This morning, I’m honored to share a touching story from my sweet sister, Jennifer Hallmark. Parenting is tough. Parenting alone is even harder. There are so many days when faced with a situation I don’t know how to handle, I wait anxiously for my husband to return home so we can prayerfully determine a solution together. And when our daughter was young, I’d wait for my husband to return home so I could have a moment of respite or someone to communicate–on an adult level–with. As you read Jennifer’s story, pause to consider the men and women you know. Might any of them be lonely? In need of support, an encouraging word, or a moment of pampering?
Support Sisters by Jennifer Hallmark
Christmas presents, plates of hotdogs with all the fixings, and children playing and laughing abounded through the small cul-de-sac of a sub-division. Adults and children alike opened presents, excited at newly found treasure. Our church celebrated Christmas with this lane of two-apartment brick homes, occupied mostly with single mothers and their children, and widows. The ladies and their children found a place in our hearts after the initial visit, so our women’s ministry group brainstormed on ways to further help. How could we connect with these ladies to extend the outreach past New Years and the lifespan of the gifts?
Support Sisters. In the past, our church ladies participated in Secret Sisters, where we would draw each other’s names and secretly send cards and gifts for an extended period of time. Support Sisters was a play on this concept. This time we would reach outside the church walls. Our sisters would be the precious ladies in the sub-division.
Our first step was to garner support from the ladies in the church, then go door-to-door within the cul-de-sac and find who was interested. If a lady showed interest, she filled out an informational sheet so her Support Sister from church could send cards, pay a visit, or phone to see how she was doing. We invited all the Support Sisters to church functions and especially to all women’s events. Ten ladies from the complex signed up and we paired ladies, considering their age and common interests. An initial visit ensued where the new friends took time to meet, which led to visits, calls, and several of these special ladies attending women’s events and even regular church services. We found several women to be Christians who’d lost connection with any church and needed a friend who wouldn’t judge them.
A favorite event that many of our new friends attended was a day spa specifically for single women we offered one Saturday. The women in the women’s ministry provided haircuts, [my daughter and a fellow cosmetologist volunteered their services], manicures, and pedicures. It took the concept of “foot washing” to a new level! We offered snacks and ended the day with makeovers and pictures.
We continued the outreach for a year. Apartments like these have a large turnover as ladies married or were able to move to better housing. Still, lives were affected for the good in the short time, not only for our new friends, but ourselves. We learned to push past our comfort zone and share the love of Christ with others.
Can a year make a difference? Women’s lives were changed by a group of ladies willing to push past the limits of a normal outreach activity…
Jennifer Hallmark is a writer of southern fiction and women’s ministry consultant. She has a website, http://www.jenniferhallmark.com and shares a writer’s reference blog, http://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.blogspot.com. Her first novel in the trilogy, Journey of Grace: A New Beginning is currently searching for a good home. Jennifer resides with husband Danny in Alabama and loves her family, dog Max and coffee shops, in no particular order.
You can read her previous post on revolutionizing our world with the love of Christ here.
Thanks Jennifer S.!
Jennifer H, always love having you here! (As to my readers. 🙂 ) Keep loving, sweet lady!
Jennifer, thank you for sharing this wonderful story written by another Jennifer. It brought a lot of sweet and poignant memories into my mind. My Mom always had a “Secret Pal’ from her guild at church, and she took it all very seriously. She and her friends didn’t have a lot, so they looked forward to these small remembrances of each other. Today, with so many of us having so much… while at the same time others having so little…it is appropriate and thoughtful that this group of women reached outside their church’s walls to befriend “strangers in their midst” who needed both the caring and the sharing of this outreach. I am touched and humbled by this act of love!
Audrey, I agree. And I love the story you share about your mom. Those little things can mean so much! Just knowing others care–that God cares–can bring such hope to even the most challenging or painful situations.
Have a blessed week, my sweet sister.
Thanks Audrey! I think we received a greater blessing by giving than our sweet “sisters.” It brought a whole new meaning to secret pal… 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story with us.