Tag Archives: neighborly love

Inspire, Love, & Encourage

Neighborly Love, Part V

March27_2016 2

Point to Ponder:
Who can you inspire, love and encourage more?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

Recently, while thumbing through my Bible and randomly selecting something to read, I came upon a verse from Hebrews that I had never read before: “Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community and encourage one another.” As I contemplated the verse, it dawned on me that inspiring, loving and encouraging one another sums up how to effectively love our neighbors, which accounts for everyone: family members, friends and total strangers.

I understand…I know that everything can’t always be a bed of inspiring and encouraging roses and some people are easier to love than others, but for sure, eliminating criticism, negativity and focusing on being an encourager and inspiration to and for others can heal relationships, create friendships and transform people’s lives.

Today is Easter, a holiday which symbolizes extraordinary inspiration, infinite love and life-changing encouragement. With that, let us use the blessing and inspiration of Easter as a launching pad to raise our thoughts, words and actions to lift others and ourselves to new and greater heights. This is an incredible opportunity that we’ve all been given and you never know when something as simple as, “You got this!”, “I believe in you!” “Great job!”, will change the course of someone’s day or even life.

Action Item:
Keep a weekly encouragement journal and see how many people you can encourage this week.

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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

Mar13_2016-2

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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Total Body Bosu Ball Workout Series: Part 1

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

The Bosu ball is one of the most effective, diverse, functional and inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment on the market. It can be used and is beneficial for all fitness levels.

In this 5-part series, Neissa demonstrates five exercises (with modifications) that can be performed on the Bosu ball, with the goal that each exercise be performed for three sets, or a total of three rounds. Each week Neissa will provide five additional exercises progressions on the Bosu ball.

Finally, Neissa ends the video with encouragement on neighborly love and the importance of letting your light shine bright!

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Are You Available?

Neighborly Love, Part II

Journal_March6_TurqTable

Point to Ponder:
Do you live at a pace that makes you available to those around you?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

Last Friday morning we, iGnite, launched our first of four, Friends & Fitness at the Turquoise Table neighborhood workouts. In case you are unaware of what the Turquoise Table is, it was originated by Austinite Kristin Schell, as a meeting place for neighbors, friends, and even strangers, to hang out and do life together in the front yard. The table has spurred a front yard revival in neighborhoods all across the country and has become a welcome place to gather and love.

As hoped, our Friday morning workout around the table was nothing short of beautiful. Set in the front yard of iGnite member, Melissa Morrow, and centered around her turquoise table enhanced with spring flowers, snacks and iGnite’s favorite and healthy Cranberry Water beverage, the weather was flawless and the morning was filled with invigorating exercise, conversation and laughter. As described by Melissa Morrow, it was a “Friday morning party.

With fellowship being our purpose we were delighted in the outcome, however a spontaneous perk was birthed from simply being in the front yard and around the turquoise table. Following the workout, as everyone gathered around the table to engage in conversation and snacking, a curious neighbor walking his dog stopped to inquire about the front yard gathering. Excitingly, this was a neighbor Melissa had never met and for a few minutes he stayed, talked and nibbled on the snacks. He even encouraged Melissa to let him know next time she had another front yard turquoise gathering because he would attend. How cool is that?!

In conjunction with the turquoise table movement, last spring I began reading The Art of Neighboring. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it so I have started reading it again, however while reading last year what impacted me the most were the words of the former mayor of Denver, who said “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” WOW!

Currently, as I continue to read the book and attempt to finish it, the following comments and questions have caused me to pause and evaluate how neighborly I am as well as the changes I need to make in order to be good neighbor to my physical neighbors: “Our purpose in life is to love God and love others. Living a hurried, frantic lifestyle is the opposite of what God wants for our lives. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have. Ask yourself this question: Do I live at a pace that allows me to be available to those around me? When we create the right kind of margins we can live with a level of peace that allows us to be interruptible, which gives us time to know our neighbors.”

Unfortunately, our home in San Diego does not have a front yard, so my sweet turquoise picnic table that was incredibly useful in helping us get to know more of our neighbors in Austin is resting in the garage. I am hopeful that one day I will be able to bring it out again, however it’s safe to say that despite not having a front yard or turquoise table, that should not hinder my efforts in getting to know my neighbors. Our neighborhood is designed in a way that we live very close to one another, with ample sidewalks and people out and about. It would be a breeze for me to sit on my front porch and meet my neighbors — I just have to make it a priority, make myself available, be approachable and be engaging. For me, this means being intentional with scheduling the time outside, on my front porch and not having my head buried in my iPhone or computer (the book labels these as “time stealers”).

Despite our busy schedules and all of the many distractions that prevent us from getting to know our neighbors, knowing and loving our neighbors is a vital part of a functional, stable, healthy, compassionate and loving community and world. There are many wonderful community and global efforts that help and save people in need, but equally as important are our physical neighbors. As a result, this week I encourage you to spend time in your front yard with the goal that you get to know one of your neighbors. Or, if there is a new neighbor on your street, somebody you haven’t met yet, or you don’t live close to anyone, make an effort to introduce yourself. Drop off a note or knock on their door to say hello. Ultimately, we don’t have to become best friends with our neighbors, but the first step in becoming a community of great neighbors is getting to know who our neighbors are.

Action Item:

Spend time in your front yard with the goal that you get to know one of your neighbors. Or, if there is a new neighbor on your street, somebody you haven’t met yet, or you don’t live close to anyone, make an effort to introduce yourself. Drop off a note or knock on their door to say hello.

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Jump-Start Your Heart

Neighborly Love, Part I

neighbor journal quote with pic

Point to Ponder:
Who is closest to you that you need to start loving more?

iGnite Neissa

Neissa Brown Springmann

In the recent journal, Let Your Family and Friends Love You Through It, I wrote about the importance of letting your family and friends love you through difficult times. For sure it was through the love and support of family and friends that I was able to get through my slump, however I also did something that was 100% selfish, as I knew it would jump start my heart and contribute to feeling more purposeful, joyful and back on my game.

As I was the midst of feeling sorry for myself and missing family and friends, Valentine’s Day was also approaching so I decided to write decorative love and gratitude letters to these special people. This was on Wednesday morning, at which I got up early so I could start my note writing. Prior to writing, I prayed and asked God to bless my time and wow… did He ever! Both of my kids slept until 9:30 a.m., giving me plenty of uninterrupted time to write and express my love.The result was that I felt like me again. I was energetic, joyful and filled with love!

Then, after writing and decorating the notes and getting in the Valentine spirit, it dawned on me that while missing everyone in Texas, I DO have friends in San Diego. In fact, I have eight friends that I can love on–in my love language– the way I am wired to love. What I determined was that the blues that I experienced were in large part caused by not loving on people. And so, the kids and I went on a tulip and Dollar Store shopping spree, where we loaded up on tulips and Valentine’s decorations. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, my partners in crime and I delivered tulips to their preschool teachers and my new friends, as well as Valentine’s treats to the kids’ friends. To top it off, we decorated the front doors of our friends’ homes too. We went a little crazy and drove all around San Diego, but man did it feel good to be able to express my love and gratitude. Not only did it boost my spirit, but it also wore the kids out! (YAY! A quiet moment!!) Here are some snapshots:

The finale to our day of spreading love was a stop at Russell, my husband’s office. He and the USD men’s basketball staff were out of town, so it made for an ideal decorating opportunity. As I’ve mentioned in previous journals, he is the recipient of my leftovers. I am not proud to admit that doing extra special things for him is most often not my priority. Shamefully, because we are married and I know he’s always going to be there, without a doubt I take him for granted and I do not invest in him the way that I do our children, my friendships, and even iGnite. So, as an effort to express my love to him and make him feel a priority, special and loved the same way I was hoping my friends would feel loved, the kids and I decorated his office. As you can see below, the end result would not have been featured in Martha Stuart. None-the-less, it was made with loving hands and a grateful spirit–by of which doing, filled me up!

During the month of March, the weekly journal focus is on neighborly love: doing kind things for your neighbors, getting to know your neighbors, and loving your neighbors despite your physical, political, financial, spiritual, and life differences. As it relates to this week, we are going to warm up by loving those who are closest to you, without the expectation of getting anything in return (like the reaction you are hoping for–that’s a hard one!). Whether this be your time, a note, a hug, a kiss, a verbal “thank you, I love you”, a listening ear or a helping hand, those all qualify as expressing neighborly love.

As you consider what you will do and to whom you will extend your neighborly love to, I encourage you to start inside your home and within your family. When I think about loving my neighbor, too often I think about my literal and physical neighbors, but in reality, our neighbors are also our spouses, our family members, the stranger we stand next to at the grocery store and the person living next door or down the street. They are even the people we don’t see eye to eye with and would rather snub or avoid, than say a kind “hello” to. As I have experienced and you may too, the act of expressing and giving love transforms the givers heart as much as it impacts the receivers. Maybe that’s why with hope, faith and love, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Action Item:
Everyday this week, say or do something to express your love to someone who is close to you.

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