As I child, around Thanksgiving my favorite thing to do was to walk around Dollar General picking out a toothbrush, a bar of soap, washcloth, candy, a baby doll, crayons, and coloring book. I mulled over all of these items carefully, trying to picture the recipient opening up the lid and enjoying all of the gifts that I could cram into one shoebox. It was for an organization called Samaritan’s Purse, and one of their many ministries is called Operation Christmas Child. They deliver shoeboxes full of gifts to children all over the world, who otherwise would not have a Christmas and they include the gospel message in that child’s language. OCC
I absolutely loved being able to give to someone who genuinely needed it. The joy I felt in my heart knowing that I was making a difference in someone’s life, even at a young age was wonderful. I have felt the same way every time I have gone on a mission trip. I know that I have always gotten more out of the mission work than the people we are supposed to be helping.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Well, now it was my turn to be the recipient of the cheerful giving of others…
And let me tell you, it is not easy.
It is tough to accept charity especially knowing there is no way that I can ever repay the amazing things our church and community have done for us. I have wanted to turn down the assistance many times, but my sister and mom told me if I decline the help that God has laid on someone’s heart, then I am sinning. God gave people the compassion and the urge to help us, and I shouldn’t rob them of the opportunity to minister to us. Not matter how uncomfortable it is for me to accept.
I always said that I would move away after high school and I would never live in Indiana, much less Shelbyville. Well, that didn’t happen. I went to college at the University of Indianapolis and loved it. When I was in nursing school, I swore I would never work at Major Hospital; where I have worked for five years, and I have loved it from day one. I never saw myself going to the same church as an adult that I was raised in, but we love our church, the teaching and have made the the most meaningful relationships there. After Jordan and I were married, we “moved away” to Greenwood, but quickly realized, we spent all of our time driving back to Shelbyville. Much of my life, I have taken all of these things for granted. Sure, maybe my life would look much more glamorous if I have traveled the world, but I now see the value in community.
Everyone has been so kind to us since my diagnosis. The outpouring of help has been UNREAL and extremely humbling. I am sharing this list of things people have done to help us during our time of need. I do not do this to brag about the assistance we have received but instead, I hope this will give ideas of how you can help others going through the similar hardships. (Also, this is not a complete list. We have received so much help it is hard to keep track)
Philippians 4:19 says, “and my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.”
And that is just what HE has done. He has met all of our needs through the generosity of the people in our community.
It is the end of June, and I literally have not cooked a meal since April 5th. We have had dinner and/or pantry items brought over every single night since then. April and May my church and Jordan’s parents’ church provided meals and the month of June has been my coworkers providing meals. One of my sister’s best friend brought over at least ten freezer meals. Another mom from church, who I have been friends with for a lifetime, made us freezer breakfast meals. She has three small children of her own and no spare time. I tried to decline the offer, but she insisted they were making them for her family, so she just doubled the batches.
Jordan’s granny knows I love to make cookies with my kids so she stocked our freezer with homemade cookie dough that I can pull out and bake anytime we want!
A lifelong firefighter friend who has a wife and two small children, PLUS a mowing business has been mowing our grass every week; asking for nothing in return. Jordan doesn’t have to worry about yard work on top of everything else. How kind is that? He has two jobs and a family, and he is giving up his valuable time to help us. I feel like many of the things that people have done for us are to help ME out but him mowing our grass takes some of the burden off of Jordan. There have been many nights where Jordan has played mom and dad when I have been feeling crummy, and he can do both jobs without the stress of knowing the yard hasn’t been mowed. Every time I pull in the driveway I almost burst into tears thinking about his kindness to our family.
A group of teachers from Shelbyville Central Schools, many of whom I don’t even know personally, collected diapers for us. So. Many. Diapers. I honestly do not think I will ever have to buy diapers for Robbyn. These diapers filled up the back of my mom’s pickup truck. TWICE! Another teacher friend has kept us supplied with formula from her personal stockpile and couponed to buy the special kind of formula Robbyn needed.
Major Hospital employees have been so amazing to us as well. My coworkers in the surgery department had a bake sale and raffled off gift baskets as a fundraiser to offset the cost of our bills. They even collected an absurd amount of gift cards, monetary donations and gifts for me. They know my extremely unhealthy obsession with Dunkin’ Donuts, and have bombarded me with DD gift cards to buy my iced coffee! (Just a hint when gift giving to people in need sometimes the best pick me ups are not necessities. Like the DD cards!)
HR sent a request out on my behalf asking for PDO donation assistance and people from all over the hospital donated their precious and hard-earned vacation days so that I can still receive a paycheck. Talk about generous giving!
Someone even had shirts printed off and sold for me saying “God is able, We are faithful.” I have loved working at a hospital that values their employees and has such a strong sense of community.
Our family friends, who are really more like an aunt and uncle to me, drove 3 hours to stay with my parents the week after I had Robbyn. They cleaned my parents’ house from top to bottom and help set up a room in my parents’ house that I have as a refuge if need be. She also baked me her famous “Rita bread,” gave me cans of food from her garden, and bought me a kindle so I would have something to occupy my time during chemo.
Jordan’s mom takes me to get fluids every other Friday and comes to our house every Tuesday and Thursday after she works all day to give the kids baths so I don’t have to worry about it. (We made an occasional trip to the NICU to see the sweet girl pictured above!)
I have even received cards in the mail that have no return address and are filled with gift cards. One said only, “I hope this helps.”
Bass Farms sent me a gift basket of skin care products, mouth sore ointment, and burn cream for my skin issues during chemotherapy and radiation and I have to say these products are amazing! Apparently, they frequently send these to cancer patients in Shelby County!
I have been gifted, chemo hats, robes, slippers, hard candies (for the gross taste chemo leaves in your mouth) devotionals, journals, skin care products, gift cards for gas and groceries, and so many other things.
Someone at church filled the back of our car one Sunday during church with paper goods and cutlery so I wouldn’t have to do dishes. Another couple was doing their regular shopping and picked up extra paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies just so we would have extra.
Almost every Sunday at church I have someone hand me a card with a gift card or check in it. Many times people just quickly slide a twenty into our hand after church.
We have received offers of babysitting, house cleaning, driving me up to chemo, from many, many of our church family. One lady has even offered to do my laundry.
This is one of the MANY reasons I think it is so important to be a part of a church family. They are just that; family. You have the support of so many people at your fingertips. (But I am saving my ramblings about my church family for another post!)
Matthew 25:35-40 says,
“for I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer, LORD, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink? Or when did we see you a stranger and take you in or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and came to you? And the king will answer and say to them, I say to you, what you did to the least of these my brothers you did to me.”
So hopefully you have some ideas here about how you can help others going through difficult times. Just know that you are being the hands and feet of Jesus. Everything that you do out of love for others, is as if you are doing for Jesus Christ himself. What joy you will feel with helping others! I know moving forward I am going to be more aware of the needs of others and I have been given some great ideas on how to help. Any assistance we have received, big or small; monetary or giving of time, we have appreciated.
We have been so blessed by all of the support we have been given. It is humbling to look back on the generosity of our community. We may not have traveled the world but we have been showered with love from so many people in our county. And I think that is much more glamorous.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.