Posts Tagged ‘community’

Guest Post: Building Healthy Communities

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Family Camp 3-26-3612

Guest Post by Perri Rosheger

Every once in a while, unique opportunities surface that set the stage for community building. What do I mean by community? One aspect of community that comes to mind is found in Galatians 6:2 and relates to bearing each other’s burdens. But you have to get to know someone before you can share their burdens.

The school where my husband teaches and two of my children attend is one of my communities. Of course I’ve gotten to know many of the parents through dropping off and picking up my girls from various school-sponsored events. Sometimes we even have the opportunity to chat at a sporting event or during a class party. But rarely do we get to go deeper and hear each others’ life stories.

If you are seeking community with people you interact with regularly, I recommend a weekend together at Laity Lodge Family Camp. The last weekend of March, my family and twelve other families from school experienced camp together. It was a wonderful few days of play, worship, introspection, one-on-one time, and — let us not forget — food.

Being together with our children when we aren’t preoccupied with setting up for a school function or by the distractions of the event is rare. At Family Camp, we had time to sit together and visit, learning about each other’s lives. It’s amazing how our perceptions of people change when that can happen. I learned that one of the dads had bounced from town to town throughout his childhood. He didn’t know his father growing up, which shed brighter light on why he’s over-the-top adventurous and fun with his own three children. I learned about the vulnerabilities of a single mom who was nervous about attending a weekend event with a bunch of two-parent families. For a long time, she had felt like an outsider, but our weekend at Family Camp changed all that when she and her daughter felt fully embraced. I got to know one of the older children of a family who had some wounds from the church where she grew up. She was grafted into some late night fun with the college staff and left camp beaming.

Sharing a weekend camp with these families who are a part of my daily life was very meaningful. We now want to make it an annual event and perhaps expand it to more families. Now when we see each other at school, we see each other a little more deeply. Hopefully, I’ll be one of the first to be there to share in the celebrations and bumps along the way.

A Moment to Dance

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

You might remember this video. From my estimation, I believe it’s the campaign that kicked off the “random” choreographed dances in large public areas.

The video itself is moving to me because despite being a commercial, I love the tagline: Life’s for Sharing. Isn’t that true? We were created to live in community, to share life together. Those advertisers capitalized on the fact that we will seize opportunities to do so, as they knew the story would be told over and over, pictures and videos would be captured and shared, and people would remember this “event” for years to come. And what a bright spot to create a moment of purely enjoying life. Taking the time in the middle of a busy day, a busy place, to smile, laugh, and dance. When this first came out, I cheered for T-Mobile. Aside from creating an effective marketing campaign, they sent a deeper message. A positive message in a culture bogged down with negative ones.

Guest Post: Skin On

Monday, January 31st, 2011

This month we’ve been discussing what it looks like to live in community with others – both for us as individuals and as families. Michelle Hurst, a High Calling Blogger, wrote the following post about getting out there and engaging with others. Virtual communities are great, but as even Marcus commented on in last week’s devotional, we can’t ignore our physical communities either.

Skin On by Michelle Hurst

Sometimes you need a little more than facebook love.
Or even double digit comments.
Sometimes you need real live friends.
The kind with skin that you can touch.

So today I did a brave thing.
This morning I walked downstairs and asked someone to go get coffee with me.
Yep.
That was my very brave thing.

And here is why.
Because me and the girl aren’t really friends yet.
We have worked together for awhile.
But it is a big building and I could go weeks without seeing her.
And we are facebook friends and occasionally comment to the other.
But I really don’t think that counts.
But she reads my blog.
And likes it.
And comments.
And because I can tell we like some of the same things ( like Jen Lancaster and Jesus)…I thought maybe we should try and be real life friends instead of just virtual ones.
Seeing how we work in the same building and all.

But somehow it was way easier on the playground to make friends.
In elementary school friends were just there.
In the desk next to you or right next door.
In high school there was a little more choice involved…but it was pretty easy to bond over a cute boy that you both liked.
And in college.
Still pretty easy.
Friends filled the dorms and classes.
And somehow I thought that making friends would keep being that easy.
But it has only gotten harder.
I mean I may be a little more secure than I was back in the sixth grade.
But I think we all still worry and wonder if people will like us.

And this isn’t some sad lonely I don’t have any friends post.
I do. I have great ones.
And I could always use a new one.
Because I love learning people’s stories.
Because each friend – real or virtual – adds a little bit to mine.

And this virtual bloggy world is pretty amazing.
I mean sometimes it is even easier.
A stranger who reads my blog could possibly know me better than friends I see all the time.
And sometimes I think I might just be better on paper.
All edited and polished and picked and chosen.
Without interruptions or small talk.
And it is a little easier to go a little deeper on here.
Because I don’t have to look you in the eye or hear you if you laugh at me.
But you can’t go get coffee with me.
Or share fondue.
Or chips and salsa.
Or pretty much anything else that has to do with food and laughing a lot.

So sometimes we need to stop reading or blogging or updating our status.
And occasionally even stop calling the usual girls…..
And walk down the hall…or the street…or across the playground…or pick up the phone.
Be brave.
And ask her to go get some coffee. Or ice cream. Or chick-fil-a.
Or pretty much anything that has to do with food and laughing a lot.

Taking it home: Consider who you might need to invite to coffee or have over for Sunday lunch. Is it an old friend you haven’t seen in a while? Is it a new person to whom you want to reach out? Ask your kids if they can think of someone that they want to get to know better, and help them come up with ways to do so. While this post specifically encourages us as individuals, we can also apply this to our families too.

The Beauty of Community

Monday, January 24th, 2011

After a full day of funnel cakes and Ferris wheels, we loaded into the car to head home. I turned my phone on again to see if anything important had happened while our family had wandered the fairgrounds at the State Fair of Texas.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Several text message began to queue up in my inbox.

“Hey, are you coming to Mom’s group?”

“Everything okay?”

“Where are you?”

The battery indicator read one bar, which provoked that internal debate of whether it had just hit one bar and I might have a little time or if it was on the brink of blinking empty at me. Making every moment count, I tapped out a reply to my mom’s group leader and another friend: “All’s fine. No battery. At fair and forgot. Not making it. Sorry!”

To which I got a quick reply: “Who is this?”

Understandably confused, I identified myself and called the sender crazy.

Then my battery died.

I felt sad. In three and a half years, I was missing my Mom’s group for the very first time. Every moment our group has spent together, encouraging one another, sharing advice, offering sympathy, journeying through life and parenthood together, has been invaluable to me. The fact we meet only once a month makes the time even more precious.

These ladies brought me food when I had each of my children.

They prayed for me when I struggled with a difficult family situation.

They offered insight into my parenting questions and affirmed I was not alone in my struggles.

They challenged me to think and to grow deeper in my walk.

And they called me when I didn’t show up to Mom’s group for the first time ever. (And they were bold enough to ask the identity of the person who had kidnapped me, locked me in the trunk, and was now using my cell phone and answering my text messages! Did I mention they are also very creative?).

As the poet John Donne observes: No man is an island. We are designed to live in community. We are not intended to navigate this life alone. As parents, it’s important that we find ways to plug ourselves and our families into communities that will challenge and encourage us, whether it’s mom’s groups, Bible studies, churches, supper clubs, or sports teams. With the rise of social media, we can even find online communities (like The High Calling) that provide the support and accountability we so deeply desire. The beauty of community is that you gain a group of people who love you enough to celebrate with you when things go well and who will hold your hand when life gets messy. It requires a risk on our part to be our true selves and to commit wholeheartedly to others. But when community functions as it should, it paints a beautiful picture of who God is

Taking it home: Are you involved in some type of community? If not, what keeps you from joining one? Consider whether your current communities are an encouragement to you, spurring you on in your relationship with Christ. If not, be willing to find or even create that type of community; I know you’ll discover it’s worth the effort.

Sunday Lunch

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

I don’t recall what the sermon was about that day, but what I do remember is the gentle nudge that came while the pastor spoke.

Open your home for lunch. And not just any lunch. A traditional, home-cooked, family meal. Practice hospitality. Invite the Body.

I shared the idea with my husband, and he agreed we should implement it right away. The first Sunday of each month, we would host lunch after church for both friends and people we wanted to get to know. Our first “Sunday Lunch” included two families and roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans . . . in September. The following month we indulged in a slow cooked pot roast with twice as many people.

Now, over a year later, we average around 15-20 people, and our menu has ranged from smoked brisket to chicken masala. A core group who has caught our vision attends regularly and helps us identify new people to invite.

In their essay “A Way of Loving”, Stephen and Karen Baldwin write the following:

When we offer food thoughtfully and with respect, caring for and honoring those present at our table, it creates an atmosphere where sharing, laughing, and relating happens naturally. Offering our hospitality is a medium of grace that opens hearts to deeper things. It is a simple way of loving.

Our family believes this. We’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve developed some new, amazing friendships while serving homemade lasagna made with freshly rolled pasta. Other families have connected and forged new relationships over a bowl of jambalaya in our home. There’s something about sharing food that truly does pave the way to real conversation and authentic relationships.

For a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon, we see the Body of Christ in action. This hospitality, this way of loving, feels like worship, and we leave that time with hearts (and stomachs!) full.

Taking it home: The key to hospitality is making someone feel welcome. You can do that through a gourmet meal or store-bought cookies you eat out of the box. For some, you may need to start practicing hospitality with your own family. At your next family meal, prepare something simple so you don’t stress over the preparations. Set aside your electronic gadgets for a few minutes while you sit down together and eat. Use something like Conversation Starters to engage with each other, and see where things go. There’s no perfect outcome you’re looking for, other than being intentional about spending time together. If this is a standard event in your home, try inviting another family or friend to join you.

This post was written in conjunction with a book club discussion going on at The High Calling. Join in the discussion or read what others have to say.

Family Support

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

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A dad came up to me after Roundup at Family Famp and said “Our family is looking for a church. We want one that is like this place.” What the man wanted was a church that welcomed, loved, and grew close to their family. A place where they could feel God’s presence in the fellowship around them.

Families today are looking for a community that will love them and show God’s love in their relationships. Leaders desire this for their churches as well. Yet somehow we fall way short of our desire in this area. Why do we fall short? What can we do as the body of Christ to foster these deeper relationships for families?

I would like to suggest it is time for the leaders of churches to provide opportunities for families to support each other in their walk with God and each other. This may come in many forms. There may be small groups offered where real sharing and teaching can occur. There may be various retreats available to families to open up and share their struggles and joys. A church may decide to offer families an opportunity to partner with another family to help support each other. They may also provide counseling services to work with families that need deeper help.

Now some churches are offering these and other opportunities for families. Yet, families are choosing not to participate because they feel as if it would take too much time out of their already busy schedule. It is true that families do not need one more thing added to their plate, unless this thing is something that can help them grow deeper in their relationship with each other and their God. Then some of the other seemingly important pressures in families’ lives might just begin to disappear from their plates.

At our last Family Camp, a group of families began to talk to each other about how they are beginning to meet as a small group with a combination of teaching and sharing. This has been a real blessing in their lives.

My hope is that families may come to Laity Lodge Family Camp and be renewed in God’s grace and love in Christ and then return home and find a community of families to walk with on their journey in the church. My hope for churches is that they may provide these places of support for families so they may grow deeper in their relationship with our God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.