No Resolutions!

IMG_20171230_104852_083A few years ago, I was asked to preach on a particular Sunday that just happened to fall on New Year’s Eve. Determined not to preach the same old year-end message, I turned to the Lord for guidance and inspiration. Not only did he come through with the inspiration, but he cast a vision on me that changed my outlook on New Year’s resolutions forever! 

Think this through with me. On a typical year, we approach New Year’s Eve 5 to 8 pounds heavy, having just spent the last few weeks gorging ourselves on the holiday over-abundance (I admit, I usually lead the charge). As we look ahead to the new year, there is a certain amount of guilt and a general fear that we will not be able to reverse the damage that those cookies have inflicted on our mid-section. 

New Year’s resolution #1 – lose 10 pounds (or 15 or 20… you fill in your own blank). All other resolutions for personal improvement, family matters, career or educational goals fall in behind that big one. 

January 1 comes. We think, “I’m going to be unmovable. My goal is set. Healthy, light breakfast… check! No morning snacking… check! Healthy lunch…

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check!” Then, out comes the cookie tray with all those leftover goodies. “One won’t hurt.” So, we go ahead. Maybe tomorrow will be better. It is not. By January 3, we’ve pretty-much blown it and we’re back to that old normal self we’ve always been, only this time carrying that extra weight. We feel defeated. So much for the resolution. 

Wow. That was pretty depressing! What if there was a better way? 

Instead of making resolutions this year, what if we were to pray about the vision God has for the year to come. What if we were to take a look at December 31, 2019 (that’s right, I said 2019) and ask ourselves, “What do I want to look like at the end of the year? What do I hope to have accomplished?” What if, rather than make year-beginning resolutions, we set some year-end goals? With the end as the goal, set-backs are not permanent failure, but rather a bump in the road on the way to success. 

Child development author Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” That quote was the God-sent catalyst that caused my annual vision-seeking to permanently shift. 

Using weight loss as an example (because that is perhaps the number one new year’s goal for most people), let’s say in the first month of the year, you were to lose 5 pounds on your way to 10, but you had a big weekend and really fell off the dietary restraint wagon. In the resolution model, all is lost. You’ve broken the resolution and you might as well give up. But in the year-end visionary goal-setting model, it’s a minor set-back. I may have gained 2 pounds over that February weekend, but I’m still 3 pounds better off than I was on January 1. Let’s start today to make that new ending. This time however, I don’t have 10 pounds to lose. This time, I only have 7 left! Hope is rekindled and we get back on track. 

20180111_124656-01If we could apply the wisdom of the apostle Paul to the situation: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14). But wait, there’s more! “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (vv. 15-16, emphasis mine). 

When we have a set-back, all is not lost. We are responsible to live up to the level we have already attained and we can now start over to press on toward that year-end goal. Forget about that mistake. It’s in the past. Start today and press on! How refreshing. 

May the Lord inspire you toward a great 2019 and may you find success at meeting your year-end goals. I will be praying that my readers will find inspiration and motivation in Him. 

Happy New Year! 

Pastor Randy 

© 2014 & 2018 thetravelingkites.com 

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A Higher Plan

Recently, I shared a post on Instagram in which I wrote: “Every once in a while, life throws us a speed bump. The key to successful navigation is to realize that there is still a road ahead on the other side. Press on! (Philippians 3:12-14).” Here is the beginning of the story behind that post.IMG_20180630_092142_090

Sharon and I had a week of vacation set in our calendars for quite some time. That week finally arrived at the end of work on April 27, 2018.

As we pondered what to do with the time, we decided to just head out – no reservations – in whatever direction felt right. We considered heading west toward Michigan, then as the weather continued to be cool up north, we decided to head south instead; perhaps toward the beaches of South Carolina.

Although we are campers, we decided to go the hotel route this time. However, camping is in our blood, so we were going to throw the tent and sleeping bags in the car, just in case the weather and location aligned for a few nights of sleeping on the ground.

As we were near the middle of our last work week before vacation, we received news that Sharon’s mother was heading to the local hospital. Over the next couple of days, it seemed that she had a touch of pneumonia and would be fine. I kept in conversation with Sharon about whether she thought we should stay home. She felt like things were going well enough that we could go. There are other family members that live close enough to stay connected to our loved one.

We were planning on heading out on Saturday morning. But then everything changed. The phone rang around midnight Friday night with the news that they were going to transport my mother-in-law to Pittsburgh by ambulance. She had a collapsed upper left lung. We knew then that we wouldn’t be heading south in the morning.

When we got up and around on Saturday, I called Bear Run Campground near Portersville, PA to see if they had a full-hook camp site available. It was still early enough in the season that finding what we wanted was no problem.

The reason for the campsite was that we are a 90-minute drive from the hospital at home, but only 35 minutes from the hospital at Bear Run Campground. Not knowing what was ahead, I booked the campsite for three nights; Saturday, Sunday and Monday with a Tuesday departure.

The next few days were spent at the hospital with nights at the campground. As Tuesday approached, it became evident that our stay needed to be extended, so I paid for two more nights.

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On my in-laws 63rd wedding anniversary, my father-in-law came to visit. As the day progressed, he ended up admitted to the same hospital and the next day, was put in the same room as my mother-in-law. The hospital staff told us that they were the talk of the hospital for having spent their anniversary together there.

There were a lot of family members visiting each day, so I took one day to stay back to camp while Sharon took her sister along to the hospital. On that day, I went for a hike at McConnel’s Mill State Park, which is not far from the campground. I stopped at the Pilot station close-by to fill the truck with gas and have lunch at the Subway inside. Back at camp, I took some time just to sit in my chair, under the canopy with my feet up. It was finally barefoot weather in western Pennsylvania!

The owners and staff at Bear Run Campground were very gracious and understanding to us during the week. When our new departure date came, we found the need to continue our stay. I was going to reserve for the three more nights that would take us through to a Sunday departure, but found that our site was booked for the weekend. Thankfully, the campground had other sites available and I reserved the three nights at a different site. But then the blessing happened. When we arrived back from the hospital our last night before having to pack up and move to another site, the campground staff told us they had called the folks who had our site reserved. They explained the situation to them and asked if they would be willing to take a different site so we could stay put. They agreed and we were thankful.

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Binx, the Camping Cat, came along

No one wants to experience a week of vacation spending every day in the hospital. But, we are family and that’s what family does. Sharon apologized to me at one point during the week, saying she was sorry that our vacation turned out like this. But I told her that this was important. We had talked many times through the last few years about what it might take to give our parents the best experience possible as they entered this phase of their life. I told her that as time moves forward, we will never look back and regret that we took this week to be with them.

God was working through the whole week. It was easy to see. First-off, consider that we didn’t have any reservations made for this vacation. We had planned to just head south and go as far, and in whatever direction felt right at the time. So, we didn’t have any backtracking to do to cancel arrangements, possibly losing deposits.

Consider that our week of vacation was this particular week. We could have chosen a week before or after, but no; we chose this week. God knew where the need was and directed our timing.

Consider the kindness of the campground to work with us as the week went on. They made our stay a stress-free part of the week; especially when they arranged for us to not have to move to a different campsite. God knew where to put us for this kindness to happen. We certainly felt genuine concern from the camp staff as they asked us daily how things were going.

Consider the fact that Sharon’s sister from Virginia needed a place to stay when she came to visit that week and we just happened to have room for a guest in our camper. God was at work for her as well.

There is far more to the story than I could ever tell here. But there were two things that stood out to me that week: 1). Family is so important and; 2). When going through tough times, God is very near. We just need to call on His name and trust His plan.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

©2018 thetravelingkites.com

Spring… Finally!

It has been a while since The Traveling Kites have traveled, but spring is finally here. You may be quick to remind me that spring actually arrived a month ago, but we live in western Pennsylvania so trust me; spring has finally arrived!

We made an appointment several weeks ago to pick up our camper today from its winter storage home in the mine at Brady’s Bend, PA. Since the temperature in the mine is in the 50’s year-round, I don’t winterize before we take it there. Instead, we try to time it to get the camper put away before the sub-freezing temperatures set in and pick it up when we no longer have to fear freezing our pipes. Our timing today was impeccable! Last night, the temperature dipped into the upper 20’s, but beginning tonight, our low temps are to be above freezing.IMG_20180421_090556

We invited our two granddaughters over for a girls weekend at our house. Addison and Aly are cousins and are a little more than a month apart in age. Both are the only girl in their family, so they really enjoy getting together at our house.

Our appointment was for 8:50 AM at the mine, but we had a one hour, twenty minute drive to get there, so we left early. We arrived in good time; about five minutes before our appointment. We went into the office to settle our prorated balance and secure our place for this fall, then we went on, into the mine. One of the escorts met us and led the way to our camper. It is good that they guide you in because it’s like a maze in there and one could easily get lost.IMG_20180421_091056When we got to the Hideout, our escort assisted in directing us back toward the tongue of the trailer. It is rather dark in the mine, so this bit of help is appreciated. After hooking up, our guide led us back out, pausing occasionally to instruct me on how to negotiate a blind turn. It could be a bit nerve-wracking, maneuvering through such tight turns, but we have done this IMG_20180421_103940a few years now, so we are getting more comfortable.

We stopped in the parking area just outside the mine so I could put on our sway bars and do a walk-around to make sure everything looked good. Then, we were on our way.

I wasn’t sure how the granddaughters would feel about these dark catacombs, but it didn’t phase them a bit and Aly said she was going to tell her teacher all about it!

We stopped for a late breakfast at Bob Evans restaurant on the way home, then backed the Hideout into its place in our yard.

I spent a few hours in the afternoon doing a little maintenance to get ready for our first trip. We are excited to get this new season under-way.

“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever” ~Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV). We have certainly felt God’s protection throughout our lives and, though our future is uncertain, we do not fear anything that is to come.

Here’s wishing you a great summer!

©2018 thetravelingkites.com

Meet The Traveling Kites

Hello world! We are Randy & Sharon; decades-long married couple and long-time campers and travelers. Our adventures have taken us from camping trips around our home region (oftentimes with our family) to journeys across this great country and around the world. We have slept in tents at the world’s largest Christian music festival (Creation Festival) and have slept on the cement floor of a horse stable in Tijuana, Mexico as we spent a week on mission, building houses for the poor. We’ve walked the streets of Athens, Greece and stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

More recently, we have enjoyed local camping in the comforts of a 2012 Keystone Hideout camping trailer (model 25RKS) that we bought used from a lovely elderly couple in 2015.IMG_20170901_172721019-01

Although we are not yet retirement age, we are starting to dream about what retirement should look like for us. We do not intend to stay at home, but rather look to expand our American travels to hike, photograph and write about our great country.

We have considered all modes of camping transportation, from a small pull-behind teardrop camper to a large, tour bus-sized Class A motorhome and have settled our hearts (at least as of this writing) on a Class B camper van. We would love the freedom of not having to hook and unhook a camper or “toad” (towed-behind vehicle on a Class A or C). We are definitely past the desire to tent or crank a roof up and down. Believe me, we’ve paid our dues on that!IMG_20170829_123927803-01

Our plans and timing for a camper van purchase are as foggy as a fall western PA morning right now, but we have been spending a lot of time virtually walking through many, thanks to the efforts of those who produce YouTube videos, and have even had the opportunity to set foot in a small number of Winnebago Era, Travato and Paseo vans at a semi-local dealership.

Our dream is to live in our home region during the warm months, then set out to travel the warmer climates when things get cold and snowy in the north. Unlike the snowbirds that travel to Florida from our region for the winter, we seek to have a constantly changing scenery before us.

So, join us as we work our way toward the next chapter of our life. Then, when we get there, perhaps we will see you on the road!

Please follow us here and share your own story. We would love to hear from you and learn from your experience.

Here we go!…

©2017 thetravelingkites.com

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