A little early on the announcement? Not really… just want to give you a heads up to the untruth of many urban stories about Christmas being a time of high risk for suicide an depression. Although there are certainly many who feel the discouragement of the economic situation and being lonely during holiday family times, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other major holidays are actually a time of reduced risk for suicide. Experts reason that it could be due to the many expressions of compassion during the winter months, and special collections by the Salvation Army, homeless shelters and other humanitarian groups.
Perhaps like me you’ve ‘walked a mile in those shoes’ and been in the situation of not having food or finances for the type of meal or celebration commonly advertised. I’ve also experienced the danger of comparative shopping after listening to family or friends share their shopping lists, and spending more than I have. I always eventually realized many truths later – including that the feelings of depression arose from a period of focusing on perceived needs or wants for my family or myself. Every time the focus got moved to others – especially others that were in the same situation or even less fortunate, the sadness lifted. Times when I/we were able to spend time with or help others in whatever small way were uplifting – even though the circumstances of our difficult situations had not changed.
There are many who are still without work and the homeless shelters are usually full most of winter. Call your local agencies and check their needs. Look around your own neighborhood and see if a package of mittens and gloves, or pajamas and cocoa could encourage a needy family. Toss an extra package of food in the grocery cart for the food banks, and then start filling a January Box. As you are making preparations slip an item or two in the freezer to share in the coming months. When you shop all those great deals at before and after Christmas sales, add some games and a few packages of socks, mittens, or underwear to the box. When you have leftovers, package single servings to bring to a senior who lives alone.
Plan now what you can share, or where you can schedule to visit beginning in January. Whether it’s sharing a loaf of bread, a plate of cookies, or a pot of soup, a gas or grocery card, or spending time visiting and reading at local nursing homes, Childrens hospital, homeless veterans housing, Pacific Garden Mission, Salvation Army or other local Missions, you will be uplifted. The hope you share could even change the statistics for the time of the highest rates for depression and suicide – January first through the spring.
Even more important than “giving” Christmas is living it. So when all the hustle and bustle is over, sit down and write a card to your local VA hospital or to: A recovering American Soldier c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20307-5001 and drop it in your January box. When the decorations are gone and voices of carolers are no longer heard in the halls, the soldiers will greatly appreciate receiving a visit or a mail call.
Let a January box be among your resolutions for this coming year.
Yesterday I was reminded once again that I never say thanks often enough. I spent the day with my Mom at a nursing home and was impressed with the loving care she receives. Staff in each area we went personally greeted Mom, several volunteers stopped to chat and encourage her, and staff went out of their way to encourage me to let them know any needs they might be missing. Mom used the buzzer a few times and help was there in seconds. PT came in to check how an adjustment to equipment was working out, and Mom’s meal ticket noted items she preferred and items she disliked (which they guarantee not to serve). Cheerful joking helped the medicine go down, and encouragement to come see me if you feel lonely (when Mom got sad that I was about to leave) was touching. Volunteers came by too with little gifts like crafty angels personally distributed, Christmas carol singing, cookies and cute little wrapped candy gifts and on and on.
So many caregivers are helping my mom, and though some might say it’s their job, I never feel that way. When I complimented the staff, one said to me that if a person is not able to visualize their loved one with each person they care for, they would be missing a vital qualification.
Perhaps that is what we each need to do as we look around us at all the people who help us daily – at the gas station, the grocery store, the pharmacy, at school, at work, at the doctors offices, etc. A simple thank you for doing what they have to do, but doing it cheerfully, doing beyond what they have to do, or doing something I need doing and don’t know how to do, wouldn’t want to do, or couldn’t do without them, means so much.
Thank you nursing home angels for all you do – for my loved one and and all the other loved ones. Thank you to all the volunteers who bring extra cheer and thank you to all the unseen workers that make Mom’s space a clean, healthy, and cheerful place.
Thank you to all the angels in my life.
I knew the challenge to not use credit would be there because so many things are on sale this time of year. Cancelling the email ads telling me what I was missing
helped a lot. Even more than that, shopping locally, having the item immediately in hand, and knowing I won’t have to mail it back if something is wrong underlines the right decision. Hubby loves that we stick to the budget and call each other if expenditure is over a set amount. I had ordered a coat for my Mom before making my no-credit pledge and finally got it… only to find out it was shabbily made and I had to return it. This expense is supposedly “only” $6.50 but keep in mind that I paid $8.99 to get it here. So this will add up to future savings – no more $15.49 just to get something in hand, find out it is not as nice as advertisements – and reviews – stated and return the lemon.
A bonus was spending time with a friend as we both picked up needed items. I also enjoyed the places that had Christmas music instead of some of today’s nonmelodic offerings which make me want to run – out of the store. That’s ok with Ken 🙂 – hmmm – wonder if he put them up to it?
Justt before I made the credit pledge I was in Michigan eating out with cousin Gene. The Oriental restaurant brought us “fortune cookies” after our meal. We often have fun with these little gems and Gene made the decision of who would get which cookie. His and Marge’s were the typical fortunes that ‘something good will happen’ but mine! We all burst out laughing when I read “Do not spend more than you need to – it is important that you be extra frugal this year.” I immediately called Ken to see how he set this up a state away, and of course he swore he knew nothing about it.
Sure. Likely story.
Relating that saying to my body and health… especially based on well-known past history… that would make me a chip for sure – either one giant (mumble, mumble pounds of) chocolate chip, or a walkin-talkin-MRS. Potato-Head chip.
But seriously, since I found Setting Captives Free, I’ve been focusing on eating at The Lord’s Table which basically means presenting myself to the Lord first (as His temple) for all four fillings – spirit, emotion, mind and body. Then when I’m inputting the fruits, vegetables, proteins, flan, etc. that are good for my body, I’m taking them in as they were meant to be – as physical food – not as a comforter, not as soul satisfying – tasty, but not as spiritually nourishing. It’s been an exciting journey. The old cravings are gone and new healthier ones are here – proving that…
If the core – my spiritual self – is functioning as intended, all outlying areas will be well fed. Christ is described as ‘the root’ and if a tree’s root has access to proper water and food, it supplies the branches or vines to lively health and even reproduces fruit that can bring life to others. Similarly when my spirit is abiding (living in) Christ, his power, strength, life-giving force, works through all the other areas of my life.
He alone can bring stability to my moodiness; conquer mental issues of bitterness, loneliness, lack of acceptance or love.
He alone can give me the guidance and even the will to want to eat and drink the right things that will build up my physical body and to have the strength to keep that body (God’s temple) under control and able to participate in physical activity.
He alone can provide the boundaries and victory that keeps my mental faculties sharp and active.
He alone can provide the spiritual intimacy that breaks all barriers, and gives the model for all other relationships in my life.
So it’s true spiritually too, I am what I eat… and I believe others can definitely tell where I’ve been feasting.
Join me at The Lord’s Table – it’s free! – www.settingcaptivesfree.com
Psalm. 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Yikes. Did you read the news about how a radio frequency reader can be carried through a crowd, reading your credit information then emailing it across the globe? It’s alarming and confirming that I made the right decision to live without credit. This information apparently applies to newer cards with radio frequency, but it has spawned another solution industry – a protective sleeve so the frequency cannot be read. If you are still living on credit, be sure to check your statements daily and look up RFID blocking or credit card shields.
Here’s another reason to end credit card dependence. The freedom of budgeting. Does that sound like an oxymoron? It isn’t really. Budgeting is planning. When I plan for how to use our funds, I can more easily say no because I want to reach the goals that we set. One method is Freedom pages.
Freedom Pages are something Mary Hunt teaches in her Debt Free Living books and website. These pages are a division of your savings so you don’t only have an account for emergencies (which you continually empty if you are like most of America), but you have a page for any expense that might come due more than a month away – Car expenses, home maintenance, insurance, taxes, medical deductibles, personal items, etc. Knowing that funds will be there when needed reduces a lot of stress and is as visual as a clear cookie jar – you know what you really have left to spend (if anything) on other than budgeted items.
There is just something different about handing over my last $20 as opposed to handing over a plastic card and assuming I will figure out how to cover the bill when it shows up. It’s been interesting this week to look at things with a new eye of asking is it worth it. One cool result was deciding one item was not worth the price and walking away. 3 days later the same item was on sale half price. I feel like I won that battle.
Now onto something I dread even more: the closet.
I got fed up yesterday. I bought something online which didn’t work. It cost me 20% to return it. If I’d purchased it locally, I could have tried it out and known how it functioned – either would not have purchased it, or would have returned it immediately. Last year I had credit identity stolen. That was not the first time for either of these incidences – so I quit.
Quit? Quit what? I quit using credit and shopping online. I’m doing it for a year with the hope that this will prove I don’t need the credit card, and don’t need to shop online. It may cost a few more pennies here and there to shop locally – or to substitute what I cannot find locally – but I’m willing to try. I don’t care if I don’t get points, and I don’t mind that I’ll get less emails (I’ve unsubscribed to all the sale ads to reduce temptation), and I don’t care if I can’t satisfy an order-it-now urge.
Simpledown is the new word for 2011.
I’ve “fasted” from shopping for 30 days and 90 days in the past as gifts for my hubby. I also did a one year fast from my (at that time) favorite clothing store. Interestingly enough, I no longer like to shop there. It seems that while I was in the habit, the sale prices seemed desirable, and now I wonder what on earth I was thinking. I’ve already created a chart to record the things I run out of that I might usually have ordered on the web. I’ll complete the former price, the new price wherever I find the item and compare at the end of the year if I really saved money or not. I know just not having the monthly stress will be a treat for the hubby.
I put this under mind, as in mind over matter, but it could also qualify under emotions, don’t you think?
An overdose of hormones, energy and curiosity can be a gift or a curse. I’m told they make life with me an adventure in faith for my dear hubby and family. Things happen when I’m with you, the (8) grandkids say, encouraging me to share some of our humorous moments walking by faith…
Kim’s 14th birthday was no exception. A photo-of-the-month prize was waiting for me in Milwaukee, and Kim thought it would be fun to ride along, and practice Spanish in the car rather than on the couch. Time flew by with the lesson completed by the time we reached the TV station, and after we proved identification and received this framed photo of Faith, Kim asked if we could hunt for a new devotional for her. On the way to the bookstore she asked about my previous day’s bike ride with friend Marla – laughing hilariously as I explained the riderless horse trotting down Taylor Avenue which we had to cross to continue the bike path. There ahead of us was a mom in distress – a rope in one hand and a bucket (of oats we guessed) in the other. Our husbands were shocked, picturing their 50-something-just-had-leg-surgery and 60-something-could-need-leg-surgery-after-today wives circling around on bikes helping to round up a runaway horse!
As we finished the tale we ended up at a bookstore across from a large mall. Beckoning us from across the street was an upscale Chinese restaurant we’d both longed to visit ‘someday’. We looked at each other and moments later Kim was warning our charming waiter, Ben, as he seated us that “things happen” when Gramma is around, while quickly summarizing the previous days adventure. The dark-haired young man paused, unbelieving, queried where I would find a horse, then laughed with us and took our order. The meal was delightful as Kim and I made up stories about the other patrons and what was “really” going on in their lives. Ben stopped by from time-to-time, seeming to enjoy bantering with us. As I figured the tip with my remaining cash, I added a neat gospel tract that looks like a million-dollar bill, and a check for the meal – explaining to Kim how Grandpa challenged me that I couldn’t live a month without the credit card. Ben casually picked up the folder, heading for the hostess’ desk, and soon returned frowning. It seems the restaurant did not take checks! Kim started to giggle, asking if I was going to have to wash dishes or be taken to jail. (notice she did not ask if WE were going to wash dishes). I told him I did not have the card with me, but would call my husband for some back-up, and Ben went to “see what he could do.” I stuffed the tip, tract and check in my purse, and began dialing Ken while asking Kim what she would do if they did take me to jail. She laughed and said, “Guess I’d call someone for a ride home.” No protective action, calling for help for me or pleading to not take my Gramma –I noted sadly to continued giggles, and “Uh, oh – you’re in trouble now” pointing as I hung up the phone with Ken to a tall middle-aged man with a “manager” name tag approaching our table.
He seemed to be evaluating the situation as he approached and as I explained that Ken had a backup plan, he said, no, that’s fine – you look honest and we will make an exception and take your check. Kim told him she liked adventures with Gramma but was relieved her Gramma would not have to wash dishes or go to jail! We joked a bit as I grabbed the papers from my purse and once again stuffed them in the waiter’s folder for payment. Ben brought our cute oriental boxes with leftovers and commented as we rose to leave that he would ‘never forget the Gramma with the horse-story and the check.” We thought the incident was over, chuckling on the way home, but later that evening when I retrieved receipts from my purse, out fell the check to the restaurant! Apparently all I’d left was the “million dollar bill” and the tip.
I couldn’t resist calling Kim first and telling her what I’d found in my purse. “Gramma, Gramma, she lamented, you really are in trouble now. He thought you were honest and you didn’t pay.” The manager at the restaurant was pleased, but admittedly surprised to hear from me minutes later, reviewing how he and Ben thought the other had retrieved the check when they examined the folder after we left. When I found out the waiter had offered to do the “right thing” and paid the bill, I wanted to bring cash immediately, but was told Ben had already gone home for the day. The manager refused a credit card, insisting he wanted my check! Kim and I agreed Ben should get an additional tip and a note, which we included with the check. Now Kim is begging me to take her back while they “still recognize us.” She wants to walk in showing Ben we have the cash. Maybe pay him before we eat…I’m not so sure he will think it is as funny as Kim does.
I subscribe to the First Place (Christ centered diet program) description of me: Emotions, Mind, Body, and Spirit, so these posts will vary within one of those four topics.
I have no apologies if the posts to various categories become unbalanced … my excuses are thus:
I am woman
I am Sanguine
I am Delores
and my praise is thus according to Psalm 139:
I am God’s will.