helping families in need

casseroles, lasagna, and more casseroles. since coming to our current church we’ve added 4 kids to our family; julia, rachel, and the twins (sarah & naomi). and after each birth our church has been gracious to have various ladies of the church prepare us meals for a couple weeks. this has been helpful because at the time that deb is recovering from delivery and we’re both sleep deprived and tired, it’s nice to not have to think about what’s for dinner (or the grocery planning involved in that).

but i began to wonder where did this practice come from? (i just wondered, i didn’t even bother to google it.) i remember this practice happening back when i was a kid at the church i grew up in. a family would be in a stressful time either because of a new child, the hospitalization of a family member, or maybe even a death in the family. and the ladies of the church would do the same thing and organize a meal schedule for the family.

i’m not really sure how long this practice has been going on, but i know that it’s at least 20 years old. and i think i would be safe to say that’s it’s a lot older than that.

so as we waited for our mystery dinner for the evening a few weeks ago, i started to ask, “is there other things that people could do or ways people could help that may be more beneficial in our modern world?” it wasn’t that i was ungrateful for the meals being brought but perhaps families in need would be better served in other ways.

like i said before, we’ve gone through this process 3 times in our time here at this church, and every time we hear people say to us, “if you need anything, just let me/us know.” anything? really? i know people mean well when they say that (even i’ve said that to people before) but they (i) don’t really mean anything? “anything” is an awfully open offer. i mean, i need my school loans paid off. sure it has nothing really directly related to having new kids, but do people really mean they would pay them off if i asked? i’d say 99.999999% of the time the answer would be “no”.

and there’s another thing, because of the way the question is asked (so open ended) and the recipient of the question not knowing how generous you’re really offering to be, they will rarely ask for anything at all. it’s up to the one offering help/generosity to find out the needs of those who need it and try to meet it. the one who needs it could ask, but more than likely they’re unwilling to impose something on someone that the person didn’t really intend to offer when they said, “anything”.

so i write these next suggestion not as something our family really needs right now, we’re doing fine. and the main thing we do need -sleep- you can’t really bring us in a casserole dish. but more as something to think about the next time someone in your life is in a stressful season of life. here are some ways you can help.

if you must, bring meals every other day so as to not overwhelm their fridge with left overs. (oh, and try to include something fresh. thick heavy casseroles and stews don’t sit well night after night)
or just order/bring them something from a restaurant. -pizza, chinese takeout, subway, etc.
even better, invite them over to your house for dinner. that way the dinner time is set (no guessing when the meal will arrive for the receiving family) and they don't have to deal with clean up of the dinner either.
even better than that, just give them gift certificates to restaurants. home cooked meals are over-rated. i know you’re kids like your cooking, but it doesn’t guarantee that the receiving family’s kids do.
fill their gas tank (esp. if they are making more trips to the hospital or somewhere else than expected)
come clean their house unexpectedly. - and just call and tell them you’re coming to do that. you could ask what time would be best so as not to come when they’re not there or during precious nap time.
do dishes
pick up living room
fold laundry
etc.
entertain their kids - give the parents a rest or a night out together by watching the kids. (overnight even better)
help them get their kids ready for school, church, etc. - so that the mother doesn’t have to get up early to do that after being up all night with the new babies.
take over the midnight feedings of babies - if the mother is pumping milk or if the kids are being bottle fed w/formula this would be an excellent way to give the parents some much needed sleep.
protect/shelter them from conversations with "draining" people. - especially in the church world we want to be nice and polite and not think of some people in this way, but there are people that are just draining to talk to. no matter what the reasons are, they always focus on the negative, or make jokes that aren’t funny or encouraging, or they always focus only on themselves. (i know you’re thinking of someone that fits that description right now) i know that the first sunday after the twins were born and deb was still in the hospital there were some people that i purposely avoided to talk to because i didn’t want to deal with them. does that sound selfish? maybe? was it necessary to keep my sanity and prevent me from punching them? yes.
well there’s my list of suggestions. do you have any others? have you ever been the receiving family of of such help or generosity? what things were really beneficial to you? what things were more hassle then help?

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// today i'm thankful for:
1. the meals provided for us when we were in need.
2. boonda got a new car! (boonda’s our nickname for deb’s sister)
3. WASL testing and packing of books is over
4. the beautiful sunshine!
5. boonda’s help in the mornings with the kids so that deb can “sorta” rest a little bit longer.