“One, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven…..eighteen…sixteen…twelve……………I don’t know. Ready or not, here I come!” He popped his head up from behind the large fake rock in front of the house. He looked back and forth, watching for movement, considering where to begin his search. I kept silent as I watched him search high and low throughout the cul de sac for his two new buddies.
Inside my husband and our two youngest boys napped, weary from a whirlwind three days. A half hour before, Zeke, our four-year-old had been munching on granola when I heard the boys playing outside. “Do you want to go meet some new friends?” I asked him. He had thought for a moment before replying, “Uuuuuuummm, yes.” He abandoned his snack and grabbed his shoes.
His hand clung to mine as we made our way across the street; the boys greeted us with an eager hello. After the older one, age eight, told us of his love for shrimp, and the youngest, age 6, described every detail of the bicycle he received for Christmas, all three boys were quick to challenge each other to foot races between houses.
The sun cast a bright orange glow across the horizon as it made its descent behind the mountains. I set out a folding chair in the front lawn and took a seat. There I sat for nearly an hour, doing nothing but listening to the boys’ laughter as they raced across front lawns. It was a perfect end to our first full day home in the mountains.
A friend asked me a question recently, one that has left me thinking about my answer this past week as we packed up our life and relocated our family. As we drove West with all of our earthly belongings packed into a homemade trailer, her inquiry stuck with me. She asked me how our move to Colorado had come about.
After all, not many families who are settled into their first home with secure jobs, friendships, and a church home decide to uproot their family and start fresh in another state.
Her question was the same one that I have been asked over and over again throughout in the recent months. Whenever it came up that we were moving from Kansas City to Colorado, the first question people asked was always, “Why?”, or, “Is it for a job?”
Each time I would smile before explaining, “No. We just need the mountains.”
A year ago, I don’t think that I could have given that answer. I think I would have felt like I would have to justify such an “extreme” decision with more solid reasoning. But over the past year, God has been revealing to me a piece of His heart that I hadn’t quite understood before. He has been opening my eyes to the pleasure that He takes in His children, and His simple desire to bless them and see them thrive in His presence. This life altering lesson all began with a simple list.
I blogged about it a while back, when we first announced our intentions to move to the mountains. I shared of this simple list we wrote out almost one year ago, a list of family values—of everything we want out of life.
It is not a bucket list. It is not a goal list. It is not a to-do list.
It is a list of all that God has set a fire in our souls for. It is a list of passions. It is a list of where we want to go in life. It is a list of what we want to mark our days with—and what we want our boys to grow up knowing intimately. It is the forces that we want them to be shaped by. It is the values we want to govern our life and family with.
The values penned on this list each act as a gear, setting into motion the life we most desire. They are strategically composed together to create a rhythm to our years, one that will make up the melody of our family’s legacy.
Our list is made up of exploration, financial stewardship, generosity, physical activity, a deep understanding of Jesus’ commands, respect for nature through travel and exploration, wonder, journaling, and a love for life-long learning. The list is rough, and still unfinished. Yet it created a framework for how we want to do life; acting as a compass pointing us towards the life God uniquely created us to live.
The past few months have been full of arduous work and heart-wrenching goodbyes. Yet, sitting now on the other side of our decision—on the fulfilled side—I am discovering that taking big chances and making “extreme” choices is not so risky after all. Perhaps the big risk is found in not making these kinds of choices. Because never taking the risk or making the choice is a surefire way to never get to where your spirit longs to be.
Maybe you are in this place; yearning for something more, but unsure of how to get there. Perhaps you don’t know what it is that you really want in the first place. That is the first step, you have to ask the important questions, ones like, “What do I value most in life?” and, “Which values do I want my family to be governed by?” and, “What makes me feel most alive?”
At the end of your life, what would you regret not making a priority?
It’s not about chasing after every whim of our hearts. It’s about sitting down (with your spouse, if you’re married), and digging down deep to the roots of what God has planted in your spirit.
It’s about naming those things that light a fire within your spirit, the things that bring your family together, the things that most inspire you to worship the Creator, and bring you closer to Him—and then chasing after those things with full abandon. We only have one life on this earth. So go ahead—take the first step, begin your list. Believe in something fiercely enough to make it happen. It might just set into motion the most fulfilling life you’ve ever known.