Very young children love to be read to and shown pictures…especially of animals. If there is a pet in the home or the family takes trips to the great outdoors, animals are always in the mix.
Our family dogs and cats give us love and attention and love is mostly what they crave …next to a big bowl of food.
All animals, domesticated or wild, feel better when they have a full tummy.
A bird finds an orange treat
A squirrel is happy for a hand-out!
Wow! Some little creatures bite off more than they can swallow.
Food changes all moods…human and otherwise. This led me to think about how animal books could teach very young children how to behave. Parents, you will like this first in a series on “animal lessons” as you try to feed, put to bed or teach sharing with your child.
Here is my newest book for a little one that you may know…The Moody Musical Cat.
It wasn’t food that changed his behavior, but music. Surprise! Surprise!
View The Moody Musical Cat
View The Moody Musical Cat
Christmas is a time of celebration and belief…belief in the true Christmas when the Savior of the World was born…belief in the joys that surround Christmas. Many of these joys come in different forms. It may be the decorating of the Christmas tree with all the old ornaments that have been carefully put away for another year. It could be baking of a special pie or the wrapping of a present for a special person. The choirs that sing our once a year music and the garlands and wreaths that are hung… bring a light and hope to our lives and in our churches. Some of those lights are bathed in sunlight and swaying moss from the trees, as here in my home state of Florida or in the beautiful snow-covered churches further up north.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Mt. Airy, N.C. Winter snow of 2018
Some say that Christmas is for children. We know it is a special time for them, but the true meaning of Christmas is for everyone.
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
To have the faith of a child…to be able to hear the ringing inside a small bell when grown-ups have ceased to hear it because of disbelief…is the theme of one of the most loved and cherished of Christmas films, The Polar Express. available online
Recently, my husband and I sat down and watched the entire film. It had been many years since we had seen it, but the “magic” was still there. Tom Hanks plays various parts with different voices, which is analyzed in the video below to the meaning behind the characters presented in this great film.
At this special season, Boyer Writes would suggest that you gather your children or grandchildren around to enjoy the full-length film. You are never too old to bring the joy of belief into your life. In today’s world, we all need to seek to believe in the sacred meaning of Christmas and also in the joys and magic of Merry Christmas that we may have left behind in our childhood!
It’s a subject no one wants to approach. Why? It’s too final… too disturbing…too somehow “unreal”. Yet, everyday someone is saying to his or herself, “I just can’t go on. It is just too overwhelming!”
It is real to them, but probably not to those around them. How could they do such a thing? How could they even think such a thing?
When a high-profile person with everything to live for, such as Anthony Bourdain, commits suicide, the news media gives out briefly a phone number (listed in this title) and begs the watcher to call “if you feel that you are having dark thoughts.” This is good advice, but reaching out for help is usually before a person gets to the place of extremely dark thoughts which leads to irrational thoughts.
Mental health and how to deal with depression as well as other problems needs to be readily available and taught by parents, schools, churches and other institutions. The afflicted person needs to see the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. Mostly, they have to be given HOPE and support.
So often those who don’t think there is a light or can’t see there will be something better waiting for them just around the corner need intervention before it is too late. Families who suspect dark thoughts have to reach out. Parents may think that their teenagers are “just going through a growing up stage.” All phases of mental anguish should be taken seriously. When you see a problem, give the person the opportunity to talk and know there is help and most of all… that they are loved by you and by God.
Conversations and questions cannot be too late. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, these are some of the statistics that we would rather not think about…but should!
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Almost 45,000 Americans die of suicide each year
- Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
- On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016….highest in middle-aged white men
Mental illness and depression can hit all people regardless of age or skin color. We all know this is true and that statistics will not fix the problem.
- Based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months.
- Girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6% vs. 5.5%) and teens of Hispanic origin reported the highest rate of attempt (11.3%), especially Hispanic females (15.1%) when compared with white students (6.8%) and White females (9.8%)
- Approximately 2.8 percent reported making a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or nurse.
What are the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal?
- Talking about suicide, hurting themselves, death, or dying
- Seeking access to firearms or pills
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Having severe mood swings
- Feeling hopeless or trapped
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Sleeping all the time or having issues with sleep
- Uncontrolled rage or agitation
- Self-destructive and risky behavior
- Giving away personal belongings
- Telling people goodbye for seemingly no reason
People who suffer from a mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse, a family history of suicide, history of trauma or abuse, terminal illness, chronic pain, social isolation, or a traumatic life event such as loss of a loved one may be at an increased risk for suicide (credit: Jenae Sitzes)
There is help for you or someone you know. Believing in the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel is God’s way of showing you that He has something good for you!
God has a plan for your life. Reach out for the help you need!
NEED HELP NOW? CALL1-800-273-8255 or CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR CRISIS TEXT LINE and Information
Occasionally, I will be going toward the altar at church and will see an elderly person waiting quietly in the pew for the minister to bring to them the Holy Communion. They are usually frail and do not feel that they can walk on their own very well. I am reminded of what my husband, who is also a priest in the Episcopal Church, often says about the elderly…“If they have lost the love of their life or have no family close by, they rarely have the human touch…the hug…the warmth of another human.” Knowing this, I might reach down and pat her (or him) on the shoulder and take their hand, without saying a word just so they know there is a touch in their life.
On researching this need for human touch, I found out the following:
“Upon birth, some babies require a little more attention at hospitals before they can leave with their parents to begin their life. Babies who receive stimulation in the form of touch have shown to grow and gain weight at rates faster than those who lack touch. They also experience fewer health issues in their first year. The simple act of a touch can lower stress levels (specifically the stress hormone cortisol) and regulate a proper body temperature in a baby’s body through the release of hormones.
The connection was realized upon finding out that children who grew up in environments such as orphanages, with less contact and engagement, had higher hormone levels compared to children raised with parents. In turn, this difference in environment can lead to many issues later in life – from a struggle to bond and behavioral issues.
However, some of the damage caused by touch deprivation can be reversed due to a change in environment – a study done in Romania in the 1980’s supports this, showing that in children aged six to twelve, those who lived in an orphanage for eight months or more possessed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who lived in an orphanage for four months or less.” (taken from Youngzine..Renee)
When my youngest son was born, he had to stay in the hospital for several days because he was under-weight. As I went to visit him daily, I would often walk in and find him being rocked by a nurse or nurse’s helper. They called him their “Little Cowboy” because his hair had little sideburns. Seeing that he was being loved meant so much.
I also learned the truth about the need for touch and human development when I was teaching at a University in Ukraine. I visited two orphanages. One was State run and the other was a Christian run home for children. The children in the State-run orphanage did not smile. When we put them on our laps to try to talk with them and hug them, they did not seem to know how to respond. Nothing brought a smile to their faces. On arriving at the Christian orphanage, the atmosphere was completely different. The children were laughing, hanging onto their adult workers and seemed well adjusted in so many ways.
Recently my husband posted a video about a man who has made it his mission to give the tiny, often sick or premature babies the human touch they need. I’m going to share this video with my readers today because it is the life story of a senior person giving of himself to a new life on earth. He is making a difference.
David Deutchman comforts a baby at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Let this video touch your heart and think of reaching out yourself to someone who may need a “touch” of love.
Turn up sound
In our lives, we play a role that others see, even though we may not be aware of it. People see us as teacher, parent, clergy, store-keeper, policeman, neighbor and much more. The real person is defined by something other than name. We are often what we represent. Sometimes that is the best part, for people may need, at a certain moment, what you represent more than who you are.
I read a real-life story recently that may be the best Christmas…or worse…that Eric Schmitt Matzen can remember. He had been an army man with the 75th Rangers, but after retirement had grown his beard and for over 80 times took on the role of Santa for many children. This particular day Eric found that his role was desperately important to one little boy.
“All a terminally ill Nashville boy wanted for Christmas was to meet Santa Claus — and he did, and then died in Old St. Nick’s arms. The 5-year-old was minutes away from death when a nurse at the Tennessee hospital where he was being treated called Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a 300-plus-pound mechanical engineer who looks like a real-life Kris Kringle. The 60-year-old, who slips into a Santa outfit for about 80 gigs a year, didn’t even have time to change into his regular getup. He rushed to the hospital 15 minutes later in only his Santa suspenders — though he still looked the part with his long, white beard and prodigious belly. The nurse handed him a gift she had ready for the sick boy.
‘When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas. Why, you’re my number one elf,’ he told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The unnamed boy perked up, using his last burst of energy to unwrap the toy. “They say I’m gonna die,” the boy told Schmitt-Matzen. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”
Schmitt-Matzen replied: “When you get there, you tell ‘em you’re Santa’s number one elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” The boy then gave Santa a last hug.
“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him,” Schmitt-Matzen told the paper. The boy’s mom ran in moments later screaming, “No, no, not yet,” which caused all the nursing staff to break down in tears — and left Schmitt-Matzen devastated.
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers and I’ve seen my share of [stuff],” he said. “But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.”
Schmitt-Matzen said the moment happened several weeks ago, and it almost made him give up playing Santa. But he managed to attend one more event.
“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play — for them and for me.”
(Credits New York Post …Sophia Rosenbaum)
Hug a child today…Christmas is coming soon. Your role today may be as a “hugger” to someone who needs it. Thank you, Eric, for being available to this precious child.
Video (Turn on Sound) Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho, known for her beautiful singing voice, as a child. Here is Jackie today.
Nestled in the center of Florida, USA, is a tiny town called Howey in the Hills. Yes, there are actually hills here, as the center of the state has beautiful rolling hills that visitors to the state rarely see. There is much more to Florida than theme parks.
Let me introduce you to Howey. It has one blinking light, a caring and protective police force, one small library, a doctor’s office, post office, a convenience store with gas and a market with a deli, and two beauty salons. An active Community church holds a live nativity scene each year, often with farm animals. Recently our 101 year old resident turned his work of art landscaping into the new town’s Blevins Patriot Park. Visitors often come there to salute those who have served in our country’s military.
The people are friendly and stop to chat as they walk their dogs along the lake front. Gorgeous sunrises are seen early in the morning across beautiful Little Lake Harris. The moss sways gently in the oak trees and the birds arrive each winter from the north to share the trees and lake with the resident birds…like the Sandhill Cranes that roam around the yards.
This town is in Lake County, Florida that gives good fire and rescue service. A brand-new grocery is just across the bridge and several up-scale restaurants at a conference center and a golf course is a short distance from the one stop light. Crime rate is extremely low. A modern school for special needs students is just down the road from the lake. Who would not want to live here? If it ever snowed (which it doesn’t) one could sled down our hills right into the lake. Which might not be a good idea for alligators can occasionally be seen. Boaters fish and once in a while a pontoon airplane lands and takes off.
Each year Howey in the Hills has a Christmas parade. There are activities for all ages and at night lighted boats sail along the lake shore. Small towns close to Howey send their high school bands and color guards to join the festivities along the lake. Eat your heart out if you are sitting in snow and ice. (Notice the school twirlers aren’t wearing snow suits). How many towns have Llamas dressed for Christmas in their parades? These gentle creatures come to show off every year.
Since most of our readers will not be here for this Christmas, we would like to share the spirit of Christmas from our little town with you. God’s blessings on this wonderful time of year.
We cannot forget our Santa Claus who brings up the end of the parade.
Video of Santa at Howey Christmas Parade (Turn on sound)