My friend Kelsey has a fancy camera and even fancier photography skills.
Autumn meant that it was time for another roomie picture session, so my three roommates and I dressed in our most "fall" outfits, despite the fact that it was a sweltering ninety degrees outside on an evening in late October. (South Texas, y'all.)
There is something to treasure about living in community.
It isn't always easy.
Let me rephrase that. Living in community isn't easy.
As a college student, I am daily making a home in a small space with girls who see my weaknesses and my sinful nature and my vulnerabilities and me seeing theirs all in turn.
I don't think I've ever begun a new month without lessons and wisdom gained from the weeks before.
More than anything, I appreciate the late-night talks about Jesus. Taking communion with cran-grape juice and rolls from Walmart. Teaching two of my roommates guitar and having "concert/worship" nights. Pulling pranks and making videos. The life-sized cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley we hide around the house to scare each other.
There are things about community that are hard and broken because of the sinful world in which we live... and there are also things about community that are pure enjoyment and innocence and laughter.
Fellowship digs rich wells of communication, expression, and transformation.
Having friends who walk through life with me and stand with me when things are not easy is a gift from the Lord.
Living with women of God means that I see Jesus shined in many different ways. The Bible is opened and there are four different hearts being whispered to by the Holy Spirit.
My burdens aren't carried alone, even when I think they are.
Kendall and I make "road trips" across our small town in order to have lots and lots of Mexican food. She sits and sketches while I write stories. We curl up behind a guitar and sing "Beautiful" by Bethany Dillon and mean the words. There are late night walks and talks and Spider Solitaire.
Kelsey brings laughter and crafts and Christmas lights (okay, "candy corn lights") in the middle of autumn. Because of her presence in the house, there are Styrofoam pumpkins, pine cones, and plastic leaves on every available surface. If a song needs to be sung, her voice is the one singing.
Sammy is the wild card who orders the Elvis cardboard cutout because she knows that's what our house needs most of all. If a prank is committed, she is the perpetrator. If an adventure is to be had, she is out the door with a kayak and bare feet.
No, living in community is not always easy. But it's what I need in this time of my life as a college student. As a young, single woman growing to love Jesus more and understand more about His love, there is nothing that pushes me forward more than sharing a home and a life with other women who are seeking Christ.
There is joy to be found when a school day is hard, through warm tea and worship songs and silly nights. It is a beautiful thing when conflicts are resolved in love instead of anger. When surrounded by community, I'm learning about accountability and vulnerability and transparency.
I pray that wherever I am in my life, I will have a strong community where we challenge and support and encourage each other. It will look different in one place than in another, but in this place, community looks like right here. A day in a pumpkin patch. A two hour discussion about Balaam and the donkey at one in the morning. Guitar strings and snap peas.
I like to daydream about what's to come, but I'm thankful for right here. Right now. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's joyful.
Two years ago: Broken Words