Community--It's a way of life

As I am away from the internet for a while, I have asked several very wonderful friends and people close to me if they had anything to say. This article is by Christie Weakly, Joy's best friend. Our families and a couple of others made a covenant group a number of years ago, which means we needed close accountable friends, and so we challenged some people closest to us to help us develop the kind of community that we and our children would need in this isolationist culture. It is so great to see this from the eyes of one of the children who participated in our community plans and schemes. Joy and Christie left this week for college and so it is all fresh. Be blessed!

By Christie Weakly

Most people just have one mom. I have, like, five. They all hug me, pet me, pray for me, feed me, and give me advice, and I pretty much love it. For all you moms out there who read my blog: this article is mostly for you. I wanted to talk about what it looks like from the kid's perspective to cultivate community and adopt each other as extended family. It's wonderful.

As you know, I left for college a week ago. Before I left, we partied hard with all our family friends to send me off with a bang. We had four or five families over on a couple different nights for dinner and a prayer time for all us kids who were leaving. My family, the Clarkson family, and the Rose family gathered at my house, ate burgers, and joined in a circle to pray over me, Joy, and Joel as we all went our separate ways to school. It was so fun! Auntie Sally (I call her that since it's as close as I can get to "mom" =P) and Ms. Brandee and Ms. Shelley and my mom all hugged me and gave me advice about school and boys and God, so pretty much everything I need to know. I felt loved and supported as I left, and as a result, I'm not lonely since I know I have people praying for me and loving me from afar who are just a phone call away.

I noticed something very concerning the other day as I said goodbye to my Bible study girls: there are NO older girls mentoring younger ones! And especially no older guys mentoring the younger guys. Have you noticed that? Mentors just a few years older than me who are mature and godly and intentional are quite absent. I've never had a mentor within the age group above me.

But my mom has more than made up for this lack, as have all the other women in my life. We have a core of about five moms and their families who have been together for years. We all love God, are going in the same direction, and are committed to growing in maturity along the way. I hear these wonderful women talk about their struggles and how they've decided to mount over them. They are glowing examples of godliness in a wife and mother, more-than-worthy templates for a godly woman's life that younger woman can aspire to. And since they've fed me and had me over and loved on me all these years, they have earned the right to speak into my life--and let me tell you, they sure do! Sometimes it's hard to swallow, but my mom usually tells me the same things, and they reiterate it and support me in it, so it assures me that it's the correct path to follow, even if it's hard.

But our little community hasn't come easily. When you decide to commit yourself to someone for years and years and go deep with them spiritually and personally, things can get messy. We're all sinful. We've had PLENTY of times where someone has hurt or offended someone else, we've had little fights and disagreements, you know. Typical relationship stuff. But we've always forgiven and stuck with our friendship. We've never considered ending it; it's never been an option. That's what it takes if you ever want deep relationships of any kind--commitment.

And you know what was the clever thing on my mom's part? She fostered relationships with people who she knew would be good influences on me and Jack. She basically picked our good friends for us. We didn't really have a choice. But the more we came together and got to know each other, the more we liked each other! And of course, she was much more willing to have these friends over than the other neighborhood kids who weren't good influences on us, so we got more playdates back when we were kids if we asked to have those friends over. It was really a good scheme on her part.

You can do the same thing! Form groups for your kids. Have family dinners. Model the Christian life to your kids and encourage your mom-friends to foster relationships with them. Strategically place people in your children's lives who will influence them positively and create a strong Christian community they can grow up in and call home. This community could have the potential to change their lives forever.

One of the most convincing arguments for why I should live in Colorado Springs near my family that my mom has come up with is the one where she says she'll take my kids, when I am a mom,  when I need a break. My mom's friends have picked up on it too. Ms. Faith (I love her SO much) told me, "You can just call us anytime. 'Ms. Faith! I need a break! Can you take my baby??' 'What time is it? Midnight? Sure thing sweetheart, bring him on over!!'"

I want my kids to grow up in the same community I grew up in, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if I took them up on their offers. There is strength and protection in community. There's support and encouragement. I've NEVER felt alone. It's like that verse that talks about the great cloud of witnesses; I have my own living, breathing cloud of witnesses who will join with me in my resolves as life gets hard. They pray for me, send me encouraging texts, and will one day accept me into their number when I become a mom myself!

Ms. Faith has a 12-year-old, and she said, "If you get married at 21 and have a baby a couple years later, you and I could be stay-at-home moms together!" That sounds super weird since she has a son my age, but hey! Doesn't that sound fun?? It's community. Support. Love. Commitment. Foster it. It's important! Your kids need community: godly role-models and friends in a time where none step up to the plate. Model our faith through your walk. Have dinners! Pray for each other! You're investing in eternity when you foster a godly community committed to friendship and love no matter what life throws at you.