Posts Tagged ‘Camping’

Hale’s on Adventure

Our Campsite at Williston Crossings RV Resort

           Three years ago, God put it on our heart that we were to move into a camper as “full-timers”.  We didn’t know much about this particular lifestyle, but we were excited to discern Gods leadership in this direction.  And so, our journey began. We purchased a 26 foot Dutchman Travel Trailer with a super slide.  Having grown up camping in tents and a 6’X  9’ pop-up 1960 Nimrod camper, we thought we were moving into a “mansion”. 

          Our first year was an adventure.  We laughed about the night we flooded the camper because we had closed the gray water tank accidentally.  We laughed when the night temperature dropped to 25 degrees and we ran out of propane. We laughed at ourselves as the seasoned full-timers discovered some of our “new to the life-style” mistakes.  It was all an adventure, and God kept our sense of humor sharpened.

            During our second year we felt seasoned in the ways of the camping experience, and began to enjoy the status of “belonging”.  God opened many ministry opportunities as we made friends among the other campers

Williston Crossings Front Gate

who came and went here at Williston Crossings.  We were among the very few who stayed year-round, and so we became “fixtures.”  This meant we were available when a family came to stay while their new-born infant was being treated at a local hospital.  We were able to assist a family when their home burned and they stayed at the campground during repairs.  God allowed us to meet, pray with, and encourage many couples who came for 6 months at a time while one of them underwent cancer treatments at local hospitals.  There were those friends who came to our park having been married many years, but left after the death of a beloved spouse.  God allowed us to be instruments of His peace during those difficult times. 

            Year three began with anticipation of new things ahead.  My husband retired from full-time pastoral ministry, we both were teaching at a Christian school down the road, and we began to travel more often, visiting in churches all over the state of Florida.  We sensed that change was in the air…and our camping adventure was beginning to conclude.  Restlessness began nettling our hearts that perhaps it was time to move into more conventional housing during the up-coming school year.  We began to refer to our camper as “the box” and knew that our full-time status was soon to conclude.  Still, we worked on our flower gardens, landscaping, and little place in the woods. There were yet things we needed to understand about our full-timer experience.  And so, we continued until we had completed our third year. 
            Today is our last day here in our camper.  With confidence, we know that God will use this experience in our future ministries.  But for now, we will be leaving the beautiful Williston Crossings RV Resort to live temporarily in a small apartment in Dunnellon, Florida.  We are referring to this apartment as “our big camper.”  We can only guess what God wants to do in our lives in this new place we will call home.
            When the Bible instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not to [our] own understanding, in all [our] ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct [our] paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6), we can depend on Him to do just that. So stay tuned on the new adventures of Hales in Ministry in Dunnellon, Florida.


Tabernacle at Williston Crossings

Williston Crossings RV Resort Pavillion at Dusk

I live in an RV Resort.  The management calls this place the “pavilion”.  It is here that events are held; weddings, dances, cookouts, family reunions – whatever the residents want to host. 
              For me in the quiet of the early dusk hour, I gaze upon this place as a tabernacle in the woods.  I am far removed from Williston as I witness the spectacular beauty of “the tabernacle” and remember another tabernacle from my youth.  It was there at the Camp Joy Bible Conference in Brownsville, Kentucky that every August from 1963 until 2000, I spent an activity-packed weekend with teens from across the nation.  My first weekend I myself was only a child; my last, I was the mother of three grown children. 
              What beautiful memories of the quiet times spent on those hillsides, and then the trek down into the valley to sit in the tabernacle for the evening-time of preaching and singing.  As the night-time gathered her orchestration of crickets, tree-frogs, and the lonely hoot of an owl, the light slowly faded from the horizon.  The worshippers were surrounded in a cocoon of night-time fog.  The dampness of dew was refreshing after the heat of the day.
           Many of the decisions which have directed my paths, and brought purpose to my life, were made in that old tabernacle.  Tonight, just seeing this beauty before me here at Williston, I have joy in remembering.

Enjoying the NOW

      Watching birds has always brought me joy and relaxation.  I’m not in a “bird-watching” club, and I don’t spend hours searching for particular sightings – though it’s a great hobby for many.  I just enjoy stopping my busy routines when I spot a bird of interest, and watching. 
      Yesterday as I was sitting on the patio beside my camper, I noticed a pair of mourning doves who are frequenting the ground beneath my bird feeder.  They intriqued me, so I sat quietly, observing their behavior.  As I got caught up in my own thoughts I remembered back to a time almost 15 years ago in Troy, Tennessee, when I watched a Mourning Dove from my kitchen window. She was faithfully sitting on her nest, day after day.  Rain or glaring sun, she stayed put. Each evening I had gone out quietly to see if there were any little baby birds – but each time I only saw her sleek gray feathery body nestled down deep in the nest.  The nest was safely cradled in the hollow of an old, old apple tree.
      Our neighbors had wanted to cut down the whole tree because they said it was a nuisance with all the rotting apples falling to the ground each year.  And so, we had given them permission to cut it down. It turned out they didn’t have the tools they needed to cut it down completely, so they just cut off all the branches and left an ugly old 12 foot “stump”.  When spring came they wanted to cut it the rest of the way down, but I discovered just a tiny bit of life and decided to keep it.  We agreed that we’d wait it out one season until all the other trees had leafed out, and then if the tree was truly dead, we’d take it down.
        As the warm weather came, that old stump greened out and became very beautiful in its own way. One morning as I was looking from the kitchen window, I discovered the Mourning Dove.  I began watching her activities and contemplating why she was called “mourning” dove.  I used to think of her as a “Morning Dove, but this confused me because she sang her sad song each evening.  I began to wonder why God had given her such a sad song to sing each day.  Was she somehow actually sad? 
       Now this is where non-nature lovers may ask about my sanity, but that’s okay.  I decided to go out into the yard to sit next to the tree, and speak to her.  I told her I admired her for taking such good care of her little eggs, and how beautiful she was.  She cocked her head ever so slightly and blinked her eyes.  Then she just sat there listening as I talked.
       Another day as I was washing my dishes, I saw that she was still sitting there.  I had just been thinking about how boring and restless I was with the ordinariness of my daily routines, when I suddenly thought about her routine. She could fly off into the air, “free as a bird” any time she pleased, yet there she sat, day in and day out, taking care of her nest.  Suddenly I had the urge to go out and sit under her tree and read her a story.        Maybe that is the way God desires for me to enjoy the everyday things that He places in my life.  Perhaps I am to embrace the moment, live in the NOW, and rejoice with His creation.  It seemed logical to me. The dishes could wait; the laundry would be there later.  What a neat idea; me – reading a story to a bird. So that is exactly what I did.
         Today, all these years later, I’m not reading to my Mourning Doves.  I’m not talking to them.  I’m not studying them.  I’m just living in the moment- enjoying watching them, embracing the right NOW and glad to be alive this very moment in my Fathers wonderful world.  What an enjoyable and refreshing place in time to be; the now!  My mother often quoted a phrase, “Today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”  Today, I choose right NOW.

A Lighted Path

” Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path “. Psalm 119:105

      One morning while camping in Highland Hammock State Park we went hiking out on one of the many trails.  We walked along a boardwalk way back into the “swamp.”  The water was so black it mirrored the trees in such a way it was hard to distinguish top from bottom. 
      As we went deeper into the thickets, the sun was blocked and it became quite dark.  As we began to emerge from the woods, the morning sunlight filtered through and created almost a lighted path to direct us back to the parking area. 
     It’s so like the verse that says God’s Word is a light unto our way.


From my camper window…February 17, 2012…..Ritchie Hale

Have you ever been in the theatre watching a movie when at the conclusion, the audience burst into spontaneous applause?  It’s such a stirring experience when no one writes in the script, “applause”, but your heart wells up with overwhelming gratitude and you just can’t restrain your hands and heart from clapping.

I remember a flight where we were caught up in a horrific storm, lightening all around, and turbulent, bumpy weather.  With all that, the captain made an excellent landing.  I desired to applaud him for a job well done, but also, the beauty of the storm that had raged all around us had been so breathtakingly beautiful, I felt the longing to applaud the experience.

Today as I sat outside under my awning, I watched the sunset play hide and seek with the tops of the Australian Pines just a short distance off in the edge of the woods.  Three squirrels were playing around the base of a pine tree.  The light drizzle brought a refreshing aroma to my senses, and a gentle breeze blew my hair just enough to cool my face.

I simply wanted to applaud my God and my Creator for His glorious world. I began to sing softly to my surroundings, “all nature sings and around me rings, the music…this is my Father’s world.”

Lord, help me not become so busy in the hectic pace of life that I forget to applaud with joy, the wondrous gifts of Your mighty creations.

In the off season….

By Ritchie Hale 2009
from my camper window – a monthly column of Willison Crossings RV Resort Park

When we first arrived at Williston Crossings, it was the “off season.” We knew little about the calendar of activities and sense of community that was to come when the snow birds began to arrive. We remember well that first October, the feeling of anticipation and a bit of angst as the number of park residents began to swell. And then that following March; the empty feeling as the departures began.

Though our work schedules haven’t allowed us to be involved in many of the activities of the season, we’ve enjoyed the energy all around us, friends at every site, the sounds of horseshoes striking the posts, neighbors standing in driveways laughing and talking, bicycles making loops around the park, and the camaraderie of neighbors waving to us each evening when we return home from work.

Here at Williston Crossings we have experienced a sense of community that we’ve never known any other place.  It is the place where friends come together for a season, leave for other destinations, and then return to continue old friendships, and make new ones.  It reminds me of a little song that I teach my school children; “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

That truly is the way we view our experience here at Williston Crossings. We anticipate more beautiful friendships in the years ahead as we come and go into and out of various communities.

Williston Crossing – At It’s Best

By Ritchie Hale 2009
from my camper window – a monthly column of Willison Crossings RV Resort Park

At a time in our lives when we desired respite from the hectic pace of our work, a place of solitude at the end of the day, and a place to call home, we discovered the beauty, friendly atmosphere, and relaxed living of Williston Crossings.

The facilities were immaculate, clean, inviting, and beautiful. The grounds were well-manicured, set up to be functional, and kept up. No detail was overlooked; even music in the bath house. There was energy on the campground as campers came and experienced the vision of those who dreamed this place into life through personal sacrifice. Campers bought into those dreams by adding their own energies, and so the work continued. Management made us feel welcome. They had the time to visit with us, attend our functions, participate in, and plan activities. They were our friends and we didn’t feel that we were “putting them out.” There was a “feels-like-family” atmosphere.

The People: My husband and I have camped all our lives. First as children, then with our own children, and now as full-timers. Our vocabulary has changed. We joke about living in our “cramper” We dream of four more feet and an extra pull-out. We discuss rigs, rally’s, holding tanks, towing packages, great parks to visit, newest gadgets for our unit, and who’s doing what, where and why. We share with each other a life-time of wisdom, knowledge and skills learned along the journey of life. We talk about our children and grandchildren. We whittle, quilt, scrapbook, make cards, weave, build, landscape, paint, craft, dance, sing, worship, participate in charities, laugh, love, support each other during cancer treatments, births, deaths, and living. We are diverse in our backgrounds, ideologies, theologies, politics, methods, and manners, but we are community – tight-knit community. Any of us would do anything for any one of us, for any reason if called upon to do so.

Campers come to Williston Crossings; stay a day, a week, a month, or a year. They leave here and go to another park. They join another community. The sit around and visit with each other and have the same conversations. Only this time, they have added knowledge of this great park; Williston Crossings. We’ve not done this yet, but we hear Williston Crossings is discussed as one of the best across the nation. I know it’s the best in our area, and we love it. We want it to continue to be great. We want the efforts and dreams that have already been invested here to live on.

When we see a little boy playing a game of pool with his grandfather in the game room, sharing quality time, laughing together, we are seeing Williston Crossings at its best.

When we walk into the Clubhouse during a Campers on Mission Rally and hear 80 voices singing in harmony, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,…” we are hearing Williston Crossings at its best.

When we stand at the top level of the deck on a crisp, breezy morning, listening to the birds as they sing the morning songs of their Creator, seeing the rising sun dance across the water in the quarry below us, we are experiencing the beauty that is Williston Crossings.

When we sit around the campfire in those wonderful rocking chairs, feet propped up on the wall, talking and laughing with friends, we are enjoying Williston Crossings at its best.

When we can come together after a time of being apart, share what is happening in our individual lives, encourage each other, embrace, grow in our own personal lives, and stretch our thinking to new heights, we will have understood Williston Crossings.

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