I turned thirty on Wednesday.  I have just one birthday wish.  I wish others would see things like I do.  Simple right?

This wish came out of a conversation I had with a friend earlier in the week.  As we were walking around my neighborhood one evening, I tried to sell her and her husband on moving into our neighborhood once they sell their house.  My friend’s response to my blatant prodding was, “oh Lauren we would love to live near you, just not in “this” neighborhood.”

What led us to live in “this” neighborhood…About four years ago my husband and I went on what I’ll refer to as a mini-pilgrimage.  We felt so much of our life together was incomplete.  We were living the “American dream” (good marriage, good jobs, nice house in the suburbs, great educations, two cars…), and yet our spiritual and emotional lives were a mess.  Looking back we saw a consistent theme: the times we felt most alive and healthy were times spent in intentional community.

backyard before

backyard after

So, we took a few, what some may call, drastic steps: quit our jobs, sold our house, read a lot, prayed a lot, and set off to visit some intentional communities we had been reading about.  Our “mini-pilgrimage” brought us back to our town with a desire to structure our lives similarly to many of the communities we visited, drawing heavily on the 12 Marks of the New Monasticism. We followed what we felt was stirring in our hearts and moved into a lower-socioeconomic diverse neighborhood, bought a house that needed much restoration on land that was in need of healing, took on jobs that freed us up to be intentional in our neighborhood and friendships, and tried to simplify our lives.  We feel the way we have set our lives is healthy for our family and hope that others will want to come join while at the same time we realize God may not stir others hearts in the same way.

I love my neighborhood.  I love that my yard is full of fruits, vegetables and flowers from a labor of love from my husband.

I love that my children can learn about our world from friends/neighbors of different ethnicities.

I love that my husband and I have time every day to hang out with folks from the neighborhood.  I love that I am reminded to live more simply by my neighbors.

When it comes to my neighborhood, maybe I’m like one of those moms who think her baby is the cutest thing in the world but everyone else knows is just plain ugly.  But, I think if anyone spends time here they would see things the way I do.

“This” neighborhood is beautiful.