Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace – Excerpt
Jun 14th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Recommended List
By Deanna Nowadnick –
Rhododendron Books © 2012
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I hated camping as a child and as a young person. My outdoor experiences were commensurate with torture, a reflection that is only slightly exaggerated. I never understood the joy of sitting on a log for hours with hair smelling of smoke from a campfire. It was either hot and sticky or cold and damp. Sometimes it was hotter and stickier; sometimes it was colder and damper. Bathrooms smelled of too much industrial-strength cleanser or worse, no cleanser at all.
With graduation from Blue Birds, I became a Campfire Girl. Our motto was “Wo-He-Lo,” short for work, health and love, not exactly Eat-Pray-Love, but then we were only in grade school.
Since we were now Campfire Girls, camping was obviously going to be part of the repertoire. This made sense to me theoretically, but I chose to ignore the obvious. So far we were just hanging out together, enjoying cocoa and s’mores around a backyard barbeque, but I knew that soon we would be venturing out with tents and sleeping bags.
As school ended each June, the camping situation intensified, going from an overnight stay in someone’s backyard to getaways in the forest. By 5th grade, it was time for the real thing, a week in a canvas shelter under the trees at the official Campfire Girls campground on the shores of the Puget Sound. As everyone in the group anxiously awaited, I waited anxiously.
My days at camp started out tolerably with time for arts and crafts, old friends and new. They were also filled with nighttime treks to the bathroom, mosquito bites and overly long walks everywhere. My hair got greasier by the day, my arms and legs smelled of insect repellent, and my stomach craved chocolate—lots of chocolate.
As the week progressed, preparations were made for a culminating canoe trip, an overnight saltwater adventure to a neighboring beach. We filled canoes with food, sleeping bags, and cooking utensils. It’s hard to remember whether the trip was 45 minutes or 45 hours; it felt like the latter. It was probably just 2 or 3 hours, but it was 2 or 3 hours more than I would ever need again—and then I remembered the return trip the following day.
Our arrival meant we were now without the benefit of a tent or access to a bathroom, a situation I would have passed on had anyone asked. That night we cooked dinner on Buddy Burners, all to varying stages of edibility. After making a valiant attempt to clean dishes with water just above freezing, we joined together around the campfire for s’mores (finally) and “Kumbayah” (naturally). Little did we know that the elements would soon do more for our togetherness than an African spiritual.
Just after midnight, sounds of thunder could be heard across the water. Moments later lightening flashed. With sleeping bags nestled between logs on the beach, we quickly scurried to the perceived safety of the boats as the storm raced across the Sound. Crouched under metal canoes, we waited hours for the thunder and lightning to pass. We were cold and wet and miserable, but fortunately, not electrocuted.
By morning the storm was over, but I was optimistic about little else. I was soaked through and everything with me was equally saturated—food, gear and my new sleeping bag. I didn’t need breakfast; I needed to go home, and all I could think about was the three-hour paddle ahead.
I was soon pleading with my parents to be done with camping, but to no avail: “You’ll miss all your friends!” Honestly, the friendships I had at that moment in time were not worth the possibility of dying under a metal canoe in an electrical storm. Not one to give in easily, I continued to whine before and after every activity. Two long years later, Mom and Dad finally relented and my days as a camper were history.
Today I don’t camp. Our family goes to a resort area on the bend of the Columbia River. Skipping any form of canvas accommodations, we rent condos, one for the parents and one for the boys and friends who might come along. Together we relax, Mom at the pool with her coffee drink, the boys in the boat with Dad wakeboarding and skiing. Our rooms come with a dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer and dryer, and shower. We have sheets and blankets, plates and silverware. We cook on a stove (sometimes) or eat out (often). We do not camp. On our way, we pass campgrounds, but we never stop.
I was fortunate to be born when I was. God in His infinite wisdom made me a Baby Boomer, not part of the Westward Expansion. I’ve had visions of being abandoned on the plains, no canvas shelter, no chocolate, watching the last of the wagon train fade into the distance, all because I couldn’t embrace anything about outdoor living. My whining would have threatened the very livelihood of the determined pioneers and forced them to make the not-so-difficult decision to leave me and my bedroll at the side of the trail.
But then God knows that about me. God knows everything about me: how I have to have my nail polish match my toes, how I hate to sweat, how I hated camping. In His image He made me and against the backdrop of all humanity, He made me unique and uniquely His.
God knew I would try His patience and the patience of my family, teachers and camp counselors. Huddled under a canoe, God knew I wanted refuge from the storm. Years later God knew I wanted a well-earned vacation in the sun. To that temporary quiet, God would add a real peace, a peace not of this world, but an eternal peace.
God continues to bless me with weeks at Crescent Bar and holiday travels to the sun, family time that I treasure. He also continues to bless me with the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Deanna Nowadnick lives in Monroe, WA. When not writing, she serves as the Client Service Coordinator for an investment advisory firm. She’s active in her church, playing the violin and editing the monthly newsletter. She loves to knit, adores chocolate, and most important, enjoys a blessed marriage to Kurt.