RV Home Church & Camp Fire Recovery

I recently had two friends ask me what we were doing about church while living in our RV? That’s a great question! “Thank you” to L.T. from CA, and B.M.M. from TN, for asking! Prior to living in an RV, we attended church quite regularly. If you’ve been following us for awhile, you might already know that our faith is a pretty big deal to us. Lately, we’ve been having a home church with our family in our RV.

One of the biggest reasons we are doing family church in the RV, instead of visiting local churches is because of my current emotional state. I just can’t go to church right now. One of the first things people ask when you visit a church is, “Where are you from?” People ask that question at museums and National Parks, and other places too. But at church, everyone is so nice, and so caring and everyone wants to hear our story and offer us condolences. People are just being wonderful, and thoughtful, and kind. I’m sure that is exactly what some Camp Fire survivors need most, but I can’t handle it. It’s just too hard to re-live the whole thing with strangers, even well-meaning strangers. I can’t handle people feeling sorry for me or looking at me like I’m a victim. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. Most of all, I can’t handle other people’s emotional reactions to my trauma. I don’t have the emotional strength to console strangers when they tear up over my loss. When people do that, I’m forced to put on a brave face, and assure them that we’re okay. It’s too much work for me right now.

I may be a survivor, but sometimes I feel like an emotional wreck too. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to fall asleep at night. Sometimes, I have a hard time controlling my temper. Sometimes, I startle easily. Sometimes I have moments of intense anxiety for no reason.

Sometimes, something triggers intense anxiety. For example, a few days ago, the kids and I saw an emergency road sign that read, “extreme fire danger today” (S read it aloud). I had to deep breathe myself back to the Winnebago holding back tears. The kids couldn’t go to sleep that night. I couldn’t go to sleep that night. It was awful. We were so worried that there would be a fire in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. Of course, I didn’t express my own concerns to the kiddos. B and K started crying at bedtime and I told E (privately) that I felt the same way they did after seeing that emergency sign on the highway. This is very unpleasant, inconvenient and frustrating (insert any expletive you wish, here)!

About a month after the fire, my friend L.T., sent me this graph of emotional responses after experiencing a catastrophic event. It has been really helpful for me, and I refer to it often. It’s nice to see, in print, that there are highs and lows and plateaus. It’s helpful to remember that lots of other people have gone through this. It’s not just me, I’m not crazy, and I’m not doing anything wrong. The graph is from, Compassion Based Mindfulness.

There’s a spot in about the middle of the graph labeled “Trigger Events”. We seem to be right about there.

So, back to the church question, here’s what we’re doing for our RV family home-church:

  • We watch a song or two on YouTube and sing along. This is the “kiddo-attention-grabber”. When I start playing a song on my phone with YouTube, everyone stops what they’re doing and comes over to watch & sing. Our kiddos love it!
  • I read a “day” from the book, Long Story Short by Marty Machowski. This book is intended to be a daily devotional and it has weekly studies broken up into 5 days per study. We read one day per week.

  • We read the corresponding Bible passage that goes with the devotional and any extra little boxes that correspond to the study. We really like the kids Adventure Bible because it has full color illustrations and little extra nuggets of information in boxes titled, “People in Bible Times”, “Did You Know?”, and “Live It!”. It also has a few full color spreads. Like this:

  • We pray.
  • We say the weekly memory verse.
  • The kids do “the next stop on the map” in the You Version Bible App for Kids, on my phone.

  • Sometimes we watch a What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver dvd.
  • Sometimes we go for a hike.

Of course, E and I feel completely unqualified to lead church, even if it is just our family. We have faith that our God is big enough to make up for our inadequacies. We certainly aren’t sure that we’re doing the right thing for our kiddos. We are doing our best, and for now, that’s going to have to be good enough.

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