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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Isn't it interesting who God places in our lives simply by putting them right next door to us? I've had interesting neighbors throughout my life. I think the first neighbors I really took note of were when I was six. We had just moved in and I found myself living next door to a couple of teenage girls and a twelve year old boy. I had a crush on him! There was also a family with two girls a little younger than me next door and the family on the corner had a little girl named Rachel (she had a brother, too, but I don't remember much about him). I do remember that in the summer their mom would send them outside in the morning and they weren't allowed back in the house until late afternoon or dinner time. That girl was hungry for love, actually, she was hungry, period.
I've had neighbors who were not to be trusted and did mean snotty things. I've had neighbors who were Catholic priests. Talk about interesting! We lived next door to their parsonage through three different priests. The first one was flashy (I know, not what you think of when you think Catholic priests, but it's true) he had fast cars and boats and women coming and going. God used this neighbor to show me that actions speak louder than words.
Then we had Father Joe. He was my favorite. Down to earth, kind, friendly, a joy to have as a neighbor. His family had the most money of any of the priests we lived next door to, but he never acted like it (his family owned a sporting goods production company). He liked to garden, too. God used Joe to show me that humility is an attractive characteristic. When you are humble you don't have to try to be better than everyone else, you're just who you are and God can use you.
The third priest was very snooty and was there for any and all prestige he could gather. Not really a fun neighbor. God used him to teach me that people will see your true motivation for your acts. If you just care about yourself and no one else, it will show.
Then I had a really old guy (late 80's- 90) named Frank that we lived next door to. He was very cranky. Everything was always wrong. I helped clean his house for a while and even washed his bedding for him, but he always complained that I used to much laundry soap. God used Frank to teach me to watch my thoughts and attitude. If you are always complaining and cranky, it sticks. You won't become a joyful older person, you'll still be the cranky person that you've been for years. I don't want to be a cranky old person. Bossy, maybe but not cranky!
After I got married and then later moved to an apartment, we had some scary characters for neighbors. We had people who would drink, do drugs, blare their music and had no consideration for other people. My stress level in this situation was huge! God taught me a lot about relying on Him for strength, protection, and for peace. He also taught me to listen when the Holy Spirit prompts me to do something. I remember one night the neighbor was blaring their music just horribly. Colin had asked them to turn it down, but it didn't help. I was in the kitchen making lo mein and I thought my head would split. The noise was awful. I was praying for God's help and I kept hearing the words "Invite them to dinner" in my head. I thought it was me and that it was some crazy idea of mine, but it wouldn't go away. Finally, I told Colin, "Go invite them to dinner. At least then it might stop." He invited them, but they had just fixed their dinner and declined our invitation. Almost immediately the music stopped and then I realized, it hadn't been my idea at all. I had been resisting the voice of the Holy Spirit. I just cried when I realized that.
So that brings us to the neighbors we have today. We have a couple who are in their 80's and their daughter who is probably 55. They adore Ian and for the most part we enjoy having them for neighbors. There's only one tiny glitch. We found out from the neighbors across the street that our neighbor and the man who used to own our house used to have a sort of feud going over the lawn. It seems our neighbor thought the previous owner didn't mow his lawn often enough, so he would mow a strip of grass on what is now our property. The previous owner would get mad and they'd kind of get into it. Two retired old coots with too much time on their hands. Fast forward to last summer. Colin gets home close to seven every evening and doesn't like to mow when the grass is too wet. He also doesn't like to mow it too short as that tends to kill the grass. So of course, the neighbor has been mowing a strip of grass on our property (either on the side or sometimes in the front)and it burns me up! I can't stand it! I'm also not going to go argue with an 81 yr. old man. He knows what he's doing and he's probably doing it on purpose. We'd like to put up a fence, but that's a little too expensive right now, so I've come up with a creative solution. The area where our neighbor likes to mow a strip of grass most often has now become my garden. So far I've planted eight tomato plants, some green beans, carrots and cucumber plants. Do you know what my neighbor did? He admired our garden and told us to watch out for his wife, she loves tomatoes! So what has God taught me from these neighbors? Think creatively, there are ways to resolve things without arguing and even people that you like can do things that annoy you to bits! Oh, by the way, the neighbor has started leaving toy trucks on our property for Ian to find. I found one beside our grill just the other day! So our neighbor's not too bad, he just has too much time on his hands! They also looked out for us when we were in Hawaii and we'd had that terrible storm. They even called us in Hawaii to tell us everything was ok. He's a great neighbor when he isn't around a lawn mower!