Friday, November 19, 2010


Margin. It’s word I’ve been contemplating lately. I remember when I wrote a book a few years back and friend kindly told me that I didn’t need to fill every page full. She said it’s good to have some white space – some margin. That comment stuck with me.

Living in the RV was an experience living outside the culture in many ways. One thing that hit me as we entered back into suburban life is the lack of margin in people’s lives. People are just plain busy. And I do mean busy. Crazy busy, in fact. On the road, it was a different story. We barely needed a calendar. Life was lived in the moment. We rarely planned more than a week ahead of time. Not that I’d want to live my whole life without something penciled in. But I do miss the pace of life on the road. It was slower. Simpler.

Back to margin. Why do we pack things so full? Schedule too tight? Run ourselves ragged? Join too many things? Say yes when we should of said no? One reason, perhaps, is because we see it as normal. I think I did too…until I got a taste of life with margin. Margin allows time for the unexpected, the unanticipated, and the important. It grants time for things that get lost in the shuffle without it. Like reading, for example. How in the world did Ashley and Jake read over 35 books a piece last year – not to mention the 17 we read together? We had margin.

So I’m really trying to be intentional on how we move back into life. I’m being cautious about what I commit to. I don’t want to get sucked back into the rat race. I want a healthy rhythm of life. Just now a Brian Regan comedy bit is coming to mind. If you have enough margin, I highly recommend taking three minutes to laugh yourself silly. If you don’t, you may be “bookin’ yourself too tight”.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A house without wheels...

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Within the last month, we drove to Oklahoma (and back) to store our RV for the winter; moved out of the RV, into my mom’s (for a week), and then into a house; spent a week in California, threw two birthday parties, and the list goes on. And suddenly, we’ve gone from fall to winter in the blink of an eye.

But back to the moving. Two weeks before we were supposed to move into a townhome, our plans fell through. We really loved the place, but trusted that God must have something better. Back up a minute:  Last summer the kids and I stumbled upon a neighborhood we absolutely loved. We stopped to see the model and shared our story with the agent…”We’re not really looking for a house…we live in a motorhome…but this is really a beautiful neighborhood…” Well, guess what? The very same day the townhouse fell through, we got back on Craig’s List and a new listing had just come on the market. And guess what? It was a house in that beautiful neighborhood! And guess what? We are now living here! Praise God! He gave us more than we could ask or imagine!

It still feels strange to have so much space. Everything is so spread out and we can go for hours without seeing each other. But it is such a blessing to be here! Rich has an office, the kids have bedrooms, and I have a gourmet kitchen. What a gift…we are so very grateful we get to live here for a season. Thank you, Lord!

Speaking of seasons…yesterday it was fall. Today it is winter. Really winter. Like six inches of snow winter. And we’re loving it…the trees are gorgeous all dressed in white.

People are asking if we’re going to keep blogging even though we are no longer in the RV. The answer is yes. Life is a journey no matter where you live. And though we no longer travel full-time, we are still committed to following Him wherever He leads.

If You lead me Lord I will follow.
Where You lead me Lord I will go.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For Sale

It’s been two years since we set sail on the journey of a lifetime. Twenty-five states, 20,000 miles, 24 months. Our children have seen more of this country before they hit high school than most people do in a lifetime. Our family spent more time together in the past two years than many do in 18 years. We’ve learned how to live with less. We’ve learned to get along with each other (most of the time :-) Our faith grew. We gained new perspectives. We experienced a slower pace of life. Our kids became more creative. We learned to bake bread. We met new people. We discovered history everywhere. We hiked. We biked. We toured. We played tennis and Quiddler and Scrabble and Risk. And made memories we will cherish forever.

Number of videos watched while driving: zero

Number of miles driven by Connie: zero

Regrets: zero

We’d do it again in a heartbeat. But the seasons are changing. The leaves are displaying their brilliant colors and the Bendickson’s are bracing themselves for their first Minnesota winter in two years. Yes, we are moving into a house again. And…we’re putting the RV up for sale…so if you know a family who is called to take a radical leap of faith, please tell them about our well-cared-for home on wheels.

2007 Newmar All-Star 4154. 42 feet. Sleeps 8. Queen in master. Two bunks. Corian countertops. Excellent condition. 24,000 miles. $135,000.

More pictures?  Click here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

South Dakota, etc...

Fall is in the air, it’s getting cold in the camper, and we’re breaking out the polar fleece! What have we been up to? Well, Rich and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary at the A.G. Thomson House B&B in Duluth, MN. The inn keepers are wonderful and the food is outstanding – highly recommended! We also enjoyed the New Scenic CafĂ© and Whole Food’s Co-op – unique, local, and organic...just how we like it :-)

We were so excited to finally meet (in person) our new friends from South Carolina – the Stroziers. They recently sold their house and hit the road in their RV (sound familiar)? They have six beautiful children and are traveling the country going wherever the Spirit leads. Read about their adventures on their blog.  The music on our slideshow (below) is a funky new (well, new to us) song we learned when our families attended the Holy Spirit conference in August. Yes, Lord!!

A few additional highlights: Living in a real house for a week while friends were traveling; doing lunch with Laura; visiting Rich’s grandparents up north at Red Lake; attending a conference with friends in Duluth; having our 5-year-old nephew stay with us for three days; reminiscing with college friends; and last, but definitely not least…spending a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Now that’s a road trip!

Seeing the sights is one thing, but it’s the stories that bring them to life. Take Crazy Horse for example. If all you do is drive by, it’s easy to conclude there’s not much to see. Hearing the story makes all the difference. Did you know Crazy Horse is more/less the undertaking of one family and funded only through private donations? No government money at all. How on earth does someone even consider sculpting a mountain? The work began in 1948 with one man who dared to do something way beyond himself. The vision is big and it’s going to take time - but what an inspiration for dreaming big and persevering!

We have learned many valuable lessons over the past two years and fruit is beginning to grow as a result of this RV adventure. And while the winds of change are blowing once again (stay tuned for more details) some things will never change: “We will praise You for the rest of our days”!

P.S. As you can see in the pictures, my mom is feeling great – thank you for your continued prayers! Hallelujah, we give You the praise!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Is it almost August?

Wow! Another month just flew by. We are enjoying a beautiful summer here in MN. Jake recently wrapped up his baseball season and Ashley has one more soccer game. The kids planted a garden this spring on our picnic table. We already harvested some wonderful radishes and we’re hoping for some beautiful tomatoes in a few weeks.

We haven’t been traveling much, but we’ve had some interesting adventures nonetheless. We got to witness our friend’s goat giving birth to a baby boy – now that is science class up close and personal! We visited the grandparents in Thief River Falls. Some dear friends moved in next door for Memorial weekend on their maiden voyage in their new motorhome. The Singh’s and some new friends joined us for a fun afternoon on the 4th. Ashley sewed pajama pants at sewing camp and we’ve entertained quite a few sleepovers in the RV this summer.

My mom has been spending some precious quality time with her grandchildren taking them to the $1 movie on Tuesday mornings and then out to lunch. Even cousin Ellie joined the fun a couple weeks ago. 

A recent highlight was spending the weekend milking goats for our friends the Stones. These two goats are giving over 3 gallons of milk a day! It was really fun to experience this process and live in a real house for a few days. It seemed like so much space!

My sister and I went with my mom to a family reunion celebrating 150 years since our ancestors homesteaded in MN from Norway. My mom was very excited to reunite with her cousins who she rarely sees because they live in Canada. It was really fun to learn more about our heritage and meet so many relatives we have never known.

And last but not least, we have trapped three mice this week under the sink in our RV! Arghhh!!! And two of them while Rich is traveling. Let me tell you…I have THE bravest children and I’m so grateful that they have taken on the responsibility of disposing of these rodents while Rich is gone. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of them!

On a happier note, we’ve been enjoying some wonderful recipes this summer. You’ll see some of them in the slideshow. Our latest is blended watermelon which is absolutely yummy! Thank you, Lord, for creating such a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables for us to enjoy. You are so good to us!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer's Here!

It’s official. Summer is here. We wrapped up our school year and did the mandatory standardized test. Not that I like to think of life as school or non-school. I much prefer a “lifestyle of learning” mentality no matter what the season. We spent the last nine months immersed in American history and the human body, but there were many other things we learned along the way. And while many of them have no value on a standardized test – they are far more important and eternally significant.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that my children rank above average according to someone else’s idea of what they should know (aka standardized test), but I’m even more excited that they love to learn and are learning to love, learning to be responsible, learning to take the initiative, learning to be kind…and learning to be more like Jesus. They’re becoming who God created them to be and being equipped to do what He has called them to do. And that is actually the definition of education – at least the definition by which we choose to live.

Yes, there are some basics that all human beings need to know…like how to read, write, and do some basic math. But what’s more important? Being a straight A student who behaves like a self-centered brat trampling over others while climbing the ladder of success? Or being a kind, compassionate, loving human being who will never make it in trigonometry, but can balance a checkbook and lives a life of faith, hope, and love?

Where’s the grade for character? Does the Department of Education concern itself with such things? Or is it too…abstract? Too hard to measure? Or simply not significant in the pursuit of financial prosperity? Not that I’m recommending we try to slap a grade on the character of our children. I think there is far too much labeling, grading, and sorting already. But isn't there more to education than what can be sliced, diced, measured, graded, and compiled?

Just my two cents. Would love to hear yours :-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring in MN - Back in the RV

Long time, no blog! We spent a few weeks living at the Staybridge Suites in Maple Grove while the snow melted and the weather warmed up. We really enjoyed the perks…like the breakfast buffet (thanks, Sue!), and the laundry facilities, but we are very happy to be “home” again in the RV.

In March, my mom and I spent ten glorious days at Bella Vita in Lodi, California where we went through a cleanse and learned about natural health and healing. I was blessed to be part of the staff as a volunteer and learned so much going through the cleanse myself and helping in the kitchen. It was wonderful to be there with my mom and the experience re-ignited my passion for health.

My mom is doing well. She has chemo once a week and radiation five days a week. She just finished her second week of what will be five to seven weeks total. So far, she has not been nauseated and we are praying that continues. She is strong and determined and she’s a fighter. Cancer is a battle that must be fought from many angles – and prayer is absolutely essential. It’s a huge blessing to know there are so many people praying for her including people who read our blog, but we don’t even know. Thank you so much for making a difference in our lives through prayer!

Rich recently returned from San Antonio, TX, where he was speaking at a conference about Dashboard Gear – his software that helps companies quickly and easily create reports from their Lawson financial and human resources systems. We are really happy to have Daddy home again after six days.

Ashley and Jake are gearing up for soccer and baseball season and we are finishing up our homeschool studies in the next few weeks. We have thoroughly enjoyed our first year using Sonlight studying American history and the human body. The two things we love most about Sonlight is their schedule (we didn’t know if we’d like it, but we do), and their use of real, living books. More on this another time…

For now, a few photos from the last few weeks of our journey. And a song by Jonny Diaz that sums up our hearts desire to “love like You love, serve like You serve, to speak only words of truth.” Lord, show us how to love like You.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mad Dash for Minnesota

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. One day you’re searching for seashells, the next day you’re making a mad dash to Minnesota. Cancer has a way of changing things – quickly. Unfortunately, that has been our reality the last few weeks.

On February 16th, my mom called with her test results: lung cancer.

We left Naples, FL on February 18th stopping at North Trail RV in Fort Myers to get the fluids and tires checked before the long journey north. What a blessing we got in on short notice because we were 9 quarts low on oil (out of 26). Then our water pump died. After two days in the shop, we finally hit the road on Saturday, February 20th for the four day drive back to MN.

If you know anything about Minnesota in March, you know it’s cold, snowy, and living in an RV is next to impossible. Thus, our house is now parked safely at my aunt and uncles house in Oklahoma. We’ll pick it up when the snow melts and the campground opens. For now, we have an opportunity to take minimalist living to the next level:  four people, one dog, and whatever fits in a minivan.

In all honesty, we’re living very comfortably here at the extended stay hotel. It is weird to have so much space though. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small living room, and a tiny kitchen - must be at least 600 square feet – double what we’re used to.

My mom had an x-ray, a CAT scan, and a biopsy – and next week she has a PET scan and an MRI. We’re meeting with the oncologist again next week to talk about treatment options. I’m really grateful to be here, along with my sister, to walk through this with my mom. She is strong and feels good right now.

Today is a gift from God. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Naples & Minne-snow-ta

It’s been a month and half since our last post and we have been so busy with friends and family – which is a real treat (and very unusual) for us being on the road! We spent a wonderful Christmas Eve with the Perrins, and then a few days later, Ashley and I headed to Minnesota for her ortho appointment – and more importantly, to see many (unfortunately not all) of the people we know, and love, and miss! It was such a blessing to spend a long weekend savoring precious moments of sweet conversation before we headed back to Naples.

Grandma Carole escaped the Arctic to spend ten glorious days in sunny Florida – a few of them alone with her grandchildren - while Rich and I went to MN (again) for a retreat with our church group. Yes, we are very grateful for frequent flyer miles!

We said goodbye to Grandma and hello to some of the Singh's - who totally blessed us by staying in the RV with us for a couple of days. We had so much fun at the beach, the pool, playing games, walking, and talking and trying to pack it all into a short visit. So much to talk about…so little time!

It’s really interesting…when we lived in a 3,000 square foot house, we rarely had overnight guests. But now that we live in 300 square feet, we have lots of people spending the night – and we love it!

We are truly blessed with the best family and friends ever – and we’re so grateful for your love and friendship. This slideshow is precious to us because it’s filled with familiar faces we rarely get to see – which makes it all the sweeter when we do.