We move to Houston January 1 and started ‘church shopping’ immediately. We went to Grace and several churches that folks recommended. On our second visit to Grace it happened to be the week Trey talked about Grace in the neighborhood and challenged families to place Grace Tables in their front. As he asked for people to come up my husband and I looked at each other and knew this was something we were interested in, but we were waiting for SOMEONE ELSE to get the table and invite US over. In the few minutes we discussed this everyone started sitting down and we felt we missed our opportunity. We knew we would end up at this church, we loved it and felt at home the first day we visited. After church we walked up front and asked if there were any tables left and even though 52 people signed up for the 10 available tables, the woman said “OF COURSE!” So we signed up for a table, decided this was our church home on that day, and we would start building community in our new neighborhood very soon. About two weeks later, the table was delivered on a Saturday and on Sunday we painted it.
Then a few weeks later, we planned an ice cream social and invited every family on our street (which was 30…yes, I was a little shocked too). My 6 year old son and I walked to each house and introduced ourselves and invited them over. That’s when ‘building community’ started for us. We prayed someone would come…maybe 6 families since I think that was the number Trey mentioned in his sermon, and I wanted the neighbors to feel like they got to meet more people than just us. A few days before our 1st get together I was at ACE hardware looking for a knob and spotted a little table with an umbrella. I thought…wait…the kids don’t have a table!?!? Our youngest son can’t sit at the big table without almost falling through it or backwards. Maybe if I get this little table, the kids will feel like they are building community too! So, I left ACE with no knob, but this beautiful table. I painted it and showed them the next day and they were so excited! My oldest said “I have my own Grace Table now!”
Well, 21 families came to the ice cream celebration! It was wonderful! Everyone was socializing, the elderly were talking to little kids, we met college kids home for the summer (score – more babysitters!!), and met 3 other families also new to our street. The best part was listening to our 92 yr old next door neighbor, Glen, talk to a neighbor “hi there, I live next door to the Vinings, been here 36 years; I’ve never seen you, are you new to the neighborhood too?” the gentleman said “not at all sir, I’ve lived here 30 years myself, I’m 7 doors down from the Vinings.” That was what this was all about. I was grinning from ear to ear and wishing that all those who sponsored the tables would know…it was so worth it!!! I see these blue tables all over Wilchester and it makes me smile and pray for their community.
I had a neighbor stop by and tell me that she and her daughter have lunch on out picnic table every Wednesday. I see neighbors outside sitting on it talking, swinging with friends, we meet there after the bus drops off sometimes, we sit outside and color and talk to people that walk by. We’ve had neighbors not on our street ask about it (guess the blue paint stands out a little) and we just had an impromptu birthday cake celebration last week with kids on our street. It is so well loved and used!
We hope to do host gatherings every 3 months as a special event, but we can build community every day without organizing something. Since the ice cream social neighbors are hanging out in their front yards a lot or walking down to play. Everyone wants to feel connected and like they belong!
Thanks to the woman that started all this, thanks Trey for preaching about it, thanks to those who donated, thanks to the couple that delivered it and thanks to our neighbors for coming and making us feel like we belong too!