The Navy and the Cavapoo

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!

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Tiva sitting on Nathan’s lap

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.

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Denise and I at Graduation

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.

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Denise, Tiva, me and Nathan

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in St. Petersburg, FL and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. In the Fall I will begin working on my PhD in Biblical Studies from the same Seminary. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

6 thoughts on “The Navy and the Cavapoo”

  1. Congratulations on getting your Masters! Wow! That’s a huge accomplishment. This post is such a great encouragement and reminder to love our actual neighbors. Not always easy, but can be quite rewarding like what happened with Denise. Thanks Mandy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mandy, I love “our story.” I too regret not getting to know each other sooner but I’ll always cherish the fun times we did share. Tiva really misses her daily walks in the park, I still chuckle when I picture her riding off with you, sitting on Nathan’s lap, looking at me like “bye, bye Mom, see ya later.” It’s very sad to look at your empty house but we are happy you are settling in your new home and wasted no time finding a Tiva puppy. Like us, PQ will feel an abundance of unconditional love and loyalty and one day soon we will all reunite and he will meet his cousin Tiva. We miss sharing meals, movies and laughs but most of all our daily hugs. You and Nathan are truly one-of-a-kind and you both brought renewed joy to our lives. I was honored to attend your graduation. I felt so privileged to be personally invited and spend time with you and your family. I’m glad you passed with all the noise from my side of the street. The other neighbors don’t know you left me the snow blower. Hopefully, God will grant them patience! All the best to You my wonderful, beautiful friend, I look forward to seeing you very soon. God Bless and watch over You! XO

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