Our new normal – face masks!

Since the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be showing no signs of abating, I guess this means our new normal is really just normal now.
How are you affected by it?
In Australia the push to be wearing face masks is growing since it looks as if we’re really moving into a second wave of infections. Too many people have been flouting the health recommendations. Rather sad. In NSW we were doing fairly well until some infected visitors from Victoria came north and have been spreading the virus as they go. Batemans Bay has become a latest casualty which means it spreading in all directions as so many Canberrans visit the Bay frequently.
So, if you’re in the group who feel the need for masking as a protection, why not go as fancy as you like?
Fine Art America has a lot of face masks from which to choose… so, go for it. Click the link below.
Masks at Fine Art America

A dramatic year…

Tags

, , , , , ,

It’s been too long since I wrote anything on Healing Prayer. Life seems to have had a way of slurping up the available hours in the day. Now, I have to say that this past 12 months have been a challenge in so many ways. Here’s a little review of what that has meant…
1) Australia has been experiencing a drought, a rather long one. Everything was so dry, so dead looking. The grass crunched beneath my feet as I walked around my garden. I didn’t need to mow since nothing was growing. Gardening was mostly at a standstill except watering a little in an attempt to keep the garden alive.
2) In September we had a snow storm, the first I’d experienced in the 9 years I’ve lived here. Such a beautiful sight even though it melted away too quickly. It provided some much needed nourishment for the soil and plants.
3) Then came the bush fires!! What can I say? What an awful time that was for NSW and Vic. The fires came so very close from several sides over the summer months. The winds blew fiercely making things much worse. Each time it looked as if we would ‘get it,’ the wind changed and we were safe again.
4) With the bushfires came the smoke. It was so thick and there was no escape. Going outside proved a challenge for breathing. I stayed inside most of the time and dealt with life from there, though the smoke smell permeated the house long after the fires were gone.
5) Then early this year the Corona Virus appeared on the scene. COVID-19 has disrupted life across the world in ways we could not have imagined this time last year. Australia has fared better than other countries (thus far). Living out in a rural area has been a blessing for me so that lockdown has not been as traumatic or stressful as it has for those in the cities. Also, we have had no postive cases in the region. Sad to say the whole economy has taken a huge hit. And, it seems there is no end in sight for the pandemic coming to an end. Will they ever develop a vaccine?

So, what does the future hold? I don’t know. What I do know is that through it all God has given me peace. My times and my life are in his hands. He is well aware of what is happening all over the world, AND he is still God.
My prayer is that God will bring good out of all the awful things that have been happening.
I am continually pressed to trust Jesus, and not to look at the wild storms all about me.
May you be able to do the same.

God’s Great Love and Mercy

Tags

, , , , , , ,

We have such a merciful heavenly Father! It’s hard to believe that he still loves us when we sin. It’s hard to believe that he really cares when we go off on our own way. It’s hard to take in that he loves us no matter what. It’s hard to comprehend how he knows every single thing that is going on in the whole universe… that’s everything to do with every star and planet, everything to do with every black hole and whatever else is out there, everything to do with absolutely everything on this earth–us humans and our thoughts and actions, the birds and animals, all of nature itself (remember he knows about every sparrow that falls to the ground). I cannot keep track of anything much, yet he sees it all, knows it all intimately, and loves all he has made.
What a thought! He loves all he has made… even the caterpillar that snacks on my vegies! He takes delight in his creation… and I suspect is longing for us to be able to enter into the beauty of all he has created.
I am so little, so small in my understanding and appreciation of God, and yet he is not daunted by my wayward ways. His love and patience with me covers the many years since I became a Christian, and even longer because he planted the seed in my heart and into my family line. Oh, that we would turn to Jesus and find the life he’s intended for us.

Father Heart of God

Tags

, , , ,

Back in 2003 I was thinking about God as Father. I was particularly struck by what Jesus said of his own relationship with Father God all through the gospel of John. It seems like it would be good to come back to what I wrote all those years ago. May Father God bless and encourage you as you read and think about God as your own heavenly Father.
We need to experience God’s father heart towards us. What we know of a father’s heart is pretty pitiful. For some it’s as a tyrant who demands unquestioning obedience and who uses physical force or verbal abuse to achieve that obedience. For some it’s as a slave driver who requires “work” to pay one’s way. For some it’s like a school teacher requiring perfect scores. For others though there may be a physical presence, the father is emotionally absent. For many there is no father because of death, divorce, or other circumstance causing separation of the family.
Our experience of our own fathers’ hearts becomes our view of God’s father heart so that our sense his heart may be one or more of the following:

He’s a tyrant waiting for me to put one foot out of place
He’s violent and vengeful
He’s distant and disinterested
He’s unapproachable
He doesn’t listen
He only pays attention if I get all my ducks in a row
He doesn’t care about me or what I feel
He won’t help me, I have to figure it out myself
He doesn’t like me (because I’m ugly, stupid, slow, lazy, fat, careless, a girl, a boy, not like him, whatever)

Here are some scriptures to help you meditate on Father God. God is emotionally present, kind, loving, gentle, and understanding of our limitations. Our minds may know this but our hearts don’t.

  • Psalm 103:13, 14 says, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.”
  • Isaiah 9:6 “Mighty God, everlasting father …”
  • Matthew 6:9 “Our Father in heaven may your name be honored …”
  • *John 10:30 “The Father and I are one …” Look at Jesus to get a view of the father heart of God.
  • Romans 8:15 “Father dear Father …”
  • Hebrews 1:5 “Today I have become your Father …”
  • Ephesians 4:6 “Only one God and Father …”

Life’s Ups and Downs

Tags

, , ,

Julian of Norwich’s book “Revelations of Divine Love” has had a big impact on my life as I’ve read of her experiences with God during my devotional times. I was particularly struck by what she said as a result of the seventh revelation she received from God.

Julian talks about her experience of being spiritually/emotionally up and down; one minute feeling God’s comfort and rest and great sustaining spiritual joy, the next feeling as though “turned away, left all alone, deeply distressed and tired of my life … there was no comfort or calm for me … only faith hope and love, and I did not feel these, I only believed they were true.” She experienced this back and forth around twenty times. She came to understand that “God wants us to know that he keeps us safe in bad and good times alike.”

So often when we feel blue, discouraged, depressed, alone and cut off from God we assume we have sinned. However, sin is not always the cause as Julian realised. She says she’d not had time between the good and bad times to actually sin. On the other hand, she realised she didn’t deserve the feelings of joy either. God had freely given what he willed, sometimes joy and sometimes sorrow.

I know for myself that when I feel great joy and encouragement in my life and in God that there’s sometimes a teeny sense that I must deserve it in some way, that somehow I’ve been “good” and it’s a reward. By the same token, when my life feels joyless and I’m discouraged, or God feels a long way away and there isn’t much comfort or encouragement around I so often and quickly assume God has abandoned me and that I must have been “bad”, that I must have sinned or have some sinful attitude. What I’m coming to understand more and more from all this is that my feelings aren’t the measure of my relationship with God, and that joy or sorrow are opportunities to keep on trusting him.

(Mother Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Love. (ed by Halcyon Backhouse with Rhona Pipe.) London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1987. pp34-5)

Christmas thot

Christmas is just around the corner and it’s a good time to pause and look back over the year that is rapidly drawing to a close.

We’ve seen world dramas with passenger planes being shot down, the continuing rise of ISL with their murderous hatred of Christians, Jews and the West in general, of terrorist attacks, of hostage situations, plus the many natural disasters occurring in various quarters of the globe. It’s all been incredible. Add to the pot the media’s graphic and incessant reporting of such events with a resultant stirring of fear. This also is incredible to behold.

We are celebrating Jesus’ first coming to our world with all “fairy floss” of the season. However, my question now is, is Jesus’ return imminent? I don’t know but it gives one pause to ponder the possibility.

My reading recently reminded me of God’s take on all things:

“God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it.” (Heb 1:2b) and “[Jesus] sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command (1:3b).

So, no matter what happens – when or where or who or how – God has it in hand and under his control. The universe is sustained by the mighty power of Jesus!

Now Christmas is here, the time to joyfully and truly celebrate Jesus. May you experience something of the wonder of God sending his Son, Jesus, to this world – and, the why of it.

Whoops…

Whoops, indeed! My previous article on stress triggered a suspension by WordPress. I think perhaps because the quote was so long. If you have a problem with reading the article let me know.

Blessings for today!!

Why Stress is Contagious and How We can Override the Mirror Response

The following came into my inbox today from Breaking Christian News. It speaks of a phenomenon with which you may identify. Take a read, go back to the original article, think about occasions when you yourself have experienced this mirror effect and how you may or may not have dealt with it… you might find it instructive.

As well as the recommendations given below, I’d also suggest doing a literal handing it all over to Jesus, praying for the person, and asking for protection from taking on-board the other person’s pain.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Why Stress is Contagious and How We can Override the Mirror Response

Aimee Herd (Oct 31, 2013)

“When someone dumps emotional toxins on you, you can choose not to accept the incoming by catching yourself when the bogus, catastrophic story of stress goes off and activates a wave of stupefying emotion.”

Mirror NeuronsA recent Huffington Post article notes the natural tendency in people’s brains to mimic others’ emotions, in the case of stress; to our detriment.

No doubt you’ve noticed how other people’s emotions and actions can often be contagious, such as yawning or laughing.

Apparently our brains are hardwired to do so, as Italian scientists in the 1990s discovered. According to the report, our brains contain “mirror neurons,” which are brain cells that mimic the actions or emotions of others.

While this quality is often harmless or even somewhat therapeutic in the case of laughter; the mimic reflex becomes more of a problem when it comes to stress and fear.

The report notes that stress “suppresses the immune system, lowers the good cholesterol, increases the bad and…can lead to any number of illnesses and conditions.”

Stress mirrorSo, how do you counter your body’s natural tendency to copy another person’s emotions?

The HP report states:

The key to resisting the emotional contagion of stress is overriding the double-team autopilot of the stress response—reacting before you think—and your mirror neurons. When someone dumps emotional toxins on you, you can choose not to accept the incoming by catching yourself when the bogus, catastrophic story of stress goes off and activates a wave of stupefying emotion. Instead of latching on to the fear or panic because it’s in your head, contest it by reframing the irrational story to what’s actually the reality.

Instead of mirror neurons reflecting stress, you can use them as a tool to better understand why a person is going off, and, as a result, why you don’t have to.

I would add that saying a quick, silent prayer, inviting God to help you handle the given situation may help the most, as well as a quick prayer for the person you’re trying not to mimic.

There’s also a lot to be said for breathing—it’s highly underrated! Stepping back before you respond; taking a few minutes to breathe deeply, giving your brain maximum oxygen with which to work, can only help.

God’s good creation

Tags

, , , ,

When God had completed his wonderful creation he said it was very good. I can easily imagine him sitting back in his easy chair, feet up and with his hands clasped behind his head and a big smile on his face. Fanciful? Maybe. But that’s my sense of what his comment meant.

It says in Genesis:

“And it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31 NIV

Now, today, God still views his creation in the same way. No matter that we’ve made a mess of his gorgeous world. And, no matter that we’ve made a huge mess of our own lives.

Bear in mind, God knew the specific purpose you were born to fulfil, so He provided all the gifts you’d need, including the environment required to put it all together. Then He looked at you and said, “Very good.” Can you say that too?

 

Self-Control

Tags

, ,

“A person without self-control is as defenceless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Lack of self-control makes us vulnerable to attack. We are more vulnerable to temptation, to doing or saying things we will regret, to being swayed by others’ opinions and pressures.

There is a difference between self-control and being in control. Self-control is a healthy discipline that helps us be mindful of what is appropriate behaviour and speech. Being in control is likely the result of a choice (or vow) arising from a wound (or some unpleasant or painful experience) that gives us the idea that we must control the circumstances of our lives where we had been wounded; and it’s likely that other areas of our lives may be totally out of control and undisciplined.

Something to think about…