How I Got by with a Lot of Help from My Friends

Many of you know that my father took a horrible fall last summer and we weren’t sure he’d survive the emergency neurosurgery that spanned the night, let alone ever recover well enough to live on his own again. I felt overwhelmed and in order to process it I wrote up what happened, but I didn’t know whether to post it or just leave off blogging about this at all.

So I did what I normally do when I don’t know whether to post something or not. I sent it to my friend and long-time blogging mentor Aimee Byrd so she could tell me what to do. She said I had to post it. I did. Here’s the initial post: Head and Heart at 92 Years Old.

Readers rallied in prayer and asked for updates, which I gave throughout the month of August as Dad worked through rehab, eventually moving from the ICU to a regular hospital room to skilled nursing to an apartment of his own near our house. I wrote of his progress and of the overwhelming stress I experienced.*

The Kindness of Writers

The only posts I had on my blog during that time were the updates on my dad’s progress and old archived posts. I didn’t have it in me to write. As September came, I wanted there to be something fresh for my readers, yet still didn’t have it in me to devote the time to writing that I would need in order to get the blog content where I wanted.

Knowing this was beyond my abilities, I contacted a group of people I’ve come to know through our writing, some I’ve met face to face and some only online, and asked for help. The response was immediate, and it gave me some of the best writing I could hope for to share with my readers. In case you missed them, here they are (in the order they appeared) and I hope you are enticed by the titles and excerpts to read one or all of them:

Sunday School Teacher Learns Her Lesson – seeing the Good Samaritan in the flesh – Adriana Kassner Cunningham provided the first guest post, which included this:

Red’s voice was soft. Right from the start she struggled to sound out the words. After a few minutes I thought she might give up and let someone else take over, but she plodded on through the entire passage. The boys squirmed. Some of the kids exchanged awkward smiles with each other. There were long pauses between Red’s words and it was hard to hear most of what she read.

But it was okay.

Why Faith Is Greater Than Tradition – lessons from Fiddler on the Roof – Michelle Van Loon writes of the tensions found among family and tradition and faith.

“Don’t you dare ever marry a goy”, Grandma Leah would tell me. Perhaps even more than my own parents’ warnings against marrying a Gentile, Grandma Leah’s threats scared the living daylights out of me. Though she never attached a reason to her Don’t, I could infer much from the tsk-tsk way in which she’d talk about Jewish friends and family who had intermarried

The Three Reasons She Writes (none of which are “Because I Must!”) – Jennifer Grant puts the lie to the idea that the only true writers are those who feel an inherent compulsion.

Writers, including myself, are arguably happier (or at least less uneasy) when we are regularly practicing our craft. Some of us – again, myself included – routinely confess that we can’t begin to understand something until we write about it.

But the idea that we must write? I don’t think it’s true. If we stopped, would the sun still rise? Would human hearts, including our own, continue to reoxygenate blood?

On Hatching – eggs, ideas and writing – Susy Flory on hatching ideas from the most unlikely locations. After all, doesn’t everyone store eggs in her bra?

At home I quickly prepared a box with a soft rag and a heat lamp and nestled the egg inside. A few hours later, a little miracle broke her way out into the world, soft, warm, fuzzy, and peeping. She’d had a close call (what if I hadn’t seen the hole?) but she’d made it through and she was very much alive.

Sticks and Stones and Names that Hurt – a look at girls and boys and the Bible – Carolyn Custis James describes the inherent marginalization of women and girls in cultures dating from Bible times to the present.

In Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, journalist Geraldine Brooks tells the disturbing story of a Palestinian woman who was the fifth daughter in a family desperate for sons. Her parents named her Tamam (meaning “enough” or “finished”) to express their desire for the long run of unwanted girls to end. Several years later, their prayers were answered with the births of two sons.

It doesn’t take much to imagine the deflating effect this had on Tamam’s self-image.

Hurry and Worry – Keri Wyatt Kent on the presence of God – Keri (another blog mentor I have come to rely on heavily over the years) wrote precisely what I needed to read in the midst of caring for Dad in his recovery.

We can’t stop worrying unless we first slow down. Jesus knew this. Because if you tell someone “don’t worry” and stop there—they’re just going to worry. You tell someone don’t think about something, they’re going to think about that very thing.

So Jesus offers us a spiritual practice to combat worry. “Look at the birds,” he says. “Consider the lilies of the field.”

In order to look at, to really look at, birds—you have to slow down. You have to put down your phone …

Make Me A Leper – Aleah Marsden’s provocative title breaks through the comfortable abundance we enjoy in the developed world and takes us into the camp of the army invading ancient Israel.

It’s true: there is provision waiting outside the city walls. The starving residents awake to plunder the camp; in their frenzy, they trample to death the doubting captain – the king’s right hand man – standing in the gate.
I sip my tea and take another bite of the sugar-sprinkled, slightly bitter scone. About as far from starving as you can be.

The God Die Thing – a child’s view of the cross – Cara Meredith brought this series of  guests posts to a close with her family’s touching story of seeing faith through a child’s eyes.

My husband and I looked at each other across the console of the car, and asked our four-year old son to repeat himself: “What’d you say, buddy?”

“It’s the God die thing. That’s the church where God died!”

All correct theology aside, we watched his sticky little fingers pointed skywards toward a simple but ornate cross on the top of a faded church steeple. We drive past this particular church all the time, but it wasn’t until my little boy pointed it out that I actually noticed the place. I saw the straight lines of metal, the peeling green paint, the delicate leaves of hope and new life, twisting and wrapping their way around the ancient symbol like tendrils.

And it was like I saw the cross for the first time.

My friends came through for me. This is what God intends for people to do with and for one another. I cannot express how grateful I am they followed his call and came alongside me when I needed them.

Please help me thank them in comments here or on the posts themselves. They’ll appreciate it nearly as much as I will.

***

*The prayer updates gave the continuing progress of Dad’s recovery. Here they are in order:
Update on Prayer Needs for my Father

Update #2 on Prayer Needs for my Father

Update #3 on Prayer Needs for my Father

Update #4 on my Father: it’s moving day!

The Best Woman In My Life (plus update #5 on my Dad)

Update #6 on my Father: slow progress, but still good news

Update #7 on my Father: praying through change

Update #8 on my Father: prayers for settling into a new home

***

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12 Responses to How I Got by with a Lot of Help from My Friends

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    You have good friends because you are a good friend, Tim! How’s your dad?

  2. I agree with Aimee, Tim. You’re a community builder, and in community we all want to help one another. Thanks for calling attention to these great posts again, and also for reminding us that it’s a good thing to ask for help. Sometimes we need that reminder, that we can’t do life alone.

  3. So glad to hear the good news about your dad. Such a blessing. And, I take your post as a reminder that friends help. (They really do HELP.) Whether in terms of moral support, or in concrete ways (like going to the store or doing a load of laundry or guest-writing a blog post), good friends help so many. Blessings on you and your dear father.
    @chaplaineliza

  4. I remember many of these guest posts. Yay for women writers! Yay for friends! And yay for your dad doing so well now, Tim!

  5. caramac54 says:

    Honored to hold words on your sight – and to call you a friend!

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