Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stepping Out

I learned to cook from Rachael Ray. Seriously, up until then it was all out of a box. One of my favorite episodes was when she talked about her grandfather having a big pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove all day Sunday and people would just randomly stop by for a meal. I've always wanted to do that....have a pot of soup on the stove and just let everyone know they were welcome to stop by, open house style.

This past week we've been talking about the notion that we can do something, and I've tried to challenge you to make some small adjustments. It's time to take it to the streets.

Your own streets.

I would bet that if you stood on your front step, you would see someone who could use your help, friendship, influence, or all of the above. Reaching your world can have as much to do with providing a needed act of service as it does with gaining influence in their life. You can't help but be changed by the people you are doing life with, and service in your neighborhood is about doing life in an intentional way.

Last Thursday I gave you five suggestions on ways to engage with those you randomly come across. This week I'm offering five ways to serve right in your neighborhood:
1. Ala Neighborhood Café, invite some neighbors for coffee. We often invite others to home parties and want them to buy things, but we don't often just invite people over. Put a board game on the table and a Bakers Square pie on the counter.

2. See who might need some help with something you enjoy. You don't really get more service points for doing something you hate; it's not supposed to be a punishment. If you garden, see if a neighbor could use some bulbs planted in their garden of help weeding. Maybe, when it is time to split your perennials, offer to swap with someone. Or, see if anyone else has something to donate and plant a garden for a neighbor who is green-thumb challenged.

3. Borrow something. It sounds silly, but borrowing something is a great conversation starter.

4. When you make a meal, double it and toss it in the freezer. Look for a young mom with full hands and offer her family dinner one night. I once brought half a watermelon to the retired couple on my corner and they were thrilled to pieces. She brought me a stack of paper plates leftover from a family party. Bridges are getting built.

5. Perhaps you know of a genuine need...a family struggling through unemployment, a serious illness, family upheaval. Reach out to them in ways that help but don't intrude. Organize assistance with cleaning, laundry, transportation if necessary, meals, the hands and feet you would want rallying around you.

Attached garages and back patios led to the downfall of the traditional Norman Rockwell neighborhood. It's easy to hide away and mind your own business. But what fun is that? Get involved in your life, the one going on outside your front door.

And maybe I'll put the soup on and put a Scrabble board on the table. Who's coming over?

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