Christmas Camping and Tornadoes

I love Christmas time….. I love the lights, I love the Christmas Spirit, the music, the food, all of it. Well, since I have been teaching, I have also coached basketball. Even when we had Christmas break from school, I would still be going to basketball practice and playing games. So the most I ever got off was a few days at a time. 

Through a lot of soul searching and long talks, and many tears, I decided not to coach basketball this year. The decision was made for personal reasons and to keep moving forward. The decision was far from easy because I truly love coaching the sport, and all of my players really became like my own. 

This year was the first year that I really took the time to soak up the season and do things I wasn’t able to. However, with James quitting his job and deciding to resign from coaching, I struggled with my depression. The stress and anxiety really started to overwhelm me, and I wasn’t enjoying the blessing I had right in my face. 

Time… The time that we have never had, James never had Saturdays off before, so our options to travel were limited. I coached, so we just never spent as much time as I would time of the year. Luckily James could see the blessing we were given; even though the stress and uncertainty of not knowing what we were going to do, James could see the blessing of time together. 

So he planned a trip to camp in the camper, Just In the Arkansas line, and see the Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City. I have always wanted to do but had never had the time with James working Saturdays and myself coaching basketball. 

James somehow knew exactly what to do to help pull me out of the slump by booking this trip. We left on Friday after school and started the drive to our campground. We stayed at Ozark View Campground . It was a very nice little campground on a hill, with some of the most gorgeous views. The owner was so nice and accommodating, we will be going back!

Saturday morning, we woke up, ate eggs and bacon, really relaxed, and enjoyed not having anything to do. After James and I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee, talking listening to Christmas music. The kids in my sights just played in their bunks; I started to really be present and appreciate the moment I was given. 

That day we went and took a short hike at Buffalo River. We were able to just walk around, talk with the kids, look at nature and again just be present at the moment. This place has definitely made it on our list of places to hike and backpack at. I will make sure to update you all when we do!

That evening we knew that some bad storms were coming in, and James’ mom had let us know that our area was in for some bad storms. Saturday evening was when we had our reservation to see the lights at Silver Dollar City. We decided that we were either going to be in a camper or at Silver Dollar City, so we went with the actual buildings and the chance to make it through to see the lights. 

I had high hopes for Silver Dollar City, and let me tell you, all the hype about it at Christmas time is so deserved. It feels like you have been transported back in time to a Christmas lit wonderland. The awe and excitement on my children’s face is a memory that I will be able to cherish. I remember standing there, with my family watching the big tree light show, and was again reminded to be in the moment and cherish what you are given. Still months later, both my kids will talk about standing there watching the tree as a family, and I know that moment won’t just stay with me, but it will be with them as well. 

We browsed the stores, rode the train, drinking hot chocolate, and listened to the Christmas Story told by “Granpa” along the tracks. We watched blacksmiths and glass blowers. Later that evening, we would ride a few rides, but the rain started in, and shortly after, we heard the Tornado Sirens. 

Even though the night ended taking shelter in a Christmas store, that isn’t what my children remember first. They think about standing there as a family, just taking in the moment we were given. 

That was the theme of the weekend. Being present in the moment and not worrying about what the future holds. Sunday morning, James woke me up, handed me my bible, and said, ” get up, go read the bible, and watch the sunrise.” 

I am so glad I didn’t roll over because I walked out of the camper, down the campground road, sat on the edge of a hill, and watched the sunrise. I didn’t know what I wanted to read, so I decided to open it up and start reading. What I turned to Matthew 6:26-27.

“26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?”

Matthew 6 26-27

As I sat there and read that verse, all of the birds around me were chirping and flying, enjoying the start of their day. They weren’t worried that there was a tornado the night before or that winter was coming, and food would be scarce. So why was I worried?

God set that weekend up, sign after sign, reminder after reminder. To be present at the moment, to not worry, God has got you, just like he does the sparrows. Enjoy the moments and blessings that you have, and stop worrying about what may be. 

I realize this sounds easier said than done. Trust me it is, it’s hard. This is my biggest struggle and something that I am working on daily. But I feel like that’s the key, right… I am working on it. I am trying to change my mindset; even though it’s hard, I need to be present in the moment, and trust that God’s got me.

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