The Seekers Cafe

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I’m just going to put myself out there a bit. I do not enjoy blogging. I do not enjoy writing. I do, however, love sharing life with others. That’s where I have been since my last post almost 2 months ago. It has been beautiful, challenging, liberating, and sometimes stressful. But, we have been forever changed by the people we have lived alongside for the past 3 months on the road.

Posting about our comings-and-goings just would not have done justice to what has taken place this winter. Besides, it really has not been about places and sights lately. It’s been all about the people.

I want to share a little bit of my spiritual journey here today . Some of you know that I resigned my minister’s license and left the institutional church (IC) about 3 years ago and have been struggling to find something more authentic since doing so. It has been, and continues to be, a long hard struggle. Aside from losing several hundred friends in the process, the bigger challenge has been finding my way back to a place where I want to talk about my walk with God. You see, when you leave a system like the IC there is a period of “detox” that must occur in order to remove all of the filters that cloud every spiritual thought that comes through one’s brain. Detox might sound like a harsh word to describe the process of leaving a church; but, in fact, some of the things I allowed myself to believe and even preached were toxic TO ME. They certainly were not intended to be harmful; but with the baggage of negative thoughts I brought into the IC with me, the system within it became detrimental to my developing a authentic relationship with God. It wasn’t until I removed myself from the matrix of the IC and took the proverbial red pill that I could understand there is a better way to walk with God that makes sense. There is an easier way (and easy is okay—probably the hardest lesson to learn!). There is a lighter way. I am only now, after 3 years, beginning to take that way and not feel condemned for it. And I am discovering God there. I am discovering love there. I am discovering myself there; and so are many others.

After meeting many families on the road who seem to be on a similar journey as I, I decided to take a leap of faith and start a Facebook group (The Seekers Café) for us all. The aim is to have a safe place for us all to share our struggles in this journey of spiritual discovery. We have about 30 members in its first week. It’s not really about the numbers; but it is good to find that there are others (mostly fulltime traveling families) that are hungry for real fellowship with God and each other outside of the IC. I am not trying to create “a thing” out of this group, but rather prefer it be used as a tool to bring people together—nothing else.

Call it what you will, but I seemed to get the confirmation I needed to let me know I was on the right track with creating this group the day after creating it. I decided to listen to a podcast (The Life of a Pilgrim, Part 2) from The God Journey. I rarely listen to them (even though I love to), but felt led to do so that day. [If you are interested in getting a little more insight into what I was listening to and what I hope The Seekers Café becomes for people you should take the time and listen to this]. In the podcast, Wayne Jacobsen is interviewing an 89 yr old Scottsman who is sharing the story of his own journey and he begins to relay a story of his first outside-the-church experience of christian community. He began describing a people in Australia that lived in what he called “house trucks”. Of course, the title of my blog being “House Truckin’” I was intrigued. Basically, he was describing this nomadic group of families that traveled and shared life together intentionally and authentically. I was really struck at the coincidence of the topic and the words he used to describe the houses as I listened to it and considered the timing of it all. I concluded, maybe naively, that God may have had a hand in the seemingly arbitrary words my daughter spoke when she called our first motorhome a “house truck” 2 years ago. Oh, and before coming across this podcast, I almost went with the name The Pilgrims Cafe instead ;). Time will tell, but I am anticipating great things as I continue this journey with my family and share my life and spiritual journey with others.

FOTR and Beyond…

We spent the week of January 15 at Thousand Trails Orlando attending the annual Families On The Road (FOTR) rally. It’s an event designed to bring together other “unconventional” families living the nomadic lifestyle to share their journeys and make new friends. There were about 15 families encompassing about 100+ people and we had a memorable time meeting folks from all walks of life.

We are certain we have made lifetime friends with many of these people and I feel our lives are richer having spent time with all of them. Kylee made new friends (Ella and Rosalie) and Lisa and I have connected with a couple of families that plan to travel a bit together to continue sharing our stories, laughter, pain, food, love and adventure. It has been so enriching and joyous to connect with such genuine people…something our family has been hungry for ever since our exodus from the institutional church in 2008.

Here are some highlights of the people we met on our journey:

  • Rita and Pete: Our rally organizers, this family has been on the road for 4 years with their kids and are passionate about bringing together families on the road.
  • Jon and Jema: Originally from Minnesota, they have been on the road for a little over a year now as they work, roadschool their 4 children, and work on a art project inspired by their son Ethan‘s love of butterflies.
  • Pieter and Clementine: Originally from Holland, they travel with their 2 kids. Pieter is my hero because he has rigged his unit with a real pellet stove! Clementine gave birth to Lewis on Thanksgiving Day on the floor of their RV…by choice!
  • Bonnie and Murray: Canucks, but we love ’em anyway! They come to the warmer states to escape the Canadian winters. Bonnie served as fashionista extraordinaire when the girls went clothes shopping while Murray taught the kids valuable martial arts techniques.
  • Wendy and Matt: Traveling with their 3 kids they just finished a year on the road in a rented motorhome. Matt flies all over the country working on various business projects and meets up again with the family wherever they happen to be. Rumor has it they are now buying a Mobile Suites to travel indefinitely…or was it a catamaran to sail the seven seas 😉
  • Phil and Lisa: They too are snowbirds, traveling from Michigan when the frost hits. Their daughter Ella and Kylee played for hours on end.
  • Angela and Clint: Founders of Eco Womb. They drive a motorhome powered by “Peace, Love, and Veggie Grease”. That’s their bus in the picture. It was really informative to learn how they live a sustainable life on the road.
  • Kimber: A single mom and country star traveling with her 2 daughters, Kimber provided live entertainment for us. She had a #1 country song hit the Australian charts for 3 weeks in a row!

So, as you can see, we got to hang out with some pretty cool cats. We can’t wait to stay on the road with them all! The rally was only a 4 day event. We enjoyed each other so much that only today, 3 weeks later, did we part ways…with plans to meet up again in 2-3 weeks.

This. Is. Why. We. Are. On. The. Road. The People. The Adventure. The Stretching.

Next we are heading to Ft Desoto Park near Seminole FL to do some kayaking and visit with Lisa’s parents who have a winter place down here.

Disney World, Orlando, FL

Disney World was a good time! We really enjoyed watching Kylee as we strolled through the theme parks. We camped at Fort Wilderness inside the park. It was a tight squeeze getting backed into our site, but no damage was done. At $100/night I was expecting a little more, but it was nice being parked literally right at the bus stop so that we could get up and go quickly each morning. I just couldn’t wait to stand in long lines all day! Really, it wasn’t too bad. Okay, yes it was.

Disney Corp. is a masterful marketing organization. I couldn’t help but feel a bit like a sucker consumer in Disney. I realize it is geared towards a child’s enjoyment…but it’s geared towards a parents wallet, so I believe some criticism should be allowed.  The “rides” were waaaaaaay outdated. I mean, come on, “It’s a Small World”?!?! That lame ride has been in operation since 1734. Then there was the college kids operating the rides like the Animal Kingdom safari that I just wanted to punch due to their sarcastic canned humor that was clearly written for their own amusement to keep themselves from going insane from repeating the same sarcastic canned humor. Nevertheless, Kylee was blissfully unaware of the commercialism. It was all a magic fairy tale to her…which makes it worth every penny. Well, most of the pennies.

I felt the food was mediocre, too. The World Showcase at Epcot was a cool concept…but I have had better Japanese food at the local sushi joint in Dover, DE than they had in “Japan, Orlando”. We bought the meal plan with our tickets and quickly realized that they were making out like fat bandits given that 75% of the restaurants are buffet-style. I am not fan of all-you-can-eat-and-sneeze-on buffet restaurants. It feels a little too trough-y to me. The chefs do a fantastic job of looking legit with their tall hats, french accents, and big smiles–but, they can’t possibly be that happy to be serving food this way after graduating from the International Culinary Institute.

On a positive note, I was extremely impressed with the ability of the Disney staff to be consistently and apparently genuinely happy to be working there. I mean, they really make you feel like a special guest. And to think, they do this 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year after year after year. The characters were the highlight for Kylee. She had breakfast with her favorite princesses–the highlight of the week for her. If I had to work there, I would no-doubt resort to coming up with some canned sarcastic humor bit. Hat-tip to their hospitality indeed.

In the end, it was a great vacation for us all. Kylee is still at that age where Disney World is a very magical place. At one point during the fireworks I  was holding her up and she said to me with a hug, “Daddy this is where dreams come from. You know what my dream was? You, Daddy”. Heart. Melt.

After Disney, we headed off to Clermont, FL about 30 min up the road for a Families on the Road (FOTR) rally. Details to come on that. Oh, and I did not forget I promised to blog about my hillbilly motormount for our new inflatable kayaks.

Here are some highlights from Disney…