VIDEO A Military Family’s Story of Support

Read: A Military Family’s Story of Support 

June 23, 2021

As the daughter of a Veteran, a military spouse, and a VA nurse, Debbie knows the toll that deployments can take on a loved one. Growing up, her father deployed multiple times. She noticed that whenever he came back home, he always seemed a little different.  

“He got gradually more and more angry, and we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Debbie says. She and her sister felt disconnected from their father, and his change in personality started to affect their upbringing. “He wasn’t any fun anymore, and he didn’t like to go to crowded places,” Debbie recalls. “He would startle really easily.” 

More recently, when Debbie’s husband Jim –– a member of the U.S. Air Force — went on numerous deployments throughout his career, she noticed a familiar pattern each time he returned. “[Jim] started getting more and more upset. He abused drugs and alcohol for a little while,” Debbie says. “It was really scary, because we had at that point three little kids that were under 6 years old in the house. I knew what it was like to be a kid going through that.” 

Recovery for the whole family

As Debbie was dealing with her husband’s change in behavior, her father began talking to fellow Veterans about their experiences. Hearing similar stories from others helped him realize that he wasn’t alone. It also allowed him to help Debbie and Jim.  

“When [my father] saw Jim start having trouble, he was very supportive,” Debbie says. Her father encouraged Jim to make a change for the sake of his wife and their kids — as Debbie explains, to “take the steps that I wasn’t strong enough to take.”  

“When [Jim] realized that his whole family was carrying the burden, that really made a big difference,” Debbie says. “Once he started getting help, I think it surprised him how quickly he turned things around. He’s doing much better now.”  

Working with VA counselors has helped improve their marriage and strengthen Jim’s relationship with their children. “That has been really helpful for my children to understand what PTSD is — how it affects you,” he says.  

This month, we celebrate Father’s Day and the impact that fathers can have in our lives. For Debbie, her father’s decision to seek help for his mental health challenges became instrumental in helping her husband get treatment. It’s allowed Jim to resolve the tensions in his marriage and become a better parent for their children.  

“It’s not about courage,” Debbie says. “It’s about being smart [and] doing the smart thing — not just the brave thing.” 

https://www.maketheconnection.net/whats-new/a-military-familys-story-of-support


VIDEO Recognizing signs of PTSD and TBI

Relating to civilians was a challenge for Schuyler after he got out of the Army. He felt on edge, and sometimes he had trouble managing his frustration. He didn’t believe he had PTSD, but he knew something wasn’t right. Learning he had a traumatic brain injury led him to VA and Vet Center resources that helped him turn his life around.

https://www.maketheconnection.net/stories/315/

Related

https://www.maketheconnection.net/resources/self-assessments/

https://www.maketheconnection.net/resources/self-help/

https://www.maketheconnection.net/resources/treatment-recovery/

https://www.maketheconnection.net/resources/

Combat Veteran Embraces Whole Health

Army Veteran Ricardo Martinez meets with Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington.

Army Veteran Ricardo Martinez meets with Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington.

April 7, 2021

Combat Veterans are known for their ability to respond quickly and decisively, but Army Veteran, Ricardo Martinez found himself facing an internal threat that required a Whole Health approach to attack the enemy of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For more than a year, the Iraqi War Veteran isolated himself; and during that time he lost six people he cared about to COVID-19. “Everything got pushed down,” said Martinez, who served in the Army for six years, including time serving in the 82nd Airborne Division. Even trips to the park with his young daughter were off the table, as Martinez struggled to manage his condition on his own. Depression was ruining Martinez’s life, and he knew it.

Studies have shown that male Veterans with PTSD are more likely to report marital or relationship problems, higher levels of parenting problems, and generally poorer family adjustment than Veterans without PTSD. VA offers the kind of treatment and support that can bridge the gap between isolation and living a full life.

Finally, his fears of losing his wife and daughter prompted him to seek help at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) in North Chicago, Illinois for treatment of his PTSD.

For Martinez, this was the fourth time he entered the PTSD program, but this time he knew he would do whatever it took to heal. This time around, he was supported by Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington, and he quickly recognized it could make the difference. “Whole Health is lifting me up,” Martinez said. “Before, I just kept quitting. Whole Health gives me more resources. All you have to do is ask. You think there’s no one there to listen, but there is.”

“I’m open-minded,” Martinez said several weeks after he started his treatment and embraced the Whole Health approach. “Let’s try this. It’s up to me to see what I want to work on first, and I like that you go at your own pace.”

Lovell FHCC is the first and only fully integrated Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense (Navy) health care facility, serving military patients and their families, and Veterans in Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois. It has implemented the Whole Health system across the hospital.

Whole Health is a proactive approach to health care which equips, empowers and treats Veterans; allowing them to discover what matters most in their lives. “What I find most fulfilling about the Whole Health approach to care and Whole Health Coaching is offering patients the opportunity to tell their story,” Harrington said. “When our patients feel heard, they are empowered to take charge of their health and begin working towards wellness.”

Martinez used the Live Whole Health App to complete a Personal Health Inventory (PHI), a primary tool in Whole Health which offers the Veteran guidance to determine what’s important to you and what you want your health for. To fully understand what he wanted his health for, he worked on formulating his Mission, Aspiration and Purpose (MAP) and keeps that in the forefront of his mind. Martinez’s goal, the reason he wants his health, is to be a “better person, father, son, brother and husband.”

Of eight components of health and well-being, Martinez decided to first focus on the “power of the mind.” He practices exercises to help him relax, let go of his anxiety and pay attention to his heart rate and breathing. This, in turn, has helped him control his blood pressure. He started practicing meditation and mindful thinking several times a day using tools he can access through the Live Whole Health app on his phone.

Martinez has also been dealing with chronic pain from an accident that occurred while he was on active duty; and he plans to use Whole Health resources to learn about pain management and “ease off” some of his pain medications.

Martinez is reminded of his MAP every time his lock screen pops up on his phone and he sees the picture of his daughter hugging him and smiling at her first Chicago Cubs baseball game. The photo was taken the summer before he left home to get treatment and “it was one of my best days,” he said. “You always see the picture. It’s always a motivation.”

He says his ideal future is simple. “It’s being alive,” he said. “I want to see my daughter walk down the aisle.”

For a combat Veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, seeking help was “a feat in itself,” Martinez said. Attacking the enemy of PTSD and isolation has been one of the most successful battles of Martinez’s life, and he is grateful to have found this path for himself and his family.

“I want other Veterans to benefit,” he said. He can see himself in the future as a Whole Health peer facilitator, a role in the Whole Health system that allows Veterans to work with Veterans to create their own pathway to health and well-being.

For more information on Whole Health and how you can get started on your journey, visit www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/index.asp.

Written by: Jayna Legg, Public Affairs Specialist, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/features/Combat_Veteran_Embraces_Whole_Health_to_Help_Him_Heal.asp


Caring For Others, Add Yourself

March 7, 2008

Jesus -tender-care

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

Many of us who are caring for others, some by design, some by default forget to add ourselves. If our batteries are low we have little power to help others. If our health fails we then could become unable to help ourselves never mind help the people would depend on us.

Care giving creates stress which if not addressed can be debilitating. People who have severe medical, emotional or mental health conditions are pouring out their lives to people they trust and often place their recovery in the hands of the very same people. On one hand it is an awesome responsibility while at the same time being very fulfilling. Success or failures are powerful emotions that affect each care giver.

My grandmother had an awesome gift of a green thumb. She would take plants that appeared to be a lost cause, dead and would patiently nurture and personally care for each plant back to blossoming health. She never accepted anything from anyone other than a thank you for reviving their plants. To me she was a good example of how to help the hurting to heal.

An all too often scenario is an adult who was involved in or witnessed traumatic relationship experiences while they were young the most destructive of which is known as attachment trauma. Attachment trauma occurs when the person to whom a child looks for comfort and safety becomes the direct source of his or her fear and distress. The reasons why the person who created the fear and distress are long and include learned behavior and medical issues such as a mental illness which were not properly addressed creating a cycle.

If the care giver is not careful the very actions that they are helping others address become part of their own actions. The care giver can become desensitized. The care giver who fails to practice self care can become an unwitting victim and can actually do more damage than they purport to help.

Some questions asked by people I help are: “Am I worthy of love?”

“Am I capable of getting my needs met?” “Who can I trust or rely upon during times of my distress? “What does real love look like?” Makes one stop and think. How would you answer these questions? The answers depend upon your experiences and how healthy you are.

It makes no difference how long one has been hurting, if one is willing to do the work healing is available. Anytime is a good time to start…the sooner the better.

Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress are real and treatable consequences of witnessing trauma first or second hand.

Some signs to look for are: household bills piling up, reluctance to leave the house, losing interest in normal daily activities such as preparing meals or personal hygiene, marked changes in behavior, increased listlessness, not wanting to get dressed, long sleep hours or no sleep, problems with focusing or making decisions, restlessness, easily annoyed, quick anger, unexplained physical problems, even thoughts of suicide.

I urge every care giver to evaluate their own health and use the support services of other care givers keeping their own batteries freshly charged

Finding healthy outside activities unrelated to care giving or work are very effective ways to healthy minds, bodies and spirit. A healthy mind, body, and spirit foster the same in others, producing hope. Hope and faith go together to promote healing. A healthy person is a blessing to others.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/caring-for-others-add-yourself/

Hope in the Midst

March 17, 2020

This week, in the midst of the coronavirus panic, I would love to share with you a triumphant story; a story of hope lost but found again, a story of sorrow turned to joyful purpose, a story of deep desperation ultimately redeemed with steadfast love.

It seems that throughout history, and especially after September 11th, we, as a people have been overcome with concern and grief over devastating wartime injuries and loss of beloved life. In the last 10 years, the silent injuries of the Afghan and Iraq wars have come to light, particularly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). These emotionally and physically crushing injuries hit close to home for many of us today, as they do my family.

Life In The Army

My story today is about my brave Wounded Warrior son-in-law, Chris. On July 4, 2007, Chris was a sergeant in the US Army doing his third tour of duty in Iraq when he suffered a deep head injury. He was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and TBI, and in February 2013, after years of insufficient and unsuccessful medical treatment, he was medically retired from the Army. Chris loved being a soldier, it was his identity, and he intended the Army to be his life career. But because of his injury, after 13 years of devoted service, he found himself starting over; a civilian for the first time as an adult and with debilitating symptoms of a war injury most knew little about.

Sending Love to Iraq
Home

As a mom, I will always remember that first terrified phone call from my daughter, Tiffany, the day Chris was injured. And the subsequent calls, updates, prayer requests, tearfully needing advice and a shoulder to cry on in the hard, painful, frustrating days, months, and years following.

After initial treatment, Chris’s injuries were not considered life threatening. And because the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury were not yet understood, he and Tiffany found it difficult to obtain treatment that relieved his symptoms. There were frustrating days, months, even years of body-dropping headaches, severe pain and depression, vision and comprehension issues, disillusionment, fear and super charged anger. Tiffany spent months researching and writing letters to government officials advocating approval for leading-edge civilian treatments and medical trials in the absence of suitable military care.

During this time, my husband and I lived on Kwajalein, an island in the Marshall Islands, where my husband worked. As the strain on Chris’s emotional health and on their marriage became unbearable, we pulled together as a family the best we could. I journeyed the 14,000-mile round trip home as often as possible. Tiffany dug in and committed to seeing this through, not realizing how many more painful years they would need to endure.

Our Little Family

In 2013, after Chris was medically retired, they moved from Ft Bragg, North Carolina to Oxford, Ohio to attend Miami University. Tiffany was accepted into their Farmer School of Business with a minor in social work. It was during this time, advocating for Chris’s care at the Cincinnati VA that she realized the VA’s critical shortage and need for properly trained social workers to coordinate care for these wounded veterans. Through this experience, she also realized that had her wounded Vietnam veteran father, suffering from severe PTSD, been able to get the aftercare he needed, he might still be alive today.

Be The Change You Want To See

This beautiful-souled girl then changed her major to social work and began studying to become an advocate for our country’s veterans and wounded warriors! Story here.

Years down the road, besides being her husband’s greatest support and advocate, Tiffany has her master’s in social work, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and dedicates her hours and skills to the Dallas VA Hospital facility. She has spent much time working with homeless veterans as well as those in their hospital in-patient substance abuse and outpatient mental health programs. Her goal is to actually write the programs designed to help our country’s veterans live a better quality of life.

As for Chris, the last 7 years have held wild ups and downs, periods of hopeless, deep depression and times that I feared for his and Tiffany’s lives. As a mother, there were a few years I stayed right at Jesus’ feet in desperate prayer for their safety. But, because of Tiffany’s continued strength of character, hope for her husband and their future, a good prayer support team, and the blessing of a few, caring individuals, they persevered and experienced periodic small steps forward that kept them going.

We Can Do This

Their 18 months in Oxford, Ohio were some of their darkest days with Chris struggling greatly, emotionally and physically. However, in 2014, they moved to Texas where Tiffany began her Master’s program and internship at the Dallas VA Hospital. Thanks to a caring, creative counselor, Chris was able to enroll and finally complete classes for his bachelor’s degree and begin a new career. This was short lived, however, as he was unable to sustain the stiff office atmosphere of the job.

You see, Chris was a military police, used to having authority and being out and about – not trapped for hours behind a desk doing paperwork, staring at a computer, or having a boss micro managing him. Coupled with the lasting affects of a deep brain injury, for Chris, extended administrative work was simply not possible. And the struggle began again.

There is so much more wrapped up within this story, the deep desperation, the engulfing soul-grieving anniversary days of lost battle buddies and brothers, the nightmares of reliving unimaginable experiences, the hopelessness of trying to fit back into peaceful society after the war torn world he knew, the hopeless advice from well-meaning but uninformed individuals, the one-after-another medical and professional setbacks. The alcohol abuse trying to stop the pain. And more. Indeed, so much more, in the lives of wounded veterans everywhere.

There are so many sorrow-laced stories of wounded veterans these days. Sorrow-laced because of their painful journeys and inadequate medical care, yes, but also because so little people find the time to truly care and step up to help.

But you can also find many uplifting stories of those who found hope and healing because when they lost all hope, they had someone get in the trenches with them. And stay in the trenches with them as long as need be. No matter how hard it got. No matter how hopeless it seemed. They had a tribe of caring, committed people to pull them through.

And thank you, Jesus, my amazing son-in-law is one of those!

On March 13, 2020, after 7 long years, my daughter describes as, “more pain than I knew we could endure, and moments where I wondered if we/he would survive. But we somehow did. And along the way, he found purpose again; serving a mission we are both so proud to be a part of. Today, Chris officially became a VA Police Officer. It’s been a hell of a ride the past 7 years, but man this moment makes it so worth it.”

Officially a VA Police Officer

Yes, today I witnessed my son-in-law, Chris, after 7 long, pain-filled years, finally step triumphantly up and out of his injury battle and into his new purpose and calling as a VA Police Officer, a job and a mission he is so proud to be a part of!

Stepping Forward Into New Purpose

Chris will join Tiffany at our local VA, ministering to and serving our veterans and heroes who just need someone to care for them. As a wounded Warrior himself, Chris will serve with compassion and honor, as does Tiffany, whose veteran father died in 2001, still running from the emotional effects of his wartime injuries.

And one other bright spot here, after many tough years of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, Tiffany and Chris became foster parents and 3 years ago adopted their sweet, beautiful daughter, and the joy of our lives, Maddux-Grace, who had the distinct honor of pinning the new police badge on her Daddy.

Maddie Pinning Daddy
Daddy’s Girl

What a beautiful story of hurting and healing, trying and failing, and ultimately steadfast love leading to triumph!

Today, thankfully, the medical experts know much more about PTSD and TBI than in years past and can quickly begin an effective treatment program in a wounded veteran. There is still a long way to go, especially when treating the emotional side of these injuries, but with more, experienced, caring individuals like Tiffany and Chris serving our veterans, we will have more stories of hope and healing.

Chris and Tiffany’s Home Tribe
Hebrews 10:24-25

Yes, there is hope. And there is beautiful life amid the sorrow and panic. Let’s all take time to find it and renew our souls to keep going, one positive step, and one positive story after another.

And who knows, maybe you’ll find a new purpose and ministry to step into too!

Family Is Who You Make It
#Adoption
#Tribe
#Lovehttps://awordwithmindy.com/2020/03/17/hope-in-the-midst/



Related

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/video-ptsd-coach-app-help-at-your-fingertips/

VIDEO Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

by America DeFleur September 26, 2019

Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a dog. But growing up on the streets has a way of depriving you of a lot of things that other people take for granted, so a dog was never on my list of necessities. It was just something I dreamt of.

Bouncing between broken homes and shelters before entering foster care, I never had the opportunity to have a dog. And as an adult, it wasn’t high on my priority list either. I became too wrapped up in trying to survive. No, scratch that, STRUGGLING to survive that I didn’t have time to even think about a furbaby.

Most foster youth and former foster youth lack resources and the parental guidance that it takes to become a successful and productive member of society in today’s world. It’s sad, but it’s true. We need more mentors, foster parents, friends and family to make it through this journey we call life. It’s one of the main reasons why you see so many youth branded as a “statistic” or labeled as “troubled” because there are not enough resources and support. Period. Had there been more people to reach out and offer me guidance, protect me when I needed it, support my transition into adulthood or been someone that I could talk to and ask advice from, I would have avoided so much pain, drama and a hundred different and treacherous paths. Paths that most foster youth succumb too. Why? Because pain, neglect, confusion, PTSD, Depression, lack of family members and years of boiling trauma can break anyone.

It takes a special kind of person to be there for you when no one else has, take your hand (or paw) and lift you up when everyone else let you down. It takes time, patience and unconditional love to heal anyone or in this case, any creature. Which brings me to my point, I spent the majority of my life wishing for a family that never came. It wasn’t until I was able to grow up and create a family of my own, through friends, co-workers my husband and my daughter, did I realize that no matter where you come from, You are capable of being loved. EVERYONE deserves a second chance. So can I have a drum roll please…Everyone MEET DOTTIE!

Dottie needs a second chance. She is a pit bull mix and desperately in need of a loving home. I had the opportunity to spend time with Dottie today through the Front Street Animal Shelter – City of Sacramento“Doggie Day Out” program. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s basically the coolest thing since sliced bread and helps so many animals find loving homes. You basically “borrow” a shelter dog and go on an outing. You can take the shelter pups hiking, jogging or even have them spend the night at your house. The idea behind the project is that these dogs have more exposure to loving individuals, burn off energy and spend some time away from the shelter. You can take pictures, leaves notes, advice or tips and hopefully all of this helps get the doggie get adopted.

When I first heard about this program I instantly thought that it was an amazing idea but never acted upon those “wanting to help instincts” Today, I said no more and decided to give it a try and honestly it was the best thing I could have done for myself and for Dottie. I’ll tell you why.

1. Animals are therapeutic, they have a way of making you feel better.
2. It motivated me to get out of the house, lately I’ve been a lazy slob.
3. I felt so much better after doing it (and so did she) Physically, mentally, emotionally. It was great!

For the past while now, I have been struggling with depression and have been trying to figure out a way to stay motivated and positive while impacting others and making a difference. I usually find that volunteering helps keep me distracted because let’s be real, when I have too much time to myself I overthink EVERYTHING and can’t escape my past. I need to stay busy. Which is why I’ve been excited about that writing workshop for foster youth I’ll be hosting! And now, more recently “Doggie Day Out” I’ve decided that at least once a week I will be at the Front Street Shelter “borrowing” dogs until I can have one of my own. Until then, check out my latest adventure with Dottie.

PS: She needs a home. NOW.

 

© 2018-19 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #18 – Everyone Deserves A Second Chance.

How Does Death Rule Over Us?

December 9, 2019 hepsibahgarden

Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Psalms‬ ‭119:77‬

We need GOD’S TENDER MERCIES TO LIVE CONTINUALLY.

He did not call us to death. Rather, God called us forth from death and brought us into Life so that we may live eternally. We need to always keep “sin” in a dead state, and to do this we need God’s mercy. What does keeping sin in a dead state mean? It means to forsake the works of death immediately in our lives.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans‬ ‭6:23‬

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬

To be carnally/fleshly minded is death, therefore this also needs to be kept in a dead state. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

If we hate our brethren, he is a murderer. The Scriptures says there is no eternal life for such a person. Where there is no Life, there death is present. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John‬ ‭3:15‬.

For mercy to remain upon us, we must perfect our works before God. If not, we are good as dead to Him. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Revelation‬ ‭3:1-2‬

If we aren’t found in the first love, we are in a dead state. Falling away from First Love is referred to being asleepHence St.Paul writes, Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians‬ ‭5:14‬.

If we are not in the Spirit, we are in God’s sight dead. This was why God asked prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind looking at the Valley of Bones. When the prophet did so, breath came into them and in no time the Valley of Dead Bones revived into an exceeding great army.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Ezekiel‬ ‭37:7-10‬. May God help us to preserve His mercies in our lives!

Be blessed 💕

Original here

‘Grinch’ group bullies elementary school into canceling live Nativity

Judge: Artistic performances don’t ‘establish’ a religion

December 11, 2019

A live Nativity scene in Stuart, Florida (Photo by Joe Kovacs, used with permission)

A “grinch” organization that flexes its influence each year during the holiday season, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has “bullied” a school district in Oklahoma into canceling a live Nativity scene that had been part of the school’s annual Christmas celebration.

Liberty Counsel said it’s prepared to represent the school if officials decide they want to restore the holiday display.

LC said FFRF not only was wrong to insist such displays aren’t allowed, it mischaracterized a court ruling on the dispute.

FFRF wrote to Supt. Bret Towne of Edmond Public Schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, declaring “the Chisholm Elementary School Christmas program may not include a live Nativity scene in the performance.”

Liberty Counsel, which has handled many such disputes, said that while FFRF cited a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the atheist organization failed “to accurately describe” the decision.

“The 7th Circuit simply did not make the sweeping ruling claimed by FFRF. FFRF has once again selectively related what actually happened in a suit, in order to frighten a school district into compliance,” Liberty Counsel explained.

The ruling stated clearly, “We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation.”

FFRF had said, “While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited.”

It continued, “Please note that including a live nativity performance in a school’s holiday concert remains illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is ‘voluntary.'”

FFRF cited a previous dispute in which it wanted to ban a 20-minute Nativity within a program that covered about 90 minutes.

The appeals court said: “The district court found that the Christmas Spectacular program. … A program in which cultural, pedagogical, and entertainment value took center stage – did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One judge wrote: “It is not sound, as a matter of history or constitutional text, to say that a unit of state or local government ‘establishes’ a religion through an artistic performance that favorable depicts one or more aspects of that religion’s theology or iconography. [The school] would not violate the Constitution by performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor or Handel’s Mesiah, although both are deeply religious works and run far longer than the nativity portion of the ‘Christmas Spectacular.’ Performing a work of art does not establish that work, or its composer, as the state song or the state composer; no more does it establish a state religion.”

“Liberty Counsel therefore stands ready, along with our affiliate attorneys in Oklahoma, to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the district desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program,” the organization promised.

 

Original here

How you Can Become a Better Person Starting Now

Can you Really Change?

Most people wonder if it’s possible to become a better person after maturity. The answer is a resounding yes. There’s actually room for change at every stage of our life. With a willing spirit, you can transform your personality. Once you figure out the best and easiest approach to take, you can decide the most important personal aspects to work on. Taking into account the best interest of others and your well being, below are some of the most important things you’ll need to work on, in order to make the changes.

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash

Help Others:

Good people support and encourage others to do and become their best selves. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others to live as close to their unique potential as possible. Because everything we say and do has a negative or positive influence on others. We should always take into consideration the words we speak to and about others.

How you can show Support?

  • Have some faith in others.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be honest.
  • Share yourself.
  • Set the best example.
  • Challenge them.
  • Be mindful of your questions.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Acknowledge them.

Let go of Anger:

Your relationships can create a haven from stress as well as help you become a better person. But if you walk away from unresolved conflicts, they can become a significant source of stress. Let’s face it, conflicts are common in our society. They happen with our families, neighbors, friends or colleagues. You have to face them in the right manner and come up with a fair solution. The best way to improve in this area is to learn conflict resolution strategies. Let’s take a look at 5 of this tools that are more effective:

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

  • Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perception.
  • Avoid escalating tensions with threats and provocative move
  • Overcome an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Look beneath the surface to identify deeper issues.
  • Separate sacred from pseudo-sacred issues.

You can also identify what your anger triggers and eliminate them as much as possible. Also learn to let go of any grudge and residual anger.

Be a good Listener:

Listening to others and is one of the best things you can do for another person and yourself. It shows them that you value their opinion and allows you to develop closer connection with others. You also get to hear perspectives you might otherwise dismiss. It is important to engage in active listening with the people in our lives. Being an active listener can change your life for the better. It fosters deeper relationships and exposes you to thoughts, ideas world wide views beyond your own experience. You never know what you might learn from someone.

Self Care:

Self care is vital for building resilience when facing life’s unavoidable stressors. Making sure that you get enough sleep is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing. Less sleep can make you less able to brainstorm solutions to problems you come across. I don’t know about you, but when l don’t sleep enough, it makes me very edgy the next day.

Eating a proper diet is also essential in keeping your body and mind healthy. When you eat healthy, problems like bloating and constipation are never going to be on your worry list. That means you will be in optimum shape for handling stress – which gives you added resilience to manage those challenges that come up unexpectedly.

Be Polite:

Being polite is an act of kindness. We can show politeness to everyone we come across. It is not a trivial thing. This little act instill positive feelings in the people around you. Maintaining a certain level of politeness and civility is appreciated because it shows thoughtfulness, considerations, and kindness.

Live with Integrity:

Personal integrity is a cornerstone of whom we really are. It also shows what we stand for. Integrity is part of our mortal foundation. Integrity shapes the person you become with time. Living with integrity means being true to your ideas. It means that your outward actions reflect your inner beliefs and values. It means making necessary changes to live up to your standards. Take time to understand what integrity means to you and how your decisions align with your values. These things can help propel you towards becoming a better person.

Original here

 

VIDEO A Christmas Story

December 7, 2019   By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

 

 

The Christmas Story is story of a hero. The greatest evil the world has ever known made the greatest hero the world has ever known. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of torture and execution man devised or used.

Not every hero since has given up his life for another. Heroes generally take no concern for their own life while trying to save the lives of others.

The acknowledgement and veneration of heroes has existed for centuries. It was the ancient Greeks who are accredited with first coining the designation.

A very recent tragedy brought to light another hero.  A young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose dream was to become a pilot, is a hero after he reportedly related crucial information about the identity of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola shooter to first responders, despite having been shot several times, a family member revealed.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who were killed Friday morning when Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire on a flight training program for foreign military personnel, Adam Watson revealed in a Facebook post. (1)

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who was killed Friday morning.

“Today has been the worst day of my life. My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting. Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own. After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. When we were little I gave Kaleb the name little poot and it stuck. It eventually evolved into pootis and finally uncle poot. Just wish I could talk to him one more time or wrestle with him one more time even though he could probably take me now. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. “(2)

Simply put, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.

Philip Zimbardo: What Makes a Hero?

 

Christians who helped Jews during the Holocaust were in the same situation as other civilians who helped imprison or kill Jews, or ignored their suffering. The situation provided the impetus to act heroically or malevolently. People choose one path or the other.

Some choose a path to meet the needs of others. For example there is New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson will use his custom-made “My Cause, My Cleats” cleats to bring attention to his One More Foundation. H e created the One More Thing Foundation to spread the love and hope of Christ to one more soul.

“And, we do that by following the three charges that are given in Micah 6:8 when it talks about doing justice, loving-kindness, and walking humbly with our God,” he explained.

Watson said that, for the last decade, the foundation has given him the opportunity to meet people with “real needs” and “to know the one who can meet their needs forever and ever.”

“Whether it’s promoting and giving food to those who are hungry, doing events around the holidays, promoting education, standing against injustice — whether that be sex trafficking, abortion, or racial injustice … and also, just bringing kindness to people,” he continued. (3)

Courtesy of Eric J. Adler and the New England Patriots

Heroes | Restoring Faith in Humanity | 2017

 

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe, professional tennis player.

There have been thousands of unnamed and unknown heroes over the centuries. Heroes include those who stood ready, who fought and who died for the cause of freedom, first responders, those who served others, and the many that have helped someone without regard to their personal safety,

The true Christmas Story is an everyday story.

The real reason for the season was born to die and save us all.

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(1) https://www.foxnews.com/us/naval-academy-grad-shot-5-times-hero

(2)  https://www.facebook.com/adam.watson.397/posts/3471855006187806

(3)  https://www.foxnews.com/media/patriots-benjamin-watson-one-more-foundation-my-cause-my-cleats

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Below are a handful of links to heroes

https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/local/2019/11/14/sons-american-revolution-honor-first-responders-heroic-acts/4193217002/

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/08/05/soldier-praised-for-heroic-act-at-el-paso-shooting-what-i-did-was-what-i-was-supposed-to-do/23788523/

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2019/09/17/hero-westchester-cops-honored/2354177001/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bradley-plane-crash-heroic-acts-saved-lives-in-deadly-b-17-bomber-crash-official-says/

https://www.usla.org/page/HEROIC

https://publicholidays.la/anguilla/national-heroes-and-heroines-day/

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/a-christmas-story/