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What we fail to See is often in our own Backyard


Noticing she rarely came out I wondered why. She would let her little, white dog out to be relieved a few times a day through the back door.  When he was finished, the barking started. Finally, after about 10 minutes she would let him back in.

No one ever visited. The house always seemed closed up. Window coverings shut. I wondered.

Whenever she did open the back door, she appeared disheveled. unsettled. alone. Unbrushed hair and pajamas were her daily attire.

The yard possessed a few dirty pots, a small fence and one car that rarely left the driveway.

In the fall, the lights off her back patio started glaring into our bedroom at night once it was dark.

My husband and I discussed this and decided we needed to do something.

These floodlights were turned on every night as if looking for something or someone.

At times the lights appeared to have been moved to shine in a different area of the yard. By New Year’s it became annoying, but something wasn’t right.

She kept to herself by choice, but something had to change. Something was wrong.

The next afternoon I rang her doorbell. The dog barked. She yelled through the door, “Who is it?” I replied, “I’m your neighbor who lives right behind you. Could we talk for a few minutes?”

Opening the door she looked the same as always; as if she had just gotten out of bed. Inviting me in, she apologized for the cluttered house. The signs of a recluse were everywhere.

Laughing when she told me her name, I thought “this must be a joke.” Sadly it wasn’t. Actually in some ways she mirrored the famous actress she was named after.  Their lives were both full of drama.

As I asked her about the lights she became extremely apologetic and assured me she would have them arranged so the light would not shine towards our windows. Quickly, the conversation switched as she began to tell me her story. No, it was more like a horror movie.

Piles of legal documents decorated the house fueled by family betrayal, hatred, divorce and alcohol abuse to believing someone was out to kill her. The splattering of her life was sealed in those pages to ensure she would receive the inherited money the family was fighting over.

She continued to open her heart to me as if she hadn’t talked to anyone but her Psychiatrist in months. The list of anti-depressants, anxiety meds and paranoia pills she described to me she was taking were only a few of the prescriptions getting her through each day. Her heart was bad and she had suffered a stroke years before which added to her illnesses. Her weekly visits to her Psychiatrist were the only times she went out except to the store.

The old white dog made her way into the room whining. Blind and deaf, the dog was her life line to the world.

Not knowing whether to believe this outrageous story she gave me, I felt a leading of the Holy Spirit to pray for her. We discussed her faith a little and she assured me she was a Christian but had lost her way. She recalled her Baptism as a young girl and how much it had meant to her.

As I prayed I sensed her tears, her sadness yet the moment of prayer was a welcomed joy.

I continued to visit her off and on bringing her food and sitting with her some. Mother’s Day she let me know her daughter had called her. She hadn’t spoken to her in years.

Not long after that my life changed completely when my dad got sick. Unable to keep up with myself I never heard from her again.

The outside lights no longer burn.  The dog doesn’t bark anymore.  The yard appears to have had some work done and all of a sudden left unfinished.

She is gone. There is no movement; only dim lights left on inside. No sign in the front yard that speaks of selling the house. Nothing.

One day she was there and the next she wasn’t. I don’t know what happened to her.

To this day I don’t know whether anything she told me was true or not. In her mind it was.

Looking back, God did this. The lights shining through our windows brightly at night were almost a cry for help. A sorrowed soul whose life had produced mostly pain was dwindling away in a locked fortress she created herself right in our backyard. This was her means of survival.

For all I know, God used me to recondition her faith for whatever she was facing. Of course, I had no idea at the time what was at stake but somehow I knew in my spirit God wanted his seed replanted. Even her years of displacement from God didn’t keep him away. He reminded her he was still there.

I followed my heart and did the best I could to replenish her heart with the love of Jesus. Who knows? That may have been the last time on earth she heard it.

Copyright @ 2012 All Rights Reserved

11 thoughts on “What we fail to See is often in our own Backyard

  1. I love how the Lord used something simple like lights shining into your bedroom to draw you to her. God bless you for praying for her.

  2. Your Post sounded a bit familiar…. only instead of a paranoid recluse, we had an 82 year old, widower, atheist. Just today he came over again for lunch. He knows I’m “religious,” but he puts up with me anyway. Today I was wondering after he left, if perhaps this is why God put our family in a place I dislike so much? It’s good to reach out to people. Especially the lonely. Good for you, for bringing it to conversation.
    Best Regards.

    • God works in mysterious ways. When we think we know what is going on, we see God working otherwise. God may use you to help this man. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi Cathy what a wonderful message, my Devotions this morning have really uplifted and encouraged me, like yours Bob’s message was a blessing too.

    How like you my friend to reach out to those who are hurting and offer God’s Love and Compassion, no I don’t believe God turned those lights on your bedroom window to cause you and your husband to have disterbed sleep, that is more like a Satan trick, hopeing you would get so mad that you would go and blast her or perhaps it was just life. I have outside lights that shine in my bedroom window when they come on but they are meant to, the woman who lived in my house before lived alone, it was her protection, I don’t worry, yes when I’m alone I lock the doors when I think of it but I’m not paronoid about my saftey and never have the lights on. But whatever the reason with your neighbours lights God used it for good of that I have no doubt.

    Cathy you did indeed touch this womans life with your Love and Compassion as you have mine and good fruit will come from it as God tells us it will when we are faithful.

    Christian Love Anne.

    • Thanks Anne, I appreciate your kind words. As much as I hope I made a difference for her, I want to know what has happened. She has been gone for months now.

      Cathy Craig Neil, PMIC/Guardian Property Management, LLC http://www.wix.com/cathyneil/Property-Management 803-840-1946 blog: http://www.craigmotor.wordpress.com author/columnist: http://www.believers.bay.com


      • Hi again Cathy, I understand how you feel I have often wondered what has happened to those people whose lives I have touched but if it is for good we will know one day if not we never will, the things on earth will not be remembered.

        As I was saying recently, I live in a very rough neighbourhood and much bad has happened, I have had to get the Police when I was threatened a few times by drug addicts etc I do not believe it was God’s will that I brought my house here in fact at the time the circumstances were not what He would have wanted for me at all but life happens including buying a house in a bad neighbourhood, but what God promised me He has been faithful to do and that was keep me strong( see below ) and He continues to do so. There has also been some good come from my living here and I don’t doubt there will be more but God does not cause us to suffer or to have hardship even to bring good out of it but He does as you said Cathy, bring good from all things.

        Lamentations 3: 33 For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

        Isaiah 43:1-3 – Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

        Jeremiah 29 :11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

        As for knowing God as He really is and the good He has for us, we will as we are shown Corinthians 2:9-16 … How good is that!

        Christian Love Anne.

      • Anne, yes God is good and as much as I would like to know what happened I truly believe she is cared for. In my heart when I spoke to her about her faith, and Jesus I knew she was sincere in her belief.

        Every time I look out the back door now the house is empty. Looks the same every day.

          Cathy Craig Neil, PMIC/Guardian Property Management, LLC http://www.wix.com/cathyneil/Property-Management 803-840-1946 blog: http://www.craigmotor.wordpress.com author/columnist: http://www.believers.bay.com


  4. I’m often amazed at how God works! Good Post, Cathy.
    God Bless You!

  5. That was a beautiful story Cathy. I loved your open and honest faith and faith. Just lovely.

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