Break the Silence

 

Fish Lunch Brooke, Amy and Aaron

This past weekend, I spoke at the Cleveland Fish Radio Station’s Christmas Luncheon.  In the photo above on the far left, is the hostess and radio personality – Brooke Taylor.  I love her! On my right is Dove Award Winning Aaron Shust who sang beautifully!  And then on my immediate left is our guest here today – Amy Lively.  Amy spoke before me and what she shared struck me like a dagger in my heart.

As you know, I’ve been writing a lot here about practical ways we can Keep Christ in CHRISTmas.  When Amy began to speak about reaching out to our neighborhoods – I knew that this is one area I’ve struggled in.

In my old neighborhood, I lived in the city where I saw my neighbors all the time and I truly enjoyed them as friends.  But in our new neighborhood, we each have about an acre of land, so we are spread out and as a result – I have to be purposeful to meet and friend my neighbors here…and I haven’t been.  I have two neighbors I feel connected with but the others I have not gone out of my way to friend.

So if you are like me – then maybe you need to hear what Amy is about to say below. If you are NOT like me and you have invested in your neighbors – high five to you – and maybe you’ll consider the resource that Amy has below as a way to open doors to deeper spiritual conversations.

Break the Silence

Amy writes:

It will be a “Silent Night” in many homes on your street this Christmas. In fact, one in five of your neighbors suffers silently from loneliness.

Nine out of ten elderly people say a simple chat on the phone would alleviate their loneliness, but one in four have no one to talk to. A 2010 AARP study found that 35% of all adults over age 45 are chronically lonely – a 75% increase in just ten years.

One in four of the homes on your street is occupied by a single person living alone, up from one in ten in 1950. Living alone doesn’t automatically make you lonely. You can feel lonely lying in bed with your husband or with a house full of children—you can feel lonely in the midst of a Christmas celebration. You can be a loyal woman of faith and still feel lonely, because as we’re transformed into the image of God we crave the relationships He designed us to enjoy.

Forty-five percent of people surveyed said they DREAD the holiday season! Yes, Christmas can be lonely. And loneliness can be deadly.

Being lonely can be as damaging to your health as smoking or obesity—and lonely people are more likely to be obese. Loneliness also increases your likelihood of experiencing memory loss, dementia, depression, sleep disorders and heart conditions.

It was a “Silent Night” on that first Christmas, until a baby’s cry broke the silence.

Christmas is the perfect time to break the silence between you and your neighbors with the good news of Christ’s birth. Christmas is a natural time to fulfill Christ’s command found in Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This Christmas, march down your sidewalk, raise a quivering hand and knock on your neighbors’ door. If you don’t know your neighbor, say something like this—

“Hi, my name is Amy, and I live right over there. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name. What is your name? Terry? Hi, Terry—it’s nice to formally meet you, neighbor. Merry Christmas!”   

I have done this countless times, and I’ve lived to tell the tale! On the other side of those doors I’ve met the most amazing women who, once strangers, have now become my friends. A couple of times a year, I invite my neighbors to a simple Open House for coffee and conversation, and I welcome them to come back for Bible study called The Neighborhood Café. This has grown into an international ministry with women hosting Neighborhood Café Bible Studies in their homes from Alaska to California to Florida, and from Canada to Texas! I provide tools, tips and resources that equip you to love your neighbors—without being weird!—by developing natural relationships that lead to spiritual conversations.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to knock on my neighbors’ door with one hand if I’m holding a gift in the other. I take them a little gift—it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. I’ve taken a single serving of coffee or a tea bag, a few pieces of hard candy tied up in a plastic bag, an artificial flower. You could give them a handmade snowflake or a Christmas card your children made. This year, I’m giving my neighbors a Christmas tree ornament with a tag that says, “Merry Christmas, from my home to yours.” Adorable and affordable ornaments can be purchased in bulk at craft stores and adorned with ribbons, glitter and floral stems. Visit the Neighborhood Café Freebies page  to download free printable tags for your own neighborly gifts!

Please break the silence this Christmas, and offer your neighbors a cure for their loneliness.

Merry Christmas to you and your neighbors!

Amy Lively

 Cafe Kit

At The Neighborhood Café, Amy Lively candidly shares how she felt knocking on her neighbors’ doors while her  knees knocked and tells about the friendships that now line the streets of her neighborhood. The Neighborhood Café Kit contains everything you need to host an Open House in your home, including invitations, a planning guide, follow up cards and a Macchiato Moments music CD to set the mood! Through her speaking and writing, Amy equips women to love their neighbors in a whole new way—without being weird!

Comments

  1. says

    My husband and I made it a big deal to meet our neighbors as soon as we moved into our new home. It did help that it was Christmas time because that gave us a great excuse to bake some cookies and go knock on their doors :)
    There were three elderly women that commended us for taking such a big step as a young couple, as most people nowadays don’t take the time anymore. The young couple living next to us was surprised and didn’t really know what to say at first but we just introduced ourselves, had a cookie and a cup of coffee and it totally broke the ice! It’s nice to be able to wave and say hiii *insert name* when we some of our neighbors now! We’ll have to go back this year to make it a tradition of meeting them around New Year’s :)

  2. Susan says

    I live in an area with a lot of older people. I have felt a compassion for the older for awhile, in the past I have made little gift bags to send to shut ins. The other day when I was at Kohl’s I purchased a blanket for my one neighbor who lives alone and I also picked up another for my other next door neighbor . I hardly know her, she is never outside. I will occasionally see her watch my kids from her window. I felt unsure of buying a blanket for her but thought if I don’t give it I can return it. Well I can say it has just been confirmed that is what The Lord wants me to do , a little weird giving it to her doesn’t matter now. I have also let the busyness of life stop me from doing for shut ins and the older people. Thanks for posting this, it was a great reminder to get back to touching there lives.

  3. Suzanne says

    I just received an invitation to meet the women in our neighborhood! I love the idea ! I did feel sad reading this post because my father lives alone and is two hours away from us. There are nights when I am getting ready for bed that I wonder if he is overcome with loneliness. Thank you for this post. It has opened up my eyes.

  4. Kristin says

    Thank you for this encouragement. Yesterday my children and I took baked Christmas treats along with tickets to our church’s Christmas program to our neighbors that we know do not have a church family. We felt so blessed to be able to so this. You never know what things our God can do if you let him use us!

  5. says

    This is awesome, every year we bake cookies and out them in tins to giveaway to our neighbors. We didn’t do it last year, and I was bummed but this year we are this was encouraging to read. I think this year I will add a message of hope. Thanks for sharing Amy, I can’t wait to check out your site!! Thanks for sharing as well Courtney.

    Blessings,
    Adrienne
    http://www.lacedbygrace.wordpress.com

  6. says

    Thanks for the encouragement, what a great message — and I’ve lived to tell the tale too! When we first moved to our area (it was Christmas time), we took the plunge and passed out little invitations to our neighbors for hot drinks and cookies. They came!! So many great connections and friendships were born, it was such a blessing. Appreciate the post…

  7. says

    Really lovely post. The topography, New England culture and lot sizes in our neighborhood make it hard to run into the neighbors. We have to be intentional about it and don’t do that often enough. Thank you for the reminder.

  8. says

    Thank you for your post. It is a reminder I needed to hear. I’ve also been looking for ways to minister to others with my kids. This is a great way for me to reach out and include them in the process.

  9. Regina C. says

    I’m having 5 women (they are my exercise buddies 5 days a week) from my neighborhood over tonight for a Christmas party. I wanted to find something on line to share with the women and checked your blog and I’m so excited to share this. I feel like the Lord lead me here to share this so my friends and I will reach out to the rest of the women in the neighborhood. We have tried to reach out to some of them but not all of them. Thanks for sharing this!! I can’t wait to read it to them tonight.

  10. says

    I am going to do dipped pretzels in white chocolate and put them in treat bags with some other wrapped candies and take them to some neighbors. We are still pretty new in this neighborhood and it has been hard getting to know people when everyone drives their cars into their garages, the door goes down and they disappear. I hope this helps break the ice – or the silence.

    I did catch two neighbors at the same time across the street getting their mail last week and was able to talk to them for awhile, that is rare! But it gave me hope that I can be engaged with more of my neighbors. I have good neighbors on both sides of me that I know, but everyone else is still a work in progress and I know I need to do a lot better.

  11. Morgan says

    We live on a very short street, and bring all our neighbors a little homemade something every Christmas. The first few years they definitely thought it was odd, and really they still do BUT they all smile and have come to expect it. One of my favorite traditions.

  12. Aimee B says

    I love this, it’s exactly what God placed on my heart. My husband and I made fliers and went door to door last week to invite our neighbors for a Christmas party. I figured people are more willing to come over at Christmas. Three families came and we just chatted and got to know each other a little better. I’m definitely going to make more of an intentional effort to visit. My friend inspired me by saying they had a block party, I really wanted to do that but had to do something before summer. I prayed before the party started that everyone God wanted to be there would come. I trust that’s exactly what happened!!!

  13. Samantha says

    Thank you for this article. I found it challenging as well as encouraging. I’ve had the desire to reach out to my neighbors and share the love of Christ with them, and this has given me a good idea on how to do that. My kids and I will bake some cookies to give to them along with a Christmas card.

  14. says

    Wow! I was contemplating delivering simple little jars of homemade jam to neighbors, but this settles it – We WILL DEFINITELY reach out this Christmas! Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>