The Key Thing We Learned in Las Cruces, NM (RV Series #2)

Our journey began on Saturday morning, January 18th at 4am, less than 48 hours after taking possession of the RV. No practice drives or testing the systems, we’d be doing that on the road. We were hoping to methodically organize and stow all of our belongings onto the moving house over several days and then meander our way from Dallas across the panhandle of Texas and parts of New Mexico on our way to Arizona. But the ice storm that hit the eastern part of the US in early January grounded our rig at the manufacturing plant in Indiana forcing us to shove clothes in drawers and hit the road in record time. There were golf tournaments scheduled within seven days of our arrival into Phoenix, AZ. All this rush for golf?

You see, our oldest son, Blake, opted not to return to Baylor after his freshman year. He didn’t flunk out but his grades prevented him from receiving his scholarship and the lack of funds caused some soul-searching. His heart was fixed on golf and our West Coast RV trip seemed the perfect fit for swinging clubs during the winter months. He was determined to play an amateur tour and see if he had what it took. We supported his decision.

That makes the official count at two adults sleeping in the master bedroom and sharing the master bath. One adult man-child, one teenaged boy child, and one teenaged girl child, sleeping on two bunk beds and a sleeper sofa, and sharing the second full bath. Oh, and don’t forget Dixie, the white Maltese, and Cookie, the brown Yorkie, sharing a kennel.

Our course was set: 12 hour drive from Dallas, TX to Las Cruces, NM for an overnight and then another 7 hours from Las Cruces to Phoenix, AZ. We had RV park reservations and our destinations were entered into the RV Trip Wizard app. With iPhone alarms set for 3:15am, we collapsed into bed at 11pm.

The drive was smooth. Continue reading

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Living in Never Land (RV Series #1)

“I’ll never make my kids go camping.” Words I uttered as a 14 year-old girl after spending two weeks with my family in a pop up camper without electricity or running water. “Never!” I said. Well, you know where this story is going.

In the summer of 2013, we felt God prompting us to tour the USA…with our kids…in an RV. Really God? We like our spacious home with walls and doors. “We will never camp,” I repeated, pleading for options:

  • Maybe, instead, we could raise money for a new church in our neighborhood.         We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, I could coordinate Vacation Bible School for all protestants.               We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, we could proofread algebra books, solve for X without pay.          We will never camp.
  • Maybe, instead, this RV trip wasn’t about camping at all? And all-in we went.

Actually the RV trip could solve a dilemma. Continue reading

A Toolbox for Christmas

I eased up on the gas pedal as I approached the stoplight. A choice lay before me. Turn left and drive north toward the airport where I could board a flight to anywhere. Turn right and follow my husband and son south toward home where I’d be forced to deal with the horrors dealt to me.

Her words were grinding in my head like oil and vinegar swirling about in a food processor, mixing together but not blending, and separating again due to their inability to stay conjoined. It’s December twenty-third and Christmas shopping isn’t on the agenda today. Or wasn’t until the doctor suggested it while sitting on the bench outside the elevators.

She spoke matter-of–fact after the grueling six-hour mental health evaluation, “On your way home today, stop by the department store and buy one of those heavy-duty, red, metal toolboxes. Keep it on your kitchen counter. Lock up everything you consider a weapon. Wear the key on a long string around your neck twenty-four hours a day so you can control its access.”

Gripped in fear, I clung to the steering wheel, systematically considering the weapons in our home. Continue reading

Things I’ve Learned on the Ranch

Dream of owning a ranch? Wish you lived amidst a picturesque setting with 360 degree mountain views? Know what it takes to maintain 99 acres? Here’s what I’ve learned seven months into our ranch ownership journey:

  1. 99 acres seem small when you’re driving but much larger when walking.
  2. My kids hate when community members tell them that ranch work builds character.
  3. Bats are black, creepy, milking mammals, live 20+ years, migrate south in August.
  4. Critter guy that eradicates bats, mice, and cluster flies is my new bestie. Continue reading

Honey, Grab the Checkbook

Gut-wrenching. Peace. Torture. Peace. Heart-break. Peace. I’d describe 2011 as the year that God swaddled me in His peace amidst gut-wrenching decisions, physical and mental torture, and complete heart ache and heart-break. The year 2011 bore much pain within our family, yet, the most miraculous thing occurred in my husband’s heart. He decided to test God according to Micah 3:10. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

My husband has been a small business owner for our entire marriage. We do not receive a bi-weekly paycheck. We do not receive a monthly paycheck. For many years, we scraped by on very little so we could re-invest back into the company. When you’re unsure about the timing of your next bank deposit, it’s hard to commit to ‘bringing the whole tithe’. We’ve discussed tithing to our church over the years but didn’t see eye to eye on the issue. Continue reading

Clean Traveler

Geez, Louise, I’m tired. I don’t even know a Louise but I’ve referred to her for years. Why am I tired? I’m 72 hours away from boarding an airplane and traveling puts me in a tizzy. Well, not the traveling, but the leaving, the preparing, the cleaning, the getting things in order before I travel.

Prior to every trip, I prepare my home and my life as if I’ll never return to it. Am I crazy? I do it to myself every time. I want everything in order. I want beds made, bills paid, dry cleaning dropped off, bathrooms scrubbed, items returned to stores, credits issued, filing done, magazines sorted/recycled, laundry washed/dried/folded/hung, floors swept, flowers dead-headed, fridge shelves wiped clean, rugs vacuumed, burned out light bulbs replaced, socks darned, blankets knitted, the homeless fed, healthcare reformed, everything in its place. Every time. Every trip. Without fail.

My motive is morbid. Continue reading

Finding Myself at a Book Signing

Sometimes, you just gotta indulge yourself. And I did. One Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, while watching The Pioneer Woman cook before me on The Food Network, appeared a TV commercial advertising her book signing appearance that afternoon in Denver. No Way, I thought. Today? I had no plans. Why not?

Frankly, I didn’t know a lot about her, this Pioneer Woman. I’d recently begun taping her cooking show on Saturday mornings but didn’t visit her blog/website until that morning. I browsed through her blog posts providing myself the necessary information to call myself a fan. Turns out, Ree Drummond and I have a lot in common: we both live on a ranch, we both have four kids, we both blog, we both homeschool, we’re both married, we’re both women. We are soul sisters, soon-to-be best friends.

I hit the shower, mapped the location, and insisted that my own two homeschool kids tag along for the adventure. We drove 30 minutes to the West side of Littleton and entered the bookstore 1 1/2 hours before her appearance. The organized bookstore staff assigned me a group number and line number upon my arrival. Group ONE, number 78.

“How many people are y’all expecting today,” I asked, looking around the store.

“Several hundred,” the clerk replied.

The 77 place holders before me gathered around the two large screens set up in the center of the store, each holding hardbound books. I was empty-handed. Heart racing, I grabbed one of her cookbooks, her real-life romance story, and her recently released children’s book, Charlie the Ranch Dog, and scooted into the crowd facing the screens. With nothing but time on my hands, I sat on the cold, concrete floor and thumbed through the cookbook making small talk with ladies around me. As I flipped the full-color cookbook pages, one particular woman beside me reviewed each recipe aloud over my shoulder often referring to yummy concoctions in Ree’s other cookbook. With time on my side, I switched out the children’s book for the other cookbook and returned to my concrete seat, thankful I had arrived early as newcomers held numbers in the 600’s.

Continue reading