Live Small: Decision to Adventure with Purpose #vanlife

It’s hard to explain how one comes to the decision to sell nearly all one’s belongings and choose to live small, in order to serve and travel without being encumbered by home-based obligations. It involved soul-searching introspection, long discussions with family and friends, and prayer. It was not without tears and a measure of anguish. In the end, the call to serve our fellow man and pursue adventures that require physical stamina won over the static comforts of home. We chose to retire a little early (57 and 59) and pursue a life of service, travel, and adventure.

We spent our lives working to buy things we needed (cars, home, clothing) in order to work the jobs that provided the salary to buy those things. It’s circular – we spent so much just to pay for working. Like many Americans, we spent time and money accumulating things — travel mementos, decorations, furniture, photographs, clothing, shoes, art, jewelry, sporting goods, tools, crafts, and electronics.

In the end, we can’t take these things with us, and they serve as anchors to a sedentary and stationary lifestyle rather than adventuresome and legacy-building.

We chose to select our irreplaceable and precious possessions (based on sentimental, not financial value) to store until such time as we have a permanent home again, and jettison everything else. The cherry crib my Mother made for my son as well as her hand-carved stone sculptures, her cedar chest, ceramics and art that my children made for me, artwork that my husband collected that reflects our love of nature, and a century of printed photographs from 1900-2010 that pre-date iPhotos, were all put in storage.

We contracted with an estate sale company to handle a 3-day liquidation of our household. It was excruciating for me to have strangers in our house for 5 days putting a price tag on everything – down to the half used bottles of shampoo. We left for the sale and I cried….and even called a dear friend to have her buy something I had thought I could sell…so that it wouldn’t be sold to a stranger (I later bought it back from her).

Interestingly, my children wanted very little of the things accumulated during their childhood, and are choosing to not accumulate as they start their careers as young adults. It’s such a different generation – and I’m proud of them for this. I want to be more like them when I grow up.

It was cathartic to live through this process — we purged so much and when we returned to our home after the sale, with only the things we chose to keep in the house, we felt lighter, freer, and satisfied with our decision. We then put the house on the market, and a lovely young couple (the first to look at the house), was led straight to us. I know it was God’s way of easing me out of the home where I raised my children. One thing that made this decision easier is that I know we will build a full life in a new permanent home and community when the time is right.

One of the most difficult things of being on the road is missing the companionship of dear friends. We know that our friends will continue the activities that we used to share together, and hope there will be a way for us to re-integrate into their lives when we return.

Despite the challenges, I am grateful for having gone through this life-changing process, and to currently be living a life free of “anchors” so that we can adventure with purpose.

Our service projects include:

Habitat for Humanity’s Care-a-Vanners (bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope)

Samaritan’s Purse (disaster recovery)

American Hiking Society (trail work – since we love hiking so much!)

Red Bird Mission – Appalachian work camp to help those in the poorest county in the US

3 thoughts on “Live Small: Decision to Adventure with Purpose #vanlife

  1. “May God grant you always…
    A sunbeam to warm you,
    A moonbeam to charm you,
    A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.”

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  2. What a magnificent journey you are taking! You have chosen a path and answered a calling that few are willing to take. To follow the ancient path of Jesus, of loving God and loving people, of valuing being over doing, to count as important the people you love rather than the things you own. May the wild grace of Jesus, the unshakable companionship of the Holy Spirit, and the audacious protection and provision of your heavenly Papa be with you every step of the way.

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