You’ll know when it’s time to turn the page I feel the need to apologize for all of us at how bad we are at putting out content! I won’t make any promises, but I would like to write more on here and […]
Some of you may be wondering how our beloved German Shepherd, Sargent, is adjusting to being our trip mascot. The current answer is, he is adjusting well, but I was worried for him in the beginning.
The day before we left, we took our other beloved dog, Gunner, an Australian Shepherd, to the house of some very dear friends of ours, who agreed to keep him for us while we are gone. This was hard on us, but we knew he would be in good hands. We couldn’t explain this to Sargent, though, and he was looking worried, ever since we came home without him. That wasn’t even close to all that was going on around him. We were in our last day and a half home and were packing like crazy. It was raining the last day, and we had to keep Sarge on his leash in the house to avoid him getting muddy just before getting in the van for the long drive to Rossville, GA. He seemed sad, but I thought that once we were on the road he would feel better.
When we got to Georgia, the family we were staying with had a kennel for him to stay in. That seems great, but I forgot how much separation anxiety has been an issue for him in the past. I don’t think any of us could think clearly enough to really consider that in our state of exhaustion. It was about 3 in the morning at that point, and we were all looking forward to stretching out and closing our eyes.
Four and a half hours into that sweet sleep, we were woken up by the sound of a dog barking, and my daughter Sarah stood up and looked out the window to see that Sargent was no longer kenneled. I’m sure he was working the entire time to free himself, and free himself, he did. He circled the van, looking for his lost (and gravely endangered) charges, and luckily found three survivors who opened the door, and let him in, muddy feet and all. Poor guy….
Before we left, we took him to the vet to get his certificate of health, as required by the Mexican government to bring him into Mexico. We also got him microchipped and vaccinated. She mentioned that he could lose about ten pounds, and that would be good for him, because he was “a little round.”
Well, that poor dog, in the midst of all that was going on, wouldn’t eat anything we gave him to eat. He lost that weight right away. I kept on looking at him, thinking, “he looks like he lost his best friend.” Then I realized that he had. I thought he would be so happy to be with our family all the time, and I underestimated how hard it would be for him to lose his best bud. It was hard on him, though. By the time we reached our rental house in San Antonio, I was really starting to worry. He had been contained in one form or another every moment since we left our house, whether he was on a leash, a long rope, or sitting between two captain’s chairs in the van. He was used to being a farm dog, which meant he had a job and free reign of a large area. This was a big change for him.
As we sat in our rental house, that he was able to be free inside of, I started to worry about him. He wasn’t cheering up at all, and was starting to look sadder than ever. I didn’t know what I could do. While I thought about it and wondered about it, I started to talk with God about it. That’s when I got the idea to rub him really hard. When I did this, he started to whimper. That gave me the idea to start a howl (even though we were in a house in a neighborhood). It worked, even though Gunner wasn’t with us to join the howl. The kids and Dad all joined in and Sargent joined in, and he looked so happy after it was over. It may seem silly, but I really think it was a divine thought, and it blesses me to know that God cares about my heart for my dog. The howl told Sargent that we are his pack, and that gave him something he hadn’t had since Gunner left. He’s been much happier ever since.
Once we left San Antonio, he had his first outdoor restaurant experience (at In-N-Out Burger) which he liked a whole lot more than circling the Whataburger we went to outside of Houston. We stayed in a campground in Laredo, TX, for five nights, and on the second to last night he got sprayed by a skunk. That was an adventure for all of us. He was so upset about that, and he knew he was stinky. We HAD to wash him right away, but couldn’t go buy anything because our tents were already set up, attached to our van, with children sleeping in them. Thankfully, the soap we had bought to wash our dishes with was Dawn (generic of, really) and we had brought hydrogen peroxide along in our first aid kit, so we were able to neutralize the skunk smell right away. This was not his favorite late night activity, and we didn’t bring him in that night, but at least we had no hesitation about touching him the next day.
Coming to Mexico (where we are currently) has had its new experiences, as well. Being in close contact with strangers is much more common here than in The States, and he is getting good at being friendly with them, but still has a somewhat threatening presence, that brings a sense of security to whoever is staying outside with him. Being close to us everyday, and living inside the house with us has taught us how to understand what he needs, whether he needs, food, water, a walk, or affection, we are learning to understand him. He is learning what we want and even a few new tricks. It surprises me how much he is learning so quickly. He’s a smart and affectionate dog. I hope he continues to do well. He still can’t stand it when we split up and someone stays home (or otherwise away from the rest of the family) with him. This is when he acts his worse, barking and pawing the door (or circling the building, looking through all the windows, and trying to pull us to through the door). We’re still working on that, and I think he will get it.
It has been inconvenient at times to have him along, but overall, so far, I’m glad we brought him. He definitely brings an element of security we wouldn’t have without him, and he is also a comfort to some of the kids that would not be as happy here without him, and the littler kids have someone to look out for (that looks out for them).
I’m glad he is here with us.
If you are brave enough to say goodbye
life will reward you with a new hello
Yesterday at our going away party as I said my goodbyes to my friends I wanted to really remember each goodbye vividly.
To memorize them completely.
To be present.
To feel them fully.
To mourn their existence, without sinking into despair over them.
I wanted it to be real.
Each last hug.
Each last glance.
Each last wave.
Of course I will have all these memories I’ve made to look back on and I am glad of that. I know that I will be back, but the weight of knowing that things will be different is kind of hard.
I’ve put myself in the shoes of myself back when we started telling people about our trip. Back then is when I first said goodbye and that pain was rough. Since then it has felt like one big drawn out goodbye and I’m relieved that that goodbye is almost over. The past few weeks have been hard for me with trying to finish packing, to knowing a final goodbye was coming, to realizing how much I really, deeply love some people and some places and it got to the point where I didn’t know if I really wanted to leave anymore or even remember that I ever wanted to. It’s been this journey of uncovering emotions and desires I never knew I had and having to work through them all while trying to accomplish all I needed to accomplish… but even though all this saying goodbye made me weary and was trying on my heart, I know now that this beautiful adventure is what God wants for me – and for my family. It’s still hard sometimes and I’ll still miss my lovely peoples back home, but I think I am ready for this now more than ever before. I’m thrilled at the idea that I’ll have super cool stories to tell when I get back… and basically I’m just thrilled about mostly everything.
Goodbyes are always going to be a thing. That’s just life. It can be hard sometimes, but it makes way for hellos, right? Hellos to amazing experiences and places and people that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I love knowing that we have so many people who have cared to hear what’s going on in our life and are praying for us. It means a lot. <3
I hope everyone following us along in our journey will be inspired through my (and really all our) struggles and joys that come along with this.
We are weird, I mean we are actually weird. We are the kind of people that give other people something to talk about. We don’t do what we do to impress others. We do what we do because we want to, or believe that it is right, or some combination of the two. From having 9 children (all born at home), homeschooling, hand milking a cow, delivering babies (human and animal), not watching tv, butchering our own livestock and game, brewing beer and wine, making cheese, reloading bullets, constantly learning, or “retiring” at 40. We have always wanted to be trailblazers, but we weren’t sure whether there were any trails left to blaze, and in some ways there isn’t. You know, nothing new under the sun and all. I’m left pondering whether living a brave life that challenges the status quo can be considered a “new” thing, even though many brave souls have gone before us. Well I think it’s worth a shot. We could have continued down a stable and predictable path, but what kind of story would that be? When the tale is told, I want it to be an amazing adventure that changes people’s lives for the better and sparks desire in the hearts of those who hear it. It is not just adventure for adventure’s sake. It is a call to the masses to stop and look around, to think about that long lost dream that is so deeply buried under fear, loss, obligation, disappointment, discouragement, depression, grief etc. that they can’t even remember there was a dream there. My hope is that seeing someone do the things “everyone” says they want to do might help them remember.
I was talking to a friend the other day, telling him about our plans to leave the rat race and travel through Central America. I could see the excitement in his face when I was talking. He told me about a short camping trip he and his family were taking, and how his wife had wanted to go for an extra day, but he told her he needed to get back to work on Monday, so they couldn’t stay an extra day. During our conversation he told me about their situation and that he was reconsidering his decision to come back early. Fast forward a few weeks and he was telling me about their amazing trip and how the extra day was just what they needed. He also told me about how he was trying to figure out how he could spend more time with his family. That is exactly what I’m talking about. It makes me smile just thinking about it. He didn’t have to do some amazing, difficult thing, just a small step towards a dream. While what we are doing may sound extreme, that is part of the beauty of it. If we can drop everything and go on a year long journey with 11 people, what could you achieve if you were willing to step out of what is normal and comfortable, and do something you haven’t thought you could do? What is the dream locked up inside of you? If you had 100 million dollars and no responsibilities (neither situation is true for us) what would you do? What are the things about that dream that make you want to do it? Is there a smaller version of that dream you can actually do in your current situation?
At the time of this writing I don’t know how it will turn out, but I am really looking forward to this journey. You know what else I am looking forward to? Being present, being available to my family that has waited, mostly patiently, while I made my long commute and worked many long days, looking at my phone instead of my family, the phone calls at night, leaving my daughter’s birthday party because something was broken at work, and all the things that go with supporting a 24/7 manufacturing process. I want to be right where I am at this moment, with the people I love. There is no manual for what we are doing, but it does seem to be coming together and we look forward to including you to the best of our ability, and as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the “present.”