The #1 Way to Deal with Nosy Neighbors

Five Minute Friday: NEIGHBOR

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Nosy neighbors. We’ve all had ’em. We had an especially nosy neighbor in the first colony we lived in here in Kathmandu. I would see her in the morning and she would say, “I saw you had pizza for dinner last night. How was that?” Her roof, where she did laundry and bathed, looked right into our dining room. We learned to shut our curtains at dinner time or we would have an audience. I’m sure it was pretty entertaining with my picky eater toddler and throw-everything baby and the two of us trying to converse in our second language with our tutor over a plate of American food he was trying to get down with a smile.

What I have learned after experiencing several of these types of situations is this — Neighbors don’t have to be nosy if you share your life with them. Sit with them. Drink tea/coffee with them. Talk about kids and school and work and life. Inviting them to church or sharing the gospel should not come out of the clear blue; it can ‐ and should! ‐ be a natural outflow of life lived in close proximity. In this close proximity, if our friends and neighbors are not hearing about Jesus and being invited into our relationship with Him, a heart examination may be in order. Our love for Jesus should be clear and contagious to those we spend our time with.

When the Taube family shares our life, we don’t have to be “the foreigner TV” show anymore. They’re learning plenty from our regular interactions, and we are enjoying our peace and privacy in our home.

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Baby, Give Your Best: Lessons in Generosity from a 4 Year Old

My 4 year old daughter has a sweet, giving spirit. She runs all over our house (and outside, for that matter) collecting all sorts of things, coloring, cutting, and pasting mashed-up masterpieces crafted by busy hands. I am walking the fine line of praising her for her creativity and generosity while challenging her to think about what the recipient of her gift might like. “Honey, I know you really like that paper scrap you tore from your pre-school workbook, but to our neighbor, that just looks like trash.”

Her eyes become big and wet with disappointment. Her lip quivers, and I want to take my words back, but I know they are true. “Let’s think about what she would like. We could paste that onto a butterfly, and I will teach you to write her name. I bet she would like that.” Of course, I know that either masterpiece will end up in the same place. Here, we call it the dustbin.

This morning, in obedience, she threw something in and spotted one of her handicrafts inside. She gave me the third degree about trashing something she worked so feverishly to create. We talk about what happens to paper scraps left in common spaces, and she finds it in her tiny heart to forgive me and promises she will keep her artwork upstairs from this day forward.

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We gather some supplies and remember the task at hand: revising this trash into a treasure worth gifting. I want her to believe that the work we do for others is valuable and that being thoughtful is an admirable trait. I don’t want to crush her creativity or squish her generous spirit. I love that she desires to make others smile and spend time creating something to offer to another. But giving hands offering scrappy seconds is not giving at all. We want to give our best. We want to give until it hurts. We want to share our bag of imported Reese cups, even if we’d rather lock them in the upstairs closet for a rainy day (bad example, I know, but chocolate is really important to me!). We drive across town for birthday gifts and sit in traffic instead of buying something cheap from the shop around the corner because we believe this. These small acts of thoughtfulness make big impressions.

I write down our neighbor’s name and send the budding artist upstairs to sit at her desk with the special markers we don’t use often and the paper bags from America we use to make puppets and to quick-ripen peaches. She painstakingly copies her Auntie’s name and puts about twelve too many hearts on her creation. The puppet’s face is smiling, and so is mine. My daughter is proud, and I am, too.

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It’s a few minutes shy of 8 am, and she is ready to walk over there and present her prize. I’m off to get her dressed for school, and we will go with dust-bin-destined art in hand to deliver this piece of her heart before her bus arrives to shuttle her to the place that overflows with paper scraps, scissors, and glue.

I’ll stay behind to clean up the debris of crazed crafting hands and smile, thinking of the baby who seems more like the child of Mother Theresa and Picasso than the flesh and blood of her Daddy and me. I bring the Reese cups downstairs, brew a cup of coffee -the good stuff- and invite a neighbor over to share.

As I sip the fresh brew and chat with a new friend, I think about giving my best to God. How so often my best, looks like nothing more than a mangled up mess of trash. It isn’t treasure in anyone’s eyes. But it is good and acceptable, pleasing to my Father for no other reason than He loves me. I seek only His approval, and knowing I already have it, I busy myself with the work He puts in my hands to do. I proudly give it back to Him, as unimpressive as it may seem, trusting He will find the good in it. Even if its creator is backwards at best, I’m hopeful that, by His grace, my offerings make a difference to someone in this world.

I trust that He will bring to light the things that bring Him glory and throw everything else in the dustbin where it belongs. I’ll try not to get my feelings hurt knowing He knows the value of all things, and it all belonged to Him in the first place anyway. I’ll practice thoughtful generosity because I remember that my doing unto others is a reflection of the God that works in and through me. Half-effort jobs and scrappy seconds just won’t cut it.

He reminds me of all the good gifts he’s buried me under and urges me to love others well out of my abundance. He says, “Baby, give your best.”

 

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Moments of Hope @ LoriSchumaker.com, Monday’s Musings @ What Joy is Mine, Glimpses Linkup @ Embracing Every Day, Literacy Musing Monday’s @ Mary-andering Creatively, Tuesday Talk @ Sweet Little Ones, RaRaLinkup @ Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story @ Jennifer Dukes Lee

Scriptural Social Etiquette Crosses Culture Seamlessly

Day 29, DATE

Where I live the date today is Karthik 13, 2073. So, I guess you could say I’m a time-traveler. Operating on a totally different calendar system certainly poses its challenges. Honestly, I hardly EVER know what the local date is unless I owe someone money. Even then, they usually have to remind me.

For convenience sake, the English standard calendar is used as well, but if I ask a friend what the date is, they can rarely tell me the one I’m hoping to hear. Head scratches and lots of thinking later, we usually come up with the wrong date.

I miss birthdays and special events because I’m stuck in my American ways of measuring time. It’s always on my to-do list to learn all the names of the months and hang up the calendar and actually reference it (not just let my kids take it down and color on it). It grieves me that such an important piece of their culture is totally lost on me just like so many other things.

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Proof that I try!

In culture, there are TONS of obstacles to living the Golden Rule because the people I wish to serve come from totally different backgrounds than me. They use a different calendar, celebrate different holidays, eat different food, and are offended by things I seem to just do naturally. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated and find out they don’t want to be treated like I do at all!

This isn’t totally specific to the foreign field, but it is certainly amplified here. Each person we encounter comes from a culture all their own influenced by their family dynamics, education, peers, etc. Sometimes, we will treat others the way we want to be treated and we will just fall flat. For instance, “Hey, happy birthday” (according to the English calendar) is met with “Gee, thanks, it was two weeks ago.”

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Because these kinds of things frustrate me to no end, I have to remind myself of the ways I am instructed to treat others with no clause for cultural differences.

  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
  •  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; (Romans 12:10).
  •  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19).

You and I both know that there are MANY more Scriptures about how to live for the benefit of others and the glory of God. But it’s day 29, and I am running out of steam, friends! I hope you’ll share some below.

And if you need me, I’ll be living in the year 2073.

What cultural obstacles have you run into while living the Golden Rule?
What Scriptures speak to you about how to love others well?

Talk to me in the comment section!

What My Weekend Plans Have to do With You

Day 20, Prompt: WEEKEND

I posted this on my Facebook page last weekend after a particularly exhausting day in the Lord’s house with little ones: In my host country, we go to church on Saturdays. So Sunday is my day of rest and Saturday is the day I wrestle my son on the floor of our church while trying to listen to a sermon in my second language.

This weekend, I also get to attend a ladies meeting that falls after the second service/round two of wrestle mania. My husband graciously takes the kids out for lunch so I can really listen, and every month I am shocked at how much more I understand.

A rare occurrence.
A rare occurrence.

In my language inadequacies, I have spent a lot of time listening and observing. I’ve seen these wonderful women serve God in quiet and honorable ways. They have taught me so much about humility and living for God in a country that doesn’t acknowledge Him.

I sit in the circle, and look around at these women whose hands are calloused and feet still dirty from the morning’s work preceding a commute on foot to church. Many of them do hard labor, picking grass in a field by hand or farming fruits and vegetables to sell at market. They likely don’t even get the whole day off on Saturday, the one public holiday of the week. Yet, here they are, smiling and singing and loving on each other.

Some of them don’t carry a Bible because they started working before they gained a proper education or never had an opportunity to attend school at all. Still, they show up and follow along intently to the message brought by the foreign missionary.

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She speaks her second language which is many of these ladies’ second language as well. Growing up in the village, they learned a different language than the one spoken here in the city and they continue to speak it in their homes and workplaces. I guess some of them probably feel a lot like I do sitting there and never completely understanding.

There’s so much wisdom in this room. So much humility. So much love for Jesus. Their spiritual growth may look different than those who have more time, more resources, and more opportunities. But I don’t doubt that they know Jesus. Because I see that they love and serve like Him.

I am encouraged and challenged by their faithfulness, by their sweet spirits maintained in unimaginable circumstances. They may look back at me and see a spoiled girl born in a church pew in America, but I hope they see my heart. A heart that loves their people and wants to see them turn from idolatry.

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We will be moving on soon, starting our own church and leaving this group that has loved us during our transition into life in this country. Some of them hugged us tight while we waited out an earthquake in the doorframe of the church’s only bathroom. Many have held our children and kept speaking to them until they finally started to understand. And there are a few who have kept bringing them chocolate despite my feelings on the matter.

They have lived the Golden Rule to me and to my family, scared-to-death strangers sitting in their midst. In doing so, they’ve taught us how to love their people well (because not every act of kindness or generosity crosses cultures successfully). I have confidence moving forward reaching out in this city because of their acceptance and affirmation of our efforts to share the gospel here.

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Their faithful witness is the wind beneath our wings as we take flight for Jesus, and I am obliged to honor it with our evangelistic efforts moving forward.

They’ve done the hard labor of planting seeds which we now get to water. Whether we, or the next truth bringer, will get the increase remains known only to the One who laid the foundation for the whole thing by His sacrificial death so many years ago.

We honor their work, by continuing to scatter, water, wait, and trust God to do what only He can do. I dream of the day I sit in the middle of a circle of sisters I’ve seen captivated by the love of Christ and teach them little by little the mysteries of the Word that God has made known to me over the years.

It is the greatest blessing to labor for the Lord in this country. The only thing I feel lacking are laborers to shoulder the work of what we believe God would want to do here. I am begging God to raise up more workers for a greater harvest.

I hope you’ll take some time this weekend to pray about your role in God’s work in your neighborhood, in your church, and around the world.

Are you planting seeds to be watered by gospel preachers?
Who inspires you as a faithful witness for Christ?

Talk to me in the comment section!

Crystal Twaddell

Why Can’t We Live in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Day 18: NEIGHBOR

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

This melody rings through my home at least once a day. Netflix just came to Nepal, and all my kids have wanted to watch for the last month is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

I love that my four year old sings, Thank you for everything you do to me while she’s brushing her teeth and has learned to Flush, Wash, and Go. Daniel’s mom and dad always are understanding of his whiny ways and sing sweet songs to teach him how to maneuver around his tiny tigey-centered world. In some ways, I wish I was more like them.

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Or that I was more like the dad of young girl who starred in a recent viral video. He held her, standing on the bathroom sink looking in the mirror reciting some inspiring words before she went off to school. It is super adorable and sweet, and I admire such a hands-on and loving parent. But I stumbled over part of it which kept me from sharing for sake of smiles.

He leads her in saying, ”I am the best. No one is better than me.” She repeats, “I am not better than anyone else,” but the number of time she states, “I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am the best” caused me to just forget about that part completely. I wonder if she did too.

I want my children to be bold and confident and sure that God made them special because it is true. But I also want them to understand that God made them special for service.

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Unfortunately for my fun-loving, self-centered children (and for me too) a Biblical application of the concepts of being a good neighbor is a lot less fun than play-dates and birthday parties in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:2-8).

Oh, boy.

Teaching these truths doesn’t even feel like living the Golden Rule towards my children because my own flesh fights them so fiercely. However, I am confident that one of the best things I can do to ensure lasting joy for my children is to teach them how to treat other people. How to make a snappy new day not for themselves but for others.

Some days living the Golden Rule turns out to bless us in tremendous ways and, on others, our kindness is not rewarded. We have only the satisfaction of having done right.

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We say we want our kids to be like Jesus, but this is one of the million and one ways we don’t. Jesus loved and poured himself out for people who called for His crucifixion. His great love was spat upon by the very people for whom He died. Yet, He still commands us to love every single hot mess person we meet (unfortunately, there is not a friendly face on every street just waiting to greet us!).

We don’t want to stand in front of our mirrors and say, “I was made for Jesus. In this world, I am nothing. I will lift up the needs of others and seek to glorify God with my life.” It goes against our very nature which is nurturing our children in the Word of God is so vital. And we can’t skip the hard parts.

I have to believe that friends who show themselves friendly will find their tribe and be loved in the loving. In the fear of all the ways humility will hurt my children, I am certain the love of Jesus will cover the multitudes of sins against them.

At times, there may be a lot more suffering than singing in our neighborhood, but it is ultimately a joyful place. It’s a place I’m happy to show my kids around even if it has its dark corners.

When my kids want to know why can’t we live in Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood, I’ll remind them,  It’s a land of make believe.

Are you teaching your children to live the Golden Rule?
How can you encourage your children to serve others despite the cost?

Talk to me in the comment section!

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