Christmas Generosity


Christmas represents the birth of Christ in the minds and hearts of Christians all over the world.  For most of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, getting into the spirit of Christmas is about getting together with friends and family to enjoy each others company and we are selfless in giving gifts to each other to expresses our love for them.

Jesus was sinless and gave his life in faith and full obedience to the father.  In return, he bore the punishment of all our sins suffering an excruciating torture.  He died and rose from the dead three days later. For this he is known as the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This was the gift to all mankind that believers  receive the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth.  All we have to do is ask and walk in obedience. This was the ultimate Christmas Generosity.


When we give to others, we don’t give to impress or to elevate ourselves in any way. We put all pride aside and think only of those in need.

There are those in our community that need assistance in homeless shelters and those who live on the streets who could use our generosity this time of year.  For those people, Christmas is just another difficult and miserable day.  Some of those people have family that cause them pain or don’t want them around.  We need to show them that God does care about them.  Some teenagers who live on the streets are not there by choice because their home life is too difficult to remain in.

This Christmas be encouraged to find those who are doing it tough and give them some love.


With mental health training church leaders can help their communities more than they know.


Most of us have friends who we can trust when the burden of our troubles become too heavy a load to carry. Christians often reach out to members of their pastoral care team or to close friends, while others choose to keep their problems to themselves.

Talking to someone is a great way to vent allowing for the release of some of that pressure. Friends can be really good listeners and advice givers, but depending on our circumstances and state of mental health at the time, they may not be able to give the right advice or point us in the right direction.

The church is uniquely positioned to help the community in difficult times as most believers will run to their church leaders for help.  Mental health training will help support the congregation with issues like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder just to name a few.


The bible is clear that humans are a three fold being consisting of a mind, body and spirit.   When one of those is out of peace, the other two are affected.  Keeping all three healthy is to find balance and wholeness.

“I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

Two Types of Crisis

Grief – Unfortunately the majority of us will suffer loss at one point in our lives and loss can lead to grief.

Some types of loss are:  Substantial financial loss, death of a close relative or friend, loss of a job, divorce, separation and loss of a family home or death of a beloved pet.

Mental Health – People with a mental illness like depression or anxiety can have overwhelming emotions and feelings that often alter their thought processes leading them to overreact to normal everyday situations.  Having lived all my life with the fortnightly roller-coaster of Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, it was a common occurrence to cry about problems during ovulation. After having my daughter in 2004, I became peri-menopausal and that’s when my symptoms, that included rage, became extreme.

Those who have a mental illness often find normal activities become overwhelming.  For some this might mean the inability to function as they normally would, they can lose their jobs often leading to a loss of quality of life and isolation.

Those Who Have Helped & Supported Me

Counsellor, Gynaecologist & Doctor – good listeners & resourceful – The best help so far for PMDD.  My GP sent me to a gynaecologist who recognised my symptoms.  He put me on a birth control pill (Norimin) suggesting I cut out the sugar tablets so to stop my menses completely, thus stopping what happens to my brain during that time when receptors shut down causing a depletion of my happy hormones.  I was also put on anti-depressants (Pristiq).   This helped me to function normally only to experience mild symptoms of PMDD now and again. The counsellor helped me to organise myself mentally in order to help me with my circumstances.  Finally I was beginning to function normally.

Family & Close Friends – Advice differed according to personalities, religious views, professions and some of those with mental health training (My two sisters) listened and then pointed me in the right direction.  Untrained friends lacked the ability to help me with my mental health problems which to them was foreign.

Pastoral care – Able to help me with personal and spiritual problems but when my mental illness was kicking in with intense bouts of depression that left me crying for hours nonstop, my thoughts were dark and gloomy and it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  My pastoral care team were untrained to recognise symptoms of mental health problems; they didn’t know what to do apart from praying for me, which was great for me as I was hoping for a miracle.  But, miracles don’t always come when you want them to and it’s not through a lack of your personal faith.  God’s timing for your life is perfect. When a person is physically sick they go to see a doctor.  A person who has mental health problems needs counselling support.

That’s why I believe in mental health training for all church leaders.   Knowing the difference can make all the difference to a person in need.  Christians who have mental health disorders need to know that they are supported within the church, be pointed to mental health support services and resources when needed and they also need to know that they’re no less a Christian for being mentally unwell.

The body is all interconnected.  If our bodies can get sick, then the mind is no exception. Caring for the three fold being, mind, body and spirit leads to wholeness.

Sandra Ciminelli

Where to get help in Australia

Talk to your doctor who can point you in the right direction if you feel that you have a mental health issue.  You might be able to qualify for a mental health plan.

Lifeline A free 24 hour crisis counselling service – 13 11 14

Mens Line – A free 24 hour counselling service for men –  1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line – Email Counselling and Web-chat available – 1800 55 1800

Similar Spanish & English Words With Absolutely Different Meanings


Growing up in Australia but speaking Spanish in the family home had me living within 2 cultures and not exactly feeling like I was fully 100% Aussie nor Uruguayan.  I felt more like a hybrid.

The two languages were confusing at times, especially when similar sounding Spanish words to English had completely different meanings. I remember attempting to tell my mother that I was embarrassed, but the similar Spanish word I used actually means ‘pregnant!’  As you can imagine this was not received well in the ’70’s.

Here is a list of 12 Spanish words with their English meanings that I had to learn to be mindful of!

Similar to the English word ‘exit’
Spanish meaning = success
Spanish word for Exit = Salida

Sensible (pronounced ‘sensibleh’)
Similar to the English word ‘sensible’
The Spanish meaning = sensitive
Spanish word for sensible = Sensato

Similar to the English word ‘Embarrassed’
Spanish Meaning = pregnant
Spanish word for embarassed = Avergonzado

Similar to the English word ‘camp’
Spanish meaning = field
Spanish word for camp = Acampar

Similar to the English word ‘fabric’
Spanish meaning = factory
Spanish word for fabric = Tela

similar to the English word ‘rope’
Spanish meaning = clothes
Spanish word for rope = Cuerda

Similar to the English word ‘bigot’
Spanish meaning = mustache
Spanish word for bigot = Fanatico

Similar to the English word ‘arena’
Spanish meaning = sand
Spanish word for arena = Pista

Similar to the English word ‘molester’
Spanish meaning = upset
Spanish word for molester = Molestador

Similar to the English word ‘diverted’
Spanish meaning = fun
Spanish word for diverted = Desviado

Similar to the English word ‘sin’
Spanish meaning = without
Spanish word for sin = Pecado

Similar to the English word ‘disgust’
Spanish meaning = annoyance
Spanish word for disgust = Asco

Similar to the English word ‘grocery’
Spanish meaning = vulgarity
Spanish word for grocery = comestibles

Similar to the English word ‘compromise’
Spanish meaning = commitment
Spanish word for compromise = comprometer

Similar to the English word ‘carpet’
Spanish meaning = folder
Spanish words for carpet = alfombra

  • Carpeta – suggested by La Rosi.  Thanks!

It’s no wonder that some Spanish speaking people find the English language somewhat difficult to master.

By Sandra Ciminelli 2016

Making The Most Out Of Life

On a journey of self discovery as a young adult I worked out what it means to make the most out of life.


It’s funny how self discipline changes our perspective on life.  When I was younger I loved going out with my friends to the early hours of the morning. Life was exciting and I was on a journey of self discovery.  As as a young adult I soon learned that I couldn’t function well for too long without adequate sleep.  My body and brain began shutting down to the point that my work performance took a nose dive.

There was nobody to blame but myself because not being exhausted for work the next day was the one thing that I could control. When I realised what was happening I put a plan into action that worked for me. Deciding to get into bed by a certain time every night and sticking to it was a self discipline that paid off in the long run by forming a good habit. However, it wasn’t that easy for me, but my perseverance and determination paid off. It was at that moment when I realised that making the most out of life meant using every good opportunity to build myself up.

Change Requires Effort

Wisdom can’t be proved unless someone practices it.  We can agree with it, but unless we do it ourselves it will have no effect on us what so ever.

Self discipline is vital to our lives because our natural talents can only point us in the direction we want to go, but, anything worth achieving in life takes hard work and commitment. It’s a choice.

Self Discipline – Knowing How

Most of us want to be the best we can be at any given thing we set our hearts to do. What I found through experience is that being focused alone wasn’t enough.  Clear thinking accompanied with realistic goals and a precise targeting plan of action gave me direction.  There were times where I found myself busy working harder not smarter without a plan or goal to focus on.  Not for the lack of willpower but being young I was definitely lacking self discipline.

The plan of action gave me the necessary steps needed to take to get me there.  Then I wrote down why this was important to me enabling my emotions to reconnect to the reasons behind what I was doing.

Know your motives.

Example Of the ‘Whys’

  1. I want to lose weight to feel good about myself.
  2. I need to lose weight for a healthier body and mind.
  3. By losing weight I will fit into the clothes I already have and love.

Watch Your Thought Life 

We live in a noisy world so it’s quite understandable that we can have noisy cluttered thinking. Sometimes things pop into our heads that are irrelevant to anything we are doing at the time.  I classify this as ‘brain junk’. We we can be distracted by entertaining these often useless and sometimes silly or intrusive thoughts, but do we really need to? I believe that, learning how to push unwanted thoughts out of our heads is a discipline we should all learn to master helping us to stay focused on the task at hand.  We can do this also by thinking and meditating on good thoughts with logic, wisdom and truth.

Manage Your Time

Don’t waste time on mundane things.  Use it wisely by being productive which may mean working, learning, reading or doing things that will benefit you.  Helping others is a good way to take the focus of yourself or your own problems that will make you feel good about yourself.

Eat Well

A well balanced diet keeps your brain and body healthy. When everything is functioning the way it should, so will you!  Don’t over eat and make sure you eat enough.  Our bodies need nourishment from healthy foods.

Drink Plenty Of Water

Stay hydrated for peak performance of your brain and body.  Furthermore your vital organs will thank you for it. Water hydrates your blood cells as well as the rest of your body.  Eliminate toxins out of your body by drinking plenty of water.

Gain Adequate Sleep

The recommended amount of sleep we should have per night is from 7-9 hours.  Sleep deprived brains and bodies can not function at their peak.

Take Part In Regular Exercise

Half an hour a day is all it takes to get your circulation moving.  As a result, it builds muscle and eliminates fat and toxins out of your body that will have a good effect on your brain.

Be On Time

No boss will appreciate tardiness.  Get to work 15 minutes before you’re due to start your shift. This will give you time to prepare for the day ahead and will reflect on your reliability.

Be A Dependable Team Player

Be someone people can depend on.   As a society we are a social network of people who for the most part depend on one another.  At work we are a network of employees who rely on one another to get our jobs done.  One person can let a whole team down so make sure you do your share.

Don’t Take Your Problems To Work

Leave those at home as most situations can certainly wait and won’t go anywhere.  If you have excessive worries then talk to someone about it in confidence.  Decide if you should let your supervisor know what you’re experiencing.

Learn To Say ‘No’

There are times at work when we can be overloaded with tasks that require us to work late.  Too much work and not enough rest can lead to burnout.  We need to know our own limits and be able say ‘no’ to the added stress.

Learn to say no to the demands of your social life that affect your health, your work and your family life.

Originally posted on August 3, 2016

A Loving Relationship between a Man & Woman

As a mother the most difficult part of my job is watching my child suffer so she can learn her lesson. While I’m the one dishing out the discipline, (taking away privileges) I know the experience is making her wiser. She’s soon to become a teenager and currently shows a little interest in boys. But that’s all soon to change.

She’ll eventually grow up to make her own decisions and make her own mistakes, so I teach her the value of taking responsibility for her own actions. This teaching will come in handy when it comes to relationships. The person she settles with will come from a different family, have a different upbringing and have a different set of values, so she needs to be observant and remain alert when choosing.

I pray for her future husband and teach her to do the same. We’ve led by example and the legacy we leave behind with a loving relationship will hopefully have a positive impact. I’m hoping she’ll grow up to be the kind of woman that makes mindful decisions for her life and future.

I’m no relationship expert but I’m hoping my daughter will take hold of what has taken me a lifetime to learn.

  1. Treat each other with respect. Do not talk about your partner/spouse behind their back. Your loyalty is to each other. Don’t ignore the friendship.
  2. Your spouse/partner shouldn’t be totally dependent on you.  They need to have their own goals in life, a job, their own interests and enjoy living a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Nobody has the right to lay a finger on you.  Nor do you have the right to be violent with someone else.  There is no reason on earth why violence should be accepted in the home.  A lack of self esteem can trap women in violent controlling relationships. You are awesome. Get out as fast as you can and don’t go back. You might want to consider pressing charges should this happen to you. It might save another woman’s life.
  4. Feel secure in your relationship and know that you are loved.  You’re fine the way you are and the right person will accept you just as you are.
  5. You’re worthy of love and happiness. Love isn’t just about giving. It has to be reciprocated.
  6. Being together is fun.  Spending quality time together is even better and a must. Make time for each other, listen always and love with all your heart.
  7. Your opinion is to be respected.  You’re consulted on major decisions and what you have to say is valued.
  8. The foundation of your relationship is based on mutual love for one another not lust.
  9. Don’t ignore the sexual intimacy. Keep that healthy but sex must not be the foundation of your relationship.
  10. Any man who demands more than you’re willing to give to gratify his own sexual desire is not loving you more than his own need. Leave this guy fast! He’s using you like a sex toy. Don’t waste your time. Time is precious and you can’t get it back.
  11. Looking at members of the opposite sex appreciatively of their beauty is normal, but flirting is not acceptable.  This in my books is the same as window shopping.
  12. Choose the father of your children very carefully.  Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Work together to keep the relationship sweet. Get counselling if you need help as a couple. Pray for him. Trust your instinct.  It’s your call if you need to bail.

PMDD – My Mental Health Nightmare

Sandra writes about her experience with PMDD hoping to raise awareness and break the stigma.

After having my first child at 39 years of age, the bouts of monthly depression (PMDD) Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder were slowly becoming worse.

By the time my daughter was 7 years old I was diagnosed as being peri-menopausal by a nurse at a local clinic.  Around this time my symptoms began to explode into overdrive.

The anger during the 14 days of ovulation became all out rage and it was scary!

Seeing a specialist, I was put on a birth control pill, cutting out the sugar tablets to stop my period and to stop what happens to my brain during ovulation. The doctor recommended that I take an anti-depressant as well.  Taking a few months to have a good effect on me I was beginning to function normally for the first time. The treatment was working and I couldn’t be happier.

Some of the symptoms may appear every now and again in very minor doses that I can cope with.  One of the major positives is that there’s no longer any sign of anger.

Below are symptoms that appear randomly.

  • Mood swings
  • Migraines
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Self esteem issues
  • Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue

In sharing my story I’m hoping to break the stigma by raising awareness of PMDD which has been described as PMS on steroids.

I began a page on Facebook for women in Australia who have or suspect they might have PMDD.   PMDD AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S GROUP

As part of my treatment counselling has helped me to come to terms with what I was facing. I learned to forgive myself and live life to the fullest.  I highly recommend counselling for any woman going through this.  It’s a nightmare and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone!

For Free 24 hour emergency and crisis counselling contact LIFELINE on  13 11 14

What We Weren’t Told About Smoking

Today, facts about toxic chemicals and agricultural additives in cigarettes and tobacco products have never been more clearer. If I had known this information around the time I started smoking, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t have taken it up.

According to Quit Smoking there are around 4000 chemicals in cigarettes of which some are agricultural chemicals and additives, ammonia, metals and radioactive compounds. Some of these are in the tobacco and others in the paper of the cigarette.  Most of these are known to be carcinogenic – cancer causing chemicals.

In an attempt to enhance the flavour of cigarettes, sweeteners like honey and sugar are added which may be harmless when ingested, but when burned their chemical compounds change to become harmful substances.

When the smoke is inhaled it travels into the lungs and then passes into the bloodstream. The heart pumps the harmful chemicals around in the body through vital organs and into the brain.

Public Disclosure of Additives by Tobacco Companies

Since 2000 there’s been a voluntary agreement between the Commonwealth and the tobacco makers to disclose elements contained in Australian cigarettes.

These disclosures include

  1. Composite disclosures of the many ingredients that the organisations say they possibly utilise.
  2. There are composite disclosures listing major ingredients by weight and brand.

Not Disclosed

The industry did not reveal the majority of the added substances used as a part of specific brands since that would mean surrendering prized formulas and trade secrets that they say would cause them to lose the competitive upper hand.

The take away – While there’s enough evidence that cigarette smoking is harmful to our mental and physical health, there’s no way for consumers to actually know all of the ingredients and the levels added for each brand.

Smoking Related Illnesses

Cancer – in the mouth, Lungs, bowel, nose, kidney, liver, bladder, throat, esophagus, pancreas, ovary, cervix, stomach and bone marrow.

Heart Disease – Heart attack and stroke.

Poor Blood Circulation – a painful condition can develop due to poor circulation in the hands and feet leading to gangrene and amputation in more severe cases.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Is Smoking Declining In Australia?

According to the Cancer Council in 1997 24% of the NSW adult population were smokers.  The percentage decreased to 14.7% by 2011.  Figures taken from the The Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in June 2011 the NSW population reached 7.5 Million people, of which 1.36 million were children leaving the remaining 6.14 million adult population of which 902,580 were smokers.

These figures show that people are becoming more health conscious, but despite the general public being warned through the Australian Government’s anti-smoking campaigns about the health risks and dangers of smoking, the number of smokers continued to remain high.

Did you know?

According to The Department Of Health as of 1 December 2012, Australian law requires “health warnings to cover at least 75 per cent of the front of most tobacco packaging, 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packaging and 75 per cent of the back of most other tobacco product packaging.”

Their objectives include discouraging others to use tobacco products by increasing the effectiveness of health warnings to reduce the chances of retail packaging to mislead consumers about the harmful effects that tobacco products.

In an attempt to protect their investment, US Tobacco firm, Phillip Morris sued the Australian government, losing  the high court battle. According to AFITNET, Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network was quoted as saying, “We welcome the High Court decision as a vindication of the Government’s right to regulate tobacco as an addictive substance that still kills 15,000 Australians per year.”

My story

I’m pretty certain that if in 1982, the information about the health risks involved with smoking had reached me, it could have prevented a 20 year long habit.

Immediately after learning about the dangers of smoking I felt an urgency to quit believing that it was insane for me to continue with this habit.   However, it wasn’t that easy, taking several attempts over a six year span before actually succeeding.

Why would anyone want to start smoking?

References and Resources

The Australian Government – The Introduction Of Plain Packaging Legislation

Smarter Than Smoking is an educational Anti-smoking website providing resources to parents, teachers, children and youth with information on facts, statistics on cigarettes and tobacco products, E-cigarettes and more.

QUIT – Reasons to Quit – Health Risks of Smoking



by Sandra Ciminelli