Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Do what you can; give what you have

Good Morning…..
I was talking to a friend the other day about the classic holiday TV programs that are beginning to fill the airwaves. One of my favorites is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Burl Ives. I think it’s been on for close to 50 years and I’ve watched it every year for as long as I can remember. The narrator, the big ole singing snowman, sings a song, “Silver and Gold, silver and gold……” I’m not sure I even know all the words of the song, but that TV show is one of the only places I ever hear that song so it sticks in my mind when I think of the show.  Anyways, when my friend and I were talking, I immediately began to sing those simply words. That was a couple of days ago, but like so many things in my life, a random conversation often becomes a catalyst that causes me to ponder things that stir my heart and inspire me on my journey.

Like many people, the holiday season is a time when I have so many outside forces trying to rob me of the peace that typically fills my heart. There are many demands that come with the holidays and there are many times when I am tempted to give in to negative thinking and am surrounded by others…..the media……messages……that try to convince me that “ I NEED MORE…”, instead of “I am so blessed; I have ALL I NEED!”

 More……TIME… do all the things that SOMEONE….THE TV……The Magazines…..Media….WHO????  says are necessary for a wonderful Christmas season.  Really?  Are people really going to count the number of different Christmas cookies you made this year?  What????….Aunt Mary, you only made 16 different kinds of cookies instead of 22?  Isn’t the smile on someone’s face when you offer someone his/her favorite cookie and cup of coffee, or you bring a small plate of goodies to someone that is unable to bake any more important than the NUMBER of different kinds? Isn’t the conversation and memories being made when you gather with friends and loved ones and bake the cookies/goodies more important that what you’re actually baking?  What we need MORE of is TIME spent with loved ones; conversations and traditions that will linger long after the cookies are gone, and the memories that will be passed on for generations…not TIME to do things that are expected this time of year, but have little meaning to most.

The stores and weekly ads tell us we need more MONEY….to buy MORE presents….that your child/grandchild/friend will very likely be the ONLY one that doesn’t have one of this….or one of that….or doesn’t get the latest toy or gadget.  While it’s true that like many of you, I have more bills and debt than funds, and I would like to buy gifts for everyone I know, the truth is that I have what I NEED and my little home is warm and the I have food to eat and clothes to wear.

 On Christmas Eve, the children in my family will have piles of gifts to open and honestly, if I were to ask any of them this year what I purchased for them LAST year, I would likely be met with blank stares. So often we buy gifts because we are expected to and we end up giving/receiving things that are not appreciated….and we don’t even realize that there are many people that will not even receive a single gift or are unable to provide even the simplest things for their children. This year my focus is on those individuals who have little….and on the gifts of LOVE….friendship…..caring…..and compassion.  You know, very likely, a letter to an old friend; a phone call or visit with a lonely neighbor; an offer to run a few errands or help decorate someone’s house; a quick note with a candy cane put on someone’s desk; or simply a smile at a stranger…..all things that ARE FREE and COST NOTHING…..and are gifts that will be remembered and cherished.  We don’t need a lot of MONEY to make a difference or show love at Christmas; we simply need a giving heart and the willingness to share love and kindness.

The newspapers are full of FREE things to inspire you this season: walk-thru nativity scenes or Christmas pageants or programs put on by local churches; holiday concerts; plays by the high-school students or community players; light shows and displays, etc. abound this time of year. Many are free or cost very little, but what a wonderful experience they could be. Why not load up your vehicle and invite someone to go with you?  How about a visit to a nursing home or care center or volunteering at the soup kitchen or something like Toys for tots?  Any of those things are likely to help remind you that you are blessed beyond measure….whatever your financial situation might be. Instead of focusing on what I DON’T have enough of, I want to celebrate what I do have.

Those little words…. “Silver and Gold” appear in one of my favorite scriptures as well. Acts 3:6 says, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you……in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  I realize that there are many in this group that do not embrace my faith perspective so I really don’t want to get too religious here, but those words….brought to mind by a silly thing like the Rudolph TV show, really truly inspire me on my journey….especially this time of year.

I am surrounded by people that are in need….financially, emotionally, spiritually…..and I do not have the means to help them.  One of our group members is living in severe poverty and needs money to fix his car….but I don’t have the money to give him. Others are dealing with grief and sadness due to the recent death of loved ones or the reality that there will be an empty chair at the table this Christmas, but I can’t take away their pain.  Some are struggling with illness, and no matter what I do, I can’t make them better. The list goes on….and on and perhaps due to my profession, I’m surrounded by/aware of more situations than you…..but I can’t fix it or make it better.  Silver and gold have I none……BUT…..what I have…. I give to you…….What do I have?  I have hope; I have time; I have a story; I have smiles and experiences….I have LOVE; compassion; forgiveness.  While we often don’t have the answers…..we certainly have SOMETHING to share; to give; to make a difference.

You could very easily apply this principal to your own journey.  Some of you want so desperately to change your life, but you feel that you don’t have what it takes. You can’t exercise due to physical limitations. You can’t afford to purchase fresh fruit and produce because of costs. You can’t join a weight loss support group because you don’t transportation, etc. You can’t….because of many reasons….  “Silver and gold have you NOT…”   But I challenge you to finish that sentence with….” BUT WHAT I HAVE……I DO/give, etc…”   You are right… you can’t walk or exercise every day due to limitations…..but you know what….neither could I….at first. I used a walker remember??????  But what I could do was move my legs in the lazy boy or lift soup cans until I got stronger. I was eventually able to take a few steps…and then a few more…and a few more…and now, I can walk freely.  Perhaps you don’t think you could go ‘cold turkey” and give up candy or cigarettes or sugar……but you CAN….do something, even a little bit….to help. You could alternate one bottle of soda with a bottle of water. You could trade your full size candy bar for a fun-size one or the bag of chips for a snack size bag. You COULD cut back on the amount you eat. Even a small change or step is progress. Do what you can.

Finally, I recognize that I CANNOT do it for you. I cannot give you the answers. I cannot pay your bills or take away your sorrow. I cannot say some magic words to motivate you to change  your life or inspire you to keep going. Silver and gold have I not…… BUT….what I have I give to you.  What I CAN DO…and I PROMISE I WILL DO….is to be here for you; to remind you that you are capable of more than you realize; to tell you over and over and over again that I believe in you and that you are worth it. To remind you that YES…YES…YES….it is possible and that miracles happen every single day and that it is so hard to do, but it is so worth it.  I can continually encourage you to keep trying and start over and over again and never give up.   I cannot do it for you….but I certainly can and will… it WITH YOU!

Today….. and tomorrow….. and the next day… I am going to look for all those opportunities that I am given each day to make a difference and instead of focusing on all the things that I HAVE NOT….like time, money, answers, etc…. I am going to focus on all the things that I DO HAVE and be grateful. I encourage you to do the same.