Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I’ve realized lately how deeply grateful I am to have Tiffany and Jason Hamil next door.
We moved in the very same day, or nearly the same day. The first hour Curt and my in-laws began bringing in boxes, Jason walked in with a box he had grabbed from our truck. We had never met, but he walked over and started moving us in. This was our first interaction with him, he just jumped in to serve us no questions asked.
This is who they are.
The Hamils have two sons and we have five, so between our two families- a whole lot of crazy, but also, so much sameness. We both love the Lord, Tiff and I both love reading/eating good food/musicals/yoga + walking/being sports-mamas/porch-sitting. These are what we have bonded us closer and closer over the years.
But also, serving one another daily.
Tiffany has driven my kids to and from school, leaving work early and/or going in late so that I don’t have to load up my youngers plus a slew of neighborhood kids to brave the carline (LORD HAVE MERCY.) She is a saint.
Their second son is the same age as my oldest and so he has pretty much been our "sixth" child for years, and we don’t even notice. Blake knows where we keep our treats, where we put our shoes, and picks up my toddler on his way downstairs so that our littlest doesn’t miss out on the boy fun.
The Hamils have taken our kids to sporting events, mowed our yard, gotten our mail on vacation, seeded and aerated with us, let my boys use their backyard as a mock Super Bowl stadium, and watered my plants on occasion.
Because I am a SAHM and Tiffany is a working mom (R-E-S-P-E-C-T), I have made a few last minute trips to the high school to deliver their oldest son Trevor’s computer and track uniform after he sheepishly texted me midday to “please go look in my house, I think it’s in my room...or the living room.”
Also, I am a softie and he knows I will do it.
Curt has tied Trevor’s tie for dress up Fridays during sports seasons because Jason had already left for work. Trevor has helped watch my boys, plays basketball and catch with my three year old, and is a constant extra when the boys need someone to even out a pickup football game.
And here’s the thing. At first, we began to keep track verbally: “Oh I owe you for doing that thing for me! Here, I’ll do this for you to make up for it.” This only lasted a few years until we legitimately lost track.
This is the art of neighbors-who-are-family. You do so many things to serve one another that you throw out the scoreboard. It’s just what you do for people you love.
You serve them and it isn’t hard. At some point you no longer live in the tension of “I need to” and you cross over into “I want to” and then into “it’s what we do.” We care for one another, there are no boundary lines between our house and theirs, our kids and theirs, our stuff and theirs- it’s one big jumbled mess of thei-ours.
The first winter we moved in, Curt and a few of the men in the neighborhood were out at the same time with their shovels. Jason, the owner of a snow-blower, saw he was the odd man out and later sold it so that he could join the “shoveling party.” Now these same guys get together on the first big snowfall each year and go around shoveling driveways throughout the neighborhood.
It’s now a tradition.
Our families have had pop up s’more-and-grilling parties, long talks on the porch (we call ourselves “front porch” people and take that very seriously- unless we want to read, then we take ignoring each other very seriously #respectthebook.)
Jason nicknamed my third son “turkey” ages ago and even now, seven years later, Jason still yells “BYE TURKEY!” as he heads off to work. My three year old takes Jason’s correction far more seriously than ours, listening when J tells him to “Get a helmet on!” Or find some shoes because I cannot for the life of me pay for any more new socks for that kid (but really.)
Tiffany and I walk early in the mornings, have taken a cooking class together, gone to worship nights and each others kids’ games; we read books and share them, cook food and bring each other samples or lunch portions. She and I give advice without judgment, lament the constant boy-stink we live among, remind each other what's on the elementary lunch menu or what time football practice begins. I go over almost daily to grab a teaspoon of salt or an egg because her pantry is often better stocked than mine. Once she even let me GO INTO HER MASTER BATHROOM in the middle of the day, while she was at work, to grab a blow-dryer. Y’all that’s *next level* friendship. Next. Level. Also, it was spotless so I resent her a little for that.
Just kidding. Kind of.
Yesterday both our ten year olds had football games on the same field at the same time, playing different opponents. I’m not sure which game we watched more, our son’s or theirs. At one point Curt said, “There goes Blake.” I turned to watch the opposite end of the field as my “adopted” son weaved in and out of defenders and scored an incredible touchdown. Both Curt and I were whooping and hollering so loudly I think the families around us thought we were confused (or wanted us to move, also very possible.)
Today, Trevor again texted if I wouldn't mind bringing his helmet to school. I said yes, absolutely. I grabbed the Hamil’s house key from our counter (sitting there because Max, our three year old, swiped it from their hiding spot at some point and we just retained it) and headed over.
It’s what we do.
As I watched my three year old carry Trevor's helmet into the school, I couldn't help but be overcome with thankfulness for these amazing people we get to do life with daily. It's the perfect picture of Jesus' words to us: to love others as we do our own selves. If you make it a habit, it becomes a tradition, then in turn becomes just what you do. Like breathing. Effortless.
We have asked out boys repeatedly, “What if we moved to the country? Would you ever want to do that?” They repeatedly say “NO, we want neighbors. We want our friends next door.”