Offended

By Jennifer Clements, GFC Land O’ Lakes

 

When an offense comes, are we controlled by our emotions? Recently, I learned a very valuable lesson after one of my Zoom calls.  I led a meeting to discuss a new process roll out.  There were a few questions, so I addressed each and asked if everyone felt secure about the information I provided. The response was crickets, and I mean absolute silence. It was awkward, but I gave the right answers, and then moved on.

 

Later on, someone asked my superior a question, the same question they had asked me, and he provided the same directive. When he finished, there were smiles and nods of confirmation, and I was frustrated. After all, he communicated the same thing I had just said! I didn’t stop to think about why this information could have sounded better coming from someone else.

 

I was upset but didn’t say a word because the Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry but do not sin,” and I was literally repeating Psalms 141:3, under my breath, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” I must admit, sometimes my lips need deliverance. After several hours, I was still upset, and decided to call a friend/co-worker to vent. But, first, I asked how she thought the meeting went, and she said, “I thought it was productive, but we couldn’t understand a word you said, your internet connection was terrible.”

 

Well, there it was! It wasn’t that they didn’t like the information coming from me; it was a bad connection! The result of seven people working or e-learning from home! I was about to embarrass myself because I allowed my emotions to control me.  Being offended is often the choice when failing to understand. This week when there’s an opportunity to get upset, let us strive to understand and not be offended.

Freedom to Rest

By Nathalie Corniel

My desire is to be a source of encouragement as we grow deeper in God’s truth to give hope to a hurting world. We can only give that which we have. So, how do we nurture our spiritual health?

When considering my own spiritual health, one question I ask myself is whether I have margin in my life for self-care and rest (the Bible calls it Sabbath)?

You may be asking, “What does that mean?”

Let me tell you, when I am tired and empty, I am not the easiest person to live with. As a working mom, wife, and student I get exhausted, can lose joy, and enthusiasm. Because of that, I need to reflect on how my soul and physical health are doing. I can crave a better attitude and a closer relationship with Jesus, but am I making changes to my routine to allow me the freedom to rest?

 

John Maxwell said “See what a person is doing every day…. and you’ll know who that person is and what he or she is becoming.” When we rest and take intentional time for our soul, it allows us to have a clearer perspective in life. God modeled relaxation for us by resting after creating the universe (Hebrews 4:4). Rest allows us to hear the voice of God by inviting His presences in our lives.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to measure our rest this week.

How do we find rest in a restless world?

How do we find rest in a time of a pandemic?

How are we carving out time to rest and invite God in those difficult dried places of our souls?

 

Attentive

By Pam Otto, GFC Van Dyke

Earlier this year, my daughter encouraged me to choose a word that would be used as an inspiration or encouragement for 2020. She thought it would be fun to each have our own words and then paint them on a canvas as a daily reminder. After contemplating a bit, the word I chose was Attentive, which means: to pay close attention to someone or something; to be observant, perceptive, noticing, aware.

I loved it! I knew I certainly could improve on being more attentive with listening to God, my friends and family. I started the year out by being more mindful of others, having a focus on being fully present in conversations and noticing the little things…But, it wasn’t long before my ‘attentiveness’ got lost in the shuffle of busyness, schedules, distractions, and then a global pandemic.

 

The shift of my attentiveness slipped into the background as I tried to maneuver all the changes that came from Covid-19. But then came God’s gentle reminder…I love that God sees us and knows just what we need from Him, in each and every season we are in. God led me to Proverbs 8:34-35, “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.”

God quietly reminded me to refocus my attention to Him, to listen to Him, to watch Him and wait for Him. When we place our attention on God rather than the endless distractions that can fill up our minds, we are changed; we are blessed. He says that those who find Him find life and receive favor from Him. What an awesome exchange – we lay down our distractions, give Him our attention and He gives us His presence, blessing and favor! What a win!

When Everything Is Shaking

by Rossaue Hosein

 

Deny, Cry, Numb, Run. Which stage are you currently in? You probably have passed the denial phase since everything that can be shaken in our world has been shaken. Your work life, your kid’s education, your financial situation, and even how you gather for your church small group, has been shaken and looks very different than it did 6 weeks ago.

I definitely have experienced the gamut of emotions. Belonging to a large community of women has given me a lot of insight and real stories into how COVID-19 and social distancing is impacting people. Some days I’ve been fine; after all, this is only temporary right? Other days after talking with several people about job loss, homeschooling, loneliness, and sick loved ones, and it makes my heart feel as though an elephant is tied to my neck.

This entire experience is like nothing I’ve known.  I found myself needing information to help me sort through it all. So, when I saw that Lifeway was offering a Facebook Live segment on mental health during social isolation, I made sure to watch. The segment was hosted by Lifeways Groups Ministry Director, Chris Surratt, and Evan Owens of Reboot Recovery. Evan’s ministry helps people deal with a crisis and make healthy adjustments. What helped me the most, was Evan sharing that the place to start to move through a crisis in a healthy way is to first identify where your mental state currently is.

The Four Stages

State 1 Deny: This stage is obvious. We play down or deny what is really going on. We deny what’s really going on because the new reality is too difficult to accept.

Stage 2 Cry: This is the stage where we grieve our new reality. Crying looks different for everyone. For some it looks like anger, others a short temper or frustration. This is the time to call for reinforcement and reach out to a friend or family for support.

Stage 3 Numb: This stage is how we chose to deal with the crisis. We use things to numb what we are feeling. It can be Netflix binging, Oreo’s, sleeping in, or exercise. On the negative side, it could be numbing with overeating, drinking, or substance abuse.

Stage 4 Run: No explanation needed!

Eventually, we get past denial, cry a river, and decide there’s not enough dark chocolate to numb our current reality, and we run for the hills. As we learned, running is a natural response to a crisis, but where you chose to run can lead you further into a pit of despair or it can lead to refreshment and rest. Let’s look to Matthew 11:28-29 for direction.

Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.

Your feelings are valid. Ask yourself, where am I today. What am I running to?

Jesus is the Rest Giver.

A Few of My Favorite Quarantine Things

By Carrie Roden

As we enter our second month of “safer at home,” we are all in different situations, and some of them are much more difficult than others. Many people are dealing with loss of life, health, or jobs, and all of us are dealing with loss of normalcy, convenience, and community. Even if you are one of the most fortunate in this time, it is easy to feel irritable, stressed, and overwhelmed. I tried to think about the things that have helped us the most during this time to see if any of our favorite quarantine things might help you too.

#1 – Dr. Teal’s Bath Salts – Yes, I know it sounds strange that one of my favorite quarantine things is bath salts, but these are strange times, y’all. I’m normally a shower-in-the-morning girl, but quarantine has found me needing a nightly retreat. I don’t know what it is, but somehow, I’m less stressed. You can pick them up for $5 a bag at Target Drive Up, which leads me to #2

#2 – Target Drive Up – My love for Target is not new. I use cartwheel like it’s my job, have a red debit card for extra savings, and save up gift card bonuses for Christmas shopping. What I love about Target Drive Up is that there is no fee, no increased prices, you can still use your cartwheel discounts, and most things are ready in less than 4 hours. Now they never have toilet paper or paper towels, but who does?

#3 – Getting Outside – I already knew that we all feel better mentally and physically when we get some kind of exercise outside. After dinner walks and scooter/bike rides have become even more important to how we are functioning as a family. The couple of times we have skipped the routine, we wished we hadn’t.

Last week we were able to go blueberry picking, and that was honestly as close to normal as we’ve felt in weeks. There is just something about getting outside the walls of your house! And there hasn’t been one time that I’ve walked (including the time that I was trying to increase my pace and fell flat on my face) 🤣 that I didn’t feel better when I was finished.

#4 – Encouraging Someone – So much is out of our control in all of this, not the least of which is when it will end, but maybe the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond. For us, it always helps to focus on someone else. I’ve been so encouraged by the heroism and selflessness of so many people during this crisis, and we’ve enjoyed several opportunities to thank or encourage people who are sacrificing more than we are.

My little girls have made cards and signs for Instacart drivers and grocery employees. We’ve joined in with friends fundraising efforts for causes we could never singlehandedly meet the needs of. Pat and Mary Grace Davis are raising money for Publix gift cards to help single moms and God has multiplied their efforts beyond what they imagined.
My friend Stephanie Simpson who works at Restore in NYC is raising money to support sex trafficking survivors who are finding themselves once again vulnerable due to job loss during Covid 19.

And of course, we are always so proud of how Grace Family Church loves the Tampa Bay community through the many outreach opportunities. The drive-through drop offs of groceries and masks on each campus are helping keep the people in our community fed and cared for. Whatever way you choose, find a way to encourage someone else because focusing on what you can do with whatever you’ve been blessed with is so helpful in a time when you feel powerless.

#5 – My last quarantine favorite is the Scripture app Dwell because this is the easiest way for me to get Scripture into my heart and mind right now. I love the choices of reading plans, I love that I can listen outside while I’m walking. And I love that it keeps up with where I stop and even reminds me to listen. When we have a kid struggling with anxiety, that kid goes to sleep listening to a playlist of Scripture focused on worry. If I’m struggling with anger there is a playlist for that. We are hearing so much information and it can be hard to know what part is true. Having daily access to a hope-filled Truth that we can be sure of, written by the only One who knows how all this will turn out is my absolute favorite quarantine thing.

Our quarantine days have not been all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had days when I haven’t utilized any of the things I’ve found helpful, but rather have let my frustration determine the mood in our home. Those aren’t the days I’m proud of and they certainly aren’t the ones I want to repeat. The days I’ve relied on my new favorites and embraced where God has us have resulted in days that are worth repeating and that I hope will be the ones we remember when we look back and remember this crazy time.