Fear: Freeze-Fight-Flight … or … Reassurance by God’s Grace?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Dark Against the Light

By Grace we can trust that there is Light

That overcomes the greatest Darkness

Even Covid 19

2 Samuel 22:37

You have made me stride freely, and my feet do not slip.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Words of Grace For Today

Faced with the impossible challenge of facing war against Hitler, Churchill famously said: We have nothing to fear other than fear itself.

Taking office in 1933 FDR faced the great depression and famously said: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

This phrase as best researched seems to have originated with Montaigne in the sixteenth century, was probably picked up from Montaigne by Francis Bacon in the seventeenth, and then became a common proverb or axiom in later writers.

Over and over again in scripture as angels, leaders of God’s people, and Jesus himself greet people in great distress they say Fear not! For the Lord is with you! Or words similar.

Fear overwhelms our normal ability to deal reasonably with dangerous or challenging situations. We know that fear triggers a response generated in the brain below the cerebral cortex, which controls language and reason. Of course if we really are under attack in an mminent life and death situation, sitting and contemplating what is happening could be the end of us, so quicker responses, choosing between freeze, fight, or flight, are made by a faster area of our brain closer to the rest of our body.

Most of life is not helped by these responses, and in fact as a whole society, when we reduce our choices to these we end up with mass panic, if not in outright rioting mobs, then in masses of people unable to function and contribute to a societal solution, instead getting in the way of a solution and multiplying the problems faced.

God provides us, in the Good News that Jesus has redeemed us with Grace, not according to our works, a way of living that assures us: no matter what we face, God is with us. That reassurance, renewed in us by God’s Word each day gives us freedom from fear and all it’s causes, which are more than enough in this world to sink any reasonable person.

We, by Grace, are able to stride freely into each day, assured that this is the day of our Lord, God’s time, God’s creation, and God’s Spirit that accompanies us … giving us choices to respond to all sorts of evil with the same Grace that God gives to us.

We offer to others, by our very presence, the same Grace God exercises in and for us.

Calm reassurance of God’s Love for all creation in the face of Evil is God’s way of defeating Evil at every turn.

What a life, an abundant life, we get to live. God gives this life to us as pure gift! And we get to multiply it by giving it as gift to others!

It’s simple math: miracles of Grace beget miracles by God’s infinite factor of Love.

We have nothing to fear, but fear (Evil’s greatest presence) itself, and God has defeated fear and all Evil’s ways, even death!

We have everything to celebrate!

Limits are a Real Good Part of Life … Freedom in the Keep

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The path forward may be dark,

Doch God’s Light Guides Us

to Find Our Way Past the Wrecks of the Past.

Psalm 121:5-6

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

John 17:15

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

If God made a mistake, creating us to live on this earth, all of us so capable of evil that is so horrific we can barely imagine it’s destructive power, then the solution and our salvation would be for us to be able to leave all this behind. Many stories have been written and and genocidal attempts made, instead of removing us, to remove the evil from earth. It cannot go well for anyone, because sin and the agents of evil are each of us. It is not some identifiable or vague ‘them’. It is all of us who are the agents of sin and evil.

Many stories have been written and ill-fated attempts made to remove us from the bounds of sin on earth, from these flesh encased lives we have to live. None are good or successful. All need a huge dose of delusion.

Delusion runs rampant today, from Trump, Trump supporters, to similar flavours of government that ignore science, and instead implement restrictions for their own political ends instead of as protection for the people. Under the cover of Covid 19 great evil is perpetrated against millions of people the world over.

Did God make a mistake creating these people who use a pandemic as cover for evil, or for that matter for creating all of us, the perpetrators and victims alike?

Doch, God made no mistake creating us to live in these flesh encased lives here on this earth with all these other creatures. All humans, capable of evil, are also capable of great good. For this good God created us.

What we cannot do on our own is take on Evil and win. In fact the easiest route for the Devil to own us is when we try to concoct our lives as good on our own. That opens a freeway into our hearts, minds and strength for the Devil to work his/her wiles, wiles of deception and delusion, and even covering the tracks of evil in our core existence, so that we can fool ourselves about how the Devil possesses us!

In this marvellous life we are each given, God alone is our keeper, our safeguard against evil. God does not remove us from the wonders of creation and our awesome yet limited manner by which we participate in creation: See. Hear. Smell. Taste. Touch. Organize. Assemble what can seem as chaos into good order, good understanding. Marvel. Sing for Joy. Give God Thanks!

Still we will be overrun by evil. It is powerful, so much more powerful than we, ourselves.

Do you think you are so good that you are beyond the reach of evil tapping you at your core to perpetrate evil? Ha, for fools are exactly in this way played out by the Devil to commit the worst evil of all, passive aggressive, smiling to our faces and stabbing us in the back, pretending and parading around as if they were so good, yet at the same time plotting and scheming people’s destruction … completely owned (unawares) by the Devil.

Our only defence is God’s mercy, the story of Jesus’ sacrifice to rescue us and redeem us, the gifts of the Holy Spirit to renew us and guide us to …

… to humble admiration of God’s love for us

… to humble gratitude for God’s mercy

… to humble kindness toward all people, especially our ‘enemies’

… to humble dedication to work for justice for all people, justice based on truth and God’s mercy

… to humble joy no matter what we face, because we know God alone is our keeper and this world is where God intends us to live, and to live abundantly, helping others live abundantly as well.

There’s ‘Snow Time . . . . . . Like Now Time

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Just a little of the snow stuck

but it’s heavy

weighing done the branches.

Are we like that, weighed down, instead of enjoying life!

Psalm 95:2-3

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

1 Timothy 6:14-16

He will bring about the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

Sometimes there is little time.

Still,

Give God thanks.

A foot and half plus of heavy snow fell. I had a full day, with little time to write.

Still there were many things to be thankful for, many more to laugh at, and some I just had to shake my head at. One over-arching thing keeps getting proven over and over: God has a sense of humour and keeps hoping for us … why else would we humans be left to do such ridiculously, humorously, crazy things that both fill the news and are apparent right in front of one’s eyes … too often done by the one who the eyes belong to!

Patch Adams had it right: the unexpected joyful thing gets people to notice a bit more of life, and life is wonderful. There is every reason to be “excessively happy.” So why not be that for as many people as you can?

God is everywhere watching, a Light that powers the universe, a Light so great we cannot behold it, so we need not wait. Here and now (in each moment of each day) is the right time and place to make a joyful noise to God!

Facing Covid and All Our Enemies – With Grace!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Christ’s Dazzling Light

Always Shines For the Blessed

Through All the Darkness

Jeremiah 12:1

You will be in the right, O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Matthew 20:10-12

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

Words of Grace For Today

Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Why, working for God, do they, who arrive at the latest hour, receive the wages of those who showed up to work at sunrise?

We think that the world is so that we can understand how it works? For example when we ski off a cliff we should plan that we are going to land down below where we took off from. Gravity is a thing that we can understand.

So is it with many things in our world. Things we do have consequences, consequences that we can prepare for, consequences that anyone with a clear working mind and heart understands very well.

But when it comes to how God works with us and with other people, it easily seems everything we know makes no difference.

God’s ways are opaque for us.

Until we start to comprehend Grace.

Grace is the upside down stuff of our normal lives. Grace is how God works in the world.

If we try to understand, then it seems the guilty prosper and the treacherous thrive, and it seems that our work for God ought to be paid according to our efforts and time invested.

Yet, it is not so in God’s creation.

Grace alone brings us to life, life as we were created to live.

According to Grace, God’s purpose for each and every person is not to reward us according to our efforts. God’s purpose is to bring each and every one of us, freely, to live abundantly.

Cars run on gasoline or diesel. Bodies run on nourishing food and good drink.

God’s creation runs on Grace, the best of everything is free. Everything is free, but like manna given to nourish the people in the wilderness, manna that was good only for a day, and could not be stored, all that God gives us freely cannot be hoarded for ourselves. The goodness that God gives us is only good when we give it freely to others, just as we have received it.

So …

What appears to be unexpected and up-side-down, is God’s Grace working for us … and we can be ready to share all God gives us with all those we meet. Though we give, give, and give, God’s blessings will never run out; they will always flow, pouring over us and to all around us.

Ahh, to understand God’s ways is beyond us, but blessings flow; for them we can be filled with gratitude … and that makes everything wonderfully different, even when our tit-for-tat mindset is surprised or frustrated that our wicked enemies seem to win forcing us into an early grave.

(‘Joke’ is on them. We get to live abundantly, thankfully, sharing blessings freely, loving and dancing with grace through life. Then as they continue to live on earth, futilely pursuing more and more worthlessness, we enter the heavenly home prepared for us, for eternity. – If they could only see the end of their gaslighting and corruption.)

The Day of Epiphany – Still Facing Covid … With Grace

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Whatever Light God Provides

By Grace

We Can Find Our Way

Home

to Love God

With All Our Hearts, Minds, and Strength

Psalm 84:12

O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Matthew 2:10-11

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Words of Grace For Today

The day we celebrate Epiphany, the revealing, the in breaking of the Light of Life, is today.

Happiness is something we can spend our lives trying to find or achieve … in vain.

It is something that we can receive, as a pure gift, as grace, from God. When the Holy Spirit inspires us to trust God, life may not appear outwardly to change, yet the inner workings of our lives are transformed. The criteria of happiness are not attached any more to things or money or comfort or shopping … nor even chocolate or 42.

Instead our brains are re-wired, our hearts along with them. We evaluate the whole of life according to the joy of being humbled before God and being able to give God praise … and being able to serve God by extending God’s Grace to all other people.

Wisdom of the eastern people guided them …

to know the meaning of a bright star, and the courage to follow … for hundreds of miles … the star into Israel, and later to find Bethlehem, and in Bethlehem a cow’s stable and in the stable the infant Jesus in a cow’s manager.

There they offer up treasure of great value to Jesus. It is the honour they have to give, a rare honour.

When we are inspired to trust God, we know happiness as it is only truly possible, as we are able to allow God to connect our hearts, minds and souls to Grace. In that we have courage to be a bit of what God created us to be, happy … for that is certainly part and parcel of life abundant.

4th Day of …

Monday, December 28, 2020

What Word Do We

DO

when the darkness is so overwhelming

and the light of hope so dim?

Isaiah 50:4

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

2 Corinthians 1:4

Who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

Words of Grace For Today

With a word to sustain the weary, and to console with the consolation we receive from God: are our traditions carriers or obstructions to Truth?

On the 4th day of Christmas, still in the time of greatest restrictions to date to stave off Covid 19 from over-running our health care capacity, still in the midst of the short days and long nights of cold and dark winter, what do we do to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his Love?

Many of us put up and decorate a Christmas tree. What is this all about? At first glance there seems to be very little that connects a conifer tree decorated as we are wont with the Word of God being born as an infant in Bethlehem. The angel or star on top the tree seems to be the loan reference to anything of Christ. So let us ask: where did this tradition come from? Is there something in it’s origins that we can reclaim to bring a more profound meaning to the Christmas Tree, which will call us to hear and tell the old, old story of Jesus and his Love?

Wikipedia gives this: A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer, such as a spruce, pine, or fir, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Germany associated with Saint Boniface. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia), and in early modern Germany where German Protestant Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.

The tree was traditionally decorated with “roses made of coloured paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, [and] sweetmeats”. Moravian Christians began to illuminate Christmas trees with candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional and modern ornaments, such as garlands, baubles, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem, respectively, from the Nativity. Edible items such as gingerbread, chocolate, and other sweets are also popular and are tied to or hung from the tree’s branches with ribbons.

An Angel on top, or a star on top, and lights on the tree speak to the angel appearing to the shepherds, the star the ‘wisemen’ followed to find Jesus, and the Light of the World that shines in the darkness.

The reference to St. Boniface also indicates that Christmas celebrations were intact, and the yule celebrations were moved to coincide with them and thereafter the yule celebrations were ‘christianized’ or made to refer to the celebration of Christ’ birth. Thus the substantial traditions with a few references to Christ.

And is this not how most people live their lives, and God meets us all in this, with a few things tagged on to our lives, so that we take our secular or pagan or ungodly traditions, transform them ever so slightly and they become our ‘Christian’ celebrations, our ‘Christian’ lives.

God walks with us on these ‘christianized’ paths we tread each day, and calls us to remember, to proclaim and to be the Word of Life for the world, the Light of Christ in the dark.

We cannot make ourselves into saints, anymore than we can find a life that consists mostly of things of this world. These things of this world are what God created.

We see them after the fact ‘christianized’, though in truth they were God’s all along, which we tried to claim as our own ungodly, pagan or secular. Doch God is in all and created all, including our ungodly, pagan and secular efforts at life and meaning.

So we have a marvellous Christmas Tree with a star on top and lights all around. What do we tell the children who seek the pickle? Do we give them the wonder of God’s Light? The knowledge of God’s blessing of everything: trees, sweetmeats, gingerbread, candles or lights, angels and stars, hymns and carols?

It is less in what our traditions are, than in how we speak of them, how and what we value in them, and to whom we give thanks, and for whom we work – as we share all that God has given us: joy, sustenance and consolation.

3rd Day of …

Sunday, December 27, 2020

What Do We See?

Birds: A Father and Child Carved from Snow?

The Wonders of Creation?

Or dirty creosote drippings from a dirty chimney burning junk wood?

Psalm 40:5

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

2 Peter 1:19

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Words of Grace For Today

We may think we can proclaim the great deeds of God, wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us. We can, sort of, proclaim God’s great deeds, though we rarely get the story to reflect the awesome Grace God begins, continues and ends with when God thinks of us.

God ensures the story of God’s Love and Mercy are told in every generation, and at least partially understood by every generation. The stories of God in every age shine like lamps in our dark places, bringing us hope, which is the fuel for life.

On this third day of Christmas, the 1st Sunday of Christmas, we traditionally have services of readings and carols. It provides a bit of recovery time for pastors and gives us time to sing Christmas carols and hymns that we did not on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What though is Christmas for us, in truth?

A German tradition was discovered by a niece: a pickle is hung and hidden on the Christmas tree. Then the children come in and hunt for the pickle. The first one to find it receives a gift of special treats, chocolates or sweets.

The question by one of the uncles was whether the pickle was a real pickle, for then the smell of the pickle would easily give it away. But no, the pickle in question (now a daze) was a plastic pickle, which then a nephew produced for all to see. A fine plastic pickle with a string through one end to make hanging on the tree convenient.

The tree, is of course, environmentally ‘friendly’, a plastic and reusable tree with tinsel and lights already in place.

The ‘old time’ German tree was a tree out of the woods, a fresh pine or spruce tree. The lights were candles burning with real fire – so no old dried out trees would do. The decorations were of many kinds, none plastic, some wood, some metal, some ceramic (maybe), but more were natural like pine cones dipped in flour-water to look frosty, home-made jellied fruit and sweets, some soaked in rum and/or brandy. The pickle was real as well, and the prize was almost certainly home made sweets. The tree wafted the smell of it’s sap. The decorations filled the house with smells of sweet and delicious and special treats. The pickle’s smell was well concealed by the aroma of Christmas.

But what does this all have to do with Christ? With Christmas?

Nothing, other than it is how families for generations kept traditions about how they gathered and spent time, special time, with each other, playing games, inviting children into simple games of hide and seek, and all partaking of the ‘special’ time, eats, and drinks.

These ‘Christmas’ traditions are not bad or wrong. They simply are not about Christ.

So it is with most of what today we call Christmas, and which so many people during the restrictions of Covid 19 bemoan not being able to partake in.

On this 3rd day of the 12 days of Christmas, what have we done to celebrate God’s wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us? What have we done to keep the lamp shining in every dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in hearts? What have we done to tell with out thoughts, words and deeds the old, old story of Jesus and his Love … for all people?

Advent Ends, Christmas’s 12 Days Begins: Facing Everything, With Grace

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Light

Guides Us

Onward

Psalm 42:3

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’

Matthew 2:1-2

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’

Words of Grace For Today

Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible “double planet” in 800 years. This bright star, or one like it, led the wise ‘men’ from the east to travel to find Jesus.

We search for God, like the ‘wisemen’ who may have been women and men. Others deride us for a God they cannot find. We suffer the ‘slings and arrows’ of life and they claim that God has deserted us, or that God never existed anyway.

Searching for God can bring rewards. It brought the wise ones to see Jesus and present him with gifts. Their search also set Herod to look for Jesus, though he would not bring gifts. Instead he kills off all the children in the area who are in Jesus’ age.

Jesus survives only because his parents have taken him and themselves in flight on a dangerous journey, as refugees to this day still take to try to survive.

This day we begin our Christmas celebrations, celebrations that few alive have held or been able to anticipate. Such are the restrictions and safeties of a time of pandemic.

May this day be one of many when we recognize Jesus

in the needs of our neighbours the world over, regardless of colour, creed, or company they hold and keep.

May this day be one of many when we recognize God’s Grace

as the sole source of our breath and hope.

May this day be one of many when unexpected challenges force us to see the Light of God anew in the simplest of things, in the wonders that fill this world all around.

On the night coming, as we celebrate the Light of Christ, may the Joy of God fill our hearts, minds and strength.

Advent Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 17

Thursday, December 17, 2020

In the Darkness, a Mere Reflection of

the Brilliance of the Light, Promised

That Gives Hope to All Creation!

Jeremiah 31:17

There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.

Revelation 3:20

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Words of Grace For Today

Trump will try to present Congress with alternative Electoral College votes, making history with his continued and unprecedented efforts to undermine the democratic election process in the US; and millions voted for him and still support him!

Courts (too many) abuse their authority, declaring lies to be facts, innocent people guilty, legitimate claims to be bogus and lawyers’ lies to be truths; and millions are pleased with the injustice that preserves their way of life. Good, honest men, mostly, spend time in jail and have their reputations ruined. Psychological assessments are made of the good, honest men by corrupt and dishonest ‘experts’ (well paid for their false reports), even when the men have had a life of psychological supervision, testing, and review as they’ve provided counselling to countless people. On appeal the judges simply rubber stamp the injustice, and use legal process to further ruin good, honest, innocent men, eating up their disappeared financial resources, while hiding the truth about the judges’ own lies about the evidence given in court.

RCMP (way too many) focus on good men, help women coordinate false reports over years, invite uninvolved bystanders to create false reports, make false arrests, lay false charges, bully the prisoners, and laugh with corrupt community ‘leaders’ at the fun of ruining good, honest, men, fathers to children who now will be raised by single mothers.

The mothers (far and away too many, for one is already too many) are sick, each in their own way, encouraged by church and community ‘leaders’ to lie, to reward the children for lying in court, to play the victim, as they perpetrate their emotional violence against the men in their lives, just because they can, or because to be honest would mean having to share sizable assets with their men, but killing the men or ruining them in court they get to keep all the assets for themselves. And the children learn that nothing matters except money. Truth, honesty, integrity all must be sacrificed in order to accumulate more and more money. Which perpetuates the cycle of real crimes, and real lies, and real murders into the next, and the next and the next generations.

There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.

Jeremiah’s words, written in a completely different context, meet today’s corruption of the children and stand firm as God’s promise: True JUSTICE will be done. Our children will return and learn to honour, themselves, their ancestors, and their God. Our children will learn to fear and love God in all things, above all things. Our children will learn to be kind to all people. Our children will learn to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love, and know that it is what makes them able to breathe, and allows them to be that Word for all other people.

We are those children, each day, tempted to hear from the corruptions of the world in all its guises, to place value on things that wither like leaves and grass. To us all Jesus calls out especially this Advent season which is so different than those for us before:

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

No one will celebrate Christmas alone, for Christ sits to eat with us, sits to pray with us, sits to motivate us to reach out to family and friends … and especially the strangers in our midst who are all alone.

Perhaps this Christmas, Christ will win the hearts of some of those corrupt politicians and their supporters, judges, some of those RCMP, some of those community ‘leaders’, some of those women … and there will be a double victory for many as injustices are righted AND we celebrate that these people live honourable lives, serving Christ, with integrity seeking truth and the best interests of children and parents … and our future, first, and conducting themselves accordingly … according to a life that is daily guided by repentance, forgiveness, and God’s unconditional Grace and love.

How we will celebrate then!

Since this is God’s promise already to us all, we have much to celebrate this Christmas, much to prepare for this Advent.

Covid 19 places all sorts of challenges before us, and the Holy Spirit guides holy people to seize on them as opportunities to renew our trust in God, and in God alone.

Snow falls, inch by inch, fresh every 12 hours or so. The sun hides above the clouds. The days are short, here 7.5 hours of daylight. Next week they start to get longer, though only by a minute a day taking a whole month to add an hour of daylight. Then the sun will shine on the snow, bright and brilliant, just as Christ’s Light already shines in every darkness, every darkness of the past, or the present and of the future.

Light One, Two, Three candles to watch for Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

Ahh, the brilliance of the Light (for so many!)

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 13 Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2020

In the Dark

There is Light

Be Christ’s Light

for Others!

Jeremiah 10:6

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.

1 John 4:14

The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

Words of Grace For Today

As the second wave of Covid 19 continues to explode around us with infections, hospitalizations and deaths that overwhelm us …

And finally restrictions are in place that might ‘bend the skyrocketing’ numbers …

Christmas will not be like many before.

There is none like God … the prayer of faith saves the sick, sins are forgiven …

So we trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven by forgiving others

AND

we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all. For example:

On The Dose, a CBC radio program, available in numerous ways including on demand, this past week host Dr. Brian Goldman interviewed psychology professor Steve Joordens who gave advice and guides on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy through the holidays and beyond. The advice is badly needed by many as resilience to the effects of isolation is plummeting in a free fall as fast as the Covid 19 numbers are skyrocketing.

I had to step away for part of it, such are the demands of my living situation as I balance delicately hour by hour between destruction by ice or by fire, but these are the notes from my daily journal, expanded to make sense to any reader:

1. Plan for next year’s Christmas.

This year do what is necessary to make the holidays (and every day) safe, very safe, as safe as can be, for yourself, for your loved ones, and for all those you all encounter! Many things will not be possible. Be creative this year. Plan next year to do the things you cannot do this year.

This is not like war. We know an end is in sight and recovery to a somewhat familiar normal will come, so we can plan for it. We can make our new normal even better by planning for what is precious!

2. Make intentional social interactions.

We all need to interact with others. Don’t do what is not safe, very safe. Error on the side of safety, for now. That does not mean we cannot have many social interactions. Make your virtual connections real. Listen, share, laugh, cry, ‘be there’ for the intense moments and for the mundane. Reach out to people who may not have someone. Develop ‘pen pals’ or rather phone-pals or zoom-pals.

We are in the same storm, but in different boats. So respect that we all have to cope, each in our own ways. The basics are the same: we need to stay afloat amidst the chaos.

3. Counter Anxiety with Enjoyment.

Cortisol flows when we are anxious and moves us into fight/flight/flee mode in which we do not reason, we just act to save ourselves; or so the instinct works or rather does not work well when fight/flight/flee responses can do nothing to save us, let alone help us.

Endorphins counter the effect of cortisol, so do things and help others do things that bring enjoyment. Climb El Capitan, well … maybe just get a good dose of exercise as you are able. Music moves us to remember good times, brings us to laugh, and dance. Give the gift of music to yourself, and to others. Give music to bring back memories of times before Covid 19.

3. Be a model for children.

Children experience the world through us parents and adults. Do your own work to build up resilience so that you are not anxious around children. They will learn with you to be resilient in the face of extreme challenges. They will learn how to set anxiety aside.

Be a model for other people, too. Adults learn from other adults. We never quite stop learning from others if we stay healthy!

The real dark side that is becoming more and more apparent while everyone is under the stress of Covid 19 restrictions and infections and long term illness and deaths is … is depression, which unchecked is leading to suicides.

Be aware of this and notice your anxiety before it overwhelms you. Be resilient for others. Reach out to others. If you or someone else is at risk of harming themselves, there is help. Reach out. The resources are on the web in many places including www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx , scroll down to GET HELP.

4. Learn to relax at will.

You cannot be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Get online guides to practice how to relax. Practice until you can relax without the guides.

Then notice when you are starting to become anxious, and relax instead.

Use this to prepare for sleep as well.

5. Embrace winter.

Get out. It’s safer outside as far as Covid 19 goes. Be safe in the cold, dress for it. Get vitamin D by taking a walk on a sunny afternoon.

6. Bring wood from the first dry stack. (Oops, sorry that’s just the reminder for me to get wood to stay alive through last night’s -26⁰ C dip into hard freeze.)

Everyone has things that need be done to get through the winter and each month, besides dealing with Covid 19. Ensure you and others are doing those things, too. Work (not to an extreme) helps maintain resilience.

We trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven as we forgive others their sins, and we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all.

Be safe, be wise, do not be anxious or let your hearts be troubled: instead find ways to enjoy life and share it with others, and relax into the comfort of God’s arms. God walks with us each day, each hour. God carries us when we falter.

Christ calls us to be God’s arms for one another; carry one another with respect and love.

[Thanks to The Dose, though I paraphrased considerably and creatively.]

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Light one, two, (three), (four) candles to watch for the Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

[Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah, words by Wayne L. Wold]