A month of loving my neighbors — starting with me

Loving Your Neighbor
The idea floats in softly at first, like a feather carried on the wind. I could write about loving my neighbor – could join thousands of other writers and bloggers who craft articles each of the 31 days of October.

And then I laugh just enough to blow the feather away.

I have a husband still healing from a fractured ankle, the weight of a big project at work and a personal attitude problem that seems so comfortable with me that it’s having its mail forwarded to my house.

I can’t write about loving my neighbors, I tell God. I don’t have time and I don’t even like myself right now, much less other people.

I start with the mental list of things I’m upset about, things that I wish I could change about me. For starters, I don’t share well. I even argued with a librarian once about returning a book I wasn’t quite finished with – and sharing is kind of the whole point there.

Then, there’s the constant nagging I do at home and the complaining I do when my plans get interrupted. Plus, my need to control and my need to worry when I’m not in control. I’m about to start page three of my grievances against myself when another thought comes along.

Start there.

Start with your own self.

31 days of Loving Your Neighbor
I take a deep breath. The lightweight feather is now more like a wild turkey flapping around my yard. It is sort of hard to miss.

I suppose if I did want to love my neighbors, I would have to start with me. I’d need to evict my I’m-not-worth-anything attitude, and I’d need to forgive myself in order to move forward.

I might even need to take better care of my introverted self. Maybe treat myself to a nice, peaceful walk so I’m in a better frame of mind, a better frame of soul, to love others. Maybe spend more time reading scripture and praying to the one who never runs out of love for me – or for my neighbors. Maybe then I’ll hand out grace and understanding in larger doses.

Maybe this idea to write for 31 days straight? Maybe I’m the one who needs it most. And maybe I need it now more than ever.

Would you like to spend the month discovering how to love your neighbor, too? If so, check in here throughout October – and we’ll get better at this together.

Day 2: Learning to love yourself again
Day 3: Finding time to love your neighbor
Day 4: Hospitality for introverts
Day 5: For when you need to pray to be more loving
Day 6: What to do when your neighbors live with you
Day 7: Loving far away friends and family
Day 8: Answers for loving your in-laws
Day 9: 8 ways to share love with your family this month
Day 10: Teaching children how to love their neighbors
Day 11: A tiny (natural) gift for your neighbors
Day 12: A prayer for my family — and yours
Day 13: A chance to win a gift for you or a neighbor
Day 14: Because prayer is important
Day 15: A free printable prayer journal to help you love others
Day 16: What we can learn from a turquoise table
Day 17: Learning to love others by accepting love
Day 18: A prayer for my neighborhood
Day 19: Loving your neighbors — on a budget
Day 20:The day I struggle to love my neighbor
Day 21: Loving your online neighbor
Day 22: Showing love with a smaile — AmazonSmile
Day 23: Loving someone enough to connect the dots
Day 28: The prayer we need for our world
Day 29: What you need to know when your neighbor is different than you
Day 30: Ready for battle — or for love?
Day 31: What I’ve learned about loving my neighbor


Day 7: Finding hope in a Mason jar


Have you seen the Pinterest projects where people take a jar and fill it with memories or blessings throughout the year?

IMG_1519Well, Barb Adams wants to do that on a larger scale — on a community scale — so she’s started a Facebook page that’s dedicated to collecting those notes of hope.

“The mission of the JAR PROJECT page is to encourage all of us to focus on the positive occurrences in our lives that we might otherwise let slip through our consciousness,” she writes. “The JAR PROJECT is dedicated to helping us bathe in the light rather than becoming bogged down in the darkness.”

Won’t you visit today and add your own note? Or perhaps pull a jar out of the recycling bin and start this tradition at home?

Elisa Pompili headshotToday’s journal page was designed by Elisa Pompili, who grew up in Spencerport, NY spending most of her time with her big Italian family and a few close friends. Elisa works as a school counselor and loves big and small adventures, chocolate, and traveling. She wrote and finished her debut novel, “Making Room,” long before she ever knew she would live in North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband Greg and their cat Sheldon. You can read more about her at her blog.

To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here


Here’s a glimpse…

Simply Faithful - journal page - Elisa Pompili

Thank you, all of you, for joining us for the 40 Days of Hope project. Each day during Lent, we’ll share something about hope here — something that we pray inspires you or encourages you. We’re also planning to share free journal pages for you to download. We don’t quite have 40 yet, so if you’d like more information on submitting one, please click here.

Day 6: The day my son shares his story of hope

“You love to sketch,” I told him as he plopped down on the couch. “You should do a journal page for me.”

What would I put on it?

“Well, what does hope mean to you?”

It means you never give up, no matter how bad things get.

“That’s perfect. You should write that on there. It’ll give people a place to start journaling. But you should draw something, too — something that makes you think of hope.”

He comes back to the living room what seems like only 15 minutes later.

Here you go, Mom. This character’s name is Yoshina or sometimes he’s called Ageha. He fights to help people who can’t help themselves because someone saved him when he was little.

That’s when I fight to hold back tears. That’s when I ask if I can share a little bit of his story.

You can tell whatever you want, Mom. Maybe it could help somebody else.

And so I begin.


Jessie’s 2-inch thick adoption file

For the first five years of Jessie’s life, he lived with his biological parents and his half-sister. He has great memories of playing at parks and baking cookies, and he has memories of hiding in the bathroom until the police came to separate his fighting parents. He remembers his mom liking something that was milky white but that he was never allowed to touch and a rainy night when she could barely keep the car on the road.

Then, there was the time they left him and his slightly older sister in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart for several hours while they went to get drugs – and the times that the kids spent the night at the crack house. Times when his parents were home but unavailable, not quite functioning. Times when lunch was a tub of margarine. Times when homework went unchecked.


This is how his life started and that’s why at 14 he struggles to print legibly, why he always asks when dinner will be ready, why he looks a little lost, a little pained when I talk of trust, of lasting family ties.

Already he’s had more than one lifetime of loss. Already he knows too much of complicated relationships, of shaky love.

Already he speaks of hope as one who knows how badly it’s needed in this world – and already he understands its strength.

Don’t give up even when things are bad.

Jessie1Today’s journal page was designed by my oldest son, Jessie. He loves video games, drawing and reading — especially manga, which are Japanese comics. He plays a mean game of Monopoly and shares my love of office supplies. He’s handsome, has just the faintest touch of a mustache and jeans that always seem too short. He’s one of the most generous people I know, and I’d like him even if he wasn’t related to me. To download today’s journal page and write your own thoughts, please click here.

Here’s a glimpse…


Day 4: What hope looks like to an artist

Back in the fall, Pat Costigan exhibited 28 oil, acrylic and pastel paintings that all focused on hope. Today, instead of words, may we be inspired by her brush…

Posted on the gallery wall:

The first step in the journey of hope is love

… and there’s this, this beautiful painting titled Be Not Afraid

Be Not Afraid 13x19x300dpi


Pat Costigan and her husband, Bob, have four daughters, Clare, Beth, Anne and Irene. Before children, she earned a BA in Art and an MA in Special Education, taught and always made art. Through the years she has been involved with local and international social justice issues. Pat recently completed a series of paintings on “Hope” and is working on a new series titled “Grace.” Pat co-authored, designed and created the artwork and illustrations for the newly published book, “Mothering: An Art Of The Heart” (www.motheringanartoftheheart.com). When she is not busy in her studio, she is often found walking their rescue dog, Bella, around the neighborhood in Fairport, NY.

101_2887Today’s journal page is from Linda Gordon, a generous friend who let me write about her ugly clay foot and still shared her wise thoughts on creating a peaceful dwelling. (She is the perfect example of why it is slightly dangerous to be friends with a writer.) This scripture has been especially meaningful to her as she thinks about hope.


To download today’s journal page and add your own thoughts, click here.

Here’s a glimpse: