9 Doors Down

I have never emailed another blogger and asked if I could literally repost their entire post for my readers. But on Friday, Karen Ehman posted this post. Since moving into my new home in February, I have found it extremely difficult to get to know my neighbors – they just don’t come out! And to be honest I’m on facebook or the web with a lot of my free time – so I’m not out there either! When I run in the evenings, it’s just me and the crickets! If my neighbors want to get to know me they’d have to email me! So sad. So her post hit me so hard, I emailed her and asked for permission to share it with all of you. I hope it will simply make you think about who in the world lives 9 doors down from you?

Karen Writes:

She lived nine doors down.

In the two years we’ve lived in this subdivision, I’d seen her on my walks.

Perhaps she was rolling her trash out to the curb. Or in her front yard watering her flowers.

I’d smile and said “hi”, just for a brief second.

After all, my neighborhood is big; my life is busy.

So I’d pop my Ipod earbuds back into my ears.

And I’d keep walking.

Nine doors down.

Just nine doors down this past week flashed lights and sirens and all things alarming.

A fire? I thought as I turned into my sub, returning from an errand-running venture.

My mama heart raced. My son was home alone. Had he burnt some toast and set the smoke alarm system blaring?

Or worse?

Had a car caught fire or a power line fallen?

As my car crept closer to home, I saw it was not my house. Relief for my soul. And though the rescue vehicles were parked in front of her house, no fire appeared to be blazing at my nine-doors down neighbor’s house either.

“Must have been a false alarm”, I reasoned to myself.

It was two days later when I heard the awful news.

No fire. No smoke. Just a saddened soul.

You see, nine doors down, something happened in the soul of my nameless, flower-watering, ‘smile and say hi’ fellow human being; something told her this life was not worth living anymore.

So she made sure she stopped living.

Her heart no longer beats.

Her flowers still grow, but she can’t water them anymore.

I can still walk by her house, lost in the Jesus-music blaring on my Ipod.

But there will be no more waves. No smiles as I stroll. And no more thoughts of, “I should stop and find out her name. I haven’t really met this gal yet.”

But the conversation my husband and I have had for the past year will continue. Perhaps with greater urgency now.

In our old neighborhoods (there have been three) we’ve made it a goal to offer a Bible study. A low-key, doesn’t-matter-if-you’ve-ever-gone-to-church-before, short and simple meeting of folks who all happen to live in the same development.

Todd does this at work too. Men and women meet on their breaks to gather round and meet Jesus. Many for the first time. Their curiosity is piqued when they are handed a flier announcing the short, you-don’t-need-to-know-nothing-”Jesus-y“-to-attend study.

Others in his factory throw the flier in the trash.

Yes, right after Todd hands it to them.

In our neighborhood, we’ve not yet passed out fliers. Is it too soon? We haven’t held a Christmas open house to meet everyone yet. We’ve baked bread and pulled weeds for those real near by. But haven’t struck a friendship with too many others.

So we’ve pondered, is it time?

And do we have time?

So far we’d answered no.

Now, nine doors down, no flier is needed for the single gal who is no more.

Would things have been different if she’d gotten an invitation? Or would she have rolled it out to the curb with the rest of her trash?

God only knows.

I cannot beat myself up; but I can do something.

So can you.

We can stop, permitting God to tap us on the heart, gently interrupt, and rearrange our day.

We can go deeper; beyond a “hi!” to an authentic “Who are you?”

Will you do it?

Will you at least try?

Then, leave the results up to God.

Results are His job.

Obedience is ours.

And trust me, it is AWFUL to get to know your neighbor through the tales and tears of her relatives as she lies lifelessly nearby in a coffin.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17

May we all respond to those taps on our hearts today and not ignore them and keep walking. God just may use us as He saves a life.

After all, remember…..

It isn’t a far walk.

It is just nine doors down.


If you hear God tapping too, will you respond? Will you think of one person whom you see often but have never gotten to know? Then, do something.

Ask them their name. Thank them for bagging your groceries faithfully for ten years. Hand them a thank-you card if they are someone who serves. If it is a neighbor, invite them for coffee or soda or sweet tea. Offer kind words or a hug. Anything to show God’s love.

Walk with the King!

Karen is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries national speaking team and is a contributor to Focus on the Family’s magazine Thriving Family. She is a featured speaker for Hearts at Home conferences for moms and is the author of four women’s books. To watch Karen on the 700 Club visit her here.


  1. Tears are rolling down my face. We're preparing to move into a new neighborhood — well, all the way across the state, really — and I'm thankful for this reminder. It's hard sometimes to take my eyes off the affairs of my own house, but that's part of the call, isn't it? May God help us love our neighbors, and to teach our children how to love by our example. Thanks for reposting this, Courtney!

  2. Oh Courtney thanks for sharing this post from Karen. It is an excellent reminder that we get caught in "doing" even good & Godly things but our heart shouldn't for people- our neighbors and people who are dying without knowing Jesus. It seems so confronting to just say hi, who are you but it is really not- it's lifechangingly important.
    Thank you sweet sister

  3. This was a great reminder for me, as I live in a neighborhood where I am still learning the language and culture. I don't know how to share the gospel because I don't know the words for grace, repentance, cross, etc. BUT I am able to say Jesus, church, love and some basic greetings. Sometimes all I can do is say hello and smile. And I've learned that sometimes the best thing I can do is sit and listen with some ladies over a cup of coffee in the hair salon downstairs from my apartment. Thank you for posting this great reminder! I am not an evangelist, but I have been called to evangelize. I'm still learning what that means here in the city the Lord brought me. It's hard, but it sure is glorious when we see the Lord work to change lives!

  4. I am just getting ready to start up my Bible study in our small little town again this year. We just moved here last year and I also posted flyers inviting people to come and study God's Word. Last year there were two of us who were regular participation with on that came on occasion. I am praying that perhaps a few more will come this year. It is hard to watch people turn down such a wonderful opportunity to fellowship and to learn. But you are right. We must leave it up to God. Thank you for reposting. It is encouraging to hear those words even though their ending is a sad one.

  5. Thanks for getting my attention! God works in such great ways. There has been a house right around the corner from mine that I have wanted to stop and say hi b/c we have kids the same age, but I never have. Well, someone burned their garage down two nights ago (something that has been happening in our town lately… we think gang related). I for sure am going to stop by this week and introduce myself and see if I can help in any way. Thanks again for the post!

  6. Hi! Courtney, WoW, this is a heart stopping story. You know we just never know what is around the next curve! this reminded me of the scripture where it says; that we must be prepared "in season and out of season", ready to share no matter where we find ourselves! Sure made me stop and think! You just never know! May the God of Peace Rule in our Hearts today!

  7. I live in the sticks but I know each of my neighbors. When anything happens to one we are calling and checking on them.. but this story ripped my heart out. I can totally understand how the woman feels because I have lived ina close neighborhood like that and could not tell you anything about anyone past 3 doors away..

  8. Oh my goodness, this post has me crying. I've been thinking about this a lot lately!

    "Lord, help me to reach out to my neighbors. Show me how."

    Sometimes we pray and hope and wish… but still stay within our own comfy four walls, never branching out to those on our own street!

    Thank you Karen for this awesome, eye-opening post!



  9. TOTALLY something I struggle with. I'm not a natural conversation starter with strangers (no problem chatting it up once I get comfortable with you though).

    Courtney, would love to hear how it impacted you. Will you take a pro-active step? Do you have any tips for how we can? I'm at a loss, especially since neighbors seem so "busy" and unavailable, even in just their demeanor.

    My next-door neighbor is a very (very!) naturally social person. She pretty much knows something about everyone in our development because she's highly social and WANTS to get to know others. It's wired into her. But what about those who struggle with this?

    I was very moved by this post. Now I'm wondering (and will pray about), "What now?"

  10. Toni – well, I'm convicted because in my old neighborhood I chatted with everyone and they all knew we were the homeschooling Bible family… lol! And we were friends – up and down the street I knew the neighbors…but I was less busy then.

    With the website I feel busier connecting on-line…so I gotta find a way to get off line more to connect in real life with my neighbors…some of that takes time (we've only lived here 6 months) but some of that means I will have to be proactive. I'm thinking about a Christmas traditions tea where we discuss traditions…I've done them before – you let others share their family traditions and memories and then I share mine and of couse they all revolve around Jesus…I don't know – time is the number one problem!

    This reminds me tho to be proactive at the grocery store, at my kids sports events, and even in church to the visitors…this post reminded me to be praying about this – I forget to pray sometimes about the "strangers" in my life because I am so overburdened with requests for all the loved ones in my life…

    So for now – it's going to move into my prayer life and then we'll see what doors God opens. If anything happens I'll be sure to post about it :-)!

    Much Love,

  11. Thanks for the response, Courtney. So much to think about. We WANT to be "that family" who reaches out and brings neighbors together, who impacts our neighborhood for Christ. I'm just not truly sure HOW to make it happen (beyond the obvious; get out there and get talking).

    We met a 97 year old neighbor (her farmhouse is next to our development) last fall when we offered to remove debri from her roof after a storm. We intended to get to know her better. Sadly, she died before we had that chance. 🙁 This post hit home and hit hard. I *really* need to pray hard about this one.

  12. This really hits home. We moved to our neighborhood almost 4 years ago. We bought our house in the end of October. On halloween, I brought a crockpot to work and my Hubby and I went to our new home armed with lawn chairs, candy and our crockpot of dinner. We thought it would be a great opportunity to meet our new neighbors. It didn't work. Not a single person mentioned that we were new, nor were they receptive to much conversation. Sadly, I haven't done much since then to try and make friends.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have tears in my eyes. It seems that as technology grown and has given us ways of doing things "easier", good old fashioned friendships have melted away. Everyone is too busy to talk face to face or over the phone, and neighbors just aren't neighborly anymore.

    God places us where we are to be representatives of Him. It's up to us to get to know our neighbors and share with them hope in Jesus.

    In Him,

  14. This goes right along with what Francis Chan is saying in his book Remembering the Forgotten God, He likens the church to a football team that goes from the huddle to the bench but never puts into practice the plays. We are new to our neighborhood as well. I think its time for them to get to know us!!!!!

  15. i don't have much time to read through all the comments, so I'm sorry if someone has mentioned this, but I think a wonderful way to "break the ice" when it comes to reaching your neighbors or others in your community is by doing "hospitality letters". I'm homeschooling my kids and we just started this. Choose a letter per week, like A…and doing an act of hospitality involving that letter. Ex. A is for Artwork or Airmail for Aaron. You could do Autumn Art for the Andersen family. Or B…Bake Brownies for Boss. Make a tag on the item you give or tell the neighbor about it with the service you perform, and they are more willing to accept hospitality for a cause. This idea comes from Heavenlyhomemakers.com

  16. This post is so timely for me. I've been praying so hard for God to show me ways to help my neighbors. Yesterday he set an opportunity in my path but I was too shy to take it. Today I will remember the strength the Lord gives me. Thank you!

  17. Such a moving post. Although, thanks to my social husband who has always felt it's important to "know" the neighbors so we can watch out for each other–I do not go out of my way to converse or really get to "know" them. . .I am going to try to reach out more

  18. How easily we are caught up in our own lives, our trials and tribulations seems so huge and compared to some others are mere potholes in the road of life … and sad to say, these are the reminders that we need to see the light ….

  19. Thank you for sharing this the other day. It really makes you think about the small differences we could make in someone's life.

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