Mental Health Week

“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, Luke 4:18

This is how my week started and it has been knocking around my brain since. The question posed at church was who are the poor we relate to in our North American existence? Do we really understand poor?

In light of it being Mental Health Week my thoughts turn to the poor of spirit. That is something I can wrap my head around. There is lots of that around. With the economic downturn, the loss of jobs and the fear surrounding this we are seeing plenty of those poor in Spirit. Fear and frustration leads to anger and depression. We see it daily on our newscasts. Suicides, spousal abuse, school shootings, demonstrations. There is a pervading anger brewing in our world fueled by the fear of sustaining a lifestyle we have grown accustomed to, actually taught to expect. What will we do if we lose our job, our car, our fancy clothes, weekly pedicure and trip down south? A wise friend commented that the things that stress him out the most are the stuff he owns. He might be better off without them. We are bombarded with the lure of fine things and experiences, told how we are supposed to think and are left wondering why our world is so messed up.

It has occurred to me that when I am most stressed out it is because I am focused on the wrong stuff. Lots of bad things have happened in my life just like everyone else. Floods, car wrecks, deaths and crisis. Everyone has stuff to deal with. Why do some handle it better than others? Personally when I really need help I turn to God. I was raised by very faithful parents and Grandparents and have over the years been influenced by many fine Christian friends. I am not trying to get preachy here, just telling you my experiences. I draw great comfort from God, his word and his people. I can count on him in the best and worst of times. I am at my worst when I forget about Him. It is as natural as breathing to me to believe. What makes me sad is the trend to discount and discredit Christians and the way Christianity is displayed to the world, often by Christians. It is not politically correct to be overtly Christian in today’s society. You do it often at peril of ridicule. Sadly what so many desperate people don’t see is the very real comfort that comes from being in a relationship with God.

So Luke spoke to me this week. It is my duty to share my love of God with others, not to force Him on anyone but to sincerely offer a lifeline to those who are struggling these days. Take time to see the small miracles that are part of your life that God has provided and see what is really important to you.

I am grateful for my family, for a full belly and a warm bed and house. I am in awe of snow weighing heavily on the trees, on the opportunity to know and share a visit with good friends. Throwing the ball for my dog this afternoon is occurred to me how privileged I am to have a dog and two cats, to be able to afford to feed and care for them. And to have friends who share their passions and greetings on Facebook every day. This may not sound terribly exciting but it is what makes my life rich. Hope you find time to enjoy your riches too. And if you haven’t been to church aside from a wedding or funeral in a long time, try a few out. You might just find something there you are looking for.

And remember the little things bring great joy if we take time to enjoy them.

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Enduring Rituals

35 years ago a family ritual was started. It happened not because it had its roots in ancient memories or because of religious reasons. It was born out of poverty caused by being newlyweds with children living in a small town. We did not have high expectations or extravagant needs. Our options were limited and funds more so. The need to be met was how we can celebrate our Anniversary or birthdays.

Now there are no high class restaurants where we live. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of places to get a great meal but nowhere to go for an intimate dining experience. And remember I said our funds were limited and we had small children. By the time you add babysitting, wining and dining and some entertainment the cost for us was prohibitive. What to do?

The best wedding present we got was a fondue pot. Remember they were very trendy in the early seventies. We opted for a fancy meal and movie night. The kiddos were all tucked into bed, a nice bottle of our favorite wine was uncorked and a few of the latest movies were rented at the local movie gallery. And the meal was spectacular. Steak, chicken, shrimp accompanied with mushrooms, peppers, onions and garlic bread was set out ready to fondue. It was a private time reserved for special occasions and it cost a fraction of the cost of going out.

Over the years the kids grew and the special evenings continued with the kids having their own night. Pizza was made and a special movie was on tap for them upstairs with strict instructions not to bother the grownups. They have since left the nest but the fondue nights still continue. It is still important to mark milestones with a special meal and celebration. And it is still cost effective and private.

In this day and age of economic stress it is still a viable option for couples anywhere. Find something special you like to eat, crack open a bottle of wine, put the kids to bed and relax with some favorite movie or Netflix series. Remember no matter what is going on in your busy life it is still important to celebrate why you are together. Start your own ritual and build memories.

Hibernation

IMG_6761January is often the most hated month. The let down after the busy days of Christmas holidays and it’s frantic preparations and the cold weather often lead to depression for some. Myself, I embrace January and wish it could be so much longer.

It is a time for quietness and self reflection. An opportunity to do something for oneself. No yards to tend and no preparations to make. or so you think. Sometimes I would really like to be just left alone.

That statement puts me in a conundrum. I am split between the selfish wish for solitude and the compelling need to help others. Throughout my life I have always been the one people seek out for advise and leadership. I blame my Mother for instilling a strong sense of duty and the ability to figure out how to do most anything. I don’t really think I am that smart but I can figure things out if I want to. A skill sadly lacking these days for many. You would think people would just Google it!

I look longingly at those retirees that just show up to take part in events that are organized for them. Church, coffee parties, pickle ball or whatever. Endless time to go to art classes of coffee dates with friends. So you say why don’t you. Firstly someone has to organize those things and that seems to often fall on people like me. Oh ask her, she’s good at that stuff or the why can’t there be stuff to do? She has the skills, she has done it for years. Don’t get me wrong, I like to do some of that stuff and take satisfaction from doing a job well. I also have an extreme sense of duty to my small rural community. I have fought for it most of my life.

There are just times I would like to just do stuff I like and want to do without all the other stuff getting in the way. I wish I could just be oblivious to everyone’s needs some days. Just not show up, or not follow through. Say I’ll do something and just forget about it. There are lots of those people around but thanks to Mom, not me. OK now I am just feeling sorry for myself.

So here is the Resolution for this year. Spend more time on me. Nurture my spirit. Paint, write, garden and yes blog a bit more. Learn how to be more accountable to me. And say no to doing stuff I don’t want to do. Oh and I need to organize my time better. Retirement can get very relaxing. Have a great 2016 everyone.