Today’s post is by Amber & Ryan MacNeil – friends who have inspired me in more ways than you could ever possibly imagine. They both know what it means to need people, to need God, and they’re currently living an unimaginable reality. So in the spirit of community – my theme word for this month – I thought it appropriate to ask Amber if she’d be willing to share a small piece of what she & Ryan have learned about the importance of community.

Diagnosed with a brain tumour in May of 2011, Amber has endured several brain surgeries over the past couple of years. Just this past fall she underwent thirty rounds of radiation after learning her cancer had come back. What’s more? During recovery and thinking the journey was coming to (somewhat of) an end, five days later her youngest daughter, Kyla, was diagnosed with Leukemia. I know. It’s crazy. If anyone would know a thing or two about the importance of community, it’s Ryan & Amber. To sit in their presence is to be inspired. And even though they would both absolutely disagree with that statement, I feel it necessary to state how much their bold faith has renewed my own passion for bold living. Without further adieu, I present Amber & Ryan…

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There was a time when I didn’t feel community was important.

The thought of admitting weakness struck a fear of being judged. But, experience has taught me that these kinds of thoughts only lead to isolation from the very people who help carry you through. Haven’t we all fallen short of the glory of God? So why not confess to one another so we can all live in freedom?

From a young age we are taught to impress people while striving for perfection. Humility in admitting imperfection is regarded as weakness. But if more people started to be truly honest with each other we’d realize that we’re all in the same place.

No one is perfect.
None of us can do it alone.
There is power in belonging to a community.

God’s word says:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

~Ecclesiastes  4:12

If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past three years it’s this: we can’t do life on our own.

We need to commit our lives to God daily.
We need to commit to deepening the important relationships around us.
We need to commit to building and strengthening these communities together.

We need it because our burdens become more bearable. Our hardships decrease and our joy increases!

The community that has surrounded my family these past three years has been a testimony of God’s great love and grace.

They encourage us when we feel down.
They bring us supper when we have no energy left to cook.
They hold us up in prayer daily.
They help relieve financial burdens.
They help clean our house.

Some have even shaved their heads in support of Kyla’s hair loss.

Their love and support has been, and still is, a truly humbling display of genuine community.

So let’s do it…

Let’s work together.
Be together.
Fight together.
Mess up together.
Hurt together.
Laugh together.
Cry together.
Help together.
Love together.

Let’s live life together.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

~Ephesians 4:16

Amber is a wife, a mom (to two of the sweetest little girls), a hairdresser by trade, but a worship leader by calling. Most importantly, she is a woman desperately trying to trust God each and every single day – sometimes minute-by-minute. 

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With a million things to do and not enough hours in the day to get it done, it's easy to zone out and slip into autopilot in order to survive. But perhaps life is not about adding more things to your already lengthy list, but rather, about pausing in the midst of it all to consider if what you're doing is really important.