July 10, 2006

It Takes a Village aka Support Group

Somedays I am frustrated by the times in which we live and the isolation that comes so commonly with living in suburbia. Part of me thinks I would really enjoy farm life and more community based life. I would enjoy the companionship of doing my tasks and responsibilities with other women and my kids having other kids to play with.

We live in a time and an area where you really need to make your own communities, often not based on location but on common interests or intersections of life. Don't get me wrong we live in a nice neighborhood and get along with our neighbors well. We share lawn mowers, snow blowers, power tools and help each other out. We get together for wine, grilling and bonfires with more regularity than many neighborhoods. We enjoy each others company, having fun together and always willing to lend a hand when it is needed.

Yet this is not the type of community I am talking about desiring. I am talking about a community of people who you work and live life together with. Women I can cook, clean, craft, mend and watch kids together with. A guess what I am looking for is a women's circle of sorts. A group of women that support and help each other out and form a sort of extended family for my kids. Something regular and dependable.

I have pretty much accepted that what I envision or desire is not likely to happen. I have made efforts and attempts with some friends and acquiantances over the years and it never seemed to be the right fit or the right time. Sometimes I feel like a person not in connection with our current times. I think this type of group has a hard time working given the distances of many of our self-selected communities and the differing values and demands on families now. So we have to create communities sometimes in unexpected or unusual ways.

Still I have found an outstanding community in our homeschool support group. I am continually amazed at the group of families that has been joined in this group. I have met some incredible women through this group. We have over 75 families in our group. I do not know all of them and naturally I have developed closer relationships with some I see more or have more in common with. Still that big network is always available to us.

Our homeschool group has seen so much fruit in the past years and in many ways we have received more support and truthfully given more support through this community than through some churches. When there is a need, whether it be for prayer, support, help or even physical items it is continually met. We have witnessed and felt the strength of this groups prayers in very real and tangiable ways. Still it has never seemed to be draining. What is given is given from the heart in generous and unselfish ways. There is something so powerful in seeing a community rally around one of its members.

Just last night we organized a meal prep for a dear friend who is currently in the hospital. She has been hospitalized for over a week now and is still looking at more time there, she has three small children 16 months-8 years. When she returns from the hospital she will have a very restricted diet that requires extensive meal preperation time. As a group 10 of us got together last night at a mutual friends home and we made around 10 recipes for her from soups to sides, main dishes to desserts, just some starter food she can keep in her freezer.

All the supplies were gathered and recipes with specefic instructions written. Each person started doing some prep work for one recipe. It was crowded at times in the kitchen but overall it worked really well - we had most of the food prepped and just waiting for the oven within an hour and a half. We got to a point where we had more people then we had work left. Everyone did some work, we even had two young teens there helping out. It was rewarding to see how much we could accomplish and how much time and energy our small effort could save our friend.

In the middle we took a break and prayed for our dear friend, for her healing, comfort and strength. We prayed for the work of our hands to be successful and healing to her and for so many other wonderful things. As I stood in a kitchen full of people rallying around our friend I was just struck by how blessed I am to be part of a group like this. I am continually reminded of what a special support group I am a part of and to not take it for granted. I am continually touched by the serving and giving hearts of my fellow Christian sisters and brothers.

Our family has been on the receiving end of support many times over through this group. When Rhiannon had her surgery this winter people rallied around us in prayer, making meals, helping with our other kids and even doing our laundry! Want to support someone in an unusual but very loving and serving way? Show up at their house with laundry baskets and take all their dirty laundry and return it the next day with clean folded clothes! Twice this happened to me this past year and I can not express how touching and helpful it was. To this day Serona and I still talk about it and what a blessing it was. I will pay it forward someday.

So if you are reading this from our support group. Thank you! Thank you for being a blessing to my life and so many lives around you. I do cherish you. Sometimes the support comes in helping in real physical tangiable ways. Sometimes it comes through giving a homeschool tip or curriculm suggestion. Sometimes it comes in just being a person who can have empathy in what we are going through. Sometimes the support is a gentle but firm correction or reminder when we walk astray. Sometimes the support is just a smile or a phone call to say hello. Sometimes the support is reaching out to me when I am new or have been absent for awhile. There are so many ways we can and do support one another as homeschooling moms. If you have a group you are part of that helps support you and you cherish, take a moment to say Thanks to them.

There are so many struggles we all face throughout our lives. Having a group of supportive people around you helps so much. As homeschooling parents we have different demands and challenges and it is so special when we can find a group to help us through those times. It is even more satisfying when we have the opportunity to bless others through the gifts we have been given as well.

If you are not part of a support group of any kind, I encourage you to find one. Whether it be your community, church, neighborhood or fellow homeschoolers. Having support in place when you need it is so helpful. But having an opportunity to serve others from your gifts is special too. We were not designed to be solitary creatures, there is a reason we have a desire for companionship and community. We can not do everything on our own and it does take a village to raise a child and I contend to raise healthy adults as well!

Peace in Him,

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