A couple years ago the patterns of our household changed with my mother’s health issues. Her physical problems affected her mental state. Her sense of balance decreased and her need for personal comfort increased.
She insisted on having a corner light in the kitchen left on all night, along with the regular nightlight. Prior to this, we always practiced the habit of turning off all lights for the night, except for the nightlights. For some time I resented the extra amount on the electric bill. Now, though, when I wake up at night and see the circle of light, it comforts me. It is steadying to my emotional state to see it on.
As the light is comforting at night, so Jesus is comforting when I need Him. One day a friend called. She mentioned a frightening situation supposed to happen just a few miles away, with people armed and ready to fight. I hung up the phone, a knot of fear rapidly forming in my stomach. Just then, the first two lines from an old hymn, “Near to the Heart of God” leapt to mind. It’d been years since I heard the hymn; I didn’t even realize I remembered it. As the words played through my mind, so did a mental picture: I was leaning on Jesus, my head on His chest, and He had His arm around me, comforting and reassuring me.
Any time I remember that, I am still comforted by His caring and compassion.
Some Scriptures: John 1:9: “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.” (NIV)
Psalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;” (NIV)
Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (NIV)
One evening I looked at the dirty dishes. I wanted to do them, but I didn’t want to do them. Know what I mean? I wanted the result–clean dishes and a clean sink–but I didn’t want to do the work to get the result. Finally, the thought “The Buck Stops Here” came to mind, and I rolled up my sleeves, filled the dishpans, and got to work.
US president Harry S. Truman popularized the motto “The Buck Stops Here”. He kept a plaque engraved with those words on his desk. He used it as a reminder that although he could seek advice from others, in the end, it was his responsibility to make the decisions.
Now I use the phrase as a motivational aid. Most of the time, I use it to get myself to do household tasks that need done and don’t take long to do, but I just don’t feel like doing. As I plan this year to get rid of clutter and do more intensive cleaning, I know I’ll want to keep that phrase in my figurative “back pocket” to pull out.
Author’s Note: If you’d like to read another blog post on this subject of motivation, check out: Wake Up and Be Amazing! here:
One evening as I helped a relative a question/prayer came to the forefront of my mind: “Lord, what can cure dementia?” Immediately His answer came, “Love”.
I don’t know what brought that question to my mind. I don’t know if the person I was thinking of actually has dementia or not. I don’t know if the Lord meant divine love can actually cure dementia to the point a person no longer has it.
I do know divine love in all its facets: forgiveness, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, kindness, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness and self-control–along with a good sense of humor–can mitigate the effects of this heart-rending disease. God’s love helps the patient and the caregiver. His grace supports both people in the face of difficult, uncertain conditions. He can bring in help from many places.
Some Scriptures to take in: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV) which is a quote of Deuteronomy 31:6.
“Do everything in love.” (I Corinthians 16:14, NIV)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35, NIV)
One of life’s little luxuries for me is drinking tea–when I am taking time to actually taste it, that is. There are those minutes when I am in a hurry and gulp it down, without noticing the taste, other than that it’s wet. Those minutes are not a state of luxury for me; they are more of necessity. I’m thirsty; I gulp it down.
The moments of luxury come when I take the time to sip the beverage, hot or cold, and enjoy the taste of it. Those moments may come in relaxation, as when I’m sitting on the front porch watching the visiting bunny chow down the weeds and grass, or when I’m in the middle of some mental activity.
What makes the luxury is a sense of deliberateness, of making space for the enjoyment of the tea. In my mind I have a picture of pushing away my “to-do” list, however temporarily, for the sake of a quiet place of refreshment. That quiet place of refreshment both calms and revives me for what’s ahead. I guess you could call it my “adult time-out”.
While Americans generally don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on tea-drinking, the English and Japanese are known for the rituals they developed for tea time. I don’t know if they still keep those rituals or not, perhaps a reader could fill me in. I hope they do. The world goes faster every day. In such a world, you need to deliberately take time to slow down and enjoy some luxury. It makes life richer.
Since childhood I’ve had a perfectionistic mindset. I regret the day I picked that up. It provokes much needless anxiety.
But one day last summer I came across a technique to use against my enemy. Oddly enough it occurred when arthritis flared up during a humid, rainy spell, and I didn’t feel strong enough to fight against anything, let alone a dug-in mindset. My right hand and left knee complained loudly. A couple other body parts, in sympathy, felt tender/achy too. This, plus other concerns, upped my stress levels.
In search of something to take my mind off my achiness, I fell back on the childhood activity of coloring. The day before I’d bought an 8-pack of jumbo crayons, which are easier to handle when arthritis bothers my fingers. I took the crayons and a coloring book of nature scenes, put a bag of ice on my cranky knee, and settled back on the couch. I prayed to God about my anxiety and started coloring.
I discovered not only was I losing the stress but I was also gaining over perfectionism. In prior times, perfectionism would have demanded I use the “proper” colors, color within the lines, and generally destroyed my peace of mind. What was different that day last summer? I was able to keep my main objective in mind. What was that? To reduce stress and get my mind off my sore knee. As long as I did that, I was happy. I accomplished my objective and perfectionism took a back seat and shut up.
In the line of Sunday’s post, here, I am thinking about gifts you can give. These gifts don’t require money, don’t need wrapped, and can be given to anyone, anytime of the year. They do have a cost—gifts always do—these gifts require you to put your self on the back burner. What are these versatile, but costly, gifts?
Patience. It’s especially needed this time of the year. It’s in short supply, and therefore is more needed and more valuable. It costs a person to be patient, rather than grumbling, being obnoxious, complaining about how slow the cashier is, and practically pushing people aside to get to the head of the line.
Flexibility. Ok, you are doing last-minute shopping, you meant to get that special gift earlier, but circumstances beyond your control stepped in, and the special gift isn’t available online or in any store. What to do? Take a deep breath, and be flexible. Think of that in the broadest terms possible. Don’t think of it as a specific gift, look at it like this: what need or want did that gift fill? Can you get something else that will work? Flexibility is a gift you can give yourself as you give to others. To be flexible means I’m not demanding something be exactly the way I want it. If I can be flexible, I don’t get stressed out about a situation.
Compassion. I am not talking about sending money to charities here, but rather being aware of a individual’s need and stepping in to do whatever you can to help. Maybe it is giving that person money, or a gift card for food, or buying a whole turkey dinner, taking it to the person, and helping them prepare it. Maybe it is sitting down with the person and taking time to listen with your whole heart—not planning what you want to say, not judging what he or she says—but just listening. Many people in various circumstances need the gift of compassion expressed as listening.
Willingness to withhold judgment. This is hard for me. I tend to think I know everything about a person’s situation based on what it looks like on the surface. LOL! People are complex; life is complex; there’s a lot going on below, so it’s always best not to judge.
A break. Yes, give yourself and others a break. Remember that whether or not you get everything done when you want it done, how you want it done, whether your family members get along or not—your value as a person does not depend on any of those things. Your value as a person does not depend on what other people say or think about you. Your value as a person depends solely on the fact that God loves you. In His eyes, you (and everybody else) have tremendous value. His view is the only one that ultimately matters. Think along His view, and you’ll have less stress, more joy, and be able to give the other “gifts” on the list easier.
Happy New Year!
Scripture references: I Corinthians 13: 4,5, Romans 3: 23,24, John 3:16, Romans 5: 6-9, Philippians 4: 6-8
As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys, by Mike Bechtle, is a book I would have liked to have read years ago. That would have saved me considerable frustration, with myself and with others. It explains some things I’ve wondered about for a long time (like why I can’t come up with a quick reply in a conversation).
As the title suggests, this is not a textbook (read “dry and boring”) type of book. Instead, Dr. Bechtle uses personal illustrations, humor, and stories to make his points about dealing with difficult people, whether they be family members, co-workers, bosses, or others you spend time with regularly. You know—those people who just DRIVE YOU CRAZY!
Some points which jumped out at me are:
You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. You can influence other people, but it has to be their decision to change.
Change comes slowly, whether to you or the other person. “Crazy people” learned those behaviors over time, so it takes time to change.
Crazy people may drive you crazy, but they are still human, still made in God’s image. The craziness isn’t all there is about that person.
The “old-fashioned” virtues of kindness, humility, patience, and gratitude are still needed as you deal with your crazy person.
Set boundaries and be prepared to sound like a broken record to defend your boundaries. You will need to defend them.
A person’s basic temperament—whether introverted or extroverted—doesn’t change, so don’t try. To try just puts a lot more stress on the relationship, and neither one of you needs that.
What you can’t change, you can often adapt to.
Be proactive, not reactive. Dr. Bechtle suggests ways to give thought to situations, and then act upon what you’ve considered, instead of having a “knee-jerk” reaction. This one point alone made the book valuable for me, a person who tends to react, but wants to move away from that tendency.
Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to behaviors. A change in thought patterns means a change in emotions, which means behaviors change.
There is quite a difference between expectations, and expectancy. Expectations about people often lead to bitter disappointment; expectancy means you are operating from a position of hope. You know there are no guarantees that your crazy person will change, but there’s the possibility.
This book is about relationships; it’s really about the importance of faith and hope in relationships with difficult people.
People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read about personality and relationships. It’s a book I’ll read again, probably soon; this time, to take notes.
I just returned from a “time-out”, a mini-vacation.
I didn’t go far, only upstairs to the porch. I took my ice tea, a pen and a book of word search/sudoku puzzles. I did word searches, listened to the birds, admired the trees with their green leaves-turning-to- gold, and enjoyed being able to “get away from it all”. Later I took a short walk towards the woods. After that it was time to close the car windows and while I did that, watch the stars and planets come out as the afternoon slowly turned to evening.
I came back from my mini-vacation feeling refreshed and relaxed—the way my body feels after a massage—only this time, it was my spirit.
I’ve come to realize I need to be outside for at least 20—30 minutes a day, every day. It doesn’t matter whether I do anything or not. Driving somewhere in the car doesn’t cut it; no, I have to be in nature: walking, mowing grass, sitting in a chair reading or doing puzzles, or simply appreciating God’s creation. It gives me perspective and calms my nerves.
Some other things I discovered I need to do every day:
something creative—write, take pictures, color, bake, or rearrange decorations
something for someone else
take time to think of God—His greatness, His kindness, His caring. I call this “dwelling on the Lord”. This may also take the form of reading devotionals.
OK, so I’m curious: Is there anything you’ve found you must do every day for your well-being, a non-negotiable for your life?
Since arthritis grabbed my attention a few years ago, I’ve been searching for materials which bring faith in God into the equation. I bought one booklet, but kept looking.
Recently I came across Chronic Illness—Walking By Faith. After reading an online excerpt, I realized this 31-day devotional by Esther Smith is more what I had in mind, so I ordered it. Esther Smith was diagnosed with lupus and hypermobility syndrome; she knows what it’s like to live with chronic illness. She knows how one day you can be fine, and the next day you can barely function, or are somewhere in between. She knows how people say you look fine, but you know you’re not. She knows how symptoms can vary from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next hour.
Esther writes with compassion and empathy, tempered with a dose of reality. While you won’t find quick answers or guarantees of healing, you will find much encouragement.
Each two-page devotional begins with a Scripture verse, followed by a reading relating to the verse. The devotionals end with questions for reflection and an action prompt, whether to pray for renewed faith, or another suggestion.
I am a week into this devotional, and am glad I found it. I recommend it to anyone fighting a battle with chronic illness who wonders where God is, if He knows, or if He even cares.
Years ago I bought an 11×8½ spiral notebook with a photograph on the cover of a creek running through woods. I decided that notebook would be my “Favorites” notebook. On the inside I wrote, “Favorites—things I liked when I saw them”.
My “Favorites” notebook starts off with the poem “Refuge” by Lew Sarett, and is followed with passages by Faith Baldwin from her book Living by Faith, and Robert Traver from Anatomy of a Fisherman. The notebook includes other poems; bits and pieces which stuck out as I read different books and articles; newspaper clippings about nature, history, movie reviews; song lyrics, and people stories—people following their creative muses, and people acting in commendable ways towards people and animals.
I have a few scrapbooks, too, but those I meant to keep in order, and that order got lost in the shuffle of the years (and never taking the time to sit down and arrange photos properly). Most of the scrapbook pages are faded, and not appealing to work at. Somehow it’s easier and more pleasing to me to keep my favorites notebook going. Plus spiral notebooks are meant to be written in, so I can add my thoughts to something I read. The scrapbook pages are not good for writing on.
I found a surprising benefit to keeping a favorites notebook: when I’m in a bad mood, my nerves are on edge, or my spirits are low, taking the time to look through or work on the notebook improves my disposition, calms my nerves, and raises my spirits.
I'm Joanna, a busy married mum of two beautiful boys aged four and three. I'm sharing my experiences as I navigate the wonderful world of motherhood! Mistakes, routines, mum / life hacks, cleaning, beauty...little bit of everything!
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