The Story Behind Becoming a Travel Family
Updated: May 31, 2019
While we often huddle in groups of like-minded people, those with faith blaze a trail that threatens all of our comfort zones. Faith offends the stationary. ~Leonard Ravenhill
It was the spring of 2011. I was sitting in a teacher’s room during a meeting. Still being fairly new to the district, we were just talking and getting to know one another a little. I can’t even remember how the topic came up, but one of the teachers close to retirement started talking about the year she took off to travel the country with her husband and children. How it was one of the best things she’s ever done.
I can’t explain what happened inside of me after that conversation. Something was released. It was like I had this desire deep inside of me and this conversation was all it needed to bubble to the surface. It was at that moment, this dream of traveling with my family was planted in my heart.
I deeply believe that that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the hearts of Christians. Dreams are given, hearts opened, visions seen, callings spoken. I don’t say this lightly and I don’t say this in a judgmental way, but I think more often than not, we as Christians abort these ideas that God gives us. We shrug them off because it’s not the time, or they’re too expensive, or they don't make logical sense. Sometimes the opposite happens. We jump right in because we feel God spoke to us and think we need to do something right away because we know what God said to do. And then when it falls short, we dismiss it as not being from Him. I would gather to say, though, that the latter is usually true.
I say this because I spent much of my life in that safe place. I’ve always been one internally to buck the status quo, but I've allowed fear to lead me, rather than the Holy Spirit. And so obedience hasn't been my strength.
I’m not going to claim to be some expert on knowing when to act when we hear from God. Sometimes, there is an immediate obedience to follow where we jump in with two feet and go for it. But I think more often than not, there’s a waiting that’s required. A waiting to know more clearly what He wants, a waiting that grows us so we’re ready, a waiting where He prepares us for what's to come. A waiting where we recognize how much we need Him. A waiting that grows our surrender, because we realize there’s so little we can do on our own and so much we need Him for. We take steps towards what we feel like He’s calling us to. But we let Him guide them. We let Him show us the path, rather than taking the path we want and hoping He’s along for the ride.
That has been our story. A story of waiting. Believe me I speak from experience that this process can be oh-so-painful. And I think that’s what causes people to jump ship. We live in a time and place where we want things handed to us. We want to be on the other side already. We don’t want to face the hard work in front of us. We’re not willing to go after it, no matter the cost.
Does the Bible say to obey God only when it makes sense? Only when our bank account is full? Only when we’ve established a retirement account? Only when our kids are grown? Only when we have been trained properly? Of course not. And in fact, when you look at the brave men and women of the Bible who obeyed His calling, you can see that their path was full of things that were hard. Things that cost them. Things that made no sense, but yet things that brought honor and glory to God and brought them blessing.
Thinking back to that moment 8 years ago, if God had revealed all that would happen to lead us to actually traveling together, we likely would have said no. The time that followed cost us a lot. We didn't actually seriously consider this lifestyle until 2016. And yet, every step we took in obedience was Him slowly leading us to it without us realizing it.
I quit my job in 2013 to be home with my children. We added a fifth child and started homeschooling in 2014. In the following three years, I lifted hundreds if not thousands of prayers for direction, for jobs, for provision. We considered selling our house numerous times but it never felt quite right. We saw God move over and over in huge ways to show us He could be trusted when we didn't see the future.
Those years cost us financial strain and debt and yet, how much have I learned that God is my provider. It cost me relationship with people who didn't understand and yet how much have I learned that my audience is One. It has cost me physical stress and wear and tear on my body but how much have I learned that He gives me rest. It has cost me more than my share of tears and doubt and uncertainty, but how much have I learned that He is always with me.
In May, 2017, we sold the only home we ever owned, most of our possessions, and moved in with my parents, thinking it would only be a few months.
It wasn't for another five months that we actually bought an RV. And then we didn't move into it until the following June. And we still remained in PA until October when we finally headed south, with a tiny bank account, limited remote work, and yet full hearts that somehow, God would show us the way, even if it was only the very next step.
I can tell you that nothing had happened the way we thought it would. We never found the consistent remote work we thought we would. We didn't head west the way we thought. We weren't running here and there and seeing the amazing sites we thought we'd see right away.
And yet, God provided in ways we didn't expect or even know that we needed. We met new friends that we cherish. He used fellow traveling families to help us make repairs and get comfortable on the road. He provided a community of fellow traveling believers. And eventually, a traveling job that was location dependent, but still allowed us the freedom to be on the road.
I'm learning that the cost above all else, is myself. It's laying down my expectations of how this life is supposed to go. It's surrendering to the Lord daily and giving Him the pen to write my life story and that of my family. It's giving Him my heart fully.
When I give myself away, is when I find Him.
I'm convinced that the hardships we endured (and continue to face) in those years of preparing to travel were simply a preparation for this next season. What has been planted will reveal a harvest.
I can't tell you why God led us to this lifestyle. Other than that He weaves our lives with those of others. He has purpose and destiny for each of us and when we just finally surrender to Him and walk in obedience, the path is laid out for us. What’s fascinating to me is that the God who can do it all, still chooses to partner with us. He chooses to use us.
I want my family to be part of Kingdom work. Maybe it’s just as seed planters, maybe it’s more. I'm asking Him to reveal the work He has for us as we take our next steps in this travel lifestyle. We only ever have the next step, never anything past that.
Before we left, I felt like I heard Him saying, “Take me with you.” Not in a begging way like, “Please, don’t forget me.” But in a commanding way. And at the same time a reassuring way. “Take me with you. Remember, I make my home in you." Christ in us, the Hope of glory.
Whether we travel the country the way we imagined or not, we trust that He is sending us where we are to go. We are to do Kingdom building work in our family and with those He puts in front of us.
This lifestyle we live isn't for everyone. God’s not asking everyone to do it.
But He is asking all of us to be obedient. Are we quiet enough to hear it? Are we willing enough to do it? Do we trust the safety of what we know and what makes sense over the call of God to something we can’t see or know what the journey will be like?
Missionary Philippa Brooks says this:
I cannot offer burnt offerings to the Lord that cost me nothing. This past year has cost a lot, obedience often does. But as I sit here on the other side of those decisions and choices, of following the Lord even when it felt hard and it hurt - there is so much peace and joy. It is everything our souls were made for - to be at peace and to be fully committed to the way of our Savior. We are now within the final leg of moving into this new village and instead of asking the Lord, "Why Lord? Why me?" I find myself saying, "Thank you Lord - thank you for allowing me to experience you so faithfully and so personally as you call us on in your perfect will." There are no regrets in following our precious Savior. There may be hard days, hard years, but the grace, the peace and the joy He pours into our lives through it makes the journey a gift for which we praise Him for; for through it we know Him more. I pray if any of you feel the Lord is asking hard things of you right now, that you will follow Him, obey Him, lean into Him no matter how unclear the way ahead may feel - and that you will trust Him with all your heart. It is worth it; simply because He is worthy.
I can echo these sentiments on the "other side" of taking steps in this travel life. How thankful I am for all He has done for us and for who He is. And even though we have no idea how to answer the question of "what's next?", there's peace and joy in the waiting and trusting.
What hard things is he asking of you, dear reader? Go after Him. He is worth it.