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Caviar campground


September 05, 2012
To fully appreciate this story, you need to understand three things. First, I require a ridiculously large amount of space to sleep. When I say a ridiculously large amount, I'm talking about enough space for me to fully extend all four limbs and make snow angels in the bed if I wanted. Second, the only tent we own is barely big enough to fit my cat. Third, I have a friend named Tyler who tends to go overboard with everything.

Got that down? Great, let's move on.

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Gina started organizing a camping trip for our friends in our small group at church. At last count, between the seven couples in our group, we had roughly a million kids. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I'm sure it's not far off. When they're all together in one place, it reminds me of the movie "Twister" minus the flying cows. It's truly an awesome thing to behold.

My girls had never been camping, so I thought this would be a perfect excuse to break them in. They would be so busy terrorizing the campground with their friends that they would crash hard by bedtime and sleep through the night, which meant I would sleep through the night, and our first camping experience would be a raging success.

The only problem was the tent factor. Remember the first two things I told you? I need enough space to make snow angels. My tent's barely big enough for the cat. There are four of us in our family. Starting to get my dilemma? I needed another tent.

Despite my best salesmanship, I couldn't get my wife to agree to spring for a new one. What if the whole camping experience bombed? What if our daughters hated it? Then, we would be stuck with a new tent we'd never use again.

I had no choice but to hit up my friends, so I called up my friend Tyler to see if he had a pup tent I could use. The way I figured it, my wife and daughters could sleep in the tiny cat tent, and I could sleep by myself in a tent next door. All I needed was something big enough for me and my sprawling limbs.

It turns out Tyler didn't have a pup tent. He didn't even have a small dome tent. What did he have? A 10-man Warren Buffett mansion tent with three separate rooms and bay windows. Yes, that's right, bay windows. I think they were located somewhere near the butler's quarters.

Did I mention the tent had its own zip code? Did I mention I needed a building permit and a crane to set it up? Did I mention Tyler tends to go overboard with things?

But I wasn't complaining. Finally, I had somewhere big enough to spread my wings. I felt like a Rockefeller.

The only downside was our kids kept getting lost in it, and we had to call in the park rangers to track them down. But that was a small price to pay. We were sleeping in the Taj Mahal of tents, the envy of the campground.

Of course, the next morning we had to empty it all out, tear the whole thing apart, pack it up and throw it in the car. The Rockefellers had to go home and give their gargantuan tent back to their friend.

After I got home, I started thinking about how I always think I need bigger and better stuff. A new tent, a nicer house, a car with functional air conditioning, that sort of thing. But the reality is, one of these days, no matter how much of a Rockefeller I become, everything I own is going to get folded up like that tent and handed off to someone else.

Every time I start to get too comfy in this world, I need to remember that in the grand scheme of eternity, this place is about as permanent as an overnight campsite. Before I know it, it will be time to pack it up and give everything back to the One who truly owns my stuff to begin with.

In the meantime, my prayer is to be thankful for the things I have, to enjoy them while they last, but not take them too seriously. After all, this tent I'm living in doesn't belong to me, and it was never meant to be my true home. With this in mind, maybe I can learn to be a bit more content, relax about my stuff and just enjoy making snow angels where I can.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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Barbara Shaw
Thursday
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