How would your life change if you didn't have rent or a mortgage to pay, i.e., if your housing was free?
That's easy. I wouldn't change much other than travel more freely. Jim and I have never had the luxury until the last few years of traveling outside the country. Our first trip was in 2005 when a couple from our church paid for us to go on a two-week mission trip to Cebu in the Philippines. I got my first-ever passport. Jim had one ten years before because he went on a trip to Israel and Egypt. Lucky him, but I didn't have the inclination to go to such a volatile spot with young children at home. Fast forward a few years when the kids were in high school and college and we felt called to take that trip. That brought forth the very contagious travel-bug, for which there is no cure but more travel.
Our second trip was to England to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. When we celebrated our 20th anniversary, I told Jim that I didn't want anymore gifts of any kind for Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries for the next five years. I told him I wanted him to start saving money so he could buy me a special gift for our 25th---"a-big-honking-go-into-debt-diamond-ring." I meant it, too---for about two and a half years. When we first got engaged, we were the proverbial poor church mice and I was extremely practical and considerate. My engagement ring was a modest three-stone ring. I loved it and love it still (although the stones kept getting knocked out and I eventually had it made into a necklace so I could actually wear it instead of keeping it in a drawer sans stone). Anyway...I wanted some impractical bling for once. But, like I said, the desire only lasted about half way through the five years. After a time, I started to feel guilty. As I mentioned, I was and still am a bit of the practical and considerate sort. I just couldn't justify spending that kind of money for just me. After some hemming and hawing, I decided that we should take a trip to Europe instead. Jim's childhood friend, John and John's wife, Lynn, were to go on the trip with us. In fact, we'd be staying with Lynn's college roommate, Lucy, while we were in London. As it got closer and closer to the month we were to leave, it became clear that John and Lynn were not going to be able to make the trip. Lynn's mom got sick and went to live with them and their five children. They could not leave all that behind. We were so disappointed and didn't know what to do. After all, we didn't know Lynn's friend, Lucy, and we couldn't stay there. We were broken-hearted for a time. What to do? What to do? Finally, Jim said, "You know, Jan, I've always wanted to go see Utah..." I sat there in disbelief and thought, "England. Utah. England. Utah. Hmmm." Finally, I looked at Jim and said, "Jim, I am NOT going to Utah!!" Jim's mouth got teeny-tiny and he said quietly, "Okay." We didn't know what we'd do about housing, but we determined we were going to England. We did and it was a wonderful trip. And guess what? We stayed with Lucy and her very gracious family. Her gracious and elusive family. We could never get them together for a photograph despite trying for two weeks.
Since England, we've made two trips to Germany and will head to Ireland before the new year. We eventually did get to Utah. With Clella. And it was a trip worth every moment.
So, anyway, I would not change much beyond the additional traveling. I love my work. I love my family. I love my friends. I love our little church and I love being in ministry. I love our finished home that allows us to entertain and embrace those we love and those we don't know. I guess I might add that I would have people in more often, but since the renovation has been completed, impromptu gatherings happen so much more easily and delightfully.
Life is good. A life of service is better.
p.s. The pictures will have to come later because they are on my laptop at work!