A friend of mine recently helped me digitize all of our family photos. Can you even imagine the task this was? It was spurred on when Steven’s mom’s house flooded a couple years back. In wading through the waters of her home, and salvaging what we could, we found so many family photos we realized we had never even seen. As technology continues to advance, the kids continue to grow, and more grandkids are added to our mix, I wanted to find a way to put all of our printed photos and the thousands of photos on my phone and computer into one, organized place. Sounds easy, right? It was a long and tedious task, but the process was worth it. It has been both fun and hilarious looking back through the early years (and hair styles) of mine and Steven’s marriage, trips we took with the kids and friends, and the many coordinating holiday outfits. Some of you have followed along in our journey since those early days, so those mullet photos that have been showing up on Steven’s social media accounts lately are no surprise to you.
In all the gathering and sorting, many memories and stories were brought back to the mind. About six years ago, we tore down our family home (that we had lived in since I was pregnant with Caleb!). We had debated moving, but loved the area of town where we lived, and couldn’t imagine leaving the land that held some of our greatest joys. We knew the new house would take a year and a half to two years to complete, and we were in a pickle about where to live for those two years. Stevey and Shaoey were still so young, and we wanted the process to feel as normal as possible for them. So...we decided to create “The Chappy Campground.” Normal, right?
We have a barn on our property that we turned into a multi-purpose gym for the boys to practice basketball growing up. It turned into a space for band practices as they older, and the boys and Steven often still use the space to rehearse before tour, or store gear when they are off the road.
But for almost two years, it was our home. We rented a camper and moved it inside. In our efforts to make the process feel normal, and fun for the girls, we went all out. We figured if we were really going to follow through with this idea, we were going to do it right. We laid green astro-turf around the camper to create that grassy look, and had my brother Jim paint a mountain scene to put around the surrounding walls. We moved all our comfy chairs inside and circled them around a fire pit. There was a blow-up swimming pool filled with plastic balls and pretend fish for when Tanner, Emily, and Eiley were visiting from Ireland. And there we were...the “Happy Chappy Campers.”
While living in a camper wasn’t the most convenient of homes we’ve lived in, it stretched and challenged our family in new ways. Shaoey and Stevey were on bunks on one side of the camper and Steven and I on the other side of the camper. It’s where Will brought Jillian “home” for the first time. So many fun memories in that space.
I tell you this story not just because I felt nostalgic when I came across some family photos from our time in the camper, but because I was reminded that some of the sweetest moments can come from places in life we don’t intend. What began as a means to an end (to get through “camping” season as quickly as possible), really gave us a spaciousness to create new memories, and a closeness that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I often wonder what the lasting impact that living in such close quarters had on the girls' relationship. Steven and I always loved when we could hear the echo of their voices up late talking to one another.
Whatever this day, this week, this month, or this year has looked like so far for you, I want to challenge you to be all there...be all in. I’m reminded of the words Mordecai tells his niece, Esther, as she arrives at the king’s palace, “...And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Maybe just maybe, you’ve entered a season for such a time a this, and there is much good to be found within it.