Harley Help

A few days ago I sat down with an old friend who wanted to chat about my book, “Neighbouring for Life.”  The surprise came when he began sharing such deep and meaningful stories about loving neighbours.  His comments and stories made me ponder if only the question, “How are you loving your neighbours?” was more popular than, “How many people came?” In other words, the metrics of story-telling is far more productive and helpful than numerical values!  (By the way, I have 699 subscribers). Here is one of his stories:

Neighbourhood Tears

Another great story from a reader:

I’d known her for some time, but had not really connected on a personal level. Defining our relationship as acquaintances, would be accurate. We spoke often, shared friends but it was still quite superficial. Last fall, something inside inspired me to deepen this relationship and so I trusted the prompting of the Holy Spirit, stepped out of my comfort zone and invited her and two other neighbours for a weekend away. Just the ladies…it sounded divine. In fact, it was divine as God allowed for a deepening of those relationships in a way I could have never expected. We are now fast friends, sharing and depending on each other as family. She shared of some significant challenges her husband was facing in his work. They were worried and the stress was bringing him to an unhealthy place. One week in particular, they kept coming to my mind; the Holy Spirit again. I had been praying for them on my own, but hadn’t necessarily shared that with them. They are not believers, so I was trying to be respectful. Finally, I sent a text, telling them they were on my heart and asking for their permission to pray for them as a couple, their family and the challenges happening at his work.  She responded with a text, explaining that my message had brought her husband to tears. His comment was “who needs family when you live in a neighbourhood like this”. Praise God for what he is doing in our hood. I am privileged and honoured to come alongside His plans for our street.

Movin’ On!

After 17 years in Calgary we never actually felt at home there.  My husband and I are perhaps a bit nomadic, so we were more than ready for a change.  Despite making plenty of money there, it just wasn’t great.  We left our jobs and family and started looking around.  Not for work but for a place to call home; a community of people who cared about each other, that we could contribute to and feel a part of.  Enter Laurier Heights.  8 months in and our lives are transformed. Work will be work pretty much wherever, but home is resoundingly right where we have landed.  This is partly because of the Abundant Community initiative coming to us and partly because we are venturing out of our way to connect.

I could go on and on about how much differently we look at the world now.  We have begun to really value our little trade-economy we have with neighbours – even in something simple like babysitting. Our lives are enriched by the visits we have with the people we have met and the ways in which those relationships are being sustained.

Helping my Daughter Sell Chocolate Bars.

We just moved about 2 months ago into this new neighbourhood. Its a small hamlet on the north side of Lacombe. I’ve been beginning to feel anxious about meeting our neighbours and how that was going to happen. Like for example, should we go around from door to door with some cookies or baking of some kind and introduce ourselves that way? Well that’s like adding one more thing to the to do list which already is filled with other good things. So we haven’t done anything. Yet in the last 2 weeks I’ve met over 9 neighbors in our little hamlet. One I met when my wife left me at church and I walked home. We just met on the street, a man who had lived here for over 35 years with more history to share than we had time for. Then I assisted our 14 year old daughter going door to door to sell chocolate bars for to raise money for her grad trip. We went to 6 houses. I held the chocolate bars while she did her presentation. After she was done I explained who we were and that we had recently moved into the neighborhood. We exchanged names and said we would look forward to meeting again( it just happened to be around –25 degrees outside). This week I met 2 more neighbors by walking the dog and checking the mail at our local kiosk. Then the neighbor next to us who just moved in a came over while I was out and asked my wife a question about the water condition in this area. When I came home I went over to see him and became acquainted. I gave him the name of a reputable water conditioning company we had used. During Christmas 2 senior long time dwellers in this area dropped off small baking treats. So all this happened without us doing anything out of the ordinary. It feels good to be here! No more anxiety.

Rolling With It!

My need for a ride to the airport left me wondering from whom in my church I could get a ride.  Not long after, my neighbour met me outside and asked how I was getting to the airport for my trip (since he already knew from earlier conversations).  I told him that I did not know yet.  His next response was filled with curiosity when he asked why I had not thought of him.  Of course, the idea of leaving  at 5 am for the airport seems to limit your options to a select group of drivers.  But he reminded me that he was always up at that time….and proceeded to remind me that I  knew this fact.

This led to an invitation to have him over for supper.  As we prepared to sit down for a meal, I led a prayer as is the custom in our household.  This was not so for him and his household.  In addition to giving thanks for the gift of food, I prayed for his three children, by name.  Following the prayer, I noticed him subtly wiping away a couple of tears as he re-positioned his chair and regained his composure.

Simple opportunities can sometimes be easily overlooked when we could be naturally loving our neighbours.”


The new year brings with it questions about the last.  And the one question asked most last year revolved around learning.  In other words, what did you learn from loving your neighbours?  ‘Learning’ itself was central to all that went on in Neighbourhood Life.  Too many people can show a desire to help without knowing the root cause, much like the mission field in developing countries where the visitor comes in with a saviour mentality and solves the problem.  I was that guy, wanting to buy a flag for a poor school, only to find out that the flag was not raised until certain celebrations, or the time I bought an appliance for one family only to find out that it would misused due to lack of electricity.  Others feel that ‘loving your neighbour’ means they must be a service provider of some sort, or adds to the schedule, making our love for neighbours more of a checklist item in our life.  Perhaps we should just live to learn from our neighbours before we breathe any life into their lives.

In the mean time, Neighourhood Life is suggesting other disciplines for 2018.  Last year we covered the practice of re-imagining and the practice of hospitality as disciplines in our neighbourhood.  Starting January 14th, we will focus on the practice of vulnerability, which in itself is a topic that begins to make us vulnerable.  The reason we want to take this discipline head on is because its a game changer among neighbours.  The discussion of ‘practicing vulnerability among neighbours’ brings a variety of emotions to the forefront, no doubt!  In February we will focus on the practice of investment and the practice of trust.  Later, in the spring, we will practice the art of conversation as a way to lead us into block party season.

If you want a head start n these disicplines, you will find them in my book, “Neighouring for Life’ available on lulu.com or amazon.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

I really appreciate the faithful supporters of Neighbourhood Life.  Especially my neighbours.  This morning I found a gift with a card that a neighbour left inside our door while we were away (see pic).  Outside of the nice words, I am grateful for neighbours who are comfortable enough to let themselves in our home when we are not (read more about this in a book entitled, “Refrigerator Rights”).

  It has been another great year full of surprises and new insights.  This past year we worked at learning from neighbours; from building relationships to building buildings.   I believe our neighbourhoods are our greatest classroom!

One thing I learned is to “sock your neighbour” (see last post) when its dark.  While placing the stocking full of treats on a neighbours door during daylight hours, I heard him come out of his house while saying, “I have a gun….get off my property….Merry Christmas” – all in good fun!

Our book, “Neighbouring for Life” also had a great year and some great responses:

“Rick is a master story teller who knows more about being a great neighbour than anyone I know. This book is a must read for people who’s faith compels them to care‎ for others and build deeper relationships. If you want to improve your quality of life the simplest way is to get to know your neighbors. Rick not only shows you how but his stories will inspire you to actually do it.”
– Paul Born – best selling author of Deepening Community and Community Conversations and President of the Tamarack Institute,  University of Waterloo.
“Rick Abma doesn’t just talk and write about community; he lives it.  ‘Neighbouring for Life’ summarizes the valuable lessons he has learned from his experience as a neighbour.  Rick argues that community isn’t something we do in our spare time but rather its a way of life that can be realized through practices, not programs.  His book illustrates this with stories that are as rich and stimulating as the Good Neighbour Coffee he roasts.”
– Jim Diers – consultant and author at Neighbor Power, Seattle, Washington
Let me know if you want a copy?
And the great year continued with an invitation to Terrace, BC for 9 days of training on neighbouring for life.  It went well….we walked many neighbourhoods,.  In the new year I will make my way back there for more.
Thanks you all!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Rick Abma

Sock your neighbour!

Perhaps you may want to “sock your neighbour.”

Maybe even think about the neighbour that may need MORE cheer than any of the others!

There may be nothing spiritual here, so do not read into it….

but it is a great idea to get started in your neighbourhood.

(Read the instructions on the card in the pic.)

We enjoyed filling the sock with gifts for a neighbour.

A tree ornament, something homemade, a giant candy bar…perhaps a ‘thankyou’ card.

Don’t get caught when hanging it on your neighbours door.  And don’t let the dog hear you or it may not be a silent night.

May your neighbour be blessed!

An Other Kingdom

My new book just came in the mail.  Two community neighbourhood guru’s and an Old Testament professor wrote this book together, “An Other Kingdom.” Peter Block and John McKnight join Walter Bruggemann in helping us depart the consumer culture.  And the alternative has to do with our neighbourhood.  It’s kind of like a cultural detox!  This is a deep massage challenging us to relieve ourselves from tiredness and busyness, and hit the refresh button!  Oh how cool it would be to live in a world where people bloomed where they were planted instead of chasing the never ending desires of want.

Departing Consumer Culture

As the back of jacket says, “The consumer culture holds the belief that no amount is enough.  The free market ideology produces economic crisis, violence, and an exhausted planet.  An Other Kingdom provides a new narrative, a shift in our thinking and speaking, to take us out of addictive consumption into a place where contract is replaced by covenant, consumption is replaced by neighbourliness, and time is reclaimed as our own. “

Coffee with a neighbour

It has recently come to my attention as a coffee roaster/missionary that a Dutch coffee company instilled a “have coffee with your neighbour day” in Holland, each and every May 26th.  It is a simple challenge that has given way to what the Happiness Institute (Denmark) declares as having produced more happiness than buying more ‘bling.’  A cup of coffee and an intentional connection may just put more of the “Merry” back into Christmas than another Black Friday deal.  So why wait till May 26th?  Treat yourself!  And if you submit your neighbour/coffee story here (before Christmas/2018) I will personally send you a package of Good Neighbour Coffee!