5 Fantastic Spots in Florida City(plus 2 favorites in Miami)

We are a traveling ministry family, and for almost 8 years now we have been on the road, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ all across America. When we are not in revival services, one of our favorite hobbies is finding something delicious to eat.

I don’t know if we qualify as “foodies” because we are not especially particular about what we eat. We love most foods and love trying new foods. So, I decided to start writing down some of my personal favorite food discoveries. Some of the spots I will be writing about are not exactly tourist destinations, but great food can be found almost anywhere – and what a great treasure hunt it is!

Florida City

Did you know that there is a city south of Miami? As a midwesterner, I was aware of the Florida Keys, and the Everglades, but other than that, I assumed that south of Miami, Florida I would only encounter swamp lands and the ocean. When my husband scheduled a tent revival with a pastor in Florida City, I thought we would be fighting off alligators and mosquitos and I wondered how many people actually live in this area.

Well, I found out that Florida City, and the neighboring Homestead are bustling cities full of culture and diversity. We just finished our third tent revival in this place and while most of our time is spent in ministry under the tent(which we love), we have also had the pleasure of venturing out and exploring the area. One of our favorite things to do is to sample new foods. With a climate perfect for growing amazing fruit, and a true melting pot of different cultures, we have found a variety of good things to eat.

In no particular order, here are five fantastic spots that we have found in Florida City.

1. Robert is Here

Positioned in a prime location as a pitstop for travelers on their way to the Everglades National Park, is this most epic fruit stand. “Robert is Here”, I’m sure there is some great story behind that name… for me, (and really our whole tent revival team that descend upon lower Florida longing for an escape from harsh Indiana winter) a more suitable name would be “Mangoes are here”. That is probably because I have never tasted a mango in Indiana that tastes anything remotely close to the sweet, heavenly goodness of the mangoes served here. They will even peel, slice, and drizzle your mango with fresh key lime. Yum.

Maybe mangoes aren’t your thing. That’s ok, they have every kind of fruit you can imagine, and some you have probably never heard of, if you are feeling more adventurous. There are also spots to buy a smoothie and usually some sort of food truck out back.

Speaking of out back, there are plenty of picnic tables in the shaded back yard area as well as a petting zoo. Robert is Here is definitely a must stop, get some fruit, enjoy the atmosphere, and you might even see Robert, the owner.

2. La Michoacana Paleteria / Losner Park

This second fantastic spot is a two-for-one. Because, if you are going to get some delicious ice cream you might as well walk less than 2 blocks over to a great little park. If you are a parent, your kids might even proclaim that you are the best parents ever!

I don’t know how to pronounce the name but I do know how to point out the ice cream that looks good. There are, like, a hundred flavors of ice cream and just as many freshly-made ice cream bars. We have been here several times, there is almost always a line, but it moves quickly and everything I tasted was delicious. As a bonus, everything is very reasonably priced.

Losner Park is right in the middle of the cute Homestead downtown and the unique playground is surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers. It is a lovely little oasis in the middle of the bustling town.

3. Tacazo

I only have a picture of the outside of this restaurant, and I apologize because the tacos really did look beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I immediately devoured them. I regret nothing, except that I am now far away from tacazo and I don’t have a delicious taco to eat.

Go here, order tacos, be happy, the end.

4. Mr. Tutis Fruities

This one is more for my teenagers. They love smoothies, and when in Florida City, we are asked daily if we can go to the “smoothie place”. I tend to be a cheapskate and so it troubles me to pay for a beverage when I prefer to drink water anyway. But, I reasoned with myself that if I considered the smoothie to be a meal-replacement, then it was a great deal at around $6.

The smoothies are very tasty. The fruit is fresh, there is the option of using honey or sugar as the sweetener. They also offer shakes, tacos, and other snacks; or for the more health-conscious there are a variety of juice-shots and fruit bowls.

This little shop is tucked in a shopping center behind the circle k, but don’t let the unassuming location fool you. In our experience, quality is a priority and care is taken in everything they make.

5. Florida City 1st Assembly of God

Obviously, this is not a food place. But, you can get fed spiritually here (corny transition, I know) Seriously though, when traveling it can be difficult sometimes to know what church to attend. I recommend checking them out if you are in Florida City.

This church has been hosting our team for an annual tent revival starting in 2021. We appreciate their faithfulness to their community and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will be returning in February 2025, so if you find yourself in southern Florida at that time, look for the big white tent in their front yard!

Bonus! Bonus! Bonus!

We made a few, small day trips into Miami while ministering in southern Florida. I enjoy just driving around new cities and taking it all in but it can honestly be overwhelming if you are trying to find a spot to eat. Miami is a very interesting city, full of culture and diversity. On one of those trips we ministered at a Miami church and afterwards enjoyed a tasty lunch.

1. Versailles

This spot is fairly well known, so I will just throw my recommendation in with the others that have already said you need to go and eat here. The restaurant sign reads “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant” and by the size of the crowd on the Sunday afternoon that we showed up, it might just be the most famous. That being said, this restaurant is extremely efficient! The wait time was minimal, and while waiting, there were plenty of options to fill our time and our bellies. We went over to the walk up cafe section for an amazing little cup of cuban coffee – strong and delicious. There is also a bakery, so that you can take some deliciousness home with you (check out our sweet assortment in the picture above).

Once inside the restaurant our helpful waiter brought us a tasty cuban meal. We have a couple less-risky eaters in our family and they were quite happy with their cuban sandwiches. I shared the Chicken Cordon Bleu and fried plantains with our youngest daughter; my husband ordered some sort of roast, it was tasty. I also shared a cappuccino with my husband and it was delicious. It was a fun lunch and we would totally go back.

2. Revival Tabernacle in Miami

Our main reason for visiting Miami on this particular Sunday was to minister at Revival Tabernacle. We held a tent revival with this congregation last year and fell in love with them. They have a passion for Jesus and for their community, so if you are looking for a church home, or just to visit, check them out.

Thank you for reading along as I talk about one of our favorite traveling hobbies – trying out foods in new places!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, you can go to kpministry.org

I hope you are all enjoying your own adventures!

-Nadine

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/

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine! Part 4

As we drive into Indiana, with its green grass and sunny spring weather, I feel perfectly happy and content. It’s good to be back. This is the last in a four part series about our southern travels, a trip we have been taking every year since our family of 7 hit the road in our 36 foot RV back in 2016. I don’t mind winter, it’s just not my favorite season for RV life, so we try to avoid it by going to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma – you know, places warmer than Indiana.

Part 3 of this series ended with us in Cayuga, Texas where we had just survived the great Texas ice apocolypse of 2021!

I must say, after that crazy week it has been all sunshine and happiness. We even made friends with the local donkeys before we left!

We left that area and went to Waxahachie, to spend a couple of weeks with friends there and to minister in the Dallas area. I love that we have friends from all over, it is a treasure to be able to visit old friends.

We had an open Sunday when we first arrived so we visited the Upper Room Dallas. It was full by the time we arrived and we went to the Overflow room. I didn’t mind, I love to see a crowded church. We really enjoyed being there and experiencing the worship – it was powerful.

Busy with “Adulting”

We are currently preparing for tent revival ministry. We will be starting this new adventure next month and things are really coming together. Matt has been busy making sure we have all the things we need. While in Waxahachie, he was able to find a trailer, a generator, and a portable stage.

We love our Honda Pilot and it has endured being towed all across the U.S. and parts of Canada. It was in desperate need of new shocks and tires, the ride was getting very uncomfortable! So, while we had some down time in Waxahachie, Matt was able to change the shocks and we put on new tires.

Because we were busy doing all these boring grownup things, we didn’t end up doing as much exploring as we normally enjoy doing while in Texas.

Time for fun!

We did, however find ourselves making a special trip to the very entertaining Medieval Times in Dallas. Every now and again, you have to do something outlandish and crazy, and I feel like that perfectly describes the experience we had. It was super fun, all the kids loved it, especially our 6 year old, who transformed herself not into a princess, but a knight.

Ministry Time

Matt was also able to preach at two churches in the Dallas area. On a Saturday night he preached and we ministered to the young people at the Gardens DFW. We love the genuine family atmosphere here where they share a meal and Bible discussion after the service. The next morning Matt preached at Revelation Church in Dallas, this is the church of his former CFNI college professor. He has been such a help to us, offering wisdom and insight as an experienced evangelist.

Birthday Party!

The kids have some dear friends in this area, we only see them once a year, but it is a visit we greatly look forward to. This year we were able to attend a birthday party of one of those friends and the kids had a blast. I’m always amazed when that works out, birthday parties with friends seems like such a novelty when your life is on the road.

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma ,OK!

Our next stop was Norman, Oklahoma. This was our fourth year to hold revival services here, and it is always great to come back. The people here feed us so well, we are going to have to start back into a workout routine to burn off those calories. But, I’m not complaining, everything was delicious! Our Caleb played the guitar and our Olivia played the piano during ministry time, it is great to see them grow in their giftings. This was the first time for them to do that during a service.

From Norman we made our way to Miami, Oklahoma where we picked up our ministry tent! Yay! What an exciting day! The friendly workers that loaded up our tent also gave us a short tour of the factory where they make the tents. Impromptu field trip? Yes, please!

We drove about 4 hours after picking up our ministry tent and camped near St. Louis Missouri at Pin Oak Creek RV Park. I would recommend this campground. There was a fishing pond, putt putt golf, a cute little (slightly outdated but still fun) playground, swimming pool, and little store, and the staff was very efficient and helpful. We did not have an abundance of time to enjoy all of these amenities because we were just passing through. We did, however soak up some sunshine while playing on the playground and basketball courts.

The next day we made our way back to Indiana, our home sweet home. We parked the RV at Matt’s aunt and uncle’s house, they are super hospitable and always welcome us back. We look forward to seeing more of our family and Indiana friends as well.

It’s good to see you Indiana, thank you for having sunshine.

Thank you for reading all about our southern adventures. I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures!

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

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine! Part 3

Very funny Texas, verrrry funny. This blog series is called “Give me some sunshine”, not, “Let’s pretend Texas is Antarctica!”

This is part 3 of this blog series, documenting our southern winter travels. We are a semi-nomadic family of seven, traveling for ministry. We make this southern trek every year in our 36 foot RV to avoid the Indiana winters.

In part 2 of this series, we were leaving Louisiana and making our way to Texas. I will continue from that point.

Dayton, Texas

We arrived in Dayton, Texas (near the Houston area) on Thursday, February 4th. We were very excited to return to Old River Assembly of God where we would be having revival services starting on Sunday. We dropped off the RV at the church (where they have some great rv hookups) and made our way into Houston to run some errands/do some shopping.

We have been collecting supplies along the way for a necessary bathroom update. It is sometimes tricky to find just the right things for a bathroom that small. We had picked up a nice countertop back in Alabama but we were unable to find a tiny sink that would work. I saw this cute little sink on IKEA’s website so we decided an IKEA trip was in order.

IKEA is one of my favorite places, not just a favorite store, a favorite place to be. I’ve always loved magazines and as a kid I remember skipping to the end of my mom’s “Country Living” Magazine to look at the house floor plans and decide which one I loved the most, imagining how my future life would work in that house. IKEA is totally like walking through a magazine, and the little house setups feed my love of floorplans and furniture placement.

Our trip to IKEA was fun, we had swedish meatballs for dinner, strolled through the store, and in the end found a tiny sink(in the clearance section for $27.00!)

On Friday we did our regular school work, ordered some delicious pizza from Simple Simon’s (soo good), and watched a family movie in the RV.

On Saturday we did some much needed cleaning in the RV, gave the dog a bath, and spent some time outdoors on the church property playing basketball and exercising a bit.

Revival!

The reason we came back to Dayton Texas was revival. We ministered here last year and felt a real connection with the pastor and the people of this church. They invited us to return, but this time for extended services – revival. It is in our hearts to see God’s people revived in their love for Him, to see people delivered from oppression, to see hearts won for the Lord, and to be a part of the beauty that happens when God meets people reaching out to Him. From Sunday, February 7th to Wednesday, February 10th we had revival services at Old River Assembly of God. It was awesome.

Familiar Friendly Faces

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

Sometimes traveling is lonely, but other times, it’s wonderful. I am not naturally outgoing, and traveling has forced me even further out of my comfort zone to get to know people from all over, and it is truly a rich and rewarding experience.

One of the best parts of returning to a place is the friends that you make over time. The people of Old River are friendly and welcoming. It is really such a gift to our family to have friends not just for the grown ups, but for my kids too, that they can visit and just hang out with peers. The people here showered us with love and fed us well too.

On the Road Again

After our great week in Dayton, we head out and make our way to the small town of Cayuga, Texas. We knew a winter storm was coming, but we thought, “We’re northerners, no big deal”. Perhaps we were overconfident. So, instead of stocking up on extra milk and bread like you are supposed to in the event of unprecidented winter weather, we made a stop at the iconic “Bucee’s” gas station to fill up the RV with gas and ourselves with junk food.

“Bucee’s” is a Texas thing, totally fitting that stereotype that everything is bigger in Texas. It is a huge gas station, about the size of a regular grocery store, complete with a bakery, deli, and fresh barbeque (How good can barbeque be from a gas station you might ask, pretty good as it turns out).

We left there and made our way up Hwy 45, where we were surprised to see a giant (77 feet tall!) Sam Houston and snow covering the trees and green grass along the highway.

Cayuga, Texas

Where is Cayuga Texas? It is on the eastern side of the state, about an hour south of Tyler, Texas, or an hour and a half from Dallas. This is our third year to return to this tiny town, and we arrived this time just in time for their Valentine’s Banquet on Saturday. They had invited us to join their family-friendly event when they found out we would be in the area for a service in nearby Toole, Texas. We had a nice time visiting with old friends and making some new ones. Mostly the talk was of the winter storm set to hit just about all of the huge state of Texas.

The church service here in Cayuga, and the one in Toole, where we were scheduled to be, were both cancelled. We knew ice and snow were coming, but we weren’t too concerned, just preparing ourselves to be cold.

Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, Matt preached at Cayuga for a live-stream service. Matt was already scheduled to speak the following Sunday, but since we were already here, parked right next to the church, the pastor asked Matt to speak. It was a laid-back Valentine’s Day, and we all enjoyed the chocolates that Matt bought for us.

Texas Ice/Snowpocalypse 2021

And then it got cold. Like, really cold. It started with ice. Ice covered everything. The windows started icing over on the inside. Honestly, this has happened before in Indiana, but this is Texas!

We lost power at 2am. I figured it was because of the ice. Then we heard that it was some sort of rolling power outage thing to conserve energy and that it should come back on in an hour or two. The RV isn’t insulated like a house, and so it gets cold really fast without our electric space heaters going, we have a propane furnace, but we would run out of propane if we blast it on too high for too long.

So, Matt braved the cold, plugged in the RV to our onboard generator and put a heater down in the underneath bay by the water hookups to keep our lines from freezing. We also set an alarm for every half hour to turn on the water faucets (we can’t leave them dripping because it would burn up the water pump).

Monday was cold, but the ice was pretty and we were thankful for the generator. By Tuesday we had gotten quite a bit of snow. Matt took the older kids and decided to brave the elements and make a trip into Athens Texas to try to fill up the spare propane tanks and make a Walmart run. He said that he has never seen road conditions like that. It made us extra thankful for the snowplows and salt trucks in Indiana. They weren’t able to find any propane and by that evening our generator was running low on gas(it shuts off automatically at 1/4 of a tank).

We decided to turn off the generator after dinner and bundle up and turn the furnace down lower to conserve propane. Because apparently that whole “rolling power outage” thing was not what we were experiencing. We camped out in the back with the kids – we have 5 bunks in the back of our RV, and just enough floor space for two adults and one dog.

It ended up being a snuggly adventure of sorts, without the tv to entertain us, we turned to books. I started reading a biography of Billy Sunday as we all were tucked in for bed, we all learned things we didn’t know about this evangelist from years ago, and my youngest especially enjoyed the story time.

The power came back on for about a day, and then off again for another day in the midst of this crazy week. We did school work when we had power, enjoyed feeding the local birdies, and mostly sat around wrapped in blankets. By Friday Matt was able to get some propane and some extra gasoline. It was a cold week for us, but much worse for many Texans, I am thankful we made it through without any damage to the RV.

Here Comes the Sun

The sun came out and it has been glorious! We went from 4 degrees to 80 degrees in about a week’s time, and I’m so happy for sunshine!

More Revival? Yes, Please

After all this craziness with weather, we were able to hold revival services at New Beginning Assembly of God here in Cayuga Texas as planned. The impact of the weather, and covid did affect the amount of people that came. But it was a great time for those of us who were there, and we are grateful for the time spent this past week with Pastor Thom Taylor, his wife Wilma and the sweet friends at this church. They really welcomed us like family and we love ministering to them.

Thank you for reading along with this blog series, all about our southern adventures, 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 www.kpministy.org

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine, part 2

Backstory stuff: We are a semi-nomadic family of seven, traveling for ministry in our 36 foot RV. We are in the Midwest for most of the year, but we do make a trip down south, (snowbird style) to avoid Indiana’s cold, not-so-rv-friendly winter. This has become a pattern for us, beginning in January of 2017.

In part 1 of this series, we ended in Clanton, Alabama. This spot has become familiar to us, and we truly cherish the friends we’ve made here, and the churches where we minister. From Clanton Alabama we headed even further south, longing for sunshine, sand, and the beautiful gulf shores of Alabama. We only had a couple days to spare, as we were to be in Mississippi on Sunday for service.

Gulf Shores Alabama

Upon our Gulf Shores arrival, we checked into our campsite at Gulf Breeze RV Resort (I would recommend this RV park, it was not too pricey, had an outdoor and an indoor pool, full hookups, and laundry facilities). It was a rainy Tuesday evening, and we decided it would be a good time to take advantage of the rather large Tanger Outlet Mall, several of the kids had grown out of their shoes, and I am always looking for an excuse to shop. We ate dinner at the Shrimp Basket, where an adorable baby at the table next to us became our new best friend.

It was just one day, only a few hours really, but it was 70 and sunny and wonderful. I could live on the beach, just set up a tent on the sand, and I would be happy. We walked along the beach, with the distant pier as our goal, it ended up being about 4-5 miles and we felt it the next day!

Matt took the kids swimming at the indoor pool while I cooked dinner back at the RV. After dinner, Matt and I took advantage of the laundry facilities while the kids hung out and got cleaned up from our day at the beach. The long-term campers at this RV resort were very friendly, one older gentleman came in while we were doing laundry, he saw our Indiana license plate and told us that he was also from Indiana. We were able to pray with him before leaving, it was a special moment.

A quick stop in Mobile

These pictures of the sunsets along Mobile Bay are along one of my favorite scenic drives. Sometimes people ask us if we have a favorite state, and I have to admit that Alaska was probably the most spectacular. Really though, I feel like I have favorite spots, or certain moments that I will never forget. So, this is one of my favorite spots – Mobile Bay.

Mobile, Alabama, or more specifically Tillman’s Corner; I will forever be grateful for this place. This was our first “snowbird” location back in 2017. A pastor here graciously welcomed us to his church here as well as gave us a place to stay at his RV park. In those early days of traveling ministry, it was difficult. But the people of Tillman’s Corner became like a second family to us. Although we didn’t spend the same amount of time here this winter, we were able to stop in and visit some friends, and I wish I would have gotten more pictures of the days with our friends.

Ministry in Mississippi

From Mobile, we drove to Crystal Springs, Mississippi for ministry at First Assembly of God. The pastor and his wife were super friendly and welcoming. They fed us well, we all watched hilarious Tim Hawkins videos, they had a little girl Sophia’s age and they became great little buddies, and we just had a great time together. Sunday service was super amazing, I look forward to going back in the future.

Happy Birthday Mr. Caleb!

A typical question for our kids is “Where will we be for my birthday?” Their first choice is to spend the day with friends or family, but if we are traveling far away from family and friends we spend the day doing something special in a new place. So, we looked at the map to discover what was in between Crystal Springs Mississippi and Dayton Texas(our next ministry destination). Lafayette, Louisiana. We have driven through it but haven’t really spent much time here. We decided on this spot because of the abundance of tasty restaurant options.

So, we stayed at Cajun Palms RV Resort. If only it had been about 20 degress warmer, then we would have taken full advantage of the spectacular water park at this RV resort! We did use the nice weight room, play ground, and laundry facilities.

While looking at things to do in the area, we discovered that there were several swamp tour companies in Lafayette. We went with Champagne’s Swamp Tours. We decided that we would not risk ruining the tour with the members of our family that are prone to motion-sickness, and so I made my own “driving tour” around the lake while Matt went with the birthday boy and two of his lovely sisters.

It was a fun time, a beautiful sunny day, and the swamp exceeded our expectations. We walked a short distance down the levee trail before we turned around because we were feeling afraid. We did spot two smallish alligators while walking the trail, just off the shore. They spotted larger alligators during the boat ride (the tour guide told them that no alligators have jumped in their boat yet, but that they could – yikes)

Did I mention the swamp was more beautiful than we expected? It was. Jessica took this amazing shot while on the boat tour. The other two pictures were from the shore, it was just a really neat environment.

Photo Credit: Jessica Eckart

To be continued…

We left Lafayette, Louisiana, and made our way to Texas, noticing, sadly, the hurricane damage in Lake Charles Louisiana along the way. I will pick up from here next time, telling you all about our adventures in Texas.

Thank you for reading all about our snow bird adventures! I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures!

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

It’s Cold, Give Me Some Sunshine! Part 1

We are a traveling ministry family, and since 2016 the 7 of us have traveled in our 36ft RV. Our home state is Indiana, and in the beginning, our home on wheels was all we had so, out of necessity, we went south in the colder winter months. Now we have a home base (a small lake cottage in northern Indiana) but we still take this southern ministry trip every year, encompassing Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma over the months of January, February, and March.

I thought it would be fun to do a blog series, telling what this southern trip looks like for us, giving you a peek into the life of a traveling ministry family, and giving me some documentation of memories.

In this first leg of what I shall call our “Give me some Sunshine” series, I will tell you what we have been doing the last two weeks.

Goodbye Indiana…

We left Indiana on January 6th, in the midst of the packing, I was attempting to watch the Senate debate about voter fraud in America in the recent Presidential election. By the time we were on the road, I was watching the Capitol being overrun with protestors. It was bizarre and frustrating to watch.

We stopped in to visit with some friends at Genesis Church in Seymour Indiana to plan some upcoming tent ministry outreaches. Our kids were able to attend youth group while we were there. After that we stopped over at Matt’s aunt and uncle’s house. They are always very welcoming and we stop over there frequently.

It was an easy drive down to Alabama, with one stop over in Tennessee at an RV park. There was a bit of snow in Tennessee, making for a beautiful drive.

Hello Sunshine!

Our first stop in Alabama is in Clanton, this friendly spot has become familiar to us over the years. The people here exceed the expectation of southern hospitality and always make us feel loved. Matt will be preaching at 3 churches in the area (Thompson Chapel Assembly of God, Sunshine Assembly of God, and Temple Assembly of God – all great churches that you should totally visit if you’re in the area) and we are able to keep our RV at Sunshine Assembly of God while here.

We are re-adjusting to the small size of the RV. We have spent quite a bit of time at our 900sq ft home in Indiana, and although that is not large, it is 3 times as big as the RV. The kids have grown too, so we are all adjusting. I like to think of it as character building. Being able to get outside and enjoy the mild winters of Alabama as well as the play area with a ball pit and a gymnasium, at Sunshine Assembly of God, has been wonderful and a huge help in the adjustment.

Happy Birthday Miss O

Our Miss Olivia turned 16 while we were in Clanton. I tried to convince her that the beach was only 3-4 hours away and would be a a great little getaway (perhaps I was selfishly suggesting this idea). But, she doesn’t really love the beach so we had a shopping day, went out for a delicious pasta dinner, and picked out a new keyboard as a birthday present. It was a fun day.

Learning stuff, Inauguration, and Church Services

A typical day for us involves a full day of school, learning takes time, and usually we are done with our school work by 3pm and have free time after that. Sometimes, if we are in a new place, we will end our school day early and do some exploring. That has proven a little more difficult with covid restrictions, but I look forward to those ending soon. These two weeks we have spent most of our time doing our regular curriculum and enjoying the ball pit, gymnasium and the warm weather here in Clanton.

We watched the Inauguration on Wednesday. No matter my opinion on the new President, it was an opportunity to watch history unfold, and so we did. My personal favorite moments were, the firefighter saying the Pledge of Alegance in sign language, the lovely young poet giving her poem, my youngest daughter refering to Lady Gaga as Cruella Deville, and the Bernie Sanders memes have been entertaining.

Our reason for traveling is ministry. We feel honored that churches welcome us to come in and minister to them. Covid has changed that too, we don’t have as many revival-style services, but Matt is still able to preach and pray for people and we are glad to have that opportunity. Returning to a church is such a blessing, we are able to see familiar faces that have grown in the Lord and it’s amazing how you can feel such a connection to people you only see once a year.

Family Fitness Challenge

It seems every January I feel inspired to make health changes. This year we decided to do a family fitness challenge. We are doing a simple challenge so that we don’t give up. For 30 days, we are making the committment to do 30 minutes of some sort of exercise. We are also doing a 30 day plank challenge, with the goal of a 5 minute plank by the last day! It has been a fun time for us so far, we are enjoying it and look forward to doing it each day.

Saturday Adventures

We have explored a little bit in the area. Last Saturday we visited “Peach Park”. Clanton Alabama is known for its peaches, but we are a bit early for peach season. Peach Park is a cute little tourist spot with a playground, shop and campground. The kids enjoyed the playground in spite of the cold weather.

This Saturday we made a short trip over to Wilderness Park/Bamboo Forest in Prattville, Al. It was super cool. There was a short walking path through 4 varieties of bamboo. It was perfect weather and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring. I took a ton of pictures.

After the Bamboo forest we drove over to Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery. We drove past the parsonage where Martin Luther King Jr. lived during the civil rights movement. There were many historical spots to see, it was inspiring to drive past where these American heroes once lived.

To be continued…

Soon we will leave Clanton, head to Mobile, and then on to Mississippi. I look forward to those adventures and telling you all about it.

Thank you for reading along about our southern adventures, I hope you all are enjoying your own adventures.

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

Hope is a Choice (2020 in review)

When I was thinking about doing a year in review post the first thoughts I had were pretty negative. It was not a normal year, and our plans had to change. I’m sure that most people had to learn to adapt in many ways this year because of the pandemic. For us, a traveling ministry family, traveling was somewhat hindered and ministry looked different. I would rather not complain about it, I have ranted and complained enough this year…

Instead I will talk about hope, and briefly review what 2020 was like for our family(We are a semi-nomadic family of 7, traveling part-time in our 36ft. RV for ministry).

Here is the brief review:

January – Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, for ministry.

February – A quick trip to South Carolina to visit the Billy Graham library/museum (amazing and inspiring) then to Georgia to check out a missions program for our daughter Jessica. Ministry in Louisiana and then Texas.

March – Ministry in Texas, visit with my parents who were work-camping there, covid hits America, starting with the toilet paper shortage…(oh my goodness)

April – Ministry in Oklahoma, back to our home in Indiana.

May – Jessica finishes High School, her graduation is online, we participated in our living room with grandparents.

June-December – It’s a blur because of the pandemic, it feels a bit like one long day on repeat in some ways. However, we were able to minister in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, and return home in between ministry opportunities. We went to a wedding in July, had a big birthday party for our Sophia in August, and made a quick trip to D.C. in October. We have spent time with family over the holidays, but everything has been a little bit different.

So, what does hope have to do with this year? Well, when things don’t go our way, sometimes it is hard to hope. It’s easier to expect the bad, and this year has been exhausting in many ways and full of disappointments. It’s hard to have hope for 2021 and beyond. But hope is vital. Too many people have become hopeless and discouraged, depression has been wrecking lives all across the world, with some even tragically turning to suicide – we must have hope. But how?

I think hope is a choice. Just like love is a choice, and faith is a choice. Sure, some people are easier to love than others, and some things are easier to believe than others, and some things naturally make us feel more hopeful. But ultimately we choose what we will love, and believe in, and hope for.

If hope is a choice, that means that I am the one in control of my feelings. I can choose to hope, or I can choose to despair.

So, let’s talk about hope. The phrases come to mind, “That gives me hope” or “I’ve lost hope” and they paint the picture of hope as a thing, something given or something lost.

Hope as a gift. But even if it is a gift, you have to choose to accept it, you can reject the thought of hope when it comes to mind. You can weigh the risk of being delighted by hope against the risk of being devasted by disappointment and choose to reject the thought of hope.

Hope lost. If hope is something you can loose, you can try to find it again, or you can give up your search. When hope is lost, despair, the opposite of hope is waiting to embrace us in darkness.

Misplaced Hope. We are hopeful about something, or we put our hope in something, or someone. But if we put our hope in something or someone that is not reliable, where does that leave us? Disappointed. So, I’m not suggesting that you put your hope in just anyone or anyone. It is important where you place your hope.

From where does my hope come? My husband gives me hope and fills my heart with love, my kids give me hope for the future with their bright smiles and fantastic ideas, every sunrise and sunset gives me hope for tomorrow, when winter changes to spring and then summer and then fall and then winter again, I have hope that life goes on.

But ultimately, above everything else, even when times are bad and everything seems to be falling apart, I have hope in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We just had Christmas, which reminds me of the beautiful, amazing story of a Savior born in the most unlikely of places in a pretty terrible time. Isn’t that just how God does things? He births hope in the darkness, in ways that we would never think up.

I can place my hope in Him, He is worthy of it. He never fails. I will choose to hope in Him, no matter what.

Hope gives strength. When living with disappointment, or in discouraging or difficult times, the gift of hope gives us strength and courage for tomorrow. Here are some great quotes about hope:

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” – St. Augustine

“Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” – Helen Keller

I will leave you with one of my favorite verses about hope.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

Thanks for reading along! I hope this new year finds you filled with hope!

If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, or more about this Jesus that gives me hope, go to www.kpministry.org

Sometimes Plan B is Epic!

We were supposed to be in Hawaii. We bought our tickets in June, and with Covid greatly affecting the world, our airline tickets were miraculously cheap. I had high hopes that surely, by the end of October, things would open up and we would be able to go and minister for the 4 weeks that we had planned. That was Plan A, and when things continued to look grim, our hopes of Hawaii faded, my son asked me what we were going to do if we could not go to Hawaii.

“Sit at home and cry for a month.” was my initial, somewhat sarcastic response.

We didn’t really have a Plan B. But, through a series of events, a plan B developed. (We were able to get a full refund of our flight tickets and the deposit for the house we had reserved, that helped take the sting out of not going.) We had been watching the “Let Us Worship” Events on Social Media for months and we were inspired by the passionate worship and revival atmosphere that came through our phone’s screens. They were planning a huge event in D.C. on Oct. 25th, and we were going.

So, on Thursday, Oct. 22nd, when we were supposed to leave for Hawaii, we left for Washington D.C. instead. My sister and her family of six bought an RV and joined us for this adventure. What followed was an Epic weekend of worship and adventure that made us forget all about our trip to Hawaii.

What could be more fun than a last minute adventure to our Nation’s Capital? Taking your little sister and her family. My sister is larger than life, and life is never boring if she is around. Her husband is her perfect match, steady and mellow. I’m so glad they came with us, and of course, my kids were stoked to have their cousins along for the ride!

D.C. Day 1

On Saturday, we drove from our campsite into the city. Our first stop was David’s Tent. They have 24/7 worship and prayer in this tent set up on the National Mall, and it’s been going on for 5 years!! What an amazing place! I don’t even know how to explain the thick presence of God that was in that place. I wanted to stay there, like, bring me a sleeping bag, I’m moving in. Were we setting ourselves up for disappointment, hitting the most epic place first? No. It was all amazing and epic. But, if you go to D.C. go to David’s tent.

They had a special emphasis on evangelism in David’s tent, encouraging us to share our faith with people in D.C. We left there and walked along the National Mall, shared our faith along the way, and prayed for anyone who would let us. Covid restrictions/timing did prevent us from going inside the Washington Monument, but it was still impressive walking along the outside of it.

We also stopped by the World War II Memorial. It honors the 405,399 American soldiers that died or went missing during World War II, what a sobering thought, to think of the lives lost for the freedom of others. The monument was much bigger than I realized, and it was really unique in that it was very kid-friendly and interactive. The fountain where the kids could stick their feet in was a special treat. By the way, the weather was perfect, high 70s in October? Yes, please.

After the memorial, we trekked back towards the “Let us Worship” stage because we heard about communion happening there. We joined in with about 1,000 other Christian “pilgrims” who made this journey to D.C.

After communion, and some singing, we decided to check out a restaurant my sister and her husband were excited to revisit from a past (pre-covid) trip. It’s a long story, but let’s just say the restaurant was less than excited to see a group our size (13 people). But, all was not lost, in the same neighborhood, we ran into a lady street preaching with a megaphone. She was awesome, we stopped and talked with her, she encouraged us to say something about God with the megaphone. So my sister and Matt preached to the neighborhood, it was such a cool moment, and I was too caught up in it to even get a picture!

We decided to head out of downtown in search of a restaurant for dinner. After a few failed attempts, and with the help of a friendly stranger, we found the Silver Diner, Yum. Late night dinner with a wild group. After this fun and eventful day, I was tired and ready for sleep.

D.C. Day 2

The excitement of this day had been building up inside of us, and not even the cold rainy weather, nor the complaining of a few of our beautiful children could dampen the joy in our hearts! We started the day at the Supreme Court where we were a part of one of the largest prayer gatherings at this location in history! Praise and worship, prayers of repentence, and prayers of hope for a future without abortion filled the air outside of the Supreme Court. It was a beautiful historical moment and I felt honored to be a part of it.

After getting quite wet and chilled, we decided it would be best to go back to the RVs to relax and regroup before the main event started at 4pm…

Back in D.C. we were able to get a wonderful spot saved for the “Let Us Worship” Event. The rain had slowed to a drizzle and our blanket spread on the ground stayed miraculously dry.

The Let Us Worship event was 4 hours of worship, prayer, dancing, and some encouraging words from Lou Engle and Jentezen Franklin, among others. I have been to plenty of outdoor concerts, this was different than that. It felt more important, it felt historical, it gave me a fresh dose of hope for Christianity in America and for humanity in general. I hope that this is what the future of Christianity looks like for Americans. Not some watered-down version of the world’s brand of entertainment, but the coming together for the express purpose of worshiping our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

^^Watch the full film release here^^

D.C. Day 3

Today was a history day. After saying goodbye to my sister’s family, we went back into D.C. to explore the various monuments and a Smithsonian Museum.

Our first stop was the Lincoln Memorial. It did not dissapoint and was just as huge and epic as I had hoped.

We left the Lincoln Memorial and walked to the Vietnam Memorial. It hit me harder than I thought it would. Just seeing the individual names listed like that was so sad. To think about the individuals that those names represented was incredibly sobering.

From there we walked past a couple different statues honoring the soldiers and the nurses of the Vietnam War.

We then walked to the Korean War memorial. It was very striking and eerily lifelike.

We then drove our car over the The Smithsonian Museum of American History. I love museums and this one features various aspects of American life – innovations in travel and food, pop culture, and iconic memorabilia from the Presidents and First Ladies. The war section was closed and so we will have to save that for another visit. I especially enjoyed seeing Julia Child’s kitchen, an interesting display about shipping containers, and the different clothing displays from the Presidents and First Ladies.

After our museum exploration (for free by the way, thank you America) we visited David’s Tent one last time. We then drove around our Nation’s Capital and noticed, sadly, the after effects of some of the recent protests and the police preparing for more potential protests and riots. It was disheartening to see that unrest in the midst of what had been a most epic, and very positive adventure for our family.

Thank you for reading all about how our Plan B ended up being Epic and hopefully someday soon I will get to tell you of our family’s adventures in Hawaii! I hope you all are having great adventures!

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

4 Great Family Spots in Southeastern Indiana (and Kentucky)

Indiana, what a great state. There are so many little gems to see and explore. Small town charm is really a thing, friendliness adds to the experience when exploring a new place, and thanks to the smallish size of our state, each new Indiana adventure isn’t too far away!

Over the course of a month, our family visited several places in Southeastern Indiana. Versailles, Madison, and Vevay, specifically, with a short day trip over to Kentucky tucked in. My husband ministers at different churches every week, and as a family we travel there by RV. We were in this area of the state for about a month overall. But, you could easily visit all the places mentioned in one week-long trip or a few of the stops in a weekend.

 

1 – Versailles

For our first stop, we camped at Versailles State Park and met some extended family at the Ark Enounter in Kentucky (about an hour or so away). Versailles is marked with great trails and a beautiful lake. Normally they have a water park but it was closed due to covid. We enjoyed “trail 3” which crosses a creek a few times and has a beautiful stretch of stone “pavement”. Hiking is such a  great family activity. Even if the kids start out complaining, at some point they start to enjoy being in nature and exploring. Or maybe I am just pretending that they enjoy it because I am enjoying being in nature.  But hey, I pack snacks and they like that.

We also drove over the iconic red covered bridge into the small town of Versailles, Indiana. We have been coming to minister in this area for over 4 years now, how have we never explored this cute town? I love architecture and this town had some very interesting buildings, in some ways the downtown reminded me a bit of New England. We stopped at “Pat’s Bulk Food” downtown and bought some goodies for later that evening. Yum!

2 – Clifty Falls State Park/Madison, Indiana

Just south of Versailles Indiana, about 45 minutes or so, is the lovely historic town of Madison Indiana and Clifty Falls State Park. What a great combo! History and shopping, camping and hiking, I bet you could please almost everyone if you payed this area a visit.

We spent a day hiking the trails at Clifty Falls, and only covered a portion of them. The trails are extensive! Of the state parks that I have visited in Indiana, Clifty Falls is my favorite. Beautiful and challenging, these trails are no joke. But, even if you are on the less than fit side (like me, sadly) you will find some trails that you can enjoy without passing out from exhaustion.

As you can see, we had way too much fun at the Nature Center…

Madison sits on the Ohio River and it carries the history of a booming river town in days gone by. I love the old houses in this town, they are beautiful, and some have the same architectural style as homes that we have seen in Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans – interesting.

We spent an afternoon shopping in downtown Madison. Our first stop was the “Lumber Mill Antique Mall” and it was a hit with the whole family. The older girls and I enjoyed walking through most of the clothing shops. We all made a stop in at “G.H. Coffee Company” and my youngest was very impressed with the seating area and loved, in particular, the window seats. We also stopped in at “Scoops Ice Cream Shoppe” where our younger ones received a very generous helping of ice cream.

 

3 – Vevay, Indiana

Named after a quaint mountain village in Switzerland, Vevay Indiana is the county seat of Switzerland County. While not mountainous, the town is nestled between the lovely rolling hills of southern Indiana and the Ohio River. It has many of the same features that we love about Madison Indiana, similar architecture, history and cute shops, but it is a bit smaller, and I would argue that the small size only adds to its charm.

Over the past few years we have made the trip down to Vevay Indiana to hold revival services at Vevay Assembly. During these trips we have enjoyed exploring the town and staying at the campground right along the Ohio River.

Vevay is loaded with history and one of our most memorable historical site visits was to the old jail on the courthouse lawn. It was a bit creepy if I’m being completely honest. Thinking about being a prisoner or even the jailer in that place all those years ago led to some interesting conversations.

 

4 – The Ark Encounter (Williamstown, Kentucky)

We visited the Ark Encounter while camping at Versailles State Park, but you could make the trip from any of the campgrounds in this post. We met my parents and sister and her family and made it into a cool (homeschool) fieldtrip to start off the school year. Noah’s Ark did not disappoint and I highly recommend making the trip. I also recommend going through the week to beat the crowds.

There was so much information to learn and read about. I particularly loved the scale model inside the ark that showed how things may have been laid out to accomodate for practical things like food, water storage, and waste removal. There were plenty of things for the various age groups, and videos to sit and watch when we were tired of walking.

The kids really liked the petting zoo area outside and the amazing playground.  They were also very impressed with the shuttle bus ride from the ticket counter to the Ark.

At the end of our exploring we shopped at the Answers in Genesis Resource Center. Science and History books from a Christian perspective? Yes, please. It was a great day.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures in Southeastern Indiana (and Kentucky). I also hope you are able to go and visit some of these places as well.

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

Thinking of Homeschooling?

(Updated May 2022)

Are you thinking of homeschooling your children? Great! Read on friend.

We have been homeschooling for 11 years now, our oldest daughter just graduated, and we have 4 kids to go. I would like to share with you some homeschooling basics. I will also be listing some great resources at the end of the blog for more information. The thing about homeschooling is that because it is so individualized, what works for us may not work for you, and vice versa. But that is also the beauty of homeschooling – an education tailored to your family’s needs and your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. I hope these tips are helpful to your family as you find your particular homeschooling style.

Tip#1. Relax, perfection is not required

Try your best, of course. Be perfect, no, because you can’t. I always try to remember that we all have strengths and weaknesses. One child may excel at Math and hate English, and that’s ok. They still have to learn to multiply and use correct grammar, but they don’t have to be perfect.

This goes for the parents too. Somedays I will get up, have prayer/Bible reading time and drink my coffee before anyone is awake and I feel like supermom. On other days, my five-year old is tapping my face and telling me she is starving, so I roll out of bed mumbling while I pour her a bowl of cereal.

This goes for curriculum too. They all will have things that you love and things you don’t love. None are perfect in my opinion. I will talk more about curriculum in a bit.

This goes for your “classroom” as well. If you have the space designated for classroom use, awesome! If not, it will be ok. You would be surprised at the environments in which a person can learn.

If you deal with being a perfectionist, as I sometimes do, practice telling yourself to relax. Be diligent – yes, perfect – no. I know that I’m not doing anybody any favors by being a psycho.

Tip#2. Homeschooling can build relationships and character

If you take this homeschool journey, you will find new ways to work through problems with your kiddos. This can be awesome and it can be really hard. Let’s just talk about Math, for example. Math is a challenge, and it is supposed to teach us how to figure out complicated things – giving important critical thinking skills. While working through this process, the child can also learn how to deal with frustration without freaking out – that’s an important life skill. The parent, in turn, can learn patience and practice kindness – an important life skill. (Our society could use a lesson in these virtues)

When you work through difficult things with your children, you grow closer because you have worked together towards a common goal. Even when I have lost my patience and turned to anger in response to my child’s frustration, I have found that I can turn it into a moment of reconciliation if I humble myself and admit my mistake. None of this is easy, but in the end, I am so glad for the priviledge of teaching my own children, a big part of that is the relationship we have with each other.

Try to remember that you are their parent and their teacher, what they need most from you is love and reassurance, your skills for diagramming sentences and solving math problems are secondary. They will remember how you taught them far more than what you taught them.

Tip#3. You don’t have to know everything.

I have heard from many moms that feel unqualified to teach their own child. I understand this concern, teaching your children can be intimidating. There is the thought that you have to know everything about every subject, but you don’t. In this information age, if you don’t know something, chances are, you can find someone who does. Let’s talk resources.

  • Local homeschool groups – homeschool families working together for support, some offer music opportunities like choir and band, some offer sports or p.e., some do co-ops where a specific topic is taught by someone that specializes in that area(like algebra, home ec, or biology), often field trips are planned with groups like these.
  • Video lessons – some curriculums offer full class-like videos and can be a good option for a subject you don’t feel qualified to teach or if your child just learns better through listening.
  • Online classes – from online tutoring like Kahn Academy to full curriculum options

I have found that if you can teach your child the basics, like reading, and then point them in the right direction, you will be amazed at what they teach themselves and their individual giftings and talents will shine through. I have one child that absolutely loves to read, and she will soak up new information like a sponge, she is an avid studier of the Bible and History. I have another child that hates to read, and does the bare minimum, only when forced, but this child has the habit of picking up new instruments and teaching themselves to play. I have another child that really dislikes Math, but is extremely gifted in organizational skills and loves art.

These individual skills that they have learned have nothing to do with any area of expertise that I have. They have just developed in an environment that encourages learning and a freedom to fail and try again. I have required the basics, and the curriculum we use teaches that, I encourage them to try new things, and I’m often surprised at what they find interesting.

Tip#4. Routine is important.

Flexibility and fun are a big part of homeschooling, and sometimes it is difficult to maintain a routine. This is not exciting, but when you put in the hours, day in and day out, they learn. When you work through those math problems, listen to your first grader painfully sound out each word while they learn to read, review those history facts over and over again, drill those prepositions and adjectives, and diligently work at the monotonous side of school, they learn. It is sometimes exhausting, and sometimes boring, this homeschooling life, but I have found that learning takes time and repetition, and that’s ok.

Tip#5. Fieldtrips and fun, yay!

To offset the everyday, sometimes monotonous routine of homeschooling, go exploring with your kids! There is so much to see and do! Go to the park, go to the library, go to a museum, take a factory tour, take a hike, go places you’ve never been before, return to places you loved as a kid, the opportunities are endless!

If you and your kids need a fun day, put aside your normal work and do art projects together. I am convinced that art is for everyone, and the more you draw or paint, the better you will get. Spend the day trying new science experiments or learning a new song on guitar or piano.

Sometimes we will have a fun/lazy day and watch history documentaries and “how it’s made” shows. This is rare, but nice break.

Tip#6. Rewards and Consequences

Give your kids something to work towards. For some kids, that good grade is enough, they are driven to succeed and enjoy that sense of accomplishment. For other kids, the last thing on their mind is grades, they could care less about their school accomplishments and all they want to do is play and maybe watch t.v. I can’t make my kids love their school work, but I can give them incentives to finish it and give them consequences if they don’t.

Here are some ideas:

  • Develop a “merit system” using play money that they can spend on prizes monthly or quarterly
  • Reward speedy, quality work
  • Reward good attitudes
  • Develop a consequence system for unfinished work or bad behavior(for example, no t.v. until work is completed, no phone for bad behavior, etc.)

Tip#7. Teach what is important

What is the most important thing to you? Teach that to your kids. Teaching my kids about Jesus is the most important thing I can do. The Bible is the most important truth I can teach my kids. This reflects in the curriculum we use, how we choose to spend our time, and (through God’s grace) how we treat each other. Make Jesus the most important, and everything else will fall into place.

Thank you for reading along in this blog about homeschooling basics, I hope it has been helpful to you. I pray that you enjoy your new homeschooling journey!

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

Here are some links to super helpful info about homeschooling:

Indiana Association of Home Educators (This website is a great resource for Indiana folks!)

Curriculum we use: Accelerated Christian Education

Other Curriculum options and other homeschool info: Great Homeschool Conventions

Homeschool legal defense association ( I recommend joining, it’s affordable and will help you to be aware of any requirements in your state, etc.)

Homeschool laws by state