Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

September 17, 2009

Free the chickens!

Filed under: Uncategorized — theburts @ 2:17 pm

We have begun a new hobby, as we are inclined to do every year or so.  :)  Chickens!  We have nine chickens in our backyard, five of which are giving us eggs!  Lady McBeth, Mr. Chris, Luna, Jailbird, Carl, Daisy, Kayley, Nugget and Yuengling.  All will be laying before long…they’re just a little young yet.


Nashville is currently debating the future of chickens in city limits.  Unfortunately, some feel that chickens belong only in the country.  We feel quite passionately (enough to battle our nerves to speak up at public hearings) that citizens should be allowed to keep a few chickens in their backyard, as long as they do it responsibly.  Just as dogs can be a nuisance, so can chickens.  Any animal or animal pen can be smelly and cause a mess if not kept up, and chickens need be no more a mess than other permitted city animals.  Most urban dwellers keep chickens in a chicken tractor or some sort of mobile coop.  That way, they don’t stay in one place for long enough to stink it up.  Here’s a great example of one…along with my favorite chicken site…



We believe one of the best steps in working toward food security is to encourage people to participate in local food production in every way possible.  That may be growing a small garden, composting, buying locally at farmers’ markets and at stores which support local and organic food…and raising egg machines!  Rarely do many people consider where their food comes from, and even more rarely does one learn about the corporate food system and decide to do something about it.  So we encourage those who want to put their values into practice by not supporting the egologically devastating chicken factories, but instead choose to have a few free range chickens for eggs.

Here’s another pic of our smallest chicken, Nugget.  Yep, you heard right.


We’ll eventually post pictures of all of them.  Just wanted to get a blog on here, since it’s been a thousand years.

In other news, we’re still living in community in south Nashville, gardening and chickening our little tails away!  Fall crop has just been planted, so we’re waiting on all of it to sprout…winter giant spinach, mustard greens, celery, broccoli and cabbage.  Sweet potatoes are doing very well, ready to harvest at anytime, but the stackable potato tire experiment didn’t produce many potatoes.

We have found that we need a little more space than we currently have in our house, as we (the Burts) only have one room to ourselves.  A little bit of a shock in coming from a whole apartment to ourselves.  So we’re looking together as a community to build or buy a little more room.  Chestnut Hill has been good to us, we’ve met some wonderful neighbors and have had some wonderful times.  Peace!


April 14, 2009

We’re moving!

Filed under: Intentional community — theburts @ 7:23 pm

Having not found any houses, warehouses, old apartment buildings or other potential places for our community to begin, looks like building is more and more likely. In the meantime, though, we really wanted to get into the neighborhood, so we started looking for rental houses or apartments in the area. And now, a week later, we’re packing boxes. :)

Amanda and I, Josh and Amber move in to our rental house this Saturday, then the Adkins will follow to a rental house a block and a half away on May 15th. 11 all total, 5 being kids (not including me), will be the beginnings of our experiments in intentional Christian community.

After we move this weekend, we’ll immediately switch gears to gardening. In between our 2 houses, there’s a spot of land owned by the school there that will be our community garden space. Jason, through the neighborhood association, has already gotten 20 people from the neighborhood to sign up for a space in it. Then, as a community, we’ll have at least 1 more plot. We’ve actually already put in a small 4X8 garden in the backyard of our new rental house.

So, as we like to say quite dorky-like over and over, “we’re really doin’ it!”

We’ll update you at some point with stories and pictures and thoughts about living together in an intentional community. Until then (which, as you know, may be a while…hee!), peace be with you!

March 16, 2009

Settlers of Catan: Burt Edition

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 7:30 pm
Tags: , ,

After playing Settlers of Catan with our dear friend Chris at Jubilee Partners, we decided we must get one. It’s a really great board game, sort of a blending of Risk and Monopoly, except more ethical….namely, it’s the (mostly) non violent version of Risk combined with the non materialistic version of Monopoly. We’re not fans of games that reinforce the idea that the richest person wins. Then again, one could argue that this game teaches it’s ok to plunder the earth’s resources to build more settlements and cities. Anyway, we’re cheap, and couldn’t agree to spend fifty bucks for it online.

So that led to us researching online how many pieces to make, one weekend printing out lots of resource and development cards, one weekend of cutting out and painting the wood pieces, and we ended up with the Burt edition of Settlers. We’re pleased with how it turned out, so we finally took some pictures and thought we’d put them here…mainly for Chris, the most intense Settler ever. :) Here’s to Chris…

(Note: The picture is the setup for the two person version, but we have the full board and the expansion set as well.)

March 4, 2009

March Update

Filed under: Intentional community — theburts @ 9:51 am

Alas, our blog has turned into an update page. But that’s better than a blank page, I suppose.

We weren’t able to purchase the house on 1st Ave. There were several other things that happened in that process, but getting the house didn’t happen. So we began again looking for a home large enough to house our community in the Chestnut Hill area. It’s a very small neighborhood, and there’s not a lot of real estate activity there. So it’s been rather difficult. In fact, we’ve agreed to look into buying a lot and building. I wouldn’t call it a last resort, because building certainly has some wonderful advantages…when building for community, as opposed to buying a house and renovating it to make it work for community, more people can be fit more practically and comfortably into the same amount of space, we can also attempt to build as sustainably as possible, etc. New construction loans are difficult to get right now, but not impossible. So that’s one barrier we will have. Continue to pray with us that we will be able to move into this neighborhood soon…we’re all very eager to begin partnering with the people of the existing community to love, create, work and dream in this abandoned area.

We leave for Haiti Friday for a week of medical work there. There’s a large team of medical doctors and personnel who go every February or March. We usually see about 600 people in four days in the eye clinic alone, so by the end of that we’re spent…not to mention out of most glasses. Hopefully we can make life a little easier for some of the people there in Gonaives, and learn our yearly lesson in Haiti…namely, that wealth, entertainment and the accumulation of stuff are not prerequisites for immense joy and a beautiful life.

Amanda continues to shine as a project manager at the Army Corps of Engineers. Although overloaded a bit at times (most times, actually), she is enjoying her responsibility there and doing a great job. She goes to San Diego, CA again this July for a week of training, and found Daniel a cheap ticket…so now, for the first time since their honeymoon, they will have a mini vacation. Woot.
Daniel has noticed an increase in business, so has hired a full time assistant. They are staying pretty busy most of the time, but Daniel longs for the day when he can start getting some Saturdays off. Amanda has given him the green light, even if it means a huge cut in salary, to try and hire someone to work one or two Saturdays a month so that he can spend more time with his gorgeous wife.

Fun and games
We visited Chris Haynes (former community member, Jubilee intern, awesome person) at Jubilee Partners in Comer, GA. It was fantastic. We learned so much and just had a wonderful time there. In addition, we played for the first time Settlers of Catan, and immediately fell in love with it. So when we returned, we made our own edition of it because we were too cheap to pay $50 for it. Turns out, we had a ton of fun making it (out of wood, and hand painted) and it turned out really great. We’ll take a picture next time we play.

Our dear friends Ariah and Mindy are adopting a boy!
Josh and Daniel pulled off the most complex scavenger hunt to date, where there were 3 teams of interacting players, photo surveillance (spying), briefcases and locks and combinations and codes and real looking gold bricks
Amy Pratt is back in town!
Daniel had a chance meeting with the manager of a local grocery store, took a risk and talked to him about dumpster diving, and was met with kindness and shared concern about how much has to be wasted. He also told us the best times to go to his dumpster. Which Josh, mostly, already knew…imagine that. But it was a good, unexpected, conversation.
The truck  is finally working again (picture below)…so far I’ve had to replace (sometimes with Justin’s help) the master cylinder, glow plugs, vacuum pump, heater core, and fix the tailgate. That sounds horrible, but all of those parts only cost about $150. Several of the community members are extremely excited about making biodiesel for it, since it’s a diesel engine.

1984 Ford F250, 3/4 ton, 4WD with 6.9 diesel engine

1984 Ford F250, 3/4 ton, 4WD with 6.9 diesel engine

That’s it for now!

Peace be with you,

December 8, 2008

Still trying to buy the house

Filed under: Intentional community — theburts @ 3:44 pm

Ok, I’ve been waiting to update when we actually bought and have the keys for our new house…but that’s proving to take a bit, so here’s a quick update until that happens.  :)  

We (the future community, about 12 including kids) found a house and a duplex right next to each other, have reached a price ($65,000) that has been accepted on the house, have run into problems, and are still trying to sort all of that out and close on the house so that we can make an offer on the duplex. Problems have included but are not limited too (hee hee):

  • Finding an underwriter who will loan us the money for the house, since the house is in considerable disrepair and doesn’t appraise well
  • The title is fishy. I’ll just leave it at that, because it’s all very complicated and we’re still trying to uncover the truth and figure out whether or not we can get title insurance to protect ourselves
  • Figuring out whether we should do a conventional loan and pay for the improvements out of pocket or do a contrustional loan that includes monies for improvements on the house

Note that none of the problems have been with our goals, our relationships, or our continuing to figure out what our community is going to look and act like. We are all still very excited to get this paperwork done and move in as soon as we can. In fact, we’ve bought a stove, a table top, and a community guard dog so far….we just have to get a house to put them in. 

For right now, Jason and Stephani will be the mortgage holders on one house and Amanda and I will be on the other. We will determine each person’s rent based on what percentage of the entire community’s income they bring in, and our surplus rent will go to pay the initial investors (Jason, Steph, Amanda and me) back for our initial capital expenditures. That way, once that is all done, we will all be equal as far as what we’ve invested financially so far. (It may be, if we can get a construction loan, that there’s not much difference in what everyone invests initially.) It was going to be quite difficult to put everyone on the titles, so at a later point we plan to develop some kind of legal entity that will allow us to transfer the houses to multiple ownership. Also later, as we continue to deepen relationships with each other, we plan to constantly evaluate our community’s finances/incomes and move towards an Acts 2/4 economy.

That’s all I’ve got for right now, but I promise that as soon as we get these properties bought I will have PLENTY to say and show.  :)



October 20, 2008

Whoa!…or…just let go and enjoy the ride.

Filed under: Intentional community — theburts @ 3:55 pm

As a kid, I used “whoa” as it was created to be used…to command my horse to stop. :) It didn’t always work, like when I rode bareback and unbridled, or when I somehow lost control of the reigns and was just hanging on for dear life. But that’s what “whoa” meant to me. Now it’s just another exclamation, like “holy smokin’ metal, batman!” 

“Whoa!” could be used in both ways here. There’s been a lot of exciting things, so a big ol’ exclamatory “wow!” is definitely in order. And, things have been moving so quickly lately regarding community that an outsider might caution with “whoa!”…but we’re thinking instead of just letting go of the reigns and holding on. :) OK, now that I’m done with my cheesy little introduction (which I think was quite clever personally), I’ll proceed by updating you blogreaders with the latest on our community formation.  

Our group is still meeting every other Wednesday to discuss the book Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism. We’ve enjoyed discussing community issues, both living together and living within a neighborhood, from a theological perspective and also from a practical one. Haven’t gotten everything figured out yet, ha, but have had some great conversation! Meanwhile, we met Jason Adkins about a month ago at the new monastic conference. Since then, we’ve gotten to know him and his wonderful family of seven (that’s right, Jason and Stephani and 5 kids! and they’re my age! talk about “wow!”), and it’s looking like a good possibility that we’ll make an offer on a house together within a week or two. There are at least two among our existing group who plan to join the community. The Adkins’ vision of community life seems to align perfectly with what we’ve been discussing, only they already had a neighborhood of Nashville in mind and have thought much more about how to serve the neighborhood while living faithfully as a community of Christians.

To that end, we learned that Jason and his co-conspirators have been meeting for a long time trying to nail down a proposal called the “Oikos Project.” In the word “oikos,” evidently, there are roots in the words ecology, economy and eccumenism. So this project would work in the neighborhood to bring an alternative economy where affordable housing was built, local jobs were created, and people live together and share economic resources, working together against suburban individualism and urban gentrification; it would be eccumenical in joining people from different faith backgrounds in common service of the kingdom, promoting unity of believers; and it would attempt to be ecologically sustainable by using local building materials, growing much of its own food in urban, community gardens, and sharing common space in “designed for community” housing. All of this would be done through a non-profit organization that would allow people and organizations to donate their time and money to keep it going. That’s all in my own words, so I’m sure that it could be said a lot better and that I’ll learn more about what they want to do in the neighborhood as we go along. So, even though Jason and friends have already been meeting with neighborhood organizations, city planning officials, and others who all are extremely excited so far about their ideas, it will take some time. Like, years maybe. 

Jason and Stephani have expressed the desire to go ahead and move into the neighborhood. As soon as possible. Otherwise, they’ve told us, it seems very much like a church who goes into an area to clean up or play with the kids and then retreats to the safety of their building and homes. Good service, no doubt, and a needed one. But those of us who desire to live in intentional community often want the benefits of living in, learning from, and growing with the neighborhoods that we want to serve. 

They are very encouraged in finding others who are ready to make this move into community, and we’ve had a wonderful time spent hearing each others’ journeys. And on a lighter note, their family is just super fun to be around! After living in community with Ariah and Mindy and Dawn and Bryan and Avery and Roman and Josh and Chris, with all the laughter and joy that we shared, I wasn’t sure that community could ever be that fun again. And maybe it can’t! :) But I’m 100% convinced that, though we’ll no doubt have conflict at times, we’ll immensely enjoy the experience of living together. More than that, I get excited imagining how the grace of our Lord may be present in our community, and I’m eager to grow alongside our new and old friends as we try to practice kingdom life together. :)

So the house we’re looking at is in really poor shape. I’ve seen it from the outside only…but I’ve been told that it smells like pee. So it needs some work, a lot of work, much of which will be done by us and by our friends and churches who may come and help with renovations. It’s also fairly inexpensive, though, and is right in the area where our friends want to relocate. It’s only 1,650 sq ft with an additional 600-700 sq ft that would be finished as an attic bedroom(s). So that’s not enough space for the 12 or 13 (including children) people who are immediately interested in forming a community. So we’re considering options such as renting a place close by, buying another nearby house, etc. 

We don’t know yet what exactly the core values of our community will be. Maybe we need a short mission statement, maybe not. :) So far we’ve discussed the importance of a weekly house/community family meeting, frequent common prayer offered (but not mandatory) maybe twice a day, having open and honest conversation about community members’ role in being authority holding adults while maintaining a very limited role in discipline, some form of economic sharing between members of the community, and the need for private space both in some sort of a prayer/library area and in each family unit’s space to be alone.

Pray with us! There will be a lot of decisions to be made in the next few days/weeks. Scary, a little, and maybe a little crazy. Or a lot crazy when you look at it outside of the context of the kingdom of God! But also exhilarating to live in an alternative way that is contrary, foolish even, to what our current society offers…as exhilarating as letting go of the reigns and galloping away. (Yes, I brought the cheese back at the end!) That’s all for now, I guess, though I’m sure I’m forgetting some important details.


October 9, 2008

Where is Wall Street again?

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 9:15 am

Ok, I’m not that ignorant on what’s going on…close, but not quite. Since my ignorance in economics disables me from making any comments on the financial situation, I thought I’d point out something a little lighter. Has anyone else noticed the pictures that CNN (and I’m sure others) are using for their stories on the economy? It’s actually quite funny…it seems as though they have some photographers who are trained to go around Wall Street and find people with despairing looks, most of whom have their hand over their face somewhere and some of whom have put both hands on their heads. If I worked in Wall Street and wanted to be in the news, I would get a group of my friends together, find something random that we could look up and watch, and all put our hands on our heads or one hand over our mouth and try to squeak out a tear or two. We’d be on the news in minutes. 

Please excuse my flippancy, I realize that the crisis itself isn’t funny. On a more serious note, I thought this article about a sheriff in Chicago was really interesting. Check it out here.

Or if you’d rather see the video…


September 24, 2008

More community discussion

Filed under: christianity — theburts @ 4:18 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Sorry, took a short hiatus again. :)  Not too much new here…we’re still learning and dreaming of community, went to a conference thing by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (who lives at the Rutba House intentional community in North Carolina) this past weekend. Since I haven’t had time to write a blog for some time, I wanted to share this. I wrote it in email form to the group that’s meeting every other week, discussing the book Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism. Peace, Daniel.

So I wanted to tell y’all about something that’s been very encouraging for me this week. Feel free to chime in anytime. And sorry, it’s long. :)

It’s easy for one (me) to get overwhelmed by the huge decisions and complexities of moving into community. Even though I’ve lived in an intentional community before, and even though I know of other groups around the country and throughout history, it’s so foreign to the typical way of life in America that it can feel like we’re the first ones to ever try it! The newness in “new monasticism” can feel exciting and revolutionary. And it certainly is, there have been amazing, exciting changes both in my life and countless others through the witness of people like John Perkins and Shane Claiborne, from the Rutba House to Koinonia. But the moment I (we) begin to feel a sense of personality responsibility and heroism for success in creating community, I think pride is dangerously near if not already planted in my (our) efforts.

In the first chapter we’re discussing next week, called “Humble Submission to Christ’s Body, the Church,” the author talks of his history in discovering the “Great Tradition,” the “set of beliefs and practices that have been maintained by Christians throughout the centuries and are still held by the vast majority of Christians.” Then he says, “The impossible burden of having to do it all by myself and the terrible insecurity of never knowing if I was right were both lifted from my shoulders. A new life opened before me. I now saw the church as a gift rather than an accomplishment. With that realization a life-long process of conversion began, slowly changing me from someone who relied entirely on his own efforts into someone who accepted the gifts of grace that are all about us.”

Though the author was referring more to his being separated from the Church and his frustrations with not having anyone (or any church authority) to learn from, I think the same thing can happen in creating community. We are not alone, people! We have many gifts of grace to accept, both from the Church and from our brothers and sisters, and I think it will be too burdensome to try and be community without the encouragement and support from others. I met Harvey Baker at church this past Sunday, a man who’s lived in an intentional farm community for 34 years in south TN. It was funny…I asked him if he’d read “12 Marks of a New Monasticism,” as if this book published in 2005 was also somehow important in the creation of his community in 1973. Right, so he’d never heard of it. :) But he’s been living it for years…woodworker by trade, farmer for food, a 65ish year old lover of God and neighbor (and harmonica).

It’s easy to be scared of failure, or intimidated by the huge responsibility of being a faithful community, especially when we’re new to it and might not have any direct ties to other communities…but we need to remember that just because it’s new to us, it’s not new to the world. I’m not attempting to squelch the excitement of the “irresistible revolution” or “new monasticism.” I’m pumped about it, and am eager to live in community with some or all of you. I think Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Shane Claiborne and most of those involved in the new monasticism dialogue have tried to make it very clear that the words “new” and “movement” are dangerously “faddish.” They’ve emphasized that we need to keep close connection with our mother the Church and with our brothers and sisters (present and past) as we try to live faithfully in community. And to me, it was so encouraging to meet this older man, someone to whom intentional community isn’t new, or scary, or radical at all…it’s just life. That’s my story (ie. novel).

August 25, 2008

Community #2

Amanda and I have talked a lot in the past few months about the possibility of living in community. Our dear friends, Bryan and Dawn and Mindy and Ariah, showed us that it is indeed possible to be happily and healthily married while living in community with others. In fact, one of the identifiers in the so called “new monastic” communities (as noted in Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of the New Monasticism, which we and several of our friends are currently going through as a group) is “support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.” Sure, our society thinks that’s weird. And crazy. But Christians have often been thought of as weird and crazy, a fact that I was reminded of lately, so we’d be in good company.

We believe that we have to look at everything from the perspective of God and our faith in Jesus. After all, most Christians, if asked, will tell you that following God should more important than anything else in their life (though we certainly don’t always act like it…surely critics might say that football and finances often trump God in our lives). So even though moving in with a bunch of people doesn’t necessarily seem normal and natural to us, especially after being married for only one year, we simultaneously understand that part of the reason is because of what our culture tells us is normal. I’ve used the phrase “counter cultural” quite a bit on my blog here. Where it’s sometimes true that Christians need to be counter cultural, I’m learning more and more that what we need more is for Christ’s followers to envision a new culture altogether, not just oppose the mainline one that we feel is messed up. We need an alternative culture, Jesus’ Way, where we can live out his radical economics, peace making, and enemy love, in any land we find ourselves…whether that’s the empire of Rome or America. (Credit goes to a great book I’m currently reading, Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, for some of these phrases and for helping me to further understand what it means to follow Jesus today)

For us, moving into community with other Christians and seeking to radically live out Jesus’ Way in America may be the next step in our lives that (we pray) are characterized more than any other thing by a complete devotion to the God who created this world, called the Israelite nation out of slavery, put on flesh as Jesus the Messiah, and who will come again to fulfill our hopes for peace and justice. Instead of looking normal and fitting in, we would rather be known as misfits in our society but be true to Jesus. (The early followers of Jesus lived so differently than their culture that they were called by a new name!) Instead of the security and pleasure that wealth brings, we would rather rely on God for daily bread and experience the greater joy of taking care of the poor. Instead of living for the moment, partying and getting drunk, we would rather live like the kingdom of heaven is already here, showing love to our neighbors and throwing parties for the homeless.

We feel that Christians who are truly following Jesus should and will stand out as peculiar people in this luxury-seeking, power-hungry, at-war nation. At the same time, we don’t find biblical precedence that commands every Christian to move into the abandoned areas of their city and live in community with other Christians….we do hope, though, that just as other new monastic communities have been in a sense prophetic to us, that God could use our community to speak to some that another way of living is possible. There is no biblical mandate that Christians must not own their own homes or live in wealthy areas of town….we would hope, though, that people who are frustrated by the system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer would get a little glimpse of God’s kingdom where everyone is equal. We would seek to live humbly and not judge Jesus’ followers wherever and in whatever state they find themselves….yet we would hope that our fellow disciples would be encouraged (and challenged) when they dine with our “family” and see the beauty of reconciliation that can occur when invisible city walls are broken down.

These are some of the ways that we can imagine us living like the kingdom of God in Nashville. Simply imagining that new world is where we’re at right now. Amanda and I have tried in the last few years to align our walk more closely with the Way of Christ, but we’re certainly not the best example of how modern day Christians in America might live out their faith daily. Whoa, no, we’ll send you to someone else for that, thank you. But we do want God to be our priority. And we have discussed many times how easy it is to go back to the ways of the world when we’re not surrounded by those who challenge and encourage us to be more like Christ…so here we are, finding ourselves considering community. Dreaming. Tossing it around in our little heads. And then sometimes remembering how much we like everything the world offers…from eating out often to cool technology to privacy to nice homes and and even new cars. So this new kingdom is a long way from what our daily life looks like now, mind you, but something that gives us much excitement, hope, and yes, fear. Fear of being viewed as crazy or too radical, of not fitting in, of pre-existing racial and social divisions, of safety and of financial insecurity. So how do we get there from here? Or to go back a bit, how do we know if God wants us to do this? (a question that we struggle with often) Then, if we do feel like it is aligned with God’s desire for us and his kingdom, what do we need for this journey? I know Jesus’ disciples went out with no money and no shoes…but we’re not there yet people. :)

We don’t have the answers to all of those questions. Regarding what we need for this journey, though, should we decide to take it, I’ll throw a few things out there for consideration. Certainly courage to live like Jesus no matter what is key. We also need wisdom to begin living this kind of community (“be as wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves”) in the midst of a fallen world and its broken and segregated neighborhoods. Humility is vital, so that we don’t begin to think that our community succeeds or fails because of what we bring to the table, but instead pattern our lives after Jesus (be Christians, or little Christs, like the earliest disciples were called) and give God his hands and feet to work in this world. And this sounds redundant, but we need community…co-conspirators, fellow Christ followers willing to give up personal plans for greatness and success to come and seek the heart of God in community together. Because we cannot do it alone. Along those lines, we will need supporting churches. We aren’t starting a new Church (did I mention that yet?). No, on the contrary, each person of the community needs to stay closely tied together to their own congregations of believers, thereby receiving continued life through the church, and also giving support and encouragement to others in the assembly through our relationships. Most importantly, we will need God. His grace to forgive us when we are proud and self-seeking, his holy scriptures to guide us daily, and his constant and faithful love, of which there’s plenty for us to share with our neighbors.

Next, I think we’ll discuss more specific ideas and options for community…what kind of area or dwelling have we considered, how would finances work, etc. But I’d love to have some discussion first! And if anyone out there is interested in possibly living in community, please let us know! Remember, we would need co-conspirators! :)

August 21, 2008

Community #1

Filed under: christianity — theburts @ 4:15 pm
Tags: , ,

Many of you know that I (Daniel) lived in a community for a year. By community, I mean multiple people or family units living in shared space…9 total people in two apartments. Each person or family unit had their own space still for privacy (except for me and Josh who were in the same room with a bunk bed that had a parrot roost for stuffed parrots), but we had common areas for cooking, eating, and just hanging out or playing games. We ate most every meal together (and often with guests) and spent most of our down time talking about life, God, world views, and what happens when the Christian faith and daily living meet. There were two children who brought much entertainment to the community, and different community members would take turns babysitting them to give the parents breaks. There was a nursing student, network technician, at-risk-youth counselor, accountant, barista, optometrist, and engineer assistant (or, a guy who worked at an engineering firm) living together sharing their resources and growing in the Way of Jesus Christ. We attended different Churches, but we found unity in our desire to radically follow Jesus. It was both the most I’ve ever been challenged and the most I’ve ever grown all in the same year.

There were several reasons, but a big one for me at the time was that I didn’t feel right living where I lived. Josh and I were living with other friends in a fairly wealthy area of the city in a big condominium I’d bought in ’03, and after my eyes were opened to the fact that Jesus spent most of his time with the poor, there was internal conflict in the fact that I never spent any time on “Jesus’ side of town.” So Josh and I decided to move…and at the same time, our future room mates Bryan and Dawn (and kids) and Mindy and Ariah had decided to live together, and we all came together with another random stranger, Chris, to form said happy community.  :)

In the beginning stages, some of our group actually looked for cheap broken down or burned out houses to buy, but we ended up just having to quickly find a place to rent out for a year. We lived in an abandoned area of Nashville (north Nashville to be exact) on a street that some of our family and friends would have declared unsafe for us. We all agreed that safety wasn’t our primary goal in following Jesus. We didn’t know all the ins and outs of what our little community experiment would look like when we moved in. Our “home” wasn’t very nice aesthetically, and we had a roach problem, but we found that we didn’t mind not having vaulted ceilings or perfect paint jobs or new carpet. We even managed to survive through the smell of icky smoke creeping in our apartment and the occasional slug.

We constantly talked about and grew together in areas such as understanding racial divisions and obstacles to equality, taking care of God’s earth from composting to recycling to redeeming trash, becoming equal in sharing resources and kicking around ideas of financial accountability, actively seeking peace while our country was at war, etc. Most of this was around the dinner table, and afterwards as we’d sit around and enjoy conversation with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Conversation just happened, scheduled or not. Nobody headed off to watch TV after dinner, and everyone chipped in cleaning up and washing dishes (though we all know Chris, Mindy and Dawn did more than their share, grin).

We painted this verse on our wall…

…and we carried it out through cleaning, babysitting, writing encouraging notes to each other on our message boards, and taking out the trash, which is kind of like washing feet.

So that was our year in community in review, a year later. I promise it wasn’t completely random…you’ll see why I brought it up on the next blog, which will hopefully be written soon. And that was the first blog post in a long time. My apologies. :)

On another note, Amanda and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary last week! What a wonderful first year it was…and I look forward to the rest of them with equal (or even greater!) excitement and anticipation.  ;)

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