These last few weeks have been long on one hand and speeding by on the other. All of the girls, except for Sarah, have been battling severe asthma/allergy issues, and this last week, Gene, Lindsay and Hannah have all been battling extreme sinus infections as well. This has caused many late nights, and little sleep for me. The girls and I all sleep late, to make up, somewhat, for the late nights. Starting the day late causes me to feel hurried and rushed, not being able to complete the unending list of must-dos, which in turn can cause defeatism to set in.
We have been battling these issues for several years now, and when this time of year hits, it can become very disheartening for me on many levels. It’s disheartening to be discouraged by friends instead of encouraged, not being able to make the girls well, and seeing them discouraged also. I have friends who tell me, that the real issue is that the girls have their days and nights mixed up… like an infant. We’ve been told it’s all in our diet, in our heads and that we should just put ourselves on a “regular” schedule and it will all work out. At times these types of comments anger me, though I don’t say what I’m thinking, mostly, they just discourage me. People tend to think, “Oh, it’s just allergies, and asthma can be controlled…. it’s really no big thing.” They obviously have never watched their child struggling to breathe. They don’t know what it is like to have their child exhausted and wanting to sleep, but can’t because when they lie down their breathing only gets worse. Over the last few years we have tried many treatments, medical and natural, though none of them alleviate the symptoms for any period of time, and some even seem to exacerbate them.
Due to the girls’ illnesses I have been unable to attend church for nearly 6 months. We were going to church an hour away, but now see that it will be impossible because of the girls condition. Last Sunday we hoped to begin attending a church about 10 minutes away, but we were unable to attend because that is when Gene became sick. Being at a church that is close will allow me to attend church even if the girls are down. Gene and Lindsay are beginning to show improvement, though the high dose antibiotics are making them feel run down.
My hope in sharing this is not to garner sympathy, but to express that we all need to be sensitive to the needs and trials of others. It’s easy to judge from the outside and feel that people are just not really trying to get to church, or other functions. The girls and I have had to miss out on many fun things over the last few years due to their illnesses. It has caused us to have to re-structure much that we do. To those on the outside it may seem that we are just being unsociable, which is not the case. We have to choose our functions based on a different criteria than most people do. If it’s an outside event during the height of ragweed season, we most likely won’t attend. Knowing that if we do, many of the girls will be sick for a couple of weeks afterward. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gene, Rachel and Sarah traveled to Shreveport for his mother’s 70th birthday party. We all would have loved to be able to attend, but due to health concerns I stayed home with three of the girls.
If you have friends that are suffering through chronic illnesses there are things that you can do to help and encourage them. If they are friends of your children; have your child e-mail the sick child to see how they are doing, or just to talk about everyday stuff. Send a card or note through the mail, handmade is better. It’s a great project for your kids to handmake a card for a sick friend. Recently the daughter of a friend of ours in Arkansas had a ruptured appendix and had to spend several days in the hospital. Because the girls knew what it was like to be unable to do much, and the boredom and doldrums that it can cause they wanted to do something to cheer their friend. I took a couple of the girls to Dollar tree and we created a gift basket for our friend. We got word find books, Sudoku books, cards, puzzles and many other little items to pass the time and even some comfort items such as cozy socks. We boxed it up with handmade cards and sent it on its way. I spent maybe $20 on the items, but that was a small price to pay to bring joy to someone else and to teach my children to think of others and to show compassion.
Don’t forget to think of the mom, she is probably having long days caring for sick ones. I remember when we lived in Alabama, and had only been there a couple of months when I had a very hard time. Hannah got chicken pox, and I was home with her for a week and a half. As soon as hers cleared up, Rachel got them and I was home with her for another week and a half. After she was better, Gene’s grandmother died and we had to travel for the funeral. The day after we returned home, Caroline broke out with the chicken pox. At this point thier ages were 5, 3, 2, and the days at home were very long ones, and my discouragement level was high. One day a card arrived in the mail from a friend who lived in Prattville, not 2 miles from me. That card meant a great deal to me, and encouraged me to no end. In this day of technical communication, we have forgotten the gift of the written word. A card or note can be read again and again during a discouraging time and can be a great source of encouragement. I still have that card and the many I received when Sarah was young and we were just finding out about her disabilities. To this day I will occasionally look at them, remembering how the Lord lifted me up through the words of a friend.
Scripture tells us that their is no greater love than to lay down our life for a friend. Does that necessarily mean to die for the friend, or can we lay down our life by putting aside our wants and desires to minister to someone else? Are we willing to drop what we want to help someone out? Are our days truly ours, or do they belong to the Lord? We should be willing to meet the needs of others in real ways. We also need to make sure that the way we are meeting their needs, is truly something that will bring comfort to that person, and not just ourselves. One of my daughters loves to hug, not some little soft hug, but to hug the stuffing out of you. If you are having trouble breathing, you really don’t feel like having your lungs compressed paper thin, so we were having some issues about this. We had a talk about how if we are truly trying to show love and compassion to someone we need to meet their needs, not their perceived needs. This daughter thought she was showing her sisters she loved them, but her sisters didn’t feel love, they felt pain. We often do the same things when trying to minister to people. Your church may have a meal ministry and whenever someone is in need, they take them meals. This is a great ministry, and I have participated on both ends of this ministry. But there are times, when the real need isn’t a meal. For a mom home-bound with sick children, a call or a card for her or the children might meet their needs more effectively. An encouraging word is great medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask someone how you can minister to them, and if asked, be honest and tell the truth. If you’re the mom, don’t be afraid to say, my child really needs an encouraging word from a friend, hopefully the person asking will truly wish to show love and compassion in a way that will minister to you and your family.
If you have any ways that you have ministered to others that are creative, please share. Not in an effort to toot our own horns, but to show real ideas of how we can minister to one another. I know that I am always looking for a new creative way to do so. Also share if someone blessed you in a special way that meant a great deal to you.