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Monday, February 21, 2011

Two Families One Family Two Families

Two Families One Family Two Families

We live with another family.  My sister, her husband and children and our family also affectionately known as the ‘crazy commune’.  We moved in together almost four years ago.  In the beginning we had our mind on a duplex, each family having their own half and when one family was away on a mission trip or other travel they wouldn’t have to worry about their house being empty. Unfortunately this meant two families in two small living spaces.  Then another idea emerged, what if we found a house large enough that we could share, live in communally?  As it was we spent a lot of our free time together and often shared meals, campsites etc. so it didn’t seem too much of a stretch.  We had also lived together for six months when we first got back from Africa.  We all prayed about it and really felt that this is what God was leading us into.

Part of the attraction was reducing expenses and when we started searching for a house that would have enough space for two families one with two kids the other with three it started looking expensive.  The location was also an issue, my sister works in Guelph so traveling from the other side of Cambridge would be a real pain, kids would have to change schools etc.

A couple years before that my sister and her husband bought an investment property, a fourplex just down the street from where they lived.  My brother in law said one day ‘what about the rental? We could renovate it and move into it.’  Immediately my sister and I said, ‘NOPE NO WAY!!!’ Phil and I had just been renovating our first house and I knew all too well how much work we had done and it didn’t even compare to how much we would have to do to make the rental house liveable.

We continued our search.  Came up dry.  ‘The rental, what about the rental? Now my husband had joined in.  They went over one day made some drawings and came back with what a floor plan would look like after the reno.  Uh oh.  It was sort of perfect. Sometimes, it’s difficult to see the beauty that can come out of the mess staring you in the face.

There would be a large living room (we host our small group from church and generally like to host!) there would be a large kitchen in the centre of the house, a room that could be used as a mud room (with this many people there’s a lot of shoes!), another family room off the kitchen and a separate dining room.  Sometimes when you know you are supposed to take a certain path but you know how hard it’s going to be it takes a while to accept it. 

Once we had the demolition part over worth the work to rebuild began and we made a list, it’s one that has been modified, had items removed and others added on.  It hangs on our bulletin board and probably sits on our shoulders like a naughty monkey that won’t get off.  We have spent many evenings, weekends and holidays painting, repairing and updating this old house. 

There was a time when the kitchen was bare bones and Phil was working on the wiring and it felt like we would never finish.  We would sit in it on coolers and toolboxes, going through the list of ‘oh we can’t do that until we do this and we have to do this before we can do that’.
Four years later that list still hangs on our bulletin board, it’s gotten smaller and we can see a light.  We have to finish this house in order to sell it for us to move to Brazil.
My sisters’ two oldest daughters have moved out to go to school so all that would remain is the three of them.  It’s a big house for three people. 

Living here and working on this house has been about a lot more than money.  They say you don’t really know someone until you live with them.  I think I would add to that to say you don’t really know yourself until you live with another family.  Living together has been another of God’s training grounds, we have all had to learn how to better communicate, how to lay down things that are not really important for the sake of everyones happiness.  We have all learned things about ourselves and each other that can only help us in the next chapter of our lives.

Making change in life is always difficult, sometimes bittersweet.  We are excited about what God is going to do next in all of our lives, but there is also the pain of separation, and the leaving ones you love behind.  Faith was only a year old when we moved in to this ‘crazy commune’ together.  When she rattles off the members of her family it goes something like this, ‘Mommy, Daddy, Nuke, Wawi, Tratrick, Konnor, Amanda and Joswin.’

It has been a rollercoaster of emotion and I am sure it will continue to be.  I have left home before.  The difference this time is that I am not flying blind, We feel confident that God is in this, that He will comfort us when we miss our family and friends, that He will help us to make new connections in Brazil and that He will take care of the family we leave behind.


Carolyn Vogel said...

Hi Jen
I was wondering how your move would impact the 'Snellborn' family lifestyle! Thanks for creating this's fun to follow your journey & helps me to know how I can pray for you guys along the way!
It's an adventure for all of you as both families approach this fork in the road!

Nathaniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Kilborn said...

Tears falling as I read it.....

The Adventures of Hannah Foulger said...

It is indeed an end of an era.
Its weird how many memories a house can hold.
Especially for me when I don't live there.
Though I'm sure if you added up all the times I've stayed there...

Dan Thiessen said...

I don't know how many times Dan and I have mentioned the successful way you guys live living!! What that really means!! It seems many people say that they would love to live like you but are actually fearful of it when it comes right down to it....Anyway, Dan and I loved being in your peaceful, loving home and I know wherever both families live you will be a blessing to those around you!! We love you, Dan and Sandy