Filters – living through the stresses in our society

Filters - so you can hear the love
Use filters to manage stress and bad news to preserve your health.

I was sitting at a stoplight one block from UNC-Charlotte preparing to turn on to WT Harris Boulevard when it felt like at explosion of sirens went off.  Suddenly there were rescue vehicles coming from everywhere. There were fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, marked and unmarked vehicles with lights and sirens.  It was completely disorienting.  I then watched motorists make all sorts of bad decisions.  Some tried to speed through intersections in front of emergency vehicles.  Some pulled to the right, some pulled to the left, some just stopped where they were.  It was complete chaos with these first responders trying to weave their way through the confused masses to get to the emergency.

It was a couple of hours before I learned that a gunman had entered campus and started shooting in a classroom on the last day of classes for the semester.

It was a few hours after that when I learned of the heroism of Riley Howell who ran toward the gunman and saved many lives while losing his own.

And it was a few hours after that when another life was lost just off campus in an altercation.  This lost life didn’t receive as much attention, but was still a precious life lost.

Then, as were moving our daughter back from Clemson a couple of days later, she received notice of a senior killed when he hit the back of a stopped dump truck on the highway.

In the midst of all of this loss I have talked with several parents of college students.  Some are grieving and throwing themselves into remembrance events.  Some are shocked and having difficulty resuming daily life.  Some are having nightmares and anxiety.  Some are carrying on as if nothing happened.

Healthy Responses

What are healthy responses to the events around us?  Certainly no day carries a guarantee of safety or ease.  And, rarely does a day carry a certainty of difficulty.  Most days arrive, and we use our toolbox of skills and emotional intelligence to get through them.

So what is in your toolbox of skills?

  • Who are the key people who support you?
  • How do you relieve stress?
  • How much attention do you give to the news?
  • How have you been hurt in the past?
  • How have you dealt with that past hurt?
  • What is your source of hope?

Filters as tools

As a healthcare provider, I have encountered countless people with negative health outcomes related to a lack of tools to handle stress and negative events.

Some of these negative health outcomes have included chronic pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, heart attacks, strokes, phobias, and deep anger.

Consider these filters to enhance a healthier response –

  • Gratitude– What is going right in your life? For what can you be thankful?
  • Who/what is higher than you– deity, person, other that can help guide and protect you?
  • Past events– When have you been stressed or in a bad situation in the past and now you are on the other side? You survived.  If all of those events in the past were survivable, how can that bring you hope in this situation?
  • Perspective– What is the worst possible scenario you can imagine? If you can imagine that, your reality is most likely to be much better than that.
  • Let it go– How have you learned to forgive and move on?This is one of the most freeing acts you can take for your own health.

Retirement stress

Are you nearing or past retirement and feel like you’re surrounded by stress and worry?  We can help!

Contact us today at www.retirewellness.com, call 410-472-5078, or e-mail me at michelle@retirewellness.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I have this mental image of the devil with a bullhorn blasting messages of doubt, insecurity, worry, what-if’s, self-deprecation, and other ugliness right into my brain.  His messages are so noisy and chaotic!  They can pull me down and sit on me to pin me to the ground if I don’t take action.

Do you ever feel the same way?

Jesus is speaking into my other ear with messages of love, acceptance, strength, mercy, and grace. He does not use a bullhorn.  In fact, if I don’t make an effort, I won’t even hear his sweet call.

This is what I picture is happening to each person I meet.

So, how do we tune out the bullhorn and relax into the loving messages?

Here are a few tips that I know to be true.  (Now don’t ask if I practice them every day. I 100% know that my day is so much better when I do, and I still mess up and skip these life-sustaining practices regularly.)

  1. Thanks to the advice of a Godly friend, I use an app called ‘Remember Me’ to keep favorite verses on my phone. When I have a minute here, 5 minutes there, I work to memorize these key verses.
  2. Spend TRULY quiet time focused on God and hearing His voice each day.
  3. Stay in the Word. Keep dedicated Bible reading time and really pray and think about what you are reading, asking God to explain.  It’s amazing what you will learn!
  4. Think outside of yourself. Be aware of the people around you.  Reach out to friends in need.  Reach out to friends who you don’t know are in need (they all have the bullhorn in their ear).
  5. Let God guide your path. Satan will keep you so busy you can’t catch your breath.  Let God quiet you and focus you on what matters.

Here are some favorite verses about God’s deep, unfathomable love for you to get you started!

Romans 5:8 ESV

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:19 ESV

We love because he first loved us.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Use those filters and have a blessed week!

Michelle

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving – Gratitude keeping you Healthy

 

On this Thanksgiving, praying you take the time to reflect on your many blessings.  What a day to remind us of how our areas of gratitude!

Gratitude, grateful, thankful, thanksgiving, appreciation

What do these words mean to you? What role do they play in your everyday life?

Wow, I am amazed how much information is available on this important link between gratitude and health. Just search for these two terms and see what all you will find.

What is gratitude?

This is being aware of all of the good things in your life. And it is being thankful for those things. Have you considered being grateful for:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to cover yourself
  • Having a friend to call
  • Your job – current or past
  • A beautiful day

This simple awareness of and being thankful for these ‘little’ things can boost your health.

Note, it doesn’t have to be the biggest house or the softest bed or the tastiest food or the latest fashion clothing to be grateful. Gratitude focuses on what you have – all of the good things – rather than what you don’t have.

Expressing gratitude can:

  • Boost your spirits and sense of well-being
  • Boost your immune system making you less likely to get sick
  • Decrease your chances of heart disease
  • Improve your performance (grades, work productivity, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

There are many ways you can make gratitude part of your life. Here are a few recommended in a Harvard Mental Health newsletter:

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Go up and thank someone
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Keep a list of your thanks = count your blessings

See your day and your health improve by focusing on the positive.

Even therapy for mood disorders and approaches to negative thinking know this truth. I am quoting this from Rick Warren, “When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.”

On this Independence Day weekend, as a country, we have much reason for gratitude!

For more information on gratitude and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Have you ever been in a ‘funk’ having a bad day and then remembered to be grateful? I have done this so many times. When all looks dark and gloomy, make yourself think about all of the things that are good and right.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’ll quickly admit I don’t always think to do this. I stay in that dark place far too long. Later, once I’m out I realize I had the ‘magic potion’ to leave that darkness behind. It was given to us by Christ when he died to erase our sins. It was given to us by God who maintained His love and focus on the good in the Jews through centuries of missteps (just as we live a series of missteps).

Lamentations 3:23 ESV

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t even know where to begin selecting Bible verses to draw us closer to the benefits of gratitude. There are so many!!!

Psalm 118:24 ESV

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ephesians 1:16 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

I feel energized, positive, and excited just reading these verses full of hope and promise! I am thankful for each person who takes the time to read this. May you be blessed by these assurances from God!

I pray you can stay focused on the many good things in your life this week and that can keep you out of the dark, gloomy places.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Why is DIVORCE during and after retirement on the rise?

Protect your marriage
Protect your marriage from the stresses of divorce

Divorce around retirement – You’ve seen it in pop culture, in famous people. And, you’ve likely seen it in your own community. It won’t be surprising if you are seeing this trend in your own family, even your own marriage.

The incidence of divorce over age 50 is experiencing a sharp rise. It has nearly TRIPLED since 1990. (Interestingly, the divorce rate among younger adults under age 40 is declining). So, why are the Boomer’s divorcing at an unprecedented rate?

The role of RETIREMENT in divorce

Retirement is one of the top 10 biggest life adjustments. It is a time of huge transition ranking right up there with marriage, having children, moving, and loss of a loved one.

Many people enter retirement unprepared. They often haven’t thought about the daily changes, the sudden loss of routine, and the sudden increase in togetherness time with their spouse.

In a perfect, romantic world, more time together is exactly what each couple wants. Nothing in life is perfect, at least not for long.

That’s not to say that marriages can’t thrive in retirement. They absolutely can. But that usually requires some communication, compromise, and adjusted expectations.

A healthy marriage in retirement

Both partners have a lot of change to navigate with retirement. Time spent together usually increases. Either partner might find that restrictive. The more we are together, the more complicated communication can be as well. (It is much easier to say the wrong thing when you’re talking more).

  1. The most important step to a healthy marriage in retirement is to talk about it before it happens, or at least before relations get very hurtful after retirement. Rarely do both partners have a clear picture of what retirement will really be like. But, both have some ideas of what they want it to be like. How much have you talked about this?
  2. Until it happens, sometimes people don’t even know what might annoy, frustrate, or stifle them in retirement. Agree to be open with one another as these stumbling blocks present themselves. Recognize that they will occur, and before they are personal or hurtful, calmly talk about them.
  3. Plan for how you will maintain some independent interests and activities. If you have had only a few hours in the evening and on the weekends together for decades, 24/7 togetherness can be overwhelming.
  4. Talk about expectations. What are common aspirations, plans, and desires? Unmet expectations are almost always at the center of a divorce. Often, one doesn’t know what the other was expecting until the relationship is too far-gone. Don’t let that happen.
    1. I’ve seen examples where one person wants to travel while the other wants to stay home.
    2. Sometimes one has always dreamed of taking couples dance lessons and the other would rather do anything but that.
    3. A big issue I’ve seen is one spouse wants a lot of togetherness going and doing things while the other wants to spend most time with the grandchildren.
  5. Include the more intimate parts of your relationship in your planning. This is an area of frequent mismatch in expectations. There is NO truth that sex ends at a particular age. It is very helpful when partners can open discuss these expectations and honor what motivates the other partner to share the same desires.

Planning is key

Don’t leave your marriage to chance after retirement. Recognize that retirement is a major life transition. Respect the wide range of emotions and adjustments each partner will make.

Retirement Wellness Strategies is here to help!   Let us help you preserve your health and strategically plan for all aspects of your retirement such that it is Meaningful, Active, Sustained, and Healthy!

Learn more at www.retirewellness.com, michelle@retirewellness.com, or call 410-472-5078.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Marriage is sacred. Marriage vows are committed in the presence of God and witnesses.

Yet, marriage can be very hard. Marriages go through good and bad times (as usually stated in the vows).

Today’s culture values feelings over commitment. Culture supports and sometimes even promotes greater focus on self than on a partner.

I know so many lovely people who have experienced the trauma of divorce. Know that you are deeply loved. God knows the details. Give the grief, disillusionment, and any other feelings over to him who can heal all wounds.

Where have you made mistakes in your marriage?

When have you put yourself above your spouse?

When have you been hurtful and unkind?

When have you taken your marriage for granted?

I believe all married people have done these things. We all have difficult days.

The commitment of marriage doesn’t mean sunshine and roses.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

There’s a reason these verses list all of the ways we mess up in marriage or any love relationship.

If you feel like you’ve done it all wrong, don’t give up hope. Love comes from God, and He can fill your love bucket at any time…just ask. Love is so much more than a mushy feeling.

Ephesians 5:33 ESV

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

1 John 4:7 ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

I pray your love and marriage are resilient. If your marriage has officially ended, I pray you find healing, forgiveness, and hope for a bright new future. God is good!

Blessings,

Michelle

 

support for the sandwich generation

Are you the meat in the sandwich – for those caught in the middle

support for the sandwich generation
Support is available while you are the meat in the sandwich between children and aging parents

Have you heard of the ‘sandwich generation’? Are you the meat in the middle – still finishing the child raising and caring for aging parents? This sandwich generation is now different than it has ever been before. It is the older Generation X and the younger Boomer generation now in this position. This means this sandwich generation has more dual career couples, more divorces, and generally more independent people juggling the younger and older generations.

Certainly you are blessed when you have children who are nearly or newly on their own AND you still have your parents. So many of us miss that opportunity.

If you do have this opportunity, it can be very challenging. Typically there are several other things happening around the same time.

Other changes while you’re the meat in the sandwich

The sandwich phase usually comes while in your late 40’s through your 60’s. During this time some other commonalities are:

  • You’re at the peak of your career
  • Friendships/relationships are no longer made through your children’s activities
  • Your own health is changing
  • If you’re a woman, you’re somewhere near menopause which brings its own health changes
  • You’re thinking about your ‘bucket list’

Tips for you to be the best ‘meat’ possible

It is so easy to get caught up in the needs of your parents and children and to forget about you in the process. If you fall ill, get injured, or burn out, then everyone loses. I don’t mean to add to your pressure. I just want to encourage you to take care of yourself as the caregiver.

  • Sleep to maintain clear thinking and patience
  • Exercise to stay healthy and stay strong
  • Healthy diet with fruits and vegetables vs grab-n-go fast food
  • Time off to maintain your mental health

Resources to help you

There are many resources available to help you as you help your aging parents. With the aging of the population, the numbers and types of resources are rapidly increasing.

Medications are often involved when someone reaches a point where they have difficulty living without assistance. That is our specialty at Meds MASH. Over 80% of people we see have a specific medication issue that we work with you doctor to address to help you stay safe at home. For 100% of all people we have seen, we have provided important education about medicines and how to get the most from healthcare visits.

There are several types of services that can assist with safely aging at home or in a place designed for safe aging. There are homecare services that can provide someone to help with tasks such as companionship, housekeeping, bathing, cooking, driving, and more. There are independent living communities with assisted living options when needed. There are assisted living facilities at many sizes, price ranges, and amenities.

If your parents’ home would be safer with some modifications, look for a contracting that is a certified aging in place specialist. You can learn more at http://www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx

A certified aging life care manager is an expert on your local resources that can assist with healthy aging. I think of these people as one-stop-shopping for many of your questions and needs. You can learn more at http://www.aginglifecare.org.

Legal and financial questions can be complex. These are elements that are easiest to address while your parents are still fully in command of their own finances. That is a good time to plan for the future in case you, your siblings or other friends/family will assume control of those key areas of your parent’s life. Decisions about advanced directives, power of attorney, and memorial wishes are easiest to make while your parents are fully able to make their own decisions. However, even if you miss that window, these resources (elder care attorney and financial advisor) can help guide you through each step. Here is a resource that can help you find an eldercare lawyer http://www.naela.org/findlawyer.

This is a very brief overview of the many resources that exist to help you and your parents navigate this sandwich time of life. We are glad to help you navigate this complex time and to identify these helpful resources. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

This blog has acknowledged how difficult and consuming this time of life can be – in the phase of supporting children and aging parents. Resources and tips for self-care have been provided.

Another essential aspect for all of the complex phases of life is an awareness of the sufficiency of God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

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.

As in this verse, Paul is very clear that he was weak and unable to do what God called him to do. But, God was more than sufficient to get Paul through the many struggles, the imprisonment, the rejection, and the difficult travel.

To further understand that verse, let’s put it in perspective. Paul describes a health problem he had that he asked God to remove. Here is the response:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  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.

Paul further encourages us that Christ can sustain us through all of the highs and lows.

Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

We try and try to do it all ourselves. And, have you noticed how that doesn’t work?

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 ESV

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

So, as you work through this complex time as the meat in the sandwich, remember the source of your strength. No, you can’t do it alone. So remember, you are NEVER in this alone.

Psalm 73:23 ESV

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Blessings,

Michelle

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Serenity

Happy in 2017 – Let Go of Control to Find Health

Serenity
Let go of control and let go of anxiety, depression, and pain

I’ve mentioned before, the three types of medications prescribed most commonly in the United States treat anxietydepression, and pain. I propose CONTROL is in the midst of this frequent prescribing.

What happy, exciting things do you anticipate for 2017?

What fears, concerns, or dread do you have for 2017?

CONTROL

How much control do you have over the good things you anticipate?

How much control do you have over the things that concern you?

How well do you deal with the instances where you have no control?

I have had patients who rarely leave their house for fear of what could happen while out that they wouldn’t be able to control. Some fear injury or accident. Some fear having to interact with other people. Some fear having to make a decision for which they’re not prepared.

Other patients have had bad experiences they were unable to control. Someone they loved died, left, or now rejects them. In other cases, they were in an accident, hurt by someone, or had some other negative event they fear could repeat.

All of this worry directly impacts rates of anxiety, depression, and even pain. When worry doesn’t find an outlet, it can lead to pain, often chronic pain.

Letting go of control

Want to ease into 2017 with less burden and more lighthearted joy? Try letting go!

The Serenity Prayer that is prayed in 12-step programs is:

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.’

This is a powerful prayer. It acknowledges that there is so much beyond our control. Try as we might, we just cannot control or change some things.

For instance, I know a lot of people are incredibly tense about the implications of a new president in2017. They stew about the ‘what-ifs’. They worry about all of the things that could go wrong. They read each prediction, especially from the sources that don’t support the newly elected official. It’s all they think about, talk about, read about, watch on TV. They get more and more anxious as they continue on this circular path.

I know people who fear certain diagnoses such as cancer, heart disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease. They jump on any unusual symptom. Their frequent use of the medical system often leads to the prescribing of several medications. All of these medications interact causing problems of their own. As the person feels worse, the more they fall down this negative slippery slope.

Hope for 2017

Consider how the Serenity Prayer could be your mantra for 2017. Spend your energy, thoughts, and time on things that are positive. Do the things you enjoy. Spend time with those who love and support you. Reach out and help others.

For the many, many things in this world that could go wrong – Let It Go! If you can’t control it, admit that and let it go.

This change could actually mean less anxiety, less depression, and less pain.

For more information about the link between control and health, please contact us at 410-472-5078 or www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Here is the full Serenity Prayer. I had never heard/read it until recently.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I love this! I plan to print it and keep it where I can read it frequently until I can memorize it. What a beautiful prayer for each and every day.

Let Go and Let God!

This is a prime example. Give up control and give it all to God who actually knows what to do with it all.

Peter and Paul very directly give us guidance on how to handle our anxieties.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

As hard as it is to let go of our very human desire to control, WOW, we will feel so much better when we truly give it all to God! (Please keep reminding me as I’ll keep reminding you. Satan DOES NOT want you to remember and apply this on a daily basis.)

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Blessings as you Let it Go,

Michelle

Image source: Winter Icon by Gwebwt.blogspot.com

Thanksgiving – Gratitude keeping you Healthy

thanksgiving-14-grab
A grateful attitude can improve your outlook and your health!

Gratitude, grateful, thankful, thanksgiving, appreciation

What do these words mean to you? What role do they play in your everyday life?

Wow, I am amazed how much information is available on this important link between gratitude and health. Just search for these two terms and see what all you will find.

What is gratitude?

This is being aware of all of the good things in your life. And it is being thankful for those things. Have you considered being grateful for:

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Clothes to cover yourself
  • Having a friend to call
  • Your job – current or past
  • A beautiful day

This simple awareness of and being thankful for these ‘little’ things can boost your health.

Note, it doesn’t have to be the biggest house or the softest bed or the tastiest food or the latest fashion clothing to be grateful. Gratitude focuses on what you have – all of the good things – rather than what you don’t have.

Expressing gratitude can:

  • Boost your spirits and sense of well-being
  • Boost your immune system making you less likely to get sick
  • Decrease your chances of heart disease
  • Improve your performance (grades, work productivity, concentration)
  • Bust your stress

There are many ways you can make gratitude part of your life. Here are a few recommended in a Harvard Mental Health newsletter:

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Go up and thank someone
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Keep a list of your thanks = count your blessings

See your day and your health improve by focusing on the positive.

Even therapy for mood disorders and approaches to negative thinking know this truth. I am quoting this from Rick Warren, “When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.”

On this Independence Day weekend, as a country, we have much reason for gratitude!

For more information on gratitude and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We have so many reasons to be grateful!

Have you ever been in a ‘funk’ having a bad day and then remembered to be grateful? I have done this so many times. When all looks dark and gloomy, make yourself think about all of the things that are good and right.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’ll quickly admit I don’t always think to do this. I stay in that dark place far too long. Later, once I’m out I realize I had the ‘magic potion’ to leave that darkness behind. It was given to us by Christ when he died to erase our sins. It was given to us by God who maintained His love and focus on the good in the Jews through centuries of missteps (just as we live a series of missteps).

Lamentations 3:23 ESV

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I don’t even know where to begin selecting Bible verses to draw us closer to the benefits of gratitude. There are so many!!!

Psalm 118:24 ESV

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 136:1 ESV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Ephesians 1:16 ESV

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

I feel energized, positive, and excited just reading these verses full of hope and promise! I am thankful for each person who takes the time to read this. May you be blessed by these assurances from God!

I pray you can stay focused on the many good things in your life this week and that can keep you out of the dark, gloomy places.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

Emergencies and Medications – Are You Prepared?

ready-emergency-supply-list
Remember medications and medical equipment in emergencies.

Hurricane Matthew has wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and now part of the southeastern US. Millions of people evacuated while millions more ‘weathered out’ the storm in shelters and secure buildings. In all of those scenarios, daily life was drastically altered.

When you take chronic medications, they are a part of your daily routine. When that routine is upset, medications can be missed. Or, in the excitement, they can be taken more than once.

In emergencies, you might forget to grab them as you evacuate. Or, the emergency can take place right as you are taking your last dose. Then what?

Preparing for Emergencies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a program called Ready. You can find it at www.ready.gov. One of the many valuable resources is a list of items to include in an Emergency Supply Kit. You can get the full list here. The items that I want to emphasize are:

  • Prescription medications – at least 3 days; more depending on the emergency
    • Include inhalers, eye drops, and patches
    • Include the medications you only take when you need them
    • Include any ‘just in case’ medications such as an epinephrine injectable or migraine therapy injectable if one has been prescribed for you
    • Supplies such as syringes for insulin
  • Glasses
    • Take your glasses even if you usually wear contacts
    • Take the supplies for your contacts
    • Take your reading glasses if you just wear those as needed
  • Feminine supplies
  • Urinary incontinence supplies
  • Ambulation devices – such as a cane
  • Sturdy shoes – you might be in a situation where you are not walking on an even surface
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Warm, dry change of clothes and a blanket (in a water proof bag if in wet conditions)
  • Written list of:
    • medications
    • allergies, including what happens if you take that medication or eat that food
    • medical conditions

The available lists provide step-by-step guidance on what and how to prepare for emergencies. There is another good one available through the Centers for Disease Control found here. Note, if you live in an area where natural events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, or wildfires are not uncommon, it will help to pack these emergency kits before the danger season. You will save yourself tremendous time and stress.

Prescription Medications

I have one more important fact about your prescriptions and associated medical supplies to share. When the threat of the emergency is known ahead of time, and you are nearly out of medication, make getting your refills a priority. You will not be alone trying to get more medication. Your pharmacist and their staff will appreciate the advanced notice. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration waiting in long lines to get medication when you need to be doing so many other things to prepare. In the high-risk seasons, be extra vigilant about dwindling medication supplies.

I do want to share that I hear heroic stories of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and others assuring their patients have what they need in the worst of circumstances. I am grateful for such dedication!

For more information about emergency preparedness, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I have had two songs going through my head this week as I’ve prayed for the people in the path of Hurricane Matthew. One is ‘Eye of the Storm’ by Ryan Stevenson. You can find a link here. The other is a song that is frequently sung by the Maryland State Boychoir, ‘The Storm is Crossing Over’. One of the moms posted this recording.

It’s interesting how often STORMS are found in the Bible. In nature they can be ferocious and devastating. And wow, isn’t the same true of the storms that brew up inside of us?

Remember in Matthew (and in Mark 4) when Jesus was taking a nap in the boat?

Matthew 8:23-27 ESV

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Do you often feel weak and helpless in these storms? There’s no doubt we will face them. Again, you find reference to them all through the Bible. So, how do we prepare for them, survive them, and move on from them?

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

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.

Besides Hurricane Matthew, one of the ‘storms’ weighing heavy on my mind right now is all of the war, turmoil, and conflict in the world. A dear friend is active duty as of this weekend and will be deployed this week. He has a loving wife and young children. And we all know he is not alone in this situation. I am holding in prayer those deployed, those in all layers of leadership, and those on the ‘other side’ who don’t want to be doing this and are caught in an ugly situation.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Nahum 1:7 ESV

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Praise be to God, our strength in the storm.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: http://www.ready.gov    

 

 

 

 

Quality of Life – your attitude and health

Slide1
Your quality of life is shaped by your attitude, and that also impact your health.

Your quality of life is different than just living. If you are breathing and your heart is beating, then you are alive. Within that life there can be a HUGE range in your quality of life. Quality of life is your overall well-being or satisfaction. How is yours?

Being satisfied with your life encompasses many different factors. There is no one ‘right recipe’ for gloriously high quality of life. Your quality of life will likely change throughout your life with your changing circumstances. But, some people maintain a relatively good quality of life in spite of their circumstances. It is interesting that the factors some people would rate as important don’t actually lead to high quality of life scores.

  • For instance, many people would propose more money would increase their quality of life. Yet there are many miserable people who have a lot of money.
  • Many people would propose that better health is the key to quality of life. Yet there are sick/disabled/injured people with a wonderful quality of life and super healthy people who are miserable.
  • Some would list having many friends around as the key to quality of life. But there are some people who are at parties all of the time surrounded by friends who are miserable. There are others who lead very quiet lives with few friends who are very happy and content.

So what is the key to a magnificent quality of life? 

Your attitude

I have been very interested in the large range of responses people give when asked about their life satisfaction. I am not the only one interested in this. I have read many articles from all sorts of authors on the subject of health and attitude. If you are interested, to get started, just search for the terms ‘attitude and health’. I think you will be surprised by all that you find.

Will there be dark days when things are not going right? Will you lose loved ones? Can your life slip out of your control on more than one occasion? YES!

You then make a choice as to how you respond.   Your attitude matters.

Great example

Your physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health are all wrapped up in how you live your life. There will be many things that happen ‘to you’. But you alone decide how you respond. Here is a story I’ve read in many places that captures this truth:

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  1. Free your heart from hatred.
  2. Free your mind from worries.
  3. Live simply.
  4. Give more.
  5. Expect less.

(Copied from this source.)

If you would like to know more about how your attitude impacts your quality of life and your health, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

How is your attitude? How easily do you become bitter, frustrated, angry, and discontented? Wow, doesn’t that happen so easily!!!!

The devotions that come to my e-mail every day from Pastor Rick Warren have been focused on envy for several days. What a nasty, cruel, pervasive worm is ENVY.

Doesn’t that negatively impact your day?

Paul outlines to Timothy many facets of living a God-centered life. And he repeatedly makes reference to the fulfillment, joy, and quality of life that comes with that kind of living.

1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

Paul tells Timothy about all of the pitfalls in this world. He even talks about how things will get worse the closer we get to the coming of Christ. So, finding contentment in the midst of so much negativity is not easy. It is a choice and an active pursuit. A pursuit that is well worth the effort.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 MSG

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

The following kind of advice from Paul makes me feel more at ease. I like the visual I get and the response from other people when this is put into action.

Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Now that you are on your road to a fabulous quality of life and true contentment no matter what is going on around you, here is some encouragement from Paul.

Ephesians 4:1-3 MSG

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Blessings,

Michelle

 

 

 

Hate and Health – Surviving These Days

Hate and ugliness can shape your life. It often comes out of nowhere. How you deal with it has a huge impact on your health.

You often can’t prevent it. You can’t predict. It hits you out of nowhere, so you can’t prepare for it. Yet, hate and ugliness touch most, if not all, of us at some time at least once.

What is the ugliest event that has occurred in your life? How have you been touched by hate? How did you handle it at the time? How have you handled it since?

As a nation and a global community we have seen and experienced acts of hate in so many forms recently. There is unrest stirred by fear, threats, and acts of terror. If this fear takes over in your life, your stress levels increase, your heart works harder, your risk of depression goes way up, anxiety increases, sleep is impaired, and your overall health declines.

Last week I talked about the health benefits of thinking about other people and their needs rather than focusing just on yourself. Altruism is very directly linked to improved health.

The other thing that was directly related to this particular medical mission to Jamaica from which I just returned was a tragic act of hate. The group with whom I worked, Teams for Medical Missions, www.t4mm.org, has been served for many years by long-term missionary couples in Jamaica. These couples have developed programs for children, programs for youth, programs to train ministers for local churches, built many houses, provided chronic and acute medical care by hosting medical mission teams, and so much more. They are Christian missionaries with a real passion for the people of Jamaica, in particular those in the more rural and underserved area of St. Mary Parish.

At the end of April, the two men of these couples were riding their motorcycles on some trails at the top of a mountain known to have beautiful views of the island. Two young men were in that area and heard the motorcycle motors. They decided to wait in a particular place where the motorcycles were sure to pass and ambush them. Both missionaries were killed. It was not a targeted act, just a needless act of hate.

This shook the entire island. The young men who had been actively served by events hosted by these couples for years now stay close to the wife who remains, and they have been staying at her house so she is not alone. The Prime Minister, head of island security, and many others have come to show their respect. Many people have expressed their sorrow in many tender ways.

These medical teams typically provide care in provisional clinics in four local churches once a quarter. People are given a 3-month supply of medication for chronic illnesses, and acute illnesses are treated. Many people in that Parish rely on those clinics for their medical care. I had the humbling experience of seeing the love and gratitude shared with the missionary wife and all of the team members. (All had been on these teams several times and knew the slain missionaries well. This was a very emotional trip for all who were simultaneously grieving and expressing the desire to keep moving forward.) Many residents expressed surprise the clinics were continuing. There was an expectation the mission would fold and return to the US after these deaths.

In spite of these acts of hate, the hope continues. Teri, an incredibly strong and faithful woman is staying and planning what the future can hold in this completely new scenario. Her grief is real and raw. Yet, she is not curled in a corner refusing to move forward.

Health in the midst of hate

The elements that are associated with maintaining health in the midst of hate are:

  • friends to talk to
  • people who care about you
  • a sense of self-worth
  • forgiveness
  • security
  • conflict management skills
  • religion/spirituality

These 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.

So, knowing that hate and ugliness can strike at any time, the best you can prepare is to take care of yourself, cherish your friends and family, develop your conflict management skills, and forgive others. Find your personal source of hope.  Like Teri, find ways to find hope and stay positive and undeterred in the face of hate.

For more information about hate and health, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Hate, terror, oppression, racism, and other ugliness are all around. And, the Bible gives us indication this will only get worse.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 MSG

Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

I believe our role in these days is three fold:

  1. Be prepared

1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

  1. Be discerning

Matthew 24:4-8 MSG

Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.

  1. Be reaching out

Philippians 2:1-4 MSG

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

And another version of my favorite verses of the year about hope!

Romans 5:3-5 MSG

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Blessings,

Michelle

Vaccines – Important part of your travel plans

Flu vaccine CDC
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about vaccines needed before international travel.

What are your views about vaccines? Are you up-to-date? When was your last check-up appointment with your primary care provider?

What exotic locations are on your bucket list?

There has been a lot of discussion, many articles, and many opinions shared about vaccination.

Vaccines protect you from communicable diseases. Vaccines also protect other people. For each kind of vaccine, there are some people who have medical conditions that prevent them from receiving the vaccine. So, they rely on those around them to not have the disease and spread it to them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) monitors diseases across the country and the world. Viruses and bacteria can change over time. If these changes make a former vaccine less effective, then guidelines change. So, your vaccine needs change based on these recommendations.

Then there is the issue of travel. Different parts of the world pose risk of various diseases.

I have been updating my understanding of the importance of travel vaccines as I prepare for this medical mission trip to Jamaica. The vaccines recommended for Jamaica are different than those recommended for other areas.

I heard a very sad story recently about two very charitable and successful brothers who traveled to Ghana. One chose to not take precautions for malaria. Once home he acquired a fever and felt poorly.   He saw his doctor who gave him some self care strategies. His condition then declined further. Once it was realized he had malaria, it was too late. So, when you do travel abroad and become ill, immediately tell healthcare providers exactly where you have been. In the US we so rarely see some diseases that we don’t look for them.

I encourage you to travel and explore the world! I also highly encourage you to talk with your doctor and your local pharmacist about any travel vaccines you should obtain prior to your travels. You can learn more about CDC recommendations at this link.

As fall approaches we will talk more about flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines in more detail. These are important even if you don’t travel.

For more information about vaccines, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Vaccines protect you against disease. And God provides you with protection against evil dark forces. We are reminded again and again of His constant love and protection.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Doesn’t that sweep over you like a big wave of calm? Fear not. God has your back.   God has plans for you. God is with you in each and every circumstance. God is with you no matter where you are or what is happening.

2 Timothy 4:18 ESV

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

We all make mistakes. We all sin. These promises and assurances of rescue are so comforting.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

James 4:7 ESV

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You have a God who loves you and will protect you.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health & Human Services, US Public Health Service