Brooke Thomas can’t think of a better time for the community to love their neighbor. She painted a mural on Shoreline Church in Destin as a reminder.

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DESTIN – Brooke Thomas has wanted to paint a mural in Destin since her trip to Indonesia in the fall of 2018.

She was there with Shoreline Church founders and pastors, Eric and Darlene Partin, to help redesign a skate park for children’s outreach.

“There’s so many cool murals on the buildings in Indonesia,” Thomas said. “We were thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to bring that home?’ I know people do that here, but we don’t see it that much in Destin. Then last week, Darlene was thinking more and more about it. She was like, ‘What do you think about ‘Love your neighbor’ on the side of the building?’ and I was like, ‘Yes. Yes, let’s do that.’”

Thomas went for it, she said. She started Monday night of last week and, with the help of her husband Eric, finished in 35 hours. It now reads “Love your neighbor” in pink and red against a blue backdrop on the north wall of the Church facing Azalea Drive in Destin.

“We worked so well together,” Thomas said. “I can honestly say, sometimes we don’t work well together because we both want to be in charge. It was fun and it actually made us grow closer together. He’s going to be my wingman again if I do another mural.”

It gave the couple an artistic outlet from the stresses brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. Their daughter, Ireland, 18, has a compromised immune system, so Thomas was excited to volunteer for their Church.

“As much as I want to help with the filming and all the things they’re doing for Shoreline Church inside the building, I have been trying so hard to social distance for her sake,” Thomas said. “Being outside and still being able to do something, but doing it outside where there was less of a chance of me being infected and bringing it home, was awesome and I really enjoyed doing it.”

Thomas can’t think of a better time to love our neighbor than now, when people are being asked to keep their physical distance from others. It’s a good reminder for people living inside their “bubble,” she said.

“It might remind people, ‘Hey, there may be people outside of your home and can you help them in some way that won’t affect your health?’” Thomas said. “I think it also encourages people who already living it out. There’s so many people and organizations in Destin that are already helping their neighbors in huge ways. I think it’s an encouragement, a high five to those people saying, ‘Hey, you’re doing it.’ The last reason, it’s a simple truth from Jesus that’s really relevant in this pandemic.”

Shoreline Church is among the organizations to which Thomas refers. The Church has donated money to Harvest House, a food pantry and thrift store in Destin, and will offer free dinner by Big Red Truck to members and the public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, she said.

“Shoreline Church, our belief is, ‘Who is our neighbor? It’s pretty much anyone you run into,’” Thomas said. “Those people you see along your path – those people are your neighbor. It could be anybody – even in a grocery store. We’re learning to be kind and loving to people all around us.”