Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes: Part 5

I'm sure I've said this before, but being "home" is exhausting!  We do treasure this time.  We need it and we love it, but it wears me out!  Being on the road definitely has become our "normal".  When we're traveling, we are able to have some level of routine and predictability.  When we're back here however, every day is different and super busy!

With that in mind, I thought I'd do "A Day in Our Shoes" post about our times back here.  Of course, this is kind of a silly thing to try to do because there is so very little consistency with each time we're back.  But I can at least give you a little bit of an idea of what our time looks like when we're here.

First of all, where is "here"?

Well, we always tell people home is where our trailer is.  That is definitely true!  For the sake of this post though, you can assume that when I say "home" I'm referring to the greater Seattle area.  My parents and siblings all live north of Seattle and our home church and most of our friends live south of Seattle in Renton.

We usually park our trailer at my sister's house, so that has been "home" for the past two weeks.  We sleep, eat, and do schoolwork in the trailer, but the boys and I spend a lot of our time in the house with my sister and her kids.
What do we do here? - Here's a brief rundown of the past couple of weeks.
5/14 - drive to Anna's (my sister), set up trailer, visit with cousins
note: "cousins" = Anna's kids.  Anna and I work hard to make sure our kids spend as much time together as possible.  I have lots of wonderful memories of playing with my cousins as a child!  Anna and I want that for our kiddos!  So far so good! :)

It takes quite the stack of boards to get our trailer level at my sister's house!
5/15 - spend morning with cousins, drive to Lynnwood to work on recording, dinner my family
Engineer and Producer by day, Guitar player by night ;)

Yes folks, that's me in the studio!  Stay tuned! :)

5/16 - drive to Eastern Washington, stay in hotel
5/17 - do two church services in Eastern Washington, stay in hotel
5/18 - drive home from Eastern Washington, spend time with cousins
5/19 - Josh spend day booking, Sarah and boy's hang out with cousins
5/20 - Drive to studio & drop of Josh to record (and Noah to play), Sarah and Caden drive to dentist and orthodontist appointments, then come back to the studio to do a little more recording once the feeling returned in my cheek!
Curse you Starburst Jelly Beans! :-P
Things did not start off so well in the studio!
But after a few tries I felt better! :)

5/21 - Josh dentist appointment and then spend day recording
5/22 - visit with my brother & his girlfriend, drive to Renton to spend time with pastor and friends from church
Auntie Debb always has a fun project for the boys when we visit! - decorating pillow cases

 5/23 - Josh breakfast with our pastor, spend time with friends, Sarah get a hair cut, RELAX
 Shhhh!  I didn't ask any of these lovely people's permission to post their picture!  Good thing I know they love me! ;)
5/24 - attend home church, lunch with church friends, drive back north to rest because I wasn't feeling well

It is always such a blessing to visit our home church.  This is a place that we feel most at home and with family!

5/25 - homeschooling, Josh recording
5/26 - homeschooling, Josh recording and booking
5/27 - homeschooling, Josh & Sarah recording, sort through storage, begin preparations to leave
5/28 - homeschooling, pack to leave, spend time with cousins
5/29 - drive to Eastern Washington - Summer Tour Begins
As you can see, we do a TON of driving around when we are back here.  We have family in Lake Stevens and Lynnwood, friends and church in Renton, dentists in Edmonds, Shoreline, and Renton, and doctors in Lynnwood and Burien!  (if you're not familiar with the area, pull out a map and imagine horrible traffic anywhere you go between 7-10am and 2-7pm!)
Despite the running around and the exhaustion, we love being back and connecting with everyone here!  Our summer tour is the longest one of the year so saying goodbye later this week will be particularly difficult!
Now you have an idea of what we've been up to the past several days and why I don't blog much when we're here! :)


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Grieving with Hope!

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." (1 Thess. 4:13 NIV)

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.  On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.  All other ground is sinking sand!"  ("My Hope is Built on Nothing Less by Edward Mote)

My Grandpa passed away this week.  It wasn't really a surprise.  I've visited him once a year for the past 5-6 years and ever time I said goodbye I knew it might be my last.  He was in his 90's and his health has been declining for a while.  Although, I have to admit there was a part of me that thought he might outlive us all!  Sometime in the early 1990's his doctor said not to expect him to live through the year.  But he always bounces back.  He lived by himself out in the country in southern Ohio.  He mowed his own grass and worked on his roof and there wasn't a stray cat in the county that didn't know exactly where to go for food, a warm barn to sleep in, and a kind hand to scratch between his ears. 

Grandpa lived a long life, loving his family and his God well!  He was kind and wise and patient!  He was an amazing storyteller and never forgot a name.  He remembered detailed stories about friends from his childhood and from his time serving in the war.  He knew the names of all of his many grandchildren and great grandchildren, even the ones he never met, and he loved each of them very much!

When I visited Grandpa earlier this year, I knew he wasn't well.  My aunt told me that he hadn't been able to leave the house for a couple of weeks.  Neighbors and family that lived nearby would come by to bring meals and to check on him, but most of the time he was alone -alone in the big farmhouse that I grew up visiting every summer.  The farmhouse where I played with Grandpa's cats, helped in the garden, and had tea parties in the living room while Grandma worked on her paintings in the next room.  When he answered the door, I could sense the emptiness in the house behind him.  Grandma has been in the nursing home for several years and the emptiness has grown and crept into all the corners of the house.  My heart was heavy as we passed through the kitchen where I use to help Grandma make instant sweet tea and johnny marzetti.

But then I saw it.  The image that will now forever be one of my favorite memories.  The scene I will see when I close my eyes to remember my Grandpa.  There on the kitchen table was Grandpa's Bible laying opened with a pen and notebook sitting next to it.  This is obviously where he had been when I had knocked on the door. 

Grandpa may have been lonely, but he knew he wasn't alone.  He was spending his morning with Jesus.

I imagine him at the table again with Jesus, but things are different now.   Now his joints don't creak when he sits down.  His eyes don't squint to read the small words on the page.  In fact, he doesn't even have to look at the page, he looks straight into the loving eyes of the Author.  Grandpa's breathing isn't labored and his bones don't hurt, while he chats with his Creator, Father, Savior and Friend.

My Grandpa was a light in this dark world!  He left a legacy of patient endurance and peaceful confidence.  He trusted His Jesus.  He waited patiently for the Lord and now He is home.

Grandpa is free and although I miss him dearly, mostly I'm just happy!  How could I not be?! 
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain..." (Rev. 21:4 NIV)

I love you Grandpa!  I'm so glad you are home now!  I'll see you soon!

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes: Part 4

Thursday morning we got up early and started packing up the trailer.  If we are all highly motivated and everything goes as it should, we can do this in about an hour...which means, it usually takes us closer to two.  The boys know the drill.  Caden mostly helps Josh on the outside of the trailer and Noah helps me inside.


"1, 2, 3, lift!"

This is what they don't tell you about when you decide to live in a trailer;)

Before we can get the trailer rearranged Noah helps me get the dishes washed and sandwiches made for the drive.

Then we have to move everything that is stored on the shelves down to the floor!  We also have to move most of the heavier things to the back of the trailer in order to even out the weight distribution.

How many men does it take to hook up a trailer?

 And we're off!  School time in the truck!

 When we arrive, we get to undo everything we just did! 
Ahhhh!  Everything back in it's place!

So there you have it!  A Day of set up/tear down In Our Shoes! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming!

First Things First!
Last night was a typical ministry night for us.  We arrived about an hour early for our sound check, like we always do.  As usual, there were only a few people at the church preparing for the evening.  While we were setting up a woman came into the sanctuary.  She had a determined and slightly panicked look on her face.  She searched the room and approached me to ask "Where's the pastor!?!"  I explained that I was a guest and wasn't even sure that the pastor would be there that evening.  I pointed her to the people working in the sound booth, assuring her that they would know more than me.  I then overheard as she had an intense conversation with those I had sent her to speak with.  She wasn't angry, just intense.  She was looking for a man named "Sam" (names have been changed to protect the innocent ;) )  whom she had spoken with a few weeks earlier there at that church. You could tell she had a very important agenda that she was determined to have dealt with tonight.  I soon learned what was so important.  I overheard her explain that she was "here tonight to turn her life around and give her life to Jesus!"  She said she had made big changes this past week and had given up all of the garbage in her life just like "Sam" had advised her to do.  She was ready to surrender completely to the Lord! 

Fortunately, a man in the sound booth was able to reassure her that "Sam" would be there soon!  This seemed to completely change her mood.  Her panic disappeared and was replaced with peace and even a bit of joy!  Before much longer, "Sam" arrived and I watched as he and this woman talked for the next half an hour.  Right before the service began, "Sam" approached Josh and I and asked us to make sure we provided an opportunity at the end of the service for people to come forward, because this woman was READY!

Sure enough, as soon as Josh gave the invitation "Dee" made her way forward.  As Josh and I led the congregation in singing "How Great is Our God", she prayed with Sam, tears streaming down her face, and joined our family!  Praise the Lord!  Welcome to the Family "Dee"!  I am blessed to call you sister!

Okay, now onto other less important or exciting stuff! :)

We made it back to my sister's house safe and sound.  The past two weeks we were down in the Portland area.  We ministered at a couple new churches and a couple churches we have been to in the past.  We were also able to connect with some dear friends in the area.  I even enjoyed a mom's night out with my girlfriend, which was such a treat!


This time back is our last opportunity for time with my family and with our church family, as well as our last opportunity to work on recording our worship album before our long summer tour!  I'm grateful God is allowing us this time, but am definitely overwhelmed by all we have to accomplish in the next two weeks!

Our schedule is tightly packed and intense, but will hopefully allow us to do everything we hope to before leaving town again!  We do have two services in Eastern Washington this weekend, but we're just driving over without the trailer for a couple nights.  Both of the churches we're at this weekend are new churches!  God continues to open doors for us to partner with new churches, which is always so exciting!  It is such a gift to be a part of His work in so many different communities!

Okay, that is all for now.  But stay tuned...

"A Day in Our Shoes: Part 4" is coming tomorrow!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes : Part 3

Happy Monday!  I enjoyed my Mother's Day yesterday.  We ministered at two churches yesterday morning and then had a relaxing afternoon and evening.  I am blessed! :)

As promised, I took some pictures yesterday to help give you a picture of what our Sundays look like.
We often have a morning and evening service, but yesterday we had two morning services and no evening service.

We recently got a new shipment of Potter's Field material, so Saturday night I sorted through all of it and got my bins ready to take to the churches Sunday morning.

-taking pictures wasn't as easy as I had hoped due to the busyness of the morning, but we got a few-

We had to leave the trailer at 7:15 to get to our first church by 8am.  This is a pretty average time for us to leave on a Sunday morning.

 It was a beautiful drive.
still trying to wake up...

On the way to church, we spend a few minutes praying for the service as a family and then I do some vocal warm ups.  When we arrive, everyone charges into action.  We take a couple trips to get all of our equipment and product bins into the church.  Then Caden helps Josh set up on the platform, while Noah helps me set up the table.

(The baby cradle on the end of our table was not ours.  The church was sharing that corner of our table.  They were raising money for Pregnancy Resource Center, which is awesome!)

After everything is set up, we sound check.  I forgot to have one of the boy's take pictures of us sound checking together, so you won't see any pics of me on the mic.  You'll just have to take my word for it...I was there! ;)
 "check, check, is this thing on?"
We had horrible technical difficulties at the first service!  We were still trying to get Josh's guitar into the system at about 5 minutes before the service started.  Eventually, we got him through the house, but could not adjust my monitor.  I was really panicked about how difficult it would be to hear myself, which causes me to sing too loud and can strain my voice. - for an explanation about why that matters you can listen to my testimony "Sarah's Testimony" on the homepage of our ministry website www.onehopeonetruth.org.  God was faithful to care for me though, and some how I was able to hear myself fine during the service despite the difficulties during sound check!  God is so good!
My boy's are great at keeping themselves busy while we sound check and during the service!

During the service, we lead worship together, Josh plays instrumental guitar and shares a message/testimony, I share my testimony, and (at most churches) we share about our partnership with Potter's Field MInistries. 

After the first service was over, I went to the table to talk to people and sell CDs.  Josh talks to people as well.  Meanwhile, Caden packs up Josh's guitar equipment.

Noah was Caden's photographer while I manned the table
Rushing off to the second church!  This calls for another cup of coffee! :)

I wasn't able to get any pictures from the second church, but it was a blessed morning of ministry.  Of course, you're only seeing the practical moment by moment stuff.  We pray God worked in a powerful way through us, both through our ministry on the platform and our conversations before and after.

If you ever have any questions about what we do and why, please feel free to comment below or get in contact through our ministry website.

Relaxing after a busy morning!

* Visit my new blog location at www.StillLearningToFollow.com *

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I am loved

When I was growing up, Mother's Day was a time for construction paper cards, breakfast in bed, and flowers on the table from Daddy.  After all, we had the "world's best mommy" and we wanted to make sure she knew how special she was to us!  Honestly, I don't know how she felt about Mother's Day.  Did we succeed at making her feel special?  Did she know how much she was adored?  Did she have expectations for Mother's Day?  Did we meet them?

I talked to my mama on the phone this afternoon.  We chatted casually about life, her job and bedroom remodel, my boy's homeschooling, siblings, etc...  Mother's Day came up in the conversation.  We talked about how challenging yet rewarding motherhood is.  I sighed as I acknowledged that my siblings and I have not made parenting easy on my mom.  Being a mommy has not gotten easier for her as we have grown up.  She agreed that in some ways it has gotten harder.  "But it's all been worth it!  she said.  We sat in silence for a moment and my mind ran with memories of all of the challenges we have presented to her.  Then she interrupted the silence by saying, "I am just so proud of you all.  I love you and think you're great!"

I'm not sure if we made Mom feel loved growing up, but I have never doubted that she loves me.  I'm not sure if she knew how special she was to us, but I know I am special to her.  I don't know if she knew that we thought she was great, but I know she thinks I'm great.

My mama and I are very different.  We think differently, parent differently, homeschool differently, love and feel love differently.  I have made her cry and she has made me cry.  We have fought and laughed together.  At times we agree and feel great camaraderie in the challenges of life.  At other times, we completely disagree and are baffled by each other.

I won't be with my mama on Mother's Day this year.  I am miles away.  I love her, though.  I pray that my boys will grow up with a confidence that I love them...the way I grew up, knowing I am loved. 

Happy Mother's Day Mama!  I love you too!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes : Part 2

NOTE: This blog has moved, so when you finish reading this post, be sure to head over to www.StillLearningToFollow.com for more on our family's adventures!

Hello again!  Four days in a row!!!  Can you believe it?!  I, for one, am proud of me;) 
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and I plan to take tomorrow off.  Fridays are our day off, so I will not be boring you tomorrow.  However, (note: this is not a promise!) I do plan to write again Saturday...we shall see! ;)

Before I get into today's post, I thought I'd give you a quick heads up about what's to come. 

First, I do not plan on writing one "A Day in Our Shoes" post after another, for days on end.  You can expect to see them on and off for the next couple of weeks.  In between I'll also blog on...whatever else that comes into my little head. ;) 

Second, some of these posts will be longer, more detailed, and have more pictures than others.  Specifically, I plan to make sure that I include several pictures for the upcoming posts about our ministry days and travel days.  I thought you might like to see Thing 1 helping Josh set up and tear down on stage and Thing 2 helping Josh hook up the trailer to the truck...things like that.  Those posts will be sometime next week and the following week, because I don't have the pictures yet. 

Now, on to today's post.

At least once a week, I have a conversation that goes something like this...

"So, since you travel all of the time, you must homeschool the boys?"

"Yes, I do!  It's an adventure!" ~ me

"That's great.  We homeschool/homeschooled our kids.  What curriculum do you use?"

There it was!  Did you catch that all important, ever intimidating, unavoidable question?

"What curriculum do you use?"

In the past, this question would cause my heart to race and my hands to sweat.  I've changed curriculum so many times in my short three years of homeschooling I can't even keep track. Sometimes I've even changed twice in a year.  I have often been using 5 or more different curriculum pieces at the same time.  In fact, currently I am using...wait for it....NO curriculum!  *GASP*!!! The horror!  Can I even really be a homeschooler without curriculum?

I say that all with great sarcasm, but hear me out.  I am not against curriculum!  I am not for curriculum!  Honestly, I just don't think there's one "right" way to homeschool.  I am responsible before God for the upbringing of my children, so I just keep seeking Him and doing my best.  I don't know my children best, He does.  He knows what their future holds.  He knows how our personalities mesh or clash.  And He knows that we're trying to homeschool on the road, with very minimal storage or study space, and unreliable internet.  Yet, His grace is sufficient and we're doing great!  I love my homeschooling system right now.  I might decide it's not working next year, next month, or even next week.  If so, I'll change.  Maybe I'll even use an all-in-one curriculum?  But for now, this is what we do...

Bible - The boys and I are reading through the Gospel of John and memorizing scripture together.  This Bible time of ours includes things like, reading aloud and copywork (i.e. handwriting).

Math - Both boys use Saxon workbooks.  I assign pages and they do them mostly independently except when something new comes up, then we discuss it together. T-1 is also working on math fact flashcards.

Language Arts / Reading Comp. - T-1 is using a BrainQuest workbook I got from Target.   T-2 has a Spectrum Language Arts workbook and an Explode the Code workbook. 

Personal Devotions - Both boys have a "Gotta Have God" devotion book they read each day.

Both boys also are required to read silently for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.  (T-1 loves to read, so he probably gets more like 1-2 hours in each day.)

T-2 reads aloud to me each day for 20 minutes.
T-1 reads aloud to T-2 each day for 30 minutes.  He is currently reading "Time Traveler" by Usbourne.

In addition, we visit National Parks and museums regularly.  These visits often inspire further study, which we do online or at a library.

I try to also watch for events, questions, etc... to come up in our daily life and use them to engage conversation or direct research. (For example, T-1 stepped on a honey bee two days ago and got stung, so yesterday we did a mini unit on bees.)

That is how we homeschool...at least for today! :)

 NOTE: This blog has moved, so when you finish reading this post, be sure to head over to www.StillLearningToFollow.com for more on our family's adventures!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Day In Our Shoes : Part 1

As promised, I am here to fill you in on all of the fascinating details of our life on the road. ;)  My computer has stopped playing '80s music in the background (sorry Debb, but I COULD NOT TAKE IT!) so now I can concentrate.  Now I have Pandora playing The Piano Guys in my ear buds, so I feel relaxed and inspired! :-P

Hmmmm, where to start? 

Typical Week on the Road
Sundays : 2-3 church services and all of the travel in between
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays : We'll call these a "typical work day"
Wednesdays : usually also a typical work day,
but occasionally we'll have a church service in the evening
Fridays : Day off / Family day
Saturday : usually a travel day, but occasionally is either a work day or day off
(if we had a concert or traveled on Friday)

Typical Work Day
Note: Please keep in mind that we are not incredibly strict or consistent with our schedule. 
It is not uncommon for us to completely deviate from the "typical" on any given day.

 I am NOT a morning person. 
In our home, I get up before everyone else so that I can prepare my attitude for interaction with other human beings (i.e. drink coffee, read the Word, talk to Jesus). 
Caden and Josh are morning people,
but they stay in bed reading while I adjust to the fact that it is day again.
Noah is like his mama in that he also loves to sleep. 
(Although when he first wakes up, he is much nicer than I am when I first wake up)

We often stay in RV parks that are closer to a major city, sometimes even in town.  However, more often than not we find ourselves parked somewhere beautiful, like now.  This is my view from the front step of our trailer!  Our Creator is magnificent!

Once my coffee has had time to have effect and my heart is reminded of God's mercies which are new every morning, I wake up the troops (or allow them to get up) and they begin their day too.  The boys eat breakfast and do their chores while I shower and prepare for the school day.  Usually by mid morning, Josh has left for the office (see below) and we have set up shop at the table
and in Caden's bed.

With his power cord connected to the trailer, Josh gets his laptop and makes booking phone calls from the truck - his office.

The boys take turns sitting at the table with me
and sitting in Caden's bed to do their schoolwork.

By lunchtime, the boys are usually done with most of their schoolwork.  Josh comes in and we eat lunch together, then he goes back to the truck and if the weather allows I send the boys outside to play.  One of the other advantages to living at RV parks is that at least half of the time, their is a playground for them to enjoy.

After lunch I spend time reading, studying, and writing while the boys play. 

Yesterday I spent some time sitting by the river and brushing up on *cough* (learning about) World War II so I can teach my kiddos.

Sometime mid afternoon Josh comes into the trailer to practice guitar and I do any number of things (finish school with boys, grocery shop, do laundry, write, practice worship songs with Josh, etc...).  That's pretty much what the rest of our work day looks like.  Josh practices guitar throughout the afternoon and evening, works on finances for the ministry, or sends flyers and press releases.  Of course, that's if he's not repairing some aspect of our trailer plumbing
which seems to be necessary more often than we'd like.:(

 Well, there you have it.  Part 1 of A Day in Our Shoes.  Bored yet? ;) 

*Visit my new blog location at www.StillLearningToFollow.com *

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes...to be continued

I had the very best of intentions!  Really I did!  I've been taking pictures and preparing to post all day.  I sat down at my computer over an hour ago and have been online with HP technical support ever since.  Apparently I managed to invite some 80's music adware onto my computer that had to be surgically removed...So, for those of you dying to see my cute kiddos play space (the kids are cute, not the space), hear about my crazy obsession with my pressure cooker, find out why Josh was once again stuck with his head under the kitchen sink all evening, and read other such mundane ramblings, you will have to wait another day.  Sorry!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Day in Our Shoes Intro.

We are back on the road again.  Every time we get settled into an RV park, I am baffled by the peace that washes over me.  It's like my soul sighs..."Ah, yes!  This is what our life is supposed to be like."  I know it sounds crazy, but living on the road has become our normal. 

I've had a few people over the past several months ask me about our life.  They wanted to know what we do during the week - what our day-to-day life looks like.  So, I thought I'd write a few blog posts to answer those questions.  For those of you who are not the least bit interested in this stuff...I don't blame you.  I don't think we're interesting either.  Weird.  Abnormal.  Unique.  Complete Lunatics. Yes, but not particularly interesting.  With that in mind, feel free to just skip right over the next few blog entries titled "A Day in Our Shoes."  No hard feelings! ;)

On the other hand, if you're just dying to see the inside of our little home on wheels, hear about what and how I cook for our family, learn about what homeschooling looks like in a trailer, and find out what on earth my hubby does when he's not playing guitar, then stay tuned....