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How do we hold it together when the answer is no, or it seems that our request appears to not have been heard?

November 30, 2012


“Even if the healing doesn’t come and life falls apart and dreams are still undone, you are God and you are good, forever faithful one, even if the healing doesn’t come.”

~ “Even If”  Kutless

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

– Randy Pausch


I’m behind schedule.  Just like you.  Lots to do and I’m not getting it all done.  I’m feeling emotional and a bit drained and for the past few days have wanted to write this for you and have put it aside.  I have witnessed and experienced more in the past 4 days then I have in months.  I looked in the mirror tonight and swear I saw 18 more wrinkles!  Tomorrow I’m marching in and going to demand my money back from that cream that is supposed to prevent this ragged face I see in the mirror.


Rereading that first paragraph I just realized that I exhibited the attitude that creates some of the trauma that I have witnessed.  How often is it about us, and how often do we put our needs down a step to offer a time consuming but needed hand of support to another.


Last week we combined efforts, funds (that you donated to purchase what we were short on), and immense generosity to deliver 116 turkeys, most with sides, desserts, cooking pans & bags, generously sized IKEA bags, breads, and drinks.  Many, many friends came to help bag the Thanksgiving Food Gifts and deliver them to the most grateful and emotional recipients.  I wish I could write to you every “thank you” that I have been told as well as those that I have yet to hear of teary eyed friends who looked you in the eye as you delivered this gift and said “Thank you SO very much.  We truly appreciate and needed this.”  You provided a very simple but absolutely humble request:  the makings for a meal that they could not either afford; emotionally gather themselves to shop for; or physically engage themselves to prepare.  You blessed over 100 homes with a meal that they would not have otherwise had.  Food is fuel for the body and spirit.  Know that many many friends were fueled by your gifts and enjoyed a Thanksgiving that they didn’t expect nor could provide for on their own.


That event grew to a massive size that exhausted me a bit. (I’m older, remember, not the endless source of energy I used to be- ‘One a Days’ do not have the effect that I expect them to.  Darn false marketing.  Think I’ll return those with the anti-wrinkle cream!!)  I have to admit I almost tapped out but I was lucky to have two days to unplug and think about how to better what we had accomplished.  Then the thinking had to be put aside for experiencing and learning.


I have spoken to many of those that helped make Thanksgiving Giving happen and quite a few times the question was raised as to what the family “did” to be in need, or how is it that a family that lives in this community, in a very nice newer home, within their arm’s reach could possible be one that would need the assistance of receiving something as simple as a turkey dinner.


The simplest answer:  bad things do happen to good people.  In the past few days I have:


**Fielded a Chaplain call for a couple in their 80s experiencing a very scary and dramatic change in their lives.  65 years married.  She is suffering from the onset of Dementia.  We spent 5 ½ hours on Tuesday visiting the doctor, then traveling to the hospital that we would leave her at for a two week (at least) admittance.  During this day I witnessed a long lasting love.  A commitment that was made 65 years ago “For better or for worse, in Sickness and in Health”.  And I fought tears throughout the entire experience wishing I had magic powers.  I also went toe to toe with a doctor who lost sight of her calling.  She allotted a 15 minute appointment for a diagnosis of Dementia.  When our appointment started edging into an hour time period she snapped.  “I don’t have time for this.  This is taking too long.  My whole day is falling behind.”  After that statement I stepped forward and said, “I am sorry your day is off schedule and that your timetable is off by an hour or more but this couple is experiencing a life altering turning point and their whole lives are changing as of today not just by an hour.  None of us wants to be here in this situation and for this diagnosis but I would hope you would put your stresses aside and see what is happening here for this couple.”  She went off to another patient’s room then returned to apologize.  You know what, I didn’t plan on it being that long either and I wasn’t going to get a dollar for my time- she was getting paid a good amount of money to do her job and she needed to realize that they needed her guidance, experience, and patience.  How often do we snap when that is expected of us and we just don’t have one more ounce of patience left to offer?  I get that, but in this situation and on this day I expected and demanded more.  Life was falling apart at the seams for them, not their “day”, the rest of their days.  Sometimes we need to put ourselves aside for the needs of those around us.  It is difficult, however, what they are experiencing is more difficult.  We will go back to our lives, maybe an hour, two or six off schedule, but it is what we are called to do.  It is what we should do.


**Sat next to a 15 year old who was paralyzed on July 4.  (You will hear more of this upcoming fundraiser we are working on.)  I admire him for being present and accounted for, for wanting to work alongside those who are offering their time and energy to help raise funds for his continued therapy.  Insurance maxed out.  Parent’s resources tapped.  Hope for movement, walking is alive but not without resources.  He didn’t sit there wallowing in self pity, he participated, laughed, designed logos gave his opinion and inspired all of us to reach outside of our greatest limitations.  If you went from a healthy 15 year old to a body that you didn’t recognize nor could move would you be reduced to a pile of self pity or a bigger than life example of determination and hope?  March 16th “Walk with Andrew”.  Details and inspiration to come.


**Counseled a father who was laid off, lives in a “newer home” that requires a two income collaboration and now is down to a one income and his unemployment, which is less than half of what he was earning.  “We are trying to figure out how we will hold on.”  Not every home in need is a shack.  Not every family in crisis looks tattered and torn.


**Two families who lost loved ones that have asked me how they are to move through this holiday season without their spouse and child and need someone to just be there.  The silence is deafening and the loneliness is smothering them.   This and other calls have made me realize Hope and Friendship needs to form an outreach group.  A note written and underlined on the “future plans and goals”.


**One of our families that already was operating at bare minimum (the family whose mom shared with me that she stifled her younger children’s requests for more food in the house with determination that they sacrifice now to help the older siblings through college and accept that having less will produce a better life for all of them) This weekend while working on a home repair the father severed his finger with a chop saw and spent the past 3 days in the hospital (uninsured) and now, as they are trying to save his finger, his and his family are without his income and must have him miraculously rapidly heal and continue to earn the subpar income that he was earning before this most unfortunate set back.  If the job will be there for him when he is able to return.  We need to pull together resources to carry them through this month hoping for recovery and return to work so they can again operate at the struggling level they are accustomed to rather than the panic of the moment they are in glaring at the threat of homelessness.


**Spoke to a mom who participated in our Thanksgiving Turkey Giving Day with her child who has Asperger’s.  I was thrilled as she described the effect the experience of giving such a simple gift had on her child and her.  To hear in such simple terms the impact that giving has on those who receive and those who give is nothing short of absolutely moving.   Her child verbalized everything I needed to hear to inspire me to continue to work on building this foundation to be a self-sufficient, community, business and non-government grant funded source of emergency assistance.  Why should we not be like our young friend who was so excited and moved to give, share and help that we can’t contain ourselves or cannot wait for the next opportunity to do so?


**I sat with a 65 year old woman who has been sleeping on a cot for more than a year.  She can’t afford a bed.  My 86 year old friend whom I spent Tuesday with told me of an elderly woman who mumbled as she paid for her prescriptions at Osco how some months she must choose to purchase food and some months she is able to purchase her medicines.  He stated a blatant truth:  “What a sad situation when a country cannot assist it’s elderly”.  I receive another request for a bed yesterday from a senior citizen and I received a request from my friend at Home Helpers for two beds for client’s of his.  Do you have an unused twin (or other sized) bed you don’t need?  Email me your unused and unneeded items and I will do my very best to find homes for them.  Sometimes it is instant.  Sometimes the want is there but the space and means (transporting) are not.


**Sat with a mom whose family lives in a home that is valued at almost $400,000 (on paper) but who after taxes and mortgage payment must figure out how to live off of $1500 with a handicapped child who requires at a minimum once a month doctor visits, medicine and adult diapers for home and school.  Those electric, gas, phone, water, garbage, and food bills sure do fight for attention.  They didn’t anticipate that they would have a child with special needs.  They are blessed with this child.  Yet they have the burden and responsibility of keeping a roof over their heads and providing for his and his sibling’s every need.  Wants are off to the side.


Trying to keep this writing shorter than a novel I will wrap this up with the invitation to join me in working to meet these and so many needs.  Sponsor Hope and Friendship with resources, time and effort, and/or funds.  Visit me this coming Saturday December 1st at “The Vault” 308 Canal Street in Downtown Lemont from 1pm-5pm.  I will be happy to share more.  I will be happy to tell you why I have committed myself to this calling for the past 7 years without pay and for the first few years on my own dollar until I started to receive support from friends within the sound of my cry for help.

I thought if I invited you to become a part of Hope and Friendship whether by hands and feet or by sponsorship we could join to meet the needs listed above and more.    The ripples that have been made over the past 7 years have been clearly seen and felt.

Think of what we could do if I could get out to more businesses, organizations, groups who could offer us funds and resources.

Think of what we could accomplish if we started making the ripples of help waves of change.

I think about it all of the time.


As I watched my friend part from his wife of 65 years and entrust her care to the nurses at the hospital that she will hopefully be treated and sent home from, I realized that I tried, and daily try, to schedule every minute of my day.  I pack the day full of “to do’s” and do not allow for “to give’s”.  I must get better at flowing with days that do not go according to MY script and understand that there are people around me who need help climbing through the most difficult chapters in their lives and for that there is no schedule.  Those in need do not want to be in need, impose, consume our time, or ask for our help, but they will not get through these valleys without a strong, steady, unselfish and supportive hand, funds, resources, or action that accompanies them as they walk through this difficult chapter.


Hope and Friendship Foundation’s mission is to be a conduit from those who have to those that need.  Those that have funds, resources, items, patience, time, energy to those that need financial assistance, beds, clothes, an ear, a hug, a ride to the doctor, a visit during those dark and lonely days, a friend….. or simply hope.


Wishing you peace,


Terri O’Neill-Borders


Hope and Friendship Foundation

Facebook:  Hope and Friendship Ministries

721 Hickory St

Lemont, Il  60439



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