MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections, Poetry

ALIVE


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So often, we humans can focus too much on the negatives of life, because they dare to tear us down.

We are thrilled when good things happen in our lives, but we also cling to wanting our lives to be full of good times and peace. While we realistically know that the bad moments are also a part of life, we can’t help but want to avoid the pain that comes along with those times.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” – John 10:10

Every time I read this passage, I’m reminded of God’s mercy to us. Let me explain.

I spent many years of my life with asthma. At times, it was so debilitating. More than once, I came near death. I’ll never forget being asked by a paramedic, weeks after a massive asthma attack who not only treated me, but knew me, “I didn’t want to tell you this in the middle of helping you, but there’s still one thing I don’t understand. On that day, we couldn’t figure out how you were awake, how you were communicating with us [I used body language to get them to give me paper & pen to do this.], how you were even alive. How did you do that?”

I wasn’t certain what he wasn’t telling me, so after asking him what was so unusual about that, he replied, “Everything we had you hooked up to, every one of them showed your oxygen levels were at zero. Not only should you not have been able to communicate with us, but all signs pointed to the fact that you should not have even been conscious, let alone alive!”

That’s when I answered him with, “Well, let me tell you more of my story and my God.” Without Him, without my Lord, that miraculous situation never would have happened. While I don’t know why God used that health situation to occur, my life with Him has shown me over and over and over again, that He is good, that He is love and that His plans are always for our good. I give God glory for using me, even in that time, to touch the life and soul of another for Him.

Something that could have killed me, gave me an even stronger appreciation for being alive.

Since last March, it’s been even harder to avoid the negatives of life. Having lost loved ones and having seen so much grief on various fronts, I am all the more grateful for God who has never left my side. I say all of this as a known optimist, but I am also not naive and have had many situations throughout life that have dared to tear me down many times.

In spite of the ups and down, I still have a passion for life.

Just last week, the world celebrated Easter . . . the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While Jesus had disciples who learned and did so much from Him and with Him, prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, they found life much more abundantly in the years they had afterwards. They were able to travel to various locations, preaching the Good News to so many. Miracles occurred again and again. However, their stories cannot be told without also knowing that they each experienced what we would call negatives in life.

While that was so long ago, I can’t help but see that they felt more alive than ever before. How? Because, even after all of my own painful life experiences, God has shown me through all of my life that the great moments in life are that much sweeter. The great moments in life aren’t as powerful, without also knowing the other side. Life is fabulously amazing, because He lives.

Because He lives, the art and beauty of this world and universe exist.

Because He lives, we get to have others to love and to be loved, in return.

Because He lives, we are still in awe when we see an amazing sunrise or sunset, when we hear the laughter of children, when someone says or does just the right thing when we need it most and when we experience the joy of God through it all.

Because He lives, we know the negative parts of life are not all that exist.

Because He lives, we have those who provide healing for the mind and body.

Because He lives, we have churches that remind us that we are meant to live in community, we are here for a purpose and we are wondrously loved and wanted.

Because He lives, we have teachers who spend time helping others to find themselves, to learn, to connect and to find their passions.

Because He lives, we can get back up again after traumas that will forever remind us that life is fragile, but there is still so much abundance of life giving moments ahead for us . . . HOPE.

Because He lives, we live. That’s something to rejoice over.

Life is meant to be fully lived. While trials may come, never forget the joys of being alive.

JUST BREATHE

For while I have breath
I know I am alive
For while I have breath
I enjoy the beauty of life
For while I have breath
I can embrace another
For while I have breath
I am a wife and a mother
For while I have breath
I can sing and dance
For while I have breath
I can take another chance
For while I have breath
I can live my passions
For while I have breath
I can provide compassion
For while I have breath
I can dream great dreams
For while I have breath
I have faith in the unseen
For while I have breath
I can make this world better
For while I have breath
God always holds me together
For every breath that I will ever breathe
I will know I was created
By the King of kings.

By Rachel Basden © 2021

Being alive will always have its heartaches, but one thing I have learned from knowing how quickly one’s breath can be taken from them, is to never take a single inhale/exhale for granted. Never believe that we don’t matter. Never lose sight of hope. For within each breath we take, there are so many moments we are meant to be a part of and wonderful people whose lives are meant to intersect with ours. Every breath is a reminder of life, because He lives.

Don’t allow the hardships of life to tear you down. For we are more than just ourselves. There is purpose. We were made with strength. We were made with love. We were made to live life abundantly.

With every breath, know that you are alive for far greater things and with each breath your breathe you are walking further into your destiny. So never forget how each inhale and exhale matters. YOU MATTER!

My Reflections

Look Towards the Horizon


As a proud citizen of this nation, especially having lived in the NYC metro area during 9/11 and then seeing what occurred at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, I have so many feelings and thoughts.

I am angered that people like those who caused the rioting insurrection were able to even get that close to the Capitol, let alone within it.

I am completely disappointed that law and order wasn’t in place far sooner in a manner that would have prevented what happened.

I am saddened by the deaths and huge amounts of those severely injured.

I am still aghast that those who represent our states on one of the most important days had to fear for their lives and go through all they did.

I am at a loss that in a time when our nation has endured so much and still has so much fear related to COVID-19 that a human who’s supposed to lead this nation that stands for democracy has instilled such additional levels of fear on top of the flames of all of his insane rhetoric on a worldwide stage.

While this nation won’t ever forget the act of insurrection on January 6, 2021, I will also fondly remember . . .

The power of people who worked together for the better good.

The day when Georgia’s senatorial race made major history on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

  • Reverend Raphael Warnock became Georgia’s first African American senator who is the pastor of the church founded by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.
  • Jon Ossoff became Georgia’s first Jewish person elected as senator.
  • Together they changed a strong red state with the help of many people of that state to a blue one.

When our nation’s government officials didn’t fail democracy on January 6th, to make sure that law and order, that the ways of our democracy would prevail before they left the building that hours before had brought many of them terror.

When social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) took away the current president’s ability to worsen an already terrible barrage towards violence, at least through those mediums.

When Twitter stated on January 8, 2021 would permanently ban this president from ever having an account again. Perhaps this will lead to others getting the same ban due to the extreme harm done against humanity.

I will also remember discussing what occurred at the Capitol on January 7th with my middle school students, because what they knew, how they thought and felt about the insurrection and how democracy still prevailed afterwards, instilled in me an even deeper hope in he future of our nation.

I know that generations caused a lot of harm in our nation, but along those paths, we have begun seeing tremendous amounts of evidence that the tide is turning and a better sun rising in more ways than one.

Never lose sight of the horizon to the brighter days to come.
©️Photos By Rachel http://www.photosbyrachelkc.smugmug.com

I choose to not let all of the horrific acts reign stronger, but rather be a stark contrast to what all the good that is rising up in phenomenal ways towards a more perfect nation. No land is perfect, but I can see a better one across the horizon.

My Reflections

2021: Be the Fulcrum


As we usher in 2021, may we remember what truly matters.

So many are looking for 2021 to help us heal from what’s happened in 2020. Deaths of loved ones. Isolation. Lockdowns. Normal education having so many shifts. Fears in various forms. Faith and hope shaken up. Places shut down. Shortages and hoarding. Events cancelled. Places of worship shutting doors for weeks and months on end. Political unrest in ways never seen before. Racism and prejudices becoming harder to ignore. Loss of jobs, food, homes, relationships, and the list goes on and on.

I get it. I have faced a lot of that myself, as I’m sure you have, too.

There’s not a single human who can rescue us. God does all He can for us, yet we humans don’t make it easy. We never have.

We want life to get back to normal, while much of what was normal needed changing. Normal doesn’t exist.

We want masks gone. Not seeing full faces is not in our nature.

We want to hug and touch others. Humans crave connections.

We want to be there for our loved ones in the hospital or in adult care facilities. Going through hard times alone is not what we were meant to endure.

We want to gather with others for weddings, births, funerals and celebrations. Life milestones are important.

We want some sense of predictability we can rely on, after all of this. Yet, when was life ever predictable?

2021 will not erase the past and it will not entirely fix the world. However, each of us can do our parts and be the change this nation and world needs, be truly selfless and the best versions of who we each are meant to be in the time we have on this planet.

The best way to make 2021 a better year, involves all of us. May we do all we can to water those seeds.

We can each make the differences that are needed, making life easier for all. Each of us have purpose and it is those purposes within us that are parts of so many solutions. There is much to be changed, no doubt.

However, if we truly consider our fellow humans and other living creatures that inhabit the land, sea and skies, as well as the planet itself and our Creator, life in 2021 can be the turning point that can finally get us all on the right path.

By truly choosing to see others as humans who have their own burdens, we can have more compassion.

By truly listening to understand, rather than to have our say, we can have more empathy.

By giving of the resources we have to those in need, we can heal.

By trusting those who have proven themselves worthy and by giving the benefit of the doubt to others till shown otherwise, we can have more respect for others.

By seeking truth and not just trying to confirm our own conceptions, we can have better discernment.

By doing all we can, by valuing the lives of other, we can have more unity.

We are always a part of the equation. Each of us have more power to do good than most of us believe. Step out in 2021 and let’s do this, together!

While we head into 2021 in a matter of hours, reflect on what you have learned during this past year. Reflect on the good moments, because they also happened even if some were different than prior years, and learn from the bad ones.

While no year can fix so much, we can shift the trajectory too many of us have been on and begin moving into brighter days, weeks, months and years. We can leave a better legacy for those who come after us, rather than leaving behind more heartache.

May we all see the pandemic end or at least lessen to a huge degree soon.

Are you ready to be the fulcrum? Come join me and so many others. A shift is about to happen and we have plenty of room on the ride.

May we give, love, laugh, and enjoy one another more than ever before.

Let’s make 2021 the year we all begin to heal and help others to heal, because we seek to make our lives and those all around us the best examples of ourselves that we all need. When we are each on the other side of Heaven, may we truly do so knowing that we were “good and faithful servants” to all.

As we look in the mirror, may we each remember that today is a good day to have a good day, for us and for others. https://nikkibanas.com/

Healing comes in many ways. Seek and you shall find.

Poetry

A TIME FOR MIRACLES


A selfie I took of myself in April of this year during the pandemic lockdown. Through all of life’s ups and downs, miracles still happen.

Christmas began over 2000 years ago
When a miracle came to Earth
And ever since our Savior came
We are reminded of His miracle birth
And here I exist in this world we live
Knowing miracles continue to be
For I’ve been healed in a number of ways
By the One who I can feel within me
I’ve seen prayers answered in mysterious ways
Giving us a child who made our family more whole
If not for the fact that He truly lives
This part of our story could not be told
And if this Christmas, in this world we live,
It’s a struggle to see miracles exist
Look at the eyes and hearts of each child
Because within them believing just is
For as each December comes along
In spite of the unrest all around
A Savior reminds us that miracles happen
And for ALL, there’s hope to be found.

©️ By Rachel Basden 2018 (revised 2020)

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MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections

WE ARE WALKING MIRACLES


After reading today’s blog post, know that miracles happen for a reason. Each one of us matter. May miracles awaken you to see how you’re supposed to change this world for the better.

During these pandemic times, it is easy to focus on all of the negative aspects of life. However, with Thanksgiving less than a week away, it’s normally a time when we stop and think of what and who we are thankful for, in our lives. Now, more than ever, this is needed on a more regular basis.

I’d like to tell you some parts of my story. While many believe in certain miracles, there are those who don’t believe a miracle can happen in their own lives. For that matter, there are those that try to explain miracles away.

However, I am a walking miracle.

At the age of 12, I began having severe allergies and asthma out of the blue, it seemed. It all began as I was walking home from school with a friend of mine. Towards the start, my breathing became labored and only got worse as we walked the mile to my home. By the time we arrived, she had been holding me up to help me continue on and I collapsed into the entrance and onto the floor, as my mom opened the door. Within a short time, I was in my doctor’s office getting injections immediately, as they treated me and having confirmed what was happening.

Within a year of that same time, I also received confirmation that I had scoliosis. After finding a specialist, I was able to see that my spine was a perfect backwards S, which now made all of my back pains make sense. The pain was often horrendous and limited certain movements, as well.

When life is out of our control, there is One who is far greater than us.

Having severe allergies and asthma limited me from being around certain animals and various types of environments. I couldn’t exercise very much, as it too would exacerbate the asthma. I had to avoid any part of stores with strong smells, especially the lower levels of department stores with all the perfume and cologne scents. Being even on the farther side of those floors would trigger my lungs to spasm or get worse. From middle school through adulthood, I had specialists for my back, as well as for the allergies and asthma.

Over time, I just learned to adjust and tolerate the back pains, no matter how bad they got. As for the asthma, I hated how often it debilitated me from doing ordinary things and struggling to breathe through what felt like an airway the size of maybe a coffee stirrer straw.

Then, the miracles.

In 2000, I was at church. The pastor was up front praying and so were all of us. Eyes were closed and many of us were standing. I was in my pew, next to my husband. Suddenly, I hear God clearly say to me, “I know you’re in pain, and I know you have had others pray for you, but have you ever asked me to heal you?” Incredulously, I realized I never had asked him for this, though I had believed in the power of prayer since my earliest of years.

So I prayed. Then, the miracle happened, as I heard clicking sounds within me as my spine realigned and felt my body jolt with the transition. With everyone’s eyes closed in prayer, no one appeared to have noticed, but I began praising God as tears came down my face.

I had my husband, other family members and close friends touch my spine once the church service was over so they could realize this great miracle. There was no doubt that God had done what I explained to them. Glory, Hallelujah!

As for the allergies and asthma, they continued. I had gotten used to seeing a specialist regularly and all I had to use to manage. I have always loved singing and while I managed being on worship teams at various churches in my life, it never occurred to me how much of a miracle my strong singing capabilities were, with the asthma as severe as it was.

I always chalked that up to various exercises I started and continued doing on a regular basis to maintain as much breathing capacity as possible every day, and most especially so I can continue singing. Little did I know what a great miracle it was to sing as bad as the asthma was.

Over time, I had accepted the fact, based on what specialists had told me that I would like not be able to have a child without dying in the process and most definitely without alert them should a pregnancy ever happen in my future. There had been so many complications within my body, from everything that there was little chance of me surviving something like that.

Through the years, I had even had several times when I nearly died. The worst occurred while I was at work. A situation occurred that caused the asthma to go into overdrive. Paramedics came, and I knew it was the worse situation I had yet to experience, since there were so many of them and so much they were doing to me.

One of those paramedics was the father of two of my former students who after my recovery, came to visit me, because something had been gnawing at him since that day. How was I still alive? I looked at him and asked, “What do you mean?”

That’s when I learned that with everything that was hooked up and connected to me, I should have died either at my place of work, on the way or surely by the time I got to the hospital. Every indicator showed that I had zero percent oxygen in my system and my body was shutting down.

Yet, I remained conscious, even making the get me paper and pen to communicate with them, so my things could be gotten for me and whoever ended up teaching my students would know what to do. He said that’s why we all seemed so incredulous that day, as well as quite scared.

All, I can say is that God performed another miracle that day. Little did I know there was a greater one to come years later.

On April 7, 2013 God healed me completely of my major allergies and fully healed me from asthma. By that point in my life, I was on several medications for the allergies, plus several inhalers for the asthma, along with an epipen. These went with me everywhere I went. I always needed people to know where these things were, in case of emergencies, because emergencies happened often enough to warrant it.

So on that day in 2013, God chose to do another miracle. From that day onward, I have only needed an over the counter help for minor allergies. All other allergies were gone and never returned. The asthma was a complete thing of the past.

No more specialists. No more multiple medications, inhalers, injections, nor any need for the epipen. In fact, I was given an opportunity once to get an x-ray of my back, to see what it looked like years after my spine realigned. To see my spine fully straight wasn’t necessary for me, but it was wonderful to see. The only signs of it was a minuscule curve at the base and the fact that though my growth plates had already closed when the scoliosis had been confirmed, the miracle also gave me more height.

God wants the best for us, even when we don’t.

Since those miraculous moment, I have been able to be more active. I can be around animals, grass being mowed near me without having to isolate myself, walking in any place I choose, being near trees of all types. I’ve had so many opportunities open up for me, with the results of those miracles.

These parts of my life are just part of what I have personally experienced in my life, and I thank Almighty God, my Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for every bit of what I know are miracles.

You may be thinking that I must have been granted miracles in my life, because of who I am. Trust me when I say that’s not the case. God performs miracles, because of who He is.

God loves and wants us to know Him, no matter who we are. While He performs miracle each day, many don’t notice them for what they are, some try to explain them away, but if you really think about the details of what occurred, there’s only one answer: a miracle.

Check out the YouVersion Bible app or open your Bible if you have one, and see all of the miracles God has already done. Those people lived. Even those who don’t claim Jesus for who He is, once recorded much of the miraculous events that occurred.

If you are reading this, you too are a “living, breathing, walking miracle,” as written and sung by singer Matthew West in the video below. Listen to what happened to this young boy and others, and listen to the truth of this song. What have you got to lose?

Isn’t it time to start dwelling on the good in our lives? With God, there is hope. True hope. There is good in the world.

Still feeling skeptical? Please take a listen to Colton Dixon’s song “Miracles” which also came out this year. I don’t believe in coincidences. But, I do believe in miracles. In this song, you’ll hear from a believer, who also finds himself in awe every time God does miracles.

I would love to hear about your miracles. It’s great to read about those done for others. This Thanksgiving season and as we continue living through these times, know that you are here for a reason. You are here with purpose. A good purpose.

If you ever want to know more about this God of miracles, I would love to tell you more. He loves you no matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you think of yourself. He doesn’t want to change your world upside down. He simply wants to show you how much more there is for you. Trust me when I say that there is far more to my story, and I know without a doubt that He lives, that He is real and that He is trustworthy.

While there is much in life we cannot control. He can.

Poetry

Darkness Does Not Win


Stumbling in the dark
Not knowing where to stand
With so much confusion around
All across our land

Desperately looking for light
Struggling to find it
Trying to ease our anxious hearts
If only we had some guidance

Yes, 2020 was not expected
We want safety and security
While this year has seemed to wreck this
Could there be more to this daydream

Perhaps like Lazarus
All is not lost
Could it be we’ve just been sleeping
Instead of focusing on the cross

While looking at the bleeding
Happening all around
Like Mary and Martha weeping
With no hope to be found

Knowing their brother was a goner
Are we only looking at this year
Simply shouting, “How much longer?”
While the light has been so near

For God has never changed
He’s always had a plan
The Lord understands every emotions
And the ways of man

While darkness has appeared
More often during these time
All is not really lost
For Jesus is still the Light

For just as Jesus, rose
Lazarus from the dead
He did the same for us
Even while knowing what was ahead

He could see this year we’re in
All the grief, confusion and pain
When we’ve screamed, cried and suffered
He never looked at us with disdain

For Jesus is our Comforter
The Light of the World for all
Is it possible that in dark moments
We have been missing His calls

The light is inside you
The light is all around
The light is what I brought you
When no hope was to be found

Trouble was always coming
I’ve told you all this before
I have always been the answer
To every problem that was in store

You are never in this alone
In the darkness, I am there
Holding and loving you
Before you were, I’ve always cared

This time is only temporary
This time is not all there is
This time is meant to show you
That in Me, you can truly live

My promises are for always
They don’t shift like the waves
I’m the same yesterday, today and forever
Who I am, I will remain

Peace be still, I speak over you
Focus your eyes on me
You my precious children
Carry my light for all to see

So shine brightly through each day
As darkness does what it will do
For I have already conquered it
I’m here to see you through

Even those who don’t want to see me
I am here for them, the same
Cry out to me whenever needed
There’s power in my name

When all around you see chaos
And nothing seems to make sense
I am here, if you’ll simply trust me
You’re greatest source of defense

This time is but a moment
Though it has appeared to be too long
Remember from whom you’re made
And to whom that you belong

I will remain with you always
I will remain with you through this
As Lazarus still had more life
There’s a reason you exist

I am making you much stronger
I am showing you from what you’re made
I am preparing you for more
And I am still the One who rules and reigns.

By Rachel Basden
©️ August 18, 2020
Inspired by John 11:9-11

WORSHIP MUSIC IS A POWERFUL GATEWAY TO BREAKTHROUGHS. May you be blessed by these two songs that relate so well with the poem above.

Life.Church just released a new album this week and this song really encapsulates this time and a reminder that God is the God of Hope and will NEVER let go of us.
No matter how dark it gets, God’s light is still stronger. As one line in this song says, “The darkest night, You can light it up.”
My Reflections

WHERE WILL YOU STAND? (Part 5): Universal Trauma


The lockdown that began in March, shook us all.

Trauma may always be a part of 2020 for many, but with time and healing, it can help make us better.

I am not a trauma specialist, by any means. In fact, this blog post has taken me longer than normal, because trauma can be difficult to face and be even harder to process.

Yet, there’s no doubt that from the onset of the pandemic, trauma indeed has occurred from the impacts of COVID-19, everywhere. Whenever our lives get hit with a negative, unexpected event it typically causes some levels of distress. However, without a way of knowing when this might end or what may still happen, it makes it hard to gauge what more could occur.

Universal trauma began in waves, until the whole world was feeling it.

This concept is often referred to as collective trauma. The Verywell Mind website explains this as “the psychological upheaval that is shared by a group of people who all experience an event. This type of trauma can affect groups of people of any size, including entire nations or societies . . . . The COVID-19 pandemic is a global event that will result in both individual and collective mental health effects. The social and economic impacts remain to be seen, but it is likely there will be long-term societal mental health consequences of the pandemic.”

While I experienced 9/11 living across the water from where the Twin Towers once were, in a town that lost the most amount of people, I now know that what many of us still share since that day is collective trauma. It’s why even as the 19th anniversary of that day will be here in about 8 weeks, those who struggle with PTSD from the experience still feel parts of the impacts associated with what happened. While that catastrophic event is not like this pandemic, the results of it all lasted for what seemed like a very long time after that nightmare of a day.

I admit that every 9/11, I am not fully myself. There’s no intentional desire to relive any of that time. However, living in the midst of the horrors, grief and sadness of what was occurring then, still impacts me every year in various ways.

Likewise, with this pandemic experience it is likely that we will have portions of this time that impact our current society in ways that stay with us. Whether it’s what happened in our nation, or other lands, this world has had aspects that we have shared and those that are unique to America alone.

One example for us is while most other countries have been wearing masks when asked to wear masks, there are people in our country who have attributed wearing or not wearing one as a political statement in connection to our upcoming election. This has caused major cases of anxiety which can lead to further trauma, as potential repercussions of these decisions involve a deadly virus that doesn’t care what our votes will be or who we are.

I hope that mask wearing won’t always be needed by the general public, once it’s safe, but down the road people may wonder why we may struggle when we see a doctor or nurse wearing one. Going to a funeral in the future may trigger thoughts of loved ones who died by the virus and didn’t have a proper farewell. We will universally share certain parts of this time, years after life has moved on to better times.

As protests have occurred in most cities for our fellow Black community members and for the sake of equality, other countries have joined our protests. With racism occurring in many places of this world, there will be some shared universal trauma significance. Here, in our country, it most definitely is felt.

Said by the character Alex Karev, in Shonda Rhimes’ show “Grey’s Anatomy,” this profound quote is a great reminder that while trauma may stay with us, it can also propel us to be a part of creating a better tomorrow.

However, worldwide there will be collective or universal trauma for those of us who have had some level of fear of getting the virus. Being in isolation, may be seen by future generations as some time alone, whereas those who struggled with it now may have traumatic scars from the idea of being alone. Even the situation of life getting turned upside down in a matter of weeks, for us all, is enough to imprint us with some issues we may need to work on overcoming, after life gets more normal.

What we all have been experiencing here in 2020 has been a worldwide pandemic, something that no one has experienced before. That is why my view of the concept is more of a universal trauma. Since our cultures all over the globe are different, there will be parts of this time where the trauma impacted us and not those in other countries. Others, will be ones that relate in many parts of this Earth, universally.

We lost a lot this year and it’s taking its toll on everybody.

Social distancing occurred suddenly and swiftly as we all hunkered down into lockdowns in our homes when the pandemic began. Schools and businesses closed their doors in a hurry, as students adjusted to learning from home, educators shifted to teaching from home and most people were working from home for the safety of all.

Houses of worship closed completely, while their leadership did what they could online or started figuring out how to be online, to connect with those who would normally attend. This left a lot taken from us, nearly all at once.

When in public, social distancing started following a 6 feet apart rule if you had to be around others. We had to learn how to not touch our skin, especially in public. Wearing a mask became a requirement, then a recommendation and lately a back and forth situation depending on government officials and our own choices.

While we’ve had to give up a lot during the pandemic, it has also made us value parts of our lives so much more. When there’s traumatic experiences, there can also be a new awakening.

Not knowing how long this would all last, there was mass panic and hoarding ensued as there were mad rushes at the grocery stores. It’s still difficult to find cleaning supplies, and there was even a shortage on meat and many other items.

Then, we came to realize that our essential workers like medical personnel were in a life and death situation, not only for their patients, but also for themselves and their families. That was soon followed by grocery store workers, who eventually got to wear masks and then have plexiglass shields installed around them for their safety and that of customers.

Suddenly, we not only were worried about our physical health, but our mental health became more prominent.

Life shifted even more drastically, causing further tension for all. If you’re not aware of how much stress got placed on everyone at once, let me jog your memory or help you realize what others have been enduring.

TOO MUCH TOO SOON: We’ve all been there where life may seem like a constant spiral of negatives happening in our lives, but this time everyone else has been experiencing it, too. There weren’t others who could tell you how they got through this before. Others were just as stressed, so why burden them further? Then, there has been the rollercoaster of emotions that didn’t always make sense or didn’t feel typical to our pre-pandemic selves.

STAYING SAFE: We became afraid of touching our faces. Using hand sanitizer and washing our hands became a practice that turned into a neurotic type of habit. Wear a mask? Don’t wear a mask? Stay 6 feet away from everyone, except those in your household. In general, stay away from others, as much as you can. Hope someone who has the virus doesn’t somehow pass it onto you. That’s A LOT!

NO MORE TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS: Educators, like me, are used to planning way ahead and juggling a lot. We know how to adapt quickly to change and that we may need to protect our students from a person who means us harm and somehow gets into our school building. Then, in a matter of weeks, we all figured out how to still teach the best we could through Internet issues, families and pets all being around at the same time, and not getting to make the same type of connections we value so much with our individual students. Suddenly, we were seeing our students in groups through video chat sessions and hoping we were making positive impacts on them, academically and emotionally.

With each of these dramatic shifts in our lives, and the problems they may have caused, may we come out on the other side with new understanding of ourselves and others, of new ways to do life and learn how to go with the flow better, knowing how much we were truly able to handle.

PARENT TRAP: Parents of school aged children were typically working from home instead of at their normal places of employment, while also needing to support their kids with school and handling the pandemic. Issues with the amount of devices needed to be used at one time, the major slowdown of the Internet nationwide and how to manage it all added to the stress. Then, there were so many decisions to make on behalf of our families, as well as handling living at home with families 24/7, with no clue when the lockdown would end. It wasn’t a matter of lack of love, but more of a HUGE shift in the everyday dynamics that once was.

FOR HOW MUCH LONGER: As the lockdowns happened everywhere, nobody believed it would endure for as long as the pandemic has been lasting. Many hoped it would be over or at least better by summer, so that life felt more normal and there was less anxiety. Living with a hardship is always difficult, but many hardships have an end. Lose a job? When you get hired, life’s on the way up. Many hardships have an end in sight or at least the dreams for when it will come. For many, the fears have risen or rollercoastered as COVID-19 numbers have risen, dropped and risen again. Uncertainty on who to trust, for which information, has been difficult. Remember when you were in the car as a kid and kept asking, “Are we there, yet?” That’s all everyone wants to know, but the one driving is a virus.

Of course, there is far more that people have endured to test our mental health. Buying enough food and supplies. Doing enough for safety of self, loved ones and/or others. Doing too much. Not doing enough. All of the politics that can most definitely be a major nuisance on society, but even more so during an election year while a worldwide pandemic is happening. Then, while the coronavirus would be plenty to have to handle and then some, the Civil Rights Movement took on a much needed resurgence this year when George Floyd became the final straw and protests erupted in nearly every city, while many of us are still fighting for equal rights for all.

SOME TRAUMA CAUSES

Fear is powerful; it’s all a matter of what you
choose to do with it.
  • Fear of getting the coronavirus
  • Fear of someone you know getting the coronavirus
  • Fear of a loved one or friend with the virus dying alone, after dropping them off at a hospital
  • Fear of being asymptomatic and transmitting the virus to others
  • Fear of a lack of employment, whether you own a business or are an employee
  • Fear of essential items running out
  • Fear of making the wrong decisions to stay healthy from the virus
    • Wear mask vs. don’t wear a mask
    • Social distance in all circumstances vs. gathering with large groups you trust
    • Sending children to school, remote learning, a hybrid or homeschool
    • Returning to your place of employment
  • Fear of voting for the wrong candidates, knowing how our lives are in their hands should the problems with the virus still exist or worse occurs, in the future
  • Fear of losing more parts of what was once normal life
  • Fear of the unknown

These causes are from what I’ve experienced, known others to experience and/or have read or watched information about how others have been responding. By no means is this an exhaustive list of sources for the trauma.

The one aspect that you have probably deduced by now is that fear is the major cause of the universal trauma most are experiencing on some levels right now.

PROS and CONS

Fear can help us or cause harm. During all that 2020 has changed in our lives, it means understanding the power of how fear works in us, for the sake of taking care of ourselves the best way we can. With all of the the possible causes of trauma, how our bodies are reacting, plays a huge role in our lives.

As Adventure Collection reminds us, that fear can keep us safe, as “fear acts as an internal danger alarm. It compels you to action and helps you make wise and prudent decisions. Without fear, you wouldn’t live very long because you wouldn’t be aware of or care about the threats around you.”

It is good to know that fear of what could threaten us, during these times, can help us to make the best decisions for ourselves and those we love. However, fear often can get out of control when there are so many avenues for fear and so many others feeling it around us. Social media has added another dimension to how often those worries or panic can stare us in the face.

HOW TO HANDLE THIS

A good starting point, always, is to talk to someone you trust so you’re not keeping all of that trauma and possible fear inside of you as you try to appear strong. The CDC has some great help to know when and who to turn to, if you need more guidance or help.

To find how you can help your mental health feel better, I suggest:

  • Talk About Mental Health: In case you’ve only ever considered your physical health only, know that our thoughts, emotions and a lot of our physical health within us is impacted by our mental health. When mental health isn’t managed well, it can cause responses within our physical wellbeing. What could it hurt to learn more helpful tips for yourself or for those you know and love?
  • Coping with Stress: There is a lot of options offered here, as well, after some more in depth explanations of what you might be feeling due to the pandemic.

As the CDC shares, “You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.” It’s often hard to figure out when fear is helping us or hurting us. Don’t go it alone.

THERE IS HOPE

Just like in the 1930s Depression, universal trauma was felt by those who experienced those hardships, but so have their descendants in certain ways. It’s why my parents’ generation, who were raised by parents who lived during the Depression, made us eat all of our food. Their parents lived in fear of not having enough.

However, as any situation in life that impacts us on a major scale like this, there is hope. We know that it won’t last forever. While at times we may worry that this time will never end. It will. Life has shown us that, as well.

We have so many resources to help us through it:

  • Medical people and scientists are working tirelessly to protect us from COVID-19, and possible cures appear to be working. Just type the possibilities into your Internet search to see for yourself.
  • People have adapted their lives, because we want to survive. Never underestimate the power of the human spirit.
  • We have mental health professionals who can literally help us through managing what we are experiencing, both online and in person.
  • If you’re a person of faith, as I am, you know that God is with you, the Bible is full of God’s promises and truth to rely on, and your minister, pastor or priest along with those who share that faith with you, can be a source of comfort, help and support.

Ultimately, while varying levels of trauma may have already occurred in your life or may come, before this time in our lives moves on, I truly have faith in the strength of who we are as human beings. As long as we do all we can to stay safe, make the best choices for our lives and take care of our minds, bodies and spirits, we may very well look back at 2020 seeing it as the year that made us the strongest versions of ourselves.

While we may have lost much in this year, already, I anticipate a greater future for us all. If you’ve experienced trauma, know that many of us have, providing us all with so many more people to grow with and learn from, once this part of our lives is behind us.

As the realities of life happen, I for one, will never stop dreaming, and I will work daily to make those dreams come true.

Don’t stop having hopes for the future. One of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes, impacted me to dream and to never let go. He inspired me as a young girl greatly, to this day. Coupled with my faith in God, this Bible verse is one I have reminded myself of again and again. May you find comfort in both the poem and words of the Lord. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11, God tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” May this time of trauma propel each of us to pursue our dreams with a passion.

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My Reflections

WHERE WILL YOU STAND? (Part 1): Faith


The ground moved under our feet, all too quickly.

As a teacher, this summer break has been very different. Before the summer of 2020, summer has often included times of fun with others, a possible vacation away, and moments to relax, refresh and rejuvenate after a school year of teaching. It meant more carefree times. Instead, at least for my family, we have been largely isolated to do our best to stay safe from COVID-19.

Our schools were only three days into Spring Break, before the nation was essentially locked down. Life, as we had known it, had changed and it felt like someone had kicked our collective knees out from under us. We knew the virus had impacted the eastern part of the world, but too many of us believed or hoped that it would never land here.

Suddenly, we all began to feel unsteady.

Within two weeks, we shifted from traditional learning within school buildings to teaching and learning remotely online from the youngest of students in elementary school through colleges and universities. Educators, students and families all had to shift accordingly.

Businesses, of all types, began closing down. Those who were fortunate enough were able to shift into working from home. Food and supplies became scarce in stores, as hysteria appeared to take over and people began buying in large quantities with the intentions of hoarding. Medical workers and grocery store workers became heroes, but they also were getting put at great risk, even with governments setting up mandatory face mask wearing protocols when out in public.

Without knowing what the future held, as a worldwide pandemic made it to our hemisphere, fear set in among our citizens, right here in America.

The virus changed our world, and we didn’t know what would shift next.

Prior to the official start of summer, I lost my mother and my grandmother in a matter of two weeks due to COVID-19, each having died in two different states while I was in a completely other state. There would be no time to gather with others to console one another. There would be no memorials or funerals, with hopes for the ability to do this in the future. This would follow about a month later with the loss of my father-in-law and us joining the memorial virtually.

Losses like this are HUGE under normal circumstances. This time though, we couldn’t count on the typical traditions we would typically count on during times like this, ones that often help to bring us comfort and support.

One thing I learned during those times, and as I continue to learn as we move forward, is that the virus has most definitely changed the world and how we are living. However, there are still constants that exist, in spite of the virus, ones I knew I could depend on strongly for the comfort and support I needed.

In my own home, my immediate family (both human and animal) were able to listen and help us process. They were able to provide hugs when we broke down in grief. When needed, they stayed near when all we could do was just sit quietly and allow ourselves to feel, think, and remember without any interference.

The virus changed our world, BUT FAMILY rallied together.

The gift of technology proved to play a huge part in helping us through the healing. We were able to spend time talking or texting on our phones, and more importantly video chatting with the rest of our family no matter where we each live in the country. In a time of isolation from most, this was a HUGE comfort and helped us to process further with those who also knew these important members of our lives. We felt like we could stand more steadily, after that.

As our entire life largely shifted to staying at homes and outside on our properties, many great and unexpected changes began to happen. This wasn’t just in our home, but also in the homes of many families’ living all over the country. Life began to slow down for most of us. We were having more time together, to engage more with one another, to make have actual home cooked meals more regularly and together, and our pets loved having us around more.

The need for using apps, like Zoom, caused many to catch up and stay more in touch with family and friends whether they lived a few houses down or across the country or globe. It appeared the gift of time had helped us remember that who is in our lives matter more than what is in our lives.

Life wasn’t entirely what we knew, and like most of you, I needed to find a firmer place to stand with so many unknowns ahead.

You see, way before COVID-19 ever emerged, my biggest comfort and support was one I was already very familiar with and one that had never let me down, even in the toughest of times . . . GOD.

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord  himself watches over you!The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. PSALM 121:1-8

From the first time I ever knew troubled times existed in life, and every time since, God has been there. He was the One who has always held me close when I’ve cried out to Him. He was the One who has let me scream at Him when I have been frustrated or angry. He was the One who brought the perfect people to me, at just the right moments when I needed them. He was the One who reminded me of so many truths that not only have lasted the test of time through centuries, but have lasted the test of time in my own life from a very young age.

Getting my legs back didn’t change a lot of what was out of my control, but it helped me stand so much stronger.

I found myself using the time that was now freed up to talk with God a lot more. The ability to pray to the One who knows far more than any human ever could know, provided me with immense peace.

This peace was with me when my mother was in the hospital for over a week, without knowing what the outcome would be. It was with me on the morning of Mother’s Day when I learned of my grandmother’s death and soon followed by my father-in-law. It stayed with me as I did all I could to teach from my home, in a way that was not how any of us expected to finish the final quarter of the year that I was still reaching and supporting my students. That peace reminded me to trust my Lord and those He put in my life.

This peace was with me, anytime fear rose up over the unknowns of living life with the coronavirus now in it. Remembering Bible verses were a source of strength and peace. Having the luxury to read the Bible for longer periods of time provided me with peace like even my favorite novel cannot do. Talking and listening to God, in prayer, however and whenever I needed has kept me standing strong.

The virus changed our world, BUT GOD has never changed.

Little would any of us know that life would still have curveballs to throw at us. While my faith is usually strong, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel afraid. Every human does. With 24/7 news and social media providing continuous information and misinformation, along with photos and/or videos, faith has been the key to my mind, heart and soul remaining tethered through it all.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,”he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”MATTHEW 14:28-31

There’s a part in the Bible, in Matthew 14, when Jesus sends His disciples to get into a boat while He dispersed the crowd of people they just finished miraculously providing for with food none of them had. Imagine the fear of hundreds of people not knowing when their next meal would be. Yet, Jesus provided for their needs and probably saved so many lives that day. He also increased the people’s faith that God saw them, God knew what they needed and God could provide.

Then, those disciples got into the boat knowing Jesus would catch up with them. After just seeing the miracle of food simply appearing in their baskets to give out until every mouth was fed, it was clear that had God seen them, God knew what they needed and God provided. Then, rather than waiting to catch up with the disciples on the other side or by following in another boat, Jesus was standing on the lake water itself and asking Peter to trust Him and walk to Him, on that lake.

What does this have to do with the coronavirus?

That moment has everything to do with the pandemic that we are still living with, in our nation and across the globe. Peter took initial steps of faith in Jesus Christ as he began to walk towards Him, but then suddenly, the human he was saw the wind blowing and his eyes went off Jesus and most likely looked at the water as he freaked out and cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Even then, the Lord saw what happened, saw the need and provided. Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. He knew Peter had faith, but like us, Peter also struggled during times of “rough waters”.

We have moments when we feel more at peace, as though God or even humans, have life more in control. We feel completely comforted and in full faith that life will work out and there’s no need to worry.

Then, we see the numbers rising again of those testing positive for the virus. We see that the new school year is right around the corner and worry as an educator, as a parent or loved one of a school age person or as all of the above. Masks are required to be worn again and some businesses have to close temporarily again, while others do so for good, not being able to handle the lack of money anymore. Events that were looked forward to get cancelled and sports are making major changes, as well.

We read, hear, or see all of that. Then, we have moments when even though we are still alive and may even have what we need, we feel our faith dropping. Like Peter, as changes continue to occur through these times, and we feel the wind moving and the water beneath our feet, we realize that while we may have faith, we also feel better feeling and touching the realities we are used to around us.

The virus is not greater than God.

This is why talking and listening to God, reading His Word for instruction, for guidance, for assurance, for wisdom, for how to handle whatever comes in life is so vastly important.

God is always with us, whether we acknowledge His existence or not. He sees us. He knows what we need. He provides.

His provision may not always make sense to us, like when Thomas the disciple saw Jesus alive again, after His resurrection, and needed further physical proof it was Him. Then after some time of rejoicing over His return, those who had seen Him after rising from the dead, soon came to realize that Jesus had to return to the Father. Imagine the immense confusion and hurt that brought on, not knowing when they would see Him again. Yet, their stories continue on with greater moments of faith that changed the lives of so many people in the world for His glory.

As it indicated in this Bible verse, we are truly blessed when we have faith, belief in God, when we cannot physically see His presence before us.

Why? Because, God knew that this pandemic would occur. He knew that we would be afraid at times, whether we have faith in Him or varying degrees of faith in Him, at times.

YET . . . GOD is far greater than anything life throws our way, even the coronavirus.

The virus doesn’t take away our faith.

For those of you who struggle to have any faith in God at all, the amazing fact is that we all have faith in something or someone at different points in life. While each of us continue to live our lives as best we can, He still sees us, knows what we need and provides for us.

When the dark news related to the coronavirus interferes with our lives, we continue to keep looking for the light. Most humans can’t seem to help it.

No matter what unknowns will come our way, pandemic or not, don’t give up. Have faith. It helps us to stand firmer, to keep going and to remember that better times will come.

The light exists and will always outshine the darkness.

Stay tune for the next part of this blog series. Keep the faith.

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My Reflections

FEAR HAS ARRIVED ON A GLOBAL SCALE . . . BUT


Feeling lead to type this to whoever is meant to read it. I feel like the Lord is testing His people with the fact that coronavirus has caused across the globe. How? He wants us to remain vigilant in the hope we must always hold onto, remember that our hope is in the Lord. He loves. He sees. He is working.

He wants His people to pray on behalf of humanity and believe that He knows what He’s doing. While yes, there is sickness and death, the true harm is the fear. He says to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ” – John 14:37

The enemy wants fear to spread like wildfire. Sound familiar? It has indeed been doing so, worldwide. Humans fear the unknown. That’s normal. We are finite, but God is infinite.

We need to trust Him. We need to trust the medical community. We need to get more comfortable with the unknown, because unknowns are not going to go away.

They’re all around us. But, look around. We still love. We still live. We still connect with people, with life and we keep going. It’s who we are.

Hope lives. Yes, fear is real, but hope and love is what has always made situations better and made us finite beings better.

When we don’t have the wisdom we want so badly, like when we were children, we must trust those who know more, who have the wisdom we don’t have.

As 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

When fear seems to overtake us, these are some words from the Bible that have often helped me:

• Psalm 91

• Ephesians 6: 11-17

• 1 Corinthians 13

For those who doubt God’s existence or anything about Him, we’ve all at least experienced unknowns in our life that have scared us immensely. Many of us have also come out on the other side of those experiences.

Stay hopeful. Trust those who know more than we know. Then, breathe and remember you’re alive. Alive for a reason and live.

As often as the clouds come and can seem to overcome the beautiful blue sky we want to see, we tend to try and focus on the blue breaks in the clouds. That’s hope. That’s what keeps us hanging on, when the clouds cause us to only see dark skies. Hanging on to the truth that the clouds (or the fear) will disperse and that the sky (hope) will appear fully again is belief, belief that life will be good again. It’s not that we don’t see the clouds. It’s that we refuse to give in to them. Hope. Photo By Rachel Basden

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