We are currently on the coast of North Carolina. The sun has been shining and the weather cooling down as we head into Thanksgiving. These Texans have a limited number of sweaters and we have been wearing them out. Life seems surreal sometimes and the pretty pictures show our joy and not the struggle. Our girls have grown closer, their sibling affection towards each other has been my favorite thing to witness and Ryan and I have experienced some amazing miracles along the way. I’ve been reflecting upon how we got to this point.
The first few weeks of traveling, organizing and arranging were completely and a thousand percent bananas. B-A-N-A-NA-S, love me some Gwen. For seven years I watched videos and read blogs on how to travel in an RV with your family. I was a studious fan of all the YouTubers that instructed on how to organize your space and minimize the clutter. I gushed over the fancy DIYs that made your camper feel less like a boring box and more like a cozy cottage. I binge watched how to navigate national parks that were high on our bucket list. What I didn’t research, the feat I failed to focus on was the “How to Prepare Your Mind for Constant Change” video or blog. I missed that episode on all of my research. I suppose I thought I was ready or perhaps there was not a video and maybe I just assumed it would be an “on the job training” type entry.
“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.”
–Saint Thomas Aquinas
So far, no regrets. I would gladly take the struggle to grow as an person, to grow closer to my family and especially to grow stronger in my faith. That’s the real secret, faith. I never realized that constant change can bring about a sense of steadiness about me. I have discovered a different type of attitude about myself that I normally stuff away from the surface. When your environment is constantly changing you prioritize all the things that are truly important and the habits that serve you best. Being away from my community has allowed me the room to discover who I am at the core. You are constantly being shaped by the people and environment that you are surrounded by. It is funny how you take on a similar lifestyle, a similar way of speaking and even a similar way of dressing from friends with whom you spend the most time.
We miss our family and friends, we are not the same without them. We are struggling to enjoy our adventures completely because we are disappointed that we are unable to share our road stories in person. There is a comfort in consistency and accountability from our peers that makes us feel seen and connected to something important. At the same time a retreat to solitude and calm has allowed us to learn about ourselves and the things that we deem important for our family.
Traveling in three hundred square feet of our rolling residence has been extremely overwhelming and stressful in ways I did not expect. I am so thankful for the challenge, Ryan and I learned a while back that struggle makes us stronger, makes us resilient and also empathetic to others going through difficult situations. I read that the most stressful stages of life are career change, moving, new baby, illness or injury and loss. Through most of our twenties and thirties we have experienced more than one of these situations at the same time. This is still currently our situation…. ON STEROIDS!!
Our family is navigating very large life changes together. We are all adjusting to a new normal and continuously changing routine that stirs up all the emotions. Ryan is adjusting to a new work flow and we are constantly moving. The excitement of new places is what keeps us going. We are saddened at the loss of time with family and friends the most. We knew we would miss them but did not realize how much. Now after traveling six thousand miles in sixty eight days, through sixteen states and staying at sixteen campgrounds we feel that we finally have that flow and rhythm to our new life. We are more relaxed, witnessing joy in small victories and growing along side our constantly changing children. Our relationships with each other have evolved into a comfortable closeness. Long conversations and extended snuggle sessions occur regularly. When living in our house, I didn’t think I had time.
“The secret to happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” – St. Gianna Mills
God is surely smiling on us throughout our journey and adding to our already overflowing cup, we are expecting our fifth child in 2023. My thoughts were scattered at first, but I have witnessed His plans for us and have no doubt God has been preparing our family for yet another grand adventure.
Our life has been so full and we are so grateful for this wonderful addition. Our travels have only been moderately scheduled and partially planned. We have enjoyed the limited structure and freedom from routines. Now that we are preparing for a very special arrival, our life is calling for more order and a solid goal for the next year. We are still working out details and trying to take into account the needs of our entire family. Stay tuned for the chaos we call life. We are not sure what the future holds, but I have faith that we will be exactly where we need to be and with those that we need most.
“Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God’s hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little child.” – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (St. Edith Stein)
Jesus, I trust in you!