Tag Archives: global nomad

I want Roots AND Wings

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Today is one of those days when I literally ACHE to have my own home.  For years and years we have lived as nomads, changing rental locations every few months or years.  This is just the lifestyle of missionaries.  I joke that moving frequently keeps you clean.  When I look at pretty things in stores I resist the urge to buy by thinking about having to sell it or pack it or move it in a few months.  Yuck, suddenly “pretties” lose their attraction.

I really do love my life.  I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do.  I am proud of us as a family for thriving in another culture.  I am fulfilled and happy in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I have wings to fly and no weights holding me bound to this earth!

But there are days when wings don’t feel like enough.  There are times when I think I would like roots instead of wings.  When I see friends on Facebook posting pictures of their new houses, I feel jealous.  When I see others making pretty Pintrest crafts to adorn their newly remodeled kids’ bedrooms, I feel jealous.  Then I remind myself that Pintrest is a gateway drug to hoarding, and I shut off the Internet.

baby angelI feel like a 2 year old, spiritually speaking.  “I want what I have AND what you have.”  On these petulant days, I have to be deliberate in my thankfulness or I will start feeling sorry for myself.  I pull myself out of my rumination and look around for something to trigger the avalanche of thankfulness that I am sure is hovering over my head in the spirit realm.  I seize upon the parrots swooping noisily over my yard and I am thankful.  I feel the tropical breeze cooling my rental house and I am thankful that it is 75* and not -10*.  I notice the paint peeling off the side of our house and I am thankful, in a perverse way, because I don’t have the responsibility to scrape and paint that wall.  I watch my children run around our yard, and I know that we are blessed by Costa Rican standards to have such a large yard.  I look at the high wall surrounding our house.  It is topped with electrical fencing and razor wire.  I feel safe living here, and that is something else to be thankful for.

Does the bird complain about the weight of wings?  Never.  She blissfully rises into the sky without a thought of what she might be missing down below.  The bird is content with her fragile, little nest because most of the time she is soaring above the clouds instead of puttering around indoors.

I bend my thoughts to the sky.  I pull my mind out of the dirt where it is trying to suck water from the dry ground.  I stretch my soul towards the heavens and rise on the warm thermal drafts of thankfulness.  Up and up, higher and higher I fly.  I have wings, for what do I need roots?  Today I declare in faith, “I am content to fly.”

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/courosa/5788131697/”>courosa</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com/Kids/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Travel covers a multitude of sins

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  said Mark Twain.

Based on this statement I might develop a sudden prejudice against Italians just so I can justify a trip to Florence, Italy.  Yeah, that’s it.  I need to go purge myself of my “Italophobia”.

I am originally from Iowa.  But before you jump to conclusions, you should know that I never even SAW a real live cow until we drove from Des Moines to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I was 6-years old then.

I’m a city girl.  But I am related to people from small towns.  They don’t come up to the Cities very often, and when they do, some of them are “packing heat” the whole time.  (In my wedding pictures, my grandparents were both armed.)  And I would be too if I stayed in the Super 8 Motel on the edge of town.  Apparently they don’t want to go too far into the city in case God rains down fire and brimstone in Sodom and Gomorrah fashion.  They are scared of the city.

But the interesting thing is that several years ago my grandpa asked my dad for a computer.  My dad asked why he wanted it.  He said, “I want to be able to check the weather in Australia.”  Is he ever going to go to Australia?  Not unless they relocate it to the next county over.  He just wants to know.  Go figure.  Maybe if he could have nurtured that spark of natural curiosity when he was younger, he might have one day visited Australia and experienced the weather for himself.  But as it stands, traveling beyond his little world, at this age, is almost too much to handle.

On the other hand, my world spans the globe.  I have friends in nearly every continent.  And yet, sometimes that makes this world feel just as small as my grandpa’s town.  The words that are used to describe the missionary lifestyle are the ones you see in travel magazines: Ex-Pats, International Community, Global Nomads.  That’s my favorite one, Global Nomad.  I like it because I DO feel like a Nomad.  We pick up and move somewhere else every couple of years, sometimes more frequently.  When we are in one place too long, we get the itch to travel somewhere else.  When we are in one place, we long for another.

I feel like it’s just a physical reflection of the spiritual reality that we really are just sojourners here on this planet.  We feel a deep seated longing for our spiritual home, Heaven.  We don’t settle down here.  We don’t get too attached to this old life.  THIS is Temporary.  THEN is Forever.  In the mean time, I hope to cultivate broad, wholesome, and charitable views of men and things by all my global wanderings.

Clutter- Don’t give me any Crap!

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Do you ever watch the show “Hoarders”? I’m not sure I’ve ever made it through an entire episode without standing up to organize my living room and go wash my hands a dozen times. That show gives me the heebee-jeebies. I hate clutter.

But in my personality I have conflicting “likes”. I like things to be within reach and I don’t want to have to dig for anything. And yet I hate clutter. Baskets and plastic organizers are my solution to this dilemma. Just BUYING organizers makes me feel good. I can lift a drooping attitude quicker than anything with a gander down a RubberMaid aisle. Organization makes me happy.

In my life long battle against clutter I have also discovered the value of moving often. I now believe that everyone should change houses at least every 5 years because moving forces you to physically confront the back of your closets. You must put your hand on each and every item that you own.

When we went into missions 8 years ago we sold our house and most of our belongings. That meant having the garage sale of the century! I felt certain that we didn’t actually have so much stuff, but when I had to drag it all out and put it on tables in my garage I was embarrassed at how much JUNK I had accumulated in 10 years of marriage. For example, I thought I had maybe 3 or 4 baskets around the house. But when I collected them all and put them together I counted 20. I was shocked and horrified! That day I faced my basket-habit. They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

In the ensuing years I have made 5 international moves and countless smaller moves from house to house. Those people who say, “A move across town is harder than anything” are ignorant. Try reducing your entire household to 15 suitcases under 40 lbs. each and then tell me which kind of move is harder.

Because of this global nomad lifestyle, I can make two observations related to clutter. First, I give careful thought before buying anything. When I stand in the store and debate on whether or not I should buy something, I ask myself, “Do I want to move or sell this in 4 years?” If not, I don’t buy it. Second, I have left a trail of abandoned clutter that flows from Minnesota to Mexico to Costa Rica. At some point you just give up and beg people to just come take whatever they want. Making that many “cut or keep” decisions just burns out your brain cells after a while. But I don’t know how many times I have said, “I used to have a [fill in the item] once upon a time. What did I do with that?” It was abandoned along the side of the road a long time ago.

For Christmas this year Josh’s family did a $3 secret Santa exchange. We protested. Josh told everyone, “I don’t want CRAP!” They thought he was being funny. We were serious. Don’t give me any crap because I hate clutter. Most of the gifts did not make it from Minnesota to Costa Rica. Global Nomads must by necessity live a clutter free, crap free, life. And it’s a good thing.