15 Practical Ideas to Love Generously
My family and I huddled together, uncertain what waited for us in the days following Hurricane Isabel.
After the storm blew over, downed trees littered roadways. Branches tumbled through neighborhoods resembling lightweight pieces of prarie grass, settling wherever their little heart desired. Awnings, signs, and other structures lay mangled in a wild mess of uncertainty.
And likely the most impacting – Virginia Beach’s electricity clicked off and stayed off for five rather toasty and sweaty, early September days.
I recall it well.
Amid the mess, something good came.
Folks, fleeing the heat and humidity offered inside structures, fled outdoors.
For the first time in years, people neighbored – truly neighbored.
Kids laughed, ran, and played. Parents communicated, shared, helped, talked, and neighbored with each other like no other time I’d seen. Perhaps before the days of air conditioning and the vast offering of electronic entertainment this was the norm. But in our time and age, it proved the exception to the rule.
But the minute the electricity flickered on – and I mean “the minute” because I recall it well, people hustled inside, holed up once again amid their four walls. Neighboring, as Isabel allowed us to know it, came to an end.
Electric crackles in the parts of the world from which you’re reading this. Mine too. But neighboring doesn’t have to cease.
We’re targeting neighbors this month – with love. We’re overcoming evil with good. Week 1 sits here. Today, we dive into week 2.
Here are 15 ideas to implement as we overcome evil with good, loving our neighbors well.
1. Say Hello
Sounds simple, but an intentional “hello” to neighbors or even strangers often goes a long way and sometimes even opens ministry doors.
2. Open a Door
I love it when our boys open doors. The array of responses they receive is wide, but rest assured they’re always coated with thankfulness.
3. Send a Card or Write a Letter
Who doesn’t appreciate a little love in the mailbox? Or, try a free e-card as well. Take those extra 5 or 10 minutes to reach out.
4. Take those Flowers – Visit
Pretend the a/c sits off. Hustle on out there and sit with a friend – whether young, old, widowed, or unable to get out. Take some flowers, music, or food. Most appreciate the effort.
5. Pray – Right Then and There
It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you,” then forget. I’ve done it myself more times than I’d like to admit. One thing resolves the problem: praying right then and there. If it’s a response on Facebook, pray before responding. If it’s a need that arises during a phone or in-person conversation, offer to pray right then. Maybe it’s a subject or situation that causes the nose to crinkle. Uncrinkle and pray. Do something about it – take to God Almighty. 😉
Opportunities overflow. Our busy family schedule found 1 Sunday/month a good fit. We journeyed down to the Salvation Army and served a solid Sunday breakfast. Serving food isn’t the only option. Pregnancy crisis center opportunities exist, so do local food pantries, individual church outreaches, reading to kids, or offering time at an assisted living facility.
7. Retrieve the Trash Can
Something as simple as bringing the trash can up the house can slather love on a neighbor, not to mention it affords kids an opportunity to help.
8. Reach Out to New Neighbors
Our toughest move was to a civilian community after my husband retired from the military. Folks simply didn’t swing by to shake a hand or offer a hello. And for me, working from home, it became lonely. Why not bake a plate of cookies or gather some fruit and swing by to welcome that new neighbor? Throw a summer cookout or front yard potluck. It might open unexpected doors in a good and God way.
9. Print and Hand Out Cards
I gathered the idea from a fellow military family, and loved it so much, that I mimicked their idea. Print business cards with family member names and contact information. When new neighbors move in or you encounter someone new at church or in the community, you’ll have instant contact information to hand them. It makes staying in contact easy.
10. Deliver or Create Your Own Food Bank
Friend, Tammy, and her family have helped create and stock these little neighborhood food pantries – similar to mini-neighborhood libraries. How cool are they?!
11. Pay It Forward
Ever been the recepient of a “pay it forward?” Sweet! Try it at drive-thrus, toll booths, ticket stands and more.
12. Pick Up the Phone
Text is easy. Try a real phone conversation, too. Many folks love to hear from others. Why not give the opporutnity to enjoy a phone-filled conversation?
13. Extend the Invitation
It’s easy to live in our own, little world, isn’t it? I’m there far too often, all by my lonely little self. But where’s the love? Intentional outreaches, extending an invite to dinner, a party, a hike, or sports game, or something similar might just what the love doctor ordered to combat lonliness or misunderstanding.
14. Be Intentional with Words
Find someone to thank or compliment daily. It’s amazing the bang for the buck kind syllables gather.
15. Find the Good
Critical or blaming thoughts run to the scene easily, don’t they? Why not toss the blame and bury the criticalness, finding the good in situations instead? Express those to others, offer them to God. Then see what happens.
Stay tuned next week. We’ll have a printable available for use. In the meantime, here’s our action steps for the week:
Pray over these opportunities and any others that come to mind.
Take that step, reach out and love generously.
Post about it on social media with #loveyourneighbor. (Pictures are great too.)
Comment here with your thoughts and ideas. We’d love to hear!