Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Encouraging Through The Holidays

The holidays are coming up fast--can you believe it's nearly Thanksgiving??!!? 

This is the time of year when the most suicides occur, when depression seems to hit it's zenith, and for all the festivities and joyous feasting and sharing and giving, the downcast heart appears.

I'll admit it, I get like this too during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  I personally think it's more due to the days getting shorter and darkness setting in earlier in the day, the coldness of weather and how the chill creeps through the house, and being inside so much of the time. 

Yes, we are supposed to be thankful always.  And we're to rejoice always.  But, let's face it--we're not perfect and it doesn't all work out that way.  We need encouragement.  We need something to lift our spirits when we're snowed in and the kids are wild and it gets dark about a half hour after it gets light.

First and foremost, stay in your bible.  That book should be your best friend, your run to at any time, as God speaks to us through His Word!  Grab a cup of hot tea/coffee/chocolate (or whatever combination of all those you prefer), settle down at the table or in your favorite chair, and read some scripture.  Need encouragement?  Go to Psalms!  David is such an encouragement, and he's not ashamed to spill his heart out to the Lord.  Need some insight and wisdom?  Go to Proverbs and drink in all the wisdom the Lord put there.  Need a good love story?  Song of Solomon is a nice steamy novel just for you! 

After that, maybe do some decorating.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Try some tea lights in a bowl with epsom or sea salts.  They are beautiful in the evening hours, and if you use scented tea lights, it's even nicer.  Put any other candles you have out and about throughout your house, and when you settle in a room for a while, light one or two for a while.  I love the Jelly Belly and Yankee candles, and despite using them sparingly due to their cost, it makes a nice scent that lingers a while.

Decorate to the way you feel is best.  Put up things you enjoy to see and share.  It's nice to look at things that bring you happiness, fond memories, and a brighter side.

Play music that encourages you.  Do you enjoy hymns?  Play your favorite holiday related ones.  Do you enjoy Christmas secular music?  Crank it up!  Music lifts your mood, play whatever you enjoy.  Me, I like to listen to both secular and sacred Christmas music all year round.  So what if it's the middle of June and I'm singing "Jingle Bells"? :) 

Extend a hand out to your neighbors and friends.  Bake a batch of cookies and take them over to the neighbor who seems to be running frantically from one place to another and doesn't have that time to bake themselves.  Make some bread to take to that elderly couple down the street or over across town.  Try out some new recipes and make goodies to take to shut ins.  Make up a box of goodies to send to some missionaries (things that won't turn green and/or break enroute especially if sending to foreign countries, ideas like candy pretzels, stationery, or whatever you think they'd like that won't spoil enroute).  Giving to others, regardless of the year lifts the spirits.  You don't have to put a lot of money into the gift, just your heart and time. 

This time of year  seems hardest on families who are unemployed, under employed, who have little money to spend on basic necessities, let alone gifts.  If you have the extra in your account, give the struggling mom a gift card to say, Walmart, a grocery store, some place where she'd be able to spend it wisely for her family and personal needs.  If you don't have extra, spend time and make the struggling family a meal or two.  We all know someone who is struggling, whether they'll admit it or not--you can tell--who'd rather not ask for help, but truly does appreciate it when it's given and is thankful.  Let God use you to be a blessing to someone, in doing so, you not only help them, you help yourself feel better. 

I'm sure there's a ton of other ideas out there, and you're welcome to add them to the comments!  Let's make this season a time to point back to Jesus, doing for others and showing them how He loves. 

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