Where it all started for us. Site #288.
When we got our first camper and started out on the adventure of camping with three little ones, this quickly became “our spot”. I can still see my boy, two years old, climbing that tree on the right, smiling at me as he leans through the branches. He’s wearing his camping hat, he’s all cheeks streaked with dirt and big brown eyes. I can see our baby, playing in her play yard and giggling at the breeze. I hear the munchkin voices. I see our 4 year old in absolute wonder at the butterfly she found – it’s like it happened moments ago. I see her dimples and the wisps of wavy hair framing her round cheeks. I see Calen tending the campfire…
This is where we first traded hotels for the great outdoors and destination vacations for quiet evenings with nature. It felt so right, so true to our design, that it quickly became a new tradition.
It feels like yesterday and it feels like so long ago.
We were only a couple trips into this tradition when I got the first few diagnosis’. It was such a bittersweet time of watching small children so full of life and joy and yet this veil of fear and uncertainty laid heavy on me like a weighted blanket. Looking at this site today, I feel that we have come full circle in some ways. I used to look back each year and just feel grief for all those precious moments I wasn’t really there for – all the times I wanted to do and be so much more. But looking at this spot today I am just overwhelmed with thankfulness that we are here together again and that what was is not what is. That cloak of darkness has lifted and the future is so full of promise. I miss those chubby cheeks, small voices, and bodies small enough to tote around… I wish I’d known then what I know now. That time goes by too quickly. That God is a good God who has always wanted us well and living in the abundance Jesus provided for us. That I have a choice, every day, to focus on, speak, and act on life or death. I wasted so much time in grief, so much time on social media seeking a mindless distraction from reality, so much time believing I was someone different than who my Father said I was. But oh the faithfulness of God… so much to be said about that.
Today I am thankful that even though my children have seemed to grow too fast, they are still small enough to squeeze onto my lap and hold close. Even though I wasted a lot of time believing my circumstances were bigger than my God or that I didn’t have a choice, it’s never too late for a new beginning. Even though I wish with all my heart that I would have learned so many things so much earlier, I am learning in time. And I get to reach down into the pit I was in to someone else and offer them the hope that I’ve found. This is redemption.
Maybe it’s from reading Present Over Perfect. Maybe it’s the deaths in the family recently. Or maybe it’s just the sight of #288 and five years gone in the blink of an eye, but I feel more determined than ever before to savor this moment. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready to see my children grow too big for me to carry or say goodbye to loved ones. Being face to face with the fact that ready or not, this is what is – this is how fast time goes – gives me a new perspective on life and how I want to live mine. Put down the phone, play with the kids, learn to just BE without having to do. Talk to the stranger, follow the prompting in my Spirit, look for ways to love and serve. Life is too short to waste time on things that don’t matter and when I step back and evaluate what fills my time, what I worry about, what I struggle with… 90% of it doesn’t matter in light of eternity. At the end of my life, the only things that will have mattered were that I loved well, shared the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone who was willing to hear it, and agreed with God on His Word. I want to know that I didn’t wait until heaven to really know my heavenly Dad. I didn’t wait until heaven to walk in the health and abundance and freedom that Jesus died to give me. I wasn’t afraid to tell others about Him and how much they are loved. I was not ashamed of the Gospel – the full Gospel. And I want to look back and see that I didn’t waste my time believing lies, holding grudges, worrying about such trivial little things, or sinking into coping mechanisms that didn’t bring life. I don’t want to look up from my phone or the computer and see that my 5 year old is now a pre-teen. I don’t want to miss any more in this beautiful life because I identify with someone who is less than who I was created to be. I don’t want to use social media or the internet or anything else as a coping mechanism that distracts me from what’s most important – the people and the life and the purpose right in front of me. Maybe that means less life posted and more life lived. Maybe it will mean choosing to savor the moment instead of a picture of the moment. It will mean choosing the person I love instead of the need to be right. It will definitely mean choosing the gift of now – messy and chaotic and as it is – over the notion of perfect (seriously, what is that anyway?!). Will I forget the conviction I feel now and mess it all up again? Yes. That’s okay. I’ve learned do-overs and re-evaluating don’t mean failure and doing something well, even with steps backward, is better than doing it perfectly. One thing is for sure. I don’t want to waste any more time. I don’t want to forget what really matters. I want to live life like this is my only one and I have the power at any moment to say, “this is not how it’s going to be anymore.”
Site #288 is a reminder of what a quick breath of air we get on this earth. It’s a reminder to choose well – to choose life. And choose it again and again and again, every day, a thousand times a day if need be. Choose thankfulness over grief, choose to agree with who God says I am over what I feel I am, choose to exalt the promises of God over what my feelings or circumstances try to dictate, choose to look at the beauty in life, choose the person over the dispute, choose to grow instead of hide, choose to be an overcomer instead of a victim, and choose to be present over perfect.
In loving memory of Kevin Coria. February 5, 1959 – May 17, 2017