Living in Community… A Tale of Three Shovels

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There is so much to say these days, and I’m juggling caring for Kevin, caring for the kids, and keeping up with all the regular running the house stuff, so it will take me a bit to get caught up on everything.  I’m finding blogging such a great way to keep in touch with everyone right now, so please don’t feel offended if you hear news from this blog instead of from me directly.  It’s just so much easier to try to get it all out here and then to direct people to the blog.

Today I want to tell a story about community.  When Kevin and I moved to Atlanta, it was partly to be near family, partly for lower cost of living, and partly to follow a call we had begun feeling to move into an under-resourced neighborhood.  Our goal wasn’t and still isn’t to try to “fix” the many many challenges of poverty, more to live intentionally in caring for our neighbors as Jesus commands.  We all try to care for our neighbors wherever we are, be it the suburbs, another country, our workplace, or for us, the inner city.

When we first moved here, we got connected with a group called FCS Urban Ministries, and through that group joined a church in the neighborhood of historic South Atlanta.  Most of the people we met were living and trying to build community in South Atlanta.  Through some other new friends, we had discovered another neighborhood with many similar challenges called Adair Park.  Once we visited it, we fell in love.

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We initially fell in love with the two beautiful parks, the wide flat streets, the sidewalks, the historic homes, namely the beauty.

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We spent some time in prayer and after Kevin found a job, we settled on Adair Park and began house hunting in that neighborhood alone.  We spent nearly a year looking for a house that would meet our needs and work with our budget.  We wrestled with why we wanted to be in Adair Park.  Was it purely for selfish reasons?  We reasoned with ourselves that there were plenty of needs there, even if the neighborhood was already gentrifying and felt a little more “safe” and “nice” in some ways than South Atlanta.  But in our hearts, we knew it was where we were supposed to be but we really honestly didn’t know why.  Along that year’s journey, we became Adair Park groupies, attending meet and greet events, neighborhood meetings, and parties.  People kept asking us where we lived and we admitted we were trying to get into the neighborhood but weren’t “legit” yet.

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Once we finally found a house, had it renovated, and moved in, God revealed in amazing ways at least the beginnings of why we were placed here, in this neighborhood, on this street, in this house.  The house is very large compared to most of the houses in the neighborhood.  As we look forward to a year at least of hanging out around the house battling through treatments, that space will be much appreciated.

There is an open floor plan and lot’s of light that gives me a great space for having portrait parties and teaching photography workshops.

There is a wonderful, comfortable guest bedroom that has already been made great use of as dear family and friends have flown in to help us weather these storms.

But the biggest thing that has been made clear to me is how special the people are in Adair Park.  Through something as simple as a neighborhood facebook group, God has used people to minister and care for us already in so many amazing ways.  During the first surgery, just five days after moving in, neighbors and friends from church showed up to install locks, do repairs, unpack, and of course bring food.  Last weekend after the second surgery, food literally just showed up from folks we barely know, all organized through the group.  Sunday morning, Aunt Barbara was trying to help out with any little things that she could and wanted to plant some bulbs for me that had been sitting forlornly on my front porch.  I only had a hand shovel, and she was going to need a full size shovel to do the kind of digging necessary to get those bulbs in.  I posted to the group, and I kid you not, 15 minutes later, three shovels from three different people showed up on my porch.

Now you might think something as simple as a shovel is no big deal.  So what, people are nice in your neighborhood and they loan you gardening tools.  But God was showing me something so much more.  He was showing me that He was going to carry us through this in the big and the little things, NO MATTER WHAT.  This is true community for us.

On Wednesday, He did it again.  We’d had a pretty good day at the doctor, and I was feeling in good spirits, but for some reason I started feeling dizzy and ill after my babysitter had headed home.  The kids were napping, but I didn’t know what I was going to do when they woke up.  I was definitely feeling too ill to safely care for them.  I called Kevin and he put out a post on the group.  In less than 5 minutes, three people, again neighbors who I barely knew, showed up at my door, helped me upstairs and into bed, and then cared for our children for three hours until Kevin got home.  And did I mention that since Kevin can’t drive because he’s on pain pills right now that our neighbors have come together and are taking him to and from work each day so I don’t have to pack up the kids and try to do it.

I don’t say these things to make others feel bad if they don’t have this kind of community.  God knows I have experienced some of the deepest loneliness and lack of community during periods of my life.  I share these things first to express my gratefulness to a God who is meeting my deepest needs right now, letting me know that no matter what happens, I have a community that will always be there for me THROUGH AND BECAUSE OF HIM.  My strength is in Christ, and He is using His people to bring me that strength.  I also say this to encourage you to reach out to your neighbors, to create community in your own neighborhood.  It can happen, and when it does, it is a beautiful thing, and it is lifesaving.

One thought on “Living in Community… A Tale of Three Shovels

  1. Even though I’m not happy that you are thousands miles away from me, I am so thoroughly happy that you are in a place where people love and care for you all. God has truly placed you where you are needed, and through you, Kevin and your family you are touching lives in ways that maybe you will never know.

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