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Blessing a Friend in Need Without Breaking the Bank

Guest post from Sarah of SarahBeckman.org

She wasn’t someone I had met personally, but we were down-the-street neighbors. In fact, until her diagnosis, I hadn’t ever spoken to her. But once I heard the news, she captured a place in my heart.

It seems these days, everyone knows someone with cancer.

I was not able to help her as often as I would have liked, but I tried to find small ways to bless her—a meal here and there, or a text of encouragement before or after treatments. And I believe the Biblical command to “love our neighbor as ourselves” carries even more weight when someone is facing a time of trial in their life.

One day my new friend down the street came to mind while I was at the grocery store, which was just down from Keva Juice, a frozen drink shop. I remembered another friend’s dependence on smoothies after she had endured chemotherapy and found it hard to eat or swallow. I knew her order by heart, and had often delivered it to her at home or the hospital.

So I texted my neighbor, and offered to bring her something from Keva Juice. At first she was reluctant. She said she didn’t want me to make a special trip and had no idea what she’d want. I said, “I’m here anyway. I will text you a link to their menu, and you can choose what you’d like. Text me your order and I’ll deliver it on my way home.”

She found an option on the menu, and within 10 minutes I was at her door with a cup full of hope that cost me less than five dollars.

People who are facing crisis of health or life don’t want to be a bother. And often, grand gestures are difficult to receive. (Really, most things are hard to receive; after all, we’re women!) But with intentionality, a small expense and just a dash of time, it’s easier than you think to bless someone in need.

Here are 10 ways you can bless someone without breaking the bank:

1. Post a message on a support site. (Caring Bridge or other)

2. Text a scripture verse once a week. (I love Romans 15:13)

3. Offer to drive kids to sports or activities.

4. Order their favorite candy or guilty pleasure to be sent from Amazon.

5. Post a funny video to their social media site, or email.

6. Deliver a fresh plant or flowers. (Trader Joe’s has gorgeous flowers for less than $5!)

7. Call and pray over the phone.

8. Stop by the hospital and do a makeup refresh or deliver a new lip moisturizer.

9. Order a pizza to be sent to the house.

10. Send a card in the mail. (Yes, good old-fashioned handwritten mail with a stamp!)

You don’t have to break the bank to offer a small blessing in the midst of a friend’s dark days.

Whatever the trial, our job is to shine a light in their darkest spaces, even if that little sliver of sunshine comes in a Styrofoam cup with a straw.

Sarah Beckman is an author and speaker. Her book, Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial, released February 14, 2017. In it you’ll find more practical ways to support those you care about in the rough patches of life and the inspiration to follow through.

photo source

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35 Comments

  • Mrs S says:

    Thank you! My husband was wounded in combat, and we have had some truly great support from our church family, including babysitting, meals, and an amazing amount of prayer support. Please know that “little” things make a HUGE difference. Bringing in the mail when you come to visit, offering a ride while the car is being worked on, tea at your kitchen table (since mine is buried under paperwork), a card to say hello, sharing your favorite books/movies… it makes SUCH a big impact. Please don’t stay away because you feel like you’re interrupting or you don’t know what to say. We know it’s weird and at times uncomfortable–but please tell us about your life too, we still care even when we’re coping with our own challenges.

    • Quinn says:

      Like this article!
      And thank you Mrs. S for sharing your experience on top of it.
      Recently my Uncle died and I couldn’t go back to the funeral and I felt like I wanted to do more and actually be there.
      Shared Casting Crowns song Just be Held and the Footprints Poem with my aunt before he passed. Sent the book Hank finds an Egg to encourage her that the way Hank cared so loving and gently cares for the egg our Heavenly Father cares for her in the same way.
      Mrs. S you said it perfectly. Sometimes I don’t know what to say or do.
      Thanks for these simple ways to bless someone.

      • Sarah says:

        Quinn, sounds like you did some great things! The book has even more tangible ways to help even if you aren’t available to be there. We don’t have to be fancy, just show we care! Your ideas were great.

    • Sarah says:

      Mrs. S, Thank you for affirming that people want little things. And keeping life normal aka “tell us about your life too!” These are all great pieces of advice!

  • Carisa Stahl says:

    We often don’t realize how what we consider “little things” can be such a “BIG BLESSING” to someone else.

  • tess says:

    I don’t mean to be overly critical, but please make sure whatever you’re doing as a “blessing” is received as a “blessing”. I have had bone cancer… I most welcomed the time in the hospital when my family had given themselves a break and went out for a sit-down dinner. I had quiet moments to reflect and pray in solitude with my
    Father. I would have hated “barely acquaintances” filling my
    “peace time”. I mostly appreciate
    cards/ letters- not unexpected drop-
    bys.
    I was with a dear friend the last days
    before she passed. She had a visitor
    from her church whom she barely knew. He read poetry that he had written and stayed far too long; I assume he thought he was being
    friendly. I wanted to scream! Let this
    precious woman spend her moments with the ones she is closest to. My friend was far too gracious to be so
    blunt.
    I think my point is, make sure what is done is welcomed by the recipient- not done to make the giver “feel good”.
    Not everyone is comfortable with
    having attention. If you are invited in, THEN jump in:) Define “blessing” by the recipient’s standard.

    • K says:

      Very good point. I see so many trying to bless without asking what would bless the recipient. And I’ve been the recipient of many “blessings” that were actually burdens that I did not want & had not asked for. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” He’s the best roll model. What’s a blessing to you may not be a blessing to me. I want to be someone that asks how I can help or what would help.

      I would love to have someone to just be helping hands as I’m working long hours to get a business going without family to help with anything. I’ve been struggling to get necessities done. Just doing the dishes or folding towels some days would be a help, or freezer cooking–maybe a 2 hour block.

      • Sarah says:

        K,
        You make an excellent point “ASK PERMISSION” or even specifically offer to help with household chores. In the book I talk about generic offers of “let me know what I can do” as being unhelpful because they put the burden on the recipient to “come up with” something for people to do, and also they are harder to accept. Whenever possible, make a specific offer “I’m going to Target, what can I pick up for you?” or “I’d love to help with household tasks, what day is good for you?” This makes it so much easier to receive!

    • Sarah says:

      K, SO TRUE! I have a whole section in my book about what relationship you are to the person and what is appropriate based on that! Also, a whole chapter about “It’s not about you” which basically means “don’t read poetry and stay too long, because it’s not about you.” I love your feedback here. Well said.

  • Theresa says:

    While a card might seem like a great idea, it can get overwhelming if a lot of people are sending cards. When my aunt was dying of cancer, my uncle had stacks of cards that hadn’t been opened yet because their mail was so overwhelming. A better alternative: visiting even if only for 5 minutes or a gift card to a restaurant or a coffee shop. My uncle and cousins were extremely grateful for any restaurant or grocery gift cards they received during such a hard time. I was so relieved to see that figurines or knick knacks were not on the list. Many well meaning people will give a figurine or statue to an I’ll person not realizing the I’ll person has already received a ton of those!

    • Sarah says:

      Theresa, Yes! I love your wisdom. Gift cards are helpful. “things that line the shelves” are not. People mean well, but often don’t think through what would I want?

  • Nicole says:

    I love this! Thank you – so much!

  • Natalie says:

    You are so kind. As someone who is very ill, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you doing that for your friend and for these great suggestions. You make the world a better place. And Carissa is right, little things can be HUGE to others!

    • Sarah says:

      Oh Natalie! Sorry to hear that. My goal in writing the book is that people would reach out instead of stay put or do nothing because they don’t know what to do! Praying you’re better soon.

  • Rachel says:

    This is my all time favorite post! A little love goes a long way.

    • Sarah says:

      Rachel, That’s so awesome! Hope you’ll share it so others can benefit! When we understand that doing something small means a lot, maybe we will help more people avoid the dreaded “doing nothing and feeling guilty later!”

  • Catherine says:

    All these suggestions are great! I love sending thoughtful texts, as I know how much it means to me 🙂

    • sarah says:

      Catherine,
      YES! So easy. and even if they don’t reply, we remember it’s not about us, and it’s about brightening their day or encouraging them . Easy and doable, but so impactful.

  • Karen says:

    I’m so glad you shared this. Thank you for giving us small ways to give hope!

  • Jessica says:

    I am not religious, but I do subscribe to the philosophy of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I am in a lot of knitting and crocheting groups, and many of us make items for those in need. Chemo caps, angel gowns, prayer shawls and squares are all some of the things we knit and crochet for our friends, neighbors and total strangers who need to feel the love. While yarn can be expensive, it is possible to find affordable materials. Even a chemo cap usually only requires about 100-125 yards of worsted weight yarn to knit, and with a cotton/bamboo or bamboo/wool blend for softness, will only cost around $10 in materials.

    • Sarah says:

      Jessica,
      What an AWESOME way to serve! Thank you for sharing that. And time and talents are just as important as “treasure” aka how much something costs. You are a huge blessing. And seriously, when you have no hair it’s COLD (that’s what my friends tell me!) so that’s a perfect gift. made with love, thoughtfulness and great soft material. WINNER!

  • Mrs U says:

    I loved this article! She’s right, we all do know someone in this position. I will save this post and use all these ideas. The smoothie idea is GREAT!

    • Sarah says:

      Mrs. U, Sometimes we come across great ideas without even knowing it. The key is to be watchful for opportunities to serve those we know who are facing trial. Delighted you like this idea. : )

  • LisaC says:

    When my husband was going through cancer treatment, a friend left me a chicken dinner on my front porch every Sunday. She would call to say it was there, she didn’t want to take up our energy with a visit. I will never forget the acts of kindness people did during that time.

    • Sarah says:

      SO BEAUTIFUL! And so important to know that energy needs to be conserved… drop and go, people. Drop and go! (unless your friend asks you to stay or you have been invited) I recommend leaving a cooler on the front porch to allow others to know you’re “receiving” the gift of food…but often it’s so much energy to answer the door and “talk about it” to every single person that brings something. This was such a great example! So glad you received such an abundant blessing in your time of need.

  • Robyn says:

    Very sweet ideas! Just a caution that a plant or fresh flowers might not be a good idea. My best friend is going through treatment for cancer and she is not allowed to have any live plants or flowers because the chemo lowers your immunity to the point that these can make you sick. It was sad for me to see all the flowers and plants people sent being given away or thrown away.

    • Lauren says:

      This is often the case for recipients of organ transplants as well, so good to check if flowers are ok first. Otherwise lots of great ideas! 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Robyn and Lauren, YES! So wise, be sure you “follow the guidelines” with food or plants etc depending on the type of trial!

  • Susie says:

    Thank you for posting this and for all the comments. Such great ideas to show your love to someone .

  • Alicia says:

    Our daughter has been dealing with the ups and downs of chronic illness for four years now. There hasn’t been a single thing that someone has done for us that was too small or insignificant. Every card or little trinket for our daughter or batch of cookies was very appreciated.

    I would add that while some of blessings bringers were close family and friends, some were just acquaintances from church or the community. It never was awkward or odd when someone we didn’t know sent a card– it might have meant more because they were under no obligation to do so.

    It’s really nice to not feel so alone when facing a serious family issue. Doing anything is better than nothing. Thanks for sharing. <3

    • Sarah says:

      Alicia,
      Four years is a long time! I’m so glad to hear people are still remembering you. And yes, a card from someone we don’t know well goes a long way, because those we know better would bring different more personal kinds of blessings. Thanks for pointing out that distinction. In Alongside, I refer to it as “Relationship Tiers” and give ways that are appropriate to share or help based on your Tier. It’s proved quite helpful to people, and you hit the nail on the head!!!

  • Chris says:

    Agree with Alicia. I was so touched by the things people did for me when I had cancer treatment last year, including Crystal, who doesn’t even know me IRL. So many times when I wasn’t feeling well, and the mailbox would have cards of encouragement or little things to cheer me up. It was not a coincidence to me, I know it was people listening to Our Lord when He put me on their hearts. I saved everything and put it in a pretty box and we put it under our Christmas tree last year. The love that is in that box is precious.

  • Aimee Hadden says:

    Such good ideas! I will never forget a friend sending me a sweet card and a couple sachets of tea right after the birth of our third child. It was a small gesture but meant a lot.

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