Growing up I spent many summer days at the lake with my family. I remember the joy of getting to sleep in the big tent. We didn’t graduate to the camper until some years later and even then it was always something to look forward to. Daddy would take us stripe fishing during the day on his bass boat and it would be torture if the fish weren’t jumping. We would get sunburned and beg dad to let us jump into the water. At night lying in the tent it felt like we were still rocking back and forth. Mom would cover our sunburned face with Noxzema, “To take the heat out,” she said. Sometimes a summer storm would blow over and we kept an eye open for any leaks so we wouldn’t wake up wet. Sleeping on sleeping bags was not the most comfortable but it was the sound of the crickets, the neighbors fire crackling and the laughter from other campers that made the great peaceful memories of inside a tent. The tent was a great place to play and for some reason we loved zipping up the windows and the door. Why was I so fascinated with an oversize zipper I don’t know but eventually it broke, leaving us to clothespin it together. One night in particular, a hard shell bug woke me up because it had found it’s way into my hair. Now for a girl with long stringy hair, that was no fun! I sat up digging the little sucker out and threw it across the tent. After that night, I brought my float in and slept on it. When we woke, which was quite early, mom would be frying up bacon and eggs on the Coleman stove. She even mastered cooking biscuits on top in a skillet. The fresh tomatoes and gravy that went along with it was delicious as well as the smell as it wavered its way into our tent. I don’t know why the meals tasted so much better in those camping days. If we weren’t fishing during the day or riding the boat, we swam in the lake. Sunburned again and with a little water in the ear, alcohol was poured into our ears to keep us from getting an ear infection in which we always did anyhow. Swimmer’s ear I believe is what they called it, but no matter how many times you go under, flipping and swimming in a muddy lake, you are more likely to at least catch something. As the mini vacations came to the end, my summers were always treasured. The only thing I didn’t like doing was cleaning the spot in which we camped. Dad always made sure we left the camp area cleaner than how we found it. All cigarette butts and coke tops had to be picked up regardless if we were the ones who threw them down or not. I particular hated picking up butts but Dad made sure we didn’t leave the next campers a mess.
During my early teen years, mom would sit up the tent in the back yard for a girls sleep over. We giggled most of the night, told ghost stories and shadow danced on the walls. The tent had just about seen it’s last days because it started leaking right after that and most of the patching was wearing out. I really don’t know what happened to the tent; maybe it was thrown away or passed down to another camper.
My last episode with a tent was right after Jeff and I got married. Now, Jeff is a city boy and he hates roughing it and he has never been caught outside without his shoes on. It is quite comical since I grew up the opposite. We arrived with some friends down at Rough River and they were all going to stay in a tent, in which we had borrowed. Have you ever put up a tent? There are many parts in which looks like a spider and did I fail to mention those legs slide? I am sure the campers next door were getting a treat in seeing how long it took us to put up the tent. It was getting dark, we didn’t have a flashlight and we didn’t have directions in how to put up a tent. Needless to say, we gathered sticks to make a fire and the tent was only put up half way. It was quite funny to see since we did sleep in it and it looked like a melting tent. We have been married for over 26 years and it was our first and last camping experience. He would rather stay in a hotel, and Hotel 8 would be roughing it for him!
My Father told me the other day that he and mom had talked about taking us up to Canada for a year of nature trails and camping in the wild or even buying property in the mountains. They often discussed it when my brother and I were young. Yet, they never got around to it and that the thought was only a dream never sought out. I am glad my father shared that dream with me. I have never told my parents about the days of the tent and what they meant to me. I am sure it was work to my mom for her duties followed her on vacation too. She still had to clean, cook and takes care of us while dad away from his job, got to fish, boat and relax and drink beer. My parents taught me much on those tent days and I am thankful for parents who took time to make family memories in an old blue tent.
Our relationship with God is like a tent, a growing state, and must be enlarged as our relationship and intimacy increases. Sometimes we look at the memories of a small tent and it makes us smile, just like when we first found the Lord. However, as time passes, there must be made room for more of God in our lives. It is not always forgetting treasured memories and looking back but going forward in time and making room for Him in our lives to expand our ground. A bigger tent or graduating to a camper or a hotel room, there must be made more room for God and others to experience Him. I don’t want to relive the good ole days, yes I am fond of thinking about them but now I look to the future. I know God has a plan for me and for my children and future generations. I want them to have fond memories too, not only in the natural but also in the spiritual.
Prayer: Lord, I treasure the memories of the tent days, the days in where I first found you. Today, Lord help me see the bigger picture, the vision of enlarging my tent, my life, my relationship with you. Continue to open the door of opportunities with wisdom, power and Your Kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.
Isaiah 54:2 Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. (NIV)