No Mope, Just Hope!

It’s the last weekend of the year.   We are getting ready to start a brand new, exciting year.   No moping about what you didn’t accomplish in 2016- let’s celebrate what we will do in 2017.

This is a chance to wipe the slate clean and make a brand new start.  It sounds like a cliche, but it has a ring of truth to it.   So we didn’t lose the weight we wanted to this year, so what?   It is discouraging, but let’s start over again with renewed effort.  We can make resolutions, but those always fall through.  Instead of resolutions, let’s make commitments and goals.  Write them down and chart our progress.  It’s easy to follow through when you  have committed something to writing.

So no mopey faces this weekend. mope No defeatist attitudes.  No saying ” I can’t do it!” No mope, just hope!   And what is the greatest way to hope?  Believe in Jesus Christ.  Make a commitment to have Him in your life more this year.  Whatever you do, do more for Christ.  If you don’t do anything, make a commitment to start – just start by praying or attending church or talking to someone about religion.   If you already are committed to Christ, do more.  Take the extra step – invite someone to join you on your journey.  Help the needy.  Give more time or finances.  Do something to step it up.  Jesus doesn’t want us to mope – He wants us to be happy and celebrate life.  So whatever ails you, whatever failed you, leave it behind this weekend and start a new year with the full light of Christ shining on and through you.   Blessings to all for a safe and happy New Year!

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Cleaning out the Clutter

Today’s verse:  Philippians 3:13-14  Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

My father-in-law has recently moved in with us.  What a life-changing experience! One of the things we had to do was to turn our basement into an apartment for him. The basement was already finished, but served mostly as a storage area for junk that we no longer used, but couldn’t bear to get rid of.   For example, my husband and I are both retired, but we have held on to many files, mementos, etc. from our working days.   Our pool table hasn’t been used in 10 years, and now only serves as a storage area, but we wanted to keep it, “just in case”.

We had to remove everything in order to put in new carpet.  We forced ourselves to look objectively at everything before we put it back and decide whether or not we really needed to keep it. Lots of trips were made to Goodwill.  We sold the pool table and opened up lots of space.  We shredded lots of documents and filled trash cans with tons of stuff.  We love the new area, and it feels so open and clean.

As I was reflecting on this change, and how good it felt to let go of some of our old items, I read a devotional that said we should let go of the old feelings that are taking up valuable space in our heads.  How many of us are holding onto negative feelings or feelings of guilt?  Why not take the time at the end of the year to clear out the clutter?  Let go of things that are useless and space hogs, and fill the space with valuable, good things.  God does not want us to hang onto damaging thoughts.  He has died for us and we are cleansed.  We need to let go and stop feeling guilty or bad or vengeful or sad, and let God’s joy into our heads.  Christmas is a perfect time to remember that Christ came for us and we need to let his light shine brightly, now and ever onward.

Christmas blessings to all – may your light shine bright!


Giving Reduces Stress

Today’s Verse:   Acts 20:35  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Waiting, waiting, waiting.   It seems we are always waiting for something.  At this time of year, we are waiting for Christmas.  Some of us with great anticipation, and some of us with dread.  Some of us just wait for it to be over.   It is a very stressful time of year.   There are so many expectations on us and sometimes it just becomes overwhelming.

Years ago, our family made a decision to quit giving gifts to each other.  It had become such a stressful project to try and find something special.  We really all had all that we needed, and we bought what we wanted throughout the year.  So why did we feel such pressure to produce at Christmas time?   (Full disclosure– I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day and birthdays – you shouldn’t have to buy presents or flowers just because it is the social convention.  It means much more when you do it “just because” without there being any special “required” occasion.)

We had a discussion with our sons, and we all decided that we would adopt families for the holidays.  As a family, we picked out some needy children, went shopping together as a family, and wrapped and delivered the gifts as a family.  We loved the idea of giving instead of receiving.  The kids learned a valuable lesson about the real meaning of Christmas – “amazingly it’s not all about me!”    We still make donations to charities in the name of others instead of giving gifts that no one really wants or needs.  When you give to others, it is so much more rewarding than trying to find that one gift that your husband / wife / child / sister-in=law, etc will maybe never use.

This small change has removed the stress of the holidays for us.  We are so cheerful and filled with joy at the thought of providing Christmas for the less fortunate. As Christ tells us, we need to give to the poor.  For us it is a joyful time to remember that Christmas is the birth of Christ, our Saviour, and we try to celebrate him instead of us.  Wishing all of you a very blessed Christmas and a Christ filled day!



Dealing with the Unexpected

Today’s verse:   Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.   James 4:13-14

I have been away for a while, re-organizing my life.   My father-in-law, who is in the early stages of dementia, has come to live with us.   It has turned our life as we know it upside down!   Life has a way of doing that, of taking us down a road we might not have chosen for ourselves.

My father-in-law has always been a difficult person, and as a result, has very few friends as a support group.  His family has also turned against him for many actions that he has taken in the past.   When he got himself into some legal trouble earlier this year, my husband and I decided that we had to move him in with us for his own safety.  We had tried assisted living, but he was miserable and kept running away.

He is not happy with this decision to come here.  Although we have turned our basement into a handicap accessible apartment for him, he still longs to return to his home.  He wants to be married (he lost his wife two years ago and has re-married twice, both times ending in divorce after a few months).  He is hard of hearing and has virtually no short-term memory.   He needs assistance with money management, medication management, and many other daily tasks.   He has long periods of lucidity, but can’t remember what day or month it is.  It is heartbreaking to see his brain slowly dying.

Was this what we were expecting in our retirement years?   Was this how we envisioned ourselves when we became empty-nesters?   Certainly not!   But we must remember, it is not our place to challenge the plan that God has for us.  We do not know what tomorrow will bring, but we trust that the Lord knows. We must not despair and be selfish, thinking that this is not fair and we don’t deserve this.  We must keep our spirits up and be positive.

We are being tested daily, and there are days when patience is in very short supply. Sometimes it is difficult to answer the same question twenty times in one day, or to shout everything in order to be heard. Then we put ourselves in his shoes and try to imagine how life must be for him at this point.He is a fiercely independent man who has always been the undisputed head of the family.  Now he is dependent on someone else, and is frustrated at his failing mind and body.  He is often angry and confused.   I can’t blame him.  So we all pray and ask God to reveal his plan for us.   We ask that we seek his will, not ours.  We are learning to expect the unexpected, because we all know that God will not let us down.

Blessings to all of you = especially those caretakers among you – God bless you!