February 28, 2016
I will write this blog as a letter to share with you all that has been happening. I feel l have countless thoughts and learning moments I’ve been realizing as I begin the RVing journey. Where to begin? How did we ever come up with the RVing idea?
Through the years, I have become a firm believer that God prepares us in our journey of life through every experience we encounter along the way. I’m tempted to share the many ways God has worked in our lives to bring us to this day, but I’m afraid you’d get lost in the stories. Forgive me as I’m a lover of details, but I’ll try to keep it to the point.
When we first moved into our home in Princeton, we had spent the first six years of marriage moving around a bit. Okay, a LOT— it was our 9th place to live at and 6th place of owning. That is a story in itself, but I’ll sum it up quickly. We were always in pursuit of country living. Unfortunately, every attempt we made bounced us back to metropolitan life. So, we decided that perhaps being on the north side of the cities, and in a township with our own septic was as close are we were going to get for a while. By the time we found this home, I had learned that a home does not have to be grand; be only as large as your family is comfortable living in without being crowded. I no longer cared about granite countertops, tile floors, or jetted tubs. I just wanted something that had a short commute for Joel, two toilets, and three bedrooms. Oh, space for the piano and a yard for kids to run around in was also a must have. This home wasn’t the dream home in our minds, but we bought it because if fit our criteria with a few extras. It worked and it got us out of the parents’ basement. Most importantly, I prayed to God that once we were settled that we would have one year without moving somewhere and no major life trauma, just to have one year of peace. I teased Joel that the next time I moved, the children will be old enough to do the moving themselves. I was done. Fortunately, God granted us eleven years in one home. What an awesome God we have! He well surpassed our desires and bathed us in His lovingkindness. It was as if He said, “You only asked for a year of rest, but I can do so much more.” Rest at last.
That brings us up to about three years ago when Joel was laid off from his job. We had seen the writing on the wall that it was coming soon. The company had been having financial trouble and we knew Joel’s job elimination would be a big savings to the company. Joel and I decided to just hang in there until the end. We felt that there was a reason why God had him there and to look at it as a ministry for the time being. There was a huge feeling of relief when that day came. Joel could have picked up another position very quickly, but when he went to an interview, he could hardly walk through that door. It seemed that every place nowadays were requiring 60 to 70 hour work weeks. If we were to stay in Princeton, he would be looking at an hour commute one way every day on top of that. It would just throw him into a worse situation where he would miss what was important in life—his family and his ministry time with youth. He turned the offer down. He just couldn’t do it and I agreed with him. There must be another way to live.
For several years, we had previously been working some investments regularly on the side. We worked as a team. I would complete the transactions during the day while Joel did the research at night and manage stuff on the weekends. Now that he was home full time, Joel kept thinking of how to make a living off of that. After much research and calculations, we decided that if we were frugal for a while, our strategy would work. That was the first time we didn’t live off a steady weekly income. We were “free” from the traditional working world at last. I never felt guilty that my man was finally home. Our family was finally making up the time that was lost due to the demands of the job. I absolutely love it. Also, that transition really made me realize how truly dependent on God we are. It’s so easy to take a paycheck for granted and forget how God provided that opportunity to earn a living in that way. I’m glad that the job transition came first, so the RVing transition will be less of a shock.
After growing accustomed to working from home, Joel and I started to ask ourselves the question “What keeps us in Princeton?” We homeschool our children and as long as there was internet, Joel would be able to provide. We were both fully involved in youth ministry, had a larger dog, parents nearby, renters to tend to, and the extended family was having health issues that warranted our attention. We felt that there were too many tent stakes that kept us there. But, we did think about the idea of taking trips to show the children the country.
We started toying with the idea of having a travel trailer; but we didn’t take it too seriously until last year. It started out with our beloved dog of 14.5 years dying. Then Joel’s Dad passed away in that spring. By the end of summer, several ministry changes at our church were happening. We started to question if it was the right time to travel more. Within a week of a large ministry change, we received notice that one tenant was moving out. In the past, we had said that we would try selling the rental property when that one particular tenant moved on. It was reality. We knew at that point that God was very quickly pulling up all of our “tent stakes” that kept us in Princeton. It all happened far too quickly to be coincidence. (Mom and Dad, I will miss living close to you. Those were wonderful years. You are the only remaining tent stake that remains.) My parents are often snowbirds, being gone for several months in the winter, so should we stay when we don’t see them all the time? We realized that God had granted us a short window to travel with the children before they grew up. We knew we needed to take advantage of it, so we made the decision to get a 5th wheel travel trailer even though we’ve never even owned a travel trailer before.
Many people travel around and still have their home. Why would we decide to sell our home and live in a trailer full-time? We started thinking about the maintenance, taxes and utility fees just to have a home. A house is not an investment. It is a liability. Would we really enjoy our travels as much if we had to think about the house? Did we really want to come back to mow the grass? Do we really want to concern ourselves with the chance of pipes freezing? How often will we have to call on neighbors and family for favors in our absence? Yes, there are ways around those issues, but why have something that doubles monthly living expenses that we wouldn’t even be using and enjoying much? Logically, it just makes sense.
One of the hardest parts of this decision is not knowing where we will live when it is all done. Will we ever decide to own a home again? Probably, but we are not going to put a timeframe on when that will happen. After being gone from this area for a while, we probably won’t ever come back to Princeton to live again as most of the family is elsewhere. It feels like we are closing on a chapter of our lives and not knowing where we’ll land at the end of the next chapter. I trust God that just as He made it clear for us to break out of our Princeton life, He’ll show us what we will do next. It is for us to follow as God directs our paths.
Even after a decade in our home and many fond memories in it, we still see a home as just a place to stay in the meantime. We really feel our home is in Heaven. That is the true place where we are accepted; where we belong. Yes, we will always have wonderful memories of Princeton, but it was time to simplify life. It was time for a radical change. It was time to go.
Until we meet again,