Saturday, July 19, 2014

When Neighboring is Hard

We have new neighbors at our little cottage where we go to rest—for peace and quiet and amazing sunsets that let you drink in the glory of God.

When we bought the place, the next door neighbors were friends. Literally. It’s not quite how their last name was spelled, but it was pronounced FRIEND. They were kind and laughed easily and helped us split wood and played cards with us. He was a World War 2 veteran. We loved them.

But last year, they sold their camp to new folks.

We welcomed our new neighbors. We were friendly. We approached this new relationship as if they, too, would be our friends. Instead, it felt like they approached us as the enemy. It appeared they were just looking to be disagreeable, that they’d made assumptions about us that just weren’t true. It never occurred to us that it could all go south so quickly.

They did not intervene when their dogs stood on our dock and barked at us while we swam. There were strong statements about lot lines and boundaries. There were tantrums and hurtful words that left us stunned and taking two steps back.

It was a tough summer. I did NOT want to be kind.

But as I prayed, I was challenged by Matthew 5:44-48.
“If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?” 
We are called to be different from everyone else. We are called to love our neighbors, and we are called to love our enemies. So what if our neighbors are acting like an enemy? Maybe we’re called to love them twice as much.
“In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” 
If I’m going to be like Jesus, I need to love those who don’t love me. I need to ask God for a double measure of patience and kindness. I need to work twice as hard to not be rude. I shouldn’t keep a list of the offenses. I should love them because Jesus loves them.

Amy Lively says, “Girlfriends, we represent Jesus until He comes again! Does this terrify you as it does me? Just when I’m not sure I can measure up, the Holy Spirit whispers, ‘I’m right here. Trust me.’ When Jesus has disappeared from your neighbor’s view, He will use you to help her find Him again. He will use your arms to strengthen her. He will use your words to calm her. He will use your home to comfort her.”

This summer, I have a new attitude and a new God-given love for my neighbors – even when it’s hard.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

DIY pallet headboard

For reasons involving slanted ceilings, my bed at the cottage doesn't sit against a wall. And for reasons involving laziness, there's been no headboard for 8 summers. Imagine all the times the pillows fell off the end! But that's all changed now that we built a a headboard out of pallets.

A simple search on Pinterest will yield all kinds of furniture made from pallet wood. We looked at several designs, but needed to create our own because of all those slanted ceilings.

Step 1: Find pallets - due to the popularity of this fad, I figured it would be easy. I was wrong. Our neighbors had several they donated to the cause, but that wasn't enough wood, so we went hunting. Many of the big box stores return theirs for credit. Apparently, you can find them on Craig's List. We found a few behind a smaller grocery store and asked permission to take them.

 Step 2. Dismantle. Our pallets were weathered and filthy. We started dismantling the best ones but found that the rusty nails made it tough to get them apart. We broke quite a few boards in the process.

Step 3: Remove 1 million, 6 hundred and 23 nails. Some were really stubborn and went flying once they finally came loose. Make sure you find them all so there are no punctured feet, soles or tractor tires. No one wants to stop what they're doing for a tetanus shot or a flat tire.

Step 4: Start picking out the boards that will work. I looked for similar widths, but different colors and textures. We got really lucky and had some fantastic variation. There was even a board that has bark in the center of it.

Step 5: Start laying out your design. (We actually built 2 headboards - one for each bedroom at the cottage. Both are about 18 inches high and 64 inches long. We used most of the wood from 3 pallets.) Several boards had cracks or splintering pieces. We didn't want our pillow cases snagging on the boards so we used a bit of wood glue and clamps to fix the bad sections.

Step 6: Assemble. We used scrap deck boards to screw all the pieces together and give it stability. Make sure you use the correct length screws so they don't go all the way through the pallet wood. Once they were assembled, I cleaned them. Then we added boards down each side and across the top to frame them.

Step 7: Sand and stain. You don't have to sand these. The look is so rustic you'd probably be fine, but these are going to have bed sheets and pillow cases up against them so I gave them a rough sanding on the worst areas. I also applied 2 coats of clear satin poly.

Step 8: Attach to the bed. We measured the height (measure both sides because the pallet wood isn't even widths!). We screwed 2x4's to the back and bolted the 2x4's to the metal bed frame. Done!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Neighboring for Introverts, part 2

How can introverts love their neighbors?

In Part 1 of Neighboring for Introverts, I talked about the difficult truth that I – an extreme introvert – am commanded to love my neighbor.

While this seemed like a paradox to my particular personality, I need to rest in the truth of God’s Word. He promised He will provide what I need to do what He’s commanded.

Once I let that glorious reality settle into my soul, I found that I needed to take some practical steps:

1. Concentrate on individuals rather than groups. 

If you’re like me, the idea of inviting all your neighbors into your home causes a mild panic attack. Instead, pray that God would put you in contact with two or three of your neighbors. We introverts do much better on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. Embrace that and let God use it.

I'm guest posting over at The Neighborhood Cafe. Come join me for the rest of this post.