I have not spent much time on this blog sharing about where we live, but I’d like to start! Our family lives in an intentional Christian community called Reba Place Fellowship. The group consists of people living throughout a neighborhood in the Chicago area and sharing life in various ways. We are not in any way secluded from the world around us, as we are scattered here and there within a few blocks of one another. Some people live in “households,” or large houses with unrelated people living together with some structure around their life together (meals, chores, household mission/focus, etc.). Some people live in apartments. And some people, like us, live in apartment buildings with fellow community members. We live in an apartment building that houses mostly young families. Each family has its own apartment space, but we share a backyard, a laundry room, and a stairwell (where play and conversation often occurs!). We are also part of a church less than a block from our home that includes people from the neighborhood and beyond. The truth is that everyone relates to Reba Place Fellowship in different ways, but here is a list of ways that I relate to the Fellowship on a regular basis:
- I relate to my neighbors EVERY DAY. Just across the hall from us is a family with two boys (3 and 1.5 years old). Our kids are knocking on their doors or they are knocking on ours or we are all meeting up in the stairwell or backyard at various times throughout the day. Upstairs, there are two other toddlers and lots of other grown-up friends. We also meet up with these friends regularly in the stairwell or backyard. Also, my kids go knocking on doors to request missing ingredients like an egg or a tablespoon of chili powder at least once a week. We babysit each other’s kids or listen to baby monitors after children have gone to sleep so that mamas and papas can have a late night date.
- Every other Monday morning, I go to a Moms Group and share and pray with other like-minded mommas while the kids laugh and play with friends and their favorite babysitter (who also lives in our building).
- On Monday nights, we go to “potluck” in the home of an older couple in the Fellowship. The table includes some Fellowship members and others who are visiting or wanting to learn more about Christian community. It is my night off from cooking and dishes. The conversations are always lively – sometimes simply hilarious and other times inspiring. Afterwards, there is a seminar with childcare provided that we attend here and there. The seminar is always a chance for me to be challenged in a new way or to open myself up to the world beyond my little family.
- On Tuesday and Friday mornings, I join with many of my friends and less-fortunate neighbors for a food give away (perishable food that is about to expire donated from local grocery stores). This cheerful event called “Manna” happens in a garage in our alley. It’s a great leveling of socio-economic status as we all join hands and rejoice over receiving the unwanted treasures of our consumeristic society. (There is an All-Fellowship meeting every Tuesday evening which I rarely attend. Josh attends every other week or so.)
- On Wednesday mornings, the kids and I pack lunches and snacks and join in a preschool cooperative made up of Reba Fellowship and neighborhood families. The parents take turns planning activities and lessons and the kids enjoy social time with all of their best buddies.
- On Thursday afternoons, I am part of a meeting of the Leadership Team of our community. I represent young families in our community and how to better incorporate children into community life. I have served in this position for nearly 3 years, and I will be rotating off this summer.
- On Friday evenings, I cook up a potluck dish, and we all go to a potluck and sharing time with our small group just down the street. The kids are present for dinner and then they go to play in our Preschool Cooperative space while the adults read Scripture, share, give feedback on discernment for group members, and pray for one another. Our group is very intergenerational, which has been a blessing to all of us.
- On Sundays, we go to worship at Reba Place Church!
- And, on Sunday evenings we do a movie night/date night swap with another family. One couple watches a movie with all the kids while the other couple gets a date – the next week we swap & the other couple gets a date. It’s fantastic!
This is only a small piece of our lives in community and our lives outside of community, but you can see that it encompasses a great deal of our time. I am deeply grateful for the support of others who love Jesus and care about so many of the things that I care about. And, I am grateful that, at a time in life when many women feel isolated and unstimulated intellectually I am not alone and I am swept into intellectual stimulation without having to seek it out. I have learned more in the past four years than I thought possible. I have also grown in relating to people as I get so much practice every day! It’s definitely a struggle at times to share life with all these humans, and it does mean less time to myself, but it there is growth and encouragement and beautiful life springing up all over the place.
Here’s a picture of one movie night when 3 families participated: