Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Community

When we moved away from our rental a year ago into our new neighborhood we had no idea what to expect here in regards to a community. We had lived in the previous town for 6 years and so much had happened during that time! We had initially moved there to be close to the university for Ron, and we had also joined a faith community. Our church was right down the street, as was the college, Sarah's school, dance studio, and Ron's later place of employment. Our gas bills were very low back then! We ended up becoming close friends with some of our neighbors which was amazing and such a blessing at the time! We would share food, have barbecues together, hang out and watch movies, take walks together, (I miss those walks Allison!), laugh together and cry together. Two of our neighbors were studying to be nurses so we would get free health checks off and on, and advice when we got injured, (I fractured my tail bone, ouch!) It was a community utopia for a time and I couldn't imagine not having that support and love. In fact, I feared losing it...

Well, all good things must come to an end and when it ended it was over, there was nothing left there for us, and we were more than ready to move on. We moved to the next town over not knowing anyone close by really and wondered how God would knit us into this community. We knew some people a few blocks away, but not well, and at first it felt pretty isolating here. As the months wore on we were amazed to see how we found families and made friends in the area; it was uncanny. We've gotten to know the family we knew who lived a few blocks down. They are awesome people, so full of faith and love. They have a boy and girl just like us and I pass down Justin's clothes to their little guy and we switch off babysitting for date nights. Ron knows a co-worker who lives a few blocks further as well. He and Ron both love to garden and we share our veggies with them and they give us home pressed apple juice and awesome gifts for our garden. We have dinner with them off and on and their cooking is so delicious! I met another family through a friend who lives a few blocks away as well. They are on the same spiritual journey I'm on and "get" where I'm at. I'm so blessed to have found them! So a mere year later, and we have three families we're friends with who live just a few blocks away in our little community!

The other day we had a dinner that was mostly from our garden: Potatoes and herbs, a fresh salad with carrots and peas, and spaghetti flavored with herbs from our herb garden. After dinner we went out and picked some lettuce, spinach, carrots and potatoes, loaded them into bags and went on a walk through our neighborhood dropping off our garden bounty and veggie starts to our friends a few blocks away. It was the most wonderful evening! Our hearts felt full and we were loving our community.

That night has gotten me thinking a lot about the meaning of community. I always thought that community was a place you had to set up - a place that had to be painstakingly planned in every way. The element of fear was always there - what if someone moves away?, what if God takes us away from our support system?, etc. What I'm realizing is that God is fully capable of setting up community anywhere! It's a no brainer for Him. We're the ones who add in the complications and strings to the whole situation making things much more complicated and messy.

I look around us now at the community we're blessed with and I'm in total awe. Community has come to us in such an incredible way and now we get to nurture it and see it grow in beautiful ways. I feel so lucky - SO blessed! I cherish our neighbors more than ever because I feel they're a gift God has given me. I don't feel like I deserve it, but the universe has smiled on us and we're blessed.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Crazy" Ideas

Hello dear readers! It's been almost two weeks since my last post. Life has been busy with the end of school, dance recital, and life in general. I've hardly had time to return phone calls, e-mails, you name it! I detest this kind of busyness honestly; I like life to have a stable predictable pattern. But it seems my life has been anything but stable these past few years! I'm learning to "go with the flow" so to speak in more ways than one.

Yesterday I was pondering about life as I was driving along in the beautiful afternoon sun beside the bay. U2's song "Where the Streets Have No Name" came on the radio and I was thinking about the spectacular places I've seen in the world and how much I want to go back to every single one of them, and more. But, I'm here for now, in my little town living my life. Then I felt like God asked me, "What do you want to do?" I paused and thought a minute, "Really, anything?" "Yes, what is the most outrageous thing you want to do?" I sat there in stunned silence, really not knowing what to think or say back. I'm still pondering the question, and maybe haven't come up with an answer because if I do answer then He'll probably take me up on it...yep, I can totally see Him doing that. But it got me thinking - How much do I set the rhythm in my life? In the IC I always heard the cliche - if it's supposed to happen God will allow it, but if it's not He'll close the door. I wonder now if I was the one closing the door, not Him. Yet, there are crazy ideas I've had for years that have actually happened. I've been to England and Scotland twice, I went on a missions trip to Thailand last summer without my family and survived it, I had a baby despite a very high risk pregnancy. Now I'm starting to wonder if all of the other ideas I've had that I excused away as not being "God's will" actually ARE God's will. Maybe I've been setting them all aside and creating my own rhythm apart from Him...

So I'm going to share with you one of my crazy ideas and I'd love to hear some of yours....maybe if we start talking about these ideas we'll see that they're not so out there after all...and maybe they will start happening.

Here goes: I want to go and live in a third world country for a year with my family. I have a desire to reach out to women who are oppressed and live in poverty with no hope. This idea is crazy because for one my husband has no desire to do this right now. I have two kids ages 4 and 11 which would make this even more challenging. But, it's my wild dream and I'm owning it!

What are your crazy ideas?

Friday, June 4, 2010

More on Hearing

The longer I'm outside of organized religion the more I seem to be hearing God's voice and acting on it. The most profound thing about hearing His voice now is that I don't even realize I've heard it until the words are out of my mouth and it becomes obvious I was hearing Him. It's kind of like this: Remember when you first met your spouse and you had to ask him/her what they meant when they said something? Then over time you came to know them so well that you could sit in the same room with them and know exactly what they were thinking, or know what they were going to say before they said it?

The other day I was hanging out with some of my friends who don't know Jesus yet. We were talking about life in general and one of the girls I was talking with mentioned the fact that she doesn't have a relationship with her father. She talked about growing up with her mom and what it's been like to not have a dad. This led to a discussion on the topic of bad people. I don't remember how I brought up the topic, but I ended up talking about child molesters. She spoke up and said that her father was a child molester, and that this was the reason she has chosen not to have a relationship with him. In the past I would have most likely felt God speak directly to me about this, but this time I had no nudging from the holy spirit whatsoever. I just spoke out, and I feel my words were absolutely inspired by the holy spirit. After this discussion I noticed the girl was much more open to me. I feel that I now have a bridge into her life because of our conversation.

After this happened the thought occurred to me: Can we become so in touch and intertwined with the holy spirit that our conversation is guided by the spirit's leading all the time? Not only that, but can we live a life where we constantly speak words of knowledge/wisdom that are so accurate to a situation without even knowing it?

When Jesus walked the earth He spoke truth because He was truth. Then He told us that we would do even greater things than He did. I'm sure He never had the thought, "I feel like God is telling me such and such." No, He simply spoke and His words were truth. So why can't we as followers of Jesus have this same authority and truth? I think we can. The question is, what is holding us back from this authority?

I'm perplexed as to why I'm hearing God so much more now that I'm out of the IC. Especially when it seems that now I'm not "trying" to hear His voice. I used to toil and sweat over hearing from Him honestly! Maybe that was the problem - maybe too much of me was in the way. Now I live my life following Jesus, and if He chooses to speak to me I'm in awe, but if I don't hear from Him for a while I'm not stressing out about it. Maybe I was trying too hard...

My daughter has taken ballet classes for the past four years. I've watched her skill develop slowly over time and now all of the years of technique and training are beginning to show. Dancing is becoming a part of her, and she doesn't have to think before her next step; the steps flow naturally without premeditation. She is finding herself in her dance, her confidence is rising, and when she moves she isn't afraid of making a mistake. Her movement looks effortless and graceful. This is how I want to hear God's voice. I want His words to flow through me without effort. I want the dance of my life to be fused with the music of His voice.