Friday, September 1

Okay, back to the road. We are headed towards Atlanta to pick up our boy, Kurt!! I wonder how he has changed? He is 12 and has just spent a week with 300 other boys, mostly older, gee… I wonder what he learned about? Good thing we went to the Sperm Farm!

It is HOT. Must be in the 100’s. We run the propane continuously to air-condition the rig as we drive.

Saturday, September 2

Today was the day of the Great Propane Search. Somewhere in Southern Illinois we got off the interstate to find propane, water and dump our sewage. We drive, and drive and drive. Somehow we have "found" Rend Lake and are driving all the way around it, searching… searching… searching. 

It is hot. We have no air-conditioning, no water and can’t use the potty. We have NEVER been so miserable. Amazingly, we all have smiles on our faces. No one has beaten anyone to a pulp and we still talk with polite tones. Amazing, especially for me! I am not one to endure heat well. What is going on here?

Finally, we find a dump site, water and propane. After filling our tanks and emptying our waste, we take the girls for a swim in the Lake. I have no bathing suit and embarrass Grace immensely by getting in the water and swimming in my shorts and tee shirt. So, the embarrassment of my daughter begins… puberty looms in front of us!

After the swim, Jeff and I decide to drive straight through to Nashville, TN to attempt to get as close to Atlanta, GA as we are able. I do the driving.

Night driving is a wonderful experience. It gives me time to think and ponder the truth of my live and the world in which we live. Tonight I think about my life one year ago.

One year ago, I lived in a big house, I had just heard about y2k and the potential problems to the infrastructure of our community. I began to prepare for any eventuality, a total breakdown or a non-event. I felt driven to prepare. 

The previous January (1999) when Jeff’s business had done especially poorly, we had no money even for food. It was a scary time. Here we were living in a giant home, barely feeding our kids. It only lasted a month or two, but my eyes were opened and reality reared its ugly head!

So, August 1999 arrives, along with scary tales of a world gone mad in the January ahead. I was sure that whatever happened, God would provide for our family, we would be okay. But I did feel that I was directed to plan food and living supplies for the next year. So, in August 1999 I began to shop. 

Money was no problem; the business was doing great. I shopped at Costco mostly. Each time I went through the checkout it was for $800 to $1000. I bought cans of everything we eat! I bought cleaning supplies. I even ordered grain (for bread making) from a supplier in the Midwest. I learned to make cheese, ghee and to dry fruits and vegetables. My garden was productive and I canned everything available.

It was a wonderful time of growth and learning. I found out that God’s bounty is all around us, if we only open our eyes. I discovered that I was extremely capable and able to provide a nurturing home for my family. I began to desire to become a Proverbs 31 woman. I longed to be as good a wife and mother as this amazing woman. As I learned and grew, I began to forge new relationships in my life.

As fall progressed, I began attending a woman’s bible study. Something that would become a lighthouse in my life. The women of the bible study began to fill my life with a godly perspective. I learned about Joanne. Her strength and beauty challenged me. I found my friend Katie, whose life is surely guided by Angels. She taught me to breathe deep the love of Jesus and believe in his faithfulness. Kathy touched my heart with her willingness to serve God. And Nan, oh Nan, she gave me hope. The women of that group touched and changed my life forever.

So, my life one year ago. It was surely different. But somehow the journey I began one year ago has led me to this place today. Why? I am not sure yet. But of one thing I am certain. God ordained this change and challenge in my life. He brought me to this place. Now, if only I can be patient enough and keen enough to listen closely to what He wants me to do... How I am to serve Him, in His time, I will know.

Sunday, September 3

We drove last night till 3:00am and landed in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Dalton, Georgia. This morning we are going to church! After an entertaining breakfast at the Waffle House (if you haven’t been here, go! They are all over the mid-west), we go in search of a church.

The first one we stop at has several old ladies in front, they gleefully explain that they would love us to attend services, as the church has no young people! Too bad, service is over for today, come back next week. I explain we are traveling the US, sharing our faith and the message of debt-free living. The quickly say goodbye. Think we scared them?

The next church we see is called the Welcome Baptist Church on Welcome Hill. There are lots of cars in the lot so we decide to go in and see if we can still attend the service (it is 12:00 noon at this point!). As we enter the church we find we have entered a time warp. 

The preacher is all fire and brimstone. He finishes his sermon and a woman is saved. The congregants talk to the preacher during the service. I have NEVER seen anything like this; the people are actually involved. It is a bit scary and yet, it is invigorating!

After the service we begin to leave the church. Although this is Welcome Baptist Church, not a soul extends themselves to meet our little family. Hmmmm. We go to the playground for the girls, not a single soul attempts to engage us in conversation or fellowship. Hmmmm. We leave quietly having enjoyed the show.

Tuesday, September 5

We went to the airport last night and brought our dear Kurtie home. I think he has grown a foot! He looked wonderful and all of us were relieved to have him with us again. He regaled us with stories of a wonderful time at Boy Scout camp. 

My Boy seems a little older somehow. I missed him these last two weeks; he grew up without my interference for a little time. It is weird to have missed "mommy-ing" him through this portion of his life. He is beginning to grow and stretch and learn about life outside my tutelage. I am no longer essential, which’s strange but good.

I miss my Mom. After returning from the airport, I called her to let her know that all was well and that Kurt got home safely. Her voice. I miss her immensely. She is wise in so many ways, yet it isn’t her wisdom I miss. I miss the sound of her voice, her perfume, and her eyes. I miss watching her move around the kitchen, flinging this and stirring that! I miss the way she attracts us like moths to light. She is the light of the Stone family, and we all center our lives upon her glow.

My mother is on my heart constantly. She is not a believer, so my daily prayers are that she finds eternal life. I love her with all my heart and soul, she has been an inspiring woman in my life. After working to put her husband through veterinary school, she quit her teaching career to raise four children. All the while however, she volunteered. She always made certain that we children understood the value and necessity of giving back to our community.

Everything that Mom touches blooms. After raising four children into productive adults, she went back to work and back to school. How she had the commitment to earn her masters degree in the face of my fathers’ disapproval, I don’t know. 

Then this valiant woman went back to work, creating one of the largest and most successful non-profit volunteer agencies in the country, out of a little one-room enterprise. My mother has been to Russia for the Points of Light Foundation, she has chaired events, raised money, sat on corporate boards and inspired hundreds of men and women in Orange County. She is a blessing to this world.

And I miss her.

Saturday, September 9

This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.

                                                                                                                                        John 6:65

I am doing a study of the Gospel of John. Today, these words jumped out at me from the text. As believers, our job is to share the good news about Jesus. However, unless the Father enables the non-believer, they cannot come to Him. 

Ok. So, one of my jobs as a follower of Christ is to pray for those non-believers that the Father enables them to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Ok. I get it. It is not up to me to "create" a believer, my job is to share the good news and to pray for the non-believer. I can do that.

We are parked in a campground in Perry, Georgia. We arrived Thursday after spending a wonderful day in Atlanta. While in Atlanta we visited The World of Coke and learned all about marketing from the world’s greatest marketer…. Coca-Cola. 

At the end of the day in Atlanta, we visited the state capital building and drove by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church. We must go back to Atlanta, it is a wonderful city and we have much to learn there about our nation. We plan to go back for a longer stay in the near future.

So, here we are in Perry. Jeff is working over at Warner Robins AFB, doing maintenance on the sound, video and light system his company installed at the J.R. Rockers Club on base. Funny, as we drive closer to the base, Jeff gets sick. He has a sore throat and is dizzy. He was ill when we went to Minot AFB too. This is a clue.

If I were to guess, I would guess that this business is making him sick. He must find a way to support the family that does not include becoming ill whenever he approaches the customer. My prayer for my husband is that he finds happiness and fulfillment in his job. I wish I could do it for him, but I can’t… this is his journey.

This campground is invested with biting red ants, we stay inside for the most part, and only venture out to cook (me) or get in the jeep to leave (everyone!). Grace and I visited an Antiques Mall yesterday. We are on a mission. I want to find a particular necklace that I have heard about. 

Apparently, in the 30’s or 40’s, someone made a necklace that was a simple chain with a glass bead hanging from it, inside the bead was a mustard seed. I would like to find one of these necklaces, so Grace and I are scouring the antique stores. I will find one.

Today, we are staying home while Jeff goes to work on the base. The kids have some schoolwork and I am going to be cooking all day. Our refrigerator failed and all our meat (and I had TONS) defrosted. So, a cooking I will go! Ugh! I think I will cook most of it in the Dutch ovens and then freeze it for later use!!

Sunday, September 10

Kids crack me up!!! Kurt and Grace complained all morning long yesterday that they didn’t think it was fair they had to have school on Saturday. Of course, they thought it was perfectly fine that Friday we had no school as a result of our refrigerator going on the blink (it took all day to find the parts needed to repair the darn thing!).

Complain, complain, complain!! What absolutely makes me giggle, is that after dinner, Grace sat down and read about the food pyramid and made a pyramid to post on our wall and old Kurt… Well that darn kid settled down at the computer and spent several hours working on the Math Program we use for school. Incredible. Realize that these were not things I asked them to do!! They DID THEM FOR FUN!! They did school without even realizing it!! What a hoot!

The other thing that just slays me is my silly worries for Grace! I am soooo concerned that she see examples of strong women, good role models. We purchased her favorite movie the other day and watched it last night. I had never seen it before. Well, wasn’t I surprised to find that the heroine was this strong, loving woman… a wonderful role model! She did it all by herself. I guess I should stop worrying about these kids…. They will do just fine, with or without my interference!!!!

God is so Good!

Monday, September 11

Before each meal our family gives thanks to God for the blessings he has bestowed upon us, for the meal we are about to receive and his work in our lives. Jeff typically leads these prayers, whether we are at home or in public. Our little Eve loves thanksgiving time! She patiently waits for Daddy to finish his prayer and then pipes in:

"Dear God; Bless Anna, Bless Sam, Bless Grant. Thank you for my mommy and my daddy. Thank you for my brother and my sister."

Each meal, it is the same or some variation. Last night, however, she added to her prayer and it so touched my heart. She added at the end of her prayer:

"And thank you for the chocolate syrup".

Her simple thanks to God, for her greatest pleasure. It made my heart leap. How often do we thank God for our simple pleasures? So often we go to him asking for this or that. But how often do we really just simply say, Thank you. Not often enough, I am afraid.

Thank you God, for showing me your nature through my little three-year-old. Thanks for my babies and my Jeff. Amen.

Tuesday, September 12

I love the mornings!! I have finally reconciled myself to my darling families sleep schedule. They like to sleep late… and stay up late. Typically they go to bed around 11:00pm and wake up around 10:30/11:00am (with a little nudging from me!!). I get up HOURS ahead of everyone else. This morning I was up at 6:00am. The good part of this is I get several hours to myself. Ohhhh, how selfish!!!

My morning ritual is the same every morning. I make a cup of coffee (a pot more like it!), get down on my knees and talk to God, do my bible study for the day, write in my journal and if I am connected, last but not least, I go out on the internet. This takes me about two hours to complete. If I can’t get it all in, I feel a bit cheated! Mornings are quiet. No one wants anything from me, and I can listen to God, I can listen to my heart.

I started this little ritual last winter, while we were living in the house. I would always kneel at a window and talk to God while I looked out a window. The window I look out of today is a Georgia forest. It is lovely. The view of nature, always brings me to God.

Okay, moan time!! I WANT COFFEE!!! I love good coffee! My brother-in-law is my supplier, he owns a gourmet grocery shop in Los Angeles and gets the BEST coffee. But I am out now. Today was my last pot…. Ohhhhh noooooo! Folgers is in my future!!

When we lived in Mission Viejo, I went most mornings to a wonderful little place called Bagels and Brew. They have the BEST bagels (in the world!) and the BEST coffee…. Not just any coffee… LATTE!!! Oh my gosh, I want my latte. Maybe they can mail it to me!! Silly woman.

I sure do sound like a "California girl" . COOOOFFFFFEEEEEEE. COOOOFFFFFFEEEE!! I have tried latte other places in the country… nothing compares to Bagels and Brew. Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle!

Okay, I am done moaning.

Today we are going to the Air Museum at Warner Robins AFB. Yuck! But I guess teachers don’t always get to do only what they want!!! Here is a perfectly great opportunity for the kids, so off we go!

Thursday, September 14

The Ants go Marching One, by One… Hurrah, Hurrah!! Oh yah! Hurrah! We got home this evening after a very long day visiting Peach and Pecan groves, to ANTS!! Not just regular ants, but the yucky stinging ones that live here in this campground. 

I guess it was just a matter of time until they found a way into the coach. We went to war. Sucking the buggers up with our central vacuum system and laying salt everywhere we could find an ingress or egress they were using. I hate BUGS. But I really hate ANTS. Why would God invent Ants?

Yesterday we learned more about God. He truly has some kind of plan for our lives.

At lunchtime, we were all very hungry but couldn’t agree on a dining establishment. We ran across Chick-fil-A and went inside to try it out. Were we surprised. While ordering, Kurt noticed on the wall a certificate that said something like, "God owns my business". Hmmmmm

I asked to see the owner, (of course). He came out and sat with us awhile. Absolutely amazing! He is a Christian and has dedicated his business to God. Okay if that weren’t enough he shared all about the Chick-fil-A Company and their philosophy of Stewardship. 

The company mission statement is all about being good stewards of God’s gifts… saying nothing about profit or product. Can’t believe it! I am going to contact their corporate office and ask for a tour. What a great opportunity to show the kids that following God’s commands and living His Word is a GREAT thing.

The owner of this particular Chick-fil-A (in the city of Warner Robins) is a wonderful man. He and his wife, both, came out and sat with us for quite a long while. They seemed in no rush, although I am certain they both had things to do! They modeled Christ’s attitude of loving kindness and time for everyone. 

This family also homeschools, despite the fact that mom works full-time. This family’s commitment to Christ was evident in every word and gesture. Jeff and I were simply amazed and so encouraged. This is what God sent us out to do, meet people like this!! People living His Word.

What a gift this day was!

Monday, September 18

This has been quite a week. We have been in Perry, GA for nearly two weeks. I am learning where all the markets and "stuff" are located. It really doesn’t take long to get to know a community. We will be here until Friday… then off we go again! Saturday night we went to a concert supporting the "Meet you at the flagpole" event coming up on Wednesday. It was really interesting.

There were probably 800 kids, mostly high school kids and some middle-schoolers, in the auditorium. They politely listened to the music, some of which was boring and some was GREAT! Then a preacher spoke to us about standing up for Christ. He was marvelous. 

His illustration was from 2 Samuel 23:12 about Shammah standing firm against the Philistines in a field of lentils. The point being stand firm in your pea field, wherever it may be…. God is with you. It was a really good illustration of God’s might. The kids were captivated. Kurt was captivated. At the end of the event, the preacher gave an altar call. Lots of kids went down to the front and were saved. I heard later that 16 kids gave their lives to Christ.

Kurt went down at the altar call, when they asked for re-dedications to Christ. Later he told us that he had a hard time going down, because he didn’t want to be like a Pharisee, being public about his faith. 

But on the other side he understood it was important to go down and publicly claim his allegiance to Christ. (Of course, he said this in 12-year-old language!!). I was very proud of him. When he went down to the front, I was outside with Eve. It was miraculous to see him get up from his seat and join all those kids in the front of the auditorium.

Imagine, it was all because of some guy standing firm in a field of peas, hundreds of years ago! I guess the bible is relevant.

One of the interesting things about the concert was just watching all the teenagers. Just because they are Christian, they are not insulated from the fears and trials of teen-hood. I watched girls and guys trying to meet each other, boys trying to be cool, girls trying to be lovable. It was amazing. 

The neat part was that none of them were throwing themselves at each other, they were like one family, working together to grow up. There were no piercing or midriffs about, just a bunch of nice kids struggling to get through adolescence.

Kidisms:  Kurt tells us that he is hungry and wants to stop for fast food.  Eve announces she too is hungry, but she doesn't want fast food.... she wants to eat slow.

I know I have written about this before, but the change in my older kids is wonderful. When we left Mission Viejo, California, they were typical middle class kids. Kurt played Nintendo and Grace was a clothing hound!  

Since we have been on the road, there has been such a change in these children. I used to bemoan the fact that they never willingly pitched in, always needing an invitation. I felt alone in my quest to live in a clean home with helpful kids.

Oh my gosh, it is so different now. They actually help around the house now, without ANY invitation. It is as if they both understand their importance to the family. They understand that a family is a group of people working together to improve the condition of life. 

Kurt just automatically folds the laundry… incredible. Grace cleans the bathroom without any direction… I can’t believe it!! And of course, Eve sees and models this behavior.

The other wonderful change is their need for "things". At home (and at the beginning of this trip), we would go into a store and they would want everything! Now, they notice value in products, prices and need. They don’t ask anymore. 

The expectation they have is that Mom and Dad don’t buy things for them, if they want something they use their own money. Wow. I tried to make that happen at home, failed. But somehow here on the road, they came to this all on their own. 

Kurt and Grace are kids, they are inconsiderate and noisy and forgetful, just as kids should be, however… they are becoming human beings and it is wonderful to watch.

Monday Evening

Went to the Harriet Tubman Museum to learn about Harriet Tubman….Nothing!! We learned lots about slave gardens and Ellen Cross (a runaway slave and her husband). But nothing about Harriet. Grace is very interested in her story.

Today, while on our way to the Tubman Museum, we stopped at a teacher’s store. I had a number of items in my hands when I reached the register. I began to set them down and realized that if I bought them all, I would have no cash to feed the family dinner. So, I asked Jeff for more money. He Said No. Shocking!

I was so sad. In our previous life, I bought just about anything. No problem. But now, living on a strict budget… I have to say no. It was a real wake up call. We have chosen to have NO DEBT. None. No credit cards, no checks, no loans… nothing. 

This is hard, but it is really good. It is easy to say no on my own, but very uncomfortable when I am told no… by my husband. He has always said yes, always. This lifestyle change is scary and good all at the same time.

The up side is that we have no personal credit debt. Wow. That is absolutely liberating. I wish we could share with more people the beauty of no credit. It is available to us all, we just need to make that choice, and it’s a hard one, but worth it! 

I see credit sold as the American Dream on TV and in commercials everywhere. There is no way to escape the lie, it is everywhere. Americans have no chance to even consider a life without debt, it is sold as an American right, a prestige thing, a need. Baloney.

Tuesday, September 19

It is 10:30 PM; we just got back home (to the RV of course!) from one of the nicest evenings I have ever experienced. We had dinner with a family we met at the mall yesterday. They were sitting next to us in the food court, watching us play together during our meal. I don’t know what prompted me, but I got up and handed them our card… out of the blue! 

The husband, Greg, then got up and gave us one of his! We invited them to sit at our table and found out they were terrific people. Greg is a MD and Trudy is a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom. We had much in common. As they left, they invited us to their home for dinner for tonight! Imagine they had just met us and they extended this warm invitation to our family.

Something told both Jeff and I that this was okay. We accepted.

What a wonderful evening with an exceptional family. Their four children are incredible. The oldest, Jen is college after being homeschooled until the 11th grade. They have three boys; 17, 15 and 9. Each boy is polite and a pleasure to have around. The oldest boy, Jeff had his girlfriend over for dinner. What a kind and pleasant young lady! I was so impressed with all these kids. 

Trudy and Jen and I talked each other’s ears off (of course, I did most of the talking!), and the men "bonded". It isn’t often that my darling husband Jeff takes a shine to someone. Greg and he had a wonderful conversation… I never once heard a lull!

Trudy has been a Christian since she was twelve. Wow, saved since twelve. She put my mind to rest about sending our kids back to public school for high school when we settle down. Her words of wisdom were that we would all know when the time was right for public school. 

Jen explained that peer pressure was never an issue for her, as her standards are just too high and she would not compromise her principles. Values that Jen was quick to attribute to the great learning she got as a homeschool kid from her parents.

Trudy explained that even though she was a little different than other kids when she was in school, she always had fine and her circle of friends expanded as she grew older and was exposed to other believers in the world. 

Trudy just didn’t do the stupid stuff in High School, because her focus has always been on her eternal life, so screwing up was not appealing! Jen agreed. They made me understand that when a kid is grounded in Christ and family, they are ready to meet the world and are able to stand firm in their beliefs and values. I understand that compromise just isn’t in their vocabulary.

Greg and Trudy are wonderful people. God opened the door for our friendship and his plan is so good!

I really love my life.

Friday, September 22

It is raining outside. Jeff left early to finish up some work at Robins Air Base. Yesterday, the kids received in the mail some educational toy products to evaluate for a company in Laguna Niguel, California (Homeschoolers Supply). I told them they could get started testing after cleaning the house, and I mean CLEAN. 

So, they started working away at the house, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, the whole works. I got in a bubble bath and finished my book, God Chasers by Tommy Tenney, while they cleaned. It was marvelous.

As they finally got started on their evaluations of the new products for Homeschoolers Supply, I finished my bath (and the book) and started my clean up. Finally I got to the ironing that has been waiting for me for oh… Five weeks or so?!!! It was a wonderful day. The kids busy working on learning new skills and ideas and me ironing and watching them. It was just lovely.

Funny. I really like to iron. Something about the repetitive movement and the hissing of the steam as it works magic on deep wrinkles in fabric. The sensation of the iron, gliding over cottons, silks or denim, this mesmerizes me. It always has, even when I was a little girl in Villa Park. 

I always did the ironing for my mother when I got old enough. Even then this common task was soothing for my soul (even through my loud complaints to mother). When I iron, I feel so at peace.

The rain is pattering at our rooftop. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is a loud crashing sound and in the next instant it softens to a roll. Sitting here with my three children, each of us involved in our own worlds, somehow I feel closer to them than ever before. I look at their beautiful face intent with concentration; their minds are growing even as I watch. 

Grace sticks the tip of her tongue out against her lips in fierce concentration. She is learning to weave. She almost wills the yarn to her design. Kurt is busy with a science kit, learning about pollution. He peppers me with questions and politely declines my offers of help. I can almost see the man he will become… almost. 

And then there is my darling little Evie. She absolutely refuses any help from Kurt or me. She will do her project all herself. She is working with foam puzzle pieces, one of those Lauri Puzzles. I watch her put pieces together that yesterday were too hard. How does she learn so fast? I love them all so intently and with such passion my soul is hard pressed to stay within me.

I have just finished reading God Chasers. This book will change my life. I understand now, that what I seek is not the hand of God. Not His Gifts or Spirit. I seek His Face. I long to look straight into His face and dwell in that glory. But, only dead men see the face of God. So to find him, I must die to myself. 

My pride and self-glory must die to Him. Like Mary washing his dung covered feet with her hair, I must deliver my glory to Him to be used as a washrag. There is some danger in this; I will embarrass my friends and family. It is a big leap and I risk much. But the gain… I will gain much by knowing my God’s Face. I wonder if I have the courage to pursue God?

Sunday, September 24

I am not sure if I am going to live through PUBERTY. I may have made it through mine, but I may not make it through the puberty of my darling daughter Grace. Kurt… his puberty is an exercise in low maintenance. As long as I give him a little soap to wash his face, stay out of his way when he is mad (which is short lived), and talk to him like a reasonable human being, we are okay.

But Grace, she is a different matter all together! She cries, she pouts, she complains, she gets mad, she sulks, she is just plain MISERABLE. Then there are moments of pure wonder and pleasure, when I am sure she is a gift from heaven. BUT, those miserable moments MORE than make up for the pleasurable ones!!

Example: We are leaving to go to a museum, she knows we are leaving at 4:00. We all know we are leaving at 4:00 when Dad gets home from work. At 3:30 I remind everyone to get shoes on, brush hair, and be ready to go when Dad drives up! 4:00… Dad arrives, we all run out to the car.

Grace stands outside the coach, shakes her head and runs back in, we sit and wait a few moments in the car. When I go back inside to retrieve her, she is wandering back and forth crying that she needs her purse! I tell her to get into the car, who cares about the purse… we aren’t buying anything anyway. She cries the entire 30-minute drive to our destination.  

When we arrive, she wipes her tears, says in a sweet voice, "sorry Mom", and jumps out of the car with a smile and a song. HUH? What was that? Was that my daughter???

Or then there is the time she cried for 45 minutes on the way to dinner because I didn’t give her time to put pigtails in her hair…. HUH?

And there is more… But who wants to hear more?? NOT ME! She is a puzzle. AND SHE IS ONLY NINE AND A HALF. Dr. Litwer warned me that puberty would be emotional, but he didn’t prepare me for this! What happens when she is sixteen??? Holy Cow.

I MUST remember to thank my Mother and Father for allowing me to live through puberty.

Tuesday, September 26

Yahoo! We are on the road again! We left Perry, Georgia for Montgomery, Alabama via Tuskegee! However, in the McDonalds in Phenix, Georgia (yep, phEnix!) we met a family who encouraged us to travel a different route to an 1850’s town, so off we go! Tomorrow we head to the historical town of Lumpkin, Georgia. This is the coolest!

I am learning that to ask directions of a southerner is an adventure only for the brave at heart! They don’t say go left at "xyz" street, or west on highway "123". Noooooo! They say things like turn left at the green building or, turn right over the railroad tracks or, it’s straight ahead (they forget to mention that it’s 20 miles straight away!). 

It is amazing. These folks speak their own language and Jeff and I do not get it!! They MUST understand each other?

So, as we are driving, Jeff says he still wishes we could get a brand new motor home. Why? This one is great! He continues to beat himself up over our financial failures in life. 

Today he blames himself for the lack of prosperity in our lives. HUH?? I stopped him. Lack of PROSPERITY??? No way…. We have never been this prosperous! We have no bills… none. We have a little contingency money stashed for emergencies and have begun to build a freedom account (this is all from the Mary Hunt book about living debt-free lives), and we are tithing regularly. WOW!

Lack of Prosperity? No way. Jeff feels the fabulous 90’s passed by him, he didn’t make millions in the stock market and his business didn’t do so well there towards the end. SO WHAT! What really amazed me was that he thought all our friends were doing so much better than we! 

I tried to explain to Jeff that everyone we know lives a life FULL of debt. Just like we did. They are all hocked to the shoulders, living on credit and struggling to keep up with the mortgage. It doesn’t matter that we all lived in 3,600 square foot homes…. We were the poor "rich". Living the American dream of debt, debt and more debt.

Women talk. We all know what is going on with each other’s husbands, our budgets, and our struggles. Men don’t talk. They shrug and kick the dirt. They have no idea that we are all living the same nightmare of debt. If only they could talk to each other (like we do) and then have a good cry! They would feel so much better!!

So, prosperity. I have never in my life felt so prosperous and happy. Our business still has a few debts to square away, and the business has several obligations left to be met on service contracts, but… the Gefke family is personally OUT OF DEBT. 

Never ever will we ever get into the hole again! If we ever buy land or a house, a seven-year mortgage will be all we will commit to… EVER.

In generations past, people didn’t buy homes until they had all the money. It was something you saved for, worked for and dreamed of owning! In scripture, the Jews were to forgive each other’s debts every seven years. 

Ok. There must be some reason God didn’t want us to live with lifelong debt. So, becoming debt-free is the first step, next we save… then we buy. Interesting little formula, huh! Guess God had this figured out, we humans just messed it up a bit!

I will keep Jeff in my prayers. He continues to blame himself. He has yet to surrender his life and business completely to Jesus. He will. The path is right there in front of him, he is walking it, sometimes he forgets that our guide is leading the way. Remember the tour guide is in charge, we just follow him and enjoy the adventure!

Wednesday, September 27

"Watch out for that crazy red-head from California." That’s what all the farmers will be saying across the farmland of America!

Today we had another adventure in farming (and we all remember the "sperm farm")! The family spent a wonderful afternoon at Westville Village in Georgia (where it’s always 1850!). 

We learned about woodworking, cooking, housekeeping, pottery and quilting from craftspeople dressed in period clothing working with period tools and implements. It was marvelous! After leaving we set off in a southwardly direction through Georgia headed for Florida.

That’s where the "farm field trip" begins!!! We are driving along… the world is beautiful, Georgia is absolutely gorgeous! The road is bordered on both sides by acres and acres of cotton. It is cotton to the horizon. And simply breath taking. 

I am determined to teach these kids about the bounty of America and her glorious farming culture and history. So…. I spy a shoulder along the road that looks safe to pull out on… I stop. (Jeff is abruptly awakened as we pull off the highway! OOPS!) I usher the kids out and we step into the middle of a field of cotton. It is lovely. 

We begin to pick a little bit, talking about the slave history of Georgia and the migrant farm workers that traveled the south picking cotton after the Restoration. Suddenly, a BIG RED PICK-UP TRUCK pulls into the field. Oh No. The farmer… he’s gonna shoot us!

But… he isn’t the farmer, he’s just a farmer, doing some side work for the other farmers checking the boll weevil traps. He meanders out into the field to join us and I explain we are Homeschoolers, learning about Georgia agriculture. 

Well, this darling man (with an accent so thick I think I got about 60% of what he was saying), proceeded to tell us the ENTIRE HISTORY of cotton in Georgia, the ENTIRE HISTORY of the Indians in Georgia, and the ENTIRE HISTORY of race relations in Georgia. It was amazing. He talked so fast and had so much to say, we could barely keep up with him! Eventually, the children wandered off and found animal tracks they cast with clay.

This guy was GREAT!! He told us all about picking cotton as a child. We learned (or rather I learned) about farmer subsidies and the inequities involved. He was a wealth of regional history and information. I wish I could have taped him. So, after we talk (actually, he talked and I listened!), this dear man reaches into the back of his truck and gives us a watermelon from his field. Wow. He didn’t even know us.

Well, after our little jaunt into the cotton field I was feeling pretty darn brave (got over my farm field trip phobia!). I got back into the drivers’ seat of the RV and off we went. 

Suddenly about ten miles down the road, I spy a peanut farm. Not just any peanut farm… but one that was HARVESTING!!! Holy Cow! By the time I am able to pull off the road and stop, we have traveled about half a mile from the farm. Never mind, we jam our shoes on and take off running down the road. 

Wheezing we reach the farmers, who have just knocked off for the evening with a cold beer. I haltingly explain who we are and what we are doing…. They stare at us. I ask if these are peanuts (okay, any fool could see they were peanuts!). "Uh huh", they reply. Okay… I think fast… can they tell us anything about peanut farming. "plant ‘em and harvest ‘em". Okay…. Kurt tries, his question is as inane as mine was.. but we’re dying here!! This was a tough crowd.

Eventually they began talking and told us a little about farming peanuts. Enough to get us educated anyway! They pull up a peanut bush and give it to us… we are thrilled!!! Off we walk into the sunset proudly holding our trophy plant, trailing red Georgia dirt behind us as we march back to our home on wheels!

Today I feel like a success in homeschooling. The kids did math in the morning, went to an 1850’s village, learned about cotton and peanut farming. I am so good! (Until tomorrow that is!!!!) This homeschooling thing might work for us after all!! And farm field trips… I can do this, as long as there are no more biology lessons!!!

Friday, September 29

This as been the strangest twenty-four hours. We drove through the Florida panhandle quickly to arrive at Hurlbert Field (an Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, FL). The gal in charge of the facility here has treated Jeff truly strange. She has been inhospitable and ruder than any military employee I have ever encountered during our many years of military contract work. It is odd.

We arrived at the base at 3:00p yesterday and Jeff went right to work. The kids and I waited in the RV in the parking lot behind the club. When he finally knocked off for the evening, it was after midnight. Having no where to go on base to camp (apparently gal at the club did not want us to use the base RV camping), we stayed in the parking lot. 

Then this morning Jeff went back to work at 8:30am. It is now 2:00pm and he is still inside the club working. What is weird is when I checked with him at 11:00am, the gal in charge still hadn’t said hello or anything. He is putting in all this time, no charge, and she is treating him like a jerk. Weird. I think that this is the beginning of the end for us on military work.

The military employee just has an odd work ethic. They are probably very nice people and most are hard workers. But, some of the management types are just yucky. Kinda like lounge lizards from the 70’s. They don’t really care about things, because it’s not their money. 

They spend like crazy to "build" something and then don’t pay ANY attention to the maintenance factor. Essentially letting things breakdown and they blaming everyone but themselves. Or they fix things for the "quick fix" or the "cheapie fix". This just adds to the problems. 

And then, they treat a contractor (that’s us) like dirt. When someone comes into my workplace I offer a drink, or say hello, or let him or her and let them know I am glad they are helping me, I welcome them. These people just don’t. Although I am sure I have no idea what it truly meant to be a slave, pre-civil war; I have a funny feeling that this is something like the experience. Yucky.

The kids have been great. They are staying in the RV so we don’t disturb anyone on base, reading, playing and doing school work. They are being kind to each other and to me. It is almost as if they "get it". They understand we have to endure this as Dad fulfills his actual (and perceived) obligations to his clients. These are great kids.

Last night I got really mad at Jeff. I just lost my cool. When he arrived home from his sojourn in the club here on base, I just couldn’t help but tell him it made me ANGRY that he allows these people to treat him so poorly. 

I love him and I can’t stand to see him allow himself to be involved with these types of humans. I know he is trying to figure out what the next part of his life is all about, what his goals are, where are his allegiances, what he will do for a living. He thinks about things soooooooo slowly and thoroughly. 

Jeff reviews and reviews and reviews. He ponders and ponders. Then he makes a decision. (I guess it's a good thing one of us thinks things through!!)

I think God is teaching me patience. I am learning to just wait for Jeff. Instead of trying to force a path, direct him or force march Jeff into a decision, I am waiting it out. I am learning to give control over to Jeff and ultimately God. This is a hard lesson and I was not very successful last night. It is easy to say, "I am giving it up to God", but hard to ACTUALLY do it! It’s like I give things up to him and then…. Grab it back. Arrrgh.

Last night my sister-in-law called us on the cell phone. It was nice to talk to her. My brother is really lucky he married Kristen. She has no fear of calling a spade, a spade. She asked me point blank, what did I mean when I wrote in my journal;

I have just finished reading God Chasers. This book will change my life ……….. There is some danger in this; I will embarrass my friends and family. It is a big leap and I risk much.

She said there was some concern in the family that we were joining a cult. That’s Kristen… she says it straight out. I tried to explain that I just discovered that the more I seek God, the more I lack and want. There is not a "group or cult", the author of the book is just another Christian writer, nothing more. It was just a book; that opened my eyes to the absolute lack of God in my life… the more I seek, the more I want.

My brother Karl is so blessed to have married Kristen. She is strong smart. She always has been around… they have been dating since the age of 13 or so. Theirs is a loyal and long-standing love. What has been awesome is to see them grow up together! 

In the beginning Karl and Kristen were just two kids, now they strong and loving adults, struggling like the rest of us to raise two children, one of which is a heart patient at eight months old. The strength they have as a couple and family is absolutely awe inspiring to watch. I am so glad my brother married Kristen.

So, one of the things that Jeff and I are discussing is the purchase of property in California. Something rural. I don’t know where the money would come from, but if it is right, God will provide. We are spending $700 per month now just to store our belongings. Ugh. 

If we could funnel that money into property… now that would be great. It would have to be in Southern California, hospitable growing conditions, trees, water, some flat land, and several acres. Someplace we could put up a storage unit and stash our things until we finish our two-year odyssey across the United States.

Prayer. That’s what I need to do, pray that God opens the right doors and we walk through them!!

It is 3:30… Jeff is still inside the club at Hurlbert Field. I remind myself that I am learning patience.

Friday, Late Afternoon

Wow. What an incredible difference a few hours makes. Suddenly, the gal in charge of the club on base is so kind and welcoming. I feel terrible that I judged her so cruelly. I went into the club to see how Jeff was doing, she approached me and asked if we had eaten and would the family be her guests for dinner. 

After dinner she sat awhile and talked with us… her hopes and frustrations, her aspirations. She is quite an amazing woman. And her commitment to her children is outstanding. She told me she once quit a job, it interfered with her role as Mom. Wow.

Again, God teaches me patience. I judged this poor woman before waiting to see what the outcome would be. Instead of wondering what her pressures were, and understanding that the conflicts in her world were the cause of her attitude towards Jeff, I assumed she was a bad person. 

Shame on me. I wonder if I will ever learn this patience thing. So, I am reminded that the work I have to do in this world is not about other people, it is about improving ME. Instead of praying for change in this situation or that, I need to ask for God to change me. I can do this, but boy I hate being reminded!!

 

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