The Secret is Out: Adult Coloring Provides Wonderful Stress Relief

Specially designed, adult coloring pages are more intricate than children’s coloring books.
 

In 2012, a study, found that anxiety can be greatly reduced by coloring.

Color Your Way to Calmness 

Widows, each with the shared trauma of losing a loved one, found that coloring together was soothing; allowing the conversation to move from hyper-emotional tears toward calm philosophical musings and shared memories. The mood-lifting power of adult coloring is pleasurable, calming, relaxing…and  the end result is a real sense of accomplishment/satisfaction achieved by creating a beautiful piece of art that is not too challenging.

“After my husband died I was numb and couldn’t even think. I bought a coloring book and crayons.  Focusing just on coloring in the picture, calmed me, my stress lifted, allowing me to  think clearer and make the decisions that I needed to make.”


Soothing, adult coloring
has helped patients with:

  • Dementia – many have relaxed for the first time in years.
  • PTSD – to diminish anxiety and become more present during episodes.
  • Parkinson’s disease –   helping to keep the pathways and neuronal connections viable to help with coordination and fine motor skills. (Some patients claim that tremors are suppressed when coloring or performing other manual tasks.)

Coloring requires complete absorption, unlike knitting or other crafts, which allows you to watch TV or multitask. When the mind is completely engaged  focusing on the process, it shuts out everything else making it impossible to worry about anything else.

This ain’t your grandma’s bridge party.
Coloring parties continue to gain in popularity, as a way to  bring adults together to talk color, enjoy each others’ company and share their lives with one another.  Adult coloring works in gatherings, for both socialization and group therapy as a way to build bonds with other people with no judgment.


WHERE TO FIND

  • Pages to color: Intricate, beautiful coloring pages aimed at adults can be found on line for free when you google free adult  printable coloring pages.   You can find lots of free adult coloring pages by doing a search on Pinterest. Check out  social media.  Coloring for All! Facebook page already has around 40,000  members.
  • Colors: Some use Sharpies,  colored pencils (nice and sharp), watercolor pencils, gel pens, promarkers, felt tips, (including  Crayola brand). ( Some say they use  a combination of metalic gel pens, fine liners, pastels and pencils to get different effects.) Prismacolor colored pencils can be found at places such as Michaels, Target, Walmart, and Office Depot.

Look who was coloring. (The show was on the air from 1998 to 2007.)
Learn more about the craze by googling: coloring for adults stress relief

 

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Single Story Home or Two Story Home?

It isn’t your imagination that a one story house feels a lot more spacious than a two story house, of equal size.

Potential home buyers are often told that they can purchase a “bigger house” for less money, with a two story home.  However, staircases, in a two story home waste a  significant amount of square footage, according to houzz.com. Risers,  landings,  and headroom, along with the wall and the hall or the path around the staircase, take a considerable amount of  valuable space on both floors. As much as a single-car garage!   A second floor bathroom, also, takes space that would be allocated to living areas and storage, in a one story home. Many two story homes have less land than a one story, as building upwards, for a two story home, requires less land than a single story with the same square footage.

One (former) two story homeowner explained, “A large amount of  the square footage in  a two story home,  is simply ‘on paper’ because it is unusable for living or storage. Twostory homes don’t have much attic, which left only our garage for storage.  Our two story home , built on a smaller lot, than a one story home, made our yard even more cramped with the tacky outdoor storage building we had to  purchase, in order to get the space we believed we were getting by buying a two-story.”

WHY THE POPULARITY OF  SINGLE STORY HOMES  THAT MAKES A ONE STORY HOME SO DESIRABLE AND, THUS,  HARDER TO FIND? 

Realtors tell us that  there are  fewer single story homes available on the market because homes without  stairs appeal to a wider range of potential buyers.  Many will not consider a two-story home.

The higher demand for a “well taken care of” single story home means one story homes typically  have faster resale and usually sell for more money, than a two-story of equal size. The popularity of a single story  increases the chance that the home  doesn’t languish on the market  forcing the seller to keep cutting the price, due to a limited number of  potential  buyers.

ENERGY COSTS 
Two story homes tend to have inconsistent temperature zones. A basic law of physics is that heat rises. In winter, heat goes up the stairs leaving the downstairs cold. In summer,    the heat  in a one story heat rises and escapes  to the attic while on a two story, the heat rises to the second level making bedrooms, on the second floor stifling hot and harder to cool.

It takes a decent amount of effort and expense to balance temperature between the two levels so that one level is not too warm while the other is too cool. Zoned air conditioning/heating (two separate HVAC units) may be used but that means  more opportunity for breakdowns and costly repairs.

Often when kids leave the nest the second level stores junk they didn’t take or items that one can’t seem to throw away; Mom and Dad  rarely go upstairs. However, shutting off the second floor to save money on utilities can create condensation leading to  mold, which can be an expensive problem.

Maintenance and Repairs
Soaring stairwells and a two-story exterior usually require scaffolding or a tall ladder for   “do-it-yourselfers” who are willing to paint 20 feet in the air since painters and roofers often charge a premium for two story homes.  Gutters and chimneys are harder to clean, due to height and often special equipment is required for general repair.

Cleaning
One story homes are easier and faster to clean, without the need to drag  the vacuum cleaner and  “cleaning supplies“  all the way up the stairs” and then back down to put them away.  Cleaning light  fixtures and changing bulbs high up in the stairwell can be intimidating.  Stairwells must be wide enough to easily accommodate large furniture being lugged up and down stairs. Still, walls are often marred.

Guests
Overnight guests  can mean numerous trips up and down the stairs  transporting fresh linens, dusting and vacuuming before visitors arrive and then  afterwards to clean and rewash bedding.

Laundry
Doing the laundry can mean climbing up and down stairs multiple times, hauling laundry baskets of dirty clothes downstairs, going up and down stairs each time to move clothes from the washer to the dryer, then taking clean clothes back up to the bedrooms.

Clutter at the bottom of the stairs.
Many items, such as suitcases setting at the bottom of the stairs waiting for someone to take them up tend to be ignored and wind up staying there.

PLUMBING NIGHTMARES IN A TWO STORY HOME
An upstairs  plumbing leak  from a bathtub, toilet,  a washer or hot water heater can be a disaster.  (A problem in the  waste piping  can create a horrific stench.) Since water travels along pipes like a highway,  one may not notice something has happened until a large wet spot drips from the ceiling of a room other than the one right below the upstairs bathroom.  Some reported that repairs often require 2′ holes in  ceilings to be  left open  for weeks, in order to dry out completely to avoid mold.  Bathrooms on both levels are often out of commission during repairs. However, damage isn’t just confined to the upstairs flooring. Instead, repairs may necessitate walls and several ceilings  downstairs.

HOME BUYERS OF ALL AGES LIKE THE PRACTICALITY AND SIMPLICITY OF A SINGLE STORY

Universal design is associated with the layout of a one story home, which provides an effortless flow, with everything  located on the same floor.  It is easier to  keep an eye on young children playing just down the hall, when rooms are on one level.  Many parents of toddlers and small children don’t want kids upstairs alone at night, in case of illness or a fire.

Fires
Imagine  loved ones  awakening to a fire, becoming disoriented and stumbling around in the dark.  A sleepy child or overnight guest could easily become disoriented. For someone who wears glasses, trying to find them in a panic is a disaster waiting to happen.

A fire in a room at the bottom of the stairs can be a catastrophe, without a second stairway to escape. Jumping from a second story window is more terrifying than exiting the window of a single story home.

Accidents and health problems happen.
Stairs  can be difficult to negotiate,  for someone  with a broken leg or other health issues, such as  emphysema, arthritis, knee, hip  or back problems,  osteoporosis or COPD. Stairs can be dangerous to navigate for those with diminished eyesight or who require a wheelchair or other mobility aid.

Falls on stairs are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency rooms in the US.
Tripping over the family  dog or cat, while using stairs is a common occurrence.  Victims can be sent tumbling when stocking feet slide on wooden stairs or sneakers catch on stair carpet.  An arm or leg  catching in the railing spokes, when falling,  can break bones, leave goose-size lumps or worse.

Falls and the elderly.
Research shows that falls are the primary etiology of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65 years and more than 90 percent of hip fractures a result of a fall. One fourth of elderly persons, who sustain a hip fracture, die within six months of the injury.

This year (2015) all Baby Boomers will be at least age 50.  Fifteen years from now  every single person born in 1965 or earlier will be age 65 or older.

Baby boomers  are retiring in record numbers and  many are  willing to pay a little more to have a one-story home    open  walls and  kitchens, easily accessible baths,  less expense of “large lot, large homes would  without the risk of falling down stairs.

Many who didn’t plan on being in their two-story home for the rest of their life find that they don’t have  the energy to move again, yet by not using the second floor, their home becomes  smaller.

Monetary opportunities abound for architects, planners, developers, builders who are willing to develop beautiful one story homes that are convenient to hospitals, restaurants, grocery, retail… and even better…that are within walking distance. Some Baby Boomers have said they are considering a move to a town or city  that meets their need, allowing them to remain in their home forever.

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VISUAL APPEAL
A  single story home is believed, by many, to be  more visually appealing than a  two-story home. A one level house  appears to be larger on the lot and adds to the perceived and actual value of the home.  Majestic entries soaring to  up to 16 ft high, ceiling styles can vary from room to room,  with no second story above. Skylights and atriums result in lots of natural light make the house look more  spacious.

Siding on  the second story of a  brick or stone home, gives the appearance of the upper story being cobbled on, as an afterthought.  Homes with siding on the second level seem to look old within a few short years, making the neighborhood look a bit bedraggled.  An all brick,  stucco or stone home will keep its curb appeal longer, helping to retain the property value. Builders tell us they have the issue of how to cover the second story making it harder to find a two story, without Hardie Plank or other siding.

The above was  compiled from surveys from realtors, builders, appraisers, design engineers and people who have lived in both one story and two story homes. 

 

Posted in Finances, Getting ahead, Great Deals, Great ideas!, Land in Oklahoma, OK, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Real Estate, Senior Citizens, Tulsa, Tulsa Real Estate, Tulsa Realty | 1 Comment

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Signs Proclamation for Elder Hunger Awareness Month – June 2015

Proclamation signed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for  Elder Hunger Awareness Month June 2015

How is it possible that we have Senior Citizens living right here in Oklahoma who are on Social Security but malnourished?  Please read and  share with others about:  hidden hunger of our elderly 

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Is Your Grandma Hungry and You Don’t Know It? Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.

Elder Hunger Awareness Month Proclamation signed by Governor Mary Fallin  for June 2015.

Oklahoma ranks #8, in the nation, for senior hunger! 1/3 of Seniors in Oklahoma City are hungry on a daily basis, yet hunger in Oklahoma is higher in many rural areas.

  • Elderly people struggling with hunger may be ashamed for others to know.
  • Social Security does not keep a person from going hungry
  • Hunger affects health as health is heavily determined by what we eat.
  • Many factors, not just poverty, contribute to hunger.
  • The grief of the widowed may be compounded by lack of money.

NEARLY FOUR MILLION SENIORS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE MALNOURISHED 

ELDERLY PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH HUNGER MAY BE ASHAMED FOR OTHERS TO KNOW.
The majority of those seniors who face the threat of hunger,  are white (63%), have incomes above the poverty line and  are widowed, with disabled widows at a higher risk.  Among the most pronounced increases, for food insecurity, are the retired, those who do not live in a metro area, women, and households with no grandchildren present.

SOCIAL SECURITY DOES NOT KEEP A PERSON FROM GOING HUNGRY
One in three Oklahomans rely on Social Security for their total income. However, there is no minimum Social Security benefit amount.  At the death of a spouse, while one Social Security benefit goes away  rent and utilities, insurance, taxes,  maintenance/repair continue and become more expensive, as time goes on.   If there was a  first or second mortgage on the home, there may not be much equity in the home so by selling it she might  go in the hole with fees and closing costs. Many widows spend years paying off the expensive funeral for their late spouse.

While more than 50% of  households  receiving food through food banks are also receiving food stamps, a Senior receiving  the average  Social Security benefit does not qualify for the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly called  food stamps.  One widow who did receive SNAP, lost her $22 monthly  benefit when the Social Security cost-of-living increased this year,  putting her over the allowed income.

 HUNGER AFFECTS HEALTH AS HEALTH IS HEAVILY DETERMINED BY WHAT WE EAT. 
79% of households  report that as they are unable to stretch their dollar far enough to buy enough food to sustain their health they purchase inexpensive,  unhealthy food. Processed foods (packaged) may seem cheaper, but can adversely affect one’s health.   

MANY FACTORS, NOT JUST POVERTY, CONTRIBUTE TO HUNGER. A large number of Oklahoma seniors skip meals in order to pay for dental care when they simply can’t endure  the  pain that makes it extremely uncomfortable to eat.  The need for hearing aids or for eyeglasses that get broken or are no longer strong enough can reduce the small amount they normally use for food as Medicare, in the state of Oklahoma, does NOT cover glasses or  hearing aids. It is an ongoing battle for many elderly to just find the money for  the medication that needs to be taken with food, to assure its effectiveness. With very little left to buy food for the month some resort to:

(a) payday loans  with Annual Percent Rates of 391% or higher.  Oklahoma is No. 1 in Payday Loan Usage – NPR State Impact

or

(b) credit card companies that  may add a late fee of $35 and the APR may be increased to the variable penalty of 29.99% when  the minimum payment is not received by the due date!

Either one  puts them further in debt. 

THE GRIEF OF THE WIDOWED MAY BE COMPOUNDED BY LACK OF MONEY.

There are more than 100,000 widows in Oklahoma. 40% of women in Oklahoma, over the age of 65, are widowed and nearly 70% of widows in Oklahoma live alone.

The cost of the loved ones funeral can be devastating for the widowed when there is no life insurance or other income to help with the expense. Many have depleted their savings, due to the low interest rates they were receiving, which left them no choice but to use the principal. Many receive no company pension.

A lack of money can play a big  part in widows becoming isolated.  Embarrassed and ashamed by their situation, they are afraid if they get close to someone they will learn the truth.    There isn’t money to buy a little extra food to take to a potluck. Many times there is no choice but to decline offers to socialize. Many times it is a hardship to buy gas for the car to get to church once a week. Even  a small gift for a grandchild’s birthday may be financially outside the realm of possibilities. Feeling ashamed and believing they are the only ones in their predicament further isolates them as they tell no one.

THE THREE HARDEST WORDS TO SAY ARE Please help me.   

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”                                                                                    ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

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NO PERSON IN AMERICA SHOULD GO HUNGRY!
Enough healthy food for adequate nutrition is important,  to  reduce the rates of obesity,  diabetes and other chronic diseases and the accompanying skyrocketing healthcare costs.

The  health of low-income elderly persons,  60 years of age and older, can be improved by supplementing their diets with nutritious foods.

Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending Senior hunger. Each of us can all do something! Working together, we can solve hunger in Oklahoma.

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“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in. ”                                                                   ~ Mother Teresa   ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
*In Oklahoma, Feeding America food banks serve the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma   (Oklahoma City) and  Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma  (Tulsa, OK )

Senior/Elder Hunger ~ The Hidden Epidemic in America.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-08-11-widows11_ST_N.htm
http://www.aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/docs/2011profile.pdf
http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/general/2014/ssqf/Social-Security-2014-Oklahoma-Quick-Facts-AARP-res-gen.pdf
http://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2015.html
http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n3/v70n3p89.htm
http://www.aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2011/docs/2011profile.pdf
http://pubs.aarp.org/aarpbulletin/20150102?folio=34#pg35
http://okfoodbank.org/what-we-do/senior-servings/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lindsay-jones/senior-diet_b_2662543.html
http://www.nfesh.org/
http://www.mowaa.org/document.doc?id=707
http://frac.org/initiatives/addressing-senior-hunger  

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Seniors May Appreciate a Grocery Store Gift Card More Than Anything Else You Can Buy Them

Mother’s Day
In 2014,  $3.65 billion was spent on jewelry for Mother’s Day; $2.35 billion on flowers and $780 million on greeting cards, according to AARP.

Birthdays, Christmas, and other gift giving occasions
Mom or Grandma doesn’t need more perfume, another blouse or knick-knacks to set on a shelf to dust.   What many older adults aren’t sharing is  that with interest rates so low they have had to dip deeper into their saving and are struggling.

Why not help our parents and grandparents or another elderly person we know with a grocery store gift card. Their response to something like that will tell you real quick if they are struggling a bit.

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Our goal is to educate people that vulnerable seniors are having to choose between food and other basic needs, present some suggestions and listen to others ideas on what they can do to help with this unnecessary burden some are quietly carrying.

IS YOUR MOTHER OR GRANDMOTHER  HIDING  THAT SHE IS GOING HUNGRY?

Posted in Baby Boomers, Birthdays and Anniversaries, Blessings, Elder Hunger, Finances, Grandparenting, Great ideas!, Groceries, HAppy, Healthy eating, Inspiration, Neighbors, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Senior Citizens, Senior Hunger, Volunteering, volunteers, Widow, Widowed, Widower, widowers, Widows | Tagged | 1 Comment

Seriously, I think I am a sheep.

FEW OF GOD’S CREATURES ARE MORE HELPLESS THAN SHEEP.

Untended, sheep will drink from the muddiest and filthiest, “urine and parasite polluted ” waters. They will eat poisonous plants or starve, instead of moving on to greener pastures when their own field is stripped of foliage. The Shepherd stays close to his sheep, watching over and protecting them as he guides his flock in the right direction to keep them safely out of harms way, to  the cleanest sources of pure, sparkling water, and a place to rest.

Manure, mud, leaves, and twigs mat a sheep’s fleece causing it  to become top heavy and “cast down” (rolling onto it’s back). Unable to regain balance and totally helpless, if not “righted” by their shepherd, sheep face a certain death.

Flies lay eggs in sheep nostrils, burrowing  in deep and causing severe inflammation and irritation.  Left untreated, the sheep may harm or even kill themselves as they butt into trees and rocks, in an effort to ease the pain. A mixture of linseed oil poured over the sheep’s head brings instant relief from the annoying flies.

Timid and fearful, sheep are quick to panic. When one begins to run others  immediately  follow,  without knowing what the danger is.  In eastern Turkey in 2006,  four hundred sheep plunged to their death after following one of the sheep that tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine.

Straying from the flock, into an area that looks inviting, sheep are vulnerable to attack.   The enemy always looks for a lonely sheep that has strayed.  Isolated and helplessly lost  a lone sheep faces hunger, frustration, being hurt, scared and lonely.

1 Peter 5:8  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

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WHAT THE SHEPHERD DOES FOR HIS SHEEP

A shepherd ‘s life revolves around the care of his sheep, providing for the sheep’s every need for  survival – food, shelter and  protection from enemies.  Shepherds lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers in order to protect the sheep and willing to sacrifice his own life to  save one.   

King David, the best known shepherd of Bible history, describes the Good Shepherd, who watches over his flock,  provides for every need  and would literally sacrifice himself in order to protect and save his sheep.

 John 10:10-11 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   Circumstances of life may make us feel like a lost sheep; isolated and all alone; timid and fearful without any support.

It’s no coincidence that  God likens us to sheep. We humans act like sheep: The weatherman mentions the possibility of snow, and in a panic we rush to the grocery store; cleaning the shelves of soup, bread, milk and toilet paper.

Just as sheep are unable to survive on their own, it is true for humans.  Like sheep we easily wander to what may at first appear inviting but is, in reality, dangerous and  leads to destruction. No matter how powerful, clever, sophisticated, and/or self-sufficient one may feel, there comes a time when one is faced with frailty of life and learn that our abilities are simply not adequate. When faced with the unknown and unexplainable, our first reaction is fear as we think we are in so deep that there is no way out. We feel helpless and hopeless and maybe realize how much we need a shepherd.  No matter how far we have strayed from Him, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who was always been there quietly awaiting our request for His help hears our plea and  comes quickly to provide His guidance, protection and comfort.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”   Isaiah 53:6  

JESUS WANTS TO HELP US
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Once we make the choice to “look unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), He will guide us safely home, as our Shepherd, never leaving us or forsaking us.

NO MATTER HOW FILTHY AND ASHAMED WE FEEL THE BIBLE TELLS US:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NIV)

Just as sheep instantly recognize the voice of their shepherd and will follow him, Jesus is the Great Shepherd and his sheep (his true followers) recognize his voice and follow Him. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 In the same way, Christ’s presence “dispels the fear, the panic, the terror of the unknown”. When troubled and need peace, His sheep can draw strength from Him and experience His peace, because He is the source.

In the Old Testament, wool represented pride and selfishness. We may not even realize we are carrying and being  dragged down by “burdens ” of materialism, arrogance and self-reliance. Just as sheep are sheared  of hot, heavy, matted wool* to get rid of  the heavy burden they have been carrying around God can clean all the manure and other nasty, stinking filth that we have been carrying around from our lives. “He restores my soul”.

Like sheep we may be agitated and tense, highly stressed,  refusing to lay down and rest. A shepherd’s presence calms his flock by reassuring and relaxes them.   “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2.

We are incapable to make it on our own  to heaven yet through the strength of Jesus, we can overcome anything in life, including death. Through Jesus, we even overcome death. He bequeaths the gift of Eternal Life to those who follow Him, according to His teachings.

The first verse in  Psalm 91, says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” In order to be under the shadow of something, we need to stay close to it. John 10 (NIV)   When we stay close to the Good Shepherd, daily seeking Him and faithfully following Him  He can provide a safe place to turn for wisdom and help; protecting us from being preyed on by the enemy.  Only Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd can fill the empty space in our hearts and give us both hope and peace as we face things that are too hard to handle alone.

Misunderstandings, unforgiveness, hurt feelings, and the ordinary irritations and frustrations of daily life are like the “flies” that torment sheep.   Just as a mixture of linseed oil poured over a sheep’s head brings instant relief from the irritation and annoyance….to  humans oil represents the power of the Holy Spirit. Since the beginning of Christianity it has been customary for Christians to be anointed with fragrant oil for healing from serious or life-threatening illnesses, and at baptisms, confirmation and ordinations. During difficult times God graciously pours out the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, infusing us with wisdom, perseverance, peace and generosity, to transform our penchant for intolerance, envy and  insecurity.

In the Bible, sheep are used as metaphors as the followers of Christ, (gentle, quiet, innocent animals that do not give their shepherds a lot of problems).  31 “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  –Matthew 25: 31-33

Prayer:  
Lord,  Please help me to realize that  I am helpless and cannot do everything on my own. Thank you for helping me to remember that what makes me strong is the understanding of my need for You and that leaning on Your strength is not weakness at all, but power beyond measure. I ask that you  help me surrender total control of my life to you, allowing You to lead me and be the Shepherd of my life.   I thank you for protecting, providing and guiding me in everything I do and for always being with me. Thank you, Lord that by Your wisdom I am saved. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray. 
Amen.
“The Lord is my shepherd!

 

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Are Churches Failing the Widow?

As death is inevitable for each one of us, many of us will be the one left behind to walk this lonely road, alone.  Yet, the impact of grief and widowhood is not something for which one can prepare, even when the death is anticipated.

Studies show that widows lose 75 percent of the  people they believed were friends when their spouse passes. No longer part of a couple the widow is not included in couples events.   When she runs into a friend they may insist they will call her to get together, but they never do. The loss of friends seems insignificant compared to the huge loss of a husband. However, losing long time friends is unexpected and widows grieve the loss of friends while grieving the loss of our loved one. A widow’s identity and role change when she went from wife to “widow”.

The loss of her partner, compounded by this loss of identity (where she no longer participates in activities in the role of someone’s wife) has a profound effect on her sense of self-worth and can trigger  low self esteem.   Widows hate the label of widow, which  carries an awful stigma all its own. Strange noises in the middle of the night is nothing compared to the emotional pain of feeling alone and forgotten. When faced with the greatest darkness she has ever felt, everything seems broken and friendships gone. The pain is overwhelming and she doesn’t want to be alone.

FEELING LIKE A MISFIT: Social loneliness is experienced due to one not feeling like they are a member of their community and/or no close friends or family to rely on. A person can be either emotionally or socially lonely, or both.  Widows are likely to have more friends if they belong to a church.

From the moment of her loved ones death the widow starts the slippery slope downhill.  One pastor described widows saying they move from the front row of the church to the back, and then out the door.

On forums where widows can post anonymously, time and time again we see these sentiments:

  • We move from serving and singing in choir to solitude and silent sobbing, and then on to find a place where we belong.  We were very involved in our church. Now when I go,  I sit on the back row near a door so I can escape as most of the time, I just  have to leave.
  • We may think that in a community of believers, we support each other, but I haven’t heard from anyone from church in many months.
  • Church members said that they would come by in the beginning and check on me but no one has. I haven’t been there either since my husband died. It’s too painful and I know I’ll fall apart.  I haven’t lost my faith but I do feel abandoned sometimes.
  • I am legally BLIND and would so appreciate a ride to church if anyone lives near me.

James 1:27 says that true religion is to take care of widows in their distress. Widows tell us:

  • If you aren’t a widow you cannot not understand what a widow is going through.
  • We wish churches would have for widows only groups; not an organized grief therapy, not a dating service or gathering for Senior citizens, but a support group, made up just of widows and one for widowers just for widowers.   We have found that the greatest support and compassion is not from churches or a therapist but other widows.
  • We don’t necessarily know who the other widows are in our church. We’d love it if our church would just help us make a connection to other widows. Our self esteem is low and we don’t want anyone to reject us.  Even a shy person can be helped by a small group.  If the church would simply give us a place and time for widows to meet, we could take it from there.  “Small groups” where widows and widowers meet are volunteer driven; minimum time is required from pastoral leadership. (Widowers chimed in that they need a widowers group made up just of widowers.)

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PRESERVING THEIR DIGNITY. WIDOWS WANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BACK One widow said she believes that everyone should always be given the opportunity to do something in return for receiving a “hand up”, because otherwise it is a “handout”.  Please let us be and encourage us to be involved, instead of making us feel that we are to be pitied and that our life has no meaning anymore. 2 Thessalonians  10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.[a2 Thessalonians 3:10-12English Standard Version (ESV)

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Further, doing something in return allows them to feel they are a part of something and are needed.  When anyone, including a church member, does something to help her (such as working on her house, giving her groceries or looking at her car; saving her money) she should ALWAYS do something  in return, even if it is small. “People’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die.” (From the book “How People Grow”)

EMBRACING THE WIDOWED A church that embraces widows will find that widows, who may seem fragile, at first, have a whole lot to offer, including time and knowledge. The widowed can be a real help to the church if they are encouraged to be a part of something which gives them hope that their life isn’t over. The church helps them; they help the church.

Most of us want to help when we see someone in need but we often don’t know how.We tell the widow, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” In shock, struggling with deep grief and overpowering waves of loneliness and confusion, a widow doesn’t know what it is that she needs….Friends stopped trying when she didn’t answer the phone, not realizing that she was in the middle of a crying jag and simply could not talk. Assuming that she didn’t want to hear from them. Feeling like they must be bothering her  they gave up trying to stay in touch.

A widow believes she must be strong so others aren’t forced to cope with her pain and sorrow, she puts on a big act to appear normal. She stays busy to fill the void convincing everyone with her wide smile that she is doing great.

HOW A WIDOW WANTS YOU TO SEE HER Bumping into them at the grocery store the widow forcing that fake smile, she declines offers of help by reassuring that she is doing just fine and keeps the pain inside.  She doesn’t want to be a burden or whine or complain or have anyone know that she still continues to grieve. She doesn’t want to appear weak.”Taking her at her word that she is doing well  and doesn’t need help, offers of help are few and far between.

THE REALITY: When she is alone she says she  is often sobbing in a heap on the floor. Every day is a struggle. Only another widow might realize the excruciating pain she is in. that leaves her unable to even clean her house or cook.

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There are more than 100,000 widows in Oklahoma. 800,000 in the US become widowed each year, making widows the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Almost half the women over 65 years of age in the United States in 1997 were widows and nearly 70 percent lived alone. Does your church currently offer a widow support group made up of small groups (4-6 in a group) of widows?

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KUDOS TO: Stand In The Gap Ministries  It is a Christian ministry, not a church. They offer their findings from extensive research on how to help the widowed  to Oklahoma churches in order to enhance what the church is already doing to help widows!  Over 25 churches in the Tulsa area alone, have received the Stand in the Gap information on Kindred Community for Widows. NOTE: There is contact info on the Stand in the Gap website allowing you to find out when their next informational meeting is.

Posted in Blessings, Inspiration, Military families, Neighbors, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Tulsa, volunteer, Volunteer work, Volunteering, volunteers, Widowed, Widower, Widows | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments