I'm going out of the norm and starting this post with Sunday (yesterday) instead of going in order of the this weeks' events.
As we have mentioned before, we have been using a ministry called Candle in the Window to find people to host us around the US as we travel. This weekend we stayed with the founders and had the most incredible hospitality experience...and the girls made instant friends with their sweet kids. \http://www.acandleinthewindow.com/
Josh was given the opportunity to speak at their church in Middleburg, Florida yesterday. He loves being able to share God's truth and thoughts from his book, so it was a big blessing for him and us.
One of their church members brought several of his farm animals in a trailer to church because he has a traveling petting zoo and was on his way to a birthday party after service. It's a special treat to go to church and end up petting a horse!
At the beginning of this week Josh was given the opportunity to speak at ECHO global farms in North Fort Meyer, FL. (Check out this amazing place) http://echonet.org/
Our family stayed in one of the homes they have on campus and the girls experienced their first encounter with a lizard indoors! After they were tucked in, we heard Grace say, "Daddy, we can't sleep because there is a lizard on our wall". As you can see from the photo, daddy caught it and set it free outside. (poor thing!) ;)
There is so much vegetation that we don't see on our coast - papaya, star fruit, coconuts, oranges, bananas and more. I'm now looking forward to making jam and ice cream with our famous blackberries when we return!
For now I enjoy the beauty and vegetation Florida has to offer - not to mention, eating it!
We spent a couple days in Lakeland, Florida with my friend Joy from college. So far on this trip we have stayed w many friends from our past in California, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida! What blessings to reconnect with so many people from our past.
These photos are of our day spent at Mirror Lake in Lakeland, Florida.
We traveled out the other day to see the manatee's...and forgot the camera!! Thanks to cell phones, I did get one decent one. They don't do much, nor come to the surface, except to get air, so this was as good as it got!
We head to South Carolina today to spend a week with our old neighbors and friends, Patrick and Liz Whitehouse. I've been told they have cats and a new puppy - it might be a real test of how disciplined my girls can be to do their school work with their favorite distractions!
Enjoy your week and find things to appreciate and be thankful for. ...And try to show hospitality to someone- it will probably bless both of you!
There have been many moments on this trip that have felt like a vacation, but we still had the daily school work and responsibilities before we ventured out each day. This week was a VACATION! Our friends, Nate and Heather Baker flew down with their 2 sons and our daughters' best friend to spend a week with us in Key Largo.
We had another surprise waiting for the kids as well... Other friends from home (the Kaplans) happened to be in Florida this week and drove down to Key Largo to spend a few days with us - and boy was it a fun filled week!
Day 1 was getting settled in and shopping for the weeks worth of food and relaxing by the pool.
Day 2 we fed the tarpins.
Check out the picture with the pelicans to give you perspective of how big these fish are!
Day 3 we went on a boat tour to see alligators.
Day 4 was a trip on a glass bottom boat to Molasses Reef (Amazing!).
Day 5 we went to Lion Country Safari!
As you can see, the ostrich REALLY wanted Josh's finger!
Feeding the birds.
The adults got some play time too!
It was an awesome day filled with a safari ride, a ferris wheel, miniature golf, paddle boats, bright colored birds, large slides, and giraffes. Whew!
Day 6 we visited a facility that uses dolphin's for therapy.
We met the founder's son who had a stroke as an infant and was told he may never walk or talk again. She placed him in therapy with dolphins at an early age and now he works for the company and was our tour guide!
It was amazing week. We were beyond blessed to do all that we did, either through amazing discounts or through the gifts of friends. This week was what any kid could ever want on a vacation and I got to see my girls enjoying all of it. Many thanks to God for His provision and these opportunities and for the friends we got to spend time with this week.
An update: We confirmed an arrival date for back home and to mark the end of our journey. June 5th. That will be exactly 8 months, to the day, that we left Washington state and set out on this crazy adventure.
We'll be in Florida for this next week and then it's off to the Carolinas for a few weeks.
Don't forget to check out Josh's website for new blog posts too! http://www.radicallynormal.com/
We're finishing up our first week in Florida and, aside from the daily school work and Josh's work, we've been pretty mellow. So I thought I'd use this opportunity to catch you up with HOW we are doing and not just WHAT we are doing...along with some beach photos! ;)
I didn't really have expectations for this trip - maybe that is why I'm doing so well with living this nomadic lifestyle. But Josh as "the provider" did. He hoped he would have speaking engagements and opportunities to sell his book, but with being a fairly unknown author and speaker, things have been unfruitful.
However, we have a peace about this journey and continue to travel on!
The other day, Josh told me he realized that God may be using this trip to give us a "break" after all the struggles and trials of the last few years of ministry. A sabbatical of sorts.
We've been blessed by staying with people lately. People who have never met us invite us with open arms into their homes (friends of friends). We are not only cared for but we form new relationships we wouldn't have had we stayed in a hotel.
Our first full day in West Palm Beach was the warmest so we set out for the beach! We had cloud cover which cooled down the 80 degrees and we were able to enjoy the outdoors for a solid 2 hours.
The following day we went to a marine rescue habitat run by mostly volunteers. I'm not sure why, but they also have a butterfly garden on the premises. Can anyone tell me what this green bug is? A type of fly? (#11)
A lot of women will tell me, "I don't know how you do it - moving from place to place, not knowing what your future holds".
Not knowing our day-to-day or future plans does look a little different than most Americans, but we've had to trust God to provide for our daily needs and have gone with little but also been blessed with much, and because he brought us through before, we know He will bring us through again!
We wrapped up this week going to a nature center in Boynton Beach yesterday. The only alligators we saw were in cages, and that was A. O.K by me!
I may not know my birds, but I loved viewing them and capturing these photos!
This next week we have friends from home visiting us in Key Largo. We are looking forward to a week of vacation (especially for the girls since this will be considered their mid winter break with no school work!). ;)
Last week we spent most of our time with our friends, Blake and Candace, from Washington who are now living in Georgia to complete their doctorates.
What a week it was! God blessed us in huge ways - a home to stay in, wonderful hosts/company to spend our free hours with, great meals, and conversation. ...AND the girls got a BIG surprise! ...
Blake and Candace took them to Lego Land Discovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia! We, on the other hand, enjoyed being kid-free for a few hours!
The World of Coco Cola.
Josh had gone to The World of Coco Cola when he was 20 years old, so he HAD to show the girls how cool it was...he was the most excited out of all of us - we were all laughing because he RAN to the ticket counter...as if it would be sold out!
Did you know Coke was invented by a gentleman who worked in a pharmacy?! I tell my kids it has chemicals...now I have backing! ;)
Next stop was the Georgia State Capital. A good portion of the halls are set up like a museum with glass cases holding multiple artifacts and information. You can visually see history right before your eyes. Most people say their favorite piece is the 2 headed calf. My girls would strongly disagree. What do you think?
While on the elevator we struck up conversation with a gentlemen and he told us to come to his office (room #...) in 15 min. Turns out he is the Secretary of the Senate AND gave us a personal tour of the Senate and let the girls get on the podium and hit the gavel - Grace was ecstatic...Sarah wasn't so sure what to do with permission to hit something!
We ended our week in Georgia with a visit to Stone Mountain. We were given a money gift by friends before we left and we used most of it this week with so many opportunities in this state. Part of the funds went to taking the tram to the top of the mountain. We are SO thankful that we took it to the top. Worth E V E R Y penny.
There is something about being in nature that brings peace to the soul. No clutter or distractions - just the ground, open air, and beauty of creation. We spent almost 2 hours on top with nothing but rock and a few small plants, just appreciating the beauty and simplicity of this place.
We made it to FLORIDA!!! This state marks our half way point, with the hope of being home by June. Oh, did I mention it's the sunshine state?! SUNSHINE!
Our first stop was the State Capital. It's awful to say, but the Capital is not only the ugliest we have seen as far as capitals go, but in my opinion, even as large buildings go. Plain, tall, ..yuk! However, the view from the top is spectacular and made up for the dull/business looking building.
We toured the Old Capital across the street and that fit more of the look we expected to see. I didn't get a photo, but found one on line so you can see the difference between the old and newer one (It's quite noticeable).
The old building is designed as a museum. Several state capitals seem to do this. We have really enjoyed it because we get to tour the capitals and spend hours learning the history of the state done in ways that keep kids interested.
If you go to state capitals, make sure you ask if there are any free kid museums in the area (or call ahead). They are often built within walking distance and are a great way to learn about the culture as well as the history.
I'm still in shock of how much we are able to do on this trip on such a limited budget. Traveling definitely exposes you to more opportunities than staying in the same town you live and work in and we are thankful for that.
We have been blessed to find housing with friends and people we make a connection with but often stay at hotels as well. Josh is really good at finding deals online ($50 a night) some are pretty meager, while others are quite nice. This weekends location topped the cake.
The Flamingo Resort in Orlando FL is where we stayed this past weekend. It has a miniature waterslide park on the premises for only $8 a person. It was the first time the girls experienced waterslides and they loved it! I enjoyed the "Lazy River", which wraps around the slides with a current of water pushing you in circles, as well as lying in the sun with a good book!
Currently we are staying with a couple in West Palm Beach FL and will go to another home later this week (Wed-Sat). It's awesome to see people's generosity and hospitality. They invite the 4 of us into their homes, welcoming us in and providing a cozy environment, meals, and new friendships. It's times like these we are so thankful we did not get an RV. We would have missed out on these unique people connections that bring us so much comfort while being on the road away from family and friends.
Someday I hope to see all these families again, but next time in my home where I can host and pamper them in return!