Monday, March 18, 2013

A Case for Urban Living

We have now been living here in the heart of our small home town for 8 + years. There are varying levels of urban living and I'll admit right up front, that living in the city of Meadville is a very tempered form of urban life. Even so, as dwellers in this small town, we still get to taste of the realities of urban living.

There were various factors that pulled us towards the city when we began house shopping nearly a decade ago. Even though both my husband and I were raised in a rural setting, we realized during our dating days that we shared a strong passion for inner city mission work. At that point, Amos was in a 2 year teacher training program at Faith Builder's Institute and we found ourselves dreaming of working in the educational world with inner city kids. Our decision to start looking for a house in our local town began somewhat as a stepping stone in pursuit of this dream. Another factor in our decision was, let's face the facts, financial in nature. It didn't take us long to realize that homes were much cheaper within the city limits than in the surrounding rural areas. It's pretty much a no brainer--you're purchasing a home, not a home plus 5 acres of land for roaming.

I often feel sympathy coming from rural folks concerning our living situation. I love to smile and inform them that we chose to live here and--- believe it or not, I really love this living arrangement. In fact, it would be tough for me to adjust to a different environment. This does not mean that I never have frustrations with urban living. Neither does it mean that there are not parts of rural living that are not attractive to me. What it does mean, is that I feel God has called us here and he has brought me amazing grace to live in this setting.

I am going to share my reasons for why I feel called and compelled to urban living. While I do not think that all people are called to live in the city,  I do believe that each and every person should {at least} consider moving into an urban setting at some point in their lives.

My reasoning comes from the heart and mind of a married woman and mother.

1. Interacting with my neighbors is not optional. It's a requirement. These interactions are not at my leisure or in my spare time. It happens when I step outside my door to check the mail or hang out a load of towels. It happens when I go outside to settle a squabble between 2 of my children. It happens {sometimes}when I am washing dishes at my kitchen sink and the window is open. Yeah. That's really how close my neighbors are. They can talk to me from their yard even when I am at the kitchen sink. Sometimes I get mad and I feel violated and like I have no space to hide. But, I want this kind of interaction with people and I know precisely how lazy and selfish I can be when I am the one calling the shots about how and when and where I am going to interact with people. You see, I'm scared that it just plain down wouldn't happen if it wasn't built into my life in this way.

2. I hear many young moms talking about feeling isolated and lonely due to the demands of motherhood. They describe their world as feeling small and limited to toddler conversations and humor. I honestly do not identify with these feelings and it's not because I haven't been in the thick of mothering toddlers in the last 10 years.  In fact, some days I want to lock myself up into a small room with just my children where nobody will see or hear looks relaxing from my perspective.  Anyway, my advice to lonely mothers is to move into town. There will be more opportunities to interact with a wide variety of people than what you can imagine.

3. Property maintenance is minimal when you own less than an acre of land. For us, this is a huge blessing since it frees us up for other ministry work. Our small property does not mean that we are not busy. When people ask us how we manage to do EVERYTHING that we're involved in, this issue immediately comes to my mind. Of course this comes with its losses as well.  We do not have space for a big garden and no fun woods to explore, not even one tree to climb.

4. I know no better way to bring Jesus into a neighborhood than to allow Him to live in me and love through me in my daily life.  I believe that unbelievers must see us as more than religious people who engage in peculiar religious activites every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. They need to see and witness the power of Christ as he works in the lives of  his children everyday. This includes things like them watching over the fence when I've "had it" with the kids or when I refrain from joining in the neighborhood gossip/ prejudices or the times that I've had to apologize to my neighbors for my ungodly actions.

I have been involved in street ministry work and handing out tracts and I am not here to discount those methods of evangelism. My point is simply that our evangelistic efforts MUST NOT stop there. I like the slogan of one of our urban friends : A Christian family on every block....that's the way to change a city for Christ!

*I must confess that I have sadly come to the end of many days feeling shame for not having been a faithful witness of Christ's transforming power. However, I do not see failure as a good reason to throw up my hands and refuse to be a witness at all.

5. Last but not least, there are many simple conveniences of living in town that I've come to love.  I have 3 drug stores within one mile of my house. The kids and I walk to the library when the weather permits. There are 2 very nice play parks less than 1 mile from our house. Fast food options are nearly endless, if you have spare cash to spend. More gas stations that I care to count are located within a mile or 2 of our house. There are lots of beautiful public spaces to be utilized and enjoyed within the city limits. There are nice sidewalks that make walking with a stroller easy and safe.

Now that I have painted a glowing picture of urban life, I do have more to say sometime about some of the challenges and darker sides of urban living.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A quick peak into our day...

We are desperate for Spring.  We're in denial of the weather on the other side of the wall.

This is a super fun and easy project for children of all ages (2 yrs.- 30+ yrs.)

I love this butterfly's mischievous grin. 

Thanks to my  creative-day-care-teacher-friend, Rosanne, for sharing this fantastic idea for bringing color and fun into our day.

We're Dr. Seuss fans around here. My son's class has been reading a lot of Seuss at school recently and he has been bringing home all these fun Dr. Seuss book themed projects. One project was creating a "Wocket in My Pocket". Now there are all manner of "Wockets" wandering about this house.

"Mom, your wickersham chair just broke", said Josh in all seriousness, upon discovering the demise of our front porch wicker chair. It may be time to introduce a new author and broader vocabulary.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Generation Gap

I found some interesting little papers with strange looking words and numbers written all over them while cleaning yesterday. I believe I see a competent seamstress in my future. And boy! Am I happy or what!!??!!!! I see flowery beds of ease in my future.

Honestly, I never in my wildest dreams tried to make any kind of pattern for my doll babies. I think I may have designed a few dresses in my head, but that was the extent of it.

She already gives me advice when I am trying to sew.

"Mom, you just need to slow down and be more careful."

"Mom, you're actually better at this than what you think." (I think she sees a little potential in me)

"Well, if you would just take a seam here....and.....blah. blah. blah."  (this is where I plug my ears)

I think a certain gene totally skipped a generation.

Meanwhile, I am off to try to tape a few maternity clothes together.
 I can just hear her exasperated: "MOM!!"