Four Steps to Showing Love to Your Neighbor
Welcome to this lovely Friday Morning! Every Friday morning, we are continuing a conversation about hospitality and homemaking. I believe that hospitality is more than beautiful home decor, fancy table settings, and delicious foods. I believe that homemaking is more than cleaning schedules and making various foods from scratch. My hope and prayer are that, together, we discover that hospitality and homemaking are true ministries and practical ways to love our neighbors.
On this lovely morning, I am so thrilled to welcome today's guest writer in our hospitality and homemaking series. Meet Katie from Grace and Thanks!
My Neighbor Who Showed Love to Me
When I was a mom to two little ones (two years old and a newborn), I was in over my head. One day, I was feeling very overwhelmed. I decided that I needed to get out of the house and go for a walk with my two little ones. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I forgot the snacks, the water bottle, the extra blanket, the toys, etc. for this amazing walk I was going to have. At the time, both of my little boys were screaming and crying. If we could just get going, I'm sure this would all stop. I already had them buckled into the double stroller, was it really worth it to go back in and get everything? Then, my neighbor, Shelly, walked by. I had only seen her in passing a few times. She was really nice, but I did not know her very well. We were in two different life stages. All of that didn't matter that day. Shelly entered my life and changed my whole perspective on loving your neighbor.
Shelly Built Our Relationship
Shelly asked me if she could take the two little boys on a walk for me so I could rest. Not knowing her very well, I offered to go with her on the walk. On our walk, I found out that she worked at the church that my husband and I attended. She had 4 teenagers and was in the thick of raising them with her husband. I shared our story of how my husband had been laid off from his workplace of 7 years. He now was working across the country while I stayed back to take care of our little ones. Being a single mom for a few months was enough to leave me exhausted and heartbroken. I had a difficult pregnancy and was still suffering from unbearable pain due to endometriosis. I was barely hanging on. From that moment on, our life changed.
Shelly Served My Family in a Practical Way
Shelly set up a meal calendar and we had hot meals delivered to our front door every day of the week. Another neighbor came by and dropped off groceries just because she had talked to Shelly. People shoveled our driveway in the winter. Others cared for my two-year-old when my pain was so horrible. This all started because of Shelly. She was a drop in the water that had ripple effects on our lives. She infected our neighborhood with a heart of service. I was determined to be that same kind of neighbor to anyone we lived near in our future homes.
Four Steps to Showing Love to Your Neighbor
As homemakers, it is exceptionally important that we love our neighbors. Aside from our family, our neighbors are our practical mission field. A practical mission field is right where you live! In this post, I want to share some hands-on ideas that you can do with your family to show the love of Jesus to your neighbors. The following steps will give you an easy-to-follow method and practical ideas to connect and show hospitality to your neighbors.
Step 1: Be Present
The first important step is to go out of your way to talk with your neighbors. Just be outside. Play with your kids in the front yard. Spend a lot of time out there. By being present in the front of your yard, it puts you in a great position to wave to neighbors as they drive or walk by your house. If you see a neighbor doing yard work, stop over and say hello. If you have never met before, introduce yourself. Ask the typical get-to-know-you questions (spouse? kids? work?, etc.). Take it a step further by asking what they like to do in the area because you are always looking for new ideas.
Find common interests with each other. Even if you are decades apart, you can still find something in common. The Lord is very purposeful with who He puts in your life. Your neighbors are no exception. Every person in your neighborhood is there on purpose by the Lord's design. My neighbor, Mr. Bob is one of the kindest men I have met in our neighborhood. He seems to be the keeper of the neighborhood. Mr. Bob is loved by everyone. He has started a Facebook group that brings the community together by painting rocks for children and leaving them around our town for children to find. As soon as I heard about this, I joined the group and we participate as a family. It is one thing we can do to connect with our neighbor, Mr. Bob, in an ongoing mutual interest. It gives us something special to talk about when we see him.
My friend, Elaine, at thisgratefulmama.com has a great blog post written to this first step: A Case for Front Yard Living. I encourage you to check out her post. It has some really great practical reasons to spend most of your outside time in your front yard.
Step 2: Invest in the Relationship
If you have already established a cordial relationship, go a step further. Talk to your neighbor about things going on in the community. Ask how their week has been. If you feel comfortable, ask how you can be praying for them. I once heard that relationships are like artichokes. You need to peel each layer off slowly to get to the heart of the person. Consider your conversations with your neighbors an investment in them so that you can invest in furthering the kingdom of God. This act of investing in your neighbor is a long process that will take time to develop a fruitful relationship. Continue to speak with your neighbors to further grow those relationships.
This step is also a really fun step because you can start to get creative on how you can reach out to your neighbors. Here are some practical ideas to let your neighbors know you are thinking about them.
- In the spring, plant some pansies in small pots. Grow them over a week or so (so they fill out the pot a bit). Give the potted plant to each of your neighbors with a simple card attached.
- Bake some cookies or muffins and give them to your neighbors just because (be sure you find out about any food allergies, first!).
- Shovel your neighbor's driveway after a snowstorm. Rake leaves in the fall and bag the leaves.
- Send a card of encouragement to your neighbor just because.
- When my triplets turned one, we had so much leftover cake. We went around to our nearest neighbors and gave them some cake to join in our celebration of this significant milestone.
- Have your children paint or draw some artwork and give it to one of your neighbors.</li>
Step 3: Invite
Once you get to know your neighbors on a deeper level, invite them to your home. Is there a single, elderly woman who lives near you? Invite her over for dinner! Or, arrange a time that you can bring a warm meal over for her to enjoy with you and one of your kiddos. Is there a family with kids that you want to get to know better? Invite them over for a backyard BBQ. There is no need to make it fancy. Put some hotdogs and burgers on, cut up some fresh fruit, and make a simple salad.
Resources on graceandthanks.com
I have a FREE printable entertaining collection for a fun backyard cookout on my website: Sunshine and Summertime Entertaining Collection. It has great printables for you to enjoy to throw a simple, yet cohesive, summertime cookout.
Also, check out my FREE Around the Table Conversation Cards printable. These are great conversation starters for you and your kiddos around the table, but you can also use these conversation starters for your neighbors to get to know them better. There will be cards for every month. We just started the series in July 2017.
Here are some other ideas for inviting your neighbors to your home:
- Put together some lawn games in your front yard and invite a family in your neighborhood over to play.
- Invite the widow down the street to join your family for a soup night at your house. On the night of the dinner, send your husband and son or daughter to walk the widow down to your home.
- Organize a neighborhood gathering in the summer or around the holidays to gather everyone together. Make it an open house so people can come and go as they please. Make sure to provide name tags so neighbors can get to know each other!
Step 4: Serve
The final step is to serve your neighbors. This step is extremely important. Be on the lookout for ways to serve your neighbor. Service can happen at any step, but you will be made aware of needs only when you form an intimate relationship with your neighbors. When the barriers and walls come down, you can learn more about what hardships a person may be experiencing. Eventually, needs and opportunities will start to become evident. This is really the way to show the truth and command in the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Here are some simple and practical ideas to show love to a neighbor by serving.
- Make a warm meal for the young bachelor who is working 50-60 hour weeks. Have it ready for him when he comes home. Or, make some healthy muffins with some fresh fruit and yogurt for him to enjoy on his commute to work.
- Shovel the driveways of your neighbors so they have a clean driveway when they return home from work.
- Did a neighbor just have surgery? Set up a meal calendar for you and other neighbors to bring hot food over until the person has recovered. Also, bring groceries over and a favorite treat.
- Help the elderly neighbor with weeding and other yardwork so he/she can enjoy other things.
I hope that you found some practical and inspiring ways to reach out to your neighbors and show love to them. Remember that this takes time and an investment in your neighbors. Show genuine love through getting to know your neighbors, praying for them daily, inviting them into your life, and serving them in their lives. All of this has the eternal purpose of bringing glory to God and to further His kingdom. Infect your neighborhood with love and kindness. How blessed we are to have such a practical mission field right where we live!