The American Dream & The Desires of our Hearts

I must first start by saying we live the “American Dream”.  We live in a fancy mansion on a hilltop.  This is what most Americans work so hard to obtain.  They sacrifice time with family to work stressful jobs away from home to make money just to live in a place like this. 

Trips to the market are regular, buying most of your food that has been raised by someone else.  Beautiful floors that shine and all the finery a home can afford.  All the latest and greatest gadgets.  Big Screen TVs that gleam their light long past the hour of sunset.  Sitting around all cozy on fine furniture, relaxing together as a family.  Everything is clean and the home is one that all admire.

In my life’s journey, I have lived in many different types of homes.  When I first got married we lived downtown in a big city in an apartment complex.  We bought our first home soon after.  It was a small home in a town neighborhood with a fenced in yard.  From there we bought an old dumpy farmhouse and remodeled it.  We learned about gardening and we bought our first milk cow.  Later we added on and then sold it for a high price.  All the beauty was from the hand of my husband, toiling away to make that old house a home for his family.  This is where we first started growing some of our own food.

Next, we moved from the pasture lands of Wisconsin to the hills of Tennessee.  We lived in a small rental home until we bought a homestead on the creek.  Because of some medical issues, we needed to sell the homestead and rent in the city again.  We moved back to Wisconsin and lived in a small home right on a busy road.  Going from country to city was a hard adjustment for our family.  We soon found a way to get a homestead in the countryside.

My husband fully restored that new farmhouse.  We lived there for about 4 years and enjoyed the homestead life again.  We had several milk cows, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens, and a huge garden.  The children were off building forts and playing in the barn.  My husband was enjoying harvesting fruits from the garden, cutting down trees for firewood, and heating our home with wood.  I was busy in the kitchen canning with the kids and baking.  The kids made a big swing in the hay loft that they could swing and drop into the soft hay.  There was pond where they fished and swam in.

When we could no longer keep up with the payments, we decided to go debt free and rent again.  This time we lived in an Amish homestead off grid.  No more electric payments and the homestead was filled with smells of baking and stories around the fireside in the late evenings.  I used an old wringer washer and loved it.  I would love putting my hands into the hot water and sending the clothing one by one through the wringer.  The sight of wash flapping in the wind on a warm spring day was a satisfying feeling.  Working with our hands, working together as a family and enjoying the fellowship together.

One year later we moved back to the homestead on the creek in Tennessee.  When there presented an opportunity to move to the mansion on the hilltop just down the lane, the one I always dreamed of living in, we moved again.  We rented the mansion and helped take care of his farm.  Now that I have lived in many different types of homes, I can say that I am not sure what the thrill is for people to have the fancy houses or mansions.  The mansion changed our whole life.  Everything was at our fingertips, convenient, and spread out.

The 4,000 square foot home caused the family to become spoiled in the fine things of life.  The sudden run through the house from outside, was a trail of dirt, and it seems so out of place in a fancy home.  I used to think that this is what I should want.  After living here for about 5 months, I can clearly see that we are meant for something smaller, more simple.

It is interesting how God works in our hearts.  I had just read in my own book something that I wrote, a metaphor about what I would rather.  I wrote, I would rather live in a shack than a mansion on a hilltop.  Well, I still feel like that.  I am living on the mansion on the hilltop.  And I found out it does not produce happiness and fulfillment.  It is a statement of riches we do not even have.  We are actually not wealthy at all and living in such glorious finery is not so wonderful.  I was wrestling with the idea of why I would not just want to stay here and rent it forever.  We could.  The landlord loves having us here.  But it comes with the highest cost.  Our children and our family time.  Family time was replaced with the demands of society, neighborhood friends, and peer pressures of growing adolescent kids.

The answer comes in the most mysterious ways…

I read Henry, had my pit, climbed out of the pit and prayed for answers to where God could lead our family and what direction we will go.  Trying to get the high blasting action movies out of our home has been a challenge.  It frustrates me that they even crept in in the first place.  One evening, I tuned into a documentary about a tiny house.  The people were making these tiny houses and living debt free.  Then we found Shackville!  It is a dumpy little shack village,  but it could be fixed up to be something useful.  As I laid up one evening wondering why I would give up this “American Dream Home” with all the many luxuries to move to a tiny shack.

I received a long letter, one that I wish I could have permission to share, from a young wife who wrote about how she read my blog post about being depressed.  How God used her depression for such miraculous things in her life.  She told me how God gave her a load of lumber and how she took that lumber and built a TINY HOUSE on a flat bed trailer instead of moping around.  Her and her husband worked alongside each other and they built a life for themselves.  Her story touched me deeply.  I am so super thrilled and you have no idea, God used her story to show me what is really important and that my family is worth the downsizing.  Their hearts are so precious and the time in the big mansion, we had so much room to be spread apart, living separate lives.

Good news is that the kids are very excited about the idea of someday owning Shackville.  So fun to finally, work together as a family instead of a part to have something that no one wants, something that money can buy.  We will have something that money can’t buy, fellowship and unity as a family. This time at the mansion will make us strengthen our resolve to flee the things of the world, the distractions and things that keep us from enjoying the good things of life.
  We are so blessed that God is a God that leads and guides and shows us where we need to be instead of where everyone in the world thinks we should be.

Here is my original metaphor that I wrote about 4 years ago…Interesting how the desires of our heart still remain constant even over the passing of time.

My metaphor: fashionable or old-fashioned?
(taken from Living Virtuously book)
1.  I would rather be a Rag Doll than a Barbie Doll; my cloth is worn from hours of working on the homestead. My hands are wrinkled from washing clothes and dishes, scrubbing pans, and baking bread. I would rather my hands be withered and my fingernails broken off to the nubs, than painted to perfection, and have a hard time grabbing things because my nails were too soft and pretty. I would rather that my hair was frizzy and wispy, held in a bun because it is practical and the hair doesn’t get into the food I make, than to have my hair perfectly wavy and golden to attract. My eyes are wrinkled from hours of smiling and working in the sunshine, not darkened with makeup. I rub the eyes and they do not smear. Barbie can have her chiseled and boney figure while I will keep my fluff. It is much softer to hug!
2.  I would rather live in a shack than a mansion on a hilltop. The creaky wooden floors would be filled with many hours of sweeping, baking, and children underfoot. The shack would be tiny, and only a few could fit; but it would be cozy, while the mansion would be cold and lonesome. The electric bill for the mansion would be enormous while the shack would be free. More money to buy things to raise on the farm. Oh, and by the way, by the time you pay interest on a nice home, you could have bought one shack in that year, had it paid off and the rest of the money you make is a bonus. Of course, you would not need as much income, so you could have a small business raising chickens or produce to pay for any other expenses. Plus, you would have more time with family. I think most of us would rather that. The bigger the house, the more house to clean and the more stuff you acquire. And stuff just takes up space and is seldom used. I like to think of the home as a digestive system; you take things in, but in most cases you do not get the waste out. Keeping your stuff going out makes life simpler. Only keep what is needed. When I spring clean it is such a relief to get rid of things. It makes life more organized and simple.
3.  I would much rather eat homegrown food than eat at a restaurant. I like to know where my food comes from. I like to prepare it. I put a lot of love in my cooking, and I love to share it with my family, knowing they are getting the very best I have to offer. Cleaning up is fun too, when everyone pitches in. It is fun to live through the seasons, growing food and raising livestock. It is very satisfying.
4.  I would rather ride in a horse-drawn carriage than in a fancy car. You can keep your car. I know I do not have a horse-drawn carriage, but I know that I would like it a lot. I would even take a beater over a fancy car. As long as I can get from point A to point B, that is all that matters. I guess I like to be home most times. The older I get, the more I want to be with my family and stay home. I am content with that! How about that! There is so much to do at the homestead that running around is just not as fulfilling to me anymore. I like to keep life simple.
Keep it simple.


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