A Summer to Remember
Amy Bryant, GCA Parent

Summer is here, y’all!  I think we can all agree that we LOVE summer!  In summer, the hustle and bustle of the school year finally winds down and we can all relax and rest for a bit. And while that is great…we ALL need rejuvenation and rest…we (I’m also including my own family here) can have the tendency to make summer all about us - our very own families.  How much can we pack into these 10 weeks?  How many home projects can we do?  How many cookouts, pool days, and playdates can we schedule?  Are our kiddos reading enough or exercising enough?  Did we go on summer vacation, and was it amazing? 

While all those things are great and beneficial, we also need to turn our focus outward.  Summer is a time of relaxed schedules, less responsibilities, and more free time!  What better way to take advantage of that than to find opportunities to love and serve others?  If we want our children to grow up and be leaders, we first have to teach them how to be servants.  Jesus was the ultimate example of a servant leader.  Our goals in serving others should be first to bring God glory and point others to Him, and second, to allow others to feel Christ’s love through us.  In John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

Here are a few ideas of ways to love on and serve others this summer. 

·       Make a card for someone and mail it to them

·       Pass out bottled water and snacks to the garbage collectors, postal workers, UPS delivery staff, etc.

·       Make a dessert/snack for your neighbor

·       Gather shopping carts from the parking lot at the store

·       Make “Blessing Bags” for homeless people

·       Hand out popsicles at the playground

·       Take cookies to the police department or fire station

·       Clean out rooms and donate toys

·       Help an elderly neighbor with yardwork

·       Donate NEW stuffed animals to Knox Co Juvenile court for court cases with children involved or donate used stuffed animals to Young Williams Animal Shelter

·       Volunteer at your church!

·       Draw pictures and deliver them to the veterans at Ben Atchley Veterans Home

·       Donate non-perishable, easy open food items to Food For Kids or make food deliveries (for more information, contact amanda.ballard@gcarams.org).

·       Volunteer at Laundry Love serving others by doing laundry (http://www.laundryloveknoxville.com/)

·       Volunteer to donate or sort/organize at the Compassion Closet for adoptive and foster families (https://compassioncloset.com/)

·       Distribute groceries at FISH Hospitality Pantry (http://www.fishpantry.org/index.php)

·       Go together with other families to cook/sponsor a meal at Hope Resource Center for parents that have chosen life for their babies (contact Megan Matthews, 865-525-4673, Megan@Knoxvillehope.com)

·       Go together with other families to cook/sponsor a meal for International Students at UT through Bridges International (https://utk.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/utbridgeswordpresscom)


These are just a few ideas.  Anything you do to love or serve others as a family will teach your kids that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:25). As you go out and fulfill these physical needs, make sure you let the recipients know why you are loving on them/serving them.  We want others to feel the love of Christ through us and “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.  As I said earlier, summer is a time for family, but what better way to spend time together as a family than by loving our neighbors just as Jesus commanded in Mark 12:31. 

The GCA family can have a HUGE impact on our community for the kingdom if we will all commit to serving others this summer.  We can’t wait to hear stories of how you and your kids loved your neighbor and what your family learned from it!