A Year Later …

It was a year ago this week when our comfortably built suburban middle-class life took a new direction. We were living out our dream in a house we loved and had recently remodeled and had plans to retire in a few years.

I remember having a magnet on our refrigerator decades ago, when we were living in what I considered my dream home at that time, a big 1800’s 8-bedroom farmhouse in rural Vermont. One morning I happened to take special note of the magnet and read the words as I had so many times before:

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

For some reason (God of course) I took notice of those words more significantly that day and with good reason. Our lives were turned upside down within a couple of days as God changed our direction and He knew I would need the reminder of those words. Oh my, I had no idea the journey God would take us on.

And so, it is now. Last year at this time a simple retirement discussion within a week became a calling to a new adventure. One we could not have imagined.

People remark, assuming that this was a lifelong dream of ours (living and traveling in a RV), that it must be nice to be doing so.

  • No, it was not our dream life
  • No, we did not plan on retiring for several more years
  • No, we never were going to sell our house

While it was not our dream, it was God’s dream for us. And…

  • Yes, we are loving it
  • Yes, we can’t imagine doing anything else at this time
  • Yes, we never could have dreamed this

We are currently serving at Mission: El Paso! in Texas and will be here 2 more months before moving on to another ministry project in Oklahoma. We come home tired, but it is a good tired. And we cannot see ourselves doing anything else.

So, what is God doing in your life? How open are you to a new direction?

Posted in Blessing, Contentment, Faith, Hope, Obedience, Peace | 2 Comments

Peace

Peace

As the year winds down and I reflect on this year:

  • Challenge of a pandemic
  • Realization of a new calling
  • Closing a treasured business and dream
  • Selling all our belongings
  • Leaving a nicely packaged well settled life
  • Moving to a nomadic life
  • My strong propensity for anxiety

It is no wonder God gave me the word “peace” for the year.

Long before I heard of or read the book, “One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, God was giving me a word for the year.

For years I had the habit of starting the new year with a new journal filled with detailed lists of my personal, physical, spiritual, relational goals.

One year when I sat down to pray and consider the next years goals, I hit a roadblock. The pages remained blank. Day after day. Other than the word “balance” that God was whispering in my heart. And thus, began my one-word journey.

The following year, I (notice the word “I”) decided to keep balance as my word because I did not feel as though I (again that self-centered word) did not do a very good job putting balance into my life. It was not until the 3rd year that I listened instead of deciding.

God gave me a new word.

Each year God give me a new word. Some years I find myself praying in November for the word, other years, He speaks in the depth of my soul before I even ask.

God knew before 2020 began what challenges were ahead. He knows my inner being and how even the normal daily happenings in life fill me with anxiety. He knew I would need to lean heavily on Him and focus on His peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Praying the Prince of Peace has filled you with peace to face your challenges this past year.

Posted in Blessing, Peace, Trust | 2 Comments

Do Not Worry

Matthew 6:26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

In the last post I talked about how our carefully laid plans for the next 1 ½ years was totally changed when God came in and swept them all aside in just a couple of days. And His sweeping continued because we continued to plan.

Since God seemed to push our plans up, we met with a realtor the next day. We now planned to sell the house later in the year and be on the road by late fall or early 2021. The realtor told us the things we would have to do to prepare the house to sell (stage, remodel, paint etc.) as selling a house today, is not at all what it used to be.

And it was overwhelming…

Very overwhelming…

I was starting to panic…

The next day, Sunday, Greg was gone for a good part of the day and I did what I do best:

  • Worry
  • Pray
  • Fret
  • Pray
  • Pace
  • Cry and pray some more

And in all my worrying and fretting God was working…

On his way home Greg called and said, “Are you sitting down” (this statement was becoming a habit – read here -and he continued),  “I just received a call from someone who wants to buy our house.”

So this was our week:

Monday we talk retirement ideas…

Tuesday God reveals ROAM…

Wednesday we plan out how it will look…

Friday Greg gives a 60-90 day notice instead of our plan of 18 months…

Saturday we talk with a realtor about listing the house in the fall…

Sunday we have an offer on the house…

The following Saturday we sign papers…

…And in all my worrying and fretting God was working.

Matthew 6:25-27

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Posted in Faith, Fear, Trust | 1 Comment

When God Does a “Fast Forward”

Most believers know that many times we are painfully waiting on God to move, as it seems, to us anyway, that He is moving too slow.

Not this time.

One day we make the decision to work with ROAM, in a few years, when we are both retired. Our original long range plan was to work full time until 67 and then work part-time to 70. Illness forced me to retire early. Greg however planned to stay on course.

…Until that fateful week in late January

…One day we are figuring out what retirement will look like

…The next day God changes things

We both felt that we should move up our ROAM plans. So we…

…Did some number crunching

…Planning

…And got it all figured out…

  • Greg would work until spring of 2021
  • We would save like crazy
  • That would provide healthcare coverage until we were 65
  • We would fix the house once Greg retires next year
  • Then put the house on the market summer of 2021
  • Hit the road full time fall of 2021

…Or so we thought

Later that week when he went back to work he was going to give an 18 month notice. On Friday when he was coming home I get a call. “Are you sitting down?” he asks. Then he tells me when he went in to give notice, and the words 60-90 days came out of his mouth instead of 18 months.

…Deep sigh

…Don’t panic

…God’s got this

So now what God?

Job 37:5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Posted in Faith, Obedience, Peace, Trust | 2 Comments

It’s Official – ROAM – RV’s On a Mission

Our crazy journey of going full-time as RVer’s has a purpose, while admittedly we know we can only see part of that, since God has a way of bringing so much more into anything and everything we do. If we let Him.

It is amazing that this even became part of our story:

Over a decade ago I had a temp employee who worked a few hours a week for me for a short time. In one of my conversations with her she shared that she also worked for an organization called ROAM (Rv’s on a Mission). I was curious and asked for a brief explaination.

…End of conversation

…Or so I thought

Greg was home sick for a week and in our many discussions we talked about what retirement might look like when he retired in a fews years.

Note, ” in a few years.”

In that discussion I remembered my conversation about ROAM and told him about it. He became excited. Very excited. After research we decided that it would be a good way to still serve and keep busy in our later years.

Note, “our later years.”

Little did we know what God was going to do that that conversation and move retirement up.

…Way up

…Like right now up

Only God can take a forgotten seemingly insignificant conversation from years ago and change the course of your life. 

Still serving, just in a different way, on the journey. Jackie

I Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Posted in Faith, Obedience, Trust | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Covid Impact

The title alone gives the impression that this will be a negative post and while the changes we had to make were disappointing we ended up just where we needed to be.

In this post I talked about the unexpected with the trailer slideout moving out while traveling.

But…

“And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

So while a trailer mishap doesn’t seem good, it turned out it was. A blessing in disquise.

Plans...
I'm a planner
An organizer
Like my ducks in a row
(if you want to see how far that gets me read here)

So of course once we knew we were headed out, I made plans. 

I had in place …

  • One week reserved to camp and say good-bye to our Missouri younger 2 grandkids
  • Options for camping through Iowa
    • Take 1-2 weeks for us
    • Vacation
    • Regroup
    • Adjust to our new lifestyle
  • Head to Illinois for our first volunteer site

Then Covid hit. Campgrounds were closed. Resturants were closed. Historic sites were closed.

So we waited. Plans were set aside.

A week before we were to head out, the state campground opened up so we were able to spend time to say good-bye to Noah and Grace.

We changed our vacation plans from 2+ to 1 week to make our way to Illinois. We made reservations in St. Charles, MO a stop on the way and a place we like to visit.

So where was God in all of this?

  • Our RV dealer is just outside St. Charles
  • When this happened we needed to head there
  • Our Iowa plans would have had to change
  • The dealership had never seen the slide out issue and they weren’t sure how to handle
  • While in the shop, they found another problem that would be a major problem down the road
  • For reasons unknown to the dealer the techs from Grand Design just happened to show up and they fixed the slide out issue
  • We got an overhaul on the trailer – no charge on anything

It was still disappointing not to have the vacation and downtime we had hoped for. But we are thankful that God was looking out for us.

Grateful on the journey, Jackie

“And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Posted in Blessing, Trust | Tagged | 4 Comments

“I’m the Hammer”

Greg would say I am the Energizer Bunny with batteries that never die. Until a couple of years ago when illness put me flat on back with no energy for months. It’s been a long recovery and I’m still on that road.

So along comes a major move. From almost 3000 sq feet to 300 sq feet. Selling everything. Including closing up a busness. So in addition to the planning, purging and preparing to sell everything, there was the emotional toll of saying good-bye to a full life and business built over the past 2 decades. It was no easy task. It stalled me. My already depleted batteries didn’t want to charge.

So along came Kathy. I have a few close deep friends that I would lay down my life for and cherish to the depth of my soul. Kathy is one of those friends.

Every Saturday, and many week nights after work she would come. I’d tell her, “Don’t come, I don’t have the energy to do anything.”

She’d say, “That’s okay, I’m the hammer, just tell me what to do.”

So I did. And she did.

We cried, worked, shared memories, laughed, cried some more. Kathy made it possible for me to do the impossible.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister) is born for a time of adversity.

Blessed with sacrificial friends, on the journey, Jackie

Posted in Blessing, Family, Friendship | Tagged | 3 Comments

When things go wrong as they sometimes will…. Choose Joy

Don’t Quit
by John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This poem is in the public domain.

We’ve camped enough to know that your trailer is like your house or car. It needs maintenance and things can will go wrong. When we started talking about going full-time, it was with the understanding it would not be problem free.

We just didn’t expect to see a problem within an hour of heading out:

It’s supposed to look like this:

Needless to say, there was just a little panic, several calls, discussions, sighs and worries (on my part).

And this was just the beginning – but that is for another time.

I found this a week later in a store and thought it was a perfect response reminder.

Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

We didn’t sing for joy over this, but we saw God’s protection and provision. More on that as well in posts to come.

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will…” stay on the journey, Jackie

Posted in Joy | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Silly Us!

Starting up this blog again partially came from posting this photo on Facebook along with numerous requests to write the story of how this life change came to be, as well as the chronicling of our work and journey.

With the photo, I gave this summary:

So for those who are wondering or asking about what this picture is all
about…

A few months ago, God through some really neat ways provided this really
nice trailer, beyond our wildest dreams. We just thought He was blessing us to
be able to take extended vacations (2-4) weeks in more comfort.

Silly us. All along He had other plans. A few weeks ago He made it known
to us that we should fully retire, sell all and follow Him. So we being who we
are methodically planned out our time line. Work until early next year, me
finish up with my business and students. Get on medicare so we’d have
insurance. Fix up the house next spring, put it on the market next summer and
hit the road next fall.

Silly us. He had other plans. Within a week of making our plans, our
house sold. So we figured we would live in the trailer, save money, work and
hit the road the beginning of next year.

Silly us. He has work for us to do this year and then starting next year
we plan to work with ROAM (RVs on a Mission). Volunteering at churches and
church camps etc. across the US.

We stopped making plans. We are in the processing of finishing up what we
are doing here – work, closing my business, getting things sorted, gifted, or
ready to sell. We close in May and will be on the road in June.

A journey of a lifetime is about to begin.

So our journey has begun, but God started it long before this and I will be sharing in the coming days.

Jackie

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Oh! The Places We Will Go!

Our journey has begun.

“Come follow Me.” These words were spoken by Jesus to many individuals in the Gospels. Not just to the disciples.

This is what I know:

Jesus didn’t just call one. Not all will follow. Each call is different.

Our call has taken us from NY to VT to MA to MO and now… any and everywhere. Yet to be determined, by God.

And the idea of leaving a house, move to a 5th wheel, and travel as God directs, is filled with many emotions:

  • Doubt
  • Fear
  • Excitement
  • Overwhelment

I realized I was seeking answers regarding the destination and not the Master of my destiny.

So God, here I am. Ready (I think) for the unknown journey, seeking you and letting the destination unfold in your timing.

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Note: I had been encouraged by dozens of people to write down the stories of not only how we got to this point (and I will in future posts) but also of the traveling and ministering we will do.

An example of that encouragement to document is the atlas and journal pictured above. One of Greg’s customers mailed them to us after hearing about our journey. The atlas is for Greg as he will be driving, the journal is for me as I’ll be the one capturing our adventures.

It’s all about the journey, Jackie

Posted in Faith, Fear, Trust | Tagged | 2 Comments