The Happy Janssens
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ::: Mark Twain
We are the "Happy Janssens"...Matt, Sara, Bella (8), and Lucy (almost 3). We started traveling in September 2007, when we embarked on the "Live Lightly Tour". For 18 months, we traveled the country (powered by straight vegetable oil), met new friends, educated others about living sustainably and fell in love with our beautiful country. We stopped traveling and "settled down" for a bit when Lucy was born, but now we're back on the road again...with no plans to stop anytime soon!
See below for the longer version of our story...
AKA: The Daddy. The Driver. The Fixer.
Favorite Food: Pad Thai
Favorite Places Visited: NYC, Redwoods, and Malibu
Matt loves: Great movies, playing guitar & leading worship, getting his hands dirty, making his girls laugh, and great campfires.
AKA: The Mama. The Photo Maker. The Planner.
Favorite Food: Watermelon and green lemonade.
Favorite Places Visited: The Redwood Forest, NYC, Oregon Coast, and Malibu
Sara loves: Making photos, snuggling her sweeties in bed, the sound of the ocean, meeting inspiring people, learning, staring at the stars, and being with family.
AKA: The Little Sunshine. The Twirler. The Smile Maker.
Favorite food: Cucumbers
Favorite Places Visited: The Beach, Bozeman, Brainerd, and Des Moines
Bella loves: Ice skating, going to the park, digging in the rocks, dancing, singing, making friends with everyone, and watching movies.
AKA: The Little Pumpkin. The Lucy Goosey. The Joy Bringer.
Favorite Food: Breastmilk
Favorite Places Visited: The Womb, The Sling, Where Bella is.
Lucy Loves: Crawling around the RV looking for tiny tiny pieces of lint to put in her mouth. She enjoys hanging upside down and pooping. But not at the same time. Making noises with her tongue is fun.
In April 2012, we welcomed Emmaline Claire into our family! This page has not been updated yet :)
The "long" version:
In the Summer of 2005, we were staying in a hotel for 4 weeks for business. We had a small suite that had a bedroom and a little kitchen. We realized while we were there that we were EXTREMELY HAPPY living in a smaller space. We liked knowing where Bella was at all times without searching. We liked that cleaning up only took a few minutes instead of an entire afternoon. It just clicked.
We talked about that for a long time and when we returned from our trip, we decided to sell our house (that we had just purchased a few months before)…and downsize everything. We spent entire weekends cleaning out our basement, selling things on eBay and Craigslist. Slowly, we came out from under our self-imposed weight of possessions.
In that time, we also had a strict budget and paid off all of our consumer debt (credit cards, cars, etc). It took one year…but by the end of that year, we had paid the debt, sold our house, and moved into a smaller apartment.
We were also reading a book called "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical" by Shane Claiborne. In it, he talks about what life would look like if Christians actually lived out what Jesus taught. Shane and others live in a community called "The Simple Way"...and they "attempt to live like Christ and the earliest converts to Christianity, ignoring social status and unencumbered by material comforts". This book was a major catalyst in our desire to make a change...
It was during that time that we discovered the Compact and also many blogs that were discussing simpler/greener living. We loved the freedom we felt in giving things away, helping others, and feeling the wonderful “light” feeling that comes with getting rid of things that you don’t need. The group of friends we had in Des Moines were also instrumental in our journey…so many wonderful, thoughtful familes, encouraging each other to make slow changes.
The jobs that we had during that time were great for the pocketbook, but not so great for keeping our sanity. We made the hard decision to resign, move to Bozeman, MT and seek out a slower pace of life. It was a great time of reflection, rejuvenation, and searching out what God had for our lives.
Before we sold our house, we had purchased a gorgeous VW Westy and we had planned on traveling the country in it. We ended up selling it before we moved to Bozeman…but the traveling lifestyle was still calling to us. We were always talking about how we wished that we would have "just done it".
We decided to follow our hearts. What is the worst that could happen by pursuing our dreams? Failure? No big deal…at least we can say we tried! And in the end, we’ll have no regrets.
So, here we are today. We know that God has called us to this traveling lifestyle. He has graciously opened doors and provided wonderful opportunities for us to share our passion about living small and sustainably and sharing our love of Christ.
We look forward to continuing this journey and seeing what God has planned for us around each corner!
Here are a few more of our passions and interests:
Thrifting & Recycling