Why Are We Here

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

We are here because we love the city
As followers of Christ, both of us feel very strongly that God has a special place in His heart for cities. There is an Old Testament Scripture that says “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” This was a message being delivered to the Jewish people, who were in exile in a place that was not their home. As beautiful and as fulfilling as our lives are, we ultimately recognize that we will likely not know perfect community until we are with God in heaven, and therefore we are never fully “home” in this world. That being said, we fully believe that we are to love the city that we’ve been drawn to, and that in turn, we will experience the love and familial embrace of Milwaukee and specifically, our neighborhood in Milwaukee.

We also love the feel and the legacy of our city. Milwaukee is not trendy, it is not flashy or extremely successful and we have many, many issues that need to be addressed. But the people that live here know how to persevere, how to work hard and somehow find the joy in daily life. We are committed to staying here for a long time, to raising our children in the city and building lasting relationships with our neighbors.

We are here to learn to reconcile
Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. The isolation of one group from another leads to the fear and stereotyping of one group to another, which isn’t good for anyone involved. We become out of touch with people who are different from us, and we begin to lose touch with their struggles and eventually, we fear them. This is what causes tension and hurt between people groups. This is what perpetuates the horrible effects of things like racism and white supremacy. Isolation breeds ignorance, and in the case of segregation, ignorance is not bliss.

Jesus was a reconciler who crossed many of the invisible lines in his society. He interacted with women, with foreigners, and with those in occupations that were less than favorable. He set an example that tells us to seek out and ascribe dignity to those that have been marginalized. We have intentionally chosen to live in a diverse community for this reason. We feel that one of the best ways we can be like Jesus is to seek reconciliation, and in our city this means seeking to undo the wrongs that have been done against people of color. We live in a neighborhood that is a mix of mostly black and white working families, surrounded by many pockets of deep poverty and low-income housing.

While we acknowledge that not everyone feels the same passion for reconciliation that we do, we are excited about the challenges and the growth that will take place because of where we’ve chosen to make our home. We are excited to experience diversity in a healthy way, to find comfort in the ways that we are similar to our neighbors and to celebrate the beautiful ways that we are different.

We are here to learn
Our particular neighborhood already has such a great community. It’s been refreshing to move in and to realize that we’re living in a place where people interact with their neighbors on a regular basis, and look out for one another. Having been somewhat transient since we got married, we have some things to learn about being a good neighbor.

While we hope to someday be able to contribute some of our skills to making this an even better place to live, right now we’re very content to simply listen and learn about the great things that already happen here. Our tendency as educated white people is to want to step into a situation and “fix it”, so to recognize that maybe we don’t need to fix anything for awhile will be a very humbling and rewarding experience for us.

Because we’ve chosen to live in a diverse community, we know that we will also learn more about who God is. We are all made in the image of God, and I think that is we don’t surround ourselves with people who are different from us, we won’t learn as much about God as we could have. I am excited to see a different side of the face of God, and to learn how much bigger He is than my perceptions of Him have taught me.

We are here to work the land
In a city where many people have a postage stamp-sized plot of land, we’ve been really blessed to have a huge backyard, stretching a good 300 feet behind our house. My parents were avid gardeners, and I know the firsthand benefits of providing fresh, healthy food for your family. I’m still in shock that I get to live in a city that I love and have space to grow as large a garden as I can dream of.

We feel that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the land that we have, and therefore we will be implementing as many natural and sustainable methods into our food production as we can. We compost our food scraps, use companion planting and other safe methods of pest control, and avoid most Miracle-Gro products. In addition to gardening, we will be preserving some of our harvest so that we can share the bounty and have healthy food to eat throughout the winter months.

I also feel it’s important and responsible to avoid harmful chemicals throughout your house, so I frequent places like Pinterest and do my best to go the non-toxic routes when it comes to cleaning. Between canning and non-toxic cleaning, we have now learned to buy vinegar in bulk :).

We are here to know God
As I mentioned above, we truly feel that we will know God in deeper ways because of the community around us. We are actively seeking out a church family in the area that we can be a part of. We also host a house church in our home Sunday evenings, and have done so for the past year. We love the little group that has been forged in our living room, and hope that someday it will include people from our community as well.

Honestly, this is the deepest motivation that we have for doing what we do. So many of the things that I’ve already mentioned – working the land, experiencing diversity, and loving the city, are all different expressions of knowing God. He doesn’t live in a church building, doesn’t hide away in the groups of isolated evangelicals focusing all of their efforts on being “good” Christians. I think that He is near to the people, He is in the conversations I have with my neighbors and the hours I spend with my husband in the garden. These things are sacred, are what defines the depth of our relationship with our creator.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.  

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