Friday, January 14, 2011

living in community

Jaclyn and I have been friends for 12 years [and counting ...]. In those years, we've been single college students, college students with boyfriends, dorm suitemates, e-mail friends, engaged to our college boyfriends, newlyweds, professionals, TV-watching friends, walking partners, Bible study classmates, small group companions, women who wanted to have babies, women who had surgery as part of their struggle to have babies, Settlers of Catan addicts, and mothers.

And we went to lunch today without any of our combined five kids. Or our husband. We love all of these people dearly, but it was good to be just Jaclyn and Kristin for 90 minutes.

Now you're wondering how we managed to eat like grown-ups at Cracker Barrel. Well, I'll tell you.


We are blessed with an awesome community of friends. Friends really isn't even a strong enough word. We have a small group -- if you consider 12 adults and eight kids small -- from church that actually used to be a bigger group that meets weekly to share our lives together. Sometimes it's chaotic. Sometimes it's predictable. Sometimes God surprises me somehow, even though He promises us new life and grace and mercy and hope.

These are the people who filled my fridge with food after we adopted Ben. They prayed for me and situations close to my heart. They helped me raise money for Ben's adoption. Twice. They let me help them. They make me laugh and don't care if I cry. They stood in a really long line to give us hugs at Gary's visitation and let us lean on them. Sometimes our kids inadvertently share strep throat germs. And sometimes our kids end up dressed alike on purpose and other times by accident.

And we all live in this small town that makes a great home.

Of course, there is a bigger group that is associated with this smallish group. And five of us moms decided to start a babysitting co-op. It works like this: Every other Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. two of the moms are available to watch the nine kids at someone's house. We take turns hosting and helping. The other weeks the three moms who aren't on duty can do whatever. Errands. Appointments. Hobbies.

Or lunch with a friend.

What do you think we spent most of our time talking about? Yep, our kids. We wouldn't change where we are for anything. We're constantly learning something new, sometimes thanks to a lesson from our pre-schoolers or our smaller ones who don't even walk. Of course, we reminisced some too.

I left feeling full. Literally from my Cracker Barrel salad and cornbread. And figuratively from my time with my friend.

Apparently it's good for my health too. Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. At least according to information taught at Stanford and being circulated as an encouragement to women.

I am thankful for where Jaclyn and I have been, and I'm looking forward to where we're going. Together. With our friends and their growing families.

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