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What I’ve been up to (the offline edition)

It’s been kinda hard to write here since we’ve been back from our travels—not because I don’t have anything to share, mind you; I’m filled to the brim with thoughts and ideas, and I’m eager to transfer them from brain to screen.

No, it’s been hard to hit publish here for one simple reason: we’ve had a lot going on in our offline life, the stuff in the 3D world I haven’t really shared. (You know—the real world.) And when part of me is filled to the overwhelm, I tend to freeze as a writer.

Don’t get me wrong—writing does help me process, and my near-daily journaling routine has been my salve. But my brain has been flustered, what with all that’s required of it these days. There is much to think about right now. And so, my posts these weeks have been safe and a bit distant.

Quite a few of you have asked how we’re doing post-trip, so this week I thought I’d share a bit more on our end. There’s still plenty I’m keeping under wraps, but I miss writing more openly, and I want my upcoming posts that will undoubtedly wade through a smattering of uncertainty to sit on a foundation of authenticity. (Plus, I’m excited to tell you what we’re up to.)

So, in this post, I share some news.

We’ve been back from our travels for a little over a month, and for the most part, we’re readjusting well to Stateside culture. (For those of you curious, reverse culture shock is a real thing.) These weeks have been spent with family and friends, just as we wanted for our return. It’s been good.

You might remember that we sold our house before our big trip, a decision made for the simple reason that we realized we’d put the house on the market even if we weren’t about to travel. It was a good move, but we knew what that meant about our return: we’d come back to our home country with no real place to call home. We’d have to continue our nomadic ways until we…. Well, until we knew what was next. We’d have to transition from a posture of world exploration to MLS searches and number crunching.

It’s been wearying.

kids in sri lanka
The kids earlier this year at the train station in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

And so, we’re still living out of the same backpacks we’ve carried since the end of last summer, with the same few belongings (plus a few new things—a fresh shirt or two brightens anyone’s day after months and months of the same three). We’re still nomadic, living with friends or family or in guesthouses. We left our trip’s last stop in London and returned to Oregon, stayed a week, bought a new-to-us car (I know!), then tested it out with a little roadtrip to Texas. We’re basically still on our trip.

A key difference, however, is this: we’re not exploring the sites right now. We’re exploring what’s next for us. We’re in a family transition.

Another reason we sold before we left is that we had a suspicion the trip would serve as more than a lesson in geography and culture. We’d wade in to the depths of who we really are, into our cores, stripped of usual dependencies like physical stuff and knowing where we were from and what we did for work. We felt that completely leaving our house would aid in that process of deeper self-discovery. And it did, more than we ever suspected.

We ended our trip unsure about the basic answers to questions like “where?” and “how?”, but were certain about one thing:

We want to run a guesthouse. Yep.

We want it to serve as a resting place for people who serve in difficult places overseas, almost never take breaks, and could use a respite.

We also want it to serve as a quiet space for fellow writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and other creatives to work on deadlines, brainstorm new projects, and re-light their spirits.

And we want it to be a family business. Our family’s next venture.

reed in zimbabwe
Our middle guy, doing his schoolwork this past February at our guesthouse in Zimbabwe.

So, this is what we’re up to—we’re in search of the right place. While we’re open to doing this anywhere in the world (literally), we’ve decided that for now, Stateside is best for our family. There are other specifics too, which I’ll share later, but we’ve narrowed it down to our two favorite home bases: Bend and Austin. Where our family already has roots, and where we can re-plant easily.

We’ll have news to share soon, and we’re eager to finally move forward. In the meantime, this has meant guesthouse living, a continued nomadic lifestyle, an inability to make specific plans for the future (“Sure, we’ll sign you up for music lessons… soon”), and dreaming of our own mattresses, still waiting for us in storage.

There is much, much to be said for everyday life, seeped in the quotidian tasks of soup-making and karate practice, and we’re eager for its soon return.

But for now, we wait. And make plans. We bond over the shared memories of worldwide adventure, dream about our next far-off trip (because you know we’ll always travel), and brainstorm the details of this upcoming guesthouse. Life’s a bit messy right now. It happens sometimes.

And if you’re in a messy, unsure, everything’s-up-in-the-air sort of season, too, know that I’m right there with you. I get it. I clink my glass of iced tea to you, and offer you this simple thing I’m learning from firsthand experience:

It won’t last forever. And you’ll have just what you need when the next steps are ready for you. It’s what I’m holding on to.

(If you’d like to know more details about our plans, I’ll share more in my newsletter. You’re welcome to join the collective of readers there, if you haven’t yet. It’s my favorite place to write.)

Reading Time:

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  1. Ronnica, Striving Stewardess

    That’s awesome, Tsh! I know the in-between times are tough, but at least for me, they have been the times I’ve seen the most personal growth in my life. May God give you peace in your decision, wherever you land.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Absolutely to the personal growth – t’is the same for me.

  2. Wendy

    How very cool is that! What a perfect business idea for your family; it will all come together, but it’s tough to wade through the waiting. Can’t wait to hear more!

  3. Desiree Fawn

    This is so wonderful! What a beautiful next step — I look forward to following your journey!!

  4. Rebecca

    Am I the only waiting for “Tales from the Guesthouse” – a compilation of writing completed at your new venture?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ha! Not a bad idea. 🙂

  5. Jenn Ott

    Brilliant! Your previous experiences overseas, your travels as a family, and your beautiful soul make this next adventure sound like a dream. We are currently transitioning our family of 6 to Zambia. It has been TOUGH. And it’s not going to get easier. Maybe by the time we gave our first furlough, your guest home will be ready for us? That would be a dream-come-true!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! We’d love any reader who could use this space to come and enjoy. And thanks for your kind words!

  6. Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life

    I love the guesthouse idea. I’ve always had a dream of opening up a little cafe when my kids are older, but I think that running a guesthouse would be a great experience as well. It seems like it would be a wonderful fit for you and your family. I look forward to reading more about it, and I hope that you all can settle down and be sleeping on your own mattresses before too much longer!

  7. Cara Thompson

    This is so exciting! I can’t wait to read more about the guesthouse adventure! In the meantime, I can appreciate the eagerness to move forward and constant “holding pattern” of temporary living. We just recently bought a home and now we are remodeling it. The “already but not yet” feeling is strong. We have it but we aren’t in it. We see the end, but we still have a lot of work to do to get there.

    I hope your plans come together smoothly and with much comfort and peace. What a blessing you are going to be to so many who will need that calm of being in a space where people live on purpose.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks! And yes, that holding pattern can get tough, eh? Hope it goes well for you.

  8. Kariane

    How exciting! I love that your travels enabled you to step away and reassess everything. What an amazing season of discovery.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes, we are incredibly grateful for that!

  9. Mary Kay

    Love this! All of it. And if you set up shop in either Bend or Austin, I will make it a personal goal to stay in your guest house–I can already imagine how it would feel to be there (restorative, peaceful, welcoming, and inspirational!) Good luck with everything!!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We’d love that!

  10. Amy

    What a fantastic adventure! That sounds like such a fun thing to tackle as a family, and such a needed service to provide for people. Just out of curiosity – how would you go about finding a place like that as a consumer? My husband and I are three years into church planting, and our sending church has graciously granted us the month of July as a sabbatical. We would love to find somewhere to retreat for a bit, even for a weekend, but the idea of spending more than a few hours in a hotel makes both of us feel stir crazy. We would love to find something that is more of a house or a cabin where we could really step back from life, relax, and pray.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Well, you could go rogue and make your own weekend out of it, finding a place on something like Airbnb or HomeAway—this is what we did almost exclusively during our travels, and it went great. But, if you’re looking for a more official guesthouse for ministry workers, Kyle does media work for Life Impact—they’re not everywhere yet, because they’re still on the young side, but it’s been exciting to hear about the work they do. We stayed at one of their places years ago, and loved it.

  11. jessica

    When my husband was a pastor we took advantage of some wonderful people running amazing ministeries. One was Pastor’s Retreat Network. Another was a couple in Tennessee who offered a cabin space for a minimal cost. Search for pastor retreat and you should get some results. God Bless.

  12. Karen

    Oh man!! So AWESOME! This is my passion and purpose to pour in to those who serve overseas (and locally) and pour out their lives day in and day out!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Fantastic, Karen!

  13. Marjolaine

    This is so exciting. I’ve read your book Organized Simplicity a few years ago. Been reading it again now and just discovered your blog. It’s exciting to see where life is taking you and your family. I hear Bend is a great place to live. Don’t know much about Austin. But I’m sure wherever you end up will be a perfect fit for you.
    Can’t wait to read more about this adventure! 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Welcome! Glad you’ve found this space.

  14. Dulcimer

    What a wonderful exciting opportunity and ministry for your family! This is actually something that my husband and I have discussed for years — I guess we envision more of a farm/family monastery idea than just a guest house but we dream a little tooooo big a lot of the time. 🙂 I look forward to reading more about this adventure, and I echo someone else’s question: how do you go about finding such a place for respite as a “consumer”? We’re in a really intense time with our local congregation too and have talked about the need for a sabbatical even though we’re not paid staff. But when I search for places to go, I can’t find much of anything.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I guess it just depends on what you’re looking for. A simple guest house where you can escape your everyday life? I’d recommend the places I mentioned in this comment.

      Referring to something else? Feel free to reply again and I’ll see if I can better answer your question. 🙂

  15. Heather

    Your soon to be home sounds like “Breathing Space” 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider


  16. Gen Smith

    Tsh! How can I possibly say how much I needed to read your words today! Especially the last few paragraphs; I call it living in the land of in between or in limbo land and was just sharing with my husband yesterday on a drive along the coast (talking out some of our dreams and plans) that I have lived so very much of my life (as a child with no choice of my own and often as an adult in seasons of transition) in the land of in between. Now with a later in life child to raise and aging parents to care for we are once again in that season and I’ve chafed against it more in my forties than in younger years. My heart has felt weary and so ready for the new season to begin, the transition to give way to settling in and to putting down roots for our little family. I so appreciate the reminder that this will be over soon enough and the timing and things we have need of will present themselves at the right time; they always do. So thank you once again for the transparency and sharing your own journey, I’m certain we aren’t the only ones needing to hear them today. On another note, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the South Pacific, in Asia and Kenya, we also stayed in guest houses and loved the respite and quiet, often quick connections we made. We’d have loved to return stateside to a guest house here. We will be planning on staying in your family’s one in the future. Hoping you might be led to do so in Bend; we can imagine how restorative time in nature there would be for people. Grace to you on your journey and may your own season in the land of in between be no longer than necessary!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m so glad they reached you, Gen! I had a suspicion I’m not the only one feeling rather “in between” lately. 🙂

  17. Rachel

    So cool! I love how you really think about your life in such a deliberate way – think & act I mean.

  18. Kim

    So grateful to you for sharing your journey, especially the messy and in-between transition times. Our family is among the countless who pull inspiration + ideas + assurance from your words. After a month on the road, we just reached a big decision about our crew’s next chapter. It took a glorious stretch of offline days in Denali to discern where + how we’re being called. I don’t think we would have reached the same decision if we’d never left home on this 3-month adventure, and I wouldn’t have embraced our trip quite so readily without the primer of AoS + AoS Travel. Big thanks for putting yourself + your family out there – it can’t be easy. Please know that day by day, you’re shifting the trajectory of your readers’ lives + their service (to family, to community…) for the better. PS – Our 11-year-old daughter discovered Notes from a Blue Bike on our Kindle during this trip – she’s been loving your words, + is enamored w/ the possibility of moving to Turkey + having our milk delivered to the door.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you so much for your encouragement here, Kim! It really does mean so much to me. Truly. Keeps me going.

      Also? This –> “It took a glorious stretch of offline days in Denali…” sounds like a DREAM. Dream, I tell ya. Hope it was magical.

  19. Michelle C

    I love it! We have actually had a very similar dream for ourselves as a way to have roots after our nomadic life but still be able to travel. Hey, if you ever need someone to step in and cover your guesthouse while you take a vacation, let us know!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Will do! Because yep, we absolutely plan to keep traveling.

  20. Kristin S

    Oh, that’s so exciting! As a weary just-back-from-months with 47 college students on a mission trip, I’m a pretty burned out missionary. What a gift to be led to run a respite place for weary ones.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We love the idea of providing a place for people just like you. 🙂

  21. Marilyn

    Hi Tsh, really identify with the uncertainties and transition you’re in at the moment. We lived and worked in Vanuatu for 2 years. It was lovely and hard and lonely and blessed with lovely locals. All that. And now we’re back in our house – we rented it out for 2 years. We couldn’t move in when we returned “home” as the traffic was so much closer, noisier, busier than we were used to in the past 2 years. But God is graciously enabling us to transition. People who haven’t had our experiences, yours and ours, don’t have the privilege of loving and living in another culture so intimately. So, along with the uncertainties of what our purpose is here, we are learning to be gracious with people who cant and don’t get reentry stress. We lived in PNG 6 years in the 90s, so it’s not a new thing. But God granted us this fresh experience so we could be aware of the member care gaps we experienced. I’m with a mission network seeking to provide training and fellowship for returnees and anyone involved with returnees. Thanks so much for your posts, always inspiring, interesting and engaging. God bless you in your waiting time – Paul Tripp wrote great article on lessons we learn in waiting. Love because of Him, Marilyn

  22. Rosemary

    I loved this. I have been homeless for a month+, with a 2 yr old and 5 mnth old and I don’t take it as well, and learn from it as much you all seem to. Instead I find myself winding up and winding up and winding up. We’ve stayed with my mum, and my dad and step mum, and moved the length of nz. Our home will be ready on saturday, and I’m hanging out for it, but I have learnt that I have a lot I need to work on.
    If we lived in America, I would stay in your guest hous for sure and certain.

  23. Laura

    Thanks for sharing about your next adventure and this phase you’re in now. We moved back stateside 3 months ago after almost 3 years in the Dominican Republic and we are still bouncing around living out of suitcases. We know where God’s leading us next, but it’s still going to be a few months until we get there (at least!). So it’s lots of moving around and packing and unpacking and telling our kids “soon” as well. Any advice for this season? Resources that have been helpful for you?

  24. Bek @ Just For Daisy

    Amazing news! You continue to inspire! I look forward to hearing more and perhaps one day we’ll make our way from Australia to you!

  25. Nicole Vickey

    One vote for Austin! I would love to have your heart and brain added to this city in a permanent way. Dinner Elf would love to cook for you when you land here, in simple repayment for your encouragement. If you need a good realtor, Paul Reddam of Homesville Realty comes with my highest reccomendation. He took my very specific list of musts and helped us land on a street that has more heart and community than I could have hoped for. Best wishes for a smooth transition into an exciting next chapter of adventure.

  26. Maggie

    I can only imagine how topsy turvy life must seem, but your story is so incredible. I can’t wait to hear more as you continue it. I’m really grateful that you share here 🙂

  27. Annie Barnett

    But the Hudson Valley is such a great spot for a guest house…..

  28. Simple Is The New Green

    Wow, this came at the perfect time for me! I am in a similar boat as you, sans children. I have been nomadic for a time and while I love it, it does get hard when you want to settle down for awhile.

  29. Leigh Kramer

    This sounds amazing, Tsh! I’m rooting for Bend now that I’m on the West Coast. I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds!

  30. Caroline TeSelle

    This is so exciting & I’m looking forward to following along & supporting you & your family however I can with this new venture! My husband & I have a similar dream to do this one day. In my my, the ocean is close by 🙂 but maybe it means starting where we live now…

  31. laura

    Yes! The world needs safe places… All the best to you as you take the next steps.

  32. Noelle B

    Georgetown, TX needs a guest house!!! We lived in Austin for 7 years and have been here for 3. It is such a sweet town and it is lacking in unique places to stay. And yet we can still get our homeschooled daughters into downtown Austin for museums, etc. with a 30 minute drive.

  33. Caroline Starr Rose

    I know things are topsy-turvy right now, but just know this outsider is cheering you on! What an exciting endeavor.

  34. Laura

    Before I had half read the words “we want to run a guesthouse” my heart had already done a little leap! If your guesthouse style is anything like your blog style, it will be a lovely respite for anyone. But as a missionary at a noisy children’s center in Mozambique, I know it will be amazing for those who need a break! Enjoy the process, it is sure to help you refine what you want to be known for! Bless you, Laura

  35. Naomi

    I live in Austin and have seen the housing market go crazy! I can’t imagine trying to buy a house/guesthouse here right now. Wimberley would be a nice (and cheaper!) place to run a guesthouse 🙂

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