Coping


Flying in an airplane is about par with giving an oral presentation. You feel you can't do it -- it's a dreaded thing to do but once you do it, you're always grateful when it's over with and you've survived.

Having been up on a small plane in my teens with my brother who had just gotten his license, I remember the open sides on the small propeller plane and my knees shaking the whole time we were up in the air. I vowed that I would never get in another plane as long as I lived.

Fast forward to work experiences, and a proposed company trip to Puerto Rico for a convention that shattered my equilibrium. I ran out and bought the book Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Mainly, it was about sex, passion and sexual identity and not a word about the fear of flying. Well, not in the sense of flying in a plane.

After not sleeping the two nights before the flight actually transpired, I re-enacted the wobbly knees of former experience and even took a Valium someone offered me. Just as I was settling into the level just below wigging out, someone from work who knew of my fear, yelled out, "Hey Marie, your horoscope says you shouldn't travel today". Funny to everyone on board but me. The trip is a blur going and coming and the time in the air was the whole focus of the trip. Not a fun trip.

 

I vowed yet again, I would never fly.

A couple of years later, my job required 'flying' but only on the east coast for career seminars. I didn't want to fly period. No way, Jose. I always went into my fugue on these trips and always made sure I was with someone I knew. A short time later, there was a human resource need for supporters on an outreach program in Cincinnati and I had to go alone! This was an up-all nighter worrying fest and thankfully, I knew someone from the company on the flight. White knuckles all the way.

On each flight, I vowed it would be my last. I hated flying - too much free floating anxiety around.

After about 10 flights like this, I decided that was it. There was a plane crash the week before I had to fly to Charlotte, NC and a plane crash in Charlotte, NC the week after I got back and that blew my 'odds' that lightning couldn't strike twice in the same place. What are the odds of that happening?

I really got good at making excuses for not traveling or making other arrangements (why don't you come up this way?) and just when I felt that I never had to fly again, I married a man who was born in Sicily and had family there. He redid the family house and wanted to travel to Italy at least once a year. Eight or nine hours one way? And the same the way back? No way, Jose. I barely did the east coast for up to 3 hours top. All that time in a plane? I would never last.

He never insisted, but I did always want to see Italy. So this is how I get on a plane every year to travel 8 or 9 hours (depending on the wind) to go to Italy.

  • It has to be something you really want to do. Like visiting a last family member in Scotland or a vacation in France that someone bought for you. You have to be the one to decide, just like giving up smoking or deciding to lose weight - it's your call and something you want to do more than you fear it.
  • I went to local airports and watched the planes come in and go out. They do that every couple of minutes or less. And they were all fine. And thought about all the planes that came in all day there every couple of minutes - in and out. And thought of all the cities and airports all over the world that do the same thing. All those flights.
  • The amount of things that can go wrong on a flight are nothing like other modes of traveling. You hear about accidents and crashes all the time with cars, trains and ships but flying is actually the safest way to travel.
  • You have to minimize stress if you decide to travel - travel light and detail your arrangements. Make direct flights where you don't have to juggle your luggage through airports to another terminal. Even with rides, it can be stressful doing that.
  • Try to get an aisle seat when you make flight arrangements. It gives you some control over getting up and getting down, using the rest room and just stretching your legs.
  • Bring things that will absorb you (yes, it can happen) so that you don't count the whirrs the engine is making and one time if there are more than usual and you wonder why. I bring books that I've been wanting to read, crossroad puzzles, my journal and datebook to go over for the trip.
  • International flights usually have wonderful ways to keep your mind occupied: they show new movies concurrently - with head gear so you can watch, go back or pick it up wherever you want and whenever you want. They also have these neat computers in front of each person where you can track your flight or play games like poker or solitaire or watch popular TV programs. The same head gear lets you listen to all kinds of music.

There are blankets, but I bring a warm, long sweater; it's cozy while closing your eyes even if you don't sleep.

I do bring a Tylenol PM and take it around 9:00 pm our time. With the time change, you will be flying into the airport around 7:00 am, and breakfast will be served - our time it will be around 1:00 am but it will be light out and you will eat breakfast. And get on with another day even though it is early in the morning our time. {I don't sleep until nighttime - their time - at 9:00 pm and go right into their time schedule.}

They also have a duty-free service aboard and sell all these neat things - it's like shopping on QVC - another mind-diverting tactic.

There is usually a dinner and a breakfast and a snack served - all with alcoholic drinks. So if you don't Tylenol, you can drink. All these servings take up time and are a nice diversion from you worrying if the pilot is still awake.

Busy hands are happy hands - and two matters cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If you keep busy, and I promise you will, you won't have time to focus on your fear. The more you travel, the less fearful you are.

I still don't like to fly. I don't like being up in the air with no control over how to steer the plane. However, it is much more safe with the pilots up there behind the controls. But I'm more comfortable with it now and do it because I really want to go where the plane will take us.

The clincher for me that took away all my fears and fidgeting was a take-off with my relaxed husband and me with white knuckles. I looked at him and he smiled as we took off, and said sweetly, "Did you leave your faith on the ground?" Since I am a faith-based person, this made tremendous sense to me; I relaxed and now leave my trip safety in God's hands.

Marie Coppola © September 2013


 

Antacid sales top $ 10 billion annually! And acid indigestion plagues a third of U.S. population. Even when the economy is in better shape, acid indigestion and heartburn plagues about a third of the U.S. population. About 100 million Americans experience heartburn every month; about 15 million fighting it at least once a day.

What causes heartburn and indigestion? Eating on the run, skipping meals, eating junk food, nervous stomach from stress and volatile emotions such as anger or frustration can adversely affect your digestive system. How can you get your stomach to calm down after a stress-filled and / or frustrating day? Does stress at your job cause your digestive problems?

Employee surveys suggest that over half a million people believed they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, or some physical illness resulting from stress, caused or made worse by their work.

A busy workload, multi-tasking or managerial position can keep you motivated and create energies needed for such responsibilities. Although this kind of stress can reinforce commitment to your work, it can affect you negatively when stress becomes excessive or uncontrolled. Some indications of negative stress can be apparent by personality changes or behavior in work habits.

Stress is a response to pressure. Over a period of time, this can lead to under-performance, chronic sickness, heart disease or psychological damage or even major illness or death. Managers and co-workers should be aware of these signs which can create problems within the company. People under stress show such physical signs as headaches, increased blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and indigestion.

Stress can affect decision-making, inability to concentrate, spurts of irritability or aggression and changes in self-confidence. Work relationships can be affected, cooperation with others may diminish and stress could lead to either overworking or the opposite -- taking time off in increased sick days. Good employers and managers will recognize this and take appropriate supportive action.

Americans have made antacids a major category in a typical drug store's merchandise mix. Many people carry antacids around with them during the day in case they get bad heartburn, indigestion or stomach distress. If you take Tums regularly, large amounts of calcium carbonate-containing antacids can affect the balances of calcium and acid in the body and damage your kidneys. You should not take antacids over long periods as you could have a more serious ailment such as a stomach problem, or peptic ulcer disease.

What can you do to reduce heartburn and indigestion? You can try the following to reduce the stress associated with meals. If you get stressed in the office, do not eat in your office. Try to remove yourself from the stressful environment . Get away from your desk and walk or drive to another location to get your food. The walk should be made at a leisurely pace and if possible outside in a quiet environment.

Do not lunch at a busy restaurant as it can also add to your stress. Once you get your food do not take it back to the worksite. Find a quiet place to sit down and eat your food at a slow pace. This may be hard at first but a simple technique is to chew each bite of food ten time before swallowing. When you have finished your meal take your time getting back to your office. You will be surprised at how much this will relieve your indigestion and reduce your stress or anxiety. Upon returning to the office, you may be surprised to find that you can work more efficiently.

Going home, relax by breathing deeply and stretching your muscles. If you dine alone, put on some nice, relaxing music. Even if you are not use to it, say grace. It doesn't have to be formal, just gratitude for the food and for your blessings. Counting your blessings negates the negativity and stress stored up. Don't watch TV or listen to the news. That in itself will give you indigestion.

If you dine with family, concentrate on the positive and happy experiences of the day, not the negative or complaints. Use humor and good cheer. Laughter and happiness are good for digestion and relaxation. Have a glass of wine or after-dinner cordial with your mate or partner and spend me minutes alone if you have children. Bring the tempo down along with your blood pressure. Tomorrow is another day. You can dispel the stress from today instead of storing it up and adding it to tomorrow's.

© Marie Coppola September 2013

How do YOU handle change?

Change is inevitable in all of our lives. While most of us don’t like change, life events force them on us.  We experience getting married, getting divorced, starting a family, fluctuations in the economy, fractured family relationships, starting new jobs, losing jobs, relocating, empty nest syndrome, health issues, illness of a loved one, or death of a loved one. Most change issues cause stress and/or anxiety. Even happy events can cause stress: your wedding, new job, new house, new baby and even winning the lottery!

How do we handle the stresses of change?  We might try drinking, smoking, eating, venting, exercising, or joining a self-help group. Sometimes life hands us a ‘cluster’ of changes which can overwhelm us and cause us to lose our balance of life. What do you do when you are over-challenged with life changes?

Jesus experienced changes in his life. He was the son of a carpenter and in three years of ministry became a prophet and Savior. He dealt with many changes and emotions: anger in the temple; frustration with His disciples; sadness with tears when friends died, and sweating blood agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. How did Jesus handle these events?

He often went out in the desert or to a quiet place by himself to pray to His Father. Even Jesus needed to renew His soul.

Jesus can help us renew our souls that are shaken by stress. He offers us renewal of spirit and soul. Scripture teaches us: “Do not be afraid - I am with you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27-31

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5

You don’t have to make life’s changes alone.    Let Jesus help you.  Literally, reach out to him, and surrender your stress changes one by one and ask for his help.  Visualize him taking each one from you.   Don't take them back.  He promises and will help to renew you.

©  Marie Coppola August 2017


      

The human spirit takes some punches when times are tough and rough. Having experienced this myself, I offer the resiliency of the spirit as expressed through the dahlia in the box……….

Being blessed and happily married to a man who loves to garden, I enjoy the fruits of his labor every spring, summer and fall. His garden resembles an English garden, with varieties of flowers splashing color amid myriad of heights and texture. Of special interest to him is the dahlia. His garden abounds in magenta, pink, burgundy, white and multicolored dahlias. His recent acquisition of large dinner plate size dahlias abound magnificently in bright shades of yellow.

His gardening expertise is apparent in how he cares for the bulbs of his favorite flower. Every fall before frost, he digs up each and every dahlia bulb. The bulbs have multiplied in the ground after flowering - where there was one, there are now multiple bulbs. He carefully separates them, places them in separate cardboard boxes with covers, and marks them by color. He places them in our cool basement for replanting the next spring.

One spring in April, my husband carted up all the marked boxes from the basement to plant after he prepared the garden soil. Dahlias usually bloom in July and continue to bloom until the fall.

In late June of that year, my husband was tinkering down in the basement and he called out for me. I went downstairs and he was holding a cardboard box and sadly said, ‘I forgot this one - look what happened’. He opened the top of the box and inside were some dahlia bulbs and one of the bulbs had bloomed into a withered, faded yellow flower.

It had bloomed without soil, without water, and without sun; all the while in a box with a cover on it in a dark basement! We stood looking at the dahlia for some time and agreed that it was most extraordinary and unusual.

From time to time, in my mind, I picture that dahlia. It still amazes me how a plant, requiring so many factors to bloom, not only survived in the barest of necessities — but survived to bloom!

Is not the human spirit the same?

Stormy life events cast a sunless, solitary and confining environment in one’s life. It’s like being in a box with the cover on without the usual life-giving nourishment and support to one’s soul and growth.

If a dahlia could survive such circumstances and bloom, how much more can the spirit of a human endure with so many possible avenues to explore with friends and family to support them and love them? And as always, even in solitary times, we are in His Hands; Our Great Protector. His nourishment is always there to feed our spirit. If your spirit needs refreshment, take Him into the box with you. 

Life’s entanglements and sacrifices need not prevent the joy and possibility to ‘bloom where you are planted‘. God, through His grace, has implanted within you, color, vibrancy, and abundance you can show to the world — it is within you to grow and flower. Remember the dahlia in the box.

© Marie Coppola 2010

 


Some might ask: How can I praise the Lord when everything is tumbling down? How can I give thanks in all circumstances? My life is upsidedown.

We all do things in love for people. Whether it’s loving, cooking, shopping, repairing, teaching, listening, sharing, or whatever you give of yourself for another’s good; it’s a gift.

Parents spend many years raising children, instructing them in life’s ways. Besides teaching them the rules of life, parents also share their love by supporting, encouraging, and nurturing. Although they are not seeking pats on the back for things they do, it is always joyful to parents when a child appreciates their efforts and shows gratitude and thanks them.

Wikipedia defines ‘thanks’: "gratitude, appreciation, or thankfulness is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive".

It is a positive emotion to give or receive thanks. Do you give thanks? I don’t mean the polite, politically correct and etiquette kind of thanks. I mean thanks that come from positive emotions of gratitude. Wikipedia describes ‘gratitude’: a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation; "he was overwhelmed with gratitude for their help".

It’s hard to give thanks or feel gratitude when the economy is poor; there are wars and rumors of war; heated disagreements over how the government should be run; yours or another’s job loss, foreclosures; and that’s not even counting personal problems caused by these things. It is disheartening that there are mega problems that surround us today. A hopeless feeling might come over some of us. Have you even thought of giving thanks for anything recently?   What are you thankful for?

God talks to us via the Bible and tells us:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalms 100:4

"Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him for his excellent and surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the stringed instruments and organs, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalms 150

Some might ask: How can I praise the Lord when everything is tumbling down? How can I give thanks in all circumstances? My life is upside down.

Again, the Bible speaks to us:

The Lord tells us in Psalm 32:8 - "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

God wants us to be happy. His Word in Scripture reflects this. He instructs us in His Ways in the Bible and His instructions pave the way to happiness, peace and prosperity. How do we know that God wants us to be happy? He tells us in Proverbs 17:22:

"A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."

One of the ways you can get happier and over the disillusionment of life’s events is to start praising God and thanking Him. There are uncountable things we can thank him for and show true gratitude for. They can be little things; in fact, it’s the little things that change your heart from downtrodden to a cheerful heart. I thank God for opening my eyes to see every morning and being able to get out of bed. I thank Him for the capability to drive, work, exercise, read, share love with my family and friends and for every meal I partake. These are all gifts and blessings from God. Not everyone has them.   We all have so many blessings we take for granted.

I don’t pray every minute - but I do give thanks a lot. It’s a habit now. For every close call in a car, or every misstep that didn’t end in a fall, or even if I get to the bank just as they are closing the door, but let me in, I give thanks to Him and Praise Him. ‘All good things come from God’. They don’t have have to be lottery wins, or windfalls or extraordinary happenings. The more I praise Him and thank Him, the more cheerful I become. The negative things in my life become less prominent. Two matters cannot occupy the same space. My praises highlight the thankfulness; my thankfulness highlights the good and negates the bad; my gratitude is mind-changing.

Become aware of all the good things in your life. Start praising God for all the good things; give Him genuine gratitude. And you will find that you will achieve a happy heart and a cheerful mind. And when you become uplifted, don’t forget to thank Him and praise Him for that, too!!

Marie Coppola June 2013


In our fast track world, people like instant gratification, or at least quick results. Disappointments can occur if your expectations are too high. You can become disenchanted with people, places and things. This can happen even in the place you go to for rest, renewal and refuge - your place of worship. For simplification of terms, I will call it a church.

As part of a faith-sharing group, I listened to multi-denominations share their expectations and disappointments regarding their Saturday, Sunday or any day of worship.

1} Many of the group did not like the emphasis of the church asking for money. Some of them complained that it was an on-going practice. We all know that worship establishments have bills like the rest of us. They pay electricity, heating and air conditioning, cleaning, taxes, salaries, etc.  Usually the church offers a balance sheet of where the money is going.  If not, offer to be part of the Finance Committee. You will see where it goes and have a voice in how it is distributed. If you are not asked to join, most Finance Committees have an open door policy whereby you can sit in and listen to where the money is going. If they don’t, initiate one by addressing it to the building or church administrator.

2} Closely related to regular collections is the matter of tithing. How much treasure do you tithe? Tithing is explained in Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year." The definition of the tithe was very simple and plainly laid out for Israel. They were to gather their harvest and count the tithe out from what they’ve gathered. For instance, if you had 100 apples, you must count them out from one-to-ten, and the tenth one you set aside for the Lord – Leviticus 27:32. Today, many denominations pay heed to the 10% of income for church tithing. And many people complain that they cannot afford that. I am not here to argue church’s expectations of tithes or what you should give. I believe that it is an individual choice - some give more; some give less and it should be a personal, private choice and not made public.  What you give is between you and God no matter how much or how many times you are asked.

3} Some of the group complained of their leader, minister, pastor or priest. They simply did not like him or her. They did not feel (s)he was leading the congregation correctly, said improper things, was insensitive, and many other things. In other words, (s)he was imperfect.  We all are imperfect. Even church leaders.  It is a difficult life for many of these leaders; it is a solitary life, especially if they don’t have partners to share stress with. And there is a lot of work and stress. Besides juggling the church’s expenses, administration, activities and worship programs, the church leader also give counsel, oversees funerals, weddings, christenings, baptisms, etc. etc. They are very busy people and churches are usually short-handed. If you don’t like the leader's mode of operation, volunteer to do some of the leg work he or she does routinely. We have ministry programs to give communion to hospital or shut-ins, bereavement committees help with funerals; there are countless things you can do to help an overworked religious leader. And they LOVE home-cooked meals AND the company - invite them to dinner; you may see another side of them.

4} Everyone complained about children and small babies at church. Especially the fidgety and wailing variety. I admit that I use to complain about this, too. Religious leaders always welcome children to church - some churches have separate glassed rooms for young ones to prevent disrupting the congregation. My feeling is that children who attend church with their parents from an early age quickly adjust and become part of the church family/community easily and lovingly. It is natural for them to be there with family and most likely will duplicate this faith with their own families someday in the same way.

5} Some of the group complained they did not like the people in their church community; they were too high class, too low-class, too gossipy, and the beat goes on.  We don’t go to church for the people - we go to church for God.

They lament they will go to another church. There are people all around us we may not care for - maybe even in our own families, but we don’t go look for another family. Many times, the dislikes you feel are cosmetic; you may not really know the other people and let’s face it, you don’t have to socialize with them.  You attend church with them, same as attending college or any social gathering. Focus on why you are in church; and don’t focus on the people. You can be friendly and sincere, but you don’t have to live with them. Even Jesus had altercations with his twelve disciples. Peter and James wanted the honor of being on His right and left side in heaven to the consternation of the other ten. Another time, ’An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest."  Jesus didn’t replace them; and he didn’t go to another town looking for 12 different disciples. There will always be church members in ANY church you may not see eye to eye with, but you are there to worship and they are part of the community. Maybe they harbor similar feelings about you. Bloom where you are planted and try to grow in faith with everyone, especially those who are different from you. You are there to worship; not judge your brothers and sisters.

© Marie Coppola Revised February 2015

Ref: McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and last updated 4/21/04 by Bob Beckett English:

 

You can get along with all of the people some of the time; you can get along with some of the people all of the time but you can't get along with all of the people all of the time.    A spin on the old adage.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that we simply can't get along with everybody. If we are lucky, we have good relationships with our family and friends and in-laws, but every once in awhile, there is someone who becomes a 'literal thorn in our side'. Sometimes, it is apparent why this happens. But other times, as much as we analyze and pick the relationship apart, conversation by conversation, we can't understand totally why this happens.

Call it karma, call it fate, call it 'that's life in the big city', it can play havoc with our lives. This is especially so, if it is a family member, a spouse, or an in-law.  It can be someone we are close to and see frequently; or it can be someone we're not so close to and see infrequently. The latter can be spaced out in visits (if you have to visit them at all) and can be managed. Somewhat.

But, what do you do when it is a sibling, a parent or God forbid, a spouse?

If and when you are immersed in a dysfunctional relationship, emotions can override logic. If it is a parent or sibling, we are talking a major challenge. If it is a spouse, it can be catastrophic.

    

What do you do? Do you bite your tongue in all conversations, hold back lashing down to a minimum, feign sickness to avoid them? Work more; socialize less, bury yourself in a book?

Or do you join in when they are around, feel stressed out and pray that the day turns out ok and not into a fiasco. Others are counting on you to 'join' in the group and just 'keep cool' or 'chill out' or anything short of sitting on you and duct-taping your mouth.

Well, there are many variables here.  In a family matter - a parent, a sibling, a child - there is a history here and lots of interchanges. Some issues are so interchangeably tangled, that unless the 'diametrically-opposed players' come to a prayerful compromise and exchange of promises and a sincere heart change, there is little hope that they will link arms and have a drink together. In fact, drinking may make it worse.

A spouse you don't get along with is much more challenging. This is a life commitment you both made. Serious and truthful conversations, role playing (perhaps with a third party), and a sincere desire to change the situation is warranted if you want to right it. It's not going to go away by itself. One person can't change it; it needs both. Make that three - add God. Positive actions, prayers and verbal affirmations help to get issues out in the air and looked at.   Three steps forward and two steps back - but keep forging ahead and praying while you do it.

It may work out.  It has worked out.  And made relationships stronger. But it also hasn't worked out.  And relationships end.

I had such a person in my life. This was a 'long-history person'. We simply were like oil and water. Things said were not taken the way they were meant; get-togethers became strained with stress; attempts to make it better made it worse; and the chasm opened wide and threatened to swallow us.

This relationship caused additional spiritual stress for me: didn't God tell us to forgive seventy times seven?   Aren't we supposed to 'love one another as He loves us"?  How could I reconcile this fractured relationship with my faith?   How could I change into something I wasn't?   I tried and tried and couldn't and didn't .

One day, at church service, there was a visiting minister.  His topic was 'You Can't Get Along With Everybody'.  I was all ears.   His sermon was loving, prayerful, scriptural and reality. He looked out at all of us and said, "You have to face the fact that you won't get along with everybody in life - it could be someone close, a loved one or even a child of yours. You simply will not have a good relationship with them." And then he offered, "Even Jesus did not get along with everyone. As a native Nazarene, he was not always welcome in his own neighborhood; people mocked him that "he was a carpenter's son - how can He think he is a Son of God; we knew Him as a child playing'." Jesus left his hometown and started traveling with His ministry. And when He and/or the Apostles were not welcome in a town, He told them to 'wipe the dust off their feet' and move on.

Please understand that this minister was not suggesting that you disregard any and all people that you don't get along with and wipe them off like dust.  Remember, we are all imperfect.

Life is a compromise with almost everybody. It is usually a loving compromise and returned as such. Sometimes people have life changes and within those changes, people temporarily behave differently and relationships change with them. They may be going through a rough time; and they need your patience and love. I'm not talking about these kinds of 'not getting along'. They are transient and natural in all our lives.

I'm talking about the constant, never-ending, always-the-same negative and destructive relationship that causes stress every time you connect.

I talked with the minister after the service and told him I felt bad about this relationship that I just couldn't seem to embrace. He answered, "There are some relationships you can't fix. Thank God they are few, but they simply will never be what they are supposed to be. You have to walk away and leave them. Withdraw from them; they will eventually harm you. Wipe the dust from your feet and move on. But always, always pray for that person, forgive them and forgive yourself.   But always pray for them."

I found a serene feeling of letting go that day. And I followed his advice. I also began praying for that person. And that was very difficult for me.  The first few prayers were stifled and stiff and seemed to get stuck in my throat.  But I kept at it and in time, sincerely meant the prayer. I pray for this person to this day. I pray for her peace; I wish her well-being and remind myself that she is loved as a child of God just as I am.   With my change in attitude and prayer, I feel differently about this person.  We may - never be close but the awful feelings of animosity are gone.

There is no judgment or blame here -- it's just that...."As one face differs from another, so does one's heart."

©Marie Coppola  Revised May 2013

John Robbins, the son of the founder of Baskin-Robbins, grew weary of the effects of eating ice cream daily, and felt destined to change his whole life style, much to the chagrin of his father, who very later in life embraced his son's decisions.   Robbins wrote a book called, "Healthy at 100" .   If you haven't read it, it is a great book that delves into healthy living styles of different cultures.

The book is not so much about eating, diets, exercise as I thought it would be. It's about the effects of changing of his life style. The whole overview of his book focuses on how you can dramatically increase your life span and your health span - at any age. That is enough to get anyone's attention.

Robbins' discovery in a new life found that diet and exercise alone do not help people live beyond 100. "The quality of personal relationships is enormously important". He cites medical evidence about our personal interactions, and proclaims that loneliness has more impact on our life span than smoking does. His book is about wisdom, hope, courage and common sense. And dispersed generously along the way, it is about love.

And how love can save your life.

I focused on a brief synopsis that Robbins uses to make a point about love. It only takes three paragraphs and three sentences on page 277 in a section called "What Matters". Having never heard of this before, I researched it because of its love impact and offer it to you in the 'matter of love'.

This is an old story, perhaps even a legend, although the Castle of Weinsberg exists to this day.

Weinsberg is a town in the north of the German state Baden-Wurttemberg. Founded around 1200, it is noted for its wine. The town's name is derived from the German word "Weinberg" which means vineyard.

Around 1000 AD, the Weibertreu (Wein Castle was established on a mountain trade route running from Heilbronn to Schwabisch Hall).   Whether this a legend or true story, the following is the story of the castle. It was founded around 1200 and is situated in the Heilbronn district.

One day in the royal court in Germany, nearly a thousand years ago, the Duke of Welf accidentally brushed the foot of the Queen when he bowed before King Konrad III. The king became so angry at this insult, that he admonished the Duke in front of the Duke's men. Offended and embarrassed, the Duke declared he would never again pay any tribute or tax to the royal crown. Furious, he stormed out of the palace.

It did not end there. In retaliation to punish the Duke, the King sent his royal army to surround the Duke's castle. Since the castle provided home and shelter for their entire families, servants and followers, the King knew it was only a matter of time before the people trapped inside would run out of fresh food and water. Then they would have no choice but to surrender.

The trapped Duke of Welf, an ancestor of Charlemagne, prepared for a long siege. He had already stored a fortune of gold and silver inside the castle, and they were well supplied with food and other provisions.

The Duke planned to use secret tunnels to the city of Weinsberg to buy whatever they needed. He hoped his friends in Weinsberg would send word of his plight to opponents of the King and they would bring a force of soldiers to come to their aid and rescue.

King Konrad III and his troops, became impatient after a few weeks, and sent a messenger to the Duke demanding the surrender of everyone in the castle - all of the Duke's men would have to die by the sword, but the women and children would be free to go.

The Duke of Welf flatly refused these terms. Furious, the King ordered all roads and pathways surrounding the castle to be barricaded. He sent soldiers to search for tunnel entrances and when they were discovered, he filled them, blocked them, and stationed soldiers by each one.

Back inside the castle, food and other provisions were quickly running out. From the top of the castle the Duke could see that soldiers guarded all the pathways. A quick inventory revealed that the stores were nearly depleted. The outlook was grim - the people inside the castle knew they faced starvation.

A frustrated King Konrad III sent another message . If everyone in the castle did not surrender that very day by nightfall, he would set the entire city of Weinsberg on fire and subject all its inhabitants to the sword. The situation was desperate.

It is not known who hastily gathered a meeting or who came up with a certain plan. It may have been the Duke of Welf or it may have been his clever wife, the Lady Uta. It may have been anyone. But before sundown, a messenger emerged from the castle with a letter addressed to King Konrad III. The letter read:

We, the women of the castle, humbly realize that our fate is in your hands. We ask only that you allow us to leave at sunrise tomorrow with our children and whatever we can carry on our backs. For this we entreat you and submit our lives to your mercy.

The King Konrad considered the proposal and the fact that he had pledged that he would let the women and children leave in peace. So what If they took a few pocketfuls of valuables. He would be hailed as a wonderful and merciful king. Besides, he would have the vast fortune of the Duke for his own use. He sent the messenger back with his royal approval.

The next morning at sunrise, the castle gates creaked open. Out stepped the women with their children behind. But that's not all that emerged from the castle. Carried on the backs of the women were their own husbands, while on the backs of unmarried women were their own brothers or fathers. Each woman staggered under the weight of her burden while the men, sputtering with embarrassment on the backs of their womenfolk, struggled to keep from slipping to the ground.

The King found this funny and laughed but his soldiers were outraged and called for their execution. But the royal word was given and the women were allowed safe passage as well as their beloved men.

According to legend, the Duke and his men were so grateful that they renewed their loyalty to the King and the King renamed the castle "The Castle of the Faithful Wives," the name by which the castle is still known today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Presumably around 1000 the Weibertreu Castle was established on a mountain at the trade route running from Heilbronn to Schwäbisch Hall. In 1140 the castle was besieged by Konrad III in the course of the struggles between the Staufers and the Welfs. Finally it had to capitulate on December 21, 1140, since the army of Welf VI to release the castle had been defeated by the Staufers in a battle. According to the report of the Chronica regia Coloniensis the women of the castle were granted free departure by taking along of what everyone can carry. They carried down their men, so they saved their lives, since the king adhered to his word. The women became known as treue Weiber ("loyal women"). The castle (today's ruin) is called Weibertreu due to this occurrence.

 

An artist′s representation of the siege of Weinsberg's castle and the loyal women 1140. Copper engraving by Zacharias Dolendo, 16th century.The Staufers used a family of ministerialis from Gmünd as managers of the castle, which soon called itself after its seat "von Weinsberg" (Masters of Weinsberg) and who possessed the castle as a fiefdom until 1450. A settlement developed at the tendencies of the Burgberg. A settlement at the trade route in the valley served the supply of the castle and the surrounding localities. Around 1200 the building of the Johanneskirche began at instigation of the Masters of Weinsberg between these two settlements.

Ref:   http://www.storiestogrowby.com/stories/castle_wives_germany.html

Marie Coppola  Revised April 2013


"There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help"        Jan Schakowsky

Economic and demographic indicators linked to homelessness continue to be troubling. Homelessness is a lagging indicator, and the effects of the poor economy on the problem are escalating and are expected to continue to do so over the next few years.

There are homeless students in many counties throughout the states:  homeless families with children represent the fastest growing subpopulation among the homeless. Many of the students live in cars, abandoned buildings, and the homes of distant family members and friends. Nation-wide, veterans make up as many as one-fourth of the homeless population and up to 40% of homeless men are veterans.    As of 2016:

  1. 564,708 people in the U.S. are homeless. According to a recent report, over half a million people were living on the streets, in cars, in homeless shelters, or in subsidized transitional housing during a one-night national survey last January. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, 358,422 were individuals, and a quarter of the entire group were children.
  2. 83,170 individuals, or 15% of the homeless population, are considered chronically homeless.  Chronic homelessness is defined as an individual who has a disability and has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or and individual who has a disability and has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years (must be a cumulative of 12 months). Families with at least one adult member who meets that description are also considered chronically homeless.  As the National Alliance to End Homelessness explain: While people experiencing chronic homelessness make up a small number of the overall homeless population, they are among the most vulnerable. They tend to have high rates of behavioral health problems, including severe mental illness and substance use disorders; conditions that may be exacerbated by physical illness, injury, or trauma.
  1. 47,725, or about 8% of the homeless population, are veterans. This represents a 35% decrease since 2009. Homeless veterans have served in several different conflicts from WWII to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington, D.C., has the highest rate of veteran homelessness in the nation (145.8 homeless veterans per 10,000). 45% of homeless veterans are black or Hispanic. While less than 10% of homeless veterans are women, that number is rising.
  2. 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. This may be due to poverty, overcrowding in government housing, and lack of support networks. Research indicates that those who served in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness. War-related disabilities or disorders often contribute to veteran homelessness, including physical disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety, and addiction.
  3. 550,000 unaccompanied, single youth and young adults under the age of 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week. Approximately 380,000 of that total are under the age of 18. Accurately counting homeless children and youth is particularly difficult. The National Alliance to End Homelessness explains:  Homeless youth are less likely to spend time in the same places as homeless people who are in an older age range. They are often less willing to disclose that they are experiencing homelessness or may not even identify as homeless.
  4. 110,000 LGBTQ youth in the U.S. are homeless. This is one of the most vulnerable homeless populations. A substantial number of young people who identify as LGBTQ say that they live in a community that is not accepting of LGBTQ people. In fact, LGBTQ youths make up 20% of runaway kids across the country. Family rejection, abuse, and neglect are major reasons LGBTQ youth end up on the streets. Additionally, homeless LGBTQ youth are substantially more likely than heterosexual homeless youth to be victims of sexual assault and abuse. LGBTQ homeless youth are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to heterosexual homeless youth.
  5. Fifty percent of the homeless population is over the age of 50. These individuals often face additional health and safety risks associated with age. They are more prone to injuries from falls, and may suffer from cognitive impairment, vision or hearing loss, major depression, and chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis.
  6. 830,120 year-round beds are available in a range of housing projects. About half of those beds are dedicated to people currently experiencing homelessness. This includes Emergency Shelters that provide temporary or nightly shelter beds to people experiencing homelessness, Transitional Housing that provides homeless people with up to 24 months of housing and supportive services, and Safe Havens that provide temporary shelter and services to hard-to-serve individuals.

As shocking as these statistics are, there are many great organizations and churches that are working tirelessly to end or assist the homelessness in most states of the USA and around the world.

Ref:  www.socialsolutions.com

Marie Coppola  March 2017

 

By Andrew Wommack | December 17, 2012

While many ask, “Where was God last Friday?”                                                          The answer is that He was right there.

Jamie and I have shared the shock and sadness with you over the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, where twenty children and six adults were brutally massacred. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their precious children. We can only imagine what they are going through. But I know that the Lord loves them even more than we do, and I’m confident He is moving to comfort their hearts. We mix our prayers with yours that although the Lord didn’t do this, He will bring good out of it.

Such evil is hard to understand and shakes our sense of security. We want to understand how this could happen so we can fix it and move on with our lives without fear.

In the coming days, all kinds of causes for this senseless act will be put forth with corresponding solutions. Much of the talk will center around how we protect ourselves and those we love from tragedy like this. While it’s prudent to adjust to the reality of the world we live in, I don’t think any of us want to surrender our freedoms and live in a rigid police state. And I don’t believe we have to.

As the governor of Connecticut said Friday, “Evil visited us today.” This wasn’t just natural. This was pure evil. It was demonic. Certainly, government is an impediment to evil, and there are things that need to be done. But the only way to truly beat evil is to change the hearts of people with the power of God’s love. God’s kind of love works no ill to his neighbor (Rom. 13:10), therefore the antidote is to inject people’s hearts with God’s love.

I know that many, or even most people, will reject what I’ve just said and say it is impractical. But in reality, this is the only solution that is practical. We can’t build fortresses strong enough to keep evil out. This is not just a physical battle (Eph. 6:12); this is a spiritual war.

And this reveals why there is an increase of these terrible acts. Our society has systematically rejected God by rejecting His standards of morality. Although morality hasn’t been banned in America, immorality has been legalized and promoted. Its prevalence has weakened and in some cases eliminated the fear of God from public life. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…” It’s now “politically incorrect” to hate evil in this country. This moral vacuum allows and encourages demonic activity.

And make no mistake, this kind of act can’t happen without demonic involvement. No human being would kill an innocent child without being controlled by evil. The devil and his demons are real. Anyone who believes the New Testament would have to admit that. This is a spiritual battle, and our best weapons are spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

The ultimate weapon against evil is the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). This most recent incident is a reflection of the church’s failure to influence our culture as we should.

But as bad as all this is, it could have been worse. While many ask, “Where was God last Friday?” The answer is that He was right there. He was in teachers who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of the children entrusted to them. He was in a janitor who ran down the halls giving warning and saving lives. He was in the first responders who entered the school cutting short what the shooter wanted to do. He had hundreds of rounds of ammunition left and obviously planned to do much more than he did.

God was in all these people who resisted and ultimately stopped this rampage. The Lord didn’t cause this to happen or allow it to happen. He gave us a free will, and He doesn’t control us like pawns in a chess game. This shooter gave himself over to evil. Others resisted the devil in him and eventually stopped him. It could have been much worse.

It’s easy to see the evil that has already happened, but we will never know until we are in eternity just how much evil was thwarted by all the godly influences. John 10:10 says the thief ONLY comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s after nothing else. There isn’t any good in the devil. If he was unchecked, we’d all be dead.

But there is much good all around us. I can show you hundreds of people scattered all over the world who are giving their lives to confront evil every day. I heard Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott who was murdered in the Columbine School shootings in 1999, talk about how he and those associated with him have spoken to over three million students since that terrible tragedy. They know of three school shootings that have been thwarted and over 500 suicides that have been prevented through their efforts.

I have friends who have left the comfort of America to travel to impoverished nations where they are sacrificing their lives to make a difference. Thousands are being impacted.

One of our Bible college graduates who lost her husband while she was in school continued on, raising six children by herself, and is now supporting twenty-nine children in an orphanage in the Congo. My good friends, Darey and Karen Jolly, have laid their lives down to minister to thousands of children in Nicaragua. The first graduates of their K-12 schools are now entering college. Only the Lord knows what tragedies they stopped and what good will be done through these children who have been loved and shown the true Gospel.

Our Charis Bible Colleges are impacting thousands of lives. We now have more people actively participating in CBC right now than all those who have gone through the colleges over the last eighteen years. The numbers are growing, and I believe this is making a difference.

Our students in Uganda have impacted that nation. I met with the president and first lady of Uganda who have totally embraced what we are doing there. President Museveni recently addressed the nation and publicly repented of his personal sins and the sins of the nation and dedicated the nation of Uganda to the Lord. Praise God!

There are people all around us who are resisting the devil and his influence, but obviously there is much more to be done. We are in a battle. We live in a fallen world and evil is everywhere. But so is God. However, He can only flow through us to the degree that we seek and submit to Him. He doesn’t sovereignly control all things.

I think it’s good that terrible things like this, shock and sadden us. We should always hate evil and grieve with those who grieve. I pray this never becomes so commonplace that we are insensitive to atrocities. But we should not be discouraged to the point of thinking, What can I do? Each one of us is a soldier in this war, and every godly thing we do makes a difference.

I don’t know what toxic mix of things caused this shooter to break and do what he did. There is no single cause that will ever be identified. But we have read that he was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. One in eighty-eight boys are afflicted with this disorder in the U.S.A., and it is said to be incurable. Yet we have seen that condition healed by the power of the Lord. If you believe the medical profession alone, you are in despair. If you believe the power of the Word of God, nothing is incurable. What do you believe?

Finally, I want to once again say that Jamie and I weep with you and the entire world over the slaughter of these innocent children and their heroic teachers. Our prayers are that these families will be comforted by the Holy Spirit in ways beyond our understanding. At this Christmas season, I am reminded that our Lord Himself, as a mere infant, barely escaped such a slaughter of children in Bethlehem. Scripture reminds us that He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and that He is a high priest who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He is near to the brokenhearted, and He is their healer.

By Andrew Wommack | December 17, 2012   website:   http://www.awmi.net/

Reprinted by Marie Coppola February 2013