It was a just over a year ago that I started having severe pain in my left hip joint. The pain progressed over a three week period, until it got to the point that it was so bad that I could no longer put weight on my left leg without it giving out completely. I have never experienced that level of pain before in my life. I was eventually diagnosed with a stress fracture just below my hip joint. So here I was, home with a three year old and a five year old, and I was not allowed to put any weight on my left leg at all. I was still in a great deal of pain and trying to hop around on crutches without falling and causing myself further injury. I was on crutches from the middle of August to a few days before Thanksgiving. That is a long time. During that time, I had one child starting kindergarten and one child starting pre-school. Both kids had to be transported to and from school on a daily basis. My husband, who is self employed in the events business, had exactly two entire days off during the whole period that I was on crutches. This whole experience has been on my mind lately as I am reflecting on how far I have come since the injury occurred.
So what does all this have to do with the title of my post? Looking back, I remember how devastated I was when I was diagnosed and I realized just how long my recovery period was going to be. Initially the possibility of surgery was discussed. Here I was three weeks before I was supposed to send my five year old off to kindergarten, crying in the doctor's office because I was afraid I was going to miss it. I was afraid I wasn't going to be able care for my little ones and be there for them during some of the most important moments in their lives. AND, if I couldn't care for them, who was going to do it for me? I have never been the type who is comfortable asking others for help. I like doing things my way, and I like doing them alone. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I was blessed to not have to ask for much help, most was offered. People came and helped me with my kids, especially in the evenings when my husband couldn't be there to help with bed time. My friends and family were there to help with child care. When school started I worked out arrangements for people to walk my kids in and out of school for me, so I didn't have to get out of the car and hop around, risking further injury. One lovely woman from my church volunteered to come to my house once a week and clean it for me. Her visits meant so much to me on and it was wonderful to not have to worry about getting things clean around the house.
My family is blessed to be part of a wonderful church family. Whenever someone has surgery, or loses a loved one, or welcomes a new baby, the meal train comes along. I always signed up whenever I was able too, but I don't think I ever realized the importance of this ministry. Everything changes when you find yourself in a situation where you need help. My church family, as well as some outside friends and family faithfully brought my family dinner for six weeks. I don't know how many of those givers realized what that meant.
The pain that I was in was overwhelming and exhausting. I spent my days going from the sofa bed in my living room to my desk chair across the room. I only left the house to do school drop offs or pick ups. By the time I got home each day with the second kid I was spent. Healing the body takes a lot of strength and energy, so does fighting the pain. Every night, like clockwork a different smiling face was at my door, with a hot, fresh, DELICIOUS meal. It was quick and easy to serve my kids nourishing food, and easy for my husband to clean it up when he came home. It eased my husband's burden. He was working incredibly long hours and trying to take care of all of us. He was exhausted. Having a meal ready when he came home was such a relief for him as well.
It was also exciting to see what new and delicious delights we would get to try each day, getting to sample everybody's different specialties. The kids were into it too, my usually picky eaters ate pretty much everything that came through the door.
In short, that meal train saved my sanity, kept my family fed, and gave me the strength to heal. When you bring someone in need a meal, you are showing love, making them feel cared for, and giving them something to look forward to, at the end of a long day. It's basically hope and love on a plate, wrapped up in something yummy.
There doesn't have to be a meal train set up for you to bring someone a meal. If you know a person who is going through a hard time, or is just having a bad day, show up with some food! If a formal train is created for someone in need, I encourage you to participate. Even if you don't have time to cook you could always just pick up the phone and have a meal delivered. One of my husband's cousins who lives three hours away did that for us when I was recovering and it was amazing.
Food is a basic human need, we can't live without it. Bringing food to new parents allows them more time to rest and relax and enjoy their new babies, you are literally gifting them with precious moments! Bringing food to someone who has lost a loved one, shows them how much you love and care for them, but also meets a need for them, they they may not feel able to meet for themselves in the midst of grief. Bringing food to someone recovering from a surgery or injury or suffering from illness cares for them and their family and allows them to rest and heal, and enjoy the little things, without pushing themselves to prepare a meal when they are in pain and exhausted.
If someone that you know is facing one of these situations or something similar, and you wonder how you can help, bring them a meal, or order a favorite for them and have it delivered. And I hope that if you are ever in a situation where you could use this kind of help, I hope it is provided for you. For my family it made all the difference in the world.