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There’s a Great Big World Out There

Posted on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 in Circle(Square) Time, Studying the Word, Thoughts on Education, Who We Are

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My world is pretty small.

We didn’t take family vacations to National Parks and I didn’t fly on a plane until I was 20. Though I live 12 hours from the town that I was born and raised, it’s still in the same corner of the country.  In a few weeks I travel to Colorado which is atleast a jump out of my corner.

It’s not only the distance(or lack thereof) that I’ve traveled that defines my boundaries.  A small world is a safe world.  If I stick to people of my same economic background, job position(stay at home, homeschooling mama), ethnicity, beliefs, maybe I can accept my small world as a suitable miniature copy of the larger universe.

Except it’s really not the same-at all.

Though I’ve always wanted to travel, I’ve never possessed a drop of desire to be a missionary.  A group of my college friends have lived in the inner city of our college town for ten years, sharing food and money, bringing neighbors in to live in their homes, starting home churches, and they even went to the Phillipines for a year to live and serve(about 18, including young children and a baby).  Now one of those families is off to Germany to live for 3 years and start an underground church.

Have I compared and thought that my daily existence didn’t carry the same outward purpose?  Yes, and no.  Yes,when I think “They are  so much better than I am” and no, because I’ve also felt like I had a mission in my own house.  To keep our family walking steadily with the Lord, and moving slowly away from some of the multi-generational struggles that so hard to break, to grow a strong man and three women who understand the deeper truths of the Lord.  With the myriad of other challenges since becoming a family, it seemed we had enough to attend to in our little corner.

But in the last few months I’ve noticed  a wall that’s sprung up between our family and our goals.  So many of the character traits I’m trying to build into our children are blocked simply by living in our culture.  Thankfulness in a world of consumerism? Diligence in a world of machines to make everything easier and a goal to find leisure and work less each year? Help others when we’re told only to help ourselves?  How do we effectively instill a different perspective if they only experience the middle class world of America?

At the beginning of school we started illustrating the passage of love in 1st corinthians.  Though it produced some great art for our sketch books I couldn’t get them to connect the verses to their own lives.  ”Love does not boast” was a great drawing of a wrestler who is being obnoxious from winning the round juxtaposed next to the love character who politely says in his cartoon window “I won!”  How will this help them understand the nature of God’s love and the love we’re called to give?

We remained at the wall and in the meantime I grew more frustrated and discontent with all of my responsibilities and challenges.  Poor me!

It’s usually around this time that another voice calmly speaks to my heart.  Our family needed to turn our focus off of ourselves and on to a much bigger, more diverse, poor and hurting, beautiful and inspiring world and get a big dose of perspective.  And put God’s word into action instead of a sketchbook.

Bit by bit the door is opening and I don’t know what the door flung open will look like.  But here are two resources we’ve been looking at daily.

This first book is one that I’ve seen around homeschool sites for many years but couldn’t buy it and couldn’t find it at the libary. Now our library has it and we’ve been taking a few pages at a time.

Material World by: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel

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Through this book you travel around the world gathering a picture of families-what they own, their income, their wishes and hopes for their future.  Each time the location changes there is a photograph of a family in front of their home with all of their wordly possessions(furntiure, bicycles) surrounding them.  From clay houses and huts to large homes in Britain and Iceland, our eyes are wider.  Here are some facts that have surprised the kids.

  • One yearly income was 119 dollars, only a little more than double the generous check my daughter received for her birthday.  The 7 year old who, after getting the money, had quickly decided she needed 100 dollars not fifty, dropped her jaw.
  • Or the communal baths a mile away open 2 days a week,
  • and the one room houses with 11 family members made the sharing of a room seem a little silly.
  • Or when we realized the items we put out with our garage sale last weekend tripled what some families will ever own.  And that was what we were getting ride of-our waste.
  • We found one family who doesn’t dispose of anything-nothing they consume includes any trash that needs to be thrown away.  We throw away a bag of trash a day-how could it be possible to live without any garbage?

Missionary Stories with the Millers

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There are many other missionary stories and books, this was the one we had on hand and it’s been a picture of heroes and what it means to have faith in God.  It’s also a reminder that we have a greater purpose than maintaining ourselves and our own lives.

It’s not a soapbox to climb on or a guilt trip that I hope to wake up from.  It’s a discovery of truth.  Looking for the wider world makes my world look more not less.  Instead of seeing how little we have to give, we see how our smallest offerings make a difference.

It’s a journey for sure, but my heart seems to growing along with my world.

How does your corner look today?

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Bring on the comments

  1. jimmie says:

    I love so much about this post.
    These are my favorite sentences:
    “So many of the character traits I’m trying to build into our children are blocked simply by living in our culture.”
    “How do we effectively instill a different perspective if they only experience the middle class world of America?”
    I don’t have any answers for you because I don’t live in middle class America. BUT I can assure you that although it may be easier when you live in a developing nation, parents still must be very deliberate to TEACH these things. One big way is modeling.
    Christmas is coming up. I think it’s a HUGE opportunity to be counter-cultural, do what God is leading your family to do. We are already discussing how to make it more Christ-centered.

  2. aimee says:

    That’s a great point-that it still takes deliberate teaching no matter where you live or the size of your world, a point I trust coming from you and the very different culture you encounter daily. Ahhh, Christmas. The holiday of “get all that you’ve ever wanted”. I’d love to hear how your making things more Christ-centered, I pray about it every year-sounds like a post for Jimmie’s Collage.

  3. Bella says:

    WOw,,, I must get my hands on that book, Material World, I am always fascinated by how much we think we need, and constantly struggle because somehow I feel I could so live a life with VERY minimal possessions, but how can I do that to my kids,,, what’s the point of trying to tell them to strive to be the best, and that nothing is out of their reach if they just work hard for it. Most of the things we talk about are materialistic things, and this is where my struggle comes in.

    SOmetimes, I really wish I was born in the rain forest or something, lol.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts with us.
    Bella :)

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