Well over 20 years ago we packed up our two tiny children and moved away from our old home territory to the far region of NE Iowa. We became our own little family unit there. We were no longer our parent’s kids to everyone we ran into at the store. We soon met the families that lived next door to us, who worked with Mark and at the churches we visited. It wasn’t long and we were invited to a cook out with a group of young couples and singles. It was a mix of young adults from the local college and people who were tied to people who worked at what was then Century Companies of America. It was with those people we had our first Thanksgiving away from home. We threw parties complete with pink flamingos, grieved over miscarriages, babysat each other’s kids, celebrated weddings and studied the Bible together. We are still in touch with a few of those people over nearly 20 years later.
10 years later being the adventuresome people that we are, we answered God’s call to ministry and moved to exotic NW Iowa – the Lakes Region. It was there our kids grew up and graduated school. We forged through the stages of parenting with a few other couples again. Kathy, Judy, Barby and I consoled each other, giggled with, and of course ate chocolate as we lamented our fears of parenting our children. Were we doing it right? Would we/they survive? The guys were doing the same thing although I’m told they ate a lot less chocolate. It was in this community that the biggest trial to that date hit our family. It was these same people who faithfully reached out to us, sitting with us, praying with us, crying with us, listening to us and as you can imagine the list goes on.
During this time some friends shared their ministry with us. They asked us to come to them and then had 4 people spend some extended time in prayer for us. They based their actions on the story from Mark 2 where some people brought a paralytic to Jesus for healing. The paralyzed man could not get through the crowds on his own. He needed his friends to get him there. It wasn’t easy even for his friends. There were crowds around Jesus. The friends didn’t give up. They figured out a way. The Bible says, “they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” (Mark 2: 5b-5) Because of those friends the paralytic was healed. The prayers – extended prayers one day, we gained hope and took courage in the outward show of support to get through our tough season.
We moved again.Last night Mark and I sat on a deck with three other couples from this area.(We’re mow in central Iowa) We’ve been meeting with these three other couples for a couple of years now. We joined one of the couples tradition of having waffles on Sunday evenings. We laughed and poked fun at each other. We listened, sincerely listened as each couple caught us up on their lives as we’ve missed a gathering or two. One couple lost a parent during that time, another had foot surgery. One gal has been sick but is on her way to some extended time off. One guy doesn’t have to have open heart surgery and his wife’s new business is growing. We added to our prayer journal as we talked. We offered encouragement and hugs. We closed the night in prayer.
These couples have made a real difference in our life. The effects of their friendship goes far beyond the pleasure of their company although that is good too. These kinds of friends have expanded our world with different perspectives and experiences. They have helped us get things done and held us accountable. Our marriage relationship is richer because we have “done life” with others. There are many examples in the Bible of living in community. The 12 disciples could be one example of doing life together. The friends in Mark 2. Mary and Martha and the list goes on…
Who do you do life with? Who could you do life with? Who needs you to do life with them?