Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peace Produce

Well, my first update on our negative neighbor has come much quicker than I anticipated! But it's a good one!

I was mowing yesterday in the early evening--the part of the yard that is close to the dreadful fence, the breach that Wendy crossed on that fateful day! So as I made laps around, I couldn't stop glancing toward the neighbors' house, which I knew was either going to make me very angry or cause me to feel compassion for them. One thing about being God's kid is that He likes to talk to you, even if you are honest and don't really want to hear from Him in the moment and would rather sulk around in your kiddie pool of misery and bitterness!

I kept feeling this nagging on the inside that maybe I sorta kinda got a little bit hot and maybe I sorta kinda shouldn't have. And if you've ever felt that way, you may agree that it's a rather uncomfortable feeling. I knew that I needed to talk to God about it and see if He wanted me to get rid of any feelings I was carrying around (but boy, they sure were justified feelings!). So sure enough, when I asked Him if maybe I let my anger grow a little much and needed to ask forgiveness, the answer was a quick YES. (Don't you hate when that happens? You might ask God a question for weeks and not hear anything and then you ask Him something you don't want the answer to and He yells it at you right away!) So I started asking Him to forgive my anger and replace it with love for her. I asked Him to give me a new heart toward her, to help me see her the way He sees her.

But let me tell you, I had no idea how quickly He would delight in answering that prayer!

I rounded the field I was mowing once more and I saw movement to my right. Here she came on her four wheeler up my driveway. I thought, "Oh boy--here we go! Lord, give me strength and patience and please guard my tongue!" She came to a stop and pointed at me to come to her. I killed the engine of the mower and reluctantly peeled myself off the seat to go see what punishment I needed this time!

She had a 5 gallon blue bucket sitting on top of the four wheeler, and the closer I got to her, I realized she had brought something to me in the bucket. I waved and said Hi as I reached her, still not completely sure of what on earth she was about to say or do!

It may be that new heart I prayed for, but y'all, I swear she almost smiled at me! She pointed to the bucket and said, "These are terrible tomatoes, but I wondered if you'd want 'em. I was just going to throw them away."

I maybe could have wet myself with excitement! I didn't care how terrible those tomatoes were, I wanted them! Look at that--peace tomatoes!

I took the handle of the bucket and lifted it off the four wheeler as she said to go put them in something else and bring her bucket back. Yes, ma'am! I literally ran up to the house to grab a container for the peace offering (I mean, I didn't want to take too long and make her mad, right?!). I laughed the whole way. God absolutely cracks me up! I dumped the tomatoes into a different bucket and then hurried back to her. Kate and Caleb had kept her company while I was gone (I'm sure she was delighted about that!). Caleb told her, "We keeped the dogs away" to which she almost smiled and said, "Thank you."

I handed the empty bucket back to her and said thank you probably 29 times. She isn't much for social banter, but I learned several things in the next few seconds that are very useful and will indeed help me love her more. She actually said, "I shouldn't tell you this, but just below those trees is a garden spot. My mother gardened it for years when she lived here." I grinned and pressed for more information, just to be sure, you know. "On the other side of those trees?" I asked. "Yes, all you have to do is break it up. I don't know why I'm telling you that." I can't figure out why she wasn't supposed to tell me about the garden spot! Maybe she's worried I'll have a better garden than her one day? LOL! But she did tell me, and that seems like a pretty solid neighborly thing to do, don't you?

She is funny, y'all. She's so serious, and I realized that it's like she couldn't figure out why she was doing something nice. It was against her will, I think. But something made her come over and be nice. :) She shouldn't tell me about the garden spot, and the tomatoes are horrible ("I don't know what the h*** is wrong with them this year" she said!), but she did tell me about it and she did bring tomatoes!

Isn't God funny and also really nice to us? I hopped back on the mower to finish mowing after she left and I could not stop grinning! I hoped she wasn't sitting over there watching me and thinking what is wrong with that girl?! God answers us when we ask Him for help, doesn't He?

I'm thinking of 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 "...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time."

Wow. I know that's a little out of context, but I also believe the Word of God is living and active and relevant in all situations and can speak of many things at once and at all times. I think God was asking me to be humble, and almost the very moment I obeyed and humbled myself and prayed, He answered me with tomatoes! Tomatoes! Ha! You might think that was just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences! I believe in a sovereign God who is alive and listening and who has a sense of humor!

I rode around the next half hour thanking Him and saying, "You sure do like her, don't you, Lord? All right, all right--I like her, too."

"And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18

 Peace of Christ to you,

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