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Coming Out The Other Side

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
1 March 2011

Life is like a highway is what a recent piece of mail said asking us to join them as they journey down the road of inspiration, achievement and personal growth. This opening seemed to be worthy to spread around to many in this country.

I have experienced that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. It seems that an awful lot of vinegar is being used by recent news makers all over the world today.

There are still people helping people today get through the bad times. People who have been rejected by friends and family and finally themselves have found new hope and even recovery at clubhouses across the state.

People of all ages found themselves in situations they could not explain. They did not seem to be themselves. They lived in boxes, buses, and abandoned building after having a house, a spouse, and children. Yet they could not really tell you how they ended up where they did.

One day they stopped by the corner of Positive Boulevard and Spirit Avenue and found an advocate waiting for them. This clubhouse advocate through time helped many come in out of the cold and helped them manage their medical condition of a mental illness. By focusing on what they could do the advocate brought them fellowship, a sense of belonging, and respect for themselves bringing them to the other side of life.

Oftentimes drug or alcohol abuse combines with their medical condition of a mental illness as a way of dealing with life as they are experiencing it. A clubhouse advocate understands and can help bring them through to the other side of life where they can live on their own and work.

The clubhouses offer a variety of programs, services and assistance. While independent they collaborate with each other and various other recourses and agencies to assist as many people with a medical condition of a mental illness as they possibly can.

Each person has their own abilities no matter what their perceived disabilities might be. It is more productive to focus on what you can do than what you can’t do.

It is not possible to change the past, but you can have a hand in the future.

The clubhouses have helped an untold number of people with a medical condition of a mental illness become productive. Their support continues for as long as it is needed and wanted.

Although it takes money to run a program, it really requires a commitment to help people come out the other side.

I have had the pleasure of a few St Patrick’s Day parties at the clubhouse in Marlboro called Employment Options, Inc and believe they are a good example of what can be accomplished by helping people come out the other side. You can find more information about them at

I hope to meet you at the corner of Positive Boulevard and Spirit Avenue.

Dealing with Emotions | Holiday Anxiety, Depression, and Stress

November 27, 2021 by Curt Landry Ministries

Table of Contents

Many of you experience intense emotions during the holiday season. You are around family members who can provoke stress and anxiety. You are in situations that can be overwhelming. So then, how do you deal with the strong emotions of holiday anxiety, depression, and stress?

Understand the Battle of Holiday Anxiety

First, you must understand the battle is not against flesh and blood. The enemy uses anything he can to trip you up—situations, people, things, places, thoughts, and words. So then, when you are in stressful circumstances, remember that the enemy is prowling around like a lion. 

His only purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy the blessings that God wants to release in your life. He knows that you are more likely to allow circumstances to influence your emotions during highly emotional seasons such as the holidays. He wants holiday anxiety, depression, and stress to rule in your heart rather than the love and peace of Yeshua. 

Second, once your mouth starts to speak out of the emotional stress and holiday anxiety in your heart, the enemy has a foothold in your life. Remember, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (see Luke 6:45). If the enemy can get you to speak in agreement with the anxiety, he knows your mind is no longer thinking on heavenly things. 

Third, be aware of familiar spirits, habits, and patterns in your family. Do you find yourself battling the same spirit or influence year after year during the holidays? Holiday anxiety can be an indication that familiar spirits and generational curses are running through your family line. 

Take note of them and ask Holy Spirit to reveal their source. Click here to learn more about identifying generational curses. 

Once you understand the battle, you know which armor to put on—God’s! Then, you can move forward in victory.

7 Ways to Battle Against Holiday Anxiety

A napkin that says "There is always something to be thankful for." next to a pen and cup of coffee on a wooden background.

1) Be thankful.

It is easy to go to a place of victim or lack mentality. So, thankfulness is a choice and a discipline. When you choose thankfulness, you act in the opposite sprit of victim and lack. This is when you come out of a carnal mindset, focusing only on what you see in the physical, and come into agreement with a Christlike mindset, focusing on what is true in the spirit. 


“I am a new creation in Christ. I will take off any anger, wrath, malice, and blasphemy. I remove any filthy language out of my mouth. Any old man habits and patterns are removed from me by the blood of Jesus. I decree that I am renewed in knowledge according to the image of Yeshua. His Spirit lives within me. I am the elect of God, holy and beloved. I will put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, and will forgive because I am forgiven. I will put on the love of God, which is the bond of perfection.”

  • Look up and meditate on Colossians 3:8-17. 
  • Ask the Spirit to press out the old thoughts and replace them with His Word. 
  • Write it down and start decreeing all or parts of this scripture passage. 

2) Create a gratitude and identity list.

Sometimes we simply need to be reminded of what we do have and who we are. When we stop and think about the blessings the Lord has given us and our true identity in Him, the lies from the enemy get quieter. 


“I am chosen before the foundation of the world, predestined to adoption. I have every spiritual blessing available to me. I believe this and receive it, in Yeshua’s name! I will not focus on what I don’t have, but rather repent and turn my eyes to see all that I have been given through Christ: redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, blessings, an inheritance, protection, acceptance, and promises!”

  • Look up and meditate on Ephesians 1. 
  • Ask the Spirit to remind you of every spiritual blessing you’ve been given and who you are in Yeshua. 
  • Write down the words from Ephesians 1 that speak the loudest to you in this season. 

3) Focus on who God is. 

When you are meditating on who you are, you also must remember who the Lord is. You can only be the new creation He says you are if He is who He says He is. Because of Him, you are everything in Ephesians 1. 


“Lord God, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You are the author and perfector of my faith. You are Immanuel, God with us. You are my deliverer and redeemer. You are Adonai, and cornerstone. Lord God, You are my intercessor and advocate. You act on my behalf. You are faithful and true to Your Word as I enter into any battle.”

  • The book of John goes through the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus: I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world; I am the door; I am the good shepherd; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the way, the truth, and the life; I am the true vine. Go deeper into the character of God by reading through 25 names that describe His and power each day leading up to Christmas by getting this download. 
  • Ask the Spirit to reveal more of who He is. 
  • Write down the names that He highlights to you. 
Click here to learn the names of God!

4) Remember, you are not alone. 

Anxiety and depression go hand in hand. The spirit of depression capitalizes on the lie of “You are alone.” It couples with other lies such as: No one understands. No one gets your situation. Through God’s Word, you can challenge these thoughts with truth and fight holiday anxiety and depression. 


“God’s Word says that He will never leave me nor forsake me. Jesus said He did not leave me as an orphan, but that I have His Spirit dwelling within me, guiding me and walking with me through every family interaction, holiday party, and other get-togethers. I trust Your Word over my emotions, Lord!”

5) Pray. 

In the busyness of the season, your head is filled with thoughts, and you naturally don’t speak or listen to the Father as much. Therefore, take time to pray intentionally. You can post a prayer on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or at your computer. These notes will remind you to simply stop and pray, giving thanks, focusing on who you are in Him, and who He is. 


“I am pausing to remember that God dwells within me. I dwell in the secret place and abide under the Almighty’s shadow. The Lord is my refuge and strength. I trust You, Lord! You deliver me from sickness and pestilence. You shield me. I may see a thousand fall, but nothing will come near me because I am not visiting Your secret place, I am dwelling there! You give Your angels charge over me to keep me in Your ways. I love You, Lord, and You promise to deliver me in my time of trouble.”

  • Get the Psalm 91 Prayer here. Pray it often. 
  • Meditate on verses that speak to you. 
  • Write them down and use them to battle the holiday anxiety you feel during this season. 

6) Take time to rest. 

Man wearing athletic clothing resting against concrete wall, sitting next to plastic water bottle and backpack.

Holiday anxiety and stress can be difficult to battle when you are physically tired. Take time to rest during this season. This might mean you need to cut out certain activities, saying no when your flesh wants to say yes. Saying no and intentionally resting can protect you against holiday anxiety. 


“I will pause, turn to the Lord, and will find rest. Lord, You make me lie down in green pastures. I declare that none of my work will be in vain. I surrender my steps to You. Give me everything You have for me today, nothing more and nothing less. Create margin in my life so that I can be restored. In peace, I will lie down and sleep. You are the One who makes me dwell in safety.”

  • Look up and meditate on verses such as Psalm 4:8, Psalm 127:2, and Matthew 11:28-30.
  • Ask the Lord what He wants you to cut out during this season. 
  • Listen to His voice and accept doors that close. If you’ve been prayerful, these are gifts from the Lord to usher in the rest you need. 

7) Stay in the Word.

Busyness steals so much during the holiday season… prayer time, family time, and quiet time. Staying in the Word protects you. It protects your mind, will, and emotions. The Word brings life. Staying in the Word is tied to taking time to rest; this might mean you need to say no to something else. Take even a few minutes each morning to get quiet with the Lord and meditate on a few verses.


“The Word is sharp, cutting out any lie that tries to influence my heart and mind. It is good for training me up for every good and righteous work. The Word lights my path and keeps me pure. It gives me knowledge and understanding. It is my daily manna, sustaining me throughout the day.”

  • Look up and meditate on passages such as Proverbs 2:6, Psalm 33:4, Matthew 4:4, and Psalm 119.
  • Write down the passages that speak to your heart. 
  • Declare them throughout your day. 

The Takeaway

Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that we are what we think. Think and dwell on the heavenly things. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

—Philippians 4:8

There is less room in your thought-life for holiday anxiety to creep in when you activate Philippians 4:8.

When holiday anxiety does creep in, follow the principle James wrote…

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

—James 4:6-8

Do this…

  • Remember, the enemy uses holiday anxiety to trip you up
  • Humbly come before the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving 
  • Declare His Word: who He is and who you are
  • Rest and stay in His Word
  • Pray

The enemy will use thoughts and situations to put pressure on you, causing holiday anxiety. But submit to the Lord, resist the enemy, cleanse your heart so that you speak after the covenant rather than after the holiday anxiety, and you will be postured for victory in this season! 

Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Self Care

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

September 30, 2007, updated

Everyone is familiar with stress. Stress comes in various forms and degrees everyday. Some stress is good for us. When we experience great amounts of stress and our physical or mental functioning is affected that could be a problem.

Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you?

Losing sleep worrying about a project or task ahead of you? Eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy? You’re not alone; everyone experiences stress at times, – adults, teens and even kids. There are things we can do to reduce or manage stress.

When we feel “pumped” or “wired” or an increased amount of energy and alertness, this is a result of small doses of beneficial stress.

When the level of stress becomes too great for us to handle we can get “stressed out”, “burned out” or be at our “wits end”. That is when our physical well being could be compromised. We all handle stress differently and each has a different level of pressure we can safely handle. We must listen to our bodies. Symptoms that we feel may include: anxiousness, nervousness, distraction, excessive worry, or internal pressure.

Our outward appearance may start to change as we appear: unusually anxious or nervous, distracted, or self-absorbed.

If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time or the stress level increases we could experience: anxiety or panic attacks, a feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried, irritability and moodiness, allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma, problems sleeping, drinking, smoking or eating too much, doing drugs, excessive fatigue, depression, could even think of hurting yourself or others, headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains or pressure, racing heart, dizziness or flushing, tremulousness or restlessness, hyperventilate, or have a choking sensation, feeling of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness. If these symptoms persist or increase in severity or frequency seek medical help.

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if your stress results in any of the following symptoms: thoughts of harming yourself or others, chest pain, fluttering or rapid heartbeats, headaches unlike your usual headaches, or any condition that you feel might cause you serious harm if not treated immediately.

Pressures that that become too intense or last too long or troubles that are shouldered alone can cause stress overload. Some things that could overwhelm us are: being bullied or exposed to violence or injury, relationship stress, family conflicts or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or death of a loved one, ongoing problems with work or schoolwork related to a learning disability or other problems, such as ADHD (once the problem is recognized and the proper support is given this stress usually disappears), or crammed schedules – such as not having enough time to rest and relax.

With all the above you might get the idea that we cannot do it alone. We are not designed to run at high speed all the time. We were designed for fellowship and to live in a community. A very wise person taught me to use my words. When we feel something is wrong we need to use our words to share our feelings in a safe setting. When we hold all these things in we become like a pressure cooker without a safety release valve and we could explode or implode. Exploding could hurt others or things around us. Imploding could do grave us great physical harm.

Remember to take care, eat right, slowly enjoying your meal, do everything in moderation, regularly exercise and really relax and rest.

Professional help is available, if needed, to help get on or stay on the right track. It is your body, listen to it, treat it well and it will treat you well.

More information and workshops on mental health was available at the NAMI State Convention Oct 132007 at the Sheraton in Framingham hosted by NAMI Greater Framingham. Oct 7-13 2007 was Mental Health Awareness Week.

3 Truths Pastors Need Today to Stay in Ministry Tomorrow

InsightsChurch Life & Ministry | Apr 23, 2021

Vidar Nordli-Mathisen photo | Unsplash

By Rob Hurtgen

According to Brian Croft, founder of Practical Shepherding, the above-normal challenges, difficulties, and stressors COVID-19 has caused is prompting some pastors to quit ministry and even some churches to split. Lifeway Research reported in August 2020 that pastors’ top concerns were maintaining unity (27%), pastoral care from a distance (17%), the safety and well-being of members (13%), personal exhaustion (12%), and wisdom and direction (12%).   

After a year of constant decision making, enduring harsh criticism for doing too much or not doing enough to address coronavirus issues, the social movements of 2020, and the political culture have just left many pastors exhausted, stressed out, and crippled by decision fatigue.

After a year of constant decision making and enduring harsh criticism for doing too much or not enough to address the myriad of issues in 2020, many pastors are exhausted and crippled by decision fatigue.

Yet, despite the challenges every church has faced, God has brought some great things from the past year of crisis. Salvation has come. Families rediscovered each other by spending more time together. Ministries were forced to be innovative and define essentials. Some churches thrived. Some dying churches were revitalized. But even though God has moved, there’s a pretty good chance, as a pastor, you’ve thought about leaving the ministry.

The purpose of this article isn’t to complain, fuel a sense of defeatism, or lament the difficulties of pastoral ministry. The purpose of this article is to keep you in the trenches of pastoral ministry.

I must confess, though, when I began writing this article all the pressure of the last year crashed down upon me. I entered into the deepest and darkest night of my soul. I put off submitting this article simply because I was convinced that because I was so discouraged, anything I had to say was meaningless.

But God is faithful. I’m still in ministry, and more importantly, my family is intact. I needed to relearn some fundamental truths to avoid being a statistic. I want to remind you of three biblical priorities vital to endure in times of difficulty and remain in ministry.

You are not alone

First, you are not alone. Loneliness is a tool of the enemy. An instrument that can drain your heart and, like cancer, slowly eat away at you. Lifeway Research indicates 55% of pastors say their ministry makes them feel lonely. Loneliness is a serious issue that, if left unaddressed, can convince you that even God has forsaken you.

55% of pastors say their ministry makes them feel lonely. Loneliness is a serious issue that, if left unaddressed, can convince you that even God has forsaken you. — @robhurtgen

Elijah felt alone (1 Kings 19:10). His legitimate feelings of isolation pushed him to believe he was without hope. In these verses Elijah reveals his heart; then the Lord reveals His.

When you feel alone and stressed out, it is easy to convince yourself no one understands you and no one will ever understand what you’re enduring. These are the moments you need to pause and ask yourself as the Lord asked Elijah, What are you doing here? Where are you? What is happening? How did you get to where you are?

An internal checkup gives voice to the feelings that are tempting to rule your life.

The Lord also reminds Elijah he isn’t alone. God gives Elijah a list of specific people to see and tells him there are 7,000 faithful in Israel—thousands Elijah knows nothing about.

One of the joys of being in a network of churches in whichever denominational tribe you ascribe to is the reality that you are not alone. There may be hundreds of miles between you and the next pastor, but with one phone call or one text message, you have quick access to someone.

The isolation of pastoral ministry can be draining. There are many days when you may feel that no one gets it, that no one understands. You need to remember you are never alone.

You Need a Titus

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:6, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the arrival of Titus.” God providentially orchestrated the arrival of Titus to be an encourager of Paul and those with him. Notice clearly in the passage what Titus did to encourage them; he showed up.

Titus didn’t show up with wisdom, a new ministry position, nor anything else you pray for in your times of discouragement. He showed up. Often the greatest gift we can receive and be for others is showing up. The ministry of presence can press back discouragement.

Often the greatest gift we can receive and be for others is showing up. The ministry of presence can press back discouragement. — @robhurtgen

When you are discouraged, downhearted, and thinking of walking away from ministry, you need a Titus in your life to show up. To talk to. To linger with. To have coffee. To share frustrations. You need a Titus.

You may though need to first seek out a Titus. Your Titus should have a little more experience than you, by age or by years of service, in pastoral ministry.

Your Titus should be present and for you. Someone who you can trust. Someone who will give you counsel when needed. Someone who will know the difference between listening and giving unsolicited advice.

Not only should you find a Titus, but you should be a Titus. Seek out others to encourage. Send handwritten notes of encouragement. Drop a text to let them know you are praying for them. When you make an effort to be an encourager, you will find you will also be encouraged.

Schedule and take Sabbath

Lastly, take some time off. Saying, “This ministry cannot survive without me” puts you in a dangerous place. When a pastor thinks they’re indispensable they never rest; they place themselves in the position in the church where only Jesus belongs. If you want to thrive in ministry, you must take time away.

If you want to thrive in ministry, you must take time away. — @robhurtgen

Your church members may not understand that getting away and resting is critical. That’s okay. They don’t have to understand. You still need to take time off for your sake and theirs (Hebrews 13:17).

To stay in ministry, you need to take regular sabbath rests. You need to take time away to remind yourself that you’re human. You need to rest. You need to eat good food. If you’re married, keep the flame kindled. If you have children, you need to laugh and be goofy with them. As a pastor who has long gone home once told me, “You are the pastor for a season. You are your wife’s husband and children’s father for life.” If you don’t carve out time for them, you won’t have your family or your church.

In the past several months God has reminded me what He has reminded hundreds if not thousands of others before me. I am not alone. He is with me. He has brought people into my life who are for me. He has given me all I need, including time to rest.

When—not if—you get discouraged, don’t give up. You’re not alone.

Rob lives in Chillicothe, Mo., with his wife Shawn and their five kids. He’s the pastor of First Baptist Church. He also blogs at

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.


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.

Push, Pull, Come Along Side


3 December 2013
By Reverend Paul N Papas II

I recently walked into a store that had signs on door saying Push Pull – on the inside and outside of the same door. The instructions are confusing as they present two opposite commands at the same time, now you have to decide which command is better. Ever feel like you’re being pulled in opposite directions at the same time, now that is stressful.

This time of year can accentuate feelings of being pulled in opposite directions and not having enough time to get everything accomplished, increasing stress. We take great pleasure in finding the right gift for that someone special even though that creates stress.

Today’s life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it is a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.

Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

In today’s spiraling downward world economy many people will not be able to enjoy Christmas as they have or would like to, which can be harmful stress to your body. How you react and manage yourself in that situation will make all the difference in the world to your health.

A study performed by the American Psychological Association indicated that Americans, particularly women, are more likely to experience increased stress during the holidays [1]. The same study also indicated that people are more likely to engage in comfort eating or sedentary activities like watching TV to manage their stress. I would suggest simply pushing away from the table, desk, or TV and go out for a walk. You’d be surprised when a little fresh air and exercise will do you.

You have something to give that won’t cost a lot, won’t create a lot of harmful stress and which can put a smile on your and someone else’s face. Whether you see their smile or receive a thank you or not, you’ll notice your stress has been reduced and you’ll experience joy – which is not the same as happiness. The prescription is simple: give of yourself and do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return. As you do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return you will not feel like you are being pulled in opposite directions, rather that you have come along side the person you are helping…

Many years ago a large family faced a prospect of no Christmas dinner and no presents for any of the children. A few days before Christmas three grocery bags were discovered on the porch by the front door. The bags contained a turkey and plenty of food for a grateful Christmas meal as well as several full books of S&H Green Stamps which provided the gifts. The greater gift given that Christmas to the anonymous giver and the grateful family is joy. The ones who received that grateful gift of joy are still paying it forward. For a brief moment in time the anonymous giver and the grateful family came along side each other, stress relived, and burdens were lifted.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

The stressful time we live in today seemed to make this post relevant. We could use the spirit of Christmas today.

1] Berktold, Jennifer. Greenberg, Anna. “Holiday Stress”. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from on December 2, 2013.

Clipart by Dennis Cox:

Your Release Valve

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
2 August 2010

Everyone experiences pressure which causes stress. Stress can be good or bad for you.

An architect would want to know how much stress, measured in pounds per square inch, is planned to be placed on a floor so he would know what materials to use in designing a building. If he used the wrong or inferior materials or not enough of a material the strain caused by too much stress could collapse the building.

A specific response by our body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organ is stress. This stress could cause physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. Worry can cause stress. Excess stress can cause physical harm, such as heart attacks or strokes which could be fatal.

Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, worried, or even anxious. What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another.

Years ago I remember using a pressure cooker being used very often in the preparation of the family meals. A little water was placed in the bottom of the pot that the food was to be cooked in. The interlocking cover was then secured making sure the rubber gasket was in proper position so it would create a good seal. A release value was placed on top on a specially designed outlet. The heated water inside this closed and secure environment created steam under pressure. This steam under pressure caused the toughest meat to shred and rock hard potatoes to become almost like mush in a rather short period of time.

The amount of pressure built up inside this pressure cooker could blow the cover off the pot and cause serious damage to the ceiling and any people around. Fortunately, this little release valve was designed to whistle as the pressure was building up. The center of the valve had a pot up with three rings on it. If all three rings were showing it mean the pressure needed to be safely reduced quickly. The way to relieve the pressure was to remove it from the hot burner and gently tap the valve with a fork or knife. If the cover where removed before the center pop up was hidden the cover could blow.

In the pressure cooker pressure was used to cause stress to the food which made it easier and safer to eat. However if the pressure was left unchecked it could have caused serious damage to people and things in the vicinity.

People react differently to stressful situations.

Some people bottle up their anger and frustration inside which causes a build up inside them much like the pressure cooker on the hot burner. They may look good on the outside, but they are being torn up on the inside. They need a safe release value.

Some people vent their anger and frustration upon people and things around them similar to the top of the pressure cooker being removed too early causing collateral damage. They need a safe release valve also.

Various symptoms of stress include Feeling irritable, Lack of sense of humor, Having emotional outbursts, Generally feeling upset, Finding it hard to make decisions, Feeling you can’t cope, lacking enough energy to get things done, Finding it very difficult to concentrate, Eating also when you are not hungry, Eating too excessive, Having marked mood swings, Negative self-talk, Thinking about negative things all the time, Having memory problems, Becoming easily confused, not able to concentrate, Feeling like being restless, Feeling dejected at having to wait for something, Low back pain, Muscle tension, Pains in shoulders or neck, Pains in chest, Stomach/abdominal pain, Muscle spasms or nervous tics, Unexplained rashes or skin irritations, Holding breath, Shortness of breath, Unable to sleep or excessive sleep, Diarrhea, indigestion and ‘the gurgles’, ‘Butterflies’ in stomach, Sweating when not physically active, Sweaty palms and ‘Pounding’ or ‘racing’ heart.

There are medications that a doctor can prescribe to help with the symptoms of stress. As with most medications, there can be serious side effects that should be brought to notice and reported immediately to your health care provider, as well as less serious side effects that usually do not require medical attention during the normal treatment. Even if the symptoms are minor or do not have any long impact they should be brought to your health care provider’s attention as soon as possible. There should be a right amount or proportion of what ever you take and balance in your activities. This not only helps to lead a healthier life but also a very safe one. You should always consult a doctor or physician before taking any necessary actions and remember always that prevention is better than cure.

Everyone has a safe release valve.

In this case an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is better to address the cause rather than treat the symptom.

One healthy and inexpensive way to prevent a build up of stress and relieve stress is walking. A half hour to an hour a day walk, at a good pace, will relieve stress, give you a healthy appetite help reduce weight and help you sleep better. Your body, mind, bank account, and the people around you will thank you for walking regularly.

With the Exception of Weekly Churchgoers, Americans’ Mental Health Is at a 20-Year Low

By Megan Briggs -December 11, 2020

weekly churchgoers

Americans rated their mental health lower this year than they ever have in the past two decades, according to a survey by Gallup. The percentage of people who rated their mental health as “excellent” or “good” shrunk by nine points this year, compared to last year. But there is one group of people who have actually managed to increase their “excellent” and “good” ratings in a year that has brought stressanxiety, and worry to many. According to the survey, weekly churchgoers are still faring well.

“The latest weakening in positive ratings, from a Nov. 5-19 poll, are undoubtedly influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to profoundly disrupt people’s lives, but may also reflect views of the election and the state of race relations, both of which were on Americans’ minds this year,” a report on Gallup’s survey states.

Just over 1,000 adults were surveyed via telephone for this year’s annual November Health and Healthcare survey, which Gallup has conducted every year since 2001. 

This year, the percentage of Americans that rated their mental health positively (they responded with either “excellent” or “good” when asked “How would you describe your own mental health or emotional wellbeing at this time?”) was 76 percent. This is down from 85 percent in 2019. The second lowest rating that has been reported occurred in 2002, when 81 percent of Americans rated their mental health positively. 

While the numbers indicate that more Americans overall are struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, when the data are broken down by demographics, a couple of groups emerge as seemingly more resilient to the year’s harsh circumstances, at least mentally. Those groups are churchgoers who attend services at least once a week and Democrats. The big winner was weekly churchgoers, however. For this group, 46 percent reported “excellent” mental health this year compared to 42 percent last year. Comparatively, Democrats didn’t see an increase in their “excellent” numbers, rather the smallest decrease out of any of the other demographic groups surveyed (29 percent of this group reports “excellent” mental health this year compared to 30 percent last year). 

The biggest decreases in “excellent” mental health ratings occurred among the following groups:

Republicans (15 percent decrease)
People who attend church seldom/never (13 percent decrease)
People who attend church nearly weekly/monthly (12 percent decrease)
People who make more than $40,000 a year (12 percent decrease)
People who make more than $100,000 a year (12 percent decrease)

Other notable decreases occurred among women (10 percent decrease), singles (10 percent decrease), Independents (11 percent decrease), whites (10 percent decrease), and those aged over 65 (10 percent decrease). 

Weekly churchgoers were the only group to actually increase their numbers of “excellent” ratings. It’s unclear whether those attending services weekly did so in person or online, but a couple appear safe to draw from the survey results: Church services act as a boon to a person’s mental health and church communities are essential for helping people through adverse times

What Can Turn the Holiday Blues into Holiday Happiness?

Merle Mills

In a recent article, “Holiday Depression”, featured on, Dr. Richard Boyum states, “We generally think of the holidays as a joyous, happy period. The period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a time in American culture for much celebration. People come together to eat, sing, share gifts, and the camaraderie of each other’s presence. But there is an increasing body of knowledge that says that the holidays are a period of time that is, for many, stressful at the least and for others, downright depressing.”

For those who have lost a child through abortion like myself, the holiday season can sometimes not only prove sad and lonely, but depressing. Amid the turkey, collard greens, sweet potato pies, sparkling lights, and gifts, we may experience depression, simply because we miss our children.  

In a journal entry dated November 22, 2002, I wrote: “Today, I woke feeling lonely and distressed. It is the holiday season again, and I have never gotten accustomed to the stress of events. In my heart I give thanks, but I want to be alone with my thoughts. Amid all the activity, I am missing my child. I can’t hold back tears. It is so hard. God help me. I need to begin again.”

I would like to share steps that, over the years, have helped me overcome and turn holiday sadness, loneliness, and depression into holiday happiness.

Step 1 – Give a gift to a child or a charitable organization in memory of your child. Many charities at this time of year encourage giving to others. Many children have no one to provide them with gifts and many children who have a family are not able to receive gifts during the holidays. Somehow, when we help others, it takes the focus from ourselves. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 NIV

Step 2 – Spend time alone to reflect. Getting away from activity can help organize our thoughts. Jesus found it necessary to get away from the crowds. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV

Step 3 – Share your sadness with someone you trust. “A burden can seem lighter when shared. Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT

Step 4 – Write a journal entry about what you are feeling. Over the years, journaling has brought and continues to bring great healing to my life. I often reflect on my journey from pain to peace as Heavenly Father continues the healing process of my fragmented soul. “Write down for the record everything I have said to you.” Jeremiah 30:2 NLT

Step 5 – Feel like having a good cry? Let the tears flow. Heavenly Father sees our tears and promises to heal us. “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings 29:5 NIV

Step 6 – Pray for someone you know who is going through a difficult time. God created us to be blessings wherever we go on this earth. When we pray for others, we are extending His love and concern for them, and it takes the focus from ourselves. “Pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16 NLT

Step 7 – Remember, if you have asked our Heavenly Father for forgiveness, you are forgiven. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV

Nothing will ever replace the emptiness in my heart for my child. However, over the years, these steps have allowed me to enjoy holiday activity and to especially focus on the rich spiritual significance associated with the holidays.

Heavenly Father, thank You for forgiving me. During this holiday season, please fill me each day with the gift of Your peace, comfort, and happiness, in Jesus name, amen.

Copyright © 2017 Merle Mills. Used by permission.

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