Starting a new chapter(and rereading an old one)

We aren’t really 7 Nomads anymore. One of our nomadic children grew up, got married, and moved out, (as she should have, newlyweds sharing a traveling home with the bride’s family is not exactly a recipe for romance). I’m sure all the parents reading this can relate to the happiness mixed with pain of watching your kids grow up, and then move out. Our family is extremely close – in a literal sense -we have lived within 300 square feet of each other for the past 7 years, spending nearly every waking minute with each other. We feel our daughter’s absence, and it hurts, deeply at times. And yet, we are so happy to see her all grown up, and starting out a new life with her sweetheart. It also helps to know that traveling is part of the future plans for this amazing couple.

We aren’t just 6 Nomads though. I wrote about this development in my first blog about Tent Revivals. There are 35 of us now. Not all in the same camper, don’t worry. When we started doing tent revivals back in 2021, some more families joined us on the road. We thought it would be just a few tent revivals a year. It ended up being more like 2 tent revivals a month, from February through October. We have done 46 tent revivals since April of 2021 and what a whirlwind of revivals and traveling it has been! So much so that I have found myself too busy with our hectic life to write any updates on this blog.

But now, it seems, is the right time to document our traveling life again. Today it feels like I am dusting off an old book and rereading a favorite chapter. I had loved that part of our traveling life, writing down my thoughts and sharing our experiences with whoever might be interested. So let me tell you about our traveling adventures once again.

Since 2021(the last time I wrote anything about our travels), we have held about 2 tent revivals a month from February to October. November through January we slow down a little bit and minister at churches on Sundays with the occasional revival meetings. It has been a wonderful time, and we love this crazy life.

Everyone is growing up! How did this happen?!?!?

This past year, 2023, was especially eventful. On top of our regular travels and ministry life, our family has had some major milestones. Our daughter Olivia graduated at the end of May(we had experienced this transition with our eldest daughter and so it didn’t seem quite so scary this time). Olivia decided to keep traveling with us and pursue an online degree in graphic design, so again, I felt myself with a sigh of relief. Yes, she is grown, but I can keep her a little while longer.

Also in May, our eldest daughter got engaged. Enter wedding planning mode…

Ok, I love weddings. Back in the day I did some wedding photography work. My husband, as a pastor, performed many weddings. I have personally helped out and been involved with many weddings. I love weddings, you might even say that I am a bit of a romantic sap and I wouldn’t even be offended, because it’s true. But, was I prepared for the emotional toll and level of stress that would come with helping my daughter plan her wedding while in the middle of a very hectic tent revival season? No. No, I was not.

ALL. THE. EMOTIONS. Tears of joy and of sadness, feelings of anticipation, excitement, nostalgic moments of remembering when all of our kids were little, it was a crazy and wonderful time of planning. Also, are we old enough to have a son-in-law? “Mother-in-law” just sounds old. There was this wonderful excitement for our sweet girlie and also sometimes an overwhelming amount of decisions to be made. We found ourselves needing to haul around our ministry trailer with wedding decorations for a few months leading up to the big day. It was kind of hilarious and I totally felt like an out-of-control circus at times.

Fall in Indiana, what a wonderful time to get married! The wedding was beautiful. They wanted to use the tent for the reception and although it was a little chilly, the rain stayed away. It was such a special day and we would do all that planning and prep work all over again (actually we will need to do all that planning and prep work all over again because we have 3 more daughters).

Down time?

I remember telling people my plans for after the 2023 tent season and wedding. “I’m probably going to cry for a week (because my daughter is gone), and then I will sleep for a week, and then after that I don’t know. “

Well, I did have some grieving, and I did have a couple days of resting, relaxing on the couch and catching up on some reading. After that, I remember sort’ve complaining that I was bored with not having a full schedule, like I didn’t know what to do with myself in the evenings – no revival services, no wedding stuff to obsess over, no travels to plan…

Then we entered a short, painful season where I longed for boredom…

Our beautiful RV brokedown. Every winter we make sure to get the RV serviced and make sure it is in tip-top shape for the next season. This is an expected expense, getting an oil change alone on a diesel RV is a costly endeavor. But this year our beloved traveling home was starting to act up. I will do my best to explain, although I have little to no knowledge of RV engine repair.

A couple days after dropping off our RV the mechanic called with the bad news. They would have to drop the engine to diagnose the problem, but that wasn’t even really the bad news… He asked Matt, “have you guys been getting headaches alot”. (Yes actually…) Apparently there was an extensive exhaust leak, the entire underbelly of our RV was black from the soot of this leak. He said that we were lucky that we hadn’t been sitting with the RV running because we could’ve all died from the carbon monoxide poisoning. Yikes.

Even if we could afford the repairs – starting at $25,000 – they could not get it finished until mid-February at the earliest. We had about 5-6 weeks before we had to be on the road heading south for the season. So we had about 5-6 weeks to figure out what to do.

We told the kids. I hadn’t cried until we gathered in a circle to pray with the kids. Feeling that vulnerability of admitting that we weren’t sure what to do next was tough. I felt that vulnerability again when I called my mom to explain the news from the mechanic.

I mean, we all have unexpected expenses, we all experience financial difficulties, we all have vehicle and home repairs that hit like a punch in the gut. It was more than that though. We could tangibly feel the stress of a ministry schedule planned out, not just for us, but for 6 other families as well. This was the beginning of a short, but intense season of testing our resolve to trust in God; to ask Him alone, to remember that He is our Provider, to know that He is never surprised even though we might be. I remember playing “Waymaker” and “You Hold it All Together” on repeat to remind myself to trust Him.

Decisions, Decisions…

There were some decisions to make, and none of them included what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the RV I loved and continue like we had before. We knew that if we had to, we could sell our house and start from scratch again. I remember praying and telling God that I was willing to do it, to go back to the beginning of travel ministry life, to sell it all and start again. Time was such an issue, we were just weeks away from Christmas and this option just felt wrong, like pure chaos.

Our next path was to try to trade in our broken-down RV to a large RV dealer(where they would have an adequate garage to repair it). We looked at several to try to find a suitable replacement. Finding another Class A Diesel was quickly ruled out – most of those models are designed for retired couples, meaning it is rare to find one with bunk options, and even more rare to find one that we could afford. So we decided to go with a fifth wheel.

We found one we loved. Several actually, fifth wheels are huge and great for families. We loved the ease of travel that Class A motorhomes afford, but decided that we would trade that comfort for the comfort of a more spacious home once parked. After finding “the one” we inquired about a trade, being completely upfront with all the issues our RV had. Surprisingly, the RV dealer was willing to give us a great deal for a trade. We gave our deposit and it was decided that we would pick up our RV on Thursday after the Christmas Holiday weekend.

After Christmas, on Wednesday we emptied our entire RV into the house. Thursday we cleaned it thoroughly. While we were preparing to drive to the dealer and make the trade, 45 minutes before our appointment, the dealership contacts us with terrible news. They were very apologetic, and they returned our deposit, but they would not make the trade, our RV’s high mileage had been overlooked. This set us back to square one, we had to find another RV, and we were supposed to leave on Saturday for a short ministry trip. We ended up trying two more dealerships, both were willing to trade, but financially speaking, either offer would’ve been a terrible choice.

We borrowed a smaller camper for the weekend ministry trip and continued praying over what God would have us do.

Miraculously, in the middle of this searching for a new traveling home, money came in. A few individuals and a local church donated money, not knowing our current situation. Again, we found ourselves humbled by their generousity and amazed at how God makes a way when we ask Him for help, often working through people that don’t even know the need. It was not enough to buy another RV, but it was enough to buy a used truck.

A New Rig

After the new year, we were able to get a loan and buy a beautiful used fifth wheel at a local dealership for an amazing price. It is amazing and we love it. Yes, presently we have two RVs, one that is unable to be driven and for now remains parked. It was not the ending that we were hoping or planning on, but maybe God has a purpose for that RV yet, I don’t know… The new RV truly feels like home, it is more spacious than anything we have had on the road.

That is the story of our new RV transition, and how God keeps providing for us, it is our beginning of this new chapter of our life.

Right now we are in sunny Florida, getting ready to start our tent revival season, I look forward to telling the stories of this year’s travel adventures.

Thank you for reading along, and I hope you are all enjoying your own adventures!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to https://www.kpministry.org/

Life is Good Under the Tent!

Tent revivals. It’s part of what we’re doing now.

Yea, we love it. Yea, it’s pretty awesome. Also, it’s brought a lot of change to our lives. We were a family of 7 traveling in our RV for ministry. Now we are a family of 7 traveling for ministry with 4 other families – making a total of 26 people traveling together! We have found like minded friends and family, and they have a heart to see God meet us under the tent, transforming lives.

What is a Tent Revival?

I guess you could call it a Jesus party. It is a celebration of Jesus, we celebrate who He is and the transformation that He brings to the lives of those who seek Him. When this happens, we become revived! It doesn’t matter if you have known Jesus your whole life or if you’ve just had your first introduction – when you encounter Jesus, and let Him into the dead parts of your heart, they become alive! It’s the best thing ever! We want everyone to know Jesus and the power of His love, and our hope is that people will come into our tent and experience this revival for themselves!

Change was in the air

We felt a change stirring in us in 2020, even before covid. We didn’t know exactly what it was, but something was going to change for our ministry. We didn’t want to stop traveling, but were willing to be stationary if that was where God was leading. He was leading us into something different, something bigger than we had done before. Was it the time for tent ministry? Yes.

God had placed this desire in our hearts years ago, and I suppose it was just there, in the background, waiting for Him to say “Now.” We had participated in tent revivals here and there, and even put one on with a rented tent back in 2019. In October 2020, we helped out at a tent some of our friends had set up with their church. It was a cold, but wonderful time, and while there we all talked about what it would look like if we did more tent revivals as a group. We also made a trip to DC in October to attend a Let us Worship event, and my sister, her husband, and kiddos bought a class C camper and came along (It was awesome). Here is the story of that adventure. Did we know that those moments would be a picture of what was to come? Not really.

Through a series of events, confirmations, and financial miracles, we bought a beautiful 48×91 tent in March 2021! We also were able to get a trailer to house it, a portable stage, and all of the equipment necessary to hold a tent revival. Since we have started, churches and individuals have donated chairs, a baptismal, and a couple giant fans. God is continually meeting every need that might come up.

Life is different now

Our life is different now, in so many ways. But that’s ok, our family has grown to anticipate and at times, love change.

How is our life different?

The main difference in our life is community. We had it sometimes, like when we would be around extended family for holidays and other get togethers. Or when we would be at a church for about a week or so for revival services -church people are so kind to us, adopting us as one of their own. When we return to an area seeing familiar faces is such a joy, and those moments have brought us a glimmer of community.

We love being able to just take off and go wherever we please, but if I’m being completey honest, life on the road, with all its excitement and adventure, and short moments of community, can get lonely. Even if you are traveling with a family of seven, it can get lonely.

But we’re not lonely anymore, not even close. Each of our kids has at least one buddy. There are 5 families now that travel on this adventure and of those we have 11 adults and 15 kids/teenagers! It’s like our own traveling homeschool group!

We knew that we would need help to do tent revivals on the road, but we didn’t anticipate what a joy it would be to have our own traveling community of nomadic believers with us.

A Nomadic Community

Generally speaking, we have 9 days of tent ministry and 5 days off. 9 days include 1 day of setup, 1 day of outreach, 7 services in 6 days(2 on Sunday) and 1 day of tear down. Our 5 days off include the driving to and from the tent location, doing church ministry, some of us work other jobs, and taking care of our home base(mowing lawn, etc). Looking back now, I can see how those 3 summers we spent working with the county fairs selling shaved ice prepared us for this sort of existence, but that is another story for another day…

So, while we are in the midst of tent revival, all 5 campers are parked (hopefully) within sight of the tent. I thought that we would have a lot more down time and that we would have to come up with things to do while we were not ministering. Most of us homeschool year- round and it seems that by the time we are done with our studies for the day, we have anywhere from 1-3hours to eat and to make sure our families are ready for evening service. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for exploring the area, but we have found some productive and entertaining ways to occupy that free time.

We’ve tried to organize meals for us to all eat together, which seems to work best on the setup and tear down days. There is something special about sharing a meal with friends, and I love when we can make it happen.

We tend to have our best hangout time after services. So many wonderful things are happening during the tent revival that we love to get together and talk about it afterwards. It also becomes an opportunity for us to keep our hearts soft towards each other – living and working together can provide opportunities for offense. Friendships grow deeper when we make sure we are quick to forgive and open to communication. We are all working towards this goal.

Our youngest kids are doing what kids do best. Playing. I love to see them having a grand time running wild and free. I’m also seeing my 11 yr old step up and help out with the littles.

The teenagers have found an ally with our worship leader, who has expressed the desire to teach them music. With that, my oldest three kids have grown leaps and bounds, singing and playing on the worship team and learning how to flow with the Holy Spirit.

Along with our tent revival community we have had some very welcome part-time helpers. These are young adults that come out of their pure love of Jesus. They have brought a freshness with them that is truly a blessing to our group. I have heard statistics that say the younger generations don’t care about God. But there is a group of young people out there, bold and fervant, and although their numbers may be few, they are all-in and unstoppable.

Meet our Families

In no particular order, this is our traveling community.

The Eckart Family – Matt and Nadine and our 5 kids. Our ministry is Kingdom Pursuit Ministry and this is the blog that tells all about our traveling adventures – 7Nomads.

The Davis Family – Our Worship Leader/Psalmist Isaac, his talented wife Brittaney who does the video recording but can bring down the house with her amazing voice. They have four hilarious and adorable kids, all with beautiful musical giftings of their own. “Isaac and Brittaney” that’s what we would have said if you would’ve asked us at any point since we’ve heard them who our 1st choice would be for a worship leader.

The McCormick Family – Jonathan and Cyndi both bring the Word in a powerful way and flow in altar ministry. They have such a heart to reach the lost, and their warm friendliness and sense of humor drew us in from the beginning. I love to see them flow in the giftings that God has given them. They have three beautiful kids who bring curiousity and excitement with them wherever they go.

The Fitzcharles Family – Jeremy and Celia (my sister and her husband) and their four kids bring some much needed physical assistance to our crew. Jeremy is in charge of our tent setup and tear down and Celia brings some added fire to the group, she has a heart for evangelism and never meets a stranger. Their four kids are a big help around the tent and I love seeing them grow deeper in their faith.

The Sawyer Family – Tom and Lisa (my mom and dad) are in retirement, but have no interest in slowing down. Instead, they have chosen to come with us and help. Dad is our resident handyman and loves to solve problems and fix things. Mom has decided to adopt all the kids as her grandkids and makes sure that they all get plenty of love. They love making new friends and are very welcoming when people come in to the tent.

We love these people, I’m so glad God brought us all together.

Life is Good Under the Tent

So yea, life is good under the tent. I wouldn’t have guessed that this would be my life, but I love it. Thank you for reading along about our newest adventure, I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures!

Maintaining Routine in the Midst of Change

Good morning to me

The other day, I got up, smelled the coffee and poured myself a cup, I found one of my favorite Pandora worship music stations and hooked it up to our sterio via bluetooth. In that moment, with my foggy morning brain, I realized how content, and peaceful, and at home those two actions made me feel. I didn’t matter if I was in a Walmart parking lot, camp ground, church parking lot, or at our sweet little lake house. I could do these simple things and feel at home.

I might be writing this post just for myself, to remind myself of the importance of a good routine in the midst of change. It seems that constant change can quickly turn into constant chaos if we are not intentional about maintaining our routines. Don’t get me wrong, the constant change in scenery and possibility of new adventures is something I love about RV life.

Roadschooling is crazy sometimes

It is sometimes difficult to maintain a homeschooling routine, but because our curriculum has goal setting as a clear priority, it helps us to stay on track. One day we may only get a few subjects studied – because we drove alot, or we had a really late night revival service and needed to rest, or we are at a beautiful destination that begs to be explored. When days like that happen, we can make up for it by working a little later the next day.

It seems natural to come up with a schooling routine, I do take the education of our kids seriously, and it weighs on me sometimes if I feel like I have slacked off and have indirectly encouraged the kids to slack off. That issue is always in front of my face, there is always school work to be done. I suppose it is the rest of life, the non-schooling part of life, that I have noticed small routines and everyday patterns developing.

What am I doing everyday?

Then it also occured to me that it is important that my routine is built out of good habits and not bad ones. I have found that too often, I have fallen into the habit of becoming a phone zombie and wasting precious minutes, and even hours mindlessly scrolling because it was convenient, familiar, and honestly, addicting. While it might be comfortable for me to do this same thing every day because it was familiar, it was becoming a part of my routine that was, in many ways, doing more harm than good.

I don’t think that social media is in itself bad. (I feel the irony while I am typing on a blog that I will then share on Facebook and Instagram.) I really enjoy seeing what is happening in the lives of my friends and family. We are traveling and making new friends often, and it is nice to be able to see what everyone is doing. At the same time, I don’t need to be able to see what everyone is doing every day, and honestly, every hour. So, I decided I need to make a much more conscious effort to put my phone away.

A new quietness/more free time

I have noticed something while I have put my phone away more often. I have noticed the quietness. The stillness has seemed at first uncomfortable, and it has helped me to realize how often I grab for my phone and that I have such a short attention span. It has also helped me to engage more with the people around me. I may have missed a few opportunities to post some exciting things on instagram, but I also feel like I have enjoyed those exciting moments a little more fully.

In this stillness, I have also noticed that I have more time to do the things that I do feel are really important. I have felt a greater stirring within myself to go and pray, and it is painful to admit that I haven’t noticed this stirring because I was distracted. I honestly feel like God will stir us to pray, but it is a quiet, gentle stirring. I have also been able to enjoy a bedtime routine of reading to my little girls when I had often found myself soooo ready for them to be in bed already. This distractedness had become a part of my daily pattern, and it is something that I can minimize.

Routine improvement

So, right now I am trying to improve my daily routine. I still have times for mindless phone scrolling and catching up with the world, it is just less, and I am liking that. I think noticing and examining my routines was a good first step for me. Some of my routine was good and some needed improvement. Even though our life is full of the change that comes with travel, I have found that there are things that stay the same. What I do with my free time is still up to me.

Thank you for reading along while I talk about my daily routines and struggles. I hope you all are having great adventures and also having some time of quietness.

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

Hello 2020!

I just love Januarys, the idea of a fresh new start fills me with hope and excitement each new year. I often find myself over-indulging during the holidays, and then acting like a bear getting ready for hybernation, eating everything in sight. At some point, every January, I find myself setting personal health and fitness goals, relationship goals, spiritual goals, and travel goals. I feel very excited about 2020 and I also find myself feeling reflective about life. This post is an update on our January and looking ahead into 2020.

This month we have been enjoying the lakehouse and also preparing for our travels to the southern States. Although Indiana has had a mild winter, we are still looking forward to the perfect 60-70 degree temps that are beckoning us south. The whole family has been looking forward to getting back on the road. The excitement has helped to keep us motivated for the many days of sorting, packing, and sorting some more. We aren’t exactly minimalists, but have found that we have to be pretty particular about the things we take in the RV with us, the things we store for later, and the things we donate.

For years now, our kids have been asking for a dog. Matt and I are not exactly dog-people and we are already at full capacity in the RV. But, just last week, we relented to the many requests of our kids and added Oliver the Traveling Dog to our family. He is a Cockapoo and he is totes adorbs. Right now we are in the midst of potty training and hoping that one day he will sleep through the night. We all love him and the girls have even made him his own Instagram account – he was pretty excited about it.

Change, it is a comin in 2020. I have found myself reflecting often about life and how we are no longer a family with a bunch of little kids. That stage just seems to last forever and also it seems like a blur. One day you’re carrying a carseat and a toddler and spending countless hours in the church nursery and the next thing you know, most of your kids are taller than you and you’re talking about college and future spouses and your kids are helping plan kid’s ministry! I am not saying that one stage is better than the other, both are wonderful and come with their own set of challenges. I just have been noticing it more lately and warning my dear husband that I might turn into an emotional wreck, longing for her babies.

So, this year we will have three teenagers in our family! Our oldest will be graduating. One of the challenges we have noticed this past year is the actual, physical size change in our kids and how that impacts our tiny living space. They have grown so much since the day we moved into the RV back in 2016. Along with the physical growth is the familiarity of this nomadic life, the kids are used to being on the move, and tend to prefer it. I love to see them curious about the world and grow in their sense of adventure. I can imagine that if we had waited and tried to move into an RV when we had 3 teenagers used to a stationary life and a regular house it would have been very difficult. I am thankful for God’s timing and that we made the move when we did.

So where will we travel in 2020? We plan on revisiting some familiar churches in 2020 and also visiting new places. The start of the year is taking us to Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. We hope to make a special senior trip to Washington D.C. and historic Jamestown for our history-loving oldest child in the spring. We will spend more time this summer in Indiana, our home state. This year we are also planning a trip to Hawaii for a month of ministry – yay! We are pretty excited about it (even though we will have to leave our beloved RV behind) and will be posting more details as we take that adventure.

Thank you for reading along as I rambled a bit about our life and travels. I hope your 2020 is filled with joy and adventure!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

So, We Bought a Lake House!

sunset on lake

We bought a house, and it’s on a lake! I have had so many emotions about this decision, even though we knew it was the right decision and the right time.

Backstory stuff

Here is a little backstory of our nomadic lifestyle (does anybody else hear the little lego guy imagining the “Wildstyle” lego girl say “backstory stuff” when you hear the word backstory? Maybe it’s just me) Anyway, my husband Matt and I, along with our 5 kids, moved into a 35 foot RV back in April of 2016. My husband resigned as pastor of our church and we embarked on the adventure of full-time evangelism as Kingdom Pursuit Ministries. We wanted to do it as a family, traveling together and so it seemed like getting an RV was the best way to do this. Not only has living in an RV been the most cost-effective way for us to travel, it has been, and still is, a great adventure!

We travel most of the time, and so far we have driven through 43 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Indiana is our home and we minister in Indiana churches about half of the year. My parent’s driveway, Matt’s brother’s giant propery, and other relatives have been very generous and gracious hosts to us over the past few years. No one ever complained, but we never wanted to wear out our welcome, we knew we wanted to eventually have our own homebase, to park the RV when in Indiana. We have always been looking, and pricing out properties, trying to decide what our homebase would be. It has been weird, because we didn’t really need a house, our house is on wheels, and is everything we need.

Last year a wonderful Pastor couple asked us if we could use a home base. They didn’t know that we had been looking for something. They had bought a home and the church parsonage was empty if we would like to use it. We accepted this generous offer and we were able to use the parsonage as our home base for a year. Looking back now it really prepared us to know how to manage two separate homes, and to pack up in a timely and efficient manner.

Why a lakehouse?

While we were traveling up to Alaska, we were also searching for properties online. We first looked at land, but found out that a large downpayment was necessary and expenses like a well, septic, added driveway, etc. kept adding up. It made more sense to look for a little, low-maintenance home that also had a large enough driveway for our beloved RV. We looked at duplexes that we could rent out one side and live in the other, but nothing worked out, and that is probably for the best, because we are too busy traveling to be good landlords. That led us to the idea of finding a property that we could rent out when we are gone(which is every weekend and for up to three months at a time). That idea led us to look at lake properties.

We were pleasantly surprised to find lake properties that were super affordable and not too far from our family(we do understand that distance is a relative term, an hour or two drive is not a big deal to us). When we first found our future house, Matt’s parents looked at it for us and took lots of pictures. We feel in love, just looking at the photos and hearing their descriptions. We probably would’ve made an offer over the phone, but we had to make sure the RV would fit in the driveway.

With a little manuevering, and some excellent backing up skills by my husband, the RV fits snuggly in the driveway, with room for up to two cars next to her. Yay!

Excitement, mixed with guilt filled our hearts as Matt and I took the leap and bought this sweet little lake house. Excitement, because, of course! Guilt, because in a way we felt like we were cheating – on the RV, on the nomadic lifestyle, on filling this traveling evangelist family role that we had given to ourselves. Can we do both? Can we be a traveling family and still own a home? Is it selfish to want both? It brought me to do some serious soul-searching and see that this ministry lifestyle isn’t centered around an RV, but that the RV is just a tool, a wonderful tool that keeps us traveling together and sharing in adventures.

I still feel in shock most days, waking up and looking at the peaceful views of the little lake. I didn’t think we needed another home that we loved, but I feel like it is such a refreshing place, it has brought a much needed settling to my heart that I didn’t even know I needed. Will we use airbnb for our lake house? I am not sure, but I do think it will eventually be a place that we can offer for others to use as a getaway of sorts.

Does the lakehouse mean that we are stopping the travels? No. We are still traveling together, now we just have a place to come back to that is just ours. And what a lovely place it is.

Here is a bit of a photo tour of our little place:

Thank you for reading along, if you have been following this 7nomads blog, you will notice that we no longer have the 7nomads t-shirt shop. We have decided to lose the t-shirt idea, it didn’t quite turn out to be all that I wanted it to be. But, I discovered along the way that I really enjoy blogging, so we have kept the blog.

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

The Value of Community

My childhood pastor (and now father-in-law) used to often say “The only thing you can take to heaven is your relationship with God and your relationship with others.”  I’m paraphasing, but the idea is solid.  You aren’t going to heaven without a relationship with God and if possible we should live peaceably with others, our relationships will last for eternity.

   I follow other traveling families on social media and I have noticed a common theme – community. I think when you travel a lot, you notice the human need for community and for friendship, or fellowship as it is often called in church life. Before we traveled around the country, we lived like everybody else and in one sense you could say that I took for granted the built-in community that you get by going to the same church several times a week, seeing the same neighbors every day, and having a routine that is consistent. In another sense I can see that even back then, in what sometimes seems like a lifetime ago, I had to make the choice to participate in community, to be friendly when, for me, it was sometimes easier to keep to myself. 

     Now that we are living this nomadic lifestyle, it takes even more effort to maintain friendships and build community.  We are always meeting new people, and I find myself frequently pleasantly surprised at the connections we are able to make with people whom we have just met.  I like how C.S. Lewis puts it; “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

kids in hammock

   So the making of new friends isn’t really the difficult part. It seems that I could get along with just about anybody for a short time, finding common ground in one place or another. Disclaimer: this has not always been easy for me, I find myself naturally awkward and shy. After years of being pushed by my parents to make friends, or at least conversations, or at the very least, eye contact, and then 20 years of marriage to a very outgoing husband, I have found myself not only able to be friendly, but actually enjoying the process of meeting new people! Do not fear, fellow introverts of the world, friendliness can be learned!

     Maintaining friendships is harder. If you live a regular, stationary life the difficulty might be that after being with someone for a while, you find things they do that get on your nerves, or find out that they might happen to have different political views, or whatever.  

     In this nomadic lifestyle, it is difficult to maintain community because of obvious reasons. The distance is the main obstacle. It takes effort, I can’t rely on the fact that I will see the same lovely faces three times a week at church. I have to make that phone call or send that message and set a date and time and then we can sit together and eat and talk and laugh. 

     I remember fondly a time this past spring when a friend reached out and made that connection a reality for me. I had posted something on facebook about being with family for easter and how it was such a blessing.  A friend of mine commented “When are you coming down to visit?” and I didn’t know for sure so I just said that I missed them and hoped to see them soon. That answer didn’t satisfy and she called me up. I am so thankful for persistent friends! She set the whole thing up and we visited with her and several other friends the next day. It was just what I needed.  

fun times

   I think I am guilty of using social media to fill the void of community  sometimes. I feel like it isn’t just me, too many of us are sucked into a virtual world and missing out on the real one. The irony is not lost on me while I sit here typing on my blog that I will post online. Looking at pictures and commenting about loved ones’ lives is great and I love to be able to see their lives and keep up. But it is a weak replacement for the real thing. Not only that, too often I miss out on my own little community – my husband and 5 kids!

     We had breakfast with an older gentleman a short while ago and he showed us his flip cell phone. He said if he wants to talk to someone, he will call them because calling is better than texting. He demonstrated by acting like he was talking to a friend “It’s so good to hear your voice! I have missed talking to you! How are you today?”  He’s right. But I don’t see myself going back to a flip phone.

    I still see the value of these online tools, and I regularly use texting. I think they have their place. But they also have their limits. Texting is great for short bits of information, but not so much for a meaningful conversation. Social media is great for friends and family gossip, I mean updates, (hehehe) but it is a weak substitute for actual community. 

    Can we also just talk about how spending time with friends AND food is a great idea? This isn’t a new thought, it is even in the Bible: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,praising God and having favor with all the people…” Acts 2:46-47  We have found that when you spend time over a meal with people, your relationship deepens. This is true with new friends, old friends, family, and especially within our immediate family.  

friends and food

     Something pretty cool has happened on the road as we have been traveling, we find ourselves returning to places we have been before, and reconnecting with people. It is pretty cool because it seems that with friendship, you can pick up right where you left off. The kids have made friends along the way, and it is cool to see them excited to go back and visit. 

Buddies

     I’ve also noticed that I value my time with my friends and family more. I don’t get to see them as often so I have realized how precious that time is. I think traveling has affected all 7 of us in this way. I have really been working on being intentional with my time and appreciating the people I happen to be with.

     Thank you for reading this post as I talk about community. I hope that you are all enjoying that sense of community and friendship in your own lives!

     If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

Family Fun in Colorado

So we spent some time in Colorado recently. As a wonderful perk, my parents drove out from Indiana to meet us and explore for a week. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought of Colorado as a great summer destination, it was a bit more crowded than I remembered. We have visited this beautiful state three times now, once in the winter, to ski with family and friends, once in mid-August and this last time it was in the middle of July. I was very surprised to see the difference in crowd size from July to August! 

     As a traveling homeschool familiy we have fully taken advantage of the perks of visiting places in the off season. I should have planned out this trip a little better, and booked some campsites in advance, it was very difficult to find a last minute campsite for two RV’s and Colorado is not a dry-camping friendly state. 

     In spite of my poor forsight, we had a lovely time in Colorado. There is a reason it is so crowded, it is beautiful!  

Colorado

    We started our visit with my parents at the Cheyenne welcome center in Wyoming.  It was a great spot to meet and plan the week ahead.  Wyoming is super relaxed about boondocking, we drycamped with my parents in this parking lot and picked up some supplies at the Walmart in town.

Cheyenne Welcome Center

     We knew that we wanted my parents to experience Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park so we were able to find a campground somewhat close to that area. We stayed at Eagle Campground at Carter Lake. We found the sites to be spacious with just enough shade to help keep us cool. 

     As soon as we got checked into our sites we made the trek to Estes Park.  Going down Hwy 34 proved to be much more scenic and curvy than we thought it would be. Big Thompson River winds through the rocky canyon right along the highway. There were lots of people fly fishing and lots of things to see along the way We were happy to get out and stretch our legs in the scenic and somewhat touristy town of Estes Park.  

      Back in 2016, we had made the trek to The Rocky Mountain National Park, once there we drove on Old Fall River Road through the park. It is a crazy, hairpin, unpaved road that leads to the Alpine Visitor Center. My parents have been hearing about this exciting road ever since. My dad was so excited to drive it for himself, I think my mom was second-guessing her decision to come out and visit the mountains with us!

     Unfortunately (or fortunately if you ask my mom), the Old Fall River Road was still closed for the season. We took the still-scary-but-paved Trail Ridge Road to the top. We found out that altitude changes are no joke, some of us were feeling bad up there at 11,000+ feet. Matt and my dad took two of our kids up the 120+ steps to the peak.  

the rockies

     We drove around a bit more, enjoying the scenery and anticipating to see wildlife when the sun began to set. We were not dissappointed. On our way back down Trail Ridge Road, we saw a herd of over 100 elk! They were pretty used to tourists, people were approaching them and everyone was taking pictures. It was a magical moment with these beautiful creatures at the top of the mountains. 

herd of elk

     We got back to our campsite pretty late, and we decided it would be nice to spend the next day at the camp with no driving. We spent a few hours on a rented pontoon boat on Carter Lake, it seemed to be a perfect solution to the extreme heat.  

     The next few days we stayed in Loveland at the fairgrounds. We explored a few places by car from that location, including a nice church on Sunday; Focus on the Family, Garden of the Gods, and Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs.  

colorado springs

     We decided to head even further south in Colorado and stayed at Lake Pueblo State Park. Special shout out to my mom for persevering and calling many campsites and finding one that had available space! Thanks mom for letting me revert to my childhood and rely on you to do all the grown up stuff. Did I mention that Colorado Springs is exceptionally crowded in July and it was impossible to find a campsite there?

    Lake Pueblo State Park is very nice. Most of the sites have lake views and all of them are spacious and have lovely views. We were sad to hear from the camphost that someone had drowned in the lake the same day we arrived and were warned not to swim in the lake. This information along with the 100 degree weather helped us to decide to do indoor, air conditioned activities.    

   Matt found some interesting things to do nearby so the next morning we set out for the Royal Gorge. We stopped at some antique shops along the way in the cute town of Florence. The Royal Gorge is a pretty spectacular sight! There is a fantastic suspension bridge over the gorge, apparently the Empire State building could be placed in the gorge and there would still be 10 feet between it and the bottom of the bridge!  We drove up to see the gorge, and walked along some of the trails at the top, but we didn’t actually go out on the bridge. Several in our group are a bit terrified of heights, and that, coupled with the fact that they were charging $28 a person, made it easy for us to say no thanks. 

skyline drive

    On our way back to the campground we decided to take Skyline Drive. It is a short drive with steep dropoffs on both sides. There are some cool dinosaur fossils along one portion of the road.  

     We had such a great visit with my parents, we have been driving so much this summer, so it was nice to be in one state and to take the time to explore, and to be with family.

great week in colorado

Thanks for stopping by and reading along about our adventures in Colorado!

     If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org

5 Helpful Organizing Tips for RV Life

  I am not a naturally organized person, I actually prefer a little bit of clutter to be honest. My husband likes to say that I am a “nester” – collecting little bits of clutter within arms reach (books I am reading, snack options, my earrings that I’ve taken off, half-finished projects that I can’t seem to put away…) I gather these items mostly around my captain chair in the RV. 

     Why am I confessing my clutter problems to you? Because I think it is helpful to know that these organizing ideas have helped someone like me, someone who struggles with organization. I am not naturally organized, but our RV is organized and efficient.

1. Organize by Category

     Divide and Conquer! In a regular house, this is somewhat implemented, the kitchen stuff goes in the kitchen, bathroom stuff in the bathroom, etc. In an RV, this is done to the extreme. We no longer have the luxury of throwing stuff in a closet when we don’t know where to put it. Everything has a specific place! Our board games are all tucked away in the small cabinet above the couch. We reduced the space they take up by combining several games in one box(an idea we saw online). When items are organized by category, it helps to keep things neat and tidy and it’s easier to find things quickly. 

Organize by Category

2. Minimize

     Once items are organized by category, evaulate if you have too many of one thing. For instance, we have two brushes, one for detangling, and one for thicker hair. Both brushes go in a hanging basket in our bathroom. We have one large skillet and one small skillet, both fit under the kitchen sink. Coffee mugs are easy to collect, and we recently had to eliminate a few. Taking inventory and evaluating our belongings is an ongoing process. We did a huge minimization process before we moved into the RV, but it is something we have to do often. Every now and then, I go through the items in the various cabinets to see if we have collected extra belongings.

less is more

3. Use Plastic Containers with Lids

     Life savers, that’s what containers with lids are in this RV life! This might seem like a no brainer, but I was surprised at how many containers I needed after we had started life on the road. I recommend the type of containers with the latch on the side, bumpy roads will pop the lids right off of the cheap snap on lids. 

     Imagine the things that you would normally put in a drawer, or small cabinet, those are the things we put in these awesome containers. We use these containers as a “medicine cabinet” in our kitchen, toy storage in the back bedroom area, and under the bathroom sink to organize neccessities. We put crayons, markers, and colored pencils in their own small containers, and coloring books, papers, and craft kits in their own small containers. I found these at Meijers and Walmart and they have held up under daily abuse by 7 people for 3 years so far.

Clear plastic containers

4. Go to Ikea

     Seriously, walk around Ikea. That place has been a wonderful source of organizational inspiration for us.  The showroom area is great because most of the room layouts are on the smaller size, like that of an apartment or small house. They are more creative when it comes to storage ideas for things like clothes and shoes, or books and art supplies. I love that their products are designed with efficiency and style in mind. This shoe cabinet in the picture is compact, lightweight, and works well in the kid’s bunks for storing their treasures. I love these adorable gray baskets, we have them all over the RV, storing remotes, phone chargers, brushes, and as pictured here, storing our teenage girls’ stuff.

Ikea storage products

5. Hide your Junk

     This last tip also relates to containers, but not clear plastic ones with lids. I think this idea really helps me (and some of my clutter-loving children) to keep our clutter from running all over the RV. Baskets, boxes, totes, hanging pockets, and totebags, we can fill these cute containers with various treasures, and they don’t have to be perfectly organized, they just have to fit inside. You could call it organized chaos.

     I have this container next to my chair up front, I put my journal, various travel brochures that I’ve picked up, cards that I can’t seem to throw away, books I’m reading, kid’s coloring pages, and whatever else ends up thrown in there. I picked up this cheap container from Dollar General, and it is just the right size, it may seem silly, but it helps me to feel at home and relaxed to have a place to throw my junk. 

     Hiding our junk in cute containers is a win-win situation. I get to keep small collections of treasures and the RV still looks clean and neat.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to walk around Hobby Lobby or TJMaxx and look for cute containers.

Thank you for reading “5 Helpful Organizing Tips for RV Life”!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org.

5 Must Haves for Full Time RV Life

While we were preparing for full time RV life, my husband and I did a lot of research to prepare ourselves for this major life change. Thankfully, there is Pinterest, and Youtube and Google! Seriously though, there were so many informative blogposts and videos from people who had been full time RVers and their tips were super helpful to us as we planned and prepared.  I am glad that we had some advice to help us along, and this list is a combination of the things we bought based on that advice and the things we have bought along the way when we figured out that we needed it. So, here are my 5 Must Have Items for Full Time RV Life:

1. Berkey Water Filter

     If you have been on the road very long, you will find out that your water source is ever-changing, so you never know what you’re going to get.  Drinking out of the tap in the RV is not something we wanted to do in most cases. If you have kids, you probably already know that disposible water bottles can be a source of frustration – plastic water bottles everywhere usuallly half-full and nobody knows which bottle is theirs! Not to mention the effect on the environment.  And where do we store this huge case of water – in an RV, space is at a premium. 

Berkey water system

   My husband Matt stumbled across the Berkey Water System while researching RV living and was very impressed. This water-filtering system is awesome! Pour your gross water into the top, it is gravity fed through the charcoal filters, and then the wonderful, clean water comes out the tap. Our Berkey fits on the counter, right by the sink, and surprisingly, the rubber bottom keeps it from sliding around while we drive down the road.  Honestly, I would recommend a Berkey for anyone, RVer or not.(and no, I do not get paid for promoting Berkey products, but maybe I should consider selling them because I love them) For a more technical description, check out their website:https://myberkeywaterusa.com/   

2. Tankless Water Heater

    Again with the water, I know.  When we first moved into our motorhome, we had a 6 gallon water heater. I bet you can imagine how wonderful our shower time was.  It wasn’t.  It was difficult for 1 person to take a hot/warm shower, much less 7! So my husband found this awesome little tankless hot water heater.

Tankless Hot Water Heater

It was tricky to figure out how to regulate the heat at first, it would fluctuate between hot and cold, it was super frustrating. We found a tip from a forum online that suggested setting the temperature and then using only the hot water in the shower. For example, I set my shower at 104 degrees and it is perfect, we set it to about 110-115 for doing dishes.  Guess what? The water heater will heat water for up to 20 minutes. If, by some chance, a person takes a shower for longer than 20 minutes, all they have to do is turn the water off and back on again and it will start heating the water.

3. Blackout shades/curtains

     If you have ever boondocked, or camped somewhere with bright lights, you have discovered that blackout curtains/shades are a dream come true! 

     Our motorhome is a 2007, and the window coverings had frankly seen better days. I liked the idea behind their design, there were 3 options: 1. push up for full sunlight and to enjoy the view outside, 2. Pull the sheer shades to block out some of the glare, 3. Pull the opaque shades to block most of the light. After years of use, these shades stopped working, the strings broke inside, or they would partially work. I had at one point read a tutorial on restringing the blinds, and it sort-of-worked temporarily. They broke again and we ended up tying some burlap string around the blinds to look outside, and then untying it to drop the shades at night. As you can imagine, it was not pretty. I have failed to mention the not-so-wonderful built-in valences and that is because they were very ugly.

RV window coverings before and after

I honestly would have loved to remove the window coverings when we first bought the RV, but it just wasn’t in the budget.  When we first priced out replacing our shades with a similar model from RV stores or online, we discovered that they were quite expensive.  When we finally jumped in and remodeled our RV, we found these wonderful blackout shades from Home Depot! No strings, completely blackout, and much more affordable! We may or may not add curtains, something to add a little color and to block out that tiny stream of light that peaks in the side of the shades.

     Back in the bunk area, we opted for black out curtains.  We thought maybe the kids would roll into the shades and destroy them. The curtains do the job and they look pretty, tied with a strip of fabric.

4. Norwex Towels

     A wonderfully generous relative gifted us a full set of Norwex bath towels,  cleaning towels, and washcloths when we first set off on the RV full-time adventure. I didn’t even know we needed these until we had them! Norwex towels are microbial, and I don’t know the details about how that works, but they don’t get that musty smell, and they dry super-fast, and they are super-lightweight.  The lightweight part is wonderful for the bath towels – we have towels for 7 people hanging in our teeny-tiny bathroom and most of those are hanging on the door! If these were regular bathtowels, not only would they take forever to dry, giving our bathroom a lovely musty smell, they would weigh down the tiny bathroom door.  

Norwex Towels for RV

 I also really love the Norwex cleaning towels. I don’t have room to store a mop or an abundance of cleaning supplies. The cleaning towels are great for cleaning the windows and mirrors, dusting, or mopping.

5. Plenty of Hoses and Electrical Cords

     Unless you are planning on staying at RV parks 100% of the time, you will need a large supply of quality hoses and electrical cords. Honestly, I don’t know much about what Matt is doing when he is outside getting us all hooked up, (I am thankful that he is willing to do all that outside stuff, he’s awesome) so I am going to let him recommend what to get in this area. 

Hi guys, for electric I recomend at least 100ft of cord. Make sure to get a 50amp or 30amp extension cord instead of regular extesion cords which will burn up after time. Menards has 50 & 30 amp extension cords at a nice price. I have a 50amp so I use a 50amp extension but I also have a 30amp because it’s less expensive. Make sure you have all the connections to convert from 50 – 30 – 110! I also use a surge protector (after that one time I plugged into a 50amp at one location and fried out our microwave, game device, and other things). 

RV hoses and cords

For fresh water I always buy drinking water hoses and I recomend you keep at least 100ft on board. I also use a regulator 50-55psi at the water spigot. This protects your water lines and pump from high pressure and I’ve noticed that our on demand Girard hot water heater regulates better this way!

For sewer hoses, don’t go cheap, get the best and you will be glad you did. Especially if you’re a full timer. I like the Rino brand. I keep several sizes handy and plenty of different connectors.

You can also find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries at www.kpministry.org