Monthly Archives: May 2015

Step by step

I used to walk around my neighborhood all the time;  I am sure the neighbors took notice of it, and maybe they noticed when I stopped too.  There were a couple of factors as to why I stopped, one, I sprained my ankle and got out of the habit.  Two, I live in the country, and have already been too close for comfort to a momma bear and her cubs, which makes me somewhat skittish.  Three, since being widowed nearly three years ago, I don’t like walking about the roads alone with no one waiting for me at home to notice if I don’t come back. But recently, I have started walking for exercise again, and a couple of weeks ago, Mother’s Day to be specific, I decided to make a trek I had only done perhaps twice before.  It entailed walking halfway down my street to where another street meets it at a fork and walking that road in it’s entirety. Round trip it is 14,000 steps or close to 6 miles.  It was a beautiful morning for a walk, the sun was shining, not too hot and a breeze could be felt every once in awhile.  Not much traffic either and hardly anyone outside, which was fine with me.  I took a small bottle of water with me, and my phone and I started along the familiar stretch of road.

I knew I had quite a lot of ground to cover and, though I wasn’t in a hurry, I wasn’t planning on just strolling either.  Since this was the same trail in which I saw the bear, about ten years prior, I kept my eyes open for any such sightings again.  But all was calm, and I stopped to take pictures along the way of the pretty scenic views that I came upon. On that road, a little ways up, there is a bright yellow house.  It belongs to one of the well known families of the area and it certainly stands out.  Up even further, maybe a half mile or so;  there is a small dilapidated shack, with no door or windows, just openings where they should be.  Legend has it that it was the childhood home of another person from the well known family and that the person now lives in a very grand estate next door.  He keeps the old homestead as a reminder as to where he came from.

There used to be a place on this road that was home to at least 6 or 7 fairly large dogs.  I was always leery of them, some were friendly and some were not and all would come running and barking if they saw me.  Thankfully, they don’t seem to be there anymore.

It started to get hot as I walked, and I finished my bottle of water pretty quickly.  At some point thereafter I felt a little light headed and I regretted not bringing more water, nor eating anything before I left.  Still I plodded on until finally I saw the end of the road where it meets Route 340 near a trailer park.  I knew I had at least two and a half miles until I got back home and I also knew I didn’t feel quite right.  Plus I had an added problem of pebbles that kept finding their way into the hole in one of my sneakers.  I would stop periodically to take off my shoe and empty it of the contents, only to take a couple of steps and find myself in the same situation.

I was more concerned about the dizzy, light-headed feeling, however.  A friend of mine had told me how he “speaks” against things in Jesus’ Name, so I did that, out loud.  I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of, “I will make it home okay, I will not pass out;  I will feel better soon, in Jesus’ Name.”  It didn’t take long at all for that to become a reality!  In fact I didn’t even realize it right away, I had become engrossed in something I was looking at on my phone as I walked; but then it occurred to me, I felt back to normal.

And when I realized that, my steps felt lighter.  I had been laboring under the uncertainty of whether I would end up having to knock on some stranger’s door and ask for a glass of water; or if I might end up with heat stroke and pass out.  I knew that I had a lot of steps to make to get back home and it had been all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. But once it was over and I felt like myself again, it was a breeze to walk the rest of the way home.  I quite enjoyed it!

So it occurs to me that this is what it’s like in life—the way seems really hard sometimes, and I don’t know how or if I’m going to make it.  It’s all I can do to go on.  It seems like I may collapse.  The journey is long, arduous and not much fun, if I’m honest.

Still, there is Help when I need Him, when I call on Him, when I speak in His Name.  He can make my path straight; and my steps lighter.  How much easier it is then to walk in the way that He has set before me!


A Father’s love

It has always been a special thing for me to watch a daddy with his child;  nothing sweeter than to see a big strapping man being tender with his little one.  Maybe it’s the contrast of muscle and brawn mixed with little fingers and toes.  You know without a shadow of a doubt that the same hands that are cradling that little head would protect that child to the death of the one who might bring it harm. Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of men don’t let themselves appear vulnerable, but with their babies, they just turn into a big puddle of goo. I always savored moments with my dad;  I have fond memories of him and I walking to the store when I was 6 years old, and him holding my hand the whole way.  Or times when he would take us kids to the playground or the zoo or the small amusement park that used to be on Staten Island, and times when he would read me stories or play monopoly on the floor with us.   I used to think it was tough being a preacher’s kid (and it was, at times), but I’ve since met others with different experiences than mine to the point where I can better appreciate my father’s love for us.

There is another to whom I address as Father;  and it’s my relationship with Him that is the basis of this blog post.  It occurred to me recently,  as I watched a friend and the gentleness he exhibited with his grandson—that’s God and me.  Just like an earthly dad cradles his baby, gently strokes his back or kisses the top of his head or even, just stares at him in love—that is God the Father’s reaction to His children. Honestly it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea;  but if He is my Father, than of course, He is better than any earthly father could ever be.  And since God is Love—He is more loving than any human father is capable of being.


Can you imagine being cradled in God’s arms as He looks on you with love?  Can you imagine Him kissing the top of your head or smiling at you?  It’s almost too marvelous to contemplate.


For the longest time my “picture” of God was a stern man standing a few feet away, His arms folded in front of His chest and a scowl on His face—I felt like He was displeased with me, impatient for me to hurry up and mature; and only put up with me because I’d gotten saved.  I’m not sure where I got this image from—but it’s dead wrong!

This Father loved me so much He sent his only Son to die for me!  This Father loved me before I ever knew Who He was.  This Father kept me safe and sane when I was doing self-destructive things;  He knew what He was getting and He wanted me anyway!

I remember my dad telling me one time when I was a teenager, that it didn’t matter what I ever did, him and mom would always love me and accept me.  I knew that I was loved unconditionally by them and that went a long way;  it didn’t necessarily stop me from doing things that brought me trouble, but I knew I could never do anything that would cause them to disown me.  My Father loves me even more than my earthly parents ever could. He sees my heart and understands my motives.  He knows me better than I know myself.

A lot of people have the same mistaken “picture” of God that I had.  Some of them had abusive earthly father’s and that messes with their understanding of Who God really is. Or maybe their dad’s were distant, either emotionally or physically.  Maybe they were brought up in a legalistic religious atmosphere where a wrong teaching of the nature of the Father was taught.

If you want to know Who the Father is—-take a look at a loving earthly father and know that God is all that times a million.  My heavenly Father loves me more than I will ever know; has saved me dozens of times from dangerous things that I haven’t even known about (and some that I have), He watches over me when I’m sleeping and keeps me safe from all harm.

I used to be deathly afraid of thunderstorms—afraid to the point of locking myself in a windowless room such as a closet and pressing my hands over my ears in an effort to block out the sounds of the thunder. The only time I wasn’t put in this near panic state during a storm would be if I was drunk.  I gave my heart to the Lord in December of 1993;  and the following June I was sitting on my couch so engrossed in whatever I was reading, I failed to notice that the room was getting dark and a storm was brewing.  It started to thunder and I waited for the fear but it never came.  Lightning flashed across the sky and I was unmoved. I was amazed,  I couldn’t help but praise Him for delivering me from this terror of thunderstorms–I had never asked to be released from it, He just did it.  That is the Father’s love for His child;  He could have stopped the storm in it’s tracks, but instead He drove out the fear so that I could be victorious over it.  That fear has never returned and it never will.

One of my favorite glimpses of my Heavenly Father can be seen in a parable that Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.  The son took his inheritance and ran through it, so that in no time he was left penniless. He decided to go home and be a servant to his father, who he was sure had disowned him.  Instead, the father waited for his return each day and looked down the road to see if his son was coming.  Finally that day came, when the father saw his son afar off and in his excitement, ran and met him.  The father would not hear of his son becoming his servant, in fact, he threw a party instead—it was a time of celebration because his son had been lost, but then he was found.

Do you not see?  This is how the Father feels about us!  We make mistakes but when we sincerely apologize to Him, He quickly forgives.  He waits for us, and when we are coming but still afar off, He meets us more than halfway.  He wants to help us, we merely have to ask.  We’re His children, He is not waiting for us to mess up so that He can disown us; but even if we do mess up, He will restore us.  It says in the bible that all heaven rejoices when one sinner is saved—that’s the nature of my Father–He celebrates when one of His kids comes home!



On the outside looking in

It’s not easy being a preacher’s kid; of which I am one.  The people in the congregation expect the children of the pastor to be perfect little Christians.  They hold us up as examples to their own children and their own children try to pull us into their schemes.  And let me preface this with something that some of you might find exceedingly shocking–I did not become a Christian for myself until I was 31 years old!  It can be tough enough being a preacher’s kid in a regular church, but my dad had his services in our living room;  which again, might not have been so bad out in the country, but that wasn’t the case. We lived on a busy street on Staten Island, with a tavern straight across from us.  I kid about it now, but it was cringe-worthy to me as a child–to have my friends waiting for me on the front porch, knowing that they could hear every note sang and every word spoken by those inside.  On a Sunday night in the summer, you could literally stand in the middle of my street and hear bar songs on one side blasting from the jukebox and church hymns on the other coming from my house.  I knew having church in my living room wasn’t normal, none of my friends parent’s did this, and when you’re a kid, it’s all about fitting in and I felt like a square peg in a round hole.

There was another factor to my feeling of not belonging.  Dad had told us kids that everything we did in school or in the community reflected back on him; in other words, we were not to fight other kids or even defend ourselves should the need arise.  I’m sure he meant well; but I took it literally and never did defend myself if picked on.  I was a shy kid to begin with;  a momma’s girl who would have preferred to stay home than go to school;  I was a bully’s dream if there ever was one.  And then there was one more piece to the puzzle as to why I felt from a fairly young age as if I was on the outside looking in.  This is a story that only a handful of people know and it’s a little scary for me to open up about it now.  When I was eight years old, I was molested.  I’ll not go into the who, the when or the how long.  The person responsible passed away several years ago, and to my knowledge, I was the only one he victimized.  I’ve also forgiven him and I have it on fairly good authority that he gave his heart to the Lord before he passed;  so I hold no animosity towards him. But while I won’t besmirch his name now; and I won’t go into detail about any of it;  I will say that it was not a one-time occurrence and it did affect me greatly as far as self-esteem issues go.

Not to mention, it severely hurt my relationship with God.  As I said, I grew up a preacher’s kid;  heard about God all my life and most definitely believed in Him.  But I felt forgotten and forsaken that He would let this happen to me.  I thought surely I had done something horrible to deserve this, but I could never figure out what it was.  There was a neighborhood kid a couple of years older than me that got hit by a car and killed one night;  that death affected me for years.  I didn’t even really know him other than in passing;  but I was sure I was next;  that’s how guilty I felt from some imagined wrong I felt I must have committed. I never told anyone because my abuser said not to.  I’m sure my childhood friends never had a clue, because I hid it so well.  In fact no one knew until after he passed away, and then just a select trusted few.

But the point is—all of these things led me to feel outside the norm; invisible and on the outside looking in.  It felt like there was this great party going on;  I could look in the window, see all the smiling people, see them laughing and enjoying life, but I could not open the door and join them.  I felt “less than.”  And I felt that way for quite some time.

Teenage years brought with it rebellion; cutting out of school continuously (Dad had to meet with the dean quite a few times)—until I finally dropped out altogether.  It found me abusing alcohol and smoking pot on a regular basis.  In fact one night me and a friend walked into that tavern across from my house, and my dad walked in minutes later to drag me out.  I was, truth be told, just doing what most of my friends were doing anyway—but of course, as a preacher’s kid–the community expects more from you. The idea is your dad is a Christian so why are you so bad?  The truth was, I never asked to be born into a preacher’s family any more than any one asked to be born into theirs.   Once church stopped being held in my house I never went to any other service voluntarily for many, many years.

I talked to God alot, there is some question whether He hears the prayers of people who are not living for Him, but I won’t say He doesn’t—that’s entirely up to Him and He’s God, He can do whatever He wants. But I absolutely knew without a doubt, He existed.  I just didn’t think He cared very much for me.  One of my favorite sayings when I was a teenager was—“God only knows and He doesn’t care.”  I talked to Him, but I never heard back.  I knew if I died, I wasn’t going to heaven.  I knew not to take communion and I never did until after I got saved.  As much as I shunned church and wanted no part of what I saw as a great hypocrisy; I had one of my dad’s old hymn books from the living room church that went with me wherever I moved and stayed with me up to and beyond when I became a Christian for real.  I would take it out and sing the familiar songs occasionally.

Met and married Bob;  whose mom and sister went to my dad’s church when he finally got a building to have it in.  Bob was like me, he believed but he had no interest in living it.  Bob was my first official and only boyfriend;  we dated for almost five years and then got married in 1987.  He didn’t drink all that much or at least didn’t enjoy it to the extent that I did;  I was over indulging every weekend for quite a long time.  To say I wasn’t happy would be an understatement.  I just never felt like I belonged;  I never felt peaceful, or content.  I felt guilty and convicted and judged and small.  I went to years of therapy which did help some, but it seemed I could cry longer and harder than most people did.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was grieving now that I know what that is and what that feels like.  I just wanted to be like I imagined everyone else was—I thought they all had it together.

We moved to Virginia on July 4, 1993, and that threw me into what I believe was as near to a clinical depression that I ever hope to get.  Bob worked long hours, officially 3-11 p.m., but if his job required it (and it often did), he might not get home until 3 a.m.  I didn’t work, I didn’t drive and I was homesick for New York and my family.  Ironically, Bob worked for a beverage distributor and brought beer home all the time; but it no longer got me where I wanted to go.  My sorrow was such that alcohol, unless it was some massive amount (and I wasn’t going to go that far), was not going to drown it out.  I cried every day for practically six months.  And then Thanksgiving came and my parents and sister visited for those four days.  I both anticipated and dreaded that visit.  I had longed to see them in person; but I knew when they left it would kill me.  I cannot describe to you the despair I felt at having them leave me.  And when they did, as I knew they would, I sank even further into my depression.  I told Bob I wanted to go back to New York and he said that I could, but he wasn’t going.  I knew that if I went back there without him I wouldn’t be any happier than I had been living without my family.  Push came to shove, finally.  Before I had moved to Virginia (Bob had come down here 3 months before I did to secure a place to live), I had one of my usual talks with God and I told Him, if He worked it out, I’d go to church.  See, that’s why I think God does hear when people not serving Him pray.  Because He called that prayer to my remembrance.  And even though serving Him was something I had actively ran from for 31 years, by late November 1993, I was at the end of my rope.  There was nowhere else to go but to Him.  So I finally did. It just occurred to me, right now, as I wrote this—that I got saved in all places, in my living room, with some tv preacher leading me in the sinner’s prayer on December 2, 1993.  All those years going to church in my childhood living room, it came back full circle.  I had been in such a dark, sad place for so many months, that when it took—this salvation—I felt like a great weight had lifted off of me—it felt like some one had opened all the doors and windows and turned on all the lights!  When Bob had left that afternoon, he didn’t know if he’d come back home to me with my bags all packed ready to return to New York without him or what.  What he came back home to was a very peaceful me and even he knew something amazing had happened.

That has been quite awhile ago now.  I’ve lost Bob and my mom, my sister and others.  Mom lived long enough to witness my getting baptized of which I am so grateful.  She prayed for me for so many years and never gave up!

I have since learned too, that there are a lot of people who felt as I did, that they were on the outside looking in—that a lot of those that I perceived of having great lives were actually suffering from hidden things as well. I guess if I could have them take away anything from my life,  it’s that God does care—in fact He’s waiting with open arms to gather you to Him.  He can heal all the hurts of the past.  Yes, He did allow what happened to me to occur, because it is how they say—a fallen world and men are given free will to do what they will. There are victims in that scenario, and some people have a problem with it; but God makes a way for restoration, both to the afflicted and the ones that afflict.  God makes a way for forgiveness and a healing from all manner of abuse.  I am okay and others can look at my life and see that healing is possible.  I welcome being on the outside now—not looking in to a life that seems perfect—but among others outside as well, to be a help to them, to show them that they are not alone, not forgotten or forsaken.  Not by me and most certainly, not by God.




A tribute to my mom for Mother’s Day

My mother (Laura Randall Elstad) was born on June 2, 1923, she was the youngest of four children, the other older ones were all boys.  Because they would occasionally let her tag along with them, she was a bit of a tomboy and liked to go fishing;  grew up interested in understanding how things worked and even eventually got a job pumping gas.  She had somewhat of a tough childhood—her father locked himself in the garage one night and ran the car until the carbon monoxide killed him. I’m not sure how old she was when this occurred but I know it affected her.  A couple of years later, her mom remarried and mom’s step-dad was not nice to her on at least one occasion that she told me about.  Seems mom was eating a lemon and he didn’t like it, so he pushed her down the basement steps!  Not sure if the man was abusive or just ignorant, but I don’t like thinking of someone doing that to her and for so little a reason.

Growing up in the Depression, mom had to go to work to help out my Nana (who by the time Mom was a teenager, was a widow again).  But mom had girlfriends to spend time with too, so it wasn’t all hard work and no fun.  Somewhere along the line, my mother visited a church that my dad happened to go to.  Dad was, by his own admission, a jack of all trades around the church—chief bottle washer, janitor; sunday school teacher, etc;  whatever they needed him to be.  He headed up a young adults group and from the pictures I’ve seen of it, mom was there whenever they gathered.  But all was not smooth sailing for mom and dad.  At some point Dad broke up with her to go out with some other girl (!!);  but eventually he came back, proposed and they married.  Mom was 29 when she became a bride.  The doctors told her they didn’t think she could have children (although I don’t remember what the reason was).  But my parent’s were praying people and didn’t let that report bring them down.  In fact, mom would have three children and miscarry a fourth.

Growing up, my mother was very instrumental in educating us even though she made it seem more like a game.  Whereas I get my creativity from my father’s side of the family,  I get my curiosity about how things work and my ability to work through a challenge from my mom.  Mom encouraged my creativity in an active way—she wrote down some of my stories before I had the skills to do it myself.  She allowed me to have as many imaginary friends as I wanted and would scold my older siblings if they teased me about it.  It seems funny now to realize, that as a preacher’s kid, I never believed in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, but I was allowed to believe that there were imaginary friends who lived in the wall of my living room.  And under the guise of playing a game, mom devised ways of having us learn the name of the states; their Capitals;  we played memory games such as I’m going on a vacation and I’m bringing—(usually Apples, bananas, etc until every letter of the alphabet was used and you had to recite 26 different things).  She introduced us to crossword puzzles, word searches and jigsaw puzzles.  Dad was all about getting on the floor with us to play Monopoly;  Mom would rather sit us down at the card table and teach us Scrabble.  And while my Dad had no interest in sports whatsoever, Mom was all about her favorite New York teams.  I get my die-hard love of the New York Yankees from her!

Mom was not afraid to get her hands dirty, whether it was looking under the hood of Dad’s car (she seemed to know more about what might be going on there, than he did), or fixing a broken lamp or radio. She was a stay at home mom for many years until around 1974 or so, when the economy wasn’t all that great, she had to find a job. At first she got work locally, but then a few years later, had to commute to Lower Manhattan and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that she worked in one of the Twin Towers for awhile.  To be honest, I was a teenager then and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what she even did there;  I assume it was something along the lines of file clerk, because Mom could do alot of things, but typing was not one of them, so that ruled out Secretary.

In 1976, Mom (and Dad) faced the toughest situation that a parent can;  the death of one of their children.  As I already spoke of in another entry, my brother Kenneth got a very rare form of bone cancer, had his left leg amputated from the hip down and eventually lost the battle altogether and passed away when he was 19.  They had the assurance that he was resting with Jesus, but of course, that didn’t lessen their grief any.  But mom never really shared her sorrow with me or my sister that I can remember.  What I do recall, was her telling us, shortly after he died, that we were not to blame ourselves for his passing—-that even if we had gotten mad at him at some point and told him to drop dead—that we hadn’t made it happen with our words.  I can’t help but think that my nana must have said the same thing to her after her dad took his own life.

Life rolled on for mom and dad;  she continued to work for a good while and helped Dad out with his ministerial duties until finally, years later, he made her his assistant pastor. Eventually too, my sister and I moved out of the family home to live in New Jersey and our parents moved to the second floor apartment over where they held  their church services.

In 1982 I met my future husband, Bob and in 1987 I married him.  Mom walked me down the aisle and gave me away since Dad was officiating the ceremony.  We lived in the second story apartment in my in laws house and for most holidays, everyone would gather at our residence, Mom and dad included. There are many happy memories (and plenty of pictures) of times spent together whether it was on the Fourth of July or Christmas.  We were all one blended happy family—Bob’s and mine.

In 1993, Bob lost his job on Staten Island and saw it as the perfect chance to relocate to Virginia, a place he had visited many times as a child and already had a sister who lived there herself. It was like an adventure to be sure, but leaving mom to move here was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.  I may look like my dad, but I was a mommy’s girl all the way!  We had always talked on the phone a lot; whereas mom’s calls to my sister made her feel like she was being interrogated; I welcomed chatting with my mother. And I was used to being able to see her in person at least once a week, things that added to a bad case of homesickness the first six months we were here.  I wanted to return to New York, but Bob didn’t and I felt like I was in between a rock and a hard place.  I knew I wouldn’t be happy up there without him, but I wasn’t happy here without my parents and sister. That’s what drove me to salvation—needing God to make it alright in my spirit to stay in Virginia. Mom was the first person I called to tell that I had gotten saved and she was overjoyed. She had been praying for that for me for many many years!   I’m glad that she also lived long enough to be here when I got baptized in the South River in 1994.

In the summer of 95, after taking a trip with my dad and sister;  Mom started going downhill fast.  She ended up in the hospital after losing consciousness one night;  there they found she had diabetes and a heart condition.  Bob and I made an impromptu trip up north just in time to see her get released from the hospital; but after we came home, mom had an appointment with her regular doctor. He took one look at her and sent her back in because he saw the yellowing of her skin which he knew to be jaundice.  Test results would show inoperable Liver Cancer. Mom had smoked in her youth, but never drank a drop of alcohol, so it wasn’t that.  Of course, dad had everyone who would do so, pray,  but we lost her on Sept. 8, 1995.

It took me a long time to stop crying for her.  Up to that point I had lost others, but there is something about losing your mom, especially if you were close to her and although I wasn’t close in actual miles;  I was so close to her in my heart.  We used to talk every Sunday afternoon and it seemed to take forever for me to get used to not doing that anymore.  A lot of time has passed now, I’ve lost many others since then, but I’ll never forget her and I can’t wait to see her again someday.  I know when I see her next, she won’t be as frail and as sick as she was at our last meeting.  What a glorious day that will be!

Helping the hurting

After my sister passed away in early November 2010;  and my husband was battling excruciating pain in his lower back, I was feeling quite devastated.  My husband had been my go-to person, second only to God;  but I didn’t feel comfortable laying more grief on what was already a bad situation.  He was grieving for her as well, they had bantered in a good-natured way all the years they’d known each other and I knew he was sympathetic to my pain of losing her.  Even with the great amount of pain he was enduring, he wouldn’t hear of not going with us when we made the trek up north to identify her.   He had driven all the way to Staten Island and he drove a lot while there.  He had intended to drive all the way home too, but his pain became so great that I took over in the last little bit of New Jersey.

A week or so after we returned home and were trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy, I returned to my daily routine and got back out among people.  It was there that I started to notice that others, while sympathetic, had no idea how to help me.

There is that one thing we all say, when we are faced with a situation involving a friend who is going through a crisis:  “If there is anything I can do for you, let me know.”

Can I be bold and say that I think that’s one of the most useless sentences in existence? Now before you get mad, I’ve said it a million times myself.   I even had one person say to me, “If you don’t tell us what you need, we can’t help you.” What I needed was for them not to put it that way.

At it’s best, it sounds really good and I’m sure the people who say it mean it at the time.

But it puts the responsibility of meeting my needs on me;  and I’m already overwhelmed.   At my core, I need to cry, I need to scream, I need to get angry, I need to breathe.  I need to call someone at 4 a.m. because I can’t sleep.

Most people going through a crisis still have a speck of pride and won’t ask for help for that reason. They’ve done it perfectly fine up until then and they don’t know that they can’t now.  And it might look like, from the outside, that they are capable, they are thriving.  But really it’s all going to fall on top of them at some point.

The third reason that sentence is useless is the majority of people won’t help you.  Oh, they think they will, but wait until the rubber meets the road.  You find out who your real friends are in a crisis.  Or rather you find out who your friends are by who stays by your side, before, during and after.  It was great to have a lot of people around me right after Bob died, but not too many of them came around a month or two later, when I really wanted to talk to someone.

So now that I’m a couple of years removed from all of this, I can see with better clarity what is needed in regards to helping the hurting and if you’re interested, maybe you can use these suggestions the next time someone you love is in crisis.

Number one is to make sure the person knows they are not alone, for most people this means going to see them.  I know that others have expressed a fear to me, of intruding in the persons life and it may happen;  but I would rather err on the side of intrusion than let some poor soul think that no one cares. And keep it up, don’t just visit once and think that’s good enough.  Be someone they look forward to seeing—go in smiling, make them laugh; give a sympathetic ear.

There are some people who would rather be left alone, but you can still send them letters and cards expressing your concern, and again, keep that correspondence coming.

Remember them on the special and perhaps, most difficult days; birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.  If you can invite them to your house to partake in celebrations, you should; they may not come, but it’s nice to be thought of.

Pray for them and by all means,  let them know they are in your thoughts.

Do small errands for them, offer to babysit their children so they can take care of things outside the home.  Bring them a meal.  Take them out for a bite to eat.  If they are care-givers, offer to give them a break to get away for an hour or so.  Sit with them and let them talk.

Do for them what you would need if you were in their situation.  And if you have been in their situation–you should be one of the first people to contact them, because you already know what they need.

The hurting will always be with us; and undoubtedly we will be the hurting ourselves, sometimes; it’s a fact of life and not to be shunned or feared.  And while only God can bring true recovery and restoration to those in crisis, He wants us to be His hands and Feet, bringing comfort to those in need.