Monday, May 26, 2008

Please won't you be my neighbor?

I'm not sure about you, but Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was one of my FAVORITE shows when I was little. If you watched Mr. Roger's or have even just heard of him, you'll most likely recognize the friendly lyrics below....

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?

The reason those lyrics have been ringing in my ears lately is because I have recently moved into a new neighborhood. It seems that I move quite often, but because of circumstances, environment, or plain laziness I haven't been able to connect with my neighbors much.

When I moved into my new place (a few weeks ago) I was feeling very challenged to be intentionally relational with the people that I live around. Why wouldn't I establish relationships with these people? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly it was that I hadn't done this previously.

I began tossing around the idea of how I could do this in an impacting way. Not only was I challenged to meet these people, but also to share the love of Christ with them. Again I started wondering what this would/should look like. Quickly I realized it can mean a variety of things...

Maybe it means just chatting with the person next door, or playing with the kids across the street. Perhaps it means offering to mow the lawn of the elderly couple a few houses down, or organizing a neighborhood gathering.

My roommates and I were talking and we decided we wanted to go around and introduce ourselves....and it only seemed natural to take something with us....we didn't want to go empty handed. We thought of the classic "bring a plate of chocolate chip cookies" but then I realized it's 2008 and people may think it's odd to get a plate of unwrapped cookies. So, I suggested bringing a potted flower to the neighbors when we met them for the first time.

After running around Minneapolis trying to find small pots and flowers, my roommates and I had the pots ready and the flowers planted. We had decided to bring flowers to the 7 houses around us to start the process. As we walked to these houses I began to anticipate who we would met as the doors opened in front of us.

The first house we went to we met John who lives with his wife Karima, and his son Garrick. What a great guy. Initially, I think he was a little unsure of what to think about the potted flowers, but through our conversations we find out he is quite the garden expert...we even walked away from his house with gardening magazines and an invitation to eat the cherries off the tree that shades our yard.

A few houses down we met Pearl and Walter who are elderly and just lovely! Walter was sitting at the table enjoying a dinner of what I would imagine to be pork chops and cooked carrots. Pearl shuffled to the door and we enjoyed a wonderful conversation with her about how long she's lived in the house, other neighbors around, and her love for the area. A couple more houses away we met Elaine and Roosevelt who were friendly yet seemed skeptical at first. The flowers threw everyone off...they weren't sure what to make of it. Were we selling them? After what seemed to be initial skepticism, we were able to connect with Elaine as she was telling us about the church she attends. Coincidentally, we even knew a mutual acquaintance who goes to my church and she knows through a choir they are in together.

I could share more stories about the people that surround us, but I'll keep it to a minimum. It was really great getting to walk around and make those connections and to know that there will be plenty of other connections made as we live as neighbors. My prayer is that, if nothing else, my neighbors will see and experience Jesus through us...that they wouldn't see a few "nice girls" but that they would understand our relationship with God. Many of them commented, "How nice you girls are to do this..." but I pray that they understand it's not us...but God in us...I hope our conversations and interactions would be real, genuine, and intentional.

All I can out Mr. Roger's....I'm pretty sure my neighborhood is the coolest:)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sick (cough, cough) Day

Sick days can consist of a plethora of ailments....

*The classic head cold
*The ever-so inconvenient stomach flu
*The unexpected broken bone

However, I'm a firm believer that sick days can really be stretched to cover many other types of sickness...

*I'm sick of getting up at 5:30 am
*I'm sick of the traffic in the morning
*I'm sick of 500 work emails a day make a long story a little less long, I, along with Laurie, decided to dip into the "Sick Day Bank" right after we made our most recent move. We decided to call it "We just moved into a new house, and just unpacked, so we need a day of relaxation" sick day. It works, right?

It was pretty much one of the BEST (if not THE BEST) days off I've ever taken. It was simply glorious. an effort to share the joy of the day with all of you, I'm going to give you a quick play by play of the day.

Really it started on Sunday night when we rented a chick flick and ate junk food (actually I can't remember if we ate junk food, but it just seems like we should have, if we didn't). Then after staying up much later than we can on a normal day, we both were able to sleep in until 9....SHOCKING! There aren't many days that I can do that. So it was a bonus to sleep in until the time when my 25 dear students were strolling in the classroom door!

We leisurely got ready for the day, watched a little morning television, and then set out on the first stop of our fun filled day. Since we moved into a great new location we have found a few little being Turtle Bread which is a small little cafe/restaurant a few blocks away. We walked over there and enjoyed a quite, fun filled late breakfast which consisted of conversations around the "5 Love Languages" (thanks to church the night before), the crazy skateboarder kids that were crusin' around, and whether or not being a dog walker would be a tangible part time summer job for me! We also took many self-timer shots on my camera and then were interrupted, amidst our fun, by a man who thought we were struggling to get a nice picture. Unfortunately he didn't realize the struggling was our attempt at being artistic and independent:) He explained he had been watching us attempt photos for quite a while and wanted to help us. Awkward? Thoughtful? Creepy? You can decide for yourself.

After breakfast we walked back home and pulled out our extremely fashionable rides...the BIKES:) We live really close to some great bike trails, and with it sunny and in the 70s, there was really no reason why we wouldn't go on a bike exploration. We hopped on and made our way over to the gas station for a quick filler-up of air in the tires. Can't have flat tires on a bike journey. From there, we were set to go....we enjoyed a 5-ish mile bike ride around Lake Nokomis and the surroundings. Just beautiful. Although I did learn to not talk, laugh, or sing while riding in this area because there are far too many swarms of bugs that easily head for your mouth the minute you open it.

We had time to stop in at home for a quick lunch and then we were off to the most peaceful part of the day! This whole day off started with the idea of treating ourselves to getting off the massage place we went! We walked in and it was like I was in a different world. I have never been at a place, so quite, at 2:00 pm...EVER....all I heard was the trickling of the water fountain and the ZEN music playing in the background. Usually around that time of the day I'm hearing, "Ms. Ventura he just peed on the bathroom floor....Ms. Ventura she won't stop kicking me under the table...Ms. Ventura I think I need to go to the nurse, my finger is turning purple..." You get the idea. It's just never silent, and so when I walked in, it was a weird feeling to have to be quiet and not talk....just to not hear even myself was a miracle! Anyway, the massage was great...although I will say that the massage therapist worked me over. I had a mass of knots in my back/neck which she definitely worked out....but a few times I thought she was going to rip my muscle out. At the very end she decided to put some muscle relaxer lotion on my back to relax the muscles after she had worked them so first it just felt like a "cool" tingling....and then before I knew it, my back was on FIRE....Oh my was out of control how much hot/cold sensation I was experiencing. But alas, I paid...and Laurie and I made our way to the door...upon opening the door it was dark and peaceful. We opened the door and BOOM....bright lights, car horns honking....I knew it could only last so long!

We got home and watched a little Oprah while we waited for Calleigh, our other roommate, to return. While we were waiting, Laurie started contemplating whether or not she wanted to go back to school for Massage she asked if she could try a few massage techniques while we were waiting. I was hesitant to let her, since my back was already in pain and on fire from the massage earlier, but how could I say no to someone aspiring to something as great as a Massage Therapist?! I couldn't.

I also forgot to mention the day we took off was Cinco de Mayo....and
even though it is not a very celebrated holiday in Mexico, we took it upon ourselves here in the good old US of A to celebrate...who doesn't want a reason to eat great Mexican food and have cheap Margaritas!? Calleigh got home and we walked down a few blocks to Pepitos, a fun little restaurant. We ate a lot of great food....laughed a lot...and then rolled home because we were so full!

Needless to say, it was a fabulous "Sick Day"....I really need to get sick more often.....