Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That Time We Went Camping

We just got back from a week in Appomattox County. We, uh, camped. It actually felt like camping for the first time since we starting . . . camping. Maybe because there was no wifi. Roughing. It.

I'm not sure how long into this adventure I will feel like I have another answer to the casual questions from friends and family, like, "So, what did you do last week?" Went camping.

Maybe I can change it up to, "Oh, we pulled out the kids beds, then put them back again in the morning. I squeezed four and a half days worth of food into a small refrigerator and planned a week's worth of crockpot meals. Oh, yeah, I also noticed on Thursday that the black tank was on F, so I emptied it and sprayed it out. We're good now."

I'm selling this like a boss.

I'm mostly being sarcastic, because I really like this living, this season of togetherness. I don't like the days when it's time to pack up and hook up. I don't like the stress of driving down the road, knowing that if we miss our turn, a u-turn is impossible, and then parking at a new RV park that seems like it may barely fit our rig. I don't like only one working washing machine in the park bath house. I don't like tornado warnings. But there is a lot I do like.

I love that when Rob had a week of classes at Liberty University, we just rolled on out with him to a nearby campground and made a week's vacation of it for the rest of us. We stayed by a lake and spent many a moment like this:

Sometimes they were right side up.

We also visited the Appomattox Court House National Park, where 150 years ago, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, the beginning of the end of the Civil War. We loved our time there! We learned more about the Civil War in three hours--the 95 degree temps shortened our visit some--than a week's worth of book learning.

Rosy is not subtle in her disdain for the sitting and the listening.

But she loves the seeing and the doing and the touching. Here we are inside the very room where the tides turned for our country towards No Secession and No Slavery.

On the doorstep of the McLean house, in whose foyer Lee and Grant met to sign the terms of Lee's surrender, April 9, 1865. 150 years isn't that long ago. No wonder our country's wounds are still healing.

Because I heart barns. I especially heart old, lovingly restored barns.

The courthouse was remodeled as a spectacular museum, filled with wonderfully displayed Civil War artifacts. 

I took full advantage of the spirit of peaceful surrender and renewed unity. Mark this day, you two.

Oh, and we also went tubing. Which is what you do when you want to play in the snow and it's in the middle of a heat wave in June. Competitive skiers and snowboarders come to Liberty's Snowflex to train off-season. We just did the tubing this time, but maybe next time, we'll take some skiing or snowboarding lessons. The ski mountain is made of carpet and water spritzers. Crazy.

Look, Ma! No snow pants!

Their post-run grins made my heart so happy. I love collecting smiles.

Rosy wins first prize for pushing through the uncomfortable heat to have fun and look adorable.

Gabe gets the award for looking the fiercest trying to pick up speed.

Seth was champion of "Making the Most Noise Laughing and Whooping Down Each slide." He also received an honorable mention for running back up the mountainside as fast as he could to get in as many tube rides as possible in the hour we were allotted.

In all, we had a great week. (Rob might disagree, since he spent most of his week sitting in a class. Someone has to be the grown-up.)

Camping for the win!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lazy Summer Days

Oh, it was a hot one yesterday with the mercury climbing up to 98 degrees. If anyone actually still has a mercury thermometer, that's what it would have climbed up to. The next few days here are slated to be in the upper 90's again. Mercy.

That kind of heat is like a snow day for us. We just don't want to go anywhere, and Rosy is pretty much stuck underneath an a/c vent. I mean, we are able to bounce from one indoor spot to another, and there is no shoveling of driveways and sidewalks, be we are still a little more stuck than normal.

Friday evening it cooled a bit, and we ran down to the beach for an hour or so, then swung by DQ for stunningly over-priced ice cream, so I hope all that good fun stretched over into yesterday when we did nothing. I mean, we put the no in nothing. No. Thing.  I didn't even change out of pajammies until it was time to make lunch, which was whatever leftovers could be gathered onto a [paper] plate. The kids played on all the electronic devices that parents are warned against letting their children spend too many hours in a row on. . .for hours upon hours.

These are proof that we did something other than surf the web, play video games, and watch Netflix over the weekend. 

A day or two marked by sloth usually sends me spiraling into a chasm of regret and self-loathing. Ofttimes, I even feel bad about taking a nap in the middle of the day, though I don't begrudge others who nap. In fact, I may even think, Dude, you need a nap. Crazy, right? Rest is difficult for me.

I'm a recovering Martha who feels determined to work her way into the good graces of the Lord who is in the next room. Except He doesn't work that way.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).

I always feel so bad for Martha. I mean, if she doesn't bake the bread, cut the veggies, and broil the fish, no one gets to eat. She wants Jesus to be impressed, and if she could just get a little bit of help setting the table, they could all visit together around her meal, right? All she's doing is asking Jesus to get Mary off her rear and send her in to help her! Is it asking too much? Does he even care?

Jesus doesn't even address that question. Does he care. (Have you ever felt that way? God, do you even care? Do you see what I'm going through here? Make him stop being hurtful! Make my children choose obedience! Tell her to change! Make that sickness take a hike!)

Oh, he cared. He'd been listening to Martha's huffs and mutters and the banging of pots and pans and slamming of cupboard doors. She was not invisible to him. But Mary was not hungry for dinner; she was starving for the Bread of Life, and Jesus wasn't about to let her go without.

The problem wasn't the food prep; it was Martha's focus. She was distracted by many things. Jesus was IN HER LIVING ROOM, and she was missing him! She could have sat down next to Mary and peeled her bowl of potatoes right there.

She may have been serving, but her heart was far from those whom she was serving. Service isn't about the service; it's about the people your serving. In fact she was so upset and worried that not only was her attitude towards her sister becoming harsh and critical, she was also questioning Jesus' character! Does he care.

Serving just to impress someone else isn't serving. 
Serving in order to control the details isn't serving.
Serving with bitterness and self-pity ruins the act of service.
Serving to prove your worth doesn't work.

Ouch. Martha is my New Testament doppleganger. I'm trying to take on some Mary qualities. Can Jesus just sit on the countertop in the kitchen and chat with me while I wash up this 37th sink of dishes? Of course, he can be present with me in my serving. Unless I am too distracted and upset and worried about all the things. All the things I'm doing and all the things someone else isn't doing. Unless I'm too busy banging pots and feeling rejected that I wouldn't be able to hear him anyway.

Sometimes, I have to step away. Sometimes unless the hands are resting, my heart can't rest either.

So days like yesterday are in order.

Thank-you, God, for the gift of rest. Help me not to scorn it.

One thing I love, love, love about the story of Martha is that later, when Jesus comes back to town four days after her beloved brother Lazarus dies, she runs out to meet him. Mary, however, cannot push past her hurt at Jesus' delay, and stays home.  "If you had been here, my brother would not have died!" Martha cries. "But I know now that God will give you whatever you ask." She takes her pain right to him. And then Jesus shares with her one of the most profound truths about himself, and it has nothing to do with all her good works and everything to do with who he is: 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” 
(John 11:25-27).

I'd say that Martha's had a bit of a growth spurt since that time she copped an attitude in the kitchen. Her faith was confirmed when Lazarus strutted out of that cave into hers and Mary's arms a few minutes later.

So take that afternoon off, pour yourself some sweet tea, sit on the front porch, and rest in the presence of the only One who brings life from death. And if you have to wash that 38th load of dishes or tackle Mt. Laundry or rock a fussy baby at 2 in the morning, save a place for Him to join you in the quiet of your heart. He knows that you have lots of work to do. He knows about the dishes and the laundry and the baby. He knows that you have to feed the people and that they will want food again in less time than it takes for you to clean up from the last meal. Let your acts of service be acts of worship, and you'll find yourself indeed sitting at his feet, and it won't be taken away from you. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


We've officially been living in our RV for over a month.  I have to say that we are all loving it. I feel happier here than I did the entire time we lived in our rental for a year. I don't miss all our stuff, and I truly love being with all these people.

I wanted to share a few tidbits that we have learned so far along the way.

::Always keep a can of air freshener in the little bathroom that sits right next to the dinette where you eat food. Always.

::If you want to warm up your coffee in the microwave and the air conditioner is running, turn off the hot water heater so that you don't pop the circuit. Again.

::Don't forget to turn the hot water heater back on.

::Take the batteries out of the smoke detector if you are going to fry anything. Just do it, and don't be a worry-wart, but don't forget to put them back in right when you're done.

::Your slow-cooker is your bff.

::Stop shopping and cooking like you have all the room in the world to store leftovers and B1G1 free items in your fridge and pantry, because you don't.

::Plan on buying a gallon of milk every two or three days, because only one gallon fits in the fridge at a time. It's not a big deal. Just run in and grab the milk. Oh, and throw in 17 other things that you might as well buy since you made the trip to grocery.

::Spend the money and install the extra stabilizers. Big difference. You do not want to always feel like you are on a boat unless you are on a boat and like being on the boat.

::The fan/air conditioning unit is quite noisy. Husbands and wives, use this to your full advantage and be blessed. Enough talk about that.

::Prepare yourself for a change in euphemisms from your ten-year-old son. "I have to go empty my black tank, Mom" has nothing to do with the camper, and everything to do with last night's pot of chili and making sure he uses that can of air freshener you bought.

::Also, don't forget to empty your camper's black tank. Better yet, teach your sons how to do it, so you can quietly observe from the relative comfort of the living room sofa. Thumbs up, son!

::Laundry never goes away. Ever. Get $20 worth of quarters every week, and drag your dirties to the park laundry facilities. Watch them like a hawk so that you do not tick off smaller families who did not need to use every single washer. Do not do laundry on a Sunday or Monday, because everyone who just camped for the weekend is doing theirs on Sunday, and all the full-timers are doing theirs on Monday. Don't let more than two days go by without doing laundry, because you only had the kids bring four summer outfits, and the dirty laundry takes up lots of space and gets stinky.

::Plan on wiping the bathroom sink every single time you go in there and obsessing about every little drip of water that splashes on this mostly glued-together paper-wagon.

::Just forget homemade pizza night like you used to do it. The oven only holds one 9x13 pan which does not feed seven people pizza. Grab some pitas or other pre-made crust and make your pizzas in shifts. Splurge and just get take-out every so often, for goodness sake.

::I know you love the earth. But. Paper plates.

::Try not to think judgy thoughts about the very young couple that come outside in their underwear every day to let their dog out. Bless them. Also, stop harassing them in your mind: what are they doing? Why are they here? Do either of them work? Why are they living in an RV? Do they need money for pants?

::Understand the current dog/RV size ratio trend. The smaller your RV, the bigger your dog, and the more of them you have. Try not to shake your head in wonder at the family with three boys, two cats and one large dog living full time in their small travel trailer. What? How in world? Why??? Be brave enough to break the trend. Or not. Because they are probably wondering how in the world you are living with five kids in an RV. They can put their dogs in a crate. You do not have that option.

::When it's your turn to drive the camper for the very first time because your husband has to work and you have a repair appointment at the dealership, say lots of prayers, take deep breaths, and just go for it. When you are taking curves and flashing your brights as you travel the road called "Elbow Road" and then follow your GPS down the path that goes into a marina with water and boats around you, and you just know you couldn't possibly be on the right road, and there is no way you can turn around with your 37 foot home attached to your bumper, resist the urge to cry or cuss. Instead, roll down your window and ask the driver of the truck passing you if he knows where the RV service center is, and he will be so kind as to tell you that he is headed there, and you are going in the right direction. RV'ers stick together. You will want to hug him and cry with relief. Then do not nearly wipe out his truck with your RV when you pull in past him.

::At some point every day, you are going to sternly recommend that everyone get outside right this instant or momma's gonna blow. Old Faithful, right here. Resist the urge to lock the door, but relish the momentary quiet, like every other momma who just had to chase her kids out of her 2000 square foot house. I'm with you, brave momma. Solidarity.

::Try not to laugh when your child tells you he or she cannot find his or her _________.  We live in 200 square feet now, how far could it have possibly gone?

::Enjoy your teens and preteens never being able to get very far away from you or each other. No cave-dwelling in this family! If you've got a problem we are going to tackle it together! But if you need some alone time, go sit out under the awning in a beach chair with a book. It's a hard life.

::Make the most of your evening family time. Pile as many people on the little couch as possible and squish yourselves into the dinette for family movie night. Love the faces of these people around you and know how fast it goes by and how much you will miss these times when in a just a few short years they start stretching their wings and leaving your nest.

Take it from me. This is indeed the good life.

Cuddle couch. Upgrade: footstool storage from Target. A huge difference in comfort. Also, Rob has 14 million uniform items, so this helps him get ready in the mornings.

I always, always struggle with shoes. As in, we have so many feet in our family, and each foot comes with several shoes. This Walmart shoe rack fits right in the front hallway without impeding any of the doors or walkways. I'm always looking for shoe management ideas. If you have any that have worked for you, please pass them on!

Our little fridge still moonlights as an art gallery. And landing spot for sticky love notes. Swoon.

These were among the first holes we screwed in our brand new walls. All for fruit! But let me tell you, the apples and oranges all over the teeny tiny countertop were making me bananas.

Pasta night via our little cooktop. I can still bring it in the kitchen, baby.

This camper cutie was definitely an upgrade.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Because Rob and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And because everyone loves (and needs!) a good love story. I share this with you today to honor this man of great character and integrity that I am blessed to call my husband:

Our very first meeting. Bethel College cafeteria. I sat shyly across from an old friend of his from Ohio, Janet Seeker. She was a resident director in a dorm that I hadn't even been placed in, but she was trying her best to make all us wide-eyed freshmen feel at home and connected.

He came up to our table to say hi to her. I looked up to find a  pair of warm, intelligent brown eyes, a mischievous grin, and a friendly nose marked by a huge, angry red gash right between his eyes. "Hi" to Janet. "Hi" to me. 

"What happened to you, Rob?" Janet wasn't about to let something like a head wound slide. 

"An iron fell out of my closet." 

I didn't laugh, but I may have smiled really big. And I would never forget that meeting. Who could forget that? But it certainly wasn't a chance encounter.

A couple weeks later, we found ourselves not by chance on the same missions team preparing to serve in Trinidad. I had signed up, because Amy Baron stood confidently behind the sign-up table and assured me that if God wanted me on that missions trip, then He would provide the money needed. I signed my name on the paper. I wonder if God smiled knowing what I didn't, that Rob's name was just a few spaces above mine. My teeny tiny faith, probably smaller than a mustard seed, would give me the courage to write my name just a few inches underneath the one belonging to the man who would one day stand beside me and make promises to both God and me, that our time served in ministry together for those short two weeks would set in motion thousands of tomorrows seeking to serve God together in whatever season we found ourselves.

I came home from that missions trip and told my mom that I'd met the man I was going to marry but that he didn't know it yet. 

We were friends. That's all. Friends that started dreaming together. Friends who began collecting shared experiences of going to school; cheering for our friends at soccer games; slipping out of our four-hour Thursday night class two hours early to watch women's volleyball--"Exploring the Christian Faith" with professor Tim Erdel. So sorry, Dr. Erdel; volunteering as camp counselors at the same church camp that he attended as a youth, consequently the same church camp that our children now attend. We began to see glimpses of one another's face in our future.  We talked quite frankly about the possibility a long-term future, yet we held our cards very close to our chests, not wanting our own desires to influence the other, but for God to reveal His heart to each of us at the right time.

On the one-year anniversary of the first time we hung out together and popped in a movie--because we never had a dating relationship, I can't call it a date--he took me to our church in the evening. We walked up to the altar, and we prayed for God to bless our blossoming friendship and deepening relationship. He excused himself and slipped away in the back. When he came back to the front of the church, he carried in his hands a basin of water. He knelt down in front of me and he washed my feet. 

I cannot imagine a more romantic and Christlike gesture. Forget a boat ride among swans in the rain in "The Notebook" or climbing the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day "Sleepless in Seattle" or walking through a foggy field in the early morning dew in "Pride and Predjudice." Romance is assuming the posture of Christ. He has done that in some way every day of our marriage. Even the hard days, and every marriage has them. 

He pulled out a ring and asked me for the rest of my tomorrows. I was so surprised and delighted and completely and forever wooed.

God never stops wooing you and me. Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is all about God's perfect love for us. We can never measure up, but we sure try to make our hearts and actions line up as best we can, and let the Holy Spirit make up for the ways we fall short. Rob would tell you that he isn't the least bit romantic, but I disagree. Hollywood has ruined what romance even means. Just because he doesn't call me baby or trot around the car to open the door that I'm so capable at this point in my life of opening myself does not mean he isn't romantic.

Love is patient. Like when he waited to share our first kiss until after we said I do.
Love is kind. Like when he gets the heating pad out because my back is hurting. And happily keeps the kids so I can run an errand alone. Or asks me if I need anything. Or shares something funny just to make me laugh. Or anything he does to let me know that he is thinking of me.
It does not envy, it does not boast. Like every time he rejoices in my successes and walks with me in my failures without a single eye roll. Like the way he counts his success as our success.
It is not proud, it is not rude. Like the way he makes himself vulnerable, allowing me to accept all of him, weaknesses and strengths.
It is not self-seeking. Like every morning when he wakes up before the rest of us and goes to work so that we can do what we do and have what we have. Like the way he lets me shlep my horse from one duty station to the next and doesn't even blink at the $$$ that slip into the wind, because he knows I love her.
It is not easily angered. Like when he lets kitchen mishaps slide, or doesn't complain one bit if I serve something that isn't his favorite. Again.
It keeps no record of wrongs. Like the way he forgives me for jumping in and taking over or for procrastinating over an unsavory task.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Like the way he sharpens my faith and encourages me to take risks for Jesus.
It always hopes, always trusts, always protects, always perseveres.  Like the way he shows me he still believes in me and my dreams--by gifting me with a new laptop to make it easier for me to write, process photos, and manage our kids education! Yay!--the way he guards my heart; and how he never gives up on us.

I feel like I've won the lottery with this guy.

Thanks for being God's gift to me, honey.

Twenty more years of adventure here we come!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mobile School

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is being in control our family's pace and schedule. School does not come before family; it's just part of our family life with very few lines of demarcation. When we found out that we had six days to move, we closed up our books and took an unplanned spring break that lasted for two weeks. Hello, spring. I see you, daffodils, as I carry this 300th box of books to the moving truck.Spring cleaning? Why, yes, I think we will, because we want our deposit on our rental back.

We just cracked those books back open today. It felt like the first normal thing we've done for days and days, and I was grateful. I would venture to say more grateful about it than my little students. We will be figuring out this RV schooling gig together.

So when Rob and I looked at travel trailers for hours and hours--how did people do this before the invention of the internet?--we knew that we would need something that would do more than just provide enough beds. We are going to be spending a lot of time together in this, and though there are times to settle and make do, this was not one of them if we could help it.

The best thing about this travel trailer--and call me a camping fool, but I seem to use the terms RV and travel trailer interchangeably. Is that even right?--is the opposing slide outs in the bunk house. There are actually enough beds to sleep 12 people in the RV, but. . .no. I do not want to turn my dinette into a bed every single night and stash bedding in odd places every single day. We all have our limits, man. But the bunkhouse, or Kids Quarters as we call it, is just awesome. School room by day, game room by evening, bedroom by night, without too much rearranging. This was important for our overall happiness and feeling settled in an unsettling situation.

The Kids Quarters has another dinette in the back, a perfect spot for the school computer and writing desk. School books and materials are stashed away in the cupboards up above, and the benches are storage for their clothes. The bunks are on either side, and underneath were four twin-sized futons. (We removed one of them and use that extra corner for storage.) The girls sleep up top, and the three boys each have a futon chair that folds out into a bed underneath the bunks.

We brought along a table we bought at Ikea that we had been using in our school room. This sits at the other end of the Kids Quarters by the empty space we created by removing one of the futons. The table is super lightweight, the legs come off, and  they are adjustable to keep it level. The chair in this shot and the one above I bought several years ago at Goodwill and reupholstered. They are light and tuck nicely away underneath the table, which is important. This small, flat TV allows for a little gaming or movie watching after school when we are indoors.

Lily prefers to do her schoolwork in her bunk. She is queen of finding a quiet little corner and tucking herself away. Here you can see the futon chair/bed underneath. That would be Seth's bed, because he is never far from his army blanket.

The main cabin dinette gives plenty of space for at least one student. Just before I took this shot, Lily was sitting opposite Caleb working on the online portion of her school. Plenty of room.

In fact, we are able to squeeeeze all seven of us at the table. It's tight, but it works for now. If we're having sandwiches or something a little less messy, we tend to spread out a bit more, but chicken fajitas with salsa and guacamole necessitate table space. 

And we also have the great outdoors.

A whole bunch of outdoors, actually.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shifting Sands

You know those movie scenes where the camera is focused on a dazed and often wide-eyed character while the world zooms past in an unrecognizable blur? Or just imagine standing on the beach in springtime while chilly waves furl and curl and drag the sand right out from under your feet. That is a completely accurate description of my life this last month. I'm almost dizzy, close to fragile, barely comprehending the blur on either side of my head, toes gripping like mad to maintain balance.

Sing with me, "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand." Yes.

Second week of March: the kids and I travel to Indiana to be with my mom as she goes through surgery for cancer. Though the week was emotionally and physically exhausting, God worked out great things in her life. The tumor was contained, removed, declared stage one, no further treatment needed. Our family feels like we can exhale for the first time since her diagnosis at Christmastime.

Third week of March: We're back home in VA, and we get the phone call that our landlord has decided to sell our house. Our lease had just expired, so he is within his rights, and we have 60 days to vacate. It's stressful enough to have to move every two to three years, but when an extra move is thrown in just because the landlord is done with the house, well, that's just a burden, man.

The kids and I have just one more year here, then Rob deploys--again--and we were going to wait that deployment out at the farm. So move now? Then move again in a year? Do you even know how many boxes of books I have?

But wait, there's more. Any Navy family knows that the year before a deployment is not spent sitting around waiting for D-day. Weeks in and out for what are called work-ups start filling up the calendar spaces. I'm talking two to four weeks gone at a time.

We lay our options out.

*Move into another crappy rental for a year. Come up with deposit, switch over all the utilities, pack, unpack. Repeat in one year. Expensive and yuck.

*The kids and I move back to the farm and Rob geo-baches in VA. (For you civilians, that means, he finds an apartment or extended-stay hotel situation and lives as a geographical bachelor.) So this would be like turning his 6-8 month deployment into a 18-20 month family separation. And then we would still need to find a place to stay together for the couple of months after he gets home and before we are slated to move to the next duty station. Worse.

Then, because we are a little outside-of-the-box types, a third option started bubbling up in our spinning heads.

What if....

Those are dangerous words. But I think all adventures worth having start out with those two words. What if.

So, what if we store all of our household goods. All the extra stuff. Because we have to pack it up anyway. And what if we get an RV and just, you know, camp in VA. For a long while. And the weeks that Rob is gone, the kids and I do our own thing. Store the RV and go back to the farm. Or visit family and friends. And wouldn't it be cool to be able to take fun weekend outings when he's not traveling? Outer banks? Kill Devil Hills? Williamsburg?

What if we turned this burden into an adventure worth remembering?

We pray. We look for peace and closed and open doors. We ask God about it. He doesn't say no.

First week of April: Good friends move into the area and give us all their moving boxes and packing paper. I don't know if they will ever really know the blessing this is to us. Not having to scrounge around for boxes or to put up more money for moving expenses that are on our shoulders is the biggest gift. God's timing is impeccable. Why do I ever get anxious?

Two days later, Rob's work calendar blows up. If I do not want to move our stuff myself--which I emphatically do not--we have to move out in six days.

So we box up 2000 square feet of homeschooling and five children and cooking and working and life, and by the grace of God, six days later we are rolling down the highway with a very tightly packed Uhaul and seven exhausted people gearing up for a 12-hour car ride.

Second week of April: Exactly six days later, we roll back into town with a large travel trailer stuck to our bumper.


That was just five days ago, y'all.

We've gone to great lengths to keep our family together as much as possible this next year. Rob has lots and lots of traveling to do, so we won't be in the camper the whole time. When you are living on wheels, though, it's a lot easier to get out and experience the world around you.

And like my dear friend, who is also a Navy wife, said to me, "I think only a military wife can appreciate the sentiment, 'We can stand anything for a __________ (season, day, year, three years, six months, nine months, 18 months...)'"

So if you'd like to join our adventure...and I mean this in a more figurative sense, because I'm not sure how many  more people I would like to fit in our travel trailer. You understand, right?...stay tuned.

And if you think about us, we'd appreciate any and all the prayers we can get.  (Have I told you we've never really been RVing? This is all new, making the adventure that much more of a thing.) My hope is that years down this curvy road, we can all sit around and laugh and reminisce about that crazy and fun year we lived in an RV.

Please be good to us, very long travel trailer. We need to name this thing. The Fun Wagon? Try-Not-To-Kill-Each-Other Mobile? Any suggestions?

I'll give you a tour soon. But for now, just like in any living situation we find ourselves, I spend a lot of time feeding the people. This is where it happens. My slow cooker is going to be my best bud.

Laundry logistics are always a thing, but even more so when we have to use a separate facility. We generate about a load of laundry a day, sometimes more. 

Our first destination is a short walk to the beach! It's still pretty chilly here, but we are going to make best of it. Beach walks and unit studies, here we come!

Rosy loves to organize her shell collection. We even found an occupied hermit crab! Sadly, he died that same day. I think he was already shuffling off that mortal coil when we found him. 

Here's to the start of many great memories and God sightings!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To 100 Percent

The doctors found cancer in my mom. Endometrial or uterine cancer to be specific.

It stinks, bites, sucks, rots. All that.

Chasing fear away is hard work. It lingers like a sulfur-belching dragon just outside the window. The moment I think it's safe to breathe, its shadow slithers by, and I'm left clutching promises that I hope are meant for me and for her.

We have every hope that a surgery to remove the offending part will send her on the path to full health. She is meeting with the oncologist next Tuesday to discuss options and to schedule her big surgery.

It's been a month of doctor appointments and phone calls, including a diagnostic surgery, all taking place up north where she can be close to my sister and brothers and their families and have support and care, as my dad's job takes him away for days at a time. Also northern IN has far greater cancer care facilities and specialists available to her. So she has been separated from Dad, which makes the endurance and the waiting extra beastly for them both.

Talking about it is hard. And not hard. Everyone knows a story with a happy ending. Everyone knows a story with a wretched ending. Mom's best friend died years ago from this same cancer, and she still had children in her home. There's the dragon's shadow again, damn him. I say that in the most Biblical sense, because if I could send all fear to the depths of hell with a word, you can bet that I'll shout it from the rooftops.

There is a Name that calms my fears and restores my soul, and it's Jesus. He is already interceding for us, because HE LIVES to pray for us.

"Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Romans 8:34).

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25). 

Jesus talks to God about Mom. (And by the way, he talks to God about you, too.) Oh, there's peace in that, I can tell you. Will you join Jesus and us and talk to God about my mom, too? As Rosy prayed at dinner last night: "Please heal my grandma to 100 percent." (I didn't know my English language learner knew what 100 percent even meant. Love her.)

Because He is able to save completely. And that means 100 percent. I'm not asking Him for anything less.