Are You Resisting a Rest?

Two Reasons You Might not Cooperate with Winter

Do you deserve a break today? Or more importantly, do you (your body and/or your mind) need a rest? When I say rest, I am talking about more than just a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, we just need more. I suspect that if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep every night, that you may just need more rest in general too. If so, you may be in what I like to call winter, a season of rest.

A Polar Bear's Winter Rest

I like to call this season winter, because just like our daily sleep/wake cycle, we (our bodies and/or our minds) are wired for cycles of activity and rest. These cycles resemble the seasons in nature (winter, spring, summer, and fall). I believe that if we follow these seasons in our lives, we will be more productive in each season, and more productivity means that ultimately we will reap a greater harvest.

More Reasons for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

It May Cost You More Than You Know

“The single most important behavioral experience that we have” is an s-word. No, it is not (gasp!) sex. It is sleep. That is, according to Russell Foster, an Oxford professor of circadian neuroscience. And most of us (I fall into that category) don’t get enough. Ironically, getting a good night’s sleep was at the top of my list of things to incorporate into the new vision I have for my life.

Black Woman Asleep in Bed

I actually added getting a good night’s sleep to my personal vision statement this past fall, but in my drive to get my blog up and running, care for my mother, and the demands of my day job, sleep somehow took a back seat. However, after listening to some TED Talks on the subject, including one by Foster and another by Jeff Iliff. I am more determined than ever to make sleep a priority. The costs are just too high and the benefits just too good.

Stumbling Due Your Personal Vision?

Here are Two Strategies for Creating One

Happy New Year! Last week, my friend Joe shared about using what God gives us to create God-honoring designs. Does the prospect of creating God-honoring designs feel overwhelming? Are you stumbling around trying to create one? Maybe you need to have your vision checked. Your personal vision, that is.

Stumbling Due to Lack of Personal Vision?

Why? Well, Isaiah 29:18a (CEB) says, “When there’s no vision, the people get out of control.” The Message Bible translates “the people get out of control” to mean “they stumble all over themselves.” Basically, when you can’t see where you are going, you will go anywhere and do anything.

Sheets, a Magnet, Ministry and New Year’s ?

A creative design connects them together

This guest post is by my friend Joe Shea. Joe creatively designs an apologetic for today and enjoys sharing his faith on college campuses. He is available to lead workshops on evangelism and often speaks at retreats. Check out his website for more information.

What do sheets, a magnet, ministry and New Year’s have to do with each other? Well if you’re not following my logic… read on… there is a design connecting them together…

Sheets, A Magnet, Ministry and New Year's

Sheets

We were living on St. Anthony Street at the time, so I could’t have been more than five years old. I was laying on my parents’ bed and my Dad came in with a basket of newly washed sheets that had been drying on the clothesline in the fresh air outside. He raised the basket up over my head and slowly emptied it out on top of me. I was buried in a sea of clothes and could smell the incredible fresh air locked inside of them. Like a sponge that soaks up and holds water, somehow clothes dried on the line capture the essence of a warm breezy day.

He then laughingly helped me resurface and he picked up one of the white fitted sheets – the ones with the elastic sewn in. He made something that looked like a sail by stretching the corner portion out with both hands and he said, “Now this would make a great parachute.” 

Remembering Loved Ones During the Holidays

Four Way to Honor Those You've Lost

Remembering loved ones is another way of coping with grief during the holidays. By remembering your loved one, I mean intentionally including your loved ones in a holiday ritual or tradition.

Woman alone remembering loved one

Reggie’s death from a heart attack came out of nowhere. It was our custom to speak each day around mid morning. The day Reggie died was no exception. Reggie called me around 11 am. It was one of the ways we stayed connected in our marriage.

At that time, Reggie and I were both part of our church’s youth ministry, Merge. Before our call, Reggie emailed several of our co-laborers in the ministry. These emails were full of Reggie’s warm-hearted, good-natured jovialness. I remember joking with him about them.

“You have been busy on email this morning”, I said.

“Uh-huh”, Reggie replied.

“What am I going to do with you?” I joked.

“Nothing. It’s too late. You’re stuck with me now—‘til death do us part.” The word stuck implied that we had many years ahead. Neither Reggie nor I planned on leaving the other anytime soon. Little did we know that less than two hours later, Reggie would be gone.

Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for Reggie to leave, let alone spend a holiday without him. And I didn’t have to not completely. I could still include Reggie’s memory in the festivities, even if I wouldn’t have his physical presence. Remembering Reggie was my way of honoring his memory.

Four Ways of Remembering Loved Ones During the Holidays

  1. Reminisce – Reggie wasn’t the first loved one I made a point of remembering during the holidays. My father has that honor. Daddy died six years and a day before Reggie. Reggie never met my father, but Reggie told me he felt like he knew Daddy because of how my family talked about him during the holidays.

This started quite organically. We didn’t have a family meeting. No one spearheaded a conversation about how to include Daddy in the festivities. It all started naturally with someone reminiscing about Daddy. I don’t remember whom. It may have been me. That first memory sparked another in someone else and then another. Next thing we knew, we were laughing and smiling as we  told stories about Daddy.

Though it was unplanned, it turned out to be one of the best ways we could honor Daddy. Those stories brought him alive and Daddy joined us for a few moments that Christmas. It was wonderful, so much so that we continue to do it each year.

Whether you do it informally or formally, reminiscing about your loved one and sharing memories about them is a beautiful way to include them in your holiday celebrations.

  1. Display Meaningful Items – This is how I remember my children who I have yet to meet because I miscarried them before they were born. I bought ornaments for them. I have never hung them on a tree, but I do take them out each year and take a moment to remember them, grieve another Christmas spent apart, think about them spending Christmas with their father and grandfather in Heaven, and dream about the holidays and time we will spend together when I finally join them in Heaven.

Ornaments are but one way to include meaningful items. There are others, as many as there are meaningful things. You also can include a meaningful item by wearing something that belonged to your loved one or that reminds you of him/her. Include what is meaningful to you.

  1. View Photos/Videos – Ours is the most documented generation in history. By documented, I mean there are more photographs and videos of us than any other generation before us. Not only do we have the technology by way of digital cameras for taking stills and videos, but also social media has provided a mechanism for organizing and viewing them. Many people post a picture of their loved ones using social media on holidays. My niece and nephews have done this with both my father/their grandfather and my husband/their uncle.

Another option with photos is to set up a photo table. A photo table is an assortment of framed photographs of your loved one(s) arranged on a table. The photos typically fill the table. With this option, the photos are out on display. If the loss is fresh, you may opt to put out a photo album. That way, the photos are available if someone wants to look through them, but leaves them the choice.

  1. Include His/Her Favorites – A way that I learned about preparing for this blog is to include your loved one’s favorites. You can include a favorite food at dinner, play some of his/her favorite music in the background during the festivities, or watch a favorite holiday movie or TV show.

Last week, I mentioned doing something new as a way of coping with the loss of a loved one. I think this is one I will try this year. Reggie loved my caramel carrot cake. I would make it during the holidays for him. I haven’t made one since he died, but I think it would be a great way to include him this year.

These are just a few ways of remembering your loved ones during the holidays that have worked for me. Maybe they will get your creative juices going and you will come up with some of your own. If so, please share. Your idea may bless someone else.

Until next time,
Dawn

 

Questions: How are you remembering your loved ones during the holidays this year? Please respond by clicking on the Comment, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest buttons below.

Coping with Grief During the Holidays

This past week, a widowed friend checked up on me to see how I was coping during the holidays. Thankfully, I was able to report that I am doing well. My friend’s question made me evaluate my feelings deeper. Part of that was looking at why I did so well. What I found was that this blog has played a large part in my feeling better.

Coping with Grief During the Holidays

If you have read any of my blog posts, you know I still think about Reggie a lot. The difference this blog made is that more and more my thoughts about him come from the perspective of what have I learned from this experience and how can I use that to help others. This change in perspective is a much happier experience for me than focusing on my loss and pain. That is what today’s blog post is about—coping, so you have a better holiday than you would otherwise.

How We Connected through Abstinence

And You Can Too—Single or Married

Last week’s post was about combating loneliness by increasing your opportunities to connect with people. This week’s post, inspired by my friend Kristin’s post on purity before marriage and her decision to abstain from kissing, is on deepening connections with your significant other through none other than abstinence.

Cloud of words on abstinence

Abstinence may sound counterintuitive when it comes to deepening your connection with your significant other, but trust me it works. Reggie and I refrained from sex including kissing both before and for a brief time during our marriage. The results were the same on both occasions—a deeper connection.

Three Ways to Combat Loneliness

Finding Companionship and Social Connection

“I miss having someone to come home to and share my day with,” shared my dear friend Elizabeth whose husband passed away several years earlier. Though I hadn’t felt that kind of loneliness in quite a while (There is hope!), hearing the pain in Elizabeth’s voice took me back to the early days after Reggie’s passing.

Loneliness - woman swinging/sitting next to an empty swing

What I missed, and continue to miss, most about Reggie was not his booming laugh that never failed to lift my spirits, the peace that always settled over my spirit whenever we were reunited even after the shortest separation, or the comfort of holding his hand. I do miss those things, but what I miss most is his companionship.

Will Your Circumstances Define You?

How Reggie’s Example Helped Me Answer That Question

This past January, I studied Naomi from the book of Ruth. When the story begins, Naomi is a wife and mother of two sons (Ruth 1:1-2). Two verses later, her husband and sons are dead. In the span of a few verses, Naomi goes from wife and mother to widow and what? There isn’t even a name for parents whose children have died—at least not in the English language. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “There are no words.” There literally isn’t a word.

Graphic of a woman with words describing her circumstances across her face

So, it is not surprising that by the end of the chapter Naomi experiences an identity crisis (v. 19-21). Naomi’s experience raises the question: “What are you going to call or say about yourself when tragedy strikes changing your life and shattering your plans forever?” 

Mary Jane It Up

Transform Your Negative Self-Talk

This is a guest post by Kristin Kimble. She is a writer who blogs about dating, relationships and the single life from a transparent Christian perspective. She lives in Maryland. You can read her blog, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

“Mary Jane it up if you have to,” she said.

Positive quotes on post it notes

She was referring to the main character of the BET series Being Mary Jane played by Gabrielle Union.  Union’s character, who I can relate to in more ways than one, places yellow sticky notes all over her house, particularly on her bed post, with positive affirmations and quotes that she reads every morning before going to work. Each show starts out with intriguing quotes from various people that foreshadow the shows theme.

It was my second session of counseling and I was truly enjoying the experience. The couch was amazing and my therapist was excellent. I felt comfortable and encouraged!