New Community, New Home :: Being the “C” in BMC

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Everyone I knew growing up has changed, including me. I even live in the same greater Birmingham area, but, somehow, my perspective of it has changed.

I didn’t appreciate the value that Birmingham had while growing up. It was just where I lived. I certainly didn’t expect to ever come back home to live within a mile of my parents. Thankfully, I wasn’t in control of writing my story! I have been blessed with an amazing husband and family, and I have ended up back here with the same zip code I grew up with. I still can’t believe it!

Moving Back Home

Our reason for moving came from my hubby’s dream. He grew up next door to his grandparents in Hayden, AL. He’s got extended family in north Alabama, and we are so excited to live closer to them, as well. (Our son says his best friend is Cousin Will, so that helps too!) If there’s anything we’ve learned from our deep family ties, it’s that there is immense value in generational wisdom. We get to glean that from seeing those in older generations often. This lets us hear the stories of their lives and learn all the real-life skills that they teach. (My husband and I know that we need all the help we can get when it comes to raising a little boy in this century. Please feel free to help us parent this fun-loving kid any time you see us running around town!)

What I’m most interested to see in all the moves of the job, the house, and the city is how to find community. What is community? They say it takes a village to raise a child, but where is this village? We’ve been so grateful to find community in Chelsea where we’ve been these past eight years. We went to church with my students, watched their games at the ball fields, led life groups, and met friends at all the parks.

What is community?

Is it a group you meet at church every week? Maybe the group of mom friends you’ve come to know from the park or the gym? Can it be found in your coworkers at school? Is it your family? Maybe it’s not just one of these but a combination of all of them.

Why is community important?

As part of my approach to advocating for those impacted by the education system today, I’ve been studying how to be part of the solution. Challenges in the education system are just a symptom of one of many challenges that face American culture today. I don’t believe in just talking about those problems, but in doing what I can do today. I’ve also come to realize that there is so much more to community than what we call “friendship” or “fellowship.” 

If the challenges in the education system are simply symptoms of a deeper cultural problem, where do we go from here? We tend to use money and power to fill in the gaps left over from personal brokenness and instability. At times, I think we even put friendship, family, children, or entertainment on a pedestal as well. Yet, it all comes from a heart cry due to brokenness in community and a lack of mentoring.

Mentoring

I see “community” as a sister word to “mentoring”. This is not discredit all the other negative factors that impact our culture, but there are powerful ways to turn things around that provide more stability, mentoring and community. First of all, there is power in repenting (a complete turn around to the opposite way from which you’ve been going), humbling yourself, saying “I’m sorry; will you forgive me?”, and making up your mind to do better. Being willing to apologize shows that you are open to learning more, and when you know better, you can do better!

Our kids will certainly be better off (and I’m preaching to myself, too) when we adults realize “it’s not about me.” We seem to forget to apply these simple lessons we teach our children in our own lives as adults. If instability and lack of mentoring is a problem, the encouragement is that we can all be part of the solution to provide that. It comes with practicing loving sacrificially with our time, conveniences, and resources. It takes time and effort, but that helps build community. 

Where can I find community?

If mentoring is the solution, then instead of trying to FIND community in a group, an organization, or other people, I can start to BE part of the community. As I strive to BE the change I hope to see in the world, I may end up finding it. I still want to remember that it’s not about me. So the question needs to be changed.

Where can I provide community?

That is the answer I’m going to try to provide by intentionally loving and living. We have found and provided community in our church, our school, the park, and even the grocery store. We’re all part of the larger Birmingham community. 

Where will we be?

I’ll certainly be working at my new school, getting accustomed to the beautiful new community there. I’m blown away by the helpful people and welcoming team of teachers at Edgewood and the Homewood family. We’ll also be looking for like-minded people and for parents with children near L’s age. We’ll be putting L into a new daycare, and we already spend the majority of our time with family. We like to experience new things and places as we are trying to find our niche in this new suburb of Birmingham. It’s surreal to be driving around the roads that I grew up on and to see them through the eyes of an adult and newcomer. We’re enjoying connecting to other Alabama educators, mentors, and, of course, the construction industry as part of our work communities. 

We hope to learn from the “village” around us as we train L and navigate these new waters as he grows up in this new community. It’s important to us hope to pass on the generational wisdom of our grandparents and great-grandparents. We want to ensure he’s exposed to diverse people and experiences while remembering our roots of those who worked hard with their hands. They had the courage to do what needed to be done as they carved out a life for themselves so many decades ago.

Where does that leave me?

And me? Well, I’ll be exploring the value of mentoring as I continue to try to encourage families of third graders. I’ll try to encourage children that may not have the stability, the mentors, and the communities that I’ve been blessed to have. I hope to be the change I want to see in the world. I believe it starts with mentoring. I’m looking forward to our new communities while living in Vestavia and working in Homewood. So, if you have ANY tips, tricks, or advice to offer, you’re welcome to be part of our journey.

Thank you to all the family members, the mentors, the families, the friends, the moms, the dance buddies, the gym rats, and the sisters who have been part of mentoring me, our family and our son. You are invaluable. You’ll always be a part of our story because you helped us become who we are at this moment. It takes time and effort to maintain a relationship. We still need each other, no matter what smaller communities we’re part of. In the meantime, my wish for us is to be and to provide part of the community that we all need to grow and continue on in this adventure we call life!

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