Neighbors: When does reflection become intrusion?

I have been putting this neighbor entry off for a long time – at least a month. It seems that as I meet more of my neighbors, their lives become personal and blogging about the relationships that form is intrusive in a way.

How would you feel if you knew your neighbor was blogging about recently meeting you? I have to ask myself this a lot now it seems.

I haven’t done anything super uncomfortable to spur growth in my neighbor-meeting mission. While I’ve had more in-depth conversations with my diagonal neighbor, and met new neighbors that moved in behind us – like quite literally less-than-six-inches-behind-our-house — and down the street, all encounters were initiated by my husband. I could write about what we talked about, but I do get an icky feeling like I’m sharing too much now…not much future for this blog then, I guess…

I can still write about the fun we have on our block. I want to do another “big event” to bring our neighbors together…anyone have any ideas?

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: 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.

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!!

Neighbors: What is My Next Move?

Now that I have successfully delivered my “neighbor gifts” to my neighbors, I’m considering what my follow-up action is going to be. We live on the corner of two cul-de-sacs and that convenience of a meeting point is not lost on me. I think that a block party is just the right fit for my next big mission to my neighborhood.

A bonus to this block party idea is that I could easily resource people from my church small group to help me in this endeavor. My husband and I joined this group because they have put their faith into action. In past discussions of what our small group could accomplish on a fellowship night, others have even brought up the block party idea as a way to draw others to a Christian fellowship and get-to-know-you experience.

I feel that more than stating we are going to accomplish this is knowing whether people would attend. What do you think is the best way to draw people out of their homes? Is it a flyer to pass/mail out or a personal invitation the night of the shindig? What do we offer – a full on meal extraordinaire or simple snacks?

I have to say, I’m a bit worried it will turn into a block party for the kids in the neighborhood. I want to make sure adults come too. How do you think I can best make this happen?

‘Tis the Season to Love My Neighbors: Part Three

Neighbor gifts

The first house I lingered…second house, nobody was home…the third house, I caught him at his mailbox….the fourth house was warm and responsive….the fifth house – they were just perplexed…the sixth house was conversational…the seventh house, I was interrupting, but they were still gracious.

Thus began my delivery of my “neighbor gifts.”  My two oldest children tagged along and each had her and his job.  My daughter was the gift-handing-out helper and my son was the doorbell helper, at least when he could reach it!  Beforehand, I psyched up the kids to get them ready to give out our presents.  I coached them to sing out “Merry Christmas” when the neighbor opened his or her door.  This worked only after my daughter warmed up to the experience and pulled her head away from its seemingly permanent spot of her cheek to my rear cheek.

Once we passed the first eight houses (number eight was another ding-dong reverberating through empty halls), we moved on to the other street on which our house resides.  It was upon crossing this threshold that I realized I had counted two less than what I needed to drop off at all the houses! Unbeknown to me, new neighbors had bought the house that was literally finished that week – and they were moving in that day.  I definitely couldn’t be passing out gifts to each house and not stop there; they could be watching me and seeing me pass their house with nothing just didn’t seem, for lack of a better word, “neighborly”.  I sweated my deficient planning as the kids skipped along to the next house.

Two sweet kids answered the door at number nine on our stop.  At the previous empty houses, I had left the baggies on their doorsteps.  At house number ten, I had just seen its occupants drive away and knew they weren’t home.  I have also blogged about getting to know this neighbor before and our long get-to-know-you.  I decided I would come back if I had enough.  The next house, eleven, scared my kids into number twelve’s yard; when my son pushed the doorbell a Labrador, who looked as if it was going to scratch the glass out of the windows when it jumped on them, ferociously barked – and I just decided not to leave anything there.  It probably set us back another few years into getting a dog, so we’re even.

I loved coming to house number twelve.  This is the house of my neighbor who has children at the same school for which I work.  My daughter and one of the children are in the same class.  The children answered the door, and you would have thought we were Santa to the little boy in my daughter’s class.  He was talking so fast about how happy he was to see Lexi and how much he wanted to come play outside with her, but couldn’t.  It definitely made the lingering too long at house number one, perplexed looks at number six, and the vicious dog at number eleven, all worth the entire experience.

We moved on to number thirteen, which I could tell was a dud from the street.  All the windows were dark, and so again, I cheated and said I would come back if I had enough left.  From the outside, number fourteen looked like at least four, licensed drivers were home, but no one answered – and I wondered if they were like me, who pretends that no one is home if I don’t want to answer the door.  My daughter was one step ahead of me and placed a gift at their door.  I didn’t want to confuse her more by implementing my “come back if we have enough” rules, and let it slide.   At house number fifteen we were greeted by a young woman who was friendly and thanked us for braving the neighborhood.  She had children, but didn’t say how old.  I’d guess they were really young.  We finally came upon the brand new neighbors.  The man was pulling out in his truck and had curiously eyed my gift basket, so I approached him at his car window.  It was really awkward, and I felt like a fool, but I welcomed him and his family to the neighborhood and we chatted about how quickly they had moved in to the home.  Even before its completion, they had a contract on the house.  I hope my gift giving might have cemented their love of our little neighborhood.

The next two houses didn’t answer, which helped because I was down to my last two gifts.  The last house was probably the most gregarious and loquacious.  She introduced herself, her soon-to-be husband, and her teenage daughter, who all came to the door.  We talked about how they had met my husband – no news flash here – and also wanted to get out around our streets and really get to know everyone.  By this time, my children were touching all of her Christmas decorations – which look amazing – and I was able to really open up and explain myself and my mission to my neighbors.  Warmly they congratulated me on getting outside and braving the houses with unknown entities behind locked doors.  They encouraged me to get out more, and thanked me for the gift before we departed.

What an experience! I completed my tour and was able to remember some names as well!  The best part was seeing how excited my kids were to complete our mission.  I think a “block-party” may be my next project once it really warms up and all our kids can be outside.  I’m excited for the future and what God will do through me as I reach out.

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A couple of days after, I received a package of Chex mix with a Christmas card from one of the houses where people weren’t home!