By Janet Walgren
It was twenty years ago this week when I packed up all my worldly possessions and put them into storage and took my four young daughters (ages 3, 6, 8, and 11) camping for four months. I love to camp; some of my most cherished childhood memories involve camping. My dad was a Boy Scout master and one of my dad’s near kin was a professional scouter so our family camped a lot. I learned to swim in Yellow Stone Lake while camping and I always caught the biggest trout in our family fishing tournaments. I was too young to notice that the trout was already gutted, cleaned and ready for the frying pan. My parents always made camping a special time and I loved it, and I love them for it.
So now it was my turn to be the parent only this time it was different. There was no home to go home to. Yes we were homeless – by choice, and I was hiding my little ones until I could get some needed legal protection in place. Their lives depended on it.
I was thankful for the knowledge and skills that I had acquired that allowed me to make this one of the best summers of my children’s lives. If you were to ask them today, “What was your favorite childhood memory?” All of them would tell you it was the summer that we went camping.
Thought is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Thought turns into knowledge, and knowledge turns into actions, and actions turn into to consequences that compound and compile until they eventually determine our life’s destiny. It was my thoughts, my childhood memories that caused me to gain the skills that I needed the summer I went camping. It was my knowledge and understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and faith in God that gave me the courage to do it. And, it was my memories of pleasant experiences that set my mood. So when I suddenly found myself in a situation that demanded action, I was prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually to handle the required tasks.
That summer, we camped in mountains and meadows, by rivers and small streams, by the ocean and in remote wilderness areas far from any man. But then, I needed to return to Spokane to take care of some needed legal business. We camped on the edge of town by the Spokane River. The river was definitely not one you could swim in and the campground was hot, dry, dusty, and dirty. Some dear friends had pixied our camp and left dolls on each sleeping bag for my little ones the night before so my girls had entertained themselves all morning by turning the wicker dog bed into a doll sled. They chained Fluffy to the basket and she obediently pulled the dolls around the campground and through the ashes of the fire pits before the girls tired of that amusement, and I still had two boxes of paperwork to go through.
The children came to me and asked me if they could go swimming in the shower. They were covered with dust and soot so I thought that it was a great idea. They changed into their swim suits and headed for the shower. The day became more pleasant as I heard their songs and laughter drifting through the pine trees to mingle with the sound of the rushing river and I settled back into my task at hand. I think that they had played in the shower for the better part of the afternoon when I finally finished up and started cooking dinner.
About that time, my oldest daughter came back to camp to get their towels and I asked her to take some soap and shampoo back with her requesting that the girls come back clean and ready for the night. She left with the needed supplies and returned shortly to ask for some quarters.
“Quarters, what do you need quarters for,” I asked?
“Hot water cost 25 cents for 5 minutes,” she replied. She then informed me that the water was cold and that they couldn’t take a cold shower. To which I replied that they had been in that cold shower for hours.
Money was tight so I said no and Jamie went back to tell her sisters the news. Then, the sounds of laughter and song were replaced by loud cries and shrieks of dismay because the water was so…. cold. This would have been funny had I not been so worried that someone would turn me in for child abuse.
Since that summer, I have often thought how our thoughts control so much of our life’s experiences. We can not always control what happens in our lives, but we can control our thoughts. I am convinced that it is more our thoughts than our physical circumstances that determine the quality of our lives and this is wonderful news. It means that you have control over the quality of your life.