I love to camp. I started with a small tent suitable for sleeping and not much else. It worked well as an entry level shelter while I got my feet wet. Actually, the tent kept my feet dry…you get what I meant. At some point the kids and I were camping enough that I decided it was time to do the research to find the best equipment and hopefully make our outings easier and a bit more comfortable. Once I discovered the perfect tent for us, I went on the hunt to find it in an affordable way. I rarely pay full price for things if there is any way around it. I didn’t have to search far for an amazing deal. REI garage sale for the win! We gave the new tent a trial run in our backyard and off we went. I found that having an easy assemble tent that even the tallest of us could stand up in was a game changer. At least until we experienced another kind of game changer.
It was the kind of night that all avid campers have experienced at least once…the flash flood!
Ugg. After a soggy day of riding coasters at the local theme park, we sat in our tents playing cards and chatting about life. It started with a flash of lightning followed by the sound of thunder. The wind and the rain began to consume our safe space eventually causing us to abandon our camp site and retreat to higher land for the night.
In the morning, as we surveyed the damage and packed up our soggy belongings, I began to dream again.
What would be our next step up in camping? I spoke to people with a lot more experience and wisdom in this area than me, and they all told me there was nothing I could have done to have prevented our air mattresses from floating in those conditions. Apparently, there isn’t a tent on the planet capable of protecting from the dreaded flash flood situation. There was only one option…a camper. A camper?! I hadn’t let my mind go there before and suddenly it was all I could think about. So, I began a new search. A search for something that would keep us dry even in the most unexpected weather. As I began to look for used campers, I happened into an amazing world that I had no idea even existed…the world of vintage travel trailers.
VINTAGE. Travel trailers older than me! Trailers that had already been well loved by avid Happy Campers and then put to rest.
What these campers lack in modern amenities, they make up for in charm. I fell in love immediately. My mind was made up. I was going to purchase a vintage travel trailer to remodel and keep us dry and adorable while on camping adventures. It was a bit harder than I thought to find one available and in my price range. I made bid after bid and lost to professional flippers who knew more and could pay more. And then one day I got an email from a woman and fellow mama who decided she would prefer her well-loved baby (trailer) to go to another family who would love her and enjoy her and make more memories with her. This new sweet friend met me via facetime to give me a tour and show me the ropes. I then hopped in my SUV and drove 13 hours to pick up our newest adventure.
Her name is Ramblin’ Robbie and she is a 1965 Shasta Travel Trailer. (If you’d like to see more pics and videos of her along the way, you can follow her makeover and adventures @ramblin_robbie but I will be blogging her adventures right here)
I want you to meet her for a number of reasons:
1. She is sweet. And who doesn’t need an eyeful of sweet in their life?
2. She may be sweet now, but you just wait because Imma give her a complete makeover and you can never get enough of a good ole before and after situation, am I right?
3. (This is the main reason, btw). I learn valuable things about life and myself and relationships on my adventures…God shows me important glimpses of heaven on earth through struggle and hard work and rest… the abundance promised us this side of eternity can be directly accessed through His creation and I want to share all of it with you…because I love you.
Due to Covid, sweet Robbie has been parked on a friend’s property, but This week was her maiden voyage!!!!
We picked her up for a quick out and back to one of our favorite campgrounds. We thought it would be fun to just plug her in and hook her up and get familiar with her, finally. And just like any new relationship, there were a few bumps, a misunderstanding or two, a whole lot of laughs, and some valuable lessons to remember.
The drive was lovely, the sun was out, and adventure was on the horizon when we pulled into our home away from home for the next 24 hours. The owner of the campground met us in her adorable camp store, gave us the run-down of the property, and escorted us to our site. She had questions and helpful stories for us. The vintage trailer attracts good conversation and curiosity. While we were chatting, we realized that we did not have a hose nor an extension cord to plug in our gem. The owner was gracious, and she left on her golf cart only to return later with both items free of charge to borrow for the night. I was hard at work hanging curtains, unpacking, organizing, and just generally making things on the inside cozy and cute when I heard my travel companion announce that there was a problem with the water connection. Apparently, we had to connect 2 female parts, but we only had the capability of connecting a male/female connection. The owner’s husband showed up moments later with our firewood for the night and we explained the dilemma to him. After surveying the situation, he sent us to the local hardware store to purchase an adapter which we happily did and successfully connected our water source for the evening. However, when I turned on the sink…NOTHING. Well, it looked like nothing on my end but on the outside of the kitchen, the water was pouring onto the ground! We tried every which way, discovered a freshwater tank that we didn’t know about and a few other eye openers, but we could not get the faucet to flow. We eventually gave up and went swimming. We were determined to experience water, lol. After our quick dip, we headed back to Robbie and were greeted again by the owner and his friend. He said that they were determined to help us get the water flowing. They did not. But that’s not the point of the story. While these complete strangers were taking time out of their evening to do everything they knew to help us, they were also encouraging us. They took time to say how awesome we were for taking on the project and how much they loved seeing us excited to camp. When they realized running water wasn’t going to be a possibility, at least for this trip, the owner turned to me and said,
“You know what? That’s okay. You’re still going to make this a paradise!”
And he was right. Paradise… heaven is here and now… IF we choose to access it. Jesus taught us to pray for it. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If you want to see the Kingdom of heaven invade the kingdom of earth, pray for it and take steps to access it. It’s a both AND situation. This stranger was accessing heaven right in front of my eyes. He was using his words and gifts to uplift and encourage and help a fellow traveler, me. AND. IT. WAS. POWERFUL. I felt seen and loved and valued. It truly was a glimpse of heaven on earth. I have no idea if this man knows Jesus or not, but man o man, do I want a part of what is overflowing from his heart! What an example! I made a note to myself about heaven on earth and how powerful words are and tucked the encounter away in my heart.
But my life lesson from this adventure didn’t end there. It rarely does, right? Lessons learned from a warm and fuzzy encounter; I mean. It typically takes something uncomfortable to drive the point home and make us want to be better or different. And here we are.
As we settled in to enjoy the campfire and rest, I could hear our neighbor’s music playing in the background. I recognized the song immediately and it made me smile. It was an oldie but a goodie from a Christian worship playlist. I had not had too much interaction with our neighbors since they set up slightly after we arrived. It was a husband and wife, their 3 young children, and a very new puppy. The dad had interjected here and there while we were all trying to get the water to work. He chimed in to say his tent was better than our trailer and that his air mattress was better than our foam pad. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time because I’m certain he was correct. All his things likely are better than mine. But as I sat there enjoying the quiet and worshipping to the song in my head, I heard him instructing his very little boy to help him do this and help him do that. He was clearly irritated and raised his voice to let the boy know he was displeased with his effort. The mother stepped in to help out and she too disappointed him and he yelled, “You stupid idiot” directly at her.
My heart sank. Over and over again this man chose words that landed like a knife in the back with a tone that must have felt like the final twist of the blade to the receiver.
Now, I’m not calling out another human. I’m sure he was doing the best he could at that time and space with the tools that he had and the life circumstances he has lived through. I’m simply sharing a lesson meant for me and maybe for you too. So here we go. Jesus said that people will know who we are…people will know that we love and follow Him… people will see that we are different… people will want a part of the overflow of our lives… based on how we love each other.
Based on how we LOVE each other. Wow. Wow. Wow.
This man was humming along to worship music… by all accounts praising God… illuding to the fact that he is a follower of Jesus’ teachings AND calling his wife terrible, unloving names. Now that’s confusing.
There is no wonder that swarms of people are saying no thank you to organized religion.
James, the brother of Jesus, said that we humans use our tongues both to praise God, the Creator, AND to curse other people who are created in God’s likeness. He went on to say that doesn’t make any sense… that it should NEVER be that way.
Cursing and blessing should not… CANNOT come from the same mouth!
C’mon now. You see, listening or even humming “worship” music doesn’t automatically equate to worshipping. If it did, the unkind words wouldn’t even have been able to fall out of his mouth.
Showing up every Sunday for a worship service isn’t worship if you gossip in the halls. Serving on a committee isn’t worship if you lie to get your way. Tithing isn’t worship if you insist on directing where the money goes or who it benefits.
If we want to experience heaven here and now… if we want a watching, hurting, seeking world to see us and say, “man o man do I want to be a part of that”, we simply must dig deep into our own hearts and minds and words and let everything that drips from our tongues be that of encouragement… pleasing to God’s ears… kind to all His creation. We have to look at our own plank and stop criticizing others' specks.
Here's the thing...here’s what I know: You are so good at this already. Many of you encourage me on the daily with your posts and comments and conversations. It’s just good to be reminded. It’s good to remember the awesome power we possess in our tongues…the power to access heaven…or not...the [power to bring life or death.
Oh, sweet Robbie, I love her so and I cannot wait to learn all the life lessons on all the adventures. I hope you continue to join us. I love you and I’m really glad you’re here.