Friday, April 29, 2011

Stone Soup

As you may have guessed from my previous post, Eric and I are seriously looking into intentional community. (Google it if you have no idea what I am talking about.) So, since Eric and I are on this journey of either joining up with or starting our own intentional community, we decided to go visit an existing community last night with some of our friends (who also happen to be on the same journey as us - at the same time).

We went to the Thursday night potluck at The Stone Soup Cooperative Leland House. You can check out their website here.

At Stone Soup, the folks involved are passionate about social justice issues in Chicago and being involved in the community in some way. The Leland House is a large converted triplex in Uptown Chicago that houses up to 11 people. While they all have their own bedrooms, they do share all common areas as well as nightly meals.

It was interesting to meet everyone last night at the potluck. Just a group of normal people (slightly on the radical side) who want intentional community and social justice. Their community is greatly lacking a love for God, though, which is the main reason why Eric and I aren't so sure that it would be the healthiest option for us to live there at this point in our lives. We are also very passionate about the intentional Christian community aspect of living together, since we would love to grow and love Jesus with the people we live with, and let service together be a direct outflow of that.

Our friends also checked out Reba Place Fellowship (check them out here) which is located just north of Chicago in Evanston. From our friends' perspective, however, the Reba community tends to be more inward focused (building up and serving the church/community) and is lacking in the service to the community/social justice aspect that we are becoming passionate about.

On a side note, back to the potluck, I have found that it is much easier to make friends when I have Lexi in my arms. So maybe I am using her for her huge blue eyes and winning smile, but so what?! It works! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What if

What if
several families
with one vision
lived together
under the same roof
as one family
loving God
loving each other
and loving their neighbors as themselves.

What if
they lived intentionally
loved intentionally
served the community intentionally together
loving God as more than a belief system
but as a living breathing Love
that reaches out to people in need
people in need of this Love
the Love that longs to restore the universe
to itself.

What if
there is more to "loving God"
than going to church on Sunday
Women's coffee on Monday
Small group on Tuesday
and being consumed in our individual lives
for the remainder of the week.
I would be a nice person
regardless of whether I believed in God or not.
My life looks no different
than any other "nice" young woman
who likes having good relationships with others.
So if I truly love this God that I claim to serve
why am I not doing anything?
Why does my life not look any different?

If I claim to really be a Christ follower
laying down my life for Christ's sake
than I am a lier.
I am not caring for the widows and the orphans
clothing the least of these
or feeding the hungry.
I have been too comfortable
in my dreams of the future
in my familiar circle of friends
the warmth of my own home
my individual wants
and needs

And Jesus is calling my family
out of this comfort
out of complacency
out of our familiar circle of friends
to a live a life that is not lived in vain
in the individual pursuit
of worldly possessions
or gain
or success
or fame
or even comfort.

It is a life of intentional living
intentional community
intentional loving
intentional serving.

Living in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ
in response
to that same Gospel
that same Love
that is transforming our hearts
restoring our souls
shaping our lives.

What if
is not about our personal comfort
our personal pursuit of God
our personal sins
and personal issues
and personal dreams and visions?

What if
is actually meant to be
lived out together
as a collective pursuit of God
a community vision
with a collective outflow
of this Love
into service?

What if Jesus never intended
for us to be so concerned
with our individual faith
and individual struggles
and individual victories
that we lose sight
of who Christ really is
and His heart for the people around us?

What if Jesus wasn't so much concerned
if we read the Bible that morning or not
but was more concerned
that our neighbor is hurting
and is desperate for the Love
that we are so selfishly
for ourselves
for our individual emotions
for the feel good high
that we have been taught is appropriate
and right
and Christian.

I think there is more to being a Christ follower.
I think Christ is calling us to a higher standard
to a radical way of life
to a radical way of Love.
And I think if more people
lived in direct response to this calling
our world
would be different.

I don't know all the answers,
but I know that this crazy God
who is this crazy Love
has ignited a fire within me
and within Eric
that won't be put out
until our lives
are radically different...

...until Jesus really is
our Everything.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Morning Thoughts

I suppose I have let my blog become rather boring this month. Part of the reason is because I was out of town for three weeks out of April, and the other part is probably because our lives are so ordinary right now - perhaps even a bit mundane.

After coming home from Nebraska and then Mexico, I have been home. Keeping up with the piles of dishes, sweeping, general home upkeep, and baby-chasing. Lexi and I took a trip to the Laundromat yesterday morning in the midst of a timely spring downpour. I spent the better part of three hours feeding her cheerios one by one (and as spaced out as possible) to try and keep her in her stroller just a little longer while the clothes washed and then dried in the huge swirling machines. She made lots of friends (as usual) and was met by many smiles. It was peaceful. Normal. And just a bit boring. The good kind of boring. The kind of boring where you are doing something to help your family, such as cooking a meal, cleaning the house, and washing the clothes - even though the results of your efforts seem to be so short sighted. Because as soon as the task is accomplished, there is always something else next in line. And the cycle continues.

Eric and I have been doing a lot of talking and planning on how we can be more intentional and purposeful with our lives in relation to God's Kingdom. We have joined forces with another couple who is interested in serving in our community and spent last night brainstorming together about what kinds of things we can do. I feel God's presence in this. Like He has been waiting a long time for us to finally figure this out, and now His excitement is tangible. Pulsing. Causing us to move. Finally.

We have made contact with our local World Relief office about "adopting" a refugee family that is new to Chicago (Albany Park, specifically - our neighborhood) and is in need of a warm welcome. We have also contacted them about having a family picture night at the World Relief Center, where refugee families can come and have their pictures taken for free (by us - might as well use our talents and equipment as long as we have them!).

There are lots of other ideas, and of course, none are set in stone, but it's crazy how this God of ours works. As soon as our eyes and hearts opened to hear and obey His voice, the opportunities to join Him are becoming overwhelming. Exciting even. I have a feeling that as we begin to follow God where He leads us, our lives are going to change dramatically.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dreams of Rubber

Rainy days are always good times for reflections. For catching up. For starting new.
It is blustery and gray outside, but the branches that are swaying and blowing in the wind have tiny pale green leaves adorning them, which makes today all right. It's days like today that make the flowers bloom more bountifully and the grass grow just a longer...almost there.

After watching my favorite movie, Amelie, a sweet French film about an innocent girl who pursues her dream, I have been reflecting on dreams today. Those little dreams that everyone carries around inside of themselves, but almost never have the courage to tell anyone, or do anything about. On Thursday night, the Mexican gentleman in my painting class at the Park District confided to me in Spanish that ever since he was a little boy, it has been his dream to have a career as a painter on TV, like Bob Ross. This gentleman is now in his late 40's, has 5 children, and is just now, for the first time, in a class to learn to paint. He has never even held a paintbrush before, but still deep down, hopes to be the next Bob Ross (if you aren't acquainted with this fabulous man - or his incredible hair - click here).

[hahaha! Just kidding! For the real Bob Ross, click here.)

Dreams are funny like that. Some can wait for years until you do anything about them, and some begin without you even trying.

I just returned home from Mexico, where I spent 10 days helping to care for my mom and the rest of the family while she is recovering from major surgery. It is always a joy to be with them and get to know my younger sisters again, as they are changing and growing too fast for me to keep up with. One of the things that I love about children and youth is that they are full of dreams. And none of these dreams ever seem to hard, improbable, or unachievable. They are all well within the reach of that simple, carefree phrase, "when I grow up..."

My brother, at 20 years old, has just given up his lifetime, childhood dream of being a doctor. The college biology and chemistry classes were the hard reality that never in existed in his mind as a little boy. Med school and all of its tough demands and rigid lifestyle and college GPA expectations were an completely unknown factor back then. But now, they are what has stopped the dream, and re-routed it to something different. This isn't a bad thing. In fact, I dreamed that I was going to be a nurse saving Aids babies in Africa when I went into college. The actual facts are that I graduated with an Illinois Teachers certification to teach visual art K-12. Not to mention the reality that I was also married and expecting a baby in five months. Africa was definitely no longer in the dream. Instead, it re-routed itself to something different. But something just as beautiful, in it's own way.

Eric and I have a lot of dreams for our family. Some are far off and distant enough to even say that they will happen "when I grow up." Others are tangible enough to pursue right now. And some have already started, without us even realizing it.

Ten years from now, "when we grow up," our lives will most likely look completely different than anything we ever imagined they would. Dreams re-routed and re-shaped around a myriad of unexpected events, pleasant surprises, some hard lessons learned, and the routines of daily life as a family.
After all, if life was as predictable as we would all like it to be, then where would the fun be in that? So keep dreaming. But may your dreams be made of rubber. In other words, flexible. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fat Lards Don't Starve

Home from Nebraska and it's back to eating whole wheat bread and strawberries until I shake off my laziness and drive to the store. It's always good to go visit the parents, where there are always THREE full meals a day (that's right, I said THREE), plus snacks and dessert...every single day. We come home feeling like nicely plumped maggots in need of some chocolate Slimfast shakes. The feeling doesn't last long, though, since we haven't eaten anything substantial since Wednesday at noon.

It's not that I can't cook. I can. And do, sometimes. The problem is that I will go through most of the day and just won't remember to eat. Eric has the same problem working from home. We just don't think about it. I tend to be so preoccupied with Lexi and getting her fed (yes, I do remember to feed her) and napped and away from all the electrical cords that eating goes way down on my list of priorities. As does grocery shopping, which also happens to be one my least favorite things to do.

The good news is that I am going to Mexico in less than three days and there are enough mouths to feed at the Crino house that there is always a meal on hand - complete with salad, bread, and cookies (if Katie's in a good mood, that is!).

And then I am coming home to Chicago and buying a new pair of running shoes. Two reasons for that: 1) I am anticipating feeling like a fat lard upon my return, and 2) Mid April in Chicago means EXERCISE WEATHER!!! In case you were wondering, the winter is so harsh here that as much as I try to motivate myself, I don't end up exercising all that much. Weight certainly isn't an issue right now (props to breastfeeding - burns more calories than I end up consuming), it's more that I have been active my whole life and my muscles have been in hibernation all winter long. And it has been really long. So if it is above 40 degrees outside, and not snowing, I will be there.