“Alongside” Book Review and Give Away

Casserole makers. Card senders. Flower arrangers. Prayer warriors. When crisis strikes, we want to help. Deeply desiring to care for one another, we, oftentimes, come up short on appropriate words or actions. Having little idea of the person’s needs, we become frozen in our ability to help in a way that is a blessing, not a burden, to us or to them.

Deep down I believe we all have good intentions. We care. We empathize. We want to help. We just need to be taught how.

Mom was dying, and I was completely overwhelmed by the demands before me. Not having close family nearby, we were left to navigate this season on our own. Caring for our three young kids while being Mom’s primary care giver, I needed help. Honestly, I couldn’t survive without it. During this time of need, a core group of people stepped in to bless, serve, and encourage our family in ways I never could have imagined. Their selfless service to my family and Mom is a debt we can’t repay. Developing a bond that drew us together, this community took our burdens as their own, helping us focus on the path ahead. Their service modeled the love and nearness of Christ in a dark and desolate season. Not everyone played the same role; not everyone could. Depending on the closeness of our relationship and their own time and circumstance constraints, people used their gifts to serve us in a way that was a blessing, not a burden, on either party. There were others in our community who didn’t reach out at all. Deeply knowing and loving these people, I firmly believe is wasn’t due to lack of compassion, rather an inability to assess the needs and know what role they could play.

What is our role when we find someone in our community suffering? What is the appropriate way to reach out, to love, to care for them? Sarah Beckman has written a book that is a must read for anyone desiring to be a blessing during a difficult season.

No stranger to adversity, Sarah has walked three friends through cancer coupled with her own health trials. She has, first-hand, seen people serve one another well during times of trial and others who have struggled in their supportive role. Deeply desiring to help others during times of need, Sarah has written a practical book to help us love one another better.

She says,

“People want to care. They don’t always know how to care in a time of crisis. They don’t have a compassionate problem; they have a confidence problem. This book gives practical tips to help overcome the insecurity of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. It will help readers turn good intentions into intentional help.”

Here are a few practical questions Sarah covers in her book:

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see people make?

A: Doing nothing.  They regret it later, feel guilty for a long time and then relationships are lost over someone’s trial and the other person not being there for them in appropriate ways.  Sometimes people say “let me know what I can do” but rarely do they come back to us. They are hoping we will initiate with them.

Q: Isn’t it better not to say anything if you don’t know what to say or do?

A: Simply saying, “I have no words, but I’m here for you.” is far better than avoiding someone and not acknowledging their plight. People don’t want to be ignored or made to feel ostracized, lonely or avoided.  They want presence and caring.  Listen, don’t fix is something I say often.  But more than words, people want to receive your actions of caring, and you can make a difference with some of the things that you think might be simple but they really are life-changing for the recipient.

Q: You say we should never say “Let me know what I can do.” What should we say then?

A: Saying “Let me know what I can do” is actually not helpful. It puts the burden on the person in need and forces them to come up with what to give you to do.  Also they might never take you up on it because it’s hard to receive help.  And then you might also be asked to do something that’s not in your skill set, your time available, or comfort zone. How can you combat that?  By making specific offers.  This means offering something you are capable of doing, or that you have time, energy or capacity to do. They are more likely to take you up on it and you’ll enjoy your serving more.

Q: It seems everywhere we look someone is facing trial of some sort, whether it’s cancer, death of a loved one or other illness or trial. If we’re not called to help everyone, how do we distinguish between who to help and who not to help?

A: I present a Tier System in the book that will help readers categorize their relationship with a person going through a difficulty as a means to determine what is the most appropriate way to express concern.  It allows you to find ways to help depending on how close you are to the person.  Or when you’re not called to “help.” I think it frees up people to help where it matters instead of always feeling guilty for not helping, and thereby just helping no one.

Q: If someone has a busy life and feels like they don’t have time to help a friend in need, what suggestions do you have that would make helping more doable?

A: Easy ways to reach out are call and leave a message or prayer.  Order an MP3 of a favorite song and gift it by email. Post a video on their social media page or email.  Text a scripture verse or “thinking of you” message.  Drop a card in the mail. Leave a post on the caring bridge. Order take-out and have it delivered. Anything you can do to show them that you thought of them is helpful.

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Alongside: A Practical Guide to Loving Your Neighbor in their Time of Trial is a must read for any person who calls themselves a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor. Because this book is such an invaluable tool, I am giving away a free copy to one of you. There are two ways to enter the giveaway:

  • Comment below and share a time when someone reached out to you in a helpful way. What action did they take and how did it help you navigate your difficult season?

AND/OR

  • Sign up to receive email updates in the subscribe box to the right.

This giveaway will run Monday, April 24th, 2017 through Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at 10:00pm PST. A winner will be randomly drawn on Friday, April 28th, 2017 and will be notified by email within 24 hours.

Let us cast off our uncertainty and move forward, loving one another well, through whatever trial we face today, tomorrow, or in the days to come.

 

 

 

“Give Your Child the World” Give Away

Growing up my parents sent me and my sister on trips across the world. Starting at the tender age of eleven, I began participating in international peace camps through an organization called Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV). My travels took me to far away places such as Brazil, Sweden, Belgium, and Slovakia. Living for a month at a time with children from around the globe, I fell in love with various cultures, people groups, and places. Beginning to see other cultures in light of my own, differences weren’t obstacles to our friendships. Skin color didn’t determine the depth of our relationship. Language barriers couldn’t stop lifelong bonds from forming.

Experiencing the world at a young age helped me to value all people. Most specifically those different from my mainstream, upper-middle class, white, American, Christian self.

Camps like these are rare and hard to come by. I don’t take it for granted that my parents sacrificed much to give us these opportunities. Besides a semester long stint in Switzerland, my kids haven’t grown up with the same opportunities I had. Longing for them to experience other cultures, we have had to actively seek ways to help them touch the world afar. It sounds like a great goal, but it is hard to know where to start. So the question becomes, “how can we spark a love for other cultures in the hearts of our children, when it is so far removed from our every day lives?”

Author, Jaime Martin, has found a way.

Written as an incredible resource book for parents, Give Your Child the World, opens children’s eyes to the beautiful, diverse world around them. Fostering a heart to love those different from themselves, Jaime has spent over five years researching and compiling resources to help children discover and explore lands far away. This book is broken down in easy to navigate categories: Age, Geography, Historical Time Period, and Author. Many resources can be picked up at the local library for FREE! No age is too young to began the process of broadening your children’s perception of the world around them. And Jaime’s book makes it an easy and exciting adventure.

Because this book is such a special gem, I want to give away a free copy to one of you! Anyone who subscribes to receive email updates on my blog beginning today, July 29th, through Wednesday, August 3rd, will be entered into a raffle to win a copy of Jaime’s book. Just submit your email address in the box to the right to be entered into the raffle. The winner will receive an email on Friday, August 5th, just in time to watch the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games. What a fitting way to start developing appreciation for the talents, gifts, and beauty of people from all tribes, tongues, and languages.

I invite you to let the world come to life, all from the corner of your couch with Give Your Child the World. And who knows…maybe one day the spark that began from the pages of this book will birth real, hands-on relationships with those different from ourselves. What a gift that would be for all generations to come.