Unexpected Community

Imagine what it would be like to live in the past, even just 100 years ago. Imagine living in a time and at a place where your community, your whole and only community, was where you lived Travel wasn’t as easy. There were no cell phones and there certainly wasn’t the internet. Your community was determined by your geographical location. This would mean you didn’t get to be very picky with whom you were “in community.”

Unexpected Community

In the past year I’ve had the blessing of getting to know my neighbors well. This is the first time in a long time I haven’t moved after a year of being some place, and I believe a lot of that has to do with my neighbors. I have an incredible group of friends outside of my neighborhood, but I’m also blessed that I can walk to a couple of neighbors houses and it’s like sitting with family. My neighbors aren’t people I would have naturally become friends with if I didn’t live next to them, but they enrich my life.

When I had to make the tough decision to put down my dog due to fear aggression, two of them sat and cried with me. When I miss my family a little too much, they provide that comfort of family here. They bring me goodies and delicious food, and I do the same for them. When I recently got a new puppy, they have lovingly taken on the names of “aunt”, “bestie”, and “grandma” to my puppy and love her as if she was their own. They love me as if I am their own.

It makes me wonder, how drastically different my life would be without social media, my cell phone and the internet. True, my life would be missing a lot, but here is the question I find myself asking: what if I make an effort to live both in the modern world and in the world presently around me?

I can tell you, this glimpse of community I have with my home right now has transformed my life and made me a much better person. Community at its finest is found when you least expect it. Take a risk. Talk to your neighbor. I promise it will be worth it.

Tie A Knot and Hang On

“When you come to the end
of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I still remember the night in exact detail. I was visiting my parents for Christmas in Indiana, Steven was on his 2nd deployment within our short 17 month marriage at that time. He had been gone only 4 weeks. I was 17 weeks pregnant with Madelynn (our first) and headed back to San Diego the next day.

My mom and I had gone to have our haircut, but before we left my dad called. He had been traveling which is not unusual. After the call my mom was much quieter. When we got home my mom snatched their laptop and went to her room. I thought nothing of it and I sat down to watch tv before bed. My dad came home about half hour later and both of them came to the living room and turned off the tv and sat in front of me. That’s when I knew something bad had happened.

My brother-in-law Geoff had been killed in action in Afghanistan on January 13, 2010. My heart broke. Geoff was 21. Just 21. It was too soon. He was going to be an uncle. He wanted to be an Army Ranger. He was smart, funny, entertaining and always reminded me he had my back. I wanted it to be an awful joke. But it wasn’t. What it was, was the beginning of an awful week.

militarypicutre

Continue reading “Tie A Knot and Hang On”

Community is Good for the Soul

Friday night was one of those nights I sat there in awe wondering, “how can I be so blessed?” Like many people my age, I don’t have family closer than 3.5 hours away and am not married. That means that my life could be pretty lonely. It means that I could feel like I have no one to call in an emergency. But as I sat in my home Friday night and looked around, I was overwhelmed with the very fact that my friends are my family here in Chicagoland. That at any point if crisis or need I could call on a number of them and I know they would be there.

Small Group From Church
My church Small Group’s Halloween party

In today’s society we want everything instant and we often shy away from deep. Deep means you risk the chance of getting hurt. Deep means that people won’t always see that perfect selfie, but rather people may see the tear-stained face that comes after a pretty tough couple of weeks. Deep means that your answer to the question “How are you?” isn’t always, “I’m good.” Rather at times, you can look at someone and honestly say, “you know, it kind of sucks at this moment.” Continue reading “Community is Good for the Soul”

Being You

Friday was the day of great revelries with costumes, candies, and corpses. The one day of the year when you are allowed to be what you are not. Or is it?

husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony
Husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony

In today’s society of electronic media and online social networking, we can be whomever we want to be at any time. Everyone has the tools to be a celebrity – perfect selfies, enlightening foodie shots, posting statuses perfectly crafted to make every moment as dramatic as possible. That is what people see. That is what we want people to see. But it isn’t everything. Continue reading “Being You”

Intentional Community: 7 years post graduation

Each summer, I look forward to the “Cottage Reunion”; a weekend gathering of friends. We graduated in 2007 from Taylor University, and have made an intentional effort each summer to get together. These gatherings have become more elaborate and developed over the years, and we rotate responsibilities with hosting and planning. We have rented a “cabin” in Brown County, Indiana where we sampled ice cream and walked through a quaint town. We’ve gone off-roading with 4-wheelers in Milwaukee and had dinner along the river. This year, we celebrated two engagements and two mom’s to be!

The staples of these weekends consist of the following; copious amounts of food that we try to eat as if we are still in college, conversations that start over coffee, carry over into lunch, and last late into the night (another thing we think our bodies can handle like we did in college), and my favorite tradition…sharing our “words”.

“A word” is shared by each of us that epitomizes our year, and we keep records of years past. Our words have ranged from “new beginnings” to “devastating”, and I feel privileged to be allowed into the stories behind those words. Each of the women that I gather with have stories to tell that we may or may not have been privy to throughout the year due to life getting in the way of consistent communication. It is incredible to have time pass like it does, yet have all of us gather together and intentionally devote time to transparency with one another on the sharing of our “words”.

This summer, all ten of us descended upon Indianapolis. Like previous years, we had a loose agenda of options to fill our day (county fair, public pool), but unlike those years, this year we camped out at Addie’s house conversing for the good part of the day before we headed out for our “dress up” dinner (which ended up being multiple hours long with us then moving to an outdoor cafe for multiple hours after).

It struck me on this weekend that many people do not get to enjoy the richness of intentionality. To have ten women whose jobs range from education to medicine to finance to homemaking, make scheduled sacrifices, speaks volumes. In essence, by making the time to attend, we are communicating intentionality.

It’s a great feeling to know that you are worth someone’s time. I feel so lucky to have community with these women.

Cottage Reunion

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