My sister, Mandy, has been in the hospital since last Friday. A full week now. It’s been a long week. Especially since she has 5 children, 4 of whom are under the age of 6 and 1 of those children is a special-needs child who requires skilled nursing care. We found out yesterday that while the prognosis for Mandy is good, it will be a 3-6 month recovery from her ordeal and she will be in the hospital for AT LEAST another 10 days or so. It’s a really long story and I’m not going to go into her personal life on the blog – but if you think of her, please pray that she can remain calm through the storm and God would give her eldest daughter, Alaina, an extra measure of grace and strength and beauty to walk through this very scary ordeal. Her younger children seem to be doing quite fine, by God’s grace!

But – in the meantime – there are the practicalities of everyday life that have to be figured out. Dad still has to work to provide an income. Kids still need to be taken care of. Groceries still need to somehow magically appear in the fridge. The laundry still needs to keep going and the house still needs to be swept, mopped and vacuumed on a regular basis. Four kids under the age of 6…2 days tops without sweeping – for real – and it’s a disaster.  The burden of running the home should not fall on Alaina’s shoulders – not that she isn’t capable of such responsibilities – but she is, after all, only 12 and a little freaked out by the whole situation as well and she needs nurturing and care too.

So I was, once again, ever so thankful to remember the blessing that is the Bortel Family. God brought this family into my life when Hannah was 3 months old and it has been a wonderful friendship. Both with Suzanne, the wife – and Dave, the hubby, and all 12??? or so of their fantastic children. I haven’t seen them in over a year because they moved out to the middle of nowhere and we both stopped attending the church we were once together at, and we grew apart ONLY due to distance and business in our lives. When we lived 5 minutes from each other and saw each other on a regular basis – it was easy to keep up – but not anymore. But I still love them all and miss them all so much. Their children are a hoot, by the way, if you ever get to spend time getting to know them!  I actually considered it quite an honor when I could accurately recall each one of their children’s names AND ages! (Not many can do that you know!) That era has passed – I’m sure that little Laura is quite a lady by now and Victoria…I hope her hair has grown out some…and I’m sure that “Baby” (what did you end up naming him again, Suzanne??) hasn’t a clue who I am!! But never the less, they are a blessing to anyone who gets the opportunity to know them.

A few years ago Dave created a program called The Care Calendar. It is an interactive web-based calendar created to help coordinate care for families in crisis. Be it medical emergencies, births, deaths, illness, confinement, etc. It is a wonderful tool. There are always so many people who want to help a family in crisis, but simply don’t know what the needs are or how to go about it. Like right now, with  Mandy – so many people want to help ….but how?  So yesterday I set up a Care Calendar for her. I was able to select the start and end date of the calendar, with the ability to extend the calendar dates if needed.  I was able to select which needs I wanted to appear on the calendar – for us, meal delivery, errands, household cleaning, and childcare are the most important needs RIGHT NOW. There is an inter-active form that the Care Coordinator (the one who creates the calendar) fills out and then the program creates a calendar for you. The Coordinator then can send the Care Calendar website out to friends and family via email, along with the Calendar ID number and security code – and, using the internet, people can log in and select which needs THEY can help with on which dates work with their already busy lives. I find this tool to be extremely wonderful.

The Care Calendar offers us busy Titus 2, Prov. 31 women a reality check! I know what my limitations are, in serving others. I have logged into about a dozen of these Care Calendars now, as friends have babies or battle illnesses, and I really enjoy the flexibility of being able to see what the needs are and then look at my OWN families needs and find where I can easily serve another family, as we are called to do in the Christian Community, but without making my own family suffer. And, additionally, I have the opportunity to – in my own private home – to personally make a judgment…does this person really NEED the help?  Or are they being a glutton by asking people to extend their already busy lives unnecessarily?  I have, on occasion, specifically NOT helped when I knew that the person on the receiving end was quite capable of making different arrangements or she had children old enough (we’re talking grown children in the home!) to go to the grocery store, run errands, cook meals and do laundry! Thankfully, due to the Care Calendar, I haven’t had to explain myself to anyone!! LOL!

The Program also removes a level of guilt that some of us women feel when we simply can’t help. There are seasons in our lives when we know we have to put our families first and it’s hard to say No. Like when we have houses full of small children!  I have had the occasion where I simply couldn’t help b/c I was already overloaded with my own family responsibilities, but feeling guilty for not helping out and then I logged into the Care Calendar only to see that all the needs were covered! Turns out my help wasn’t even needed!  I didn’t have to feel bad about not being able to!  It was a blessing to me to see that so-and-so’s needs were met, and God, in His great abundance, had already provided!  He was taking care of me too – is that selfish thinking?? I don’t know – but I was thankful none the less!

If you are a Care Coordinator at your church or ministry or in your local ladies group, Moms Club, etc, I would highly suggest this program to help start streamlining the efficiency of coordinating meals and such for new moms, sick families, hospitalizations, and funerals, etc. It’s so wonderful – I just can’t say enough!

Oh – if you know Mandy and would like to help with her care – please drop a comment and I’ll email you the Calendar ID and security code.