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His mercies are new every morning. (Lam. 3:-22-23)

 Three months have passed, yet the call still haunts me.

 “Jen, it’s a brain tumor. It’s Johnny… They think it’s malignant. They are doing surgery tonight.”

  As I perched at the edge of our church stage during worship team practice, my brother’s wavering whisper echoed through the phone.

 I ran out our sanctuary doors into the dark silence and finished the call.

 Desperation, confusion, fear – they all swirled.

 This precious fourteen year old nephew of mine is a fourth son.

 I’ve seen him nearly every day, as he’s grown up next door to us on our family homestead. He’s my daughter’s twin; inseparable since birth.

 Their pain is mine.

 I lay prostrate on the floor sobbing. We are no stranger to loss, as my sister in love lost her battle to breast cancer at just 34.

 I know the hate of cancer. We understand its devastation.

 As my weeping subsided, I returned to the sanctuary to gather my things before leaving for the hospital.

Remember your people

Even in the midst of despair, the Lord chose to reach out and reveal Himself to me personally, profoundly.

Do you see the words on the monitor? Do you know the song we were rehearsing when my brother called?

“Remember Your children. Remember Your Promise… Your children will not be forsaken.”

Only God could orchestrate that.

He knows. He hears. He has not forgotten.

I stayed a few more minutes and chose to declare praises with our team, “Your Grace is Enough is for me.”

Again, the Lord whispered truth in my ear as I wrestled with the reality.

“Trust me, again.  I am the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Prayers of relief
Weeping and praying after a successful surgery

Fast forward three months, and it’s been a whirlwind of God’s goodness.

There are more nuggets of truth than I can attempt to pack in one post, yet I’ve learned critical and practical lessons that I pray changes the way I do LIFE for others in crisis.

As I share, my desire is that it may ignite a fire in you to model for others.

Practical Suggestions to help those in Crisis

Anticipate Needs and Be Specific

If there’s one thing  I’ve learned these past few months is that of anticipating needs.

Do not wait. Do not offer. Just do it!

I’ve been challenged, convicted and humbled by those who have modeled true selfless servant hood.

I am the queen of throwing out, “Please let me know if there’s anything you need,” and now I realize that sentiment doesn’t cut it.

In the past, even though my heart ached to help, throwing verbiage came easy, a cop out if you will.

A person in crisis is in survival mode. Don’t place them in the difficult position of having to filter through and access what they need, followed by reaching out and asking. When life is swirling and one is just struggling to maintain, thinking through a list of past offers is nearly impossible and most people will never ask for help.

Family community
Moments before brain surgery scheduled. We made the best use of the waiting room – Kissing Cousins

Spiritual Encouragement

We heard hundreds of people affirm, “I’m praying for you,” but that phrase often gets lost. I don’t want to be one of those that just shares that while passing in the aisle at church. I want to follow through when it really matters.

Instead of mentioning, “I’m praying for you,” take a step further and write out the specific prayer or scripture that the Lord brought to you and give it to your friend, either in person or through email. If a specific scripture comes to mind, take a second and text it to the friend.

In the hours of hospital waiting time, meditating on God’s truth written on good ‘ole fashioned note cards is a life line. In moments of crisis, God hears our groaning, but our weary minds may not be able to bring scripture to the forefront. With a band of prayer warriors standing in the gap and interceding on ones behalf, re-reading scriptures and personal prayers is something pretty special.

Praise and worship music sets the tone in a hospital room, and one thing we forgot was a boom box. Everyone can be encouraged and uplifted while worship plays in the background. Again, it’s another source of God’s truth that helps ward off the doubt.

Physical Nourishment

When moments of crisis hit, the first thing people think of is providing meals. Identifying a family’s need in that area is critical, but often it takes a few days for a Meal Train to get set up.

For my brother’s family, a tangible blessing came instantaneously when their pastor’s wife filled their fridge with all the necessities. A stocked fridge spoke to their love language, and having a few freezer meals set aside specifically for those in need is a goal of mine.  Some of our easy favorites are Taco CasseroleEasy Baked Ziti or Crock pot Buffalo Chicken

Another dear friend, who we had not seen in months and months, brought Chick-fil-a to the hospital waiting room for our entire extended family. She anticipated this need and wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. I repeatedly told her, “Really, we’re fine. Don’t worry about it,” but she came anyhow. We couldn’t have realized what a need this would fill during surgery time.  If she had called and asked, “What can I do for you?” I would never have thrown out this request.

Practical tips and encouragement for dealing with moments of crisis - hospital survival kit

Hospital Survival Kits

Another saint put together some “emergency bags” for the whole family.  I now call them Hospital Survival Kits because she thought of everything in which to survive for a week long hospital stay. Blankets (and a prayer shawl), footies, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, wipes, deodorant, healthy snacks, protein bars, meals to heat up in the microwave, drinks, and water just begins to touch the surface of what those blessing bags contained. Such a practical idea that anyone can do, but often, we don’t. I want to be that proactive person.

Presence and Practical Help

Just be available. Share your presence, if even for a few minutes.

Don’t assume that you will get in the way or it will be awkward. Each situation is different, but taking time out of your busy schedule to give a quick hug, clean a bathroom, cut the lawn or whisper a word of encouragement ministers to a weary heart above and beyond the appreciation expressed.

after brain surgery

This is just a glimpse of ministry towards my brother’s family. I want to be one who proactively anticipates needs like many did for us. My desire is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but it’s an area in which I am still growing and learning.

Many of you have been in extreme moments of crisis and my desire is to learn from your experience.

Would you please share with us some tangible and practical ways that people ministered to you in times of need?

What spoke love to you?

I first shared  just a glimpse of our story over at (in)courage. Many comments were shared to help others during their moments of crisis.

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