Ten Ways To Cope With Fear In This Chaotic World

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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April has just started and a lot of us feel a little uncertain about this month. If you are a mom, you are probably dealing with a bombardment of negative news, financial insecurity and a house filled with lots of hungry mouths to feed around the clock. Your usual daily routine has being turned upside down and every day is another step into the unknown, while you try to figure out this new reality.

With uncertainty comes fear, and the feeling of lack of control over the situation feeds into more worry and stress. So how do we cope with this moment in time and feel peace amidst the chaos? As much as I would love to be an expert, I am right there where you are, learning as I go. What I can offer are some of the things that have helped me and I hope they will be useful for you as well.

So here are ten helpful ways to cope with fear in this chaotic world:

1. Recognize that what is making you afraid are your thoughts. The virus, the numbers, the news, the governors, the list of things to do, the people around you, none of them are causing your emotions to go everywhere. Your thoughts are causing your fear and worry. Five months ago we were not afraid of this situation, even though it was something that was going to happen, because we did not have thoughts about it, so we were not afraid. I love reading Philippians 4 because it tells us exactly that. "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus... Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Through prayer we can share our fears and worries with God and then let go of these thoughts focusing instead on all the other thoughts listed above. 

2. What is true? The first thing God recommends we think about is what is true. I love that the Bible is filled from cover to cover with truth, so time spent reading the Bible and learning about what is true is the perfect medicine to calm down our anxious thoughts. What is true? God is in control and he loves the world so much that he sent his only Son to die for all who believe in him. He does not promise an easy life, but he promises to be present with us and work all things for good for those who love him. Keeping our thoughts focused on truths dissipate the "what ifs". Can we rest on God's hand at this moment? He is holding you, let go of fear. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Psalm 23:4

3. Focus on the big picture. There is a story in the Bible about a jewish queen named Esther who found herself in a stressful situation in a chaotic time in history. Her uncle offered an interesting advice when she was trying to decide what to do. He said "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Have you ever thought about the fact that we are part of a bigger picture, we are here for such a time as this? What can we offer to others from the position we hold? Esther chose to do her role at that moment even though it could have led her to death. She says "If I perish, I perish." Maybe as a mom, our role may seem small, loving our kids, providing care for our family, reaching out to help other people. At this moment, the world needs more of us, not less. 

4. Fear focus on the future. Have you ever notice that when our brains start to worry we go to imaginary worst case scenarios in the future? You prepare for the future, but there is not need to obsess every minute about it. It has not arrived yet, and we waste a lot of emotional energy with things that have not happened. When I feel my mind going to the future I pause and start to notice all the things I am thankful for in the present. The sunshine I see coming through the window, my kids laughter I hear from the other room, the smell of food baking in the oven, how soft my sweater feels, the chirping of the birds outside. Thanksgiving is mentioned so many times in the Bible because it pulls our minds away from fear and focus on the gifts God has given us, both physical and spiritual. Thanksgiving keeps our hearts content with what God has given us, at this moment. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Col. 3:15

5. Recognize how you make decisions. When we are afraid, we don't make rational decisions. So before making decisions of any kind in a moment like this, recognize that we are all prone to base our decisions on different factors. Some people make decisions based on facts, some out of fear, some emotions, some traditions, some after what experts say, some based on what the majority is doing, or what the social norm is, or even some by impulse. This also allow us to understand why other people may not be making the same decisions as we are, and even if we told them one thousand facts, they would still not make the same decision as us because they don't make decisions based on facts. Maybe they trust their intuition, or just go with the flow. And we can still love them despite the fact they may not make the same decisions as we do. Pray about your decisions, seek God's guidance in what you are supposed to do, and then make a decision and feel at peace with it. Don't blame yourself next week about the decision you made this week, you will probably have more information next week that you did not know this week, and that is ok.

6. Embrace this season. When we feel uncomfortable we try to run away, make it go away, wish we could jump ahead. There is something to be embraced during this season. "We know that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has pure out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:3-4 These are things we can't purchase, learn through an online course or read a book about it. Perseverance, character, hope. We learn these things living through difficulty. Athletes don't just show up at the Olympic Games ready to win, they go through years of suffering, practice and conditioning. They become athletes, they are not born athletes. However, they know that it is all worthy when they get the medal at the end, when they finish the race.  "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:1-2

7. It is not your job as a mom to keep everybody happy. Remember item number 6? We need to recognize that at this moment everybody is learning perseverance, character and hope and we don't need to protect our kids from every disappointment so they can feel happy. It is an illusion to think that we can make other people happy, we can support them, offer our presence, but we can't make anybody happy. We can pray for the people we love and share God's truths with them, so that they can experience real peace. We don't need to control everybody's emotions. 

8. Nobody is making you feel afraid. We choose to have thoughts that make us afraid. When we feel afraid is easy to start blaming everybody and everything for our emotional discomfort. The authorities are not doing their job, the neighbors are not following the rules, the media is making false claims, and so on and on. Are any of these thoughts helpful? No, they actually make us angry against people who don't even know us. A better alternative? "Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Pet 5:7 Turn off the news, let go of social media comments, feed your mind with the things you want to think about. "Fixing our eyes on Jesus." Heb 12:2

9. This moment is all we have. We have never been promised anything more than this moment. Regardless if there is a disease out there or not, we live day by day, moment by moment. What is the best thing I can do with this moment I have been given? "And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Col. 3:17

10. Keep perspective. This is not the end of the world. Or the end of anybody's world. We as humans are eternal, and God sent his son to give eternal life to those who believe in him. Eternal life can't be stopped by a virus. Think about it, this virus is not threatening our existence, it may take our mortal bodies, it may produce uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms, but as believes in Jesus we are not done. I like to think that I have survived the pain of giving birth to a child, one of the worst pains available, and I survived it and don't even regret it. We are stronger than we think and God is our strength. "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Phil. 4:11-13

"So we do not lose heart. Thought our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Col. 4:16-18 Think about these things...
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How to prepare for the corona virus

Friday, March 6, 2020

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There is a virus traveling around the world, and it has the power to put life on hold. It keeps everyone watching the tickling clock, waiting and observing how this wave will affect everything. EVERYTHING.

Deep inside I fear having to sit down with myself for days, letting go of long to do lists and bucket dreams, the rush of living life on a race. At the same time, in the vacuum created by stopping and pondering, priorities start to kick in, values slowly line up and suddenly a clear view of what matters most in life and what doesn’t, sharpens ahead of me.

When Jesus walked on this Earth he had clear priorities. His values were not mixed up in a confused matter. He knew who he was, why he came and what was his purpose. While here he took the time to teach his followers about who they were, why they were here and what was their purpose. Today, he is still touching hearts so we are not left in a confused state of living, wondering around in circles, running after every bubble of soap floating in the air, about to pop. 

Until a virus pops all the bubbles and we are left staring on blank air, wondering what have we been running after, all this time. 

It is a sobering moment when we stare mortality on the face, because there is no one down here on this Earth who can fix our problem. And yet, we knew this all along, but were too busy to notice. Sitting on the truth is uncomfortable and our first reaction is to numb fear with distraction, but the goal is not to linger in fear anyway. It has never been. If there is one command repeated in the Bible several times it is to not be afraid, to let go of fear. But that is not all. There is more.

The reason God tells us not to fear is because he has given us a way out of fear. He sent Jesus to face the biggest fear ever, to walk alone to the cross and receive the punishment for our sins, separated from God. Jesus faced more than death and a terrible way of dying, he faced judgment from God. Jesus did not have to do this, but he chose to feel the fear because he loves you enough to want to keep you away from it. 

When you believe that Jesus did this for you, you have nothing left to fear. Mortality is utterly sad, but it is not defeating because it doesn’t draw a period at the end of our lives, it only adds a comma. There is more.

On the third day, Jesus came back to life and defeated death. One of the first things he told his followers was “Peace be with you.” The opposite of fear. There was no more reason to be afraid, he conquered fear for all who believe in him. And he offers more than just peace. “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He offers supernatural peace, a sense of complete wellbeing and rest, because there is someone who can fix our problem. 

I am reminded that instead of looking up for bubbles of soap floating in the air, to raise my eyes higher, way higher, to eternal dreams and priorities. I know who I am, a daughter of God, and why I am here, to live as Jesus lived, and my purpose goes beyond laying treasures on earth, where they can be lost. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mat 6:33-34.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go.” Jos 1:9
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Why My Kids Don't Read Harry Potter

Friday, June 29, 2018

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I know this is going to be a very controversial subject, so please give me a chance to expose my different point of view. I hope it will offer more material for consideration when reasoning about it. My goal is not to make anyone feel outraged, shamed, inferior or filled with negative emotions. This post is not about how anyone feels about Harry Potter, this post is about taking a thousand steps back and looking at this issue from a very distant perspective, apart from personal emotions.

Before I get into further details, I want to openly say that I love literature, books, and words. There is nothing more rewarding than when I walk through bookstores or libraries and feel right at home among book covers lining up shelves. When I was growing up, I was the kid who read all the books from the school's library (a small one,) and in my free time, I used to write stories from my imagination. So, I am not against literature, imagination or stories filled with wonder. 

When you look back through history, there is no difficulty in finding kids books containing magic, witches, and wizards. Thousands of children's stories contained characters who were part of such atmosphere. However, starting with Harry Potter and moving forward, there has been a slight change to the stories. This time, the witches, wizards, and magicians are going to be portrayed as friends, not the enemy. There won't be a clear separation anymore between good and evil, dark and light, helpers and enemies. 

Can you see the twist? Dragons used to be monsters who ate sailors, now they are our kid's best friends. Monsters were kept away from the bedroom at night, now they are welcomed in. Witches wanted to eat the children, now they want to transform our kids into their apprentices. Dark is light, evil is good and enemies are helpers. No wonder our kids are so confused!

The change is not an accident in the literature world or a bigger amount of writers being inspired to dare to be different. This slight twist has a purpose, a very wicked one. Because once the truth is relative, and there is no difference between good and evil, then the existence of a good God is relative, and the existence of an evil Devil is relative, and our children are free to follow whoever they want.

Now, I have heard some dispute saying there is a lot of cuteness to these book's characters, they are not doing real witchcraft and they even teach good life lessons about acceptance, friendship and conquering challenges. I have to agree that it does not look dark at first, but that is exactly the point. Make it fun, interesting and captivating and kids will follow. 

I know what real witchcraft looks like. Growing up in Brazil, across the street from us, lived a witch. Yes, a real one. Many times we could see on the empty lot across the street chicken carcasses surrounded by candles, leftovers of the night sacrifices. Years before that, when I was a baby, my family lived in a town of witches and wizards. The most magic city in my entire country, filled with alternative gods and goddess, and everything in between. Last time I visited my first home, there was an altar built outside by the new owners for night offerings. 

You see, there are a lot of places in the world where kids don't need to go to Universal Studios to see wizards and witches, they live right across the street from them, and the kids know there is a big difference between good and evil. Unless we tell them otherwise. 

My kids don't ask to read Harry Potter because they understand the "why" behind the "what". They know that it is not about books, characters or entertainment. It is about establishing clear boundaries between following the light or following the darkness. Because there is no path in the between. 

However you feel about this subject, take some time to think about it. Start to notice the twist, you will see it everywhere. 

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Dysfunctional Homes - Can You Relate?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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Hey Friend,

Let's talk about dysfunctional homes. Do you know homes where everything is off balance? Maybe you grew up in a home like that or maybe you feel your actual home is running in a dysfunctional way. Is there hope?

I like to think of the home of Zacchaeus, in the Bible. Can you imagine how dysfunctional his home must have been? Zacchaeus betrayed his own people for profit and money definitely guided his life. His home was probably isolated from the community and he could not even participate in the Jewish religious activities. There must be a reason why people hated him so much, he was probably not known for his loving and generous personality.

How many homes today are run on the same principle? Homes where the main direction is after money, power, selfish gains, lack of community, greediness, on and on. There is very little love, compassion, and respect going on.

In many dysfunctional homes, everything is done in a forceful and self-serving way. Zacchaeus was probably not the kind of guy who sits around and ponders about things, he was a go-getter. When he hears this important man, Jesus, is in town he runs over there, full speed, with a clever plan in mind. Not wanting to go beyond the text, but it is easy to see how Zacchaeus did not wait for things to happen, he made them happen in his own way.

However, suddenly, Zacchaeus plans turn into an unexpected direction. Zacchaeus did not ask for Jesus to come visit him, he did not plan the dinner meal beforehand, or had his place pumped up for the important visit. He was probably used to tell people what to do, not being told what to do.

Jesus spots him up on the tree and asks Zacchaeus to come down from the tree immediately. As in right now. However, it was not an order for punishment, it was a call for a relationship. Jesus wanted to love Zacchaeus unconditionally. 

Friend, don't underestimate the power of Jesus' love transforming dysfunctional homes like Zacchaeus'. When Jesus enters his home, Zacchaeus life direction shifts dramatically, not out of duty, but out of gratefulness and worship.

Jesus, in fact, did not choose to stay overnight in the functional homes of Jericho. Not at the priest's home, not at the religious dad's homes or any of the crowd's homes.

Friend, the truth is that all of us live in dysfunctional homes. Some of us are aware of it, some of us are blinded to the truth of it. We all need Jesus inside our homes transforming greediness into gratefulness, selfishness into generosity, loneliness into a community, and hatred into love. 

Some homes may look more dysfunctional than others, but aren't we all are guilty of lacking in love, compassion, and respect?

Thankfully, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, because that leaves enough margin for all of us to answer his call!

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5 Books to Guide You How To Teach Your Child to Pray

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Hey Friend,

Let's just be honest that many times we hurry through mornings and evenings routines with our kids and don't even have enough time to sit down and just pray. Other times, prayer becomes this memorized five sentences that we go over before bedtime for the sake of covering our basic needs and requests.

Now, if we could really see with our natural eyes the power of prayer, I think we would all right now drop everything and just focus on prayer. Because you see, prayer is more than just words, it is a connection with the very Creator who holds the entire universe in his hands. There is no more important lesson our kids can learn from a young age than to pray!

My boys like to pray for people we know who are going through sickness, difficult times or friends they would like to come to know Jesus. One of my sons also loves to pray for pets we don't even own anymore, bunnies that run around our house and long-lost dogs he only saw once in his life. But that is ok because through prayer they can learn to entrust their hearts in the hands of God, and depend on God for their daily lives and those around them.

It is really a joy for parents to hear childlike voices lifting up their words to God with a simple belief in the power of prayer. We have so much to learn with our kids!

Incorporating family prayer time will look different for each family and season you may be living right now, so regardless of what it looks like for you, make a commitment to have a setup time when you can sit down with your kids and take turns praying. More than any sports practice, school homework or educational activity, prayer is the one thing that will last forever.

5 Books To Guide You How to Teach Your Child to Pray

What Happens When I Talk to God? - When younger, my boys enjoyed reading this picture book.

Prayer Works - This book has great lessons on prayer, you can make it a devotional reading one lesson a day.

I Talk to God About How I feel - It is important for kids to learn that they don't need to hide anything from God.

It will be Okay - When kids feel anxious or stressed out it is wise to sit down with them and pray about it. Let them know that they don't have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, they can trust God.

Operation World - Why not teach about Geography and the needs of others around the world when praying? I love this book to be able to pray for specific needs for every country. Kids can enjoy looking for the countries on a map.

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The Secret to Re-Engage and Reconnect With Your Spouse

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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Hey Friend,

Do you ever feel your mind racing from one item to another on your to-do list, that you don't actually have enough time to engage with the people who really matter in your life?

A lot of times, I find my mind filled with so many worries and tasks that when my husband or kids tell me something, their words just go to the back burner of my thoughts, instead of giving them my full undistracted attention.

I believe that a lot of relationships suffer because we engage with the people around us superficially. Our bodies are present in the moment, our ears can hear the words, but we can't really feel what they are saying or be truly empathetic with their needs.

We have so much to do, so much to worry, so much to race around! Who in the world has time to slow down and have a real conversation with a spouse?!

The downside is that we think the solution is somewhere else. Outside of us. We blame ourselves because we are not making enough time to go out on dinner dates, or special marriage activities, or couples retreat, when in fact what we need is to learn to engage with our spouse in the mundane, in the busyness of life, when it counts, where it counts.

Ok, friend, before you give up, there is hope at the end of the tunnel! What if you could have an instant switch where any time your spouse is around you or talking with you, you have the power to switch your emotions on and be tunned to him and him only?

Here is the secret: You can only feel what you think. So, your spouse is sharing with you about his hard day at work and you are thinking, "I have to get dinner done before the kids start asking for snacks... Should I go to the gym tomorrow morning?... Oh, I forgot to sign up a paper for the school registration... I wonder if that blouse I saw online is still on sale...... And on and on it goes.

You can hear his words, but you have so much going on your mind that you actually start to resent that he is wasting your precious time on a conversation. "Doesn't he realize that there is still tons of homework my son/daughter needs to get done before tomorrow? Why is he not offering to help with dinner? I am already stretched thin around here, I don't need one more person asking me for advice!"

This is a dangerous cycle of thinking friend! Because all these thoughts will become emotions, feelings. Over time you will not feel as close to your husband as before and will slowly disconnect from his feelings and then from his person altogether. 

Now friend, do you want to live differently? Think back to the days you used to date your spouse and how every word he spoke meant the world to you! You were 100% engaged with each other, and it felt so good, so complete!

Are you ready for a change? It is actually not that hard. Here is what I encourage you to do. 

This week, every time your spouse is close to you or speaking with you, I want you to have only one thought in your head, running over and over again, only one. Ready? "Boy, I really like this guy!" That is it! Think as you mean it, right there in the middle of the mess, kids screaming, laundry pilling, dinner burning. Keep thinking the same thought over and over again, until it feels familiar, it feels yours, it feels real.

And guess what? Your thoughts will change your feelings! Here is a little example: Are you worried and frightened right now that your airplane is about to fall? Probably not! One, because you are likely not inside an airplane, and second, this thought did not even cross your mind today.

You can only feel what you think. So, the answer is not outside there somewhere. It is right inside your head! It is not inside your husband's head, you can't control his thoughts! 

See friend? It is very simple but it is also very effective, I challenge you to try!

Now, attention!! There is one more thing that you need to implement. Ready?

When you are saying anything to your husband this week, any words coming out of your mouth, I suggest you also keep running the same thought in your head: "Boy, I really like this guy!"

Please, let me know in the comments below in the next days, your results with this little experiment, I would love to hear how your relationship has been impacted by the renewing of your mind!

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How to Deal with Generational Trauma

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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Mephibosheth, as a child, spent his first years living inside King Saul's palace, until one day everything was suddenly taken away, when both his father Jonathan and his grandfather King Saul died in battle.

Now, because of a childhood accident, he finds himself lame of both feet, knowing that the dreams of possibly becoming a king are all gone, and he is just a nobody.

Do you feel like that sometimes? Longing for a kingdom that may only live in your dreams? While your history seems to carry the weight of the past, constrained by all the wrong turns of life or wrong decisions made by entire generations that came before you?

Mephibosheth can't believe when he is called by the actual King David, who looking to show kindness in memory of his old friend Jonathan, invites him to come over and have dinner forever as a guest at the King's dinner table. As one of his sons. Next to all his other children. Like family.

There was nothing Mephibosheth could have done to prevent his legs from becoming lame as a child, and there was nothing Mephibosheth could have done to deserve to sit at the King's table now. But I am sure Mephibosheth felt loved sitting at that table.

You won't be able to change your history or your family's history, as much as you won't be able to deserve God's love, as none of us are. But you are able to feel loved when sitting at God's table.

Later in the story, Mephibosheth does not even care for whatever belongings are left of his family legacy, he is simply content with being part of this new family.

What else could matter when the King of Kings has gotten a seat for you at his table? You look around and all you see are King's sons and daughters, equally served, equally loved. Deep inside you know that you are a fluke, that these people sitting around you may be way worthier than you.

But no, my friend, all the king's sons and daughters did not do anything either to deserve such a seat.

If you feel like Mephibosheth, different from those around you, know that I have sat next to Mephibosheth most of my life. And his presence on that table changed who I am. My adopted brother came from a family of generational trauma and being also lame of both feet, he was invited to be part of our family table.

There was nothing he could have done to prevent his past, and there was nothing he could have done to deserve better. But I am sure he feels loved sitting at my family's table.

My brother's very presence at our table taught me that I could love as family someone from a completely different background, different bloodline, different abilities and different struggles.

My friend, all of us, did not do anything to deserve our family history or to be chosen by God to receive his love.

Mephibosheth did not deny his past, he acknowledged it, and yet he was immensely grateful for this new position.

He says: "My lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. For all my father's house were but men doomed to death before my lord the king, but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I, then, to cry to the king?"

God won't change your past, but he will change your future. There is immense peace in that. Whatever happened won't stop you from feeling loved at his table today.

If you would like to read more about my brother's story you may check this post, and this post.

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