Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Baby of the House

       One of my favorite things to do when in a crowd is people watch, and Portland is definitely a great place to do just that. While people watching I like to try to figure out the relationship that a group of people have to one another.  Maybe they are just a group of friends, or a family, a school group going on a field trip etc.  A lot of times I think we do this subconsciously without even realizing.   So it makes me wonder, when people from the outside world see the four of us from the house – what are their thoughts about the dynamic of our group?  I would guess that most times people probably just think we are a group of friends hanging out – or maybe living together for the sole reason of having a cheaper rent. I doubt any would initially think that we are/have been volunteers and we live in an intentional community together.  This is on my mind because, thus far, I have heard of three outside initial thoughts on the dynamic of our group – and I’ve found them all to be fairly hilarious.

Dynamic 1) When we first moved in the house, we were having a yard cleanup day. I was up in a tree in the front yard (cleaning out dead branches) and Jon and Ben were in the backyard chain sawing a tree, when a neighbor came up to me to introduce himself and asked “are you and your Dads new to the area?”

Dynamic 2) An older gentlemen asked Heather “is this your daughter?” – referring to me. Granted , we were walking out of our house together, and we were wearing matching clothes – but other than that – I’m not sure where he got that from.

Dynamic 3) This past week, we had a canvasser knock on our door right as we were finishing dinner, so we invited him in for some food and proceeded to talk to him, for about an hour, about banning plastic bags from Oregon. Then when it was time for him to leave he pulled out his clipboard to ask us to sign up in support, and he turns to me and says “Sorry, you have to be over 18 years old to sign.” We all busted out laughing.  If I’m under 18, then what does that make everyone else around the table? He left before we got a chance to ask him what we thought our relationship was in the house. Our thoughts – either Heather and Ben were my parents and Jon was the crazy Uncle. Or, I was adopted by Ben and Jon and Heather was their surrogate mother for their second child. Lol oh my

It is true that I’m the baby of the house – but the perspectives from these outsiders put this phrase in a whole different light.  For your entertainment - an updated picture of our family!
My Mom and Two Dads

In other news – Jon and his friend Jerry were out at Camp Myrtlewood this weekend for Men’s Retreat. Heather was visited by her brother and sister in-law and went on lots of fun adventures. And Ben and I played a lot of Bananagrams and had a pretty chill weekend at the house, which was much needed for me in the midst of traveling. It looks like, in the upcoming month, there may be a lot of traveling for everyone in the house – so I’m sure there will be some good stories coming your way.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dinner Guests and other Happenings....

One of the highlights of the past week was having two couples from Peace Church over for dinner on Monday evening, the Groff's and the Eller's. I love it when conversation just happens to be spontaneously good, and it was Monday evening as we talked about our reflections on the video that was shown in church last Sunday called "Our Journey To Becoming a Welcoming Congregation". (See Jon's blog post last week for more opinions and info.) In a nutshell, watching the video made me feel grateful to be a part of a church family that is accepting and welcoming to all people. As the bulletin each Sunday says, Peace Church of the Brethren Celebrates and affirms the image of God in all people, every age, gender, race, ability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. What an amazing thing! Peace Church of the Brethren is just a great place to be, and more and more I feel really enriched by the experience of being able to worship with these folks and share my time in Portland with them.

So in addition to having a pretty awesome church family here....I'm going to give a little shout out to my housemates too. Given that four of us live in a fairly small house and share 2 bedrooms (thank goodness for the cozy room that helps keep us sane), house life is going amazingly well after 3 and a half months. I mean, we actually were up until midnight laughing and enjoying each others company a few nights this week. And when anxiety was getting the best of me a day or two this week, we went for a late night snack run at the coaxing of Jon and Ben. Life is good, and I'm lucky to have the housemates that I do.

Last, but not least! Any runners out there reading our blog? Ben and I have signed up to run the Portland to Eugene Ultra Relay, which is a 170 mile race divided up amongst 6 runners, with each runner running 6 legs of about 3-6 miles each. Those reading this may think we are crazy, but Ben and I are totally psyched!! What this means though is that I need to start doing some much more serious running between now and June. Thank goodness for the extra minutes of daylight we're getting! That will be good motivation to go for more after-work runs. (A side note...if anyone is reading this and wants to come out to Portland June 17-18 and run with us, let us know- we're still looking for teammates!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love makes a family, and a church

Like so many other Brethren across the country, our house and church is talking about same-sex covenantal relationships. Last Sunday we previewed a documentary about Peace Church’s transformation to being an open and affirming congregation.

I’ve lived out on the west coast long enough that I don’t get what the big deal is. I don’t get how people aren’t accepting of everyone. I really don’t give two hoots what anyone does in their bedroom. If a friend of mine is in a happy, healthy relationship, awesome; that’s what’s important. Period. Our job as humans is to love and accept each other, regardless of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, age, ability level, etc. Off my soap box I’ll try to step for now.

The video that was shown in church was good. It should both average every day straight Brethren and LGBT Brethren, and their families. I posit that the biggest holdup for conservative Brethren is simple lack of contact with LGBT people. I grew up in a pretty small eastern town. I didn’t make my first openly gay friend until college. But when you realize that the fear-mongering and hateful vitriol spewed against the LGBT community is baseless, a transformation happens: you realize that people are people first. You realize that sexual orientation is just a part of all of our’s identities. You realize that LGBT people have the same desires for family, security, fun, enjoyment of life as everyone. You realize that being gay is not a choice: who would want to face discrimination and being potentially ostracized by loved ones? And I don’t know about other straight people, but I don’t remember the day I decided to be attracted to women.

Church and I haven’t always had the closest of relationships. I’ve felt comfortable here at Peace Church because everyone is really accepting and loving of everyone where they are. Church shouldn’t be about prescribing behavior and dispensing ample doses of guilt. Church is about community, a family. Church is about accepting everyone in that community, BECAUSE of our differences.

I close with a quote (still firmly perched on my soap box, accept my feeble attempts at apologizing). This is from the end song from the documentary:

“I want the whole wide world to see that love makes a family
The kids up the street have two moms and no dad.
Some people tease them; they say that it’s bad
The way people treat them, it makes me so mad
‘Cause their house, it is filled with love.”~Two of a Kind

Ps if you are interested in seeing this video contact Groff Video Productions, Vancouver, WA.