Monday, July 18, 2011

thought of

8 Ways to Encourage Your Chronically Ill Friend (from a distance)
(and I know these from experience. I've been asked several times by different people what THEY could to do encourage us from a distance)

1. Pray for them - you don't know how encouraging this is to us.

2. Buy a gift card for Starbucks or Jamba Juice or some place like that you know they think is a treat (you can ask if you don't know).  I was given a Starbucks gift card last year by someone because they know that my husband and I love to go there as a treat.  Every time I pulled out that card to pay I felt encouraged by the person who gave it.  And even though the amount on the card wasn't that much, it still felt like the card kept giving way longer than it should have because I never kept the receipt that said how much was left on it :) By the time it had a zero balance I was just so thankful it had lasted THAT long :)

Inside this bubble-wrap mailer was the gift of a French Macaroon
(gluten free) from my favorite French bakery in Los Angeles.
3. Send an encouraging note through the mail, even if it's short or just says "I'm thinking about you".  It's awfully nice to receive snail mail and packages when you're not feeling well.  My dad's Aunt has been really good about sending cards at random times.  They always have simple, yet encouraging words in them and somehow always come on a day I really need it.  Now whenever I see the return address and it's her, I smile and am ALREADY encouraged and get so excited to open the card.

4. Find their Amazon wish list (if they have one) and send them an unexpected gift of something they've been wanting.  Lots of people with Lyme and other illnesses struggle financially so they don't often get to buy things just for fun or even things they NEED.  Sending them a gift from a list they made or even sending a gift card to a store you know they love can be really special for doesn't even have to be for a high amount; a $5-10 gift card to a store can still brighten someone's day.  I know that I, and some other friends I know, put things on an Amazon wish list mostly for fun or so we don't forget that we've found something that we'd like to buy at some point when we have a bit more money.  And I also know that if you aren't sure what stores your friends love to shop at, it doesn't hurt to ask them.

5. Send them a random hand-picked care package. One of the most encouraging things I got one time was from a girl I'd never met.  She'd found my blog a few years ago and had been struggling with some undiagnosed health problems and she found encouragement through my words.  She emailed me and it turned out she went to a church where some of my college friends went.  We would email back and forth and she prayed for me and I prayed for her.  One day I got a package in the mail from her.  It was SO fun to open.  There was an encouraging note, some of her favorite gluten-free treats, a "mixed tape" cd of her favorite encouraging songs, a candle, and a few other little things.  It made me feel so loved to get such a thoughtful package from someone I hadn't even met!!  And it's ALWAYS fun to get a package in the mail, isn't it?  I still have that CD she made and I listen to it when I'm most "down".

6. Send encouraging words via email/Facebook.

7. Give them a call and chat; tell them funny stories about what's going on in your life. But be mindful that when you call they may not be up for staying on long or for talking at that moment.  One of my friends always begins our calls with "I don't want you to use up all your energy on this phone call so tell me when you need to get off."  Another says, "Can you listen?  I have some funny stories." and she doesn't expect me to talk if I'm not up for it and I just LOVE hearing about her day or funny kid stories she tells me.

8.  Pray for them.  Yes, I said it twice.  This is really the most important thing you can do for someone who is chronically ill.  Pray specifically for healing, ENCOURAGEMENT, and patience, not only for them but for their spouses and/or children.