All posts by Marie Coppola

About Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com

Mothers are Forever

Plagiarizing the words of writer Louisa May Alcott, “What do girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?”    Looking back, sometimes our mothers were our troubles telling us what to do, what not to do and how come you haven’t done it already?

I’m finding as I near the ages my mother went through that  I have a maternal kinship with her that wasn’t there as we kids were growing up.    I was kinda scared of her as a child because she was the family disciplinarian – she was a stay-at-home mom – and having rules being obeyed were high on her Mother job description.   Being Italian, we learned that not behaving was begging to have the old wooden spoon brought forth.   The spoon rarely made contact, and we never tried to negotiate with it.   Along with her ‘weapon’ was the threat of our Dad coming home and taking his belt off to spank us.   Which never happened – our Dad never had to do that nor could we picture him doing it.     We listened.

I didn’t always agree with Mom – she was strict and hands on – but when I had children of my own,  I saw her with different eyes ….and still do.   I understand many of her ways now and how truly unselfish and generous she was.   She put Dad first and  she was a good role model for us.   A happy marriage brings forth happy kids.

We weren’t far behind in her attention and love.   She celebrated all holidays by decorating the house and filling it with wonderful aromas of delicious food that she provided.  Sometimes she would have something different to eat from our dinners, explaining that she felt like a hamburger instead when we finally realized when we were older that there wasn’t enough in our family of 7 for her to join us with more expensive cuts.

She made religious holidays special although Christmas presents weren’t abundant and sometimes not given at all.  But we four daughters  and one son remember the magical feeling surrounding these festivities.

She was the daughter of immigrant parents who had eleven children.  Mom  went to school up to the sixth grade as did her husband.    His asset was math & numbers and he worked hard all his life.   She was his strength at home, leaving it only to cook for the priests at church.  She also crocheted their linens & altar cloths.   Her proudest achievement  – the priests asked  her to ‘teach home economics’ at the school.   She put her heart and soul into that – one day she told me, “I was one of 11 children and the only teacher”.    Her recipes were printed in the hometown paper – she never sought the attention she got.

When I became a mother, she was my greatest asset.   She taught me so much about babies that aren’t in baby books and they thrived.   She didn’t baby her own daughters – she taught us to be strong.   When the doctor told me once that I had ‘tired mother’s syndrome’ – I called her and she said, “Eat a piece of cheese when you are tired – you aren’t eating properly and you need protein.”   It worked.  Somehow, the hardships of being a parent was offset by her humor – being silly and laughing.   Sharing laughs make a happy home.  And both parents laughed and got silly with us often.

This was my mother who watched over each one of us like special house guests, bought us occasional presents on the family credit card which was used rarely but a big deal for the receiver when she did it.   When we all eventually  left the family home, she was our biggest fan.  Up until the time she passed away,  whenever any of us visited, she placed a big brown shopping bag near the door to put things in as we visited.   When we left. it was filled to overflowing with food, gifts, clothes for us or the kids – and her touch, too,  with anything made with love for us to bring home.   I send brown bags home now, too.

Sophia Loren, the Italian actress, made the comment, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

Our mom did a lot of thinking about and for  her 5 children.    We are forever grateful for her caring, sharing and the love she shared and never asked for anything in return.    As I reach each birthday milestone, I am reminded of that same  birthday milestone in her life and see her with an appreciation  for each one – that I hadn’t realized before.

God couldn’t be everywhere…so He created Mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Marie Coppola   May 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animals vs. Babies

Some years ago, our area had several dogs that were found dead floating in a water area. Their legs were bound with duct tape. A short time later, another one was discovered in the same way, but was fished out while still alive and brought to the shelter.

The dog was expected to make a full recovery, although she was being monitored for brain swelling as well as more damage from abuse.   When the dog was initially brought in, the body swelling led shelter officials to believe she was pregnant. Her spleen was removed during surgery and significant bruising indicated severe kicking or beating.

Eventually, leads led to an arrest ~ they were family dogs and not wanted anymore. The community was shocked and outraged; how inhumane to treat an animal this way.   The shelter experienced a high increase in adoptions soon afterwards.

Although this is a hideous and unacceptable account of ending life this way for these animals,  if  it happened every day, eventually, we would become desensitized to it.   We may even get to the point where we might remark that there were thousands and millions of these animals experiencing this kind of end of life every week all over the world.  We may even get to the point where we may consider ridding of our own pets in this way if we did not want our pets any more.

Are you shocked or surprised at that?   Hasn’t it happened with human abortions?

Aren’t we getting desensitized about how many people have abortions and why they do? Don’t we all know people who had abortions? Some have them because they ‘didn’t want a girl’ or ‘I can only handle twins, but not triplets’. Some have multiple abortions and use it as a form of birth control.   Where is our shock and outrage over that way to end life?

Although doctors have not pinpointed exactly at what month the fetus feels pain from an abortion, it was uncertain whether a fetus experiences pain during the first trimester of development, when most abortions occur.  Recent studies have shown that the fetus most certainly does feel pain by the end  of the second trimester, when late-term and partial birth abortions are performed.  Since general anesthesia is not used in most of these procedures, the fetus most likely feels pain during the procedure …..and I won’t go into the procedure; it is horrendous.

The fact that fetuses can feel pain is really quite obvious. Since newborn babies can feel pain, fetuses can feel pain. There is no pain switch which suddenly switches to “on” during the journey through the birth canal. The only question is when do fetuses feel pain? The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act places a fetus’ ability to feel pain at 20 weeks from fertilization, about half way through pregnancy. Twenty weeks is a conservative enough estimate that even some prominent abortion supporters have conceded its reliability.   By the way, at 20 weeks, the unborn in the womb recognizes its mother’s voice.

Many pro-life doctors maintain that fetuses can feel pain by just 8 weeks after fertilization (about the time most surgical abortions take place). Pro-abortion doctors tend to argue that fetuses don’t experience pain until the very end of pregnancy. Whose testimony is more reliable ~~~ those who have a financial interest in the availability of abortion or those who don’t?  Ethically speaking, who is going to be less likely to lie, those who believe dismembering living human beings is a legitimate medical practice or those who don’t?

According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day.

In the USA, where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion, there are over 3,000 abortions per day. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in the USA (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.

A national statistic: 1,600,000 babies are aborted in these United States every year.

Are we becoming desensitized to ending life in the womb?  Where is our shock and outrage that we felt for the animals?

© Marie Coppola April 2018

Ref: Newsmax.com



What Are Your Human Needs?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Recalling educational memories from school learnings, we tend to remember best the subjects that held our interests the most  and/or excelled in.  Many of those favorite courses  led to what we eventually leaned toward in selecting colleges or occupations.    One of the subjects that stands out for me was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.   This humanistic psychology subject was never mentioned in primary or secondary schools but in college studies, this subject was mentioned in almost every elective taken.  It began in Psychology 101 and  was interwoven somehow in each and every class.    One could guess where it would show up as the course studies  advanced.  The Maslow course centered on humanistic needs lowest to highest –  beginning with physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

With all the good things Americans may have accesss to every day, have you ever thought about  what motivates you  and how many factors give you the best life and make you happy?

Maslow’s Hierarchy is based on positive human motivation psychology which does  not  focus on increasing well-being solely for eliminating anxiety, but instead focuses on increasing well-being for the sake of improving people’s lives and improving society.  Abraham Maslow was driven by a similar desire to help people live the best lives they could, acknowledging their unique humanity along the way. The personal experiences that most shaped this desire for Maslow were his childhood isolation and his powerful reaction to the horrors of World War II.

Motivation theory suggests five interdependent levels of basic human needs (motivators) from the bottom upwards that must be satisfied in a strict sequence starting with the lowest levels.  This came about when Maslow,  a 33-year-old father with two children observed the horrors of mass warfare and gave him a sense of urgency.  He changed  his focus to human motivation and self-actualization (a person’s desire to use all their abilities to achieve and be everything that they possibly can).  Maslow’s research interests were driven by personal experience and shared experiences, which helps explain his contributions to humanistic psychology.

Maslow explains  his Hierarchy of Motivation theory by  suggesting  the five interdependent levels of basic human needs  that must be satisfied in this sequence:  

The first two basic (and lowest)  levels of need are considered basic needs or Physiological, which are based on the need for survival and safety. (for example – Air, Water, Food, Clothing and Shelter.)  The second stage is:  Safety & Security  – Personal and Financial Security, and Health & Safety  Net.

The third stage is the social stage:  It is also called love/belonging and  is not based on basic needs but instead on psychological or emotional needs. The primary source of behavior at this stage of development is the need for emotional connections such as friendships, family, social organizations, romantic attachments, or other interpersonal relationships,

The fourth stage:  Esteem – Maslow considered lower-level esteem need for the respect of others through status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention, while he described higher-level  esteem needs as the need for self esteem strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom.

The fifth and highest stage:  Self-actualization – is a person’s desire to use all their abilities to achieve and be everything that they possibly can.    Maslow suggested that actually achieving total self-actualization was exceedingly rare. Rather than thinking of self-actualization as a destination, it can be helpful to think of it as a journey.

While humanistic psychology is past its peak of influence, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is still a major, well-known aspect of modern psychology. The hierarchy of needs has recently been adapted for use in hospice care, for use in urban planning, development, and management, and even for the study of policing.

The Pros and Cons of Cell Phones


I began to write this article with intent to point out the ways that cell phones have changed our lives.  Some believe that cell phones  have greater advantages than its disadvantages.   My first thoughts were primarily focused on the ‘addiction’ aspect that seems to have replaced the original cell phone usage as a popular communication tool. 

I had barely started to write about this when a TV Alert announced the horrific shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.  Not only was it televised live, it had  videos of the hallways and classrooms, sounds of gunshots, screams and cries for help. We were also transported to the crime scene through the cell phone cameras of the victims. This is a new slant and terrifying.   We were there with them within the halls.

Students at the high school posted alerts on Twitter and videos on Snapchat while the attack was still underway.   During the lockdown, students also texted their loved ones.  Some begged siblings and parents to call 911 for help.  Some just wanted to tell their families that they loved them.   Although viewers were warned in advance that the content was disturbing, it didn’t warn about the emotional impact to one’s gut and heart watching these young, terrified students running with their hands up.  Their show of helplessness stirred us personally ..thinking and imagining our own children or grandchildren in their place while we watched the cell phone videos and heard the gun shots as they were happening.   And imagining the thinking of the parents who didn’t get a call.

Thank God, they had cellular phones, one of the greatest inventions in the late 20th century.  However, these same phones have  now have become the newest addiction in the world.   I was not feeling friendly about cell phones as I started this article.   Although there is need of them in many professions, and our lives,  the use of cell phones has inundated its basic need in daily life.

Mobile entertainment is a large pull to many.   So are texting messages.   We can play games,  engage social networking (e.g. twitter, facebook, skype) and compile photo & videos all on your cell phone.  Some  even call cell phones  “the newest cigarette”, as people take it out it quickly while taking a break.   It is good to be in contact with family & friends, as the article states  but if you spend 5 hours staring at the screen every day, you must be addicted to your phone.

It is believed  that cell phones  have  greater advantages than its disadvantages, and we shouldn’t stop to use cell phone as a popular communication tool.  But when cell phone addiction grows stronger and stronger, people would eventually realize how serious this could be.

To put it another way, four out of every 10 people are mobile gamers. More specifically, 2.3 million play mobile games every day, accounting for 6.2 percent of the total cell phone subscribers, including 15 percent of cell phone users in their teens and twenties.  People in 21st century are using more time to play games instead of doing regular calling, and most of them are teenagers.

Some believe that modern technology has us all talking to each other and increases our relationships in numbers and quality .  Some believe that cell phone addiction could  hurt our relationships,  even for couples.  It can harm their quality of life if one of them constantly has the phone by his/her side and/or has to play with the phone for hours.

We all know the hazards of driving while texting.   Every year, a huge number of accidents happen on the road and cause thousands of people’s lives, many of them caused  by cell phoning because people are still used to making  a call during driving.   There are more than 2,000,000 drivers caught by police that dangerously use use cells phone in the car.    The whole world is addicted to driving and making calls, which , becomes a global issue. Choosing cell phone addiction over common sense might not only hurt you, but also even take your life.  Or find oneself  in a ditch.

Multi-functional cell phones  have  given us convenient pleasure and technology.  However,  it doesn’t mean it has no negative effect.  No matter how helpful the cell phone is, we cannot ignore it’s bad impact to human-beings if they are not cautious.    There are need of them in many professions  such as doctors, police, responders, etc.,  which require them in emergency situations.   Women are more likely than men to say that getting help in an emergency situation is the thing they like most about carrying a cell phone.

Cell Poll:  The average person checks a cell phone 110 times a day.   Forty % check it on the john.  12% use it in the shower.  56% check them before sleep.  75% check after they sleep. 61% sleep with the phone turned on.  56% (of parents) check their devices while driving.  77% of parents & teens have argued about smartphone use.   50% of teens admit they are addicted to their cell phones.  26% of car accidents are caused by phone usage.  44% check job-related emails daily while on vacation.  50% of users feel uneasy when they leave their phones at home.   What do users like most?   Convenience/Convenient.   What do they like least?  Always reachable / Always connected / People bothering me.

75% of users admit they have texted at least once while driving.

The question that started my inclination to write about cell phones was this one:  “However, is it really important for students to hold a cell phone all day long?”    After Parkland, Florida,  I need to rethink  that one.

Marie Coppola  February 17, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Actions Have Reactions

We are in the ‘Christmas Rush’ also known as shopping, mailing. wrapping gifts, sending greetings. making cookies, decorating the house inside and out, and having company or visitors.   As we exhaust ourselves getting all these things done, we sometimes miss the opportunity to worship and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, the Reason for the Season.

Considering all the technological communications we have available to us today – phone landlines, cell phones  with message recorders, call waiting, call forwarding, smart phones, texting, emails, internet and pagers & faxes, so we can be sure to get that important message one way or another.    We don’t want to miss anything.   But are we missing the most important message  of all — God’s message to us?

He’s tried messaging through  prophets, angels, a humble, but full of grace Jewish maiden and finally by her son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who is the Christmas Spirit we rejoice.  The Light of Jesus has transformed those who had walked in darkness.   “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   John 8:12

Do most people listen to this Good News? Or are we too busy wrapping packages, making our list and checking it twice.   Maybe we have every day on the calendar filled with social events but have we included Jesus?  Can we have a party without the Guest of Honor?   Many of us do.    How can we include Christ and keep Him in Christmas?   What can we do to keep him in our hearts & minds?

We can forgive someone we are at odds with.   Or send a letter of forgiveness to someone whom we are angry and/or stopped talking to.

Could we make amends for some miscommunication or a bad attitude? Can we have our own epiphany over some matter that we saw only our side on?  Can a ‘light of revelation’ be found in the actions of others and our reaction to them?  Can we cause a chain reaction of kindness through our actions?  We might gather balm for others as well as for ourselves if we see matters in another “Light”.     You can be a “light’ to others by your actions, giving to charity, helping someone through a bad time or simply smiling and being kind.   It might be the only smile a person receives all day.

Once I had a dream in which God told me He was sending me a gift.  It was a very pleasant dream and shortly after, I received two meaningful gifts on the same day which could only be from God.  I wondered which one of them was the gift of my dream.   Off and on,  I wondered about this.

But which one was my ‘dream gift’?  They were equally wonderful.   One day, much later, I had an epiphany.  They were both from God as are many other blessings He has bestowed upon me,  Every thing good that He sends me is a gift.  And in His Wisdom, I felt He sent me two together, knowing I would ponder and wonder about it.  It took me awhile, but I got it.  All good things come frm God and All are His Gifts and I gave gratitude not just for one ~ but for all.   Your small gift or action can multiply by others’ reactions.

Christmas gifts don’t have to be expensive or big – they can be given from the heart with love and appreciation for the gifted.    I have read that the majority of us have issues or health or heavy matters surrounding them – a small gift to someone in need may instill like gifts to others.

Actions have reactions.  Also – no actions can have reactions.   Fix something in your life that is broken;  mend broken relationships or quietly aid others with  kindness or sharing good will or prayers for them.  If you want to keep it private, have a homemade prayer box and fill it with prayer requests for those in need – near or far.   You will have sent them the Light of Christ.

Pass along an action that an unsuspecting someone will react to with happiness ~especially if it will be a surprise.  It will be balm for both of you.

Will you read this and pass Him by — on your way to  preparing for the holidays?  Or will you pause, stop and share your heart and mind to the Light of Jesus and welcome Him into your life?  If you do, you will truly have a Joyous and Merry Christmas!

{C} Marie Coppola December  2017

 

Santa Claus to Our Rescue

It was an exceptionally busy year that Christmas.   Most young families experience a hectic month of December, especially if they have a toddler, a baby and holiday visitors.  We were no exception, and having a last-minute list to fill, we talked about taking a quick trek one early Christmas Eve afternoon to the grocery store, for much needed staples.

Normally, doing so would be just that – a quick trip – but we lived high on a hill overlooking a large lake. Because of hazardous driving conditions in snow and ice this time of the year, winter trips were monitored carefully. We listened to the news regarding snow activity, and snow was not predicted that evening – but possibly on Christmas morning.   My cousin was willing to go for a ride, and we bundled up the toddler and the baby and brought them with us.

At the store, we shopped, ooh-ed and aah-ed at Christmas displays, and were more than startled upon leaving the store to see heavy snowflakes coming down. The parking lot was already covered. We quickly brushed off our small car and loaded it with our groceries & packages.  We then  slowly slipped and slid the 4 miles to the bottom of our large hill of a street.

There were no other cars on the roads and as we approached the bottom of our hill, we could not see the top of it for the powdering of snow coming down like confectioner’s sugar coating everything. I cuddled my baby daughter close to me and my son, the toddler, was excited at seeing the snow. After all, he knew Santa was coming later that evening.

After three attempts to put the car in gear and make it up the hill, we could only go up about a quarter of the way, and then we would slip backwards, sliding side to side. I was starting to get somewhat alarmed and taking my cue, the baby started to cry;  it was also near the time for her feeding.   Although grateful that I had taken a bottle with me for her, my thoughts were on the groceries in the car and how in the world would we get them home?  Even more worrisome – how could we try to walk up this long, slippery hill with two small children?  (There were no cell phones back then.)

After about 20 minutes, when I began worrying if we would run out of gas trying to keep the car warm, we heard a chugging sound… and an old large, black sedan with chains on the tires was coming up the hill. The car stopped (which amazed me that it could do that on this slippery hill) and a tall, large man with white hair and white beard (I kid you not)  got out of the car. He had on a navy wool knitted hat, a plaid heavy flannel shirt, black knee-length boots and suspendered pants.  I couldn’t believe that I could even think the thoughts I was thinking in our worrisome predicament.  He offered  that he, the ‘stranger’, would take my daughter and me up the hill to our house and then go back for the rest and the car.  I did think it was strange, too, that we knew almost everyone in this lake community, but had never seen a white haired, white bearded man. I put aside any thoughts of anyone abducting us in this weather and reluctantly went with him. I didn’t feel I had a choice.

We easily made it up the hill to our house. Our house was 40 steps up from the street and the stairs were completely covered with snow. The stranger carried my daughter with one hand and helped me up with the other up all those stairs – I had no boots on. Once we got inside the warm house, I watched the stranger from our front bay window go down the steps, disappearing in swirls of snow and drifts. It seemed and looked surreal to me.

Some time later, I heard the two cars chugging; the stranger had put chains on our car, too. They parked the cars, and my cousin and the stranger carried up all the groceries and one little boy.

We talked for a few minutes, thanked him and shook hands – the stranger refused any nourishment or a drink.  As he left,  I stood at the bay window with my almost three year old son in my arms watching the bearded stranger walk down the steps with the spotlights on him amidst large pellets of snow tumbling down around him. As if the man was aware we were watching him, he turned around and waved, and then I laughed and said, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.’ And to my son, I asked, “Do you know who that man is?” And without missing a beat, my toddler said, “That’s Santa Claus”. And I nodded, and said, “Yup, that’s who he is.”

Marie Coppola – A True Story – December 2017

What Happened to Us?

From December 2000 to 2013, 1,043 people in the United States were wounded or killed by “active shooters” attempting to kill people “in a confined and populated area.”   Although there were more to date that are not  listed here of multiple deaths, you may sadly  remember these:

April 1999 – Two teenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

September 1999A gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people.

October 2002 – A series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead.

March 2005 – A man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people.

October 2006 – A truck driver killed five schoolgirls and seriously wounded six others in a school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

April 2007 – A student shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000.

December 2007 – A 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping centre in Omaha, Nebraska.  February 2008 – A man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing five students and wounding 16 others.   March 2009 – A 28-year-old laid-off worker opened fire while driving a car through several towns in Alabama, killing 10 people.  March 2009 – A heavily-armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina.

April 2009 – A man shot dead 13 people at a civic center in Binghamton, New York.

July 2009 – Six people, including one student, were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University, Houston.   November 2009 – US army psychologist opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded.   January 2011 – a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others.

July 2012 –  The most injuries — 58 of them — resulted from a Colorado movie theater -12 people were killed.  Masked gunman opens fire at midnight cinema screen.

August 2012 – Gunman kills six people at Slkh temple in Wisconsin.

December 2012 A man forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He kills 20 first-graders and six adults. Before arriving at the school, he had killed his mother at their home.

April 2013 – Two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring several hundred others, including 16 who lost limbs.

June 2015 – A shooting in a historic black church in Charleston, SC kills nine people.

June 2016 – 49 people were killed by a heavily armed gunman at a popular Florida bar and wounded 53 others during a rampage.

October 2017 More than 50 people were killed and at least 500 others injured when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.

November 2017 – 27 people were killed; including 12 to 14 children in the massacre in a Texas church on  the highest death toll for the smallest Americans since 21 kids were gunned down in Sandy Hook.

The statistics are staggering and there were others.   Listed together, one realizes the magnitude of carnage produced by mass murders in the USA.    It has been noted that ‘deranged, and mentally ill people’ perform these horrendous acts.   Others say that guns are to blame even though guns alone cannot kill – humans shoot them.   And others say ‘we’ve always had violence and murders’.   Yes, there was, but isn’t it different now than it was in the mid-50s?   Yes, there are many more incidents.
In the 50s, 60s, 70s & 80s, there were occasionally like situations but not like the increase we are experiencing now.   Memories of playing outside with friends  blocks away but making sure you got home before dark.   Leaving babies on open front porches to nap in the fresh air – who would even think of anyone ‘stealing your child’?   Walking a couple of miles with same age friends at age 9 to attend religious class.    Neighbors looked out for each other.  People felt safe.
Today,  gatherings of large groups for concerts, sports, holidays, movies & performances create a possibility of harm doing.   Authorities are telling us to “always be on alert in big groups – be aware – look around.”   What happened?   Are we increasing in mental illness or derangement?   Or has our culture changed?   Or both?
Culturally, our family structure has changed from family units to single parent or same sex parents.  Marriage is redefined.  Family is redefined.   Large percentages of fathers are absent; many mothers are, too.   Having babies is redefined from ‘blessed events’ to ‘mistakes’ or ‘abort them’.   Life itself is redefined.    Mothers can legally put their wombed babies to death.  Grown children can put their aged parents to death.   People get offended over another’s values and demand they change them.   If you don’t, you are a ‘hater’.  If you don’t recognize someone as the opposite sex they prefer to be one day, you can be fined in some states,   If a family member exhibits mental problems or styles of derangement, is the family, a friend or neighbor there to warn the proper authorities about it?   Or ignore it?  Or not notice?  What happened to us?
We have taken God & His Commandments out of many schools.   With many absent or working parents, who is teaching young people about rules, be they secular or religious?  It is not uncommon to see people discard God or our nationalism.  They attack our law officers and applaud sick routines of comedians.    Instead of rules and healing faith building, everyone has cell phones that don’t teach them about close, warm relationships.   Sending group holiday greetings is not the same as a personal card with feelings expressed or a bonding visit.  Even a special phone call.   Respect is at an all-time low – and selfies are at an all-time high.   Narcissism & ‘anything goes’  has replaced sharing and caring about others’ feelings.    Even the horrendous slayers are reported without their names  as it sometimes is found  they wanted to ‘get their name in print and be glorified’.    Really?   What glory is there in murdering babies, young children or people you don’t know?    What happened to us?

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays Trigger Tough Emotions

 

When you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, you may dread the holiday season. Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions, and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable. You may wish you could skip these next two months and go straight to the routine of the next year—but you can’t. What can you do to lessen your stress and loneliness?

You can start by learning what emotions are normal and to be expected when facing the holidays without your loved one. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed as this holiday season approaches, that’s very normal,” advised psychologist Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, whose husband died. “You’re probably wondering how you’re going to handle this and are unsure of what course to take. I want to assure you that you can get through these holidays, and hopefully you can even find moments of joy.

When you know what to expect, you won’t be rendered helpless as holiday events trigger unexpected emotions. Make a point to spend time talking with people who have experienced a past loss and have already been through a holiday season without their loved one. They can help you have an idea of typical emotions and emotional triggers to expect. These people can also provide much-needed comfort and support.

Another important step in surviving the holidays is to create a healthy plan for the coming season. “Planning does help you to have a little control, even when you feel totally out of control,” said Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge. A healthy plan involves making decisions in advance about traditions, meals, time spent with others, holiday decorating, gift-giving, and commitments.

You will likely not have the energy or the interest in doing as much as you have in past years. Decide ahead of time which invitations you’ll accept, and let the host or family member know that you might leave early. Consider whether your decorating will be different this year: perhaps a smaller tree or simpler ornaments. If you cook or bake, cut back.

Make a list of every holiday tradition you can think of, from music to presents to outings. Then decide which traditions will be too difficult without your deceased loved one, which traditions you’d like to maintain, and what new traditions you can start this year.

What’s also helpful in facing the holidays is to communicate your specific concerns and needs with your family and friends. People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays. “I didn’t want to put on a damper on anyone else’s joy,” shared Mardie. “So I put on a happy face and tried to be the sister, the daughter, the aunt, that everybody wanted to see. Putting on that happy face was a heavier burden than I was emotionally able to carry at the time.”

Your friends may want you to “cheer up” and “have fun,” when that’s the last thing you want. Others will avoid you because they don’t know what to say and don’t want to make you feel worse. Some family members will give you wrong advice in a misguided attempt to help. All of these people likely mean well, but will only end up hurting you if you don’t communicate what you truly need from them.

As difficult as this may be, it’s important to tell people what they can do to help and what they are doing that isn’t helping. And if you don’t have the energy or inclination to talk to people face-to-face, then write your thoughts, concerns, and needs in a letter or email. What’s important is that you are being honest and gracious in your communication.

In describing the first holiday dinner after she was widowed, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge said, “It seemed like no one wanted to talk about my husband. I kept waiting for somebody to bring up his name. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. I excused myself and left and bawled all the way home. Later I decided maybe they were waiting for me to decide if it was okay to talk about him; maybe they were afraid if they said anything, they’d make me feel worse. From that time on when I went to an event, I found a way to let people know I wanted to talk about him and I wanted to hear their stories.”

So where can you find out what emotions to expect over the holidays, how to create a healthy plan and how to communicate with family and friends these coming weeks?

A GriefShare Surviving the Holidays seminar, to be held on Sunday, November 5th, 2017, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 8th Avenue N, North Myrtle Beach, SC from 1:45 PM to 4:00 PM, offers practical, actionable strategies for making it through the holiday season. At this biblically-based two-hour seminar, you’ll view a video featuring advice from people in grief who’ve faced the holidays after their loss. You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors, and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with practical strategies, encouraging words, helpful exercises, Q/As, and journaling ideas for daily survival through the holiday season.

You will meet with other grieving people who have an understanding of what you’re going through. They won’t judge you or force you to share, but will accept you where you are and will offer comfort and support. It is a confidential, compassionate and safe environment.   Your holiday season may not be easy and may ambush you at times. But you can choose to walk through this season in a way that honors your loved one and puts you on the path of health and healing.

To register call Fran Signorino at 843-399-8196 or if you want to find out more about a GriefShare Surviving the Holidays location nearest you, go to www.griefshare.org and insert your zip code.   There are thousands of GriefShare programs throughout the world.

Stop Murmuring & Disputing

 

Do you habitually complain, whine, argue and grumble? Do you know anyone who does not? It seems to have become a habit for many of us. By the way, the word “murmurings” refers to the complaints of the Israelites during their wanderings. You may know murmurings as being critical of others, bitterness, bickering, protesting or being unsociable. Pessimism. Negativity. In the New Testament, Paul said: “Do you do all things without murmuring and disputing?” 

Have you noticed that many people get caught up in heated and unending political discussions? — lots of murmurings going on there. Our change in government has caused new policies and procedures being enacted or offered – big time murmurings at home and the office. Don’t forget the economy or loss of jobs grumble – layoffs are increasing – homes are foreclosed.  There are countless things to whine and be bitter about and protest against. It hasn’t been easy for anyone.

Paul the Apostle, in his ministry while traveling and visiting many countries, cites in one of his directives, a Letter to the Philippians, (2:14) — “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”.

You may not be aware of Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, who really was a Hellenistic Jew who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Along with Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus’ church is built, he was among the most notable of early Christian missionaries.

Paul’s conversion to a follower of Christ is a profound story of faith. He spread Christanity by accounts of his travels which are found as Letters in the New Testament of the Bible and are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live.

What do we do in answer to Paul’s instruction – not to complain in all things. Sometimes it’s hard not to vent. Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest. It’s hard to comply with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at a ll.”  How can we tweak that?

We could say, “If you can only say something negative, don’t say anything at all”. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. It’s difficult to be positive when things are looking bleak, but does it help to heap more negativity on the pile?

It can become a habit to view everything with a sour outlook which becomes a bitterness and creates more murmurings. There’s little worse than facing each day with doom and gloom. Becoming embittered won’t change the price of gasoline or bring the prices down. It won’t change the politics of the day or create a new healthcare plan.

Listen to yourself and see how you approach these subjects. Do you always say things like, “I’m afraid that….” or “I know that things are going to get worse before they get better”…..or “I hate this or I hate that or I hate them or I hate him ….” or “That’s BS” or “they’re stupid” or “they are such a bunch of #&%$’s. And the beat goes on and the words become more heated and your murmurings may keep you from sleeping well at night. Your fear and hate will become self-fulfilling. You are what you think.

We can offset these complaints by offering words of kindness and compassion and hope. Change your heart and you will change your attitude. Kind thoughts and acts will replace your habits of negative thoughts. Negative and positive thoughts cannot share the same space in your mind. Crowd out those negative ones. God is still in control and local, national and world events are not as hopeless as we make them. Many others before us have lived through challenging times; bad times seem to be cyclical and eventually change from bad to good.

Be an agent for change. They say if you force yourself to smile, you will feel uplifted. A smile is the lighting system of the face.  It sure beats the frowns and growls. Smiles beget smiles. Maybe your co-worker or spouse or friend is tired of ‘murmuring’ or listening to yours, too, and you can make the difference to change that.

Don’t get bogged down by the signs of the times. If you are spiritual, try to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a).

Fill your spirit with Paul’s teaching: “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”. It can work and all you have to lose are your frown lines.