My husband and I host/lead a missional community group from our church. For those of you who are new to the term, "missional community", you can click here for a great description of it that is posted on John Piper's desiring god blog. The church that we go to is basically a network of missional communities (MCs). Of course, we still have a worship service and sermon every Sunday; but after the service, our church continues its mission via the missional communities. Our church defines MCs as "small groups of people, joined by the gospel, pursuing the renewal and redemption of their community together". Missional community is the primary way to connect with others at our church and pursue life on mission together.
Our particular missional community happens to be made up of 8 couples, with 14 children amongst us (7 under the age of two (one who is his mother's womb right now) and 7 over the age of two (between the ages of 2 and 5). We all meet at our house. It can get pretty crazy with that many children, but I believe we are all becoming experts now about how to manage that. The entire group meets once every other week at our house. On the weeks in between when we are meeting at our house as a big group, the guys or girls meet at an offsite location to get deeper in discussion with one another (sans kiddos). Below are some photos of some of our community group kiddos (I hope their parents don't mind me including photos of their children here). What a blessing they are!
|Drew, leading a Biblical discussion with some of the children who are over age 2 in our group|
I am so glad our kids get to grow up together in this group! We are doing life together, holding one another accountable, studying the Bible together, and serving and loving one another. The latter which our family has become very familiar with these past 8 months. You see, ever since I first received the cancer diagnosis, we have been served by our community group. At the beginning, I was breastfeeding Abbey--actually, she refused to be fed in any other way. So, it was extremely tough being forced to wean her in the time frame I was given after receiving my cancer diagnosis (pretty much, immediately). I heard screaming in my house for days while she refused the bottle. I had to hear that, knowing that all I had to do was breastfeed her to resolve the crying. I couldn't be near her, because when I was she attacked me like a little hungry monster. Honestly, when I look back at my entire cancer journey thus far, I would still say that that has been the toughest part. It may sound silly to most people, but for someone who desired to breastfeed my daughter for many months longer than I was able to (due to beginning chemo shortly after my diagnosis) it was terrible. Also, I think any mother can attest to it being extremely difficult to hear your baby cry for hours. But, imagine if you had the solution--the thing that you know would stop her from crying instantly, yet you had to withhold it. It was not a good situation. This was going on while I was still trying to process a cancer diagnosis. Abbey cried and I cried. Abbey refused formula. Actually, initially we couldn't even get her to drink expressed breast milk out of one of the many different cups that we had purchased for her. Eventually, she began drinking the breast milk (yet still refused formula). Our community group rushed to the rescue. There happened to be 5 of us women in the group who were breastfeeding our children at the time. These other women in our group began dropping off breast milk to me as they pumped it. This was like gold to us!
Then, the group began bringing us home-cooked meals. This was a HUGE service to our family. During chemo, it was so tough for me to take care of myself and my family. Meal planning and preparing was extremely difficult during chemo, especially since the grocery store was a place that I was avoiding due to the many germs during flu season. For many months, they continued to bring us prepared meals. These women have families of their own of which to take care. Some have jobs outside the home, some have tiny children to also take care of all day. Yet, they sacrificed their time, energy and money to serve us. Our family got to witness first hand what it was like to be loved and served. There were many days where I would get all teary-eyed. It was not because I was sad. It was because never at any other point in my life had I felt so loved by others. We also felt loved by so many others outside of our community group: friends, family members, past and present co-workers, neighbors, other church partners. Now, I truly understand how important it is to love and serve others. Matthew 22:37-40 says Jesus said the following after He was asked by a lawyer, "Which is the Greatest Commandment in the Law?": "And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Did you know the word, "love" or a form of the word appears over 500 times in the Bible? It is a pretty important word. I am excited to be finished with my treatment so I can get out more, and love and serve others more in our community.
So, after all that discussion on living in community, what is my advice to others? My advice to others is to do just that--live in community with others. Find others to do life with together. Love and serve others. After loving our God, that is the second greatest commandment! It will most definitely make a difference in your life, the lives of your children, and those of others.