Monday, January 19, 2015

Little life now lived largely

Little toes never tickled,
Little hands never held,
Little cheeks never stroked,
Little voice that was quelled.

Little nose never wiped,
Little lips never kissed,
Little eyes never opened,
Little life sorely missed.

But now you live largely,
Little child of the King,
Of his grace and his mercy,
Your little voice sings.

Your little eyes filled
With his glorious light.
In you, little one,
Your Father delights.

Little feet pitter patter
On streets of pure gold.
Little life now secure
In the father's strong hold.

Copyright 2014 Chelsea K. Stanley

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Caring for Friends in the Valley

For the past six months, we have been walking through the valley. It seems as though just as we start to catch our breath from one trial, another one knocks the wind out of us. It's been a season of surgeries, sickness and survival for our family. Thankfully, we have a great God who has surrounded us with selfless, caring people.

Before this season, I had a limited view of what caring for others looked like. I honestly had never thought beyond meal ministry and notes of encouragement before, and while both are fantastic ways to care for others, I've learned that there are so many other ways to bless those who are walking through the valley.

So here's a list of ways in which others have blessed and encouraged us through this season. It's not exhaustive, but hopefully it will spur you on to help a sister who is walking through her own valley.

1.  Bring her a cup of coffee (or a large sweet tea in my case).

2.  Take out the trash.

3.  Mow the lawn.

4.  Deliver a meal. A homemade meal, take-out or leftovers all count!

5.  Take one of her kids to the park.  

6.  Give her the gospel. Remind her how Jesus endured pain and suffering, even death on a cross, so that she might live.  

7.  Make her feel safe. Encourage her not to worry about her lack of make-up, her messy house, or the fact that Mickey Mouse is currently serving as a surrogate parent. Be trustworthy and don't tell others about her current state of affairs (especially under the guise of a "prayer request").   

8.  Be a sous chef.  When I was pregnant the second time around, I couldn't cook poultry for the life of me. One of the best gifts I received from a sweet friend was two pounds of chicken, cooked and shredded for meals.  

9.  Send a handwritten note. Who doesn't love getting mail?

10.  Go grocery shopping.

11.  Clean. This was a humbling experience for me, but I am thankful for family and friends who forced me to sit and rest as they vacuumed, swept and washed dishes.

12. Extend much grace. The valley is a foggy place where birthdays may be forgotten and family gatherings may be missed. Don't take it personally.

13.  Accommodate. For years, our group of friends has gathered for a "Christmas Eve Eve" adults-only dinner party. This year, they encouraged us to bring our three-month old who has been struggling to eat and can't be left with a babysitter for too long. He enjoyed the extra attention, and we enjoyed a night out with friends.

14. Give her the gospel again. Remind her that nothing can separate her from the love of Christ.

15.  Pray then and there. It's great to hear that someone is praying to you. It's especially encouraging when someone takes your hand and prays right then and there for you.

16.  Go beyond dinner. Bagels, muffins, cut fresh fruit and veggies were great to have around when recovering from our surgeries.

17.  Offer your pre-teen/teen daughter as a mama's helper. How blessed I was to have young girls play with my toddler, vacuum my living room and rock my baby! And their moms loved using it as an opportunity to teach their children how to selflessly serve others.

18.  Be "on-call." If you have a flexible schedule, offer to be the backup when other help falls through. When I had to rely on others to lift our toddler in and out of his crib for two weeks because my husband and I had lifting restrictions after surgeries, there was one stay-at-home mom who came to our rescue several times when we were in a pinch.

19.  Send an encouraging text or Facebook message.

20.  Share scripture. There have been many days when I've survived in the verses sent to me by friends.

21.  Sit at the hospital with her as she waits for results or procedures.

22.  Offer to set up a meal or task sign-up. One of my friends who is gifted in organization and administration did this for me, and it was a huge help.

23.  Sit with the kids so she can shower or take a nap.

24.  Complete a special task. I've had friends and family offer to shine my stainless steel appliances, wrap Christmas presents, vacuum our car, and organize the nursery closets, among others.

25.  Keep giving her the gospel! It's easy to forget about eternity when you're dealing with the daily yuck. Remind her of the great hope we have in Christ Jesus!

Any other ideas?  Feel free to share in the comments below!