11 Ways to Comfort In a Crisis – #9, #10, & #11 – Pray/Fast/Weep

This is my last post for the 11 Ways to Comfort In a Crisis series.

I pray that you were able to find a few ideas to be able to reach out to someone you know who is going through a painful trial.

The last 3 ideas today are probably the most important of them all.

The GREATEST comfort to me over the last 6 months was knowing that people were…

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#1 – Praying for us.

Right away our church started a Prayer Chain for the Happy Baby.  A calendar was posted on our church’s website where congregants could sign up for a time slot throughout the day to pray for the Happy Baby.

It was amazing.  Time slots were available all day long (including the wee hours of the night!).  Almost every slot was filled – which meant that the Happy Baby was being covered in prayer 24-7.

I bawled my eyes out when I read the names of people who signed up to pray…  Even an 11-year-old boy had signed up for the 1 am slot. :-)  And there were many names of people we did not even know who had gotten wind of our story and wanted to help somehow.

I firmly believe that our baby boy (and us, for that matter!) would not be where he is today without the army of prayer warriors lifting him up all the time.

In fact, I giggled when our pastor’s wife said to me one day, “I think God is going to be sick of hearing from all of us!”

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#2 – Fasting

Fasting is when you choose to deny yourself something for a certain amount of time.

Some people choose to fast from food, while others might fast from a particular thing (like an iPad or even a blog).

It is a biblical way of demonstrating your love to the Lord by the denial of basic pleasures- that He is more important to you than things or food.

The goal is to spend your time completely focusing on Him.

It is also a way to come before the Lord with a desire to see Him do something.

One of my friends decided to fast from food and spend time in prayer for us every Monday until the Happy Baby came home.

About one month into the hospitalization, I texted her and said, “Girl, you are going to be a twig when all this is said and done.” :-)

But let me tell you something.

I came to look forward to Mondays because it brought me such comfort to know my friend was joining me in the battle in such a sacrificial way – and she has a husband and 3 kids of her own!

As a result of her faithful obedience, she became a source of great wisdom and encouragement for me.

Pray about it.  Maybe the Lord might call you to give something up for a day or two or more for the sake of a brother or sister in need.

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#3 – Weeping

This last reason was the one that impacted me the most throughout our trial.

On more than one occasion, with more than one friend, I discovered what it meant to have a person with whom I could grieve with.

There were days when I just needed to talk to someone, to bawl my eyes out about the incredible burden I was carrying with all the pressures and decisions we were having to make about our little one’s  health and life…

I’d pick up the phone, dial a friend, and she would literally weep with me.

I’ll never forget the day when the doctors were all 98% sure the Happy Baby had Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  Against my better judgement I went home and scoured the internet for information about it.

I could see why the doctors thought what they thought.

I dialed my friend’s number and cried and cried.

She burst into tears and cried and cried as well.

And she said, “If that is what it is, Julie, we will help you get through this.  You will not be alone.”

She came alongside me in my pain.

She responded to the call from Romans 12:15 to, “…mourn with those who mourn…”

She didn’t try to ‘help’ or ‘fix’ things.  She simply shared a tissue. :-)

When people are hurting, God calls The Church to be their comfort.  To enter into that person’s pain with them.

And it is there that true healing can be found in the crisis.

“Weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning…” Psalm 30:5

Happy Pray/Fast/Weep-ing. :-)

11 Ways to Comfort In a Crisis – #8: The Crisis Scripture Folder (FREE Printable!)

Today I am going to share with you an idea that was probably my most favorite blessing received during our own crisis.

Shortly after the Happy Baby was moved to a different, larger hospital with better resources, a woman from our church delivered a red folder into my hands.

Later after our visit when I was alone in the Happy Baby’s hospital room and he was sound asleep in the crib, I opened the folder.

What I found was the most precious gift ever…

Page after page of Bible verses – each speaking to our crisis.

As soon as I finished reading the verses to myself, I scooted a chair next to my sleeping angel, cleared my throat and began to speak each verse over him.

As I read, I grew more and more confident that we would survive this trying season.

I grew more and more confident that no matter what, everything was going to be okay.

I grew more and more confident in my great and faithful God.

Reading through that Scripture Folder quickly became a little routine for us.  It was an exercise that taught me how to fight against the enemy’s constant efforts to destroy my hope, plant seeds of doubt, and overwhelm me with fear.

A short while later another friend gave me a notebook filled with Bible verses – all written in her own handwriting.

She said in an attached letter that someone had made one for her when she was facing an incredibly painful season.  She said she took her little notebook with her everywhere – reading it over and over.

I found myself doing the same – at red lights, in the middle of the night, in the pick-up line while waiting for the Happy Buddy to be released from camp…

Would you like to do the same for someone in your life?

I have included a Word Document in this post with all the verses you could need to make your own Crisis Scripture Folder or handwritten notebook.

You can get it by clicking this link – Crisis Scripture Folder from Happy Home Fairy.

Speaking God’s Word is a powerful way to walk through a trial.

Because His Word brings peace.

His Word brings hope.

His Word never fails.

Happy Crisis Scripture Folder-ing! :-)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…” Psalm 119:105

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis – #6 & #7: Money and Dreams Come True

#6 – Money

I mentioned yesterday that the Happy Baby’s hospital was about a 40-minute drive from our house.

With gas prices being the way they are these days, we were overwhelmed by the thought of how much money we’d be spending in order to drive down and see him – sometimes 2-3 times each day between the Happy Hubby and me.

Many of our church friends and family began sending us gas cards.

It was a simple, but incredibly generous gift that allowed us to be free from the anxiety of that financial burden (because we had the greater burden of medical bills hanging over our heads – eek!).

Just the other day I met a precious family at one of the Happy Baby’s doctor appointments who told me they drove over an hour to get to the medical facility that cared for their sweet baby girl.

You can bet I was fishing out one of our gas cards and ‘paying it forward,’ shall we say.

If the person you know who is in crisis doesn’t need a gas card, then maybe another kind of financial provision would be a blessing.

Pray with your spouse about sending a check, cash, or Visa gift card.

Money is probably the #1 thing people worry about (especially if they are facing a trial – sometimes the trial itself is about money) – so if you have the means to give it, you can bet it will be received with unbelievable appreciation.

#7 – Dreams Come True

Right after the Happy Baby was born I shared on this blog that Kari Jobe’s new album Where I Find You was ministering to me in a profound way (I even shared some of the specific songs that encouraged me on yesterday’s post).

One day as I was pumping and checking emails, I received an email from a blog reader who wanted to know if she could purchase tickets for the Happy Hubby and me to attend a Kari Jobe concert that was coming to our area.

I nearly fell out of my chair and spilled 6 ounces of milk everywhere.

First of all, I had no idea that Kari was going to be in town.

Second of all, the Happy Hubby and I had been so wrapped up in spending every minute at the hospital or with the Happy Buddy trying to give him a normal life at home that we hadn’t spent a lot of time just the two of us.

Third of all, the mere thought of spending an evening in worship under Kari’s leadership was enough to fill this little heart with some hope.

I emailed her back – humbly accepting the overwhelmingly kind offer.

When the night arrived, we discovered that this gal had not only bought us tickets to the concert – but GOLD tickets – meaning we could basically see up Kari’s nostrils. :-)

And on top of that, we had the opportunity to meet and greet with her after the event.

As soon as I approached Kari, I pulled out my phone and showed her a photo of the Happy Baby, telling her that her songs ministered to me on my drives to the hospital to see him.

All I wanted to do was thank her for her ministry.

Then she did something incredible… She put her arms around the Happy Hubby and me, pulled us close and said, “I want to pray for your son.”

And she did.

With tears in her eyes and strength in her voice, Kari Jobe asked God’s hand of healing and mercy on the Happy Baby’s life.

Never in a million years would I have imagined that Kari Jobe would pray for our son.

That was a dream come true made possible by one special gal that felt led to reach out to our family – and I have never even met her.

Friends, this is THE CHURCH!

We care for one another – we desire one another’s dreams to come true – simply because we know we are united under the umbrella of Christ’s great love.

Pay attention to the things a person in crisis loves or would be excited to experience.

Maybe a cancer patient could use an hour massage, or maybe the child of a family who’s parents have been recently laid off would have fun at a baseball game, or maybe the mother of a sick child just needs someone to babysit so she can take a therapy trip to Target (maybe give her a little spending money, too). :-)

Be creative!  Make someone who’s hurting’s dreams come true.

It will relieve the pain of their hurt – even for just a short while.

Happy Money and Dreams Come True-ing! :-)

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis – #5 – Music

A friend just sent me an encouraging email with me this quote, “When words fail, music speaks to the heart,” along with the lyrics to the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

When faced with the terrible season of the Happy Baby’s hospitalization, I found great refuge in music.

We had a super long drive to the hospital, so having encouraging music to listen to was important – otherwise I’d be alone in a quiet car with my thoughts/fears/anxieties and that was not a good thing!

I had three different friends on three different occasions surprise me with CDs featuring a special mix of worship music that they had put together especially for me and my hospital drives.

One friend carefully selected a series of songs around the theme of rest.

My other friend made a ‘Driving Tunes’ CD of worship songs from artists like Hillsong and Chris Tomlin.

Then, another sweet friend felt it important that the Happy Baby have music to listen to as well, so she delivered a CD player to his hospital room along with a CD of Sacred Lullabies.

While sitting next to his crib surrounded by dinging bells, wires, and feeding tubes – I was constantly given opportunity to be anxious.  But that CD player and those CDs helped establish a warmth and presence in the room that resonated peace within my tired soul.

Sometimes a person in crisis is too weary to do Bible studies or even spend a lot of time in prayer.

But listening to worship music and engaging with the lyrics is incredibly healing.

Sometimes the words of the song spoke what I was feeling so clearly that they became my prayers.

Today I have put together a list of songs that blessed me in our season at the hospital.

Maybe you could use them one day to make a mix for another person who might need a little hope.

Or maybe that person is you. :-)

Kari JobeSteady My Heart, Find You On My Knees, Savior’s Here

Christy NockelsHealing Is In Your Hands

Audrey AssadEverything Is Yours, Restless

Natalie GrantYour Great Name

Hillsong UnitedTake Heart

HillsongLord of Lords, None But Jesus, Desert Song, Unending Love, Alive In Us, You Are More

Britt NicoleStand, The Sun Is Rising, Still That Girl

Old Hymns‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I am abundantly blessed to be married to a worship pastor.  Do you remember the photo I shared the day he led us in worship over the Happy Baby’s NICU crib just a day or so after his birth?  I will never forget the power of that moment – the sense of God’s presence even in the midst of something so awful.

The Lord inhabits the praise of His people.

One of my favorite Bible stories is the one where Paul and Silas were thrown in prison and in the darkest hour of the night, they chose to sing and lift their voices to the Lord.

And God set them free.

This is what worship can do, sweet friends.

So I cannot think of a better thing you could do to comfort someone in a crisis.  Give them a CD of songs that point to Him.

Happy Music-ing! :-)

“I will honor the Lord at all times.  His praise will always be in my mouth.  My soul will be proud to tell about the Lord.  Let those who suffer hear it and be filled with joy… Let us praise His name together.” Psalm 34:1-3

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis – #3 & #4: Texting and Cleaning

#3 – Texting

Sometimes the Happy Hubby has to politely ask me if I would rather be married to him or my phone.

I sheepishly admit that I have a bit of a love affair going on with this thing.

It’s no fancy pants i-Phone or super cool Blackberry, but it gets the job done.

And by job done, I mean texting.

From the day the Happy Baby was admitted to the NICU, this phone became my lifeline (well, actually, the phone I had 6 months ago is actually not the one you see above because the one I used at the beginning of our crisis got dropped in the toilet by yours truly.  Did I mention that I had scrambled egg brains?).

I lived for receiving text messages from friends and family who were just touching base to make sure we were okay.

Those texts were a reminder to me that I was not alone in the battle.

I’ll never forget the text I got from a friend a few days after a doctor told us that our baby more than likely had a muscular dystrophy and was probably not going to make it.

The text read, “I feel led by the Lord to tell you this – he (the Happy Baby) is not going to die.  He is going to live.  He is not going to die.”

I had not said anything to her about the doctor’s speculations, so that text was a powerful one.

And then there was the text I received from another friend one Saturday morning as I drove down to the hospital that read, “Been praying for the Happy Baby and I feel like he’s going to have a great day.  Text me later to tell me about it.”

Sure enough, when I walked into the Happy Baby’s room, the nurse said, “Do you notice anything different about your son?”  And I took one look at his precious face and realized that he was off of oxygen support for the first time since he had been born.

I was texting the praise report to my friend before anyone in the room could even blink!

My pastor’s wife and a few other friends committed to texting me Bible verses every single day (sometimes even multiple times a day).  Those daily texts were a critical part of my survival because the constant reminders of His truth came in just as my thoughts were beginning to head down a destructive path.

Texting is a great way to pop into a person who is hurting’s world and let them know you are thinking about them – without the 2-3 day delay of snail mail.

A simple, “Praying for you today,” or a Scripture God puts on your heart, or a funny story…  Anything, really, just to remind them that you are willing to join them in their battle.

But make sure the person in need has an unlimited texting plan! :-)

#4 – Cleaning

As I mentioned yesterday, when you are going through a trial, you simply do not have the mental capacity to do things like make a meal, remember people’s birthdays, or even how to clean your house.

I snapped the photo above of our living room about a month and a half into the Happy Baby’s hospitalization.

*Note – Feel special because I wouldn’t share that disaster with just anyone! :-)

One day a lady in my church sent me an email informing me that she had hired the Merry Maids to clean our Happy Home and what day would be good for them to come.

I cannot even tell you the relief this provision brought me!  To know that our home was not going to be overtaken with bugs and rodents due to my lack of attention with a bottle of Fantastik {ahem – see photo above}.

Let me introduce you to Merry Maids Debbie and Viola – truly ‘merry’ women, indeed!  They are a huge part of the Happy Baby’s story as they ended up coming to our house on 5 separate occasions.

Each time, Debbie would  say, “I just know your baby’s gonna be okay.”

And each time they dusted things in our house that I hadn’t dusted in like… well, since we had moved in 8 years ago.

What was even more exciting about our friend’s offer was that she had hired a team to come clean our house instead of trying to do it herself.  Because trust me, I knew my face would have been as red as Rudolph’s nose had she actually come and seen the condition of our home – the master bathroom in particular.  I’m one hundred percent sure that my pride is wrapped up in that statement, but the idea of my friends on their hands and knees scrubbing floors that I should have been scrubbing myself would have added more burden to the insecurities I was already facing having to ask for so much help in other areas.

The gift of a clean house in a crisis is one I am forever grateful for, so if you have the financial means – call the Merry Maids.  Or, if the person in need isn’t as proud as me, then grab a few girls and do it yourselves – remembering to pray over each room as you scrub.

Happy Texting and Cleaning-ing! :-)

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis – #2: Food

Do y’all remember the picture of our refrigerator that I shared back at the beginning of the Happy Baby’s life?

It was AMAZING.

Thanks to our church and TakeThemAMeal.com, I literally didn’t make a meal for our family for like 2 and a half months straight.

And we are still occasionally getting meals!

Like this past Sunday a precious friend felt the Lord lay it on her heart to bring us lunch.  I cannot even tell you what a blessing that was as the Happy Baby had been reeeeaaalllllly sick all weekend long with a cold/cough that made him throw up everything he ate (as if we needed any more issues with  food!).  He’s lost a ton of weight and I’ve been a wreck trying to keep putting him in the basket.  Needless to say, we hadn’t been sleeping much and food had slipped off the priority list.

We certainly continue to be sanctified over here. :-)

Bringing meals to someone who is hurting is a profound ministry.

I have put together a list of a few things that I learned from all the wonderful people who served us during the Happy Baby’s hospital stay.

This list of ideas features the fun details that you might want to add to make the meal experience extra special for the person in need.

If you are looking for a list of practical meal-taking tips (like what to bring and how to deliver the meal), then you MUST check out this super-thorough post over at Simple Bites.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Food is food.  If someone wants to drop a simple rotisserie chicken on our doorstep, we’d be absolutely thrilled.  Or even a gift card to a restaurant or grocery store is a huge blessing.  Someone even had pizza delivered to our house from Domino’s a few times!

Like I said, any food is good food.

But if you happen to have a few extra minutes, these simple ideas might make all the difference in brightening the recipient’s day.

1.  Scripture Verses – I had NEVER thought to do this before until several of our friends did it for us!  You see the pan above?  Do you love how she scribbled an encouraging word from the Bible on the lid?

Such an easy thing to do!

Pick out a verse and add it to your pans with a marker before bringing the meal to the person in need.

Find several great comforting Scripture suggestions HERE.  Or a simple Luke 1:53, “He has filled the hungry with good things…” would be good!

2.  Remember the Kids – One thing that made our trial easier to handle was that when friends brought us food, they not only brought the food, but brought the Happy Buddy a little treat as well.

Do you see the bin above filled with toys?

The Happy Buddy received so many fun little trinkets during the first 3 months of the Happy Baby’s life that I had to start storing the excess in this bin where we would go and pick something out on an exceptionally difficult or rainy day.

All this thoughtfulness made the Happy Buddy ECSTATIC for visitors on meal drop-off days.

Every day he would ask me, “Who’s coming to visit us today, Mommy?” and it filled his little heart with such hope for something good – which did my heart some good during a season where I found it incredibly difficult to muster the energy to be creative with him.

So if the person facing a crisis has children, remembering them is an awesome blessing.

3.  Include the Recipe – Oh man.  This one is KEY!

We ate so many delicious meals.

Poppyseed Chicken, Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, Shrimp Linguine, Slow Cooked BBQ Pork, this FABULOUSNESS, and someone even made us a Pork Tenderloin!

So many delicious meals that the Happy Hubby was often like, “Wife, this was awesome.  We must eat this again.  Can you get the recipe?”

It made it really helpful when I could flash the included recipe card at him and say, “Consider it done, my love!”

4.  Tupperware Is Your Friend – Seriously.  When a person is going through a crisis, the LAST thing they need to think about is returning pans and dishes to the right people.

So bring all the food in tupperware or aluminum pans and then just kiss ‘em goodbye because do you see that photo above?

With the Happy Baby in the hospital, my brain felt like scrambled eggs most days, so I appreciated not having to worry about dissecting that pile to each piece’s original owner.

*Note – If you brought us a meal and you see your tupperware here, let me know if you want it back.* :-)

5.  Paper City – Having to do dishes is the pits anyway, but having to do them when you are going through something difficult is even more of a challenge.

It was an extra special blessing when people would throw some paper plates and paper napkins in with the meal.

White paper plates and napkins will do the trick, but fun ones are even better. :-)

Click Image for Recipe

6.  Bring What They Love – Some of my favorite meals that people brought were the ones where they asked the Happy Hubby and me what we were really craving.

Some people facing a crisis might lose their appetites and not ever feel like picking up a fork.

Not us.

The Happy Hubby and I ate our way to comfort for the first 3 months of the Happy Baby’s life.

In fact, the Happy Hubby commented last night that he recently noted that the short walk to the mailbox now makes him get sweat stains – a direct result of the billion pans of brownies (his fave sweet) that people brought to us.

Me?  I am obsessed with fruit, salads, and snack mixes.  It was pure bliss to receive a giant I-don’t-have-to-return-it-tupperware filled with fruit or a salad piled with a bunch of veggies that I didn’t have to chop.

The image above is of one of my favorite indulgences that a sweet friend delivered – People Chow.  Something about eating that stuff helped life feel a little bit better – even if just for the hour 10 minutes of crunching.

Decide to make the person in crisis’ food dreams come true.  Ask them what they would love to eat and then make it happen.

Asking is also good so that you know if they have been enjoying 500 pans of lasagna in a row and need a bit of change.

*And here are a few bonus resources for you…*

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Embellish offers FREE Printable Compassionate Dinner Note Cards for you to slap on the dish you are toting.

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Did you know that there is a website called Spoonful of Comfort that allows you to send a giant jar of Chicken Noodle Soup to someone in need?

This is especially helpful if the person you want to comfort lives far away.

The soup is amazing and the packaging is adorable – check it out.

Click Image for Great Ideas on Meal-Taking

And, finally, have you ever wondered how to effectively pack everything you want to deliver to the person in need?

The Busy Budgeting Mama brilliantly suggests using the humble diaper box (as well as several other cute ideas, printables, and recipes for bringing meals to new mommies.  Be sure to check it out!).

I sure hope this was helpful!

One last thing…  If you are reading this and you are one of the many precious people who brought us a meal while the Happy Baby was in the hospital, I cannot thank you enough.  Your kindness and attention to detail and generosity absolutely blew us away.  The nourishment you provided satisfied us way beyond our physical needs.  God bless you, sweet friends!!

I can’t wait to return the favor one day – with Disney-themed napkins, of course.

Happy Bring a Meal-ing! :-)

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis – #1: Snail Mail

Does anyone else get a little flutter of excitement when you look out the window and see the mail truck driving down your street?

I think that if I could choose another career, I would totally choose to be a mail lady.

Aside from the-having-to-bring-people-their-bills-and-a-whole-lot-of-unsolicited-junk-mail part, mail people get to bring happy things like packages and funny Hallmark cards and magazines and meaningful messages penned from the heart.

From the day we knew our baby wasn’t coming home with us when he was supposed to, our mailbox became this refuge for me.  I found so much hope in opening that little door at the end of a hard day at the hospital and finding a brightly colored envelope with an encouraging word from a friend.

Some sent letters with verses or written prayers, some sent coloring pages that their kids had drawn for us, and one gal even sent me a card with 15 funny kid jokes written on the inside.

The point is, you don’t have to be Aristotle to write someone a card.  A simple, “I’m praying for you.  Let me know if I can do anything else,” is just perfect.

In an age where we all have like 586 unread emails, there is something so personal and comforting about receiving a piece of mail – snail mail style – and seeing the scrawled handwriting of a loved one who took the time to bless you.

Here is a photo of all the cards our little mailbox has housed over the last 6 months…

Amazing, right?

That is one giant reminder pile of God’s love for our Happy Home, let me tell you!

Some of my favorites were the ones made by kids – I’ve always admired the faith of a child

And here is one precious card I just got the other day – it couldn’t have arrived at a better time!

You know what else?

Snail Mail is biblical. :-)

One can only imagine what the churches in the New Testament felt like when they received those encouraging letters from Paul written in his own hand.

In fact, the entire Bible is one massive letter written to us from God, Himself. :-)

Now that is one piece of mail I love receiving day after day after day!

So, how about it?  Take a minute, pick up a pen, and pray God shows you who needs a little sunshine in their mailbox today.

And don’t forget to include one of those cute Disney postage stamps that are available right now. :-)

Click Image for Photo Credit

Happy Snail Mail-ing!

*P.S. – I have similar feelings about the UPS/Fed Ex people, so going a step further than a letter, you might remember the Unexpected Blessing Package we received in the mail from a good friend.  Put a small care package, or Sunshine In a Box, together and it will be sure to cheer someone right up.*

11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis

If you have been a follower of Happy  Home Fairy, you know that the last almost 6 months of our Happy Home’s life have been a journey from one roller coaster to the next as we navigated treacherous waters concerning our newborn’s health.

(If you are new, you can find the posts related to the Happy Baby’s journey HERE.)

From the moment he was born and it was clear that the Happy Baby would not survive without immediate oxygen support, to the moment where the doctors basically told us to take our son home and make him comfortable because he was going to die, to the weeks and weeks of medicines/speculations/procedures in the hospital, to the day when his genetic testing finally returned, we came to rely on God’s provision of strength and support through the friends and family He so graciously placed in our lives.

In a season where everything we had ever known was tested, God used the lives of many to keep our hearts from sinking too deep into the mire.

In fact, over the next 11 days as I share the various ways people helped us, you may very well get to thinking that the last 6+months were hardly a trial at all, but a period of unmerited blessing and great material/spiritual abundance.

I pray that this blog series will in turn be a resource for you to use for many years to come as you encounter other Happy Homes struggling with difficult circumstances, whether they be hospitalization, illness, loss, financial stress, relationship hardships, etc., etc.

We are The Church and it is our job to care for one another.

And it is in that truth that the Happy Hubby was able to write an update to our congregation just a few weeks into the Happy Baby’s battle and sign it saying, “We are suffering, but so blessed.”

Happy 11 Ways to Comfort in a Crisis-ing. :-)