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/