Observing the Sabbath and finding clarity

WARNING: LONG POST – PROCEED AT OWN RISK 🙂

 

Oh my….. where to begin.

The last 6 weeks or so have just flown by.  If you are reading this, thank you.  I had intended to write weekly as a kind of diary for our adventure.  As it turns out things have just been too hectic to actually do so.  I am all the time thinking, “this is a piece of information or feeling or occurrence that I should be recording.”  As I was driving to Blunt late last Sunday night this phrase from a Frost poem popped into my head, “miles to go before I sleep” (Stopping By Woods).  It had occurred to me that we had not observed a day of rest in months.  Yes, I am serious.  MONTHS.  I’m guessing there might have been a day in April that we took a rest day.  So, the point I’m making is that our trip to Brunswick this week needed to have a little lower key or less ambitious milieu.  My back has been killing me as well as my knee.  These aren’t new injuries, just an ache and pain that I wasn’t having enough time between activities to let settle.

Right, so just what have we been doing that has brought me to this point?  So many things.  We had to get moved out of our house, so our son Sean could take it over.  We moved into our camper, but had to move out almost immediately because we had it rented out for a week.  I have helped Sean with his vacation renters and house cleaning.  Mike has not worked since May 30 at the clinic, but has continued to work in the ER in Pierre.  Besides that, we have worked on the hay barn that will eventually have 2 apartments.  Mike has been insulating, then we prepped and poured concrete in half the building (the shop side).  The Blunt house has had some major changes that are finally visible as well.  We have completed the 2nd floor bathroom and made major headway on the first floor bathroom.  The walls in the living and dining room are finally up and mudded, primed and partly painted.  I have broken 2 mowers and Mike has been able to fix one.  This next week in Sturgis is the Rally and we have again moved out of the camper for rally renters.  This seems like it should be a small project, but actually isn’t.  We live there, so the “things” being moved are our daily used items, mostly.  I’m ashamed to say how long it takes to do this and how inadequately I get it done.

I stopped working at the clinic much earlier than planned, but am now grateful it happened that way.  I don’t know how I could have managed otherwise.  We have continued to have Lucian on Sundays and when Megan gets called in.  We have also been able to keep the K’s a couple of times and are so grateful we can do that.  Pearl, our 10 month old niece has visited a few times and we were able to help Jamie and Bree with her.

Vacation Bible School is something I have helped with for the last several years.  The last 3 or so, I have headed up the craft class.  Our theme this year was “Game On” and our verse was 2 Peter 1:3 which says, “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  It was during this week that I began to feel a sense of what the Lord was calling us to do on our sailing away project.  GEAR UP, GET READY, GAME ON!

Matthew and I took a trip to Branson for a week, as well.  This is a trip that although restful, was very busy.  Helena, our 10 year old niece was able to go with us.  Megan, Lucian and Mom also went.  We had just turned in our VW jetta for the TDI lawsuit and bought a Conestoga wagon (I refuse to admit to owning a minivan, therefore it shall be known as Connie the Conestoga Wagon).  We filled her up and headed south.  My Mamaw is the reason we travel to Branson, but the town sure does offer a lot for the kids and us to do.  We took in Silver Dollar City and White Water, Samson at the Sight and Sound theater and shopped for school clothes.  Yeti shaved ice is conveniently located across from Holiday Hills where we stay, so I always stop there for my favorite treat.  I never feel like we have enough time there and miss my Mamaw more every time we leave.  Below is a picture of us celebrating her 89th birthday while we were there.

Mamaw's bday

Just as we were arriving back in South Dakota we learned of the tragic sinking of the Duck in Branson.  This was so unfortunate and shocking!  It sounds like a triad of mistakes were made and 17 people died as a result, 9 in one family!  We have ridden the Ducks countless times and have pictures of all the kids at the wheel.  It just felt to unbelievable.  There is probably a name for the grief we felt, but it just left a hollow, sad feeling.

Here’s Matthew driving the Duck Aug 5th, 2013.

M driving the duck

Link to one of many stories about the tragedy:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=19&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi15ufTutHcAhUJ7FMKHUW2CD4QFjASegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F07%2F20%2Fus%2Fduck-boat-branson-accident.html&usg=AOvVaw3-Bur1XAJWov1fbzkTqCXa

Duck

Since deciding we were undertaking this huge life change, I have struggled with the reason God is allowing me such a wonderful adventure.  I have for years thought this would be such a great thing to do, but felt it was a selfish ambition.  I mean, who doesn’t from time to time, just feel like walking away from life and doing just whatever is in your heart to do??  I had been asking God why I had this strong desire (along with Mike) if it was selfish.  And if He has a plan for us, to show us.  As pieces of our “normal life” were falling away and it became more clear that this really was what we were meant to do, I was becoming more convinced and yet more anxious.  Mike was able to see it a little more clearly, “Erin, these are signs we are on the right path”.  I couldn’t get past the “what are we supposed to DO?”  Thinking my sole motive would be living a life of leisure and not having a purpose was driving me crazy!”  There has to be a calling, a plan, SOMETHING!

Right.  When we were looking at boats, the owners of the HR had mentioned something from their cruising years that stuck with me.  She said that they kept little “gifts” on board to offer to people when they visited.  For children, they might have little stuffed animals or for women, a perfume sample.   So, while teaching VBS that week in July the Holy Spirit began to move me in a direction of simple clarity.  Why can’t I have a few VBS type  materials on board?  Why can’t I have a couple totes devoted to small but thoughtful gifts that can be given to people we come across that just need to be shown that Jesus loves them?  These are simple ways that I feel can make a difference.  Just throwing these ideas out to a few friends, our church family and family members has taken that burdon of “what am I supposed to be doing” questioning off my shoulders.  Pastor Bob brought it to the attention of the congregation last week and now there are several people being thoughtful in what we can do for others we meet as we sail.  That they are calling us unofficial missionaries is a little overwhelming, but we will try to live up to that expectation!

Back to the Sabbath.  Our first day on board Voyager was pretty restful.  Mike, however, struggles with a full day of not working.  He replaced a headroom faucet and organized a few areas.  I slept, read and M and I took a bike ride to the pool.  We have trouble adjusting to the time difference, so our nights are pretty late as are our mornings.  Strange that 2 hours can make much difference.

We brought Katniss and Falcon this trip.  I admit I have been pretty apprehensive about these 2 living on the boat with us.  They are territorial, quirky dogs.  So far, they have proved me wrong in every aspect.  They have behaved on leash, there have been no accidents and haven’t shown any hostility to those docked around us.

getting settled

We are now finding our refrigeration system has a glitch and is short cycling.  This means it’s kicking on and off and not working/cooling efficiently.  It’s also not cycling water and will burn up the motor if not addressed. we have tried a few recommended fixes, but to no avail.  We are also cleaning our water tanks and Mike will be polishing the diesel tanks.  We still have a few items to organize and stow, as well.  I’m taking this moment to write in hopes I can get into the groove.  We really are doing the blog as a record of events for personal revisiting, but hope others find it useful, entertaining or something of the kind.

So- while all this is going on, I am determined to keep our family reminded that we need to set limits on how much and how long we are working.  I also am determined to remind us all that we need to rest.  God intended us to take a day each week, from what I understand.  We need to be faithful and obey.

I’m adding this last picture for two reasons.  1. The boat is gorgeous.  2.  I’m fascinated with all things Scottish.  (Yes, it’s Inverness Canada, but still…..)

Thistle

 

A word from Matthew

I would like to tell  a story about how I got stung by a jellyfish.  One day I walked in the ocean as deep as I could when was  I was as deep as I could, I started swimming back to the beach.   But when I went   under water I got stung by a jellyfish. I came out of the water thinking it was seaweed. I tried to pull it of but it was not seaweed.  I  put my hand on my face saying ow.I ran to my mom and I told her what happen and said you problly got stung by a jellyfish .So we put warm salt water on my face until we got home.  And when we got home we put vinegar on it  and it healed. So from now on I will never do it again.              THE END.

Changing Seasons

The last month has been a whirlwind!  In one week’s time, we sold our medical practice, moved our 2 foster children to their new home & moved out of our house and into a 5th wheel camper.  We have traveled back and forth to Blunt countless times for Mike to work and to further the construction along in that house in preparation for it to sell.  We are now sitting on S/V Voyager, but headed back to Blunt early tomorrow morning.

I have not had a ton of time to really let the changes sink in.  When I think about the clinic not being ours, I feel like someone has knocked the wind out of me.  When I think about the boys not being there when we get home, I am weak in the knees and my heart hurts.  I have to remind myself almost without ceasing, that both of these pieces of us are in the best hands possible.  Lynn loves those boys like we do- I know this and have no doubt!  Ann and Toni are not going to do anything that will hurt the clinic- they will in fact make it better, I believe!  Our patients and those boys are so blessed to have so many who love and care about them!

Right – Voyager-

I felt so at home with this boat from the minute we saw her.  She is comfortable and appealing to look at.  Insomnia is something that I have struggled with for years, but I have slept like a rock every night we have been here!  I’m so thankful for this!

We have been taking inventory and buying supplies we want to make her homey and functional.  We went to Target the first night and bought groceries, a few pieces of bedding, toiletries, etc.  We have gone back a few times since and making list upon list.  Pete & Linda the previous owners came and gave us a rundown on the boat systems.  They shared some pointers and just general encouragement for what we are doing.  We so appreciate them taking the time to be available to us.
Today, before we head out, Mike is organizing and stowing the extra filters, hoses, clamps, fluids and everything else we have come across.  Matthew and I have cleaned the canvas in a few areas that needed it as well as the deck and downloaded movies to watch later.  We are wrapping up this trip, but already planning for what we will do on the next one.   Hopefully our electric winches are replaced by then and we have good weather to take her out for a spin.  Drew, the man doing the work came by.  He is very nice and seemed competent.  He will keep in contact with Mike as the work progresses.

I’ve included a few pictures from this adventure.  We drove from Blunt to Sioux Falls, flew to Sanford then rented a car and drove up to Brunswick.   Ignore my mis-speak in the video calling the dodger a windshield~ I was slightly excited!  Of course, it’s pretty amateur anyway.  😉
I will sign off for this post~ Matthew also wants to write, so I will let him make the next entry.

Falls park
We visited Falls Park in Sioux Falls for the first time.
SV Voyager
Love the way these lights on the mast look!
SV Voyager.jpg2
Matt checking out Pappy’s berth.
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Headed for Sioux Falls for our flight
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After working on the boat, this was a nice reprieve.
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M got a jellyfish sting to his face.
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Recovered face.

 

 

 

 

Going Home

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost

The end of our unexpected vacation is here. Mike and I had some really great adventures over the last week. We hiked and walked a ton, rented kayaks, paddled the mangroves, saw alligators and crocodiles, sailed on a 100′ schooner, the America 2.0 and tried key lime pie in a variety of establishments and contemplated which was the best. Mike found a few alligators and ceocodiles (I wasn’t looking as hard as he was) and we took several pictures.

Going back home is always bittersweet. I love to travel. I’m maybe obsessed with travelling. I will gladly give up a few luxuries if I can take a trip somewhere new or a favorite place. However, I also love to be at home. I love to be near my children and grandchildren, my parents and brother and his family. I love the familiarity of home and the routine. For awhile. Until I get restless and need to GO.

I am happy in the woods, hiking. I’m happy camping. I’m happy in nature. I’m happy on my mt bike. I’m happy in my home. I’m happy making my house a home. I’m not a high maintenance kind of person. I’m not afraid to be alone or in the wild, alone. Give me some good walking shoes or boots and I’m generally happy. A book and a hammock, am I’m happy. Sometimes I just need to GO.

I think that home is an anchor. It is where I’m grounded and where I’m known. Where my people are. Where, despite my travels and desire for newness and adventure, I have security and peace. Home is where I can be me and they love me despite it.

As we prepare for our adventures away from home for 6 months at a time, I know that as exciting as this is, I will always be glad to have HOME and the ability to go there. That security along with my Lords direction will sustain me.

Hebrews 6:19-20 says –

19)We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, form and secure. It enters into the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. 20) where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

Sunset aboard the America 2.0. SV Hindu is in the foreground.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Mike and I were discussing this poem today. Then, because it’s what I do, I researched it and we laughed about how to us it meant one thing, to many something else and Robert Frost had written it as a joke.

What started this conversation was that he and I will rarely choose the straight and obvious path. Our plans changed yesterday when it was decided that our crossing with Bruce on Mambo just couldn’t happen this week. So, we started planning how to get home earlier. Plane ticket charges are astronomical to change plans. We could get a bus and ride for 2 days for cheaper, then forfeit our flights. We could leave it as is and figure out how to get to Wilmington, NC where we had planned to fly out of, or just get altogether new tickets. Every course would cost more money than we wanted to spend. In the end, after more than an hour on the phone with Delta, we were finally able to reschedule out of West Palm, but not until Saturday. We will still miss Matthew’s track meet, but be home for Mothers Day. This is consoling to this mama’s heart.

So, now we have a somewhat forced vacation and will be spending money we hadn’t planned on. Right. We booked an airbnb south of Miami and headed out.

Our first stop was Oleta River State Park north of Miami. We love state parks, wildlife preserves and any nature trails. We rented a canoe, got a brief run down of terrain and routes and expected wildlife then took off paddling.

Point #1: if Mike or I are given a “you could go that way, but we don’t recommend it” you can sure bet that’s the way we are going. We made two “not recommended” portages with our rented canoe and made a loop that took us about an hour to paddle. We had our discussion about the Frost poem and how we always choose the road less travelled and sometimes just make things darn hard on ourselves.

Point #2: We repeat this process over and over. We ate super expensive salads for lunch then bought fried chicken for our supper. Now we are loading up a few drinks and snacks and headed out for another trail and place to watch the sunset.

Our lesson from the Road Not Taken is that is where we will see what others won’t, where we will have our adventures and make our memories and write our story.

Key Largo sunset, we drove an hour to see. Fair winds friends.

Surveyors Report and Closing

                                    ^^^^Mike and Capt Bruce from the Mambo from 2017^^^^

Mike and Matthew had a successful trip and were happily reporting an excellent survey.  The few items found, were a leaking water pump gasket, some hose clamps that needed replaced and a few other insignificant items.  We were set to close on the 11th, but are supposed to be sailing as crew for a friend and wouldn’t be available to make the wire transfer. It’s now postponed to the 16th.  

Bruce, the captain of Mambo, the boat we are crewing on, spoke with Mike this morning and said weather isn’t looking good and it may be the end of the week before we could begin the crossing. We have to be back to work the 16th, so this likely won’t work for us. 

Presently, we are sitting at the airport, waiting to board for our flights to meet up with Mambo.  We have made arrangements for the boys and dogs for the next 13 days. We haven’t been away from Matthew for more than 5 days, so I’m having a ton of apprehension. If we are able to come home early, I won’t be too sad. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

5″Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not into your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths  straight.”

Survey Time and Transition

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Mike and Matthew are off to Georgia to get the boat survey done. This is an 8 hour survey where the surveyor inspects the boat inside and out, topside and downside. This will give an overview of any problems there may be. Although we have no concerns, this is something that an insurance carrier will require, so it is highly recommended. I’m hoping that Mike will take a lot of pictures and we can get them posted.
I said I would go into a little more detail on how having foster children is affecting our transition and plans. I’ll give just a brief history of our foster care life and then go into what our transition looks like.
We began foster care initially as a means of and growing our family. Matthew was/ is desperate for siblings closer to his age and we felt led to explore foster care. We hadn’t thought foster care was something we could do effectively just for the sake of being foster parents. I realize that isn’t really clear- but all of the cliché reasons for NOT doing it, were the ones we were scared of. Becoming attached, letting them go, difficult behaviors and circumstances were all reasons we were afraid. Now, having done this for the last 6 or so years, we have dealt with each of these circumstances and survived. We have set aside adoption as a goal and have just been parents and a family to a hand full of children that needed us. We are so far from the perfect family, but what we can offer is stability, love, direction and structure. When these kids leave us we hope they remember that for a while we provided that and that we will love them forever and that Jesus loves them even more than we do.
As our time of transition has approached, I have had some intense anxiety. This has been like a separation anxiety. Separation from our patients at the clinic and separation from our 2 remaining foster children. K1 and K2 have been with us off and on for a little over 2 years. K2 has been with us this time for 1 year straight, while his brother came back a little later. To say we are attached is putting it mildly. I can truly say I love these 2 as my own and the thought of them going to some unknown family was just about more than I could bear. When they were with us the first time for 6 months, we also had a friend staying with us while she moved back to the area. She lived with us for almost exactly the same amount of time as these precious boys. Therefore, she has known them essentially as long as we have. As time is drawing nearer for our move into our camper and the end of the school year, I had laid it all out to God, that I needed reassurance that my boys would be somewhere safe and where we could still be involved. I had it in the back of mind and etched on my heart that this friend would do it. I couldn’t see how, though. She is in the middle of a business deal and the timing is less than perfect. There is also the fact that she is single and without a husband I was afraid it might be too overwhelming. Not that I doubt her ability, but that it just makes life with children easier with a helpmate. So, I hadn’t mentioned it to her. I kept praying and waiting for the Lord to reveal His plan. Then, while talking over pizza at Chuck e Cheese’s at K3’s going away shindig (he transitioned to his adoptive family) this friend confided that she has had it on her heart to go through the PRIDE classes and become a foster parent, thus being available to take our boys. This was a Saturday evening. I promptly texted and emailed our social worker and program director at LSS and had replies immediately that this was a completely doable plan. (LSS has the absolutely best program and I could rave about them for paragraphs.) The relief I’ve had since is indescribable. We know that she can provide a great home and so much love. Mike can still love and guide them as only a father to young boys can. We can still love on them and follow them as they grow as long as they can be with her. This does our hearts so much good.
This is where we are at in transition. We leave on the 3rd to close on our boat (still unnamed) and crew on Mambo and our friend, Megan and Jon will provide the respite. Moving to her house will happen as soon as she is licensed and school is out and soccer finished. We plan to move to the 5th wheel the weekend of June 15th, so this will all happen before then. Matthew has been pretty sad having K3 move to his forever family and now K1 and K2 moving, too. However, knowing they will be so close and we will still have our family get togethers with them helps so much.
I will update as Mike shares the progress of the survey and shares any photos he gets. If you are so inclined, we welcome prayers as we go through this journey.