About a year ago we took a little risk and joined a community group at our church. After sitting in the pews for a few years and volunteering here and there we felt God calling us deeper. This little group formed, a handful of families feeling a similar tug at their hearts and a need for a space where our children could go while we met each week. It felt akward at first, not really knowing each other, personalities, ages and lifestyles all across the map but we all committed to showing up each week and seeing what happened. What has happened? Staggering beauty. Life more rich than I could have dreamed. Life and community the way I feel like the Bible tells us to live.
It did not happen all at once. We actually really struggled for awhile. We had curriculum that went awry, childcare issues, fumbled through finding something new to study. But we all kept showing up, kept listening to and praying for one another, kept seeking the Lord. Then summer came and we decided to take the time off, to meet in the Fall. After a week or so some of us began to talk, there was a big hole in our life without this group. Somehow, through those weekly meetings we had become close, so close that something was missing when we were not meeting together. So...we opened our home :) Started having potlucks, hangouts that turned into awesome stay up really late, kids running around like maniacs, pouring our hearts out conversations while wiping up messes life. The roots began to go even deeper. We walked through death together, through fear together, through kids are sick can doctors make them well crying out to God together. We have dreamed together, celebrated together. Somehow this little group became my, "I need to call them very first when something happens" people....and I love them, deeper than I ever thought possible, deeper than I ever would have dreamed from those first few meetings. God is so good.
Doug and have said almost nightly, "we are so blessed, so deeply blessed" he has described it as, "being surrounded in a great big bubble bath of love."...and he is not a mushy guy. As we have walked through fear of losing Georgia, worries about Ravenna's blood...so many times that I cannot even remember now, they have been right there.
Then, last week tragedy struck our group in a way we never would have dreamed. Andrew and Lucy have been a part of this group from the very beginning. Just the night before Lucy had been at small group talking about how crazy Andrew was for riding his lawnmower while having pneumonia. Just that same night we had prayed for him. Then Monday Lucy called Andrew was at the hospital, then another call came, he was on the ventilator. It is hard to write about it even now. So Doug headed in and we said we would do anything we could to help.
This last week has been crazy hard. We have run back and forth between watching kids and being bedside at the hospital, weeping and praying on the way home. Watching our friends, wishing there was more we could do...but that is not all of the story. We scooped up their kids bringing them into our home...and our community group scooped us up. Immediately people were at our door helping to bath kids, feed kids, wash our dishes, you name it they were just there. Knocks started coming on our door, community group friends with food, toys from their children's rooms, clothes from their children's drawers, you name, they brought it. All friends with little budgets dropping everything and doing anything to serve. The next morning we realized our micrwave had broken. Not having time to go and get a new one (with 6 children in tow) we wrote on facebook asking to borrow one. My friend Joyce unplugged her own microwave and brought it to us! Then, other friend's parents who we have not met went out and bought us a new one...that night as we were in the chaos of feeding kids another friend showed up and started washing dishes and as I turned around yet another friend had walked in and was putting on her apron and pitching in to help. The list goes on and on....
....and it is just staggeringly beautiful. I feel so humbled and so loved and keep thinking "this must be what Jesus was talking about" when he said:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
We took one of the greatest risks ever last year when we loaded up the kids that Sunday night to go and check out a community group. My heart is so deeply grateful that we listened and leapt. Because of it I am learning that life that is real, bumps, discomfort and all far surpasses on that is safe and comfortable. We have been able to serve our friends because we are surrounded by those carrying us, warpping their very lives around ours, being Jesus to us and it is beyond beautiful.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.