What Do I Have to Complain About?

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While visiting the nursing homes, I see many sad circumstances. I usually walk away ashamed of myself for complaining about anything in my life.  So many of these people are happy and content when they have been stripped of most of life’s daily pleasures and left with the bare bones of life.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up. I’m still grieving the loss of my spouse.  I often feel consumed by this….like it’s going to swallow me up.  I’ll shamefully admit, sometimes I feel cheated that we only had twenty-five years together.  Visiting the nursing home is helping me keep the right perspective.

Most of the people I visit there lost their spouses years ago, but they have also lost many other things that I often take for granted. Many never leave the building. They have lost their freedom to come and go as they please. That’s a biggie.

One sweet lady recently had to sell her car knowing she will never drive again. Even though she is in her late eighties, this was and still is a difficult step for her.  Her home will be the next thing she gives up. In her home are several antiques from her grandparents that hold special memories for her. They will have to go too along with the many little spoons she collected that remind her of the many wonderful vacations she took with her husband who went to be with the Lord about five years ago.

My friend, Mrs. Helen age 78, whom I often visit in the local nursing home, is an amazing person.  She inspires me in how she has made the most of her situation. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Both her husband and son have gone to be with the Lord and  she rarely hears from her other son who lives a good distance away. You would never know it though. She is always happy to see me and is quite outgoing.  She has made a point to learn the names and history of all the residents and workers in the nursing home!

She used to be the pianist in a large church in Atlanta, Georgia.  This lady is very talented, but her fingers do not work as well now due to a stroke some years ago. So she enjoys listening to classical music now.  She also reads large volumes to keep her mind sharp.

Recently, Mrs. Helen’s best friend in the nursing home went to be with the Lord. She has given up several of her friends in this way. She says she doesn’t cry on the outside, but her heart cries on the inside. She is trying to be a strong woman and is putting on a happy face. I can relate to that.

Mrs. Brenda is in her late forty’s and is suffering from a muscle disease. I’m sure she was quite beautiful at one time.  I’ve never seen her out of bed. She can’t walk or eat food.  She has a feeding tube and is very skinny. She sleeps a lot. I’ve never seen anyone visit her. She tells me how nice I look in my regular clothes while she wears a hospital gown. I feel guilty that our lives are so vastly different.  I ask myself, “Why am I  standing by her bed instead of lying in her bed?” Our lots in life could easily be reversed. I immediately know I can take no credit for this. Her current condition was and is completely out of her control.  I flat out do not deserve my tons of blessings.

Mrs. Jo is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She cannot enunciate very well so most people smile, nod, and just keep going when she speaks.  She is always smiling and gets so excited when anyone acknowledges her.  It makes me uncomfortable to listen to Mrs. Jo because I’m afraid I won’t be able to understand her and will frustrate her efforts. But I’m learning that when I take time to stop talking and really listen, not only to Mrs. Jo but to others also, I come away much more blessed.

Mrs. Ruby, is another dear soul in the nursing home who spends most of her time in bed.  She is almost blind so unlike Mrs. Helen, she doesn’t have the luxury of passing the lonely hours reading. However, this lady always lights up the room with her bright smile. Could I be so cheery in such a predicament?

When asked, “How are you today?” a dear friend of mine, Marvin Davenport, often says, “I’m upright and breathing so it’s a good day!”  I love that spunky attitude! But what if one day I find myself with one of those being absent? Yes, I’m breathing, but I’m not upright.  I’m bedridden and lonely. What will keep a smile on my face?

How can these unsung heroines in the nursing home be so content with so little?  What makes life worth living when one has had to give up their independence, car, home, spouse, children, parents, career, health, and eye sight?   Maybe they have learned the secret to what life is really all about…a relationship with Jesus!

Jesus makes life worth living!  Period. Why? “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2) “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.(Hebrews 6:19)

Jesus is the only stable thing in this world.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  Jesus and His love never changes or quits or gives up on us.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Jesus is the One who made us and gives us the next breath and with that breath, a unique purpose for living. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

He has a plan for each day we live. Jesus gives meaning to life when nothing else makes sense.

One of my goals is to be able say with the Apostle Paul, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:11)

I can say with Job, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;

So no matter where I find myself in this life, I can live in complete confidence knowing that my God has gone before me and is waiting for me to join Him in heaven.  I can smile because I have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) I pray you can say the same. Be blessed.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Gratitude is an Attitude

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Thanksgiving Day 2014

Do you always feel like being thankful? I don’t. Sometimes life just stinks and I so wish that things were different, that I don’t feel thankful. This is a very self-focused and sinful attitude. One of those times for me was right after my best friend and husband, David, went to be with the Lord.

When there is tremendous blessing, such as a loving husband of 25 years, and that is taken away, there is tremendous loss. It isn’t wrong to grieve. It is natural  and necessary and it takes times. Even with the best biblical perspective, the human heart is broken. But, I believe we must move through the grieving process and not let Satan  or our natural tendencies prevail. I think at one point I was teetering on the border line.

I found myself in the pit of despair.  I remember driving down the dark road alone feeling like I had hit rock bottom emotionally and was pretty close spiritually too.  God seemed a million miles away. I felt desperate for relief.

I  began to mentally dig deep through my vast mental library of past sermons, quotes, poems,  memorized Scripture verses, etc., anything for help to escape what I was feeling.  Although I couldn’t see or feel Him, God was there and helped me climb out of that pit. He helped me find the ladder of thanksgiving and praise.

I was relieved to finally get an answer to my problem, but honestly, I didn’t want to exert the energy to apply the solution.  I didn’t feel like climbing.  In some sick way, I wanted to wallow in my pity.  It was easier to cry and be sad.

After a few minutes, I realized it would do no good to stay where I was. It’s not like it was a comfortable place to be. I hated it.  So even though I was wrung out emotionally, I made the choice to push past my feelings and sing.  Yes, I sang praises to God. It took a lot of effort at first and it wasn’t very loud.  It didn’t sound good either, but I knew God didn’t care about that.  He cared that I was being obedient to what He had shown me.

I didn’t feel much different at first and  it felt awkward, but as I continued, I began to feel better. Then I chose to thank God for His provision in my life.  I started counting my blessings. I realized I had been so busy feeling sorry for myself that I hadn’t thanked God for anything in several weeks. It’s no wonder I was depressed!

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Abigail demonstrating her napkin folding skills to Grandmama Hughes and Uncle Ismael Gullon

Gratitude is an attitude we deliberately choose in spite of how we feel. God has abundantly blessed most of us. Here are just a few reasons to thank God.  For….

  • living in still the greatest country on earth
  • plenty of food
  •  a warm place to sleep
  • people who love us
  • a place to freely worship
  • a Bible
  • clothes
  • peaceful living

AND if Jesus is our Saviour, we have…

  • the Holy Spirit who give us peace, guidance, and comfort
  • a promise of eternal life with Jesus
  • the knowledge that God loves us so much He sent His only son to die for us
  • a home in heaven without pain, sickness, or separation
  • the promise of being reunited with Christians who have gone on before us
  • the promise that God will never leave or forsake us
  • a tie that binds us to the hearts of other believers
  • been forgiven!

As we enter this Thanksgiving season, may our prayer be..

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

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Thanksgiving 2014 from left to right, Abigail, Anna, Nathan, Gaye, David

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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Beautiful TN autumn 2015

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When I woke up today to  yet another cloudy, drizzly morning, I thought about my struggle over the past several years with this.  My husband once joked about it saying, “Gaye, do you look out the window in the morning to see what kind of day you’re going to have?” He knew me so well! It was along that time that we started realizing how much the weather affected me.

We began noticing about five years ago that I struggled with depression only in the winter. At first I thought it was the cold weather, but then I realized I was fine with the cold as long as the sun was shining. It was the consecutive cloudy days that got me down.

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God’s little creek He lets me enjoy in front of my house.

I learned there is a name for what I was feeling.  It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  This is described as a depressive disorder with seasonal patterns.   A clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, Norman E. Rosenthal, gave this condition a name in 1984. While this mostly affects people in the fall and winter, in rare cases, it also affects people in the spring and summer.

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My neighbor’s, Catherine and Lee Daugherty’s, beautiful driveway.

The winter symptoms can include social withdrawing, little energy, more sleeping, carbohydrate cravings resulting in more weight gain, and depression.  The spring/summer symptoms are almost the opposite in that along with the depression there is more anxiety, weight loss, and insomnia.

In the United States the percentage of people having this disorder in the winter ranges in Florida from 1.4% to people in Alaska 9.9%.  Since moving to Florida isn’t an option for everyone, unlike my Aunt Penny who braved many winters in Wisconsin before  moving to sunny Florida, I’d like to offer some tips that have helped cheer up many a gloomy day for me.

  • Keep the lights on

I have little lights on my mantle, running along the top of my kitchen cabinets, and on plants throughout the house.  They give a cozy appearance and cheer me up.

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  • Get out in the sun

When the sun does appear, try to soak it up. Even if it is cold, wrap up and absorb some vitamin D. The bright light and warmth helps my mood.

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  • Crank up the fireplace

My husband had grown up having  family Christmas get-togethers at his great Uncle Walter’s house in Georgia.  There was a huge fireplace in this home always burning when he arrived in December.  He never forgot the happy memories made around those cozy fires.  So when we had the opportunity to build an addition to our home in 2007, David designed a rock fireplace similar to his uncles.  During the winter months, we have had a nice fire going most evenings.  I noticed I didn’t dread winter nearly as much after that.

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David and Gaye Hughes 12-18-2012

  • Burn candles

Please forgive me all you fire fighters out there!  I enjoy smelling apple cinnamon or spice candles.  The aroma and little light a candle puts off just cheers me up.  Just be sure you have the candle in a safe place and blow them out before bedtime!

  • Try to cheer up someone else

When I’m not too chipper, the last thing I want to do is give to someone else. When the emotional tank is dry, it is hard to even think about trying to help someone else.  But I have found that when I try to make someone else feel better, I feel better myself.  Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Sometimes that is exactly what it takes to get out of a funk.

  • Exercise

Many people comment that they are too tired to exercise.  I can understand that.  When my husband and I took chemotherapy and radiation, we both felt the effects of exhaustion in a way we had never felt before.  But we both pushed ourselves to take walks when we would have rather rested. As a result, we actually had more energy.  While there is a time to get proper rest, we shouldn’t neglect exercising either. There are some studies that have actually proven that exercising can give you more energy than resting when you are tired.  The results may vary depending on the reasons for your low energy though.

  • Hang a bird feeder

I like to hang bird feeders outside my kitchen windows.  It cheers me up to know I’m feeding our fine feathered friends on cold days.  They are fun to watch. As I watch them I often  think of  Matthew 6:26…

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?

  • Play some soothing music

Saul, in the Old Testament was comforted got in a better mood as a result of David playing the harp.  Good music can have such a positive impact on our mood.

  • Claim God’s promises

God’s Word, The Bible,  can give us strength and motivate us in a way nothing else can.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.

We can’t make the sun shine on a cloudy day. Only God can.  Although it may be dreary looking outside, the Son of God can shine brightly in our hearts. God’s word can do that for us.

Jesus said,

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

We can’t always remove our problems, but we can strive to understand them and do what we can to make the best of things.

I hope this has helped in some way.  I’d love to hear your comments!  Have a sunny day in your heart!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes