7 Cold Weather Gift Ideas

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who is always cold when it’s below 50?  Or better yet, would you like to make a cold weather gift basket?  Below are seven cold weather gift ideas to include for the person in your life who is always freezing!  I am nearly always cold and I want you and your loved ones to stay warm.cold weather gift ideas

  1. Wool Clothing: I’m not talking about just any wool clothing, I’m talking about high quality merino wool clothing.  Socks, scarves, gloves, winter underwear/base layers and hats are all possibilities!  Hats, gloves and socks are more reasonably priced between $20.00 and $40.00.  My personal favorites are socks and the base layers made from this great material.  If you are decked out in wool all over your body, you are sure to stay warm. I’ve written about merino wool here.
  2. Coffee and/or Tea Sampler: This may sound like an obvious choice, but depending on whether Tea or Coffee is preferred, there are many choices of samplers that can bring a splash variety and warmth to the mug of someone who is cold and likes hot drinks!  I prefer tea and would love a sampler like this one by Mighty Leaf Tea.
  3. Portable Hot Water/Beverage Heater: As a companion to the above sampler of tea and coffee, you might consider a traveling beverage heater.  There are many models that range from a very small metal coil that plugs into your car to small travel kettles.
  4. red vestDown or Fleece Vest: You can’t underestimate the extra warmth delivered by a nice down or fleece vest that can be thrown on both indoors and outdoors.  These vests can serve as an outer layer or and inner layer!  Buy one from just about any store when it’s cold.  cool cayenne
  5. Cayenne Pepper: This may seem like a crazy gift to suggest, but these spicy capsules will go a long way in keeping your loved one toasty from the inside out!  Another benefit of this delightful spice is that it has properties that help ease the pain of digestive tract problems.  I previously reviewed the Solaray brand, but there are other brands of capsules.  You can also use the Cayenne pepper in your spice rack if you enjoy spicy foods.
  6. Microwavable Pillow: Pick up a spa pillow that heats up in the microwave in two short minutes!  Wrap it around your neck and cuddle with a book!  If you’d rather get outdoors, put it on underneath your jacket and feel some added warmth for a couple hours.  I have been using Earth Therapeutics: Anti-Stress Microwavable Neck Pillows for years and get them from Kohl’s or Amazon.
  7. Personal Quartz Heater:  For those of us who are truly warm weather devotees, a small heater is a must have.  Personal warmth during a long day at the office or while paying bills at home, comes easily with a small heater.  Keep the house cool and make one room extra warm with a small heater.  At the office your coworkers will likely not feel the effects of your small heater.  You’ll be cheerier and more productive if you are not tense from fighting a chill. You can find a variety of these at Target, Home Depot, Kohls, Amazon and many other specialty stores.

Please share your cold weather secrets with me.  I want to stay warmer than ever this winter. –Madge

The Gift of Transparency Opened Again

Touching vignette by my talented cousin – thanks Buddy.

The Gift of Transparency Opened Again on December 19, 2012
By Buddy McElhannon (buddymac@bellsouth.net)

Going to work the week before or after Christmas is usually a lonely experience. So it has been no surprise that the commute this week has been easier and the lines in the Food Court nonexistent. I fully expected my short lunch today to be a solitary affair and it almost was.

Two thirds through my veggie taco I looked up and spotted a familiar face. A former colleague, now a vendor rep saw me and made a beeline for my table. No doubt I was the only one he recognized in the sparsely populated Food Court . Ken had retired a few years ago and moved into vendor sales. He had the personality of a salesman, always smiling, always talking, and always seemed like he was about to make a sales pitch. His manner occasionally bordered on the obnoxious but I only hesitated a moment when he asked if he could join me. Hoping he didn’t notice the cautionary tone, I welcomed him with a “Sure, have seat.”

Our conversation was light just catching up on who was still working, who had retired, and who had died. Unfortunately we knew more of the latter and less of the former. We briefly discussed retirement plans and then to the more immediate topic of what we were doing for Christmas. I could tell from the way he talked he was unaware that I had lost my wife 2 years previous. I decided not to mention it, as I just did not want to spend another 20 minutes talking about it. But something prompted me and when Ken took another bite of his sandwich I simply stated, “I don’t know if you heard but I lost my wife 2 years ago to cancer.”

Ken’s response was typical, a look of shock followed by a heartfelt, “No, I didn’t know, I am so sorry.” What followed next,however, humbled me yet again at how a loving God works in the hearts of men. Ken stared at me as if not knowing what to say next. His blank silent look only magnified the growing moisture in his eyes. He looked briefly away and then as if a decision had just been made he turned back to me and said. “Now I know why I met you today.”

He was no longer a salesman selling. He was a wounded heart thankful for an opportunity to talk with an understanding soul. He related how his wife Patty had just had her annual mammogram with the result being an order from the Doctor for a biopsy. Needless to say, they were stunned. They had yet to tell anyone, not even their daughter. This always confident salesman now possessed all the assurance of baseball batter in a slump. He had no idea what to do, what to say or how to help his wife. With a look that reflected both desperation and gratitude, he confessed, “I may need your help.”

I simply encouraged him and told him to take one step at a time, wait for the results and just be there for his spouse. I commented that as much as he wants to fix it (doesn’t every man), right now he needs stay close to his wife, be a good listener and a strong shoulder. And call me when they get the news and we will talk some more. He once again smiled at the providential meeting and asked for my prayers. I reached out, touched his arm and said “how about right now.” We bowed our heads and I prayed, “Lord, may Ken and Patty know your loving and healing presence. Be with them now and give them strength and faith to follow you through this storm.”

Shaking hands we then turned and walked in opposite directions. That lonely lunch had become a battleground of faith. I remembered my morning prayer. “Lord, help me to help others.”

The gift of transparency had been unwrapped again.

Love is…Advent Devotional Week 2

Love is… Advent Devotional Week 2

The small decoupage plaque hung on the wall in my parents bedroom. There were four cartoon like boys and one girl painted on the plaque below the inscribed words “Love is marrying a man with five children.”  Marrying a widower with five children was a life change requiring devotion, work and sacrifice for my second mom. Not everyone has faith (or sheer stamina) to commit to such an undertaking even for a wonderful man like my father.

In not such a dissimilar way, my husband, by marrying me, a paralyzed woman with a high level spinal cord injury, has more than demonstrated a great heart of service, commitment and sacrifice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure my mom was blessed and my husband is blessed in both tangible and intangible ways….not just in spite of their situations…but because of them. For that I am most grateful.

In pondering the advent of Christmas and the theme of love for this week, I appreciate human examples that help me glimpse the true love of God and inspire me toward that great love. I see them all around me when I choose to stop and look and appreciate. It’s so easy to be tainted by the negative and destructive voices and actions that are so prevalent in our society….and in our own lives.

Why not choose to see each day with grateful, compassionate eyes and fight against the negativity of this world and the lust for earthly comforts that do not satisfy?

In fighting this negativity, I’m adding an emphasis on “no complaining words”…a kind of “complaining” fast so to speak. Who knows, maybe it will change the way I’ve been handling health issues and other frustrations recently. Words have power. Words matter.

Last night, after bemoaning to my husband about the slow and uncomfortable healing of a wound, I caught myself. Stopping, I realized that if I wasn’t complaining I might be crying (Ah! The ways we cope). But you know what? I may have needed a few tears and a hug of comfort to acknowledge that sometimes life and love are tough – and I’ll venture to say my husband may have appreciated that hug much more than the complaint.

How about you? How are your words? Especially to those who are closest to you?

Father, help us embrace your unending love for us and freely share it with others, always using our tongue as a weapon of blessing.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power….to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  
Ephesians 3:17, 18 NIV

May we speak the truth in love and may we love with ALL our words as we prepare to celebrate the Savior’s birth… ~Madge


Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” – Catherine Marshall

As the advent of our Savior coming to earth is remembered and celebrated, the hope we profess is often tested and tried. The pains of life – Illness, loss, loneliness and wounded relationships, etc. can be magnified as the season ensues.

The hustle of preparations can distract us from pain until we stop and silence ourselves. Christmas music, decorations and family traditions may dull the pain of hopelessness…but our heavenly father sees and can disarm the power of this world’s pain with hope today as he did in many years past when the first Christmas was arriving.

What was young Mary thinking when she realized that she would bear the son of God? What would she say to her family as a young engaged girl who found herself pregnant? Mary had to wonder what would happen to her when the angel told her she would be with child. Surely anxious thoughts of embarrassment, fear and uncertainty crept into her mind… But hope prevailed. The hope that what the angel said was true, the hope that she indeed would bear a son and name him Jesus, the hope that her cousin Elizabeth would also be pregnant as the angel told her. By God’s grace the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt at Mary’s (Jesus’s) arrival! I can only imagine the comfort Mary felt as she was with Elizabeth.

Young Mary embraced her dilemma with grace and held to hope. Hope. Yes…Hope. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13a

When we have hope we dare to love. When we have hope we step into situations that might be uncomfortable with a different perspective. When we have hope we can face fears head on and receive grace.

The first week of Advent is underway. Let’s usher in this sacred season knowing that we will likely need an intentional reminder of our true hope during the upcoming weeks.

My prayer today is that we have hearts that are ready to receive as we embrace our Savior coming to earth and that we have hearts that are determined to give. May we pray that we see the needs which God has called us and equipped us to meet and grasp the grace to humbly serve in them. Oh Father, show each of your plan for how we can give others hope this season. Help each of us to rest solidly with hope in you. Amen.

Below are a couple suggested verses for my scripture memory friends – if you haven’t joined us this year maybe you’ll consider memorizing some verses with us next year! It’s a powerful habit indeed!

He is the one we proclaim admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col. 1:28-29

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.” Heb. 10:23