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.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2007/10/06/stress-anxiety-depression-and-self-care/

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 robhurtgen.wordpress.com.

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/

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/

Push, Pull, Come Along Side

5943-Alaskan-Eskimos-Canoing-Down-A-River-Clipart-Picture


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.


Footnote
1] Berktold, Jennifer. Greenberg, Anna. “Holiday Stress”. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf on December 2, 2013.

Clipart by Dennis Cox: http://clipartof.com/5943

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/push-pull-come-along-side/

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.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/your-release-valve/

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

https://churchleaders.com/news/386760-with-the-exception-of-weekly-churchgoers-americans-mental-health-is-at-a-20-year-low.htm

What Can Turn the Holiday Blues into Holiday Happiness?

Merle Mills

In a recent article, “Holiday Depression”, featured on selfcounseling.com, 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.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/turn-holiday-blues-into-holiday-happiness

‘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.

 

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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.

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