Community and Crazy

3419 3419_ () 3419 3419 So here’s the thing: you and I both know there’s no such thing as a Utopia, right? There’s no place on this earth that is perfect, that is filled with perfect people free of problems and strife. That place does not exist down here in our earthly realm.

It seems silly to say that, but I figure I’d put it out there. I want you to know not just that this place isn’t perfect but also that I know it isn’t perfect (and I know that you know that I know it isn’t perfect).

There. I said it and now we can move on.

I’m establishing that point so I don’t feel compelled to mention it every step along the way. Because after a while it would get old and perhaps a tad awkward (“we had the nicest gathering the other day, but you know things aren’t perfect…”). I’m saying it here, loud and clear as the given of all this talk on community life: things around here are not perfect.

Here’s something I hear from time to time, something I myself am compelled to utter every so often: People Be Messy.

It’s the reality of dealing with other human beings and it’s the challenge of it. It’s also what makes community living so darn effective at helping me chip away the scales and try to be better, to be more virtuous, to put my hope and trust in the Lord. I am forced to grow in virtue, in patience and kindness and self-control. And me, in all my loving kindness, well my wounds help those around me in just the same way. Dealing with other people can be hard and it can be messy. But why it’s worth it is a) because this is what I know God wants me to be doing and b) hmmm, I don’t know, I guess nothing else comes close to competing with point A (but there are other great reasons for community: the support, the love, the unity of neighbors and friends).

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not some big train-wrecky scene all the time. There is not drama after drama. But it’s just, it’s not Utopia.

This is basically no different than family life: you get to a point, for some people it comes sooner than later in life, when you realize your family is not perfect. This happens even in the happiest of situations. You might wake up one day, assess the scene and think “wow! I never realized we were like this.” Hopefully, it won’t take too long to move forward from there. Maybe it does, but ultimately, Lord willing, you learn to accept the healthy crazy, deal with whatever bad crazy you must, and then move forward.

(and here in my need to cover all my bases: I am not talking about disfunction, never ignore unhealthy disfunction.)

You know I’ve written about my own family plenty. I love my family and I’m so grateful God plopped me down into the center of that world. I love my family and I know we’re not perfect. But I don’t feel compelled to mention that every time I write about us. It’s a given: we aren’t perfect, but we’re trying to be good.

And so it is with this community. This community is a combination of a church group and a large extended family and a very, very small town. Put all of those things together and you start to get a sense of what it’s like. It’s wonderful. I love it.

We’re not perfect. But we’re trying to be good. 3419″>


A Lovely Post To Encourage All Families with Boys

3415 3415_ () 3415 3415 Two boys are playing a game of brotherly poker which they should totally not be playing because the hour is just late enough that things aren’t going well. Not well at all.

One brother goes upstairs in some kind of agitated state and after a minute, calls down to his unfortunate roommate.

“I just farted on your bed,” he announces with tremendous satisfaction.

“Son,” says my non-plussed husband, “why would you tell him that?”

Not “why would you do that?”┬áBut why would you tell him that.

If that doesn’t speak volumes about life with boys, I don’t know what does.

(Enjoy this post now because I’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night and feel embarrassed and ashamed and toy with the idea of deleting it. Maybe I will. We shall see.) 3415″> .


Living Community

3406 3406_ () 3406 3406 Tonight, our small group gathered in one of our big open yards for a picnic and a kickball game. My boys look forward to this annual event and it never fails to entertain.

The more I think about the kinds of things I want to write — to share details of my life and to answer all your questions — I realize how I’m so much more comfortable sharing the “how” and the “why” of community living. When I get down to the “what” of it all — the basic cut-and-dried information, I start to feel stifled. Because that aspect of it — the number of meetings, the organizational structure, the nitty gritty of it all, it’s very important. But it’s not ultimately what this life is all about.

To me, it’s about the relationships. It’s about living and loving and being encouraged and built up and yes, stretched and challenged. It’s about a life that is more than just me and my wants and desires.

Tonight, we walked up the street to the picnic. Paul was meeting us there in his truck so I was towing Isabel in the wagon, loaded up with our food and blanket and her, that sweet little two-year-old trying to climb out. Henry was on his scooter, a few boys were on bikes. Moments before we were set to leave, Henry (accidentally) broke a window in the garage door. There was glass everywhere. We cleaned that up, which put us about ten minutes behind schedule. As we ambled up the street (a three-minute walk) I was feeling frustrated and spent. I really blew my cool with the window incident. Then I started to have some more negative feelings and by the time I got to the dinner I was in a “bad place.” I really wanted to go home. I was in no kind of social mood.

“How ironic,” I thought to myself most fouly, “that I’m trying to write about community living and here is a prime example of how it is way too difficult.”

But here’s what happened: instead of retreating home to stew and boil, there I was. Surrounded by other people. And little by little, after a few minutes standing there having to push through my emotions, I got over it. I got out of “myself” and within a few short moments I was able to just totally change the channel mentally.

So that’s the heart of this life for me — it’s being drawn closer to Jesus by being surrounded by people on fire for Him. When you’re immersed in that kind of river, you can’t help but get swept along.

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3397 3397_ () 3397 3397 Proof that boys can stand still (for a moment)

Proof that little boys grow up

Proof that sometimes you get a girl, even after all those boys

Proof that it just keeps getting better, don’t be afraid that your “now” is the best it will ever be

Proof that you can love your spouse more with each passing year, especially as you watch your children grow and blossom

Proof that there is room in your heart for each and every one of them, it’s a mystery but it’s true

also: proof that Charlie didn’t have time to fashion his bow-tie after serving the altar; proof that my church has one of the prettiest rosary garden’s in all the land; and proof that we own an ever-loving ton of blue blazers! 3397″