A Culture of Isolation?

Two weekends ago we made Christmas cookies for our neighbs. That’s neighbors in Santa Barbara language. By the way – complete tangent – I JUST discovered that the term “the hood” comes from the word neighborhood…my annoying habit of shortening words led me to this eye-opening revelation. Genius! Oh also, did you know that the medicine “tums” is the baby talk way of saying tummy? Just discovered that one too.

Refocusing. We really desire to build relationships with our neighbors because we think it’s important to find ways to be a blessing to those around us. We thought cookies would accomplish that plus be a great way to introduce ourselves in our new neighborhood (we just bought a house and moved in in September). As we were passing out the cookies, it became clear that none of them knew each other (or just barely). They were all friendly to us, but we were dumbfounded that some of these people have been here for 18 years and don’t know any of their neighbors. Sean and I both knew our neighbors growing up…we were even close enough with some of them to invite them to our wedding. It also seems to stand in stark contrast to stories I’ve heard our elders tell of neighborhood camaraderie and ready willingness to lend a hand (particularly in hard times). In fact, the dictionary literally defines neighbor as “a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness towards his or her fellow humans.”

I’m not saying I’m immune…my first thought when we run out of eggs is “aw crap, we have to run to the store,” and never “hey we should go ask our neighbor if we can have an egg.” And I’ll be honest, most of the time I don’t even answer our door when someone knocks because I just assume it’s UPS dropping off a box or a solicitor. Anyways, I don’t really have anything profound to say…I just think it’s interesting and the whole cookie experience made me think. My hope is that over time we will be able to build relationships with our neighbors and love on them however we can – cookies, bbq’s, practical helpfulness, etc. Perhaps we will be able to change the culture of isolation in our hood to a culture of connection. I think it’s pretty important since after all, Jesus told us to love our neighbor and we might as well start with those physically close! 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts/ideas on the subject. Why do you think people have become more isolated from even those they live right next to? Do you have relationships with your neighbors? How do you cultivate those relationships? How have you blessed them?

2011 Year-In-Review

‎2011 was a stressful and busy year. Difficult pregnancy and recovery, job change, far geographical relocation, lived out of a hotel room for a month-and-a-half with a newborn, bought a house, and my sister got married. However, as I was reflecting on the year last night, I realized that while each of these things were stressful and hard in certain ways, each and every one of them was a huge blessing from the Lord. A sweet little boy, a great job for Sean at the Livermore Lab (allowing me to be a full-time mom), relocating within 10 minutes of such amazing and loving grandparents (though I do really miss seeing my mom and younger sister down south often), a wonderful home where our family can grow, a new brother, and of course, an awesome husband who went through all these things with me. Ok, not much redeemable about the hotel room, except that we didn’t have to pay for it 🙂 All I can conclude is that God must really love us and has blessed us in more ways than we even come close to deserving. Looking forward to a less transitional 2012 and all that God has in store for us!