Sunday, May 21, 2017

RV Life

Now that we are back living in an RV, we thought we might share some tips for anyone who is considering this lifestyle.

1. First off, get rid of anything you haven't worn in a year...(better yet 6 months)...because you will find out quickly how very little storage space you have. You will end up packing the storage space you do have with so much clothing that you will never see the things that end up toward the back of cupboards and drawers anyway. Most of your previous wardrobe will become lost forever. You will quickly adapt, learning to wear the same things over and over. Having no washer and dryer, you will also learn how many times an item of clothing can be worn before washing. (This number varies between the male and female RV'er.)

2. You will soon find you have a lot of extra time on your hands. With such small living quarters and no yard maintenance, the hours in your day seem to multiply. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on where you are parked, and what there is to do nearby. You will also find looking through your cupboards and closets to locate things takes up a lot of your newly discovered time. Your mantra soon becomes "I know it's in here, somewhere..." and rarely will you locate the searched-for item on the first try. Do not despair. You are sure to remember where you put it at some point, usually during the night when you no longer need it.

3. We like to come up with little nick-names for other people in the park. We don't do this to be mean, it just helps identify the people around us in conversation. Example: Instead of saying "The people in the Airstream" we simply refer to them as "the Twinkies." You will find there are "Twinkies" at every park. Different people...yet very similar...and they seem to have their own secret club. (This is a club in which we will never belong, since one of us cannot even stand up in an Airstream.) We do admire their shiny metal exteriors from afar.

We like to call the people who have the nicest RV, matching outdoor chairs, BBQ, matching rugs, canvas hats, canvas vests, matching shorts..."the Patagonias." You will often find them (when they aren't out hiking) cleaning up around their RV. Mr. Patagonia can usually be seen on a step ladder cleaning the windows of their $100,000 rig, sometimes daily. We find the Patagonias to be friendly, but not overly. I choose to believe that it isn't because they are judging us...but only because they have much to do keeping their beautiful new RV sparkling.

4. There is always one person in the RV'er relationship who rises up as the "leader." Some would call him bossy, but for the sake of keeping the peace, let's say "leader." This person is very helpful with many suggestions about how things should and shouldn't be done, throughout the day. Especially anything in the kitchen or cooking realm. I have found ignoring the "leader" can be helpful in maintaining one's sanity.

5. Learning to sneeze without yelling is something that can be practiced before setting out on your RV adventure. If not, you might alienate any possibilities for future pleasantries with your neighbors. You may even alienate your co-RV'er to some extent. Yell-sneezing and RV life just simply don't mix.

6. Showering is an art, depending on your RV amenities, such as size of your hot water tank. If it is on the small side, your best bet is to get wet, turn the water off, soap up, turn water on and rinse. Be warned that the water usually turns back on cold, and has to heat up again. Yelling after being caught under a cold tap is frowned upon. Shampooing hair is also tricky, but it can be done applying the same method as above. Go easy on the conditioner. The hot water tank isn't that large, and remember yelling is frowned upon.

7. Bugs can be an issue. You will find different bugs at different locations. It is nice to have 2 fly swatters, so each person has their own. Keeping the screen door closed is most effective. Reminding your other RV'er to close the screen is a fun activity that can help to utilize the extra time.

8. Cooking is a learned experience also, depending on your particular set up. The more of your cooking that can be done outdoors, the better. Whatever you do cook indoors will likely permeate your towels and clothing with it's sumptuous aroma.

9. It is nice to have an ice chest to fill with beer and other drinks you would like to stay icy cold, since your RV refrigerator won't be too spacious, and also won't keep things quite as cold as you are used to. This might surprise your co-RV'er the first time he tries to drink a less than ice-cold brew...and complaining will ensue. Better to be prepared with that ice chest than to endure this...for the next half hour.

10. Finally, resist the urge to begin drinking early in the day. The danger of RV life is that cocktail hour becomes the focus. It is a nice and relaxing part of the day, but if abused you can leave the realm of full-time RV'ers and enter into the realm of "old homeless drunks" in which case RV life will lose its glamour. Self-control and restraint must be used in the area of alcohol and also snack foods. It may take some time to find your perfect balance. Resist the urge to monitor your co-RV'er in these areas, your loving suggestions could cause animosity. Remember, tight quarters require tight-lips.

This concludes today's tips. We are less than 2 weeks in, on our current adventure. We will revisit this subject as we grow in greater knowledge and experience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, and the one of us who knows everything and is always right will be happy to help.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pioneers

Years ago, we made a decision that altered the course of our lives forever. We were sitting in our home in the country, the one Craig had rebuilt and added onto over the course of 20 years. We loved it, and finally it was exactly how we wanted. The boys were grown and gone...and here we were in almost 3,000 square feet of perfection, on over 5 acres. We could picture ourselves growing old there...sitting in our rocking chairs on one of 3 porches, and enjoying the beautiful country views. But...was that what we really wanted? Did we want to settle in and be porch rockers? Or did we want some adventure? We chose adventure, and what an adventure it has been!

Grant's wedding day
 

We sold the farm and moved into Eugene. Oh the comments we heard from our Junction City friends. "Eugene? You're moving to Eugene? Why, it's so...liberal. There are so many hippies and strange people! I could never live there!" We would smile and assure them that we were looking forward to a little diversity and adventure in our lives.

We found the perfect house, almost half the size of the farm house. But it had a huge back yard and total privacy, which was a must-have as we were used to our no-neighbor lifestyle. It was perfect! We bought bikes, and explored the bike paths by the river close to our house. We rode all over Eugene, exploring the neighborhoods and waving to those "strange" people we were warned about. We loved living so close to downtown and all of the culture...and great restaurants. We bought a hot tub for the back yard, and really settled in. Again. Until...the company Craig worked for closed down. What? Oh no!! There were no other jobs in the Eugene area, so we put our house on the market while he looked for employment, and found it, in Portland. Portland! Talk about a big move! What will we do? Get an apartment until we see if the job works out? What do we do now? Lord?


Our Anniversary on Sunnyside

   
Well, we had recently purchased a little 5th wheel for travel and camping, and there it was in our driveway. One day we looked out the window and thought "We could live in the 5th wheel!!" It was a brilliant idea. We would have our own space, and we would be able to scout out the land up north while he figured out if his new job would work for him. So, we sold our little house, bought a storage container and had it parked on a lot we owned, put all of our worldly goods in it, and headed up north to another adventure.


Our little Sprinter

We had driven around looking for RV parks in Portland...an expedition which reduced me to tears. Trust me, there was a bit more diversity than we were quite ready for. RV trailers with tarps for roofs, pit bulls chained up outside guarding the pile of empty beer cans. A lifestyle I couldn't quite imagine. But, I tried to be open to anything, and "I will do this if it is what You're asking of me, Lord..." became my mantra. Then we (literally) happened upon a beautiful RV park on the Sandy River. Someone had just vacated a spot right on the river, and we took it! Oh it was such a wonderful place to live! We spent the first summer enjoying the river...friends and family came to visit and enjoy it with us. It was a great time. Until...Craig's job started turning into a different job than he'd signed on for. He was working 12 hours in a sweat shop. This was not what we'd signed up for. He began looking for employment elsewhere.

The commercial printing industry in Portland seemed to be as dried up as Eugene. He broadened his search and found an opening in a little Mom and Pop shop in Medford Oregon. Medford? We had only ever driven through there on our way to California...what was it like? After taking a trip down to investigate, we fell in love with the area and he accepted the job...taking a huge cut in pay and benefits. We decided it would be worth it, and since we lived in a 5th wheel, we wouldn't need much.

Off we went to Southern Oregon. After staying a couple weeks right on I-5...(I mean, it sounded like we were parked in the median)...we found a beautiful little mobile home park near Jacksonville that also had RV spaces, and one opened up for us. Moving there was heaven after our time on the freeway. It was a 55 and over park, and we barely made the cut. We enjoyed a wonderful season there, exploring Jacksonville and Ashland and everything southern Oregon had to offer. Our little "camper" was getting a bit tight, so we bought a 40' 5th wheel. It was amazing...sunken living room, washer/dryer, big kitchen, two comfy recliners and a sofa bed for guests. It was everything we needed, and life was good.


Our 5th wheel upgrade

Still...we looked at real estate. Because that's kinda what we do. Oh how we love houses! We found a beautiful mid-century modern that reminded us of the houses we remembered growing up in California. The price was right, and we decided to go for it. What a great house it was! We had 3 guest rooms plus a basement apartment. We filled that house with friends and family. We settled in again...

The Love Shack
The Berkeley house in Medford



But after a couple of years of Craig's being laid off every Friday, our savings was about gone and we knew we had to do something. We were nearing retirement age and needed to be planning for our future. He began to look for jobs again, and found one in Vancouver Washington. By this time we had already sold our big, beautiful 5th wheel because it was taking up precious space in our driveway.So when he found a job in Vancouver Washington, we decided we needed to find another RV to live in. This time we wanted to try out a motor home. Craig happened to find one about a mile away from where our kids lived in Springfield Oregon. We bought it, and began again the arduous process of drastically downsizing into an RV.

Winnebago

Our soon-to-be home again


We made our way up north, and back into the RV park on the Sandy River. But alas, it was winter, and while we were familiar with the high winds that can whip up through the Columbia River Gorge, we weren't prepared when one day the wind blew a wooden picnic table into our RV. Craig came home from work and saw that it was blowing the roof off, and we had to quickly pack up and get out of there!

Coming over the river into Vancouver, we stayed a couple of nights in an over-packed RV park while we looked for another option. We settled in a motor home park which had a few RV spaces. Craig worked, I walked and prayed and we looked at houses online. It took a long time, and finally our search brought us to our beautiful little home right across from the Washougal River.

Washougal house


Washougal River


We have enjoyed just over 3 years here in Washington. Our little house has been perfect, hosting many gatherings with family and friends. Once again, we are living what seems like the "good life." But wait. Just when we got the house like we wanted it, we started to explore the possibility of "early retirement"...could it be possible for Craig to retire at 62? How would we live? Would we have enough money?

We explored the possibility of an RV lot at the coast. We love the ocean...but alas, the cloudy wet days do get to us.

One day, while my hubby was perusing properties for possible retirement, he happened upon a little town just outside of Yuma, Arizona, called Wellton. And he also happened upon a great deal on a little house there. That week, the very week before Christmas, just a few short months ago...we flew to Arizona on a whim, and checked it out in person. It was perfect, so we bought it. Wait, did that just happen?

Casita in Wellton


OK, so now we have a place to live in AZ for the winter months. Where will we live here? Everything is so expensive! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? What about we live in the RV while here in the summer? We have properties we can still develop. We have rentals to manage. We have friends and family. It won't be so bad. Let's put our house out there and see if it sells?

It sold. We listed it on Thursday, and accepted an offer on Monday.

And now...here we are. We have to be out in just a little over 2 weeks.

After our house sold, we discovered our new adventure is going to require a lot more than we first imagined. We discovered that there must be waaaaay more people choosing to live this "snow-bird" lifestyle now than there were last time we did this 4 years ago. We discovered that there are no long-term RV spots available in Washington or the Portland area. We have 2 cars, a truck and an RV to transport somewhere. We have stuff to put back into storage. We have stuff to take to Arizona in the fall. We have stuff to cram back into a not-so-big RV. Stuff, stuff, stuff...(how did we accumulate so much stuff after downsizing so many times?)

We discovered that there are soooo many little details to take care of...like Post Office box, change of addresses and mail holds, insurance, moving stuff, selling stuff, transporting vehicles, selling vehicles, deciding if we will be driving the motor home to Arizona when we go, or a car, or flying, figuring out what we will need there and here, guest accommodations since our little casita has no spare room, wondering how we will live with no income until we get SS in October, what to keep, what to sell, what to buy, what not to buy, where to go in our RV, needing a tow car, bedding, towels, clothes (do I get rid of all my winter clothes? Will I ever get to wear my boots again? What are we doing have we totally lost our minds?????)






Craig's last day at work is next Friday. Wow. This man who has worked 12 hour days, 2 jobs, too many weekends, and faithfully provided for his family the past 40 years is going to be jobless. This is a first.



There is a great big huge unknown stretched out before us. We have learned a few things over the years. Life is an adventure. Truth is, we all have big unknowns stretched out before us. Sometimes when we are secure in our jobs and houses, we think we have things handled. We think we are in control. I'm not sure we ever really are. But adventures make great stories and our lives are all stories...each one wrapped into the bigger story being written by a great big God who loves to lead us every step of the way. We have learned how good He is. We have learned how to hear him, and that He is a trustworthy guide. We have learned that the adventure is worth the work, and worth the risk. We're excited for this next leg of our journey!!! (What am I doing here, I need to get busy!!!!!)








Wednesday, March 15, 2017

No Longer Afraid of the Dark

It's been a really hard week so far. Really dark. I don't know if any of you ever experience darkness, but I do...more often than I'd like. And honestly, way more often than I'd like to admit. That's the thing, isn't it? We love to give testimonies of wonderful things God has done, and how He has answered our prayers. We love to feel God's presence and sing about it and tell about it and enjoy it. All of this is great, and good, and needed. But we rarely talk about the times when we don't feel His presence. Times where it feels like the lights have been turned off and we are left alone in our misery. Sometimes it is physical pain. So many of us who love God and believe He heals suffer with relentless pain. We cry out, we wonder why He isn't answering our cries...and we choose to go on believing that He does heal...and maybe He will heal us some day.

There are other forms of darkness...darkness in the mind. It sneaks up on me out of nowhere...like a storm front coming at us from the west on an otherwise sunny day. Surely it won't land here. There are blue skies and warm sunshine. When the dark cloud comes it feels like such a betrayal. And even though I know the thoughts I'm having aren't really my thoughts, they plummet me..."Maybe I have mental illness. Maybe I will never see the sun again." Dark thoughts that rain down on me and soak me in pain and self-pity. "God, I need you!!! Where are you???"

I think of a technique I saw on some nanny show...where the parents are trying to get their kids to sleep in their beds, to feel secure enough to fall asleep on their own. She has one of the parents sit on the floor of the child's room, in the dark, facing the door. The child is in her crib crying...often screaming...and the parent is to just sit there. The child knows the parent is near. She isn't particularly happy that Daddy isn't picking her up and getting her out of bed. But...ultimately she knows Daddy is near. And after a lot of crying and not getting the results she wants, she finally falls asleep. After a night or two of this training, the child is able to be put to bed in the dark room with little or no fussing.

Over the years, through many seasons of darkness...physical and emotional darkness and pain...God has shown me that He is with me. It may be dark, and I may be crying out and definitely not at all happy with my situation...but He is here with me. I know that now with certainty. I also know that while I don't understand yet...He is training me for something. So in the midst of the darkness, I no longer  fear that He has left me alone, or that He doesn't exist.

I still don't like the dark. But I am no longer afraid. It makes all the difference...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Person

A popular way of saying someone is your good friend, is to say they are your "person". And we all need to have people that are there for us. We all need our people, or in some cases our person. I have been so thankful for the people God has brought into my life over the years. I am so thankful for my dear friends. I'm so grateful to have many people who have helped me do life.

But when I read Job's story in the Bible, I realize that his friends were unable to help him in his very darkest time. They tried, but they just didn't get what he was going through. And I see now that God sets it up that way. Our friendships can only take us so far.

When I went through one of the darkest periods of my life, my best friend was unable to be there for me. And strangely enough, my time of darkness caused her much pain and difficulty in her life. I was unable to turn to her, and she was unable to turn to me. We were both very much without our "person"...and it was really hard. For both of us.

Looking back on that time, we realize that God was in the entire process...the hurt, the struggles, the pain...He was there. And in it all, He was becoming our "Person" in ways in which He never could have if we'd had each other to turn to and rely upon.

There are times, dark and difficult times in our lives, that only Jesus can help us through. He will always reach into our pain and allow us to feel His presence, His love, His strength...and ultimately, He will use those times to prove that He is a friend worthy of our trust. The thing is, people we love will always let us down. Because they are only human. But instead of harboring anger and unforgiveness, remember this:

"And the LORD changed the fortune of Job, when he prayed for his friends; and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." (42:10)


Many relationships have led me to my friendship with Him. I am grateful for each one.

I'm so thankful that He gave me back my "bestie"...though the truth is, she never really left.

It's just that for a season, God needed to show me...show us...that he is the only best friend we need.

Over the years God has multiplied my friendships, and deepened them in ways I never could have...and probably never would have known before encountering true friendship in Him. 

Jesus is my Person.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Political Thoughts

I am not a Republican.
I am not a Democrat.
I agree and disagree with both parties.

I am a follower of Christ.
As such, I do not believe in name-calling or mud slinging.

I recognize that there are Christians who are Republicans, and Christians who are Democrats.
I also recognize that God is not in favor of one political party over another.

I do not believe that Donald Trump is the "answer to our prayers."

I question how we can believe the above while not believing God appointed Barack Obama as president.

I think praying for "our" candidate to win is much like praying for our sports team to win. It is presumptuous to assume God likes one side over the other. I am sure there were just as many people praying for another candidate. Therefore I do not agree with this theology.
I do believe God cares very much about our heart attitudes in the midst of sporting events or elections.

I do not hate President Obama. I did not agree with all of his politics. This does not justify calling him names or posting angry degrading comments on social media directed at him.

I do not hate Donald Trump. I do hate some of his actions. A lot. And because of those actions and also because of his rhetoric, I am not a fan. I will give him a chance while I watch, and wait, and see what actually happens in the next 4 years.

I do not believe that those in the entertainment industry speak for me.
I do not believe most of the posts on social media are unbiased or true.
I am frustrated with the "news" media in general.
I have become quite frustrated with big government, and a government which does not listen to the people it governs.

There are folks who are rejoicing over the new President, and those who are mourning or angry.
I would love to see us all growing in respect for our differences.

I think rioting in the streets needs to stop. I don't believe that those who are peacefully protesting are at fault for the violence. I believe it is a few angry people who have no business calling themselves political protesters. I pray that things will calm down, and we will all feel safe once again.

I do not believe all Muslims are terrorists, I believe most are not. I do hope for a day when those who are not radicals will rise up with a louder voice against those who are. This Muslim anti-terrorist voice needs to be heard...in the same way that the Christian voice should rise up against the actions and beliefs of the Westboro Baptist church and other bigoted so-called Christians.

My heart hurts for the women, minorities, LGBT and all other people who feel unsafe right now because of the things our new President has said and done. I want you to know that I do not condone his words or actions. I pray that things will calm down and you will feel safe once again. I apologize to you for being called names such as "snowflake" and "crybabies" because of your concerns. I apologize that we followers of Christ are not representing Him very well. I apologize that we have not loved you well. I apologize for the mixed message we're sending with every angry, prideful and insensitive post. Mostly, I apologize for our hypocrisy.

I do not agree with the "us vs. them" mentality of many Christian peers who have been caught up in the angry fray of political "sides". I believe Jesus came to break down the "us vs. them" religious mentality once and for all. I believe Jesus came to open our eyes to the truth of our connection with God, and with each other. We are either "us" or no one.

I believe that just as in most of life's bigger issues, the pendulum usually swings really far one way, and then the other...and eventually settles in the middle.
I believe it is our job to continue to walk in love, grace, compassion and respect during these extremes.
I am committed in my desire to do so...because I am not a Republican or a Democrat. 
I am a Christian.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Come To The Table



Look at this picture. 
Now think about our Daddy, God. Now look again. This picture, as precious as it is, says so much. It is so beautiful that it melts my heart.





This is it, guys. This is a picture of us...and the Kingdom...and everything!! Notice how the children are so intensely "helping" Dad. Does he need their help? Of course not! He can build the table. But, because he loves them so much...and because he wants to spend time with them...and teach them...he lets them "help" him build it.

That's what God does for us. Does God need our help building His Kingdom? Heck no! We muck it up most of the time! Still, because He loves us so much, and because He wants to spend time with us, and teach us, He lets us "help".

Isn't it so beautiful? Look at the Daddy. He's right there with them...watching them, but allowing them to do the building. He's there if they need his help. He's guiding. Closely guiding them. He wants them to succeed! But if they mess up, or get frustrated, He's there to comfort...encourage...and envelop them in his love.

This is the Kingdom!! This is life! God doesn't need our help, but He lets us help because He knows it is so wonderful to be a part of building something. It is rewarding. Doing it together strengthens bonds and relationships...with each other and with Him.

Can you imagine if you were to enter the picture in a few minutes? You would hear the delighted squeals of these two children, "Look what we made!!" Isn't that how we feel when we get to help God build His Kingdom? It is so much better than just sitting back watching.

That banquet table He invites us to come share with him means so much more when we understand the part we had in building it. And how gracious of our Daddy to allow us to feel needed! Beautiful indeed!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why Christmas Makes Me Cry



It's 4:30 AM Christmas morning. The house is quiet. I'm sitting here in the glow of little white lights, and the tears just keep coming. What is wrong with me? Why does Christmas make me cry?

The whole story of Christmas, the reason for Christmas, is celebration. We celebrate our history. We celebrate the beauty of a Creator loving us so much that He became one of us so that we could truly know Him. We celebrate with family, friends, food, gifts...we celebrate with joy and laughter.
But I can't stop these tears.

Christmas is perfection. The story depicts perfect love...love that is giving. Love that transcends everything bad in this world and shows us the purity of a heart with no malice, no envy, no hatred...a being who loves without condition. With great abandon, he lavishes love upon every single one of us...old and young...love that keeps giving and reaching and chasing us down.

But love is so often ignored by us...this love that we need so much. 


I'm feeling like the shepherd in the stable on that night so long ago. I imagine my heart would be bursting at the beauty of that moment...this baby, so perfect...so special. I might realize something amazing was taking place, yet not really understand what I'm witnessing. I'd be mesmerized by Him, by this babe in the cradle. While I'd feel frozen in time and space with my feet seemingly glued to the stable floor...there would be something stirring and swelling within me...something making me want to rush out of there yelling to the world, "Come and see!!! Come and look upon perfection! True Love is here!! Emmanuel!! God is right here with us!! Oh come!!! Everything has changed!! LOVE HAS COME FOR US!!" 

Yes, love has come for us. But we're so distracted that we don't even notice.

Love is here. And I want the whole world to know.
I don't want anyone to miss it.

So this is why Christmas makes me cry...