Salvage, Stitches, Storage, and Sadness

Salvage, Stitches, Storage, and Sadness

April 22, while driving in Michigan at 11pm (about to call it a night), we came to an intersection with a blinking yellow light. We had the right of way. A car on the intersecting road decided to go. I slammed on the SUV brakes, Caleb slammed on the truck brakes, and the RV brakes didn’t work right (and they worked fine up until this point). The RV kept going, ripped the hitch in the truck bed almost completely out, slammed into the cab and back tail light area, and the truck slammed into our SUV.

We were able to coast into a local grocery store in White Lake, about an hour east of Lansing. Everyone was fine. The truck and RV were totalled by the insurance companies. The SUV probably would have been but we only had liability on it. It is still drivable. We also ended up getting another truck already (although now it needs an EGR delete). We couldn’t finance another RV until the insurance paid for the other one. They wouldn’t pay until we moved out. I had took pictures and videos on my smart phone but then the screen broke and I am back to a flip phone.

We visited the local Baptist Church the day after the wreck and have fell in love with the people. Everyone has been so helpful and welcoming. A loving family has welcomed us into their home while we wait on the bank to finance us. All our stuff was in a 5×10 ft storage unit until a few days ago when we moved it to the pastor’s garage. We have enjoyed helping out at the church when we can and now call it home.

Caleb has had a job since April 25th but got injured on the job after two weeks of working​ there. While cutting down a tree with a chainsaw, the tree fell quicker than planned (his boss didn’t have the trunk held tight), branches hit the chainsaw which swung back and hit Caleb’s knee. He got 12 stitches. He was still working but was overdoing it a lot so missed about 10 days of work (spread out, not all in a row). It was at a bad spot and kept splitting open. It looks way better now.

When he first got the stitches

Also at the end of May, my family had another gut wrenching blow. My younger brother overdosed (not Herion) and was in the hospital for four days before he passed. He was my step dad’s only child. My stepdad had passed in January from esophagal cancer. My family is all deeply grieved and will never​ be the same. We are still very much in shock because no one expected my always-smiling, 22 year old brother to die. The day before he spent making future plans with his girlfriend. It still just feels like a dream that we wish we could wake up from!

We miss you two so much!

As far as my family (the four of us) goes, we plan to get a new RV soon, Lord willing. Also my husband is probably switching jobs soon to something more permanent. I will update more as the Lord reveals His plans for our lives. He has done tons of pruning on us and we keep our faith and hope on His future plans for us. We are loving where He is leading us and just need to give things time to fall into place!
Rest in Peace 

Dakota (Cody)

December 30, 1994 -May 30, 2017

Always smiling!
My little brother will be missed so much!
I could always depend on him to be a great Uncle “Cookie” to m boys. Lucas gave him the nick name when he was younger.

Reflecting on Our First Year of RV Living

Reflecting on Our First Year of RV Living

A Year…

A lot happens in 365 days. Babies are born, people pass away, and life keeps changing. Nothing stays the same. Some changes might seem insignificant but everything is always changing.

April last year we bought our first RV: Harvey. We downsized from a 2 bedroom rental house with a basement and back yard to an RV and the world as our backyard. A lot has changed. Some changes were huge like changing to a newer RV, moving to different states, and what we did for income. Other minor changes impacted us significantly and caused lots of personal growth in our lives.

1. Our Faith has Grown

Living life on the road, as believers, we have changed from traditional church goers to more Christ followers. We used to help out at the local Baptist church every now and again but mostly were pew sitters. Since going fulltime, we have helped many churches in different capacities. In Elkhart, Indiana we gave advice on how to reach our generation. A church in Bushnell, Florida we helped with repairing their bus and with demolition on a room and hallway they transformed into a beautiful lobby. In Lake Wales, Florida we helped with an outreach ministry, some visitation, and song leading (my husband). In Dothan, Alabama we helped a pastor with repairing his trucks and work on his farm. We just help our fellow man in any way we feel God lead us.

2. The Type of People We Know has Grown

With all our moving, we have met people from many walks of life. We have met many types of Christians, other RVers, and a variety of others. We enjoyed conversations with many. We shared meals with fellow RVers, friends, and family. My son and I signed with a deaf couple at an RV park and I translated for a deaf man attending our Alabama church. We recently shared our truck and RV with a man named Jake and his sweet puppy Sage, who were looking for a ride from Florida to Michigan. People are amazing and should all be loved and respected for who God made them, regardless if they are different.

3. Our Hope in Humanity has Grown

We have not always been on the giving end this year, we have had many people bless us! Family and friends have opened their homes, couches, and driveways up to us. Two different churches have let us hook up for free in their parking lot. We have been blessed with gifts of money, food, clothes, or even toys for our boys. Other RVers have gave us free advice and helped us with our vehicles and/or rigs. We shared Thanksgiving with a sweet pastor and his wife. We had an RV park manager let us stay a few weeks for free when we had no work. RVers of two seperate parks gave us Christmas cards filled with money when we couldn’t find work. People really do still look out for their fellow man!

4. Our Relationships with Family and Friends have Grown

It seems almost against logic but we feel closer to others when we can travel. We are able to uproot easily, to visit people we miss, or help others in need. I was able to be with my family when my stepdad died. I also stayed with my mom for 8 days to help her pack up some of her house and just keep her  company. We stayed with friends when traveling through Knoxville, TN and traveled to PA last year to visit cousins. We parked the RV at an Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Pensacola, Florida. This year has been filled with many growing relationships.

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How has a life of RVing and/or minimalism impacted your social life?

The Man in Overalls

There is a man I know that wears overalls everywhere he goes. I have never seen him in regular pants, just overalls. He goes to church, is even in the choir, and still wears his blue jean overalls with a black suit jacket over top. I don’t know if he can’t afford dress pants or if he just chooses to wear clean overalls but I wanted to tell you about this man today.

You see, this man has a heart of gold. He is a great friend. He will be there for you when you need him. He is the kind of person that will take you out to lunch and not tell anyone because he doesn’t need to brag on himself. His prayers are genuine and his spoken devotions are deep. He might be a simple man but his love for God and others is complex.

We can all learn a lot from the simple man in the overalls. We can all learn that we should love each other and help a neighbor out when they need a boost. By helping others, we help ourselves. We might be the next one that is down and out and needing a helping hand. 

I remember when we first moved to Alabama, I struggled with being here. Even for a country girl, they were too “backwoods” for me. I was not comfortable with their relaxed church services. I loved their bluegrass sounding music, love for God, country, and neighbor but I was not ready for the lack of strict rules.

It is sad to say but too many Independent Baptist churches, especially in the northern states, have became too legalistic. The members focus too much on the outward appearance, the ministries they can have, and even how well their choir can sing. Even though I am not legalistic, having been in such strict churches have caused me to judge my fellow believers based on things like getting to church on time, believing churches should have a door knocking ministry (which I still believe they should but more focus should be on people daily talking about Jesus with whoever they meet), and sadly even believing Godly men wore dressy pants to church.

You see, the man in the overalls, along with all the people at my current church, are teaching me that Christianity is not about following rules to follow God. It is about living out what Jesus did. It is about presenting ourselves a living sacrifice so Jesus can work through us. I am learning I still have a lot of spiritual growing up to do. I hope I can continue to learn the love of Jesus from those currently in my life, especially from the man who only wears overalls.

Who in your life as been an amazing Godly example? I’d love to hear about them. Don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up with my journey.

When Life Throws You Curves…

When Life Throws You Curves…

I have been putting off writing this post for a long time now. You see, I am a dreamer. I try to look for the good in everything. When life gets tough, I hold on thinking it will get easier soon. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it gets really dark before the dawn. It’s in those moments that reality smacks me in the face over and over until I admit my dreams are shattered!

This is one of those moments. My husband left his Walmart job in September to pursue a life on the road with a workcamping job based on commission. First, our original RV’s engine blew on day one. We were able to coast into a rest area and were stuck there for 10 days while we searched for a new “home”. We settled on a fifth wheel and truck.

Then, our workamping job was a big flop! I’ll spare the details but the man we were working for was basically a big liar and not who he said he was. (Yes Mama, heeding your advice would have been wise.) Along the way, we did visit some great churches and meet some wonderful people though!

So with our finances shot and not much else we could do, our family traveled to Dothan, Alabama for my husband to take a 3 1/2 week course in Heavy Equipment Operations to get certified on the Backhoe and Excavator. This would lead us to job openings in Texas or Florida that we could pursue. There is just one major problem-there is not enough money left to travel there!

So here we are stick in Dothan, Alabama. My husband has found a job at a steel company working to get us caught up on bills. Praise the Lord for this job! But I feel like reality has smacked me in the face with a stinky fish! I know I am still blessed beyond measure but I am still overwhelmed with our current financial state. We have been hard off before but this seems like one of the darkest finacial valleys we have been through. 

During our struggle, I am trying to stretch everything we have. I am trying to make food last and still fill us up. Lots of beans are in our diet. I am scrubbing our laundry by hand and hanging it out to dry. We have one big problem with that today-another rain storm has came in. I just want to cry and pray that life starts looking up! I’m starting to really hate life in Alabama. No offense to those that call it home.

Our “clothes line” is an extension cord that my husband tied around our awning.

Have you had seasons in life that just kept getting worse? I’d love to hear your stories. It is encouraging to know in these dark moments that we are not alone in this.

Evan’s 2nd Birthday

Evan’s 2nd Birthday

Today was my youngest son’s second birthday. We decided to celebrate it at Chick-fil-a with the pastor’s family. Since we started going to their church, they have been absolutely amazing friends to us! We were able to enjoy some great food, wonderful fellowship, and the kids (our boys and their granddaughter) had fun playing. We kept it simple with a few gifts from us and they also bought him a gift.

Playing in the play area. Yes, his socks are mix-matched. We gave up on trying to find matches.
Corduroy was a favorite of mine when I was little!
A cute suit for Sundays was a blessing from the pastor’s family.
First 100 Animals was another book from Mommy and Daddy.

He also received The Very Hungry Caterpillar and some clothes. We found these onesie shirts, pj pants, and footie pjs at a thrift store when we visited family in Pensacola, Florida area last month. We bought all the books used on Amazon and had them shipped to the campground office. A sweet lady I met online sent us a gift card to Amazon to brighter our boys’ birthday and Christmas. Shh! Don’t tell them but they each have three more books coming for Christmas. 

The rest of his gifts from Daddy and Mommy.

I just wanted to share how we enjoyed his birthday since this RV lifestyle can be unique when it comes to birthdays, holidays, and family traditions. 
What are some unique traditions your family has for holidays and birthdays? Don’t forget to follow my blog to keep up with my journey! 

Westgate Park and Sports Complex.

We got a late start today on our hiking. We spent the early afternoon chasing Peanuts Around Town. I will write about the Peanuts in a different post. We hiked 3.6 miles today at the Westgate Park and Sports Complex. It got dark while we were there so it made it interesting. We have learned that we need to eat before we go for our walks. We get famished before we are done!

Before we took to the dirt path we saw this beautiful memorial. We inquired about it when we got back from our walk. The lady I talked said that is was for the children and babies that died young. They were going to be having a prayer vigil. If we weren’t so hungry, we would have stayed to honor our glory babies.
So if you are in the area, check out the new memorial. The lady said that they just put it in the park last month and plan to have a prayer vigil every December 6. 

An RVer’s Perspective on Today’s Independent Baptist Churches

An RVer’s Perspective on Today’s Independent Baptist Churches

I have been stewing on this post for awhile now. I feel I need to say something but I had decided to wait until I could say something in a loving and wise way. You see we have been traveling fulltime since May and have faithfully attended four churches in that time frame. This post is about churches in general but my only perspective is from the Independent Baptist churches we have researched and attended.

Finding doctrinally sound, hymnal singing, “Sunday best” dressing, friendly, and active churches are actually really hard to find. Some areas had a few more options than others. Yet the search for good churches can sometimes be time consuming and spiritually disheartening. 

More Churches are leaning towards Contemporary Christian Music over Hymnals.

My family prefers a bit more “old fashioned” style churches, without drums and that sing hymnals. This is just our personal preference and I am not against others worshipping this way. I am just saddened that through our travels it has been hard to find church that still sing from hymnals. I listen to CCM now and again on the radio but there is something about hymnals that stir my soul to humbly worship my Lord.

More Churches are becoming slack on what attire members and even pastors wear.

I understand that churches should be “come as you are” but it saddens me to see people take entering the House of God so casually. We have attended some Florida churches that the pastor looks like he just came from a cook out. I understand that some men don’t like ties and many women don’t like dresses but I see this casual attire as a lack of reverence for the Lord. As a society, we are showing less respect for the Lord than generations before us.

More Churches are dying out instead of being ON FIRE for the Lord.

This is probably the hardest realization I have had! We have attended churches that have sound doctrine, sing hymnals, dress modest, and are friendly but the congregation has lost their zeal for the Lord. They lack a nursery and children’s miniatries since they are not reaching out to the next generation – young families. Many stopped doing visitation since only a handful of people will participate. Even some are lacking pastors since their congregation is too small to support the full income of a pastor’s salary.

So what can we, as individuals and familes, do to help our local churches grow spiritually and also congregations to grow physically?

  1. Attend weekly services at a local church of your choice that you are parked near. 
  2. Ask how you can serve within the church, even if you are only passing through. Many pastors are excited to have people offer to help!
  3. Attend the fellowships, prayer meetings and participate in their community outreach programs if you can. Does the church have a food drive or give gifts to children with parents in jail? Contribute if you finacially can. 
  4. Participate in their visitation times. As long as your doctrinal beliefs match, many pastors are excited for the extra “hands and feet of Jesus”.
  5. Make sure you are keeping up with your personal devotions and prayer life. Do you have spiritual matters to attend to? Take care of your spiritual walk so you can better worship God and serve others.
  6. If you are a parent, instill in your children the importance of attending and serving in the local church. Teaching starts at home, not at the church. 

*Do you have any thoughts on today’s local churches? How do you and your family stay active spiritually while on the road?