How to help

So, this week has been quite possibly the worst week we’ve had yet during my husband’s deployment.  Over the past few weeks, my health has been declining, and by the end of this week it took everything in me just to get out of bed. On Monday, we kicked off the week in the doctor’s office for Harper, who had yet another round of cellulitis and needed antibiotics.  Monday night my budding gymnast had an encounter with a table, landing us in the urgent care office getting her foot wrapped and booted for the week.  Then I had a crazy doctor’s visit myself in which he told me he suspects two different autoimmune thyroid diseases, but also is concerned about and running tests on two suspicious looking nodules.  I had a (nearly) flat tire, spent countless hours sitting in traffic in the rain, my preteen got asked out by a boy for the first time ever (tragic, right?!), between my three year old and the dog who doesn’t care for wet grass I’ve cleaned more bodily wastes than I care to count, and a nasty cold started making its way through our home.  I was feeling a bit like Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day(s).

BUT, through this insanity, I have been extremely blessed by friends and family that have acted as the hands and feet of Jesus.  And that’s what prompted me to write this post… Because I have been asked dozens of times by wonderful people who want to help but don’t know how, and the truth is I really never know what to tell anyone when they ask what we need or how they can help us.  So, this week I observed, and I also reflected on the past few years as we’ve faced crazy circumstances the things that have been done for us that meant the most, and I’m recording my thoughts here- not for any of you reading, per say, but for myself to look back on when I see someone facing a season of need.  Here are three things we can do:

  1. PRAY!  I cannot tell you enough about the power of prayer- there is such a tremendous feeling that comes over me when I’m facing crisis and I know my brothers and sisters in Christ are going before the throne of Almighty God on my family’s behalf.  I’m going to be honest- I have found in myself this strange inability to pray for us in the midst of trauma.  I have been on my knees by my daughter’s body in the hospital, weeping and trying so hard to find words to express my needs to the Lord… and not being able to speak.  That’s why I so often reach out to our prayer warriors in those moments to pray.  I know that God knows my heart and my thoughts and I don’t have to say a word, but there’s comfort in knowing that I have a family in Christ saying the words that I can’t find in those moments.  And in the day to day living with a daughter with special needs and the unknown and a husband who has been gone the last few months, my prayers sometimes feel a bit repetitive, or hurried, or whiny, so it’s been an encouragement to have friends lifting us in prayer on the regular ol’ hard days, as well.
  2. Be present.  This one is huge.  We’ve had a lot of hospital exposure over the last three years.  We spent six weeks living at Duke, and it lifted our spirits so much to have people pop in to say hello, or bring a bag of goodies, or treat us to a meal.  From chaplains to pastors to friends we had not seen in years, everyone that took the time to just show up touched our hearts.  We’ve had scary moments in the hospital where people have just stood with us and held our hands and cried with us.  There have been times when all I could remember to do was breathe, but there were people present in our lives to meet needs I had forgotten we had.  And it isn’t just physical presence- texts and messages and emails and phone calls all make me feel a little less lonely.  (I think that goes for anyone living life!)  I have one friend who has contacted me pretty much daily during this deployment… even if it’s a simple text asking if I’m still standing.  I have learned that a simple text can go a long way!  When you’re in the middle of a battle, you don’t always remember who offered what help, and sometimes you’re so busy with the battle that you forget you’re not alone.  Presence is important.
  3. Just do.  Some people (present company included) have a difficult time asking for help.  There can be different reasons for that- not wanting to admit they need help, not wanting to be a burden or nuisance, not really knowing what kind of help to ask for, or not having time to even ask for help.  So just do something.  Take a meal, give mom a break from the kids, do a load of laundry, mow the grass, send a gift certificate for takeout, offer the kids a ride to school or church, pick up something from the grocery store, deliver a special treat (caffeine for a tired mama!), collect money for hospital expenses… anything.  Don’t wait for an invitation.  If you have a gift, use it.  If you think of something, do it.  I can promise you nothing goes unappreciated.

As I said, this is a reminder to myself… I have had ample opportunity to see God use people in many ways right here in my life, and I’ve learned that I have failed in many ways to serve others.  I want the experiences I’ve had to teach me to be more like Jesus, and He’s given me lots of examples to show me how to love others by the love we’ve been shown.  Now it’s your turn… share some ideas you have on how to serve families in times of chaos!

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