More Than a Meal

When you live in intentional community, you begin to realize how your differences impact your experience with the others you live with in many ways. During my year in the Fellows, I lived with an interracial family of six. The mother was Caucasian raised in a “back woods area”, the father was Korean-Chinese and raised by two Caucasians, they had four biracial children (ages 3 months, 3, 4, & 9), and then me, a girl raised in the inner city of Chattanooga. Can you imagine what life looked like? While I lived with the Livingston’s, I learned two things in particular: Commitment and Intentionality. It was beautiful to see a family that believed in community and looked to live it out in biblically faithful ways.

In my life the word commitment usually is equated with the notion of marriage or a duty (job, military, etc). We don’t use such a word when we are in relationship everyday to our brothers and sisters in Christ. One night while living with the Livingston’s, I committed to cook dinner for them. At this point in my life, I also worked another job along with my internship with the Fellows. My job called and asked if I could cover a shift and without thinking about my commitment to cook dinner, I said “yes” to my job. In the moment, I didn’t think it was a big deal that I wouldn’t be available to cook that night. Once I called and told the family this, I could feel the disappointment from the father of the household. He told me how important commitment is to the family and that they counted on me to cook for the family that night. As a man of God he held me accountable to what I committed to the family. It seemed mundane in the moment but this emphasis on commitment stuck with me and has become very important in how I have pursued my friends and family since. I have even started noticing others commitment toward me as their friend in very intentional ways.

During my time with the Livingston’s I also learned a ton about intentionality. In this household, it was important to be actively intentional with each other, the Lord, and our neighbors.  I recently read a book by Dallas Willard called “The Spirit of the Disciplines”, in this book he quotes Francis Shaffer; “and we are to love men, to be alive to men as men, and to be in communication on a true personal level with men, in this present moment of history.” (Willard, 1988) At times, we can find ourselves not being as intentional as we would like to—we get busy or we desire to spend time with people that don’t take up too much of our energy. It was very important to my host family that we spent time with each other and the Lord together. We committed to wake up each morning at around 7am-7:30am to have breakfast together, devotions with the Lord, and prayer before all heading off for the day. It most definitely was a sacrifice to be up early, but the little ones of the family spurred me on the most as they were eager to prepare breakfast together. In this experience I found it joyful to be with this family that believed in being intentional with not just self, but with family, with others, and even their things (money, time, parenting, etc).

It was amazing to see a family function in such a way, especially considering my background to that of the parent’s background. The Lord redeems and renews his people and their generations to come. In a song called “Intentional” by Travis Greene, he sings:

“All things are working for my good, yeah
'Cause He's intentional
Never failing
I know that all things are working for my good, yeah
He's intentional
Never failing.”

I believe this to be true because what I learned from my host family about being in true, intentional community is still working for my good….even today!!!

Cassie Martin, Chattanooga Fellow Alum ‘16

Jonathan Ingraham