From Small Living to Long Table

In Living with Less, I shared how our family of five managed while living in a space that was smaller than the top floor of our old house. It was a cherished time. We have spent these past summer months in our new home that comes with second floor laundry (bless), a full-sized kitchen with room to seat a large gathering and a Muskoka room. All hail the Muskoka room-muskokaroomforblog

– I could live out there. With a coffee, a book, and a blanket, one could be lost for days. It’s surrounded by trees;the sun peeks through the forest at sunset. I mock the mosquitoes as they attempt to invade. A doe and fawn occasionally stop by.

Along with the spacious house has also come people. Family come to visit for a few days. Friends share dinner. Some of the younger people that work at the camp where we also live and work come by to borrow the much faster, dependable Wi-Fi or use the laundry facilities. As much as I am an introvert, I have found myself refreshed by the time spent with people. Living in a small space made it difficult to accommodate guests. I didn’t realize it but apparently I missed them.

Gather eight girls ages 18-26 around your table on a weekly basis to drink coffee, share coveted snacks and study the Bible and you won’t come away wishing you weren’t included. These girls come from as close-by as Toronto to as far away as Australia. I’ve learned that Australians don’t have nacho cheese, there exists a genre of music labelled EDM and “no one” is on Twitter any longer. I’ve been reminded how it feels to have your whole life ahead of you and be confident in your words and convictions.

The comforts of home effortlessly give way to easy conversation. A couch is not a couch but a soft landing spot when a friend is spiraling downward. A spare bed in a quiet room becomes a refuge in times of busyness and noise. A kitchen table becomes a place to share meals, words, belly laughs, games, ridiculous YouTube videos, homework, and on and on.

Washing dishes left behind by guests, my heart feels full. I may not have a degree in theology but it has become clear that my purpose is be Jesus, to be the Church, when the hurting, the lost and the wanderers come knocking. To have others feel at home when they are away from home. To be that safe place where agenda is left behind and false pretenses are unnecessary.There are no expectations on either side except to come as you are. After all, I have been blessed with space, food and fully-working laundry appliances – how can I not share them all?

As I was typing this, sitting out in the Muskoka room of course, someone came in to use the Wi-Fi. We chatted and then both continued working on our laptops while the birds filled the silence with song. Sometimes words aren’t necessary; just a comfy chair and warm cup of java.

“It turns out that I am terrible at converting people the old-fashioned way, with logic and reasoning and concise tactics and tracts, poignant sermons. Instead, I have the much less interesting spiritual gift of showing up and sitting on couches, of doggedly arriving, gamely prepared to  help in whatever crisis of the day, and eventually fading into a background player in a story that was turning out to be much bigger than me.”-D.L. Mayfield in her new book Assimilate or Go Home, which I am aptly about to begin reading out in the Muskoka room.

While I will treasure the memories made while living small, I’ve fallen in love with having a long table that extends an invitation to many. Finally, home.

 

 

Living With Less

For the last ten months, my family of five has been living in a space the size of our old living room. If you have been around The Meeting House for some time, you may have heard a message or two around living simply, giving generously, and community life.

Living in a neighbourly way locally and globally has resonated with our family and our desire to live and work in places and ways that impact the Kingdom has consistently grown during our time at The Meeting House. Four years ago my husband and I made the jump from well paying jobs in the Hamilton steel industry to not-so-well paying, but incredibly fulfilling jobs in the non-profit sector. It was the best decision we ever made.

You can read the rest of this post over at the The Meeting House Parent Blog

The Chosen One

Two confessions to introduce this post and give you some context:

  1. I avoid the Old Testament (OT) like the plague.  It’s violent, full of lists of names that I can’t pronounce and inevitably falls under the “mostly irrelevant to the whole Jesus thing” file in my brain.
  2. I might be one of those people that reads ahead in a book.  Maybe even reads the end first.  Eek!

Sunday morning was the first message in a summer series at The Meeting House called The Chosen One.  I *might* have groaned when I saw that it was going to be about Moses and the book of Exodus.  I will gladly listen to messages on the life and heart of Jesus.  Sermon on the Mount?  I am all ears. Fruit of the Spirit? Count me in.  Loving and serving your neighbour? I will show up with a pen in hand and take copious amounts of notes. All. Day. Long.  The Old Testament?  It hearkens back to Sunday School stories and felt boards.  The Bible I carry around doesn’t even have it.  Have I made my point?

Now, the church did a great job of trying to convince me that this series about Moses is going to be riveting.  I mean, a darn good job.  Hollywood-worthy previews were revealed three Sundays in a row.  Amazing graphics and suspense-filled music beckoned me to attend. Tweets were sent and hashtags were created to build up momentum.  The fact that I show up 99/100 Sundays doesn’t hurt either.

Come Sunday morning, I still didn’t bring with me a Bible that has the OT.  My inner brat decided my electronic version of the Bible would suffice because Lord knows, I won’t need to underline anything or take any notes.  I may even need extra caffeine to keep me from nodding off.

As I checked out the program notes I saw that there were references to passages in the OT AND the New Testament.  My heart sped up a little;  I saw a flicker of hope.  There just might be something redemptive here after all!

As the introduction began, my attention was kept by a very interesting comparison between Moses and Jesus.  As the speaker moved on to examining the text verse-by- verse, my mind started to wander. This is where my second confession comes in.

I moved ahead and kept reading further on in Exodus.  Can I tell you?  I don’t remember the part about Moses being cared for by his bio mom for the first three years because of some quick thinking and a little deception on the part of Moses’ sister.  They must have skipped that part in Sunday school.  I moved on to Exodus chapter 3.  This is where things start to heat up (see what I did there?).  God tells Moses he has heard the Israelites cries and is going to respond.  How?  He tells Moses in verse 10: Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”  Moses is obviously as reasonable and practical as I am because he answers with (verse 11):

“But, why me?  What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharoah and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?“   And do you know what the response was??

3:12 “I’ll be with you, God said”

And this is where I went over a cliff.

You see, I am pretty unqualified for just about everything.  (Maybe except making babies….).  I received acceptance to university but became a young mom instead.  I went to college for a year before I entered the workforce full time in order to be able to provide for my family.  That was more than fifteen years ago.  From there, life just happened.  (Just last month I finished my first university course on International Women’s Health and Human Rights with Stanford University online! #humblebrag).

Coupled with my lack of credentials is, unfortunately, passion. *Side note: More than once God has reminded to have passionate patience.  Aren’t those words antonyms?*  I love God and want nothing more than to know Him, love Him, show Him and serve Him.  My heart is heavy for the poor and marginalized and I want, no I have, to do something.  But my lack of _________________(insert professional degree or important piece of paper) holds me back.  How can I make any difference when there is Bono and Bill Gates leading the charge with their smarts and credibility?

After crashing into Exodus 3, I now asked how in the world was Moses a great choice on paper for the leader of the Israelites and conqueror of Egypt?

He wasn’t.

God still chose him.

All that was required was a response.  God told Moses to come.  When questioned, God calmly explained (albeit through an intimidating fiery  bush) that Moses qualified because God was with Him.  Can you think of anything more credible than that?

So, next time, when God calls me to come, I will move.  Not because I have confidence in my abilities or intellect but because He is with me.

My next move, you can be sure, will be to show up for the rest of the Chosen One series with a pen, Bible and the attitude of a humbled student.