Monday, January 3, 2011

Insane Ideas: Take Two

Back in November of 2009, I stumbled across a list. This was not just any list but an insane list of insane ideas on ways to be a better neighbor. Of course, I immediately loved it and decided to live it out for a year. Here’s the original post I wrote if you have time to waste or you are a shrink trying to analyze exactly what is wrong with me.






I think I got through the first five of the fifty ideas before realizing, I just wasn’t ready for the journey. My dad had just died the month before and I was doing everything in my power to live through the pain of having two dead parents. It was much more of a brutal reality than I had ever expected it to be.



Anyway, time has passed and my heart has healed a few beats. I am ready to dive back in and take on The List. One other interesting thing that happened when I tried this back in 2009 was the backlash I received from some family and friends. There were those that were shocked and sickened by the idea that I would actually do some of the things suggested by the writers of The List. All I can say is, you might want to close your eyes because this time I am all in. I am not doing it for you. I am doing it for me as unto the Lord. I know, I’m a freak but I am an honest freak who needs to make a difference in this world. Deal with that or don’t. Either way, here goes.



This is The List. Go ahead and have a read if you are interested. If not, thanks for stopping by. If you choose to read on, I’ll tell you about the first 21 day plan later in the post.



50 Ways To Be A Better Neighbor




1. Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.

2. Contact your local crisis pregnancy center and invite a pregnant woman to live with your family.

3. Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.

4. Join an open AA meeting and befriend someone there.

5. Adopt a child.

6. Mow your neighbor’s grass.

7. Volunteer to tutor a kid at your local elementary school. (Try to get to know the kid’s family.)

8. Grow your own tomatoes–and share them.

9. Ask a small group in your community to meet regularly for intercessory prayer.

10. Build a wheel chair ramp for someone who is homebound.

11. Read the newspaper to someone at your local nursing home.

12. Plant a tree.

13. Look up the closest registered sex offender in your neighborhood and try to befriend him.

14. Throw a birthday party for a prostitute.

15. When you pay your water bill, pay your neighbor’s too (they’ll let you… really).

16. Invest money in a micro-lending bank.

17. Ask the next person who asks you to spare some change to join you for dinner.

18. Leave a random tip for someone who’s cleaning the streets or a public restroom.

19. Write one CEO a month this year. Affirm or critique the ethics of their company (you may need to do a little research first).

20. Start tithing (giving 10%) of all your income directly to the poor.

21. Connect with a group of migrant workers or farmers who grow your food and visit their farm. Maybe even pick some veggies with them. Ask what they get paid.

22. Give your winter coat away to someone who is colder than you and go to a thrift store to get a new one.

23. Write only paper letters (by hand) for a month. Try writing someone who needs encouragement or who you should say “I’m sorry” to.

24. Go TV free for a year. Or turn your TV into a pot where flowers grow.

25. Laugh at advertisements, especially ones that teach you that you can buy happiness.

26. Organize a prayer vigil for peace outside a weapons manufacturer such as Lockheed Martin. Read the Sermon on the Mount out loud. For extra credit, do it every week for a year.

27. Go down a line of parked cars and pay for the meters that are expired. Leave a little note of niceness.

28. Write to one social justice organizer or leader each month just to encourage them.

29. Go through a local thrift store and drop $1 bills in random pockets of the clothing being sold.

30. Experiment with creation-care by going fuel free for a week – ride a bike, carpool, or walk.

31. Try only reading books written by females or people of color for a year.

32. Go to an elderly home and get a list of folks who don´t get any visitors. Visit them each week and tell stories, read the bible together, or play board games.

33. Track to its source one item of food you eat regularly. Then, each time you eat that food, pray for those folks who helped make it possible for you to eat it.

34. Create a Jubilee fund in your Church congregation, matching dollar for dollar every dollar you spend internally with a dollar externally. If you have a building fund, create a fund to match it to give away and by mosquito nets or dig wells for folks dying in poverty.

35. Become a pen-pal with someone in prison.

36. Give your car away to a stranger.

37. Convert your car to run off waste vegetable oil.

38. Try recycling your water from the washer or sink to flush your toilet. Remember the 1.2 billion folks who don´t have clean water.

39. Wash your clothes by hand, or dry them by hanging to remember those without electricity or running water. Remember the 1.6 billion people who do not have electricity.

40. Buy only used clothes for a year.

41. Cover up all brand names, or at least the ones that do not reflect the upside-down economics of God’s Kingdom. Commit to only being branded by the cross.

42. Learn to sew or start making your own clothes to remember the invisible faces behind what we wear. Take your kids to pick cotton so they can see what that is like (and then read James).

43. Eat only a bowl of rice a day for a week to remember those who do that for most of their life (take a multivitamin). Remember the 30,000 people who die each day of poverty and malnutrition.

44. Begin creating a scholarship fund so that for every one of your own children you send to college you can create a scholarship for an at-risk youth. Get to know their family and learn from each other.

45. Visit a worship service where you will be a minority. Invite someone to dinner at your house or have dinner with someone there if they invite you.

46. Help your church congregation create a Peacemaker Scholarship and give it away to a young person trying to avoid the economic draft, who would like to go to college but sees no other way than the military.

47. Eat with someone who does not look like you. Learn from them.

48. Confess something you have done wrong to someone and ask them to pray for you.

49. Serve in a homeless shelter. For extra credit, go back and eat or sleep in the shelter and allow yourself to be served.

50. Join a Yokefellows ministry at a prison close to you. Remember that Jesus said he would meet you there (Matt. 25).

List Authors: Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Hartgrove



1. Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.



I am starting today with fasting. Actually, Bob and I and three of our adult children are beginning a 21 day fast today. It’s called a Daniel fast out of the book of Daniel in the Bible. Our purpose in doing this is to be reminded that prayer works, God cares and He has things for us to do this year. I believe this list is one of those things. I hope you’ll follow along if for no other reason than to just watch what happens and harass me along the way.



I will be fasting through the day until dinner, then eating a mainly Vegan diet. I’m not a Vegan and have always thought my Vegan cousins were crazy. Well, whose crazy now? I will also be calling the Food Bank and Rescue Mission to set up schedules for us to go and work over the next 21 days. Fasting is good. Prayer is good. Putting our hands and feet to it all is also good. Not that we will be putting our feet in anyone’s food. That would be gross.



One last thing. Mondays will be The List day. It’s when I will update you on the happenings of the last week and give you the info on the upcoming week. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself feeling a little crazy along the way too. Hey, it could happen.

26 comments:

Katie said...

What would the world be like if EVERYONE at least attempted this list?!?
What a beautiful way to live in 2011.

Amarja said...

You guys are in for a challenge! Who of the 3 kids are doing this with you and Bob? Good way to go Marla! Like we talked about last week: helping others does something with your spirit! I wish you guys the best in 2011 and I hope we get to see each other! :)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Fasting would not be a bad thing for me to do considering all the crap I have eaten over the holidays. I look forward to following this challenge you are undertaking!

Brian Miller said...

nice....this is a great list....cant wait to hear the reports as you go for it!

Cheeseboy said...

I have to admit, I'd be very hesitant to do about 40% of this. The sex offender thing scares me. I'd worry he/she might get the wrong idea. But for the most part, I think this is very noble of you. Not for the most part, for the whole part, this is very noble. Bravo!

Delirious said...

I don't think I could do everything on this list, but I could do some of the things. :) This might be hard to believe, but in our city, our one homeless shelter is not open to everyone. In order to stay there, you have to have a pass from your psychiatrist. I'm not kidding. The weather here is relatively mild, but it does get cold in the winter, and it rains a lot. I think there might be other "open door" shelters in the San Francisco Bay area, but not in my city. Pretty sad. We do have food kitchens where people can eat lunch, but they only feed one meal a day. Here is the other thing that really burns me. We have a food bank in our area. People can donate (especially during the holidays) food to the food bank. I found out that the food bank SELLS the food to the soup kitchens! I asked why, when we donate it for free, it isn't given for free to the kitchens. I was told they have to pay the salaries of the people in charge of the kitchens, and those who run the food bank. That makes sense, but I guess I'm used to our church that has a lay ministry. Everything is done volunteer, and no one is paid. I forget that some people do this for a living. But it still bugs me! It makes me want to give my food directly to the kitchen.
Oops..I guess I went off on a rant....

Deborah said...

I think this is so cool.

My husband ALWAYS snowblows a path for the mailman, snowblows the young girl's driveway (she has a shovel) that lives across the street, and anyone else in our little neighborhood that has huge piles at the end of their driveway.

I, right now, am calling the local donation center and am giving about five newer wool and down coats. I do this constantly. I do lots of thrift store shopping as well. I love the idea of recycling.

There are many things on the list that we can all do. Thanks for this Marla!

Lily Robinson said...

I look forward to reading your progress on this list. What a great way to kick off the new year!

Blasé said...

#32 is FUN!

Dawn said...

THIS is exactly why I think you are one of the neatest people in the blogosphere. I wish you the very best tackling this list.

I could (and do) some of these.

I can't wait to see how God blesses your socks off this year because you are choosing to live blessing others.

Nicolle said...

I pray that you can accomplish these things. You are a wonderful person to do this!!! It is funny b/c sometimes when you do "good" others do frown upon it. I don't understand why. Best of luck and keep us updated!

Bless your heart.

Katharine said...

I love the list(although it made me cry) fasting is a good thing, and a weekly practice at our house. I love this line: I am not doing it for you. I am doing it for me as unto the Lord.
You have a beautiful heart! I'm looking forward to the updates!

Libbie said...

Oh Marla! Your heart is so big it might burst!!! i have always loved you but this makes me love ya even more! I remember reading this earlier on your blog & i am soooo proud to call you my friend! I do call you that you know :) Even if you don't want me to....you are stuck with me :) GO MARLA!!!!!

Glen said...

let me know when dossing about Googling breasts helps people - I'm ready to do my bit!

J.J. in L.A. said...

Good luck with it, hon! I'll be reading. : )

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

what a wonderful list! what an example to others! there are many things on the list that wouldn't be practical for us (giving away our car, for instance) but there are things on the list that i could do and things that i have done (given my winter coat away on more two different occasions).

best of God's blessings to you as you undertake this.

Oklahoma Granny said...

It's a very ambitious list. I look forward to reading your progress reports.

Bette said...

Lovin' your craziness!

Vickie said...

I've always know you were crazy and that's why I love you. I think you've already done a couple of those things on the list like adopting a child and letting a pregnant woman live with you and then adopting her child. So you're ahead of the game unless you're starting over. I want to get together for lunch soon.

Nicolle said...

following your blog now! :)

Marla said...

Amarja ~ Yes we are. I think this next year is going to be a journey to remember. But then, what year hasn't been really?

It's Molly, Rae and Joel. How exciting is that?

Bob and I just watched another travel show on Amsterdam. I promise, one of these days you will see us there. We may be using walkers but we'll make it. :-)

feolafitness said...

I just read your post about starting the Daniel Fast and wanted to let you know about two encouraging resources:

Book: The Ulimate Guide to the Daniel Fast http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Guide-Daniel-Fast/dp/031033117X

Blog: http://www.ultimatedanielfast.com

I pray that the Lord will bless you richly as you hunger for Him!

Kristen Feola
Author, The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast

Amy Sullivan said...

I love the idea of being a better neighbor and all of the BIG and small things we can do to get there. I'll be back to check on your progress and look for ideas!

Sarah said...

I thought you did some of these already. Now you're starting anew? Wow, good job and good luck. I'll be there with you spiritually.

Michelle said...

I'm proud of you!

Not So Simply Single said...

Way to go Marla...Love this post!