Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

“But, God…” Find Contentment in Gratitude

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

oS9w2PUIn an episode* of the 1980s TV show St. Elsewhere, a would-be comedian, a character named Murray, told the following joke.  

A giant wave sweeps a boy out to sea. His frantic grandmother runs up and down the beach crying and pleading. “God, please don’t take Joey.  If you will return him, I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life!” 

Just then, miracle of miracles, another giant wave washes the boy right up to the grandmother’s feet. She hugs and kisses him. Then she looks to heaven and says, “You know, he was wearing a hat!”

Isn’t that the way it is with grumblers? Never satisfied. Today in the United States we celebrate a federal holiday for giving thanks. Many of us here have much for which to be thankful. Still, pay attention to the news or social media for five minutes and you might think complaining is our national sport.

Grumblers have a one-word slogan, “but”. The word negates anything good that follows it. For example, “It’s a nice autumn, but winter’s coming.” “God helped me with this month’s bills, but there is next month to worry about.”  

An attitude of gratitude toward God is not only saying thank you, it is also trusting him to stay the same yesterday, today, and forever. Otherwise, thanks can turn into grumbling. Like the grandmother at the beach, we might say, “Yeah, thanks, but what have you done for me lately?”

People who live in gratitude to God are content and peaceful because they understand who meets their needs. The Bible verse James 1:17 feeds their faith. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Knowing this offers certainty that what he has given and will give is enough. 

Billy Graham, the late evangelist and “America’s Pastor” said, “Nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.” **

Today and beyond, we have freedom to choose gratitude over grumbling. Let today be happier, and Thanksgiving a lifetime habit. 

qVDDLsmToday’s Helpful Word

1 Chronicles 29:13-14

Now our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name…”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

Happy Thanksgiving pic by XYMONAU; Thank you by COLINBROUGH: both  on rgbstock.com

*Season 5 Episode 10

**Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Thanksgiving Day – Billy Graham: How to Be Thankful in All Things. 2013. Retrieved from https://www.crossmap.com/blogs/thanksgiving-day-billy-graham-how-to-be-thankful-in-all-things.html

Embrace Your Today Family

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

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Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Everyone is Two-Faced… For That We Can Be Grateful

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The sun shines three out of thirty times on Thanksgiving Day in Cleveland, Ohio.  At least it rains at some point during those other twenty-seven holidays, so the sun must stay fairly hidden behind gray clouds.

We treasure sunny days here because they are rare. On average, we see about 65 bright days per year.  When Jesus asked his disciples,  “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed?”* he may have heard Northeastern Ohioans shouting from the future – No!  We relish light.

Have you noticed that when two people first meet, everything in the relationship seems like sunshine and ponies? That is because we generally show our most acceptable side in the beginning.  A forgiving atmosphere seems prevalent as well.  It is as if both parties are willing to give a stranger the benefit of the doubt. 

Sure, we see and enjoy the best of each other’s personalities. Here’s the rub. Every person has two faces. It is okay, we can be grateful for that.

Some examples at your Thanksgiving table

Your excitable sister-in-law will bring lively chatter and enthusiastic responses to anyone’s good news.  That same excitable personality may express excessive worry when you mention a small problem. 

Your aunt is a dream when it comes to planning and executing family gatherings. You appreciate her attention to detail.  Perhaps her inflexibility when your uncle suggests a spontaneous trip, will bug you. 

A strong, silent cousin is everyone’s hero. There is no doubt who will be there to save the day in a crisis.  As the day goes on, you may be annoyed at his lack of communication. 

Everyone has two faces. They are not actually opposite, but extensions of the same core personality. So you see, if people at your Thanksgiving table are driving you batty, you can be grateful for their strengths.

Have fun with Gratitude! 

Today’s Helpful Word

Why Diets Fail. 4 Steps to Controlling What You Eat

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Diets like the cottage cheese diet, grapefruit diet, Atkins, fasting to cleanse the body, restricting, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and Deal-A-Meal, require  hours to days of planning. The most popular ones allow for some excesses of favorite foods.

Slim-down-quick schemes are attractive, but rarely, if ever, produce long-lasting success. For some (many, in fact) people, the problem is not a need for weight-loss. It is about changing a mindset of compulsive behavior.  

Compulsive behaviors around food will not change if  food remains a go-to for instant relief and peace of mind. Once food’s failure to make life better is recognized,  balanced eating will appear more attractive.

Professional help with a food addictions counselor (they are rare!) and a nutritionist  for creating an individualized food plan is beneficial. The focus has to be on mental health. Watching the scale is self-defeating. By learning to cope in healthier ways, weight will take care of itself.

The solution

a)Take it very slow.  At a slow pace, simply allowing our body to adjust itself, means  brains and bodies have opportunity to change in reaction to food. This  kind of weight loss is maintainable. 

b)Become aware of “alcoholic foods” and avoid them permanently.  There are foods, specific to each person, that have to be put away for good. These foods or combinations of foods are triggers that lead to overeating. The same as a recovering alcoholic can never have a beer, certain foods will destroy best intentions. 

c)Enjoy eating from a customized and metabolically designed food plan. Eat by the clock and by measured nutritional requirements. A compulsive eater has a broken hunger alarm. It no longer accurately reports when a stomach is full or in need of food or water.  

d) Seek out available support. Food addictions counselors, eating disorders treatment centers, and 12-step groups for compulsive eaters are available in most areas. Online help is offered by some professionals. People understand and are non-judgmental. Therapy for other issues may also free us from compulsive behaviors. 

Taking care of oneself is important because everyone matters.  Like any fine artwork,  completion follows taking the time to get it right.

Today’s Helpful Word

Luke 12:23

For life is more than food…

 

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Comments are always welcome (see tab below) NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 -Pictures by AYLA87 and TACLUDA from rgbstock.com

TALK TALK listen TALK TALK TALK

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24800475-businesswoman-covering-her-earsDoes today’s title sound like what is happening in society now? Many people are talking; who is listening?

Recently, someone made a generalized statement about a race of people to which the speaker does not belong. A second person agreed. I said something to the effect of ‘we have to know people before assuming anything’, and was promptly accused of bringing politics into the discussion. Really?

You see, the speaker was so entrenched in a specific point of view, that anything contrary – even to question it – was unacceptable. It did not matter that the speaker is the one who brought it up.

TALK TALK listen TALK TALK TALK

One husband apologized to his wife for an unsavory attitude he had displayed earlier. She asked if he understood why it had hurt her. His reply was more rancor as he spun the blame for the scene to her.

His apology was an attempt at control. “I apologized now you drop it.” His heart was not willing to learn how to avoid bringing pain to his wife.

TALK TALK listen TALK TALK TALK

A young woman in a meeting I attended said many, many words. She said them loudly and softly, but always fast. She spoke over other people, and rushed to offer answers before problems were fully explained.  In the middle of all this, she said, “I know I talk too much, but that’s just me. If people don’t want to listen to me then I don’t need them.”

She had no interest in hearing anything outside of her own voice. Defending her right to speak as much as she wanted, she missed the fact that no one wanted her to remain in the room.

TALK TALK listen TALK TALK TALK

We have opportunities to be invested listeners. In this political climate, in dealing with our neighbors, when confronted by misguided anger, by hearing a person out and asking sincere questions for clarity, we can be part of the solution to a human race problem – judgement.

Listening produces trust. In church this morning we were challenged to make a difference in our world by not picking and choosing who we will serve in Jesus’ name. Openness and hospitality to all is love-in-action. Listening is a universal love language.

Listening produces growth. By gaining knowledge we are set free from the burden of assuming. By hearing another’s point of view, especially one opposite to our own, our brains and hearts stretch toward empathy and kindness.

Mental health is affected by whether we are heard or not. How painful it is to be open and vulnerable only to be shut down. How agonizing it is to be alone with no one interested in anything you have to say.

In the U.S., as we approach our holiday of gratitude, maybe spend some time contemplating how and when to listen without judgement. Let your goal be:

LISTEN LISTEN talk LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN.

Today’s Helpful Word

James 1:19 

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”  -James, brother of Jesus

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

A Shocking New Revelation About Thanksgiving in Hollywood

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2014 Nancy Virden

Hollywood is abuzz as celebrities and businesses prepare for the holiday. Rumors fly with new allegations of violence, public misbehavior, and scandal. This week though, they seem to care about the special day, the big day.

Our most important holiday is nearly here – the annual twenty-four hours mix of dysfunction and joy!

Black Friday.

What? On Thanksgiving Day we exercise one of thephoto-24716021-pumpkin-and-cornucopia greatest preventive measures to negativity and sadness. Gratitude. On Thursday we will give thanks for obscure things – God, family, friendships, love, compassion, hope, food, shelter, clean water, laughter, health, and life. The small stuff.

But Friday! Yes, Friday we will celebrate money by spending it or complaining we cannot spend it. We will be grateful for the opportunity to feed one of America’s  most infamous gods – materialism. We’ll haul crying babies, tired grade school children, and cranky spouses through a maze of other squalling and impatient shoppers. If we miss a bargain, we’ll whine about it through Christmas or longer.

It’s a festive time of trying to copy the rich and famous and spending more than we can afford. After all, we and our families deserve the best!

No doubt, all the stars will be out on Black Friday. In Hollywood, maybe there will be a sighting or two. How awesome is that?

Gloriously, around the universe enormous lights will burn and explode bringing to us a view of twinkling stars for which to be grateful. We can appreciate it – that is, if we care about the small stuff.

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

 

Let’s Not Forget Gratitude

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   Nancy Virden (c)2013

She stretched her legs and groaned. What a long weekend it had been – working overtime, preparing for a relative’s visit, and then the eight-hour drive.

She was a little sad because a significant person in her life was struggling in a nursing facility, far from his younger, more productive self. There was family she would not see these holiday weeks due to distance of both miles and hearts. Sighing, she wondered if anything would ever be happy as it seems for other people.

Then she remembered to count her blessings. It was Thanksgiving, after all. In going over her week’s memories she found numerous positive elements for which to be grateful.

  • She has legs that work and can be stretched without pain.
  • Her weekend had been productive in important ways.
  • She has a job.
  • She has two relatives excited to see her.
  • Her car did not break down, and the weather was cooperative as she drove.
  • The person in the nursing home kissed her hand and thanked her for coming.
  • There was family she could contact via email or phone.
  • She has friends, community, and a nice living space to relax.
  • She was warm, had plenty to eat and drink, and could sleep on a comfortable bed.

By the time she arrived at this point in the list, she knew she could not grumble. Not today. And perhaps it would never be necessary to be dissatisfied if she will just remember all that she has not lost.

God bless you all,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nancy

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

Who is Responsible For This Post-Thanksgiving Mess?

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2012 Nancy Virden

photo-24716021-pumpkin-and-cornucopiaSeated around the sprawling oak dining table were thirteen different tales, more than thirteen conflicting beliefs, and thirteen diverse ideas of what Thanksgiving is all about.

At one end sat a grown daughter who had spent the last thirty minutes arguing vehemently with her mother over who was in charge of the kitchen. She looked serene, but anyone who knew her well understood the forced little smile and straight back. She was angry. To her, Thanksgiving had to be a perfectly orchestrated experience.

A quick glance at this woman’s defeated contender revealed a face lined with exhaustion. Now her arms hung at her sides, her apron still tied loosely about her neck. Her Thanksgivings included weeks of preparation, and great relief at its end.

Two male teenagers sat at the table’s divide. Both stared hungrily as the measured holiday prayer droned on. Spiritual words went unheeded as their thoughts turned to the afternoon. Thanksgiving for these two meant hearty servings of favorite dishes followed by a snowball fight. 

Pious words continued as a younger girl peeked through squeezed eyelids at the expressions of those who offered thanks. Her brother was staring at the pie. Their Dad was wearing a religious face while the lips of uncles and aunts moved silently in supposed earnest. While childish cousins were playfully kicking each other under the table and suppressing giggles, her early training that nothing is as it seems colored her perceptions.

You see, behind the roast turkey and succulent dishes was a reality in harsh contrast to any superficial joy. Her parents were divorcing. Having observed abuse, lies, and hypocrisy all of her life, young faith contorted to fit around uncertainty, and her stomach knotted in dread. Wanting so much to believe in a permanent love, in her mind this Thanksgiving was a chance to deny the fear, to grab at the retreating familial fantasy for a short while longer.

One suppressed tale was not actually seated at the table. A painted plaque on the wall read, “In this house, Christ is the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” It was ominous for the fact that despite its profound message no one paid any attention. It was a simple story with the potential to change every family in the room. Yet much stayed the same.

The Redeemer of parents, children, marriages, attitudes, and broken hearts was given cursory attention; the grand truth that God is the difference-maker went unheeded as the Thanksgiving prayer continued.

Much was on the line now for this girl. Often having wondered what it is like to have a real family, would she search for that sense of stability and acceptance in all the wrong places? Would she grow to know the difference between the ‘faith of her fathers’ and true reliance on God? If she went on to make unhealthy decisions and her life became a wreck, could anyone be accountable for the mess?

While each of us is responsible for our own choices as adults, mental and emotional challenges not-withstanding, one of those choices is how we will choose to live in front of children. Will we create environments where the young are confused and emotionally damaged by our behavior? Or will we provide mentally healthy homes and holidays? 

We may not be able to prevent mental illness, but we do have a choice whether or not to cause suffering.

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.