Andrew & Ellen

Provision for the Journey

(Please listen to Andrew & Ellen’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.) Photo Credit Andrew Slaton

I’m Andrew, and I’m Ellen. We should say, ” and we’re the Slaytons!”

We decided to go on the road three years ago. We sold all our stuff, which was such a fun cleansing process. To get rid of excess, and get rid of things that we absolutely did not need and are taking up space, we moved into a 29-foot trailer with our two dogs, two large dogs, and a cat. And we hit the road and we’ve been on the road full time. We have a goal to hit up all of the national parks.

Before we hit the road, we were traveling around and taking like two to three week road trips and living out of our car. Just so that we could be out in nature, we could explore. And we both have this deep embedded desire in us to explore and to see new places and to travel. And I think that we definitely got the travel bug, it’s a very common thing these days. And so we decided to go on the road. And really, to be honest, one of the big, the main decisions for me to go on the road full time was my mental health issues. And as I’m sure you all heard, I’m bipolar. And I found that every time that I went on the road, and I was traveling around, that I was being… my level of anxiety was almost non-existent. And my mind was clear, I was calmer. It just had such a significant impact on my mental health.

And we used to every year go to Big Bend for my birthday, and we would dream. And we would talk about crazy dreams, what is like our deepest desires. To be so cheesy, it is a risk to follow your dreams. It’s a risk to pursue your heart’s desires without any guarantee of success. So the long for me road trip combined with the Big Bend dream time, we finally made the decision that we’re just going to give it a go. And we’re just going to try it.

The part of our story that stands out the most is just the Lord’s provision.

We left three years ago with zero dollars in savings. Not a penny in savings. And we just … I hate to say a calling, because I don’t know. I mean, we’re not in ministry or anything, but it just felt like he had created us to do this, at least right now. And, and he has given us manna every single day along the way. We’ve never been … I mean, we’ve had periods where we didn’t have any money. But we always had safety and food and water and, you know, the bare essentials. And we think that like money has not come through. And we would think that we can’t make it another day. And then we make it another day. And then we think we can’t make it another day. And then we make it another week. I mean like it’s always his timing– its’ always his timing. And so that’s the lesson that the Lord is very tenderly but very firmly drilling home in us is, do we trust him? And I can see how the Lord has been working on that these past three years of to something as simple but something as completely profound as releasing control to the Lord, completely trusting Him. And completely trusting him on a day-to-day basis.

How that reveals itself in my life is, do I allow myself to get super anxious about money? Because if I allow anxiety to control me, that shows that I’m not trusting the Lord. And so I feel like it’s a moment-by-moment fight. And it’s a moment-by-moment battle too. Anytime I stress about money–to change my brain and to reorient my brain,to trust the Lord to replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts, replace negative thoughts with thankfulness about how the Lord has provided for us. “Not that I’m speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low. And I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance I’ve learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” So anytime I struggle, I just repeat that verse to me. And, and it fights off anxiety. These are the lessons that we grew up in Sunday school learning and to, you know, fight anxiety with Scriptures, to trust the Lord. But those Sunday school lessons are really hitting home on the road, because we are so desperate, absolutely desperate for the Lord.

I wake up every morning, and I realize that I am so desperate for him and that there’s no way that we could do this without him. Andrew will plan and plan and he will market and he has all his different avenues of how to make money. And he will work his little hinny off. They all fail. They all fail. They fail all the time. What happens is the Lord…we’ll just get a random email from someone who wants a private workshop or random email from someone who wants to buy hundreds of dollars worth of prints. It is truly manna how the Lord provides for us and he always…we rarely get more than enough money, we usually get just enough money, We still don’t have any money in savings.

I don’t think we’ve had. It always really, I mean, both of us read through the Bible. And when we get to the, to the part about manna, it just rings true now like it never has. It’s a very beautiful picture of how the Lord cares for his people. But I feel like our story is just, I don’t know, I feel like we’re somewhere like at the beginning or the middle. And there’s, there’s just more to it. I feel like he’s preparing us for something. I don’t know what it is. And we pray about that a lot. Like Lord, what what would you have us do? And I don’t know what it is. But I feel like he’s giving us a voice with people who do not hear Him and who are very angry at him.

The kind of people we meet on the road are generally not seeking the Lord and or don’t know him. And, not always. We have some Christian friends that we meet. But it’s pretty rare. So I don’t know, I don’t we don’t know what the … I don’t want to speak for Andrew. But I know every time I do every year I do it a dream plan and I assess the past year and plan for the next year. And one of the questions that they ask is: What you will to be known for when you die? And very simply for me, but very deep rooted is I have a strong desire to impact people, to use my mental health issues and to use that for in my flesh to encourage other people and to make mental health issues not such a taboo. But to just start a dialogue about things that most people struggle with–anxiety, depression, and comparison, stress, busyness. For me, the Lord has provided this lifestyle, so that he could bring me up to encourage others. I’ve known my whole life, I don’t want to have children. That’s just not my path. And thankfully, praise the Lord, Andrew agrees on that. It would be very painful if he didn’t agree, but we both know that children is not for us in the way that the Lord has shown me that, he showed me that you’re not going to have children, but I’m going to give you, I’m going to free you up so that you can encourage other women and so that you can have the energy and the time to pour out into other people. So I see living on the road as a perfect platform to share my struggle and to maybe add a bright spot to someone’s day.

It is a joy to be dependent on Him. I think our natural tendency is we fight that. We want to be self sufficient, we want to feel in control. But it is definitely the Lord, He reminds me, very gently, to let go of control and to be dependent on Him.

Adam, I think I heard you talk about it in yours, you know, you had this desire for success and to be, you know, be recognized. I have that. Oh my gosh, it is ridiculous how deep that runs in me to be, you know, just get those words of affirmation, and oh, you’re a great photographer, Oh, I love this work that you’ve done. Oh, you’re, you know, all these things. And it’s … it doesn’t provide what we need. And it still it just leaves you wanting more. So I know the Lord is working on that with me and, and trust, you know, like we’ve talked about with with finances. And yeah, I just feel like we’re kind of like a big messy work in progress.

We are, you know, kind of thankful that we’re, we’re doing all of this, intense work away from people … doing it out in the middle of nowhere, by ourselves. And we see plenty of people, don’t we, but we keep we keep to ourselves. And just throughout this process. It’s like I said, I can’t say it enough. The Sunday school lessons that we’ve all heard are just really, really hitting home. And just how, what does faith look like on a day by day basis? What does that really mean? How does faith play out in our lives? How does that impact how we view situations? How does that impact how we interact with other people?

And sometimes I feel like we do that really well. And then sometimes we don’t. I mean, seriously, the Israelites had a cloud guiding them by day and fire by night. And they still grumbled, and they still did not trust the Lord. And that is so convicting to me, that the Lord is constantly doing miracles in our life, seriously, just how he provides, he provides in such a way that it gives us no doubt that it came from anywhere but him.

It’s clearly miraculous, it’s clearly miraculous, it’s nothing that we planned for. Nothing that we did, nothing that we did, we will just get jobs completely out of the blue. And, he does that. And he’s done that for three years. And so whenever it’s a rough patch, I grumble and I lose faith, and I get angry, and then very gently, the Lord will bring me back to him and he will provide, but it’s on his timing. And it’s just a matter of trusting in that timing and being patient while we wait, which is so hard to be patient while we wait.

Andrew and I have really good days with it. And we have really bad days with it. But I will say that things … that the lessons are finally slowly starting to hit home.

Whenever we set off on the road, we decided that we were going to give it just one year, and just see how we feel at the end of the year. And that is actually something that we continue to do is, every single year we check back in with each other and we’re like, Okay, what are our dreams? How are we pursuing those? Is living on the road worth all of the difficulty and the struggle and the pain?

And I feel like both of us, actually, I know that both of us every year, we come to the end of the year, and we decided that we want to keep going. We don’t know how long we’re going to do this. But we’re we’re still in it.

That’s kind of up to the Lord. I mean, he he keeps providing for us. And so it seems like we’ll pray, you know, often. Okay, Lord, is this what you would have us do? Because sometimes it feels, to me at least, like it’s selfish. Or, you know, what are we doing? You know, we’re pursuing these, these kind of desires that he’s put in us clearly. But is that really all it is, and I think I think we are continually struggling with that. Is that is it really all it is? The Lord will work on anyone anywhere, you know, of course, and you don’t have to be living on the road to, for the Lord to work on you. And I do feel like living on the road is a crash course and not …you are fragile, and you are forced to be dependent on him.

Releasing control, for me, was something that I really struggle with, of just releasing control. It’s not in my hands. It’s up to him and I’ve now slowly am getting to the place to where it’s a joy to be dependent on him. And I think our natural tendencies is that we fight that. We want to be self sufficient. We want to feel in control, we want to feel in control. And but it is definitely the Lord. He reminds me very gently to let go of control and to be dependent on him. We’ve gotten to the point where we pray about the moves that we make. And then the Lord generally will confirm it in both of us, but not really physically manifest, you know, the the way that it’s going to happen. But he always comes through every single time. So yeah, so that that’s kind of our priority. And yes, we pray about it. And then we just take a big step of faith. And, and that right there is like day to day, moment by moment faith.

But that is like …Ellen learned … we learned this from from Ellen’s grandmother. She is like one of the most faithful, wonderful prayer warriors we’ve ever met. And she gave us the best piece of advice that I think we’ve heard from anyone. And she said, Well, you can say it better. But it seems very simple, but it is actually really profound. She says we make our plan. We pray about our plan. And then if the Lord doesn’t want those plans to work out, then he’ll simply stop them. But otherwise, we move forward in faith on those plans.

And it’s like Ellen was saying is so simple, it says but I don’t I just I’ve never lived my life that way. And now I feel like we live our life that way on a daily basis. On a daily basis, for sure.

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