Happy New Year, friends!
Can you believe the calendar has rolled over again? It seems like we were just ringing in the beginning of 2017, and here we are celebrating *eating too much* again. For us, this is that special time of year that we spend some time living in a house without wheels. You know, the ones with separate rooms, hot water, and that water/ice dispensing thing on the front of the fridge. All this luxury has got us feeling a little spoiled, so it seemed like a good time to reflect on all the best things about life on wheels.
But first, an update.
Just like we did over the holidays last year, we are currently staying with my godparents near Memphis. Sam’s family met us in Lexington for Christmas, where we stayed at an Airbnb and tried to jam as much memory-making into three days as possible. It was bitter cold, even for Pennsylvanian standards, but we still enjoyed the Kentucky Horse Park, toured the Lexington Distillery, and helped serve Christmas Eve breakfast at a local mission. It was so good to spend time with our people, but the inevitable goodbye rolled around as always. We picked up the trailer from Campbellsville and made our way to Memphis in time for New Year celebrations.
This week we’ve tried to balance catching up on work and recovering from the holiday season at Amazon. The past few months were pretty non-stop as we worked our seasonal jobs and shoved Camp to Camp work in wherever possible. Of course, the time we spend away from camps isn’t our favorite part of the year, but we met some amazing people – hopefully lifelong friends – once again. Those seasonal jobs are necessary and not so bad in hindsight, but I’m certainly glad to be done scanning barcodes for a while.
Overall, we visited 18 camps in 2017. We were in 26 states (and one foreign country.) We drove a bajillion miles (~24,000) and stopped at more gas stations than I care to count. It was absolutely insane, and the prospect of getting to do it all again is overwhelming (in a good way.) Right now, the year ahead is largely uncharted. It’s a nerve-racking way to set out, but looking back on the year we’ve had helps us take a deep breath and know that there is a path laid out even if we can’t see it yet.
On Thursday, we head to Alabama for our first camp visit of the year. The next stop is Florida, where we will meet up with our United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries friends again. We’ll spend some time with family in Florida, and then another camp visit. (Yes, we are trying to stay in Florida as long as possible. Can you blame us?) After Florida, we’re on to a camp visit in Georgia, and praying for something to line up in North/South Carolina. Beyond that, things start to get a little fuzzy, which brings me back to the blessings of RV life:
Blessing #1 – “We’ll figure it out.”
I know for certain that RV life has changed Sam and I, because there was a point not too long ago when the phrase “things start to get a little fuzzy” would have spun me into overdrive. What the heck do you mean we don’t have a plan for March? It is JANUARY. You can’t just drive off willy nilly hoping that everything will fall into place!
Well, no, we can’t. Obviously we are working on solidifying plans and actively seeking camps (literally all the time.) But there is just no way to live full-time in an RV without an element of uncertainty. We have learned to be flexible, trust God, ask for help, and embrace abnormality. Life is weird. It’s unpredictable, no matter what kind of house you live in. But life is good! (I understand those t-shirts now.) Chaos is exhilarating. And, while it’s still scary, we are learning what a blessing it is to say, “We’ll figure it out.”
If you’d like to help us with the figuring it out, our long-term plan for the year looks sort of like this:
Blessing #2 – “If you can park a trailer together, you can do anything.”
Our third wedding anniversary is coming up next week. Sam and I headed out for our very first camp visit on our anniversary last year. I have to admit, I worried at first what a trip like this would mean for our marriage. Our relationship has never been normal (I’ll wait while you laugh); we’ve always had the crazy camp life and don’t really thrive on “alone time” as individuals. Still, I wondered what the stress of travel, constantly being together, and working as partners on the project would be like.
Dang, was I right about the stress. Being married is a challenge on its own, and then we decided to shove all of that into a tin box on wheels AND broadcast it to the world on our YouTube channel. No matter how much you tell yourself, “we’re in love, we don’t need space, we never fight, this is going to be perfect,” life doesn’t work like that. A small space does grate on you sometimes. Being business partners is different than being marriage partners. Creative differences exist even when you’re in love. Backing a trailer into a campsite is a whole new kind of communication. But you learn. You make space for each other. You trust each other. You say, “I messed up and we ran into that mailbox. I’m sorry.”
We know so much more about each other now than we did a year ago. RV life has pushed us to practice our vows every day. We’ve always agreed that love is something you actively choose to do on a daily basis, and nothing will prove that to you more than arguing in rush hour Chicago traffic with everything you own dragging behind you. Even with all the stress it brings, I would choose this experience every time. Being husband and wife rules, and I know we are better at it because of this journey.
If you’d like to help us with the being married, we like going to the movies and eating sushi. (I’m just kidding. Mostly.)
Blessing #3 – “Jesus is THE COOLEST.”
This should probably be the first blessing, but I’m not going to rewrite the blog at this point, so here it is. One of our favorite things about traveling is always being in a new place for church on Sunday. Incidentally, this is also one of our least favorite things. For all the “everyone is welcome here” rhetoric that circulates the Christian community, going to a new church is a terrifying experience. (Right?! Am I alone here?) Every Saturday, I get so excited and research churches for an hour and decide where we are going to visit that week. Then Sunday morning rolls around and my hair looks like garbage and I remember we drive the -ugliest- truck and… things fall apart. I feel judged before we even step in the door. I know everyone is staring at me and silently shaking their beautiful, righteous heads. I can’t experience worship or “fill my cup” because I am too busy FREAKING OUT.
And then He is always there. Not just on those terrifying Sunday mornings, but at each camp when we are petrified of what the staff will think of us. On travel days when we are sick of the car and ready to jump down each other’s throats. Then a lyric comes up on the screen, someone shares how much they love camp, a moment stands still and we laugh uncontrollably – and Jesus is there. I cry (I always cry) and feel indescribable peace. He never lets me miss a moment. When I am cowering into myself and carefully spreading mortal on my brick wall, He says, “No, you’re going to miss it. This is why you’re here.” Those are the moments that fill your soul. The whole journey is worth it because you were there, in that place you had no other reason to be, and you didn’t miss it.
In other words, Jesus is the coolest.
I could count way more than three blessings of RV life, but I think I’ve counted enough to get myself excited to be back in the camper. I can’t wait to see how the rest of our schedule shapes up and what moments stop us in our tracks this year. We appreciate all your prayers, and as always, we would love to hear from you! What are some of the blessings you can count today?