With movers here to pack our belongings, I had plenty of time to sit and reflect on the last 3 ½ years of living on our street. When Chris and I arrived, we planned to be intentional—to get to know our neighbors and build relationships with them. So we made ourselves available, and have some crazy and wonderful stories as a result.
· I heard Neighbor 1 scream bloody murder. I found out later that Neighbor 2 saw neighbor 3 move a dead squirrel from the street right in front of Neighbor 1’s mailbox. I moved the squirrel because Neighbor 1 was too traumatized to do it.
· On my way home with the college student who was living with us, I got distracted by our crazy conversation and the cat that crept his way into our garage. I left the garage door open and my purse was stolen out of the van. The credit card was used several times at various gas stations. Chris and I got to know the shady side of town as we tracked the criminal’s steps and was given the picture/video by a store-owner. Now there is one less druggie off the streets and in jail. He has to pay me $72 when he gets out in 20 years.
· 60-year-old neighbor jokingly asked me to join him in the shower and his bed, prodding at the “good ole Baptist” girl. I told him that I love Jesus and my husband, so I would have to fight that temptation J . Since I didn’t tuck my tail and run, we challenged his stereotype of “ministry” people.
· After going without cable or internet for three days, we realized that the new backyard neighbor had broken into the public cable box. He meant to splice it so we could share, but accidentally took it all.
· Chris was pushed and threatened in our driveway. Chris later went to the man’s house, forgave him, and told him he hoped he would get control of his anger and let Christ change his heart.
· Across the street, a lovely young wife kicked her drug-addict husband out of the house. He later broke into his wife and son’s house and stole their stuff.
· We finally trained one neighbor to realize the garage door was not “hers.” It took months for her to knock before entering. Chris was glad to finally not have to look both ways before walking in the laundry room for pants.
· That same neighbor once walked in while we were taking a nap and had a twenty-minute conversation with Kinley. We found out after we woke up.
· Chris not only shared the true Gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness who repeatedly came to our door, but struck up a friendship that resulted in a year-and-a-half long conversation about the person of Christ.
· Imagine an early morning conversation that starts out: “If you ever have a case of the farts, come see me. I’ve got plenty of beano.” TMI Neighbor.
· One neighbor knocked on my door at 9 p.m. and asked me to go on a walk with her. She gushed her life story (20 years as a lesbian) and wanted to know if I could still be her friend once I knew her past.
· A common scene: 10-year-old neighbor running through our back yard in full camo/war attire, and a pellet gun or paint-ball gun. Imagine finding your house and driveway decorated with neon-colored circles.
· 6-year-old Neighbor girl would come over and constantly ask for food or toys.
· Junior high neighbor loved to share his victory stories with me. His classmates deemed him “Sir Farts A Lot”. I once gave him a sack of dog poop and used it as a gateway to the Gospel. He actually listened. That was the first time I saw his mom smile and the last time he annoyed me with his stories of bodily noises.
· An anonymous stalker called 16 times in a 36 hour period. He also called every day for about 2 weeks. I finally started reading him some judgment passage out of Isaiah—either that or the legal letter made him stop.
· We discovered that a young girl from the kids’ school lived down the street with grandparents. She was often home alone but came to our house for food and fun.
· A middle-aged woman stands in our living room and takes off her shirt to show me her tattoo. That was the day our kids found out what a bra was.
· Our 13 year old neighbor trashed our yard with his fireworks and even shot them off our back porch. I confiscated his un-used bottle rockets and took him a trash bag so he could clean my yard up.
· I restrained my neighbor who was having a seizure. She spit, hit, and threw up on me.
· Chris was called several times in the middle of the night to help our bed-ridden neighbor get off the floor.
· Our youngest child overheard a man tell another kid to “shut-up.” She put her hands on her hips, looked straight at him and said, “You are very mean and I don’t think you love Jesus.
I’ve often wondered why no one wanted to buy my house.
Those are the quirky stories, but in reality my neighbors have done a million nice things for my family: keeping the kids, bailing me out of missing kitchen items, giving me rides when I was car-less, bringing the kids toys and candy on EVERY major holiday and birthday, telling me when they saw my son swinging across the window on the string of his blinds. They’ve laughed with me, cried with me, laughed at me, and have given us the freedom to be who we are. I love the fact that they know how imperfect we are, and don’t feel the need to make their language “religous”. But one thing I have learned: If we want to live intentionally, we will experience the unintended.