Neighbors: Back-To-School Ice Cream Social Planning

You know how I said I needed to get involved again with my neighbor project? Here’s my story about how I’m planning to do just that – although it had a tough beginning, as they all do, hurdles to overcome, walls that get in the way as if someone is out there to prevent us from doing and glorifying God by putting his word into action.

Our church, since we’ve been attending there almost seven years and probably longer, has always done a back-to-school ice cream social to get kids ready and thinking about the new school year. Since we’ve never had kids school-age before, this event has been somewhat of a mystery, but I believe in the past they have sorted donated school supplies for backpacks they intended to take to local schools for students who were less fortunate. Therefore, the ice cream social has always been a staple.

This year, however, our church is hosting a concert for the Grammy winning, The Okee Dokee Brothers instead of the traditional ice cream soirée. In a moment of stepping out of the boat-ness, I volunteered to host the usual ice-cream social at our house. However, my girl-scout-badge-worthy volunteerism was quickly squashed when our children’s minister brought up a crucial piece of information: “did you know your husband volunteered to do ice cream after the concert?”

Wow, how embarrassing! So much for touting “communication” as a skill in our marriage! Okay, so I couldn’t do the social for the church. There was always small group. But then I communicated with my husband. “Yeah, small group is going to do ice cream as our outreach project,” he said.

“Grrrrrrrrrr,” I growled a little too loudly.

“What’d you say?”

“Great!” I smiled.

[So, I have this idea; I want to do a back-to-school ice cream social and it’s already going on at church after the okee dokee brothers concert’] I texted my pal in my small group, [‘so do I ask my neighbors to that one, or ask small group to help another one with my neighbors and I, or put my big girl panties on and host one on my own?]

her text [Oh, big girl panties, for sure]

I knew that’s what she was going to say. As soon as I wrote “big girl panties,” I knew that was what I was going to have to do. It was like God was handing me my own pair of shining, white Hanes, coming with the clouds of heaven, singing Big Girls Don’t Cry, but with harps and doves fluttering out around.

Now came the exciting part, the part I was good at really, the planning part. First, the reconnaissance part: counting houses. You never know many houses have been sold/resold/built/etc. In fact, three houses had been built since the Egg Hunt. I know it sounds crazy, but to make sure my count is accurate, I’ve taken the kids outside a lot more. I want to be sure that I have the right amount of invitations. I don’t want to be caught in that moment of putting invitations in mailboxes and then realize that I’m short and that neighbor I’m short for ends up coming out. Maybe he or she wouldn’t really care, but maybe he or she would – maybe thinks “she didn’t do her recon well!”

After recon, is the construction of the invitations. I am definitely not the most artistic, so I rely on stickers and pseudo-cheerleader writing from 1999. I am most proud of my twisted sense of humor. Please check out my fancy-schmancy examples below.

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Then it is time to rinse and repeat. After I wrote the first four of these I put off the writing of the other twenty for almost two weeks. It was really hard putting my hand to the test of that pain. It’s like “Hey, guess what hand? Today, we’re going to do something that hurts as soon as you start and hurts for two whole hours! How does that sound!?!”

I did finish the invitations today though. How? Tomorrow my daughter will be helping me pass them out and it is the only day it will be just her and I before the day of the event so I had to get them done.

So now we are back to the waiting period of “Will we get responses? Will people bother to come? Will people remember to come? Will people care to come? Blah, blah, blab!” Pray for my/our sanity! Thanks!

To Do List: Pray

When you need to do something, but you really don’t know how to start it, what do you end up doing?

I ponder.  I think over and over about the right words I need to say or write.  I sit on my task and think of all possible scenarios before I leap.  This “reaction” to pressing duties is in part why my Neighbor Project has just taken so long.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much for myself in this last year.  Yet, in comparison to what many other people accomplish in a year, it doesn’t measure up.  There is a constant battle within myself, in which I listen to Satan’s words telling me that I can’t do or shouldn’t do what God is urging me to do. 

Can I not think of a better phrase than “to do?”  Two simple words; two simple words that my five-year-old can read because they are so basic, but to act on them is mountainous. 

These are the times when building one’s self up with the Holy Word, praise music, and prayer are the most dire.  When you have found that your words fall short, just pray. 

God will find you…me….in the words you(I) speak that aren’t as eloquent as those you(I) think you(I) could write. 

When you need to do something, but you really don’t know how to start it, you pray for God’s intervention and He will answer.

Neighbors: An Act of Mercy

Personal photo taken in Jerusalem, November 1999

Personal photo taken in Jerusalem, November 1999

In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to an expert in the law when the expert asks, “and who is my neighbor?” In conclusion, Jesus asks the expert, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” to which the expert replies, “The one who had mercy on him.”

In exploring how to extend my neighbor project, I have found that I don’t have energy to plan elaborate “Egg Hunts” for each season. I’ve hit a road block in creativity of how to gather my neighbors together. However, I have also found myself praying for my neighbors, and the ones who I know names of specifically. I don’t want to be that person that brags about praying, so my thoughts will be limited on this site. Yet, God gave me a revelation that I wanted to share with you who read this blog. I fear it might be commonsense to many and that it won’t seem all too significant to you, but regardless, here it is: Prayer for your neighbors, physical or in daily life, is an act of mercy. I may not be cleaning wounds, but I am lifting up wounds that are in my neighbors’ lives to the powerful hand of our heavenly Father. Even when I don’t know what those wounds may be, I can still ask God to be there for my neighbors.

It is my hope that I can find more specific things in which to pray for my neighbors. Right now, keeping them always present in my mind and on my heart is the best that I am able to do.

Neighbors: Shaming Myself for Not Neighbor Networking

I haven’t done much lately in regards to the neighbor project, short of walking to my mailbox and hoping I catch someone’s glance so I can start up a follow-up conversation. I almost had a Tupperware party – yeah, they still exist! – and had invited my cell-phone-number-possessing neighbor to the would be party, until I had to cancel so I could study for a final exam. Grr! That would have been the perfect opportunity.

I’m having a garage sale this Saturday, so maybe that will lure them in, which sounds creepy and outdoorsman-like at the same time. It is so hard to go out and so easy to just remain complacent, adopting the mantra, “they’ll come to me!”

I know that isn’t the point of this lesson God is teaching me. I have to unshell and be confident, even when it seems like there is no way I can.

Neighborhood Egg Hunt – A three-week-old status update

It has been nearly three weeks since our neighborhood Egg Hunt and I should have posted about it the night after, but life got in the way in the form of a 10-20 page paper due the following week, work stress, and the day-to-day events like changing out my work hat, with my “mom” hat, and “wife” hat, and “me-time-NOW” hat.

Truthfully, I purposely waited a week after the hunt because we (my husband and my small group) used the opportunity to invite my neighbors to Easter church service the following Sunday. I wanted to see if we had any intended come, before rambling about the event.

I was still nervous up until the couple of minutes before I shouted, “ready, set, hunt!” I had all the eggs stuffed the night before and I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to make any lengthy speeches about why I decided to host the event or why my lawn, with the insane amount of fire ant hills, was the less than ideal spot for the hunt (I didn’t).

My husband, the kids, and I got home with about thirty minutes to spare. I hurridly brought the eggs out and had my kids help me spread out the eggs in each of our labeled spots. I had an obvious-enough hunting area for the 0-2 age group, a try-the-best-I-could-to-hide area for the 3-5 group, and spread-them-out-like-crazy area for those 6 and older.

Sign made for 0-2 age group

Sign made for 0-2 age group

Sign made for 3-5 age group

Sign made for 3-5 age group

Sign made for 6 and older group

Sign made for 6 and older group

 

My friends from small group showed up and with five minutes to go, we patiently waited for anyone who RSVP’d to show up.  Finally, it was 6:00 p.m. and we were missing four kids who I knew would be there.  We waited and waited, but they never came and since there were so many already set to go – I let them go.

In less than ten minutes, the eggs were found and the kids were sitting on the street curbs, opening up the eggs and looking through their treasures.

One little girl and her daddy said thanks and mosied on their way.  He’s been hard to connect with, but he came and that is a starting point.  The couple two houses down and their twins hung around.  The husband stood and talked with the other men who were holding up the invisible fence at the edge of our yard.  They talked about manly things…the wife talked with us gals and as it turned out, her mother went to our church.  She came the following Sunday and they plan on returning once their children are well.

We had another neighbor express interest in coming to church, but I’m not sure if she was there.  I keep wanting to offer to bring her daughter with us one Wednesday, but we don’t have any room in our car.  I know I should follow-up with this neighbor, but I don’t know how without making it sound like I’m making her feel guilty.  What if she was there and I didn’t see her?  “Missed you Easter Sunday!” just seems too indicting.

About thirty minutes after the start of the Egg Hunt, my neighbors that I knew were coming showed up.  I started losing it – oh no, they thought it started at 6:30, not 6:00 – we rushed around and all the kids who participated donated two or three of their eggs for us to rehide so this family could participate too.  It was so touching to see them all want to make sure this family could enjoy the experience as well.

About an hour later we were still chatting on our lawn.  I was starving, but I didn’t want the conversation to end.  Of the twenty-two houses on our two streets that end in cul-de-sacs, six  houses participated and we had over ten kids hunting.

One neighbor asked how long we had done this and I said, “this is the first time! Hopefully, we can make it an annual thing and maybe some food next year too!”

Overall, I was very happy with our turnout and that we were able to get people to come to church too was icing on the bunny shaped cookies!

Invitations I made for the event

Invitations I made for the event

 

In the meantime, I have been reading a book by Alan J. Roxburgh called “Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood,” which my dad gave me. The beginning is very academic, but once you get into the meat of the book it has some great implications for what it means to be missional in today’s North American society. I’m hoping it will give me some ideas on my follow-up.

Neighbors: I’m Nervous, Unsure, and Diffident

I am nervous about tomorrow, my D-Day of determining whether I have the real guts necessary to meet my neighbors. Well, it is beyond nervous and beyond just meeting them. I’m so anxious that my medicine isn’t working for my anxiety disorder…my heart quickens and my breath shortens into fast, nasal inhalations so that oxygen continues to pump through me, but I’m feeling like tomorrow’s uncertainess is swirling around me and I’m not really in my body, but more like I’m looking at myself go through this painful experience.

And tomorrow is more than dropping off tiny, Christmas gifts at the door, regardless if they are home or not. Tomorrow is about action and engagement: fellowshiping and building relationships. Why am I so scared? The worst thing that could happen is that no one comes and I’m left with twelve dozen eggs sitting there. No, the worst thing that could happen is that I start a conversation and then end up making a fool of myself by whatever comes out of my mouth. The worst thing that could happen is that I don’t build any relationships and I’m left with nothing.

I believe in a real, viable Devil who sends out thoughts of uncapability, that scare us into thinking that we can’t do what God tells us He needs us to do. The Devil has infiltrated my plan already; my husband will be in Dallas tomorrow and there is enough of a chance that we might not make it back home in time (although he assures me he’ll be back with no problem), the weather is supposed to be coooold – 57 degree high, but that is cooold for this time of year in Texas, and now the anxiety attacks.

Please pray for our work tomorrow and what can be accomplished through a simple egg hunt. I hope to update you all with happy and relieved thoughts afterwards!

Quick Update on my Neighbor Project…

My goal for next week was to reach out to my neighbors in a new and more frightening (for me) way, going beyond my Christmas gifts from my December endeavor, but then I realized that I had – eeek – three days to plan whatever that was going to be.  Then, while dreadingly thinking of the supposed garage sale I could put on to greet my neighbors as they perused my unwanted items and my three children terrorized them in return, I had a glimmer of thought: “why don’t I just give myself more time?”  It seems like I’m dodging my intended mission.  Yet, I don’t think I really am.  Instead, I – with the help of my church small group and awesome husband- am going to put on an Easter Egg Hunt in my neighborhood with my yard and the grassy place across the street serving as Grand Central Station for Easter camaraderie and the “neighbor (and hopefully their children) collector.”  I’m so excited about this idea, I can’t stand it.  I’m ready to make cutesy, Pinterest-inspired invitations and buy a huge bag of gleaming, plastic eggs to fill with stickers and non-melting candy.  Mostly, I’m excited about seeing my neighbors outside of their homes and the potential fellowship that will ensue.  I’m an introvert by nature, but there is something about the possibility of making new friends in Jesus’s name that just gets me hyped!  Prayer for my – our – event would so be appreciated!!