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Techniques given most often in 2020 should be repeated in 2021.

As I reflect back on 2020, and more people seemingly needed counseling than ever before in my entire career, I thought it may be useful for you to know some of the techniques given most often in 2020.

1-Turn off the news. The main goal of the modern day news is ultimately to obtain viewers. Journalism today often uses sensationalism, defined as the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement. Therefore, it is not helpful. If you want to be informed as I do, try something such as a positive news podcast I found a year or so ago called, The World and Everything in it. Or try getting headlines only sent to your email once a day. Do not endlessly watch Fox News, CNN, etc. Try turning it off for a week, and let me know how you feel…

2-Focus on what you can control. 2020 tried to teach us that we are not in control, however, most people in living this out tried even harder to control which frequently resulted in more stress and anxiety. You can’t always control getting a virus (masks, gloves, hazmats, etc included). However, you can be intentional with your family and friends (i.e. play games together, call one another, send care packages, etc). You can help others (volunteer for a local food bank, organize a food drive). You can try to be healthy by eating healthy and exercising. You can turn off the news. You can seek God by reading his word daily and spending time with him, the one who actually is in control….

3-Practice deep breathing. Take many deep breaths daily. Use breathing apps or exercises if needed. Just try not to breath in the Covid…

4-When you feel in a panic, slow down your racing thoughts by focusing on your five senses. What do you see right now? What do you smell? feel? taste? hear? Don’t call the person who will get you even more hyped up than you are….

5-When changes happen in our world, find a new routine to help you find order in the chaos. If you work from home now, create a schedule for your work day that includes a lunch break, stretch breaks, and a stop time.

6-Don’t judge others who aren’t reacting the way you are to the changes. Be respectful and kind and follow your convictions without judging others. Judging is God’s job and when we try to do it we feel horrible. So stop.

7-Be social however you can be during a pandemic. If you feel comfortable being with family and friends, spend time in person with them. If you can’t, drive by their homes and spend time 6 feet apart, have zoom or FaceTime parties, etc. We need people no matter how much they get on our nerves at times.

8-Realize grow happens out of your comfort zone and practice doing things that are always comfortable. Try a new hobby. Talk to that neighbor you’ve never met. Pray for your enemy. Exercise. Become friends with someone who doesn’t look like you. Stop making excuses for why you can’t or won’t do something.

9-Make the best of all situations by fostering an attitude of gratitude. List five things you are grateful for each day. Consider the benefits of online learning. Remember the times you wished you worked from home. When you go back to the office, be thankful that you don’t also have to do laundry during your lunch break!

10-Pray, in all things at all times. Make prayer a part of your daily routine, not just once a day or at meals. Talk to God about everything. Ask him what you should be learning during this time. Inquire about why you were created to live during this specific time in history.

Praying you use the hindsight 20/20 view of 2020 for good this year. Make it a happy new year!

God bless,

Dr. Atwell

PS.. I’m praying you all cultivate God’s earth with love and grace as you realize you are made in his image to reflect his goodness! Genesis 1…

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Podcast Season 1 Finale

Praying my dad still talks to me after this one…

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1378717/6518035

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Don’t go chasing Waterfalls

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1378717/6196429

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Masks and hope

Considering I’m a super nerd (self-described), I looked up the history of masks since the debate is a heated one these days in the great United States of America. According to Christos Lynteris, an expert in medical mask history at the University of St. Andrews (can you imagine growing up to become a mask historian~interesting), we can find clues about the history of masks in paintings as old at 1720 of the bubonic plague. The “masks” here were thought to protect against illness but in reality they likely only helped people deal with the smells of illness. Over time, masks developed as people learned more about sickness, viruses, and disease. Masks were used by surgeons in the late 1800s as a means to prevent droplets when/if a surgeon coughed or sneezed.

Growing up in the 80s, I remember my dad having a handkerchief in church that he carried in his suit pocket. He used it to cover his mouth, how appropriate. I carry tissues in my car/purse for the same purpose. Sure cough and sneeze droplets are gross, but mostly I’ve always believed it was just respectful to use a tissue or hanky.

Today, however, wow masks are a huge sign of many different things. They are signs of the time for sure: COVID-19, politics, fear, respect, stupidity (I do think it is silly to wear one in your car or home all alone), common sense, homemade projects, medical professionals, not something kids can handle, and the list goes on depending on who you ask.

Regardless, today my message is to encourage you to consider what you are putting your hope in today. I’ve read and heard numerous local and national leaders state that if everyone wore masks all the time, the virus could be gone in no time. Therefore, I think many people have a lot of hope in wearing masks. I am not here to tell you my stance, advise you one way or another about mask wearing, etc. However, I am here today to encourage you NOT to put your hope in anything other than God.

Psalm 118:8-9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humanity (or the products of humanity, such as masks).

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles (or leaders/politicians).

Because…

If you put your hope in money, you could still find yourself struggling with relationships.

If you put your hope in a sports team, you will be extremely let down if they have a losing year or can’t play (this year!).

If you put your hope in a politician, you will find that he/she can’t keep all of their promises and are the savior of our nation. Many focus on the president but neglect to research the power and impact of their own local leaders none of which are perfect.

If you put your hope in a celebrity (seriously why do people care what celebrities think?..ok I’ll try not to be judgmental and of course yes I’ll read a random article once in a while about one), you will be let down when they go off the deep end or divorce (like Nicky Lacey and Jessica Simpson..I’ll get over it one day, j/k).

If you put your hope in humanity, you will be let down as soon as someone pulls out in front of you or posts something stupid online.

Finally, if you put your hope in a mask, you will be let down when you see someone not wearing one or worse if you wear one and still get sick, you will be let down.

Therefore, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). Place your hope in God. He is the Great Physician, the Healer, the Savior, one whom we can have an amazing relationship with who will never leave us, is so famous he is timeless, is the giver and taker of wealth and all things, etc.

Set your mind on things above by:

-Waking up and saying every morning: This is the day the Lord has made, I will be glad and rejoice in it. (It’s my mantra, find one for yourself!)

-Spend time in prayer/meditation, and Bible study each morning (coffee is a major part of this for me, let’s call it  a part of the devotion trinity: prayer journal, bible, coffee).

-Surround myself with Godly, positive, encouraging people who hold me accountable and challenge me. Church is a great place to start (even though they are filled with imperfect people).

-Laugh every day. Life is too short.

-Ask God to show you when you are putting your hope in something other than God.

-Break your addiction to comfort. Growth happens outside of your comfort zone (which is often the thing you are putting your hope in more than God).

He alone is our Hope. Our hope for the redemption of the past, hope for the present day to be great or to survive it, and hope the future of Earth when he makes it new one day!

Praying you place your hope in Jesus today,

Dr. Atwell

PS: I had to sit at a local tire shop recently because my tires were completely worn to the point that my indicators were continually showing low air after I filled them…(Maybe I was putting too much hope in worn down tires)…and I noticed this older lady (without a mask) sitting in the lobby (socially distant) with a shirt on that said HOPE and was an acronym. The funny thing is she cursed like a sailor, it was the weirdest scene. I couldn’t help but think we may look like that to God when we look like to everyone else that we are putting our hope in Him meanwhile cursing Him like a sailor as we put our hope in things that will pass away…