our life, upended...

Joy Follows is Noah Star + Julie Jane, and sometimes little Moses Moon...

Even before that first kiss, we somehow knew we were meant to make beautiful music together, but as it is with Seattle traffic in particular and most of life in general, getting there often takes far longer than anticipated on a road riddled with potholes. The Spring of 2013 found us just minding our own business, cozied up at home, deeply in love, and thoroughly exhausted by life. It wasn't exactly out of the blue, but our lives were abruptly upended when someone spoke that most horrible word: cancer. The six days between diagnosis and treatment might as well have been years. Desperate and just days away from four months of chemotherapy, we asked our friends and family to pray for an all out miracle and went back to church for the first time in far too long. I walked in feeling sick. I walked out feeling well.

In the months that followed we prayed a lifetime's worth of prayers and cried a lifetime's worth of tears. We spent those months believing the unbelievable and learning to trust in a good God who is able to turn even cancer into a good gift. I did not go to chemo, yet within four months I was cancer free! It was a slow miracle... healing my body, captivating our hearts, and utterly upending our all-too-comfortable little life.

The day we got the good news was the day we quit our income. Within three weeks, we had rented out our place, packed up our things (and Moses, our not-quite-two year old son), moved out of our home, moved into the mid-80's camper van we'd literally just purchased, and driven away. It has been the most amazing, most aggravating, most unexpected adventure... with countless new friends and epic challenges and beautiful memories all along the way.

The year after I was declared cancer free in late August of 2013 was unprecedented: 9 western states, 14 countries, 20K miles in a VW van, and 30,000 photos. After months on the road during an impossibly cold winter, we found ourselves heading to Jerusalem, where we spent 11 life changing weeks making music, falling in love with that glorious place, and writing many, many new songs. We left that city on a hill just one day before the relative peace in Jerusalem was shattered, and headed for Europe, where we traveled anywhere and everywhere in yet another VW camper van. For six weeks we sang over towns and cities from Copenhagen to Prague to Rome. We worshiped on mountaintops, from the northernmost point of Norway to the highest meadows in Austria to the tallest mountain in Switzerland...

After settling back into our home, it didn't take long before we realized that very idea of home had dramatically changed, as had we... and the mountains continued to call our names. In the Spring of 2015, we downsized dramatically and moved 90 miles north of Seattle to the gateway to the glorious Northern Cascade mountains in the Skagit Valley to Noah's home town of Marblemount. We bought a flatbed trailer, a few windows and doors, and began building the tiny house on wheels we'd been joking about for over eight years...

So we find ourselves now out on yet another long limb: laboring to enter into rest and making music while fashioning our own little tinytopia. What you'll find below is our story, which begins in the middle and which we hope will end with yet another new beginning. We pray our music and tiny adventures will inspire you to find your own wild faith and chase after your own crazy dreams...

not all who wander are lost... july 2014.

Nothing is ever as it seems with us, it seems. Who knew a baby would lead to a cancer, would lead to healing, would lead to choosing to live without an actual home, would lead to wandering to and fro from closer-than-I've-ever-been-to-the-tropics to well within the arctic circle, and from many high mountains and deep oceans to dry deserts and stormy seas...

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in the land of the midnight sun. june 2014.

We blew through Germany and quickly wound our way up through Denmark. Our destination was at the very top of Norway on the tiny island of Nordkapp -- the northernmost point in Western Europe. A much different kind of high place than we'd envisioned when this whole thing began, but certainly a high place geographically...

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a life again upended... june 2014.

We drive to Tel Aviv, fly to Zurich, and take a night train to Bonn (Germany) and, as usual, Little Buddy is at the top of his game. We somehow muddle our way through two airports and three train stations without the benefit of our trusty car seat wheels. It is painful (literally) and we make it, but had we lingered even 10 seconds longer at the baggage claim we most certainly wouldn't have.

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shalom from jerusalem! april + may 2014.

Seattle to Chicago. Chicago to Zurich. Zurich to Tel Aviv. Just getting here was a big adventure but went surprisingly well. Little Buddy is the only one who got any real sleep on the planes. He is such an amazing traveller! The only time he lost it was going through immigration after arriving in Israel. The woman making the decision as to whether to let us through, lock us up, or send us home was really giving us the shake down and clearly not letting us through when, as she telephoned her superiors, Little Buddy threw his first ever all out hissy fit. He'd done a bit of back arching and such before but this was the real deal. We were both beyond shocked and didn't really know what to do, so we just sort of stood and stared and held our breath. He didn't let up until the woman hung up and handed back our passports and begrudgingly said, "okay," at which point Little Buddy was suddenly back to his sweet self, though slightly bewildered, and repeatedly asking, "why did I do that?"

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january 2014.

The first day of January found us heading north from Austin. It turned out that our dear friend Andrea, who was one of the many exchange students The Music Man's parents had over the years, and his lovely wife Sarah were in Dallas over the holidays and reached out to see if we were in the area. Just picture it: he's Italian and loves Texmex, she's Texan and loves Italian. They are a match made in heaven...

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december 2013.

We left Redding and headed to south Sacramento to see one of The Music Man's best-but-seen-not-nearly-often-enough-friends: PJ. It always warms my heart to see those two boys together... it's actually even cuter than watching our cute kids together. The boys played so hard at the park that The Music Man was too queasy to touch his dinner...

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october 2013.

My weekly post-cancer blood tests show my levels continuing to taper off towards undetectable, with the last count down to one-point-three. Doctor Two simply says, "well... I guess sometimes these things happen." It is almost a question and the answer is yes.

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the remnants of september 2013.

September 20 rolls around all too soon and we do it: we drive away. We barely (just barely) survive moving out of our apartment, moving into the Vanagon, selling Ruby (the world's cutest vintage Volvo), getting renters, and tending to a thousand unbearable details that it's better for all of us if I fail to mention.

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sunday, september 8, 2013.

I arrive at The Music Man's work with Little Buddy so we can join him at his going away party. I foolishly check my iPhone and discover the school has made a decision about our pending applications: we have not been accepted. Wow. My first thought is, "ha ha, God… very funny!"

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saturday, august 31, 2013.

I hold close our beloved feline friend as The Music Man drives us to the veterinarian. He has been with me for 12 years and sick for the last three, but in recent weeks he has deteriorated to the point of pain. We want him with us but it is selfishness to prolong his suffering for our own comfort. He purrs clear and strong as I pet soft and swallow hard. This is the moment I get the call: I am cancer free.

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saturday, august 24, 2013.

The many mountainous threads winding their way throughout our lives somehow intersect and suddenly things start to make sense. After three words about mountaintops, we decide not to wait until full healing comes before stepping into this story God is telling us he wants to write with our lives. We pick a place we've never been before: an easy hike with a big payoff. We pack a tiny person and our Guild J30 (J stands for Jumbo), as well as a few essentials, such as avocados and smoked oysters, then head for the hills. I'm afraid we've never been great at traveling light.

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friday, august 9, 2013.

The days are both dark and lovely. Our life teems with life. All is well but I am utterly at the end of my rope. I am spent. I am brand new. I have not a single drop left to give. I feel the thrill of this roller coaster ride. I am stretching so much farther than I ever imagined myself capable of being stretched... and then some. I feel the mixed emotions inherent in laying my heart bare before eager onlookers.

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sunday, july 21, 2013.

After returning from our trip, my blood work shows that my hCG is up slightly (hCG 3084). I really don't want to go to surgery, and I'm not sure why I'm going or what I hope it will accomplish, knowing my womb is already empty and the growth is buried deep and cannot be scraped away... but I go anyway.

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sunday, july 14, 2013.

While Doctor Two is on vacation, I am home and hard at work, researching. I decide to dabble in essential oils and cannabis. The essential oils nearly break the bank, but if frankincense and myrrh are good enough for the sweet baby Jesus, I'm willing to give them a go.

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tuesday, june 25, 2013.

We decide to risk the wrath of our friends and family. We ditch chemo... again. I wake up the day after our appointment with Doctor Two with a very bad feeling. It isn't the dread of chemo, it's that feeling you get when you first realize you've made a horrible mistake. Like that moment when the harsh reality of natural childbirth sets in and you wonder (hopefully, only for a few fleeting moments) if you've... well, if you've made a horrible mistake!

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wednesday, june 12, 2013.

Shortly after being canned by Doctor One, I request a copy of my medical file from SCCA and submit my appeal for a new oncologist. I find numerous glaring errors in my file, and discover I am supposed to have had an MRI after my last ultrasound shows a particularly concerning issue. No one orders the test. No one even bothers to tell me.

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