Thanksliving

Last year on each day of November, I tried to post something I’m grateful for. Didn’t want to mess with that this year. Basically, I’m grateful every day.

This jar sits on the windowsill by my desk. It’s getting filled with little slips of paper that have expressions of gratitude for, oh, just a lot of little and big stuff with which God blesses me. I take them out every once in a while and read them to remind myself of how faithful He’s been. When it gets full, I toss them.

This week I put in a piece of paper expressing gratitude for a thoughtful friend who invited me to join her family for Thanksgiving dinner. “What are you doing Thursday? Got any plans?” Well, no, as a matter of fact, I didn’t except maybe to go to a local spot that is serving a traditional meal for free. Figured I’d see lots of people there that I know.

When you’re single and your family lives far away, the holidays can be hard. I’ve spent many of them alone. Not complaining, but I surely am grateful for people who recognize a small need and respond.

I suppose this jar reminds me that we can practice thanksliving all year long.

Be a blessing to someone today.

 

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God Uses Ordinary People

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled , ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things o the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world…” 1 Corinthians 1:26-28

We all can be used by God if we belong to Him. Young, old, man, woman, child, educated, without education. No matter who we are (or what we have done), we’re the people who fulfill God’s purpose.

Be glad He chose you and be a blessing to someone today.

Helping Hands

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” ~ Jesus Christ

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” ~ Charles Dickens

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” ~ Paul, the Apostle

“You have not lived today unless you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ John Bunyan

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” ~ King Solomon

“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” ~ W. H. Auden

People struggle. You do, I do. Everyone experiences hard times. People are grieving. Others are weary. People face health issues to the point of death. Some struggle with a crisis concerning their child. That child may be one with “special needs.” Adults are caregivers to an elderly parent or guardian to an individual who can’t help themselves.

Since we’ll all struggle at some time, remember how difficult it can be. Some people, for whatever reason, find it hard to ask for help. Don’t go through it alone and don’t let someone else. Pray for that person, but put feet to your prayers. Platitudes will not help. A helping hand will.

Be a blessing to someone today.

I Can Only Imagine

This past Sunday, the Church behaved as a church should. Well, my church did anyway.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing the downward spiral that naturally and always follows mania. My diagnosis is complicated and it took years for me to understand it. True depression can be inexplicable. If someone asked me, “What’s wrong?” I could say, “Nothing” or I could say, “Everything” and both answers would be correct.

Having manic-depressive illness is something I’ve accepted, but being mentally ill sometimes always stinks.

Now about the Church being what they’re supposed to be…

I went to church under the influence of a medication I took for anxiety the night before. Sleep was eluding me, so I took the med the doctor prescribes “as needed.” It was surely needed. The anxiety was crippling and I only got about three hours of sleep because I was so agitated. I drove to church seeing double. It helped if I closed one eye, but driving one-eyed has its limitations. All through the sermon, Pastor kept splitting in two as he moved about the stage.

Between services I told our spiritual growth pastor I probably wouldn’t be able to write the sermon study because I hadn’t been able to concentrate and I had scanty notes. I gave her the lowdown. She must have moved into action right then. Brothers and Sisters began to approach me to let me know they would make sure I got home safely.

Imagine a church body that in a crisis acts like Jesus. I felt no judgements on me for being sick. The people involved treated me as if I had a “respectable” illness. They touched me just like Jesus was willing to touch the man with leprosy. They spoke to me without condescension. I was given time to just be comfortable until church was over and they could help me get home. I could almost hear them saying, “(Let’s) Go in peace.”

I wish every church body could understand––or at least try to accept––mental illness as a real sickness. Too many times we hear people tell us we could be healed if we had more faith. People suggest we pray more. I’ve been told I’m possessed.

Listen. I have faith in the healing power of Jesus. I pray. I trust God will get me through the tough times because he already has on numerous occasions. But Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he came into contact with while he lived here, walking around preaching the Good News. Maybe I’m one of the people God has decided to not heal. He hasn’t healed my good friend who’s been insulin dependent for over 30 years either and I know she prays and has faith in God.

It’s okay I’m still manic-depressive, even though, as I said, it stinks. Because I’ve experienced peace when I should have been crawling the walls. I’ve been able to read my Bible and know the words are meant for me right then, in the scattered state I’m in. Or in a funk so deep I’m reminded of King David’s “pit.” Those are the times when nothing can make me leave the house except maybe firefighters insisting upon it.

Helen Keller was an amazing woman. Read her autobiography some day. For the most part, she had a good attitude about life and didn’t let being disabled hold her back from what she wanted to accomplish. My disability isn’t the same as hers. But I find these words of hers something I relate to and am grateful for.

“I thank God for my handicaps for through them I have found myself, my work and my God.”

What will it take for God’s people to be more accepting of the poor, the uneducated, the ‘sinners,’ the foreigners, the criminals, and anyone who’s just plain different from them? I’m not sure, but I experienced on Sunday what I believe Jesus had in mind.

Love.

Help Them “Do the Most Good”

Did you see the folks standing outside the stores ringing bells next to a Salvation Army Red Kettle? Did you help the organization out by chucking in a few coins or a bill or two? If not, I have an opportunity for you to help them right now. In fact, even if you did, you can participate in this challenge.

As of this moment and until December 31, 2017, I’ll make a donation to The Salvation Army for every new follower or every “Like” I get from someone. The Salvation Army is one of my favorite non-profit organizations. Not only have I served in a local soup kitchen (Sally’s Kitchen) for almost 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of the people who come there to eat because I join them on many days to get a hot meal too.

The Salvation Army impresses me as a non-profit also because I got a look at their pie chart which shows how their funds are spent. Every year, between 80-82% of the monies taken in (completely through donations) go directly to programs to serve people in various programs. That takes in the soup kitchens, after school programs for kids, summer camp, addiction recovery programs, emergency assistance and disaster assistance. The rest of the money pays for staff and marketing.

I get shivers even thinking about that.

So, here’s what you do. If you already follow my blog, find the “reblog” button (it should be there at the bottom) and then all the people who follow you have a chance to see this and consider following me. And let me set the record straight on followers: that’s never been a big deal to me. I honestly hope to be able to make a respectable donation to TSA. I do anyway, but wouldn’t it be cool to make it even bigger?

If you’re one of my followers, hit the “like” thingy. If this came up in your reader because of a search, you can “like” it as well. That counts too. Neat, huh?

I’m also posting this on Twitter so if you want to upload the URL to your Twitter feed, great. My challenge will be to do that in 140 characters.

Thanks so much; you guys rock. Be a blessing to someone today. Whether you decide to reblog this, like it, or do nothing.

Living a “Good Deeds Life”

My life isn’t rife with so many examples of doing good deeds that I can tell you I’m always on the spot helping. To my dismay, I’m not always paying attention.

Author Henry James said, “Be the kind of person on whom nothing is lost.” This practice probably helped when he wrote fiction. But it has an amazing translation for each of us as well.

Paying attention means we see situations where we can help. We might also recognize when a person needs prayer or encouragement. If we pay attention, it might stir us to be be a cheerleader for people who are making the attempt to do better in their own lives.

I like the idea of living good deeds. It reminds me of the “One anothers” in the Bible. It reminds me of Jesus saying that the world will know we are His disciples if we love one another. Good deeds done from love reflect the love of Jesus.

While browsing the table near the entrance of my local independent bookstore, I found a little gem to introduce to you. Erin McHugh’s One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better leads you through a year of simple but effective good deeds. She didn’t start the book on January 1; she started on her birthday. What a cool idea; it was “her” day, but she hoped to put light into someone else’s.

Erin’s ideas are things she did herself every day for a year. I started reading and hoping I could put into practice the same thing she suggested for that day. I’ve also read ahead a bit to see some of the other ideas she wrote about. Her practices are the reason for the book, but her writing is extremely casual; often funny and embarrassingly relateable.

One day she gave fifteen cents to a woman who’d miscounted her change to ride the bus. Erin said she was happy to lean in and say,

“’Here, I’ve got it.’ Because anyone can miscount; she didn’t do it on purpose. And besides, what’s better than when you see a stupid hassle coming and someone steps in and just makes it go away?”

This example is typical of Erin’s book full of living a good deed life. One blurb on the back of the book says, “Erin McHugh is one wise, funny, smart woman, and her book is a blast to read.”

The title of the book suggests that when we do good deeds as a regular practice, we’ll be “a little bit better.” I like to think the motive is less about us and more about watching out for others’ needs. Even when that need is as small as needing fifteen cents more to ride the bus.

Could you be on the lookout for a way to help someone today? Pay attention and you’ll see opportunities around every corner.

8 No-Cost Gifts That Are Priceless

The gift of listening
But you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

The gift of affection
Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

The gift of laughter
Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”note-writing

The gift of a written note
It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full letter. A handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime. It may even change a life.

The gift of a compliment
A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a good job” or “That was a tasty meal” can make someone’s day.

The gift of a favor
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind. And keep it to yourself.

The gift of solitude
There are times when we want nothing better than to spend a little time alone. Be aware of how you can give some ‘alone time’ to someone else.

The gift of a cheerful disposition
One of the easiest ways to feel good is to extend cheerfulfulness. It’s not hard to say “Hello” or “Thank you.” And we all look better when we smile.

A Wrong Number Works Out Well

There’s always good news out there if you look for it.

Today let’s focus on one man’s effort to rescue a frightened grandmother. If you thought car salesmen don’t deserve a good word, think again. This excerpt from the story tells, in our hero’s own words, a little of what happened.

“She called our landline and got through to our receptionist, who asked me what to do. I said, ‘I’ll go and make sure she’s ok.’ At first I thought she was just across the road, it turned out she was about two miles away.”love_boom_200_167

The response just described won’t always happen if you transpose numbers. Usually, people just say, “I believe you have a wrong number” and hang up. To his credit, Dang Vuong didn’t.

Here’s the whole story from The Kindness Blog. The blog features only stories about acts of kindness. Maybe you’d like to follow them to get the occasional uplift to your spirit.

Conduits of God’s Love

Come Empty

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29

Get Filled

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Go, Pour Out to the Worldfrenchpitcherw-bread

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35, 36

Was Methuselah a Happy Grandpa? Five Ways to Feel Young

Earlier this month, I celebrated a milestone birthday. Oddly, I don’t feel any older. I certainly don’t feel like my chronological age. Not on the inside anyway.

How is that supposed to feel? On the inside I feel bergetty-berg* years old. I wonder how Methuselah may have felt beginning his one hundredth decade. My brain sort of goes out of order just thinking about the generations of offspring he could have had Kodak moments with. Nine hundred sixty-nine years is…well…that’s a lot of birthday candles.

I didn’t celebrate in a big way, although I did get a cake with candles: two of them representing my age. Friends remembered me on social media and in person. So it was nice.

While talking with people about how the years pass and we mark time with birthdays, most of my contemporaries agree with me that feeling one’s chronological age is relative. Perhaps it’s because most of us, regardless of what our bodies may be saying, keep a young attitude. “Elderly” seems to be those other people, not us.

How does a person do that? What would you do if you wanted to reflect a youthful attitude? I think these practices help.

Keep LaughingDickens quote on laughter
It’s okay to take life seriously. Serious stuff happens. But to take ourselves too seriously can be a drag. To ourselves and to others. When we laugh with friends we’re more like children than we may care to admit. But even scripture supports the idea that laughter is the best medicine. Recently I told a corny kid’s joke to a couple of friends over a slice of pizza at lunch. Lightened the mood immediately. So learn to tell a joke well. Or, at the very least, don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at someone else’s humor. Make sure your inner child doesn’t turn into an inner grump. Allow God to help you drop some of your emotional baggage if that’s getting in the way. Smile. If you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.

Keep Pursuing a Dream
I know people who are retired from one career and in a second or third. I know people who serve others by volunteering when they’re no longer employed. In some way, they keep giving back or pursuing a passion. We engage in hobbies that got put on back burners. We complete a college degree or sign up for cooking classes. We get up in the morning and determine that the world isn’t going to pass us by. Johnny Carson, on his late night talk show, asked Jimmy Durante if he was ever going to retire. Durante answered, “Retire to what?” That response should ring true in our hearts.

Keep a Childlike Faith
When we trust God with every aspect of our lives, we can truly “Lighten up.” Our heavenly Father loves to bless our lives when we come to him in childlike faith. He’ll also use us to bless others. Simple trust like that of a child brings contentment. At your age, any age, don’t you want that? Sure, you do.

Keep Looking for Ways to Build God’s Kingdom
This pithy statement isn’t original with me: “The only thing you can take with you to heaven is other people.” A person doesn’t need to be in the twilight years to assist others in living a life devoted to Christ. But sometimes after a lifetime of serving, we’d rather just let the next generation take over. Don’t give in to that temptation. God offers opportunities to take part in his work every day of our lives. Be alert to those moments. When we give up before God wants us to stop, we cheat him, ourselves and most of all, those who don’t know him.

Remain Open to the Joy Others Offer
The birthday cards I received this year indicated the personalities of the people who gave them to me. They also reflected my personality. My older sister gave me the “cake on fire” card. My younger sister sent a sweet, sentimental card. With each one I felt loved. I felt youthful.

One thing I didn’t feel was as old as Methuselah.

*Not revealing my age this time.