Hands Full is here!
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or under water as a mom of little ones, dear soul, you are not alone. I am right there with you; so is our Father in Heaven. This 30 Day devotional for moms with their hands overflowing, is full of real life experiences and hope in the One who rescues us from them all: Jesus.
It’s a windy Tuesday and we are all in the RV. It’s pretty cozy, (all those throw pillows are helping. 🙂 I knew there was a reason to bring them). Okay, and screens. Screens are helping too. Everybody is on a screen right now! (Insert a nervous smile, because we are all familiar with what happens after screens, right? WWIII.) No, screens are NOT my favorite, and we limit them, but there is a thing called “necessary evil” right? Maybe this doesn’t apply to iPads, but alas, it’s where we’ve landed after a kind of rough start to this morning and a continual wind that blows sand in your face.
Over all, I would say RV life has been fun and better than I expected, but this morning was hard. Getting back into school after a four day weekend with five kids in a 5×10 space because it’s cold and windy outside wore me out. To say the least. I ended up walking out of the the RV when the eggs fell because I needed air. And patience. Fighting one to get out his school book, while another wanted eggs, while another one kept trying to ask me a question, while my five-year-old daughter kept saying, “Mommy, mommy. Mommy,” only for me to finally ask her what she wanted and her reply, “I love you.”
Sweet girl. I love her too.
If only I had more patience some days. And 15 hands. Those would be great too.
Honestly, today would have been hard RV or not. Some days are just like that.
Getting back into any groove you’ve gotten out of it always a challenge, whether it’s running or cooking or reading your Bible. Or homeschooling your kids.
We’ve been doing the four-day school week, Monday thru Thursday, which I have been loving. It gives us Fridays as a freebie. A full day to adventure, explore, and do some life-learning.
This past Friday, we went whale watching. One of my life goals is to see a whale breach in the water, like in the commercials for Pacific Life. I’m going whale watching until that happens. Mark my words. Well, that didn’t happen Friday. Obviously. Or else there would be a BIG humpback whale breaching at the top of this post and I wouldn’t be writing about a windy Tuesday. But, it was refreshing to be out on the water with the wind in our hair and the sun on our backs. We didn’t see any whales actually, (it’s a little early), but we encountered a pod of 50 Bottlenose dolphins and met another super sweet homeschooling family. The dolphins swam with the boat, in front of, behind, and next to us, even jumping out of the water to give us a show! It was Sea World in the ocean! Such a treat. Even the biologists on the boat said this was an unusual experience. Grateful.
Saturday, I had a chance to speak to a mom’s group at SeaCoast Grace Church and it was fantastic. A gift to fellowship with moms, even if we froze, wore masks, and kept our distance. My heart was warmed all the same. Mostly, the same I guess. I do miss hugs. I am SUCH a hugger. You don’t realize how much physical touch is a love language until you’re not supposed to physically touch people! I find myself apologizing a lot. I do the Elaine from Seinfeld thing where I hit people on the shoulder when I get excited. Sorry. Not trying to spread Covid, just laughing at a joke. And yes, I was one who would reach out and touch the pregnant belly of a mom I was meeting for the first time. Forgive me. For better or worse, I am getting better at refraining.
Physical touch. Physical presence. There is something about being in the presence of people that makes our hearts happy. (Though some space does help, as I realized this morning! ;)). I hope we don’t forget about the soul healing that happens when we get together once this COVID thing has passed us over (Lord, please please may it pass). I remember hearing in high school once that a person needs 12 hugs today. That is a lot of hugs. Pretty sure even though I’m a hugger I’m not dishing out nor receiving 12 of them every day. I should probably work on that.
Sunday, we made it to church! A big outdoor church service and it was so good. We got In N Out Burger for lunch, like we usually did when we went to church and it felt kinda normal, even though we ate on the curb in the parking lot because there is once again no outdoor dining in CA. It was a tradition, church and burgers, that I’m glad we got to live out in our very nontraditional, atypical life these days. We all enjoyed it. Curbside delivery.
Monday was laundry day, among other things. Actually it ended up being pretty full with a zoom meeting, cleaning up the place, and a few in person visits, which were sweet.
And so here we are, Tuesday, super windy and kinda cozy. A day inside the RV is nice once in a while. The kids spend 90% of every day outside, which is amazing. (Thinking I should really track it for a few days and see.) As soon as they are finished with breakfast and have changed their clothes they go outside, scootering, biking, playing in the sand. The world, or the RV park, is literally their playground. It’s pretty dang nice.
As for us, the two adults here doing all the dishes and sweeping and laundry, we are hanging. It’s like I anticipated: high highs and low lows. From Dolphin sightings, to barely a moment to ourselves, to meeting the sweetest old man at the pool, to sand in my bed.
Like last night, for instance, we made a fire on the beach right in our backyard while the kids were sleeping in the camper. We sat and talked as we watch the logs burn slowly and crumble into orange embers, while the clouds above us came and went revealing black sky and tiny diamonds underneath, and the city lights glittered across the bay. It was a beautiful night. And we talked about the ranch and our favorite things from our old house. Fires was one of them. And four wheelers. We talked about good and hard things. RV life and future plans. I loved every minute.
And so, the dying and the rising. The up and the down. Last night was amazing, and this morning was horrendous. For a twenty minutes anyway. We had a do-over and we read the Bible as a family in a mini-family meeting. We apologized and we hugged it out. And we told the kids they can’t be so demanding! Ha. Okay, but really. Lord help us. I know they need us, but how can they need us in a way that saves everyone’s sanity? Praying about that one.
Well, I guess that’s it. We’re alive and well. Grateful for the adventure. Embracing all of it. Excited for what’s ahead. May God go before us and behind us and beside us. That sure helps. 🙂
Hellooo out there! It’s been a while.
I can’t believe I wrote absolutely nothing on here about our lovely time in a duplex in Tahoe this fall! It honestly makes me sad because it was a gift of a season our family will always cherish.
Now, however, as of January 1, 2021, we are proud residents of a Thor Four Winds 31E Motor Coach, our new mobile home, and the adventure is truly underway. We have completed our first week in our six-month journey around America.
Actually, we have finished our tenth day, if you’re counting, and believe me, we are.
The kids are all snuggled in their little RV beds, Darrell is snoozing by my elbow, and somehow I find myself awake in the dark and quiet with a mind that is able and willing to string a few thoughts and words together. It’s a miracle! But I’ll warn you, I’m rusty. So get ready for some bad writing. They say you have to get the bad writing out first, in order to get to the good stuff, but I barely have time for the bad writing these days! However, I want to write regularly here in an attempt to document this most-likely once in a life-time adventure we are on. I say most likely, because who really knows anything these days? We may be roadies for life. I mean, that could be cool. Maybe.
But if you were to ask me what I think of it so far, I would say–better than I anticipated.
AND mind you, we have dealt with a clogged toilet, a leaky sink (which has turned into a sink that won’t drain), and a door that wouldn’t shut right. All problems we caused, not problems with the motorhome itself. I think that’s good news?
Still, it’s better than I anticipated. I guess the beach helps with that. Oh yes, forgot to mention we are at the beach!
After leaving Sacramento on New Years Day, we traveled to Fresno for a few nights to visit friends, and have been “resting” in Newport Beach since the 4th. It’s pretty sweet. And sandy. So so sandy. But we are right on the sand, err beach, and the kids play outside our door for hours and hours. I’m so grateful for that. It helps even out the downside like the leaky sink and the ENDLESS laundry. End-less. I guess I could count the number of loads, but it’s easier to count dollars, and we’ve spent almost 40 of those on laundry the six days we’ve been here. Yikes!
The upside? The upside has been connecting with people. Pulling into a spot at the RV park is a little like opening a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. (Thank you Forrest.)
Who will our neighbors be today, we ask when we hear the rumble of a trailer coming towards us. It’s a crap shoot, but we have won the RV park gamble more than once. We have met some truly wonderful people. People like Scott from Mississippi who heard we were giving away the proceeds of my book to widows in Rwanda, and he came back and handed us 8 times the cost of the book! We’d known him for 48 hours. How does he know we aren’t going to take the money and run? I mean, we aren’t, but Scott really trusted us–even knowing us for so short a time. His kindness and generosity will not soon be forgotten. Another family across the way with SIX kids (and I thought our camper was full) heard about our trip to Rwanda and gave us money for our trip! WHAT?
It’s blowing my mind, people.
And then there are the people in more desperate situations. We haven’t gotten to know too many yet, but we know they are there and trust that God will also direct us in how to show Jesus to them. How to walk the fine line of letting our kids be “in the world” but not of it. Trying to protect our kids from profane language and speech, while teaching them that Jesus came for the lost, the profane and the kid who pushes you down in the sand. It’s a delicate balance. One which I hope we come closer to understanding on this trip, because it is essential that we do as believers.
We’ve been guests in our friends driveways, homes, and churches and the recipients of amazing undeserved hospitality. I’m grateful.
As for the things I’ve learned about RV life so far? I’m sure this list will grow, (at least I hope it does), but after 10 days this is what I would tell you if you were planning on getting in an RV with 3 or 5 of your kids and going on a 6 month trip:
- Buy the good toilet paper. The kind they make FOR RVs and boats–they make it for a reason. No matter what you tell them, the kids will build a nest in the toilet. You will need the kind that dissolves.
- Bins, bins, and more bins. Pack in bins. Stackable, packable, fantastic.
- When packing to go on a longterm RV adventure, I read you should set out everything you think you’ll need on the trip, and then go through it and pair down again. I can’t remember if I took this advice, or if you really need to pair down two or three times more. We are still overflowing.
- Don’t put coffee grounds down the sink. Roger that.
- You will never understand how you can have SO FEW clothes and SO MUCH LAUNDRY. All day, every day. I’m tempted to say choose a spot close to the laundry, but really I’d much rather be on the beach and drive to the laundromat every day.
- Lastly, don’t underestimate the number of wonderful, generous, good-hearted people left in America. If you’re not convinced, just grab your trailer and come on down, they’re sitting by their campfire next to us.
Well, I think that is it. I better get some shut eye myself. Because if there is one more thing I’ve learned about Rv life it’s that every day is a full one.
I’ve been really bad at documenting our first month in our new home, our motorhome. It’s honestly been a blur. I am a big processor, but I’ve barely been able to process this, either in thought or word, feeling or photo.
But I think–it’s starting to sink in. This is life and this is different. Many days, hard.
I was scrolling through pictures randomly on my phone the other night (bad idea) and I came across photos of me and the girls sitting outside our barn at our last yard sale and the tears just started flowing. Before you could say “motor-home” I was full on crying into a pillow.
How did this happen? What did we do? We thought this was a good idea. It’s not feeling so good right now.
I miss our home. I miss our room. I miss the girls’ room. I miss dinners at our big farm table and reading my Bible in the wee hours of the morning in the chair in my room, instead of a cold camping chair, or snuggled in my bed trying not to make a sound or bonk my head on the cabinets inches above me.
I miss a house in general. You don’t have to wear flip-flops when you shower or find quarters to wash and dry your clothes. And you have rooms, multiple rooms to stretch out in, to let the kids read and work and play in.
Yeah, I miss some things these days.
But as I have been lamenting the hard parts of RV-life to my husband and friends lately, the thought has occurred to me and it is this.
Sometime too soon we will be owners of a house again and life will be “normal.”
Now, it is very un-normal. We are homeschooling; something we haven’t done before. We are living in a motorhome; something we haven’t done before. We’ve launched a book, started a ministry and are bouncing around like college students with five kids—all things we haven’t done before.
But we are on an adventure, and on the brink, I think, of something really cool: traveling the United States of America in a motorhome. Something I’ve always dreamed of doing.
It won’t always be this way.
Right now that feels like a good thing. But I know ONE day, I am going to look back on this and think, “We did that?! Oh yes we did. How did we EVER do that? And wasn’t that amazing and remember that’s when we met so and so and remember that time when…”
It’s a blip on the screen of the movie of our life—which in turn is a blip on the screen of eternity.
And that makes this matter a whole lot and not very much all at the same strange time.
Because this season is a gift. A really big gift. Being present in it is one too. And while we have never been this way before, we will also never go this way again.
Anyway, I’m not sure if your hearing me on this because it is difficult for my brain to understand, let alone explain.
So, here we are. We’ve spent 36 nights straight in our RV and tonight is our last.
Well, for a minute.
We’ll stay in our friends place for a week (thank you Jesus and friends!!) and then spend a few more nights in the RV before heading to a duplex in Tahoe until the end of the year.
THEN at last, come January, we will pack back up in old faithful (we really need to give her a name) and get on the road to the rest of America.
But as we lay our heads on our pillows tonight, I’m realizing the first leg of our journey is over. It’s one we had anticipated for a while. Our first stay. Our first “adventure.” Our first “home” on the road–the little RV park down the street from our old house where we would come to get ice cream on hot summer days.
So it’s about time to let go of the chaos I can’t control. The dirty feet, the incessant flies and bees at dinner, the six inches of counter space, the shower shoes, and rolling the laundry wagon back and forth–and start savoring the journey. Because while it kinda feels like this is our “new normal,” I know it won’t be for long.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Hi! I'm Brooke
Brooke lives with her husband and their five energetic children outside of Sacramento, California. She loves Jesus and pizza, and has a thing for throw pillows. Her dreams are big, her God is bigger, and yes, her laundry room is a mess.