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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Sitcom - I Love Camping

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Moses arguing with God: But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Exodus 6:12

I screamed and sunk to my knees in pain. Shiloh barked and leapt off the bed to join me on the floor. The camper cabinets work on gravity so they shut hard. This time, it had slammed on the tip of my ring finger. I had no ice so I opened the freezer and laid my finger against the side. I felt light headed as the pain throbbed. My finger was swelling so I slipped off my rings.

I called Bob for comfort and he his response was, “How did that happen?”

“I stuck my finger in the cabinet and slammed it!” Poor Bob. He is always trying to help me get better at living in a tiny camper.

 I have always tried to enjoy the sitcom that is my life. I do better when my sense of humor is intact. I love sitcoms. My first and still favorite was I Love Lucy – possibly, because I identify with Lucy. She loved her family and friends. She wasn’t afraid to try new things or things she might not be good at. She had creative ideas that often got her in trouble and yet, she kept on being Lucy. I love Lucy. My current sitcom is called I Love Camping. Yes – I love it. I love the wandering, birds and dolphins, new scene every day, knowing the nimbleness of it allows me to meet new people, and knowing I am worshiping the same God under the same heavens no matter where I am. Some people call it wanderlust but I suspect that if it is wanderlust, God had to pour it into me for me to be willing to accept this unique call on my life.

So why is it a sitcom? Like Lucy, I have a tendency to get in over my head – not over God’s head –over mine. I’m not naturally good at much of what camping requires so my life offers much of the slapstick and puzzles that make sitcoms so much fun. When God first called me to camp my way across America, I literally laughed. I was used to 5 Star hotels and my children were placing bets on how many days I would actually camp. No one expected this to be easy for me.

Take the finger for example. I had too much stuff in the tiny cabinet. Just as the door started to slam, the cinnamon started to fall out. Naturally, I reached up to catch it. Bam!

Currently, I am sporting a grapefruit sized bruise on my hip. I have weak ankles and had to wear corrective shoes as a child. That
means, I’m more likely to stumble than most. Setting a camper up is hard. I know to wear sturdy athletic shoes – that doesn’t mean I like to stop and put them on. When I set up last Sunday night, I was still wearing the decorative sandals from church. It was dusk and after I finished hooking up, I stepped backward and lost my footing on the water hose. I fell sideways onto the metal black water receptacle sticking up out of the ground. I groaned not only from the pain but because I also knew what was on the ground around that receptacle.

Camper keys continue to be a problem. We’re down to one complete set – which has Bob and me both nervous. Yes, we’ve made extra ignition keys but if I lose the last alarm fob and have to use an extra key to open the door, it will set off the alarm and make starting the engine impossible. I’ve always had difficulty with keys and have developed systems. The camper key “system” is that as soon as I park, I connect the camper keys to a lanyard that stays around my neck. Shiloh and I had been sitting outside evangelizing for hours. In between encounters, I worked on the computer. I realized Shiloh and I had been in the sun too long when the keyboard began blistering my fingers. I was wilted and all I could think of was cooling us off. I took the computer, Shiloh, my books, and the phone and dumped it all on the seat as we climbed in the camper. The lanyard was hot and scratchy so I took it off and laid it on top. I collapsed inside only to realize that I'd left Shiloh’s water bowl outside. I opened the door, making sure Shiloh didn’t escape, shut the door, got the water bowl that was literally 5 steps away, and when I came back to the camper, the doors were locked. I didn’t hear any beeps or clicks but the only thing that could have possibly happened was that Shiloh jumped on the alarm fob. My last dog Belle locked me out of the camper years ago in the middle of the night – which was much more complicated. This time, two hours later, a nice man from AAA rescued me with only one dry comment, “You haven’t taught your dog to unlock the door?”

About a week ago, I went to the back of the camper to get water bottles. I tossed them on the bed and walked around. Shiloh took advantage of the fun and by the time I got inside, she had chewed through a water bottle. My king sized bed was soaked everywhere. She must have shook it as she chewed. I sat on the bed for the next two hours with my handy dandy blow dryer.

Two nights ago, I made my usual tall cup of hot milk before bed. I sat it down on the wobbly camper table and sat down. I stood up to get something, tripped on the computer cord, and knocked the entire cup of hot milk over. How it managed to scald my leg, soak the cloth passenger seat, the floor, and the carpet between the two front seats is beyond my ability to understand. Shiloh was thrilled to help, which means she jumped in the middle to lick…with all 4 paws squarely in the milk. I sat there for second stunned until I realized the milk was burning and finally pulled my pajama bottoms away from my leg. I wondered if I had any milk left. Then, I remembered I was out of paper towels. I used Bob’s towel and wash cloth to begin cleaning. It was impossible to keep Shiloh out of it so I stopped trying and just let her lick and wallow. I’d clean her next. That escapade took about an hour and I’m still finding milk in cracks and crevices.

I could write about the time I put something on the driver’s side floor board that laid against the brake pedal and woke up to a dead battery. I have written about the camper stove flame getting stuck on, the many mad dashes my dogs have made through campground, getting lost, breaking down, two minor accidents that resulted in weeks of being stranded, having black water (yes – sewage) pour all over me, toilets overflowing, leaks, spider bites, mountain lions stalking us, and waking up surrounded by alligators and coyotes (but not at the same time). I have often said that if they made a sitcom out of my true life on the road, people would think it was caricature of reality because no one could have that much happen and continue to do it. 

Yet, I Love Camping. No – I’m not naturally mechanically inclined and I was born with little ability to navigate from point A to point B but I love it anyway. It facilitates me doing what God has called me to do. It forces me to depend on God. It allows me to understand the truth that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It keeps me close to God’s creations. It is good for the prayer life of those who love me. It is a testimony of God’s power to those who know me. I confess that I often want to bolt for home but here is the truth. God’s norm is to call us to something that is beyond our natural abilities. Look at Moses with a stutter – called to lead a nation. To say we “can’t” or to not do it because we’re uncomfortable condemns us to an unsatisfying mediocre life. Following God is never boring. Are you bored, too comfortable, or restless? Was there something God called you to that you thought impossible?

PS – My finger is not broken and hurts very little. I might lose the nail and still can’t get my rings on but all in all, I’m good.

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