I have lived across the street from Denise for three years. Much of this time was spent saying, “hi” or “we should get together sometime” yet, we never followed through. I knew from the beginning that Denise was retired Navy; yet, I had NEVER met or understood how anyone could wash their driveway (scrub the deck!) and run a leaf blower like Denise. This would drive me bonkers when I was working on assignments!
At some point in time last year Denise bought a puppy. Nathan absolutely loves dogs and so this gave Nathan an opportunity to speak with Denise and play with her cavapoo puppy named “Tiva.” Around this same time, I had a final discussion post for my Leader’s Life and Work class (Nov 2018) which challenged us to leave our comfort zone and interact with someone outside our normal sphere of influence. I felt like this was the opportunity to invite Denise for dinner. This invitation was more than just fulfilling an assignment, it was a chance to literally answer the question, “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).
What transpired has profoundly changed my life! Denise is a fellow believer in Jesus Christ with a gift of hospitality second to none. Denise is one of the most honest, intelligent and authentic people I have ever met. I am grieved that I did not take the time to get to know Denise sooner.
On May 10, 2019 I graduated from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master’s in Biblical Studies. Denise was at my graduation along with Nathan and my parents. Because of this assignment, I learned how much I love Denise and “Tiva” puppies (cavapoos). I am so thankful for Denise, I could not have asked for a better neighbor. On June 5, 2019 Nathan and I started our drive (move) to St. Petersburg, FL. While Denise and Tiva may not live across the street from us, I know for a fact they will come and stay with us and vice versa.
So, who is your “neighbor?” Who is the person in your backyard that you have seen but have not taken the opportunity to get to know? It is my heartfelt prayer that you will not wait to answer that question. It is sad that as we grew closer to Denise and Tiva, we were also closer to leaving. We shared many meals and laughs together over these past few months and in so doing, God has built a bond between us built on faith, love and loyalty.
Father God, make us sensitive to our neighbors. Help us to see past our own comforts and desires. Lord, we do not exist to please ourselves. Lord, I remember my patient Shirley who taught me that JOY stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself. Lord, may we put You first, followed by others and lastly ourselves. Lord, thank You for Denise and Tiva. Thank You Lord for the neighbor that You have for this reader. Lord, may we take steps towards people rather than steps from them. Lord God, thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You Lord for this reader! In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.