serving as a family at Gleanings for the Hungry | Dinuba, CA

So, um, hi. Remember me? You may or may not have noticed but it’s been nearly a month since I’ve put finger to key here on the blog. Shortly after my last post, we spent a week serving as a family at Gleanings for the Hungry and had a phenomenal time. God really blessed Trent and I during our time there and since then we’ve been thinking new thoughts and praying over new dreams. While I hope to possibly share more on that in the future, I’ve really stumbled over how to convey our Gleanings experience with you. The ensuing result has been silence which as it turns out, makes for a terrible read. So in an effort to plunge forward, setting perfection aside, I present our Gleanings for the Hungry experience:

SERVING AS A FAMILY AT GLEANINGS FOR THE HUNGRY

Mom, how soon can I go back to work tomorrow?” my six year old asks with sparkling eyes and an upturned chin. “After we eat breakfast and do devotions together as a group,” I respond. He heaves a big sigh and with slumped shoulders confides, “I just was hoping we could get started as soon as I woke up.

It’s the end of our first full day serving as a family at Gleanings for the Hungry in Dinuba, CA. We are all weary from a day worn well. As I lay down to rest and reflect, I can’t help but smile as I replay favorite memories from the day in my mind.

-Ashlyn, invited to sit down at the sewing machine in the quilt room and stitch the final hem to finish off the hand-made quilt that will be sent to Mexico.

serving as a family at Gleanings for the Hungry

-Quinten and Tanner working in the soup room assembly line catching the dried mix into bags. Continue reading “serving as a family at Gleanings for the Hungry | Dinuba, CA”

hidden treasure | Morro Bay, CA

I’m alone except for a fisherman, a student hunched over a book, and two older ladies strolling along the coastline. The wind, slightly damp and seasoned with salt, plays with loose strands of my hair as I jog, following the line of wet sand. I’m training for my first 5K run in January. After just five minutes, I’ve confidently decided that beach running is my favorite.

THE QUESTION

My bare feet meet the moist ground, pounding out a regular rhythm as my eyes drink in the surrounding splendor. I use the time of solitude to pray and lean in toward my Father’s heart. “What do you want to show me today?” I ask.

BEACH TREASURE

Moments later my eyes catch sight of something shining in the sand. I stop, curiously observing the translucent blob lying in my path. I look around and spot another, tangled in a pile of seaweed. I’m mesmerized. Are these jellyfish? How long have they been here? Are they dead? Would anything have happened if I’d stepped on them? I make a mental note to return and show the kids my discovery at the end of my run.

Resuming my pace, I continue my jog. The waves lap around my feet like puppies biting at shoestrings. Once again, something catches my eye and I halt. A sand dollar, perfectly circular, lies ensconced within its shore-lined bed. Pulling back its covers of sand, I clean it in the surf and tuck it safely in my pouch. No sooner is my treasure locked away, than a second dollar comes into view. Minutes slip past as I tuck forty dollars worth of treasure away for safe keeping. Continue reading “hidden treasure | Morro Bay, CA”

wednesday night

The air is cool and crisp as I sit cross-legged in my plush camp chair. I’m snuggled under the fleece blanket my mother-in-law gifted me for Christmas last year. Above me the sky has tucked the sun into its western bed and the stars are roaming free. Around me sit a circle of friends and family. We’ve each parked our chairs in close proximity to the fire pit but random popping embers occasionally cause us to question our warmth vs. safety priorities.

By the way, it’s Wednesday evening. That lonely, middle-of-the-week night which, in former times of my life, marked things like bible study, soccer practice or the night we used to curl up on the couch and watch the next episode of Lost. It was not, however, social night. Getting together mid-week with multiple families for the pure purpose of hanging out was typically impractical, if not impossible.

Yet here we sit for the third week in a row, swapping stories in the dark while flames dance and kids play. It’s a gift. With time as our currency, we are rich and I don’t mourn soccer or Lost.

As for bible study? We’ve moved it to Wednesday morning.


How about you? What does a typical Wednesday evening look like? 

what church looks like for us while RVing

We’ve now had over a year’s worth of Sundays on the road. However I still stumble over myself when asked, “What do you do for church while traveling in an RV?” It’s a straightforward question but the answer isn’t clear-cut. Come with me while I unpack the details of what church looks like for us while RVing.

WHAT IS CHURCH?

Both Trent and I grew up going to church on Sundays. It is part of our family history and something we value. We believe that the church should be important to us because it is important to God. He loved the church. He gave Himself up for it (Ephesians 5:25).

Yet, as I’ve grown, so has my concept of what the church actually is. As a child, church was the white building on the street corner with a cross on top. Church was something we went to and sequentially left each week. Church was a building, a place of gathering, and an icon in town with a cross on the roof. This is not what Christ died for. Instead, I believe Christ died for people. John 10:11 tells us that Christ is the Shepherd who lays down His life for his sheep (not their barn). Therefore, my understanding has grown to realize that “church” is wherever believers are gathered together, regardless of the day of the week or the location of the gathering.

This may seem like an unnecessary distinction to make; however, I believe it is important to start here. Without this clarification, it can be easy to wander off into unnecessary confusion when answering the question, “What will you do for church on the road?” Because there is a big difference between asking, “What building do you plan to go to on Sundays?” and “How will you stay connected with other believers?

what church looks like for us while RVing

DON’T STOP GATHERING

The writer to the Hebrews warned the early church to “not stop gathering together with other believers, as some are you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming” Hebrews 10:25. I believe this has as much relevance now as it did when first penned. As believers we crave time with other believers and that time pays dividends of encouragement, accountability and spiritual growth. Continue reading “what church looks like for us while RVing”

flying high | Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

It’s dark, early and cold. Our alarm chimes brightly urging us toward consciousness. My eyes open and a single thought floats to the forefront of my mind: hot air balloons!

We scramble to dress, quickly pulling items like coats, gloves and winter hats out of retirement. Stepping into the brisk, pre-dawn air, our lungs fill with a fresh dose of chilled oxygen. Endorphins igniting, excitement courses through our veins. Despite our shortened slumber, we are fully alert.

Walking to the shuttle bus, we are joined by other early risers, equally bundled and filled with anticipation. The bus delivers us to the entrance of Balloon Fiesta Park and here we join the sea of spectators collectively converging onto the damp, grassy field. We are all here for the same portentous* reason—to be wowed by gondolas, burners and envelopes—more simply: hot air balloons.

THE WAITING LIST

Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Melissa Moss, Trent and I are media pass holders allowing us complementary admission onto the field and access to the media tent. Here we grab warm drinks and breakfast burritos and I add my name to the balloon ride sign-up page. I’m told not to expect to be called for a ride on this opening day and I don’t. My name, scribbled on the top of page two behind many other hopeful people, is clearly too far from the top to gain attention.

Trent takes the kids and disappears onto the still-dark field while I hover around the heater and listen for my name that isn’t likely to be called. Forty-five minutes pass and two names are announced. I write off my chances but remain anyway, determined to see this opportunity through. Then, a miracle occurs and I hear my name over the speakers. I approach the table, heart racing with anxious excitement and pure shock. “Are you ready to go up?” they ask. “Yes, I most definitely am!Continue reading “flying high | Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta”