Category Archives: Retirement

Is It Time to Change Rooms?

That is a question that has no easy answer. Every 6 months, or so, we ask our selves, “Where are we going next?” We’ve met some great people along the way and some not so great. We’ve had fun places to park our RV and some not so fun places.

While in West Virginia last winter, Carol received a call from a that was interested in us coming to Austin, TX and working in two of their RV parks. Discussions centered around the usual topics such as work involved, compensation, and when do we need to be there. After a few phone calls, they offered to fly us to Austin to look at the properties so we would get an idea of what we would be doing. We did that in early April this year.

Based on this contact, we made the decision it was time for us to move back to Texas – the land of great smoked brisket, great sausage, fantastic Gulf seafood and family. I’ve been somewhat reluctant to pick Texas as a destination because Texas is hot in the summer. Spending summers in areas further north, where highs in the 90’s are unusual, has been enjoyable. By moving back to Texas in the late fall, we would be able to acclimate to warmer temperatures gently.

We also considered getting a gate guarding  job in Texas. With the Eagle-Ford Shale drilling operation growing and getting larger, there is a huge need for gate guards on ranches where the drilling takes place. Gate guards can make a lot of money and the work is not hard. It generally requires a 24/7 commitment meaning someone has to be awake at all times. We would have to split our sleep and work schedule. I would not be working as Handyman. We would be registering vehicles in and out of our gate assignment. The length of time on a gate can vary from a few weeks to a few months. We began talking to a couple of gate guarding companies about this work. This looked promising.

So here we are just a few months away for our time at Manchester KOA to come to a close and we do not have a firm commitment from Austin. And we’re not 100% sold on the idea of gate guarding. So, what do we do? We pray, asking God to reveal to us what He wants us to do and where He wants us to go. And He spoke.

I really love what I do as Handyman. I’ve always enjoyed that work. People tell me I am good at it. Next week, we are going on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Our kids have come together to give us this trip of a lifetime. I jokingly post on Facebook a comment about asking the cruise director if I could apply for a job as Handyman on the ship. That would be way cool, but highly unlikely. Realizing the options of being a Handyman on a cruise ship would be a stretch, I asked a couple of my real estate friends about working with them as Handyman. Just about all realtors use them.

One  realtor said,  her husband does that work for her. The other basically said, “I can keep you as busy as you want.” We asked and God spoke. He said, “This is what I want you to do!” No not literally with words. He spoke to our hearts. Carol and I were in agreement that this is what we would do. She would handle the business side of our new work, while I would do the project stuff.

After spending 20+ years in Corpus Christi, we know lots of people there. This is where our realtor friend, Brenda Marshal, is. But there is a problem. Corpus Christi area is a winter Texan destination spot. We know from previous experience, that it is difficult to get a long-term monthly RV site anywhere in the Corpus area especially in October. We called a few places we were interested in parking only to be told they had no spots available. Only one said they had a waiting list.

On Monday 7/31, Carol called them and found out that Sea Breeze RV in Portland has a temporary space for us through December. After December, we may have to move to a different site, but they will have a long-term space for us after January. Carol worked out the details and called me from my work to let me know we need to give a deposit for our site. This means making a firm commitment to do this. After a few question, I agreed and said, “I don’t know how this is going to work out but I am trusting God to work out the details.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ Jer 29:11 (NIV)


Later than night (7/31) I was checking my email and found one from Rachel Dekker. I never get an email from Rachel Dekker. She is the oldest daughter of Ted Dekker, who is one of my favorite Christian authors. They have my email address from an on-line Bible study I recently completed, The Forgotten Way. Her email describes a scenario where she needs to step out of her comfort zone (room) to complete a task at hand.  I am hoping she will give me permission to share her message in a future blog post. Trust me when I say, her email was a huge affirmation of our decision.

Then this morning (8/4) my daily inspirational message said:

I declare Faith over fear.
Isa 41:10-13
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

One Sure Thing

When God speaks, He is clear. Affirmations surround us and help us stay focused on completing the task set before us. Initially, Carol was not convinced Corpus Christi would be the destination. Once God settled that in her heart, we knew this was our next calling.

We certainly do not know all the details yet, but we know who holds all the details. God’s timing is perfect as are His plans. We place our trust in Him and not our own understanding (Prov 3:5-6).

For us, it is time to changes rooms. I appreciate the support and encouragement that comes from family and friends. Please continue praying for us as we prepare to make this change.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.






Going Live in 2012

Going live is a term that identifies when a transition from the old to the new will take place. For about a year now, we have been shouting about Going live in 2012. At first this was a target date for retirement. God had other plans and moved that up to March 2011 for me and December 2010 for Carol. Since retiring, we have purchased our new home on wheels and developed a plan to hit the road in 2012 –  thus our Go Live date of 2012 would be when we transition from living in a house to living in our RV.

To hit the target date, we needed to have a plan to do something with our house and we needed confirmed plans for what we are going to do in 2012.

For the house, we originally planned to have our daughter and grandson rent the house from us for a couple of years but then decided that was not a good idea because of typical home maintenance and utility expenses. We met with a realtor who felt our house would move quickly even in today’s depressed housing market. So, with a task list in hand we began the process of fixing up the old place and are culling through years of stuff. Our two daughters will be taking what they want in the next 30 days and the rest will go away either by way of estate sale or give away. Yes that includes my 900 square foot wood shop. My brother is interested in some of the shop equipment so if you are interested, let me know by completing the Contact Us section of this blog.

For the work we will be doing in 2012, we have confirmed commitments through October.

Nomads LogoFrom Jan 9 through Feb 16, we will be working with NOMADS. This is a ministry of the United Methodist Church. Through this group, we will be working at two churches close to Corpus Christi.

Safe Harbor 2We will then take a trip to Maysville, North Carolina about 100 miles southeast of Raleigh, NC. We will be volunteering at Safe Harbor Farm during the month of March. They are a K-9 Rescue, Rehabilitation and Rehoming organization who follow Cesar Millan’s principles for rehabilitating animals. Working with the animals and working on the facilities seems like a good match for what we enjoy doing.

Then from April through October we will be volunteering at Windy Valley Llama Farms in Blue Ridge, GA.  This is a working farm about 100 miles north of Atlanta, GA where the owners breed and raise show quality Llamas. The owner said that while we work at the farm the llamas will find their way into our hearts and that our life will find a sense of peace that we  may have never experienced before. To me this sounds like the peace we’ve felt being at Live Oak Ranch, Carol’s brother’s place on the Guadalupe River just north of New Braunfels, TX.

You might wonder how we found these places.  About the middle of 2010 we were in the dreaming phase of our retirement planning.  As I searched the Internet for different opportunities, I began by asking God to show me what He wanted us to do in retirement.  When I shared Windy Valley Llama Farms with Carol in 2010, she said, “I wonder if they will need help when we get on the road.” As we were searching for cool places to work in 2012, God once again brought this place to me. I sent them an inquiry and received a reply. The owner told us that the couple who had committed for the April-October period was unable to come so that left an opening. I call that a divine appointment.

All I can say is God is good! We are excited about our Go Live in 2012. More to follow.

Retirement Day

Friday March 4 is here and that means I am officially retired.  That does not mean I am no longer working. It means after 15 years I am shifting gears. In my previous post I described an emotional journey that led to my decision to announce my retirement.  While this was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make, I am excited about the opportunities I will face.

Fifteen years ago I was unemployed and not sure what I was going to do next. I did a lot of soul searching and praying asking God to speak to me in a clear and precise voice.  He did that through a book I bought because I liked the title.  The book? What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles.  This book is a practical guide for finding meaningful work and more importantly how to find your passion.  The appendix of the book put a spiritual spin on the process.  This is where God spoke to me loud and clear. Below are the words Robert Bolles wrote.

  1. Your first Mission here on Earth is one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is shared: and it is to seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the One from whom your Mission is derived. The Missioner before the Mission, is the rule. In religious language, your Mission here is: to know God, and enjoy Him forever, and to see His hand in all His works.
  2. Second, once you have begun doing that in an earnest way, your second Mission on Earth is also one that you share with the rest of the human race, but it is no less your individual Mission for the fact that it is share: and that is, to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God’s Spirit within you and around you.
  3. Third, once you have begun doing that in a serious way, your third Mission here on Earth is one that is uniquely yours, and that is:
    • To exercise the Talent that you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use,
    • In the place(s) or setting(s) that God caused to appeal to you the most,
    • And for those purposes that God most needs to have done in the world.

Once God spoke, and I acknowledge His message, I found a job listing in the local newspaper advertising for a computer trainer.  I submitted my resume believing I could do the job even though I had no experience as a  computer trainer.  In fact, I had no experience as an educator other than teaching Bible study lessons to adults in my church. I got the job teaching computer classes at Driscoll Children’s Hospital and the rest, as they say, was history.

For the past 15 years, my Modus Operandi has been a paraphrase of Mr. Bolle’s words above.

  1. Glorify God in all you do, think, and say (1 Cor 10:31)
  2. Pay attention to your shadow for this is what follows you, it is what you leave behind; hopefully God’s goodness and love. (Ps 23)
  3. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)
While I am sad to leave many wonderful and dear friends, I am excited about retirement. I am more certain today that this is all in God’s plan for me. Monday, March 6th begins a new adventure.
I leave you with the following quote from the Charles M. Schultz.
“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”
Perhaps it time for some of you to learn to shift gears.

Emotional Journey

My wife and I decided to spend New Year’s weekend with her family in San Antonio. During the weekend, I took a look at my year end retirement plan. I was pleased to see that my 403b had done better than expected. So much better that I thought I would surprise my family with an announcement. Sitting out on the deck with the cold north wind blowing down on us, I announced that I feel confident that I can move my planned retirement date from 2012 to mid 2011. This, of course, was met with excitement from Carol and others. Little did I know that this would also be the start of an emotional journey none like I’ve ever experienced. You see, God also heard my announcement so he began speaking a little stronger to me.

Monday Jan 3

I read a devotional email from John Eldridge ministries. I felt the title “An Adventure Begins” was a message to me directly from God. The article said, “An adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose. He’s right about that, you admit. Alice wasn’t looking for Wonderland when she fell through the looking glass. Come to think of it, the four children just stumbled into Narnia through the back of the wardrobe.” This goes along with the main premise of Rick Warrens Purpose Driven ministry; God made me for a purpose, God made me for His purpose.
That evening, I read an entry from an RV dreamer (Terry Miller from Oklahoma) on RV-Dreams Forum . He announced that he had started a blog on Jan 1. So I went to his blog Ingoring The Barking Dogs to take a look. On the opening page of his blog, he wrote, “It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn’t see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives. “ God spoke to me and said very clearly, “Jerry, I have given you a pioneering spirit, a dream and a passion. I cannot guide you on the journey unless you are willing to take the first step.

Tuesday Jan 4

Tuesday’s devotional from John Eldridge, “A Passionate Voice Within”, said “Some years into our spiritual journey, after the waves of anticipation that mark the beginning of any pilgrimage have begun to ebb into life’s middle years of service and busyness, a voice speaks to us in the midst of all we are doing. There is something missing in all of this, it suggests. There is something more. “
The devotional ended with, “Sometime later, the voice in our heart dares to speak to us again, more insistently this time. Listen to me-there is something missing in all this. You long to be in a love affair, an adventure. You were made for something more. You know it.“

Wednesday Jan 5

Wednesday’s devotional from John Eldridge, “A Distant Whisper”, discussed that most Christians do not have the advantage of a mentor like Samuel had in Eli. We may hear the voice of God early in the morning but by the time we start our day, the screaming activities of our daily grind silence the voice – and we miss God’s message. We need to be like Samuel and heed the message. Yes, Lord, I know.

Monday Jan 10

I took Monday off because I had several personal appointments that needed tending. I enjoyed the relaxing day and got everything done. I jokingly called it a day to practice retirement.

Wednesday Jan 12

After I got to my office on Wednesday, I felt like God had spoken to me in clear messages daily only I was not listening to His message. When one of my dear friends came into my office, I felt a need to explain all that had happened since the beginning of the year. My friend listened with a sincere and understanding heart. After a long chat, I had a clear vision of what I had to do. I ended our conversation saying, “I know what I need to do.” That afternoon, I read a blog from another friend Alene Snodgrass from Corpus Christi. Her blog title “Don’t Miss the Miracles” was a complete message in itself. I knew without questions that God is up to something and I am part of that something.
Wednesday evening after dinner, I shared this emotional journey with my wife and daughter. There were tears of joy as I shared how God had been speaking to me by various means. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Monday Jan 17

When I got to my office on Monday, I wrote a memo to my boss that simply said I had decided to retire from Driscoll Children’s Hospital effective March 4, 2011. Just like that, in a simple message, I announced that it was time to close one chapter and begin a new one. The Prince of Peace brought me comfort. I felt Him touch my heart and say, “Now I can do in you what I’ve planned from the beginning.”

2010 -> 2011

Once again New Year’s eve is upon us. 2010 has been an exciting year. We are getting closer and closer to retirement. The reality of this will occur at the end of this week when my DW retires. Before I get into that, I want to tell you about a trip we took on Monday 12/27.

The internet is a great place to find information quickly. As I was researching about a group called NOMADS, I came across another RV traveler – Jim and Kit Bertelsen. I enjoyed reading about their NOMADS experience so I continued reading their blog. Their current gig is guarding the gate leading to a drilling operation near the town of Crystal City. I said to myself, “Self, we need to go visit the Bertelsens.” So I emailed them to ask if they would be available to receive visitors on 12/27. They said sure so we took off for their location. The blue line in the map below shows our route. From our house to theirs was 198 miles – one way.

All I will say about the road trip is that Texas FM 624 from Orange Grove to Cotulla is 103 miles of nothing but miles. Lots of ranches and a few farms along that route. We did see several gate guarding RVers along the route. Because of the large number of drilling operations along this route, we also encountered many 18-wheelers hauling drilling stuff in and out of the sites. This explains why this is such a rough stretch or highway. No chance of sleeping at the wheel here since the road did a good job of tossing us around a bit.

We arrived at the Bertelsen’s location shortly after 2 and stayed for a couple of hours. From the first handshake and hug to our departure, we never felt like strangers. Jim and Kit shared their experiences as RVers. The information we gleaned was well worth the travel time and bumpy route. Plus we got to meet another RV couple we can now call family. Say hello to Jim and Kit (That’s DW and Gage our grandson to the left of the Bertelsens.)

We said “see ya later”, and hit the road back to Corpus Christi.

Tuesday began the final week at work for DW. Carol has faithfully worked for many years in a variety of jobs in different fields. She is a people person who has had many opportunities to minister to people God has placed in her path. Beginning next year she begins working for free. We all know that retirement does not mean “not working”, it means focusing on different objectives. In 2011, DW will begin the daunting task of downsizing our household. This is not just for her, but for us. We still have a lot of stuff that will not fit in our future home. So begins the process of getting rid of stuff, deciding what stays or goes; deciding to give it away or hold a garage sale. While I will continue working, I too will be working along side her.

Carol will finally have an opportunity to participate in some of the ladies activities at the Summit Church in Corpus Christi. She will have an opportunity to work on some craft projects that have been put on hold. And she will have an opportunity to spend some quality time with our grandson Gage.