Holidays - love ‘em or hate ‘em - they’re coming!

To some, the mere thought of actually hating Christmas, Thanksgiving or birthdays is abhorrent.  Why would you?  How could you?  Nobody does - right?  Well....... I haven't been around the too long, but I have met some real life Scrooges in my time, and while misunderstood by many, people have their reasons.

A lot of times, it's as simple as this:  Holidays bring up old feelings.  Perhaps a loved one has passed and their memories still linger, causing the pain of nostalgia for what was.  Perhaps there is bitterness from a pass hurt and a time that would typically be full of joy and fellowship feels empty and hollow.  The list goes on, but we are all unique and people have their reasons.  

Today, though, I want to talk about the average jane/joe.  Loving the holidays, playing Christmas tunes (just no Mariah Carey please, I can't afford to have the windows in my home shattered) all of December & baking up a smorgasbord to share w/ gathering friends & family.  It's a time of coming together, remembrance, love, peace & good will.  We look forward to these brief moments all year long, but... when the time draws near, we suddenly find ourselves in a panic.  How do I time the potatoes & stuffing so they're hot with the turkey?  When do I sneak downstairs to hide gifts under the tree after my kids reluctantly fall asleep?  How can I manage to have Aunt Sue & Cousin Vicki in the same room without World War 3 breaking out - cause you know someone's gonna bring up politics.  

These are very real concerns, and would incite panic in the best of us.  It can all seem like too much to an already overloaded and overwhelmed mom who already feels like she's juggling the world.  The holiday's come and go, but the prep & cleanup seem to drag on...  Kinda funny (in an Alanis Morissette kind of way) that the definition of Holiday via Oxford dictionary throws in that "no work is done" in the definition of Holiday...

Let's get real, there's much work to be done, and the brunt of it typically falls on mom - or the main caregiver of the family.  And, while we could choose to be bitter about this, let's instead friend, choose to be better.  We can't control what happens to us but we can control our reaction.  

Instead of marinating in the fact that we have a thousand and one things to juggle & not enough time to do it all, let's try and remember the Reason for the Season - the celebration of the birth of our savior - Jesus. And, let's also remember that this is a time to enjoy our loved ones, make precious memories and soak in Every. Single. Moment. Cause - guys - it passes so stinking quickly. Looking back at some of our Christmas photos recently nearly brought me to tears. The kids change rapidly each and every passing year. The innocence of childhood is replaced by the pains of growing up and out, it's bittersweet of course because there is much to enjoy along the journey, but time is a thief and constantly reminds us that life is but a vapor. Enjoy it, cherish it, thank God for the blessing of it.

I'm going to have some super practical tips on organizing your home, preparing for guests, cooking/baking & other juggling acts up on my blog soon, but for now check out my free guide 7 Ways to Keep Your Cool During the Holidays and let me know in the comments one/some of your favorite tips for making sure everything is as chill as possible during the chaos of Christmas.

Combating Grumbling

I wanted to share a tip that I use to combat grumbling.  Grumbling is something I'm sure we all struggle with, whether we want to admit it or not.  But, how can we help our fellow sister's in Christ - or ANYONE for that matter - if we don't share our struggles and how we use our weaknesses to glorify God. in 2 Cor 12:9-10 Paul is boasting about his weakness, and he says this is so that the power of Christ may dwell in him.

So. . .  let's boast away, cause who doesn't need more of *THAT pwer, amirite???

Ok, so.. here's my tip (but first my confession, hehehe) I HATE LAUNDRY.  Ok, that was a little strong, uhhh, I don't really like doin' laundry, k?  So, naturally in my flesh Imma wanna grumble about it... But, I try to set a good example for my kids, so we moved the laundry machines to the basement so they couldn't hear me - Just Kidding!!!!!! Sheesh!  Ya'll are so serious... They were in the basement when we bought the house,   

What I'm really trying to tell you, is that I'm mostly a quiet grumbler.  You know the type, if you were close enough and saw my facial expressions you'd prolly know what was going on in my mind.  Occasionally, since I'm usually alone in the basement besides the occasional "Spricket" (oh, imagine what they've heard...), I will grumble outloud (listen, I'm a talker - we already went over this - and I randomly, audibly think during the day, even if the kids aren't in the room with me, LOL)...

So, what I have found to do is pray during the task... but, not just any prayer, because I have what's known as "prayer-adhd" and if I'm not closing my eyes and keeping my body fairly still, I. Will. Get. Distracted.  One moment I'll be all "Oh Lord, thank you so much for what you've - "  and then out of NOWHERE my brain is like "duuuude, you forgot to order Cilantro with your Instacart order and it'll be delivered soon - oh you better go get the Amazon packages off the porch before the - wait did it rain? you gotta make sure the car windows are closed - wait did you put gas in the car this morning? it was already on E last time you drove it - speaking of driving don't forget to go to the post office aaaaaaaaaaaand while you're out you should get eggs from the farm " - see where I'm going here?)

SO, I pray very specifically for whatever is associated with each piece of laundry I'm currently dealing with.  The most drawn out ones are usually when I do the "random" loads, and that's when there's just a few articles from each category of laundry that didn't fit in their main load, so I wash 'em all together.  (Don't come at me you color/white/fabric texture-separating weirdos, I wash towels with pillowcases, socks and jeans sometimes, ok? They get along JUST FINE.  The *only* exception to this rule are my flour sack towels, and that's bc they come in contact with food directly, so they get washed alone.)

As I was removing the "random" load from the dryer, piece by piece tonight, I was inspired to share this drawn out and probably silly little part of my life with you, because I think someone might just need it.

My prayer went something like this:
(Hubby's tank top) Lord thank you for my hard-working husband, bless and protect Him, help me love him better.
(Towel) God thank you for hot showers that we are able to wash ourselves in regularly.
(Gianna's Hoodie) Thank you for Yard Sales and for my daughter's fashion/frugal sense that causes her to buy SO many cute clothes at rock bottom prices.
(A Blanket)  Thank you for this blanket that I think I might have stole from my mother but she doesn't remember and neither do it - and it's warm - so bless my mom, keep her healthy & thanks.
(a random sock) God thank you for socks to keep our feet warm, feet to walk and please help me find the match to this sock so I don't have to destroy it.

There might have been a few more, but those were the ones I could remember.  Anyway, hopefully the Lord has a sense of humor =)   Make sure to ask God for ways to help you find joy in any circumstance and keep your eyes, ears & heart open for his answer and you will find what you seek! <3

Is it Possible to Live Humble AND Dream Big?

A conflict of interest it would seem, to live a humble life yet have big dreams/goals.  From a biblical standpoint, we are to be humble servants, emulating Christ and being very modest about our own esteem.  From a worldly standpoint, we should be proud of our accomplishments, after all we did it, right?  So how do we live this dignified and quiet life, pleasing to the Lord yet chase after our aspirations and accomplish something bigger than ourselves – especially when that big dream involves finances or being in the spotlight?

Ask Yourself Some Very Serious Questions

Ask God, the Author and Finisher of Your Salvation

Firstly, whenever we make any big decisions as followers of Christ, we should be consulting Him first.  Hearing from the Lord can come in many forms, which I’ll discuss in another post, but there are a few basics that I think we need to cover when we involve God in our life plans.

First, does this dream / idea seek to glorify Him?  Now, let me say that I’m not insinuating every little thing we strive for in life has to be directly related to God in a loud and tangible way, but moreso that it doesn’t conflict with our faith.  If we decide to start a new career, is it going to be something we are proud of in front of Jesus, or ashamed of?  For instance, there’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer or a bank teller – as long as you’re honest, obviously – but…. if you want to be a go-go dancer or a bartender, that’s a different story, ya see?
Pray about it.  So many people think that praying is a one way thing but that could not be further from the truth!  When we meet with God in prayer regularly, He responds.  It may not always be a response we want, but He responds.

I’m not saying it will [always] be audible, but we will receive an answer if we keep knocking.

Read the bible!  2 Timothy 3:16 says “all Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  Your answer may or may not be in black and white, but reading God’s word will give you wisdom and invite the Holy Spirit in to speak to your conscious and help to lead and guide you.

Seek wise counsel.  The bible has much to say on seeking wisdom from our fellow humans:

  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15
  • Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:20-21
  • & many more verses.  

If you have a Study Bible, you can actually search by topic or words to find related verses!

Worship!  “You may be saying, “WHAT does this have to do with decision making?!”  But again, you’re inviting the Holy Spirit into your living tabernacle by worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.  Not only should we praise Him with our voice (our hands, instruments & dancing) but also with our lives, the way we live, the way we talk, who we are and what we do.  When we are living according to God’s will for our lives, our path will become much more clear.  

Be Thoughtful, Do Your Research

To be a wise steward of what you’re given, you need to make wise choices / investments.  By investments this can be money, resources or time.  You really need to evaluate what impact this choice will have on your finances, yes, but also on your family and relationship with God.  A humble servant of the Lord isn’t going to put all of their “eggs” in one “basket” so to speak, they’re going to carefully weigh their decision before going forward.  We don’t want to live beyond our means trying to achieve whatever it is that we’re chasing after, because we might end off worse off than we started.  Depending on the magnitude of your dream, it may require a huge time and/or money investment in order to see the fruition.  This should be taken into account, and all options and outcome weighed thoughtfully.

Discuss With Spouse / Family

In today’s society, we as women especially are so concerned with being on equal playing ground with our male counterparts that we sometimes try to be above them.  As modern wives, most of us are anything but submissive.  Again, this is a whole other post, but it needs to be said.  “Wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (emphasis added) – Ephesians 5:24.  It’s not easy, it’s not always ideal (for us) and it doesn’t always happen, but it’s important to God’s plan.

So also should husbands consult their wives.  Communication is key here, and any big decision should be discussed with one another.  This helps with clarity, transparency and intimacy within the marriage.  This can also be quite the asset if your spouse decides to be on board and help this dream manifest into reality!

Literally, Stay Humble

So, your dream is coming to realization.  Things are working out and you see that this was in fact the right path to take. You’ve seen the Lord’s hand at work in your venture, and you’re having a good amount of success.  It’s so essential to remember to actually stay humble.  You didn’t get here on your own.  I like the saying our pastor says often “If you’re walking along a country road and you see a turtle on a fence post, remember – he didn’t get there on his own.”  Most importantly, it was Christ who made this possible, but also if you look back, there were probably so many people along the path to where you are now who helped you get there.  It’s easy for any success, large or small, to go to our heads, but pride is no good and can damage our relationships with others and God.  Remember, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Psalms 25:9

“If you’re walking along a country road and you see a turtle on a fence post, remember – he didn’t get there on his own.”

In closing, I don’t believe that it’s wrong to follow our dreams and want more out of life, as long as we check our pride at the door, avoid arrogance and remember to put God first in everything.  If we are given a platform we should use it to point to Him, if we are given abundance we should use it to help others and if we follow our dreams and things don’t work out we should still give all the glory to Him and be content with what we have, which is far more than we deserve.  Remember, friends, stay humble but dream your big, scary exciting dreams – because, if your dream doesn’t scare you, it probably isn’t big enough!

What do you think, is it possible to chase (and achieve) big dreams and stay a humble servant of Christ?  I’d love to hear your opinion!

Bus or RV - Why a Bus?

You might be a bit confused at this point, so if you have no idea why someone would say School Bus and RV in the same sentence, go check out my other post What is a Skoolie? first.  Now that we’re on [relatively] the same page, let’s get into it.  Naturally, when I tell people my big dream, they respond with “But, why a school bus?  And why do you want to travel?  Shouldn’t you wait until the kids are older and you retire (aka are almost too old to hike/explore/enjoy)?” and while I can’t pinpoint the exact attraction or calling, here’s my story, take from it what you will. 

Why Either One?  | Wanderlust

Growing up, my family didn’t “camp” much, let alone “glamp” (was that even a thing back then?).  From what I was told, we went to Kitty Hawk NC once, so that my dad could go hang-gliding, and stayed in a rental house nearby.  I have very fuzzy memories of visiting a local campground in the area, where we did some crafts and I got to play with the camp kids.  As far as vacations, as a child I went to Disney once, at age 3, and it’s safe to say I remember zilch.  So perhaps it was my shelteredness to it all that caused such a Wanderlust to rise up within me in the past several years.  Sure, I’ve always wanted “to see the world”, but in a sense I’m a bit of a homebody (and a total germophobe when it comes to things like hotel rooms and public toilets #barf) too, so what better way than to travel with a home on wheels?

School Bus or RV? Camping or “Glamping”

To be completely honest, “camping” in it’s raw sense doesn’t appeal to me for the most part.  My two tent experiences I’ve had left much to be desired.  We went to Creation Northeast (huge Christian concert in the beautiful hills of Mt. Union PA) in 2011 with our church, and decided staying in a tent would be super fun!  Wrong.  Once again we tried tent camping for a family camping event our local Sportsman’s Club held, and it was miserable for me.  I don’t like bugs, I don’t like to sleep on the hard ground, I don’t like waking up in a lather of sweat, and I especially don’t like walking to a port-o-potty or the nearest bush to do my business.  Obviously traveling/sleeping in an RV appealed to me, but I assumed it was for the rich and/or retired.  Things can get expensive quickly when you’re traveling in a fuel-sucking mini-house every other weekend, then the cost of maintenance and campgrounds, etc.  I basically put this idea on the back burner as something we may try in the distant future if we can afford it.

So… Why a Skoolie?

The first time I actually realized School Bus Conversions were a thing was in 2013.  2 months before the end of my oldest son’s 4th grade year in public school, we decided on a whim to pull him out and homeschool him.  I started researching my options and came across “Unschooling”, which we ultimately decided was not for our family at that time.  However, the idea in general was fascinating to me, and I did lots of “Instagram studies” on it, one family I found called themselves The Unschool Bus, and they actually lived in a bus!  I loved the idea, but it was soon forgotten and I moved on to other things.

We homeschooled for several years, I worked on my various business ventures, stopped homeschooling and sent the kids to private school, etc.  I started trying to make some income again as I had a bit more free time, and got into some Facebook groups where tons of people were making mobile income!  I realized that many of these people were traveling around the US and basically going on these ginormous vacations and earning income!  I couldn’t believe what my eyeballs were telling me!  While I haven’t quite worked out 100% what that’s going to look like for us, as I’m still in the figuring out what works phase, I know that if it’s God’s will, it will happen – and I know that I will blog about it!

Most of the Facebook mobile income groups I stumbled upon were RV’ers, not Skoolies.  While trying to decide what type of RV would work best for us to travel/live part-time in I came across things I didn’t like in each category of RV’s.  I won’t go into detail but just little nuances or details that didn’t seem like the right fit.  Somehow, I remembered that “Unschool Bus” family and went on Pinterest to see if it was a thing, and Boy, was it a thing!  I was suddenly and completely fascinated, pinning everything I loved, watching endless Youtube videos for ideas and even drawing up a blueprint based on a 1998 Thomas Flatnose Pusher which has the body/style/specs that I love!

Reasons I feel a School Bus is superior to an RV:

  • 100% Customization!  We will be able to customize everything!  Literally.  From the insulation to the wiring to the plumbing to the colors of the walls and appliances!  No drab RV browns & tans!
  • Structure!  School buses have a steel frame, they are heavy duty for both safety and durability.
  • Looks.  Um, I don’t know but there’s something about a flatnose bus that I just reallyyyyy adore!  I think they’re super cute.
  • Price.  Well let’s get real here, for a fully loaded RV (which would still be a compromise as we’d never be able to find one we 100% adored) you’re going to pay a LOT.  I’m no mathematician but I’ve seen them go for anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000+ – more than a MORTGAGE! Crazy.  And anything under $30,000 is probably going to be “roughing it” compared to what we could have with a bus.  My estimation - and this is with us doing all of the work ourselves, from the potential roof raise (we know a welder) to the plumbing and electricity (Gotta love Youtube tutorials), and having solar, I’m looking at $15-20k tops.  If I take my time and source some materials used/scraped, I can get away with less.  It all depends how things go.
  • Family Project.  What fun is it to get in a shiny new RV and start driving?  Ok, I mean Yay for vacation time – but, truly, half of my excitement comes from wanting to make this a Family Project!  It will be a great bonding experience for us, and we will be teaching our kids the value of hard work, extremely useful life skills, and it will be something we are DANG PROUD of!

Things to consider:

Just because I picked a School Bus over an RV for the reasons above, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for everyone!  You may have your own reasons, and maybe an RV would be right for you!  Here are some additional things to consider:

How much money are you willing to invest?  More importantly, how much time are you willing to invest?  This is a big one, and is a multifaceted consideration.

Buying a new off the lot RV is going to cost more money (up front) but it will be ready to go, whereas a School Bus is going to need demo/repair/rebuilding.

Buying a used RV could potentially be cheaper up front and long term, but there are a lot of considerations:
Does it need repair?  Do you want to change anything about it?  How many miles does it have?  etc.  This will all take time too!

Buying a bus is most likely going to be the cheapest up front investment, however you’ll be putting a lot of time into it.

Time to search for “the perfect bus”, possibly traveling to get the bus, demo/repair/rebuilding

Here’s another one that kind of goes along with the time/money:  Do you know what you’re doing or are you willing to learn?  Because, unless you’re rolling in cash and want to hire out, you’re going to need to learn some basic (and some complex) building skills eventually!

Parts and Servicing – this one’s really depends on your resourcefulness, as you can pretty much find anything online these days, and if you can learn how to repair/rebuild an engine and other parts of your bus, you won’t need a garage as often. 

This is definitely something to consider though, as not all diesel/RV mechanics can/will work on a School Bus.

What do you want to do with it? 

Boondock or Campgrounds mainly?

This is not from personal experience (obviously), but something I see in my Facebook groups occasionally is that certain campgrounds are picky about who they let in.  

This doesn’t concern me in the slightest, because there are plenty of fish in the sea when it comes to places to stay in your Skoolie/RV.

Ok, so at this point you’re probably like “Kelly, where’s the bus?  What’s the plan?  Is this just a pipe dream or…?”

Well, that is in the works!  I plan to share everything, from the planning & saving to the building & traveling!  The timeline is posted here and I’ll also be writing blog posts as warranted.  

Have you ever wanted to do something similar?  Share your story in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!