By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
The Fall is beautiful, but it's also when our schedules tend to fill up, and our stress levels can start to rise. School, work, sick kids, sports, upcoming holidays, and more can feel like a heavy weight to wade through. This makes it the perfect season to pause for a moment to think of a sweet way to bless a friend or neighbor you know has a lot on their plate.
Simple acts of kindness can make all the difference in our daily lives! We each want to be seen. It doesn't require a huge gesture of kindness to love on and encourage others in our lives. A tool that can help you get started in determining the best way to communicate love to those close to you is the Five Love Languages.
Last year our entire small group took this test together and talked about things that have made us feel seen and loved in the past. Now when I consider how to encourage these close friends, I think about what their top love languages are. I try to always keep an eye out for something special to get my friend who loves gifts. I make an effort to plan play dates, girl's nights, and dinners out with my friend that loves quality time. I always try to ask my friend who appreciates acts of service how I can help when we are together and never leave without helping with the dishes. Through my actions, I want them to hear, see, know, and experience God's love and encouragement.
Here are a few fun ideas of how to bless someone in your life this Fall:
1. Send a Handwritten Note
Who doesn't love snail mail? For some reason, even though I rarely get fun mail, I still look forward to opening that mailbox and seeing what lies inside every evening. Grab some blank cards, add a thoughtful note of love and encouragement for a friend, and pop it in the mail.
Recently I received a card just like this in the mail from an anonymous source. The card included a note of encouragement and a gift card to my favorite coffee place, and it 100% made my day. I still have no idea who sent this thoughtful gift, but I am so thankful for their generosity.
2. Gift an Encouraging Book
I have learned so much about God through the writings of other amazing Christian authors. A few key books have helped me wade through the deep questions of my faith, encouraged me in dark seasons, or inspired me to take big leaps of faith.
A few of the titles that have made a big impact on my spiritual journey include The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner, Foster the Family by Jamie Finn, Miracles by Eric Metaxas, The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan, and Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie.
There are more, but these are a few that stand out in my mind and have deeply challenged and encouraged my soul. When I have a friend I want to encourage, I love to give them one of the books that have encouraged my soul. God has often gifted others with the words we want our friends to hear, and books are a great way to send a hope-filled message to someone in your heart.
3. Gift a Dinner
Choose a meal to cook for someone, a dinner date to go out and catch up with someone, or surprise a friend by covering their meal for them. Food should be the sixth love language! Sharing a meal means so much to people. Good food, conversation, and time with a friend is a lovely blessing to give to others!
4. Bake Something Yummy
Fall is the time of year we start baking all those amazing apple, cinnamon, and pumpkin treats! I love pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, apple pie, and the list could just go on and on! Put an extra batch of your favorite treat in the oven and deliver it to a friend or neighbor. Their bellies and hearts will be so happy.
5. Offer to Babysit
When life gets full, it's easy for couples with young kids to drift apart. Date nights are crucial because sometimes they are the only uninterrupted time you have with your spouse in a week. My husband and I try to connect daily, but sometimes we are so exhausted at the end of the day that we can't even think. Date nights are life-giving to us while we navigate the chaos of raising four young kids. Gifting a night of free babysitting is a wonderful way to bless a couple and to sow into their kiddos.
6. Pray with Others
When things get tough, we ask our friends to join in prayer for us. It's important that we pause and actually join with others to take the time to pray right then with them, so they know and hear our hearts for them. If praying out loud is intimidating, another great way to show them that you are really taking their request to the Lord is to write out a prayer for them and give it to them.
7. Take a Walk Together
For those of us who love quality time, long walks, coffee dates, play dates, and more are what fill up our souls. Fall is the perfect weather to spend quality outdoor time with friends and family. Remember, YOU are a blessing. Offering time, space, and a listening ear is a way to bless others.
8. Meet a Tangible Need
The holiday season is right around the corner; for many, this time of year can be very stressful. If you see a friend, neighbor, or community member with a tangible need and you have the means to meet it, you can take a tremendous amount of stress off their shoulders. When you know Christmas is around the corner, unexpected expenses in the Fall can compound the anxiety people experience during this season.
9. Rake Some Leaves
We live in a state filled with trees! As the seasons change, a lot of work goes into cleaning up and maintaining our yards. Help a neighbor, parent, or grandparent by helping clear those massive piles of leaves.
10. Drop Off an Unexpected Gift
Fall is the best time to gift flowers, desserts, chocolate, coffee, Fall themed decor, and fall drinks. When you come across something that reminds you of someone you love, get it for them and give them a gift "just because." They are sure to feel loved and seen by your generosity.
The Bible calls us to 'serve one another in love' (Galatians 5:13). Taking time to do something you know will bless others in your life is one great way to live out this verse. You can even apply these things to a stranger God puts on your heart. Your unexpected kindness is a great way to display God's gracious love to the people we encounter on a daily basis.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/IrynaImage
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.