Epic Road Trip to Alaska 2024!!

Back in 2019, our family of 7 drove to Alaska from Indiana. We left late April and were back by August. It was an amazing trip and I had fun writing about our daily adventures and the great distances we were driving. We are making the trip to Alaska again, but this time we are going as a caravan, the tent revival crew is with us!

Read on if you would like to follow along as we venture north, waaaay north, to Alaska!

Day 1 – Newberg, Oregon to Chilliwack, BC; Canada (329 miles)

Red tape stress in the midst of adventure…

Today we left Newberg, Oregon to start our journey across Canada and into Alaska. There are 8 campers total in our tent revival team, but only 5 will be making this epic Alaskan journey as well as the box truck that carries our tent.

We left this morning and encountered lots of traffic in Seattle and the surrounding areas.

At the border crossing, some of us went through quickly and easily, others had their campers searched, and others had to come back the next day with additional documents. The box truck was a bit complicated to get through, but it worked out eventually.

Around 11pm, after several failed attempts at finding a place to stay, we settled in at a Walmart for the night.

Day 2 – Chilliwack, BC; Canada to Cache Creek, BC; Canada (152 miles)

Mechanical stress in the midst of beauty

This day was a day marked with mechanical issues. We only made it to (just north of) Cache Creek from Hope. It should’ve taken us 2ish hours to make that drive, but it was an all-day ordeal.

While waiting for our friends to cross the border, we made a pit stop in Hope, British Columbia, Canada. The kids played at the park, we walked the dogs, and visited a few shops. Unfortunately the tunnels we visited in 2019 were closed due to storm damage.

The highway just north of Hope is beautiful! Steep inclines and curves follow the River through the thickly wooded mountain range. The ride was peaceful for about an hour, then one of the trucks started having trouble… It was stop & go, troubleshoot, repair, for the rest of the day.

Day 3 – Cache Creek, BC, Canada to Burns Lake, BC, Canada (410 miles)

God still works miracles, even on trucks!

The guys got up early to try a few more things on the truck. Matt gathered us for prayer around the truck and then we had some warfare worship. We decide to act on the faith that we would make it to our destination, that the truck would run smoothly. It did!

We made much better time today and covered about 450 miles. There were several stops today to get backup truck parts and extra coolent. We also made a pit stop in Quesnel, BC; Canada. This town offers RVers a great little free dump station and fresh water fill up. It was a busy spot and ended up taking us a while to empty and fill tanks.

Day 4 – Burns Lake, BC, Canada to Dease Lake, BC, Canada (460 miles)

Into the wild…

We started the day with a circle-up prayer outside of the campers before we drove off. Wildlife spotting has increased as we find ourselves in increasingly remote areas. We have seen black bear, moose, dear, a fox, a porcupine, and a wolf today!

Cassiar Highway is truly breathtaking. This remote stretch of British Columbia forced us all to unplug – there is no signal here. We no longer travel with cds, there is no radio station that we could find, we found ourselves driving in silence in this wildnerness and there is something extra special and peaceful that is hard to explain. My heart is at ease, and I am overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of God.

There have been lingering mechanical issues slowing our pace today. However, we were able to make it to Dease Lake for the night.

Day 5 – Dease Lake to (just north of) Haines Junction, Yukon (500 miles)

“You shall go out with joy…”

Waking up today I could feel the physical toll of early mornings and long hours in the truck. I felt a little irritable…

We filled up the water tanks and fueled up for the journey ahead. Our first stop for the day was at Jade City. We really didn’t have time to be making pit stops so early in the day, but we knew that this would be the only opportunity to stop here on this trip. It was a fun stop for the kids and the adults too.

At our second stop for the day, we fueled up at a gas station just inside the Yukon territory. Matt was chatting with the gas station employee who had a terrifying grizzly bear story. He had the scars all across his face and neck to prove it! We will now be referring to him as the Yukon welcoming committee, helping to protect tourists that might underestimate what a hungry bear will do!

While driving along, it occurred to me that it was a waste of time to be irritable. I was in the place we have been anticipating for over a year, and even though I was physically worn out, this place was just as beautiful. So I decided to soak it in.

As we drive along, I remember God’s promise to us years ago…

“You shall go out with joy & be led forth in peace, the mountains and the hills will break forth before you & all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

So, today I choose to go out with joy.

Day 6 – Haines Junction to Fairbanks, Alaska (475ish miles)

Frostheaves and cloudy skies

Today we drove around Kleune Lake and Destruction Bay. The landscape changes drastically here. There are still giant, beautiful mountains, but for some reason it seems like you can see forever, the sky feels bigger. This area is nostalgic for our family because in 2019, on our way back from Alaska, we saw the most beautiful rainbows and big fluffy clouds in these big skies. This time, it looked more like storm clouds off in the distance, in the direction we were driving, and yet the clouds looked colorful like rainbows again.

The frostheaves. I think they are named well, as they make your vehicle heave if you are going too fast when you go over them. Too fast as in 25mph.

This section is tedious and we are thankful for the beautiful views along the way.

Border crossing was smooth and generally uneventful, just as we hoped it would be. We did get a picture at the Alaska sign, of course.

We stopped in Tok to fill up the trucks and some of us gave our rigs a much needed bath. We also stopped in the gift shop for some Alaska t-shirts and such.

This last stretch into Fairbanks was also tedious, and we were all feeling very sleepy…

Day 7 – Rest Day

Tired and Confused

Today we rested. Sleep is good, it is also tricky here with 24 hr daylight. I also had the days a bit mixed up and we start the revival on Saturday, not Friday. We did that to give ourselves more time for the drive, but somewhere along the line I forgot. Sorry traveling friends…

So today we took it easy for the most part. We all had to assess any damage that occured to our rigs along the rough Alaskan Highway. We discovered we would need to repair one of the slides and replace some of the blinds. We also did some cleaning and settled into our spot for the week.

To be continued…

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/

Campground Review – COE Campgrounds

On one of our winter trips to Texas, while visiting in Waco with our pals the Gaines’ (just kidding, I only pretend we are friends, they don’t know us:)) we stumbled across a COE campground. I found the Speegleville COE campground using my handy RV Parky app. I had never heard of COE campgrounds before, but we quickly learned that although the campground was a bit off the beaten path, the extra 10 minutes added to our drive was well worth it for the oasis that we discovered.

Let me tell you why we have fallen in love with the no-frills, all-views, COE Campgrounds! COE is short for Core of Engineers, (technically, the name is United States Army Core of Engineers, but that is a mouthful!) According to their website :

The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. It’s Natural Resources Management mission is to manage and conserve those natural resources, consistent with the ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations. https://corpslakes.erdc.dren.mil/visitors/visitors.cfm

High Quality H2O

So the COE campgrounds are centered around water recreation in some form. This is reason #1 why I love them. Hello beautiful sunrise/sunset! There is just something peaceful and wonderful about looking out over the water. There have always been wonderful water views whenever we have stayed at one of the COE parks. Fishing, swimming, boating, or just hanging out on the shore and skipping rocks with your kids, there is plenty to do along the water.

Wide Open Spaces

Sometimes you roll into an RV park because it is convenient, right along the highway, or maybe you like extra ammenities like cable and free wifi, typically (not always) these convienient types of RV parks are a bit on the crowded side. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particulary love being about 10 feet away from my neighbor’s sewer hose. Reason #2 that I love the COE campgrounds – Very Spacious campsites! These sites are, by far, the largest, most spread out RV sites of any that we have stayed in over the past 4 years.

Bargain Hunters Unite!

You would think that with all this bragging on the great features of my favorite campsites, that I would be trying to justify an expensive price tag. But, I don’t have to because these guys are totally affordable. Reason #3 that I love the COE campgrounds – affordability for families! Like 20s-30s, and if you are a senior citizen, you can buy some sort of lifetime pass and get 50% off! We travel as a party of 7, and sometimes campsites like to charge an extra $2-$5 per person over 2 people, per night. The COE campgrounds we have stayed in allow 8-10 people per site! As a disclaimer, I wil mention that these campgrounds do not offer long term stays – two weeks is maximum in one site. This does not bother us as we are on the move often.

Is there anything not to love?

I feel like I should give full disclosure that as a nomadic family, we really keep on the move. Most of that is due to the fact that my husband is preaching in a different church every week. Sometimes we will be able to stay in one spot for a couple weeks at a time if the churches are close together. Because of this constant moving, we are able to see alot of campgrounds and compare them. Typically if a campground is level and not overly expensive, we are good to go.

We do not tend to look for campgrounds that have lots of activities and amenities just because we are not there long enough to enjoy them. Honestly, we rarely go into the shower/bathroom facilities because we have our own. So, if you are looking for a long-term type of stay with plenty of entertainment, this might not satisfy your desires. If you are looking for a peaceful, no frills getaway check out the COE campgrounds!

Bonus – an adorable visitor

This post would not be complete without mentioning the little visitor who came by during our stay at the Airport Park COE near Waco. According to another camper, this little guy was rescued by a couple older ladies when they saw his mother die after being hit by a car. They were raising him when they were reported for not having the proper license to care for a wild animal. It was decided to drop off the young deer at this local park because it was known that a group of deer lived here. When dropped off however, the fawn went directly to the campsite to be with people, with whom he had an attachment.

He would come by often and visit with us, he was very friendly. We did get to pet him and he had the most beautiful big eyes. Unfortunately he did not love the jumping and nipping from our puppy Oliver and eventually started to attack him with his hooves.

Thank you for reading along as I talked about the COE campgrounds, so far we have stayed at Speegleville Park and Airport Park both in Waco Texas and Millers Ferry Campground in Camden Alabama.

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

I hope you all are enjoying your adventures!

2019 – Year End Review

Our family of seven has been traveling in a 36 ft RV since April of 2016, but this blog is a new thing we have tried this year, so this will be the first time to do a year end review. I enjoy looking back to see where we have been and reflecting about the places we have experienced and the friends we have made along the way. This blog has been a fun way to share about our travels, and I think it will be fun to put together a list of all the places we have been this year.

Sometimes I am surprised at the places we have seen in such a short time. Sometimes I get mixed up with the timeline of things. So, I have put this together month by month, listing the places we stayed, the churches where we ministered, and some Highlights and Crazy Moments that happened.

January – Elwood, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri to Claremore, Oklahoma to Norman, Oklahoma to Waxahachie, Texas

Churches where we ministered:

  • Open Door – Converse, Indiana (Sat-Sun)
  • First Assembly of God – Norman, Oklahoma (Sun-Thur)
  • Revelation Church – Duncanville, Texas (Sunday)
  • The River Center – Tool, Texas (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • Starting out the year at Open Door (the church where Matt got saved as an 8year old boy) has become a special tradition for our family. Not only for sentimental reasons, but because the services are always powerful and, in a way, seem to set the tone for the year.
  • Our old car bit the dust on Christmas Day, someone generously gave us $5,000 for a new car!!
  • Visiting the Blue Whale on Route 66 along the way.
  • Extended services in Norman Oklahoma, there was an excitement present and people were committing their lives to the Lord!
  • Staying for a couple weeks with our dear friends, Randy and Joanna Herndon!
  • Eating super yummo tacos at Taco Suave in Waxahachie!
  • Returning to Revelation Church and visiting with Matt’s old college professor Randy Jones and his cool family.
  • Our kids especially enjoyed playing with the Herndon kids while in Texas.

Crazy moments:

  • Losing our windshield wiper and then burning up our windshield wiper motor while driving through a snowstorm southwest of St. Louis.

February – Cayuga, Texas to Waco, Texas to Dulac, Louisiana

Churches where we ministered:

New Beginnings Assembly of God – Cayuga, Texas (Sun-Thur)

Lord’s House of Refuge – Dulac, Louisiana (Sun-Sun)

Highlights:

  • We were at two new churches this month, both of which were very hospitable and friendly. They both welcomed our family and we truly felt loved.
  • We made our second visit to Waco, Texas, this time staying over for a few nights in a beautiful campground outside the city. Mammoth bones, shopping downtown, and of course, the Silos. This time we even drove by some of the houses featured on Fixer Upper.
  • So much food!!! Southern hospitality is really a thing, these churches loved us with food, we ate so much! In Louisiana, we tried so many new foods, their spices are unique and delicious.
  • Salvations, Healings, People getting more excited about God!
  • We loved listening to the accents of our new friends in Texas and Louisiana.
  • The landscape in Dulac, Louisiana on the bayou was so different and unique, we feel blessed that we were able to explore the area for nearly two weeks.

March – Dulac, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama to Clanton, Alabama to Prestonville, Kentucky to Brown County, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Clay City, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Temple Asssembly of God – Clanton, Alabama (Sun-Thur)
  • Calvary Full Gospel – Prestonville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Holy Chapel of God – Shepherdsville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Discover Church – Indianapolis, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Clay City Assembly of God – Clay City, Indiana (Fri-Tue)

Highlights:

  • 2 revivals in one month is alot, but it was awesome!
  • The pastor in Clanton gave us a tour of his beautiful property – he has an impressive collection of horses and cows, and a cute basset hound.(the cows were my favorite)
  • We enjoyed a short return visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
  • Catching up with pals at return churches is always a blessing
  • Particularly powerful altar ministry time in Shepherdsville Kentucky
  • Celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday party at Brown County State Park, it was a fun family camp out time, complete with an old-fashioned group photo.
  • Matt was healed from his painful diverticulitus that he had been diagnosed with back in Nov.(2018)!

Crazy moments:

  • This was the month where I decided it would be a great idea to start 7nomads, an online t-shirt shop. I didn’t discover until a couple weeks in that there was a blog option included with my online store package. As you can see, the store didn’t make it, but the blog took on a life of it’s own!
  • We discovered, on the way to church in our tow vehicle in the most unpleasant way, that our youngest gets car sick on winding roads…
  • Poor Caleb broke his wrist during the family-campout at Brown County in an unfortunate scooter accident.
  • Speaking of camping – Indiana State Parks do not turn on the water hookups until late-April/May. We should have known that…

April – Elwood, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Argos, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio to Elwood, Indiana to Jasonville, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Grace Tabernacle – Laconia, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Restoration Church – Sellersburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Trinity Assembly of God – Lakeville, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Cornerstone Assembly of God – Elwood, Indiana (Wednesday)
  • Jasonville Assembly of God – Jasonville, Indiana (Sun-Wed)

Highlights:

  • This was a month of preparation for our Alaska trip, it was full of excitement and anticipation, as well as a month of soaking up the love of friends and family. We had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday with family up in northern Indiana and Ohio.
  • A dear friend from Edinburgh set up a get-together, it was wonderful to see some old friends.
  • Powerful worship service at Grace Tabernacle in Laconia!
  • We really felt the love and support of the churches this month as we prepared for Alaska.

Crazy moments:

  • It seemed like a rush to get all the kids’ dentist and eye doctor appointments in this month and last month, plus the extra appointments for Caleb’s broken wrist.

May – Jasonville, Indiana to Urbana, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa to Storm Lake, Iowa to Plankinton, South Dakota to Rapid City, South Dakota to Miles City, Montana to Conrad, Montana to Balzac, Alberta, Canada to Rochford, Alberta, Canada to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada to Pink Mountain, BC, Canada to Muncho Lake, BC, Canada to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska to Denali National Park to Houston, Alaska

Churches where we ministered:

  • The Church of New Beginnings – Storm Lake, Iowa (Sunday)
  • The Oasis Group – Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada (Sunday)
  • Harvest Church – Fairbanks, Alaska (Fri-Sun)
  • South Fairbanks Assembly of God – Fairbanks, Alaska(Sunday)

Highlights:

  • The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, crossing into Canada, making it to Alaska!
  • There is really too much to share about this month, it was amazing!
  • I did a whole blog series for this trip if you want to read more about it: Epic Road Trip to Alaska

Crazy Moments:

  • So.Much.Driving.

June – Houston, Alaska to Anchorage, Alaska to Nikiski, Alaska to Whittier, Alaska to Chickaloon, Alaska to Tok, Alaska to Destruction Bay, Yukon, Canada to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada to Iskut, British Columbia, Canada to Hope, BC, Canada to Seattle, Washington to McMinnville, Oregon to Waldport, Oregon to Crescent City, California to The Redwoods in California to Boonville, California to San Francisco, California

Churches where we ministered:

  • Hilltop Assembly of God – Houston, Alaska (Sunday)
  • Aurora Heights Assembly of God – Nikiski, Alaska (Sunday)
  • Bethany Church – Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (Sunday)
  • Hope Pentecostal Assembly of God – Hope, BC, Canada (Sunday)
  • Family Life Christian Center – Boonville, California (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • Like the month of May, this month was filled with unforgettable experiences, most of which are documented in the blog series “Epic Road Trip to Alaska”, feel free to check it out.
  • Hope, British Columbia was amazing in so many ways – what a beautiful place! Several movies were filmed in this location, and it was easy to see why. The church services were powerful here as well, with the small Canadian congregation and pastor’s family being especially kind and welcoming to us.
  • In this month, we drove through Washington and Oregon, skirting the Pacific Ocean for a couple days. It was beautiful, and we were even able to land an ocean view campsite on my birthday!
  • Seeing (and also smelling, unfortunately) wild seals along the Oregon Coast.
  • The Giant Redwoods in northern California!
  • The Golden Gate Bridge, and other random interesting sites in San Fransisco. I know this sounds overdramatic, but when we pulled out of the tunnel just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and I first caught a glimpse of it, it literally took my breath away. It was spectacular.

Crazy Moments:

  • The drive to Boonville, California. It was beautiful, but also extremely curvy.
  • Driving around Portland, Oregon, unable to find a campground (all booked up and no boondocking allowed around the city)

July – Somewhere northwest of San Fransisco to Fernley, Nevada to Salt Flats, Utah to Brigham City, Utah to Green River, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming to Loveland, Colorado to Pueblo, Colorado to Ordway, Colorado to Colby, Kansas to Kansas City, Kansas to Edina, Missouri

Churches where we ministered:

  • Green River Assembly of God – Green River, Wyoming (Sunday)
  • Edina First Assembly – Edina, Missouri (Sun-Wed)

Highlights:

  • The Salt Flats in Nevada! We didn’t even realize when we were planning this trip that we would be going through the salt flats, so it made for a very cool surprise!
  • We made a small detour up into Idaho so that we could put the sticker on our USA map, AND visit the home of Napoleon Dynamite and friends.
  • Wyoming is a very scenic state, and we quite enjoyed the change to wide open spaces after being in the more densely populated areas in Washington, Oregon, and California.
  • The pastor at Green River took us for a drive into the Flaming Gorge in Utah. It’s almost like the Grand Canyon, but a bit smaller and less crowded.
  • We reconnected with one of Matt’s college buddies and his wife and kids while in Wyoming and they showed us around their lovely state.
  • My parents came out to Colorado while we were there, enjoying a week vacation around scenic Colorado.
  • We also visited with some old friends who live and minister in Colorado. They took us on a trip to Bishop’s Castle near Pueblo, it was quite an interesting place, it deserves it’s own blog posts one of these days…

Crazy Moments:

  • The RV sprung a leak in one of the hydrolic hoses, but it happened when we pulled over checking on the generator that had stopped working. If we had been driving, it could have been very bad, causing a fire or even an explosion. God was watching out for us, as soon as the leak was discovered in a parking lot, the generator started working again. Matt was able to replace the hoses in Wyoming because he’s a stud.
  • Just East of California, we stumbled across a historical marker that told the tale of the Donner Party. If you, like me, forgot this story from your history books don’t look it up and then read it out loud to your children before reading it yourself first. Chilling.

August – Edina, Missouri to Elwood, Indiana to Union City, Indiana to Argos, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio to Columbia City, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Vevay, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Calvary Assembly of God – Union City, Indiana (Sun-Wed)
  • Victory Barn – Edgerton, Ohio (Sunday)
  • Power Surge Tent Revival – Edgerton, Ohio (Sun-Wed)
  • Victory Christian Fellowship – Columbia City, Indiana (Fri-Sun)
  • Vevay Assembly – Vevay, Indiana (Sat-Sun)

Highlights:

  • Powerful altar times in Edina, Missouri.
  • Family wedding in Kokomo, it was great to see everyone in one place for such a joyous occasion after being gone for 3 months.
  • Our first Tent Revival to plan ourselves. We had great support from family and friends, as well as the Victory Barn Church.
  • Great services at the Outpouring Conference in Columbia City with some old friends.
  • We looked at, in person, the lake house that we had been looking at online for some months now, and then we made an offer!
  • Powerful services in Vevay Indiana.

September – Vevay, Indiana to Elwood, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Delphi, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Cornerstone Assembly of God – Elwood, Indiana (Sun-Wed)
  • Delphi First Assembly of God – Delphi, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Northview Assembly of God – Columbus, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Free Gospel Fellowship – Pekin, Indiana (Wed)
  • Faith Harvest – Greenville, Indiana (Friday)
  • Hardinsburg Assembly of God – Hardinsburg, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We bought a house this month! It’s on a lake! We love it!
  • We really enjoyed ministry this month, there were moves of God, and we saw old friends rededicate their lives to the Lord.
  • My parents selflessly helped us move all of our stuff from the parsonage in Elwood to our new home base in Akron!
  • We had a nice time in southern Indiana, exploring Corydon and Louisville, and visiting with Matt’s Aunt and Uncle.

Crazy Moments:

  • Extensive dental work the day before we closed on our house. Ouch.
  • We bought a house! I’m still in shock.

October – Akron, Indiana to Blanford, Indiana to Kingman, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Prestonville, Kentucky to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Grace Tabernacle – Blanford, Indiana (Sun-Tues)
  • Spirit of Life Ministries – Kingman, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Calvary Full Gospel Church – Prestonville, Kentucky (Sunday)
  • Lakeville Trinity Church – Lakeville, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We invited all our family over for a birthday party at the lake house! It was still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors.
  • We enjoyed returning to familiar churches this month, they are open to revival, and are very loving towards our family.
  • We attended two very sweet weddings this month.
  • We were able to visit the Covered Bridge Festival while in the area holding services.
  • Matt preached at his dad’s church this month and we also celebrated his dad’s birthday.
  • Our oldest daughter got her driver’s license this month! We are still trying to convince her that she can drive the RV.

Crazy Moments:

  • Nothing too crazy, just enjoying life, getting used to having our own home base. We did alot of the boring stuff required of grownups: finding local doctors, putting up a mailbox, switching our address.

November – Akron, Indiana to Memphis, Indiana, to Akron, Indiana to Petersburg, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Greensburg, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Columbus, Indiana to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Agape Community Church – Cannelton, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Living Waters Assembly of God – French Lick, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Love Never Fails United Christian Church – West Baden Springs, Indiana (Sunday)
  • River of Life Assembly of God – Petersburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • New Beginnings Assembly of God – Greensburg, Indiana (Sunday)
  • Come As You Are Ministries – Columbus, Indiana (Sunday)

Highlights:

  • We enjoyed returning to these churches this month, some of these pastors are among the first that had us come in and minister at their churches.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with Matt’s family and then hosted Thanksgiving with my famiy at our little home.

Crazy Moments:

  • We did quite a bit of driving this month, traveling on the weekends and staying at our lake house throughout the week. Although it did require more planning and packing, it is starting to get cold, and makes it a little more comfortable to be in the house this time of year.
  • Some crazy guy tried to intimidate and threaten the congregation during one the services this month. The church was prepared, though, and quickly diffused the situation.
Photo credits: Monica Middleton and Celia Fitzcharles (Thanks)

December – Akron, Indiana to Batesville, Indiana to Akron, Indiana to Edgerton, Ohio, to Akron, Indiana

Churches where we ministered:

  • Church on the Rock – Batesville, Indiana
  • The Reformation Faith Ministries – Kokomo, Indiana
  • Safe Harbor Church -Rochester, Indiana

Highlights:

  • It’s Christmastime! It has been fun to decorate our little lake house this year, and we are currently enjoying celebrating the season of our Savior’s birth!

In closing, it seems like this year could be described as “Going, Going, Going, and rest.” Thank you for reading along, I hope you all had a year of your own adventures!

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

Corydon, Indiana Field Trip

We have been back in our lovely home state of Indiana since the beginning of August.  It has been a great couple of months visiting with family and friends, being in familiar areas, and finding new things to explore.  A couple weeks ago we took a field trip to the town of Corydon, Indiana. Even though we are often traveling and exploring new areas, we do have a curriculum that we are going through with the kids’ homeschooling so we do have to carve out special days every now and then where we take a full day and do a field trip.   

     Corydon, Indiana was the first state capital of Indiana and is not only chock-full of historical sites, it is a very charming town to visit. Our first stop on this adventure was the Constitution Elm, where the first constitution for Indiana was created by 43 delegates.  Why were they all hanging out under this tree? Because it was really hot in June and in 1816 the shade of this ginormous tree was better than the inside of the stone capital building. Thank you, Lord, for air conditioning!  Anyway, the tree is dead now, but the very large stump is still there, with a large stone enclosure around it to protect it from the elements, unwelcome climbers, and graffiti. There are many things to learn about the early days of Corydon, Indiana. This website was super informative:  https://townofcorydon.com/town-history/ 

Constitution Elm Corydon, IN

     In fifth grade, we give a special emphasis on Indiana History, and even though we were all visiting Corydon together, extra attention was given to our little 5th grader to make sure she was getting the full Indiana History experience. 

    After visiting the Elm, we walked around the city square checking out the old stone state capitol building, reading the various historical markers, and taking opportunities for photo opps along the way including an interesting chat with Governor Frank O’Bannon (hehehe). Just off the square is the old Governor’s home and The Old Capitol herb garden. We did not pay for a tour of the buildings, but the herb garden was free to walk through, and (bonus!) there were some very informative gardeners tending to the garden. They patiently answered all of my questions about the plants and told us about the common uses for each one.  Apparently, there is a rumor that Lamb’s Ear was used as toilet paper back in the day! (Well, if you have to use a leaf, pick a soft one).

Corydon Town Square

     After all that learning we took a lunch break and then drove out to the site of a civil war battle. This battlefield was just outside of the town of Corydon, we read all the information about the battle, and walked around a bit.  It wasn’t a big battle, but lives were lost and towns were overrun if even for just a little while.  War is scary and I always find myself thankful for the service men and women that are willing to risk their lives for love of country and freedom. 

Battle of Corydon

     We drove back into town to check out the White House Candy Company because we had heard so many great things about it from some of Matt’s relatives who live in the area. They were right, not only was the White House Candy Company totally adorable and stylish, the chocolates were super yummy. Although we didn’t get any ice cream, I am sure we will be back to give it a try. 

White House Candy Co

 We took a short walk down the block and across the street to Zimmerman’s blown glass. This family-owned business is now located in an old Sinclair station. This place was extemely cool. They were not blowing glass when we were there, but they were making batches of glass in their ovens.  A friendly employee/artist was very informative and gave us a quick tour/science/history lesson. 

Zimmerman Art Glass

     We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the town of Corydon – history, science, art, and candy!  Something else brings us back to this area periodically. Matt’s family, the Eckarts, are from this part of the state, and many of his relatives, including Matt’s mom who died of cancer in 2005, are buried in a cemetary close to Corydon. After exploring the town, we drove out to the cemetary and remembered.  Matt was blessed with a Godly heritage and it is a good thing when we can pause and remember these special people. 

   The surrounding countryside of Corydon is beautiful, and if you enjoy hilly, windy roads, it makes for some fun adventures. Just past the cemetary is a really cool road that drives right through a creek. We always try to make a point to go this way and stop the car right in the middle so we can all get out and walk around. It was a fun way to end our field trip.

Fun times in the creek

Thank you for reading along.  I hope you are all having great adventures! 

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

Dear Kansas, I’m Sorry For What I Said About You

Dear Kansas, 

     I’m sorry for what I said about you in the past.  On roadtrips across the great USA it is often necessary to drive through Kansas. So, I have been through Kansas quite a few times. With the destination in mind, it seems that it has always been a rush, with no time to stop and explore. I have been guilty of complaining about the seemingly endless farm fields, flat lands, and wide open spaces.

     But something happened this week, this week we are driving through Kansas with time to spare. Our journey is taking us from southeastern Colorado to North Central Missouri. The trip is about 800 miles and we have almost a whole week to do it.  

     Upon entering Kansas from Colorado, we stopped at the welcome center to enjoy some free coffee, stretch our legs, get a photo with Dorothy and the rest of the Wizard of Oz cast, and pick up a couple of travel brochures. I am a sucker for welcome centers and travel brochures/magazines. Even with my handy smart phone, I find these old-fashioned paper sources of information much more informative and I like the tactile feeling of flipping pages as opposed to staring at a screen.  Anyway, we were able to find some great information about some places that we would stop at later. 

kansas

     We drove a little further into the state and stopped along a rest stop. I had read on my RVParky app that Kansas rest stops offer free dump stations and overnight parking was allowed. The rest stop had a large circle drive past the dump station. There was adequate space for us to park and have a picnic and run around in the yard. It really was a park-like setting and we decided to stay for the night. Thankfully the extreme heat from last week had passed and we stayed cool with our windows open.  

     The next day we made a pitstop at Walmart and then drove on to the town of Oakley.  We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. I didn’t know much about Buffalo Bill apart from his famed wild west show.  Apparently it was near the city of Oakley that William F. Cody earned his nickname after winning a Buffalo hunting competition against William Comstock where he killed 69 buffalo in one day! Poor Buffalo, but there was a purpose for all that hunting – the meat was used to feed the railroad workers.  

Buffalo Bill Oakley Kansas

     We enjoyed taking a few photo opps with the giant sculptures and face-cut-outs of famous western figures outside of the center. Inside the center we talked to the friendly, helpful workers and did some shopping at the gift shop. I found an interesting book about Annie Oakley (but no, the town was not named after her) 

     Also in the town of Oakley is the Fink Fossil Museum, housed in the same building as the public library. This museum has a very impressive collection of fossilized shark teeth and various sea creatures. These sea creatures’ bones and teeth were found right in the middle of Kansas!  I am often amazed that there is no mention of a world wide flood in museums around the USA, as the evidence seems to point to that possibility, but there is only one accepted viewpoint on the history of things and I wish alternative theories were mentioned. Nevertheless, the fossils were very interesting to look at, even if I disagree with the timelines that were given.  

Fink Fossil Museum Oakley Kansas

     In this museum there were also several displays about the local history of that area, including a sod house, a replica of a train station, local shops, an old firetruck, and a nice collection of artwork by local artists. Before we left we bought a few pieces of candy and the nice lady at the counter gave each of the kids a fossilized shark tooth.  

     The area where all these fossils were found is near Oakley and is called Monument Rock. It is kind of like a minature version of the Badlands. Is it terrible that we didn’t actually go and explore it? The kids were much more excited about the playground next to the library, and I figured I had given them enough learning opportunities for one day. Maybe next time we come through.

     We made the trip into Kansas City for some famous bbq. It was difficult to choose where to go, there are so many choices and they all had great reviews.  We decided on Arthur Bryants for pure historical/nostalgic value. Technically they are in Missouri, oh well, close enough. Arthur Bryant’s did not dissappoint. Yum! Everything was messy and delicious.  

     After our bbq adventure of yummyness we spent the night in the Cabella’s parking lot just west of Kansas City (we actually left our RV there while we drove into the city for dinner). This particular Cabella had a wildlife museum and the world’s largest collection of mule deer. It was interesting to see all of the varieties of animals and the large aquarium. It is funny to me that sometimes we seem to enjoy boondocking in store parking lots just as much as a campground.

Cabela Kansas City

     An amazing perk of full-time travel is there is plenty of time to explore small towns all across the globe. Even if you don’t travel full-time, there is always something new to experience and explore if you look hard enough. It is worth the effort, who knows what kind of adventure you will have!

     The lesson I learned in Kansas could apply to other areas of life.  Complaining about boredom is never a good idea. I don’t let my kids do it, so maybe I should take my own advice. I remember reading somewhere the words of one wise mother who would reply to the classic “I’m bored” complaint from her kids “There’s no such thing as boredom, only a lack of creativity.” True.

Thank you for reading along, I hope you are all having wonderful adventures! 

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

Epic Road Trip to Alaska – Week 7!

  This will be the 7th and last week of the series “Epic Road Trip to Alaska”. It was difficult for me to find a stopping point on this series because our life is a road trip, we travel most of the year, and there are always new things to discover and talk about. But, this week we left Alaska, so it seemed a good point to end this road trip series. Honestly, I was a little sad about leaving. Alaska is such a beautiful place, and I have enjoyed documenting this adventure. I did find comfort in the fact that we are going home the long way, going down the Pacific Northwest, an area we have never seen before. I won’t be documenting these travels week by week, but I will probably give some highlights once it is all said and done. If you are just joining us on this epic road trip, be sure to check out Weeks 1-6!

Wednesday, June 12th – Chickaloon to Tok 

     Today before checking out of our RV site at Pinnacle Mountain RV Park near Chickaloon Alaska, I bought some homemade fudge from the RV park cafe and then Matt filled up at their propane station. After talking to the owner, Matt grabs a couple of the kids and walks over with the owner to where she is keeping some baby ducklings that she rescued. There were also a few alpacas on the property, the owner weaves with alpaca wool in the winter season – she was quite the industrious lady!

pinnacle mountain rv park

     We stopped in a little IGA on our route north and discovered why people say groceries are expensive up here in Alaska. I don’t blame the grocery store, I’m sure it is expensive for them to get supplies shipped this far out.

     After our quick grocery stop we drive for a while along yet another beautiful scenic highway. I can’t think of one time on this road trip where I would have been bored with the scenery. I am not exaggerating when I say that around every turn, there was something new and amazing to see!

Rainy mountain view

     We stopped at a rest stop so that I could cook dinner in the RV.  While we were parked, we noticed a man with his two boys, changing a tire on his trailer. It seemed to be taking him some time, so Matt went out to see if he needed any tools we might have on board. Come to find out, the man was removing one of the axles on his trailer.  He was coming from the opposite direction and he warned us that the road up ahead was really bad – it bent his axle.  Matt was able to find some extra-long bolts to help the man attach his leaf-springs back onto his trailer.  

     As we got back onto the highway, we were able to see, first-hand, how that man’s trailer was damaged. There were parts of the highway under construction where the gravel had completely washed out and only mud was left. Thankfully, Matt is an excellent driver and we did not get stuck or damage our RV. It was by far the worst road conditions we had seen on this road trip! 

     After we made it through the road construction, we found a spot just south of Tok, Alaska to park and sleep for the night.  

Thursday, June 13th – Tok, Alaska to Destruction Bay, Yukon Canada

     We have made the loop around Alaska! I remember planning out this voyage and thinking that the triangular-shaped route from Tok, to Fairbanks, to Anchorage, and back seemed so small in comparison to the large state of Alaska. That is only because the state of Alaska is Huge!  As one man at a church we visited told us when we were asking what we should try to see, “If you want to see all Alaska has to offer, it will only take you about 50 years.”  He’s right, there is so much to see and explore, we will have to come back.

     Tok is a small town, but has some great souvenier shops, we stop back in at one of them and pick up some small gifts for family back home. There is also a large gas station with a dump station and RV wash facilities that we make good use of.

      Before crossing the border, we stop at the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge visitor center. We had stopped here on the way in, but it was evening and they close at 4:30. It is open this time, and the kids enjoyed exploring the various educational displays inside the center and chatting with the friendly volunteers who work there. We also went out back and took in the views from the deck.

Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

     We make the trek back across the border and say goodbye to the USA for now. The drive back through that stretch of road that had made us all feel a bit sea sick on the way in doesn’t seem so bad now. We have either gotten used to the wavy roads, or they have done a good job repairing this portion of highway in the last month.  

     As we were driving through this beautiful scenery, I was reflecting on our time in Alaska and the wonderful ministry opportunities we had while there. Up ahead, in the sky is this most unusual and beautiful cloud streaking down across the sky.  It seemed like we watched it for the longest time, creeping closer to it, and then under it. As we passed under it, we noticed a full rainbow arching over us, it was like we drove through it. It was such a beautiful moment.

clouds and rainbows

     We spent the night in the Destruction Bay area. The name sounds like it would be an unpleasant area, but it is a really beautiful area, with the large Kluane lake and huge mountains all around. 

kluane

Friday, June 14th – Destruction Bay to Whitehorse, Yukon Canada

     We have arrived in Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory, Canada. It is a nice city in the midst of the wilderness. Matt will be preaching here at Bethany Church on Sunday. 

     We get settled in and then make a run to the Canadian Superstore to pick up some groceries. This store reminded me of a mix between Aldi and Sam’s Club back home. I have missed those two stores, so I really liked this one – I will talk about it more at the end of this post.

     We went back to the RV hungry and looking forward to homemade pizzas and family movie night. I was busy cooking with our convection microwave and I forgot to turn off the air conditioning when the power went out. Some things about being in an RV full time are inconvient, one of those things is having to think about what sort of power source we have. Matt had just made a comment about not being able to run both things at the same time or we would pop a breaker…

     We were able to use the generator as a backup source of power to finish cooking, but we didn’t want to run it for hours to watch movies. We changed family movie night to family game night. We had a blast, and our son Caleb discovered a new love for the game of Yahtzee. 

     I forgot to mention – today was also our last day of school for the summer!  We homeschool/roadschool so I guess you could say we are learning year-round. But today, we finished up our curriculum for the year(for the most part) so we are looking forward to some relaxing, less-structured days.

Saturday, June 15th – Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

     Today we decided to explore the city of Whitehorse. It is the hub of activity for the Yukon Territory, and people drive in from all over the Yukon to stock up on supplies. There are plenty of things to occupy your time in this city. Our first stop of the day was the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site. This old stern-wheeler was built in 1929 and used to carry silver lead ore and other cargo as well as passengers up and down the Yukon River. There has been an excellent restoration on this boat and it is now open to tours. It was fun and free.

S.S. Klondike

     We picked up some drinks at Tim Horton’s and then prepared for a scenic drive to Miles Canyon. We saw some great little planes docked in the water and enjoyed our drive. Miles Canyon is such a cool spot. As we got closer to the spot where you can get out and walk to the awesome bridge that crosses the canyon, we kept seeing teenagers in prom outfits. Apparently this is a popular photo opp. 

     I am glad they were there as we are all a bit scared of being eaten by a bear. The more people, the less likely we will startle some wild animal. We crossed the bridge and walked the trail a little bit. It is such a beautiful area, the water is a vibrant blue and it looks like the perfect setting for a fairy tale.

Miles Canyon

Sunday, June 16th – Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada

    Today Matt preached at Bethany Church in Whitehorse. This church is very diverse and we enjoyed ministering to all the different people here. The people were all very friendly and made our family feel very welcome.  

bethany church

     After church, the pastor and his family took us to BP’s(Boston Pizza). It was super yummy.  We had a great time visiting, laughing, and talking about Canadian and American culture and politics.  

     After lunch we went back to the RV to have a little nap time. I am not sure why the kids don’t enjoy Sunday afternoon naps, I always think it is a great idea.

     After our nap we decide to go to A&W’s for a little Father’s Day treat. A&W’s are surprisingly common in Canada, almost like Burger King in America. We had some excellent onion rings and Root Beer floats. Don’t ask me about how the Keto diet is going…

Monday, June 17th – Whitehorse to Junction 37

     Today Matt and Caleb took the laundry to the laundromat and apparently I need to be worried because some older lady offered to marry him if he ever got a divorce! She was very impressed with his awesome clothes-folding-skills. Back off ladies, he’s mine.

     Before we leave Whitehorse we decide to stock up on groceries for the week at the Canadian Superstore. We all decide that it would be best if I go in by myself and shop while everyone hangs out in the RV in the parking lot. It is rare that I get to go grocery shopping by myself, so I had a lovely time.  

     The Canadian Superstore was super indeed! I told you already that it reminded me of a mix of Aldi and Sam’s Club, my go-to grocery stores back home. Feeding 7 people is expensive, I am all about saving money, and coupon clipping just doesn’t work for me on the road. 

     I bought so much food, and other stuff we needed, and maybe some other stuff we didn’t need. The only thing I couldn’t find were paper plates. But don’t worry, as a bonus for buying sooo much stuff at this store, the cashier told me at the checkout that I qualified for a free gift – a cute paper plate party set! What!?!?! So cool. I was apparently having too much fun at the Canadian Superstore to stop and get a picture of it, but here is a picture of my deluxe paper plate gift set.

paper plates

     Even though we left quite a bit later than planned because someone spent too much time in the epic grocery store, we were still able to drive for about 260 miles. We found a spot to stay just before Junction 37 for the Cassiar Highway.

Tuesday, June 18th – Junction 37 to Iskut, British Columbia, Canada

     Today we are excited to drive on new uncharted territory for us – we had been backtracking from Tok to this point.  The Cassiar Highway is a much smaller highway than the Alaska Highway and is a bit more narrow, with most of it feeling more like an Indiana County Road than a highway. It is a beautiful drive none-the-less and we spot several more black bear along the highway today. 

     In my limited experience, I would say that British Columbia is the place to see bear. We saw 18 in British Columbia on our way up to Alaska and we saw 5 more today!  

black bears

     We stop at Jade City (it isn’t really a city, but it is the center of the Jade industry for this region). According to the Milepost, about 1 million pounds of Jade is produced each year from the Cassiar Mountains, and about half of that is exported. Jade City was a fun stop to stretch and look at all the large pieces of jade in rock form. We also enjoyed the gift shop and bought some little jade pieces.  

jade city

    Tonight we stay at Mountain Shadow RV park.  If you are going through this area, I would rate this RV park as a must stay! I picked it because they advertised wifi in the Milepost magazine and we hadn’t had any signal since we had left Whitehorse. We were pleasantly surprised that they had fantastic views and our site had nothing between us and those fantastic views! We had a very pleasant overnight stay, enjoying the majestic surroundings.

     I feel like this picture is a great conclusion to this road trip series. It represents what this trip has been for us: an amazing, majestic, and wonderful adventure from the comfort of our motorhome. 

window mountain view

Thanks for reading along with us!

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