Sunday, October 26, 2008

South Bend, IN

Greetings from...South Bend, Indiana!

Well, we survived our first full week on the road - thanks to a heater and tank full of propane :-) We arrived at the KOA in Granger, IN, and pulled into our home for the week among the beautiful tall pine trees. We spent the first few days getting into the swing of homeschool. Then on Wednesday we ventured out to the
RV Museum where we learned about the history of the RV industry. Did you know 50% of all RV's are made right here in northern Indiana? We toured four new models and then looked through quite a few models from days gone by. We used to go through model homes and come home feeling dissatisfied with our house. We should have toured old, run down houses instead because we were very happy to get back to our home on wheels after seeing what early RVer's had to deal with!

The campground here had a great playground with an obstacle course for the kids and Macie appreciated her own doggie play area where she could run off leash.

On Thursday we took a tour of the
Newmar factory in Nappanee where our RV was built. We really enjoyed seeing RV's in different stages of development, but we were sad to learn that the factory was closed for the week due to financial issues. They currently have about 500 employees, down from 1,000 at full capacity. It takes 18 days to build Newmar motorhome. They currently have four roll off the line each day - they finished 20 each day when times were better. With some of their competition now out of business, they will hopefully come through the slower winter season and thrive in the spring. 75% of their workforce are Amish people with incredible work ethics and craftsmanship skills. The short video you'll see in the slide show is our tour guide demonstrating how they move an RV to the next station in the factory. It's like a giant air hockey game. They use air pressure to lift the whole thing up and then they can push it with one finger! Very cool.

We also drove the Heritage Trail through Amish country. Ashley loved all the horse and buggies we passed along the way. We took a tour at Amish Acres and learned about the history of the Amish and their ways of life. There are certainly some appealing aspects to how they live. We could all take some lessons in how to live a simpler - though certainly not an easier - life.

It rained all day on Friday so we took the opportunity to snuggle up and watch a three hour movie. It was the story of
Abraham brought to life on a DVD. It was really incredible to ponder the faith it took for him to leave his family for a land he did not know.

We have been enjoying eating in all week, but tonight we ventured out and found an absolute treasure! It's probably a good thing we didn't find it earlier in the week or we may have blown the food budget. It's called Uptown Kitchen and it was fabulous! I wrote more about it on my
Healthy Moms blog, so check it out for more info.

A picture is worth a thousand words - so here's the week in pictures:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hitting the Road

Well, we finally did it! We intended to hit the road on Tuesday, October 14th, but it didn't actually happen until Thursday. We chose the 14th because it is Sukkot - a Biblical holiday remembering the 40 year journey in which the children of Isreal lived in "temporary dwellings" called sukkahs during their travels in the desert. As it turns out, the Maple Grove KOA (where we were parked) closed on Wednesday the 15th - so we spent a night in our sukkah at the local Wal-Mart before heading out on Thursday.

So where did we go? Our first destination was...drum roll, please...MADISON, WI :-) It may not be the most exciting location, but it had a couple key things going for it. One, it was a managable drive for a family fatigued by weeks of purging, packing, sorting, and various other details required to put a house on the market. Two, it's on our way east. And...we stayed here on our way back from North Carolina so we knew how to get here!

Our first full day was spent getting into a healthier rhythm of life which is one of our top priorities. The kids did something other than Home Ec. for the first time in weeks. Rich had a full day of work, Macie found a sunny spot with a big window, and I got the kitchen organized. Check out my alphabetized spice drawer in the slideshow!

On Friday night we celebrated our sabbath evening with candles, wine, and homemade chili. Saturday we headed into Madison for the farmer's market near the capitol and we stopped at Whole Foods for lunch and supplies.

Here are some photos of our first few days on the road. You'll notice quite a few food pictures. It was just so much fun eating something other than Chipotle...and serving it on fun, colorful dishes! The music is by Cheri Keaggy. It's a song I've loved over the years, but it has new meaning for us now in this season.

Take me on a journey where my heart can grow, meet me in the middle of the narrow road. There's a world full of wonder we can walk in to. Take me on a journey with You.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bon Voyage Party!

What a glorious day! The forecast looked like rain, but our prayers were answered with a beautiful day for our bon voyage extravaganza. We feel very loved and blessed to have such an abundance of dear friends and family. Thank you to each and every one of you who came out to wish us well and to those who were not able to be with us. We love you and we'll miss you! Here's a little slide show from the party...and a reminder that you are being loved by us - and even more by a God who delights in you and rejoices over you with singing!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mirrors or Windshield?

One week from today (Tuesday) we will be living in a motor home - "full timing" as they say in the RV world. It's an odd thought - living in a motor home - given that we never go camping and the first time we ever rode in an RV was when we purchased one...a month ago. It's been a whirlwind ever since.

Taking off in an RV for a few months sounds exciting...and it is. But the reality of saying goodbye to life as we know it is not so easy. The fact is we love our house. We love our neighbors. We love living one mile from my mom. We love Maple Grove. We love having a library down the street. We love our friends. We've lived here for ten years and it's not easy to leave.

So why are we? Who in their right mind packs up and drives away from the American Dream? There are many people wondering what on earth we're thinking. I don't blame you if you're one of them because I've wondered it a few times myself! Here's the thing...and I have to keep reminding myself of this...we are leaving the life we've known, but we're heading toward what God has for us next.

Our choice comes down to this: Are we going to spend more time gazing into the rearview mirror or looking through the windshield? Mirrors are great for seeing where we've been. And it is good to remember. I recently spent some time finishing scrapbooks and getting our photos in order. It was good to ponder the sweet memories of days gone by. I also read my journals from the last few years and marveled at how God has been teaching me and preparing me for this next season long before I had any idea what He was up to. It is good to remember.
But if all we ever do is stare at the mirrors, we'll never enjoy the moment and never arrive at our destination. Living in the moment and heading in the right direction requires a willingness to spend more time looking ahead than behind.
Lord, help me to keep my eyes focused on You. Thank you for what You have done for me. I choose to remember that you gave Your life so I could live. And I choose to look forward to what lies ahead - looking through the windshield...and the mirrors, not so much.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Treasures in . . .

My how time flies when you're...purging, packing, and giving things away. Only 11 days to go! I've discovered something over the past few weeks - whatever space I have, I fill it up. I have so much stuff I rarely use, but I hang on to it because... I have room for it. Why do I hang on to so much unnecessary stuff when all it does is weigh me down?

What were we thinking stockpiling all these computers? As if we'd ever use them again? Too bad we didn't pass them to someone who could have used them. Instead they grew old, too old, wasting away in our crawl space for years on end and cluttering up our lives in the process.

Some of you know I've been on a mission to purge our house for about the last three years. However, now that we are actually selling our house and moving into a space 1/10th the size we live in now, I'm looking at things in a much different light. Suddenly, it seems ridiculous (and costly) to have so many things we rarely use. Yes, I believe we will one day have a house again - so I'm not getting rid of everything - but I'm definitely going through things with a "when in doubt, throw it out" mentality.

It's making me think hard about buying and accumulating anything else. How many things have I purchased over the years that I simply do not need? It takes time to organize the stuff. More time to pack all the stuff. And money to pay to store the stuff. I'm really interested to see if I miss any of the stuff while we are living without it for 6-9 months. I'll let you know...

In the meantime, I'm repenting... Lord, forgive me for the ways I've accumulated such excess when others are in need. Forgive me for filling my house with things I do not need when others do. Forgive me for my greed and my gluttony for the things of this world. Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see the error of my ways and for your grace and mercy and forgiveness. Help me to store up treasures in heaven from this day forward. I want to live a simpler life...with less stuff.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nooks & Crannies

It's amazing what you come across as you purge the nooks and crannies of a house you've lived in for ten years. I've found lots of treasures including cards from the kids, love notes from Rich (from high school!), and last night I uncovered a reel-to-reel tape recorder from when I was a toddler. I'm pretty sure we'll be listening to Vickie and I singing something interesting once my mom gets the right batteries to make it run again.

I also came upon a box of crayons I've been collecting for many years. Somewhere along the way, I came across a wonderful place that recycles crayons. I tucked the name and address into the box and kept tossing in the crayons. Crayons left behind in a restaurant end up in a landfill, so I'd bring them home and toss them in the box which - as you can see - is now full and ready to be recycled.

If you are so inclined to do something earth-friendly, please consider collecting crayons and send them to The Crayon Recycling Program based right here in MN. It's a great service project for kids, it's easy, and it helps take care of this amazing planet.

P.S. If you aren't already aware, we are down to just 12 days until departure which is set for October 14th. Thank you for praying for us as we continue to prepare for this adventure!