Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:7
Have you ever received a text from your teenager/young adult saying, “Anxiety really bad this morning. Going to class late”? How do we process these words when our child is away from home? The feelings associated with not being able to help are far from fun. I have wanted to pack my bag, jump in the car or plane, and go make everything better. How about you? It’s hard, isn’t it? I’ve learned to slow down in the moment, get quiet, remember the promises God has given me about my child, and ask for prayer support.
When my child sent that uneasy feeling kind of text, I encouraged them to do their best to get quiet, turn on some worship music, pray, and allow God to meet them where they were at today.
By grace, I’ve been able to choose trust in God’s ability to meet my child’s need in every way. I intentionally thank him throughout the day for making himself known to my children.
I must give my children the freedom to choose Jesus and press into him. I can provide encouragement and tools, but I cannot save them or become their savior
I read an article recently on how anxiety, fear, and stress impact the brain. The amygdala is an almond-shaped section of the brain that is responsible for a chemical response when negative feelings occur. A simple way to combat these uncomfortable feelings is to breathe deep, practice meditation, and gratitude. Meditation will help calm and shrink the amygdala. Deep breathing will help get more oxygen to the brain and gratitude will shift thoughts away from the amygdala and move us toward the prefrontal cortex. The PFC is where we can think clearly, be creative and make good judgments about our circumstances. The amygdala lives in the back of the brain and is activated during fight, flight, freeze, or appease moments. Slowing down and taking time to develop a consistent habit of deep breathing and meditation will improve mental health. The benefits of adopting these practices will heighten your emotional intelligence and lessen your emotional response. In other words, it instills a steadiness or calm into your reply or being. Secondly, you gain more mental clarity. Third, you become more self-aware and your empathy increases. Lastly, your attention span grows giving you the ability to stay attuned and present.
There are many examples of meditation in the Bible. Genesis 24:63 says, “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.” The main reason God directs us toward meditating is to achieve perfect peace. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
How do we become steadfast in our minds? We focus. We get quiet. We meditate. God knows these thoughts will keep our minds in a good and life-giving place. We are to think on what is pure, lovely, and of good report.
Scripture points us toward obtaining peace in this world. Peace from anxiety and stress. God came to give us his peace. It is his gift to us. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts; instead, be courageous!”
Patti Reed is wife to Frank and mom to Ryan and Hope. She homeschooled her children for 7 years with a commitment to impact the spiritual, emotional and intellectual health and growth of her children. She is an Entrepreneur and owned a Christian advertising business for 18 years here in DFW. Her most recent venture as a new author and certified coach in conversational intelligence®? began over three years ago when she answered God’s call to write a devotional for parents of teens/young adults coming this Spring.
Wash Day Grief
Have you ever noticed the settings on your washing machine as they relate to grief? Consider these common washing machine settings:
NORMAL: Normal responses following a loss may include mood changes, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of anger, abandonment, despair, loss of concentration, loss of energy, and the loss of motivation. These responses can vary based upon previous loss experiences, our relationships, and even our personality.
SMALL LOAD: Each person’s grief is a major life event. However, there may be some days the grief pain is not as intense. These days offer the time to catch your breath. Regardless of the relationship…regardless of the circumstances surrounding the loss…it is a major loss.
LARGE LOAD: Grief can bring on very intense feelings. These feelings can be overwhelming, even to someone with a history of always being under control. We can be paralyzed emotionally because of the shock a loss brings.
SPIN CYCLE: Several events can throw a griever into a “spin cycle”. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, photos, music, food, and even fragrances can begin the “spin cycle” of emotions. These are normal twists and turns along the journey of grief.
RINSE CYCLE: The rinse cycle is a time of refreshing. Tears provide a natural rinsing, a cleansing of the soul. Grief encompasses all of the confusing and painful emotions felt after a loss. Mourning is the outward expression of these feelings...whether through tears, words, or actions.
COOL DOWN: No one can take grief away. Expressing grief to a safe person, or becoming part of a grief support group, can provide a “cool down” time. These steps can help soften the pain of grief, but the awareness of the loss will remain.
Give yourself permission to be a “NORMAL” griever. Some days will bring a “SMALL LOAD” of grief…other days will consist of a “LARGE LOAD”. The “SPIN CYCLE” may be intense at times…while the “RINSE CYCLE” of tears can cleanse the soul as we mourn the loss. Peace and acceptance can offer a “COOL DOWN” phase…a time of rest.
Jesus did NOT say “Blessed are those who GRIEVE”! But, He DID say “Blessed are those who MOURN, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. Grief is the confusing tangle of emotions and feelings that are within following a loss. These may feel like loneliness, sadness, emptiness, anger, guilt and regrets. No one can see our grief, it is personal and private.
But, when we talk about these feelings the grief becomes mourning. A good definition of mourning is “grief gone public”. Mourning may be talking about the feelings, or even actions to honor the life of a loved one who died. Every one grieves, but not everyone mourns in a healthy manner.
Find a safe person who will let you talk about your feelings. As you talk about your grief you are mourning the loss…according to Jesus, that is when you find comfort.
Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted, He binds up their heart”.
Bob Willis has served as a Southern Baptist minister and hospice Bereavement Coordinator. He is a frequent speaker on grief, loss, and caregiver issues. His book “A Guide For Grievers” was released in June 2017, providing information on grief and supporting those who have experienced a loss. Bob has been a sculptor for over 25 years. In May of 2018, he became the Sculptor at The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Set your house in order because Christ could come today . . .
And some tasks may be unfinished if you are called away.
An angel may have told you at the early morning light . . .
“Your Lord will come this evening and you’ll be home with Him tonight.”
Our hearts may become clouded as we think of work undone . . .
Those seeds that weren’t scattered and the crowns that we might have won.
There were souls we meant to speak to and Bible verses we meant to share . . .
And there were a lot of wasted moments we could have spent in prayer.
Now there are a few short moments to set undone things right . . .
And feverishly we’d labor until we see the warning light.
We all have a slothful soul and a careless heart and some spiritual eyes that seem to have no sight . . .
We need to work, and not reap in vain regrets, because my Lord Jesus may come tonight.
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)
Tom Kesting was born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia, and attended West Virginia University on a football scholarship. He worked in the marketplace doing sales and marketing for 30 years and worked at In Touch Ministries for 26 years. Tom became a Christian when he was 41 years old. Three days a week he broadcasts a 15-minute inspiration program on Facebook and sends out daily encouraging emails to friends and to those interested in positive encouragement and inspiration. Tom lives in Lilburn, Georgia, and has been married for 20 years.
It was a dark time. Disease was rampant. There was social unrest. People were lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. It was at this very time that God chose to act.
Some had lost hope that the Messiah would ever come. After all, the prophets had been silent for around 400 years. But in a stable meant for animals, not humans, Christ was born.
Angels lit up the dark sky as the shepherds watched in awe. The angels praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).
The true light that gives light to everyone came into the world. (John 1:9). Jesus gave people hope, but more than that. He died on the cross so that we could have a personal relationship with God. Think about it. The God of the universe loves each one of us so much that He sent His Son to deliver us and give us abundant life.
In 2020, disease is rampant and there is social unrest. People are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
So is it as bad as it was 2000 years ago? NO! We are on the other side of the cross. Jesus has already won the victory. Satan and his minions are on the rampage, but God, who lives in us, is greater than he who is in the world.
Jesus came into the world 2000 years ago and was the light of the world. However, He did not leave it at that. He commissioned us to be the light of the world. During this critical time in the United States and around the globe, we must take our responsibility seriously to pray AND witness like never before.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is attending a candlelight service. The entire room is dark, and the pastor lights a single candle. He then starts lighting others’ candles, who in turn light others. The light spreads. What started out to be a pitch-black room, turns into a fully lit sanctuary. This process breaks down though if people don’t share their light. Too many times, we don’t share our light with others.
To effectively spread the light, we need to share our story of what Christ has done in our lives. I wasn’t very good at doing this until I attended a Roaring Lambs Testimony Workshop a few years ago. It transformed the way that I present my testimony. I now share with others some of the traumatic “earthquakes” I experienced in my life, one of which was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
During the pandemic, I haven’t gotten out much, Yet, God has sent me different caregivers that I’ve shared with. Several of them told me, “I really needed to hear that today.” We are not responsible for the results, but we are responsible to share.
This Christmas, you may not be able to attend a candlelight service. The holidays may look a little different. But I challenge you to share your light with at least one other person this holiday season. You might share on a zoom call, on the phone, or by sending an old fashion card. Whatever method you use, be the light at a time in history in which the world may seem dark.
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mathew 5:16).
BIO: Dr. Sherry Ryan is a retired Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at the University of North Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Prior to earning her doctorate, she worked for IBM, teaching courses and speaking at national conferences. She has published numerous academic journal articles, conference proceedings, and is currently working on a book. Sherry is passionate about missions and is on the Board of Directors for His Appointed Time Ministries.
Published on Monday, November 30, 2020 @ 1:11 PM CDT
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