Our world has COMPLETELY changed – in a matter of months, from something so incredibly microscopic! We didn’t see COVID-19 coming, and it snuck in like a thief in the night – unexpectedly! Now, the world’s stopped – and it’s very uncomfortable.
How does the world cope with such a sudden, drastic, life-changing event?
Well, some have chosen to cope by panicking and stocking up on mounds of toilet paper (toilet paper?!), others deal by pretending nothing is happening, others downplay it, and others cope by taking it one day at a time – with faith in God and His control.
While there are many different ways to manage this change emotionally, the best way we should be coping is to find a balance between panic and taking it one day at a time, trusting God. This balance requires us to be aware, prepared, and to take safety precautions very seriously! How WE cope, could save those who are at high risk for COVID-19. Panicking and not listening to warnings of social distancing is not going to keep them safe!
Our world has entered a new “normal,,” and we can look at this new normal as only a negative thing, or we can choose to look at it as a lesson and opportunity for our world, ourselves, and our relationships with each other and God. Why not make a positive out of a negative/lemonade out of sour lemons?
Below are 4 blessings we can see in this new normal:
Closer to God
The most important blessing that we the world should choose to see in all of this new change is our relationship with God! This virus has made all of us stand at attention and realize we are literally powerless to fix it! Some of us believe that the world and science can heal this, but those of us who know God know who is really in control and who can fix it – if He chooses to!
God knew this was going to happen before we ever did, and that’s such an incredible comfort! Those who already know God see His astonishing power in all of this! They understand how God is using His communion of saints to come closer together in a way like never before! We may not be able to be in a physical church building for our Sunday worship, but we can feel the closeness of communion virtually – and that is certainly better than nothing!
This sad, terrifying situation has brought many people closer to God – praying for Him to heal this sick world, to heal loved ones, to bless them with comfort and peace, and to just be there for them.
Ever More Reminded of Easter and Christ’s Resurrection
We’ve also been made more aware of just how weak and fragile we are. Because of Christ and His death on the cross, we are saved from our sins, and cherished! We see His promises more and that He cares for us and loves us. He doesn’t promise to answer our prayers the way we expect or need, but He does promise to be there for us and is always the same! God never changes, even when our world has!
More Intentional Time Spent with Loved Ones
Since the world has changed so incredibly much recently, many families and loved ones have been spending more time with each other! Why? Because they have literally nothing else to do! This tragic event of COVID-19, while it is very terrible, bodes a blessing in the chance to spend more time with those that we love – intentionally.
It amazes me how creative people have become when push comes to shove in our world – when it comes to trying new things with their families and loved ones to help them bide the time in isolation or lockdown. When the world was the way it was before, families and loved ones were always busy, scurrying around for the next “high” or happy fix, busting their mind and bodies at work, wasting their time and wishing they had more time.
Now that we have been forced to pause and be home with our loved ones, many of us have become grateful for this incredible and rare opportunity and are enjoying it immensely! A lot of the world has found their new “high,” focus, and commitment in what truly matters – spending time with loved ones, intentionally! Truly a blessing!
The “new normal” has many people looking to renew their relationships with people they put aside before all of this occurred. Such a traumatic and uncertain event brings many people to an awareness of how short life is – and this swiftly encourages people to try to mend broken relationships. What an incredible blessing and lesson in forgiveness that has been for others!
Easter and Resurrection Encourage Renewal and Rebirth
This Easter, we are again reminded of how Christ died for us, His children – how He sacrificed Himself because He loves us! This Good Friday, we are also told of Jesus’ resurrection so that WE could be reborn!
How much more should we strive to do the same? To sacrifice our bitterness and anger towards loved ones and try to renew our relationships with them?
We are commanded to forgive those who fix their ways, and when the world comes crashing down, we are ever more humbled to do this and to move forward in life, in peace and love, forgiving the past. Forgiveness is a process and doesn’t happen overnight, but with a spirit of forgiveness, we can accomplish this! Also, while some relationships may not be repairable, we should still always try to forgive – as Christ does!
Have you noticed that ever since the world stood still, that we all have fewer appointments, fewer chances to travel for work, and less stress to be everyone and do all the things? While this world has been dramatically and negatively affected by COVID-19, there is another blessing to be felt in this – a blessing of stillness and peace.
We don’t have a lot of the same obligations and commitments we had before this new normal hit our world – no soccer practices, no dentist appointments, no traveling for work, no rush to get kids on the bus, and so much more!
In fact, this is a time for the world to enjoy the break its been given!
So, enjoy this time of not needing to do it all! You have no other choice, so why not choose to see it as a blessing?
Take this opportunity to read more, to dance until your heart is content, to write that book you keep saying you’re going to publish someday! Take this quiet time to listen to music or your favorite podcast more, to play board games with family and loved ones (this can also be done virtually!), to try your hand at painting, to sort through all of your photos and put them in frames for your home, to learn some yoga – and so much more!
Studies have shown that when you take more time to do the things you love to do (not have to do!), you can become happier!
Enjoy this stillness and plethora of new opportunities because you don’t know how long this “new normal” will last. And please, let’s be careful to never take it for granted!
Use this New Normal to Grow and Transform Your Life
You can choose to worry about the future, you can choose to worship fear and not trust God, you can choose to miss being busy and more – but why would you when you can CHOOSE to see the blessings in the storm we’re going through?!
Use this new normal, even though it’s so uncomfortable and terrifying, to grow and transform your life to be a better child of God, daughter, mother, son, father, grandparent, leader, and more! The opportunity is NOW – allow it to CHANGE you for the better!
Share in the comments below: What is ONE blessing that you have seen in this world’s new normal?
The Christmas season is here, and it’s a special time of year – time of year many look forward to!
It’s a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate the Christmas season while feasting on scrumptious foods, drinks and giving and receiving gifts!
While this can be a joyous occasion, this season can be especially hard on a lot of different people. Some people struggle if they have lost loved ones, are sick and can’t make the festivities, are going through relationship or marital difficulties or changes, don’t get along with their family, and many other reasons involving heartache. The heartache that is felt deeply around an otherwise joyous occasion as a reminder of what they had.
Whatever the reason, this happy occasion can cause some hearts to hurt more than they do regularly because the reminder of joy and gathering is very imminent during the Christmas season.
The Christmas season is a reason to spread joy and kindness to one another. Below are 5 essential traditions to add to your holiday season to help everyone feel the gift of kindness that surrounds us all this holiday season!
Give Back to Others with Kindness
The Christmas season is all about giving and sharing love, so it seems only fitting that giving and sharing love to others would be a paramount tradition to add to your holiday season!
Helping to spread the joy to others during the Christmas season doesn’t need to be elaborate, expensive, or complicated! Set up a Christmas advent calendar where you spend 31 days before Christmas by giving back to others with kindness! Some ideas can include:
Sponsoring a Family in Need
There are many less fortunate families out there who are not financially able to celebrate Christmas, let alone enjoy everyday life, and who face dangers of poverty and sickness.
Choosing to sponsor a family in need is an incredibly kind way of letting someone know that you are there for them and are committed to helping them! Imagine the change you can be in their lives by gifting them the opportunity to be helped and loved by a stranger!
Volunteering at a Soup Kitchen
Another way to give back in kindness to others during the Christmas season is to volunteer at a soup kitchen. This way, you’re able to help prep, cook and serve a healthy, hot cooked Christmas meal to those in need, and also be a friendly face to wish them a “Merry Christmas”!
Many suffering people in shelters don’t have the luxury of eating a home-cooked meal with their loved ones or even themselves, so this is where those of us whocan give back, should!
When your children are old enough, suggest this idea to them as well, to help them learn more about those who need help and how to help!
Paying off Someone’s Layaway or Debt
Give the gift of giving by paying off someone’s layaway account they may have in a retail store, or another kind of debt that they may be in! This act can make someone incredibly happy and can help relieve a lot of stress for them! Do it for a loved one, or better yet – someone you don’t know!
If you have the financial opportunity to purchase a gift for a loved one or a stranger, consider this option as well, because sometimes, not needing to pay off debt is a more thoughtful gift than a physical present!
Gifting a Child or Senior from the Angel Tree
Another loving way to give back in kindness during the Christmas season is to participate in the Angel Tree for children or seniors.
This act of giving back is done by removing one or more Angel gift tags from a Christmas tree that provides the “Angel Tree” program and purchasing gifts for the selected child or senior that match their gender and need category written in the tag.
This act of kindness can really help the following:
A child who is struggling without their parent (or parents) during this time of year
An underprivileged child
A child or family that is hurting or struggling
Someone who is lonely and heartbroken
There are innumerous and creative ways to give back to others with kindness this Christmas season, and you can find out and participate in many more with our Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar, just click on ‘Download’ to save the image AND join us on our Facebook Page to join in on the fun!
This tradition goes back many years and is still a favorite among many people! Caroling isn’t about giving monetary value or help to someone, but instead about spreading joy and the meaning of Christmas through beautiful, joyful song that becomes pleasantly contagious upon hearing it!
There’s something so magical about hearing people sing Christmas carols and feeling that true spirit of Christmas well up in our hearts in a shared celebration!
Gather some friends, family, church members, youth groups, and anyone else who wants to join and go out caroling some night in your city or at a local senior’s home, etc. Watch people’s faces light up as you joyously sing Christmas songs – who knows; they may even join you!
Participate in the Seven Fishes Feast
There’s another fascinating tradition you can add to your Christmas list to do, and that’s to participate in La Viglia dei Natale. Enjoy eating seven different kinds of fish dishes with your family, while commemorating the birth of Jesus – the meaning for Christmas.
What an incredible way to share the love with others in celebration of Christmas!
Set up a Cookie Exchange
Gathering with loved ones while eating delicious food is par for the course when it comes to celebrating Christmas, so why not consider adding a tradition of a cookie exchange? Tell a bunch of people that you’re hosting a cookie exchange in your home and tell them they need to bring a dozen cookies or baking of their choice (handmade is always best!), and everyone swaps their baking goodies with each other.
Exchanging cookies is a fun way to get new recipes, share your delectable recipes, socialize and share in the Christmas season!
Christmas Meals and Gift Giving with Family
Another tradition to add to your Christmas “To Do” list is to spend time with your children and family – intentionally.
Make an effort to bake Christmas cookies, put up the Christmas tree together without fussing and complaining, and to cook a Christmas Day breakfast, lunch, or supper (or all three!). Last but not least, enjoy the moment of giving gifts to your children or loved ones and watch as their faces light up with excitement and joy!
This tradition doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot on anyone, but rather, give them intentional gifts – gifts you know they will love – not what you want them to love! Tell your children the focus should be on the gathering and giving the most and less on the gift receiving. Teach your children through this friendly gathering the true meaning of Christmas. This tradition will help your children get into the true Christmas spirit!
Choose and Spread Joy with Kindness this Christmas
There are so many traditions around Christmas time, so it’s essential to choose the ones that will spread joy and the meaning of Christmas to other people!
While sharing and giving love at Christmas time is valuable and thoughtful in sharing the joy and the true spirit of Christmas, consider doing things that give back to others in kindness all year round as well!
The spirit of Christmas will linger in your heart, soul, and mind whenever you give back to others in kindness and with intention, so make sure to follow your Christmas tradition list and go out and have a safe, enjoyable and joyful Christmas season!
Share in the comments below: What is ONE tradition you can do this Christmas that will lend kindness to others?
Life is busy – for all of us! Life can get so busy that we forget to smell the roses – literally and figuratively. While being active can be a good thing, being too busy is not.
When was the last time you intentionally took the time to take in the gifts that life has to offer and felt gratitude? Most of us don’t take the time we need to enjoy and appreciate life because of how crazy our schedules are, but we should!
Gratitude is an essential key ingredient to living a healthy, happy life. Below are five benefits of practicing gratitude:
Improved Mental/Emotional Health
The mind is a powerful thing and can change your life significantly! Daily groaning about what we don’t have, or wish we could change speedily results in developing depression and anxiety. When you practice daily gratitude, you lower your risk of prolonged depression and anxiety, or at best, it will be less severe.
Think about it – when you feed your mind unhealthy thoughts, it will create an unhealthy mind! But, what if you were to turn it around and replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts? The same would happen – your mind will receive positive thoughts and will create a positive, healthy mind!
The Power Lies in You
YOU have the power to switch that mindset to be more positive than negative significantly! When you start to be thankful for what you have, you will begin to appreciate the good things in life, and you will derail your focus off the bad things in life. When you think positively, your mind follows suit, and your mind and body will work beautifully together to help you live your best life – so practicing gratitude is essential!
Remind yourself that a mind is a powerful thing, and it reacts to what we feed it!
Improved Physical Health
While feeding your brain with positive thoughts to aid it being healthier makes sense, practicing daily gratitude to improve our physical health isn’t a benefit most of us would consider. However, being aware of what you’re grateful for is exceptionally healthy for your physical well being as well!
In a 2015 Psychology Today article, Amy Morin wrote, “Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.”
Here are different physical health side effects you can experience when you practice gratitude:
Improved Immune System
Practicing daily gratitude increases our immune systems; therefore, our bodies get sick less. When we think healthier, we become healthier!
Higher Pain Tolerance
When we add more positive thoughts to our brains, this often results in what’s called “analgesic effects,” which is something in our brains that mimic the relief we get from taking pain medication. When we experience this effect by practicing gratitude, we learn to be less sensitive to pain.
Improved, Natural Sleep
When your physical body is taken care of by practicing gratitude, you increase your chances of getting a great night’s sleep (which typically, most of us don’t understand!), which also carries a host of other health benefits!
Improved Empathy and Care for Others
When we wallow in our self-pity and focus on the things we suffer with or don’t have, we leave no time or room to focus on others and how they are feeling! When we take the time to practice showing thankfulness daily, we become aware of the beauty that life has to offer, and in doing so, we allow our head more room to care for other people.
Also, when we practice gratitude, we give ourselves the option to feel less revenge and aggression towards people who may have hurt us or are hurting us. Our focus becomes on what we’re thankful for, not what we want or think we need.
Improved Self-Esteem and Likeability
Focusing on what we are grateful for every day is a significant boost to our self-esteem! When we are aware of what we’re thankful for and appreciate what we have, we love ourselves more and aspire to be better than we have been! When you realize what you’re grateful for, even if it’s just about who you are, you give yourself grace and love in areas you never did before – and it shows to other people!
When your self-esteem increases, your likeability meter does so as well! People want to be that which they see, so if you show them something positive and healthy, they will want to be around you more! Now, I’m not saying that popularity and being accepted is the goal here. But it should be about loving and accepting yourself for you, first, but think of the people you can positively impact how you go through life – humble, confident and likable!
Increased Life Span
When we practice gratitude daily, intentionally, we reap all the benefits mentioned in this article, and more! In turn, all of these healthy, positive, life-changing benefits allow us to live our best life – LONGER! That’s right, practicing gratitude will enable you to live longer!
The less physically and emotionally sick we are, the better chance we have to survive this life a lot more! That’s quite an incredible, “life-changing” (pun intended) benefit! Knowing this benefit it helps us to see just how impactful and critical being grateful daily is!
Practice Gratitude Daily to Live and Love Your Best Life
We truly genuinely take practicing gratitude for granted in our busy lives, but when we are aware of the tremendous benefits being thankful has to offer, we can’t deny how crucial it is to include in our daily lives!
Do you want your chance at your best life? Less stress and depression, less self-hatred and alienation, and less pain? Of course, you do – we ALL do! Practicing gratitude daily can change all of that for you and can quite literally change your life for the better! Take time to smell the roses of life, intentionally!
Take the time each day to sit down and reflect on what you are grateful for, and write it down. Writing it down will have a bonus effect because it will be imprinted in your brain, allowing you to remember that which you’re grateful for often! Change your life by changing your mindset!
Share in the comments below: What is ONE reason why you want to practice daily gratitude?
PS – We’re participating in a #30daysofgratitude challenge for the month of November. Come join the fun by visiting our Facebook Page for daily gratitude prompts. Feel free to invite your friends too!