Making Home: (Intentional Community).

Grab a cup of tea, friends... this may just be a biiiig post.

I've been wanting to write about our 'living arrangement' for quite a while now.  
To tell you how we took a home, smashed it in two and rebuilt it as a 'duplex'.  
How we share our nest with Ben's younger brother and his wife.  
To explain our perspective on intentional community.
That's the basic intro... here we go:
Yes, the above picture is looking from our living room into the once nasty kitchen.
When we tour people through our nest, I tend to explain it as: "everywhere you see a wall - used to be a doorway; and everywhere you see a doorway - used to be a wall".
Thanks to the vision of our Father-in-law we reformatted the layout of this house to become a duplex set-up for the two brothers and their hot wives. ;o) 

So, this shot on the left was supposed to be our 'house' shot... but I decapitated the guys (why I need a tripod!).  Instead, here's the Inglis family shot for you to see our whole crew.
We would not be living here if it wasn't for the parent-in-laws amazing support.
They helped us get out of the financial 'renters black hole' and actually have a home to build some 'equity' with.

Double the people = double the fun:
Sharing a home means shared bills.
Shared mortgage/tax payments.
We also share meals or coffee times throughout the week.
And when in a baking pinch: butter, eggs, or other ingredients are an easy delivery!

Shared joys, shared trials.
Shared tears, and smiles.
Aunt Sarah-Anne and Hudson.                                                     Uncle Tristan and Azriel.
There's a lot of pros to living in an intentional community.
Though I know it's not for everyone, Ben and I feel strongly about pursuing this type of lifestyle.

While Sartre states that "Hell is other people"... I believe that we are designed for community.
In contrast, isolation is the real torment to ones soul.  
We need each other.  No one is a rock... or an island (despite how groovy Simon & Garfunkel sing it!).  God is Himself a Trinity... a divine community.  

That doesn't mean it's not difficult - all relationships stretch us.
The stretching can be painful... but it also causes growth.
Living in community, you need to communicate well.
You need to be patient, flexible, and hospitable.

Yes, they have to endure hearing the kid's screaming and running around the house over here.
Yes, we have to endure hearing them screaming and running around in a 'tickle-war' over there! ha!  But it's great overall.
We really love that our kids get to grow up with their Aunt & Uncle close by (Azi loves to run to the window and wave at them every time they come or go).

Having family is a blessing.
But then there's the 'chosen family' of friends nearby too.
The real reason we gravitated to this house was it's location - smack dab in the centre of various close friends.  For us stay-at-home mamas it's a wonderful support to walk five minutes and find a friend for you (and your kids) to hang with.
They have been a huge help to me (especially after my surgery) and I thank God for their friendships.

This is the community I intentionally seek out.
Like any relationship: it grows, or shrinks, based on the effort we put into it.  Sometimes it seems easier to be an introvert and hide in my cave... but easy has never meant 'healthy' in my books, when I force myself to get out and visit, or pick up a phone and call... I always feel better for having connected with another soul.

Since hospitality is one of the rhythms in our nest we strive for - it's great to be in a place where we can daily have friends into our home for meals, or a cup of tea.

Ben and I still talk about joining an intentional community in the future.
Not the Kool-Aid cult communes.
Not a group of homogeneous clones.
But a diverse group of folk eager to share life together.

Whether or not we find that place...
...we're making home intentional here.

What about you?
Would you ever picture living in a community?

I'd love to hear your perspective,

making home. home maker,
Mel ;o)


  1. Great post Mel! I've thought about this a lot, and it's always seemed odd to me that we often think we're so 'advanced' in the Western world, and yet so many people suffer from loneliness, anxiety and depression. We're not quite sure how to do the 'community' thing in these parts it seems, and have a lot to learn from other parts of the world. Sure, there are trying times, and we can feel crowded, and needing our space, but I believe it is a dangerous thing for our hearts when we aren't crowded at all! I've always loved the idea of sharing a living space with other people, or at least being part of a close knit community. I went to a conference at the Waterloo Region Council Chambers this year about immigration in the region, and a lot of the people speaking (most of whom were new to Canada), said that the largest challenge in coming to the KW region was facing a lack of community, and feeling isolated, especially considering the understandings of community that they often had from home. 

  2.  Thanks for writing Lisa (a.k.a... ol' roomie!!). Yes, ever since our time together - I knew I needed to be in community! lol... But, seriously, good thoughts there, and yes its true - other cultures have a much better understanding of this idea than us.  Sounds like it was an interesting conference. :o)

  3. Nicky Rothmann9 May 2012 at 08:27

    Love this post!
    I love the idea of intentional community, intentional christian living, 
    intentional creativity, intentional simplicity, just plain intentional living.

    We live in a similar set up.
    (Our home is a little one attached to the family business property,
    we live rent free, utility bill free
    Its fun, its convenient, its difficult, its sometimes hair pulling AAARRGH!

    Just this past Sunday I had to 'Blow', 
    so that I could have the patience|strength|endurance to do it for another 6 months.
    We have been living this way for 11 years now, with 3 years away overseas (our furlough *giggle*).
    Every 6 months my husband gets to hear me BLOW (lucky him).

    But I would do it again.
    I hope in the future to have a farm and live this way with more people.
    A little South African, Simple Way.

  4.  Hi Nicky! Wow, thanks for giving me a lil' glimpse into your wild world there...11 years?! Where are you from originally?  A 'Simple Way' idea would be ideal in a lot of ways.  We're eager to see where God may lead on those future steps.
    P.S.. hope your mail arrives soon!!  Forgive my 'mom brain'.. but do I actually 'know' you (apart from this blog?!) - your other last name kept ringing a bell, but wasn't sure how?  Or did you just find me in blogsphere?
    Either way, lovely having you at the nest here, as always!
    God bless xo

  5. This is a wonderful post!  I have always thought it would be so lovely to live in some sort of "commune."  When I mention this to my friends they tend to just give me strange looks and tell me I'm crazy, but how can you get more intentional about your community than living with it!  Maybe someday...keep doing what you're doing, it sounds great!

  6.  Hi Keely, thank so much for stopping in, and your comment - no worries, there's a lot more of 'us' out there (even if your friends give you funny looks!)...  I think that even the current 'economic' state is causing more people to consider sharing homes.  I'm sure your cupcakes would attract happy live-ins! hehe. ;o)

  7. Nicky Rothmann11 May 2012 at 07:57

    No worries about the Mom Brain, my youngest is 4 and I thought that which was porridged should be unporridged by now! I found you while googling for "Harem Pants" a year back.
    (now it's part of my "breath stage" of every day!) Perhaps in some weird way our paths have crossed, wouldn't put past God! I blog too, but yours is way fun!
    Love and Light

  8.  ha! Porridge.. too true!  So glad you found me (like everyone else on google ... through those harem pants.. ha).  Where's your blog??? xo

  9. How wonderful for you and your family! It must be so nice to have loved ones so close by! We have the opposite scenario out where we are- no one else around at all... Sometimes it's pure bliss and sometimes it's a bit lonely.

  10. Nicky Rothmann14 May 2012 at 01:47



Thanks for dropping by our nest, I love to hear from you!