You know what our out-of-town guests say upon their first visit to our downtown-Seattle home? “This is where wickedness resides!” These words surprise me! Firstly, I am sure wickedness resides everywhere. Secondly, our family is called to this neighborhood—and we love it!
We are not citizens of this world, but citizens of heaven. Did you know that the Bible tells us how to live in exile in this world until we go home? God tells us in Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NIV): God tells his people how to live in exile: "Build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and allow your daughters to get married so that they too can have sons and daughters. Grow in number; do not dwindle away. Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the LORD for it. For as it prospers you will prosper.”
God told His people, who were captives in Babylon how to live among the pagans. He gives the same instruction to us wherever we are planted.
More and more people are moving to cities. Currently, more than half of the world's population is urban. The prediction is that by 2050, 66 percent of the world's population will live in cities across the globe.
I notice, though, that many Christians do not want to live in the city. Personally, I cannot say that I’ve never dreamed of a big back yard, farm-fresh eggs, and raw milk. Nonetheless, applying the principles in Jeremiah has allowed us to love living in the city where God has placed us.
Fourteen years ago, God directed us to a lovely house. We have a 3,200-square foot house on a little plot of land across the street from a beautiful urban park. We live half a mile from the University of Washington and only five miles from downtown. Seven different grocery stores, many parks, a public pool, an urban lake, multiple restaurants, coffee shops, and much more are all within walking distance. My husband likes to joke that we lead an alternative lifestyle because we are a married, heterosexual couple who homeschool their nine children. We offer diversity in our liberal neighborhood and diversity is offered to us via the city.
There was a time when I thought that the children needed more land to learn proper working ethics. However, God has provided so many ways for my sons to work, right here in the city. We have worked on pea patch gardens and eaten the produce. Our sons have learned to paint, landscape, clean, chop and stack wood, and take care of pets. Our daughter has her own business and babysits as well.
They each saved a substantial amount of money by the time they were young teens. All this work was for neighbors and we’ve established some wonderful relationships while working with and for the people we live near.
Our home has a basement apartment that we use as a Bed and Breakfast. We live close to the Children's Hospital and have enjoyed the opportunity to host families who needed to use the hospital. We’ve served people from all over the world as they stay and eat with our family. Our children have learned how to keep a guest room, and more importantly, how to show hospitality.
God has brought so many people into our home. They have experienced first-hand our lifestyle and enjoyed Family Devotions with us a family. “Many of these families write back to us about how they were inspired to read the Bible and disciple their own children.
I remember one time when I called a specific family who I knew would be at the children's hospital for a surgery. I told them that we lived nearby and to call for any need. A few days later, the wife called back to say their temporary housing (at the Ronald McDonald House) fell through and asked “Could we stay with you?” Of course!
They came with their sick son and five other children. I’d met her through Above Rubies, although at the time we didn't know each other well. While their son underwent surgery, we kept their other five children. Through this experience, we became such dear, dear friends. A few years later, cancer and another heart surgery brought them back to us. I’m so glad that God planted us here, exactly where this family needed a second home.
As a family, we have invested in our neighborhood. My sons serve on the emergency search and rescue team of our neighborhood’s Natural-disaster Committee. They pick up the park and maintain a park mural. We’re available to our neighbors for any number of favors. Although they have a very different world-view, they appreciate our family's generosity and availability.
In addition, we have appreciated what they offer us. We’ve received writing lessons, garden goodies, many job opportunities, and friendships. We pray for opportunities to share the gospel and praise Him for the times we can share.
My 13-year-old daughter helped a family who’d just had their second child. Their three-year-old is very disabled and adding a new baby to a long list of household chores became a lot for this recovering mom. Ella went into their home, played with the toddler, held the baby, folded clothes, and cooed for the family. This neighbor inquired of Ella regarding the way our family operates. Why do we have a large family? Why do we homeschool? The mother was amazed at how comfortable and competent Ella was in the home.
1 Peter 2:12 (NIV) says: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." Ella was not only a blessing to this family, but also an example of God's love.
I do not know what plans God has for my children, but I know He is preparing them for His service. With a large part of the world living in cities, they very well may be sent to a large city. They may need to know how to navigate on a bus, or interact with and evangelize to people very different from themselves. They may need to know how to live in small quarters and how to be hospitable. I am grateful that God has shown us how to live and prosper right here, in the city.
Seattle, Washington, USA
Printed in Above Rubies #93