Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Change Your Focus

If you are feeling down and out change your focus.  Have you ever noticed that whatever we focus on seems to grow? Take for instance, if someone is constantly focused on their job they tend to spend more time with job related activities. If someone is focused on getting more and more fit and in shape they tend to go to the gym or constantly workout.  Whatever we give our primary attention to that is what tends to take up most of our time and thoughts. So, if you focus on feeling sad then the tendency is to remain sad and that is what will consume your thoughts.

What I have found throughout my lifetime during bouts with depression is that I become focused on myself. Sometimes I have allowed that to happen. I have used some bouts of depression to do self- reflection and sort out where my life is headed. I have taken a close look to see the mistakes I have made and things I have been doing wrong, and then look at ways that I could be doing things better and how to correct some of my character flaws.  I have found these to be times of real spiritual, emotional and personal growth. 

Now there have been times I admit that I have allowed my depression to swallow me up. During those times, thoughts have been focused on how others are hurting me, how life is difficult, how I’m too tired to go on and in a nutshell “woe is me”. In all fairness, we all need to lick our wounds now and again. However, too much of this is destructive to our own well-being. I am not the center of the universe and the world does not revolve around me. Everyone has their trials and tribulations they have to face. If we focus on only our problems we can sink into a deep dark hole. Reality is rarely found in the kind of thinking that goes on when we give in to this kind of despair.

Now you may be saying it sounds like you think that depression is under our control. There are some depressions that are outside of an individual’s control. But, for many of us the depression we experience is fully within our control. Having struggled with depression throughout the years, I have learned the art of controlling my depression. The one major factor that I have learned is more effective than any other in controlling my depression has been a change of focus. I change the focus from myself to the wants and needs of others. We all share in the sadness of humanity. We and those around us are not perfect and at times we hurt each other. When we change our focus from looking solely at our own struggles to helping others with their struggles we not only help the other person we help ourselves. If I can help to improve someone else’s day, help to make a moment of their life just a little easier, or offer them a leg up in the struggle of life that makes me happy. The depression is gone.

For those of us who are Christians we also have another focus that can leave us in perfect peace. The Bible makes a promise that he will keep those in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him. If we focus on God and his kingdom then the heartache and hardships of this world disappear. This promise has taken me through many a dark and difficult time. I changed my focus from those who were hurting me to the God above who was lifting me up each and every day. I changed my focus from those who didn’t care about me to the God above who cares enough about me to even know the number of hairs on my head.  I changed my focus from a whole and dying world to an eternity of peace. I changed my focus from a world where you can’t count on anything to a God who can be counted on for everything.

So the next time sadness begins to overtake you, take control and decide how you’re going to handle it. Are you going to make it a time of self-growth or self-reflection? Are you going to do a little self-denial and help someone else through a difficult time? Hopefully you will always choose, even during good times, to grab onto God’s promise for perfect peace and keep your eyes on the goal.

Shelva Hess, MSW, LSW

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for Loving Each Other

I’ve been thinking about my parents lately, most likely because yesterday was Mother’s Day and Father’s Day isn’t far away. On Mother’s Day, my lovely wife, Thelma, and I, had dinner with my 92 year-old Dad and also took him for a drive to see Mother’s grave in Brecknock Township, Lancaster County. Mom died a little over two years ago. On the way back to Dad’s home we also stopped at Thelma’s Mother’s grave near Ephrata. It was a poignant time of remembrance and reflection.

Recently I was bicycling with some friends in Juniata County. The group numbered about 20 people, some of whom I did not know prior to the weekend event. We were sitting in a little restaurant eating Italian food and getting “refueled” for the return ride to the cabin where we were staying. One of the ladies in the group said to me, in the course of conversation: “You must come from a really happy family.” She said this partly because two of my sisters were accompanying the group as hostesses, cooking and providing support for the riders and she saw how my sisters and I related to each other. I thought a few moments on how to respond to Jane, the rider’s, statement about my family. I said to her, “Well, I think one of the most important memories I have about my Mom and Dad is that they loved each other. There was never any doubt about that, and their love for each other provided the security we needed as kids growing up.”

And so I say to my parents today: “Thanks, Mom and Dad, for loving each other. That provided a stable backdrop for my siblings and me to grow up and launch out into the world.” As a young boy growing up in their home, my parents provided me with a great example of how a husband and wife can love each other and live together in peace and harmony, giving most of their attention to loving each other and their kids, rather than expending emotional energy in fighting, arguing and sabotaging each other. That, truly, was a priceless gift our parents gave to us. 

Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist

Monday, May 11, 2015

Moving On

Almost 30 years ago my husband and I moved to Quarryville with our young family. The first time we drove through the town, I was under impressed with the “Main Street”.  However, it was not long before I began to understand that Solanco's sense of community is one of their greatest strengths.
We rented a farm house and our landlord shared with us where the best place to buy our milk was. They invited us to church and to dinner. They made us feel like part of their family. And, I began to feel like I had moved “home”.
As our children grew, we began to develop relationships with families through their school and activities. We developed relationships through our church. And, we developed relationships in the borough of Quarryville.

For the past 7 ½ years I have had the privilege of developing many special relationships as I have managed the Community Closet Thrift Store. We have many customers who shop in the store on a very regular basis. There are some customers who make stopping in the store a regular part of their week. Many of the customers have become my friends and I miss them when I don't see them for a while. They have shared their joys and their sorrows with me as we have taken a few minutes to chat in the store.

I will always remember some of the stories. I remember the young mom who was expecting her second child. During her pregnancy, her husband passed away in an accident. She now had great needs and was going through a time of grief. I was able to share the love of Christ with her.

I will remember another customer who is in her 40's. I asked how she was doing and she said, “O, okay”. But she said it in a way that made me ask her what was going on. She shared with me that her husband had recently passed away from an unexpected heart attack. She also was walking through a deep time of grief and I was able to share Christ's love with her.

And then there are the friendships with the volunteers. Each morning we have a time of prayer together where we often laugh and cry together. They share their stories and what is going on in their families.

I hear the voices of volunteers in different situations.  I remember the volunteers laughing together and having fun as they work. I remember them sharing their joys and sorrows with each other. Friendships are developed as they work together.

And so, as I move to another chapter of my life away from New Hope Community Closet, I will miss the friendships that I have made. And, I have come to know that Quarryville's real strength is their sense of community and love for each other. Quarryville has indeed become home to me. Being part of the Solanco community is a blessing

I have learned so much as I have managed the Community Closet. I have learned to rely on God day by day. I have let God love others through me as my love is less than perfect.

My desire has been to give God glory through all I did. Helping the store to be a great place to shop has always been about giving the customers a great shopping experience. My hope has been that God's love, kindness and peace would be seen each day to each of the customers.

And so, this chapter of my life is ending and another is beginning. I hold you all in my heart. Your voices and memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you each so much for being such a wonderful part of my life.

Deb Riddell
Closet Manager

Monday, May 4, 2015

To be a Servant

One of the most important lessons I have learned is to have the desire to be a servant instead of the need to be served.  Jesus came to earth and humbly served others.  How often are we humble enough to be a servant to others and what does it entail?  Helping people by preparing a meal, grocery shopping for a shut-in or just taking the time to sit and visit with them and really listen.

Recently I have had several opportunities to be a servant.  One was for the Community Meal at my Church.  The reward of watching the community enjoy the meal we prepared was all that I needed.  There is something about seeing people come together, eat and fellowship together.  I especially enjoy just watching and listening to the hum of conversation going on around me.    

Another opportunity was working at New Hope Community Closet Thrift Store.  Working with the volunteers and customers was a very humbling experience.  Everyone working together to get the work done and the patience of customers when glitches come up from a re-learning curve of working with a cash register helped me remember my need and desire to be humbled!
Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayer of my heart always be
Make me a servant, make me a servant
Make me a servant today

Elaine Campbell, MA, MHC