Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What You Don't Know (but need to) About Living in Community

What you may not know about living in community is that it's hard.
I say you may not know it because I rarely write about it.
I tend to stay on the surface -- to discuss the little issues -- because it's hard to write about the hardship.

Living in community -- in such close relationships with others who are not blood relatives (but ARE spiritual relatives) -- is vulnerable.  But it's so much more vulnerable to write out the hardships on the internet.

But what you should know is that it IS hard -- just as any true, deep relationship is hard.  And that means that it is through the hardship that beauty will eventually come, but it doesn't take away from the fact that in the meantime, it is hard.

We hurt each other.
We react.
We get offended too easily.
We retreat.
We confront.
We cry.
We want to run away.
We force ourselves to stay.
And ultimately,
we learn to love.

For some reason, it is hard for me to communicate in person about things that are difficult -- even when the difficult things are good things to say.  I hope my housemates know how much I love them, and how much I know I have growing to do -- that my deep introversion has kept me from real community for so long.  I am feeling the growing pains.  And I know they are feeling them too.

And I also know that these issues are not unique to this community -- that any emotionally- and spiritually-invested community has to face these hardships -- be it a community of a small family, a church, a workplace, a group of friends, roommates, a husband and wife -- we all experience these things if we let ourselves.

And that's the key, friends:  IF WE LET OURSELVES.

I think my problem is I've never let myself experience this type of community.  And now here I am -- 27 years old and with a baby -- experiencing this type of community for the first time.  Maybe that's why it's so hard -- because I have run before and have been able to run.  Now I am not able to run because my husband and housemates love me too much to let me.

Thank you, friends.  I do love you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ordinary or Radical Living?

My friend Sarah wrote a beautiful post reflecting on her life as it is now, especially in light of once belonging to an intentional community in Camden, NJ.  She's a really great writer and it's a very poignant post.  Please read:

this is why we do it.

Living in community means 

nowhere to hide
grace and forgiveness

a daily living-out of the Gospel of Christ.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When a Community Becomes a Home

It's inexplicable.
I can't pinpoint a why or where or when.
Ok, maybe a where and when.

What I know is this:
  • that it's been five days since I've set foot in our little community house.
  • that it's the first time since we've moved here that we left for a little vacation away.
  • that it's the first time since I've moved in that I've really felt like I came home.

What a beautiful, pure, joyful feeling!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When Schedules Collide

Oh, there was fun in this house last week.
Oh, yes.

It came in the form of (brace yourself, here): a schedule!

But I guess it really started with a job offer. Two job offers, actually. For me.

I wasn't even on the lookout for a job. Being a mom, doing homey-type-things, and working in ministry seems to fill up my schedule rather nicely. I wasn't opposed to the idea of a job, but I wouldn't want just any job. In December, I will have my MEd., and it's been a couple years since I really got myself involved in anything theatre-related. For the last four months or so, I've offered up the simple prayer, "God, I would love to have some sort of teaching experience," and more recently the prayer, "God, I miss theatre. Please use my gifts in some way."

And BOOM. Job offers poured in.
Ok, not exactly. But there were two.

I'll spare you the nitty-gritty details about the whole week, but in the end, we decided to explore the idea of a 10-hour-per-week theatre education job. When the subject was first broached, I brushed off the idea.

Until Elliott showed me The Schedule.

There it was: a beautiful, detailed, hour-by-hour, day-by-day schedule.
And it turned out that I could take the job after all! But it didn't stop there!
I was excited. So excited, in fact, that I immediately went up and made my own schedule.

(You do realize that I was so excited about the schedule-making, right? The job too, sure, but really, it was about the schedule. I love organizing things. I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page about my nerdiness. Are we all there? Ok. Continue.)

So that was, like, the best day last week.

Then the rest of my housemates brought their schedules to our house meeting, only to realize to our horror (dun dun DUNNNNNNN):

We don't have room in our combined schedules for house meetings this fall.

If you've been following the blog (or if you live in a house with more than... yourself), you're probably aware that communication is key for the survival and happiness of all. In order for the house to effectively communicate, we've found it important to have weekly house meetings. But with our schedules this fall, it's utterly impossible.

So what do we do?

1) Talk About It with Anyone: If something bothers us, we've promised to communicate it to the group. If there's no way that the four of us are together at one time, then the person will communicate to whomever is around (so if there are three of us at dinner instead of four, at least three people will be on the same page, and the fourth person will be filled in later).

2) Accept Responsibility: If something is communicated to a person, the person accepts responsibility and takes action. So for instance, if people in the house notice I never empty the dishwasher, Zack might say something to Elliott if he doesn't happen to see me very often. I'll take the note and will start doing my share of the dishwater-emptying.

3) Aim to See Each Other in Other Ways: Even if we don't have official time carved out of our schedules for the whole house to be together, we've planned "together-time" in other ways. Jocelyn and I always will do meal-planning and the grocery list on Fridays; Elliott and Zack will always go food shopping on Saturdays. These times are carved out of our schedules so we ensure that we are still operating as a community.

In addition, as individual families we have also made time for each other a priority. We think it's more important that each couple gets a date night/family night over a community time. So within each of our schedules, we have planned weekly date nights/family nights for our own families. If you are married and do not yet have a specific date night set aside each week, I would highly encourage you to do so. It's very easy to get so caught up in the every day that you forget to deliberately (dare I say, intentionally?) make time for your spouse/family.

We realize that we're not the only household that finds it hard to combine schedules. What do you do in your family to ensure that everyone communicates and relationships continue to thrive?

More Outside Reading

Here's another guest post I wrote on the Ruby Eyed Okapi modesty blog:

And my sister-in-law just started a blog, and you have to read her first post. Trust me on this.
She's the mother of twin (adorable-amazing-hysterical) boys. Hilarity ensues.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Check Out My Guest Post!

I've been quoting different posts from Introverted Church ad nauseum these days. It's just a really awesome blog that resonates with me. Anyways, I had the fabulous opportunity to do a guest post on his blog. It's up today! Go check it out and support me!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Double the Babies, Double the Fun

So what's it like raising two non-related babies in the same home?


Just kidding. We actually don't know yet since Gwen is just barely starting to recognize Zoey's existence. But contrary to the photo above, Zoey usually thinks it's pretty cool.

Stay tuned later on in the year for the happenings of these two little girls!

here I am holding Zoey on the left, and Jocelyn is holding Gwenny on the right.