Where the rubber meets the highway (or: lessons learned on the road)

What has:

2,600 miles
15 stops with various friends and relations
11 states
6 boxes of cereal
5 travel bags (most of which are full of food & diapers)
4 weeks
3 girls
1 tired/thrilled mom?

A 2012 Very Hunter Summer Road Trip, that's what!!

Our route!

We left town on July 19th and did not get home until August 15th. The girls & I visited friends and family in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut. There were many sweet memories and fun & impromptu field trips. There were some unexpected delays in travel (severe rain, a full-blown diaper disaster in the carseat, construction, a logging truck accident, and getting lost in both DC & NYC, among others...).

Quiet reading time with my cousins in VT!
I got to reminisce with dear high school and college friends, stay up late with cousins, aunts & uncles I don't get to see often, and to meet a online friend for real! We got to worship the Lord with dear brothers & sisters in northern Vermont and southern Pennsylvania. The girls did a little exploring in the cold ocean waters in Maine and swam in the warm ocean waters of Virginia Beach. They got to ride 4-wheelers with Grandaddy, go kayaking with Grammy & Grampy, and pick their own fresh fruits and veggies from Gram's very own garden. We rode a coal train in PA with Will's Gram. Feeding worms was a hit; painting birdhouses with Auntie Kimm was too; so was playing with all kinds of new toys at other friends' houses. We ate a lot of chicken nuggets and pizza and hot dogs (no complaints at all from the taste-testing department...!) It was a lovely, memorable, exhausting, so-glad-I-did-it-but-it'll-take-a-while-before-I'm-ready-to-drive-on-the-highway-again kind of trip!

E &A, in Casco Bay ME

I had a lot of time to think. Driving between 3-6 hours in between most stops with girls mostly content in the back seats left plenty of opportunities to pray and to listen to the Lord. I thought, initially, that this trip was going to be a 'school on the road' type opportunity for the girls and that it would be a chance for us to catch up with so many people that we don't see often enough.

Ready to head out on the road...again!

But that's not all the Lord had in store for us. It did happen that by the time we got home, I felt like we'd been doing school for about a month already :) and I did get to catch up with people who are so dear to my heart. And in the midst of all of that, here are some lessons the Lord had for me:

*I don't like not knowing where I am, or where I'm going. Jesus kept reminding me of the verse I have over my kitchen sink at home to calm my nervous heart (especially in Washington DC and New York City - eeeek, of all places to be lost!): Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. [Joshua 1:9] Wherever I go. Even in a city I'm not familiar with. Even on Pennsylvania Avenue (which is where we ended up on accident in DC!). No matter where I am, physically or spiritually - Jesus is with me wherever I go. I need not be afraid! There is such freedom in that truth!

This...is not where I was supposed to be!
...neither was this. Impromptu national history lesson
with a captive audience in the back rows!

*As much as I wanted to minister to other people, He used them powerfully to minister to me in ways that I couldn't have imagined. I got to wash dishes and fold laundry and hold babies and do a few other tasks for the families I stayed with, thinking I was being so helpful; and in return, I was challenged, encouraged, and built up in my faith in Christ!

The girls adore their Grandaddy! At Hunter Farm in VA

Hanging out in the "hampster" (hammock...) at
Mr. Tim & Miss Ashley's!

*Life is too short to wait until there's enough time and/or money. There are so many reasons why it seemed like a bad idea to take a 12-year-old rickety Windstar on the road by myself with three little girls with only a few hundred dollars in cash. I had a list of things I could have spent that money on: paying down debt, ordering homeschooling books, putting it in savings, etc. But the trip was so very worth every moment and every dollar spent. I am thankful that Will encouraged me to go!!

Enjoying a beautiful afternoon with Nana (Will's Gram!)
just before taking a ride on the coal train in PA.

*I have a lot to learn from other people - especially when they believe differently than I do! I know this seems like it should be a no-brainer, but sometimes it's easy for me to forget. Paul went to Athens to preach, but he wasn't ignorant of the Greek culture and belief systems there. Listening to the whys and hows of different beliefs broadens my perspective. It strengthened my faith to be challenged by hearing about other religions and by being asked honest and hard questions about my own beliefs!

FRESH raspberries from Gram's garden!

* Life in NH can continue without me. Whoa! This was a hard lesson for my ego. I'm so used to being involved in different capacities outside our home. And what a refreshing reminder for my soul that it is the Lord who is in charge, not me! He is perfectly capable of guiding things quite well in my absence (and, incidentally, when I'm around!). He gently reminded me that my main priority right now is the care and keeping of my family, and that some outside ministry opportunities can wait for another season!

Chillin' at Grammy & Grampy Lane's cabin in ME!

*Will is still my best friend. After being on the road for a month without him, and spending time with friends, relatives - some of whom I consider very close to me - I realized that even my closest friends do not know me as well as he does after all these years (12! wowee!). If something came up that reminded me of Will, and I thought "oh! He'd think that was funny/cute/ridiculous/whatever", ...I'd miss being able to turn to him right away and say that. By the time I left our last stop I had butterflies in my tummy and I was so giggly and just wanted to get home to him and share everything about the last month and hear all about how he had been. After 8 years of being married and having 3 kids, it's really easy to forget that hey, we used to like just hanging out and being around each other and that we were friends before we were husband & wife. It was sweet to be reminded of that.

At the welcome center in PA! Smile!

Before we left for the trip, I was terrified by the what-ifs. What if we break down? What if we run out of money? What if one of the girls gets sick? etc. But Will encouraged me to go, and I'm so glad that he did. 

Virginia Beach!

What if I hadn't? I would have missed out on sweet conversations, treasured memories, and the lessons that God had for me out on the road.

Feeding the worms at Mr. Iain & Miss Erin's house!!

What discoveries & lessons have you made on your travels & journeys? 

And...back home!

A pilgrim just traveling along,
for His glory!
~Lisha :)

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