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Friday, September 28, 2007

Family Focus Friday: Your Neighbors

This week's family focus isn't all about your own family; it's about how you can serve together as a family. The last chapter in A Woman After God's Own Heart is about reaching out to others, one of the people groups being your neighbors. Here's what Elizabeth George says about reaching out to your neighbors. I love what she says, so even though it's kind of long, I'll just put it all here...
They [your neighbors] may not be as close to you emotionally as your family members are, but you live near them day-in, day-out. That means you probably see your neighbors more often than you see your own extended family. And, as a wise proverb reminds us, 'Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away' (Proverbs 27:10). In other words, when you have a need or an emergency, your neighbor is there to turn to for help--not your relatives!
Jesus has something to say about neighbors. Quoting from the Old Testament Law of Moses, He said that as a woman after God's own heart, you are to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind' and 'love your neighbor as yourself' (Matt. 22:37,39)
So, as a wise woman who wants to reach out to your neighbors, you must first have a heart full of love for them. And I've always found that prayer is how such a heart and such a love is cultivated. That's how Jim and I approached our neighbors and neighborhood. We picked one day each week to pray specifically for our neighbors. We listed each family on a special prayer page, along with their children's names. Then, as we spent time in the yard or passed one another getting in and out of the car, we would take a minute (no matter how busy or rushed we were!) to greet our neighbors by name, to be friendly, and to find out something else about their lives... which was noted on their personal prayer pages. Amazingly, as we prayed regularly for our neighbors, they came to have a place in our hearts...and in our lives! Prayer entwined our lives with theirs. Prayer turned strangers into loved ones! (p.204)
A situation arose this week when Kevin needed a ride home from work (since we'd dropped him off that day due to limited parking), and I had just put Eli down for a nap and he was sleeping already. I didn't want to get him back up, but I obviously couldn't just leave the house. Eli could nap for an hour an half and I didn't want Kevin to have to wait around that long. And I also knew he was in Navy uniform and wasn't allowed to go into anyplace to just hang out for awhile. So I wracked my brain trying to think of options. I thought of friends I could call to come stay at the house for a few minutes, but that seemed like a hassle to them. And then I remembered this section of the book and our neighbor who lives three doors down whom we've come to know and trust and is usually home during the day. So I was bold and knocked on her door to see if she could stay at the house for just a few minutes while I ran to pick Kevin up. It all worked out just beautifully, I was back in about 7 minutes, and the situation was taken care of.

I've been working this year to encourage the opportunities when we can ask neighbors for help. Asking others for help shows that we trust them and value their opinions. Even if we could surely figure things out or do things on our own, it makes others feel good when we ask on them for help. When Kevin was building our deck just a few months after our neighbor built his deck, I encouraged Kevin to ask Chad about his work process. And now as we see he's doing more work to his house, we occasionally ask if he needs a hand. And this week when we were stuck in a situation, I knocked on Teresa's door, and she was more than willing to be of help to us. We're just making baby steps in getting to know our neighbors. We've been living here for a year and half and we're finally learning people's actual names instead of just calling them "Cat Lady," "Landrover guy," and "piano man"! Hopefully during our last year here we can really make effort to get to know our neighbors better and serve them as God calls us to.

So how well do you know your neighbors? What conscious efforts do you make to get to know them better? How can you get your children involved? Are there other children for them to play with? Do you welcome others into your home? When new neighbors come in, how do you welcome them?


According to HIS Power said...

This is a good one, Sarah! I am going to get this posted but it may be tomorrow!

Love and Prayers,

Dirtyhands4Him said...

Ouch....very provoking. Good post!