Who Will Help Me -- Joan O'Connell

PicOConnellJoanHave you ever been in a situation where you realized you were “over your head” with challenge, but didn’t know who to ask to help? Or what to ask for?  Several years ago, a friend with whom I was talking about challenges surrounding me as Director of the Christian Dance Network, encouraged me to get some prayer covering:  for me, personally, in addition to the ministry’s activities.  New idea to me, but it sounded right.  Gradually, I introduced the concept to various friends, as the Lord seemed to lead.  One by one, they agreed to pray for me.  Now, there is a small army of intercessors to whom I email periodic updates.  I try not to “blog” to them.  I send them prayer requests and occasionally, celebrations of answered prayer. 

Hearing and acting I feel I can call on them any time; I know they will be there, hear my cry for help, and back me up with prayer.  Since it’s an email relationship at this point, I can send a message day or night; they’ll receive and respond to my request when they get it.  [I trust that God can handle the potential time and space discrepancies.]

I had pre-requested prayers from my intercessors concerning a scheduled “procedure” my husband Patrick had done over Christmas vacation.  As Patrick purposefully hadn’t told many people about the surgery, I was cryptic.  The morning after the surgery, I wrote the following report, using the computer in the hospital ward “family room”:

Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 4:02 PM Subject: Pat's doing well. Yea... Hey, all ~

THANK YOU for your prayers!

I left Patrick around 9pm at St Joe's - sitting up, chomping on a popsicle, pain level about a 1, and ready to snooze.  His nurse/techs were taking good care of him. He'll probably spend two nights in the hospital, so he'll be home for Christmas!

It was a long day!  Mostly because of simple issues like housekeeping, falling behind in room prep.  Pat was in the recovery room for about 4.5 hours --prolonged time, mainly because of the rooms upstairs not being ready for the number of people coming out of the OR.

Eventually, they let me go hang out with him in the recovery room (not normal, apparently).  We passed the time by my reading The Last Battle, C S Lewis. Thanks for your prayers.  All is well. Doc said there were "no surprises." That sounds like good news to me.

Bless the Lord. Blessings, Joan OC

That was written in the morning of the “recovery day.” We were told he could leave that afternoon.  But, four hours later, the recovery process began to get complicated. I felt the stress of wanting support, but not knowing where to turn.  After all, Pat wasn’t sharing widely about this situation.  So, to whom could I make my needs/Pat’s needs known?   Like others, our parents are no longer in the picture.  Our sibling relationships, if under reconstruction, are still loosely defined.  One “doesn’t want to worry the children…”

Asking for help Ironic, isn’t it?  We live in a virtual community of perhaps as many as 1000 committed, caring, praying Christians, but when the heat is on, I flounder. Who can I call? Where can I go?  Who will help?  I encouraged Patrick to phone his sharing partner/our friend Phil Tiews to give him an update.  Feeling the need for support for myself, I went down the hall, fired up the ‘family room’ computer and wrote this note to my prayer buddies.  I was no longer cryptic.  We needed back-up.

Sent: Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 8:32 PM

Subject: Hi Folks.

Actually, things turned this afternoon. We're still in hospital.

Now we need

wisdom for the doctor: shall we return to the Operating Room or wait it out?

stop the bleeding (is it bleeding or is it clots remainders?)

dissolve the clots from the operation, so that the "pee" can flow freely!


THANKS, all,

Bless you, Joan

I'm staying in hospital tonight.  Too much excitement to go home and the weather is lousy as well.

Bless you, Joan

Describing the effect for me of knowing that some praying people out there knew of our situation would include words like: relief, comfort, feeling “you are not alone,” strength, endurance, grace.  We did wind up in the OR again late that evening, both of us returning to Patrick’s room, where I spent the night, following the second surgery.

Practical assurance  The next day, our daughter, freshly in from Chicago for the holidays, and I were sitting with Patrick in room 314.  Phil Tiews came by and visited. After initial howdy-do’s, he walked the seeming mile to the hospital coffee shop procuring for us some ‘real’ coffee and a cinnamon roll for which everybody had declined interest, but which was subsequently consumed with enthusiasm.  The visit was reassuring.  Strengthening.  A few days later, helping bridge the gap between hospital time and home time, Barb Tiews prepared and delivered to us a simple meal from her Christmas fare. Our neighbor also brought us some homemade soup.  So practical; so helpful. Did we “need” a meal?  Perhaps we could have managed. Was it loving, kind, appreciated?  You betcha

Prompts I remember when I was in junior high school, I developed a serious case of pneumonia. I was out of school, in bed, for at least 3 weeks.  One of my fondest memories of that dreary, uncomfortable time was brief glimpse of normal life that I had when a friend came by to bring me my homework.  Although I was essentially quarantined, by parents’ orders, my friend was allowed to peek into my room and say hi.  Standing in the doorway, she looked so incredibly healthy!!  Her health gave me hope and vision for what a return to normal could mean. Strength, vigor, good color.  Quite a contrast to my status, but so refreshing.

We live in the midst of a people of faith, prayer and real life adventures.  How can we “be there” for one another?  As the Holy Spirit prompts us?  “Joan, why not give ___ a call?”  Or, “Might  __’s mom would appreciate a leave-the-house break during his nap tomorrow?” 

Does the Holy Spirit prompt you to action sometimes, according to your uniqueness?  What if we responded to those prompts more frequently?  Simple acts of kindness, extended in love, by the grace and at the urging of our Lord.  How glorious!  Amen.

As we age, wrestle with child-raising issues, encounter illness and set-backs, challenges of work or lack thereof, I pray that we’ll be attentive to the still small voice of God whispering and equipping us to reach out to one another in the simplest ways, strengthening the fabric of our life together, one cup of soup, visit, phone call, shared meal, greeting card at a time.  

[PS- Patrick is doing great now, thank you.J]