Tag Archives: love your neighbors

How Well Do You Rest & Receive?

Neighborly Love, Part IV

Mar20_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you rest and receive?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

As I continue to read the book The Art of Neighboring (the inspiration of our Neighborly Love journal series), chapter 8 “The Art of Receiving” has my soul stirring. Why…because I am a terrible receiver, and I think it’s safe to say that most of us prefer being the giver and doer for others, rather than being the receiver. We are women who are designed to nurture, give and serve which is all wonderful and beautiful; however, I’m curious if the pendulum has swung so far to the service, giving and doing side that our ability to be available and receive love, help and service from others has become painful and next to impossible. I suggest this because this is me and my life.

To be absolutely honest, receiving makes me squirm and feel weak. Just last night a sweet family invited us to dinner so they could introduce us to their friends. Being “the new kids on the block”, we were beyond grateful for their kindness, hospitality, and generosity, but Russell and I left asking one another, “beyond writing a thank you note, bringing a bottle of wine, flowers and saying thank you a million times, what more can we do to let them know how grateful we are?!” While my restless and discontent soul desires to take action and do something for them, I know that my opportunity is to practice receiving my neighbor’s beautiful love, and I wonder if this is an opportunity for you too?

In Chapter 8, The Art of Receiving, the authors wrote this,

“Great neighborhoods are built on reciprocal relationships, on two-way streets. At the end of the day, no one wants to feel like a project. We want to feel that we bring something to the table. But, when it comes to neighboring well, one of the biggest temptations is to turn neighbors into projects. We put on the “super neighbor cape” and rush out to serve our neighbors and make a difference on the block. This really isn’t a bad thing, but if this is all we ever do, then our relationships will be empty. If we don’t allow people to meet any of our needs, we limit what God wants to do in our neighborhood and in our life. To be on the receiving end is very difficult. Our tendency is to put ourselves in a position of power- being the one to give. We want to be seen as the capable one with the resources and answers. But being in a relationship where we allow others to meet our needs is always a good thing. The art of neighboring involves our being able to give of our time and energy, and just as important, to receive from others.”

Ay-yi-yi! That’s me! I loathe feeling weak and always want to be in a power position–even when it comes to my relationship with my husband (my closest neighbor). Ironically, last night while at the dinner table, I had an incredible conversation with one of the women, who like me and maybe even you, is blessed and cursed with the perfectionist, achievement, accomplishment and busy bug. She reminded me that our greatest opportunity is to rest and receive God’s love, which often is our neighbors love. However, if we’re busy doing all of the time, how will we ever fully receive all of the love?  More importantly, if we don’t allow ourselves to fully receive the love, how will we ever be able to fully give the love we are created to give?

So, what’s the formula to being able to receive? According to the book, it’s humility and vulnerability. Having humility allows us to admit that we actually need help, and vulnerability gives us to the courage to put ourselves out there and ask for help. And, per the wisdom from my new friend, I am also adding rest, meaning a little time everyday– away from all of our ridiculous distractions (I mean really?!? We are inundated!), like our phones, computers, television, radio, work, people, and busy schedules, where you can be still and available to meditate, pray, and tune into our Divine Source. For me, this is a time of prayer, asking God to expose my weaknesses and prideful ways so that I can hear Him and be fully present and available to receive all of the love He has for me, which is also the love that we allow ourselves to receive from our neighbors.

Action Item:
Allow yourself to be vulnerable in order to stop and receive love, help and service from others.

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More In Common Than We Think

Neighborly Love, Part III

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Point to Ponder:
Do you instantly dismiss the opportunity to connect with someone because they look or talk differently than you?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

Have your ever sat next to someone who you didn’t know, or who didn’t look or talk like you and think to yourself, “There’s no chance I have anything in common with him or her.” Then, surprisingly, the conversation begins, you start connecting, and you learn that you have much more in common than you anticipated. This is the embarrassing story of my life.

Shamefully, I prejudge and place labels on almost everyone. I prejudge them based on the way they look, dress and the kind of car they drive. Unfortunately, I do not first consider all of the things we could have in common or that we could even be friends. Instead, I think it would be nice if we had some things in common and were able to be friends, but I pretty much dismiss the opportunity for connection. Trust me, I’m not proud to admit this–but it’s the truth.

I have found this to be particularly true since moving to San Diego. To my surprise, San Diego is very diverse and while I am grateful for this, I have found that I look for people who look and even dress like me–a.k.a., a Texan! For example, it comforts me to see a mom dressed in her workout clothes, and because a Prius is much more popular than a Tahoe, it brings me great joy to see someone driving a big’ole Suburban, Tahoe and Escalade. In fact, just yesterday we parked next to Texas style pickup truck (a BIG truck!) that took up two parking spots (the parking spaces in Cali are tiny). As silly as it sounds, I wanted to hug the man driving the truck and exchange life stories. I was certain he was a Texan!

I’m unsure if my reaction is human nature or because of my limited and non-diverse upbringing and life experiences (or both), but I do seek out and find great solace in people who look, dress and talk like me. However, what I am learning is that with most people, I have more in common than I think, and in this lies great opportunity.

One such example is through our Bible Study. We are a small group of three families from South Korea, the Philippines, California and Texas. If you just looked at us from the outside, you would easily assume that the only things we have in common are: we live in San Diego, we attend the same church and we are married with children. However our struggles, fears, experiences, weaknesses, and life desires are uncannily similar. At first, it was difficult for me to clearly understand the South Korean couple, however what I quickly learned was that a smile is a universal language, and after only a few evenings together the language barrier ceased. The key was being open to getting to know them, spending time with them and loving them. What I have learned is that this couple are some of the kindest people I have ever met, and we have much more in common than I ever could’ve imagined. They have become sweet friends.

Finally, I had another “we have way more in common than I thought” moments after leaving Durant’s (our five year-old) karate class. With a five and a two-and-a half year old, getting in and out of the car can be painful. Like watching paint dry it can take for-ev-er! So, even though our car was parked only ten steps from the karate studios entrance, the process took at least ten minutes. As I finally got Malaine into her seat I looked over my shoulder to see another family, also leaving karate, struggling to get their kids from point A to point B, which was about ten steps. As I watched this and chuckled, I said to the mom “Isn’t it amazing how long it takes to just to get them to the car?!” She then looked at me and said, “It is agonizing and I’m so glad to know it’s not just us!”. I reassured her that it is not just them, rather it is all of us! This is a mom and family who look nothing like us and embarrissingly, I had not attempted to get to know. After our exchange, it made me realize that she was probably looking at me with the same sentiments, thinking that because we look nothing alike that we have very little in common.

All in all, I believe that life is a revolving door of humbling lessons, and in the case of this journal, I believe my lesson is to love my neighbors–everyone. Because I am surrounded with so many people who are different than me, I am learning that judgement and love cannot co-exist. To love our neighbors is to set stereotypes and judgements aside. It’s not only being open to relationships with all people, but seeking opportunities to connect and love people who we don’t seem to have much in common with. These people are all our neighbors and the law of averages says that we will have more in common than we think. This doesn’t mean that we have to invite them over to dinner or become best friends– however we should share a friendly smile and initiate a conversation.

Action Item:
Seek opportunities to have conversation and connect with people (your neighbors) who look, think and talk differently than you do. A warm and friendly hello and smile is a great start.

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Real Women, Real Stories | Kristin’s Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

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Roots: I was born and raised in Dallas, but as they say got to Austin as quick as I could. I moved here in the 80s to go to The University of Texas and aside from a couple of years in Washington, DC and Paris, France ATX has been home.
IMG_1688Family life: Tony and I met at a UT football game but post-college. We got married New Years Eve 1997 and have four kiddos – Will (15), Anna (14), Ellie (13) and Sarah (8).

My favorite quote: I have so many favorite quotes, mostly because I love to read, but my current favorite is “You can’t be what you can’t see,” by a woman I admire greatly named Jo Saxton. The context of Jo’s quote is discipleship and how we need good role models to pave the way. I think of the women who have taught me so much, not by anything they’ve written or even said, but simply by how they live their lives.

Something people may not know about me: I’ve lived in some interesting places — like Siberia where I learned to ice fish! And, a tiny village in France picking olives. I love to experience foreign cultures. For me it’s all about the people and how truly one we really are.

My Story: Creating Community in the Front Yard

JaneKovak, Austin

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t met.” – William Butler Yeats

A couple years ago, I had a big dream – this vision – of living in a community where neighbors knew and loved each other well. I knew a handful of our neighbors, but for the most part our interaction was limited to friendly waves from the car, brief chats at the grocery store, and our annual Memorial Day block party. The block party is a highlight of the year, but twelve months is a long stretch of time between neighborhood get-togethers.

I felt a tug to open our doors wide and invite neighbors, friends, and even strangers into our lives on a more regular basis. But, as a busy mother with four children and an introverted husband, the how-to was a big question mark.

Then, I read these words by Francis Schaeffer in the book A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester:

“Don’t start with a big program. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Begin by opening your home for community. . . All you have to do is open your home and begin.”

At first I hesitated. But, I longed for more than an annual block party. I wanted real and meaningful relationships with my neighbors. I wanted to know their stories, hear their sorrows and troubles, and celebrate their joys.

So, I took the dare!

The Turquoise Table

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In October 2013, prompted by a last-minute party I was hosting, I ordered an unfinished picnic table from Lowe’s. I didn’t think much of the table when I ordered it online. It was just an ordinary picnic table.

Until I saw it. And, I knew.

The Turquoise Table Invite

The turquoise table is great for planned or spontaneous meals & gatherings

The simple wooden picnic table was destined for our front yard. After the party, I painted the table bright turquoise (Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise, if you’re wondering) and placed it under a magnolia tree, close to the edge of our lively street.

That’s when life changed. The very day I put the table out front, someone who needed to get out of the house – a neighbor I’d never met – walked past and stopped to talk. We sat at the table and started a friendship. Next, curious people from across the street stopped by and stayed for a cup of coffee. By week three, both spontaneous and planned gatherings were happening regularly at The Turquoise Table.

Now a familiar sight, The Turquoise Table has become a meeting place – like the old village well – for neighbors, friends, and even strangers to hang out and do life together. The table spurred a front yard revival in our neighborhood.

JulieWilliford

The turquoise table is a place to gather & love – friends hosting a Shoe Cutting Party to benefit children in Uganda

When neighbors from a few blocks over learned about The Turquoise Table, they wanted one, too. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! Am I really supposed to encourage people to put turquoise tables in their front yards?”

Now, two years later, The Turquoise Table has turned into a movement of Front Yard People – people just like you and me who want to create community right where they live. There are now countless turquoise tables in front yards across America, even as far away as Uganda.


 

Blog1__0000_1Want A Turquoise Table? We’ve partnered with ReWork Project  — a non-profit  helping those struggling with homelessness find a path to permanent housing through the dignity of work. These special turquoise tables are hand-made, painted, and delivered! To learn more and order a turquoise table, click here.

front-yard-people

What about you? Will you join the Front Yard People movement, too? For more information, visit my blog.

 

 

 


iGnite’s Real Women, Real Stories is a series highlighting the inspiring lives and experiences of women in our community. We hope their stories motivate and inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

Know someone who would be a great candidate for a Real Women, Real Stories feature? Email nominations to hello@igniteyourlifenow.com


 

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