Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Like this

I love this.

Before we left and I was getting weird looks from people when I told them our plans to live in a 5th wheel and travel the country, when I was saying goodbye to friends and family, and when we drove away from our old home, I really wondered if we were doing the right thing.  I continued wondering if we were doing the right thing as we drove here and drove our ridiculously large truck and 40 foot camper down a narrow, twisty, hilly road, and over a rickety little bridge, only to reach a dead end in the road.  I jumped out of the truck, closed the door, away from my family and yelled, "Aaaak!!!!  I hate this!!!!!"  But, my husband is amazing at backing up ridiculously large trucks with 40 foot campers.  Seriously amazing.

And then we arrived at Skidaway State Park in Georgia, with this as our home and yard for the week:

We got to explore and hike to this:

We got to watch Fiddler crabs and other animals in the salt marshes:

And we got to celebrate New Year's Eve like this:

I love this.  And we definitely are doing the right thing for our family.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Boondocking in North Carolina

Merry Week-Between-Christmas-and-New-Year to you!  I hope you’re having a great holiday week!  We are currently in a campground in Georgia, which I will write more about later.  So much happens when you change pretty much everything about your lives, so I wanted to back up and write about our first day.

My wonderful Aunt Heidi said that this blog should have more pictures, so here’s a picture (love ya, Heidi!):

Just in case we ever forget, this picture is day one of our journey, and so everyone is holding up one finger.  This will be a bit more challenging when we get farther into our trip and we all need to hold up 81 fingers, but for now, it’s good. 

It was a little bittersweet, leaving our Doylestown home and driving away with our new home.  As I loaded up all our last-minute supplies into our new home on the road, this is what I saw every time I entered the camper:

My dad can cut anything out of wood.  Isn’t he great?  He made us this Christmas tree ornament this year, but since everything Christmas was already packed into storage, this ornament hangs in our camper.  Every time I walked in the door of the camper, loading it up, I’d see the ornament, and the song, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” would play in my head.  Isn’t that great for being excited and joyful and ready to go?!  And so, the big road trip began.

Have you ever heard of boondocking?  I never had until about two months ago, when my husband brought it up and explained it to me.  I promptly told him I would never be boondocking, ever.  Boondocking is sleeping somewhere totally random in your camper while you’re between campgrounds.  Oftentimes, this happens in truck rest areas or Walmart parking lots.  Either way, I think I’d be really hesitant about the surroundings and all the possible criminals who might try to break in and steal my children, and I don’t think I’d sleep a wink.  Probably always letting my mind go to the worst possible scenario is not the right choice, and our very first night in our journey, we knew we’d end up between campgrounds on our drive south. 

Fortunately, if you email a large church right off of the interstate exit you’re near and ask if you’d be able to park and sleep in their parking lot for the night, and then attend their worship service in the morning, you can get a really pleasant boondocking experience!  We were happy to jump from the truck to the fifth wheel in back, to be serenaded by raindrops on the roof, and to be comfy and cozy as family.  It was actually a really nice night, and I will be happy to continue similar boondocking experiences throughout the country.  I think it will be cool to see different churches and worship God and be with His people all over the U.S., too.  The people in the North Carolina church told us, “When you’re done with your road trip, you should come back and live here!  It’s a great place!”  I wonder if everyone everywhere will say that?  We shall see as we travel.

If anyone has read this far, then I hope that where you are is a great place to live today, too.  We hope you have a wonderful day, and you have much love from the Utter family.

Monday, December 23, 2013


I adore words.

When I started trying to get rid of stuff so that I could fit my family of six into 400 square feet, almost nothing "makes the cut" of what to bring along.  If we can't eat it, if we can't wear it, or if it's not directly involved in the homeschooling of our children or my husband's employment, it's probably not in our 5th wheel.

That would probably make you think that there wouldn't be a box of books hidden next to the bed in my new bedroom.  Or that I wouldn't have sentimentally made room for cards from some of the people we're leaving behind.  As I look back, I think even the reason I started dating my husband was because he wrote me a poem.  I love words.

Just in case you're misguided enough not to have "words of affirmation" as your love language, and you're not tracking with me here - words used properly can communicate love, make people feel special, and can breathe life into a listener.  Words help you define and understand purpose.  Words make things happen, because they motivate and give direction.

My thoughts are all over the place, trying to move and clean and plan and Christmas is thrown into the jumble of my current life.  But, this Christmas, I discovered that Christmas is about a Word.  Do you know that the beginning of the book of John in the Bible reads, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Isn't that interesting?  Jesus is called "the Word."  This makes a whole lot of sense to me, because as I just described what words mean to me, they are also what Jesus, The Word, means to me.  In Him is love, life, purpose, direction, and in Him, things happen!

Maybe you don't love words as much as I do, but I do hope you have a beautiful Christmas, full of life and love from the Word - Jesus.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Next blog - North Carolina!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where are we going?

The most common question people ask us when they hear we are going to travel the country is,

"Do you know where you're going and when?"

And the answer is...


Although, we do have a general outline of where we plan to be and when.  It may change, but for those of you who have been asking -

January, February, and March
We'll be focusing on the southern U.S. and seeing places that are not so snowy.
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas

April and the first half of May, we'll do "the grande circle," which is a group of national parks, shown in this link:
and means seeing Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona

Second half of May and the month of June
California, Oregon, and Washington

Montana, Wyoming, Dakotas

We'll head back to Ohio.  We'll at least visit friends and family and do the necessary diabetes and dentist appointments.  If God provides us somewhere to call "home" here again, then maybe our kids will start school again here in the fall.  If not, we'd probably keep traveling and see New England, or the midwest, or Europe...  who knows?  We'll see where God leads.  Since we don't know, the song that keeps playing in my head is, "Where You go, I'll go, where You stay, I'll stay, when You move, I'll move, I will follow You."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The events in our lives for the last few months have been making me think about the word "home."

The beautiful, blue Caribbean wave was bigger than the others and crashed in my daughter's face.  "I want to go home to our pool," she said.  As we have no pool in Ohio, by "home," she meant the condo in which we were staying in the Dominican Republic.  Home is wherever you're currently living.

I came home today after dropping my kids off at Grandma-school.  The weird part about "home" now is that we no longer own this house.  We're renting it from the next owners, but this house will always seem like a bit of home to me.  We brought three of our kids home from the hospital here when they were born.  Although our oldest son came home to a different house originally, he had the distinction of christening this house, when we first visited it with a realtor, by turning on the burner on the gas stove, trying to explode this home.  I have so many memories here, and home is a place that is full of memories.

We sold our house so quickly.  My husband put it on craigslist.  Using craigslist, not a MLS listing with a realtor, it sold in five days.  As we've walked through the process of selling our house, moving, buying a 5th wheel and truck, everything has happened so quickly and with good deals financially.  As we've prayed about it, there is no doubt in my mind that God is leading us to do this.  I'm not sure why, but I know it's what we're supposed to do, and that is a comfortable feeling.  Home is the comfort of being in the will of God for our lives, and walking through life with Him.

We tried to buy property here in Ohio, to build a house for when we return from being on the road.  That didn't work out.  I had been clinging to that property as "home."  It had been a sense of security that I knew the big picture plan for our lives, and it hurt when buying the property didn't happen.  My second son brought up the fact that he wished we still had the property and we'd know where we would be when we come home.  I thought the same thing.  Home is a sense of security in belonging.

All of my children gave the same number, when asked a question about going on this extended RV trip.  On a scale of 1 to 10, they are excited to go on this trip an 8.  They are excited to go because of the adventure, but the reason why they wanted to stay is that they'll miss their cousins, grandparents, and friends.  Home is friendship.

We move out in 18 days.  What will be "home" then?  It will be a 40-foot 5th wheel.  Home, in the next months, might refer to Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas...  who knows?  In this case, home will not be a location, or a place with an established set of memories.  So what will "home" be?  It is a nice, warm, cozy feeling to think that "home" is wherever my family is; where there is love; where there is commitment to each other.  I love that wherever we go, my family will be with me, and we will be home.  Home is where there is love and commitment and family.

So, it seems to me, home is wherever we're currently living; home is a place full of memories; home is walking through life with the Lord; home is security and belonging; home is friendship; home is love; home is commitment; home is family.

The song says, "I'll be home for Christmas," and even if you're not moving, Christmastime is a good time to think about home.  What comes to mind when you think of "home?"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pre-Christmas Gift to You


I don't remember most of my vocabulary words from high school, but I remember the word "catharsis" because I remember thinking it wasn't very nice.  We were learning about comedy and tragedy, and we learned that catharsis is why people like tragedies.  People can read tragedies and can think, "Well, at least my life isn't THAT bad."  That's catharsis.

I've never been a great housekeeper, ever.  Now that we're moving, packing, trashing, selling, giving everything away, my house has reached a new low.  So, my early Christmas gift to you is a sense of housekeeping catharsis.  As you're running around, trying to get everything ready for Christmas, you may look at your house and think, "Wow, this is a mess!"  The next thing you need to do is to picture this:

Housekeeping catharsis.   Did that picture make you feel better?  Merry Christmas.  :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tightrope walking

Have you read many blogs on the finer points of tightrope walking?  Right.  I didn't think so.  

Some very kind people encouraged me to start a blog as we begin our travels across the U.S., but I couldn't help but think, "Who would read it??"  I think we all tend to read things that are at least slightly relevant to our own lives, and based on people's reactions when I've stated our plans, I don't think many people identify with the impulse to trade this:

for this:

However, as I think about it, the thing we all have in common is the adventure of this life.  The adventure in our life may seem more weird, traveling the country, but I just love that God has a unique plan for each of us, and if we follow it, we'll get to see Him work in our lives.  God working in our lives will always be an adventure!  So, for the two of you who are reading this, I'll enjoy keeping you updated on our adventures, and I'll want to hear about yours, too!  Please write to me, as I'll be missing seeing you, my family and friends!