Category: run away

Ultimate Road Trip FAQs

Moving is weird.

This is how weird moving is: Tonight is our last night in this house. Tomorrow morning we’ll sign it over to the new owner and put our check in the bank. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll start our search for a camper. The way our luck tends to work, we’ll probably be moving our junk into our new home on wheels by the day after tomorrow. We’ve lived here for six years. Joshua rebuilt this entire house from the basement up. We’ve had two children here, buried two cats here, written millions of words here. And in a couple days, we’re leaving here forever.

But this is also how weird moving is: Ten years ago almost to the day, Joshua asked me to marry him. A few weeks later, I loaded everything I owned into the back of my dad’s truck, and left for Brooklyn where I was pretty sure my future awaited.

Six years ago—again almost to the day—Joshua and I packed everything we owned into the back of, and on top of, our Explorer, loaded up our cats, and drove 18 hours back home to Missouri. We were homeless, jobless, $40,000 in debt, and expecting our first child.

In a few days, we’ll be homeless again, jobless again, with two little boys in tow. Except this time we’re up $40,000, with the highway stretching out ahead of us like a Welcome Home party that never ends.

When people find out that our plan is to sell our house, buy a camper, and bum around the country for the rest of our lives (or until we get bored of the US and decide to branch out to the international bumming circuit), they inevitably have questions. For the sake of convenience (mine, mostly), I’ve compiled our answers to the most Frequently Aed Qs here.

1. How’s this going to work?
My guess is pretty well. Josh and I both love traveling and the boys love “going on long trips.”

2. With kids, though?
I’ll assume from your tone that you’ve either met Oak and Bear or have two little boys of your own, and you’re wondering how Josh and I are going to keep from losing our minds on the days it’s too stormy to shove them out the door and tell them not to come back until they need a flashlight. Excellent question! Next.

3. What about money?
Money will figure itself out. It always does.

4. Seriously, trucks don’t run on dreams and gas doesn’t grow on trees. What are you going to do about money?
Let me take a moment to note that this question is most often asked by practical, plan-centric people or our parents—a.k.a. “people who worry too much.” But for the sake of argument, I’ll entertain it.

In theory, we’ll have the house money until that runs out. By the time the house money runs out, we’re hoping that my book sales will support us, with some help from Joshua’s cover design business and whatever else he cooks up. He’s pretty ingenious as providers go. If his family needs something, you can count on that guy figuring out a way to get it.

In practice, though, our money/living plan is a lot simpler. God takes care of His idiots, as my dad likes to say. He’s always taken care of me. Remember us leaving Brooklyn homeless, jobless, expecting, and $40k in debt? The Monday after we got back, Josh started work at the local cabinet shop. A couple weeks later, we’d bought this house. We haven’t wanted for anything since.

This money thing is where a lot of people get hung up. They’re willing to say that they believe God will take care of them, but in reality they won’t rest easy until the money’s actually in the bank. Me, I think worrying is stupid on every level, but worrying about money more so than the rest. I can look back on every place in my life where I needed help in monetary form, and then I can see where my help came from. My faith is grounded in a trust that was built over 28 years of being taken care of by God. Maybe I am one of His idiots, but I’m a well-protected one, so I’m fine with that.

5. What about the boys? They’re almost school age, so…
This question has a simple answer, but the carrying out of said answer is going to be a lot of work. The answer is road school. There are a lot of philosophies and curriculums and tedium you can get into if you actually want to (and take the word of someone who’s done the research—you can sink tons and tons of time into reading about the philosophies alone), but the simplest answer is that Josh and I will teach the boys.

Road schooling is something I’m simultaneously nervous and excited about. I’m afraid I won’t be good enough, won’t be able to explain well enough, won’t have enough patience—something, I’ll do something wrong and short-change my children. But I’m also really excited. Working outside the traditional curriculum leaves room for tons of cool stuff like studying local plants, geology, and history. Can you imagine how much more impact learning about the Civil War would’ve had if you’d been standing in the ruins of a plantation house burned by Sherman? How much more exciting astronomy might’ve been if you got to visit an observatory or use the stars to navigate your way back to your camper? What about that unit on plate tectonics? What if you could’ve gone to a fault line or a volcano and seen the metamorphosis of the planet for yourself? Here in Missouri, there’s nothing the boys would get to know as well as amber waves of grain. But what if I could show them the purple mountains’ majesty? Blinding miles of desert broken up by rocky canyons and the little spirit oases hidden in between? What if they could splash in the ocean, then spend a day searching tide pools for beach creatures?

The point is my excitement about teaching the boys far outweighs my fear of not being good enough. Josh feels the same way—except in addition to all the awesome hands-on history and science stuff, he’s geeking out about teaching the boys chess. What a nerd.

6. What about all your stuff?
To be honest, we don’t have much left. We got rid of all our furniture a few months ago, along with a ton of books we weren’t going to reread, dishes, appliances, and so on. Good thing, too. Packing made me see how much junk we still have. How in the world does a pack-rat move?

6a. Bullhockey! Where do you  sleep, then, genius?

On the floor. Duh.

The boys have been sleeping pretty much the same way in their room, but with a slight modification. 

Want to see our breakfast nook?

I think three is enough examples for this joke. Minimalist family is minimalist, etc, etc.

The point is that, as a family, we’re not really stuff-people. We’re more like experience-people. Don’t get me wrong, the boys have what seems like tons of toys, but they spend a lot more time outside climbing trees or riding bikes or making piles of walnuts from our neighbor’s tree than they do playing with those toys. Their parents are kind of the same way. We like doing, not having. This comes in handy when it’s time to pick up and go. We just pick up…and go.

So, to answer your original question—”What about your stuff?”—all of our earthly belongings fit comfortably into the front half of a 12-ft cargo trailer without even having to stack any boxes. Do you need some help moving a sectional or a baby grand piano this week? Because we’ve got plenty of room to spare.
7. That’s so cool! I wish I could move into a camper and travel around for as long as I wanted!
That’s not technically a question, but I’ll answer it anyway. You could. And you should. As a wise man once said, “These things are fun and fun is good.”

God the Father & Mother

A few Sundays ago, the youth pastor at my church shared a story that had everyone (me included) fighting tears. At about eight years old, he decided to run away from home. Not for any real reason, “maybe just as a way to assert my independence.” His parents tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t be swayed. He was going to run away. So, they let him go. As he started to walk down the block, he heard his father’s car start. But he’d made his decision, so he kept walking. The car pulled out into the road and followed along behind him.
Our pastor said he’d made it a few blocks when it started to get dark and cold and too real. He wasn’t sure where he would live now or who would feed him. He couldn’t go back home, but he didn’t want to keep going.
He said he stood there for a while, then began to cry. After a few seconds, he heard his father get out of the car. His dad hugged him, then led him back to the car, and buckled him in. Together, they went home.
It’s easy to see how our pastor was relating this story to his relationship with God. The point was that even when we turn our back on God, He’ll be right behind us, waiting for us to turn around. But that story reminded me of one from my childhood.
For most of my childhood, we lived in a farmhouse with a quarter mile of lane between us and the gravel road. One day, my sister Emily and my mom were fighting over something. Emily screamed, “I’m going to run away.” Mom’s answer? To help her pack.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the way you grow up affects every part of the rest of your life. You either overcome the bad or you let it drag you down. You cling to the good. The most important lesson I ever learned, I learned from my mom.
I don’t remember what Mom and I were talking about now, just that it didn’t feel like a big deal until Mom said, “Just make sure you can still stand to look at yourself in the mirror.”
People get upset at the idea of a God who would let people He supposedly loved go to hell. What they don’t want to acknowledge is that without free will, there is no love, only compulsion. God loved us enough to give us a choice—and even when we rejected Him, God loved us enough to respect our decision. Because even though our decisions might hurt Him and the people around us, we’re the ones who have to live with them.
That’s why Mom helped Emily pack her little red suitcase.
But Mom also reminded Emily to take a jacket. And she stood at the window and watched Emily head off down the lane. When Emily came back crying, Mom hugged and kissed her and helped her unpack the suitcase like nothing had happened.
Because He loves us, God gave us the freedom to choose. Because he wants us to be safe, He’ll give us other options, better ones to lead us out of trouble. Ultimately, He’ll respect our choices, but He’ll always be watching over us, waiting to welcome us back home.