This has been a complex year; downright difficult for many people.
Yet this is a season of hope and joy. (Not the happy, exuberant, all is perfect kind of joy; the hope in the one-true-God type of joy).
“Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience like a wedding or graduation but the definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy but joy is also gift.”
Why is Christmas so special? Christmas is the birth of the joy and a demonstration of God’s love for each of us:
For those who lost loved-ones who were senselessly murdered
His love endures forever
For those whose loved ones were killed in the hurricanes
His love endures forever
For those whose loved ones were killed in the fires
His love endures forever
For those who lost loved ones from any means
His love endures forever
For those whose lives were turned upside down by natural disasters
His love endures forever
For those who experienced major disappointments
His love endures forever
For those who are disillusioned by the political divide in this country and elsewhere
His love endures forever
For those who are disgusted by the reports of harassment
His love endures forever
For those who feel like they are spiraling out of control
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are going to face terrible trials in this life. No one is exempt. Yet we are given countless opportunities in this life to experience God’s never-ending love. That is where we find the peace and joy.
Is your attitude the RESULT of what is happening around you? Is it the RESULT of what others do to you? Is it the RESULT of your life circumstances? —-OR—-Is your attitude your CHOICE?
I propose your attitude is your CHOICE!
We live in such a blame society. People are called haters, shamers, intolerant, biased, and worse.
So often we try to claim that others made us the way we are – sullen, angry, withdrawn, hurt, rejected.
We give others and situations the power to determine how we are going to go through each day and how we are going to approach life.
If you are a balloon bouncing in the winds of circumstances, there is hope!
How to choose your attitude
What are your first thoughts in the morning? How do you approach your day? What music do you choose? What do you read, think about, and how do you plan for your day?
These aspects of your life are associated with maintaining health even in the midst of negative events:
friends to talk to
people who care about you
a sense of self-worth
conflict management skills
The items on this list have all been linked with improved health.
And I will add having a source of HOPE. I believe hope is powerful in the midst of difficulty.
Gratitude and attitude
Another way of thinking that improves your attitude and your health is gratitude. For what are you thankful? No matter how many bad things are around you, what is good? You’re still here if you’re reading this! What parts of your body work? What are you able to do? Who do you care about? Where are your safe places? Where is the beauty around you – pictures, nature, architecture, music, literature, videos, clouds, trees, or babbling water?
Find those good things and be thankful for them. Fill your bucket with all of the good in your life. It makes the bad much more tolerable.
Make it about someone else
Doing something for or being kind to someone else can be a real attitude adjuster. Rather than focus on yourself and your own needs, raise your head and look at the people around you. Find something small you can do to make someone else’s day. You will be amazed that you benefit from those actions at least as much as the person you blessed.
Health benefits of a good attitude
No one can choose your attitude except YOU! This is such a liberating concept. In the midst of and despite the difficulties of life, you can each day CHOOSE to have a GOOD attitude!
When you do, your physical health (blood pressure, breathing, kidney function); your mental health (calm, clearer thinking, more creativity); your emotional health (less reactive, more even emotions); and your spiritual health (happiness, hope, joy) benefit.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
If you haven’t heard Francesca Battistelli’s song, Where Were You?, I highly encourage you to listen.
Yes, the difficulties of life will keep coming at you. You know they will, but those are the very events that allow us to grow deeper in our faith and find that hope that keeps our attitude good in the midst of everything.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Choose your good attitude each day and let it shine for the world to see!
We spend so much of our time thinking about tomorrow, planning for tomorrow, working for tomorrow, hoping and dreaming for tomorrow. But tomorrow is never here, and we’ve learned that over and over.
We’ve seen so many examples lately of the value of living in the moment. There is value in loving those around you each and every day. You never know which is that last day.
Rather than be depressed about that, we can claim the joy and the opportunities of each day that presents itself to us.
Seasons of Loss
We have lost a dear friend in the last couple of weeks. He was someone who was always thinking of and giving to others. He was a very strong-in-his-faith man. He died in a freak accident doing what he does best – helping others. He was building a Habitat for Humanity house. We will never know what happened. The freak accident occurred, and he was suddenly gone.
A tiny baby died in his sleep at two months. There was so much promise there. Why was that child taken at such a young age?
Then we see the news stories of people harming one another. It seems there are more and more stories of mass deaths and of people managing conflict with murder.
The tragedies of nature have taken even more lives and wreaked havoc in many parts of the world.
It’s been such a heavy season of so many people taken at a time no one would have expected.
How do we keep moving forward?
So with that in mind, how can we live each day to its fullest? The more we live in gratitude and love and recognize the joys that are around us in spite of the tragedies, the more healthy we are. It lowers our blood pressure and anxiety levels. It lowers our risk for heart attack and stroke.
Gratitude and Love
Gratitude and love allow us to think so much clearly. They take us out of that worry mode and in to a more creative space in our brain. We think more clearly, can be more rational, and recognize the good when our brain is fully functioning at calmer times. This calm allows our breathing to slow. It allows us to really see the things around us rather than be so focused on what’s ahead.
I encourage everyone to take a deep breath. Love on the people who are around you. Look around with joy and gratitude at the many blessings that you do have.
Remember with fond memories, and hopefully with some tears and laughter, those who we’ve lost.
Let this be a day of renewed health and joy and love.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Have you tried making gratitude your very first morning event, before you even crawl out of bed? I find when I start my day in thanks it sets the tone for a much better day. I can be grateful for the fact that a whole new day is before me, and once I get started, there are SO many things to list. Even the warm bed and blankets are a gift that not everyone shares. It’s so easy to take home and family and jobs and clothes and food and friends for granted.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. …
In Maryland, the leaves are turning beautiful fall colors. The air is crisp more often, and that fuzzy blanket feels good at night! The move from summer to autumn makes itself known in obvious and in subtle ways.
Throughout life, your body makes changes, too. Some are obvious. Some are subtle.
Many of these changes increase your risk for falls and/or injury with a fall.
Joints get stiffer
Lung capacity gradually decreases – you might get short of breath easier
Skin gets drier as overall body water content decreases
Vision changes, especially your ability to see up close
Skin and tissues get looser
These changes are usually caught when your doctor monitors your labs, your urine, or does a physical exam.
Kidneys slow down
Liver slows down
Bones get less dense (hard)
Reflexes aren’t as quick
Risk for urinary track infection goes up
Hormone production changes – for men and women
Association with falls
As we move slower, have more joint pain, lose some of our range of motion, and reflexes slow, the risk of falls goes up. As senses such as vision, hearing, touch, smell, and even taste change, these also increase the risk of falls.
The kidney and liver changes are especially important as we think about the impact on how our body handles medications. The liver is the key organ that breaks down medicines in our body. The kidney is one of the primary ways they are then removed. So, as our kidneys and liver slow down, for many medicines, we need lower doses. Sometimes, at some point in the decline of kidneys or liver, some medications should NOT be used at all.
Falls can lead to losing your ability to walk, run, climb stairs, and be as active as you would like to be.
Remember, with accumulated years we also grow in wisdom, in maturity, and learn to count the blessings in our lives! Graceful aging is a beautiful thing. I just don’t want you to fall!
Call us at Meds MASH for a thorough assessment of your current changes, your medications, and ways to decrease your risk of falls. This is one of our specialties! Michelle is one of the creators of a comprehensive falls risk assessment.
Our bodies aren’t the only things that change with time. Our Christian walk is also a journey with twists and turns. Ideally it is an uphill climb to more maturity. But without practice and several bumps in the road, it can be a very flat journey.
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Growing, learning, and changing take effort and dedication. Practice makes perfect. I don’t expect any of us will reach perfect until Heaven, but practice can certainly help us with improvement.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
To grow and change, we take risks, learn from our mistakes, and gain confidence as God sees us through each obstacle.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. …
We need a hero! People are dying at alarming rates. Who is your favorite superhero? Have you ever dreamed of being a superhero? Can you picture yourself as a hero? [I’m curious, in your vision, are you wearing a superhero cape? What color?]
The need for a hero
The rate of overdose and overdose deaths is rising rapidly. It is hard to even fathom this epidemic. In particular, overdose rates with opiates are skyrocketing. Opiates are pain medications such as oxycodone, Percocet®, Oxycontin®, hydrocodone, Vicodin®, methadone, Fentanyl®, and more. An illegal opiate that is readily available is heroin. Now there are batches of heroin that are ‘cut’ with other drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanyl (used to sedate elephants). These mixtures are getting more and more dangerous.
The way these drugs are fatal are that they stop the breathing process. At low doses, for the treatment of pain, most people take prescription opiates and are fine. As the pain lessens, the use of the opiate should lesson. However, for some people the brain starts to beg for more and more. As the brain gets huge amounts of excitement through neurotransmitters such as dopamine, the rest of the body says, ‘Whoa, that is way too much!’ The body stops making its own supply of these neurotransmitters and it shuts down the receptors that move them along. So, it takes bigger and bigger doses to get the same effect. And, if someone suddenly stops taking the drug, withdrawal starts. This is a terrible feeling with nausea, vomiting, chills, agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, yawning, and more.
Not everyone who takes an opiate for their pain will ever feel this rush of excitement and have their brain demand more. One of the many problems right now, is there is no way to know who will get this rush of excitement that can lead to addiction and who won’t. People with a risk for addiction some in every age, gender, size, race, financial pattern, level of education, and geographic area.
There are many available statistics. Here are some from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.
As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
How you can be a hero
To be a hero, you just need to carry and know –
to give Narcan® to someone who has overdosed on an opiate.
Naloxone is a medication that can block the receptors to opiates. When given, it puts the person is immediate withdrawal. If someone has overdosed and is either sound asleep and can’t be woken or has stopped breathing, naloxone can block those receptors and wake them up. If the overdose very recently occurred, it can help breathing start again. Naloxone can save the life of someone who has overdosed!
Outside of a healthcare setting, there are two products regular people are likely to use to save a life.
If you suspect an overdose, try to wake the person. When they don’t respond to shaking and talking to them, try rubbing their breastbone with your knuckles. If no response, TREAT!
The sudden withdrawal from the medication might cause the person to vomit or two be very surprised and angry. It does not feel good to be in sudden withdrawal.
It DOES feel good to be alive!
Call 911 to continue the person’s care and to help them into rehabilitation.
Note, depending on the opiate dose that was taken, after 2-3 minutes the person might need another dose if they go back to sleep. This is SUCH a brief description. Call us to talk about this in more detail at 410-472-5078, or e-mail me at email@example.com, or contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.
What is our role in this sad, alarming epidemic? Why is this happening? What are so many people struggling with addiction?
Are addicts bad people? Are they being punished? Are they ‘those people’? Before the addiction, were they different from you and your family?
I know many have these opinions about ‘them’.
I challenge you to respond with compassion and love for all people. Until a discovery is made of the ‘addiction gene’ or addiction identifier, each and every person prescribed an opiate beyond the time or dose needed for their pain or experimenting with an opiate could find him/herself instantly struggling with addiction.
I know some of you will disagree with the following, and I would love to hear from you.
I wonder how much of the current opiate addiction overdose epidemic is a sign of our stressed out time and how much is a challenge for us to demonstrate the length we will go to be compassionate and care for each other.
And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
I encourage you to rise to the occasion to show compassion, learn more, and save lives. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When was the last time you did something for someone else? When is the last time you were kind? When did you do something for someone else expecting nothing in return? Kindness is so good for your health!
This is not just my idea. Kindness and thinking of others rather than always thinking about yourself is promoted by most of the world’s religions. All of the major religions encourage treating other people the way we want to be treated. If we would find something hurtful, then we shouldn’t do that thing to other people.
In my mind, if all of the major religions of the world agree to this basic principle, then it might truly be good for you!
Kindness is a choice
Good, beautiful things happen all around you every day.
Discouraging, annoying, negative things happen all around you every day.
Which do you notice more?
Is your first, natural reaction a kind one – or – a negative one?
We might tell ourselves that events are happening TO us, but the reality is, we get to choose our reaction. Our response is in our own control.
Maybe you haven’t always exercised that control, but you can choose kindness over a more negative response.
When we focus on other people, we both benefit!
Kindness and health
As I’ve researched this I have been amazed at all of the studies, literature, and measurements of the health benefits of kindness. Noticing, caring for, and being kind to other people has a positive benefit throughout our whole body.
Kindness is good for your mental and your physical health!
Here are just a few of the changes that YOU will experience when you are kind:
Less focused on your own pain, mood, worries
More positive outlook
Feel better about yourself
Decreased loneliness and helplessness
Sense of feeling connected
Kindness has also been shown to:
Help with weight control
Lower your blood pressure
Decrease your acid reflux in your stomach
Boost your immune system
Help you sleep better
Decrease your pain
Truly, there is so much to gain! When you are kind, the whole world feels like a brighter place.
I have seen medication use decrease, overall health increase, and people love their life so much more when they decided to practice kindness.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
If you are loving your neighbor as yourself, then you are good, kind, helpful, understanding, forgiving, and loving.
We all long to be loved. We all like when kindness is shared with us.
I propose we were designed to express and experience kindness as a key element of our lives.
After thousands of patients and over 20 years of collecting data, I consistently find that 2% of the patients I see don’t need any medication change. I hope you are in this esteemed 2%. It means your medication regimen is safe, effective, dosed correctly, and working just as expected for you. You have no unmet health needs. You are doing the things you want to do in your life with no limitations posed by medicine.
A full 2% understand their medications and take them correctly.
How do you know if you’re part of the other 98%?
A medication use specialist reviewing your health plan might uncover any of these things:
Your medication is causing a side effect that is impacting your day
There is another medication that could have the same benefit without the disruptive side effect
Your dose is too low to completely do what it is intended to do
Your dose is too high for what you need
Your kidneys or liver have changed, so your dose needs to change
A medication for one purpose is making another medical condition worse
You have a problem that could be treated and no treatment has been started
You are not taking the medication that has been prescribed and have not told your healthcare team (doctor)
The medication is so expensive you are having to make decisions about what to purchase each month
Your medication is not covered by your insurance; another safe and effective option is covered
You take your medicine at a time of day that will limit its effect
You take your medicine with other medicine or food that will change its effect
Your medication is making your dizzy or otherwise increasing your chance for falls
Your memory is changing because of your medication
The time of day you take your medication is limiting its effectiveness
You don’t remember which medication is for which indication
You have your medications confused
You pick and choose each day which medication to take (when maybe it only works if taken regularly)
You are taking a medicine that you no longer need
Medications, supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter items, and other things you take aren’t known by your healthcare team, are causing issues or are making you better such that you no longer need some of your prescriptions
Review all of your medications exactly as you use them
Assess all of your supplements, herbals, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and the things you take just once in awhile
Evaluate your falls risk (helpful even if you are an athlete)
Evaluate your heart disease risk
Evaluate your memory
Assess your depression, anxiety, stress levels
Prepare you to get the most out of all healthcare visits with your doctor, therapist, or other providers
With your permission, share our findings and recommendations with your doctor and healthcare team
If you prefer, coach you to share our findings and recommendations with your doctor and healthcare team
Help your doctor with prioritizing items and medication titration (very gradually, carefully monitoring changes)
Contacting Meds MASH
A full 98% of people have room for improvement or education with their medications. Nearly ¾ need an actual medication or dose change. Even after I have worked with people for years, about ½ of the time, there is more work to be done. I never make changes all at once. Your health is too important. Any changes, agreed to by you and your doctor, are made one at a time while we carefully monitor your response.
This health blog was about the fact that most people have some room for improvement in their medication use.
Isn’t the same true in our life? I know I have a lot of room for improvement!
The sermon at my church today was about patience. I will readily admit that is not my strong suit. God has taught me a lot on this subject throughout my life so far. Like most of you, events have happened that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. All of my plans were out the window. The future was completely unclear. These are the times when we choose to shut down, take over our own planning, or give it all to God’s plan.
Solomon was the king blessed with great wisdom. He was well aware of the value of waiting on God’s plan.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
As hard as we try to control these things ourselves, we can’t create, accumulate, or lead to the magnificent degree possible through Christ.
You are loved! God wants to guide you through your life according to HIS plan.
Throughout the Bible we have examples of God’s plan going beyond what we can even fathom. Even in terrible times, when people find themselves in dire situations, God has repeatedly demonstrated how He can turn things around.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Jesus addressed our tendency to stress out, worry, and try to assume control.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …
How often have you reached for simple acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol®) in your life? It is the go-to remedy for so many symptoms. It will reduce a fever, help with a headache, and help with general aches and pains.
Note, acetaminophen is the generic name. The generic version works just the same as the brand Tylenol® version. It is sometimes abbreviated APAP. So, Tylenol® = acetaminophen = APAP.
#1 treatment of osteoarthritis
Do you have arthritis? I know I do. Most of us (about 90%) have osteoarthritis. This is a condition where the cartilage coating our joints has worn away. There is now pain where bone is rubbing against bone. Your main symptoms are usually pain when you use the joint, stiffness, weakness (from your tendency to use it less), and crackling sounds.
I know I can no longer sneak up on my teenagers when I climb the stairs. My gravely sound in my knees is easy to hear.
The American College of Rheumatology, the main group of specialist doctors who treat arthritis, recommends acetaminophen for osteoarthritis.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used for pain. They treat pain in a way just like acetaminophen, and they also help with inflammation.
There are three big risks associated with these that I want you to know about:
They can be hard on your kidneys. Be sure your doctor and your pharmacist know that you take these, how much you take, and which ones you take. They will monitor your kidney function and likely ask you to stop taking them if your kidneys show signs of injury.
They can be hard on your stomach. Your risk of stomach ulcer goes up when you take these. ALWAYS take them with FOOD. If you develop stomach pain, more indigestion, reflux, or burning, tell you doctor.
They can raise your blood pressure. This in turn can increase the stress on your heart. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, talk with your doctor and pharmacist BEFORE choosing to take an NSAID.
Risks of acetaminophen – not so simple
Acetaminophen is safe, but not completely safe. It has some risks. The biggest risk is when we take too much. And taking too much, is VERY EASY to do.
Sometimes people don’t realize that Tylenol® and acetaminophen are the same thing. When in pain, they take both thinking they are different medicines.
Many opioid pain medicines contain acetaminophen (APAP). Here are some examples:
Percocet® (oxycodone and APAP)
Roxicet® (oxycodone and APAP)
Endocet® (oxycodone and APAP)
Norco® (hydrocodone and APAP)
Vicodin® (hydrocodone and APAP)
Lortab® (hydrocodone and APAP)
Lorcet® (hydrocodone and APAP)
Tylenol #3® (codeine and APAP)
Tylenol #4® (codeine and APAP)
Many cough/cold/flu medicines also contain APAP. Some examples are:
Contac Cold & Flu
Alka Selzer plus Cold
Too much acetaminophen in a day can damage your liver. The most that should be taken in a day is 4,000 mg (8 Extra Strength 500mg tablets). A group of experts is supporting a change so people use 3,000 mg or less. This will decrease the chance of people taking too much if their combination medicines have some ‘hidden’ acetaminophen.
The other important factor is alcohol. It is best to not drink alcohol when taking acetaminophen. Both make the liver work hard. Each can damage the liver when the liver is overworked. It can hurt your kidneys, too. If drinking while taking acetaminophen, please not every day and not beyond 1-2 drinks.
Oh my, isn’t this also true of our Christian walk? The rules are ‘simple’ – Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.
Love, love, love!
It is good for you, it is good for others, it’s so simple!
I can give a list of the people I have hurt, offended, taken for granted, or overlooked in the last day or two. I get distracted, frustrated, caught up in work, or frazzled. There is no excuse. My intention is to spend each day expressing God’s love. And, each day, I fall short of my well-intentioned goal.
Paul describes his own struggle with this in Romans Chapter 7.
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual,soldas a slave to sin.I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c]For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work:Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my inner beingI delight in God’s law;but I see another law at work in me, waging waragainst the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sinat work within me.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law,but in my sinful nature[d]a slave to the law of sin.
Why can’t we follow this simple rule of love?
Living in love means turning away from fear and selfishness*. We are so hardwired to think of ourselves first and foremost. It is a true choice (sometimes a very difficult choice) to put other people first. True love as demonstrated by Jesus is not selfish.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Can you imagine our world if we all lived in perfect love, as we were designed to live? Can you imagine each person you see treating you with love and respect? Can you imagine a world without conflict?
It is coming!
* This is a reminder of a book I have been recommending that addresses this conflict between fear/selfishness and love. The God-Shaped Brain by Timothy R. Jennings, MD.
serenity as, ‘the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled’.
I have just returned from a trip of celebration with my Mom (70), me (50), and my daughters aged 18 and 16. We have been planning this trip for over a year. One of my favorite aspects was the serene places we found. While in the Redwood Forest it was awe inspiring and silent. Even though there were other people in the forest, somehow we couldn’t hear them if we weren’t beside them. To be in the midst of those giant trees and surrounded by giant ferns, it was so calm, awe-inspiring, and yes, serene.
The Redwoods were protected from excess logging by conservation efforts including the formation of the Redwood National Park in 1968. Then President Nixon dedicated a grove in the park to Lady Bird Johnson. Here is a quote on a plaque in that grove that struck me:
‘One of my most unforgettable memories of the past years is walking through the Redwoods last November – seeing the lovely shafts of light filtering through the trees so far above, feeling the majesty and silence of that forest, and watching a salmon rise in one of those swift streams – all our problems seemed to fall into perspective and I think every one of us walked out more serene and happier.’ Lady Bird Johnson, July 30, 1969
The part that grabbed my attention was, ‘all our problems seemed to fall into perspective…’
When was the last time you felt truly serene? How often do you slow down and allow yourself to just truly relax? What are the places or activities that bring you to that place of serenity?
Serenity and health
When you are calm, peaceful, and untroubled your whole body benefits. Your blood vessels relax, your blood pressure lowers, you breath more deeply, and your think more clearly. Your immune system is more active and you sleep more deeply.
I have been fascinated by the book, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’ by Dr. Timothy R. Jennings who is a psychiatrist and psycho-pharmacologist. He makes a compelling case that directly relates to serenity and health. He describes which part of your brain is working for you to think, reason, and plan. There is also a part that allows you to experience empathy, compassion, and love. When you are serene, these parts of your brain are fully operating.
When you are stressed, other parts of your brain take over. They put you in ‘fight or flight’ mode so that you are fully alert and ready to tackle the source of the stress. You were designed to have this stress alarm triggered only in rare truly life-threatening situations. However, in today’s society, so many of us are under constant stress. This system starts taking over our brain on a regular basis. As this stress system takes charge of your brain, your ability to think clearly, calmly, and to genuinely relate to others declines.
You have the power to give your stress signals a rest. As you do, and the more you do, the better your brain will function. You will be able to think through problems, plan, and prioritize. You will feel more connected to your own feelings, be able to manage them, and relate more to other people.
One of the best parts is that you will be free to think less about your own needs and more about the needs of others. That has been explored in previous blogs and will be explored again. There is a mountain of evidence that this is very good for your health!
The Role of Medications
There are many medications available to you that in some way target your mood, your anxiety, your depression, your anger, your emotions, and/or your reactions. These have a role. They cannot produce serenity. They cannot remove your stresses or your responses to them. They can help you cope. They are most effective when combined with therapy that can help you decrease the control of your stress response in your brain and let your thinking and loving parts of your brain resume control.
When medications are used, they should be used with great care and at the best doses. Your best medication and dose depend on several factors:
your kidneys and how they function
your liver and how it functions
side effects you might experience
interactions with your other medications and your other medical conditions
evidence (studies that have been done to demonstrate what works best in a situation like yours)
The Role of Meds MASH
At Meds MASH a medication-use expert who is specialized in people over age 60 will help you and your doctor make sure the best, safest, most effective medication is used and only for the time period necessary. Meds MASH specialists can also help you find the counseling component you need to go with your medications.
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
I mentioned the book I have been reading, ‘The God-Shaped Brain’. Dr. Jennings focused the book on how our brain functions when we are living according to God’s plan of love vs when we are not.
We get further and further from God’s plan the more we focus on ourself. Pride, envy, harbored resentment, anger, judgmental attitudes, and lust are just a few of the ways we turn our focus to ourself and our own needs.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
It sounds so simple, but it is so hard to pursue and maintain. It is a daily, moment-by-moment decision to love and keep the focus turned outward. God is with you each of those moments ready to guide you and enable you to make those positive decisions.
Happy Independence Day! On this day of immense gratitude for all who have served to preserve our freedom, I am also thinking about your freedom. My passion professionally is to help people live out their retirement dreams in good health avoiding physical limitations. It sounds so basic. No one thinks medication-related issues will apply to him or her – until they do.
I have talked with hundreds of people who found themselves suddenly limited. It happened ‘out of the blue’ in many instances. In others, it was a gradual approach that was more visible in hindsight.
Pay attention to maintain your independence
In many cases people noted a change but didn’t pay much attention to it. Often a medication had been changed, and their energy level or their clear thinking changed. Maybe they got dizzier or couldn’t exert themselves as much. These little changes led to new symptoms that led to more new medications. This can be a slow, barely noticeable cycle that leads to trouble.
Ask the right questions to maintain your independence
Before any new medication is started, fully understand why it is necessary, what other options were considered, and what you should expect. Read the information that comes with the prescription. Look at the common side effects and pay attention to whether you experience those. If they last more than a couple of days or they make you decrease your activity levels, call your doctor. Talk with your pharmacist.
Take active steps to maintain your independence
Always go to your medical visits prepared. Take a list of every medicine you take – including vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter medicine, and any other substance. Even include the ones you only take once in awhile.
Take two copies of any items you want to discuss. Give one to the medical assistant who takes you to the exam room. Ask that assistant to give it to your doctor. Keep the other copy for yourself. Take a pen or pencil to take notes for each item on your list.
Think about any new symptoms and how you could best describe those. Include any details such as what makes it better or worse, what you have already tried, and when you first noticed the symptoms. These details help your doctor discover the cause more quickly.
Medication is nearly always involved in someone’s loss of independence. So often that is completely avoidable. Don’t let it happen to you. Let us thoroughly review your medication regimen today. We can help you avoid the common pitfalls that lead to lost independence.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I am praying you stay healthy, living independently in this lifetime so that you can do all God has called you to do. I am also praying you live in full dependence on the One who can guide your life through the amazing adventures He has planned just for you.