Thursday, January 05, 2012

my file folder - in blog form . . .

For years I have kept a manilla folder with notes, magazine clippings, and ideas for a "Thoughtfulness Guide" I wanted to create someday.   (I was never really happy with that name for it, but that is what I wrote on the folder's label, for lack of a better description.)  So many times over the years, I had found myself asking, "What can I do?" when a friend or family member was sick or hurting or in some form of need.  I often found I didn't have the answer to that question, and a lot of times neither did the one I wanted to help.  So I started looking for answers to that question in general (What can I do to help others in hard times?) and to specific situations in particular (What can I do for Stephanie after her knee surgery?  How can I cheer up April after her breakup?) . . . even the hardest of situations (What in the world do I say to Luke after his mom has died?  How do I comfort Gina when her parents are getting divorced?).

These questions were on my mind as early as my teenage years.  After Steph's knee surgery, I visited her at home and we talked and hung out just like normal.  But I remember feeling like there was probably more a person could do for a temporarily bed-ridden friend.  On the other hand, when April and her boyfriend broke up, several friends and I were much more decisive--we got her out of bed the Saturday after and made her come to the gym with us to play basketball, and there she took out a lot of her frustration (ah, high school relationships!) and tore it up on the court.

With Gina, I just listened.  I knew she was sad--she was bearing so much--and I was so sad for her.  And I didn't know that there was much to do but listen and talk with her about it, so that's what I did.

With Luke . . . well, I still can't get over that story.  I so wish I had known more back then.  It was Fall of our senior year of high school and what did any of us kids know about that kind of grief, much less how to help your friend through it?  The day Luke's mom died (she was young--only in her forties--and she had a stroke while on a trip), about twenty of us fled to a friend's house and sat together in shock . . . and cried.  I remember Miranda's mom telling me over the phone as I sobbed, "You go on over to Kristi's house--go on and be with the others.  Go right over--don't be alone." (How did she know to give that advice?  It was such a good idea.  I would have gone crazy trying to deal with that emotion alone.)

But in the weeks that followed, I was at a loss.  I bawled through the funeral, hugged Luke, his dad, and sister at the graveside ceremony, and told Luke several times I was praying for him.  But I have often thought back to that time and wished I had known more--known to talk to him about his mother and how amazing she was, known to bring her up in conversation to show she was remembered, known to tell him how sad I was too . . . known not to let his sadness or my uncertainty keep me from talking to him about it.

I have been trying to learn how to better answer the "What can I do?" question ever since . . . and what I have learned I want to keep here, in hopes that others can benefit from my experiences and also share their own.   I hope you will join me!


  1. Great idea for a blog! May it bless many...

  2. You have always been so thoughtful and helped me deal with hard times. Very great idea with the blog. Miss you!

  3. What a perfect idea for you! I know that even when I was angry and hurting your encouragement often was the only thing that pierced through! I love you!

  4. Great idea Amber! I can't wait to read more!

  5. I'm in! I too have wondered that question, but unlike you I haven't looked too hard for answers. Thanks for being willing to share what you learn for the benefit of the rest of us! Can't wait to hear more ideas!

  6. Thanks so much, guys! What an encouragement.

    @Meesh - you model thoughtfulness so well in trying to understand what others are going through. I hope you will share on here sometime.

    @Kara - I miss you too, cuz!

    @Lisa - you brought tears to my eyes. I love you too and am so happy to see you on the other side of that struggle. xo

    @Shanda - I am so glad you like it! You happen to be one of the most thoughtful people I know, so I hope you will chime in often.

    @Vicky - I am glad you are in!

  7. How am I just now finding this?? Can't wait to read more!

    1. Haha, Callie, you are not too late. I am glad you like it! I hope you can stop by often and be a part of the conversation! :)

  8. Hi Amber! I saw your blog on Facebook and went to your first post. You were very sweet to mention Luke's mom, my aunt Brenda. I didn't know what to do either. I do remember both he and Shelby telling me how supportive the school and their friends were which was a huge comfort. You are sweet to still think of that almost 20 years later. Great idea for a blog!!

    1. Hi, Jennifer! I am so glad you stopped by. I still think of your Aunt Brenda a lot. I have always been thankful that I got to spend some extra time with her about a year before she died because she and Luke were trying to fix me up with one of her Clinton students. :) She was always so warm and sweet. (After she was gone, I often wished I had ended up dating him because I knew we would have spent plenty of time over at the Lumpkins' house if that had been the case. Seems kind of like the wrong reason to date someone, but that was how I felt!)

      I have often thought that if I could go back I would do things differently as Luke's friend, now that I have a little better idea of what kinds of things are helpful and not helpful. But I know it didn't all rest on me, and I am glad they did feel supported and cared for by all of us.

      I am glad you like the idea for the blog--come back often! :)


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