What a summer!

Well, we’re back at the Landing after a fantastic summer in Colorado. We’ll have memories to last a long time.

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And this!

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We saw snow on the Peak when we arrived in early June and we had seen it begin again before we left on September 6, although it wasn’t yet covered. Pikes Peak is no doubt my favorite view of all those we’ve seen in six years of travel.

We’ve committed to serving at Golden Bell again next summer but it won’t be the same. There is a new director just beginning and he will have his own way of doing things. The young woman who has been in charge of programming and her husband are moving on to a new position in Idaho. The food services group will look different because our friend Marilyn will no longer be in charge. We will miss her husband Kenric, too, the cowboy in the plaid shirt and cowboy hat who cooked over a campfire like no one else we know.

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The ribeye steaks were handcut on site and oh, they were good! Biscuits in two dutch ovens and bread pudding in another made us keep eating long after we reached FULL!

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One volunteer couple left at the beginning of August but the rest, all but one, pulled out on Tuesday after Labor Day. We ended with a flurry of closing-up work: painting bathroom floors, making sure all the paper supplies were in place for campers who come after the hosts are gone, hanging signs to tell campers to take their trash to the lodge. Just the week before we left, bears were sighted in the RV park about 4 o’clock one morning and trash in the camp would encourage the unwanted visitors. Good-byes aren’t easy but most of us will be back next year, the Lord willing.

Now we’re “home” and Kansas met us with heat, humidity and wind on Wednesday when we arrived. Since then we’ve had lots of rain, almost 3.75 inches just night before last. The creeks and rivers have risen and we’re glad we are on a hill, small as it is.

We still have two rentals in Wichita, one with two bedrooms and one with one. The smaller one was badly in need of cleaning and refurbishing so we’ve spent the last three days beginning demolition of the tiny kitchen.

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And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. The end of the cabinet is the end of the wall.

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The kitchen cabinets are now gone and so is the water heater. The new water heater is electric and will fit in a lower cabinet, so there will be a few more inches of countertop for the next person. We’re trying to get out of the rental business!

The most important occurrence for me this week (sorry, family and friends, I love you but…) was my haircut! One of the joys of fulltiming is that I don’t always have a good hairdresser available. I’m so glad to have a good haircut again!

After we take our car in tomorrow for service, we’ll be back to the grind. That’s something else that can be troublesome on the road, finding a good mechanic. We’ve been fortunate to mostly get car mechanical work cared for here in the Wichita area by our buddy Larry Buller.

Think about us hard at work while you’re enjoying a nice cool iced tea this week!

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That’s all!

Where would we go?

Bible reading: Joshua 1:1-6

One thing we both knew, we preferred warm weather to cold, so we made our tentative plan to go to Arizona for the winter. Taking a little liberty with Genesis, even Abraham “kept moving, steadily making his way south”! (Gen. 12:9, MSG) And LeRoy claims the apostle Paul told him that Phoenix was a more suitable place to spend the winter. (Acts 27:12, loosely taken)

But seriously, we felt a definite call to be of use in the building of the Kingdom of God, even in retirement. We did not feel as though God was through with us and although we were no longer going to serve employers every day, we were still young at heart and healthy. We searched for a place to be of service, as well as enjoy our retirement freedom.

We chose to serve the Friends Church in Tucson, connecting with pastor Adam Kemper and his family as well as the congregation. LeRoy’s handyman skills are put to use many times during a winter season and my years of working with several office computer programs has allowed me to be helpful in the church office. When the women’s Bible study was stopping for lack of a leader, I offered to moderate and what a blessing that has been to me. We’ve made our place in this congregation and we think they look forward to our coming each fall.

Where does God want to use you? He can and will direct you, even if you never leave home.

Why travel full time?

Bible reading: Joshua 24: 14-15

But why did we feel the need to travel full time? I can’t speak for anyone else, but for us, it seemed to be how the Lord was leading us. Another lifestyle might include year round expense in a house, with additional expense for the traveling we hoped to do. We saw living in our bus conversion full time as an economical alternative, even at 6 mpg!

We wanted to maintain the freedom to give. We had felt called to commit to missionary support and we couldn’t walk away from that. Our finances had to be carefully managed, but we weren’t willing to stop giving, to put our own wants and needs ahead of those young missionaries who were depending on us. God was depending on us!

What is your call from God? Whatever it is, don’t walk away. If God calls you, he won’t leave you stranded. Does His call come with a cost? Then know that He will provide. Is there a way out? There is always a way out, as Joshua told the children of Israel. They had a choice—serve the Lord or serve the gods of their ancestors, the gods of Egypt, or the gods of the Amorites. Each came with consequences, blessings or curses. Choosing the latter would result in destruction for them eventually but choosing God was not necessarily the easy way out. They would have to fight for the land of their inheritance, but oh, the rewards!

Serving Christ is always more rewarding than the alternative.

How, Lord?

Bible reading: Phil. 4: 11-13

So much excitement! So much angst! What about the logistics? LeRoy and I knew that we were embarking on a totally new adventure. Many of our friends thought, I’m sure, that we had taken leave of our senses. Others envied us and still others felt sorry for us. We researched, read blogs from other people’s journeys and tried to plan ahead at least a little way. Since our costs would depend upon a lot of variables, we had to put a budget in place to save for large expenses, such as fuel and RV park fees.

All the planning in the world could not have prepared us for all the contingencies. Major mechanical expenses made us realize that we were not self sufficient, that we needed to be sure God was with us and that we needed to trust Him to provide. You know what? He did just that. Sometimes He allows us to serve Him in return for our space and hookups. Other times we sit still a while for repairs and are not spending fuel money. Anyway, it is His provision.

Wait! Isn’t this the same situation we had been in when we were working? Fortunately, we had learned that God was dependable long before we were in crunch situations. Past experience became a monument we could turn to when our faith needed bolstering.

Isn’t that the way God works? He always knows our needs and will provide. Our experience on the road is no different than yours at home, whether you are working or retired. God leads and provides if we just trust him.

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More on full timing

As promised, I’m sending the next two days devotional material.

When do we leave?

Bible reading: Matt. 4:19-20

We had questions with no answers, problems to be solved. We owned a house on a busy thoroughfare. We had tried unsuccessfully to sell it several times over 20 years. What if we couldn’t sell it now? We owned a bus but what if the conversion work LeRoy was doing to make it livable wasn’t done? I mentioned earlier that my mother’s health was precarious. Even though she was looking forward to our retirement, what if she needed us and we were gone? We were used to a comfortable income that would be greatly reduced when we retired. How would we make ends meet?

God took care of the issues one at a time. We listed our house and less than 60 days later, Mother passed away. The following week, the house sold! And we got busy making the bus ready for occupants. While it wasn’t complete by the time we moved out of the house, it was livable. We were able to pay off all our debt in the next few months and realized our retirement income would meet our needs. Why had we ever doubted?

God’s provision doesn’t depend on what we have but upon His glorious riches, and they have been given to us in Christ Jesus. This is the same God who told Moses and the Israelites when it was time to stay in one place and when it was time to pack up the tabernacle, His earthly dwelling, and move on. And when he called the disciples, they followed immediately. Now He was telling us, IT’S TIME!

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Full time reasoning

When we first retired, my friend Karen suggested that I really should write a series of devotional readings for Fruit of the Vine, a Friends church booklet published quarterly. I wasn’t sure I had anything to say but a couple of years later, I did put some together from our experience. I sent them and they were accepted. This is the week that people across the country are reading them. It dawned on me that, given the subject of the writings, some of the readers here might gain from reading them, too.

Since we’re already three days into the week, I’m including those three days reading in this post. I’ll break the rest up a little so you won’t have such a long post to read at once.

GO!

Bible reading: Gen. 12:1-5

I never thought of myself traveling full time in retirement, it just sort of happened. On an RVing vacation, I mentioned to LeRoy that I could get used to “this”, meaning not going to work every day, enjoying different country. LeRoy understood that to mean that he should immediately begin looking for a bus. A bus, like a Trailways bus? Yes, since a bus conversion provides more storage capacity and comfort than our little camper-type RV. And we were off!

I wouldn’t begin to compare myself with Abram, but I will say that it seemed the Lord was leading us to leave our familiar surroundings and go…where? As with Abram, the destination didn’t seem to be the issue, just GO. Abram heard God say to leave his country, family and his father’s home for an undetermined land (Gen. 12:1 MSG) What God wanted was Abram’s willingness to follow where he was led.

I dragged my feet at first…well, maybe for quite a while. I found lots of reasons we weren’t ready to retire, let alone drive away. My office needed me! And we had debt. We couldn’t retire with debt. We had a mortgage on our house. What if we couldn’t sell it?

One of my favorite phrases in the Bible came into play then: BUT GOD. When God has a plan for your life, all the objections begin to resolve themselves. I just had to trust. Hebrews 11:1, 2 in the Message reads “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

Who is more important?

Bible reading: Gen. 22:1-5, 8, 13; Ex. 13:21, 22

When LeRoy and I began talking about living full time in our RV, I had issues to work through. Could I leave our family? At the time, our children had left us, scattered a day’s drive from us in two directions so that didn’t seem to be much of a problem. We visited my mother, in her 90s and in poor health, at least twice a week. What about our church family at Northridge Friends? We were there when it formed in 1970, so these friends had been close for many years, even when job changes moved us away for 18 years. How could I leave all that behind? I’m a people person. Would a life on the road be lonely?

For Abram and others who followed generations later, it was a matter of trusting God and following his direction. Abram trusted God to keep his promise through Isaac even when he was asked to sacrifice his son and God provided. When God heard the Israelites and led them out of Egypt, their way was not laid out far ahead of them. They followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, one day at a time. My comfort zone, like that of the Israelites, was seriously threatened. I wanted to see fire, a cloud, something!

God’s question to me and to all of us was and is “Who comes first in your life every day? Are you really willing to follow my lead?”

What is my priority?

Bible reading: Matt. 6:19-21

What about our “stuff”, the accumulation of a 45 year marriage, 20 in the same large house? What about treasures inherited from Oklahoma homesteaders? Memories of our kids’ school years that survived in the same boxes through countless moves to various homes/states? And our photos! The dune buggy parts and magazines LeRoy had amassed and the things from his jobs, presumably kept for his “Presidential library”?

Today’s scripture in the Message says, “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” What did that mean in my life? I had made these things more important than my relationship with the Lord. Was that china cabinet full of antiques of more value to me than doing what God was asking of me? Was my house a status symbol or a tool to use for the kingdom?

The not always easy to accept answer is that God is important and all the rest is just stuff! Moving 15 times in 26 years had shown me that already. God had begun to work with me on that issue long before we retired, but I frequently have to give this issue back to Him years later. Ultimately it all belongs to Him anyway and He always meets my physical and financial needs regardless of where or in what we live.

The things I held so dear have been shared with family and friends and are bringing joy to many, instead of just us. And the Presidential library? Well, probably not.

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What season is this?

This past week, our high temperatures have been in the 50s more times than we would like and today, we watched a storm that turned Pikes Peak white down to timberline! I’m thinking it’s about time to head for a warmer climate! One more week here at 9200 ft might just about do me in.

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We are so spoiled to having most of our meals cooked for us during the summer here at Golden Bell and now that summer staffers have gone home to start school and the campers are gone, we’re passing cooking duties around among the volunteers. This week we were thankful for tarps to put around the pavilion in the RV park and a wood burning stove inside while we enjoyed ham and beans and cornbread with good friends. Envy us!

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Dale and Judy Foster from Gardner, KS have already gone home but the rest are from California, Alabama, Kansas and Colorado. The tallest couple in the pictures aren’t volunteers this year, just familiar campers from Monument, CO. Quite a few have already committed to being here for at least part of next summer, so we have friendships to look forward to.

This weekend has been a “small world” weekend. A church in Woodland Park, Our Lady of the Woods, had a campout here and we met a couple Friday night who told us they had Kansas friends coming later. While they were from western Kansas, we found several friends in common with them and had a good time talking. Then last night, we met a couple from the church, Ted and Kathy Bonner, who are planning to join the full time RV ranks very soon. As we were talking, we discovered that one of LeRoy’s Facebook friends from Wichita is their summer neighbor in Woodland Park! We love giving tours of Liberty, especially to new full timers, so we had a great time with all of our new friends.

During this next 9 days, we have some camp projects to get done while the park is mostly empty. Next weekend is Family Camp at Golden Bell and the RV park will be full again. The bathroom floors need to be painted and that’s tricky when there are people in and out all the time. We’ll see how that goes and we’ll get our things stored away to be able to leave once the Labor Day crowd is gone.

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Man (and woman) at work

In a blog in early June, I wrote about nearly getting stuck in the driveway of our acre.

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The car wasn’t hooked up yet when the ruts came to be and in the rocking back and forth, LeRoy backed into a tree at the edge of the yard without realizing it. After we were on the road, we discovered that the rear view camera was skewed. LeRoy worked on straightening it enough to be able to at least see rearward, but knew it would require more extensive help later. Well, this week was “later”. He needed to put washers on it to keep it from pulling clear through the rear cap. The rear clearance lights were broken in the fracas, too, so it was a project. A two-person project, in fact, one on the inside and one on the ladder outside. Since I don’t do ladders if I can help it, guess which job was mine?

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I also happen to be the one who fits in the opening!

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It would have been easier if I’d had longer arms, but all the new lights are now in place anyway and we think the camera is positioned better, although without the car hooked up behind, it’s hard to tell.

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One of the best things about being at Golden Bell is the view of Pikes Peak we have nearly every day and it is available all over the camp. Here in Colorado, the Peak is known as America’s mountain. Today we attended a worship service in the Dan Walker Memorial Chapel on campus. When we were here two years ago, the chapel was a hole in the ground with some footings poured. Today was the first time we had been inside since it was completed. As you sit looking at the front of the sanctuary, Pikes Peak takes center stage, a reminder of God’s wonderful creation.

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In the RV park, there is a bench sitting in front of a perfectly tree-framed view of the Peak. I made a sign to put there this week that says “This view brought to you by Almighty God” and I felt just as blessed seeing that view from the chapel. We’re enjoying our waning time here and praising God for MY mountain!

 

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BIG gap!

Due to several things, it’s been a while since I’ve had pictures for a blog and I tend to think no one wants to know about our day to day activities. Now I can catch up on our time with Jadelyn and since.

We’ve been coming to Colorado on vacations since our kids were very small, but back then we couldn’t afford all the tourist attractions. We did the gift shops, mostly as window shoppers, and hiked a lot. Now that we don’t have the expenses of a house and children, we’re a lot more likely to take the grandkids to places we’ve just driven or walked by. This year, we took Jadelyn on the Molly Kathleen mine tour near Cripple Creek. Other than the ride down 1000 feet in a wire cage elevator, I think she enjoyed it.

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Years ago, they told us that when gold got up to $100 an ounce, it would be profitable to mine and the tours would probably end. Well, gold is more than $1300 per ounce and it still hasn’t happened, so I’m thinking tourism is pretty profitable in itself!

The day we were in Cripple Creek, Hells Angels were congregating there. On the way into town, we saw a group from New York surrounded by police and sheriff cars and as we turned onto the main street, there were bikes everywhere. The other side of the street looked the same and the parking garages were filled, as well.

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We didn’t tangle with any of them. I guess they probably were more interested in casinos than the 2-mile high ice cream cone shop.

Since Jadelyn was on a swim team this summer, we took advantage of the camp pool almost every day for her to swim laps so she wouldn’t get behind on her training. Amazing, though, in the pool she just looks like a head!

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Our favorite place to go out to eat here is McGinty’s in Divide. Two years ago, we took the three grandkids who were with us there for their woodfired pizza, so Jadelyn had instructions from Bailey to eat pizza for her. This was all that was left when we remembered to take a picture. Yum!

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The senior volunteers at camp had been looking for elk all summer and no one had seen any. After we finished our pizza, we drove south of town and just over the hill we saw this group grazing. I think there were about three dozen in all.

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Two years ago when Tim and Heidi came to pick up Ben, Bailey and Jadelyn, they all climbed the 40′ climbing wall to ride the 900′ zip line. This year, since Jadelyn was just recovering from a broken foot, we decided the 400′ was probably a better choice. She and LeRoy still had to climb the tree to get to the nest but it was much less of a climb. Our team, Brent and Bryan Stone and Taylor Rodriguez, did a great job of instructing and encouraging, both on the ground and on the climb.

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Notice that none of the pictures are of me. I think I might be able to zip if I didn’t have to climb to get there, but I’m content to take pictures from the ground.

The trip to Nebraska was uneventful. Google Maps told me that the fastest way was to go was through Denver but I chose to avoid that. Jadelyn made a pretty good navigator since the route we chose was one I’d never taken and my phone decided not to talk to us for the majority of the trip. Heidi and Tim, Ben and Bailey, came for Cait and Jeremy’s wedding on Saturday evening and took Jadelyn home, so I drove back on Sunday by myself. I tried a slightly modified route with a lot less turns and highway changes and got home just in time for a pot luck meal that the senior volunteers provided for the summer staff. We had one uninvited guest, as well.

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This past week we visited one of LeRoy’s high school friends who lives less than an hour from us in the mountains. Dean Wilson and his wife have a beautiful home in a great setting and we had a great time visiting. We’re hoping to see them again before we leave in a few weeks.

One of the things that has been good for us this summer is the forced exercised. Well, it’s only forced if we choose to eat at the lodge and even then we could drive if necessary. Living in a 40′ bus, it’s easy to be sedentary so any encouragement is good. I’ve increased by step goal from 7000 per day at the beginning of the summer to 9000 this weekend. That doesn’t mean I meet it every day but at least I’m trying. Cleaning bathrooms and hanging welcome signs on the various campsites helps!

The summer staff is gone now and the senior volunteer ranks are thinning, too. Three more weeks and we’ll be on to new challenges.

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