An unexpected Christmas

This morning as I think about this Christmas, I think about the many people I know for whom this Christmas is extra hard. It’s just not the Christmas they expected or wanted it to be. Some mourning the loss of a parent, others the loss of a spouse, and still others the loss of children. Many are separated from their spouse on this day due to military deployments or assignments. Many are laying sick or injured in a hospital bed or dealing with an life threatening disease. For many, it’s just not what they expected.

And then I also think about this day – the real Christmas Day that happened over 2000 years ago – and I think how that day didn’t go as people expected either. Our Savior, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords was coming. But he wasn’t coming to be born in a huge palace. Instead, he was born in a humble stable. That was unexpected.

His mother was an ordinary, young, teenage mother who wasn’t famous or well known. That was unexpected.

The first people to receive news of Jesus’ birth were the lowly, despised shepherds as they watched over their flocks. This was unexpected.

None of this was an accident, it was God’s plan. Jesus left his glorious home in heaven where everything is perfect to come down to this earth for us. He chose a humble beginning because he came to this earth to serve others and to save us – not to be a powerful earthly King. He wants us to adore him, not because of his power and riches, but because of his love for us. Because the gift he gives us is something money can’t buy and actions can’t earn.

The greatest gift we could ever receive is something we can’t buy or earn. That too is unexpected.

I pray you will receive this precious gift this year if you haven’t already. I pray you will have a very unexpected and beautiful Christmas this year.

Leave No Man Behind

A common phrase in the military is, “Leave no man behind”. In fact, part of the Soldier’s Creed is, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” This morning, I was listening to the song “So Will I” by Hillsong, and a couple lines in particular stood out to me today.

“You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride.”

“You’re the one who never leaves the one behind.”


God will never leave us behind, if we are seeking him. I think it’s amazing that he doesn’t simply allow us to come to him. That alone is an overwhelming thought. Can you imagine the President of the United States just allowing anyone and everyone to just walk into his office anytime? Or the President of any major company? The Queen of England? Of course not! Even your neighbor probably doesn’t want you just walking in their house unannounced. But God, the Creator of the world, allows us to come to him anytime day or night without an appointment. He is never too busy to listen to us. He never hides from us.

But it gets better! He doesn’t simply allow us to come to him, but he actively pursues us. He chases us down and tries repeatedly to get our attention because he does not want any of his creation to be left behind or to spend eternity in Hell. Ultimately, He leaves the choice to us, because that is free will. He doesn’t force us to come to him, because force is not love. But he never, ever gives up pursuing us.

Just like we desire relationships with other people, God desires that relationship with each of us. He wants us to come to him, to talk to him, seek his help. He knows everything about you – everything you’ve ever done, everything that’s been done to you, and everything you will do. In spite of all that, he LOVES you more than any human being ever could, and he pursues you because he wants you to spend eternity with him. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but he allows you to make the choice. Will you choose HIM? Choose to accept his love?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9


If you are a parent of multiple kids, have you ever had one wander off in a store or at the zoo? Didn’t you go looking for them, calling their name, trying to get their attention? When you found them, didn’t you rejoice? That’s how God feels about you! He is looking for you to come to him, and together with all the angels he will rejoice when you make the decision to turn to him.

  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14

Revive me!


Matthew 22:37 says,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So often we hear this scripture quoted in reference to how we are to love others. Speakers and preachers will remind us that we are to love our neighbor, and even our enemy, as much as we love ourselves or as much as we love God. However, I think we often skip over the first part of this verse. We read it, but then we move on as if we’ve got the first part down and only need to work on the second. We think to ourselves, “Of course I love God! It’s that other person I have trouble loving.

Do we really love God?

If we go back and read it, we see that we are to love God with ALL our heart. ALL our soul. ALL our mind. Am I really doing that – loving him with my whole heart, not just part of it?

Am I putting God first in everything I do? Do I start my day with him every single day? Seek his word and his will in all things?

Do I obey his word? Not just the Ten Commandments, but all of it – even the parts that tell me not to worry, or to go and make disciples.

Do I really trust him with everything?

Our church is in the middle of a revival time this week. We are having several times to gather together, sing worship songs, and hear a speaker share God’s word with us. It’s a sweet, sweet time. I’m sure you are familiar with the word revival. You’ve probably even seen it on a church sign advertising an upcoming event. But what does it mean? Why are we having a period of revival as a church? The simple answer is because we want to love God more. It’s something that all followers of Jesus Christ need, not just the people that attend this one specific church building on Sundays. So, as a church, we are committing to focus on this more intensely this week.

According to Webster, REVIVAL means “a renewed attention to or interest in something”

In the Bible, when the word REVIVED is used, it literally means “to return to life”. We see this in I Kings 17:22, when God brings a boy back to life from the dead.

We need to bring our love for God back from the dead. To renew our interest in Him, and our attention to Him. I know I’m guilty of losing my passion sometimes in the middle of the day to day life stuff. We let ourselves get too busy. Distraction is a tool the enemy uses to keep our eyes focused on things of this world, instead of on Jesus! It’s very effective. In fact, a few distractions and suddenly we are doing the enemy’s work for him by keeping our heart, soul, and mind on things of this temporary world that don’t matter instead of on Jesus – the only One who does matter.

In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus is talking to one of the churches and he says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth!

Whether you drink water, coffee or tea – you probably like your drink hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Just like those drinks are disgusting to us at that temperature, it’s distasteful to Jesus when our feelings for him are lukewarm.

What does it mean to be lukewarm? We become indifferent to him by letting the distractions of the world kill our passion and love for him. We then let our indifference become idleness and we stop living for Christ. Maybe we just barely get by in our relationship with him. We read our Bible as a checkmark on our To-Do list instead of to truly meet with him and hear from him. We go to church because it’s tradition rather than because we are going to worship him. Or maybe we stop going to church because we’d rather sleep in, we have other activities on Sundays, or we don’t get along with someone at church. Ultimately, when we allow other things, no matter how big or small, to become more important than Jesus – we’ve become lukewarm.

When this happens we get focused on ourselves, what we want, and what will make us happy. Jesus doesn’t want us to follow him halfway or be Christians in name only. He wants us to be passionate and on fire for him! He wants us to constantly revive our faith.

I’m praying for revival this week. In my heart, in our family, in our church, and in our community. We need Jesus more than ever, and until the day he returns to take us home, we need to live our lives for him.

As you look ahead, don’t miss today!



Ever feel like you are wandering through a desert in life? Maybe you are waiting for orders to go to the next duty station. Maybe you are in between jobs and wondering what is coming next. Where will you go? When will you go?

Let me encourage you this morning. God knows. He has a plan for you and if you trust him, he will reveal that plan to you in his perfect timing. Just trust him and obey him a step at a time as he reveals it to you. You likely won’t see the whole plan at once. You probably won’t even see the full “5 year plan”, but he’ll give you just enough light for the step you are on if you are willing to take it a step at a time and trust him.  By the way, Stormie OMartian wrote a book called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On”, and I highly recommend it!

I’m a planner myself and I do like to know what the schedule is. Each week, I look at the week ahead and make plans. I plan meals, school, field trips, laundry days, family time – trying to balance it all. I often write things on my calendar a month or even months in advance but honestly, a week at a time is about all I can really schedule. More like a day at a time. Life happens. Things come up. Someone gets sick. People need help. So we have to be flexible.

Jesus wants me to be flexible in my schedule so that I can do things for him. If I’m so tied to my schedule that I don’t have time to help a neighbor then I’m too busy. If I’m rushing so much that I don’t have my quiet time with the Lord each morning reading his word, praying to him, and listening to him – then I’m too busy.

There is a comfort in knowing that God is really in control of my schedule, and if I will allow him to lead then I know I will get where I need to be, when I need to be there.

This morning I was reading my Bible in the book of Numbers, chapter 9, – during the time that the Israelites were wandering in the desert. As they were traveling along, they didn’t stay at hotels, or pop in to a friend’s house to sleep on the sofa. Instead, they had to pack up their entire camp and take it with them to the next location. Their “camp” would have been approximately 12 acres in size with all the people & animals that were with them. That’s a lot of tents to take down and set up! Not to mention the entire tabernacle that had to be taken apart and carried to the new location and then set up again. It wasn’t a small pop up tent either. The tabernacle itself was about 45 feet x 15 feet, with the outer court area measuring about 150 feet by 75 feet. It required 3 different tribes of people to carry all the parts of the tabernacle to its new location.

How did they know where to go, and when to travel? God showed them! He revealed himself as a pillar of fire over the tabernacle during the night, and a cloud over the tabernacle during the day. When the cloud moved on, the Israelites knew it was time to move too. Sometimes, at his command, they would stay somewhere for only a few days. Other times, they would stay for a month or a year. Whatever the time, they obeyed God’s command and encamped at the place he chose for them.

God didn’t just randomly send them out to a strange place. God always went ahead of them to lead the way and he always remained with them. Just as today, he never asks us to go somewhere that he hasn’t already been.

We stayed at one duty station for almost 5 years. Another one we were at for only 9 months. So far we’ve been at our current one for 8 months. We assume we’ll be here for 3 years or so, but the reality is – only God knows. Not even the Army is in charge of where we will go – God is. When it is time, he will direct our path and lead us to the place that he wants us to go next.

In the meantime, we are to live for him HERE. So often, we are so busy looking ahead to what is coming next that we miss the blessings of where we are NOW. Whether we are here for a few days, or a few years, I believe God has a plan and a purpose in our location and in everyone he puts in our path. Sometimes we meet someone that affects our lives in just a few moments.  Sometimes we never see them again, and other times they remain in our lives for years.

As a military spouse, it’s easy to get to a new duty station and avoid getting involved in the local community because we know that we will move again one day. It’s hard to make friends knowing that you will have to leave them again. But if we avoid getting involved and meeting people, we miss out on SO MUCH. We miss out on blessings that the Lord has for us, and we miss out on the opportunity to bless others.

Living in our RV, we meet new people constantly. Some come and stay a long time at the campground, and others are only here for a night or a weekend.  Either way, we love meeting these new people – hearing their stories, learning about their lives.  God’s timing is perfect, and he often places people together in the same place at the same time for a purpose. We need to be open to seeing what he has planned for us each day right where we are. How can we love the people that are around us right now? What can we do for Christ today, right where we are?

What if there wasn’t a “next” to wonder about? What if right here, right now was the last place I’d be before Christ comes back? We don’t know what the future will hold, so let’s make the best of each day that we are given right where we are. If and when it is time to move on to another place, he will let us know – and we will follow him.

Our 1 Year Fulltime RV Living Anniversary

One year ago last week, we purged & sold 90% of our belongings and moved into our 30’ camper (187 square feet) fulltime.  It’s funny because a couple years ago, living in an RV was something we only dreamed about for retirement “one day”, but now it’s our every day reality – and we LOVE it!

I really meant to update a lot more during our first year, but life got in the way of my blogging.  I’ll work on that and try to do better this year.  I can hear Yoda now saying “Do…or do not.  There is no try.

Let’s recap the past year, shall we?  We moved out of our house and into our camper on March 30.  For the next 5 months, we enjoyed life at a campground in Maryland near Rob’s work.  It was a great “first home”.  We woke up each morning to a beautiful view of the water, made some amazing friends, celebrated all 3 of our birthdays there, dealt with a couple storms with no issues, cooked and ate lots of meals outside, went swimming often, & fed lots and lots of ducks.


Memories from Bar Harbor RV Park in Maryland








Then, before we knew it, it was time to move down south to Georgia.  The Army said it was time to go, so we went.  That’s how it works.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – it was the easiest PCS move ever!!  We took a 2 week vacation to get down here, camping and sight-seeing along the way.  Then, we settled in at a campground in far eastern GA right near the coast.  Or so we thought.  It turns out we weren’t settled after all and that God had other plans for where he wanted us to live because then the hurricane happened.

We’ve now been at our current campground – Beaver Run RV Park – for 6 months and we couldn’t be happier.  The campground, the people, the friends, the community….they all truly make this a HOME. 



A really great playground where the kids feel right at home


A beautiful spring fed lake perfect for swimming, kayaks or paddle boating


So, how has it been for 3 people and a cat living in 187 square feet? 

Absolutely wonderful!  Does that make us crazy? Probably, but we’ve learned to embrace that title.  There are definitely bigger families than ours in tiny spaces, though. 


Seriously, this has changed our lives for the better.  Pretty frequently, Rob and I check in with each other to see if we still like this way of living.  Every time we both answer a definitive “YES!”.  In fact, we often say we can’t believe we are getting to live like this daily. We’ve always loved camping and getting to do it every day makes me feel spoiled.  Life is just more simple. 


We spend so much less time cleaning.  Our weekends are now filled with family time instead of cleaning house, yard work and chores.  In fact, we’ve had to get really creative finding jobs for Emily to do to earn money.  She does a lot of chores just for being part of the family, but we also pay her a salary for certain jobs as a way of teaching her how to handle money wisely because that takes practice.  However, with this lifestyle there are a lot less household jobs to be done!  The entire camper can be cleaned in under 30 minutes, and there is no yard work to do.


We buy less stuff & spend less money.  There is no room for a bunch of randomness, so we think twice about every purchase.  It has to have a true purpose and a place to go once it’s inside the camper.  No shopping sprees at the thrift store on a whim, or buying random things at a yard sale just because.  If something comes in, something else probably has to go out so better make it worth it.  I also spend more wisely at the grocery store because there is only so much room in the fridge or pantry to put things.  We are forced to use up what we have before buying more.  We make great use of our Amazon Prime for shopping though because we can buy our vitamins, cat food, cat litter, and even clothes without going to the store and being tempted to buy more than we planned.


Our daughter THRIVES in this environment!  She gets so much outside play time! She practically lives outside, which is truly her element. She rides her bike, plays at the playground or just in the nature with other kids, participates in an art class here at the campground, and is enjoying meeting new people too. 


Even the cat is happier.  She has several choices of prime seating right in front of a window where she can watch the birds & squirrels play.  Unlike most cats, she is a “pack” animal and loves her pack of people.  She used to follow us around from room to room in the house so she could lay down near us.  Now, she can just pick a spot and her people are always nearby.


We have so much more family time!  This happens naturally because we are all in the same space instead of off in separate rooms doing our own things.  We play more games, cook more meals together, chat more about all the little things and just enjoy being together.  We aren’t fools – we know time is limited before our daughter will be off on her own doing grown up things, so we are cherishing every bit of time we can.  It’s also great for our marriage.  I fall more in love with my husband every day, and it’s nice to be able to be together in the same space doing our own things instead of being in opposite sides of a house.


Oh, the people you’ll meet! One of our favorite parts of this lifestyle is meeting new people!  Living in a house it always seems people come home, go in through their garage, close the door and never come out.  At a campground, people are always out taking walks, cooking on the grill, or sitting by a fire.  New people are coming and going all of the time – some just passing through and others staying a while.  We’ve met so many interesting people with some incredible life stories.  Getting to know people at potluck dinners, game nights, Bible studies, or just stopping to chat while on a walk is a great part of the experience. We’ve made some great friends over the past year, and many I think will be friends for life now.


We don’t miss the STUFF.  We haven’t missed all the stuff we purged before moving into our tiny space.  Not at all.  Ok, I take that back – there was one thing.  Hangers.  We accidentally got rid of too many hangers and had to go buy more because we hang most of our shirts to dry.  That’s it.  We do still have a storage unit for now to hold some off-season items, Rob’s tools, our memory boxes, and a few extra craft items for me or toys for Emily that get traded out from time to time.  Once we upgrade to a 5th wheel, we will get rid of the storage unit because we’ll have more storage built in.   But all the boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff that we sold/donated/gave away/trashed??  We haven’t looked back.  I haven’t even missed all the coffee mugs or craft supplies I let go.  Emily hasn’t wanted 90% of the toys she thought she would.  It’s been so freeing.


Any bad parts?  Honestly, the only downside is that we can’t travel as much as we want due to Rob’s job.  Retirement will come one day though, and we’ll do more then.  At the same time, we really enjoy staying put and being a part of this community here at the campground and in the local city.  


Lessons we’ve learned:

* Propane tanks are way cheaper to refill at Tractor Supply than to trade out the tanks elsewhere. 

* Space heaters are really nice in the winter and make a huge difference in comfort.

* Dehumidifiers are a MUST! We started out with a couple tiny ones, but ended up with a 30 pint model.  It might be in the way from time to time, but it is worth it for the amount of moisture it pulls out of the air!  You don’t want mold growing because it’s too humid.

* Emptying the gray/black tanks are really not a big deal at all.

* Pinecones landing on the roof of a camper during a hurricane can sound like bricks falling from the sky. 

* The night sky always looks better from a campground.

* Campfires never get old.

* Doing laundry at the campground laundry room is not only not a big deal, but I also like it.  Unlike in the house, now I wash, dry AND put away all our laundry in ONE day!

* My husband was right – we didn’t need to bring the ice cream scoop because a spoon really will do the job.  I did however, reclaim my lemon squeezer from storage. 

* You don’t need a dishwasher when you have a 12 year old.  I’m now understanding how my parents went so long with a broken dishwasher when I was in high school.

* Folding step stools are extremely helpful when you are only 5’3”!


Where do we go from here?  Will we ever live in a house again?  Not if we can help it.  Of course, we don’t know what the future hold or where the Army will send us.  It’s possible we could go somewhere that living in our camper isn’t feasible, but for now we have no plans of leaving the camping lifestyle. 

Hurricane Matthew in an RV

This past September we moved from Maryland to Georgia due to Army orders.  We took a fun 2 week family vacation on the way here, and then settled (so we thought) in a little town called Townsend near the coast of Georgia.  It was a cute little town, but evidently it was not meant to be our home. 


Before the storm

Just a couple weeks after moving here, Hurricane Matthew headed this way.  I know there are a lot of people that are quite familiar with hurricanes, but we’d never been this close to one before.  In Texas, we had tornados.  In Maryland, we went through a record-setting blizzard.  In North Carolina, we lived far enough inland that all we ever had was lots of rain during a hurricane.  But this time, we were only about 10 miles from the coast of Georgia.  Right where the hurricane was headed.

As it got closer, I just kept feeling like we should move further inland. After all, we live in a camper.  It’s portable.  Why stick around if we can move out of the danger zone? I truly believe that the Holy Spirit was urging me with this.  I love how God communicates with us when we are trying to listen to him.  I had this feeling in my gut that was so strong I had no doubts about it.  So, I started looking for campgrounds further west. We couldn’t go too far because I knew the Army would still want Rob to show up for work, but I found a place that was much further inland and looked like a good location.  I called to make reservations for a couple days later, and it was God’s perfect timing that I did so when I did. 

The next day, mandatory evacuations started for places on the coast, and campgrounds started to fill up as people either moved their RV homes, or left their “sticks & bricks” home in their RVs.  We were 1 mile away from the mandatory evacuation line, but then a couple days later even our area became mandatory.  By then, all the campgrounds were FULL.  I was so thankful I listened to the urging when I did.

It turns out, it was a GREAT move for us.  I can only give God the glory for using the storm to bring us here.  We arrived at Beaver Run RV Park on Wednesday, October 5.  We had a couple days to get settled before the storm was to arrive.  The community at the park came together for a potluck dinner, and prayers about the upcoming storm.  What I didn’t realize when we made the reservation was that the park is owned by a Christian family.  I loved that we all came together to meet our neighbors and pray together before the storm hit. 


During the storm

That Friday, October 7, Matthew was scheduled to arrive.  We had done all we could do to prepare.  Our fresh water tank was FULL.  Our propane tanks were FULL.  We had plenty of food on hand, and coffee of course!  Rob was off work that day, so we sat around playing games and watching the weather channel all day. 

Rob and I made a pot of coffee and planned to stay up all night watching it just in case we needed to make a run for it. Our area was forecasted to get tropical storm winds and some flooding. We prepared ourselves and our stuff in case we needed to make a quick run for the truck to get out of dodge. If that had happened, we’d have left the camper behind. Thankfully we never had to leave here. Saturday morning at 1:00 AM, we lost power, and we had to listen to pine cones and some smaller branches falling on our camper all night, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad. Once we lost power, we decided to lay down and sleep if we could. Emily had already been asleep for a long time and was peacefully unaware.  Thankfully, the weather wasn’t too hot, so we opened some windows for some fresh air.

All night long, I prayed.  Not as much for us to be protected, but that I wouldn’t be fearful.  God controls the storms, and I knew that no matter what, he was with us. A verse that really stuck out to me during this time was:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Psalm 34:4-8


After the storm

Saturday, we surveyed the damage, and we were all ok. Rob’s truck got a small dent from a branch falling on it, but it’s so old it doesn’t matter. Only 1 camper here got damaged, and NO ONE got hurt. I felt so much better once I saw that even a pop-up camper was still standing the next day.  God is good, all the time! 

We spent that next day helping to clean up around the campground – picking up branches, moving tree parts, etc. We had clean water, plenty of food and gas to cook with, so we were totally fine even though we had no power for 43 hours. Can’t complain – we weren’t hurt and didn’t have to suffer. The temps even cooled down at night so it got cold with the windows down. Glad it wasn’t crazy hot for all those without power.  A great thing about the camper is that the stove & oven run on gas and the fridge can be electric or gas.  So even without power, we could use our fridge, keep the food cold, and cook like normal. 


Eating breakfast outside after the storm


Getting creative making coffee.  No power, and no french press so we boiled water on the gas stove and poured it though the coffee maker.

After the storm passed, we decided not to return to our previous campground.  We discussed it as a family and even gave Emily the final choice.  We’ve moved her around so much that we wanted her to have a say in this.  We’d already started looking for churches and activities in the first place, so it would mean starting all over. It would mean Rob had to commute an additional 10 minutes to work (we were now on the opposite side of post, and a little further away), but he was willing to do it.

She wanted to stay. We all agreed that it felt like we were HOME.  The co-owners (who own the place with her parents) have a couple kids that are homeschooled. Emily was having a blast playing with them. The camp has a cool playground here and it’s just a super friendly environment. They do regular potlucks and other events and it feels like a community.  Many of the people here are regulars, so they really are like a family.  The grounds are absolutely beautiful with lots of trees and a very woodsy feel to the sites.  The individual sites are huge so we have lots of room, and there is a pond for swimming. 





Our new home at Beaver Run RV Park – I think we’re going to love it here!

Our PCS Vacation from MD to GA

I’ve already told you how this recent PCS was the easiest one ever, but now I want to share some of the fun we had along the way.  We had some incredible family time enjoying God’s creation in many different ways. 

Our First Stop was Luray, VA

We chose Luray because we wanted to see the caverns the area is famous for, and we were not disappointed!  Absolutely beautiful. We stayed at Outlanders River Camp, right on the Shenandoah River.  What a breathtaking view we had!  Sunrises & sunsets were magnificent from this spot.  I’m not sure I’d want to be there much in the middle of summer with no trees for shade, but I guess with the river nearby you could just spend all day in the water and it wouldn’t be an issue!


The view from our campsite





Our camper at sunset



A panoramic view



While we were there, we spent some time hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  We plan to through-hike the entire trail one day after Rob retires, so we just really enjoy any chance we get to set foot on any part of it.  We also spent a few hours driving and exploring the views along Skyline Drive – a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service’s Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains.  I highly recommend visiting this area!  By the way, we drove on Skyline Drive in just our truck….not pulling our camper. 


Along Skyline Drive








And of course, a visit to the Shenandoah River is not complete unless you play in it – so we did!




Our second stop was in Fancy Gap, VA for just a quick overnight stop before heading to our third stop in Chapel Hill, NC.  We stayed at Spring Hill RV Park and we chose this campground because it was close to our destination – Carolina Tiger Rescue.  Our daughter’s favorite animal is a tiger and she loves all cats, so we couldn’t resist stopping to see some big wild cats up close.  We were all very glad we stopped here.  We went on a tour and saw lions, tigers, ocelots, servals, and many more.  This is a great organization that really cares about its animals.  They rescue and take care of animals that have been mistreated or surrendered by owners that finally realized they had no business trying to keep one of these wild animals as a pet.


Our campsite at Spring Hill RV Park



Carolina Tiger Rescue




Our fourth stop landed us in Charleston, SC.  We had a great campsite at James Island County Park.  We didn’t get to stay long, but there is a LOT to do in this area.  We were there long enough for a fun Water Taxi boat tour, and to eat at the Early Bird Diner.  The diner was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri and it definitely lived up to the hype!  We at there for dinner one night and liked it so much we went back the next day.  For a family that rarely eats out, that’s saying something!  I recommend it as a “must do” if you are ever in Charleston.


The Water Taxi ride – very relaxing!




The Early Bird Diner




Our last stop (or so we thought) brought us to Townsend, GA where we settled in at Lake Harmony RV Park.  This is a nice little campground in a super small town set on a beautiful spring fed lake that is good for swimming.  I recommend it if you are passing through or if you want to be settled in a small town away from it all.

It was a really great vacation in the middle of our Best PCS Ever, and I’m so thankful for all the amazing family time we had together.


We thought we were going to stay there in Townsend, but a couple weeks later – The Hurricane Happened.  Go read that post to see where we ended up.

Best PCS Ever: Living in our RV from MD to GA

We recently completed our first Army PCS since moving full-time into our RV 6 months ago!  PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station, but it’s never permanent.  In fact, we were at our last duty station in Maryland for just 9 months before the Army decided to move my husband’s unit away from that post, resulting in his orders assigning us to Fort Stewart, Georgia.  This was our 3rd PCS as a family and by far, this one was the easiest!!  We are definitely loving our decision to simplify.   Leaving MD wasn’t easy on the heart because of all the wonderful friends we had made there, but the move itself was quite painless.


Prepping to Move

Since we’d been living in our RV for almost 6 months, everything we needed for daily life was already in our RV, one of our trucks, or in our storage unit (off-season clothes, extra tools, books and things we aren’t yet ready to part with).  About a week before the move, the Army movers loaded up all the boxes and belongings we had in storage into their big truck and drove them to GA for us.  The Army gives us up to 90 days of free storage, so they held on to all our items until we arrived in GA and secured a storage unit in the area.  Once we arrived in GA and got settled, we just called them to give them the address of our new storage unit, scheduled a day to meet them there, and sat back while they unloaded all of our belongings for us. 

A few days before the big move, Hubby drove his truck down to GA and caught a flight back home so that we could all travel together in one vehicle on moving day.  We were planning to take a couple weeks of vacation and do some sight seeing on our way to GA, and wanted to travel together in one vehicle.  

Oh, and we did NOT do a DITY (Do it Yourself) move, or even a partial one.  Some people say when they move with an RV, they unload it, get it weighed, reload it, and weigh it again.  The Army will technically pay you for whatever they would have moved, if they had done it all.  They won’t pay to move your RV, but they would have paid to move all the stuff inside it.  Therefore, if you get the weight of your belongings inside the RV, they will pay you whatever it would have cost them to move those things.  Honestly, with the little amount of weight we have inside our camper, it wasn’t worth the hassle to pull it all out and get the weight of it.  We just let the Army move what we had in storage, while we moved the RV and the belongings inside and we called it a day.   The Army already pays us a Per Diem to help with food, lodging and gas along the way so that was good enough for us.


Getting the Kitty Cat Ready



We also had to prepare our kitty, Angel, for the move, especially since we were going to be on the road for 2 whole weeks.  A couple weeks prior to the move, we started taking her for practice rides in the truck.  Just short little ones around the campground or down the street and back.  We used to travel with her in a crate, but the crate stresses her out so much (it’s bad!), that we decided to try something new.  We simply carried her out to the truck and gently placed her in the backseat with her favorite girl – our daughter.  We had a harness and leash on her just in case she tried to make a run for it, but she never did.  She’s not really the type to bolt anywhere (she is 11 years old, after all), and she has never acted like a “crazy cat” so we weren’t too concerned about her running all over the truck or getting in our way.  She’s typically very mellow and laid back.  Unless, you try to put her in a crate and then she makes sounds worse than nails on a chalkboard.

She did GREAT with the rides, so that’s how we handled the big trip – just lose in the backseat with no crate.  We put her litter box in the back floorboard, just in case she needed it.  We never traveled for more than 4-5 hours in a day so we didn’t feed/water her during travel time.  When we put her inside the truck, I always placed her into her litter box because sometimes she pees when she’s nervous and I wanted to make sure it went where it should.  After the 2nd day, I don’t even think she was doing that anymore.  Most days, she just calmly walked around a little, looked out the windows and mostly curled up right next to her girl, or on top of the book she was trying to read.  She’d meow at us every so often to tell us she really disliked moving, but then she’d calm down again.  We also gave her regular dosages of Rescue Remedy for Pets (all natural) to help her anxiety.  At the end of each travel day, we’d put her back inside her home (the RV) again and she’d curl up in a favorite spot and take a nap. 


Moving Day & Beyond

When the big day arrived, all we did was hitch up the camper to the truck and pull out of the campground.  Here we go!  We spent a couple weeks on the road, exploring and having some amazing family time.  It was so nice to spend each night in our own home, in our own beds without having to live out of suitcases or in and out of hotels.  We didn’t have to worry about finding pet-friendly places to stay, because we took our home with us, which also caused way less stress on our sweet kitty since she got to go back to the same place each time rather than a new place every few days.  We kept our fridge and freezer stocked with food, so we were able to cook real meals each day rather than eating out, which saved a ton of money.  Eating out can be fun on occasion, but it’s so expensive and we much prefer our own home cooking most of the time.  Except for that one diner in South Carolina – it was so good, we ate there TWICE! (More on that and our vacation here)

One of our favorite parts was bringing our own bathroom with us!! It was so handy because anytime we needed a potty break on the road, we could just exit and pull over to use our own bathroom.  We didn’t have to find nice, clean gas stations or wait for a certain exit.  Just pull over and go! 

Every few days, we woke up in a new place, ready to explore and have some fun.  We toured caverns, explored a big cat rescue, played in a river, and did some hiking.  We played hard, and slept well – each day we woke up together as a family after a good night of rest in our own beds. 

Definitely the Best PCS Ever!

Do you need PEACE in your life?


Do you need more peace in your life?  I always feel peaceful when I am surrounded by nature.  I love being by the water watching it move with the wind or being surrounded by trees and listening to all the birds chirping – away from all the noises of daily life.  Unfortunately, the reality is that we can’t escape every day life all the time and we do have to face some difficult circumstances and challenging situations.  How then, do we hang on to that PEACE all the time?

The truth is – there is only one way to true, lasting peace – JESUS.  It’s not automatic, but everyone has the same opportunity to experience it.  It’s not just a matter of believing in God – most people do.  It’s not even just believing that Jesus was a man who really existed.  The way to that deep down, in your gut, everlasting, constant peace is by choosing to believe that Jesus is God’s son, he lived a perfect, sinless life and then chose to die on the cross to take the punishment for all our sins – every one.  For you.  For me.  Why?  Because he loves you that much and wants to spend eternity with you.  He could have called on 10,000 angels to save him from the cross, but he chose to sacrifice himself for each of us.  And that’s not even the best part – the best part is that he rose from the dead 3 days later and He LIVES today!

2 main things separate Christianity (followers of CHRIST) from other “religions”.  One is that we worship a LIVING Lord!  Every other religion worships someone who is dead or a statue that was never alive in the first place.  The second thing is that most religions say you have to work for your salvation.  They say you have to earn it.  Make sure your good deeds outnumber your bad ones.  Some even say you have to hate or hurt people.  That’s NOT right!!  There is nothing you can do to earn salvation – an eternal perfect life in Heaven – because it’s a free gift being offered to you. All you have to do is choose to believe, on faith, and accept it.

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

You believe that wind exists right?  Yet, you don’t see it – you simply see the effects of it on other things.  Well, without any doubt in my mind, I see evidence of Jesus and God every single day.

Accepting these truths, will bring you PEACE.  Not a perfect or painless life, but a peaceful one.  My life hasn’t been perfect or painless – in fact, there have been many, many heartaches, physical sufferings, trials and hard times.  But through it all – I’ve found peace, because I trust in the One who is in control.  The one who created the universe, knows the number of hairs on your head, controls the sea, gave the birds their songs, made the bumblebee able to fly, makes a tiny acorn grow into a magnificent oak tree – He is in control and he loves you!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through FAITH, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5:1)

We are justified (saved from eternal damnation in Hell) by our FAITH – not our works.  That is what bring us an everlasting peace.    You don’t have to have all the facts to have faith.  You don’t have to have all your questions answered to have faith.  Thank goodness, because we never will!  I don’t have to understand everything about how something works to believe it’s true.  Take the step of faith, and open your heart to letting Jesus into your life.  It’s so worth it!  YOU are worth it! 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)