It’s not an inconvenience to be a neighbour

It was Sabbath morning. The day before I wrote my final exam for my Assessments course. I was awake at 7:00am. Changed out of my PJs, brushed my teeth and headed downstairs to the kitchen. One of my favourite things to do now in the mornings is to get the kettle going, prepare my tea, then bring it out to the deck to spend TAG. There’s a calm about waking up early, having a hot drink, taking in the fresh summer air, all while hanging out with God in His word and in prayer.

Sabbath mornings are the best TAG moments. There’s no work or appointments to think about; all that there is is a full 24 hours to bask in God’s blessings and the outpouring of His Spirit. As I sat on the deck, took soothing sips of my tea, my neighbour came out and said, “Hello! Wow you’re up early too?” I responded, “Yup! had to get up and enjoy this lovely morning.” She rubbed her eyes and yawned and told me about her DIY-haircutting experience while I mentioned I had just got my hair cut! Her husband had just pulled into the driveway and she said, “Oh! I’ll be right back! I made him a coffee but forgot mine. I’ll be back!” I smiled and chuckled quietly and went back to my tea and reading.

Soon enough, I heard the sliding door next door open and her husband came out and waved. I waved back and asked about his work and we went back to do our thing. Moments later, he went inside, my mom came out and started sharing about her TAG with my dad that morning and we discussed it. My mom said, “Why don’t we invite her over here and we can chat?” I said, “Sure! I think she’s just making her coffee. Let me text her.” So I text her the invite and says she’ll be out in 15. We wait and go back inside to grab a bite to eat.

We headed over to her deck and the smile on her face was HUGE. We had been neighbours for over 16 years and only since the pandemic had we started spending more time in conversation beyond small talk. Now if you know my family, you’d know that once we become friends, you’re likely to get food from us when we cook it because we love you already :). It’s my family’s way of showing love as a family and serves as gift giving and an act of service. Soon enough, our neighbour, my mom and I were chatting it up about how the week went and heard the gate open along with some footsteps. It was my dad. He walked into the backyard with a tray of freshly cut fruit and blueberry cheese danishes to go with our tea and coffee. At this point, our neighbour was so joyful she was laughing and smiling even BIGGER now.

Shortly after, my mom indicated that she had to leave to take church attendance so she headed home, but I felt the urge to stay. So I did.

It was only last year that my neighbour and I started spending more time together and having meaningful conversations. We’d talk about life, love, and everything in between (just like our podcast, To the Tea) . I can confidently say she has become family – like an aunt or older sister. It surprised me how I can chat with her about anything. The wisdom she imparts has been a blessing to my life through the years. It’s funny becayse years ago, and years prior, we would only wave, say “Hi, have a nice day!” and maybe walk over with some pancit, pandesal, or some type of food my family wants to share with her family. It’s incredible how our neighbour-ship (we’re going to go with that because it’s a neighbour relationship 🙂 ) has blossomed since we were all required to stay home over the last year.

When my mom left, we started talking about fitness and working out. She mentioned she planned to go out for a bike ride that day and informed me that they just completed setting up the gym in the basement. Knowing that I loved exercise, she insisted I come in and check it out! It was amazing! We’re talking a treadmill, elliptical, racks of weights, a mirror, a punching bag, lifting rack and a stationary bike!

We heading back upstairs and out to the back. At that point I thought I would be able to get ready to leave and watch church with my family, but God had other plans. We sat there conversing for another hour! I shared with her work experiences and she did the same. The pandemic had taken a toll on both of us, and it was encouraging to know that we were in the same boat when it came to our perspective on what we bring to the workplace. As she shared her stories and I shared mine, there was a glow in her eyes that I sensed that Holy Spirit in the midst of our conversation. I knew that this conversation, me missing church, and slowly feeling the urge to go to the washroom were all a part of God’s plan.

I checked my watch and it was 12:30pm! That glow in her eyes turned into tears that seemed to be held back for a while. She expressed her gratitude in my sharing of the vulnerable experiences I had at work. Without saying much, we both believe that we have much to offer our workplaces, and often times it seems that our employers or coworkers do not appreciate or notice our efforts. We recognized that what we bring to the workplace is individual to the skills and abilities we have been blessed with. We acknowledged the fact that there will be many days where our workplace may feel like “just another thing to do” and “a place where we do something to get paid for the convenience of the organization”. We concluded with the thought that we were two women who have much to give, and whether or not our workplaces recognized it didn’t matter. We reminded each other of who we are and what we have without work. It was hard not to tear up with tears of joy in knowing that God was there listening in on our conversation and being praised.

She mentioned that she had much to think about and was hoping that the long weekend would be a time to just think and eventually make a decision. We talked some more and finished our tea and coffee. Before we knew it, nearly another hour had passed! We sighed and leaned back into our chairs. “I’m so glad we can chat like this” I said. She agreed and said, “You guys are awesome” and smiled. I headed home and wished her well on her bike ride.

When I walked back home, I lifted up a prayer and just said, “Thank You”.

Thank You God for the opportunity to wake up early, see my neighbour and receive a warm welcome to hang out on her deck to just talk. Conversations with people in a safe space is a huge blessing and takes humility and trust. God, have Your way in her life. May you speak to her to help her make the decisions she needs to as You will. God You are her Father and You order her steps. You’re awesome oh Lord. Thank You! ❤

Acts 8:5-39 shares a testimony of an Ethiopian Eunuch who was searching for clarity and understanding while riding a chariot. He was on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem, which was apparently over 4000km away from his homeland. Meanwhile, Philip was walking along a desert road with the specific instructions to: “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (v26). The Word tells us that he just got up and went. When I heard this emphasized through a pastor this last weekend, I was amazed at how courageous Philip was to just leave after a worship and ministry high only to leave it behind. I thought about how God called me out of leadership and my former women’s small group to “reach the ends of the earth” (at least the earth/circles that He’s placed me in and the friends He’s reconnected me with). Recall, in Acts 1:8, we’re informed that the disciples would “receive the Holy Spirit” and “be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The “end of the earth” at the time was Ethiopia! Philip was impressed by the Holy Spirit to go to the chariot and he asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The Eunuch responded, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (v21). The story concludes with a baptism and rejoicing.

I share this story because God has this way of tying in what is happening in my life to the times He leads me to specific parts of His Word. This story was preached 1 week after my encounter with my neighbour. The neighbour I’ve lived beside for nearly half of my life. The neighbour that I wave hi and bye to when I leave and come back home. She’s the neighbour that was home alone while her husband and son were out for work on a Sabbath morning. She’s the neighbour God had been knocking on my heart to reach out to since the pandemic started. She’s the neighbour who needed someone to talk to to have hope again and feel loved by a neighbour.

My neighbour is not limited to the people who live beside and within my neighbourhood; my neighbour is anyone who isn’t me.

As I walk forward in ministry and life – it’s my prayer that anyone who reads my word or sees my posts, that they may always be reminded that they are created with purpose and called to love.

May you never think of stopping for your neighbour to be an inconvenience. If it’s a call that God is placing on your heart and you’re feeling even the slightest afraid – pray for courage! God is not a God of fear or doubt. Be like Philip – reach out for God’s purposes, even if it means leaving all that you’ve known to reach another neighbour. Let not your fears fence in God’s power.

Much love.

Ashley

(Photo Credits: BJMA)

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