Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do Unto Others {7 for 31}

This month I'm writing a new post each day about my own version of Jen Hatmaker's 7 experiment. For more posts and an introduction, head hereToday's 7 topic is stress.

Most (ok, ok, all) of my stress is self-imposed. That's not to say that hard things don't happen, but ultimately I'm the one who chooses how I will respond to them. My lack of faith in God leads to all sorts of tension and upsetness.

Another factor is selfishness. The best (note that I did not say "easiest") cure for mild depression is to think about someone besides yourself (there are depths of darkness that no amount of happy thoughts can lift you out of - this I know because I've been in them - and the only way out of those is if someone or Someone comes in with a lantern of hope to find you), but I've found that sitting and thinking about how rotten I have it is rather depressing, whereas shifting that focus onto others lifts my mood by giving me a purpose (any person or situation can be prayed for as soon as a need is realized, and sometimes I'm even given the chance to be the answer to that prayer through physical action).

One of those tangible ways to help has come up recently, after years of trying to make it happen (can't rush God, as much as I'd like to). The church we're going to here in Little Rock, Fellowship North, is letting me teach a learn-to-knit class in November, as well as start a Warm Up America! chapter, to augment the work that their quilting ministry does. There's an encouraging amount of interest, and quite a bit of curiosity (who is this person we've never heard of whose name has suddenly appeared in the bulletin?) and I don't think I've been what anyone envisioned "the knitter" looking like, but I just appreciate them trusting me to do this and getting excited about it with me.

Until then, my sewing-in-a-straight-line skills are adequate for the quilt blocks they have for piecing each month - if I can find a time when Brooklyn isn't around to "help" me by playing with the presser foot of my sewing machine (I'm perfectly capable of sewing over my finger on my own, thanks though - or burning myself with steam from the iron).

Handicrafts of all sorts are wonderful that way - the action itself is distracting and cathartic and beneficial to you, and then the fruit of your labor can go on to bless someone else. This project has been wonderful for getting ahead on Christmas gifts... over the summer I've been knitting washcloths (I kept one in my bag to redeem the in-between moments, and used discounted discontinued colors to reduce the expense), which I'm planning to package in some felted bowls that I made awhile ago. The dear little glass bottles left over from the package of Starbucks drinks I got inspired me to hunt up hand scrub recipes (upcycling!) - and I was able to find one through Pinterest that used mostly ingredients I already had. A $2 carton of coarse sea salt, a tiny bottle of tea tree oil that will last forever, and less than a dollar's worth of lemons are all I lacked, and now I have more than enough supplies to fill my four little bottles.

As a side note, the residue left when you peel the labels off of those little glass bottles is alcohol soluble. I filled each bottle with hot soapy water, waited a minute to let it soften so I could remove the labels more easily, then gave each sticky spot a swipe with a washcloth I'd squirted a dab of rubbing alcohol on to. I was amazed at how well it worked - I didn't even have to scrub!

Unallocated money for supplies and time to do things are both rare gifts (especially with a busy, curious toddler) - but I'm going slowly, starting early on Christmas (instead of waiting until the week before), and giving myself grace, looking for small moments to fill with quick projects, and for projects that can be left and come back to as needed.

Serving and the giving of gifts should be a blessing on both sides, not a point of stress. How do you maintain a joyful attitude while serving/giving during this season of life?

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