Friday, June 12, 2015

Unexpected Part 2

It is now June and we are back in VA living in a 2 bedroom condo we just bought 3 weeks ago. Talk about unexpected! No, we did not get homesick and feel the need to rush home. Far from it actually! We ended up settling in Southern CA in the Murrieta/Temecula area. Oh my word, it felt like heaven on Earth. It felt like home, which is why we needed to leave.

Don't get me wrong, leaving was incredibly painful. I shed a few tears; but, we felt God telling us-Not now, not like this. Let me backtrack a bit....we stopped in SoCal to visit friends and many of my relatives. We intended to stay a few days, then a week, then it was Christmas, then my cousins offered Kay a job, and we just never left to head up to Northern CA. The whole point of going to NoCal was to save up money in order to live in SoCal. Friends were offering to let us park our RV on their farm for much less than the cost of rent in SoCa. We hoped we could make enough with the jobs my cousins were offering Kay and thought it would be a good idea to move out to Murrieta/Temecula and "check it out" before settling there upon our future return from the farm.

Christmas with the cousins!
We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for 2 weeks and found an amazing apt. in Murrieta. Seriously, it was the best apt. I have ever lived in. And we absolutely fell in love with the area. Extremely family friendly, affordable, diverse with farmer's markets on the weekends. We even found a wonderful church within walking distance. It was like a small town community with big city amenities.
Our bright living room 
Our view at sunset
However, Kay's full-time job was in Tustin/Irvine and he was  leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark. On top of the commute, we were spending $600+ in gas/month. Purchasing another fuel efficient car just wasn't feasible. He looked for employment closer and found a driving school willing to employ him and even help him open his own school in the future, but the licensing requirements are very different than VA and we were told it could take "4-6 months."

We knew this wasn't going to work for us for much longer. The #1 reason we sold our house and bought an RV was to have more quality time together. So he either needed another job closer or we needed to move closer to the one he had. We prayed and applied and decided to put our apt.up for sublease and make the move to the OC.

The hunt for an apt in Orange County was pretty depressing. We either had to spend close to 2k/month for a small 2 bdrm or live some place I didn't feel comfortable. The price to live in paradise. We almost committed to an apartment in Laguna Niguel, but really had to gut check our purpose and priorities.

Time together. Being debt free. Living below our means, not paycheck to paycheck. Being able to travel with the kids. Moving to Orange County or staying put in Murrieta were both directly against these goals. Southern CA is not a place you move while trying to pay off debt.

So many memories of Redondo Beach Pier. Now more!
Did we make a mistake in staying and not continuing on our plan? I don't believe so! We knew it would be tough, but we gave it a valiant effort and had an amazing time!

In the 4 months there, we reconnected with my loving family and several friends. My girls fell in love with their cousins the way I had with mine. I took them to the places of my youth and my heart swelled with such unimaginable joy. It changed what I thought I wanted.  I had envisioned a nomad/RV life for years to come. Being a homeowner again sat very low on my list. Yet, for the first time in 20+ years, I experienced the sense of  "home" again. I had moved back to CA for about a year many years ago, but it did not produce the same nostalgia as it had this time. Although I loved it, I was in a different place. I hadn't met my husband and had not envisioned raising my kids with a childhood similar to mine.

My old stomping grounds
Laguna Beach on our anniversary in February

My lovely cousin with her hubby. Miss these guys!!
Little Corona (Corona Del Mar Tide Pools in Newport Beach) 
Checking out the sea life
Fast forward...a great guy took over our lease at the end of Feb. and bought all of our furniture. We put the rest of our belongings in storage in Temecula. Drove back to VA. Moved back into our 5th wheel. Saved up some money and paid off a few bills. Bought a low maintenance condo that will rent well in the future. Until we are debt free, we will call it home. Kay got his instructor license for CA the day before we left, which is good for 3 years, and has a job waiting when we go back. We are not sure how long it will be until we're debt free and ready, but we know it's all in God's timing. We hope much sooner than later as we can't wait to go back!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

When the Unexpected Is Better Than You Thought Possible PT.1's been 3 whole months since my last post. Left you on the eve of our departure, but we didn't actual leave then. See my sweet hubby decided to put the tuner on the truck the day before and whatdoyaknow....the oil temp was running borderline hot even before we hooked up the fiver. Not an immediate issue if the truck was just the truck, but loading up 14k lbs and driving cross country would not be pretty. So, we called Ford (we have an extended warranty), but the earliest they could get us in was in a week. So we waited the week.

Then they called and said their diesel tech up and quit and it would be several more weeks before they could get us in. But, it didn't make sense we should be back in this boat. We just had this issue "resolved" a little over a year ago. Literally. It was Just. Over. A. Year. by a few weeks, so the oil cooler was no longer under warranty. I seriously couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. And if we went down the path of getting it replaced (again) it would be another warranty battle and obviously this would not be a forever solution. Kay (hubby) was so over the truck. Actually he's not even a truck fan (I'm the truck fanatic..this was my 3rd) and he especially did not care for this beastly thing. We then had a very relaxed and simple convo that went something like this:

Kay: I'm so over this and this truck. We're selling it. End of story.
Me: What about the 5th wheel? 
Kay: We're selling it too.
Me: Where are we going to live?
Kay: No idea, but we're selling it all and just driving to CA. God will work it out b/c we've come too far and we're not staying here.
Me: Hahahahaha....ok, honey. While really thinking, "My sweet man has momentarily lost his mind."

Well, apparently, my husband was spot on. We had a few weeks of time share saved up, so the new plan was to stay in local resorts until the items sold. Not if, just until. We were confident they would sell...and guess what!! The truck was sold within 4 days of listing it for the full price we were asking. We also had a very nice stay right on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach with an oceanfront suite and enjoyed views like this for a week.

Virginia Beach (view from bedroom balcony on a beautiful 80 degree day in Oct.)

View from living area window (rain clouds moving in)
We then stayed in Williamsburg,VA for 3 weeks (I think) which was further from VA Beach, but here we had a huge spread (two units really) and were able to have friends join us and have a very nice time. While in Williamsburg, we decided we would buy a used SUV with some heavy duty tow power. This way when we got to CA we could buy a pull behind travel trailer to live in on our friend's farm. We also decided to pull a small U-haul trailer to take what remained of our possessions. We still had our Honda CRV, which we had put for sale WEEKS earlier, but didn't mind keeping as our nephew in college agreed drive it out with a buddy for us and fly back (cool road trip for him!)

Well, we found a great deal on a very clean, well-maintained 08 Dodge Durango on Craigslist with a Hemi 5.7L and third row seating that can tow 9,000 lbs, just about any reasonable trailer. The people we bought it from were extremely nice and made the experience very pleasant. Plus, it has leather, height adjustable seating, and a dvd system (my must haves that Kay thought would be impossible to find in our price range. HA! No limits on God!).

Then, a day and half before we were going to set off on our cross county adventure, we get a call from a guy who wants to buy our CRV, but he's in North Carolina about 6 hrs away. Apparently, his daughter saw our ad on Craigslist and said, "That's the one I want." He asked us to meet him half way in a few days, but we explained we would be leaving town and could not do so. He then said, "Well, I don't mind buying it sight unseen. If you want to check with your bank, I'll go make the payment and come pick it up next week if you want to leave it with someone." Ummmm....who in their right mind DOES this??? This guy right here pictured with his lovely wife.

So, he went to our credit union in NC the very next day, made the payment, and trusted us to give him the car and the title. We went to DMV, got the title, and drove the car to him and his wife in NC a few days later. This was the first stop on our cross country voyage. In meeting them, we learned they are strong believers in Christ and do this kind of thing when it feels right. All God. We also stopped here for the night as Kay's Aunt and Uncle live just 10 min from here and enjoyed the evening and breakfast with a few more family members before continuing on.

Kay and his Aunt Denise
Kay and Aunt Barbara
Cousin Corey bonding with our youngest
Everything we own! CA bound!

I'm going to pause the adventure here as this post is long enough for now. But I will divulge that we made it to CA in December. We did NOT make it to our friend's farm in Northern CA, nor are we living in a travel trailer like we thought. What happened is even better. Details on our cross country trip to come! Thanks for reading. God bless!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I Love Roller Coasters

This is it. In 48 hours, God willing, we will officially be "on the road." I wish I had the words to elegantly convey the exact feelings I have about it; however, the best I can do is equate it to the feelings you get when you're about to ride the newest, fastest roller coaster at the park. If you do not ride roller coasters, you can do so vicariously through me:)

You get to the park, see it from the parking lot and tell yourself, "If I do nothing else today but ride that, today will be a good day!" So, you head over only to find that the line is ridiculously long. You exchange questioning glances with your mate, shrug it off, and agree it'll be worth it.

For us, not only was the line excruciatingly long, but we experienced "technical difficulties" with no estimated time of repair. We debated about getting out of line and trying it again at another time, but we came here just for this ride and leaving now would leave us beyond disappointed, devastated even. So we stayed, endured and tried to make the best of our time while we waited.

Finally, it is time to take that step. You get on, fasten your harnesses, take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. Then the upward ascent begins. What started off as 100% pure excitement slowly mixes with a whole bag of emotions you had not anticipated. Your heart begins to race and the full reality of your situation presents itself. You can't see the track in front of you or what is to come. All you know is you are so very far from where you started and moving away from those you love. All the "what ifs" swarm your thoughts and you question your judgement about getting on in the first place.You give your harness a few extra tugs, yet at this point, you know it's all pretty much out of your hands. You accept there is no turning back. Suddenly, you're reminded that you absolutely love roller coasters!

All the excitement rushes back. You look out past the treetops as you crown the top and have one of those moments. I believe this moment may be different for many people. For me, it's a very poignant and significant moment of peace and clarity. It's a moment where I feel completely present without any cares or concerns. I feel at one with the world and know I was divinely created. It's a moment when I'm reminded the world existed long before me and will exist long after I am gone. And I am more than ok with it. I love this moment. It's brief and only lasts a few seconds before the ride takes over and you are all consumed by the ride.

That is where we are right now. We leave in 48 hours (or less) and we are at that last upward push before we have that crowning moment and the ride takes over. I expect that moment to be after my husband and I share that last solidifying look before he puts the truck in drive, and I look behind me and see my beautiful children all buckled and excited to take this ride with me.

I am so excited to see what God has in store for us. I know it'll be full of unexpected twist and turns, ups and downs, cries of laughter and fear, but I do love roller coasters, and I can't wait to share it all with you!

Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

No Doubts

This week began with hoping and praying that the cost of repairs for the truck would not be diabolical. I felt confident that whatever amount quoted would be less than the loss we'd take on a trade in, so I was prepared for something in the thousands. What I was not prepared to hear from Twisted Diesel in Chesapeake VA (recognition to them for being honest, courteous, and prompt) was them telling us that our truck was just fine...actually, it was running great and was in excellent condition to use their words.

The only "issue" found could be remedied with the use of a tuner that they suggested Kay could do himself as it's not too complex. They gave him some tips and sent us on our happy way. Oh, and the price of the tuner is around $350. Praise God. They also told us about an aftermarket kit (that we knew we would need to get if we kept the truck long term) was already on the truck! Yeah, don't know why we didn't know that, but we didn't. Now we do, and it's great news.

To think, we were ready to buy or rent another house so we could save up and sell/trade in our 5th wheel combo because we just did not "trust" the truck. Yet, who were we really not trusting? But He has called us according to His will and He closed those doors which would have taken us on another path. The door closed on the condo on which we were under contract to purchase as well as the other numerous houses we attempted to rent.

At the time, we would just complain and throw our hands up. We momentarily held negative opinions about the the people that would give poor directions and then leave their phone in the car or the strange property management company that made us of set up a viewing a week in advance only to have that appointment cancelled because we did not call an hour ahead of time to confirm (again) or the house that sat vacant for months only to have its lease signed the DAY BEFORE we want it! The very first house we looked at for rent (great neighborhood, cheap, and directly across the street from our church) was all ours, but I just did not get a good feeling about it, so we decided to wait, and someone else got it. There were more with similar odd results. We would question and wonder what God really wanted us to do. Yet, we weren't listening to his voice. We were using our own reasoning and earthly understanding to make logical, practical, beneficial-in-the-future decisions as to what would be best for us. Thankfully, that did not get us far.

Finally, we submitted and said, "Ok, Lord, what would you have us do now?" Then, we listened and waited. As I wrote in my last post, he simply said, "Get the truck fixed."

Now we know, without any doubt, that we were meant for THIS adventure at THIS time. And that, my friends, is a good feeling.
"But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams."

1 Samuel 15:22

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Too Many Choices. Too Many Distractions. Back on Track!

So, it is now nearing the end of September and we are still in Virginia Beach. I could complain and give nagging details of why we're still here or tell you all of our various ideas we've conjured in the past month or so, but that would be lame. I"ll just to tell you that We.Got.Distracted.

Not sure if it was us alone or the enemy waging warfare, but we were presented with too many variables and "what ifs" and it got in our way. It started when our truck started having a problem pulling the RV. This led us down a slippery slope that had us questioning every desire, thought and practically every futuristic outcome possible, but mostly God's plan for our life. Not a fun place to be. We have come so far in this journey and turning back now (buying or renting something to leave at a "perceived" better time with a "perceived" better rig) just feels wrong. Oh, but did we make a logical case for each and every scenario!

So, after much prayer, we had to simply take it back to basics. Had to re-ask ourselves, "Why are we doing this? What is our mission?" And then listen to God's answer. Guess what He said? "Get the truck fixed." If he were condescending, there would have been a "Duh." added at the end.

That is where we are at. Truck goes in for a diagnostic on Monday, which I found for free!! Scoured some diesel forums on powerstroke 6.0L repairs and found a specialty diesel repair shop not far from here (with great reviews) that is offering free diagnostics on duramax, cummings, and powerstroke diesels!! That just saved us a couple hundred bucks. So even when we get distracted, God blesses us when we aim to get back on track!

So, please be encouraged if you find yourself distracted that it's never too late to focus and persevere. 

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The First 2 Months

River Access at Northwest River Park and Campground
Aug. 1 will mark two months since we moved into the RV, and I really cannot believe it! Time has gone fast, but we have had some good times to show for it. We are still finishing up some business with the driving school as well as some doctor visits/checkups before we head out. Right now, we are looking at September 1st as our departure date! We are planning on taking the Northern route to CA, but have no real deadline. Just making an itinerary of all the places we want to visit on the way!

"Camping" has been good for us! I still consider tent camping, true camping, but for purposes here, we'll call it camping:) Either way, we have been truly amazed with how kind and generous our camping neighbors have been. Apparently, we have a huge neon sign above our RV that says NEWBIES. Not that we have minded as many campers have come to our much needed aid. Others have just been very friendly and it has been so refreshing! The grill you'll see below was a gift as well as the bike you'll see N.J. riding. We didn't ask or mention a need, they were just "paying it forward" and they only ask we do the same when the time is right.

The girls and I are also becoming more outgoing. Our shy N.J., gets excited when she sees other kids and asks if she can make them her friends! Kay has always been outgoing and loves meeting new people and hearing their stories. This is right up his alley!

I must say, we all are enjoying this time in more ways than we thought possible. We haven't even begun traveling yet, but just this new adventure of living in an RV has been pretty fun! Plus--my family kinda rocks:)

So here's a few snippets of what we have been up to! N.J. wanted me to share that she is now able to swim underwater! She doesn't go very far or stay under very long, but the girl has great form and is holding as much air as her little lungs will hold! Unfortunately, we do not have photos of it yet, but we will!

Loved this place! We were a little sad we will not be returning as this was our first camping home, but we had some good times and learned a lot! Here's a look at the fun stuff this campground had to offer!

Breakfast on the grill. So much faster than on a stove!

Dinner on the grill! Love burgers grilled over charcoal

The girls are great at gathering firewood!

Both N.J and N.A have learned to ride big girl bikes!

Friends camping with us! Enjoying the water!

King of the Paddle Boat

N.A....Loves the water. Had to keep this girl from jumping in!

N.L and Mama. We're busy taking selfies while Papa is busy paddling!

N.J, N.L, and N.A....little princesses of power! (Yes, Papa took this)

They now ask to go on walks! Love when they hold hands when you haven't asked them to:)

The RV Dream

Our New Home

When we had this vision of living in an RV almost 5 years ago (soon after baby #1) I knew it was something I could do and would most likely enjoy doing. My husband, Kay, thought I was little crazy (nothing new) and would kindly listen to me ramble on and on about this full-time RVing all while nodding and saying things like, "Interesting" and "Is that right?" Yet, at some point something changed and he jumped on board. Even though, he had a few more concerns with the small space, towing, camping, showering, privacy, and a whole list of other "what ifs".

Even before we were married, we had always dreamed of traveling and seeing as much of God's creation as we possibly could. RVing seemed like a comfortable way of doing so, especially when traveling with kids. While researching RV vacations, families who lived in their RVs (full-timed) kept coming up. The more I read, the more it seemed possible and something which we should be so fortunate to do. We read about families that were able to spend time together, precious time together. They were out seeing things we had only seen on TV or online, their kids were being "road schooled," so instead of reading about the Gold Rush in a chapter in a book, they stood on the same ground panning for gold just like the original 49ers. Their priorities seemed different, not necessarily better than others as I do not think this lifestyle is for everyone, but they seemed to align more with our own.

We prayed and prayed asking God for wisdom and guidance about this vision/obsession we now had. We needed to know if this was His calling or if this was just us not being content with that in which He had already blessed us. And blessed we felt! We were running a successful business that we both enjoyed, I was able to work from home and be with the girls, we had just bought a house, were close to family, loved our church, had good friends, and more.

So why was it not enough? Was this not what we were suppose to achieve? Why were we feeling like we were missing something? In all honesty, I still don't quite know. Sure, I could name some reasons that led us to think this was pretty cool, but really to DESIRE so strongly to live in an RV and fore go so much seems beyond a list of reasons. Seems more like a calling.

So, we said let's do what we have to do to make this happen and leave the rest in His hands. Did we know how it would all play out? Not at all! We knew we had to sell the house, we knew we needed to reduce our financial payouts, we knew we would need to buy an RV. Eventually we knew we would love to be back in California (my birthplace).  And that is about all we knew!  We had ideas, but there had to be a timing of things that were well beyond our understanding. We were just going to go for it and do our part and trust He would bless our efforts and give us with something better than we could ever imagine! Pretty cool how He is always doing that. And, of course, He did it again.

The RV dream became a reality. A few weeks after we bought the RV, friends of ours in Northern CA kindly and excitedly suggested we come stay on their farm. Although details are uncertain, it seems we may be able to be a blessing to them as well! Not long after we received the invitation, God also provided an amazing person to work for the driving school. Someone who is also being blessed by this plan. Someone we have known for years and trust completely, but who just never came to mind. All God's timing! It's wonderful how God's plans are always far superior to our own and as we have found in the past, just like now, that when you get out of His way and give Him complete control, you give Him a stage to do what He does best--He pours out His love and brings on the glory!