I grew up in a tiny little town that most haven’t heard of. Halifax, Virginia. It’s a sweet little place where I never felt anything less than loved, supported, and believed in. I was born a dreamer (include link to Amanda’s featured dreamers?), and, while I love my family and the people in my hometown and still love making it back there for visits whenever we can, I’ve known since I was very young that I was going to grow up and leave Halifax. I knew that wasn’t where I was supposed to be for the rest of my life. I’m not even 30 yet, and life so far has taken me to many wonderful places. I’ve had the privilege of calling 4 different countries on two different continents “home” in the last 7 years alone. I need adventure and change and newness, and I’m thankful I married a man who also loves a good adventure (yet is level-headed enough to talk me down from my adventure-driven ledges when I’m doing something foolish simply in the name of excitement!)
Even though many might drive down Halifax’s Main Street and think it’s nothing special, I would beg to differ. Go into the houses of the people I know and love there, and you’ll quickly find that there’s so much more to my hometown than what meets the eye. I have deep roots that started in Halifax, and it’s because of these deep roots that I have the courage to grow wide branches.
I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of roots. We only see the branches growing wide and tall and strong and forget what’s happening below the surface. We forget that this is what holds up the tree and feeds it. Sometimes we choose to forget what’s below the surface because it isn’t glamorous and glitzy and fancy, overlooking the fact that, without roots, the branches wither.
Sometimes I look at our house in our little neighborhood and dream up a grand adventure. Let’s move to Iceland! Or Tanzania! Or San Francisco, if you want to stay a little “closer” to home, I say to my husband. Don’t get me wrong; I love our home. I love our friends and our Church and the community we’ve found here. I love the friends our girls are growing up with and the momma-sisters who’ve grown into motherhood right alongside me. I love our easy proximity to beaches and mountains, cities and countryside. I love that our children will also grow up with strong roots.
But sometimes I feel ready for a new adventure. We want our girls to grow up knowing and appreciating other cultures. I want their deep roots to produce wide branches. I want to cultivate their love of adventure while still nurturing their sweet souls with a stable home. I want them to know that they have neighbors on the other side of our yard who are important and deserving of love simply because they’re human beings but that they also have neighbors on the other side of the world who are important and deserving of love for no reason aside from their own humanity. I want them to learn to extend and receive hospitality in our home and around the world, whether we’re in a mansion or a mud hut, whether we’re dining on the finest cut of steak or praying that the water we were just handed came from a clean source.
We’re not doing everything perfectly by any means, but I do want to share a few ways that we’ve come up with to attain these lofty goals. Please add your own ideas in the comments! Parenting isn’t easy, and it definitely takes a village. J
1) Outreach- we’re the youth pastors at our church, and our girls usually come to youth events out of necessity. There’s a lady in our town who does regular outreaches to the homeless. We as a youth group joined her once, and we hope to again with regularity. I’m excited that our girls will join us and learn to see these people as worthy neighbors.
2) Travel- we have high hopes of taking our family around the world. Plans to visit Husband’s sister in Zambia are in the works, and Guatemala has really been tugging on my heart lately along with a host of never before seen (by us, anyway) places.
3) Language- I re-opened my learn Swahili book this week, and Afton and I practice 5 new words a day. She’s also learning to count in Swahili as well as a couple songs.
What are some other ideas? Let me know in the comments!