"Life is too short to waste."
This has really been the motto of my life. There is so much to learn, and see, and do, and experience that sitting and watching movies or playing video games seems to me such a waste. Even as a young guy, around 14 years old, I’d be up early in the morning, biking through the city, exploring all the bike trails, the river valley, and walking through museums on my own. This eagerness to learn, this desire for knowledge, this drive to explore has stayed with me and made my life quite eclectic.
Early on in life, I constructed a list of principles or philosophies that I would live my life by. By the time I was 24 years old, these had become ingrained in my life and were the measuring rod by which I made decisions. The main principles were:
1. I will live my life for God.
2. I will always be reading a fiction book.
3. I will always be learning something new.
4. I will explore.
5. I will invest my life in building relationships.
There were more as well. Some were stated in the negative such as, “I will never look at pornography” or “I will not make decisions based on a pay cheque.” Some were a bit more imperative, some more fantastical, and so forth. In the end, these rules of life shaped my future.
My life became an adventure. I found myself working in the ghettos with the homeless and the addicts, counselling families, and learning to skateboard. At another time I was tap dancing on stage and singing in a musical to great crowds of people. I fell in love with a beautiful and intelligent girl and together we slept under the stars on golf courses, bathed in many oceans, found ourselves trekking Annapurna I in Nepal, witnessed a volcano erupt in Indonesia, and watched dragons attack each other on the Komodo Islands. As children entered our life, we didn’t lose a beat. We developed the principles by which we would raise our children and these included:
1. Our children will be more comfortable in the wilderness than sitting in front of a movie.
2. Our home will house no video games, but instead have hundreds of books.
3. We will give our children a classical education.
4. We will teach our children to be entrepreneurs.
When my first child was only ten months old, we trekked the 120km East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. I published my first fantasy novel and sold the rights to my first script; I started up a photography business, and by the time we had four children we were moving to Austria to pursue a second Master’s degree in Sacred Theology. With Europe at our fingertips, we explored the secrets of Austria, the relics of Italy, and the crêperies in Paris. After graduating, gaining proficiency with three languages, and developing a liturgical life full of traditions, we managed a mission farm and learned husbandry skills, carpentry, plumbing; I also started taking my doctorate. Now we have eight children and are learning to live off the land in a beautiful Catholic town where we are now tackling the art of fishing, hunting, tanning, and butchery. Three of my children have their own business. We are a family of voracious readers and our board collection is something to write home about.
Our lives have been very full and continue to be so. It all comes back to the foundation, the principles by which we choose to live our lives. We are not afraid to dream. We are not afraid to pursue them. We are not afraid to believe and trust in God. We are not afraid to work hard. We are afraid of standing before our Father in Heaven and being told that we had buried our talents, wasted time, and shirked the opportunity to build friendships.
The topic that my wife and I discuss the most now is that of vocation. If our vocation is to be a mother and a father, then everything we do should be geared in this direction. How can I be a better father? How do we instill our love of living into our children? Our love of reading? Learning? Exploring? Of the Catholic Church? How do we raise our children to be saints? In other words, we don’t just let parenting happen. We parent in the same way we live—to wit, by design.
As you read my posts on the Me and My House blog, you’ll catch glimpses of our Rule of Life.
Kenton E. Biffert
n.b.: We believe it is important that a family has a motto that they live by. Ours is Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful. May each of us be Always Faithful to our God, to our Church, and to our Family.