How Can I Help?

This year has started off with a bang for our family. In a 7 week time span, both of our dads have had major, life altering surgeries. It sort of feels like we are at the mercy of the ocean.


If you missed them, here are the stories:


With my dad, the wreck came up like a tsunami. Did not see it coming.  We went from planning Christmas with family, to brain surgery. BAM!  We are still hearing from every medical professional who saw him how miraculous it is that he lived. {praise You, Jesus!}.

" Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  James 5:16.  

That is YOU. Y’all prayed my daddy through it.


With Brad’s dad, it was more like a hurricane.  We could see it coming. It was almost a year to the day that we first met with a transplant team, until he had new lungs. We knew it was going to be a doozy, but it was inevitable.


But with both, there was the similarity of extremes in intense chaos and eerie calm.


On maybe week 2 at UAB with my dad, during the waiting, I started asking the people orbiting around us questions. In the bathroom we all shared, washing our face, brushing our teeth, in the elevator, “what are you in for?”


That question opened some amazing conversations. I got to hold a giant man when we bumped into each other for the third time and he told me his sister, who had come in with a heart attack had passed. He saw me and just broke down.  Just a stranger who had asked a question. (some of you prayed for me to have eyes to see.  This is fruit from that prayer)


I had one experience that left me at a sharp crossroad.  I got on the elevator with a woman clearly distressed. “Hey. What are you in for?”  She almost wailed “I’m here with my son. His wife is having issues and I’m just so so tired.”  Me:  “oh, I’m so sorry. How long have y’all been here?”  Her: “SIX hours”.


I had to physically take control of my eyes as they started to react. Everything in me wanted to scream “lady we have been here 15 DAYS!”  But since my eyes hadn’t rolled, I was able to see her. I saw her frazzled state, and I felt compassion. This was her hard. What good would it do to add to that, or shame her?  What good would it do to tell her my situation, when her own was already overwhelming?  What good does it do pretty much ever to one up someone’s struggle? I kept asking her questions, letting her share. Encouraged her.  {thank you for praying for me to have strength. That was the fruit.}


She was in for a lot more. I knew that from our experience. She would face her own reality soon enough. Settle into the hurricane. Sometimes it’s fast and chaos and you think you won’t be able to survive. Then the calm. Then you wait. Then you remember to eat and try and rest. She would know that soon enough. There was no reason to add to her burden.


One of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked as we have navigated these storms is “how can I help?”  I think back to times when my people were in their storms and I pushed my help on them. Assumed I knew what they needed. Added to their stress by my good intentions. I now know the best thing you can do for someone when their world is spinning is simply say “how can I help?”  There were times when I immediately knew what I needed. There were times when there really wasn’t anything at all.  I’m thankful my people let me be both.

The other amazing thing I found people do was send encouragement without strings attached.


“I’m here if you need to talk”.
“I can get kids or Raleigh if you need me to”.
“Let me know if y’all need food, or something I’m not thinking about”.
“Let me know if it would be helpful for me to come sit with you.”


I didn’t have to reply. I didn’t worry that they would get offended or their feelings hurt. The offer was there if I wanted to take it. They knew I was overwhelmed with people communicating and they didn’t expect an answer. They just offered a word that reminded me I wasn’t alone.


The best texts were when people would send things they specifically prayed over us and scripture. That was a huge blessing. When I didn’t have quiet time, they had it for me, and sent me their notes.


It’s hard to watch someone you love hurt. But most of the time there really isn’t anything you can do. I know that’s frustrating and the temptation to forget that it’s simply not about you kicks in. Don’t do that to people. Don’t add to their burden. I see that now. I’ve cringed thinking back to all the times I’ve done that before. It came from love, but also insecurity that I just didn’t know how to be a friend in a storm. It’s hard on both ends, but I now know to just take one, or two, or thirty for the team if I’m not the one in it.  Also bring snacks  always bring snacks  


We will all go through hard times. We all walk through hard times with people we love. It’s all new and unknown. The best we can do is show up and ask how we can help, and pray for each other. I plan to spend quality time looking for more examples of how the prayers you prayed over me bore fruit. It’s so healthy to look for ways God answers prayers and celebrate them.


I’m thankful for you, my village. We are only beginning with Brad's dad.  It will still be a long road.  Seeing you share my story is such a blessing. I hope this helps someone. Know you are loved.

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