Community in Action

Today I stopped by Starbuck’s on Village Parkway to order a friend their favorite coffee. It was interesting not entering the store, but I was able to order, put my card in their basket, and patiently wait six feet from everyone till I received my order. It all went quite well.

    It was great to see some people back at work and they in turn are hoping to have an in-store protocol within a week or so. There was no line and people were constantly dribbling in, so it almost felt like “normal.”

    I have been to two birthday celebrations this week, socially distancing of course, but it has been fun talking to people and seeing some of them twice in two days. I actually got to see Steve Kritzer three days in a row since he lead worship on Sunday. What an anomaly!!

    I look forward to the time when we can get together. During this time I am learning to be more patient and not in such a rush when I stop to chat with folks. I try to listen more and I try to take in the environment all around me. I am not just spending some time with folks in conversation, but I am sensing the wind, the sky, the temperature of the air.

    Recently I listened to a webinar on dealing with Stress. We all experience stress even in normal day to day activities. It is stress which helps us stay motivated when we want to get things done. Stress is not a bad thing, but it is not always helpful when it escalates.

    When it becomes “tolerable” stress it is more than normal, but it is stress which strengthens our priorities, gives us a greater appreciation for life, and gives us an increased sense of meaning. This kind of stress helps us gain a new perspective about life and as we negotiate that type of stress we gain a new understanding of our ability to master difficult situations.

    A couple of ways to deal with such stress is through “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is when we take a step back from the chaos, evaluate our circumstances, and make a rational decision about what should come next. We become more objective. We take time to ask ourselves why are we feeling stress at this moment? Is this situation something we need to move away from or is it something we need to deal with head on?

    Some ways that can help us become mindful is breathing. As we focus on our breathing during a stressful time think of breathing in joy or energy and then breathing out calmness or our concerns. As we inhale one of my coaching friends suggests breathing in through our nose and when we breath out, or exhale, do this through our mouth.

    Another way to experience mindfulness in a stressful situation is to count from five backwards to one. As you say five try to look around you and count five things you see. On four try to figure out four things you can feel. When you get to three use your ears to determine three things you hear. At two discover two things you smell. One is the number you use to focus on taste.

    This backwards counting and ways you sense the world around helps you move from your irrational feelings of stress to a rational thinking about what actions you will take.

    We will always have times we must deal with stress, but if we can do it calmly and thoughtfully we will be better equipped to use the mind God has given us to cope with the circumstance by which we are surrounded.

    Keep calm and carry on,

    Pastor Randy

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