It’s Almost Here!

Today I’m not only talking about Christmas as I declare “It’s almost here!” I’m also thinking of the end of 2020. Thinking of it as the “year that was” should feel good.

And with those thoughts, we can move ahead into 2021 with hope and anticipation of better days ahead.

This Christmas season will be different for many of us. Traditions set aside for safer gatherings. Perhaps one less in that family photo or at the table. Inability to visit and cheer those housed in nursing facilities or in the hospital. And likely many more. 
 
If we love as Christ taught us to love, we are willing to accept these inconveniences.
 

Looking ahead, we hope for the light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel to lead to better times. The vaccine is here, injections are being given, and plans established for each of us to receive it. With gratitude in our hearts, a new year is beginning with the hope of healing and diminishing numbers of victims.

Live into that Light. The Light and Love that came down at Christmas of old is still with us. We need only to live it and share it with others. 

Image Attribution: Diane Wigstone

Featured Image Attribution: Angeles Balaguer from Pixabay

And to all who visit here, I wish you a Merry Christmas, whatever your language or spiritual tradition.

 

Five Minute Friday Link-Up :: Present

present, Five Minute Friday, presence, gatherToday I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt—PRESENT—leads me.


Likely many are thinking of the list of presents they need to buy, wrap, ship, or deliver. In our family, we’ve created a new process, thanks to the pandemic.

However, before I share that with you, I’d like to tell you about the decision my husband and I landed on some three decades ago. Each Christmas I’d make a list of things I needed/wanted, jot down the store where it could be found, size (if necessary), color, cost. Then Bob could take off shopping with a lot less frustration than if he had to come up with the list and figure out where to shop. 

After watching his frustration for several years, we discussed a new way to give and receive. We asked what gift could we give each other better than we had given on August 15, 1981—ourselves! And so it has been since that long-ago discussion. We don’t buy each other gifts at Christmas or other holidays, not even our anniversary.

Now to today’s process for our kids, grandkids, and great-grands this Christmas. Since we are under lockdown in Oregon and we’re both immune-compromised, I’m shopping online for gift cards. Each family member who lands on our Christmas list will receive one inside a Christmas card via USPS. Hopefully, they can enjoy the delight of shopping for themselves online and not be disappointed.

However, with Advent upon us until Christmas Eve, present means so much more than I’ve written above. I’m stepping outside the busyness, the noise, and minimizing the financial element and stress of the season, only imposed by society and me. I’m inviting in the Christ Child, Jesus, as the presence I’m seeking this Christmas.

2020 has been a long slow slog for all of us. I think His Presence is what is needed for each of us. Being present with Christ is so comforting, soul-satisfying, and joy-filled. Why not make that the present you give to yourself on Christmas Day, 2020?

Saviour, Christ, born, nativity, Star of Bethlehem
Attribution: https://bityl.co/4iKO

Featured image attribution: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Note: Images added outside five-minute time limit.

Day by Day

Day by day things are changing in miniscule and massive ways it seems. Especially in this pandemic state we find ourselves living in.  It is like spring changing in small ways day by day. And then one morning the tree outside your window is a burst of color.
 
Blossoms unfurl their petals. Trees turn blossoms into fruit. Grass pushes through the earth to create a bright green lawn. Buds are everywhere. Future blossoms on camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, daffodils, and more.
 
Some of the day by day changes aren’t so lovely as these. Let’s pull out a random change—I pick grocery shopping! Right about now I hate grocery shopping. Since Bob and I fall into an “at risk” category, our state guidelines suggest we stay home. This means ordering online to pickup what we need at Fred Meyer, the local Kroger-owned store. The store seems to have its system well organized and operating efficiently. For me, it is the ordering part that’s driving me a nuts.
 
About the time I have the order ready, something else pops up that we need. I rush to the computer to add it to our list. That happens again, again, and again. Then it’s the hassle of finding an open delivery date and time. Sometimes it can take several days to get locked in. Then the day scheduled for pick up arrives. You receive a text message letting you know what they’ve substituted or didn’t have at all! But the pickup itself is always a pleasant experience otherwise.
 
How much longer do I have to do this? Will I ever grow accustomed to it? It all rests on the restrictions set by our state government as COVID-19 peaks and flattens. We understand the opening of Oregon and its businesses will go slowly based on many matrices.
 
I’ve adopted a day by day process, doing what I can in the hours I’m awake and on my feet. That includes personal matters relating to taxes, estate planning, retirement funds, and more. The “more” includes household chores and cooking rather than writing and social media. AND continuing PT exercises at home.
 
I had wanted to restart my newsletter at the end of March, but didn’t quite focus on it enough to make it happen. For me, there’s a sense of being out of mind and body some days.
 
Coping with a change in the world around us is never easy. We are not always comfortable with change, especially sudden change. Even though life will return to the way it was, or almost, it is hard to accept the now as what some call the “new normal.” This isn’t the normal I want for my life. 
 
Yet penetrating through these days is a light. If we cling to that light, a special Light, we will find our way back to some semblance of what we used to call normal. Life may or may not go back to exactly what it was. My hope is that we’ll be something better than we were before. It’s possible. 
 
Spring flowers can be constant in coloring for two or three years. The next spring they may evolve into a different color. Isn’t it possible to hope we can change for the better?
 
Lam. 3:21-23, Scripture, hope
 
 
Featured image attribution: Phyllis Nagels on Unsplash

 

Prescription for Cabin Fever

Experiencing a bit of cabin fever? Government restrictions related to the coronavirus bugging you? Looking for a quick cure for cabin fever? Keep reading! 

Today we bring an expert to the blog to share tips for coping with cabin fever. Our expert has four years or more under her belt of being confined. Chronic pain has been her nemesis, but her tips will apply as well to cabin fever patients.

Here’s a list of helpful tips and hints for coping with the frustrating symptoms associated with cabin fever:

  1. Grab a good book and start reading. Need help finding a book? Check out book descriptions and reviews on Goodreads.
  2. Do a jigsaw puzzle. It may seem a bit old-school, but they can be lots of good fun unless you have cats who want to help!
  3. Schedule a movie and popcorn night. Especially popular if you have children around.
  4. Call a friend or two you haven’t touched base with in a while.
  5. Get out some board games or a deck of cards.
  6. Sort through old photos.
  7. Try a new hobby, like knitting, crocheting, stained glass, writing poetry, or Sudoku.
  8. Pour through cookbooks looking for a new recipe to try out.
  9. Start pre-spring cleaning. That way you won’t have so much to do when the good weather arrives.
  10. That home improvement project you’ve been postponing is something you could work on.
  11. How about adult coloring? Check out these sites for good resources to get you started: Johanna Basford, Colorit, Art Is Fun!, and The Spruce Crafts.
  12. If you’re a TV watcher, catch the newest season of your favorite show on Netflix.
  13. Begin researching family history and start a family tree.
  14. Plan a weekend getaway for after the restrictions are lifted.
  15. Enjoy reading aloud rather than alone and silently? Maybe this is a good family activity if you have young readers.
  16. Get some form of exercise. If you can get outside and continue social distancing, take a short walk, say 15 minutes. Or perhaps you have some slightly never used exercise equipment you could put to good use. 
  17. Continue to engage your faith or spiritual life through reading and/or prayer, or both.
  18. Think about that spring garden. Perhaps it’s time to draw up a plan for what you want to plant and how.
  19. Give in to that power nap. It’s amazing how much that few minutes improves your attitude.
  20. Try meditation.
  21. Plan and treat your family to a picnic. Cook up hamburgers and hot dogs and all the fixings. Then spread a cheerful tablecloth or blanket on the floor and get out the paper goods and plastic forks and knives. Add some chips and condiments and have fun!
  22. If you’re a writer, try writing in a different genre than usual.

And lastly, remember to practice kindness even if you are self-quarantined with your family–may be just you and your partner or spouse, and maybe a few kids, or some other configuration of family. Spread kindness even in these different and difficult times.

kindness, quotation, cabin fever

Image attributions:
Featured image: David Mark from Pixabay 
Quotation: Random Acts of Kindness 

It’s the Little Things That Count

As I reflect on the past four years, I realize that my grumbling, complaining, and feeling sorry for myself taught me something so simple:

 

little things, life, count

 

 

It is easy to list some of the simple things for which I am grateful:

  • God’s promises of healing
  • A simple smile
  • The words “I love you”
  • My husband cooking, cleaning, and more
  • A phone call from your son while he’s traveling on business
  • A short visit from your next-door neighbor
  • Bags of meals for several nights picked up by the same neighbor
  • Thoughtfulness from anyone
  • Numerous healthcare givers treating you well
  • The first sight of spring 2019 when Bob rolled me in a wheelchair outside the rehab center to see the daffodils blooming
  • The day I learned I was going home
  • How good my own bed felt after three weeks in the hospital and rehab
  • Enjoying the answered prayers offered by many friends and family members

 

simple things, little things, extraordinary things

 

Feature Image by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

Just the Way He Walked: A Mother’s Story of Healing and Hope by Kathy Pooler | A Review

It was just the way he walked, with that self-assured, cocky stance that said he

was in control. Or was it his ready smile and quick wit that reminded me

of his father? Vern’s comment made me realize that Brian was

not just another normal kid, like Vern’s kids were.

He was Ed’s son. It was just the way he walked.

Just the Way He WalksIn her second memoir, Kathy Pooler tackles two difficult issues in her life. She refers to poor personal choices made in her marital life. These choices affected not only the author but also the lives of her children, Brian and Leigh Ann. Here she tells the story of her son Brian’s addiction and her simultaneous battle with cancer. It is a love story, one filled with hope and healing.
Concerned about Brian’s addiction, Pooler worries Brian will end up like his father, Ed. This is a common worry among parents of children in a marriage or partnership with an addicted partner. But how to watch and
help turn a person away from what another presents as normal?
Pooler tries as hard as a parent can try to help Brian, but we all know the various emotional stages of growth. The “I’m wholly knowledgeable” teen years, the “I’m an adult now” years, and the “I don’t need you in my life any more” years. How does a single parent cope with knowing a child is struggling with addiction of any type? Coping with this problem alone is difficult, as Pooler shares in Just the Way He Walked. She holds back nothing.
The strength of her faith is a bolster for her hopes and desires to help Brian. Helpful is a stepfather willing to step up and help Pooler with both battles. Pooler shows how at times we have to let someone step in to help through strengths we may not have. She shares her use of journaling, belief in prayer, and strong faith—a powerful toolbox.
Pooler’s memoir is well written. Her story is written with others in mind trying to help a family member or friend struggling with addiction. Descriptions of her emotions are honest and painful for the reader. But, we must expect reality to shine through in a tough story such as this.
In the synopsis of Just the Way He Walked, Pooler shares the goal in writing this book:

The message of resilience and faith in the face of insurmountable odds serves

as a testament to what is possible when one dares to hope.

I recommend Just the Way He Walked to those looking for the hope of helping an addict to turn his or her life around.
It is rare that I give a 5-star rating to books I review. Yet, often I make exceptions as I have done with Pooler’s new memoir. It is indeed a 5-star book.

Disclosures:
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and nothing more. Opinions expressed here are solely mine.
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