My daughter used to get on my last nerve by the last day of summer. I think this phenomena is actually God’s kindness to mothers, easing the pain of separation with the joy of independence (hers and mine!). We both looked forward to going back to school.
But then I blinked, and this happened—
Just like that, she’s all grown up. Instead of picking out colored folders we’re filling out college applications.
The same thing happened in my neighborhood. No, my neighbors didn’t get on my nerves, but the time passed so quickly it made my head spin. That “new” neighbor I keep meaning to take cookies to has now lived here seven years. My good intentions of hosting a neighborhood Christmas party are remembered right around December 26. The neighbor who was sick and could have used a meal is either cured by now… or worse.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In early autumn, when the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose. Ezra 3:1
As summer comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to begin something new in your neighborhood. Schedules are simpler in the fall, suitcases are stowed away as we cozy up at home.
Before daylight savings time costs us precious hours of sunshine and before the chill eventually chases us inside, we have a few golden weeks of fall to get to know the people God has carefully placed around our homes. Use every opportunity to connect with your neighbors—
- Grab a rake and help in your neighbor’s yard
- Deliver a bag apples from a local orchard with a “Thinking of You” card
- Invite a neighbor to a local fall festival
- Host a s’mores party or hot dog roast over your fire pit or chiminea
- Tailgate with your neighbors before a big game
My neighborhood recently hosted our 2nd Annual Pizza Potluck Block Party. Each household brought their favorite pizza to share, store bought or homemade. People pitched in with plates, napkins, desserts and drinks. It would have been handy to have more name tags, but other than that it was a simple, easy gathering. The Neighborhood Watch told people how to get involved, and we also learned how we can help a 14-year-old neighbor who is battling cancer.
I passed out invitations at the block party to a book club in my home this fall. A plain printed invitation was fancied-up with a leafy garland and red twine.
As you pray for opportunities to be neighborly, make careful notes about the neighbors you meet. Write down their names, hobbies, and pets. Jot down what you talked about—their upcoming surgery, where they bought mulch, their favorite ice cream. As you open your mind and your time to your neighbors, God will open your heart to them. They will pop into your prayers unexpectedly.
Tip: Create a contact on your phone for each neighbor you meet, adding “NEIGHBOR” to each name so you can quickly search these new, nearby friends.
Whether you’re raising young children or savoring every last minute of their senior year, you can model obedience to Christ’s #2 command for the next generation.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
This post was originally published at Not Quite Amish Living, a blog for women who want more peace in our lives, our homes, our families and our hearts.
Update: Since this post was originally published in September, 2014, that cute little kid is now a sophomore in college! One of my new favorite Fall activities is the #BVStrong Community Dinner in my new home in Buena Vista, Colorado. It’s just dinner… on Main Street… with 2,500 of our closest friends! I’ll be blogging about it in case you’d like to bring something similar to your community.