Officially Home: A New Beginning

The last two months (and a little more) have literally FLOWN by. This whole moving into a fixer-upper thing is legit. Lemme tell you. That being said, I think the big, initial, move-in push is finally winding down. So, recap.

We closed on our home on March 30th. We then went to our home-base in Livingston, TX. This was a bittersweet time for us. We love our Rainbow’s End home base and the people we met there. It truly did and does feel like home. (You may wonder then, why we didn’t move to Livingston. Honestly, the answer is we moved where God told us to move. We looked in Livingston and we would have loved to have moved there. But, that’s just not what God had in store for us). It was so hard to spend our last two weeks at our home base, but also, we were so anxious to get to our new home and stretch our legs a little.

We officially moved in on April 12. It was about a four-hour drive. So, we headed out first thing in the morning (with some Lemon Tree Bakery goodies for our morning sustenance in hand), I was driving the RV towing the toad, Kev drove the truck towing the enclosed trailer. Flashbacks to the AlCan were in full effect. About halfway here while pulling off for a fuel-up we encountered a massive dip at an intersection. Kev was in front and so I had the benefit of watching how the vehicle / trailer situation handled it and was able to adjust my approach accordingly. Unfortunately, this massive “dip” resulted in a broken hitch for the truck / cargo trailer. I did fine with the RV. The toad situation was also a little shorter of a load which made it a bit easier as well.

While all of this was going on we also had some family health issues that were pulling our attention (Not one of the four of us, but still close family). First Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Which is what I strive for daily anyway. But there was no striving this day. Prayer was my ever breathe as I was so concerned for our family, then the hitch broke, I was excited / stressed / nervous about how things would roll out upon arrival to the house… all of it was a lot.

Thankfully Kevin was able to find replacement parts for the hitch in the town we had stopped in, and after about an hour and a half we were back on the road, and on the way home. Which we did make it to. And the landing went fairly smoothly. We had to trim quite a few tree branches in order to fit the RV and the cargo trailer into the driveway, so we basically blocked our narrow street for about an hour while we were clearing our path. The few neighbors who drove by were very nice and friendly about it.

Next up was the hunt for sheets. We had blow-up mattresses, but we needed sheets! We were all so exhausted we just wanted to make our beds, cook some pizza, eat, and go to bed. Unfortunately, thanks to my masterful Tetris packing skills finding the sheets proved to be a task. You see, I used them for packing material. So, we would have one fitted sheet here, a different flat sheet there, a random pillowcase over here, etc. So, when it was all said and done, we had actually unloaded and dug through about 90% of the cargo trailer. All the while we are making tentative plans to be on sight with our family to help out during the health situation, possibly leaving as early as the very next morning.

It was decided, however, that we would hold off on making our way to our family until more information was gathered so that we could be of maximum use if the situation continued as we expected. Praise the Lord, our family member’s recovery was full and much quicker than estimates proved. We weren’t needed there in the end. We are SO thankful they are doing so well now!

The next month and a half we literally have not stopped. Well, that’s not entirely true. We stop every night. And we’ve taken a couple of days off. But when you have to spend HOURS deep cleaning EVERYTHING before you can even begin to start thinking about what goes where the move-in process takes FOREVER. Let me give you an example so you get an idea of what we are dealing with here. We are so thankful they left the refrigerator, so we didn’t have to go out and spend money on one of those right away. But it took me literally eight hours to get it clean. Maybe we should have just scrapped that whole project and gone and bought one right then and there, but the problem is I didn’t know it was going to take me eight hours until I was in so far there was no way I was giving in. I needed to conquer that refrigerator and prove that my investment into its cleanliness was worth it. I’m not sure I did that because it took me eight hours, but I did get it clean and that in and of itself is somewhat vindicating. Side note: Having a full size refrigerator after living with a tiny little RV fridge for a year is nothing short of glorious.

Just as soon as we got the inside of the house to a somewhat livable state, we immediately turned our attention to the outside which was also sorely neglected. Summer was on its way, and we needed to get some stuff done out there on the double before too much heat and humidity ended any outside productivity motivation. So we killed fire ants, weeded, trimmed trees, mowed, killed fire ants, weeded, ripped up moldy carpet from the back patio and cleaned all the carpet glue off the cement, “de-bugged” the back patio, front porch and gazebo, killed fire ants, weeded, ripped out the weird brick fire-pit border and repurposed the brick into a griddle patio, mowed, installed a dog fence around the “yard” area, fixed outside lights and security cameras, killed fire ants, weeded, stained the gazebo, removed a 20×30 area of rubber mulch and the brick border surrounding that got re-purposed into a couple of walkways, and then killed fire ants and weeded some more. All of this yard work also led to our first family swim parties.

Here’s the scene. It’s hot, we’ve been working our butts off, within eyesight of the pool ALL DAY. One by one we each start slipping into our swimming suits. But we continue working…until someone finally gives in and surprises everyone else with a cannonball off the diving board making a splash that energizes everyone else. It is on! Workday is over and pool party is beginning! We grab the speaker, turn on some tunes, grab some grub, and let the water cool our aching muscles and invigorate our tired bones. My girls are laughing and screaming in delight, smiles larger than life plastered on their faces. Beautiful oak trees surrounding us, a late afternoon sun shining down on us…

They think being able to drink their Kombucha in the pool is the coolest thing ever!

We have been blessed beyond measure with all of the amazing opportunities and experiences we have had in our lives, and what we have been able to provide our daughters. ATVing in the mountains in Alaska, foraging for berries, hiking on glaciers, camping on riverbeds in the midnight sun, cross-country skiing, snow-forts, amazing friendships, educational opportunities, traveling the country… the list goes on and on. But family pool-parties after a hard day’s work is definitely one of my top ten favorites of all the amazing ways we have been blessed.

When we felt / heard / confirmed God’s call for us to leave Alaska I was terrified of what that would mean for the kind of life my girls were going to live. I loved how the Alaska lifestyle was building a ruggedness in my girls. I knew how good we had it. And we did. And I miss it so terribly much. I miss our friends so terribly much. I miss all of the amazing ways our children were growing up there so terribly much. Traveling the country for a year was a very effective distraction. We got to do and see some truly amazing things. But it was never permanent. And I still didn’t know what we were going to be able to provide our girls. We were content with what God had us doing, but I still didn’t know what kind of life the Lord was leading us to.

Following God is *always* the right choice. Always. His way is always the best way. It is not usually the easy way. But it is always the best way. It was and is so incredibly hard to leave Alaska and my girls’ best friends and the life we had there. I literally cry about it every single day. But here’s the thing. My girls love learning, they love doing. Don’t get me wrong, workbooks are the bane of their existence like every other child. When it comes time to sit down and do math or spelling, etc. they groan with the best of them. But teach them how to install a new electrical outlet, how to drive a zero-point lawn mower, how to install a fence, how to cook a new meal, etc. They literally inhale that stuff. They get one project done and can’t wait for the next. This is a big part of the reason we bought a fixer upper. The girls wanted to! They wanted the projects. They saw and we discussed each and every single thing we could find wrong with the house, and they got more and more excited about all of the projects they were going to get to work on, everything they were going to get to do and to learn how to do.

They have grown by leaps and bounds this year, and especially this last month and a half. Stepping up to take responsibility for things. Taking on tasks we didn’t even ask them to. Working hard on their workbooks so they can get them done and move on to house projects. I mean, they also devoured their Legos which they hadn’t seen in a year, have been reading books non-stop, playing with the dogs, running around the land, and of course, swimming as well. They are kids, btw…they still play. But they are thriving here. And when we all jump in the pool with the music blaring, and the laughter loud and clear it makes up for missing the mountains just a tiny bit. It makes up for missing our TKD dojang, it helps a little with the missing of our best friends, it makes up for missing Fred Myer and Jitters and our neighborhood all in just the smallest way. Because now, this is home. This is Living Texas. We fight fire ants, we fight weeds, we fight spiders, snakes, and scorpions, we learn new skills, and we SWIM!

I know we still have a lot to learn about life here. And we will, in between weeding, fighting fire ants and swimming. But here’s to blooming where you are planted. Here’s to LIVING TEXAS y’all!!!


We’re Still Moving…

It’s now been 15 months since the decision was made to leave Alaska. It’s now been *almost* 12 months since we closed on selling our home in Alaska. It’s now been almost 11 months since we moved out of our home into our RV. It’s now been almost 10 months since we left Alaska.

We have been living in our RV for almost 11 months. It has been seriously amazing. If you ever have the opportunity to do this full-time travel thing, we all *highly* recommend it. That being said, we still feel like we are moving. It is a very odd emotional feeling. We have a home, but we don’t have a home. Alaska still very much feels like home, but at the same time it doesn’t. Oklahoma still very much feels like home. But at the same time, it doesn’t. I know part of this is because, as Christian’s our home is yet to come. But this is also simply just that we are still moving. We haven’t stopped moving for 15 months.

If you ever have the opportunity to do this full-time travel thing, we all highly recommend it.

We are finishing up the last of our four weeks here in the Longview, TX area. This time here has given us all a minute to catch up with each other, talk, pray, evaluate, and explore. It was supposed to also be restful, and in some ways, it was, in others it really was not. As it turns out, we are still moving.

What does that mean? It means that for 15 months we have been on a journey. We have wondered about for 10 of those months. And now, we are on the path to finishing up “the moving.” It means we are buying a house! All that talking, praying, evaluating, and exploring brought us to a little town outside of a not-so-little town, to a tree-filled lot in the country with a house that we are so excited to make our own.

We are still moving, but in a couple of months we should finally be done. One year from when we moved into our RV. Eleven months from when we left Alaska. And 15 months since we followed God’s calling and began this journey.

God’s ways are not our ways. We are not buying this house in Oklahoma like I thought we would. Not in Southern Indiana with its Thomas Kinkaid painting like scenery, not in our favorite – Georgia. We are buying this house further south than I ever thought we would live, closer to a major city than I ever thought we would live, and in a smaller town than I ever thought we would live. We are buying this house both sooner and later than we expected. We are buying this house that shows beautifully, but underneath it all is really just a pretty fixer upper. We are buying this house that checks off so many boxes from our wishlist and provides for us so much that wasn’t on our wishlist and, I’m sure, will prove to provide for us (and challenge us) in ways we never would have thought of or expected, just like God has done for us countless times in the past. His ways are not our ways. They are *so* much better.

What does this mean for all our adventures? Well, they will be continuing. They will look different. They will look like learning all about grading, drainage, replacing windows, flooring, cabinetry, just to name a few. They will look like exploring and learning all about the area in which we will live. They will look trips to visit family and friends. They will look like weekend trips to new places. They will look like extended jaunts as we can to explore other areas. They will look like a family slowing down and being or continuing to be purposeful in how they build their schedule and spend their time. They will look like a family helping each other pursue God in all they think, do and say.

I fell in love with Alaska when I learned to live Alaska. Now we have the adventure and challenge of learning to live Texas…whatever that means. We are all excited to see and experience all God has in store for us here and are prayerfully anticipating the ways He will use this new experience to prune us, grow us, and bring us closer in relationship to Him and to each other. We’re still moving, but we will be home soon.

We’re Texans y’all! (I can’t believe I live in Texas!)

Time For a Slower Pace

The slow down…it helped. We’ve kept it up…mostly. We loved our time in the Savannah area and have all agreed that Georgia is our favorite. We would move there in a heartbeat if that was God’s plan. But it appears that it most likely is not. While we were there, we all began feeling a draw back to the Texas / Oklahoma area. We needed to return to our homebase to do a reset anyway, so that worked out nicely.

After Tybee Island we spent a week in Mobile Alabama. Different areas have a different vibe about them. Some we can feel are just not places we should be. We have felt this strongly in a couple of places in particular. Eureka Springs, AR and now in Mobile, AL. To explain it more would require taking this update in a direction that I just don’t want to take it at the moment. But, in short, we did not have any peace in Mobile. However, we were there for the week, and we were staying at All About Relaxing RV park… so we made the best of it and relaxed. It was a nice little park.

Kevin and the girls got crazy our last Saturday in Savannah and bought an electric guitar and amp. You know because we have so much space in our 200 sq ft RV and stuff. But I will admit, they have definitely been using it. They have all practiced a minimum of 45 minutes almost every day. It has bonded them together and given me a great excuse to go hide in my bedroom because my over-stimulated ears can only handle so much. Which is not to say they aren’t good at it, because they are. They all sound really good, actually! But, still, ever since I gave birth almost 12 years ago my ears have been over-stimulated, so two-plus hours of guitar every day kinda puts me over the top. Anyway, the point is, they all really got into it while we were in Mobile. Chyler also bought some drumsticks and has taught herself the drums…without having a drum set. Yep, I heard her. She’s legit. I’m kinda impressed and can’t wait to see what she does when she gets a real drum set.

On that Saturday we went to the USS Alabama Memorial Park. This was very cool. There’s a big hangar with a bunch of old planes, helicopters, and other old wartime equipment. Then we toured the USS Drum – a submarine. Pro-tip, if you have any kind of claustrophobia at all, don’t dilly dally on your way through a submarine. I was thankful Kevin was with us because I got about half-way through and felt the walls start closing in on me. I let Kevin know real quick and I booked it to the exit…which took a minute to get to as I scrambled through narrow doorways and around tight halls. It took a bit outside for my heart rate and breathing to return to normal. But Kevin and the girls continued the tour, and I was good to go by the time they got out.

Then we toured the USS Alabama which was very cool. It was also enclosed with relatively small spaces but had enough breaks outside and in rooms that were more open that I was able to get through just fine and we all learned so much! Kevin’s dad served on a battleship very similar to this, so it was extra interesting to see it and get a glimpse into that part of his life.

Our last night in Mobile was a big storm. Which is fine, whatever, I mean, they’re loud and keep us up because the rain on a tin roof sound isn’t near as romantic as it sounds in song lyrics. But we can deal. The thing is, Chyler scooched into our bedroom about 10pm for reasons children do these kinds of things. This time around we were so thankful for her late-night visit because she happened to notice the floor was wet where she had stepped.

Yep, Kevin’s window was leaking. But thanks to Chyler we caught it right when it started and it didn’t ruin anything. Not the new guitar, not Kevin’s laptop, not the wall or floor! Kevin is a rock star who got up and went out in the POURING rain and thunder / lightning storm to tape up the window.

Next, we headed back to Livingston, TX. It felt a bit like coming home. Kevin took the next day off work to fix the window. Him and the girls took the whole thing out of the wall, repaired it and reinstalled it (that’s the short version – these kinds of projects are always more complicated than that, but who wants to read that boring info?). Then it rained for about 10 days straight which was a little rough. Luckily, they have a great little “break room” kind of space with puzzles, and a massaging couch, and a spot for Kevin to work, etc. So, we were able to take breaks from the cold, dreary-drizzle, drenched RV. We also got lots of school and guitar playing done.

Kevin and the girls repairing a leaking window in our RV

We love Lemon Tree Bakery at Rainbows End in Livingston, and Miss Gayle (the owner) is so sweet. She ended up needing some help one day while we were there, and the girls and I got to go fill in for her at her bakery for the morning. We all loved to be able to pitch in this way, and she gave us some YUMMY cinnamon rolls and scones as a thank you. Plus, the girls got to keep the tips.

After a couple weeks in Livingston, we headed down to Lafayette, LA to visit Kevin’s parents. It was a welcome break from the cold, dreary, rainy weather we had had in Livingston. The girls bunked in the guest room and enjoyed having some space to stretch out. Kevin and I also enjoyed the amenities that come along with a sticks and bricks.

While in Lafayette, we kept with our new theme and took things a bit easier. We toured Vermilionville Living History Museum, which is our favorite kind of museum! They have volunteers that dress in period clothing and teach you all about what life was like. We learned all about how you get cotton from the little balls of fluff that come off the plant into yarn on a spindle. It was seriously fascinating. We also learned about what school was like for kids back then, and we learned a lot about Mardi Gras history and a little bit about how different people celebrate it today. The girls also got to try their hand at an accordion.

Kevin and I got to go on a couple of date nights with some old friends while the girls hung with the grandparents. And GJo spent ALL week giving painting lessons to the girls! We squeezed a summer of art classes into one week! Haha I’m seriously impressed with the girls’ pieces though.

Next, we decided to do something different for us. We decided to take a longer break. One of the areas we are considering settling down in is the Tyler / Longview area in NE Texas. So, we booked ourselves a month at an RV park here. A WHOLE month! We’ve only been here a week and it is SO weird to think that we will be here for three more!

We’ve been driving around and exploring a lot since we’ve gotten here and really like Longview in particular. We are still praying about God’s timing / direction, but we all feel like if He were to have us move here, that would be okay. I don’t think we’re settling down just yet, but it’s nice to get to know some areas either way. We need a bit of familiarity in our lives right now. All new all the time is super fun and exciting for a bit, but it does wear on you. I’m sure we will want to go out again after a restorative rest, but a break is good for now. We’re still prayerfully (and patiently) seeking why God has drawn us back to this area. In the meantime, we are going to enjoy our month here just “living” and then we shall see what God has for us next!

A Chilly Christmas and a Mossy New Year!

A Chilly Christmas and a Mossy New Year!

Happy New Year one more time!

What is it about a new year that seems to make one so much more reflective? Or is that just me? I mean, yeah, the calendar switched over, but in all reality, nothing is really any different. January 1st is just a day like any other day. Nonetheless, countless people, myself included, seem to find this the time to reflect on a great many things. Reflect I did and continue to do. We have shifted gears a bit. After realizing the fatigue, we all felt we had the opportunity and the knowledge to slow down. We needed a decision-making break. So, we booked a site we had already been to, that we knew we liked, and we felt like we didn’t have enough time to explore the area like we wanted to… but more on that later. Let’s rewind to after Pigeon Forge. We decided to head down to Savannah, GA area. We needed to warm up. So that is what we did.

We stayed on Tybee Island. The island is nothing special. But we really enjoyed the RV park. It was a 10-minute walk to one beach and a 15-minute walk to another beach. We were also able to walk over to the Tybee Lighthouse, one of the few remaining functioning lighthouses left. We took a tour of the lighthouse, the grounds, and an old battery that was very cool and informative. We spent a day on the beach playing in the waves and tidepools, and we walked the beach multiple times looking for shells and just getting some fresh air and sunshine. The RV Park itself was very relaxing and we enjoyed watching movies on our outdoor TV and having a fire in the firepit and cooking outside.

Fort Pulaski was a short drive away and this is one of the best kept and maintained forts from the Civil War era. We were able to tour it for just $10 for me (kids free). The girls did their Jr. Ranger Badge and we learned so much. There are lots of grounds and trails to explore in that area as well, but we did not have the time to do any of that.

That Saturday we drove to historic Savannah and took an on/off Trolly Tour. We fell in love. This place is gorgeous. We spent ALL day hopping on and off and exploring and feel like we barely scratched the surface of exploring the area. It is such a pretty, well-laid out town that is super pedestrian friendly. Lots of cool shops and cafes. We will be going back for sure. One week wasn’t enough.

After Savannah we drove a couple hours north to Charleston. We were on a Savannah high and since it was a short drive day after we set up, we hopped into the car and drove down to historic Charleston to check it out. While the architecture is very similar to Savannah, and cool, the city is much more cramped. The shopping seemed to be all chain stores that we could see, and the restaurants are super ritzy, no middle-ground cafes or street pizza like we experienced in Savannah. The sidewalks were so crowded and close to the cars screaming by on the streets that we would definitely not get out and walk around.

I hear people are either Charleston people or their Savannah people. I guess we’re Savannah people. The rest of our time in the Charleston area we spent doing the shopping we dislike so much. But we ended up having an opportunity to go to the Nutcracker, and we did not have any nutcracker-worthy clothes in the RV, so we had to find outfits. Something easier said than done. It took almost three whole days of shopping to find something for all of us. But now I have a little black dress, something I’ve never owned before. Some amazing heels, Kevin has a nice suit, and the girls have some cute little outfits. There’s were the hardest. For whatever reason we can just never find anything in their size anywhere. There outfits weren’t exactly what we were hoping for, but they are what we could get.

The girls and I also toured the Magnolia Plantation and got another amazing history lesson on civil war era including a “Slavery to Freedom” tour. We saw wild Alligators for the first time and some gorgeous old oak trees and swamps with beautiful bridges that cross them. This is another area that had tons and tons of trails to explore, but after the house tour, tram tour, and Slavery to Freedom tour we only had time to visit their little zoo, gift shop, and walk the small garden and bridges right around the house. I wish we could have done the swamp and garden tours as well. But there is only so much time in the day.

That brings us up to Christmas week! We spent Christmas in Raleigh, NC. Due to Christmas being on a weekend, and we usually travel on weekends, we booked two weeks here. I used this week to try and catch up on the many tasks that had been ignored due to the very full and bountiful schedule we have kept the last few months. It was cold there, but everywhere down here was going through a “Polar Vortex.” It got down to 9º on the coldest night. That morning the dog’s water bowl, which sits on the floor near the front of the RV was frozen. This was with electric heaters and propane heaters running. No matter how much heat we had pumping into the rig, it can’t keep the cold from seeping through the floor. People who spend time in RVs in the cold like this have set-ups that facilitate this weather better. But winter RVing is not on our bucket list, so we do not have that set up.

When it was all said and done, we fared fairly well. We layed every extra blanket and towel we had down on the floor to try and create a little more insulation…it actually helped. We filled up our on-board water tank and lived off of it for a few days. Our black and grey tanks did end up freezing, keeping us from being able to dump for a couple of days as well. While we were getting nervous about it for a bit, a heating pad (that was mostly used to keep feet and puppies warm) along with an electric heater, and some cardboard was used to create a “mini” heated environment around the lines and, it took a couple of days to thaw completely, but it did thaw them prior to any over-flow issues.

A Christmas tradition for us has been to go and see the Nutcracker. We weren’t able to go the last couple of years and made do by watching the movie instead. Good movie. Not the same. So, when we learned that we could go while in Raleigh we all jumped at the chance. Here I was thinking we might get to dress-up and not worry about cold weather for once. Haha. It ended up being very chilly the afternoon we went. But at least there wasn’t any snow and ice!

All Dressed up for the Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker!

The Carolina Ballet Company did an awesome job and it was fun to see a smaller-scale version than what we were used to in Anchorage. We had great seats, and we could see the dancers so much better, and we loved that they used kids for the part of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. This was one of those experiences that I was in a constant state of thanks to God for while we were experiencing it. To look over and see the smiles and wonder on my girls faces. Chyler LOVED shopping for everyone’s clothes and making sure we all looked nice, and she LOVED the whole experiencing of dressing up and going out together, and she LOVED watching the dancers. Ellie tolerated the dressing up in order to go because she LOVES this ballet. Her favorite part though, is always the music. She also really enjoys the stage designs as well.

A chilly walk from the Performing Arts Center to the car. This was the best we could do for warmth as our winter gear was either given away or packed away for the move! But don’t my girls look cute?!

We had a very quaint and cold Christmas celebration in the RV. Definitely different than anything we have experienced before. But very special and memorable. After Christmas the weather started warming up. December 30th was mine and Kevin’s 21st anniversary and we decided that since we all had these swanky new outfits, and it was warm again that we would get dressed up a second time and enjoy it without the cold. For the last few years we would go out to eat at Sullivan’s Steak House in Anchorage for our anniversary. To our pleasant surprise there was a Sullivan’s in Raleigh as well! So, we took the girls out with us to celebrate and treated them to a ritzy eating out experience.

We were a bit nervous that we may be overdressed, but we should have known better. We fit right in! And the girls definitely enjoyed the amazing food. Again, it was a different, but very nice anniversary celebration. (We missed you Jody and Eileen! Happy Anniversary to you too!!!).

Our last day in Raleigh was spent catching up with our old neighbors from Alaska who were visiting family in the area. The girls LOVED getting to see their old friends and spent ALL day playing with them just like they used to do all the time. It was too short of a reunion, but a joyful one non-the-less.

On New Year’s day we packed up and headed South! As I opened with, we were feeling a bit burnt out and needed a break from the decision making. So, we headed back to Savannah! Told you we would be back! We loved our time here the first go around and just thought it was too short. So, we were excited to be able to have another opportunity to stay here.

River’s End on Tybee Island was booked through January 2nd, and Kevin had that day off, so we took the opportunity to visit our first state park. We did two nights at McAllister State Park, and it was amazingly gorgeous. We toured the old fort on-site and went for a nice little “hike” on a trail around the island and just enjoyed the feeling of being under the canopy of the huge oaks covered in Spanish moss. Deer roamed around constantly, so many squirrels, and the girls loved playing on the zip-line. If we had had another day there we may have rented canoes to go out on the water around the island and explore, but, we at least sat and watched the sunset both nights.

We don’t normally do state parks because they don’t usually have the amenities we need (cell service, full hook-ups, laundry), but they are so amazing in other ways. This whole area is one that will definitely be on our vacation list for the future.

On the morning of January 3rd we packed up again and drove the 1-hour back to Tybee Island where we got the same spot that we had before. To be honest, it felt a little bit like coming home. Both McAllister State Park and River’s End felt like a big sigh of relief.

We booked twelve days at River’s End and we have thoroughly been enjoying the slow-down. We’ve spent a couple of days at the beach, done a few beach walks, we did two days exploring more of Savannah, and have continued working on catching up on some chores. Other than that, we have been just relaxing more, which has been sorely needed.

And that catches everyone up to current time! We have accumulated too much stuff for this little RV to handle (Christmas and whatnot), we have some other chores that can’t really be taken care of on the road, so we will be working our way back to our home base for a reset after this.

How are y’all doing? How were your Christmas’s? New Year’s? How are your January’s going?

Hattiesburg, MS; Branson, MO; Nashville, TN and Pigeon Forge, TN – Dollywood!!!

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!!!

And Happy Thanksgiving and Happy New Year too!

Boy let me tell you the last month has been a whirlwind! First let’s get caught up from where we left off last time which was way back when we were loving our time in Georgia…we’ll see how far we can get in this update!

Hattiesburg, MS

So, after Northern Georgia we landed in Southern Mississippi, and back to some heat. This was way back on October 9-16. The girls returned to swimming, we sat and watched the ducks on the lake, soaked up some vitamin D, and thoroughly enjoyed our time here. We were out in the boonies a little bit, which was nice. This campground had the nicest laundry facilities we have seen so far, and the staff was exceptionally friendly, helpful, and welcoming. We got to participate in a potluck / karaoke night and the girls also worked on perfecting their ping-pong game.

While in Mississippi we went to a Fall Harvest / Pumpkin patch at a local farm. We got to do our first every corn maze! We did a wagon ride / tour of the farm, played on all of the awesome play structures, tried some amazing lemonade and got to pick some pumpkins. It was awesome and weird to have an experience like this and not be freezing.

After Mississippi we headed back to Livingston, TX for a few more chores (seasonal switchover with our cargo / pick up mail, etc.) then we headed on down to camp on the beach in Galveston for the rest of the week!

Galveston, TX

Galveston camping was kinda awesome. The girls and the dogs LOVED all the sand and water play. I saw my first Water Moccasin (at least I’m fairly certain that is what it was. I’ve been studying venomous snakes, but it was fairly dark when I saw it. It was by a lagoon, and there were signs everywhere warning of venomous snakes).

College Station / Mount Pleasant, TX

From Galveston we headed up to College Station to hang out with Kevin’s sister and family again. We are thankful for this decision because when we got there, we learned that one of our rear Axle Seals was broken so this stop allowed us the perfect opportunity to research it and fix it. While here Kevin’s other sister and his mom drove up from Louisiana for a weekend visit. It was nice to have this group together.

Thankful for family who lets us turn their driveway into crazy work zone!

From College Station we decided to spend a week in Mount Pleasant, TX as it provided us a central location to check out some different areas we are considering settling in. So, the next week that is what we did. We woke up early every morning and spent a few hours in the car driving to towns, driving through neighborhoods, prayerfully exploring, and researching. We learned some good information but haven’t made any decisions yet.

While Paris, TX is not somewhere I would recommend going to, it does have a little Eiffel Tower…and it is the location that Mark Wahlberg and his daughter lived in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Our big goal for this next route we were heading out on was to head over to Pigeon Forge to go to Dollywood, a bucket list item for me. My family graciously agreed to accommodate. Our route there took us first to Branson, MO which was a very pleasant surprise.

Branson, MO

We stayed at the Escapees Park in Hollister right outside of Branson. The Escapees parks are pretty minimal on the amenities. They usually come with full-hookups, laundry, and bathhouse. That’s about it, but they are very well priced, especially for members. And this one was in a great location.  

Branson is apparently like Las Vegas but for families. There were so many shows and attractions, and the entire town was over-the-top done up for Christmas. It was awesome. We went to the Butterfly Emporium, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Shepard of the Hills Christmas Lights, and Fritz’s Adventure Park. And we walked around downtown a few times to take in all the lights and do the touristy thing. This is definitely on our list of places to return to. The girls’ favorite was Fritz’s.

Fritz’s Adventure Park is an all-indoor climbing / playing kid dream zone. There is an indoor zipline course, rock-climbing, a rope course, and a series of tunnels and slides for the kids to explore. We were lucky to hit it up on Homeschool Day, which means the girls basically got in for free with my admission. We all did the rope course, and this is where I learned that I am apparently now scared of heights. I’ve done zip-lining and rock climbing before with no issues. But, here, I actually cried because I was so scared doing the rope course! Ha! Who knew. So, we ended up not doing the zip-lining because of that. But the girls didn’t mind, they were having a blast doing all the other activities.

While in Branson we also got our first taste of Winter RVing. We had camped before in AK when it got below freezing. Even woke up to snow at least once while camping in AK. But that usually signaled the end of the camping season, it was only below freezing for a few hours, and warmed up during the day. Then we winterized and parked the rig until the next summer. So the idea of having multiple nights of multiple hours of freezing temps getting as low as 17º had us nervous. But we researched it and went in with different options ready to make sure we didn’t have any pipes freeze. We learned that cold outside means cold inside no matter how much you run the heater. The RV is just not that well insulated. The cold seeps in from the floor and the walls and you’re just cold. And you lose your “outdoor” living space. Which makes it a little cabin-fever inducing. Being stuck in 200 sq. ft. is not near as nice as having 200 sq. ft. of indoor space and a whole outdoor area for hanging out, walking, etc. This was a new experience for us. And definitely not our favorite.

On the night / morning it got down to 17º the RV park blew a transformer. I thought this was humorous because everyone in the RV park kinda freaked out a little bit, including the managers. No one seemed to know what happened. I mentioned that it was just a transformer blown and they should just call the electrical company to come check it out, and they did and that is what it was, and they had it taken care of in a few hours. Apparently, this happens in AK a lot more often than down here. As soon as power went out it was funny, all of the sudden every generator in the park turned on. It got a little noisy.

Nashville, TN

After our Branson adventures we drove up to Nashville, TN where we boondocked on our friends driveway out in the country. The girls and the dogs (and I) loved to have the space to stretch, run around, and relax. Gorgeous country. We enjoyed our time exploring the Gaylord Opryland Resort which was gorgeous. We explored their Christmas Tree Tour, a Gondola along the indoor canal, and a horse-drawn carriage ride around to see all the outdoor lights. We loved our time coming together for Thanksgiving at our friend’s house and relaxing and catching up.

They are building what they call a Barndominium and on our off time the girls and Kevin went over and learned how to install flooring and were able to help lay down a couple rooms of floor with them. When given the opportunity to go explore the area with me and Mrs. Barb the girls picked laying flooring instead! Haha

Pigeon Forge, TNDollywood!!!

After Nashville we made our way over to Pigeon Forge, TN. Turns out, Pigeon Forge is somewhat similar to Branson. Apparently, it’s a whole Dollywood thing. Dollywood Headquarters is actually in Branson and I was told that Branson, Pigeon Forge, and Myrtle Beach will all have very similar attractions. Our big goal here was Dollywood so we mostly bypassed all the other activities, even though that was really hard to do. We really wanted to go explore “The Island” but just didn’t have the time or energy. We did drive around Gatlinburg one afternoon, which was cool for sure. A very busy small mountain town with lots of shopping. It was gorgeous.

But Dollywood by far stole the show. Dollywood far exceeded our expectations. We had seen a fair share of Christmas decorations and lights by this point. But Dollywood takes the cake. The girls and I purchased the two-day pass. We went the first day to kinda get the lay of the land and do all of the things Kevin wouldn’t be interested in. The girls loved getting to ride all the “carnival rides” over and over again. It was pretty chilly, and a Wednesday so there were zero lines. It was awesome. We rode the steam train, saw a show, watched a presentation on their bird rehabilitation center where we got to see an owl, eagle, and raven, and did our best to take in all the lights. Unfortunately, I underestimated how cold it would get once the sun went down and we ended up FREEZING, so we had to leave about an hour and a half earlier than we had originally planned. But, not without a couple of loaves of their famous Cinnamon Bread.

We went back on Friday with Kevin much better prepared for the weather. We knew the lay of the land now and had a plan. Long story short, the girls learned about rollercoasters and quickly became addicted. I managed to ride one “real” rollercoaster and with this silly “scared of heights” thing I’ve got going on that was more than enough. I have enough stress in my life, I don’t need a rollercoaster to add to it. I will tell ya though, it definitely warms you up. I was warm AND my heart was racing still over a half an hour later. I mostly just followed them around, held their stuff, and looked around at all the cool stuff while they rode roller-coaster after roller-coaster.

This time when the sun went down, I pulled out my extra coat, my snow skirt, my hat, gloves, etc. And I had leggings on under my jeans, and an extra undershirt on. If I had known we would be spending so much time in cold weather I would have packed our snow pants in the RV, but, alas, we only have mediocre winter gear. So, layer it is, and layers I did, and the layers worked. And it was more than worth it. The lights at night were more than magical. And we got another four loaves of Cinnamon Bread. I asked while I was in line, and they said they make over 10,000 loaves a day! I bought four loaves for research purposes, strictly. I think I can work on a copycat recipe once I have a real kitchen again. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get my frosting to be as good as theirs though.

Simply Magical

We’ll leave the update there for now.

Lots of other thoughts are bouncing around my brain. Thoughts on Christmas and Thanksgiving and blessings and Jesus and salvation and family and futures and priorities and love and heartache and just lots. Lots of things going on with lots of people. Lots to discuss about shifting perspective from a temporal to an eternal, and what really matters. How easy it is to get off course of what really matters. How many distractions, detours, and plain ol’ lies that are out there. How amazing understanding that I am a sinner in utter need of a savior and then inviting Jesus to be my savior and submitting my life wholly and fully to Him is. How He is my hope for everything. How He keeps things clear in a muddled world. How He makes everything worth it. How is love and peace surpasses all understanding. How beyond thankful and mind-blown I am that I have a husband and daughters that are submitting to Jesus daily and we are all able to help each other walk this incredible, and yet very difficult journey together. Missing so so so much about our home in Alaska. Our friends, our town, our community there. How we still know without a doubt this is God’s plan for us, and we are having some amazing experiences on this journey, but that it is still oh so difficult. Especially at Christmas time.

I pray that we all continue to submit to Jesus daily in our lives, thoughts, actions, desires, and decisions. I pray daily that He protects us from deceit. That He opens our eyes and our ears to His truth, and that He softens our hearts to it. That He keeps us humble and seeking Him for our everything we need. That we as a family do this all individually and together. I’ve seen broken families and relationships too often and had it too close to home too many times. Still suffering from so many broken relationships all around. Still seeing more break. It happens all-too-easily. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. He is all we need. Seek Him above all things. Pick up your cross and follow Him. Lay down your life and follow Him. Submit to Him daily. It’s hard, but it is so worth it. Make Him Lord and Savior of your life. And regardless of where you land with the Christmas celebration, may you recognize Him for who He is and what His purpose was. He is THE gift.

Merry Christmas all! We love you and miss you!

The Wotrings

p.s. for those who have sent cards, etc. to our address we very much look forward to when we are back in Livingston to pick up our mail so we can read the cards and letters from everyone. We aren’t sure yet when that will be, so we’ll just get to experience Christmas again all over whenever we get there.

Northern Georgia (Helen and Tallulah Gorge)

Greetings from Texas once again.

Thinking of my friends and family in Alaska and how their ground is covered in white, they are bundling up in coats and boots anytime they venture outside, our homeschool friends are continuing on with all of the activities we used to so enjoy doing with them all while sitting at a picnic table in a KOA in Mount Pleasant, TX in flip flops and capris, listening to frogs and birds while surrounded by green grass and tall piney trees. It feels like such a stark contrast. And while we are still one-hundred percent confident this is God’s plan for us, we can’t help but feel a deep sorrow for what we have given up. But He is more than worth it. In that, we are confident.

Our travels do provide us with some major blessings though. We treasured our time in Indiana and visiting the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was hard to move on from there. But the drive and the next destination definitely helped. We were heading down to Northern Georgia to visit Grandpa Jack and Grandma Susan.

Our drive there was probably our favorite yet. So pretty. Windy roads, lots of trees, hills, Smokey Mountains, and we counted something like 150 old barns. Kentucky is definitely home to lots of old barns. And a little bit in Eastern Tennessee.

Our time in Northern Georgia was a treasure and continued our period of restoration. It was *so* good to be able to spend some real, quality time with my dad. It had been years.

My dad lives on some land on a lake in the mountains. This means we were all able to stretch our legs a little. Including the dogs, who absolutely loved to get to run around off leash. The addition of a “neighborhood bear” roaming around helped us feel at home.

The girls developed a routine of taking the rowboat out on the lake, feeding the fish, playing with the dogs outside, and trying to get the cats inside the house to not be afraid of them.

We also got to spend a day in Helen, Georgia, which we very much enjoyed. We walked around all the little shops, including an awesome little toy store. We found toys, a cool shirt, a new purse (much needed), some amazing honey-comb chocolate, had a giant pretzel with cheese, and got to dip our hands in the Chattahoochee. We wanted some authentic German pastries, but who knew it would be closed on Wednesday.

“Way down yonder on the Chatthoochee!” The river runs through Helen, GA

On our way back from Helen we stopped off at an adorable little Pottery studio in an old mill on another local river called Mark of the Potter. Here’s a story that you might find a little boring. If you know me and my tendency to share boring stories with too much detail, you may want to skip ahead 4 paragraphs.

So picturesque – made me feel like I was in a Thomas Kincaid painting – I didn’t get any pics of the pottery inside, but look them up online, they have a great selection!

Back in 2018 during the 7.2 earthquake my favorite coffee mug broke. It was the only one of my coffee mugs to break, out of a cabinet full of completely generic mugs. Since then, I had been keeping my eyes open for mug I considered to be a worthy replacement. Around Christmas I saw what looked like the perfect mug in an advertisement for a local boutique store in Eagle River. Revive Home Market will always be a favorite of mine and I still peruse their advertisements. I went down as soon as I could to see about the mug. Sadly, it had already sold. But I looked up the pottery studio that had made the mug and kept an eye on them for what their inventory was. I never saw one I liked as much as that first one.

As our departure out of Alaska neared, I kept trying to find a moment to contact the pottery studio to see about them making another one like that first mug, or even just going down to peruse their inventory in person and ask questions about the type of pottery (I wanted dishwasher and microwave safe). Moving chores never allowed me that time.

I shrugged it off as no big deal because I knew we would be traveling all over the country, and I would have my pick of pottery from all of the touristy shops we would visit along the way. Turns out, despite my looking, I could not find any local pottery in a single state, until Georgia.

Without knowing my mug story my dad’s wife, Susan, mentioned how we should stop by Mark of the Potter just up the road from them and check out the pottery, feed the fish, and see the old mill. So, on our way back from Helen we did just that. Not only was the setting its own Thomas Kincaid painting, but it was also full of amazing local pottery – all microwave and dishwasher safe! There were *so* many options to choose from. I had a seriously hard time choosing. But in the end, I got a mug that I enjoy more and more with each use. I don’t like it as much as my broken mug, because my little brother didn’t make me this one. And I don’t like it as much as the mug I saw at Revive Home Market, but I love it because it is from where my dad lives, it is from a gorgeous old mill, because it is a keepsake from our travels, and because it is shaped perfectly with the perfect size handle.

Inside and underneath the pottery studio at Mark of The Potter you can see the old design of how they used the power of the river to run their mill. Very cool and educational. I thought it would also make for a great old-school bath / shower setup.

Our other big outing while in N. Georgia was to go hike the Tallulah Gorge. I have to crack up at this one. I was researching it online in preparation and everything was talking about how intense of a hike it was, you must bring a minimum amount of water with you, you have to get a permit to go to the bottom of the gorge, etc. So, we got prepared. Y’all…this thing was only half the elevation (down) that the Butte is (up). Once we got to the “bottom” (as far as we could go without the permit, which I did not get because I assumed we wouldn’t “make it” to the bottom) we were all like, “wait, that’s it? What? We were just getting started!”

Nonetheless, we hadn’t hiked for quite a while, so once it was all said and done we were all a little sore, and it was a gorgeous hike and it felt *so* good to get outside like that after a summer of 100º temps.


Postscript: I am finding it challenging these last few weeks to write, include photos, and send updates. I find this mostly a blessing because I am focusing on being present and in the moment and we are creating some amazing memories and deepening relationships. But, I also don’t like not keeping up with the updates the way I prefer. I wrote this update above a week ago… I’m sending it out / posting it regardless of it being a week since writing. I will continue to work toward the next update and will share as soon as life allows.

Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter

Greetings Friends and Family,

Sorry to have dropped off the face of the earth, but we have just been focusing and relishing in all the things. To start where we left off, we’re going to head back in time to the end of September.

We headed up through Tennessee, through Kentucky, and right across the border into southern Indiana. We are IN LOVE with this area. It felt like we were in a Thomas Kincaid painting the entire time. The rolling hills, trees, white picket fences, old barns, horses, cows, little ponds and lakes, tractors, little old churches, etc. It was all gorgeous. And that RV park 45 minutes away from the Ark Encounter in the middle of no-where? Hands down our favorite yet. Follow the River was big, pretty, spacious, and our site backed up to a greenbelt and the playground, so we were perfectly content to just relax on site.

The weather when we got there was SUCH a breath of fresh air. Literally. It was cool and crisp. Temperatures were in the mid 50s at night to 80s during the day…a much welcome change from the 100º situation we were messing with in Tennessee the week prior. After feeling so icky, the dirty, the flies, the heat, and just the overall experience in the Memphis area (aside from it being pretty) feeling depressing I literally cried when I got out of the RV to spot Kev backing into our site. We needed this. The breath of fresh air and the change of scenery. It felt a little bit like home.

This is the first fire we have had since moving into the RV. It was finally cool enough, and we wanted to spend as much time outside as possible here!

The hour drive to the Creation Museum and the 45-minute drive to the Ark Encounter were more than worth it as it was gorgeous driving. We hit up the Creation Museum on Tuesday, and then the Ark Encounter on Thursday and Saturday. Mon, Wed, and Fri we just relaxed and did our normal daily school routine.

The Creation Museum:

In short, amazing. Right off the bat we hit up the ticket counter to buy our Planetarium tickets, because every review we ever read said it was a *must*. And while it was definitely cool, I’m wondering if these people had never been to a planetarium before. It really wasn’t much different than the shows we had been to in Anchorage. If you’ve never done a Planetarium visit before, definitely do it, but otherwise, eh.

Once we got out of the planetarium show we noticed a line forming in front of what appeared to be another theater room, so we inquired. It was a free 4D show, so naturally we hopped in line.

This show was awesome! This is what I would say is a must see. And, after the show was over, they explained there was a second show, and all we had to do was stay where we were to watch the next one, which was also amazing. After this we started walking the museum. I would say that L and C are right on the cusp of being the right age for this. It is a lot of walking and reading. L and C were definitely interested and learned a lot and valued it but ran out of energy for it a lot sooner than I would have. I would have loved to read through every exhibit, but as it was, we were only able to give about 1/3ish of the museum the attention it deserved.

Outside is a botanical gardens and we walked though this area to get to the “zoo “and playground. Neither the zoo nor playground were worth the time walking over there, but, the gardens were very pretty, so we didn’t mind.

Ark Encounter:

From the first moment you see it from the window of the bus that carts you from the parking lot to the Encounter you are in awe. It is massive and amazing. Once off the bus you can enter through the Rainbow gate to head straight to the Ark, or you can go in the welcoming center which has concessions, bathrooms, an auditorium, and a little bookstore. Once outside, past the rainbow gate you begin to take in the enormity of the Ark and it captivates your view for the rather long walk to the Ark Entrance. Along the way, they have giant animals made out of plants and informational signs you can read.

This place is SET UP for crowds. They have gated walking paths, switchbacks, and everything needed for effective crowd control. It is obvious this place can get BUSY. I have heard it is such during the summer months. I’m thankful we went during the fall. It was definitely not busy.

Inside the Ark the crowd control measures continue as they funnel people through the exhibits. But again, no crowds while we were there, so it was really nice. The exhibits are all so well done, super informative, get you thinking and are creative. It really gets you thinking about the engineering and design of the Ark, things like fresh water, food storage, ventilation, what daily life and chores may have been like. There are a couple of movie experiences that were fun to watch as well.

The girls and I made it through about 90% of the exhibits in the Ark prior to hitting the “starving” zone. They have snack stations positioned throughout the ark, but it’s mostly crap and sugary food. So, we head out to the food court outside and grabbed some slightly more nutritious foods with a great view of the Ark. Then we headed over to watch the play in the visitor’s center.

The play was really well done, and we greatly appreciated the opportunity to view a play as this is something we used to do frequently in Anchorage pre-crazy world. We didn’t realize how much we missed it. After the play we rode on the free carousel ride, and goofed off at the very cool playground until we were ready to go.

One more picture before we go!

We headed back to the Ark Encounter on Saturday this time with Kevin. We walked through the inside again, letting him take the lead since we had already seen / done most of it. We got to finish what we had skipped over our previous visit and had time to peruse the large bookstore / gift shop and then head to the zoo after.

Their zoo, while small, was pretty cool. If I had known how small, it was I may have hit it up the first day. The girls got to ride on a camel while there. And again, they goofed off at the playground at the end until we were ready to go.

When we returned to camp, we expected to be exhausted, but, turns out, the girls ran straight to the RV Park playground, Kev and I prepped some dinner and cleaned things up for departing the next morning, and then we all walked over to the RV Park’s stage and sat and enjoyed a country music cover band. Perfect end to a perfect week.

I’ll do my best to update again soon with where we went from there. Until then, enjoy all that snow and frigid temps AK friends!

TLA Update 8: 092122

As we find ourselves wondering around I can’t help but feel a incy teeny weeny hypothetical connection to the Israelites as they wondered. I know it’s not technically the same thing. But still, here we are, wondering for who knows how long, hoping and praying for a home – or a promised land – of our own when this is over. The Israelites had some learning to do in their wilderness. I think we do to. I also think our wilderness is much, much cushier than theirs was. We have plumbing. We have air conditioning. We have a stove, a refrigerator, and BEDS! And we get to have some pretty amazing experiences on our journey.

Kevin and I have been talking lately about our entire approach to life. Our lives in Alaska were so incredibly full. It was, indeed, a time of rich blessing and bounty in many ways. Our schedules were full with amazing opportunities and our relationships were full with amazing friends. These were all very, very good things. (and we miss y’all SO much).

But sometimes “too many good things aren’t all that good.” (as I said in my blog, “Live Life Less, So You Can Live Life More: Living Out God’s Instruction For My Life” back in January of 2018 – Link here: ). A lot of how we had structured our lives before happened just because “this is what you do.” Again, not bad things. But not necessarily what God wants for this family. We are delving into a lot of learning and praying a lot about what our future should look like.

Which home the Lord provides for us will dictate a lot of this. So, of course, per usual, He is in charge. But thirty acres and a micro-farm in the country looks a lot different than a suburban sea next to all the amenities. Don’t even get me started on the differences between the states, mountain versus lakeside, near the ocean versus land-locked…SO many options!

Did I ever tell you the story about my failed attempts at buying a washer and dryer? Long story short, I attempted to complete this “simple” task various times but had to give up in frustration and walk out after an hour or two each time due to all the options! I just needed a dang simple washer and dryer, but those pesky salesmen kept talking me into adding on features that were just $10 or $15 increases alone, but before I knew it, I was signing up for heavy duty, made-for-an-army machines when it was just me and Kevin! After many attempts I gave up and told Kevin, “I don’t even care, just pick something out.” And he did. Quickly and easily. I don’t do well with too many options.

When I begin to think about where we may end up and in what kind of home, this is kind of how I feel. I’m thankful it’s not really up to me. But if you know me, you know I am a planner, and I always try to learn everything I can about everything. I’m not so much of a worrier… more just a proactive (and not too eccentric) prepper-type. It’s hard to prep for what is unknown. And in this case, I’m mostly talking about prepping my heart and my mind and my emotions and my kids for what is in our future. This is a hard lesson for me. But my God is good. While He never promises us a blessed and easy life on earth, He does want us to be happy and I believe as long as we align our desires with His, He will bless us with happiness and contentment (as defined by Him) just as He did in Alaska. After all, Paul even found contentment in Prison – because He was looking for it IN GOD, in his service to God. (Philippians chapter 4 can tell you more about that).

That brings us to today. We are in Tennessee. It is beautiful here. We’re in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis. Absolutely gorgeous. We came from another week in Oklahoma where we got to spend another epic week hanging out with family. The week before that we were in College Station, also hanging out with family and also an epic week, and we are on our way to Kentucky to visit the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, sure to be, an epic week.

We visited a Safari and the girls LOVED getting to feed animals.

While in college Station we visited a safari, learned some carpentry work, and we swam and swam and swam with the cousins in their pool.

Feeding turtles was pretty cool.

I got to scoot out for an overnight away while I attended the Discipleship Begins as Home conference in Tyler, TX. The conference was AMAZING with speakers like Elizabeth Urbanowicz (Foundation Worldview), and Amy Davison and Lindsey Medenwaldt (Mama Bear Apologetics). I got to meet some people in-person that I have been interacting with in the apologetics community online and heard some solid Biblical teaching. Not to mention Tyler area was also gorgeous! I’m excited that the Women In Apologetics conference is supposed to be held at this same location next June! Making plans (you should too)!

Aunt Julie taught the girls some finishing work and so they spent an entire day learning that and helping Aunt and Uncle with their home remodel.

While in Oklahoma we literally just hung out with family. We went to a splash pad (and school was back in, so it was EMPTY!!! So, I got to play too, and the waterslide was amazing. We drank way too many smoothies, and the benefits of camping at the county fairgrounds is we got to do a couple rides at a carnival and participate in touch-a-truck (just a bunch of different types of trucks all parked on the fairgrounds and people were able to tour them and ask questions and stuff) by just walking down the street. The downside is we all got sick.

However, that has a silver lining as well. We made it through our first sickness in the RV! All the playing, late nights, and smoothies caught up to us I suppose. It is definitely challenging to be stuck in 200 sq. ft (210 when the slide is out) for multiple days because you don’t feel well. The dogs didn’t care for that. I think I missed Epsom salt baths the most. But all-in-all, it sucks to be sick no matter where you’re at, and at least we weren’t sick when anything major was going on! Cheap parking, hot weather… not much to miss out on.

They were feeling bummed about missing out on Bear Paw and the State Fair in AK, so the opportunity to catch a few rides at the carnival was definitely appreciated.

Protip: If you go to the Ark Encounter apparently accommodations in the area fill up quick. We are staying at an RV park 45 minutes north in Indiana in the middle of nowhere. No grocery stores or anything nearby. So, I’m hoping to stock up before I leave the land of amenities. Hit me up with your favorite RV meals … or just meals in general. Meal planning has always been the bane of my existence. Hence so many smoothies. We really got to cool it on those.

Until next time loves!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

❤ the Wotrings

Live Alaska: Bloom Where You are Planted

This family is on a journey. Isn’t every family? Well, this story is about more of a specific journey. Although, there are many journeys found wrapped up in this one, and I’m sure this one’s ending will be blurred with the beginning of other journeys and with many contained therein. How does one share about one specific journey when so many others are wrapped up inside and stretching out forth from the one? I’m not sure, but here goes an attempt, nonetheless.

The year was 2017. It was summer in Alaska. In case one did not know, summer in Alaska is like heaven on earth… as long as it is not raining. Which it does a lot. But that’s neither here nor there. The point being that summer in Alaska is when one would find oneself the most content anyone could be assuming all other variables were steady.

Seward, Alaska – Summer in Alaska is like heaven on earth.

This glorious time is when we began to feel a strong calling out of Alaska.

But then…nothing. Over the next year we prayed about location, we prayed about timing, we prayed for confirmation. We prayed and prayed. Beyond using some logic and critical thinking to work out a budget and savings goals to help prepare for this impending transition we had no further direction. We felt like we were moving, but we weren’t.

It was then a friend shared about their similar experience. Gold told them, she said, that they would be leaving Alaska years before they actually left. She said that she lived in a state of expecting the move to progress at any time and that living that way for years was exhausting. Her advice? Live where God has you. Bloom where you are planted. There is a reason He has us where He has us and if we are so busy looking forward, we will miss His plan for us here.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” -Ecclesiastes 3:1

So, we did. We lived where we were. For the first time in the 25 years of living in Alaska we really committed to Living Alaska.

That was five years ago. Without knowing the future, I feel inclined to say that those five years will go down in history as being the most favorite five years of my life. With the advice of my friend in mind we began to “Live Alaska.” And we promptly fell in love with Alaska. We were all in and it was amazing.

So, it came as a bit of a shock when in the Fall of 2021 the possibility of needing to relocate popped back up. We were happy. We were content. We loved our life here. But as fall came and went and the Holiday season was reigning in all its glory, God made it clear that it was time. From buyers showing up for our house without us even listing it, to a million little reasons and a million little variables all falling into place. God began opening doors, placing us in the fast lane for whatever is next!

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light unto my path.”  -Psalm 119:105

One of our favorite ways to get out in Alaska in the winter is going on Night Hikes. Here we are at the top of The Butte in Palmer. With lamps to light our path, as the Lord is doing for us day, by day.

But what is next? That remains unknown. Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” He reveals our next step, He reveals our path as far as He is willing. One step or two, maybe more at a time. It is up to Him. We know our next step. But we don’t know where this journey is leading.

“This is crazy”. I know many of you are saying that. We say it to ourselves all the time. This is crazy. But that statement is always followed up by, “but, I have complete peace. I am confident that this is what God wants for us.” It’s crazy that we have complete peace about doing something that is crazy. But we do. We have complete peace and confidence that this is God’s plan for us. We have complete peace and confidence in God. We trust Him. If we are seeking Him first (Mathew 6:33) we know He will not let anything that is not part of His plan happen. When stepping out into the unknown doesn’t scare you, you are either crazy, which we very well may be, or you know something…which know we do. We know God. His plan is the best plan. It’s not the easiest. It will be hard. Excruciating possibly. But His way is always the best way.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Five years ago, when we first felt God’s calling out of Alaska, and when we first worked out the budget and financial planning for what would be ideal for leaving this great land do you know when that was? It was the very period of time that God is working out for us to be leaving. We left that budget, that plan in the dust, turned our focus onto Living Alaska. We were not ignorant that this was sometime in our future, but we were convinced it wouldn’t happen for years to come still. So that plan…that seemed inconsequential to us. When I think about how five years ago, the time we talked about leaving Alaska is the very same time that we are actually leaving, and all the many amazing journeys we have had between then and now I am in absolute awe at the glory and magnificence of our Lord and Savior, the Creator of this world and the universe and our very selves. He is capable of bringing about His plan. Period. No matter what.

We could have sat there and obsessed over it. Which, if you know me, you know is something I’m prone to doing (hi, I’m Meghan, I’m addicted to planning and being prepared for every possible scenario no matter how unlikely). But God gave us the glorious gift of resting in Him during our last five years in Alaska. What a beautiful gift! It is because of this that we are confident in His plan for our future, even if we have no clue what that is at this moment. He knows, and He’s way better at planning than I could ever be!

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” -Deuteronomy 31:8

So, this family is on a journey. Or rather, many intertwining journeys. We don’t know where we are going. But we know Whose we are, and we are resting in complete trust, faith, and hope in the One who holds it all. I cannot wait to see what He has planned! And no matter what it is, we are going to live it, just like we Lived Alaska!

Identity Crisis

A core need in human beings is to know and to be known

My children are of an age where they hear and attempt to understand the adult conversations around them. Merge that with a doozie of a year. They have overheard more conversations my husband and I share with each other and actually taken in more than we expected or realized. This has become obvious when they express their viewpoints based off of their elementary interpretations of overheard conversations. This has been enlightening.

A core need in human beings is to know and to be known. Love. Acceptance. One way our brains and emotions can process this need is by seeking out those with whom our inner self feels safe and comfortable with. But how do we determine who that is? This is where the social “groups” and stereotypes come into play. Those who frequent the same locations and events we do, those who speak like us, look like us, etc. Those who are familiar in one way or another feel like a more likely and safer option for our seeking of knowing and being known.

As our children listened in and are beginning to attempt to understand, even if it be in a limited way, the foundational truths behind our viewpoints they have taken it upon themselves to ask questions of those in their lives.

Being their mother, I have had the opportunity to overhear these questions at times. Which has opened up other conversation opportunities.

They ask questions, such as, which political party a person associates with, or what they think of a certain politician, or if they are a Christian. This has helped me understand how the grouping and classifying that can be done through these information gathering quests they are on can help them make sense of their world and feel safer to explore being known and knowing certain individuals. It has also sparked a thought / question in my mind.

How often do we seek organizing ourselves and individuals into these groups as a sense of control of our identity and theirs? How often are we finding our identity in these groups? How often are we assuming other’s identities in these groups?

I had someone who knows me very well tell me recently that they were not religious like me. They placed me in a group. I had my children (among others) assume what political party I am a part of based off of certain questions asked, or viewpoints expressed (they were all wrong).

I get it. Stereotypes are there for a reason. They help us feel in control, safe, and reserve emotional and mental brain power for more seemingly unpredictable daily happenings.

But as I have learned, and think many others have as well, stereotypes, while they exist for a reason, and may be founded on certain norms and statistics, are not always correct. And even when one may fit, even wholly into a stereotype, it may not be for the entirety of a person’s life. Maybe they need to adopt a stereotype for a limited time while they figure out who they are or take a break from all the emotional and social stress this society is constantly slinging.

And while someone may appear to fall into a certain stereotype, to themselves and to those around them, I guarantee if they are being truthful with themselves and know who they are they will not fit nicely into any stereotype.

While stereotypes can be a useful tool, when relied on too heavily, and when used too frequently and in place of knowing, they can and will be damaging.

I have learned long ago that I do not fit into a stereotype. I’m too crunchy for some and not crunchy enough for others, etc. I learned long ago to stop trying to fit into a group. I learned long ago who I am. That my identity is not found in a group defined by social, religious, or political values.

I am reading more and more about individuals pulling away from certain groups. Realizing some major differences in their ideologies they are finding themselves in a crisis of identity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as they leave one “group” they run straight into the arms of another. Not realizing that the flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether. They each promise they’ll be more loyal, virtuous, loving, accepting, etc.

The flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether

There is only one identity that will provide us with the truth we are seeking. The knowing and being known we crave. The love. That is the identity we walk into when we accept the gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, God’s Son when He died on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins. That is our identity as God’s children.

If we are finding our identity anywhere else it will be filled with human flaws, error, and sins. This new “group” as we have walked into is just as flawed as the one we came running away from. As will be the next. This includes every denomination and every church as well.

The amount of virtue they toot holds no comparison to the virtue God holds. The amount of love and acceptance they offer holds no value to how God will love and accept you. The amount of knowing and being known they offer you is minuscule compared to how the one who made you knows you. Even down to the number of hairs on your head. Because while you may not care about something like that, He does.

So, I sat my children down and explained that I am not a member of a political party. I do not define myself with a “denomination” of church or religion. I am not and never will be any identity other than one of God’s princesses. That is who I am. His. He loves me. He knows me. He chose me. He made me. Everything I need is in Him.

My identity is in Christ and Christ alone

I will encourage my children to find their identity in Christ as well. Not in a political party, a social group, or a church denomination, etc.

So no, I am not religious. I am Christ’s. There is a huge difference there. I am not Republican or Libertarian or a Democrat. I am Christ’s.

And I challenge you to ask yourself the tough questions about yourself. Where is your identity? What social norms are you clinging to out of a feeling of safety in the familiarity or fear of the judgement and rejection thrown at those who question “their truths”.

Or are you ready to seek Him. The One who made you, who loves you, who wants to save you. The One who’s truth will set you free, will fill you with joy, and peace. The One who wins in the end. Seek Him. Not what a progressive or a Catholic or a Baptist says is Him. Seek who He says He is. His is the only voice that will never fail us. And He promises us that if we seek Him, He will be found by us. Seek Him with all your heart.

(I do vote, I also attend a church. And I have been a member of a church in the past and may be again in the future. I am friends with those from all walks of life and will always fight for the free will God gave us and desired for us. I will fight to always point all to God, knowing He is the only one who will every truly satisfy what their soul is longing for, but we were all lost at one point, myself included. We are all at different points in our journey toward and with God. My job is to do as He commands. Seek Him, obey Him, love Him and others, and point others to Him. This does not mean I will turn a blind eye to what God says is sin. But also means I will always strive to love or allow God to love everyone, even those who hate me and want to strip away my freedoms, through me. I am no stranger to persecution. Each time I experience it is another opportunity to learn how to serve Him better, and point others toward Him. He is the author and finisher of my Faith. As He keeps bringing opportunities to love others and point them toward Him (which is THE most loving thing we can do, even when the world says otherwise) I will keep submitting to Him, learning more and more how to allow Him to love through me, because His strength is made perfect in my weakness and He is love).

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Mathew 10:30

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that You are the son of the one, true God and that You died on the cross to pay the punishment for my sins. And that You rose again on the third day. I invite You, Jesus, to come into my heart and life as my savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen”

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John‬ ‭4:7-8‬