How to be a Happy Camper

Lesson learned. Happy camping (and living) requires a lot of planning and preparation.

This was one of the life lessons that spoke even louder than the coyotes’ howl-a-thon I heard from our tent in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest last week. After not tent-camping for over five years, it seemed like a first-time experience.

It makes sense that I would derive this “planning and preparation” lesson from camping at this time. It seems I’m more intensely evaluating every part of my life these days. I’m thinking about how my planning and preparation (or lack thereof in some areas) in my 20s and 30s got me to where I am today. I’m also thinking more about how I can – if Jesus doesn’t return or take me home in the the next 20-30 years – plan well and work hard to be prosperous and generous instead of regretful or suffering consequences that could’ve been avoided.

Is this a mid-life crisis? No. I’m too young for that, 😉 but I am old enough to have a few regrets. I’ve dabbled with the blame game and the excuse party from time to time in efforts to calm the regrets, but deep down, I think we all know when we’ve made unwise choices – choices that often come from a lack of planning, preparation, and hard work.

Before I start to sound too much like “Delilah” Downer (let’s give all the upbeat Debbies a break), please hear that there is always hope in Jesus, no matter how many bad choices we’ve made or poor planning we’ve done in the past. Paul the Apostle said it well:

Philippians 3:13-14 “…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (NLT)

Here’s where my head’s been lately. While planning, hard work, and preparation don’t “sound as spiritual” as prayer, they’re in the Bible, so they must be spiritual actions as well.

Proverbs 21:5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. (NLT)

Proverbs 27:12 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. (NLT)

Which is most important? Planning? Work? Prayer? Yes. All of them. It’s the quote (I think originally from Mark Batterson) that preachers love these days:

“Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you.”

Here are some practical action steps to help us move closer to prosperity, and further from poverty. I believe the best actions often begin with asking good questions, so you’ll find questions to ask yourself in each of the three categories.

Let’s get the awkward money topic over first.


1. Ask yourself where you’ll be financially in 1, 5, 10, 20, or 30+ years if you continue to handle your money the way you have up until now.

2. Get a trusted friend or accountability partner to help.

About two months ago, I texted a friend at our church who has taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes. I simply asked if she could point me to some resources, and within a week, she was at our house, encouraging us in practical and strategic ways to be wise with our money. Accountability works. Find a trustworthy friend who is good with money, and let them in.

Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (NIV)

If you can’t think of anyone to learn from or to be accountable to, here are some resources to get you started until you do find someone. Click here for recommended resources like Financial Peace University and the Total Money Makeover. These resources are designed to help you get (and stay) out of debt, budget wisely, save for retirement, and the best part – be generous and able to help others in need.

3. Ask God what He wants you to do with the money He’s given you.

4. Ask God if He wants you to work more or less.

5. Ask God if He wants you to sell or donate anything you currently own.


1. Memorize this verse as it applies to relationships: Proverbs 21:5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. (NLT)

Rich relationships require time. There’s no way around it. I have found myself wishing I had more friends, while knowing full well I’m taking hasty shortcuts with people. You know how it is. You see these wonderful people at church, you say a hasty hello, you say how you’ve really got to do lunch or get together sometime soon, you mean it, but then you never plan it.

Worse yet, I found myself losing rich connection with my husband because I was always working and didn’t plan times for just being with him.

2. Ask yourself what time-consumers you may need to lessen or give up in order to spend more quality time with those you love.

3. Pull our your calendar, and schedule dates with your spouse and kids, and with anyone else you want a richer relationship with.

Guard those dates with your life.

4. Find out what your and your loved ones’ love language is if you don’t already know.

How to find out theirs? Ask them. It always leads to a fun conversation. The five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Click here to order the book on Amazon.

5. Ask yourself, and better yet, ask others what communication skills you need to learn in order to better communicate love to those around you.


1. Plan a consistent time to set aside to spend with God.

Plan a time where you can be completely focused on knowing Him more through His Word and prayer. I can only imagine how extremely difficult this is for moms with little ones, but I’ve seem moms do it. Find moms who are doing it, and ask them for their secret.

Consistency doesn’t mean it has to be the same exact time every day. I just know that typically, it’s a little bit easier to guard that time if it’s the same each day.

2. Ask yourself what time-consumers you may need to lessen or give up in order to spend more quality time with God.

I’ve had to do “Facebook fasts” at times when I’ve whined that I had no time for connecting with God but realized I was spending 15-30 minutes throughout the day on Facebook.

3. Find a trusted friend or accountability partner.

Pray and read God’s Word together. This may be as simple as a once-a-week check up call. I know that if I have someone planning to call me and encouragingly ask me what I’ve read in God’s Word that week, I’m going to read more than when I don’t have an accountability partner.

4. Find a doable Bible-reading/study plan. Here are two great resources I’ve mentioned before:

The first5 App

YouVersion Bible Reading Plans

Extra Resources:


Here’s a really great sermon I heard on Proverbs 27:12 about preparing for the future.

Here’s the sermon description: We’re all headed somewhere. Arriving at our new destinations requires change. For most of us, change creates stress. Sometimes you know what’s coming next—graduation, wedding, new baby, new job, retirement. But there’s no correlation between knowing what’s next and being prepared for what’s next. So, how do you prepare for the next season when you can see what’s coming? Click here to watch the sermon.

Post & Book

Back in January I wrote a post called “Why did I say yes to THAT?” It goes along very well with today’s post, AND the Newbie Doobie Brothers make a special guest appearance. In it, I also share the best life planning book (besides the Bible of course) that I’ve ever read. Click here to view the post.

We’d all love to hear from you expert planners out there. What actions do you take to plan ahead and better let God direct your steps? Please leave them in the comments below.

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2 Responses

  1. Loretta

    I’ve been doing some studies this summer through I’ve also been better about thinking and praying about things before I commit. I had to turn down an opportunity that I had waited forever to hear, but after thought and prayer I knew it wasn’t what was best for me in the long run. I was hard to turn down, but I know it was the right thing to do.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks so much, Loretta – I love it when you share your thoughts, and yes, is another great resource I forgot to mention. Thanks for the reminder!

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