How to Build Community


I am Rhonda Joy Van Donge.  I’m from Sioux Center, Iowa.  I love Iowa.  I love bean fields and harvest.  I am from Dutch heritage.  I’m a wife to Benj.  I’m a mom of my 4 in vitro babies.  I’m a mom of twins.  I’m a boy mom.  I’m a mom to Micah, Jamin, Eli, and Isaac. I’m 42 years old.  I’m a member of Faith Christian Reformed Church.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a runner.  I’m a pretty darn good baker.  I am a World of Dance fanatic.  I’m a lap swimmer.  I love camping.  I love boating.  I love sun.  I am not a night person.  I love the morning.  I like a challenge.

I’m an eating disorder recoverer.

And I’m learning how to build community.

I’m a friend.  I’m a sister.  I’m a middle daughter of four siblings.  I’m a writer.  I’m an avid social media user.  I’m not a small talker.  I’m an introvert. I love to mow the lawn.  I love to cheer for my boys.  I eat nachos often.  I’m rigid about making my bed.  I like cleanliness.  I’m not a neat freak.  I don’t see clutter – until I see it.  I hate spiders.  I like rules.  I’m too trusting.  I love Subway.  I don’t like my ankles.  I believe mindset matters.  I’m a network marketer.

I want to get better at knowing how to build community.

 I’m determined.

I’m self-motivated.  I compare myself to others.  I lack self confidence some days.  I wonder what people think of me.  I don’t care what people think of me.  I like to look nice.  I don’t wear a lot of make up.  I like to wear sundresses.  I like my Crocs.  I don’t know how much I weigh.  I’m 5’4.  I don’t wear heels, ever.  

I get annoyed when my students are lazy.  I get angry when my boys are lazy.  I like to watch movies.  I am a reader.  I like castles and magic and swords.  I like romance. I do not like to be mushy.  I don’t speak my feelings well.  I can write exactly how I’m feeling.  I frustrate my husband some days.  

I get annoyed by dirty dishes left in the sink.  I like my routine.  I clean on Fridays.  I do laundry on Saturdays.  I watch movies while I fold laundry.  I read on my phone.  I read while I’m on the treadmill.  I eat White Cheddar Grooves daily.  I like my jogging pants.  I root for the underdog. I like when people ask me questions. I don’t talk in a crowd unless asked a question.

I’m beginning to understand more clearly how to build community.

I tell my boys I love them often. I like to give them hugs so they know I love them.  I love when Benj gives me back rubs.  I hate to be tickled.  I hate to dust.  I’d rather shop online for clothes than in the store.  I’m a peacemaker.  I’m a Walmart shopper.  I don’t have trouble saying no.  I like to learn.  I like to go for car rides.  I don’t like to fly.  I have naturally stupid hair.  I don’t buy organic.  

I’m scared that I’m a bad teacher.  I don’t think of myself as a leader.  I take charge when nothing is getting done.  I don’t like talking in large groups.  I like giving speeches.  I’m a horrible actress.  I’m very self-conscious in a crowd.  I wonder why people like me.  I’m secure in Benj’s love.  I don’t like to wing it.  But sometimes I do.

I know all the words to Ice Ice Baby.  I still need my parents’ support.  I love to read in my bed on Sunday afternoons.  I don’t like to start until everything is just right.  I visualize myself accomplishing my goals.  I cannot decorate.  I speak Spanish.  I’m not confident in my Spanish.  I like sweet potato fries.  I like to hike.  I have a good imagination.  I like praise.  I don’t like criticism.  I’m not an animal person.  I hate to paint.  I’m an optimist.

I love ice cream and M&Ms.

I realize that if I want to be a part of a community, I have to be an active part of that community.

I realize that if I want to be a part of a community, I have to be an active part of that community. How to build community is to be vulnerable and reach out.

I am Rhonda Joy.  God made me and the older I get, the more I realize how grateful I am for this who that I am.  I trust God that he made me right, and in trusting him, I am learning to be vulnerable so that the who that I am can add value to others.

I know that building community means building others up.  

Maybe someone needs to know that it’s okay to shop at Walmart or that I understand that the struggle with stupid hair is real.  Maybe someone needs to know that an introvert can take charge if she has to, and if I can call myself a writer than they can too.  By being an eating disorder recoverer maybe someone else can have hope that they can battle the disease and win.  Maybe we can connect because of in vitro or because we are boy moms or because we dig Ice Ice Baby.  

When I open myself up to you, maybe you will fill comfortable opening up to me. When we put each other first, maybe we will realize how much we need each other. Then we open ourselves up to community.  That’s where the good stuff happens. That is how we build community.

I am Rhonda Joy.  I am proud of who I am.  Even as I struggle with insecurities and comparison, I know God made me with a plan.  And however I connect with you, I know God planned that as well.  We can both stand secure in that.

And then we can begin to build community.

Call to Action:

Make a list of WHO you are – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And then thank God for the who that he made you to be.  Think of 3 ways you can connect with someone because of who you are and celebrate in community together.

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