I bought a book last weekend – Tsh Oxenreider’s Notes From a Blue Bike was on sale for a couple of bucks, and I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile. I don’t know if it was the short, easy-reading chapters, or the rainy weather keeping us inside, or the subject matter, but I finished it in a weekend, which is rare for me.
And then I broke down and had a whole life crisis, which concerned Ben a lot. He asked very hesitantly if perhaps I should possibly consider…not reading that book anymore.
I tried to explain to him that the book is about intentional living, and the fact that I was questioning my intentions was a good thing, even if it did lead to a bit of a crisis.
The crisis past fairly quickly, and now I’m looking back to see what’s been left in it’s wake….
Tsh Oxenreider examines five areas of intentional living: food, travel, education, entertainment, and revival. I’m pretty much in agreement with most of her thoughts, but there were a few ideas that threw me for a bit of a loop.
I love what she has to say about “slow food” – cook it from scratch, use whole, natural ingredients, and make it something the whole family enjoys. Because of this book, I just signed us up for a CSA program – it stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”, and it means that for the next 17 weeks, our family will receive a box of organic vegetables grown on a nearby farm. I have been curious about such a program for a long time, but my weekend of reading was what finally gave me the final push to do something about it.
It’s like a food adventure – you never know what you’ll get in the box, so I’m looking forward to a summer of awesome, fresh ingredients, and a whole bunch of new recipes! We got our first box this week, and it contained a ton of lettuce, beets, green onions, rhubarb, and lovage. We didn’t even know what lovage was, so Ben had to google it, and now we can’t stop talking about lovage, because it’s a fun word – “Can you taste the lovage in the soup? You can never have too much lovage!!”
We were feasting on Citrus and Roasted Beet Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing, which was delicious, even though I’ve never liked beets before. And I love having fresh salad ingredients just waiting for me in the fridge, making it easy to throw lunch together. Somehow, everything tastes better when I know we picked it up right at the farm, instead of buying it at Superstore!
This was one of the uncomfortable topics for me. Tsh Oxenreider is a huge believer in doing international travel with small children. I am a huge believer in keeping young children at home and avoiding jet lag with a four-year-old. Road trips I would consider, but we’ve turned down a few awesome vacation offers from Ben’s parents, because it just seems like there will be a better time for really ambitious travel.
This book has me reconsidering….Maybe now is as good a time as any! And maybe I need to be thinking more about the story we want our family to tell, than about my total comfort and sanity.
“Traveling with children is harder than traveling without them – no argument from me there. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth giving it a shot. I’m so grateful for our trips across oceans and our journeys down the road, navigating adventures together as a family. It’s knit us together in ways hard to replicate anywhere else….
Together, we smell smells and see sights collectively that no one else will at that exact moment – or at least no one who will also drive home to the same house and fall asleep under the same roof. When we travel, no matter how near or far, we share moments that shape our family culture. Each exploration, to the next town over or on the next flight out of the country, is one more chisel notch in our family’s sculpture. If we are each a work of art, then our life’s experiences are the tools. Traveling gives us, as parents, the chance to make those tools effective and sharp.”
With a baby on the way, we won’t be going on an exotic trip anytime very soon, but at the very least, I think we need to do some exploring close to home. And maybe start dreaming about where we’ll go as soon as Baby is old enough…
Here’s where the bulk of my crisis occurred….She tried homeschooling and quit, for reasons I’d never heard before. I had to chew them over for a bit. Once I finished chewing, I was left with the conviction that we are still called to homeschool right now, and the benefits are still outweighing the negatives.
But still – I never want to be so completely sure in what I’m doing that I won’t even stop to question and consider if it’s still the best thing. I think it’s good and right to reassess every once in a while.
And I love what she wrote about parental instincts when it comes to educating our children:
“I want to model learning for the sheer joy of exploration, provide a secure home environment for their creativity, and pray continually for wisdom about the best method to educate them. I want to remember that I will always be their most influential teacher. And I want to then take a step of faith and make choices by trusting my parental instincts – even if that means ignoring the culture that says it knows what’s best. I want to rest in confidence that we’ll make the best decisions for our children because only we know them as intimately as we do.”
While I completed an entertainment fast a few months ago, and learned a ton, I also just came through the first trimester of pregnancy, which pretty much resulted in loads of snacks, and Netflix on the couch every single night. It was all I was capable of doing. It felt disgusting, too. Now that my energy is increasing, it’s definitely time for find some balance in this area, so I appreciated what Oxenreider had to say about enjoying entertainment in small doses, to avoid the feeling of entitlement.
“If entertainment isn’t our right, does this mean our days have to be drudgery? Well, sometimes, yes. Life has never promised us nonstop parties and parades. But our everyday rituals can also become our entertainment, if we let them. When I reduce my screen time, not only is my remaining screen time more enjoyable, but my eyes better sharpen their focus on the little things in life.”
Tsh Oxenreider wrapped up this book by talking about how their family has chosen to slow down, how she purposely chooses to take care of herself to avoid burn-out, and what benefits we reap when we live intentionally.
It’s interesting, because much of what she wrote about was learned during the time her family lived overseas, and the culture shock that greeted them when they moved back to the States. It took awhile to figure out how to take what they loved about life in a different culture, and apply it to living in the States, where it wasn’t possible to make life exactly the same, but rather, making the principles apply to the life they are currently living.
It’s how I feel about our transition from living at a Bible camp out in the bush, to living a more “normal” life, back in civilization. Life is a completely different pace, and yet over the past two years, our family has found a way to hold on to the principles we loved most about our life at camp, and fit those into this new life. Go slowly, with intention, and never do something that feels wrong for your family, just because it’s culturally normal. I had no idea that living in the forest for five years would teach me so much about disregarding what’s culturally acceptable, and doing what is truest to our hearts.
It was a lot to take in over one weekend! But since I love a good re-evaluation of life (and a good personal crisis?!), it was a weekend well spent! So many thoughts to chew over.
And now, I wish you a lovely weekend. May you linger over delicious meals, delight in exploring the world around you, find enjoyment in simple pleasures, and be able to discern what matters most to you and those you love!