When I was thinking about doing a year in review post the first thoughts I had were pretty negative. It was not a normal year, and our plans had to change. I’m sure that most people had to learn to adapt in many ways this year because of the pandemic. For us, a traveling ministry family, traveling was somewhat hindered and ministry looked different. I would rather not complain about it, I have ranted and complained enough this year…
Instead I will talk about hope, and briefly review what 2020 was like for our family(We are a semi-nomadic family of 7, traveling part-time in our 36ft. RV for ministry).
Here is the brief review:
January – Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, for ministry.
February – A quick trip to South Carolina to visit the Billy Graham library/museum (amazing and inspiring) then to Georgia to check out a missions program for our daughter Jessica. Ministry in Louisiana and then Texas.
March – Ministry in Texas, visit with my parents who were work-camping there, covid hits America, starting with the toilet paper shortage…(oh my goodness)
April – Ministry in Oklahoma, back to our home in Indiana.
May – Jessica finishes High School, her graduation is online, we participated in our living room with grandparents.
June-December – It’s a blur because of the pandemic, it feels a bit like one long day on repeat in some ways. However, we were able to minister in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri, and return home in between ministry opportunities. We went to a wedding in July, had a big birthday party for our Sophia in August, and made a quick trip to D.C. in October. We have spent time with family over the holidays, but everything has been a little bit different.
So, what does hope have to do with this year? Well, when things don’t go our way, sometimes it is hard to hope. It’s easier to expect the bad, and this year has been exhausting in many ways and full of disappointments. It’s hard to have hope for 2021 and beyond. But hope is vital. Too many people have become hopeless and discouraged, depression has been wrecking lives all across the world, with some even tragically turning to suicide – we must have hope. But how?
I think hope is a choice. Just like love is a choice, and faith is a choice. Sure, some people are easier to love than others, and some things are easier to believe than others, and some things naturally make us feel more hopeful. But ultimately we choose what we will love, and believe in, and hope for.
If hope is a choice, that means that I am the one in control of my feelings. I can choose to hope, or I can choose to despair.
So, let’s talk about hope. The phrases come to mind, “That gives me hope” or “I’ve lost hope” and they paint the picture of hope as a thing, something given or something lost.
Hope as a gift. But even if it is a gift, you have to choose to accept it, you can reject the thought of hope when it comes to mind. You can weigh the risk of being delighted by hope against the risk of being devasted by disappointment and choose to reject the thought of hope.
Hope lost. If hope is something you can loose, you can try to find it again, or you can give up your search. When hope is lost, despair, the opposite of hope is waiting to embrace us in darkness.
Misplaced Hope. We are hopeful about something, or we put our hope in something, or someone. But if we put our hope in something or someone that is not reliable, where does that leave us? Disappointed. So, I’m not suggesting that you put your hope in just anyone or anyone. It is important where you place your hope.
From where does my hope come? My husband gives me hope and fills my heart with love, my kids give me hope for the future with their bright smiles and fantastic ideas, every sunrise and sunset gives me hope for tomorrow, when winter changes to spring and then summer and then fall and then winter again, I have hope that life goes on.
But ultimately, above everything else, even when times are bad and everything seems to be falling apart, I have hope in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We just had Christmas, which reminds me of the beautiful, amazing story of a Savior born in the most unlikely of places in a pretty terrible time. Isn’t that just how God does things? He births hope in the darkness, in ways that we would never think up.
I can place my hope in Him, He is worthy of it. He never fails. I will choose to hope in Him, no matter what.
Hope gives strength. When living with disappointment, or in discouraging or difficult times, the gift of hope gives us strength and courage for tomorrow. Here are some great quotes about hope:
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” – St. Augustine
“Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” – Helen Keller
I will leave you with one of my favorite verses about hope.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Thanks for reading along! I hope this new year finds you filled with hope!
If you would like to find out more about our ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, or more about this Jesus that gives me hope, go to www.kpministry.org
So we spent some time in Colorado recently. As a wonderful perk,
my parents drove out from Indiana to meet us and explore for a week. Apparently
we were not the only ones who thought of Colorado as a great summer
destination, it was a bit more crowded than I remembered. We have visited
this beautiful state three times now, once in the winter, to ski with family
and friends, once in mid-August and this last time it was in the middle of
July. I was very surprised to see the difference in crowd size from July to
As a traveling homeschool familiy we have
fully taken advantage of the perks of visiting places in the off season. I
should have planned out this trip a little better, and booked some campsites in
advance, it was very difficult to find a last minute campsite for two RV’s and
Colorado is not a dry-camping friendly state.
In spite of my poor forsight, we had a lovely
time in Colorado. There is a reason it is so crowded, it is
We started our visit with my parents at the Cheyenne
welcome center in Wyoming. It was a great spot to meet and plan the week
ahead. Wyoming is super relaxed about boondocking, we drycamped with my
parents in this parking lot and picked up some supplies at the Walmart in town.
We knew that we wanted my parents to
experience Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park so we were able to find
a campground somewhat close to that area. We stayed at Eagle Campground at
Carter Lake. We found the sites to be spacious with just enough shade to help
keep us cool.
As soon as we got checked into our sites we
made the trek to Estes Park. Going down Hwy 34 proved to be much more
scenic and curvy than we thought it would be. Big Thompson River winds through
the rocky canyon right along the highway. There were lots of people fly fishing
and lots of things to see along the way We were happy to get out and stretch
our legs in the scenic and somewhat touristy town of Estes Park.
Back in 2016, we had made the trek to The
Rocky Mountain National Park, once there we drove on Old Fall River Road
through the park. It is a crazy, hairpin, unpaved road that leads to the Alpine
Visitor Center. My parents have been hearing about this exciting road ever since.
My dad was so excited to drive it for himself, I think my mom was
second-guessing her decision to come out and visit the mountains with us!
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you ask my
mom), the Old Fall River Road was still closed for the season. We took the
still-scary-but-paved Trail Ridge Road to the top. We found out that altitude
changes are no joke, some of us were feeling bad up there at 11,000+ feet. Matt
and my dad took two of our kids up the 120+ steps to the peak.
We drove around a bit more, enjoying the
scenery and anticipating to see wildlife when the sun began to set. We were not
dissappointed. On our way back down Trail Ridge Road, we saw a herd of over 100
elk! They were pretty used to tourists, people were approaching them and
everyone was taking pictures. It was a magical moment with these beautiful
creatures at the top of the mountains.
We got back to our campsite pretty late, and
we decided it would be nice to spend the next day at the camp with no driving.
We spent a few hours on a rented pontoon boat on Carter Lake, it seemed to be a
perfect solution to the extreme heat.
The next few days we stayed in Loveland at the
fairgrounds. We explored a few places by car from that location, including a
nice church on Sunday; Focus on the Family, Garden of the Gods, and Cave of the
Winds in Colorado Springs.
We decided to head even further south in
Colorado and stayed at Lake Pueblo State Park. Special shout out to my mom for
persevering and calling many campsites and finding one that had available
space! Thanks mom for letting me revert to my childhood and rely on you to do
all the grown up stuff. Did I mention that Colorado Springs is exceptionally
crowded in July and it was impossible to find a campsite there?
Lake Pueblo State Park is very nice. Most of the
sites have lake views and all of them are spacious and have lovely views. We
were sad to hear from the camphost that someone had drowned in the lake the
same day we arrived and were warned not to swim in the lake. This information
along with the 100 degree weather helped us to decide to do indoor, air
Matt found some interesting things to do nearby so
the next morning we set out for the Royal Gorge. We stopped at some antique
shops along the way in the cute town of Florence. The Royal Gorge is a pretty
spectacular sight! There is a fantastic suspension bridge over the gorge,
apparently the Empire State building could be placed in the gorge and there
would still be 10 feet between it and the bottom of the bridge! We drove
up to see the gorge, and walked along some of the trails at the top, but we
didn’t actually go out on the bridge. Several in our group are a bit terrified
of heights, and that, coupled with the fact that they were charging $28 a
person, made it easy for us to say no thanks.
On our way back to the campground we decided to take
Skyline Drive. It is a short drive with steep dropoffs on both sides. There are
some cool dinosaur fossils along one portion of the road.
We had such a great visit with my parents, we
have been driving so much this summer, so it was nice to be in one state and to
take the time to explore, and to be with family.
Thanks for stopping by and reading along about our adventures in Colorado!
If you would like to find out more about our
ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org
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!
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.
We have enjoyed visiting many campgrounds/rv parks over the past few years all across America. Some have been amazing and some have left us disappointed, but rather than just listing the top ten, I thought it might be a good idea to just talk about what we did and didn’t like at the places we have stayed. As a disclaimer I will add that amenities and public bathrooms are not that important to us, we spend most of our time exploring outside the campground, and our bathroom is in the RV.
This campground is located on the
Mississippi River in West Memphis, Arkansas. I was super excited to stay at
this campground because of its name. Tom Sawyer is of course, the well known
title character in one of Mark Twain’s classic books. He also is my dad! Yes,
my dad is named Tom Sawyer. For as long as I can remember, my dad has been
having a wonderful time with introductions:
Dad: “Hello, what is your name?”
New Person: “My name is _____________, what
is your name?”
Dad: “My name is Tom Sawyer” (pause
for laughter and amusement) “and this is my wife Lisa, and our daughters,
Nadine and Celia.”
So, I was excited to stay at this campground and
you might say that this review will be biased because I was already pretty
impressed with their name choice.
We were not familiar with
the city of West Memphis, and so finding the campground was somewhat difficult.
You could blame it on our navigator app, it decided to take us the fastest way
possible, which meant driving through back neighborhood streets and industrial
areas, we really thought we were lost until we saw the sign pointing us to the
campground. Driving along the road toward the campground was only a
little better, their campground sign could use some refurbishing, or else they
were just embracing the rustic look, it was a bit swampy and if it had been
dark out, we(ok, probably just me) might have felt scared. At last we found the
campground and there was a little cabin building where we checked in. A
friendly worker helped us out and we noticed they had a small gift shop with
Tom Sawyer swag.
The grand Mississippi River could
not be missed, and I would say that all the campsites had a pleasant view. It
was an overall peaceful setting.The Campground appeared to be well maintained –
grass mowed, plenty of trashcans, clean public areas. There were small
cabins in the camping areas with restrooms on one side and a laundry area on
the other- small but efficient. Bonus! It was FREE to do the laundry!
The RV sites:
The sites were set at an
angle and felt spacious to me. We were not camped directly by the river, but it
was not crowded so we had a lovely view. I would think that even if it had been
full there, it would not have felt crowded. I think they offer wifi, but
honestly, we didn’t use it, so I cannot comment on the quality or speed. We
have a small antenna from Walmart that attaches to our window, and in areas
like this, next to a large city, we pick up a lot of channels. The sites were
level and had full hookups.
A Special Surprise:
There was not a playground,
but they had something quite unique – treehouses! What?!?! So, as we came in we
noticed there were two treehouses. We didn’t know if these were a rented out
thing, or just for anyone to explore. I asked the lady at the front office
about the treehouses and she said they were remodeling them. She gave us permission
to go inside them and asked us to be careful – they were pretty laid back I
The first one had a ramp that we walked up, and
it looked like a giant tin can, but more awesome. The second one was a more
traditional tree house, and I guess you could say it rekindled our fear of
heights! The treehouse adventure was such a memory maker, and I am curious as
to whether they are renting them out now.
We really enjoyed staying
here, it was not super cheap, but about midrange for the area. I am sure we
will return again someday. It was a good spot to stay and explore the city of
Memphis. And of course, I brought my dad back a t-shirt and some other
random stuff with their logo on it.
Thank you for reading this Campground Review by 7Nomads!
If you would like to find out more about our
ministry, Kingdom Pursuit Ministries, go to www.kpministry.org