Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My List- Part Two

I've been thinking about my List a lot lately; it's a potent dream, creating your very own Utopia- fun to think about, even if it never really could exist in real life. So without further ado, I will continue my list of Criteria for Our Next New Home.

7. Within driving distance of family: This is where it really hits home for me. Even if I ever do find Utopia (or something close enough to it...) it could never be wonderful enough if it were too far away from the people I love best. We spent 3 years together in Phoenix when we were newly married and I can't think of anything better for a young couple to do to really establish their marriage than to move physically away from their families of origin. But for the last almost 3 years we have been close to both our families and have had the tremendous joy of sharing these days of wonder and discovery and miraculous growth of our daughter. And I can think of very few things more valuable to the growth of a child than to have the influence of the previous generations and to be embraced with the love of extended family. I love being able to just hop in the car for the weekend and go visit my parents. I love that my mom and dad have come to babysit Carolyn the weekends that I've worked. I love that whenever I have a need for a go-to gal when my childcare arrangements fall through, Carolyn's Nana is always wiling to step in. It would be hard to be too far away to enjoy all that! But there isn't anything constant about life except that it's always changing! At any rate, Brad's parents will soon be moving to Bluffton, SC, where they plan to retire, and even if we stayed right here, we would be a couple days' drive away. My parents are looking to us girls to make some more permanent decisions about where we'll be before they decide where they want to settle in the end... and no one knows for sure, but it seems likely that they will stay somewhere around the Midwest/Michigan area (unless the Texas relatives come up and steal them away by force to Lone Star Land). :) My sister Michelle lives in Chicago; who knows where Laura will end up, and Brad's brother and sister live in Raleigh- for the time being. So I think Utopia would have to optimize all those things so that we would not be horrifically far away from anyone. I would say that I'd like to be within at least a 9 hour drive from everyone because this is do-able in a long day of driving.

8. Close to a Southwest Airlines City: Although they're getting some flack now for not being quite on the up-and-up about aircraft inspections (which makes me nervous...), SWA has been good to us in the past. They have cheap fares and good service. I like flying SWA. And did I mention they were cheap? I'd like to live within about 3 hours of a city with SWA service so that we could easily get wherever we wanted to in the country with a quick drive and flight.

9. Better Road Conditions: Indeed, it would be difficult to find a place with poorer road conditions than Michigan! Due to the horrible winter weather, our roads are pitted with potholes that take the construction workers a hundred years to fix and next year it'll be just the same. Summer construction projects seem to be very inefficiently run and result in extended traffic snags. Rather than focus the resources on fixing a small number of projects quickly and well, they seem to like to tear up all kinds of things at the very beginning of the summer and then spend the next 6 months tinkering around all over town- then sometimes by the time it snows, some of the projects are done. AND apparently I heard that there is some kind of really good road surfacing material or something that they could use to fix the roads in a more permanent way, BUT, the unionized construction industry won't allow it because it would put them out of work! What?!

10. Better Economics: Speaking of unions, I think I would like to be somewhere that isn't as driven by them as this area is. Clearly the auto industry is suffering in a major way and ultimately will be on its way out, I think. I'd like to live somewhere where people are not as depressed as people are around here. It's the weather, and it's also just the "feeling" since so much of our economy depends on the auto industry that is failing and many people are either out of work or in jeopardy. I don't know much about economics, but I know it isn't good in Michigan. I remember Phoenix being an exciting place to live, with lots of young people who were excited about their jobs and stuff. I'd like to live somewhere with a more robust economy.

11. Good Education System: This is a plus for Michigan because there are many good schools here. BUT... it also seems that in many of the smaller cities around here, kids in high school aren't encouraged to go to college like they are in some places. For Brad and me, it was just a given that we would go. I know that this is a blessing that many other people do not have... but you just cannot get by in today's world without an education. I would like Carolyn to grow up somewhere where she is expected to go to college, where all the other kids go to college, and where academics are highly valued. Clearly a lot of this will come from her family- but I think it would also be good for her teachers and classmates to encourage this.

12. Reasonably Conservative: I don't want to live in California where my child would be indoctrinated into a very liberal point of view from a very early age. I know that she will ultimately have to learn to think critically and to integrate the truth of God's Word into her thought processes and learn discernment to be able to separate truth from falsehood. But I think there is something to be said for the parent's responsibility to shelter a young child from being unduly influenced by the world until he or she is ready to handle the responsibility (or until he or she reaches an age at which she must begin to be accountable, ready or not!) We aren't sure yet whether we will choose public school, private school, or home school- but I would like public school to be an option for Carolyn, so I'd like to live in a reasonably conservative community where family values are upheld even in the public schools.

13. Not Too "Christian": We currently live in an area that is very "Christian." There is a church on every corner and nearly everyone is involved in some way- and even those that aren't still generally live by basic Christian morals. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The bad part is that all this "shelter" easily lulls one into a false sense of security. It is so easy to blend in when everyone around you essentially thinks the same things- to not really LIVE the radical life change that true faith in Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit brings. It was actually much harder to find a church here than it was in Phoenix because there are so many choices and there is SOOO much complacency- and we are so guilty of it ourselves! In Phoenix, in order to be a Christian, you had to be counter-cultural- and the adversity of the community around us bound us together and we grew in our faith by leaps and bounds. In Grand Rapids, you really don't have to be any different from the world- and most of us, if we're honest, don't really stand out that much. I want to be different. I want to really LIVE my faith- and I want to live in a community that forces me to choose, where it will not be so easy to blend in, where being a Christian means something more than just going to church on Sundays. We need this. Because Utopia really doesn't truly exist on this earth. Our lives here really only count for how they impact the greater Hereafter. We must go where we can grow.

Well, I think that about wraps it up for this segment of My List. I will continue to post as ideas occur to me!! Oh, and if you read my last post and were confused about my thoughts on proximity to a major city, what I meant is that I don't want to be any farther from a major metropolis (not necessarily Chicago) than we currently are to Chicago.