Thankful Heart by Sonya

 

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, God has given me prospective on a lot of things and showing me all the things I am to be thankful for and to have a thankful heart. If I’m being real, this last month I was tested a lot in my faith because it seemed like nothing was going right. In two weeks time, my computer, my phone and my refrigerator stopped working. That wasn’t that bad but to find out all three of my daughters had head lice and dealing with that for two weeks was a toll. But to top it off was finding out my youngest daughter needed to have elbow surgery and my husband has Barrett’s esophagus. These things overwhelmed me as a mom to take care of my whole family and be strong in my faith. I wanted to just cry a lot of the times because I felt like I wasn’t getting a break from life. Have you ever felt like that in your life where everything around you was not going right? I fell to my knees and prayed and, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, He changed how I was looking at life. God showed me to look to Him and His Grace and not our circumstances. I love how 2 Corinthians 4: 15-18, “And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving and God will receive more and more glory.” This why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we cans see right now; we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”  The joys from above and all of who God is will last forever, which spoke right to my heart as I went through these troubles. Yes these troubles are short lived and it kept my eyes off the joy of the Lord and all He has done. God had to show me His glory by opening my eyes to all the things I do have and the good gifts God has given me. We are rich when we look to everything we have to be thankful for. I realized I have a daughter that is still healthy and doesn’t have a serious sickness or disease, and I have a husband that is strong in his faith and doesn’t have cancer. I realize life could be a lot worse and I am thankful for what I have and truly thank God for all His blessings. This Thanksgiving, hold tight to what God has given you and thank Him for it because we don’t know how long we are here. I am thankful I have my family to celebrate Thanksgiving with because I have dear friends that don’t have a daughter or mom to celebrate with this year. Give God the glory in all things especially when we go through hard times and when life can get messy. Having a heart of Thanksgiving puts our eyes off of ourselves.  I am so thankful God has shown me that through my troubles and prayer He will open my eyes to Him as well! I love you ladies and I am so thankful for each of you!

 

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The Most Awful Time Of The Year by Kenika

 

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The stores have decorations out, people are already starting their countdowns and cannot wait until Halloween is over so that it is officially “okay” to start decorating, talking about and preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It seems like every year they start earlier and earlier.  Anticipation is rising and all of the pumpkin latte, snow flurry and sweater season loving people will be practically skipping through the streets with joy in the days to come.  One of the most popular songs as it relates to the Christmas holiday is, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (Andy Williams) but for many, this time of year is anything but.

How is it that this wonderful time filled with magic, joy, possibilities, charity and love for so many, provides heartache, loneliness, sorrow and pain for so many others?  I’ve read a few articles on this and the reasons range from cold and dark weather, to intensified mental illness, to sadness over not having enough money to buy gifts for the supremely commercialized Christmas holiday.  According to Healthline.com the reasons for holiday depression include:

  • Social Isolation: “Some people may have a small social circle or a lack of opportunities for socialization.”
  • Grieving During the Holidays: “Some people may be keenly aware of the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.”
  • Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern: “Is a type of recurring depression that is caused by the seasons changing. Many people with this disorder develop depressions symptoms during the fall, and continue to feel sad throughout the winter.”

 

Wherever you may find yourself, these feelings are not in your imagination, they are very real.  I know that grieving the loss of a loved one through this holiday season will be very difficult for a lot of people I know.  Also being single and feeling alone, wishing you had your own little family to celebrate with, can lead to depression as well.  In the past that was a huge factor for holiday blues for me along with drawing near to the end of another year and feeling as if I hadn’t accomplished all I wanted to.  You may not be someone who suffers in any of these ways, but do your best this year to be mindful of those that do.

My intentions are certainly not to be a “Debbie-downer” but rather to shine a light on those that may be dreading and suffering through this time of the year instead of greeting it with warm excitement.  There is definitely hope! First of all, in the eternal love of Jesus Christ, and second of all, there are practical things you can do if you find yourself struggling this holiday season.

From Psychologytoday.com:

  • “If the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional.”
  • “Set personal boundaries regarding the money spent on gifts and the number of social events.”
  • “Don’t accept any “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe.”
  • “Become involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people.”
  • “Avoid excessive rumination about your life.”
  • “Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have.”

 

I would like to add my two cents and say if you are feeling this way, don’t hold it in, talk to someone you know and trust! There are people in your life who care about you and would not want you to suffer alone in this way.  You’ve already made it through the tragedy, the bad times, the disappointments, which is concrete proof that you can make it through this time of the year as well!

 

References

Kerr, Michael. Holiday Depression. Healthline.com, 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

Williams, Ray. Why People Get Depressed at Christmas. PsychologyToday.com, 2010. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

 

 

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Kenika

 

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The gap of time that spans just before Thanksgiving and right after Christmas and New Year’s Eve is most definitely my favorite time of year.  I don’t know if it’s the season change that syncs up with real life changes, or maybe it’s the pumpkin scented candles and sugar laced desserts.  Either way, I get flutters in my heart and butterflies in my belly for this time of year.  Christmas is by far my favorite holiday of the year.  I realize that we don’t really know the exact day that Jesus Christ was born, but I love having one day out of the year where we celebrate and honor the fact that our Savior came to earth for us.

I also love Christmas because I love, love, love giving gifts! Yes that many “loves.”  I like to receive gifts, I think it’s one of the last true mysteries in life, but my excitement for receiving a gift is only trumped by my exhilaration watching someone open a gift I got for them.  I try to take as much time as I can to think through gifts for my family and friends.  What do they like? What would they want? What do they need? What’s something they would never buy for themselves? What have I heard them say or mention?  These are the questions I ask myself as I make my way down my list.  I prefer to wrap gifts with wrapping paper at Christmas rather than using gift bags, I sort of think that’s cheating!  Because part of the fun is watching the recipient examine the package and then sort of unfold what’s inside.

Another reason this time of year is a real treat for me is because the joy is tangible in the hearts and minds of others.  It seems like people are friendlier, happier, and they intentionally look for opportunities to serve and help others.  We truly set aside time to give and make sure that everyone that doesn’t usually have what they need, whether food, shelter, clothing or gifts, has what they need.  It’s incredible how much warmth you receive attempting to meet the needs of others.  Lastly, I am a huge fan of Christmas music. When you add happy people, open giving hearts, delicious foods and festive and fun music, you can see why I, and many others, think this is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

 

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Do You Love You by Kenika

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February is here and we all know this to be the month where we acknowledge and celebrate love. Let the heart shaped candies, red roses and dinner reservations commence! Not only is February special for being the month of amour, but also it’s doubly special because it’s my birthday month. During the shortest, but most awesome, month of the year I have typically been either really excited or really sad. Sad because birthdays are a reminder that I am another year older and feel far from where I thought I would be. Depressing because everyone is celebrating their relationship/marriage/situation and I want to punch them in the throat…with the love of Christ of course. Adversely, I have found myself excited as well because I love birthdays, so of course I always enjoy celebrating my own. Another year, another opportunity to thank God for all that He has done.

It was hard for me for a very long time to accept me for me. I struggled, unbeknownst to most who know and love me, to force myself into the box that everyone else created for me. I was always trying to find my way in other people’s eyes. I vacillated back and forth between being confident and certain of who I am, and feeling rejected for who I am. I thank God for a new day. This year I approach February with vigor! Next year I will hit a pivotal milestone and I couldn’t be more excited. I finally accept me for me. I finally love me for who and what God created me to be. While it’s all great and fun to go out and get boxes of candy and sweet little cards for others to express our love, we need to remember to express the same love to ourselves. It’s very difficult to love others, when you don’t really love yourself.

Accept and love yourself first, and that confident expression will be passed on to others that you care for. Think about the mom who works like a crazy person to ensure that her kids have everything they need. Sure that’s a wonderful model for the kids to see how much mom loves them, but if mom doesn’t take care of herself, it doesn’t demonstrate to her children that they should either. Being a wife, daughter or friend that always goes out of their way for others is wonderful, but if it ultimately leaves you burnt out, again because you don’t value you, in the end you are doing yourself and others a disservice. It’s a pretty simple question with perhaps a loaded answer, “Do you love you?” Don’t forget to value the wonderful woman God created in you. I’m not saying to become puffed up or conceited but rather, a healthy dose of self-esteem, love, and acceptance of all things that encompass wonderful you. Happy Love Month!

 

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