Allie Allen

What brought you to Chicago?

I moved to Chicago directly from school in Iowa, to join Jameson after we got married.
 

Where are you from?

Small town, friendly, Iowa. No, there are no potatoes in Iowa. And it’s only about 3 hours West of Chicago.
 

What do you find challenging about living here?

Chicago can be incredibly isolating and lonely. The chances of knowing your neighbors or talking with someone on the sidewalk are incredibly rare. Perhaps the most difficult thing is the transiency of the city. We have said goodbye to many well loved friends. The challenge here is being open to receive new friends with love and friendship, knowing we may only have them for a short time. God has always brought a new dear friend to fill the gaping hole. I am amazed at how many truly beautiful, tender hearted, and spunky women God has brought for friendship in this City. I don’t think the void would be filled as quickly in a less transient place. Apartment living is difficult and incredibly inconvenient! I remember when the boys were little I use to strap my two year old to my back in an ergo carrier, haul the baby seat inside with my infant in the crook of my arm, and haul two bags of groceries up two flights of stairs...wow, that sounds extreme. I’m not exaggerating. I find myself swearing one moment and rejoicing within moments of each other. I miss the convenience of a garage, counter space in the kitchen, multiple bathrooms, and first floor living.
 

What are some of the reasons you love it?

I really love the life that exists here. There is energy here that doesn’t exist in other places and it truly brings me life and joy. I love the hustle and bustle, the constant ability to try something new, we get out of the house a lot. The boys have been to museums, ethnic restaurants, eaten more gourmet donuts than one Iowa kid could dream, they’ve experienced large music festivals, political rally’s and diversity in our community. I hope that is something they will always appreciate and be proud of! In contrast I love that Grandma and Grandpa are close enough they can enjoy a quick lunch or a long stay. We love and value the home of our childhood and are so glad the boys can run through the woods, enjoy the skies filled with stars and stomp through the creek.

We also love the ways that community has been cultivated here, what was once nonexistent and empty is now teaming with friendship, family and shared life experience. This may exist everywhere, but Chicago is the only place we have experienced this.
 

Why do you stay?

We stay because we love it! And because we are confident this is where we are suppose to be. We’ve had offers to leave and honestly there have been seasons where that is enticing. But God just keeps Chicago and the people of Missio Dei on our hearts. This has become our home and I can’t imagine ever leaving.

God has rewired our framework and pumped fresh life in our lungs here.
 

How has community affected your time here?

We entered into marriage with one idea that has stayed with us, “grow where you’re planted.” Invest fully, even if it’s only for a short time. We made the decision to be a part of a community group 8 years ago and it wasn’t convenient. We felt a strong desire to be connected and invested in the local church even though staying at Moody would have been really easy; but we ventured out. We learned a lot about community and when Jameson began his residency in Wrigleyville we knew there was a need for community to exist in the neighborhood where many of the people lived. So we started the first gospel community in Wrigleyville. Those communities have ebbed and flowed. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve said goodbye to a lot of friends. We’ve separated from our closest family to make space for others.

Every community has been valuable and provided for our diversity of needs in each season. Our current community has found a lot of love and growth around the table sharing meals and stories. Gol, there has been so much power in the simplicity of being present together around the table. A group unlike any other filled with families, young couples and thriving singles from all over the globe. Each of them have contributed with their unique gifts and background with love and generosity. God has been so faithful, we said “sure” and He showed up. We’ve grown so much. I can’t imagine being here without our community and church family. God has provided in so many seasons. Through our many communities we have found a place to belong.
 

When are you move alive or comfortable in your own skin?

I think truly I’m the most alive when we’re sharing our home with others. Whether we’re sharing a meal with newly weds, sipping coffee over nap time, or wall to wall slammed with gospel community family. I find joy, life, and freedom through hospitality. I want to be a home where the lonely and rejected find a place of belonging, acceptance and home.
 

Has living in the city affected your style and the way you approach your day-to-day look? If so, how?

Style isn’t something I think of when I reflect on myself or often consider to be a high priority. I fight the urge to enter the competition that can exist in such a consumeristic, beauty driven society. But I still do! I suppose Chicago gave me confidence to wear what I want. Whether that’s simple and feminine, eclectic, edgy or sporty. (Perhaps the confidence comes with not being in high school anymore and being more secure as myself!) My style seems to move with seasons depending on how I feel. Comfort is usually my top priority and I’m really glad that I don’t have to engage conversations about whether or not leggings are pants. In Lakeview leggings are accepted as pants. I love the comfort of getting to wear what I want and I suppose I stay away from those who say otherwise. My nightmare is to stand out when it comes to my hair or clothes. But you can have a lot of fun with your style in Chicago without the danger of standing out. ;)

A favorite memory isn’t more than a year old. Our community is filled with musicians and we have more diversity than I have ever experienced. Even after living in the city for 8 1/2 years. It’s really fun to see them worshipping together on a Sunday morning. But this particular night there was a guitar, a vocalist and all the instruments from the boy’s plastic music set. We sang “Amazing Grace.” I sat still in the moment thanking God for the people God had brought to our living room. That night the voices represented Mexico, the Midwest, Africa, South Africa, Argentina, and Russia. I felt his presence, His love and His care as we worshipped and sang of His “Amazing Grace.” I’ve never felt so much peace about what He was up to.

More...

I came to Chicago for the first time on a student mission trip in 7th grade. (Jameson and I held hands on the bus ). I remember seeing boys town, Cabrini Green, and the Lakeshore. I fell in love with this city and even then felt the deep ache of pain that exists here. Chicago was the first time I responded to the idea that I would follow whatever God had for me, especially as far as ministry and mission are concerned. I think it’s sweet and assuring the way God stirred my heart for this broken city even 20 years ago. His faithfulness is so much more than what we see or comprehend in the chaotic moments of our life. I love it when He takes me a thousand foot up and shows me the ways He’s is threading it all together. He reminds me of all the ways He has been present and always faithful. I know there are things in my heart from that trip that are still waiting to be fulfilled. I married the boy. We’re doing community in Chicago. I think there’s more. And He is good. Ever faithful.