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Facing death, Judgement Day

We all know that one day we’re going to face death. It could be many years from now as we all hope, but the fact is it could be as soon as today. None of us know for certain but imagine if you knew your death is coming within only a few months or even just a few weeks. I honestly can’t imagine what it’s like to know death is knocking at your door.

This is the reality for the mother of someone very close to me. What began as severe pain and visits to the emergency room about 18 months ago led to a diagnosis of lymphoma, surgery that we thought removed the cancerous tumor, and then the shock when it returned with a vengeance and a terminal diagnosis. With the knowledge of having only a few months to live, this courageous woman came home, planned her own funeral, gave away some inheritance to loved ones, and now awaits the inevitable.

When life brings about such turmoil, my thoughts immediately begin to contemplate if the person is a Christian. The only way to be certain you will make it to Heaven upon your death is to believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who walked this Earth over two thousand year ago and was crucified on a cross to save us from going to hell for our sins. But that is still not all. You also must be a living example as a servant of God, knowing that you will never be completely without sin and must ask our righteous Lord for forgiveness.

I am certainly not perfect and must ask continuously for forgiveness from my Heavenly Father. When it comes time for me to face Judgement Day, I know that I will have a lot to answer for. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement …” reads Matthew 12:36. Death is not the end. We have all sinned and will be judged by God. But only those who are truly Christians will enter the pearly gates of Heaven.

While mentioning Judgement Day, I also must say that I surely don’t want to face God’s wrath when Jesus returns to Earth as described in Romans 2:5. “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed.”

Jesus could reappear on Earth at any time. There is always someone saying the “end of time” is near. And if you look at some of the events happening on Earth and compare it to the events described in the Bible for when the “end of time” is coming, you can conclude that Jesus’ return may be near. Unless you’re a young child when this time comes, you will be judged.

We should already be considering where we want to be after death or when Jesus descends again on our world. Heaven or hell? Where are you going to spend eternity?

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Mass shooting, gun violence shock

As I watched the news Monday morning, there were no words to describe the shock I felt as I learned of the Las Vegas mass shooting Sunday night, only prayers being lifted for all those injured and families of those killed. I immediately thought of my own cousin, her husband and infant son who were traveling through Vegas on their way to California. Thank goodness that was last Friday instead of Sunday.

They were in Mandalay Bay Resort Friday morning, listening to Eric Church doing a sound check. Like everyone else there, they didn’t know only 32 floors above them was Stephen Paddock, the man who would massacre 59 people and injure hundreds more two days later.

As I continue to watch and read stories about the mass shooting, I am getting more upset that no one can figure out this man’s motive. There had to be a reason, a trigger of some sorts. Otherwise, why would anyone do something so vile? No matter his reasoning though, he was a mad man who took the coward’s way out by killing himself rather than face the severe consequences of his horrific actions.

And now there is more talk of gun violence and gun control. Yes, there is too much gun violence in this country. Yes, there should be a way to keep a record of who owns guns and what type of guns. But no, guns should not be outlawed.

People such as Stephen Paddock are going to get a gun whether it is legal or not. There are already people, thugs as I call them, selling guns out of the back of their cars and in dark alleys illegally. Outlawing guns won’t stop these kind of people. But it would sadly take guns out of the hands of people who go about owning it legally and respect human life.

I have the right to protect myself from those who wish to do me harm, and if a gun is needed to do so against a person who is going to physically harm me, then so be it. I don’t personally own a gun, but most people I know do. That right should not be taken from us.

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The first year

The three scariest words you can say to a kid in August… “School’s starting back!”

As a teacher, I know first hand how it feels at the culmination of your summer and being reluctant to start of a new school year, though it’s been many years since I’ve been the one in the student’s desk. This year was a whole new experience for me, though as I dropped my baby off at “big boy school” for the first time. I refrained from crying as so many other parents do but I sure did fret all day. My little man gives me many reasons to worry…

  1. What’s he going to say? Or should I say what else is he going to say?

As my boyfriend and I began to walk away from his kindergarten classroom door, we heard Lee telling his teacher that he “steals” change from James. I had to quickly turn around and explain that we know Lee likes to sneak change out of James’ truck. Little man calls it “stealing,” and no matter how many times we explain the difference, he still tells people that he “steals” change from Mommy’s boyfriend.

  1. Is he behaving himself?

As the mother of a hyperactive child, my first worry was if he was staying calm, quiet, and focused. I knew early on as a toddler that Lee was going to be hyperactive like his father and I both were as children. I was hoping he would be more like me – behave at school and go wild at home later. But that just hasn’t been the case. I’m not ashamed to say that after the obvious concerns in Pre-K, I took Lee to see a children’s psychiatrist to verify he has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and started trying methods to help him get the most out of his educational experience. Medicine was the solution, though we’re still tweaking it as needed.

  1. Is he eating?

Lee is such a picky eater! To add to that problem, the one side effect from his ADHD medicine is a loss of appetite. (Wish I had that problem!) I’ve tried sending food but he’ll only eat what he wants and not necessarily the most nutritious food.

  1. Is he making friends?

We’ve had a few homework assignments already that includes telling me about his new friends. I don’t know if Lee has memory issues like me or if it’s just his ADHD but he can’t recall names at all. He has only one boy he mentions as a friend so my hope is he just doesn’t know all their names yet.

Thank goodness for Lee having an excellent kindergarten teacher and assistant who have kept me informed as he progresses each day. My little man can be hilarious sometimes. He asked a couple days ago if he could take some medicine to keep him from talking – i.e. he’s still talking too much in class.

Now that he’s getting adjusted to the school day – for the most part – it’s time for me to worry over getting homework done and making sure he learns to appreciate the education he is getting. What a job! I take it one day at a time. Kids aren’t the only ones who have a big change in schedule when school starts back… good parents have to learn to juggle family time, school assignments, and work starting each August. Good luck to all of you. You’re all in my prayers.

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Overcoming my anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that most people experience at some point in their life, whether they realize it or not. Some students get anxious about tests. Young adults (and many older adults) worry about being successful in a career and relationships. Unfortunately some people suffer from anxiety worse than others, and I’m one of them.

Most recently, my anxiety has been at an all time high. I’ve always had issues with anxiety and take medicine to help with it. I’ve been called a “worry wart” many times. I don’t know what causes me to have this condition but I have to admit it’s been getting worse as I age.

When my anxiety kicks in, I try to recall one of my favorite Bible verses to help me keep calm.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV.  

Through my faith (and medication), I attempt to keep my anxiety under control. I have gained a lot of insight from one particular Bible verse:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27

How true is that! Each hour, each minute, each second I worry only takes away from other joys I could be experiencing in life. But regardless of knowing and believing in what Matthew said, I still worry.

WHY?

I worry about raising my son in the world we live in today. Oh how I wish I could protect him from all the negative, non-Christian aspects of today’s world!

I worry about making the bond I have with my boyfriend last for a life time because I know God intended for us to be together. After two failed marriages though, I can’t help but have a lot of anxiety when I start thinking of getting married again.

My health issues have been my biggest problem lately. I’m so unsure I’ll ever be able to teach again. The combination of my chronic fibromyalgia and other health issues impede my ability to physically and emotionally handle the stress of any profession.

And what is keeping me up tonight you may ask? I have surgery this morning to alleviate an issue with my left sinus cavity just below my eye. Long story short, I had my jaws reconstructed about 15 years ago. During the surgery, screws are used to set the jaws in place but not removed later because most people never have an issue with the screws. But not me! If it can happen, it will to me! The top left screw has moved just enough to affect my sinus cavity below my eye. Now I have to undergo another surgery to remove the screw and fix the damage it caused.

Having surgery, though not wanted, never bothered me before my last surgery to remove a kidney stone. As the nurses strapped my arms down in the operating room before I was fully knocked out, I was overcome with anxiety and had a panic attack before the surgery ever started. During my pre-operative appointment this time, I have requested a strong dose of anxiety medicine as soon as I get situated in my lovely hospital gown.

I’m dealing with this onset of anxiety by reading these Bible verses over and over. Also, writing has always been a great source of stress relief for me.

I’m also reminded of another favorite Bible verse of mine.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

God gives me the strength to overcome my anxiety. Though the relief of my anxiety is short-lived, I know I can make it through any circumstance as long as I focus on God’s promise to help me through every situation I face.

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Laughter is the best medicine

There is no better way to cheer up your day than to have a good laugh. No matter how bad I feel or frustrated I get, one good laugh can change my entire mood.

The best part of my day is when my boyfriend comes over after work and rests near me. As I watch TV, read, or mess around on the computer, he scrolls through Facebook and shows me funny images, stories and videos – one right after the other. It’s the best way to end a long day, especially when I’m in pain from fibromyalgia or mentally exhausted. I have to dote on my man just a little. When I’ve had a bad day, which is often, he always finds a way to make me smile and laugh. He’s the “best medicine” I’ve ever encountered, along with laughing.

Among the many humorous online items, my favorite is MINIONS! There is a minion image for every possible issue you’re facing. Online, go to Google and type in “minion laughs;” click on the images tab; and get ready to laugh until you cry! There are some of the images that simply make no sense; some that the creator needs to use spell check and learn proper grammar; and some that are “clean” but can be mean. But the majority are appropriately hilarious.

The expression on each minion’s face, the clothes they wear, their posture… it all makes me at least smirk. Then so many of the images have sayings to go with it. Here are some of my favorites I found today.

  • “Don’t Grow Up, It’s A Trap!” I mean how true is that statement! Minion Image
  • “Not sure if I’m sexy and I know it or I’m ugly and I ignore it.” Minion Image
  • “Sleeping is my drug. My bed is my dealer. And my alarm clock is the police.” I laughed so hard at this I teared up… it’s so true for me! Just ask anyone I’ve ever lived with! Minion Image
  • When I found out I have fibromyalgia, this statement would have been appropriate and funny… “Starting tomorrow whatever life throws at me, I’m ducking so it hits someone else.” My boyfriend says I’ll duck and let it hit him! Minion Image
  • To a family member I may text them a Minion image with “I Smile because you’re my family… I laugh because there’s nothing you can do about it.” I’ll have to remember this one the next time my sister calls to vent! Minion Image
  • Here’s a good one for a friend. “We are best friends. Always remember that if you fall I will pick you up… After I finish laughing.” Minion Image
  • “When I get old, I’m not going to sit around knitting. I’m going to be clicking my life alert button to see how many hot firefighters show up!” I just shared it on Facebook with a good friend whose husband is a volunteer fireman. I got an immediate LOL response from her. For those who don’t know, LOL is the acronym for “laugh out loud” or “lots of laughs,” whichever you prefer. Minion Image
  • “Ignorance can be educated and crazy can be medicated but there’s no cure for stupid.” Minion Image

There are so many more. I could go on for days. And of course there are a lot of other images and videos that aren’t with minions…they’re just my fave.

Here’s a quote, supposedly, by Albert Einstein. “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” BMABH.com Image

Find a way to laugh every day at least once. And I don’t mean just a smirk but a good hearty laugh. It’s a true mood enhancer. There has been a lot of research to prove laughter does improve your overall well-being.

Even the Bible refers to the benefit of laughter. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV. Who knew the idea of laughter being good for your health came from one of the first books ever written and the words of Solomon, God’s servant.

If you don’t have regular access to funny online images and videos, here are a few other ideas:

  • Watch a funny TV sitcom or movie.
  • Share funny stories from your past with a family member or friend. Reminiscing about good times is always good for the sole.
  • Read newspaper cartoons. You’re never told old to get a good laugh out of a cartoon.
  • Buy a book of jokes, comedies or other humorous literature. I keep an Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader in my bathroom. In addition to jokes and humorous anecdotes and stories, the book has “useless” but interesting knowledge about all kinds of subjects.
  • Place humorous items such as pictures and comic strips where you can see them on a regular basis. I have a small candid shot of my Papa Harry grinning from ear to ear tacked to the wall beside my bed where I can see it as soon as I open my eyes.
  • For you exercise nuts, join a laughter yoga group.
  • And my favorite… Laugh at yourself and things that happen in your life.
  • But, DON’T laugh at someone else’s expense. That’s just wrong.

Medical-wise, laughter has a lot of benefits. Number one for me is that it reduces stress and improves your mood.

Short-term benefits of laughter include:

  • Stimulate many organs, including heart, lungs, muscles and brain. 
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. 
  • Soothe tension. 

Mayo Clinic. April 21, 2016. “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke”

Long-term benefits include:

  • Improve your immune system. 
  • Relieve pain. 
  • Increase personal satisfaction. 
  • Improve your mood. 

Mayo Clinic. April 21, 2016. “Long-term effects”

Think of a time you laughed so hard you cried or couldn’t catch your breath. Ladies you’ll know what I mean when I explain how I’ve laughed so hard I had to cross my legs to keep from peeing in my pants! If you can think of a time like that, I bet you’ve got a smile on your face right now. Doesn’t it make you feel a little better!

I’ll leave you with just one more minion image saying: “Laughing is the best medicine. But if you’re laughing for no reason, you may need medicine.” Minion Image