Our Story

Recently the women’s fellowship group at the dear Church we worship at while in Vermont (also my sister’s church!) asked me to do a short reflection on what God has been teaching me.
Wow. Now that’s a big question. And I only had 10 minutes! So…….

Let me begin by explaining a bit about my “circumstances.” I live in a 38 ft. motorhome. I don’t vacation in my motorhome. It is my home. Six years before we set out on this RVing adventure, my dear husband (going through a little mid-life crisis of his own I think) said –“ When the kids are out of college, let’s sell the house, shut down the business (we had a small heating and A/C company), and take a year off, traveling around the country in an RV.” Being the good Christian wife that I was (and knowing that we had a total of $1432.00 in our reserve fund), I said, Sure, let’s do that. Like that would ever happen. Well, through more providential twists and turns than I can fit into this reflection, God worked out all of the details (even removing my house-love so that when it came time to sell the house we’d been in for 25 years I was more than ready) and with our youngest child ALMOST out of college (we’d given him an extra year as it was!) we hit the road for our one year (maybe two if we were very careful with our finances) adventure. That was in 2004. Little did we know what God had in store for us! We had joined an organization called SOWERS (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) that organizes volunteers to work (mostly maintenance type work) at different Christian organizations (camps, missions, group homes, churches, etc.) all around the country and anticipated doing a couple of projects (each project is 3 weeks long) during our couple of years on the road. Let’s just say that God had a different idea of what this ‘Adventure’ would look like. We’d been on the road just two months when we did our first SOWER project and felt that God was calling us into that ministry on a full-time basis. Our focus shifted from mostly tourist with an occasional SOWER project thrown in, to mostly SOWER projects with occasional jaunts into the world of tourism. As I like to say, we traded our sunglasses and tour books for rubber gloves and electric drills. And it was a wonderful trade!
In the years since we’ve been on the road and a part of the SOWER ministry, the Lord has taught me many, many things. Recently He’s been speaking to me through Romans 12 – I find new insights every time I read it! Here it is, from the Message –

Place Your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

~~~~
Lots to think about there, eh? But aside from (or along with, I should say) the life-changing nuggets contained in Romans 12, here are just a few of my “lessons learned”.

I’ve learned that God is much, MUCH bigger than my little mind can fathom. I’ve been blessed to witness His power at work all around this country – in small 14 acre camps in Arkansas, and in global ministries like Mission Aviation Fellowship that supplies air support to missionaries and relief agencies around the world.
I’ve learned that even in His Bigness, He cares about the details of my life. Like getting an unexpectedly good price on the RV tires that we’d been dreading having to purchase.
I’ve learned that He doesn’t care so much what style of worship I prefer. He cares that I worship with a true heart and spirit. The ESV says “By the mercies of God (He’s the one enabling you to do it) present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. The Message presents it a little differently – God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. My life seems very ordinary at times. Yet even as I clean toilets at another camp, I’m still called to place my actions before God as an offering. As spiritual worship. Believe me, I’m still working on that one!
But wait, there’s a pitfall in these every day, ordinary things I’m doing. As a Sower, even while I’d doing these ordinary things, people are thanking me. Sometimes they thank us a lot. It’s easy to begin to feel content in the good we are doing – but Romans reminds us – Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. (I’m not saying that the thanking is wrong – it’s all in how I process those thanks.)
I’ve learned that while getting to see God at work around the country can be exciting, sometimes it gets old being a “professional church visitor”. Changing churches every three weeks does not generate great community or accountability. Which is one reason that I so appreciate this Church and the way Gary & I have been made to feel part of the family here. You are a blessing to me. But I’ve also learned that the Body of Christ can be found in many different shapes and sizes and I need to be open to what He’s teaching me in the place that He has me.
I’ve learned – no let me take that back – I’m learning to trust Jesus with my tomorrow. Life can turn on a dime, but nothing comes to me that hasn’t come through my Abba Father. I can trust Him. He will not forsake me. And it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling about it, it’s still a fact. He will not forsake me.
So it brings us back to this – from the beginning of the chapter –

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

And finally from the end of the chapter….

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Love from the center of who you are and practice playing second fiddle.
Good lessons indeed!

2 thoughts on “Our Story”

  1. That was a blessing to read, struck so many chords. My husband and I have been feeling a change coming for some time, a restlessness without an answer. Three weeks ago, he had a fall, no broken bones, but in a CT scan our local hospital found two masses (one kidney, one bladder) and promptly told me it was Stage IV, advanced. He’s a Vietnam Vet, so Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio sent an ambulance for him. I spent 24 hours in a blur, wondering how, why, what was I going to do without my sweetheart and best friend. Family/friends began praying. At Audie Murphy, the doctors weren’t impressed, did their own CT scan, and said it is NOT cancer, the kidney mass was a bleed (from the fall), and the bladder “mass”, wasn’t even a mass, it was prostate tissue – a lot of it – pressing up into the bladder. They sent him home with meds to shrink the prostate tissue, with instructions for a 3-month follow-up CT scan. All that to say… the 24-hour round of emotions set off bells in the “what’s really important in life” department.

    I am asking God to replace the restlessness with peace that can only come from Him, and asking for direction. Reading your reflections post sent a surge through my emotional electrical system. We’re both hands-on DIY people. We built our log cabin, and work together maintaining 80 acres, 2 wells, outlying buildings, etc. Michael is an electrician, plumber, roofer, welder. I love re-models and upgrades on anything, RV or house. AND, we both decided after this medical scare that it’s time to sell or lease the ranch, sell most everything else, and hit the road while there’s time. One hesitation is that we are both busy doers, we have worried that we would have no purpose on the road other than to travel around – and would certainly tire of it sooner than expected. He’s 67, I’m 56 and “sitting around” is not part of our vocabulary!

    To that end, I’ve been looking for a newer motorhome, knowing the exact model, year, and floorplan that would suit us best. I found it this weekend, and seriously was considering going to look – all the way to Florida. It felt right, but when I asked my husband 20 minutes ago if it could be a “go” for us, he said “Let’s wait, and get some things sold.” Disappointed (but understanding he can only lead if I follow) I agreed. I reflected on your post some more. 10 minutes later (while continuing to write this) a man called from a nearby town, saying he wanted to come see the 5th wheel I remodeled and put on Craigslist. He’ll be here in an hour.

    I am cautious, but it feels like God wasted no time here. Wrapped up in 30 minutes, I found and read your post, was deeply touched, started a reply, called hubby about the newer motorhome, submitted myself to his answer, got a call out of the blue for the 5th wheel.

    Whether the fellow buys the 5th wheel or not OR if we buy the newer motorhome isn’t the point – though in my less mature days I’d have assigned all sorts of “sign-from-God” importance to it all. For me, I believe that I yielded to the call in your post: dedicate my everyday, mediocre chores and doings to Him and let Him lead me. If I’m not conscious of God in my life in the mundane, the mundane will swallow me up and blind me to purposes He has in store. This, I believe, is the restlessness I’ve been feeling.

    Maybe TMI, but I wanted to tell you what a blessing it was to run across your post – it was quite by accident, as I was just reading threads about the motorhome I was considering purchasing, and ran across SOWERS, got curious, and wound up here.

    Mysterious ways…

  2. Sarah – thank you so for this lovely note! It certainly blessed my day! In reading about your husband’s ‘scare’, it reminded me of a similar circumstance in our lives just over 5 years ago. Those things certainly do help put things in perspective. (here’s a link to a brief summery of that time – http://www.rvthereyet.org/2010/06/04/a-week-to-remember ). I think I need to schedule a re-read of that testimony on a regular basis – so many things that I learn and then begin to forget.
    God bless you as you and your husband navigate the days ahead! Our God is an Awesome God!

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