Week (-) 32 and (-) 31 Update

The last two weeks have been very busy for me, mostly because of job-related tasks. As far as downsizing work goes, here’s what’s been going on:

  • We completed the refinance of our house. This will help to free up some monthly cash for further remodeling expenses and some debt reduction.
  • Our city had a free day at the local landfill, so I loaded up the van. I pulled all of the doors that I plan to replace and hauled them out, along with sundry other items. trash
  • We purchased replacement doors, but they still need to be painted before being ready to hang.Doors
  • The big news is that we made a down payment and committed to purchasing our new future home – a 2017 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 34PA. We should be able to take possession of it in another week or so.allegro-34PA1122523_Detail1122538_Detail1122557_Detail

As I was reading my Bible this week, I read Psalm 65, and it made me think about where we are in our plans for this new phase of life. In the psalm, David follows two trains of thought. First, he praises God simply because He deserves his praise.

Psalm 65 (ESV)

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.

When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
I reflected on the great privilege that we have to worship God and bring our gifts of praise to him each week. This is something I intend to continue even as we head out on the road of adventure. We will not forsake gathering with God’s people in worship!
The last part of this psalm focuses on the physical world that God has created and offers appreciation and praise simply for the marvelous beauty and everyday presence of God in His creation.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
All of creation sings of the praises and glory of God. This is the other part of our adventure that I look forward to. We will be treasuring and appreciating the wonder of God’s creation and joyfully sharing it with those whose paths we cross. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

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Weekly Update (-) 33

This was a busy week at work and I had less energy for doing much of the work at home. I scanned a few more books, cleaned out/off some drawers, boxes, and shelves. We got another set of donation items started for the next ARC pickup. We also spent a bit of time shopping for bathroom tiles and fixtures, doors, and window blinds. On top of that, our dog, Scooter, threw his back out somehow and needed some veterinary care.

This week’s update video (linked below) is the first in a series I plan to call “Monthly Musings”, in which I do a bit of reflecting on the Bible and God’s creation. This month I talk a bit about Psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

10  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12  Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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Weekly Update (-) 34

I created the last two weekly updates by putting together a video update first (which have been too long!) and then just tagging it in a blog post (which didn’t provide very much information). I’m trying something different this week by writing the blog first and then creating a video which corresponds to that. Here are some things that we’ve accomplished this week toward our goal of full-time RV living. We:

  • Confirmed and paid for an RV rental for June. We’re planning to rent a Thor A.C.E 30.1 (32 foot) motorhome from LazyDays RV to drive up to Rocky Mountain National park for 4 days.Lazydays2017-ACE-30-1-Floor-Plan This will give us a chance to try out a Class A motorhome. Even though this one is a little shorter than what we’re looking at (we’re focusing in the 34 to 36 foot range), it’ll give us a feel for driving and living in one similar. Some of the questions we’re seeking to learn from this trip is
    • How is it to drive a gas-powered Class A up mountain roads?
    • How quickly will we go through water, battery and propane supplies?
    • How is our comfort, temperature-wise?
    • How loud and annoying is the generator?
    • How will this be as a full-time living situation, rather than just feeling like we’re “camping” all the time?
    • How is the noise driving this machine with respect to video and audio recording?
    • What will it be like to mix travel with continuing to work on Watchmaker’s Pulse projects?
    • Can we stand being “off-grid” for 4 days, not to mention 4 years (not that we’ve committed to any specific time-span?
  • Recently paid for the rest of our upcoming cruise/land adventure in Alaska in September. This was postponed from a year ago and was originally intended (and still is) in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. It’ll be our 31st (and a half) anniversary now, but also a great way to experiment with Watchmaker’s Pulse travel-log ideas. We’ll be traveling with Darlene’s sister (Patty), and brother-in-law (Gary).
  • Gave our first round of donations to a donation center.
  • Arranged for disposal of a piano.
  • Finished removing the first layer of tile in a bathroom (in preparation for a remodel of it). There’s still another layer to go. We also finished removing the old drywall and shower pan from the shower.
  • Purchased a dashcam and tested it in the accompanying update video. I bought this one based on the review done by Tom Morton, of Mortons on the Move, on the Road Gear Reviews YouTube channel.
  • Scanned several books to keep electronically in order to donate the physical copies. Most of our library is already in Kindle format, but there are some “keeper” items, including pictures, cards, documents, etc. that I’m scanning so we can retain digital copies.
  • Darlene and I are working on trying to get healthier, in anticipation of our upcoming lifestyle change. This week we launched new weight loss goals, I had a physical exam, and we’re both trying to take walks more frequently.
  • Heard the term “digital nomad” for the first time this week while listening to a Keep Your Daydream podcast. That’s an interesting concept to explore in conjunction with this upcoming life change. According to Investopedia.com, digital nomads “are people who are location independent and use technology to perform their job. Digital nomads work remotely (telecommute), which is now economically possible due to cheap internet access, smartphones and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to keep in contact with clients and employers. Digital nomads are usually young people [OK… so I don’t exactly fit this characteristic] and can be found working in most industries in the knowledge economy: marketing, design, IT, writing, media, tutoring and consulting, among others. They may either be remote employees or knowledge process outsourcing employees.” I’m going to have to think a bit more about adopting this “digital nomad” terminology.

34 weeks to go! Here’s the video version of this update on YouTube.

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Week (-)36 Update

I’ve posted the first Watchmaker’s Pulse video on YouTube. Admittedly, the sound quality is not very good, but I’m taking the advice I learned from several of Tricia Leach’s interviews on Keep Your Daydream… just start somewhere and learn as you go. So, here’s the first video.

It’s called Week (negative) 36 Update because I’m counting backwards to my actual retirement date of December 21, 2017 – 36 weeks from now.

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These weekly updates will just update you on activities, thoughts, events, etc. leading up to the actual retirement and full launch of The Watchmaker’s Pulse. This week was a typical week of church, work, and house chores. I was able to rip out the carpet in one of our bedrooms to reveal the hardwood flooring underneath (which has been covered since we bought the house 31 years ago.

We also went to see The Case for Christ movie, which is a very good cinematic version of Lee Strobel’s story of his path from skeptical atheism to full-time Christian minister and apologist.

Tomorrow is Easter. I hope you find yourself in church somewhere celebrating the resurrection from the dead of Jesus!

Our To-Do List

Image from blog.hubspot.com/marketing

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. It’s my intention, once 2018 rolls around, to establish a more regular cadence to the material I produce for The Watchmaker’s Pulse, but until then, I’m just using the site(s) to experiment and practice some of the tasks that I have planned. This is what I was referring to in an earlier post titled The Framework is Coming Along!. A lot of details have to be figured out before The Watchmaker’s Pulse is fully up and running, which will be after my actual retirement date of Dec. 21, 2017.

With that in mind, I wanted to create a “to-do” list here, both for my reference, but also to highlight for you more of the plans that I have. I welcome feedback and comments.

  • Prepare our house for sale. Not a minor task, it includes
    • Remodeling the kitchen
    • Remodeling 3 bathrooms
    • Updating electrical and lighting from the original 1965 configuration! (about 1/10 is complete now!)
    • Tearing out all the upstairs carpet which covers beautiful hardwood (1/4 is complete now!)
    • Refinishing all the hardwood in the house
    • Tearing out carpet on the lowest level and redoing wall and floor coverings there
    • We also have some cracking in the garage and lower level concrete, inadequate insulation, and no lawn sprinkling system. We’re still unsure if we’ll try to rectify any of these or not.
    • Replace the front and back doors.
    • Clean the HVAC system.
  • Determine when and with whom to list the house for sale.
  • Get rid of stuff. We have been in our house for 31 years. We’ve also lost all 4 parents in the last 9 years, 3 of which have been in the last 2 years. We have a lot of their stuff packed into various places in our house. We also have 2 adult children who no longer live with us, but whose apartments don’t have room for stuff which we still have – not to mention all the “non-junk” stuff with memories attached that we have to figure out what to do with. So, we will be:
    • Selling anything which might be useful to others, except I HATE THE PROCESS OF SELLING THINGS!
    • Giving away anything which might be reused by someone else
    • Throwing away things (sorry… landfill… I know)
    • Somehow archiving, through pictures, scans, etc. those items which have sentimental or practical value but which may be too voluminous to keep
    • Keeping stuff in a rented storage unit that we might eventually want in a small apartment in the future
    • Keeping the stuff we’ll want designated for use in our not-yet-owned RV
  • Change our residency. I’m learning from a number of full-time-RVers that certain states (e.g. South Dakota, Florida, Texas) have set their laws in such a way that works better for people without a permanent residence location. I’m still investigating that, along with its impact on taxes, vehicle licensing and insurance, and voting.
  • Change our health insurance. I’ve been fortunate to have insurance coverage provided by employers for nearly 35 years. In November/December, which is the standard open-enrollment for insurance, we’ll have to make a decision about our health care moving forward.
  • Figure out mail handling and banking. I haven’t researched either of these much at this point, but we’ll need to ensure both are set up in such a way as to be fully accessible and functional from the road.
  • Make sure we leave necessary paperwork in order. We need to update our wills and life insurance policies and make sure necessary people know about them.
  • Get necessary medical and dental work taken care of before we leave, along with a plan on how to communicate with our doctors while on the road.
  • Obtain an RV which will suffice as “home” for the foreseeable future.
    • I’m leaning toward a Class A motorhome. Gas or diesel?
    • Darlene (my wife) is leaning somewhat toward a 5th wheel trailer.
    • A standard trailer is still not out of the question.
    • Whatever we end up with, we really want it to include: a king-size bed, an oven, a bathroom with shower and toilet in the same room (as opposed to across the hall from each other), a length of about 35 feet or less, a couch, ample storage, and a functional and comfortable secondary vehicle either towed or used for towing. Additional preferences would include a dinette with chairs (rather than a booth), an oven, a residence-style refrigerator, slide-outs, an awning, outside kitchen, fireplace, ceiling fan, solar capability, and a means for Darlene to continue with her love of jigsaw puzzles.

Specific to The Watchmaker’s Pulse, I need to:

  • Design a more permanent logo. When I created this site, I threw this together…,cropped-cropped-logo.jpg  and cropped-logo1.jpg, but would like to engage someone to create a more refined look for me.
  • Similarly, for my videos, I’d like a theme. I’ve worked with some ideas but would like to engage someone to help me create a more defined, professional theme.
  • Also for this website and the associated sites, I’d like feedback and help in refining the theme and continuity of the products.
  • Purchase necessary equipment for planned activities:
    • Internet and data coverage sufficient to keep us connected on the road.
    • Adequate video and still photographic equipment
    • One or two new laptops for each of us to use
    • Decent video editing software
    • A dashcam for in-motion driving video
    • A drone for aerial photography
    • Necessary tripods, audio, and storage equipment to support the video and audio creations
    • Memberships for any necessary activities, including national and state park passes, fishing licenses (yes, that too), campground or travel memberships, TV coverage
  • Create a few sample videos and get feedback on them on our YouTube Channel
  • Figure out potential podcast formats and methods
  • Develop ideas and sample modules for The Watchmaker’s Pulse Academy, a planned for-profit homeschooling resource center
  • Figure out the best approach to engage with and inter-relate the various social outlets connected to The Watchmaker’s Pulse, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
  • Identify missing elements from The Watchmaker’s Pulse idea and develop those. This might include speaking engagement activities, RV-park ministries, publications, other product lines, business cards, advertising, financial support options, …?
  • Plan out our initial route and destinations
  • Convince Darlene that she really does want to participate in these videos

I realize that I may not have thought of everything yet, and also that God could very well change the course of this plan, but this will at least give you an increased understanding of what we think lies ahead for us.

Choosing the Right Path

On a recent business trip to Tulsa, OK, I had a few hours available before I had to catch my flight, so I headed to an area just south of town called Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. It was a surprising forested area full of countless trails along and around a ridge bounded on one side by the Arkansas River.

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Trail map of the Turkey Mountain area, downloaded from the site linked above.

I hadn’t found this map before arriving there and it would have been helpful to have. There was a copy posted on a sign next to the parking lot, but it had been rather worn by fingers and weather so that a photo captured on my phone was not as helpful as this one would have been. I read a few reviews of the area and consistently people talked about the importance of a map to keep from getting lost. I thought, “Yeah, right. This is Oklahoma where everything’s flat. I won’t have any problem.”….

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After hiking for about 1.5 hours, I found that I was having to try to keep very aware of what direction I was going and where I was in relation to the parking lot. Fortunately, I had the river and sun as reference, but trails were criss-crossing so much, that it would have been very easy to lose track of where I was.

Which brings me to an observation about choosing the right path. The Bible is very clear about some things. It reveals to us God’s overarching plan for creation and salvation. It also gives us very specific instructions about a number of moral and social issues. But there are times when we are faced with decisions about our actions and activities that may not be explicitly dealt with in any particular or combination of biblical passages. In those cases, we must decide the best we can, but our decisions should be influenced by several factors:

Biblical principles – This is first and foremost what should drive our decisions. Even though scripture may not deal explicitly with a particular topic, it gives ample guidance in so many things from which foundational principles can be derived. The only way to really be able to discern those principles is through regular immersion in God’s word. Read it, study it, memorize it, talk about it, teach it, listen to others teaching it. These are all ways to embed the Bible in our minds so that it will be there to be brought to our attention when we need it. Through Jeremiah the prophet, God promised

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The principle here is that in God’s new covenant (realized through the advent of Jesus Christ), God would enable His law to be known and understood by all who are recipients of that covenant promise. Jesus reiterated this when he promised, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14) One of the activities of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to recall and understand God’s Word, but to do that we have to be diligent in staying familiar with what it actually says. The analogy here to the criss-crossing trails described above would be the map. Having access to and studying the map is the surest way to keep on track with where we intend to go.

Godly advice – Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “ where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” This verse is often quoted without acknowledging the context in which he spoke it. This is in a broader passage in which Jesus is encouraging believers to be diligent to correct the sin that lies among them (e.g. church discipline). He describes the process in a progression from private confrontation, to larger group involvement, and finally to a whole congregation appealing to someone to end their sinful choices. The principle here is that none of us is ever intended to operate in a vacuum. The choices we make should always be made with consideration of their impact and influence on others around us. And, since we are surrounding ourselves with other like-minded believers (the local church), that enables us to give and receive guidance and correction to one another. In the analogy of my wandering along the trails of Turkey mountain, I had the ability (via my phone) to read others’ advice about not getting lost on the trails, and I could have called for help if I had fallen or gotten lost.

Circumstances – Another way in which we can receive guidance is through the events that God allows into our lives. I continue to assert that I do not believe in coincidences. God is very much involved in directing our paths and does so through the arrangement of events that intersect our lives. This is illustrated in numerous examples throughout the Bible. One in particular comes to mind. Paul, Silas,20170224_153655 and Timothy were on what is known as Paul’s second missionary journey, as recorded in Acts 16 and beyond. Verses 6 and 7 tell us that “they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” Now this does not explicitly say in what form the Holy Spirit directed them away from Asia and Bithynia, but by the fact that they “attempted to go”, indicates the possibility that circumstances arose that thwarted their efforts in that direction. Now, I caution reliance on circumstances as fool-proof indicators of God’s direction. These indicators are often more clearly recognized in hind-sight. However, when one is well-versed in scripture, and are consistently surrounding him or her self with Godly influences, it is much more likely that they will be sensitive enough to God’s prodding that they will be guided by their circumstances as well. In the hiking analogy, I equate this to using the sun and river as guides. Remaining aware of these will help you keep oriented in the right direction, as long as you acknowledge the broader truth that these reference points are not necessarily fixed and vary with time (particularly the sun). 

Humility – I need to also mention that a sense of humility is necessary to making Godly choices. 20170224_150933As I was walking on these paths, I needed to keep a close eye on my footing and be cognizant of my physical fitness (or lack of, as the case may be). I’m not an athlete. Neither am I as young as I used to be, which means that there are definite limitations to what I can safely or easily do. Now these paths were not terribly strenuous, but there were occasions in which I had to be very cautious and in some cases even turn back and choose another path because the way I was going was proving not to be safe for me. This brings to mind the caution that Paul gave in 2 Timothy 2:22-23: “22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” Sometimes we will find ourselves starting down a path that we quickly recognize as being unwise. A prudent believer will recognize and admit their limitations and turn around to choose a safer path before they find themselves deeper in trouble!