Deb, Sally and Shelley sharing spinach salad, grilled salmon and triple mousse cake.
For whatever reason, the puzzle of my life, is that over the years, we have had very few support systems or time with our families. We usually spend most holidays alone and have not had much family around to be close during times of crisis, celebration or life. We love our family, but it is just the lot in life our family has been called to live through. So, we understood early that we would not last long or well without community. But in this time in history, isolation from neighbors and even in mega-churches, loneliness from family discord and being different from culture at large, is epidemic.
God has been good to show us how to cultivate our own small bits of community so that we, and our children, can last longer. We have survived many years of loneliness, especially in their area of our ideals. We have been blessed with many, many kindred spirits nationally, but not always that support group right in our home--especially since our ministry has dictated that we move quite a bit.
One of my favorite groups that has evolved over the years is my small history group. My three older children had other families and groups that we did life with and enjoyed, but now that Joy is my only child homeschooling, she needed a community--especially during these high school years.
So two years ago, I asked two other families to join us in a history group. (They were already the families that travel with us to our conferences to help and work like Trojans and so we have logged some wonderful time together.The first year we studied the 1800's up to the depression years of world history. (We used beautiful feet loosely as a guide for the literature we would all use.) We would meet 2 times a month. We would all read at home a piece of literature at a time about the subject, but then I would assign reports to be done by everyone--even the moms--on an aspect of history during that time. We do reports on musicians, artists, economics, styles, athletics, events, as well as wars, biographies, and such. Sometimes the kids have been real dramatic and dressed up or done movies or video projects and sometimes they are just reports. But, it has been fun because we all enter into the fray of what we are studying.
Then last spring, realizing that we also needed just fun time and people to pray with, we decided to meet for dinner once a month, taking turns at each other's houses. Great meals were eaten and lots of great prayer times as families and out of it, a men's Bible study arose.
In August, the Lord put on my heart for us three moms to do a planning time for the year and just to have fun together. So we got a room at a beautiful retreat center near us--Glen Eyrie. I had brought with me a surprise tea time in a basket.
My own tea set, white-chocolate, apricot, pecan scones, raspberry jam, clotted cream (own recipe), tea, fruit, chocolate, cute little bookmarks for favors, candles, beautiful music and lots and lots of fun in our hotel room.
We talked and giggled and caught up on being friends, a lovely dinner out together--splitting and tasting each other's meal and then home to bed.
The next morning was the planning. Each of us had time alone on the beautiful grounds walking and our own quiet time.
mountain scenes at the Glen
Then came the planning--driving up to Pike's peak; hiking to the Waterfalls in the mountains, movies of world war 2 to watch on movie nights, 101 areas of reporting for us in the next 3 months; trip together to Kansas for the big Swedish festival and smorgasbord in October, Harvest Party inviting lots of friends in November; Progressive Christmas dinner in December with all of our older children home; and of course traveling to the Mom's conferences and working together.
We have one more memory together and decided to do this planning together every year. Sometimes just providing the plan and environment sets the stage for developing committed friendships. It's why we do our mom's groups once a month. It is why we do the mom's conferences.
Now the kids caught on. They started an Inkling's group, just like the English authors Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and their friends had. These famous authors (about 8 of them) met at a pub once a week to talk about each other's writings and lives. So, we helped our kids organize an Inklings group that meets twice a month. They have to read a great piece of literature and have a "tea" time--or snack time--great hearing all of these teen guys and girls talking about great ideas and sharing fellowship. About 8 or nine are in so far. But we see life happening, and positive peer pressure and ideals being formed and friendships forged.
Let me know about the groups you have started--might just be what someone else would be blessed by. Now, off to the mountains for our yearly trip to see the aspens--may be too early, but it is our only week.