Kevin and I experienced the most incredible gift when we started becoming intentional about our neighbors. We had moved into a low income neighborhood in Southern California, and we started having families and kids over almost daily. We hosted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on our porch one summer and saw reconciliation happen in front of our eyes (read here)…we played and cooked and sang with our two little neighbor boys that stopped by every day while their parents were at work, and we became God-parents and hosted baby showers and parties for almost every holiday. We invited all our neighbors to a thanksgiving feast at our house when we cooked our first Turkey, and we had a Christmas sing-a-long complete with a nativity play and Christmas goodies. Kevin and I felt our marriage was so blessed because we weren’t just concerned about “us”, we were on mission to make others feel loved and welcomed.
So fast forward a few years and we just moved to Northern California. God gifted us with a beautiful little house (which i’m trying to dub “the cottage”), and Kevin and I have had a lot of late-night talks about how we want to spend our time. How we spend our days is essentially how we spend our life, and we want ours to count. A huge priority for us is loving our neighbors and getting to know them on a deeper level. We want our home to be a light that shines with tender grace and loving kindness.
And all this relationship stuff takes intentionality and thoughtfulness, it doesn’t just happen. Here are a few things we’ve tried to do in an effort to prayerfully enter into our neighbors lives in a deeper way…
1. Chased after neighbors: i’m not kidding, i’m becoming the crazy lady that literally runs down the street when I see a neighbor walking to or from their car. haha, it’s hilarious. But in all seriousness, it always makes it less awkward to try to introduce yourself and get to know your neighbors when you first move in. You get a bit of a green light when you can fall back on the excuse of “we just moved in and wanted to meet our neighbors”. Last week I chased down my 15 year old neighbor while he was minding his own business and skate boarding. I think I freaked him out, but in no time we were laughing and chatting, and learning more about each other. I want people to know that i’m an open person and am always available to talk. We’ll see if that works or not:)
2. Map my neighborhood: Last week I drew up a map of our neighborhood and entered everyone’s name I knew so far into their house spot. My goal is to have met all our neighbors and write down each name of everyone who lives there. Names are so powerful, and I want to be able to know my neighbors names and love on them in their uniqueness. I am quite positive I have MUCH to learn from my neighbors, and can’t wait to see what they will show and teach me from their life.
3. Invite them to dinner: Kevin and I made a promise that we’d have each of our neighbors over for dinner this year. Food is the BEST way to bring people together, and if all else fails, at least you can eat, right? Next Monday our first neighbor family is coming over and i’m so excited. We’re going to eat and then play games. It was really cool because I had mentioned playing games to our 15 year old neighbor, and a few days later his mom told me that he’s really excited to play with us. Score!
4. Pray: This is probably the most important one. I so believe that God’s desire for us is to be bold in LOVE and courageous in sharing HIS love so that others can meet him and be transformed by his grace. So Kevin and I have set our alarms to go off at 10pm each night so we can pray for our neighbors. Sometimes we do, and sometimes we fall asleep, but we’re trying! We pray that our neighbors might meet God in a powerful way. Life is hard, but God gives us hope and comfort and a place in eternity with Him. And so we pray that God will open doors and plant and grow the seeds:)
We are excited to see what God does. He does crazy things when his people pray, so we are expectant. We won’t do everything right, but we’ll try our hardest to do what God is calling us to:)
I’d love to hear your stories of how you’ve loved your neighbors:) What a privilege it is to live for a mission greater than ourselves!! Happy Tuesday!