7 Simple Ways to Connect with Your Neighbor This Summer

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Have you connected with your neighbor lately? And, no, I’m not talking about jumping on their wi-fi! It gets too easy in our everyday lives just to stay within our homes and yards and not reach out to the people right night door. I have to admit that’s my tendency. I’m content just hanging out my my family, but I’ve also found great joy connecting with my neighbors down the street and right next door.

“In the grand scheme of things, relationships are much more important than bricks and mortar, and our neighborhoods are much more than collections of houses,” wrote authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon in their book, The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. “As we began to reach out to our neighbors, we quickly discovered that the benefits were far-reaching. We ended up being cared for by our neighbors as much, if not more, as we cared for them. We began to experience what it’s like to have a strong support system right outside our front door. We all have a need for a genuine community, and nothing beats the frequency, availability, and spontaneity of connecting deeply with others who live nearby.”

If you’re looking for ways to connect with your neighbors this summer, here are 7 simple ideas.

1. Be friendly: Wave, offer help, strike up a conversation. When you see your neighbor heading out to check their mail do the same and ask about their day.

Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, my friend Kristin Schell put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her. Life changed in her community, and she writes about it in her new book The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard. What Kristin learned and I have too is the best first step is to be friendly and available.

2. Share treats: When we moved into our neighborhood a few of the neighbors stopped by with treats—and they all weren’t homemade. Even a bag of Oreos let us know that we were welcome. This friendly gesture also started a relationship as I did the same a few weeks later.

3. Host neighborhood events: My friend Monica hosts a neighborhood bar-b-cue every year. Another friend opens her home for a Christmas Tea. My friend Michele hosts a soup night the first Thursday every month. Closer to home, our neighborhood has a cul-de-sac fireworks show every year. Everyone prepares their own food, but we all hang out together and watch our kids have fun.

4. Exercise together: When I connected with one of my neighbors Tracey, she asked if I wanted to walk with her. There was no need to drive to a gym, we would meet halfway between our houses and walk up and down the streets in the early morning hours. In the past I’ve done this with other neighbors and we’ve made this a prayer time as we shared and prayed together.

5. Be generous: My friend Catherine shares extra garden produce and garden plants with her neighbors. When I’ve found a great sale at the grocery store I’ve been known to pick up extras for a friend.

6. Help those who cannot help themselves: My son and daughter-in-law lives next to a lady in her nineties. They often stop over to do odd jobs for her, and she always rewards them with homemade treats after.

7. Start a neighborhood Bible Study: “Natural relationships changed my spiritual destiny,” wrote Amy Lively in her book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird. “We need more than an hour of church on Sunday. We need friends around us all day, every day—in the trenches of our living rooms and the battleground of the playground. We need fearless women who are brave enough to tell us when we’re wrong and wise enough to remind us of God’s righteousness.”

It may be surprising how many of your neighbors would be open to studying your Bible with you. Or—if you don’t have time for a Bible Study—considering sharing some of your Christian books and chatting about the topics. I always pass on my favorite books to my neighbor Laura, and we’ve had some great conversations over time.

As you can see it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to reach out to your neighbor. Mostly you just have to put on a smile and step out the door.

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published fifty books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. To connect with Tricia go to TriciaGoyer.com or www.Facebook.com/AuthorTriciaGoyer.

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Summertime Grilling Shortcuts for Delicious Meals

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Summer time means it's the perfect season for grilling! Today we are serving up inspiration, shortcuts and recipes  to help you gather your family around the table.

Got a hungry family and an outdoor grill? The combo can be a set up for a delicious dinner with an added bonus—not heating up the already toasty house!

Make summertime grilling easier with these few simple shortcuts below.

~ Marinate ahead by freezing.  On a day you have extra time, plan ahead for another day when you won’t. Place meats in plastic bags with zip closures and pour marinade over them. Squeeze out the air and freeze. On grilling day simply remove from the freezer, thaw and grill. It really intensifies the flavor. Here are some great combos:

* Chicken breasts in raspberry vinaigrette dressing. (or pomegranate vinaigrette—delicious!)

* Pork chops in Italian dressing

* Steaks in any dressing that has a cheese in it such as asiago or parmesan

* Chicken breasts in 1 1/2 cups orange juice mixed with 1/4 cup soy sauce and a hint of garlic

* Pork ribs in 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice mixed with 2 T. brown sugar and a little garlic powder

~Have grilling veggies sliced and ready to go for a quick, healthy side dish.  Onions, asparagus, red, yellow or green peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash etc.. You can grill them in a little drizzle of olive oil with some cracked pepper and sea salt on heavy duty foil on the grill. (If using regular foil, double the layers) Or, invest in a grilling plate with holes designed for veggies. Totally worth the $10 we spent.

Think herbs. Incorporating herbs makes meats and veggies so yummy. I grow rosemary, pineapple sage, basil, oregano, lemon thyme and tarragon for just such a reason. You can Google oodles of recipes for your favorite herb. (Below is a potato recipe we love.)

For clean-up, use an onion.  I just saw a report on the news where many people are accidentally ingesting the tiny wire bristles from the brush used to clean a grill and then requiring surgery for removal. Ouch! Instead, use an onion cut in half to clean the grill once it has cooled off slightly. First, put the grill on high once all the items have been removed. This burns off much of the stuck-on food. Then, turn off the grill and 15 minutes or so later and rub the onion over the grill’s surface. Works like a charm!

~Now, here is a tasty potato recipe for a side dish to your meat and a sweet-ending fruit dessert idea too!

HERBED RED SKINS

6 cups chopped red skin potatoes with skins on

2 t. finely minced fresh rosemary

2 t. lemon pepper

* 1 T. fresh minced basil

* 1 t. fresh minced oregano

* 2 t. minced fresh garlic

* 1 t. cracked sea salt

Toss all in a bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Grill on foil over medium heat until tender stirring frequently (about 20 minutes or more). Spray foil with cooking spray heavily before beginning. You may need to drizzle a bit more oil if it starts to stick.

GRILLED FRUIT

This is any easy one as goes great with any meat. Simply take either a 1/2 inch slice of fresh pineapple or a canned or fresh peach half. Drizzle it with a little pure maple syrup.  (No, imitation syrup doesn't work. It tastes NOTHING like the real deal!) Next, sprinkle on some ground cinnamon. Carefully transfer to a grill and cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes, just to warm. Serve alone or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!!!

Happy grilling!

Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com