I planned on writing this update a long time ago but as time so often does, it got away from me. For anyone interested, here is a little life update on living arrangements, answered prayer, and God’s faithfulness.
As I sat down to write this, I realized once again just how faithful God is and it moved me to tears because truthfully I haven’t always seen this so clearly – which I know now is because I didn’t always truly believe He was! I’m so glad I sat down to write because these are the things that are so easy to forget but these are the very kind of things we need to write down so that later when doubt comes, we can hold them up like a victory banner.
It is said that when Roman soldiers marched in to capture a city, they would hold up banners with the names of all the places they’d conquered before to intimidate the enemy they were about to attack. I feel that answered prayers and seeing God’s hand, no matter what capacity, are our banners. We write down what God has done and take it with us moving forward and when we come upon an enemy – something that tries to steal from us, lie to us, or destroy something God has ordained – we can hold these banners up and proclaim all of the previous victories and all the ways God has been faithful before. God did it once; He’ll do it again. And this is what we lift high, not all the doubts and questions in between or all the times it didn’t look like anything was happening. There is so much more happening at any given moment than just what we can see!
We love living in the country, as you probably have guessed if you’ve read any previous posts. I can honestly say that these few years living in the country in a travel trailer have been some of the sweetest of my life. But they’ve been hard, too. Not just because of living arrangements, although that stint living separately from Cowboy was a rough one, but not having a real house was just one more area in life that I felt “stuck” in. What was supposed to be a transition period for a couple years started to feel more like being stuck in the mud than blossoming into something new.
Since we’ve been here the Bible has started to come alive so much more to me. The more I learn, the more I see that the Good News of Jesus is truly too-good-to-be-true news! Here I was starting to see all these things in God’s Word and I’d get excited because it’s true and tells what I can expect! Then I’d look at my life and it seemed that every single area was so different than what I saw in God’s Word for me. Without going into too much detail, I went through periods where it felt that every area of life was a struggle and so many times, I felt like I was losing – in marriage, in parenting, in health, in business, in finances, and just in my own thinking. I have not for a second thought that all these things were due to our decision to sell our home and live in our travel trailer for a season, but you know how when one area of life starts to feel really wrong, it’s not long before you start to see all the other areas that aren’t going right, either? There were many days I felt like everything was stuck and falling apart and that probably had more to do with perspective (I’m sure it did!) but regardless, that’s how I felt.
Last Fall we realized we had a big decision to make. It was becoming clear that we needed a new camper. We had lived in ours full-time for over 2 years when we had originally just gotten it for camping. It was a fantastic camper – nice, comfortable, clean, with great storage. It protected us during the 70+mph winds that lifted us off the ground one vacation, it protected us through tornado season in Texas, it traveled across the country and kept us cool in the sweltering summer heat. But as you can imagine after living in a travel trailer for a couple years, it was starting to get tired and it was time to find something else. The question was, did we find something as cost-effective as possible and plan on buying a house soon even if it wasn’t where we wanted or what we wanted? Or, did we spend more money and get a nicer camper to live in more long-term while we kept pursuing what we were sure God had put on our heart? We didn’t want to get a cramped camper and end up having to live in it for another couple years if we ended up building. And we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a nice camper if we wouldn’t be living in it much longer and added a house payment. Decisions, decisions.
We went to look at campers (5th wheels, rather) on our vacation last September and I was blown away by some of the options available now! Lofts, washer and dryer hook ups, 10 foot ceilings, full-size fridges… I walked around one fifth wheel and remember thinking, “if I could choose any one of these, it would be this one.” It was more than we were looking to spend and nicer than what I thought we needed to get by so I tried to dismiss it, wishing Cowboy wouldn’t have asked to see it. We went home with a lot to think about – it’s hard to make a decision about the future sometimes when you don’t know what the future holds (which seems to always be the case!). We both spent a lot of time thinking and praying through all our options, looking at different pull-behinds and 5th wheels, researching online, and talking to people who owned one or the other but we still struggled with what to do.
During this time, a plot of land that we had looked at the year before came back on our radar. I think the only reason it hadn’t sold yet was that it wasn’t on the MLS and the seller wasn’t in a hurry to get rid of it. We had looked at it before and I absolutely loved it, but it was further out than Cowboy wanted to be, so we kept looking. We had already been thinking about building because we had started to run numbers and realized we could probably build exactly what we wanted for a lot less than something half as nice in the current market (mainly since Cowboy can do a lot of it himself).
We had to decide what to live in. We had to decide whether or not to act on this land again and if so, where to go from there.
Sometimes you just need to make a decision and if it’s not the best one, know that there is Grace to help you on the other side.
One day I sat down with Cowboy and proposed a plan: we get the nicer 5th wheel, pay cash for the land, and save up to build while we live in the 5th wheel for another year or two. We still didn’t feel peace about buying a house in an area we didn’t want and we both still really felt that we were supposed to be on some land. He didn’t say much, which is normal when he’s really thinking. And him thinking about it was a good thing because if I can say one thing about Cowboy, it’s this: while I can be impulsive and, “let’s just do it and figure out the details later!” he will analyze the heck out of things and look at it from every angle he can think of to see all the ways it can play out. He sort of agreed that it might be a good strategy and I left it in his hands.
Early in October the decision had been made, the papers signed, and Cowboy and I pulled our brand new 5th wheel home. It felt surreal and too-good-to-be-true. We were pulling it behind us, moving into it, but it still didn’t feel like it was ours because it was too nice and I felt like we shouldn’t have something so nice. We got a good deal on it and it fit our budget and no other camper we looked at came anywhere close to meeting our needs like this one did, but it still felt wrong because it was too good. For the first month I kept feeling that it wouldn’t last – like maybe we’d have to give it back or it would start falling apart. I felt that we would somehow lose it because the past had conditioned me to believe that I shouldn’t have anything too nice or expect anything too good because there was always another shoe that could drop (again, because I didn’t truly trust God as being and giving only good or know anything about my authority or the power of my words or so many other things).
Then one day in late December last year, Cowboy came home and called me out of the camper. “I need to talk to you.” My first thought was one of fear – what’s wrong? But then he smiled and I knew before he said it what he was going to say. I started crying immediately and asked, “is it really ours? Like, really, really?” The owner of the land accepted our offer and it was ours. Years of searching and believing that the word God had spoken to us was still coming and now the beautiful plot of land was ours.
Here are a few things I didn’t mention before. When we first moved out to the land we are currently on, we drove through the most charming neighborhood one day. I say neighborhood, but most plots were on at least a few acres of land, with some parcels being much larger. There were trees and a few small hills and I remember thinking, “I would love to live in a place like this someday.”
We picked up a flyer from a house for sale on the street and as I thought, it was over twice as much as we wanted to spend. You know how you just have passing thoughts that come through that just feel so natural that you don’t even really stop to check where they came from? Like, they are based off of all of your life experiences and my life experiences then had always said that money was a struggle to come by and the thought that passed through my mind was, “I knew it. I knew it was too much.” Too good to be possible. It was beautiful… but it wasn’t for me. But God! Our land is in that very same neighborhood. I never would have dreamed when we drove through it years ago that this would be God’s answer for us.
Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than what we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
This is a verse that comes to mind over and over again when I look back on what God has done – not just the 5th wheel and the land. I know the things I’m sharing might not seem like a big deal to some, but to me, after years of praying and waiting and trying not to dig up my seed of faith but keep it planted even when it seemed nothing was happening, it was everything to see that little sprout shoot up – that evident answer and provision.
We are now in a season of saving and planning as we prepare to build. We’d like to pay cash as we go as much as possible which means we won’t start anything until we have most of it saved. In the meantime, we have a LOT of planning to do and while we do, we are very comfortable. Very, very comfortable.
I am as thrilled with our camper as I was when we got it. I still sit in front of the fireplace sometimes with a glass of kombucha, surrounded by big windows and a view of forest, and I think, “is this for real? This is ours and we can take it anywhere!” I think sometimes when people hear we live in a 5th wheel they feel sorry for us but you have no idea – THIS IS AWESOME!
I now have a full fridge and pantry, an oven THAT WORKS, a REAL toilet seat (not an inch wide “I’m not a real toilet seat” seat), the kids have their own spaces and privacy, we have plenty of room for company, and because of the 5th wheel design and bedroom upstairs, it’s easy to get away for some quiet when needed. It’s spacious enough to do a video workout with the kids inside when it’s too hot or cold outside and small enough that I don’t mind when it’s time to do a deep cleaning. I took a few pics to help you picture it (pics are much cleaner that it usually is in real life so please don’t feel bad about your laundry on the couch right now – mine is on the couch right now, too!).
When we sold our home a few years ago and decided to pursue a dream, we felt so clearly that it was God leading us. We were excited and a little scared and thought, “this is happening!” But it didn’t, at least not in ways we could see, for what seemed like a really long time.
I love the analogy of seed time and harvest. You plant a seed and before you ever see any sign of a plant, the roots are growing strong to help establish what is coming. Every plant has a different seed time but when it’s good seed and tended well, it will ALWAYS produce a harvest. God’s Word is always good seed.
If God has spoken something to you or led you to do something, don’t be discouraged by what you don’t see – don’t dig up that seed of faith to see if it’s “working.” Many times in life I have felt that God spoke something but when I didn’t see it come to pass with my physical eyes right away, I got distracted looking for more answers. I wonder how much I missed by being distracted by what I saw and felt wasn’t happening and how much longer some things have taken because I got sidetracked. I have just really been feeling that when God gives a word, we should hold it up over our heads like a victory banner, even if we don’t see it yet because the truth is, we do already have victory through Christ. We don’t have to wait until we see it to celebrate it or use it to proclaim God’s faithfulness.
The enemy is after our belief system and he would like nothing more than for us to question God’s faithfulness, question who we are in Christ, and make us think that we are fighting to attain a victory when the truth is, we already have it!
We are living in a too-good-to-be-true camper with too-good-to-be-true land and too-good-to-be-true kids with a too-good-to-be-true Savior. Because God is a too-good-to-be-true God and I know now that I can expect good and only good things from Him. If this season has taught me anything, it’s to never dig up the seed of faith when God has spoken and I can’t see it with my physical eyes yet (feel free to remind me about this!); to never let circumstances try to tell me who He is; to write down the victories, make banners out of them, and hold them up high going forward because the banner of His love is always flying high over me; to let go of the pride that says, “I don’t deserve this. It’s too good.” It’s pride because what that really says is, “I know better than God does about what I need or should get” and it limits what I allow Him to do for and through me. I don’ know about you, but I don’t want to limit God! I want to live with my hands open and my heart ready.
We have yet to put even one piece of wood up on our land where our house will someday be. And though they are getting less, there are still days when I am tempted with thoughts of, “it may not happen that way for me” or “it won’t ever change.” But this I do know: there is tremendous power in giving thanks for each and every victory I do see and the more I look for them, the more there seem to be.
Here’s to the next season!