Monday, November 23, 2015

How to BLESS the Homebound

(From someone who has been there and knows…)

The homebound have been on my heart recently.  It could be because I’ve been a “Shut-In” several times in my life.  I’m not talking about being shut in for the weekend with a cold or for a week with the flu.  It’s a permanent kind of shut-in experience… a chronic illness, extensive rehabilitation, disability, or maybe recovery from an accident to name a few. 

Sometimes the shut-in person isn’t sick at all… they are actually caregivers of the sick.  Regardless of the circumstances, being bound or “stuck” in your home for an undetermined amount of time can be really frustrating.  Believe me, I know.

My shut-in experience was due to an autoimmune disease.  It came on unexpectedly and we weren’t prepared for it.  I had two little ones to care for ages 5 and 6.  They needed me!  When I first got sick, it took the doctor THREE months to diagnose my condition.  I was bedridden for the majority of that time.

My husband carried a lot of the weight during that season… financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.   He worked two jobs to take care of us financially because I had to quit my job when I got sick.  He filled the role of mom and dad caring for the boys.  He became the housekeeper, cook, and chauffeur along with many other roles.  We were a house and a family in great need. 

Even though we didn’t vocalize our needs, God knew and at times He would let others know so they could bless us.  We received food, help with the kids, help with cleaning the house, and loads of prayer.

When you are stuck at home you can begin to feel all alone, weary, and at times even hopeless.  I’m not just talking about those that are sick, but the caregivers too.   They juggle so much to keep their loved ones going and run on empty often.

Having been a “Shut-In” or home bound person myself, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how to bless someone who may be home sick (and even the caregiver too). 

Many of the homebound and caregivers feel forgotten… by friends, family, and by God.  Take time to check on them.  Call, send a card, text, or message them.  In some small way let them know you are thinking of them and praying.

I know at times in the past when I was sick for extended periods of time, I began to feel hopeless, a burden, alone, and forgotten.  Depression comes quickly and easily for those who feel trapped.  Your words of encouragement sent at just the right time can do more than you could ever imagine.  Let God prompt you to who you need to encourage and what and what you need to do to bless them.  You will be amazed at what God will do as you are obedient to His leading.

Here are some simple Text, Email, or Messaging ideas you could send:

-Hey friend.  You were on my mind today, how are you doing?
-I was thinking of you today.  Have an amazing day today!  You are in my prayers.
-You are missed and loved friend.  I just wanted to let you know.
-I’m praying for you friend.  I pray all is well with you today.
-Have an incredible day friend!  You are in my prayers.
-Do you have anything I can be praying for you about today?
-I’m praying for you today friend.  God is able.

Take the time to visit those homebound if you have the opportunity.  Many rarely leave their homes, so it is a treat when someone comes to see them.  Even though most don’t feel up to it or at their best, it still boosts their spirits to have visitors.  Here are some things to think about as you plan your visit:

-Call ahead (to see when a good time to visit might be with them or their caregiver).  For most that are sick, the best time seems to be in the afternoon or early evening.  Mornings are rough for most.

-Smaller is better.   Just one visitor can be overwhelming for the sick.  Keep your numbers small when you visit. 
1-2 people.  Only bring kids if they are well-behaved and old enough to understand what you are doing.  You want your visit to be encouraging not a stressful time.

-Less is more.  Don’t stay long when you visit.  Many homebound wear out quickly.  They may feel uncomfortable about their appearance and their home, but they will be glad you came.  For best results stay no longer than 30 minutes.  Just you taking the time out of your schedule to come see them will make their day.

-Bring a gift.  Bring something to make them feel special.  They don’t get out much so anything you might bring them is a special treat.  Here are some ideas: 

Something to entertain them:  Books (Chicken soup books are great, magazines, word searches, or cross words.  Find out what they like.)  Don’t forget favorite music or movies.

Something to make them smile: Flowers (check allergies), balloons, pictures to keep, cards or drawings from kids, or maybe their favorite sweet treat (a favorite candy bar… if it is allowed with their diet).

Something to fill their tummy:  It’s always a blessing when someone brings a meal or two to help out.  The same ole’ same ole’ stuff gets old.  Besides that, when a meal is brought the caregiver gets a break from cooking.  Two people are blessed in this instance.  J

-Keep it short and sweet.   What should you talk about when visiting?  I know it can be awkward when visiting someone who is sick, but it is such a blessing to them.  

Here are some discussion tips for you:

-Greet them with a gift
-Ask them how they are doing today
-Small talk (ideas:  weather, what you did today, keep it simple… no politics)
-Share with them how you’ve missed them and you’ve been praying for them
-Ask them if there is anything you can pray specifically with them about today
-Ask if you can pray now with them (Keep it short and sweet.  Don’t touch them when praying unless you feel led by God and you have asked for their permission.)

-Discern additional needs.  Look for other ways you can come back to bless them.  They won’t always come out and tell you what they need so you might have to get creative in discovering it.  In some cases you may need to ask further questions to discern (with God’s help) how to best bless them in the future.

Here are some questions you could ask…
*What could I/we do to help you out today to lift some weight off of you?
(Discern ways to help today)

*Is there anything we could come back later to help you with?
(Discern ways to help later)

*What seems to frustrate you the most lately?
(Discern what they wish they could do)

*When it comes to household responsibilities, what is MOST important to you?
(Discern areas of greatest needs to them)

*What has been weighing on you (or do you worry about …) the MOST lately?
(Discern how you can help lift the weight and know how best to pray)

*What can we continue to pray with you about?
(Discern their fears, burdens, and worries)

I remember when I was sick having lots of visitors.  At times, I couldn’t talk (or be understood), but I was still very aware.  People came to help watch my kids, make or bring meals, clean my house, run my kids to practices, and the like.  It all touched me so deeply. 

I remember two particular friends coming over to make a meal for my family and do some household chores.  I struggled to speak during this time, so I just sat there silently watching tears rolling down my face.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I cried because I couldn’t do anything to take care of my family by myself and I cried because I felt so blessed by my friends stepping up to help carry the weight for me.  I had mixed emotions in that moment.  I felt so helpless, yet so overwhelmed with love.

During these difficult seasons, people also prayed with me.  They prayed with me over the phone, emailed and messaged prayers, sent prayer cloths home with my husband (that people prayed over and anointed in my place), and came in person.  I remember one particular person went way out of their way home from a business trip to drop by out of the blue to anoint and pray for me.  I felt so honored.

“The prayers of others during this time gave me the strength I needed
to keep pushing forward when I didn’t have the energy to pray for myself.”

I felt unkempt and embarrassed at the way I looked, how I was dressed, and what my surroundings looked like, but each visitor that came still blessed me.  It blessed me that they cared enough to come, send food, write cards, or lend a hand to make our lives easier and our burdens lighter.  It overwhelmed me.  I sensed God’s presence as they prayed, served, loved, encouraged, and gave generously to my family.

I hope this holiday season you will take the time to remember someone who is sick or homebound.  I challenge you to go beyond just remembering to encouraging them.   Make time to visit, send a card, text, or call, but MOST of all pray.  They need you friends.  Be HOPE for the hopeless this Christmas.  You may never know the impact you could make by just remembering them today.

May God bless you today as you pray and discern WHO you may need to encourage this holiday season.

Living to leave a legacy,