December 28, 2009

"Hi-dee-Ho Neighbor!"

If you've ever watched The Simpsons, you've heard that line before. It's from the infamous Ned Flanders. The Bible-thumping, God-loving, goofy-talking neighbor-extraordinaire of the Simpson Family. He's famous for his 'Christian ways' and his "hi-diddly" positive attitude.
As an actual (rather than cartoon) Christian I laugh at Ned's antics and the way the writers choose to portray Christians, but for some people - who don't believe or follow Jesus (or maybe those that have at one time, but fallen away from the faith because they've been hurt by a church or religion) - that's what Christians are like. Corny. Super-religious. Judgmental. Christian-eise talking.

I (and my husband) actually try quite hard to NOT be that neighbor. We're us. Genuine. Mistake-making. Imperfect. Friendly, but not overbearing. Just us.

When we first moved into this house we hit it off really well with the neighbors to the right of our house. They're two, Puerto Rican, middle-aged guys from Miami with a big white American Buldog named Bruno. We met them when we found them mowing our lawn shortly after we'd moved in. Such nice people! We love them to pieces - we share meals, exchange gifts at holidays and house-sit for each other. Through the years we've talked about religion, they ask about the church we go to - we learn that one of them used to be a priest in the Catholic church, and both have roots in Catholosism, but aren't practicing it currently. That's really as deep as we've gotten, though. We try our best to show them what Christianity should look like. Without being "Ned Flanders Neighbors."

But you know where we've fallen short? The biggest area we could, probably. We've never invited them to church. I guess I've always been worried I'd scare them away or they'd close up and not be as open with us as before. Or maybe I was worried they'd feel judged for living an un-conventional (un-Biblical) lifestyle. I don't know, but I finally got the nerve up to ask them to church the other day. We were over exchanging gifts and when the time was right, I asked. It helped that it was Christmastime - the most popular time of year to go to church even if you aren't a Christian. It helped that our church was having a special event too. But it's been three years. There's been three Christmases. Three Easters. Dozens of special events. I'm a little disappointed in myself for waiting so long to ask. Because you know what? They said yes.

I was a little skeptical at first. I mean, it was a Tuesday, what were the odds that when Sunday came around he would actually come? I hoped hey would, don't get me wrong, but he's the type that can say things 'just to be nice'.

So Sunday morning rolls around, we're in our PJ's watching "Sunday Morning" as usual. Then the phone rings. It's our neighbor asking if he can still come with us to church. Not only did he say yes when we asked, he called us to confirm and get a ride! Where we'd fallen short with following-up the Holy Spirit was working overtime and prompted him to call us!

Our pastor says sometimes that people are just waiting for you to ask them to come to church. I always believed him, but in the back of my head though, "yea, uh-huh." But it's so true and I can attest - we only had to ask, and our neighbor said yes!

I'm so excited to see where this will lead. Since it was a special event, we ended the afternoon with, "You'll have to come check it out on a normal weekend to see what it's really like." And his reply? "Yea, I liked it. It was different, but I liked it."

All it took was once. Seven little words with a little inflection thrown in at the end. So who are you going to ask, "Want to come to church with us?"
The worst they can say is, "No." And who's to say you can't ask again after building more of a relationship. But when they say, "Yes," - and they probably will - it's SOOO worth it to know you could be introducing them to TRUTH, to the REAL deal - not to another Ned Flander's Christianity from the media.

December 23, 2009

Home Sweet (North Carolina) Home

It's that time of year when people start asking, "Are you going home for the holidays?"
The other day, rather than saying, "No, we're staying here this year," I said what I truly felt (and have felt for about a year and half now), "This is my home."

We're not from Charlotte (much like the millions of people in this town) but it really is our home now. We have family here. We have friends here. We're rooted in Charlotte. This is our home, sweet home.

We were talking about family in our small group the other night, and it was brought up that once you're married, that's your family. You leave your parents and cleave to your spouse. We talked about the hurt that could be caused when (lets say,) the wife says, "I'm going home for _____," (meaning back to the parents' house). That's not the home anymore, the home is where your husband is trying to provide for you and build a foundation for you. Once your married it's your turn to make your own traditions for the holidays and special occasions.

Now, this isn't to say you can't or shouldn't go visit family during the holidays, but maybe, just maybe it would be good to stay home with just your husband (or wife) and (maybe) kids and enjoy creating your own lasting traditions. Don't get me wrong, we miss our families a lot, but this year, we're staying home.

Home in our southern, 50*, non-white-Christmas-decorated, buck-eye-filled home. Celebrating with us, our roommate, and our two kitties. Just us. Sleeping in, pajama-wearing, Christmas-movie-watching, pancake making, US.

After some thought...

It's been a few weeks of this thought going through my head, but I've decided - it's obvious - to join the blogging world. :) Stay tuned for intriguing thoughts, funny stories and antics from the life of us.