Liberty in Appalachia?!

We’re still on the fence about moving to New Hampshire, or even moving at all, for that matter. Things are good, but we’re kinda bored.

Here’s the crux of it: Do we keep carving out our own niche here as Christians who happen to lean libertarian? Do we go searching for some kind of liberty-minded community in a far-off place in the hopes that our differences wouldn’t be so diverse as to get us shunned? Or are we seeking something that may not even exist?

“Here among the mountains, the pinions of thought should be strong, and one should see the errors of men from a calmer height of love and wisdom.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It sounds like an oxymoron, I know. But like I said previously, many in the liberty movement tend to super-categorize and label beliefs, practices, and lifestyles that run counter to theirs, thinking they know what’s best for all, instead of letting individuals and their families make these very personal choices.

Check out the boys’ $40 TIE fighter Lego set, which they got as a reward for Zeke finally having bladder control at night. Zeke got it for the obvious reason (way to go, dude!), but Houston and Gabriel also earned it for selflessly sharing their beds lo those many nights they had to share a bed due to bro’s wet sheets.

I suppose all humans do that to some degree, but I don’t like the feeling that I’m being boxed in to some kind of one-size-fits-all group that doesn’t let me be free to be who I am, to parent how I choose, to believe what I believe. That’s the point of freedom, right?! Oh how I yearn for live and let live.

In Christianity, we call this dichotomy essentials vs. non-essentials. The essentials are knowing that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins and was resurrected; and through Him, we receive grace, forgiveness, and life eternal with the Father. All else is a non-essential — theological topics of debate, deeper introspection, and often derision.

The battle over non-essentials is what drives so many people away from Christianity, or at least the Christian church. In the Old Testament, it’s what is referred to as The Law.

The 3 Amigos have a fierce battle with their buddy, Bret, the morning after a sleepover. Houston has the best sword, whereas Zeke’s is duct-taped and held straight with popsicle sticks, Gabriel’s is the pitchfork from an old hand-me-down Halloween costume, and poor Bret’s is the stick from a broken shovel. Boys are so resourceful.

These dictates, which are handed down from a governing religious body, end up keeping people so focused on jumping through the hoops of following the rules, and looking “religious,” that they end up losing focus on experiencing and growing their personal and redemptive relationship with God.

You know, works-based stuff, not the life-transforming stuff of changing one’s hard heart. As my pastor puts it, all the world’s religions are about doing outside things in order to achieve an inner conversion. But Christianity is about letting God change you on the inside, which in turn creates the revolutionary outside change.

“Now that I am living in God’s gift to earth, the isothermal range of the Blue Ridge Mountains that runs down the border line of Western North and South Carolina, my mind is geared for production.” – Donald McKay

Similarly, understanding liberty allows people to promote freedom for all, even when they disagree on the many non-essentials of this world. So, what are the essentials of libertarianism, you ask?

Voluntary association, respect for private property, and non-aggression. That’s it. Everything else is up for debate. Period.

Although he missed this particular pitch, Zeke is the best hitter of the boys. This is evidenced by the recent day when Stephen took them to the batting cages, and Zeke hit dozens of balls!

Still wary of moving to the Northeast, Stephen stumbled upon a growing liberty movement in Asheville. Pros: We could live in the mountains while remaining in our beloved Carolina, as well as be much closer to Granny and still not too far from Richmond family.

Cons: Asheville is just brimming with big-government hippies. But hey, right now we live in one of the bluest counties in our state, so why not?!

One other con is that the “official” liberty community’s main tenets is peaceful parenting. Well, the gist there is that even though it sounds nice, PP is not something which I would want to adhere to or condone as my family model on the whole.

“Seen from this point, a bare ridge at the extremity of the open land … we looked up at this blue barrier as if it were some fragment of a wall which anciently bounded the earth in that direction.” – Henry David Thoreau

First of all, it is only through the Holy Spirit that I ever don’t do all the bad things that come so natural to me, like yelling, and being short-tempered, high-strung, and selfish. It’s not my politics that enables me to (sometimes) be patient, calm, selfless, empathetic, and unemotional when raising my three beautifully and uniquely made boys.

Gabriel’s biggest asset to baseball are his throwing skills, and he caught a grounder at the big game. He’s got some work to do on batting, but that’s what little league is all about: having fun and learning!

It’s solely my faith that sustains me, equips me, and gives me strength to handle this thing called parenthood. So, we’re not a child-led family, we are Jesus led. We believe in punishments, consequences, and saying “no.”

We believe that it’s up to each family to lovingly determine the discipline methods or strategies that work best for them or each child individually. We believe that families are the apex of the personal and that their guiding principles should be decided by only those who dwell within it.

We believe in parental authority: that moms and dads are responsible for their children’s upbringings, educations, and well being. We believe that all people are born innately sinful, hence, our belief in many of the aforementioned items. Many of these beliefs run counter to the PP philosophy, which also touts man’s innate goodness.

But more importantly, we believe that there is not one correct way with all others being incorrect. As long as you have the essentials right, whether it be in your Christianity, libertarianism, or parenthood, all the rest are non-essentials of these mind-and-heart journeys.

Houston is a pretty strong player, but like most kids his age, he can use some polishing of skills across the board. Daddy and I are just excited that he and his bros are putting themselves out there to be part of the Cardinals!

But who says we have to be a part of this particular liberty community, right? As long as people are open-minded and kind and willing to discuss issues that could bring about more freedom in our time (basically, their view of the non-essentials and mine), that really is the best I can hope for in this fallen world.

Plus, did I mention that the leaders of our church community group (the Bible study we have been attending for more than a year now) are thinking about moving to Asheville, too? Lindsey and Andrew are smart, sweet folks who, although quite younger than us, are extremely mature in their faith, so having insti-friends would be a perk for sure!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Plus, should we happen to get involved with a liberty community that is hostile to Christianity, it would be a great benefit to have our friends there to help keep us on the narrow path. Gotta have accountability and all that.

Simultaneously, though, we could be the salt and light within a secular group, smashing the preconceived notions of what it means to know Jesus, spread his love, and want to grow freedom through Him here on earth and in the hereafter. Hmmm, could be a plan!

Sure, Asheville might not have everything we want. But some other perks of the beautiful mountain city are multiple CC communities, great restaurants, awesome music, interesting people, affordable housing, and a new ADVENTURE!

A moment in sports history: the bases loaded with ALL Dillinghams! Zeke’s on first, Houston’s on second, and Gabriel’s on third … and then the Cardinals go on to win the game 8 to 7. Coincidence? I think not!

Other happenings:

  • The dudes are completely Stanley-obsessed these days. I think our 12-year-old, fat feline definitely appreciates the abundant love and attention, as opposed to the years of toddler abuse and high-pitched tantrums. Thanks for not peeing on the boys’ puzzle anymore, Stan!
  • The 3 Amigos had their first baseball game on Saturday. They’re all on the same team: St. Louis Cardinals for ages 6-8. It’s a coach-pitch, which means each player is pitched to, but a tee will be used if the he can’t get a hit.
  • Stephen finally watched Red Dawn (one of his all-time favorite movies) with the boys. It’s a bit mature for them, but we figured that with near-constant pausing for questions and explanations, it was okay. Plus, it tied in well with our Cold War history lessons!
  • Stephen taught the kids five-card draw, another leap of a maturity, but they have really caught on. You should see them bluffing and trying to keep a poker face … just too cute!
  • The 3 Amigos have had tons of outings both during the “school year” and since CC wrapped up, including multiple playdates, a couple sleepovers, a birthday party, a piano party, seeing play about the Lost Colony, and going to an astronomy event with Daddy!

The boys relax after a tour at the Civil Rights Museum. Inconspicuously located here in our very own city, this is where on February 1, 1960, four freshman from North Carolina A&T sparked a peaceful revolution that would forever change America.

  • Along with some CC pals, we visited the Civil Rights Museum, which is in the Woolworth’s where the Greensboro Four sparked the sit-in movement. It was actually quite a great tour: historically accurate without being too PC.
  • We also attended a baroque quartet performance. We took my community-group pal, Tristan, who is very pregnant and I think appreciated the diversion.
  • Tristan organized a karaoke night for the gals in our Bible study. I rocked out some Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, which probably came off as a bit strange to the 20-somethings in our crew, but I embrace being the old, classic-country-loving lady in the group!
  • I’ve also had a dinner out with my buddy, Holly, and gotten some major hang time with another pal, Adair. Both of these ladies have become dear friends to me. And although we don’t get to see each other that much due to mama duties (they each have four kids, and Holly is praying for more!), I cherish being even a small part of their lives. Thanks for the fun, girls!