My good friend and her husband just found out that he has lung cancer. Stage 3 to be exact. They have 3 young kids, 5th grade and below.
I admire my friend greatly in how she is processing this. I admire her not just because of her strength, but because of her weakness. I admire her for her smiles, but also for her tears, for her moments of confidence and her moments of “What if…”
I admire her, also, because she has accepted the realization that her family is going to need help and that it’s okay for her to ask for it. When we authentically admit we need help, we allow our community to uplift us. We enable them to use the spiritual and physical gifts God has given them. We empower them to fulfill God’s desire for us on this earth: to carry each other’s burdens, to care for the sick and the needy, to love our neighbor as ourself. But to set off this chain reaction, we must reveal the need. We must be vulnerable in asking for what we lack so others can pour into the space where we have need.
I’ve been thinking a lot about needs and how to fill them, but also how each of us are designed to be able to fulfill specific needs. There is a kind of pairing, I think. But I wonder if oftentimes, we dismiss our gifts because it doesn’t seem like they fit the situation. But maybe there are more ways to help than we realize? Maybe what we feel we could give isn’t much, but what if it actually meant the world to the receiver? I wonder if we spent less time qualifying/quantifying our worth and more time just giving, if we’d all be much better off?
The other day, I knew I didn’t have time to throw together a meal for my friend (and just to be honest, cooking is not one of my spiritual gifts), but I was going to the store and wanted to pick up some flowers for her. And then, I realized: I could ask her what she needs at the store. (Because don’t we all have one thing we really need or at least could use at any given moment?)
I sent her a quick text:
Hey! I’m running to the store. Is there anything I can pick up for you while I’m there?
She texted back almost immediately:
Iceberg lettuce and some Hershey’s kisses
I picked up some flowers, too, and dropped them off at her house, complete with a chat, a prayer, and a hug. I’m not sure if she needed the lettuce or the prayer more, but God orchestrated it all in one fell swoop: physical and spiritual nourishment in a time of depletion.
In worldly terms, it didn’t take me a lot of time or money, but it was just enough to meet her need at that moment. No exact quantification needed. Just enough.
I asked the SDG Sisterhood and other friends on Facebook what they have done to serve and how they have been served in time of crisis and they came up with some fabulous, out-of-the-box thinking. I’m guessing that something here will trigger your spiritual giftings and you can jot down the idea to use when someone around you is in crisis. And if you have another idea, please leave it in the comments. (Of course, some of these ideas have stories behind them and we love to get to know our sisters, so I’ve given you the stories, too. Makes for a longer post, but so much more interesting! Stories are in italics.)
- Meals! Freezer meals, sandwich fixings, muffins included for breakfast, things that we can eat when we need them. (Make sure you arrange for delivery times and check for food allergies.)
- Notes of encouragement, and understanding if someone doesn’t remember to say thank you or doesn’t act like you think they should.
- Taking the extra time to do more than like a status by sending a personal message or text of encouragement with a scripture.
- Not asking the details is just as important as being willing to listen. Sometimes talking about it while you’re in the midst or the trial is the worst thing to do or it is simply exhausting to answer questions after dealing with what must be dealt with. Talking will happen later if it can’t happen right away.
- Prayer truly is the greatest gift we can give each other when we are in crisis, and it’s important to let the hurting person know you’re doing so on occasion.
- Child care. I fell and messed up my ankle pretty badly one day in front of the carpool line at my kids’ school. Cringe. Went into shock and passed out cold. By the time I managed to get home, a sweet friend who had been in that line and saw the whole escapade was waiting at my door. She took my kids, fed them, entertained them, etc so I could go to the hospital. She would not take no for an answer. Just rounded them up and off they went. She knew I never would have asked for help.
- Two women came and deep cleaned my entire house while I slept. I just went and folded laundry for a chronically ill friend who told me it exhausts her. Another friend showed up at my house with a truck full of groceries when she knew money was really tight. A friend of mine told me two insightful things I wholeheartedly agree with: (1) if you need help, learn how to receive help; (2) if you see someone who needs help, don’t say, “how can I help you?” and wait for that person – who is most likely embarrassed, exhausted, overwhelmed – to come with a plan for you; instead say, “i can pick up your kids on tuesday or thursday, which would you prefer?” when you’re really in crisis, it’s the everyday, practical, life necessities that become majorly overwhelming. it’s where the rubber meets the road and where desperation and hopelessness begin to take root. when my friends met those needs – in my own personal life – i found i could that, if only for that brief moment, i could breathe again.
- At Christmas, someone left gifts each of the 12 days of Christmas…this actually happened two separate Christmases — 2009 & 2011. DOUBLY BLESSED…and we never figured out who did it!!!
1st Day of Christmas – giant turkey & pears
2nd Day of Christmas – turtle candies & Dove Chocolate
3rd Day of Christmas – $20 gift card to Sonic Drive-In for French fries
4th Day of Christmas – funny poem & gift card to get chicken KFC
5th Day of Christmas – gift card for onion rings Cheddar’s Casual Cafe
6th Day of Christmas – another funny poem & a gift card to Panda Express
7th Day of Christmas – Redbox gift certificate, Swedish Fish & other movie candies
8th Day of Christmas – Lots of Oreos & gift card to H-E-B for milk
9th Day of Christmas – care packages for the girls (spa kit items)
10th Day of Christmas – care packages for the guys ($20 Main Event gift card)
11th Day of Christmas – Christmas CD
12th Day of Christmas – Giant drum of popcorn
- One of my most precious memories after Noah died was looking outside to see a coworker mowing my lawn. Never stopped in. Never called. Just showed up, mowed, and left. I REALLY appreciated that.
- When David was in the hospital for a major unexpected event (the one where he actually was clinically dead for 52 minutes), a friend offered to help organize all our medical & insurance information. She bought special folders & all the office supplies needed to get it all organized for us. When we were able to give her everything we’d collected over the 2-3 weeks of seeing neurologists, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, nutritionists & dieticians, and our family practicioner…we had a serious pile of papers, information, and instructions. It needed organizing. Not to mention all the insurance & billing stuff. It was a *HUGE* gift from someone who didn’t really know us that well, that just wanted to do something, but didn’t feel it was totally appropriate to actually visit during that time. We had a *lot* of visitors.
- Someone with money, but no time & really not a lot of relationship with us, asked what kinds of drinks & foods/snacks those of us living at the hospital at the time with David liked. She went out and spent must’ve spent about $300-400 on bottled water, juice, milk, tea, Snapple, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, crackers, fruit, snack bars, potato chips…I can’t remember what all was in there. But she bought & brought them in a bunch of those styrofoam coolers & reusable bags. They sat in the St. David’s Round Rock ICU for two weeks…feeding anyone who came through…not just our friends/family. It was really soooo incredibly generous! We even took home some leftovers. It was amazing. The staff had never seen anything like it happen before.
- Give $20 in a roll of quarters for people in a hospital.
- Take them for a cup of coffee – your treat.
- Lend the family your neighborhood pool key (if this is allowed) and let the family come swim.
- Give gift cards to Target, local grocery stores, etc. so they can stock up on things people don’t normally think to bring.
In 2009 when my husband was unemployed…some friends invited our family over for a night at their house. It was the day after he was fired, so our hearts were super heavy. They went all out, and decorated their backyard with twinkle lights & windchimes and outdoor knick-knacks & decorations. They made a campfire & after we ate a yummy BBQ dinner, we all roasted marshmallows. The kids enjoyed the hammock they had strung up, and all the fun little things decorating their back yard. It was really over the top…and it was summer…not even close to Christmas. They just made us feel SO. INCREDIBLY. LOVED. They hit all of the love languages that night. They spent quality time with us, served us, spent time on decorating everything for us (gift), lots of hugs & prayer together, and affirmed us with their encouraging words of friendship and love.
- Go with them the lawyer because like going to a doctor in a crisis, you don’t understand everything that is being said to you.
- Pack a picnic lunch and take a friend out for lunch at work.
- Plant flowers in their garden.
- Get a group of people together to assemble freezer meals.
- Sit in the waiting room with them and give them no pressure to talk.
- Take the kids.
- Fill up their car with gas.
- Bath and body “smellies” with a big bow dropped off to a tired mom or someone who just needs some pampering.
- Spa gift cards.
- I had a friend that mailed me a little note or small gift once a week for a month before Christmas during my first Christmas after my divorce.
- Went and visited a friends elderly mother when the friend was needing a break.
- I have had two dear friends who lost their husbands. Both quite young. One friend told me the sweetest thing anyone did was to hire a massage therapist for her, since she wouldn’t have as much normal touch in her life. The other said a friend mailed her a case of Puffs kleenex every month.
- I recently had a crisis, and someone I didn’t know brought me food, stayed and talked and prayed with me, and has called me a few times to check on me. That meant so much.
- Taking your friend’s laundry and doing it at your house.
- Just to listen and sometimes just cry with you as you process things is huge, but meals are a quite a blessing. When our oldest had hospital stays and someone came to get the other kids it provided relief for all of us. They could be kids and forget some of the stress. Picking up extras from the store and practical things like weeding a garden are priceless. Once a friend cut, bagged, and froze all our corn from our harvest and it touched my heart. Every time I took it out of the freezer I prayed for them.
- Praying with them, encouraging them…without the typical Christianese statements.
(A special thank you to these precious ladies who shared their ideas and stories: Dawn Boyer, Kristin Taylor, Glenda Childers, Margo Mahoney, Susan Shipe, Kelly West, Tracey Layman, Liz Hinz, Jenny Forgey, Kimberly Chase, Kimberly Craft, Sandy Cooper, Jackie Gallop, and Brandee Shafer.)
SDG Pinterest Page: Update
If you have an ebook, self-pub book, or a traditionally published book, I’d love to put it on our SDG Sisters Pinterest page. Please just email me or FB message me a link with a graphic of your book.
Upcoming SDG Connections Posts:
This week, Ann from Christ in the Clouds will share with us a 2 part Connections post about dealing with the disappointment surrounding the choices her son has made and how to hold onto hope when circumstances do not seem to change with her prayers.
SDG Gathering Important Information
Lisa Smith is helping me facilitate our gatherings each week. She is visiting those of you who link up on “even” numbers and I am visiting the “odd” (don’t worry, I’m not calling YOU odd). She will also be sharing on Mondays with you from time to time, opening up her heart and life to you, as you faithful do with us each week you link up. We do have some important housekeeping items about this gathering, so if you have not read them, please come here to catch up. The condensed version: Link up ONE post that shares your heart authentically and be sure to check in with some of your sisters who have linked up with you. Leave a heartfelt word of encouragement for them after you visit their space. This is a community where we actively seek to get to know each other.