A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

Saturday, July 26, 2014

 She looks so good in these colors!

I usually do journal entries based on whatever is on my heart at the time, whether it's her overall health updates or our social security fiasco or just random thoughts about her.  About three weeks ago I began to have a stirring about writing about friendship and how it relates to our current journey.  But time escaped me and day after day, I tried to sit down to write but things kept getting in the way...someone needing something, baby care, school, and just plain exhaustion at night.  I must be "in the place" mentally to write and with distractions of any kind or just being tired, I'm not able to get it out.  So, here I sit, three weeks after I have essentially written what has been placed on my heart, ready to put it out there.

 Sleeping Beauty!

I stand in awe at the lessons I'm being forced to learn on our walk right now.  I'd like to say run just because I want to get through it quickly, wave a magic wand and have everything fixed and made okay.  However, I know that if that were to somehow magically take place, I--and I earnestly pray others--would not "get" what we are supposed to "get."  So, considering that little tidbit, I will accept the lessons, messages and perspectives as they present themselves.  And laying aside all of my own deep desires, the truth of the matter is that God created Everly EXACTLY as she was meant to be.  She is perfect in every way.

I would like to share now a lesson on friendship and what that really means.

Here goes...

When you first receive a life altering medical diagnosis or are in a serious crisis, for the most part, friends tend to come running.

All hands are on deck.

All the friends you thought you had are actually there.

There are some, however, who just aren't capable as much, maybe, as they'd like to be able to handle personal difficulties, even when those challenges are not their own.  And they bail before the crisis really even begins.  You don't hear from them, there's no messages of hope, there's no wishes of good will.

So, there's two camps of friends out of the gate of a crisis:  one is all in and the other is all out.

It's pretty simple to identify them.  Please don't get me wrong here.  It's not a criticism because I know of three specific times in my adult life that I was in the "all out" camp.

Let me explain why I was and why maybe some others fall into that category, too.  Knowing something truly horrible or scary is happening or will happen makes people uneasy.  It's our human nature to want everything to work out.

Isn't that how all fairy tales end?  "Happily every after"

But, guess what, things--life--doesn't always work out the way we pictured it.  And for some people it is easier to just pretend the crisis isn't happening, to ignore the people involved or to simply give a small nod about it but then not involve themselves further.  Some crises are so unique and daunting that people can't put themselves in your shoes, so they don't feel they are equipped to be of any help at all.

Look, your situation may be scary and scary isn't fun.

Yup.  I did that.  Not proud to say it but I did it.  I did not know what to say to the friends in the medical crises.  In each situation, I felt ill-prepared, at a loss for words, and honestly, scared, both for them and for myself.  You see, I knew I should do something but didn't know what I should do.  So, I just did nothing and said nothing really.

My heart was involved, I thought of these individuals, prayed for them and truly wanted to reach out.

But I didn't know how.  And by the time I thought I had figured out how, I was then worried that I had let too much time lapse and was now embarrassed.

So, again, I did nothing.

But there's another phenomena that happens when friends go through life altering crises.

When the immediate crisis is somewhat over and things are settling in with whatever the diagnosis is, there's another camp of well-meaning friends that might think all is well and not reach out as much at this point or just in scant handfuls ever so periodically.

Messages are few and far between.

Attempts to get together go unrealized or left alone.

Offers of help are no longer voiced.

Through no fault really of their own, they might not realize that your storm still rages but at this point you've just put on your rain gear and you are making your way.  You have to.

But then...

There's a camp of friends that have been given a gift from God.  It is the only way to describe it because, look, it is not easy AT ALL to BE a friend to someone in an ongoing crisis.

See, it's relatively easy to be a friend when a crisis happens and then ends quickly, a car accident or the loss of a job.

But what about one that has no ending, one that lingers?

See this is where the rubber meets the road.

At this point, the friend-weeding process is well underway.  You should be left with those who by all definitions are friends in every sense of the word.

And, look, let's be honest...there are some situations SO unique and frightening even that you don't know what to do.  But guess what?  The person living it probably doesn't know what to do either.  They just want to know that you are there for them.  They want to know they haven't been forgotten.  They just want to know you still care.

I found this quote on my favorite while-pumping-have-to-do-something-go-to-Pinterest.

"True friendship isn't about being there when it's convenient, it's about being there when it's not."  

Wow.  Just wow.

I want my daughter's life to make me a better mom. A better wife. A better teacher. A better friend.

I want to make her proud.  I want her to know that I'm using everything I'm learning while being her mommy to do better, be better and maybe even to help others.

I have learned SO much about this friendship thing since our story began.  I have been disappointed.  I have been shocked.  I have been pleasantly surprised. I have been thrilled.

Oh, yeah, the little girl is rockin' the pink ruffles!

I will be completely candid with you.  When I realized why I had cowered away from my friends' situations, I reached out to them.  Pride can be ugly and I didn't want to be ugly.  Sometimes humbling yourself is necessary.  I apologized for not being there for them when they really did need me.  I explained why but wanted them to know I didn't think it was an excuse.  They were both so gracious as to accept my apology.  Let me also tell you that both of those amazing friends are in the camp of friends who have stayed the distance with us...and that was before I reached out to them!  

You see, you can't go through life altering medical crises or terrible personal situations and come out the same person.

You just can't.

I believe those special friends learned the same lessons I did and vowed to be a better friend to others in times of need.

And if you were doing your math, you would know that I have one more call to make.  I'll be taking care of that pronto.

To illustrate some of the ways I/we have been helped over the past months, I am going to list them:
  • Meals (fresh and frozen) or meal gift cards (Yes, yes and yes!!)
  • Offering to take boys over for playdates  (A blessing for them as they don't get nearly as much right now.)
  • Offering to pick up/drop off boys for events/activities  (Such a big help!)
  • Bringing takeout lunch AND visiting at the same time (Hallelujah!)
  • Unexpected texts (so good to receive anytime)
  • Supportive emails, emails and emails EVEN and in spite of the fact that I have barely responded
  • Weekly get togethers at my convenience and at a location best for me (this is important in a tough situation)
  • Unbelievable portraits taken by a dear friend who donated her time and talent for us (and was VERY patient!!!)
  • That same dear friend who came back a second time for more photos and nailed the one dream one I had!!
  • Donation to the Trisomy Foundation in Everly's honor (really no words about this one!  My heart swells with love.)
  • Hiring a photographer to capture special memories (This was super special and a wonderful surprise!!!)
  • Starting Everly's Facebook page when I couldn't think straight (Would never have done it and it's so imp to us!)
  • Texting in the wee hours of the night (Some nights it's nice to have night owl friends.)
  • Listening.  Just listening.  (Sometimes it does a mama good just to talk.  No advice needed.)
  • Having the house cleaned professionally and offer of a group of friends doing it.  (What a sacrifice!)
  • Offers to assist with lesson plans, party preparations, etc.  (Giving of your time is such a treasure!)
  • Being understanding and flexible (Emotions sometimes pop up when you least expect it.)
  • Respecting the health of my baby (Thank you to all who stay away when or just recovering from illness.)
  • Offering special things to help (Special pillow so a tiny Everly could sleep on mommy's chest)
  • Ordering a therapy item and having it delivered to our home because you knew she need it (Just awesome!)
  • Financial assistance for the piles of medical bills.  (Such a relief of burden from our shoulders.)
  • Delivery of snack boxes for a few months (Who knew my kiddos would love Poppy Seed Sticks??)
  • Offering to assist with research for new doctors (What a unique but so helpful offer!  Must remember this!)
  • Taking me and sweet pea out for coffee AND sitting outside because it was safer for her
  • Having special packages show up at the house unexpectedly (What a treat!)
  • Taking pictures of my boys in my absence and sending them to me (Everyone knows how imp pics are to me!)
  • Embroidered or monogrammed outfits/things for Everly (You know how much I LOVE her name in print!!!)
  • Contacting people on our behalf that may be able to help in our social security attempts (Thank you!)
  • Gifting us with your talent (Some people have a true gift to be able to comfort.)
  • Understanding that as much as you want to hold Everly, sometimes I can't part with her, not even for a moment
  • Understanding that my emotions run the gamut right now and change many times within one day (It just does!)
  • Coming to my house and using your God-given gift to check on Everly (You can't put a price on that!)
  • Sending me pictures of eCards or pictures with inspirational or funny statements (Love these!)
  • Making something personal and handmade for Everly (Everyone knows how much I love this kind of treat!)
  • Remembering my boys. (This is hard for them, too.  Mom and Dad are busy or gone and tons of changes.)
  • Commenting when I write a journal entry or a Facebook update.  (Not sure why this strikes me as so important but it does.  If you comment, I know you're checking in to see how my precious baby is doing, I guess.)
  • Messaging me important updates or interesting articles that might be beneficial (weather ones are always!)
  • Sending me reminders of upcoming deadlines or events (SO helpful when we have tons on our minds)
  • Empathizing with me when I hit a rough patch or scary event with Everly
  • Putting aside your professional title and coming over to check on Everly when needed
  • Sharing Everly's pages and story with other people (really shows how important she is to you, too)
  • Getting to the end of all my journal entries (shows you either really love me or there's nothing good on TV)
So...all this to say, it actually isn't as hard as I thought to "be there" for someone in need.  And most things that are free but just cost your time.  Time=Love  My hope and prayer is that Everly teaches us among other things...how to be a better person to others.  Feel free to use any ideas from my list to bless another friend in need.  If they are your friend, they are worth it! 

The best thing you can do for a friend in need is anything!

The worst thing you can do is nothing.

I love you all and am so immeasurably blessed by so many.

Everly's new therapy incline good to improve her head control!

Proverbs 18:24   A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

With much love and appreciation,


Played so hard that she feel asleep. Sweet girl!!

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