Following Clouds

I'm always amazed at how God leads us to a passage of scripture that so clearly sheds light and life into a particular situation or struggle.  Many of you know what I'm talking about.    The past year, we have been on ancient world history which has included the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and ultimately how God led them to the promised land. We even built our own tabernacles (picture). 

This [lego] guy is resting in his booth at Succoth.

The arc of the covenant (back in the holy of holies) even has mini jar of manna, Aaron's staff, and the ten commandments in it.  The items in the front room are the lampstand, the alter of incense and the alter for bread.  Each of the children made their own tabernacle complete with tents surrounding it labeled according to the position of each tribe of Israel. 

After watching younger kids play "wandering in the wilderness" for a couple of days, it was not hard to imagine being an Israelite (as a full-time RV family), completely dependent on the Lord, sometimes questioning the decision to leave civilization and all that is familiar, to step out in faith into the complete unknown and going to unfamiliar terrains. 

One night, late last fall I'm feeling rather discouraged because we've had agendas and plans and things are not happening as expected. I've since learned this happens alot in this lifestyle.  We were staying in the backyard of the church which was great, but getting cold and  WE wanted get to Texas.  We had some repair issues on the RV that were not getting resolved.   On one of those "what in the world are we doing?" wide awake nights, God gave me a very clear but unexpected word as I opened the book of Numbers (originally thinking it would be more of a counting sheep effect).   Here is what I read: 
 

Numbers 9:15-    Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire.  So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night.  Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.  At the command of the Lord the children of Israel would journey,and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.  Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle, the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not journey.....vs 23 At the command of the Lord they remained encamped and at the command of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord.... 
 


People often ask us why we are doing this. I have to remind myself as well. Our vision or direction with this was primarily to position ourselves to learn how to listen to the Lord and not be bogged down with stuff so much that we can't respond to what he asks of us.  We planned to be in Texas early winter but through circumstances beyond our control we were not. I can't tell you how many times our itinerary has changed or re-routed but we have learned to be unmoved by it because we know that we journey by the command of the Lord, not by our own decision. 

Quite often the things that we get discouraged by are meant to realign us from our will into God's will.   Most of the winter we stayed in the midwest (with RV in heated storage) and looking back (now that we are in Texas) I could name many reasons that we needed to stay during that time (relationships needing healing, opportunities to share the love of God with certain people we would not have met otherwise, chance to organize our storage unit better to make finding needed things smoother...  list could go on and on).  

James 4:13-15 says  "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, "if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

So if you were to ask us where we are going next, I guess you might say, we are "following the Clouds".  

Does This Big Ten Camera Man Look Familiar?

I just bought my first camera.  It took me a year and half to save enough money.  In the same week I got my camera, I went to a  Iowa Hawkeye Basketball game in Carver Hawkeye Arena with my mom.  I was taking pictures of the video cameras more than I was taking pictures of the game.  As I was taking pictures of this cool Big Ten Network video camera, the guy running it said to me,  "come on over here... You can run it."   Through his headset microphone, he said to the guy on the ground floor that there would be a kid running the video camera for awhile.  It felt really fun to control this big video camera.  I could see myself doing this for a living someday.  

 

A Look Back---Reflections on Stuff

Most would find it a challenge packing for 8 people going on vacation for a week.  It often will take us several hours to prepare for a day-long family outing!

As we found, it takes an ENORMOUS amount of thought, organization  and CREATIVITY to pack everything needed for living life on the road.  And may I add...fitting it all into about 250 square feet of living space? Cooking gear and food, clothes (not too much, not too little), music gear (trumpets, guitar, portable piano), business/office needs, recreation, medicine chest, bedding and home school (now road school) books for 6 different levels.  How did we do it?  Still tweaking that one and will be for awhile I imagine. 

Going from this...

To this...

Sorting stuff. Weeding out stuff. 

Giving away stuff. Storing our stuff. 

Selling stuff! Packing up stuff!

AHHH... enjoying to freedom of LESS STUFF and more time! 

This is what went in to the RV for our first leg of the adventure...or at least some of what we put in!!!

Since our initial journey we have had another opportunity to downsize and have reduced our posessions by about 75% from a year ago.  What a freeing feeling.  Too much "stuff" leads to unnecessary weight and burden.  

First Day

Now our RV launch day comes. We plan to not go until there is a place for everything and everything is in it's place. Work schedule and campsite reservations dictate that time is up, we have to go.. 

James has worked around the clock for the past week and done an amazing job packing each section of the RV, making sure we have what we need for who knows how long.  Then I come along with my big piles of “maybe I will need” stuff that is left on the driveway which  still must get in somehow.   We pray like crazy that this will all work out and we are off..

It wasn’t the picturesque first day in the life we dreamed of for the past four years. 

Many “bumps in the road” delayed our travels to our first destination.  We ended up going down winding country roads in an intense thunderstorm through the pitch blackness of southern Wisconsin---putting us at our first destination at 11:00pm.

What should have been a four hour journey took eleven hours.  After difficulties with the car pull unit the whole way, childhood motion sickness, getting stuck in difficult parking places,  trying to find blankets, bandaids and ginger---and dealing with storm fears from the children all night until 5:00 am.  

Of course we cannot forget the "ready to play" toddler who slept most of the way to the campground who thinks night time is play and eating time!

As we started the new day there was admittedly an unspoken apprehension of “what on earth did we just do?”  

We’ve been thankful however to have been through enough trials in life to know the promise of Isaiah 40:30-31 to be true:  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;  they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” 

Our great adventure has begun...

The day is crisp with a feeling of great anticipation. We had just become homeowners of a different kind. Our home for this adventure would be a home on wheels. A small space to live with an ever-changing backyard. A dream that started about four years ago had at last come to fruition.

For Deb and I this was simply a natural continuation to the way we have lived our marriage and raised our children. We have always valued our time together as a family...often jealously guarding it against the tyranny of the urgent. We have enjoyed the pleasure of home schooling all of our children from pre-school on.  Living life together in a small space on the road was an exciting idea. We love being together and learning.  Working together had become our lifestyle.

The road to this day has been a challenging one. At many times the dream seemed so far off and so impossible. There were huge financial barriers,  the issue of letting go of our community that we currently lived in, missing friends and family as we would travel.

However through it all we have been focused in prayer and working together to reach this goal. Here we are. So this begins the journaling of our great adventure...

---James