Buying a house seemed like the next step after graduating from college and securing jobs. We prayed for wisdom and direction. We made a list of requirements and wants. 3 bedroom, 2 bath, with a few acres. Then we met with a realtor to find our dream home.
Looking back, I find it interesting that one crucial aspect was not even a thought in our minds. We didn’t pray for a home surrounded by godly neighbors.
18 years later, I am so thankful that God knew what we needed and He placed amazing families around our home. But these neighbors didn’t become dear to our hearts with a random wave as we drove by. Intentionality was required to get to know each person.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 19:19b
Here are a few ideas to help you “love your neighbor”…
1. Welcome New Families
A simple plate of cookies or a loaf of quick bread and a smiling face can do wonders to welcome a new family into the neighborhood. It also provides an opportunity to share the love of Christ and maybe even invite them to your church.
2. Plan a Neighborhood Pot-Luck Dinner
Each September those on our road gather at various homes for a neighborhood pot-luck. All it took to get this started was the initial picnic eight years ago. It allows families to meet others and develop relationships. We take turns hosting so no one family is left with the set up each year.
3. Host an Open House
When our children were very young we started a tradition of creating Christmas food baskets for our neighbors. Instead of just dropping the goodies by, we set up a time for the recipients to come to our home or for us to visit them (many are retired). With ten families on our list, we started scheduling times in late November.
Four children later and a busy life, this is no longer a feasible idea.
We have since revamped the tradition and now host an Open House each December. And we love it. It has helped unite our community and teach our children how to welcome people into our home and serve them while here.
A similar activity could be done on July 4th, Thanksgiving, or whenever it is best for your family. Read this post for tips for Hosting a Neighborhood Open House.
4. Play in the Front Yard
It is easy to hang out in the comfort of your back yard. But, I encourage you to move to the front at times as it allows access to your neighbors. It provides an opportunity to wave or even talk as they drive by. If you live in a community with young children, you may find neighboring children come over to play.
5. Slow Down
This may be one of the hardest ideas to implement. But, it is important that we slow down our fast-paced lives and look for opportunities to have a conversation, lend a hand, or give an unexpected gift. For one, it blesses the neighbors. Second, it is an example to our children. Beyond that, taking the time to love on others blesses us.
A month ago our closest neighbors moved. We are incredibly sad because they became like parents to us and grandparents to our children. And to think that it all started when they lent us a mower and we said thank you with a loaf of homemade bread.