Loving Our Neighbors

Our once-neighbor girl showed up at our front door to ask if I would run a 5k with her. Yesterday we trained with the Girls On The Run team and it was about 1,000 degrees outside.

20140513-205056.jpg

We walked 2.91 of the miles and jogged about .1. It was awesome and I loved it and she kept saying, "No offense but I need to walk." Girl please...no offense taken! I'll gladly walk and soak in the hot sun while sweat pools and falls off of my face.

By the end of the training-run-walk I was wearing her vibrant tutu, carrying her water bottle, and holding a piece of paper. It was great, really. I felt like an all-star champion.

During our training-run {walk}, I couldn't help but ask Jesus to make something bigger out of this than me running and encouraging her. Though I know that is of value, I craved to go deeper. I hungered for more of His purpose in my life.

20140513-205305.jpg

Around mile 2 our conversation turned from cold water and butterflies and best friends to Jesus. She told me all about her dad's anger when she was younger and the darkness that came with the violence she experienced. She told me all about the power of God, and how her dad was invited to church by a basketball buddy. For years he invited him and for years her dad declined, until one day. Since that day, he has worked on his anger and now goes into his bedroom to calm down when he gets worked up. She shared her favorite verse, by memory: "cast your cares upon The Lord because He cares for you," Psalm 55:22.

She told me that she remembered that I once told her that I loved Jesus and that He loves her, so she knew that I would be a good running buddy. We could talk and chat and pray, and I would understand. Those were her 4th grade words.

This is all through and for and because of Jesus.

I'm going to be real honest: this is not for Natalie. If I lived for Natalie, I would be a nurse at Good Sam, spending every single waking moment either alone in my garden, reading with a cup of tea or with Loren. I would live for me and only for me. I am a very, very selfish person. And often, I hate admitting that. But these past few days, I have found immense freedom and recognizing that. I have found freedom in admitting to myself and to Jesus that I am so, very selfish. And that BECAUSE of Jesus, I get to choose to live for more than myself. Because of Jesus, I get to live large. For Jesus and through Jesus and only because of Him, I get to pour my life out.

Friends. We have the most beautiful and blessed calling: "Love your neighbor...Feed God's sheep...Love His people."

Because of Jesus, Loren and I purposefully loved our neighbors. Because of Jesus, Loren and I tell our neighbor kids that they are MORE than their circumstances. These things aren't huge or big deals - it's simply what we as Christians are called to do. We spend our time and energy on others, because of and for Jesus. We get to live for something bigger than ourselves. Through Jesus. And Boy, are we fulfilled! Even through exhaustion we are blessed through the fulfillment of living sold out for Jesus. All glory to Him.

I want to encourage you to love and serve your neighbors. Smile at them. Learn their names, even if you have to keep a note pad list of them on your fridge! Take them cookies at Christmas and love their kids. Share your story about how you love yours, so we can have some ideas. My sister babysits for her neighbor's kids so she doesn't have to get a second job. You never know what fruit will come.

You never know. You may get to be a loving, listening ear, pointing towards Jesus. You may be the only person outside of the family, encouraging this crazy following towards Jesus - do it. Encourage. Empower. Serve. Deny yourself for the sake of building up this Bride {the church} and those around you.

Let's choose to live for something bigger than ourselves, every day. Live for Jesus.

All for Jesus. All because of Jesus. All through Jesus.

20140513-205833.jpg