30 Oct How We Find Community
Guest writer, Leigh Anne Lynch
Hello! My name is Leigh Anne, and my family (husband, 13 year old, and 10 year old) moved to Kirkland this past year. I’m originally from Alabama (hence the double first name) but my husband, kids, and I have lived in five states and two countries over the past fifteen years.
Starting over is never easy, in fact, it’s exhausting.
One of my biggest prayers every time we move is that God will lead us to our tribe. Finding community is so vital to thriving where God has currently placed you. One thing we’ve learned along this journey is that there is a huge difference between being nice and being friendly. Most people are nice, but nice doesn’t require follow up. Nice scratches the surface and typically ends at a pleasant conversation. Friendly takes the next step and initiates a connection with someone (over coffee, or a meal, or a walk, or an invitation to something, anything!). Friendly takes the time to get to know someone. Friendly makes someone feel like they have value and belong in a community. Friendly makes someone feel known in a sea of acquaintances. Friendly will bless someone in ways you can’t imagine. Speaking from experience, nice without the follow up of friendly feels very isolating.
Another thing we’ve learned is that it takes effort on our part to connect with others. As a family, we have instituted two activities that help us meet new friends and find community. The first thing we do is invite total strangers to dinner. Not off the street, but like strangers from church or school. We keep the meal super simple and enjoy great conversation. While it’s often easy to focus on our differences we have been reminded in conversations over these dinners (in all parts of the country) that we all have so much more in common than we have in conflict.
The second activity we do is family game night. Once a month, we invite another family to join us for games. We pick the type of game based on who is joining us (although we do try to avoid the mindless board games that make you want to scratch your eyes out). Some of our favorites are Exploding Kittens, Settlers of Catan, and King of Tokyo. I’ll have some drinks and snacks but nothing fancy.
The dinners and game nights not only give the adults a chance to get to know each other better, but they also give the kids a chance to get to know other kids better. It can be super intimidating for a new kid to talk to other kids at school or church; especially when all the other kids have been friends for years. Kids also act very different in their home than they do in a large group setting at school or church. They can let their guard down and open up.
When the families are eating together or playing a game together, it creates a memory and gives the kids a connection and hopefully a path to move forward in a new friendship.
If you are reading this and have already found your tribe, that is wonderful! I would also like to challenge and encourage you to be on the lookout for new members. It’s easy to be comfortable and secure in our community and not see the folks who haven’t found theirs yet (whether they are new to the area or have lived here for years). It’s a whole lot easier to pull someone new into your group than it is to insert yourself into a new group. You could be a massive blessing to someone looking for community and be equally blessed by a new friendship in return.
Lauren asked me to share one of the “company meals” we make because it’s so stinkin easy. It’s called Pig in the Patch or Pig in the Garden. I throw a pork shoulder in the crock pot and make baked potatoes and a large salad. Put out dressing and all the toppings for potatoes, and guests can choose whether to have their pig in the patch (on a potato) or in the garden (on salad) or both! It’s super easy and hands off so you can visit with the company instead of fussing around the kitchen. Here are the recipes:
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
3 TBSP light brown sugar
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP tomato paste
Combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the paprika, mustard powder, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet; add the pork and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 5 minutes. Remove the pork and transfer to a plate; whisk 3/4 cup water into the drippings in the skillet. Transfer the liquid to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
Add the vinegar, tomato paste, the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 cups water to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Add the pork, cover and cook on low, 8 hours.
(Sometimes I skip this last part and just shred the pork in the slow cooker.) Remove the pork and transfer to a cutting board. Strain the liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Roughly chop the pork and mix in a bowl with 1 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, and salt and vinegar to taste.
1 block of Gouda grated
1 package of bean sprouts
1 pound of bacon cooked
1 package of garlic salt bagel chips
Your favorite balsamic dressing
I place the lettuce on a big platter then in the center of the lettuce I pile the cheese in a circular mound, in a circle going around the cheese I put the crumbled bacon, around the bacon goes the bean sprouts, and then crush the bagel chips (they make your croutons) and place in a circle around the sprouts. It is sooo easy, but looks impressive!! Serve with balsamic salad dressing.
Russet or baking potatoes (as many as you have guests coming)
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the potatoes in a bowl with the oil, salt, and pepper until completely coated. Place on a baking sheet and bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Serve with toppings (sour cream, shredded cheese, butter, chives, etc.)