When people say that social media connects us, I am usually a doubter. It typically just feeds into my procastination. Yet, on one fateful day, twitter happened to connect me with one of the most brilliant women–Amy Lively! I had read her book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird, and tweeted about how it inspired me to reach out to my neighbors in loving ways that wouldn’t scare them off. Next thing I know we are social media friends (it’s a real thing, folks). Amy was sweet enough to write some great tips on how we can get out and love our neighbors this summer. She continues to inspire me and I hope she inspires you, as well. Welcome, Amy Lively!
Words by Amy Lively
The days are getting longer in my little mountain town. This Memorial Day weekend is the official kick off to summer, and we’re ready. I’ve seen shorts paired with a Northface jacket, but we’re ready! The snow is melting on the peaks surrounding our valley, so the river is getting high and the paddlers are coming out in droves. Windows are opening (even though dust is blowing) and neighbors are spending more time outside.
No matter where you call home, summer is the perfect time to spend with your neighbor. (But then again, I could make the same argument for every season!) Here are some tips for how to love your neighbor during the lazy days of summer:
- Score at neighborhood yard sales
I make it a point to stop at as many neighborhood yard sales as I can, even if I’m not in the market for the baby strollers or lawn tools they have prominently displayed by the curb. I’m much more interested in the woman counting the change! Yard sales are one of the most effective ways I’ve found to meet my neighbors. It’s one time when it’s not weird to approach your neighbor and start a conversation.
- Make a splash at the local pool
Introduce yourself to people at the pool, and don’t be shy about asking for their name, too. Talk about the neighborhood, how long you’ve lived here, who you know in common. Find out what they love about your neighborhood, or what their concerns may be. Learn about their families and favorite local activities.
TIP: keep a notepad in your pool bag or car to jot down names and exchange numbers.
- Plan a sidewalk parade
Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day are three perfectly patriotic occasions to plan a sidewalk parade. Decorate bikes and wagons and carry noisemakers and balloons. Launch a porch decorating contest or plan a neighborhood 5K; ask a local restaurant or gift shop to donate a prize (they’re usually grateful for the publicity). Have a pizza potluck afterwards (everyone brings their favorite pizza to share). You don’t have to create a big production to have a little fun.
- Flash mob a neighbor’s flowerbeds
Gather some neighborhood kids or the green thumbs on your street to help a neighbor with weeding, pruning or planting. If your neighborhood has any public green spaces, spruce them up with some annuals or new mulch (get permission first if needed). You’ll bless your neighbors by creating a space your whole neighborhood can appreciate.
- Coordinate a community clean-up day
The alleyway I use every day to access our garage and walk to town is becoming littered with construction debris, cans, bottles and wrappers. After griping about it to myself for a few weeks, I invited my neighbors to help clean it up. I’ve got ice pops and water ready for anyone who volunteers, but I’m OK if it’s only me. I’m responsible for my action, not my neighbors’ reaction. Any time I’ve ever acted with an ulterior motive or unrealistic expectation, the only one who ends up disappointed is me.
This is Jesus’ idea, and He perfectly equipped you to love your neighbor in your own unique way. Introverts will lean toward #1 and #2—and yes, you need to take names. Extroverts and Pinteresty-people (you know who you are!) are already making parade posters. Find a way that works for you this summer, and let the summer lovin’ begin!
Find more about How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively here.
Also, fun giveaway of Amy’s book over on my Instagram.