Recently, a friend and I had a long phone call remembering a legacy we left our children that came about almost by chance. We had piled our seven children into her suburban several years in a row when our husbands were working and traveled together over many parts of the United States. Most of our time, we stayed in the homes of generous families that we had met online and we look back now and realize that it gave our children first hand experiences at seeing historical heroes from a more personal point of view. And we made great friends with those we met along the way.
Our trip was so deeply rewarding, a sweet time of friendships for all of us, and mind and soul expanding, that we did it several more times through the years. We so enjoyed reading about historical heroes and then seeing their homes, walking through the rooms where they had lived courageous stories and expanding all of our souls with inspirational knowledge. I realize that not all people are able to arrange this sort of trip, but there are so many creative ways we can experience and see the lives of others in an authentic way.
Is traveling with your children part of your family culture? Seeing, handling, touching, acting out, experiencing, reading outloud---these are the live experiences that made history feel real for our family. Since my children were very little, I purposed to plan ways they could really experience what we studied.
Because we still worked with many overseas, missions was not just be a story that someone else lived and we only read about. I wanted my children to experience being in a foreign country and eating foreign food and hearing a foreign language, while seeing the great needs of others. Seeing the needs of others created thankfulness for what we had in our own home.
Of course, we can be on mission in our own countries, too. Serving in a soup kitchen or babysitting at a center for battered women makes needs more real, because children get to put a name to a face that they can pray for. Seeing how blessed we are as Americans is important, but when a child sees homeless or hungry children, they have a whole new understanding of poverty.
For this reason, since my oldest children were very small, I intentionally planned and purposed to give them real life experiences so they could have a more realistic understanding of those we studied. It is why we have been such travelers. Reading about historical figures is inspiring, but seeing places they lived or cities they built or where their battles were fought gives everyone a more realistic, concrete understanding of the ways of life, physical limitations, difficulties and also blessings of the people they have been reading about.
So travel has always been a central part of our lives. It wasn't possible in certain seasons of life, but I learned very early on that my little ones could be very happy in a car if I gave them things to play with, draw, munch on, or listen to; and so we have traveled our whole lives! Because Clay was particularly busy for three weeks working on our book catalogue every year, and my friend's husband had three very busy weeks with his animal husbandry business at a similar time, so we planned a trip together every spring. Finding museums, battlefields, cafes, art galleries, and more were our goal. We always would have two or three books on tape to listen to telling all about the places or people we were going to visit.
And so I'm remembering how our little history group one year took a trip to Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City. We studied the early years of American history for 9 months while we saved our money and planned, and made memories which will last forever--and also helped us understand more of the reality of the founding of our country. The stories of real live people who lived intentionally lives deep inside the souls of our children to direct them to live stories in their own world that matter.
Have you ever taken a trip with your children to see America's historical sites, or the home of a beloved author, or to experience a foreign culture? Which adventure was your own favorite? If you haven't ever tried such an experiment, perhaps this will be the year!