Don’t Be Jealous

kinfolkRecently, I was tagged in an Instagram photo of Socialite Barbie, who happened to be appearing in Kinfolk Magazine, which is a trendy hip magazine featuring people doing really cool stuff. Anyway, in the photo Barbie is letting everyone know that she was featured in the magazine and then hashtags a number of things, but most notability she hashtags #humblebrag.

At first I though it was funny (I can laugh at myself) but then, I had a series of events where friends made reference to feeling jealous for the way we travel and the things we get to do and see. Then we performed a house concert and at the break almost every person came up to me to let me know how jealous they were of my family and the life we live. I started to feel a bit bothered by all of the comments but mostly deflated. I almost felt like apologizing or trying to down play our adventures by highlighting the really hard times. Then I started to wonder if I was over reacting and maybe I just needed to lighten up but I couldn’t find rest in it and the more I thought about it the more it all just felt yuck.

Jealousy is nothing new and in some instances it’s actually a positive thing, like a healthy jealousy the lover has for the beloved, or the beautiful kind of jealousy the creator has for his created. But there is an ugly side for sure. Trust me, I have had my own seasons of fighting with feelings of unhealthy jealousy. I have compared my home to others, my financial position, my beauty, my parenting, and more. But, something changed in our perspective when we  began to seek the heart of God in things like justice, purpose, love, and righteousness. Jealousy and comparison just fell out of our vernacular. We started to see miracles, and things that seemed to be offensive or dangerous became opportunities to see the supernatural ways that God is faithful.

None the less, I never want to miss an opportunity for growth so I took another look at my writings and photos and saw a trend. I noticed that I do have a pretty awesome life and I tend to share how awesome it is. I also saw that behind my sharing is a heart longing for others to see that this life we live is not our own but our makers. It’s true nomadic life has allowed us to be in the “front row,” seeing the fabric of humanity knit together in amazing circumstances. We also get to do and see a lot of freaking awesome things on this journey but it comes at a cost. Our security and comfort are constantly compromised and there are days that I can hardly believe we are still alive. But, when I step back and see the Glory of God I can’t help but to shout it out.

I was reading Donald Millers, ‘Searching For God Knows What’ and he wrote about how this old saint named Paul was exhorting his friends telling them they shouldn’t think they were better than other people, and how folks should submit to one another in love, thinking of each other as more important than themselves.

Donald makes a statement in his book that I really resonate with. He says, “Imagine how much a man or woman’s life would be changed if he/she trusted that he/she was loved by God? They could interact with the poor and not show partiality, they could love their spouse easily and not exact them to redeem them, they would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, they could be wise and giving with their money because money no longer represented points, they could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, they would have confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves, and they could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”

I thought long and hard about that. And, honestly this question of what life would look like if we trusted God is core to our families abilities to continue forward. We always come back to this starting point and as much as our natural tendency is to seek the approval of others, and we understand, as Miller says, “people (including ourselves) are biased and really have no idea what is beautiful or ugly to begin with.”

So, back to the #humblebrag hashtag. It’s funny because even as I write this proclamation of really trusting God’s love for me, I sense some eye rolls. But, here’s the thing, I am responsible for my own emotions and the impact they might have on others. I know I can’t control others emotions but, when I feel the impact of others jealousy, I feel bound. I feel robbed of joy and of uninhibited relationship. And, then I realized, that those feelings of jealousy rob both parties. It robs us both!! And, that makes me angry!

But what do we do about it. Blogger,  gives this suggestion. She says, “It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy. You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.”

And so, back to Paul’s exhortation, We have to work together, yielding to one another in love and thinking of each other as more important than themselves. And yes, if there is a potential that I am practicing “humblepride,” then I need friends to help me by gently showing me, but if jealousy is the heart of the prod then we have to recognize it and fight for each other, extending grace. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Amazing Grace. To know we are loved.

PS. By the way, I do find the Socialite Barbie thing quite funny. It all just got me thinking. This is what happens when I start thinking to much. Ha!




Hashtag Community

instagramWhat the heck is a hash tag, and why should I use them? We get this question all the time and usually answer it by saying the # is a way of “filing” your photo into a world-wide folder with photos that also have that same hashtag. The purpose is to link up people who have similar interests. So for instance, say you were into tea, you could start an instagram and use it as a way to document different tea shops you’d visit, teas and big hats via photo and then when you post those photos, you’d hashtag something like #teaaddiction. When you had a moment, you’d click on #teaaddiction and find all sorts of kinfolk who love tea. You could look through their photos and maybe even click on their profile, eventually making friends, finding solace in your tea fanaticism.

For us, social media outlets that use hashtags, specially Instagram have allowed us the privilege of meeting so many wonderful traveling kinfolk along our way. Just hashtag #busconversion,  #familyontheroad, #ditchingsuburbia, or #homeiswhereyouparkit and boom, they are all there; nomadic kinfolk, wanderlust rangers and road-school families. These tools provide opportunities to make an initial contact, where we can develop a slow adoration for those we follow, bonding over shared experiences and eventually leading to a #meetup. That’s when the real fun starts for us! Those moments of serendipity when we find ourselves in the same neck of the woods as fellow travelers, reaching out, setting a meeting time and place and making that first face to face connection, is sheer excitement and delight.

IMG_2192We’ve met up in MI with fellow bus owners, Herd of Turtles (The Shanks Family riding in an Eagle) and Scott and Heather Bennet (MCI owners), sharing a meal, stories of our bus conversions, and music by the campfire. Also, fellow bus owners Technomadia, who we met up with in California. When we pulled into the state park, they heard our 2stroke engine and came a running. We spent that evening sharing bus stories and tricks of the trade.

Our nomadic community isn’t just limited to bus owners, as we’ve met up with “The Van With No Plan” brothers, Josh and Matt in Phoenix AZ, where we learned about their adventures in multiple vehicles and drive to bring joy wherever they go. We met up with “meredithmarieyo” in Austin TX and learned the Texas Two Step. Also, in Austin we met up with world troubadour, Andrew Jones, from Jonesberries, one of our greatest inspirations and in our opinion, the original traveling family. And, then there was that quick but fruitful breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Lafayette, LA with One Year Road Trip (The Webb Family). We can’t forget The Wayfaring Family in Lexington, KY hosting us for a few nights, sharing stories of their one year of world travel, and adjusting back to home life. Then there was our recent link up with 5th wheelers, Wandering Jess (The Marshall Family) in Pensacola FL and The Boyink family (aka Ditching Suburbia) at Silverspring State Park, Florida. Both of which shared stories of faith, motivation for full-time travel and raising teenagers on the road.

They all have their own beautiful stories of how they transitioned from life on the ground to life on the road. They all make their way doing different sorts of jobs, some work remote corporate jobs, some IT jobs, some bloggers, some pick up odd jobs, some do photography and some are film makers. Some have children and those who do have all sorts of ways they home school, from online resources to unschool. Some have pets, some have spouse and some have both.  They all travel in an array of vehicles from 5th wheels, classic airstreams, campers, buses, vans, to cars & bicycles. Some have converted their vehicles and some have bought them off of the lot. Some folks, downsize all the way, some still have homes, etc… Some have an abundance of resources and some live day to day. One thing they all have in common however, is their commitment to swimming upstream, seeking freedom, asking tough questions about societal norms and pushing against the status quo.

IMG_0155Everyday a new traveler, family or couple ends up in our different hashtag folders and when they do we reach out welcoming them to this community of drifters and wanderers. We’re always keeping an eye on the whereabouts of our fellow travelers, hoping that the wind might blow us together sooner than later. These moments of connectivity with our nomadic community are inspiring and reassure us that we’re not odd or alone, we are part of a bigger picture, in it together. #neverstopexploring #community

You can find us on Instagram at The Hollands and on Twitter at The_Hollands