About the Author

Shannan Martin is the author of Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted, wife of a jail chaplain, and mom to four kiddos. She's a big believer in community and salsa, and blogs at ShannanMartinWrites.com.

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  1. Shannan,
    When I read this post, a part of me ached for a community like the one you describe. I once lived in a small town in my cross country journeys, but now I live in the sprawling suburbs where a lot of that sense of community is lost. I must admit I miss the hodge-podge potlucks at the church. I believe that God built into us a desire for that sense of community…it’s good for us and good to us. The earliest churches were held in homes. We would do well to work toward that model of the community of Christ. Beautiful post!
    Bev
    Bev

    • Bev (and Shannan),
      I immediately related to the ache you described. I agree with you that in the “sprawling suburbs” that sense of community can be lost. It is what I have experienced too. I also have that desire for community that seems to be much more difficult to find in the current circumstances that I’m in. My heart also aches from my now adult daughter who I see struggling to establish the community that Shannan described in this blog. Yet, as you said, Bev, “We would do well to work toward that model of community of Christ”. So, I’m praying for you, for my daughter and her husband and for my husband and I to pursue community even in the midst of the mountains we face. May we have the mustard seed faith to move the mountains!
      Thanks, Shannan, for sharing your inspirational story so we know what to seek in prayer and action. Thank you, Bev, for sharing your ache and aim to pursue community as such. Blessings to you!

    • I often felt the same way, until I invited my own group of women over to share, fellowship and now eat together.
      Be the friend you want!
      Candy

      • Candy,

        You are very fortunate to have found the friends you have. Unfortunately not everyone is like them.

        Penny

      • Yes, Candy, I agree with you that it is good and right to invite others to share in fellowship like you have done and suggested.
        Personally, however, I have a barrier that has come upon me through an illness. It requires others to make life style changes so that I can function. Disabling symptoms (pain, cognitive dysfunction, digestive problems, fatigue, etc.) occur when I am exposed to even the slightest fragrance (among other things). Therefore, others would have to take the time and effort to rid themselves of these scents for me to be able to truly partake in the fellowship. This is something very few people have the time or patience for. Thus, the mountains I referred to in my situation.
        However, I am praying daily for the Lord to make a way and there are a couple of people at a local church who are attempting to make themselves as scent-free as possible for us to have visits at least occasionally. For now, I continue pursue community via online and by phone.
        Candy, I am so glad that you took the initiative to invite this group of women over! May the Lord bless you in your community!!

        • I’m so sorry to hear this heartache, Diana. I’m grateful for the few that are taking the time for your sake. YOU are worth it!
          I also find myself wondering if there might be others with your needs somewhere nearby? Seems like that could make for a pretty fun and powerful connecting point.
          Much love to you today!

      • I really love seeing THIS little community of caring, happening right here. 🙂

    • Honestly, this is probably the thing that most keeps my heart pulled to the city. I still ache for a stronger/”better” community, but I don’t really have excuses here, where I cross paths with people in my neighborhood many times a day. A friend of mine in the suburbs once commented that with attached garages, it can be nearly impossible to even SEE neighbors. One more reason to keep the garage so messy that we can’t park in it! 😉
      Community can be hard work, but the effort is usually rewarded.
      Thank you always for your kind encouragement!

  2. Beautiful Shannan. This reminded me of something similar we have in our East Texas town. There’s a church in town that provides a full breakfast for the new teachers each year at the start of teacher inservice, complete with free school supplies! It’s such a blessing, and brings us together as a community. Your words here are so true – God called us to these moments right in front of us. Blessings!

  3. Shannan,

    Your post was really heartwarming, you are very fortunate. It would be wonderful if all communities were like your’s is.

    I thought mine was for the number of years I have made it my home and raised my family. Recently when I opened the paper this was quoted,
    “You are not from here, you don’t care.” I know it wasn’t meant directly towards me but since I’m not from here either my sense of belonging has been shattered. Regardless I will stay until I’m meant to be elsewhere.

    Thank-you for sharing such a wonderful memory with us….
    Penny

    • Penny, I feel your shattered heart in my own as I, too, have struggled with the sense of belonging. I do believe that the Lord is bringing healing to this loss in my own even though I continue to struggle to establish a close knit community of strong believers around me. Through His Word, the Lord continues to touch my heart with words encouraging me to cry out to Him in my loneliness. I’m asking Him to move the mountains that keep Christian community at bay in my life, I am praying this for you, Penny, right now. I hope the following words will bring you hope and the ability to persevere in prayer (they have help me so much)…
      “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). “God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing…” (Psalm 68:6).

      • Diana,

        Thank-you so much for your prayers and kindness, I am deeply touched.
        I pray that you will be accompanied by people like yourself in your life.
        All the best to you,
        Penny

    • What a disheartening quote. I’m also an out-of-stater (not to mention out-of-towner!) and this would discourage me, too.
      I can tell by the way you share your heart here that you’re a wonderful addition to your community. And I KNOW there are people in your area who would agree with me. Praying you find just one of them soon. Maybe today?

    • Penny , do you live in Plain City, OH? I ask this because because I have seen some comments like this in our small town.

    • Penny,
      I am deeply saddened by the comment in the paper. It was obviously written by an insensitive uncaring person who is only thinking of him/herself. Prayers for your shattered heart. I wish people would use their words more carefully! Prayers for a sense of peace and contentment!
      Blessings my friend!

  4. Shannan, I loved this post. And the reminders you offer that we’re not meant to walk through life alone. We are mirrors of the Lord’s love . . . where we are. And where we are is exactly where God wants us reflecting His love.

    This line: “His plan for all His kids involves a glimmering web of other humans, placed in close proximity of one another just so His glory could bounce around and land square in the eye of you, me, our children, the spatula-wielding widow, the retiree, and the hopeful souls who fill the brick school building across the street from August to June.” This spoke to me today. Thank you!

    • Ah, thank you, Jeanne!
      Hope the sun is shining on your face wherever you are today.

  5. Shannan, This is a great reminder! I am constantly struggling where we live right now but I know God has a purpose for me to be here. I know the people around me I question all the time for their morals and the way they raise their families but I am being humbled even if I don’t like it….LOL I am learning to accept all kinds of people. I don’t have to agree with the their ways but learning to share love and hope with them, being the person that God wants me to be. Learning slowly and I hate how shallow I sound when I talk about it some times but I guess acceptance of everyone is Gods way so I have asked Him to soften my heart to His ways. I hope that makes sense…..LOL Ok sorry for rambling. ~Hugs~ Thanks Shannan for sharing this really important lesson with us all today.

  6. Always enjoy your blog Shannon. Your discriptions and word pitures make me feel like I’m living next door and having tea on the porch with you. Love your heart and can’t wait to here how you fill the days with the kiddos back to school. Enjoy the weekend. Shalom

  7. Love this post so much! And this line: At its very best, church can mean surveying the landscape with near-sighted eyes, identifying a need, and reflecting Light.” YES, YES, YES! Beautiful reminder that ministry doesn’t have to be BIG to be effective for the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t require that we travel long distances to countries far away (altho it could). It could be right where we are. Survey…identify…reflect. 🙂

  8. This reminded me so much of the small town and small church I grew up in. We had then (naturally and organically) the kind of “community” that so many churches are now trying to conjure up. I grew up interacting with people of all ages. If any one of those adults had corrected me, it would have been just as if one of my parents had done it. What a great way it was to grow up! Segregating everything by age group robs EVERYONE of that needed intergenerational interaction. The youth need to know middle-aged people. Children need to know senior adults. Then it truly becomes a family. I still live in the same small town and belong to the same small church. But things are so much different now, and not all for the better. Thanks for this, Shannan. I could almost see your kids peddling those bikes!

  9. Shannan,

    I grew up outside a big city and usually attended large churches with two morning services. When I got married my husband took me to his country church. I wasn’t sure I would like it as it is small and filled mostly with older people. Crazy thing is the people in that church are super friendly! The first day I was at church someone came by and said hello & made me feel welcome. Since then I have made a lot of connections with people of all ages. Some of my best friends are at that church. We get involved in the community with a free pancake breakfast once a year, help with local missions, and do our best to be faithful and loving congregation!

    Loved this: God’s plan for us involves a glimmering web of other humans, placed in close proximity to one another. I totally agree!! We need to mirror Christ and put everyone together. Do not separate by age. That way young people will grow to know and love middle aged and elderly people!
    Blessings 🙂