Copyright © 2016 by Barbara Brabec. All Rights Reserved.

The Healing Power of
Friendship and Love

A Brabec Bulletin published in March 2016

HOW READY ARE YOU to come to the aid of a friend in need? This story shared by Terri Kremer, one of my long-time readers and the owner of Moose Country Quilts, illustrates the importance of acting on a nudge to your heart when a friend asks for help.

On the day she read my February Brabec Bulletin, she got a call from a dear friend of hers, an 82-year-old woman who lived fifty miles away. "She asked if I could come stay overnight with her because she was not well," Terri wrote. "Long story short, your message was about the need for encouragement, and that's exactly what my friend needed. I was the only person that day who could convince her that she needed to go to the hospital immediately. She was in ICU for about a week, then one step up from that in ACU (Acute Care Unit, I think) for another week. Now she is in a rehab facility hoping to gain enough strength to move to live with her younger brother and his wife.

"When she gets to talking about how slow she is improving, I remind her that she was at death's door not that long ago. Patience. She's dealing with physical therapy now and needs encouragement to deal with all that too. Patience. She hates that word, but it's one I use a lot.

"What I'm trying to say is that your newsletters are always a joy to read. You have such insight and a wonderful way of sharing. There always is at least one topic that hits home. Eventually I will be writing that ebook and calling for your help. Please keep me posted whenever you send out a newsletter. I'll be here."

What a perfect example of LOVE and the importance of being there for a friend in need, being able to give her exactly what she needed at the moment, as well as afterwards.

"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" (1 John 4:12).

A Friendship Renewed

AWHILE BACK, the name of a business woman I'd met nearly thirty years ago and formed an immediate friendship with fell off my Bulletin's mailing list. I made a note then to try to find her when time allowed because we'd had a meaningful electronic relationship through the years. I knew she and her husband had retired from their homebased business and closed their website, but all my old contact information was tied to that website and it took me months to finally get around to finding her new personal email address buried in a document on my hard drive.

It had been three years since we had updated one another on what we were doing, so I sent her my personal update and told her I'd been thinking of her and wanted to touch base again to see how life was going for her. Because I've been receiving some very welcome emails from readers recently, I knew exactly what she meant when she told me my email had meant the world to her. Somehow, in spite of how long it had taken me to reconnect with her, my timing was perfect, and I don’t think it was just a coincidence that I happened to send that email when I did.

In her reply, my friend (who I’ll call "Shar" here to protect her privacy), poured out her heart to me about her mom's long illness and death and how she had been a care giver for her and then her husband, who now has vascular dementia and is living in a senior apartment that offers assisted living and nursing. She has gone through the dissolution of her marriage and is currently dealing with "getting rid of stuff" from her mom's estate, selling business equipment and supplies, and generally downsizing her life so she can eventually sell the house that is now too large for just her. What a massive amount of life commitments to have on one’s "proverbial plate."

"Life," she wrote, can get so complicated, and trying to work and live together and handle family emergencies on a full-time basis is darn hard! But I have come so far—SO FAR—and LIFE is on its way back. We all have to find ways to adapt and adjust."

Once Shar and I picked up our communication, she expressed the hope of seeing me again some day, writing, "There is SO MUCH we could share—maybe we will have the time." I immediately invited her to come and stay with me for a couple of days, knowing it would be wonderful for both of us to see one another again after so many years. I'm sure we'll talk around the clock once she gets here and that our visit will be a huge blessing to both of us. We have much to give to one another at this stage of our lives—a listening ear, understanding, encouragement, hope, and love.

This experience has prompted me to make a list of other people I haven't communicated with for some time, just to let them know I care about them and am glad to have them in my life. Maybe like Shar their lives have gotten complicated and I need to make the first move to reconnect. I'll bet all of you know someone (or several someones) that might be blessed to hear from you, and if by chance you've been getting "heart nudges" about someone in particular, I urge you to do respond. You just never know how important this might be to them—or you.

UPDATE: Shar and I had a wonderful visit from the moment she arrived on my doorstep until she had to leave. We talked nonstop for a couple of days and often when one of us would say something, the other would say “Me too!” We were amazed by all the things we found we had in common and how much we agreed on so many important things about life in general. For me, this reconnection with an old friend reinforced the belief I’ve always had, namely that once you’ve made a friend, even though you may never see them again for years, when you do meet again, the friendship will still be there, bright and beautiful.

Related article on my website: "Living in the Age of Electronic Friendships"

Expressive Writing as Therapy
for Physical and Emotional Pain

MOST PEOPLE GO THROUGH LIFE trying to understand themselves as well as the people they love. I've often encouraged my readers to journal their thoughts, since we all need to know ourselves better if we hope to understand those around us. In my website article, "Writing as Therapy" (directed to widows and other grieving hearts), I wrote:

"I think the secret here is to find a healthy balance between our past and our future so that we don't have to give up one in order to have the other. One way to do this is to keep a journal. I've always encouraged business owners to keep a journal of their daily business activities, ideas, plans, and accomplishments because rereading it from time to time is not only personally satisfying, but revealing. Often in rereading my journal notes from years past, I see things that weren't obvious to me at the time I originally wrote them."

Sister Mary’s timing was good when she sent me a related clipping from Arthritis Today that discussed the book, Opening Up by Writing It Down: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain by James W. Pennebaker PhD. That article noted that the difference between journaling and expressive writing was that keeping a journal enables the writer to process thoughts and feelings in a careful way, whereas expressive writing about stressful or challenging experiences allows one to disclose secret thoughts and feelings in a way that helps them make sense of them. I haven't read the book because I don't have this particular need, but perhaps it would be helpful to some of you or someone you know and love.

A Piece of Cake

I HAD A BIRTHDAY this year that turned out to be the most memorable birthday I've ever had, because it happened to land in the middle of an amazing and incredibly uplifting 72-hour Christian retreat at my church. Imagine my surprise when at lunch on my birthday my conversation with a table companion was interrupted when another friend said, "Look, Barbara," pointing behind me to some members of the kitchen staff heading my way with a piece of cake loaded with candles. And then the whole room and all the kitchen staff began to sing Happy Birthday to me. I've never had so many people celebrating my birthday with me, and this brought both tears of joy and laughter, especially when I tried three times to blow out the trick candles on the cake that just kept re-lighting.

I received the usual number of birthday cards this year, but I really loved the card from my friend Rita, who apologized for sending it too late to arrive on my birthday. Her sweet handwritten note on the card touched my heart and it's something you might want to say to someone you know: "Whenever you get this card, may you smile and know you are loved every day, not just one day of the year."

Closing Thoughts

IN CLOSING, an extra word of thanks to all those who sent me an email after receiving last month's Bulletin. Here are excerpts from two messages that meant a lot to me:

Glenis T. wrote: "Today I took time to read your bulletin and was blessed by the content and your attitude to persevere even when your efforts don't seem to be accomplishing what you had hoped. I continue to learn that in whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord; it does take out the sting of disappointment. It's the very days that you are running late for church when that message is just what you need to hear. I am so glad I too have pushed to get there so many times arriving with lipstick in one hand and my cup of tea in the other. Bless you for keeping on."

Sherilyn B. D. wrote: "I have been receiving your email bulletin for several years. I signed up for it at a rather desperate moment, just after getting laid off for the second time in two years. I was disheartened and my faith in myself had plummeted. While I can't say I've recovered my income level, I have gotten my spiritual balance back. Your newsletters have definitely been part of that. Every time I see your name in my inbox, I know I've got a treat coming. Take care and take heart, Barbara. You are supported and appreciated far more than you know!"

Mail like this inspires me to keep writing Bulletins, and I now plan to send at least one a month this year, but not on any specific day of the month because I hate deadlines at this stage of my life. I'll continue to share reader feedback and "life stories" along with things I'm learning, observing, and doing in both my personal life and my work on the Web, where I continue to meet interesting people all the time. Any time you feel like sending me an email, I'll read your words with interest and respond to you in kind.

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