Exiting the Pandemic: Why don’t I recognize this life?

What a fascinating time we find ourselves in presently. It seems the pandemic is rapidly drawing to a close, as states lift restrictions and even the mask mandates. For the first time, many of us are feeling and seeing the first signs of “normal” re-emerging into our lives. Perhaps it was the feeling of air hitting our faces as we walked into a store for the first time without a mask, the first indoor school event in over a year, the first coffee hour at church, or even the resumption of hugs and handshakes.  In the past week, my family and I attended an event at the local high school. After the event, parents gathered on the athletic field to…

How We Relate with Ourselves: An Often Overlooked Area of Our Spiritual Life

We are often encouraged to reflect on and be mindful of how we relate to and treat others. We also, quite naturally, are very mindful of how others treat us. However, we very often pay little attention to how we relate with ourselves or how we treat ourselves.  This aspect of our spiritual lives is almost entirely overlooked. Some of us might have an aversion to being mindful of how we relate with ourselves. Perhaps it conjures up fears of being ego-centric or self-focused. However, as we shall see, making sure we are relating with ourselves as Christ would want us to, has huge ramifications for all areas of our spiritual life. First, let us start with the question, “what…

When Our Children Need Help: Giving the Generational Gift

Parenting is never perfect. Most of us yearn and deeply desire to meet all the needs of our children. This weighs on every well-intentioned parent. We often feel enormous pressure to be able to meet their needs physically and spiritually. We would also say emotionally, however so long as we imitate Christ in our parenting, all of our children’s emotional needs will be met. As we watch our children grow, it stirs up so much in us. We see ourselves in them, we have constant reminders of our own childhoods, and we often reflect on what aspects of our upbringing we want them to experience and which aspects we do not want them to experience. We keep an ever-watchful eye…

Anxiety: Our Ally in the Pursuit of Insight and Self-Awareness

Anxiety can be a frightening feeling, but it is also the feeling of fear itself. Those two truths are at the core of what can make our anxiety much worse by snowballing into something that gets bigger to the point of it causing impairment in our lives.  In reality, everyone has anxiety. In fact, we could not live without it. The goal is not to have zero anxiety; for if we did, we would not function. We would have no motivation to get anything done.   We also do not want to have our anxiety to be (say from a 0-10) at a 7 or an 8 all of the time. The truth is, we want it to be between 1…

Grieving the Pandemic: How to Navigate the Anniversary

  The anniversary of an event can be a funny thing. Depending upon the event associated with the anniversary, it can be either celebrated or grieved. They can be anticipated with excitement or they might be dreaded.  When we have a grief response to an anniversary it is called an Anniversary Reaction. This powerful reaction can occur upon the anniversary of any painful event, especially ones where there was significant grief and loss. Not everyone experiences anniversary reactions. Some of us are more sensitive to them than others. Some of us may have minds that pay little attention to time, dates, and the time of year. Yet, for some of us, our minds are ever mindful of the onset or…

Learning to Embrace our Battle Honors

  Many of us struggle with how to perceive the painful experiences in our lives. We may try for a lifetime to forget them. We may view them with a sense of shame. Perhaps even we are embarrassed by them and try to conceal them from others. We can spend many years or even decades trying to get a perspective on the trials and tribulations we have experienced. We often view them as weakness, as a handicap, or as a punishment. They become silent, inner scars that we try to hide. I would consider myself a history buff and have a fondness for military history. It is not rooted in the glorification of war; war is tragic and is best…

Navigating the Emotional Overload of the Pandemic

It is hard to believe that soon the one-year anniversary of the pandemic will be upon us. As the pandemic has worn on, the ways in which it has affected us have become more subtle and harder to detect; though profoundly felt. Many of us are mentally tired and fatigued. For some of us, activities and interactions that we so enjoyed before the pandemic now seem like a distant memory. We may even have had a moment where something that was so part of our life before, suddenly seemed distant in a way it had not earlier in the pandemic. Perhaps it is the care free coffee hours or other fellowship events at our church that we miss and feel…

Raising our Children to Recognize and Choose the Love of God

Did we know that as parents we have an awesome role to play in helping our children know and believe in the unconditional love of God? The Apostle John in his epistle, tells us simply that “God is love”.  If God is love then truly God cannot stop being Himself and therefore God’s love is truly unconditional. However, have we accepted this? Do we believe that God loves us unconditionally? Most of us would likely answer yes to these questions, however there are many of us who if we look deep into our hearts, might have a hard time feeling or believing on an emotional level that God loves us unconditionally. There are multiple reasons why someone might doubt God’s…

Resolving the Unmerciful Heart

Most of us at one time or another in our life have struggled with forgiveness. Most often this was in the form of forgiving someone else. Perhaps it was a specific incident that occurred with a specific person, group, or even a community. Some of us might find that our struggle in forgiving was largely tied to that specific incident and that we generally do okay being a forgiving person.  However, some of us may begin to sense or notice that we chronically struggle to forgive others. We might notice that we have a chronic unmerciful disposition. It is not just one person or the sporadic incident with which we struggle, the struggle to be merciful and forgive is chronic…

The Nativity Nudging of our Hearts

The Nativity season is here and a window of opportunity has opened. However, the opportunity that is offered requires synergy between us and the Holy Spirit. It is a powerful time of year. The main themes of our Lord’s Incarnation act on all of us during this Nativity season. Humility, love, and a yearning to mend broken or missing relationships tug at our heart. This opportunity, if it is to be experienced, requires those pensive, introspective moments that tend to be more prevalent this time of year.  It is during these moments that our minds and hearts traverse spaces and time they might not normally during other times of year. We are reminded of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914…