Posts Tagged ‘family road trip’

Grand Canyon

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. Friday morning we left New Mexico headed to the Grand Canyon. It was a long slow drive and finding a spot to park our rig was worse, but it was all so worth it after a short 4 minute hike to the lookout spot closest to the Visitor Center. I have dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon for as long as I can remember and it was just as magnificent as I imagined it to be. The canyon is over 200 miles long and averages about 10 miles across from the south rim to the north rim. We only spent about 2 hours exploring and let me tell you- it was not enough! If you’ve never been, there is a reason the entrance fee covers a 7 day pass. You need at least that long to see and learn all that’s there!

Grants, NM

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Travel
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Hey, it’s Ism. Na, just kidding. Liz here!

Yesterday we drove north from Amarillo through a small piece of Oklahoma and into southeast Colorado. We drove through the breat taking Comanche National Grasslands and south into New Mexico. We spent the night at the KOA in Raton, NM last night so we could shower, wash the clothes, and get rid of the necessaries. We were thrilled to see bison and jackalopes on our journey!

But something even more amazing also happened. While driving through the grassland our empty light went on. I pulled the GPS to see where the closest gas station (JP’S Shell) was and it found it was about 45 miles out. Yeah, you read that right. A drive that distance has typically taken just under a quarter of a tank. Ism and I started to get really nervous. We pulled into the next driveway we came across and down a long road to a sketchy looking ranch house. Two big dogs climbed out from under the truck in the yard and we’re decided honking the horn was the best option. After a few blows, no one appeared and we decided to move on. We all noticed a large private gas pump on our way back to the highway. None of us was willing to risk the dogs though. We took the next hour to spend some time in prayer and stretching our creativity. As we pulled into JP’S Shell in Trinidad we all breathed a sigh of relief and offered a song of praise for God’s provision. He has carried us 45 miles on E! The rest of the day’s marvels quickly paled in comparison.

Today we drove from Raton across New Mexico to our current WalMart spot in Grants, NM. Gos had another little surprise for us here which we’ll get to in a minute. We took a mid-day lunch break in Santa Fe and enjoyed all that really neat city had to offer. Our kids loved the pueblos and the beautiful work crafted by the local artisans. After our stop we loaded back up and continued toward the Arizona border. We decided early in the day that we’d be stopping at the Grants WalMart as we’d heard rumors of the dangers of overnighting in the Gallup lot from a security guard in Amarillo. Funny, huh?! Anyway, as we pulled off the freeway Ism and I smiled at each other. This was the exact same place we stopped over 7 years ago on our honeymoon trek from Florida to California! The same Denny’s where I got food poisoning is still here! The WalMart we’re camped at is the same one we stopped at to change our oil! This all may seem silly but it was a confirmation to us in a tough day that God’s hand is still on us. Just as it was 7 years ago on our first cross country road trip. God reminded us to look to His promises when our circumstances seem shaky.

Please pray for wisdom as we discern God’s plan for our house back in NH. We received a letter confirming that we have less than 60 days to make a decision about putting it up for sale. Leaving NH in this situation was a tough choice to make and probably seems irresponsible at best, but we know it’s what God is calling us to do. Pray that we are able to walk this path of faith to the end without growing weary. Pray that God continues to bring the folks across our path who have been gifted to give to God’s ministry through us and that all our needs are met.

Amarillo, TX

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. So I hopped on to write a post this morning and realized that, sadly, my last one didn’t actually post. I apologize for the lapse in communication!

We drove yesterday from Tulsa, OK to Amarillo, TX. It was quite a haul. We witnessed some seriously beautiful scenery across Oklahoma and Texas. Our kids have all commented on how we’re obviously not in NH anymore. For a while down the coast of the Atlantic the scenery of pine trees was very similar to what we look at on I-93. But we’re in new territory now! We are officially on the left page of our map!

Monday we met with the pastor of Gateway Community Church in Wylie. This church is in the middle of putting up a building right across the street from the school where they are currently meeting. Please lift this project in prayer.

We met yesterday with an amazing pastor from International Gospel Center yesterday. God is in the midst of doing a similar thing with this church. The town is unable to continue operating their local rec center. The pastor sits on their board and is in prayer about the church taking over operations and using it to further the gospel. Isn’t it amazing when things come full circle and the church begins to take back surrendered territory??!! It is the job of God’s people serve our communities. Reminds me of those verses I can’t find at the moment that speak of inheriting towns you didn’t build and crops you didn’t plant. AMEN!

Please continue to pray for our family. We are wholly committed to this now and there’s no turning back. Pray that the churches we’ve met with move swiftly to partner with us in this mission. Pray that our financial needs are met just as swiftly. Pray that God continues to bless our children with patience and contentment while we drive and that Ism and I have wisdom to take breaks at the right moments. How can we pray for you?

Mt Pleasant, TX

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. We are officially in our 3rd week of travel now and we have been meaning to take a few posts to show you how all 9 of us live in our 15 foot travel trailer. But first, the daily update…

Yesterday we traveled from New Orleans up into Arkansas and crossed into Texas. We stayed at a KOA in Mt. Pleasant for the night. We got there early enough to swim, which thrilled the kids since they were tired of sitting still from our 6 hour drive.

So, here a our sleeping arrangements. Ism, Micah, and I sleep on one of the fold out bays. Aiden sleeps on the fold out couch and Chasitty and Janaya share the lay down table space. We leave the table down as a bed for the most part since moving it around is a lot of work. The bay gets folded up each morning and put back down each night.

Amado, Nattaly, and Ashley share the other bay at the kitchen and bathroom end of the trailer. This bay also gets folded up and down daily in order to travel.

When we arrive at our site each night it takes us about an hour to get moved from the van in travel mode to the trailer for sleep mode. Each night we shuffle our luggage from the camper to the van, setup up the blocks to keep the wheels still and the legs to level the trailer, lay down and setup the two sleeping bays, and make the beds. In the morning we put it all back and we’re ready for the road again.

So, what else do inquiring minds want to know about how this all works? Tomorrow we’ll share a little about how we make meals and keep everything neat.

Panhandle to New Orleans

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. But you know that by now! We are spending the night at a WalMart about 10 miles outside of New Orleans tonight. We’re about 3 hours behind the original schedule but we don’t actually have to be anywhere at the moment until 2 pm Monday afternoon. We will be meeting with a pastor in Dallas then. It looks to be about 9 hours away so we will most likely drive most of that tomorrow and a bit of it Monday morning.
We’ve had an eventful past few days again. I’m discovering that even with all of my good intentions, posting every night is challenging. Especially while staying with friends whom I would rather hang with than this wonderful handheld device.
We spent Wednesday night back in Tampa. This time Ism hooked us up with a delicious Thai stir-fry and some really great appetizers. We were so full we didn’t even make it to the frozen fruit bars!
Thursday we drove up to Panama City and started the night off visiting a high school friend and her family. Then we headed to the laundromat and back to our parking lot for the night. We enjoyed a late night visit with an old college friend who thrilled us with his unique account of converting from Protestantism to Western orthodox. I’m going to have to learn more about this. I am intrigued!
Friday we headed to Pensacola area because there was one important couple from our Dream Center days that we had unfinished business with. We spent a few unbelievable hours at the beach there. Two sea turtles and two porpoises came by for a visit during that time. It was an experience none of us will ever forget. The rest of the country is going to have to work hard to impress us more than this. The most amazing thing is that our friend says she’s never seen either at this beach! After that amazing show we headed back to their house for the night. Our kids were treated to pizza and rides around the yard on the Power Wheels. We put the kids to bed and enjoyed some much needed grown up time.
As hard as it was, we headed out from Pensacola this afternoon. Our goal was Lafayette, LA but we were detained a little in two different places as the Lord provided opportunities to minister so we stopped here for the night.
I pray you enjoy the pictures of the beach and our lunch together at none other than CHIC-FIL-A!!! We waited a long time for this!

Cape Coral to Fort Lauderdale

Posted: September 8, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here, as usual…Ism was supposed to do this too you know!

Anyway, just wanted to update you on the happenings of the last two days. They’ve been incredible!

We left Monday morning for Cape Coral. My amazing friend (who was my maid of honor) and her family live there. We visited with her, her parents, and her brother all day. We even got to meet her boyfriend. We spent Monday night in the church building where her father pastors. He’s pictured above loving on Micah.

Today held more than we could ever have imagined. We participated in an impromptu worship gathering with the staff at Christ Community Church (in the building where we spent the night) and shared with them all that God is doing in our lives. We prayed together and were thoroughly blessed. If you’re ever in the area and looking for a generous body of hard working believers, please check out this church.

Then we were pleasantly surprised to discover that a dear friend whose family is very responsible for my introduction to Jesus as a teen lives in Cape Coral as well. Her husband pastors a local church and we headed over to see them and have lunch together.

Next we went south an hour to see this woman’s father and mother who pastor a church in Naples. We received such godly counsel here. I am grateful for God bringing these people back into my life at this point because their life experiences are just what we need to be successful in following God down this unique and colorful path.

But that wasn’t all God had for us today! We were finally able to connect with the folks over at Ramp 48. They run an amazing skate ministry as part of Calvary Chapel-Fort Lauderdale. We have been leaving messages with them for a few weeks and had almost given up hope of seeing their ministry in action, but God had something else in mind. We headed to Florida’s east cost just in time for their Tuesday night Bible study. Ism spent time with Joe while the kids and I enjoyed some free time out in the grass.

We received prayers, some great referrals, and financial blessings all in one short day. To those of you who are still have a hard time believing this isn’t anything more than a sorry excuse for an extended family vacation at someone else’s expense I hope you can see a little more clearly now. ;-)Four meetings and 3 hours on the road made for a long day!

We are currently parked in Fort Lauderdale’s Walmart lot for the night. We were hoping to stay at a KOA but forgot to make reservations before the office closed. Without electricity we can’t take the pics we were hoping to of our sleeping quarters. 😦
We’ll have to wait until the sun comes up again. Anyway, good night! I’m off to fall asleep listening to the rain on our canvas roof.

Dream Center Reunion!!!

Posted: September 6, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. We spent the last two days (Sat and Sun) visiting with so many friends from the Tampa area. The experience was so good for our whole family. We spent time with family from the country who fed us and loved us while we worked as inner city missionaries in Tampa from 2001 to 2004. When we were hungry they fed us. When we needed encouragment, they loved us. Seeing them again filled our hearts with joy and thanksgiving to the bursting point.

We spent a night out in Ybor City with many of the other folks we worked on staff with at the Tampa Bay Dream Center. You may wonder why this was significant, so let me explain. When Ism dedicated his life to God’s service it was because of the folks at the Dream Center. At the time he was homeless. He ended up at their Tuesday night service in the Joffreys coffee shop in Ybor City. The men in charge invited Ism to join their work and the rest is history. My husband credits most of what he is today to the training and instruction he received while serving at the Dream Center.

I entered the Dream Center after serious sin in my life caused me to be kicked out of a leadership program at the college I was at and the church I was attending. The leadership at the Dream Center took me in and cleaned me up. They loved me in the toughest ways and helped remove the rebellion from my heart. I learned a whole new kind of love there. The kind that’s strong enough to say “No” when it’s necessary. Being able to say thank you to Pastor Bill and Miss Kathy was worth the trip.

Then there was all the other people we worked with. One couple encouraged us to keep blogging and keep doing life the way God is leading. In a world that judges us so harshly it was sweet to hear their words. Another blessed us when they gave sacrificially to show their support. We are praying God continues to work in them and through them to carry their dreams to completion. We stayed with a family dear to us and were blessed to spend some quality time sharing what God is doing in our lives and praying for His continued guidance.

Also, we were able to attend a great church in Zephyrhills called True Life Center. We will be sharing our vision in depth with Pastor Randy on Wednesday. Please be in prayer that God leads the conversation and makes His will clear.

Finally, please be in prayer for our kids’ health. Micah is on meds for conjunctivitis. Janaya has sprouted some kind of funky rash on her face and legs. Please pray that the long days and different locations each night don’t take a toll on them but that His grace carries and protects then on this trip. Also pray for guidance that Ism and I are blessed with wisdom concerning when to push them and when to give them rest.

WalMart Camping

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. I am writing to you tonight from Jacksonville WalMart parking lot. How do you like that setup??!! Praise the Lord for this store’s amazing overnight policy! Because we are welcome to stay overnight in any WalMart we only have to pay for a KOA site every other night. We’ve found them to be very hospitable and the walk for breakfast is wonderfully short.

We enjoyed a beautiful evening at Myrtle Beach last night. We managed to find a parking spot big enough for us, a quick walk to the sand, and an almost vacant beach. I think the hurricane scared away most of the tourists. Ism, the big girls, and I voluntarily were pounded by 5-10 foot waves for about an hour and a half before turning in for the night.

We made an 8 hour trek today to Jacksonville. We’re so closr to some folks we love so much and haven’t seen in so long that it was very hard not to finish the last 3 hours tonightm But the kids were toast, so we stopped. Tomorrow will be beautiful!

Please continue to pray for God’s guidance on which churches to share with and that we continue to follow God to the finish. We’ve had some really neat experiences already. Tonight we were able to share dinner with the security guard who’ll be patroling the lot tonight. We prayed with a woman from NY and her disabled son last night at the beach. Everywhere we go God is using us to bring light to our dark world. What a blessing!

Also pray for Micah. She’s developed some kind of yucky eye. Ism is with her at the hospital now to try to determine what’s up. We’ll keep you updated.

How can we be praying for you??

NH to NC

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Travel
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Liz here. I’m sorry if you’ve spent the last few days wondering if we’re still alive. The truth is: we are! We’ve had a turbulent first four days full of wonderful blessings and difficult ones.

Sunday we were honored to celebrate the 13th birthday of our oldest daughter. We sent her off to the flea market with some very loving neighbors to get her “bling on” for the big trip. We shared God’s vision for the resource center at the morning service at LifeWay Church in Derry, NH (our home church). Ism did fantastic during his first large group presentation. All those hours of prayer and preparation paid off! They are currently supporting our ministry with a Leadership Gift and we are very blessed and thankful for their obedience to God’s prompting!

We came back home to finish the final packing that we fell behind on the night before and were blessed once more. So many different friends came by to help in whatever way they could. We had folks packing our clothes, folks that came by to help make sure the trailer was safe and ready for the haul, folks that brought us lunch, folks that brought us financial gifts for the trip, folks who cleaned our our fridge and got the rest of the house ready to be vacant, and folks taking care of Bologna. The final blessing was the loaner GPS we have with us now. It is fantastic. Without it, the trip would have been MUCH harder!

Though we tried with all our might, we didn’t end up pulling out of our driveway until 6 pm Sunday night. We were tired and a little frustrated, but we were on our way! We made it to Newport, RI and spent our first night in a Wal-Mart there.

DAY 2:

After getting groceries and packing up we made it back on the road again about 11 the next morning. We were bound for New York City and very excited. We managed to make it there for rush hour traffic and since the Jill (the GPS) doesn’t know we’re towing a trailer with propane that can’t go through the tunnels we managed to take an extended unintentional tour of Manahattan. Honestly, we all really enjoyed it!

With NYC (and what felt like $700 in tolls!) behind us, we set the GPS for a KOA outside Philly and headed out. We arrived there about 10:30 pm so exhausted that we couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at everything. At one point we drove by a sign that looked upon first inspection to read “Wig Salon and Pig Masectomy Boutique.” I was the only one who saw it and started laughing so hard I couldn’t share what was so funny. After about a dozen tries I finally managed to get it out and the girls joined me in the joke. As we headed back out the next morning we drove by the sign again and noticed that it actually said “Wig Salon and POST Masectomy Boutique.” A much more sober subject, but still slightly funny nonetheless.

DAY 3:

Back to Philly we went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. However, it hadn’t occurred to us that we weren’t going to find a place big enough to park our rig. The result was a slightly disappointing ride to Philly and back out again. But at least we were able to see the city! We headed south toward Delaware to touch it and thus add it to our official state count (bringing the total at that point to 8). Then it was off to Hershey for a quick free tour of the facility and some free chocolate. Toured Amish country quickly…the kids got to see their first horse and buggy! From there we hit Gettysburg about dinnertime and the past few days stress and uncertainty came to a pinnacle. Yes, that’s a nice way of saying Ism and I had a blowout. We sent the kids off to frolick in the fields while we hashed it out. About 90 minutes and lots of humility later we had settled the issues and were off again. Praise the lord that He has a perfect order for the family and once we embrace it things go as He has planned! We made it to the Pennsylvania-Maryand border and settled into a nice Wal-Mart spot for the night.

DAY 4:

Grabbed some quick groceries at Wal-Mart and hit the road by 9:30 am. We made it across the parking lot before we realized we had a tough decision to make. We either had to head for West Virginia for a rendevous with a teen Ism has known for about a year and lose another day once there waiting for him to get out of school or skip the visit with Tyler and head south straight south to make up some lost time. This was a gut-wrenching call to make, but after being unable to get Tyler on the phone we headed toward North Carolina. We cut out TN, WV, and KY (we’ll get you on the next go round!) and made it to the KOA in Smithfield, NC just in time for the kids to get a quick swim before baths and dinner. We finished listening to “The Hiding Place” on CD and are still digesting all God is teaching us from that story. Powerful stuff! We also managed lunch at the Woodlawn Plantation in Virginia…an absolutely beautiful place!

Maybe you noticed that we haven’t connected with ANY CHURCHES yet?? You’re right. We had three fall through in the past few days. Please continue to pray for God’s provision for our family, for His guidance for my husband, and for His peace for me. This stepping out on the water thing is harder than it seems. And as you think of contacts you have across the country, keep sending them our way. We’re making calls and setting up times to share as we drive. Talk about a mobile office?!