I've just read Slice of Heaven in the past 24 hours.
A family from New Zealand with four kids under five (just like us....well, like we used to be) travel and live. This book introduces the parents and focusses on the family's time renovating and living in a schoolhouse in Italy and then establishing a semi-self-sufficient paradise in Nicaragua before returning to NZ for the birth of their fifth child. Next stop, next book, France.
I thought it would make my feet itch....and yes, it did.
The author's hope "that our story has served as some inspiration for you to pursue your dreams, no matter how 'wild' or 'wonderful'" was fulfilled!
So what am I dreaming?
*of visiting family in Malaysia again...and getting Chinese names for our last three children
*of spending a year living in a yurt with a community in outer Mongolia
*of travelling around England and Scotland with father-in-law too, seeing "where we came from"
*of taking a cycle tour through Holland (well a cycle tour anywhere would be good, but Holland is flat!)
*of visiting friends in Romania
*of settling in Poland again for some time
*of living for a year on every continent (you gotta dream big!)
*of setting up a website to record our journeys, document our philosophy, share photos and ideas and experiences and recipes and travelling with big families tips!
*of somehow making this all of benefit to *the poor and disadvantaged* SOMEHOW
*of making use of our quasi-famous status (they noticed it with four kids in the book - with twice as many children, we notice it EVERY time we go somewhere new)
And what are the children dreaming?
*well they want to come to Mongolia.....and horse trek down to the Great Wall of China (they are more adventurous than me!)
*they are keen for us to renovate a totally dilapidated 200 year old castle we've seen in Poland (as J12 said, "Well we've done up the houses and that was fun, this would just be bigger" - yeah about twenty times bigger!!!!)
*they want to live on a houseboat
*they want to live where it snows
And Father Bear?
*The England Trip was his idea
*he occasionally talks about "a trip across America"
*there is definitely a close connection between Malaysia and his stomach!
At one time we owned only what could fit in a backpack. We were so unencumbered.
Now we are loaded with stuff - in spite of consciously trying to live simply.
We might live off one income and eat beans three or four times a week - but we are rich. Just because we know people who have two incomes and eat meat every day, does not mean we are poor! We have an income - that's more than a lot of people. We have beans AND meat - that's more than lots more people. We have food EVERY DAY - three times a day. We have shelter. We have clothing. We have a motorised vehicle and pedalpower too. We have running water, hot and cold. We have a washing machine, a refrigerator, a kitchen mixer with all sorts of attachments, a lawnmower, a television. We have toys and books and tools and games. We have two toilets, two computers.
I am not ungrateful for these things. I don't feel guilty about them - though I do wonder *why me?* Why are we so blessed?
I just don't want to spend my life sitting here *enjoying* them. I want to use them. (Of course we lend out our books and people borrow our trailer and we give away excess produce from our garden and kitchen, we are able to have people stay with us....but I mean something more than that.)
I am keen to take the children to *experience* a different life - hence the Mongolian yurt.
I'd love to be self-sufficient....Eastern Europe is a cheap place to get the land to try that out! (crikey you can buy a castle on a few acres for next-to-nothing!)
I long to be unencumbered again!
Our wedding invitation talked about us being "gypsies for Jesus", and for the first dozen years of our married life we were continually on the go. For the past five we've been in one place, living in the same house. Not so much gypsy, but still for Jesus.
I wonder if we'll pack up again and be on the move.
We won't hitch-hike across Europe. We won't carry a tent to pitch wherever we can.
But we could adventure. We could journey.
I am not just me, an island in the ocean, disconnected from other people.
I have others to think about.
The things that I do with the children could be done anywhere in the world.
But it's not just about me and the kids either!
There's Father Bear.
Father Bear has a job.
He enjoys his job.....it's satisfying, it's the job he dreamed of doing, it pays the bills (and he wisely points out we would still need to eat wherever we were travelling), it's a job that wouldn't necesarilly wait for him if he traipsed around the globe.
He works with people who appreciate the input he has into their lives - he serves people who don't have others to turn to. So it's not just about Father Bear either. It's about the people he works with, the people he helps, people who have sometimes come from very traumatic situations and are trying to settle in NZ.
So while Father Bear would enjoy having more time with his own family and would certainly enjoy taking a break, he would miss out on an important part of his own life. He would also miss his friends, his church community, his extended family, his sports games.
And the reality is that right now we are so busy doing stuff here that we don't even have time to dream about doing anything different!
Now back to the book......I found it to be inspiring and interesting and totally fascinating. I was aware my kids would probably love "the island life", but I have no desire to do it myself. It painted such a picture of Italy that I have a never-before-felt desire to go and live there (but we'd live in a trullo!!!!!)
I loved the book - well, no, not the book really - it's the people - for their determination to bring up their children so intentionally. It was great to read of someone passionately living their beliefs.....daring to be different.
But at the same time, I came away with a feeling that *something* was a bit futile. I can't put my finger on it. It certainly wasn't their aspirations for their kids, it wasn't the great delight they take in good food, it wasn't the fact that they didn't *do* the work themselves....what was it? I really don't know.
I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God