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This past weekend several of my friends, my sister and I went camping in Palo Duro State Park near Amarillo, Texas.

Camping in my family goes all the way back to as far as I can remember. Whether it was with friends from church, caravans of relatives or just our immediate family, whichever way, it was a big part of life growing up.

At least once a year we would venture to enjoy the outdoors. That being said, there are specific characteristics of camping that I consider an absolute “must.”

Good camping food, exploring/hiking, a percolator (coffee or hot chocolate), a good-size fire, and roasting marshmallows (even though I don’t like them). The memories of whittling sticks with pocketknives, fishing with my Dad and brother and seeing my mom filled with joy on a mission to relax and enjoy family plague my memories with the connection and value of family.

This one time, our cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents all met up to camp. We set up camp just before sunset and enjoyed a meal and fellowship. Out of nowhere, something small and grey glided just over the top of my aunt’s head. Immediately, both of my grandparents got out of their lawn chairs and started heading toward their camper “well, ya’ll have a good one.” The rest of us searched for the creature that attempted to take my aunt’s head off.

As it swooped down a second time we finally saw that it was a flying squirrel. You would have thought Godzilla had just made it to shore for yet another bad movie of destruction and out of sync dialogue. People were diving under tables, running for their cars, grabbing logs out of the fire and waving them above their heads in defense, screams of chaos and children crying for their mommies.

Granted I was only like 7 years old, and my imagination was already highly developed. But I’m sure it was something close to that description. Even though we all survived, for years it was something we laughed about. Memories created, all sitting around the campfire at night.

A few weeks before our Palo Duro trip, my friends and I coordinated travel plans, food, hiking trails, and camp setup, covering all the areas of strategy needed to maximize our necessities and enjoyment. As the days grew closer and anticipation swelled in each of us, we learned of some disheartening news. A burn ban was in effect.

No campfire! No roasting marshmallows! The warmth and excitement for the evenings, ruined. We continued on with our plans disputes the heartache. And I’m glad we did.

No fire, a very late night arrival, a forced relocation of our already-established camp site, even an extremely bitter cold first night could not dampen our experience. I’m sure we all had at least some expectations going into the camping weekend. Even if they weren’t met, we made the most of it and had a blast in the process.

Two things I’ve learned from this experience. One, I have really high-quality, godly friends who are able to seek the positive things in situations and laugh off the downsides.

Secondly, this exact equation applies to my relationship with Christ. I am capable of placing boundaries based on my previous experiences, when He has greater things in mind. I feel that I need to have certain things in place in order to glorify God. The right music, specific friends, accurate timing. Recently, “time” has been my biggest prerequisite. If it doesn’t fit into my “liking” then I don’t have time. Thank the Lord for His grace even when things don’t match up to my preferences. He restores joy, even in my selfish and narrow minded concepts.

I pray you will continue to hunger for Him.