A Glimpse of Life on the Road – Living in Church Parking Lots

Most of the time in our travels we stay in the parking lots of the churches where Steve performs. Sometimes we spend one night; sometimes we stay in one place for a week or two and commute to venues. Many people are curious about the whole “living in church parking lots” thing. Apparently, that’s not what normal families do. 😉

Every church is different with what they have available and what they offer. Here’s a glimpse of one of the Arizona  churches where we stayed called Deer Valley Lutheran in…wait for it…Deer Valley.


Nancy, the amazing church secretary, instantly made us feel so. at. home! That’s a pretty big deal, since almost everywhere we go we’re strangers. Thank you Nancy! We love you! And we love the spices you sent with us! That’s a lotta love!


Oh, and thanks for being all sneaky with Christy’s mom and helping out with her birthday surprise.


We always love it when a church has a piano and lets us use it. Although we travel with three guitars, there simply wasn’t enough room for our Young Chang piano, and we had to leave it in storage. Sniff sniff. When there’s a piano at our disposal, you can rest assured that the keys will be moving almost the entire time we are there…with permission, of course!


Internet connections are also great, since we run the ministry and three blogs (including this one) online, and much of our homeschooling is online. When a church lets us use their Internet connection, we run less of a risk of going over our allotted monthly data. In other words, we save money.

Okay, so nobody’s using the Internet in this picture, but NORMALLY Hannah would be working on a computer while waiting for her turn on the keys.

We get equally giddy over libraries in churches and schools. Deer Valley had a library, too. Ahhhh, the smell of books.

We have a kitchen in our trailer, but it’s very, very small. The oven doesn’t fit a cookie sheet and is slower than molasses in Wisconsin. So we love it when a church opens up their kitchen to us. We especially love it when that means double ovens! Oh yeah!


Because that makes it easier to make things like this birthday dinner of fettuccine Alfredo, chicken, roasted broccoli, and garlic bread. Yum.


Those of you who know Christy can’t eat dairy may be wondering about the irony of this birthday meal…for her birthday…that she couldn’t eat. Ah, sweet irony. But look! Hannah’s dairy-free, sugarless, egg-free, double chocolate brownie cookies with homemade chocolate. Double yum!



Back to the tour.

The kids like to hunt down a playset…


…a nursery…


…and some dirt.


Occasionally a church has a teen room, which they open up for us to use as a family room. That’s great fun for us for movie night, a birthday party, or just lounging on the floor in our hot pink leisure suits.


Because we have limited tank space in our trailer, and in our bodies, we really appreciate it when churches offer their bathrooms for our use during our stay. You people might not get giddy over bathrooms, but, well, we get pretty excited when a church has a user-friendly, clean bathroom with soft toidy paper. Rebecca was especially excited about this one:


I’d like to say that we won’t be inundating you with bathroom pictures, but…nice bathrooms are a big deal to us, so you may see some again. Sorry.

The people are a huge part of our experience. Some churches go above and beyond to make us feel at home. You met Nancy. Pastor Luchterhand from Deer Valley is great. (Sorry, no picture, although Christy has pictures of his sister in her highschool yearbook. Small world.)

And this guy, Deacon Mike, is doing amazing things with the teens at his church. The teens made my girls feel right at home, actively welcoming them into their group and befriending them. Sadly, that’s not the norm out in the world. It sure made a difference to my girls, and as these teens grow up and spread out into other parts of the world, they will be doing amazing things for the Church! Rock on, Deacon!


Awww, Ellie-Bear, Mama’s comin’!

There you have it, life in a church parking lot! Some churches we barely set foot in apart from the worship services or concerts, while others we practically live in. It all depends on the timing and the church set-up. And, yes, we always try to leave it cleaner than when we arrived. Our mamas and grandmas taught us well!


  1. I am so greatful you spared us restroom pics but on ;the other hand I like the tile!
    On ward you guys go toot toot have more and more fun!

    1. There may be more restroom pics in the future! Bwaa haa haaa!

  2. Tammy

    Aahh!! You guys are living the dream!! What a blessing you are to many!
    Your birthday meal looked de-lish! Even if it was just cookies ;0)
    Hugs and hugs!

    1. Ha ha! I also ate chicken and broccoli. 🙂

  3. Nancy Leaverton

    Hi guys! You all were a blessing in my life! I so loved the brief time we spent- and I’m so happy you enjoyed your stay. Looking forward to your return to Deer Valley. See you soon!

    Nancy L

    1. Hi Nancy!

      We loved meeting you, too! Such a blessing! And we’re still totally enjoying those spices. Thank you!

      Love from The Travel Bags

  4. Deacon MIke

    Thank you for sharing your awesome family with us and your incredible music ministry! Your words are powerful and uplifting and may God continue to bless you and your family.
    Look forward to sharing our parking lot again with you all soon!

    1. Thanks, Deacon Mike! Save our spot–we’ll be back! 🙂

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