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By Chance or By Choice

I passed my road test last week for my driver’s license. I was relieved, and happy. I had originally gotten my license when I was sixteen, back in Wisconsin. One of the many hats my dad wore was that of driver’s education instructor, and he trained me well. I found that, after ten years of not driving when we lived in Yemen, I still kept my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and checked my blind spots industriously. I could almost hear him in the car with me. I remembered one time I accidentally ran a stop sign in Eau Claire. Deadpan, my daddy said, “In Gays Mills, we have to stop at those.”

My favorite place to play in Gays Mills. Early influence?

Needless to say, having my license again is a great blessing. We are able to go to be more independent, and not have to bother our family for rides to the grocery store or library. Khalil can expand his job hunt, and if there is an emergency we have the means to get to a doctor or hospital if necessary. We can pick up Ruby, my niece, from school. So many good reasons to have a license, and yet still I feel hesitant and more than a little guilty about it.

Ever since I became an adult and lived on my own with my baby I have tried so hard to live simply and consciously, tread lightly, and be aware and thankful for the blessings that Allaah has given me in this life. As a young single mother I worked at a food cooperative in order to get a discount on the healthy foods sold there. I would ride to work on my beat up old bike with the baby seat on the back. I would literally stock shelves with Mujaahid (at that time, Sheehan) strapped to my back. I made very conscious decisions concerning what we ate, and not just from a health point of view, but from an environmental point of view. I rode or walked everywhere I could and took to heart the reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse ethic. I didn’t “preach” it, but I lived it, quietly and consistently.

When I married, my husband was on the same page as I concerning all of this. There were times we did better than others, but in general we have tried very hard to live in a simple manner, being responsible for our family and the Earth. From the day we first made contact, we dreamed of either homesteading on our own little patch of land here, or living in a Muslim country overseas. We set our sights on Yemen from day one, and knew that the standard of living was very different in that poor country. We felt that all that we did in the present would help prepare us for the future, whatever it brought. Alhamdulillah, when we moved to Yemen it all paid off. Things that were major stumbling blocks for other people were easy for us, due to our conscious decision to live a certain way in a consistent manner. As I once told someone, “We were poor in America, and we are poor here- there’s no difference for us.” But being poor isn’t the reason we live the way we do; rather, living the way we do makes it easier for us to handle being poor.

My little ones were thrilled with these simple homemade gifts.

When I let people know that I had gotten my license, a dear friend reminded me not to drive frequently and to always have more than one person in the car, in order to save gas and cut down on the effects of using a car on the environment. Teasingly, I wrote back, “Don’t worry, I won’t forget my peasant roots- and with all these children I never go anywhere alone!” Later I said half-jokingly to my husband that people don’t realize that we live the way we do by choice, not by chance. After I said it, though, I realized how true this really is, and what a blessing it is in so many ways. I also realized once again how diligent I have to be in this lifestyle. I love how my children are so pleased with whatever they receive, whenever they receive it. I treasure the pleasure we take in the small things in life, and how grateful we are for things that other people take as commonplace, or don’t even notice.

 We have chosen this path, and Allaah has made it easy for us, and every day I am reminded of what a true blessing it really is.

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