sunday! There really was a Baptist church in Inlet, we just hadn't noticed because it was on a side street.
Still, the name Baptist does not necessarily mean it's a Bible-believing church preaching sound doctrine. We continued to think this over. Finally, though, we decided to take the man up on his offer and went.
In between Sunday school and the morning service, the pastor's wife came to greet me. In conversation with her I discovered that they were new to New York state, having recently moved from Texas! My mind went back eight years to the time we moved from Texas to try to start a church in New York state. We both had similar experiences of culture shock coming from warm, friendly Texas to cold, not so friendly New York state.
She told me that every Sunday she always has someone over for dinner, but for some reason she hadn't gotten around to inviting anyone the Sunday we were there. She said that all week she wanted to invite someone, but somehow just never did. So she asked us. This was God's providence to both our families. It encouraged us to know that there is one more pastor in New York preaching sound doctrine, and I hope we were an encouragement to them. They are interested in the prayer meetings Tom has with other pastors in New York, and in the Bible conferences we either have or attend. I really look forward to seeing more of them.
That night after the evening service, the pastor's wife said to me, "You can be glad you didn't go to Nick's Lake Campground." She went on to describe a very violent domestic dispute that had occurred there that week, involving police and ambulance. A friend of theirs was on the ambulance team, and had told them about it.
Nick's Lake is the campground we would have gone to, if we hadn't left home so late.
Do you delight in the providence of God working out all the little details of your life, not just the ones you think are major and important? If you haven't learned to look for this kind of providence in your life, I encourage you to start. You will laugh with delight and joy, and learn to really rest in His care.