When Sunny Days Aren’t So Sunny
I’m sitting by the pool with my neighbor, laughing because my kids are already driving me crazy and it’s only been a few weeks. They’re picking on each other. I’m tripping on their toys. The baby’s out of control.
But we’re having a blast. Lazy mornings; No real schedule; Ice cream for dinner.
That’s what summer is all about, right?
But I look up and see tears in my friend’s eyes. She’s a single mom going through a painful divorce. Her daughter just graduated, and will be leaving in the fall. She’s been struggling at work, fearful of losing her job. This is not a happy season for her at all.
Summer. Just saying the word makes us smile – conjures up images of sunny days full of family, friends and fun. And because it’s a season that so many of us look forward to, it’s easy to miss the fact that not everyone is having the time of their lives.
So how can we help those around us who may be having a less-than-ideal summer? Here are a few ways to consider reaching out.
Party With a Purpose
Summer is a time for get-togethers - the perfect opportunity to connect with those around us. Take a moment to pray before gathering with friends and family. Ask God to direct you to those who may need some extra encouragement right now.
Create Some Encouragement
My children love creating, and I’m always looking for ways to help them share God’s love. We keep simple craft items on hand to create uplifting art throughout the summer. Sometimes we send to homebound grandparents, sick friends or someone who’s lost a loved one. We find easy craft ideas on Pinterest for the nursing home – whatever might bring a little sunshine in from the outside.
You may even want to introduce them to Bible journaling. Check out DaySpring’s Illustrated Faith store to find goodies and tools to help you get started. Summer is the perfect time to reflect on God’s Word together.
Stand for Someone
Last summer, we lost a neighbor to cancer – a mother who left behind her husband and young son. My 7-year-old daughter was determined to help their family in some way. We decided on a lemonade stand, shared our idea via fliers and social media, and were amazed at the outpouring of support. Not only did the donation jar fill up, but we ended up with a spontaneous gathering of folks from near and far, all united for a common purpose. Strangers became friends, God’s love was shared, and we were able to bless that family with much-needed financial support.
Make Prayer a Priority
We often hear the phrase “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” While this is a heartfelt sentiment, it can also become something we say, but then forget all about in life’s busyness. To help prioritize prayer, we’ve created a prayer wall this summer. It’s a small space off the beaten path at home devoted to anyone needing prayer right now. We keep small slips of paper and (wall-friendly!) tape for hanging drawings, verses, photos – whatever will remind us of the people we’re lifting up daily. As summer ends, we’ll sit down and share stories of how we’ve seen God working. It’s a wonderful way to begin putting faith into action.
What started as a poolside chat with my friend that day ended up becoming a turning point for her. She needed someone to hear her heart, to point her to Jesus, and to remind her that she’s never alone. I went away committed to check in on her regularly and pray for opportunities to lift her up.
As we look around this summer at our loved ones and our world, will you also join me in looking up, too? Let’s take note of those who are not having such a sunny time and let’s commit to lifting them up in prayer as well as actively sharing God’s love. Whether it be a lemonade stand or a simple hug, let’s open our hearts to allow God to work through us to ease the suffering of those around us.
Know someone who isn’t having such a sunny time this summer? Why not send them a quick Ecard to let them know you are praying for them? It might be just the message they need today.
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