It All Adds Up, or Does It?

 

 

 

I taught elementary school and remember the words used to teach subtraction. We use words like take away, decrease, reduce, and fewer than to teach the concept.  Before we learned subtraction, we learned addition. Addition was easier to teach than subtraction. We all like the idea of having more than having less.

There’s another kind of subtraction that happens which has nothing to do with math. It has to do with life. We have experienced reductions of all kinds since the tentacles of the COVID 19 began wrapping its ugly and vicious arms around us in different ways, some large, some small. Our lives have been altered.

How do we lessen the tight grip those tentacles have around us?  We can loosen that grip through addition. We make sure we add right things into our lives. The plan is different for each of us depending upon where we live and our season of life. Even our personality and spirituality play a part in the “adding” back.  I was delighted when told that my Yoga class had opened back up! Sure there was a bit of fear, but those fears were alleviated after I observed and experienced the precautions taken to keep us safe during this workout.

I had four summer trips planned. That was reduced to one. That “one” was the just right one. Blessings abounded!

As Jesus followers we are always in a place where we can make additions that make us more whole, complete, and joyfully satisfied. “Make every effort to add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge.” 2 Peter 1:5. Adding virtue (moral excellence and goodness) leads to virtuous living which shows itself to be authentic as we bless others through gracious acts of goodness.  Adding this kind of knowledge refers to a knowing that brings wisdom and discernment.  If we don’t see faith, virtue, and knowledge increasing then we are not maturing. We are underdeveloped. Our quality of life will be diminished.

Where do you see yourself today? How are you adding into your life the right things that will prosper your own well-being as well as the lives of others? What reductions have actually been good? Which ones have caused harm or great distress

A Step Toward Overcoming Depression

 

 

Mother never actually admitted it, but I knew. I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice, and sensed it in my soul. Then, I saw the magazine. She had earmarked articles on depression in her Good House Keeping magazines. You’d never know. She was beautiful, sweet, kind, friendly, and always neat as a pin but she battled times of soul darkness. No one told her how to get through those despondent times. But, God made her, knew what could help, and led her to a place of discovering one of the most beneficial things she could do to elevate her mood.

The discovery my mother made was exercise. Her favorite mode: walking. I truly believe she loved it! Mother didn’t have fancy in home equipment nor a nice gym to frequent. She certainly had no knowledge of the natural endorphins that, when balanced and elevated, could lift her spirits. But, she did have the outdoors, some walking shoes, and a house. She had all she needed. At that time in her life her goal was two-fold: to look good in her cute clothes and keep enjoying sweets.  So she was killing two birds with one stone. She was successful. There came a time in her life, however, when she couldn’t walk outside or ride her indoor bicycle because of physical limitations. What did she do? She walked an hour inside her house. Through watching her, I became a believer in the power of exercise. God uses it over and over in my own life to bring me out of pits of despair.

Our bodies really do need physical activity every day in order for us to function in healthier ways physically, emotionally, and mentally.

If ever there was a time that some kind of daily physical activity is necessary it is now. Most of us would have to admit we are threatened with pangs of sadness, depression, gloom, fear, loneliness and anxiety. It is normal to experience these feelings during something as severe as this worldwide pandemic. However, we don’t want these emotions to overwhelm us. God wants each of us who today are healthy to care for our bodies and souls.

Our bodies and souls are in the need of special care. Since we have extra time on our hands, we can show love and respect to ourselves by taking time to do whatever kind of exercise that daily will get us moving. My husband and I have increased our walking time each day to an hour. It has been a stress buster and a mood lifter.

For those who don’t already have an exercise routine in place, it’s never too late to begin. Just as an experiment, I walked 6 minutes in the house last week and was amazed at the number of steps I was able to get in in that amount of time as I weaved in and out of rooms. It was early in the morning. I was surprised at how much more awake and refreshed I felt at the beginning of the day. I also used that time to speak the names of the people in prayer who I personally know who are fighting for their lives because of COVID-19.

Many people say that their best times of prayer and worship are done on walks. I agree. Somehow a muddled mind can find clarity. Our whole self can find calm. Toxins can be released. Pain can be dulled. Anger can subside. Tears can flow. Thanksgiving starts to spill out. The benefits are endless!

How about you, my friend? Are you taking care of the amazing body God gave you through creating times each day for physical exercise? I hope so. It’s a good daily practice that will help us all better manage the place we’re in where we have no control. It’s never too late to get moving. What will you do today to renew your soul through exercise?

Quieting Our Souls

We’re all walking out our own story in this outbreak of COVID-19. The most important question for me today: How am I walking it out? Maybe you want to ask that question with me.

Am I walking it out knowing Jesus is with me? Am I concerned for others, even those outside of my immediate family? Am I ready to share? Would I let go of something I’d like to hold onto if someone is in need? Am I praying more than I’ve ever prayed? Is my soul worshipping God as I pray? Do my prayers include those who were already fighting intense battles of all kinds before this virus crashed in like a tidal wave? I hope so. In a way, I think those dear ones may need our prayers more than anyone else. They need to know they are not forgotten.

Many years ago I read a Christian classic, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This classic has shown up on a required reading book list for The Soul Care Institute that my husband and I are a part of. It is good to be reading again about the life of Bro. Lawrence. I am reminded, through his life that my whole day can actually be God centered. It’s really possible for any person to practice the presence of God all during the day.

This pandemic has quieted our immediate surroundings – at least there’s less traffic and noise. But anxiety, stress and even panic have not quieted, and this is impacting our souls. Our souls long to be quieted. Our souls long for rest, hope and peace.

What an opportunity to give our souls what they long for. God’s presence in us and around us aids us in this soul posture. What an opportunity for me and for you to frequently set apart daily times to focus our gaze upon Jesus and pray like we’ve never prayed before.

We have the time.

Even Brother Lawrence, in his earliest days of his love journey of walking with Jesus, struggled with “wandering wild fancies that would invade his mind and take violent passion of the place of God.” During those times he kept calm, proceeded to rid his mind of the distractions, and returned to his commune with God.

Be blessed, dear ones, and stay close to the heart of Jesus. “Seek the Lord and His strength. Seek His presence continually.” Psalm 105:4